It’s hard to imagine now, but when artist Ellen Porteus and Ryan Klewer, creative director of interior plant design studio Plant Charmer, first inspected this Collingwood warehouse, the property was essentially a bare room. ‘It was a pretty much an empty shell with very few amenities.’ says Ellen. ‘Just one large room, with a kitchenette and toilet in the back, and a garage.’
While turning this space into a home might have daunted some, the warehouse was precisely the kind of property Ellen and Ryan had been searching for. ‘We weren’t deterred by this at all. It was exactly what we were looking for – a big, fun, creative project,’ says Ellen. ‘We were looking for a space where we could experiment and combine our styles, try new things, and not worry about getting it perfect.’ The only challenge was where to begin!
The first thing the couple did after securing the lease was decide on a paint palette – a mix of ‘70s inspired mustards, terracotta, salmon pink, sand and Dulux Colorbond Cottage Green. These colours have been applied in various ways throughout the home, including on the wall mural created by Ellen, which depicts the couple walking through a field of flowers! ‘We love customising things using this palette, including the terrazzo inspired paint jobs on the bed frame and kitchen wall,’ says Ellen. ‘We would have spent hundreds of hours just painting.’
Other updates include a bathroom renovation, required for the space to function as a home. ‘We got help renovating the bathroom, transforming it from a cubicle toilet to a full bathroom with a shower,’ says Ellen. ‘We’re lucky to have quite a few tradie friends who helped us in the process.’ The couple undertook their own DIY makeover of the kitchen, installing new wooden benches, an island, and storage space. Ryan also converted the garage into a nursery.
Part of the reason Ellen and Ryan have been so keen to experiment here is because the property is sadly due to be demolished in the near future. ‘Like most Collingwood warehouses, it’s had many different lives!’ says Ellen. ‘We’re happy to be giving it a bit of a last hurrah before it gets developed.’
Having your bedroom, creative studio, dining and living room all in one big space might not be everyone’s ideal situation, but for Ellen and Ryan, they wouldn’t have it any other way!