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Everything I Know About Share-House Style

Point of View

Well look what we have here, it’s another new style of content rolling out this week at TDF! We love bringing you exciting studios visits, killer interiors and insightful interviews on the daily, but after 10 years of TDF (!), we thought it was high time to share a little more of, well… our own voices. These thought pieces will be slightly meatier, more-lengthy reads from our own in-house editorial team, as well as friends and legends we’ve been wanting to hear a little more from.

Our editorial assistant, Sally Tabart, knows a thing or two about living in a share house. For this first instalment, she’s compiled some of her top thrifty tips and tricks for decorating in a shared space.

22nd February, 2018

A few of Sally’s snaps. Collage – Ashley Simonetto.

Sally Tabart
Thursday 22nd February 2018

Home may be where the heart is, but it’s also where all your stuff goes. While share house living isn’t always the most glamorous lifestyle, for most people, spending some time in a rental home with housemates is inevitable. I’ve lived in share houses for the past seven years.

I moved into the first place when I was 20. It belonged to the parents of my best friend, and with its prime-position Fitzroy locale and panoramic balcony views of the city, was far nicer than anything I deserved at the time. Lulled into a false sense of security afforded by someone else’s fancy house, I made up for my #blessed beginnings when I moved to New York City, and my first apartment was shared with a rotating door of creepy roommates, a banquet of moldy food in the fridge and an abandoned cat. All very sad.

I’ve moved seven times in total, and have finally landed in my dream house which is, again, far nicer than anything I deserve at this time. Despite now living in a place with great bones to work with, my nomadic 20s has taught me that no matter where you live, it’s your ‘stuff’ that really makes it feel like home.

Before you check my Instagram and realise that I am not an interiors expert, let me tell you that I AM NOT AN INTERIORS EXPERT! I know that, okay!? What I am proficient in is living with other people, arranging blue-tacked paper artefacts and photos on my bedroom wall in *perfect formation*, and identifying the interior styling strengths of others and co-opting them for myself.

So while I’m certainly not in the position to tell you that millennial pink is over (so I hear) or recommend the perfect cushion, I can offer you a collection of tips and tricks I’ve accumulated over my several homes, dozens of roommates and hours of Instagram wormholes.

Vase image from Rittle, Metrocard and postcard from Sally’s walls. Collage – Ashley Simonetto.

STATEMENT PIECES

The first time I started thinking about a couch as anything other than a comfy place to eat meals is all thanks to one of my dear housemates, Pip. She has this vintage Featherston modular sofa in bright orange that totally changed my outlook on life – or at very least – my outlook on the living room. The take away from this tale: stay on the lookout for a statement piece and build your room around it. Mine is this rug from BFGF that I bought in New York City and now hangs on my wall – it’s the shining star of my room.

GET THRIFTY

I’d never fully plunged into the wonderful world of Gumtree and eBay before living with my aforementioned dear housemate, Pip. One time she found a velvet iridescent pink five-piece sofa for $60 (see above: Statement Pieces)! I recently bought an eight-piece rattan chair set for $150 (later I found out they were once used as props on Shaun Micallef’s ‘Mad as Hell’, which in my opinion makes them iconic Australian TV memorabilia). Also, after picking up a GIANT Monstera Deliciosa on eBay for under $100, I will never buy another plant from a store again. Figure out some key words for the style of furniture you’re after, and turn those notifications the hell on – a good place to start is to pick an era and research the brands, fabrics and finishes of good quality furniture at the time.

Sunshine illustration from Rittle, vase from Tessy King. Collage by Ashley Simonetto.

HIGH LOW

It may seem pretty obvious, but mixing items from cheaper chain stores or op shops with more expensive, saved-up-for pieces is the best approach, unless you are the lucky benefactor of a trust fund. On one side of my bed you’ll find a chain store lamp I bought for $15, and on the other side a designer lamp that cost almost a month’s rent. Wherever possible, I would encourage people to invest in their local, independent makers – but let’s be real – it’s not always possible to furnish your space entirely with designer pieces.

My advice? Do your research on what’s out there, don’t buy straight-up ripoffs. Instead, look for cheaper ambiguous ‘filler’ pieces like drawers and side tables that you can decorate with more meaningful items. I’m a big fan of knick-knacks and have a rather tasteful selection of shells and crystals (not for everyone, I get it) displayed upon my cheap surfaces, alongside my very special things. Some of my favourite small objects by local designers come from Rittle, Anna Varendorff and Mud Australia.

EMBRACE YOUR INNER COPY-CAT

Perhaps not the most kosher solution to helping curate a unique personal style, but personally, I am a big fan of copying other people’s great styling ideas, and integrating them into my own life, alongside things I already own. Load up your social media feeds with interiors accounts, use the ‘save’ functions to store all your inspo in the one spot, and take note of IRL styling ideas (I swear I am NOT BIASED, but The Design Files’ ‘Homes’ section is a good place to start!).

Housemate Pip once had the genius idea to create a daybed out of a simple king-single bed frame, a futon mattress and a mountain of fluffy cushions and rugs from IKEA. Another housemate made an amazing room partition using white-painted cinder blocks after seeing something similar on Pinterest. You better believe I’m storing those in the ‘copy-at-a-later-date’ file in my brain.

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