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A Wonderfully Unconventional Fremantle Home

Homes

For authentic indoor-outdoor living, look no further than this truly unique Western Australian home.

Artist, educator and owner-builder Ian de Souza has been reworking this block since he bought it in the ’80s!

18th October, 2017

Outdoor kitchen and dining. Ian built the 22-seater table with steel wheels from a mining cart – he and Ros love to entertain, often cooking over an open fire. Oil on canvas ‘Undercurrent’ by Ian on the left, and ink on rice paper ‘Illyarrie’ artwork to the right. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Ian paints on a large sliding easel in his steel and glass studio. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Ian’s art studio. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Looking through their outdoor dining into Ros’s office – a vintage train carriage. Oil on canvas, ‘Freedom’ by Ian. Pot plant and basket from Little Leaf Co. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Homeowners Ian and Ros de Souza. Ros is wearing a limited edition silk wild flora print scarf designed by Ian. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

High limestone walls provide privacy for the ensuite. A painting by Ian, on the right, hides the toilet. Brown vessel from Shedwallah.Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

In the ensuite, a painting by Ian hides the toilet. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Lush courtyards connect a handful of largely open dwellings fulfilling Ian’s deep-rooted need for open living. The yellow chair is vintage and the blue and grey stone artwork by Liesbeth Goedhart. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Before moving to Fremantle, Ian restored a 14th century stone home in the Languedoc region of France so, for him, building a large outdoor fireplace was key. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Looking through their bedroom to the ensuite. The chairs are by Norbert Perrine Design Concept, and the nude oil painting, ‘Lady in Blue’ is by Ian. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

In winter, Ian and Ros eat with friends at the table in their bedroom, in front of a roaring wood fire. The chairs are by Norbert Perrine Design Concept. The nude oil painting, ‘Lady in Blue’ is by Ian. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Looking through their living area into their bedroom; the scattered Persian rugs are from Agra in India. The large aluminium-framed artwork ‘Contiguity: Tableau of Composition’ by Ian, was a 2006 Mandoorla Art Show finalist. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Ian’s art studio, down a lush pathway, features a sliding easel and art hung from the ceiling. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Also an accomplished musician, Ian is babysitting the Bluthner grand piano with original ivory keys for a friend. Mixed media collage ‘Body of Dance’ by Ian. Pot plant and basket from Little Leaf Co. Styling – Jo Carmichael, photo – Jody D’Arcy.

Nikki Liley
Wednesday 18th October 2017

‘I’d prefer no walls, just art on sliding panels instead.’ – Ian de Souza

When they married in the 1980s, arts manager Ros left behind a Country Road-inspired home to join Ian de Souza on this Fremantle block, taking with her only a dusty pink frilly Sheridan doona cover! ‘You couldn’t get further from Ian’s masculine batik style,’ laughs Ros. ‘He was mortified.’

Inspired by traditional Arabic homes, high limestone walls on three sides of the property conceal an art studio, vintage train carriage and rammed earth dwelling, connected by lush courtyards. Having repurposed the driveway for Ian’s art studio, the front gate serves as a front door. ‘It’s a 410 square-metre battle-axe block, and we use every scrap,’ explains Ros. Inside Ian’s steel and glass studio, art hangs on the ceiling like in the Sistine Chapel.

Further in, a rammed earth dwelling contains Ros and Ian’s bedroom and bathroom, while a vintage train carriage houses Ros’ office.  The living area in between is open both sides most the year. Their shower is outside, and the kitchen virtually outside too. ‘We used to sleep outside,’ adds Ros.

Ready entertainers, Ros and Ian’s guests sit around the 22-seater table on rails, which Ian built with steel wheels from a mining cart, while they cook Asian curries over an open fire or electric wok – since they don’t have an oven. Initially, for council approval as a dwelling, Ian had to install a stove but he pulled it out after inspection. ‘I was a bachelor then, I ate at the Freo markets instead!’ he says.

Ian’s motivation for indoor-outdoor living actually stems from claustrophobia. ‘Growing up in Malaya and Singapore during Japanese occupation, the Japanese were always after us,’ he explains. ‘We moved house 33 times one year, always hiding in cupboards and under beds. I’d prefer no walls, just art on sliding panels instead.’

Regularly open to the public for garden days and art walks, people come from everywhere to get a peek at this unique home.  ‘One magical summer evening, three nuns shuffled around like brown–coated Daleks,’ Ros recalls!

Having a few thousand people traipse through your private sanctuary is a ghastly thought for many, but Ros and Ian have never felt that way. With nothing to hide, and everything to share, the real charm of this home is the de Souzas.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net