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A Creative Couple's Lovingly Renovated 1950s Home

Homes

Lucy Spartalis and Alastair Innes of She Takes Pictures He Makes Films didn’t plan on buying in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges, but from the moment they inspected this property, the space instantly felt like home.

The 1950’s house had been flipped just prior to purchasing, and while the couple loved the new open-plan living area, other elements were lacking in personality.

One Japanese inspired kitchen renovation and several cosmetics updates later, this house is now a cosy, textured space that exudes warmth, and speaks to the personalities of its very creative residents. 

23rd September, 2020

Framed photograph by Lucy Spartalis. Kitchen cabinets and bench tops made from Mountain Ash by Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture. Inax tiles from Artedomus, installed by Ryan Cracknell from Trowel and Chris Stenhouse. Brass bowl from Tiger and Peacock. Vintage step stools from Urban Dweller (now closed). Vintage amber jug from Alastair’s mum. Artwork by Janette Pitruzzello. Raw edge bar shelves by Ken Hanson. Vintage wine rack from The Brooklyn Boho (via Etsy). Vintage rug purchased via online auction. Dining chairs by Thonet. French farmhouse table from Moonee Ponds Antiques. ‘Gulawala (Wandjina with Pearl Shell Necklace)’ by Petrina Bedford, from Pop & Scott. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Painting purchased in Cuba from artist Abel Massot, framed by Belgrave Picture Framing. Pot from Pop & Scott. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Noguchi pendant light. French farmhouse table from Moonee Ponds Antiques. Dining Chairs by Thonet. Painting purchased in Cuba from artist Abel Massot, framed by Belgrave Picture Framing. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Lucy wears velvet jacket by Anna Cordell and Rolla’s flares. Alastair wears shirt by Mr Simple and Rolla’s cords. Painting purchased in Cuba from artist Abel Massot. French farmhouse table from Moonee Ponds Antiques. Vintage rug purchased via online auction. Ingmar Relling ‘Siesta’ chair footstool from Modern Times. French farmhouse table from Moonee Ponds Antiques. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Record shelves designed by Lucy, made by Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture. Vintage record cabinet from Mrs Secondhand. Wooden stool from Vintage Stash (now closed). Photographs on left by Lucy Spartalis, framed by Omnus Framing. Vase in top left and unglazed ceramic vessel in cabinet by Nicolette Johnson. Grey ceramic statue by Ukrainian artist Vladimir Mudrenko. Framed photograph in cabinet by Alastair Innes. Pale grey vase in cabinet by Lucy Spartalis. Vintage rug purchased via online auction. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Noguchi pendant light. Brass bowl from Tiger and Peacock. Timber bench top and cabinets by Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture. French farmhouse table from Moonee Ponds Antiques. Dining Chairs by Thonet. Vintage rug purchased via online auction. Large pot from Pop & Scott. Record shelves designed by Lucy, made by Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture. Vintage record cabinet from Mrs Secondhand. Wooden stool from Vintage Stash (now closed). Left artwork by Janette Pitruzzello. Vase on record shelves by Nicolette Johnson. Painting purchased in Cuba from artist Abel Massot, framed by Belgrave Picture Framing. Framed photographs by Lucy Spartalis, framed by Omnus Framing. ‘Gulawala (Wandjina with Pearl Shell Necklace)’ by Petrina Bedford, from Pop & Scott. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Kitchen cabinets and bench tops made from Mountain Ash by Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture. Inax tiles from Artedomus, installed by Ryan Cracknell from Trowel and Chris Stenhouse. Terrazzo bench top by Signorino, installed by Olympus Stone. Brown bowls purchased in Japan (ceramicist unknown), blue coffee cups purchased in Japan from Tadahiro Nakanishi, white vase from Epoche, leaf set handed down from Lucy’s nanna, two tone mugs from Robert Gordon. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Kitchen cabinets and bench tops made from Mountain Ash by Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture. Blue and white bowls in cabinet by Greg Yeaman, purchased at the Belgrave Big Dreams Market. Mortar and pestle by Kyoto ceramics studio Saboten. Ceramic egg crate by Robert Gordon (eggs by Lucy’s chickens: Salma, Pepita and Dot). Utensil jug by Mud. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Kitchen cabinets and bench tops made from Mountain Ash by Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture. Terrazzo bench top by Signorino, installed by Olympus Stone. Inax tiles from Artedomus, installed by Ryan Cracknell from Trowel and Chris Stenhouse. Brown bowls purchased in Japan (ceramicist unknown), blue coffee cups purchased in Japan from Tadahiro Nakanishi, white vase from Epoche, leaf set handed down from Lucy’s nanna, large bowls from Provider Store, two tone mugs from Robert Gordon. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Left: Kitchen cabinets and bench tops made from Mountain Ash by Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture. Terrazzo bench top by Signorino, installed by Olympus Stone. Inax tiles from Artedomus, installed by Ryan Cracknell from Trowel and Chris Stenhouse. Vintage step stools and clock from Urban Dweller (now closed). Watercolour painting purchased in Belgium (it was hanging above our heads while out to dinner with a very old friend), artist’s name sadly misplaced. Ceramic egg crate by Robert Gordon (eggs by Lucy’s chicken Salma, Pepita and Dot). Photograph by Lucy Spartalis, framed by Omnus Framing. Vintage amber jug from Alastair’s mum. Right: Vintage Amber jug from Alastair’s mum. Artwork by Janette Pitruzzello. Timber bench top and cabinets by Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Vintage floor lamp and bookshelves left behind by a housemate and friend of Lucy’s. Custom velvet curtains by Verve Designer Collections. Vintage lounge suite purchased at Urban Dweller (now closed). Cushions and fringed blanket from Tiger and Peacock. Tartan blanket purchased in Scotland. Vintage Tessa coffee table handed down from Lucy’s grandparents. Ceramic plate by Andreas Alefragkis, purchased from his studio in Santorini. Vintage theatre light bulb from Tarlo & Graham (now closed, *sigh*). Art Deco floor lamp from Coburg Hill Antiques. Photograph of Montserrat by Lucy Spartalis, framed by Omnus Framing. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Beautiful Taika, adopted via Pet Rescue. Cushions from Tiger and Peacock. Custom velvet curtains from Verve Designer Collections. Vintage sofa from Urban Dweller (now closed). Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Side tables from Smith Street Bazaar. Art Deco floor lamp from Coburg Hill Antiques. Printers tray from Lost & Found (filled with train set models purchased in Barcelona after day drinking; included in the collection are nuns with school kids, a Mariachi band, strippers, a flock of sheep and their herder, dads with shopping trollies, and a series of flamenco dancers). Vintage doll purchased in Japan. Wooden bear from Mark Tuckey. ‘Apples & Pears’ by artist Caro Facelli. Vintage armchair purchased at Urban Dweller (now closed). Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Custom velvet curtains by Verve Designer Collections. Vintage lounge suite purchased at Urban Dweller (now closed). Tartan blanket purchased in Scotland. Vintage bookshelves left behind by a housemate and friend of Lucy’s. Portrait of Jack Charles by Lucy Spartalis. Vintage Tessa coffee table handed down from Lucy’s grandparents. Ceramic plate by Andreas Alefragkis, purchased from his studio in Santorini. Two tone mug from Robert Gordon. Vintage theatre light bulb from Tarlo & Graham (now closed, *sigh*). Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Ingmar Relling ‘Siesta’ chair and footstool from Modern Times. Drawing by Emma Larrson. Ceramic vessel by Andreas Alefragkis, purchased from his studio in Santorini. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Art Deco floor lamp from Coburg Hill Antiques. Printers tray from Lost & Found. Vintage armchair purchased at Urban Dweller (now closed). Blanket from Tiger and Peacock. Framed photograph by Lucy Spartalis. Kitchen cabinets and bench tops made from Mountain Ash by Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture. Inax tiles from Artedomus, installed by Ryan Cracknell from Trowel and Chris Stenhouse. Brass bowl from Tiger and Peacock. Vintage step stools from Urban Dweller (now closed). Vintage amber jug from Alastair’s mum. Vintage chair from Mrs Secondhand. Shelves by Tide Design. Photo – Lucy Spartalis. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Left: ‘Gulawala (Wandjina with Pearl Shell Necklace)’ by Petrina Bedford, from Pop & Scott. Vintage chair from Mrs Secondhand. Shelves by Tide Design. Large ceramic vessel by Zhu Ohmu. Smaller ceramic vase and cups by Luke Going. Ceramic dish by RARA Studio. Candlesticks from Fourth St. ‘Graffito’ wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler, hung by Julian Borusewitsch from Paper Scissors Glue. Right: Shelves by Tide Design. Ceramic vessel by Zhu Ohmu. Ceramic dish by RARA Studio. Candlesticks from Fourth St. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

‘Gulawala (Wandjina with Pearl Shell Necklace)’ by Petrina Bedford, from Pop & Scott. Vintage chair from Mrs Secondhand. Shelves by Tide Design. Small ceramic objects by Luke Going. ‘Graffito’ wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler, hung by Julian Borusewitsch from Paper Scissors Glue. Photograph by Lucy Spartalis, framed by Omnus Framing. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

‘Graffito’ wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler, hung by Julian Borusewitsch from Paper Scissors Glue. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Japanese cedar benches by Ken Hanson. Photographic prints by Lucy Spartalis. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Japanese cedar benches by Ken Hanson. Ceramic vessels by Lucy Spartalis. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Noguchi pendant light. Ink line drawing purchased by Lucy’s grandparents in Sydney in the 1970s, artist’s name sadly unknown. Blue pencil drawing by Kevin Perkins, framed by Omnus Framing. Bed by Al and Imo Handmade. Bed linen by In Bed and Citta. Vintage bedside table from En Gold. Carafe by Nel Lusso. Scalloped bowl purchased in Japan. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Blue pencil drawing by Kevin Perkins, framed by Omnus Framing. Bed by Al and Imo Handmade. Vintage bedside table from En Gold. Bed linen by In Bed and Citta. Vintage bedside table from En Gold. Carafe by Nel Lusso. Scalloped bowl purchased in Japan. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Details from the garden. Wiry Tussock Grass, Sea Urchin Aloe, Callistemon) Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

‘Urban People’ collages by Carla Goncalves purchased in Portugal, framed by Omnus Framing. Ceramic planter by Leaf and Thread. Rust waffle towel by Citta. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Pepita and Salma in the garden. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Pergola/carport designed by Ben Gray Architect, constructed by Travis Rademaker of Timbervision Carpentry. Benches from House of Orange. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Details from the garden. Tractor seat plant and a native fern. Photo – Lucy Spartalis.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 23rd September 2020

‘Everything in the house is absolutely loved… having an inspiring and treasure-filled space makes all the difference to our state of minds.’ – Lucy Spartalis

Photographer Lucy Spartalis and videographer Alastair Innes of She Takes Pictures He Makes Films originally planned on buying a house on the NSW coast, but everything changed when a Google search led them to properties in the Dandenong Ranges (located about an hour east of Melbourne). ‘The following day we drove up to view a couple of houses. A few days later we’d made an offer, and a couple of weeks later it was ours,’ says Lucy. ‘The open house fell at dusk, with the sun setting behind the house and a warm glow coming from within… the moment we walked in the front door, we knew it was right.’ 

The 1950s property had just been renovated just prior to purchasing, and while the couple loved many of the changes made, they were keen to introduce some more personalised touches. ‘The house had been given a very cool toned grey colour scheme, which really isn’t our thing,’ says Lucy. ‘We started by painting over the exterior grey colour with a warm, creamy white.’

The bathroom was also painted a pale apricot shade, and the hallway coated in spectacular Graffito wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler – which has got to be THE wallpaper of the moment right now! ‘The screen-printed design reminds us of the loose and energetic illustration style of the ‘50s and ‘60s, and acts as a huge piece of abstract art peeking through to the main living area,’ says Lucy. ‘It never fails to shock guests as they walk through the front door.’ 

Meanwhile, the couple replaced all the hollow interior doors with solid mahogany doors, hung custom burnt orange velvet curtains in the lounge, replaced most of the light fittings, and installed a wood fireplace. They’ve also filled the space with much loved personal treasures – artworks, collectibles, and family heirlooms. ‘Everything in the house is absolutely loved, has a history and tells a story, or triggers a wonderful memory for us’ says Lucy. ‘Having an inspiring and treasure-filled space makes all the difference to our state of minds.’

Significant changes were also made to the property’s outdoor spaces, with the help of Ollie Cheek of Cheeky Nature Landscapes. ‘We’ve pulled up the enormous amounts of concrete that ran down the side and back of the home, replacing the driveway with sand-toned gravel,’ says Lucy. Ben Gray Architect designed a modernist style carport and pergola, built by Travis Rademaker from Timbervisions Carpentry, along with long stretches of elegant spotted gum batten fencing. The result is a much larger garden for their chickens (Salma, Pepita and Dot!) and dog Taika to enjoy, and an environment more in keeping with the home’s natural surroundings. 

Two years after moving in and making these early cosmetic updates, it was time to tackle the kitchen. ‘We’d been toying with various concepts for the space for a couple of years, constantly changing our minds, and collecting far too many tile and stone samples along the way,’ says Lucy. The couple had no luck settling on a scheme, until Lucy took a trip to Japan and became inspired. ‘The breathtaking use of mosaic tiles with muted wabi-sabi glazes, alongside varied timbers, natural stone and other organic materials all felt so calming, harmonious and cocoon-like – exactly the feeling I wanted for our kitchen,’ she says.

To achieve this look, the couple selected INAX Yohen Border tiles by Artedomus, imported from Japan (‘They had the warm, mottled, handmade quality we were after,’ Lucy says), alongside terrazzo benchtops from Signorino, and aged brass hardware. Matt Ibbott of Sawdust Timber Furniture constructed the timber elements, incorporating mountain ash (the same type as the trees outside this house’s kitchen windows), salvaged from a nearby property two years earlier! ‘I wasn’t much of a cook before, but having such an inspiring space to work in has changed that,’ Lucy says.

When they’re not working on wedding photography or videos, you’ll likely find Lucy and Alastair here entertaining friends, or embarking on one of many forest walks within minutes of their house! Also… massive shout out to Lucy for photographing their stunning home AND making this video for us (while Alistair was on another deadline!) while we’re unable to get out and shoot homes in Melbourne right now. So much talent, all under one roof!

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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