A Plant-Filled Richmond Rental

Jenna Holmes is a plant whisperer. Via her business, Plant Mama, she sources, supplies and maintains an array of lush indoor plants to various businesses and residences throughout Melbourne. It’s no surprise her home is the ultimate indoor jungle, with over 40 plants inside!

Beyond the plantlife, though, this is a house with many stories to tell, having been home to prominent architect Gregory Burgess (AM) and his family for 40 years, before Jenna moved in last year.

Lucy Feagins
Supported by Dulux

The top floor studio, featuring an amazing plaid couch found by Jenna’s roommate on Gumtree. ‘Most people tend to pick up their jaw from the floor when they see this room of the house in particular, due to all the different nooks and design features,’ says Jenna! Photo – Eve Wilson.

Details of the top floor studio. A lot of the small picture frames/artworks were collected from op shops by Jenna and her housemates over the years. Photo – Eve Wilson.

That amazing teardrop window! ‘The best part of this top room is the never-ending windows, in every shape and size you can imagine. It is FULL of light, and the best place to grow plants,’ explains Jenna. Photo – Eve Wilson.

The living room, featuring an artwork by Jenna’s brother. The owner’s son told Jenna that apparently lots of house parties once went down in this living room, held by both the kids and the grown-ups! Photo – Eve Wilson.

A lush corner of the living room. ‘Plants jumbled together in big groups can create their own ecosystems, so that mixed with the lighting and air flow created the perfect urban jungle,’ Jenna tells us. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Dining nook with bright, blue chairs gifted to Jenna by a friend. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Another dining nook! This is one of the most utilised areas of the house, according to Jenna, where there is always someone sitting and working or entertaining. The structure is built from recycled Jarrah wood which gives it a ‘forest cabin feel.’ Photo – Eve Wilson.

Jenna Holmes, the Plant Mama herself! Photo – Eve Wilson.

‘I would go so far as to say this is my dream kitchen!’ Jenna says, ‘it’s made to be a social kitchen. Many a night would be spent with someone in the kitchen and others sitting in the dining room chatting, cooking, drinking wine and playing music.’ It features open Jarrah wood shelving, blue tiles and dark wooden bench tops. Photo – Eve Wilson.

One of the main bedrooms. ‘The elevated sleeping nook is such a simple aspect of the house, yet one of our favourites,’ tells Jenna. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Jenna’s room, where everything is a thrift or vintage find! Her housemate (who collects and sells vintage furniture) found the large circular mirror and wooden dresser.  Jenna’s favourite found piece is the framed picture of a woman holding a basket – ‘$3 from an old lady in Northcote!’. Photo – Eve Wilson.

The greenhouse. It was once used as a studio space by the previous owner, architect Greg Burgess, where he did all his design work. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Some of Jenna’s healthy plant babies! Photo – Eve Wilson.

A corner of the greenhouse. ‘The neighbour told me when I moved in that the studio/greenhouse has magic creative “juju” in the walls, as it is the space where previous owner Gregory Burgess creates some of his best and most awarded designs” Jenna reflects.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

The glass windows panes and overgrown front yard make the perfect combination for filtered light, and all the plants in the greenhouse grew rapidly because of this! Photo – Eve Wilson.

Lucy Feagins
28th of February 2018

The rented Richmond home of Jenna Holmes aka Plant Mama is a testament to just how strongly connected you can feel to a home, even when it’s only temporary. This rambling Victorian house has been Jenna’s home for under a year, and she’ll soon be moving on again, as the home is sadly earmarked for demolition. Such is the nature of share house living in Melbourne!

The house itself has many stories to tell. In the 1950’s, it was owned by Croation/Australian photographer Mark Strizic. Strizic’s father, Zdenko Strizic, who was a professor of Architecture at Melbourne University, renovated the back of the house, adding a charming greenhouse which is now Jenna’s plant studio.

Later, Australian author Barry Oakley lived here. Then, in 1978, Architect Gregory Burgess purchased the home, and made further design updates, adding the recycled Jarrah kitchen, and an upstairs loft bedroom. The house was Burgess’ family home for 40 years, before changing hands again three years ago. And just last year, Jenna moved in.

‘I wasn’t looking for a house, nor did I need to move from where I was,’ the intuitive creative says. ‘I was late night scrolling real estate listings, saw the house and knew I had to live there’.

Despite having been here for less than a year, it hasn’t taken long for Jenna to fall deeply in love with her intensely creative, many-layered home. ‘It has warmth in its presence, it’s a nice space to be in,’ she says. ‘I also love the history in the house and the ideas that have been born in it… The neighbour told me when I moved in that Greg Burgess created some of Australia’s most beautiful buildings whilst working here, and that there is creative juice flowing through the walls. I feel as though also as a creative I have also made my best work whilst living in this house.’

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