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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.’ 

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