The St Kilda West house of Keryn Nossal (aka Nancy, owner of Fancy Films and St Andrew’s Beach accommodation Coastal Luxe) and Stephen Nossal (director of CRE green hydrogen development) feels like a real family home. But it hasn’t always been this way.
The couple first came across the house in 2003, when a real estate agent recommended they check it out. Four days later, they bought it. ‘We owe a lot to that agent for pushing us and are still in touch with him to this day,’ says Keryn.
It’s hard to imagine now, but 18 years ago the house was incredibly rundown, after operating as a boarding house for decades, then being separated into flats.
‘It was divided into two properties… it had something like 11 bedrooms upstairs, five kitchens, and six bathrooms all designed to maximise the boarding house accommodation in the ‘60s,’ says Keryn. ‘There were leaking roofs, buckets in the hallways, exposed wiring, and it was very dark… the agent’s name for it was Bohemian Rhapsody – and our friends thought we were mad.’
Keryn says it’s taken minor renovations almost every year to get the property to where it is today, with the help of friend and architect Susi Leeton. ‘Susi did countless drawings and was really patient with us,’ Keryn says. ‘It turned out that the temporary kitchen (that she popped into the middle of the house while we decided where to put it) has been so good that it stayed!’
Letting go of a ‘big shebang reno’, as Keryn calls it, was perhaps the most challenging element of the project, but ultimately worth it. ‘The result is the house is made for living in the way we like it, not the way a potential buyer would like it, or anyone else for that matter,’ Keryn says. ‘It’s us.’
Today, the home is a warm and inviting space, filled with out of the ordinary items. The grand Victorian bones (with many quirks – something their kids didn’t always appreciate growing up!) now serve as the perfect backdrop for Keryn and Steve’s beautiful collection of contemporary and Indigenous art, ceramics, and eclectic furniture mostly bought from junk stores or op shops.
‘Our adult kids and their friends appreciate it more now than they did when they were little; understanding that the imperfections are what generate the relaxed atmosphere and that the kitchen is the heart of the home,’ Keryn says.
Dulux Vivid White has been used on the walls throughout – the perfect light-reflecting backdrop for the family’s art, collected mostly from Monash Museum of Contemporary Art and Centre for Contemporary Photography. Keryn is also a KEEN op-shopper who has collected hundreds of homewares pieces over the years! ‘I collect all sorts of things that make complete sense to me’, she says. ‘I’ll never tire of collection special, meaningful pieces – nothing that’s in fashion – and surrounding our lives with things that have a story to pass on’.
Making this home even more special is the fact Keryn’s best friend moved in next door 10 years ago! ‘It’s pretty special sharing a fence with them,’ she says. What a dream!
‘There’s always something to fix, but we love it, and feel very happy here,’ says Keryn. ‘It’s been a gorgeous, rambling, indestructible place to bring up three kids, and continues to be.’