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A Boarding House Turned Gorgeous, Rambling + Indestructible Family Home!

Homes

When Keryn and Stephen Nossal first took possession of this St Kilda West home in 2003, they immediately started pulling out walls. Since then, barely a year has gone by where the couple haven’t renovated some area of the Victorian home, which functioned from the 1960s onwards as a boarding house. 

Stephen and Keryn (who also goes by Nancy – owner/creative director of Fancy Films and St Andrews accommodation Coastal Luxe, one of our top ‘Stays’ of 2020!) lives here with two of their three adult children, Tess and Joe, two young boys Bruce and Jesse who they are hosting from the Tiwi Islands (graduates of Melbourne Indigenous Transition School, which supports Indigenous students from remote communities to transition to education in Melbourne), and dog Toby. Their best friends also live next door! 

18 years later, there’s still always something to do, and the ceiling still regularly springs a leak, but Keryn and Stephen wouldn’t have it any other way.

5th May, 2021

The warm and welcoming kitchen of Keryn + Stephen Nossal’s St Kilda West home. Handmade hanging basket lights made by a crayfish pot maker on Bruny Island. Pandanus mat from Maningrida, artist unknown. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Keryn is a KEEN op shopper and has collected hundreds of homewares over the years! Pictured here is a (very) small selection of her collection, including vintage Arabia pottery. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photographic artwork by Thuy Vy. Oil painting by Thomas Gare. Smaller painting was gifted by an artist friend, Marise Maas. Stools from Luke Furniture (now closed). Sling dining chairs by Mary Featherston, found on eBay. Mark Tuckey dining table. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The most basic kitchen is still serving us well 18 years later and is unchanged’, says Keryn. The original floor boards have been re-sanded and limed. Island bench by Susi Leeton. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Artwork by Angelina Ngale from Utopia Region, Mbunta Gallery. Far left: vintage Arabia salt cellar, which was a gift from friends. The other ceramics are op shop finds. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Light fitting was a junk shop find 20 years ago. Other artworks and trinkets collected over many years in flea markets on travels. Dining table by Mark Tuckey. Mary Featherston sling dining chairs from eBay. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photograph by Kent Morris from Vivien Anderson Gallery. Smaller artwork by Louise Weaver from Avalanche Australian Print Workshop. Mark Tuckey dining table. Mary Featherston sling dining chairs. Vintage Arabia pottery collection on shelf. Chair from Graham Geddes. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Left: Artwork by Minnie Pwerle, bought from Flinders Lane Gallery in 2003. Grant Featherston chairs from Keryn’s childhood home gifted from her dad, recovered by Gordon Mather. Falcon chair from Angelucci. Right: Lightning/Mimi Spirit by Yidumduma Bill Harney bought in Kununurra. Iitalla glassware collection on trips to Finland. Minnie Pwerle artwork behind.  Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Artwork by Minnie Pwerle, bought from Flinders Lane Gallery in 2003 for Keryn + Stephen’s wedding anniversary. B&B Italia sofa from Space. Artwork on left by Marise Maas from Flinders Lane Gallery. Grant Featherston chairs from Keryn’s childhood home gifted from her dad, recovered by Gordon Mather. Falcon chair from Angelucci. On mantle: Lightning/Mimi Spirit by Yidumduma Bill Harney bought in Kununurra. Iitalla glassware collection on trips to Finland. Minnie Pwerle artwork behind.  Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photograph by unknown artist from a 1970s advertising campiagn. Peruvian rug from Citizen Nomade in Byron Bay. 1960s coffee table has been with Keryn and Stephen ‘since the beginning’ from a secondhand shop. Side tables from eBay. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

West German ceramic vase found at Leonard Joel. Orefors bowl was Steve’s mums. Boab nut carving from Derby. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Artwork by Kent Morris from Vivien Anderson Gallery. Smaller artwork by Louise Weaver from Avalanche Australian Print Workshop. Photography by Hayley Millar Baker in collaboration with Melbourne Indigenous Transition School, from MUMA. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lamp bought from vintage shop in Rosebud. Baskets bought in Maccau. Vintage glass vase from Helsinki. Chairs from vintage shops. The dresser is a family heirloom. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘Nickeisha’ photo by Christian Thompson AO collaboration ‘Deadly Brilliant’ with Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS) student. Feathertson Numero Uno op shop chair from 15 years ago. Pandanus weaving from Injalak Arts. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Olivewood Mother of Pear crucifix and religious icons collected over many years. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Patterned cushion cover by North. Linen from Citizen Nomade in Byron Bay. Op shop lamps. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Looking out from the bedroom. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Collection of Mexican love heats bought over many years. Many are from Bauhaus on Keryn’s annual trip to The Garden of Unearthly Delights in Adelaide. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘The built-in verandah was there when we bought it. It’s our third white Victoria terrace house renovation, but this one is a keeper for 18 years’, says Keryn. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

White butterfly chairs from Angelucci. White cane and tile top table from the op shop. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘Steve took the iron roof off the back verandah and replaced it with clear laserlight from Bunnings’, says Keryn. ‘There was a step down to a red brick courtyard but about 10 years after we had the house Susi Leeton designed a huge deck outside, which was built by Martin Thorley’. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘Toby’s spot is on the cane furniture from eBay’, says Keryn. Concrete pots collected over the years. Casalla chair from a junk shop. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Design-lover and founder of Fancy Films Keryn (also known as Nancy!) Nossal! Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 5th May 2021

‘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.’ – Keryn Nossal

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.’ 

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