Amara Speechley’s love of her Fitzroy apartment is immediately evident in the poetic way she describes its grounds.
‘When you push through the security gate you’re immediately transported to some other place,’ says the strategist at Studio Round. ‘The gardens, particularly in the warmer months, abound with prairie-esque planters that are an ode to Piet Oudolf, and with the heritage facades hovering in the background, you really feel like you’ve stumbled upon your own little slice of Europe.’
Amara has lived here with her partner Cal Watson for over six years, including three since their son Vetiver was born.
The couple were initially unsure about the communal nature of the outdoor space, but have found this to be a real source of community.
‘When we walked through the courtyard and saw how idyllic the gardens could be, and how removed we felt from everything that was happening around us, we just fell in love!’ says Amara. ‘All the residents here are independent, single women and have had their homes for over a decade… we were coming into a close-knit, warm community of neighbours in the truest sense.’
Cal is the director of Bespoke Landscapes, so his gardening design expertise has only added to the richness of the shared courtyard. It’s been challenging at times, due to the shaded aspects and abundance of concrete, but their desired ‘rambling, abundant feel’ has been achieved with dozens of overflowing pots.
‘Our planters are crammed and spilling with an array of whimsical grasses and florals that create a real sense of romance and wonder,’ Amara says. ‘We’ve also tried to bring larger, more established trees into the space to help with heat and make it feel more like an authentic garden.’ The couple have also trained roses, wisteria and vines to climb up surfaces, creating a sense of near abandon.
‘We’ve become quite deliberate in allowing the garden to do its own thing, and love watching surprise floral delights pop up throughout the seasons as different plants self seed, or we throw handfuls of random seedlings into the beds and just see what emerges,’ says Amara.
Inside the apartment, a refined mix of vintage furniture pieces gives the space a distinctly nostalgic, inviting feel. The living room couch best encapsulates this style, with its bold ‘70s form and chocolate velvet.
‘Soft furnishings encourage the light to dance across rooms, art is positioned to create dialogue, furniture placements are intentional to ask each piece to reveal something about the other,’ says Amara.
Amara and Cal are often asked how they manage to have such a well curated home with a toddler in tow, but aside from the occasional spill, they say it’s less challenging than one might expect.
‘Vetiver is respectful of our things… he gets that just like he has some special toys that he loves and wants to keep for himself, we have some things that we love and we need to treat with care,’ Amara says.
As Vetiver grows older, Amara and Cal are seeking a little more space, so they’re embarking on a new renovation project in Brunswick.
Whoever lives here next, we’re jealous!