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An Artist's Thoroughly Sophisticated Brisbane Rental

Homes

It’s not easy to turn a rental into a lived-in, yet sophisticated home, but if there’s anyone who has nailed this feat, it’s artist and ceramicist Nicolette Johnson!

Nicolette and her husband, web designer Tom Dawson, have been renting this home in Bardon, Brisbane for over four years. Thanks to their incredible collection of art, vintage furniture, and handcrafted objects, including Nicolette’s own spectacular ceramics, the couple have made the Queenslander cottage feel distinctly ‘them’. 

9th September, 2020

Part of Nicolette and Tim’s collection of ceramics. Pierre Vandel étagère found on Gumtree. Italian modernist ‘Canasta’ armchairs by Arrben also found on Gumtree. Green woodfired vase (top right) by Isaac Patmore. Tall blue vase by Rose Jensen Holm. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Nicolette and Tom in the front sunroom, which gets the best light in the whole house! Vintage daybed from Curated Spaces. Side table from West Elm. Woodfired ceramic vase bought in Kyoto. Rug from AU Rugs. Vintage mirror. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

The sunroom at the front of the house (aka Loki the cat’s room). Vintage daybed from Curated Spaces. 1960’s Adina floor lamp by Lyfa Denmark from The Vinyl Frontier.  Side table from West Elm. Rug from AU Rugs. Large triangular artwork on right by Jordan Azcune. Small ceramic wall hanging by Clairy Laurence. Photograph in black frame by Daniel Grima.  Slender blue ceramic vase by Kerryn Levy. Woodfired round ceramic vase on side table bought in Kyoto. Bookshelf designed and built by Nicolette Johnson. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Italian modernist ‘Canasta’ armchairs by Arrben found on Gumtree. Wood fired ceramic vase on dining table bought in Kyoto. Tall white ceramic pitcher found at a Lifeline op-shop. Woodfired ceramic vase with protrusions by Nicolette Johnson. Still-life painting by Anh Nguyen. Blue abstract painting by Taj Alexander. Yellow abstract painting by Kasper Raglus. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Italian modernist ‘Canasta’ armchairs by Arrben, found on Gumtree. Mid-century tallboy drawers from Paddington Antique Centre. Large painting of two bee-eaters by Nyangulya Katie Nalgood of Spinifex Hill Studio (from the Different Sorta Colour TDF exhibition!). Drawing by Kerrie Oliver. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

A selection of pots that were gifted, found in second-hand shops, or bought during travels to New Mexico. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Pierre Vandel étagère found on Gumtree. Couch from IKEA with a Comfort Works slipcover. Vintage Turkish tulu rug from Etsy. Travertine coffee table found at Salvo’s. Armchair found on Ebay. Wrought iron and glass side table found on Gumtree. Large abstract painting over couch by Nicolette Johnson. Abstract figure painting by Henrik Godsk. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

The living room looking into the bedroom. Travertine coffee table found at Salvo’s. Mid-century sideboard found at Vinnie’s. Blue ceramic vase found at Salvo’s. Small portrait painting by Toby Ursell. Landscape painting by Danielle Winger. Blue photograph in bedroom by Julia Scott Green. Italian modernist ‘Canasta’ armchair by Arrben, found on Gumtree. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

The living room looking through into the front sunroom. Couch from IKEA with a Comfort Works slipcover.  Vintage Turkish tulu rug from Etsy.  Travertine coffee table found at Salvo’s. Armchair found on Ebay. Wrought iron and glass side table found on Gumtree. Large abstract painting over couch by Nicolette Johnson. Abstract figure painting by Henrik Godsk. Peony painting in sunroom by James Kerr. Large ceramic vase (on timber plinth) by Ted Secombe. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Drawing by Kerrie Oliver. Second-hand lamp and various found and second-hand objects and ceramics. Small ceramic vase on left by Tomoko Kimimori. Small wood fired vase on right (with nasturtium) by Chester Nealie. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Vintage stone hall table found on Gumtree. Abstract painting by Bridie Gillman. Carved wooden sculpture under glass cloche by Lincoln Austin. Large blue ceramic vase by Nicolette Johnson. Ceramic plate by Peter Biddulph from Hanasho. Small ceramic vase by Tomoko Kimimori from Paddington Antique Centre. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Vintage stone hall table found on Gumtree. Abstract painting by Bridie Gillman. Carved wooden sculpture under glass cloche by Lincoln Austin. Large blue ceramic vase by Nicolette Johnson. Ceramic plate by Peter Biddulph from Hanasho.  Small ceramic vase by Tomoko Kimimori from Paddington Antique Centre. Wrought iron and glass side table found on Gumtree. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Italian modernist ‘Canasta’ armchairs by Arrben, found on Gumtree. Antique Chinese art deco rug found on Ebay. Photograph on left by Julia Scott Green. Small painting by Johanna Bath. Round wooden shield lamp from CCSS. Leafy red resin bowl by Kate Rohde. Watercolour painting by Amy Wright. Sideboard from Interior Secrets. Linen quilt cover from Republic Home. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Little objects in our bedroom.  Small iron dragon sculpture bought in China. Sterling silver peanut from Mexico, a birthday gift from my mum. Small brown ceramic bowl (with flowers) by Tom Dawson (who is learning to throw—this is the very first one he ever made!). Round wooden shield lamp from CCSS. Leafy red resin bowl by Kate Rohde.  Watercolour painting by Amy Wright.  Sideboard from Interior Secrets. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Painting by Laura Patterson. Ceramic table lamps by Nicolette Johnson. Vintage chinoiserie pillowcases gifted by Nicolette’s mum. Linen quilt cover from Republic Home. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Ceramic table lamps by Nicolette Johnson. Vintage chinoiserie pillowcases gifted by Nicolette’s mum. Linen quilt cover from Republic Home. Lacquered bedside tables from Admiralty Antiques. Antique Chinese art deco rug found on Ebay. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Some of Nicolette’s works in progress waiting to be fired. Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Nicolette’s studio at the back of the house. Currently making work for a solo exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery, opening November 4th of this year! Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

A couple of small pots, freshly glazed and about to be fired to 1,280 degrees! Photo – Nicolette Johnson.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 9th September 2020

‘I love anything vintage and enjoy mixing pieces from different places and eras.’ – Nicolette Johnson

Making big changes to a rental property isn’t usually possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t inject your unique personality into the space. The Brisbane home of talented ceramicist Nicolette Johnson (who won the Handcrafted category in our Design Awards last year!) and web designer Tom Dawson is proof of just that.

Nicolette and Tom moved into this Queenslander cottage four and a half years ago. After years of apartment living (you can see our feature on their prior home here!), the couple were seeking more space for Nicolette to expand her ceramics business, which back then was only in its infancy. This home not only afforded the pair more space, but a more tranquil setting among the Bardon treetops. ‘Cockatoos, king parrots and lorikeets visit often,’ says Nicolette. ‘We also have the occasional python sighting, which is always a thrill.’ 

In her own art practice, Nicolette loves working with a brown palette, but has become somewhat of a colour convert in this home. ‘I have strived to introduce more bright tones into our space using things like art and textiles,’ she says. ‘Although admittedly my heart still belongs to brown!’

Every space contains a treasure trove of mostly vintage items, plus some chain store finds, and plenty of art by local makers. ‘I love anything vintage and enjoy mixing pieces from different places and eras, and getting everything to converse nicely,’ says Nicolette. A particular highlight is the stunning artwork ‘Australian Bee Eater’ by Katie Nalgood, that Nicolette and Tom purchased from our Different Sorta Colour exhibition with Spinifex Hill Studio earlier this year, which has pride of place at the head of the dining table! (Thanks so much guys!)

While there’s something to marvel at in every room of this house, the styling is very purposeful and considered, in order to avoid a ‘cluttered’ feeling. ‘The rooms aren’t huge, so orienting furniture to suit the needs of the room while also allowing for flow has been tricky!’ Nicolette says. ‘It’s really comfortable as it is now, so I think we managed it in the end.’

Without so much as picking up a paintbrush, Nicolette and Tom have successfully created a sophisticated home that distinctly captures who they are.

Nicolette’s next show of exquisite ceramics opens at Sophie Gannon Gallery on November 4th! 

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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