This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Blissful Art Deco Apartment Up In The Trees

Homes

There are a handful of Melbourne suburbs so sought after that residents rarely want to leave, one of the most prominent examples being East Melbourne. Sandwiched between the CBD and Richmond, this small suburb is impossibly peaceful and leafy.

Two of the small suburb’s lucky residents are Lauren Everett, PR professional at Think HQ, and Frances Normoyle, co-owner and designer at furniture selling platform and design business Playground (they’re about to release their first piece next week – watch this space!), who snapped up a gorgeous art deco apartment when it hit the rental market in 2019.

Carefully curating their home with considered design and art pieces, this is one very ‘grown up’ share house!

13th January, 2021

‘Our romantic entrance way which changes throughout the seasons. Adorned with hydrangeas in the Spring and Autumn leaves in the cooler months,’ says Frances. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Window-sill decorations. Sculpture by Angus Gardner. Candle holder by Clump. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lauren and Frances have been friends for 4 years and roommates for 18 months. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Painting by Julia Trybala. Sofa from Dwell. Sculpture by Angus Gardner. Candle holder Clump. Vintage Wassily chair. Mushroom lamp from West Elm. Vintage Kartell side table. Silver bowl from Alessi via Playground. Yellow vase from Marimekko. Incense holder from Soda Fountain. Vintage glass ghost table. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Coffee table details. Silver bowl from Alessi via Playground. Yellow vase from Marimekko. Incense holder from Soda Fountain. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Candle holder by Angus Gardner. Glass vase from Marimekko. Striped vase by HK Living from RJ Living. Shelf by Nicole Lawrence. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘More lamps because I’m an addict and will refuse for a downlight to ever be switched on,’ admits Frances. Sofa from Dwell. Shelf by Nicole Lawrence. White Vase by Dinosaur Designs. Lamp from Isamu Noguchi. Small white bowl from Boom Gallery. Incense holder from Shifting Worlds. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘My style has evolved over the years but the mix of paper lanterns, leather and chrome never grows tired for me,’ says Frances. Painting by Julia Trybala. Sculpture by Angus Gardner. Candle holder Clump. Vintage Wassily chair. Pendant lamp from Isamu Noguchi. Vase from Soda Fountain.  Black dining chairs from Fredericia. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Pendant lamp from Isamu Noguchi. Vase from Soda Fountain. Black dining chairs from Fredericia. Table from Poliform. Vintage chrome and black chairs. Kettle by Alessi. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Vase from Soda Fountain.  Black dining chairs from Fredericia. Pendant lamp from Isamu Noguchi. Table from Poliform. Mugs from Marimekko. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Bedroom details. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Frances’ dad (who is blacksmith) made her this open shelving unit a few birthdays ago – which will be released for sale on Playground soon! Rug from RJ Living. Table from HK Living. Painting by Julia Trybala. Lamp by VP3 by &Tradition. Vase by Gaetano Pesce x Corsi Design. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lauren’s room. Vintage lamp, chair and mirror. Bookends from Lightly. Vintage drawers from Homebody. Candle holder from Angus Gardner. Red vase by Gaetano Pesce x Corsi Design. Rug from Etsy. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A sunny corner of Frances’ room. Lamp from Curated Spaces. Table from Kartell. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The view of the park from the lounge room! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The ornate front entrance is the most decorative part of the art deco building’s character. ‘There isn’t a great deal of rotation through the building, so people often leave their mark with little adornments around the entrance; some ceramic turtles or little cacti,’ explains Frances. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 13th January 2021

We love living up in the trees and watching the leaves turn.’ – Frances Normoyle

East Melbourne is one of Melbourne’s most tightly-held areas, and walking through the leafy streets lined with grand period homes, it’s not hard to see why.

Among the residents of this dreamy inner-city locale are Frances Normoyle, co-owner and designer at furniture selling platform and design business Playground, and Lauren Everett, PR professional at Think HQ, who began renting an art deco apartment here in August 2019. 

‘I have developed a deeply passionate and enduring love affair with East Melbourne in my time living here,’ says Frances. ‘I’m sure this amorous relationship will persist well into my old age.’ 

Not only did the housemates find an apartment with great 1930s bones, they also hit the landlord jackpot, who allowed them to repaint elements of the property. (‘There was a heinous red feature wall in our dining room which we painted over,’ Frances explains.)

The apartment today features many of its original detailing such as wide windows and gentle curves, and these are accentuated by a colourful mix of postmodern, mid-century Scandinavian, and custom design pieces. This controlled use of colour, and smattering of strong design silhouettes has resulted in a a sleek, yet relaxed and characterful home.

When in need of a little more novelty, Frances has also been known to paint a piece of furniture a fresh colour, such as the bedside shelf, recently coated with Burnt Earth by Dulux. 

Lauren and Frances’ home is a compact space with defined rooms, so they’ve created multipurpose zones wherever possible. ‘Our dining table becomes an office, the lounge a spot to dine, and the kitchen a place to host,’ says Frances. ‘We were considered in our approach to selecting furniture, in that we prioritised pieces that we knew would serve us.’

Rumour has it that Lauren and Frances’ building was once a constant party house, but today the residents operate at a much slower place, and that’s mostly the way they like it! Frances describes the area as ‘tree-lined streets and old men reading in their windows. It’s nostalgic and so romantic.’

‘We love living up in the trees and watching the leaves turn. It’s a lovely space to co-exist and also watch the world around us evolve.’ 

This Week

News

Shop The Megan Park Archive Of More Than 10,000 Pieces!

Legendary fashion designer Megan Park has kept one of every piece she has designed over the last 22 years – and now, she’s opening h...

Gardens

A Slice Of Primeval Paradise In Bronte

Situated on a steep site in a sometimes blustery coastal location, the planting palette for this stunning garden in Sydney is both soft, and...

News

An Extensive Art And Design Festival Taking Over Brisbane!

Brisbane Art Design (BAD) is a public art program bringing the Sunshine State’s exemplary creative scene to the fore throughout the month
Sponsored

Architecture

A Surprise Garden Brings This 'Pop-Up' Home To Life

Figr creates a unique language between architectural and landscaped spaces to truly maximise this small footprint home for a family of three...

Interiors

How To Nail The Bathroom Basics, According To Reece

A crash course in very excellent bathroom design, courtesy of bathrooms + kitchens merchandising leader at Reece Bathrooms, Daniella Santill...
Sasha Gattermayr
  23 hours ago

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

With teams in both Melbourne and Bali, Chrissy lets us in on how she runs the lifestyle brand she's built from scratch!

News

The Magic And Art Of Beekeeping With Honey Fingers

Mud Australia is hosting an exhibition and in conversation event with legendary urban beekeepers Honey Fingers, moderated by artist Stanisla...
Sally Tabart

Architecture

This Clever + Compact Bondi Home Feels Like A Never-Ending Holiday!

Fox Johnston architects managed to expand the footprint of this small and narrow Sydney site to create a generous, private haven!

On The Market

A Corner Store Turned Architectural Home Hits The Market In Brunswick

An 1883 shopfront turned architectural home with a pool and sauna is for sale in Brunswick!

Interiors

A Crash Course In Renovating Your Own Home From Top To Bottom, With BuildHer Collective

Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon of BuildHer Collective bring us a new book containing all the info you need to embark on building or ren...
Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon

Homes

A Heartwarming Home Of A Stylist (And Family!)

Justine and Bob Murphy's warm and welcoming family home is like a slice of the country... in Northcote!
Lucy Feagins
  7 hours ago

Studio Visit

Experimental Designer Jessie French Is Shaping A Seaweed-Centric Future

The Melbourne artist shares her process of creating seaweed-based bioplastics, the beautiful resin-like homewares she makes from it + what t...

Homes

A Magical Alistair Knox-Designed Rental In Eltham!

The seriously dreamy 1970s rental home of Pop and Scott trade manager Lucienne Van Sebille, and her partner Sebastian.

Stays

Northern NSW’s Newest Holiday House, Made From Recycled Materials

Book your stay at Rockhaven at Booyong – a new holiday house made from recycled materials located 40 minutes from Byron Bay.

Food

Julia's Autumnal Weeknight Rocket and Hazelnut Pesto Linguine

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's linguine with a herby rocket and hazelnut pesto is a riff on the classic weeknight family meal by adding earthy,
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

View Comments

Similar Stories

Homes

A European-Style, Beachside Melbourne Apartment!

The 1920s St Kilda apartment of friends John Wares and Peter Papadopoulos has been completely reconfigured in a beautiful renovation.

Homes

An Artist’s Art Deco Apartment With Incredible Views Of Bondi Beach!

Daimon Downey and Georgia Gorman live above a surf shop, with sweeping views of Bondi Beach. Does it get any more Sydney than that?!

Homes

A Perfectly Pint-Sized, Art Deco Sydney Pad!

Interior architect Sophie Bowers and fashion stylist Josh Climpson share their renovated one-bedroom apartment in Sydney's Kensington.

This Week

News

The Magic And Art Of Beekeeping With Honey Fingers

Mud Australia is hosting an exhibition and in conversation event with legendary urban beekeepers Honey Fingers, moderated by artist Stanisla...
Sally Tabart

Interiors

How To Nail The Bathroom Basics, According To Reece

A crash course in very excellent bathroom design, courtesy of bathrooms + kitchens merchandising leader at Reece Bathrooms, Daniella Santill...
Sasha Gattermayr
  23 hours ago

Architecture

This Clever + Compact Bondi Home Feels Like A Never-Ending Holiday!

Fox Johnston architects managed to expand the footprint of this small and narrow Sydney site to create a generous, private haven!

Homes

A Heartwarming Home Of A Stylist (And Family!)

Justine and Bob Murphy's warm and welcoming family home is like a slice of the country... in Northcote!
Lucy Feagins
  7 hours ago

News

An Extensive Art And Design Festival Taking Over Brisbane!

Brisbane Art Design (BAD) is a public art program bringing the Sunshine State’s exemplary creative scene to the fore throughout the month
Sponsored

Stays

Northern NSW’s Newest Holiday House, Made From Recycled Materials

Book your stay at Rockhaven at Booyong – a new holiday house made from recycled materials located 40 minutes from Byron Bay.

Homes

A Magical Alistair Knox-Designed Rental In Eltham!

The seriously dreamy 1970s rental home of Pop and Scott trade manager Lucienne Van Sebille, and her partner Sebastian.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

With teams in both Melbourne and Bali, Chrissy lets us in on how she runs the lifestyle brand she's built from scratch!

Gardens

A Slice Of Primeval Paradise In Bronte

Situated on a steep site in a sometimes blustery coastal location, the planting palette for this stunning garden in Sydney is both soft, and...

Food

Julia's Autumnal Weeknight Rocket and Hazelnut Pesto Linguine

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's linguine with a herby rocket and hazelnut pesto is a riff on the classic weeknight family meal by adding earthy,
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Architecture

A Surprise Garden Brings This 'Pop-Up' Home To Life

Figr creates a unique language between architectural and landscaped spaces to truly maximise this small footprint home for a family of three...

News

Shop The Megan Park Archive Of More Than 10,000 Pieces!

Legendary fashion designer Megan Park has kept one of every piece she has designed over the last 22 years – and now, she’s opening h...

Interiors

A Crash Course In Renovating Your Own Home From Top To Bottom, With BuildHer Collective

Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon of BuildHer Collective bring us a new book containing all the info you need to embark on building or ren...
Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon

Studio Visit

Experimental Designer Jessie French Is Shaping A Seaweed-Centric Future

The Melbourne artist shares her process of creating seaweed-based bioplastics, the beautiful resin-like homewares she makes from it + what t...

On The Market

A Corner Store Turned Architectural Home Hits The Market In Brunswick

An 1883 shopfront turned architectural home with a pool and sauna is for sale in Brunswick!

Similar Stories

Homes

A European-Style, Beachside Melbourne Apartment!

The beautifully renovated, 1920s, St Kilda apartment of John Wares and Peter Papadopoulos.

Homes

An Artist’s Art Deco Apartment With Incredible Views Of Bondi Beach!

Daimon Downey and Georgia Gorman share their colourful apartment, above a surf shop on Bondi Beach.

Homes

A Perfectly Pint-Sized, Art Deco Sydney Pad!

Interior architect Sophie Bowers and fashion stylist Josh Climpson share their renovated one-bedroom apartment in Sydney's Kensington.

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.