The Design Files has featured hundreds and hundreds of Melbourne homes over the past 13 years, but never a rental property in the hands of beekeepers!
Nic Dowse, founder of urban beekeeping collective Honey Fingers, has been hosting his bees on this Fitzroy property’s rooftop for almost 10 years. When the huge adjoining apartment became vacant last year, he and fellow beekeeper Samantha McIntyre couldn’t imagine not keeping it in the Honey Fingers family, so Samantha and friend Elsa Bryant moved in!
‘It is very sentimental to me, as it’s the first location I ever went beekeeping in 2018,’ says Samantha. ‘Nic has a longstanding relationship with the beautiful owner of the property, who was more than happy to have us beekeepers take over from the previous, wonderful tenants.’
Elsa studies art at VCA, and Samantha is the artist behind ceramics label The Soda Fountain — pursuits that are reflected in their home’s creative feel. Together they’ve imbued their personal style into the space, incorporating several of the owner’s personal items (who owns the entire building and previously lived here for 10 years) into a ‘eclectic mix of older, country-esque pieces with a touch of modernity.’
‘She was an amazing interior designer and designed some of the rugs we look after in the home,’ says Samantha. ‘Her love of the place is contagious, which is evident in the longstanding tenants living in other parts of the building.’
Since moving in, Samantha and Elsa have slightly neutralised the home’s colour palette (previously made up of vibrant different coloured walls); added curtains for more privacy; and reconfigured the layout to optimise what’s essentially one big room!
‘Keeping an open flow to each area so one can move freely from each “space”, and being able to see unhindered from one side of the room to the other, was very important to me,’ says Samantha.
‘I also wanted to mix up the old with the new in each room, so adding the perfect painting or sculpture, vase or plant that blended well with what was already there was a fun challenge.’ Among these pieces are the first ceramics Samantha ever made, in her signature checkered and wobbly style.
Due to rain we were sadly unable to photograph the home’s rooftop terrace, but it’s an equally sprawling space where Nic’s bees live among established plants.
Samantha calls the home her sanctuary. ‘It has all my favourite things in it, down to my cats and my book collection. It’s always safe and cosy.’
‘In summer, I spend a lot of time on the rooftop in the sun. Otherwise, the whole space is good to move around in, sit in, and lie on the floor.’