In past lives, this little converted warehouse at the end of a laneway in Fitzroy has been a secret bar and a photographic studio. Now, it’s the home of Leigh Ellwood – an interior designer who has rented this little beauty for the last few years, along with her beloved British Blue cat, Yama.
When Leigh first went to inspect the property, she remembers ‘there was a swarm of cool cats already looking at it’. Classic Fitzroy! ‘I loved the place… so I was sweating, wondering how on earth I could be the successful applicant’, she says. Luckily she was – and Leigh and Yama have been living happily here ever since.
The location of this home was a massive drawcard for Leigh – not only for its proximity to delicious food and coffee, and a short stroll to the movies in Carlton or the pool in Fitzroy, but also because it was close to where her adult daughter lives. ‘I wanted a place big enough for her to come and hang out, or have friends over for a meal, but small enough that it didn’t feel cavernous when I’m just there with Yama’, she says.
As an interior designer and lover of design, Leigh has collected art and furniture for her entire her adult life, which meant she was able to fill the small space with colour and texture pretty much straight away. Grounding the space downstairs is a cheerful pink “Ghost 12” sofa by Gervasoni from Anibou, and behind it, a wall covered in hanging baskets and Dilly bags woven by many First Nations weavers from Western Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, making a striking textural display. Although Leigh hasn’t made any major changes to the space (it is a rental, after all!) she notes that the glow of light through the washi paper of the Noguchi pendant hung over the dining table made a massive difference, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Leigh doesn’t really consider her space to have specific or definable aesthetic, but is more guided by intuition, and things that make her feel good. ‘I’ve always found it enchanting that the things you love just seems to belong together’, she says. This theory is certainly evidenced in her own home, which is the perfect showcase for the special things collected over the years. But at the end of the day, the things that make Leigh feel at home aren’t necessarily ‘things’ at all. There’s nothing like her cat Yama lounging on his favourite armchair (or turntable… another beloved napping spot!) to put her at ease.
We’ll leave you with this sage advice from Leigh – ‘don’t worry if you don’t have lots of art or great furniture. Beautiful things make your spaces look beautiful, for sure – but it’s the feeling of a home that people remember… the warmth you bring’, she says. Words to live by!