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MM&SW - 5 Kitchen Rice cooker-2052

Creative In North Carlton

May 22 2015 • Leave a comment

There is nothing more exciting than walking into a living space that is so confident in its unique blend of culture and style.

An old Edwardian house and a mix of mid-century furniture, set against a strong Japanese aesthetic with a playful twist, had me captivated from the first step inside the front door of this home in North Carlton.

My recent trip to Japan led to meeting the owners of this exceptional home – book designer, illustrator and author Michelle Mackintosh, her husband, writer, Indie DJ and 3RRR Breakfast Radio Anchor Steve Wide and their well loved British short hair cat Bronte.

Michelle and Steve wrote Tokyo Precincts, a book that soon became my travel bible. It’s a stylish travel guide featuring the very best of Tokyo’s shopping, eating and drinking experiences. I loved the book so much that I contacted them, which led to the pleasure of taking pics of their amazing home. Michelle and Steve have traveled to Japan no less than 25 times. In fact, they are off to Tokyo, their favourite city in the world, again this week!

Like visiting an art gallery, each room in this home is so intriguing, it leaves you excited to see just what is in the next one. Cute (kuwaii!) Japanese pieces and keepsakes artfully play amongst their furniture, beautiful ceramics and other enviable collectables. All together, the result is contemporary, inspiring and full of personality – you could spend hours pouring over the details.

It’s pretty clear that for Michelle and Steve, their strong sense of style is a reflection of their talent and creativity. Their home office is a shrine to what inspires them – new ideas, music, passions and quirks. I think it shows how their savvy business ideas have been successful as they cleverly mix business with an attitude of earthiness and whim.

Enjoy the tour.

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The kitchen. The couple love to cook Japanese and Italian at home, mostly vegetarian dishes. The table is from Modern History, chairs from Angelucci, pendant light from Artemide, vintage String System shelves from 20th Century Scandinavia. Kitchen renovation by Fitt De Felice. Photo by Briony Skeen.

MM&SW - 5 Kitchen Rice cooker-2052

Kitchen details. Is this not the cutest rice cooker you have ever seen? Sanyo rice cooker from Tokyo, Japanese tins, Tivoli audio radio, Japanese cooking books, polka dot trays from Kyoto, stamp collage by Michelle. The couple just love Japan, the people, the manners, the beauty, pop culture and history. ‘It’s so close to Australia but worlds away. It has an international art scene, is a brilliant place to see live music or to just take a stroll around the beautiful temples and gardens’ says Michelle. Photo by Briony Skeen. 

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Steve and Michelle love this space, particularly in the summer time when the sliding doors are open making the kitchen and garden one. All three of the large paintings in the house are by Pacquita Maher, a very close friend to the couple. ‘We love collecting work made by friends’ says Michelle. Vintage Eames coffee table from Angelucci, brown armchair from Modern History. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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“Bronte loves floating around the kitchen. She loves the sliding doors to be open so she can get around the garden then come inside and cosy up for a sleep” Michelle says. Planter from My Grandfather’s Axe, Sonny Angel dolls from Tokyo. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Kitchen details. Coffee pot and maker from Tokyo, Fog Linen checked tea towel, air plants from The Fitzroy Nursery, mini watering can from Mr Kitly. Michelle’s baking on a little plate from Uguisu, The Little Shoppe in Tokyo. Michelle likes to make cakes. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Bathroom. Fog linen, Muji and Imabari towels and linen, vintage kokeshi dolls from Japan. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Loungeroom. Chest of drawers from Twenty21, Eames Classic Lounge from Luke Furniture, vintage couch, vintage flokati rug from ebay, vintage Noguchi table. On the table – Moma exhibition book from NYC and Charlie Harper book, Lisa Larson Ceramics, Saks 5th Avenue snow dome. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Loungeroom details. From left – the vintage suitcases are from Camberwell Market, table from Twenty21, vintage Penguin novels, vintage Scandinavian ceramics and books. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Vintage Lisa Larson ceramics, pink and green ceramics from Tokyo, small vases from Tokyo, painting by Pacquita Maher, background ceramics are a mix of Scandinavian vintage and presents from friends. Dried flowers and leaves by Michelle. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Michelle’s home office. So neat & tidy! Michelle is a self confessed stationary nerd. I was very impressed with her huge washi tape collection! Michelle & Steve’s latest book Tokyo Precincts and Michelle’s book Snail Mail sit on her desk. Snail Mail will be translated into Japanese later in the year. Vintage String System shelves, small relaxe stool by Tim Collins, House shelves on wall by Fern Living, nick nacks on desk collected from all over the world. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Home office. String System from Great Dane, vintage table a gift from Steve, on the stool – vintage cinema, books and vintage globe. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Courtyard. The last of the persimmons before winter hits. The goldfish are called Dweezil, Moon Unit and The Profit. ‘Bronte the cat loves the fish. She licks their heads and sticks her tail in the pond so they can swim around it’ Michelle says. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Steve’s home office/music room. Steve has a big collection of CDs and vinyl. He is the anchor on 3RRRs Breakfasters and has a masters in Creative writing. He has written six books for children that Michelle has illustrated. He and Michelle spent the better part of a year working on creating Tokyo Precincts together. ‘We love to travel to Japan and are so proud to have made a book on our favourite city’ says Michelle. Michelle loves Japanese design and Steve loves Japanese music collectables. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Steve’s home office/music room. Panton Flower Pot lamp, vintage collectables from Flea Markets and garage sales. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Steve starts work at 3RRR at 6am so he is up at 5am on weekdays. Michelle loves listening to Steve on the radio while she works from home. When he gets home he pops on the soundtrack to their afternoon. ‘Weekdays we both work very hard, but always make time for delicious food, films, reading and making things’ says Michelle. Bronte ‘works’ in Michelle’s studio. Music room shelving by Fit De Felice. Photo by Briony Skeen.

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Vintage Eames coffee table from Angelucci, Sampuru ice-cream cones from Tokyo, book from Tokyo, kitchen sponges from Tokyo. Photo by Briony Skeen.


Steve and Michelle bought their Edwardian home at the start of 2000. It’s nestled in a lovely leafy street just moments from North Carlton village. They loved the area and knew they could put their own stamp on the house. Together they had the garden planted with beautiful citrus tree’s, persimmon and fig, renovated the bathroom and kitchen and had custom shelving put in Steve’s home office/music room.

Michelle and Steve have collected some beautiful pieces over the years during their travels. When asked about their most prized possession, they couldn’t choose one, but said ‘Everything in our house tells it’s own story, and has been collected for a specific reason’. Michelle has a passion for styling and spends a lot of time researching, making and collecting – there’s always a creative project on the go!

One thing that was very apparent to me, was just how neat this couples home was. I was curious as to how this level of neatness is kept up. My dusting skills leave a little to be desired!

I felt so at home in Michelle and Steve’s space – a big part of this is their welcoming and down-to-earth approach. It really was inspiring to meet them and take a look inside their beautiful home. Thanks guys!! If you have room in your suitcase, I would love to see Tokyo again:)


Michelle and Steve describe North Carlton as a great place to live. It’s walking distance to the city, Brunswick and Fitzroy. Princes park is a favourite and they love the lovely cafes and stores.

Michelle feels that Tokyo has a lot in common with parts of inner city Melbourne, because it’s filled with interesting creative people.



You can read more about Michelle & Steve’s work here.


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