This incredible mid-century style home belongs to Sonia Post, her partner Glenn and the lovely 6-year-old Ivy. Sonia is the owner and founder of brand and digital agency Design Democracy. Over the past two years Glenn and Sonia have transformed this house into the amazing colourful home and office studio you see here. I really enjoyed meeting this family. Sonia has a great personality and fun sense of humour. This really resonates in every room.
Sonia and Glenn feel incredibly lucky to have worked with their friend and architect Grant Cheyne who really bought the couple’s dream of a Palm Springs theme to life. It was really important for them that any changes made to the house be in keeping with the original style and design. Grant added features to the home that look like they were always there. It just feels so genuine and well thought out. The home is a shining example of their style.
Prior to the house renovation, this place was pretty worse for wear but Sonia and Glenn could see clearly beneath the surface and were willing to put in the hard yards. They said ‘if we had $1 for every person who suggested we cement render the house we would be very very rich’! Just goes to show, if you have a passionate idea of how you really want your home to be and you trust the right professionals, the results can be phenomenal.
The view of the lounge room through the original decorative glass doors. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Lounge room details. Sonia’s daughter Ivy stands here telling me what animals she can see on the record cover. Record player from Ebay. When I asked the couple what their favourite records are, Sonia said ‘it depends on who you are asking!… at the moment it is a three-way fight between ABBA, David Bowie and 1960s Mexican records’. The artwork was picked up at Leonard Joel Auctions. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Lounge room. The couch and individual arm chairs are from Red Rider Vintage, coffee table from an op shop, lamp from Angelucci, floor rug from Armadillo, vintage PH5 ceiling lights and macrame wall hanging from Maryanne Moodie. This room is amazingly bright all day long. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Anatomical model from Kmart, Harry Seidler book, a gift from Sonia’s parents and Child Craft books from Glenn Waverley Antiques. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Vintage chest of drawers from Angelucci, wooden duck from Selfridges, macrame wall hanging from the Six Week Boutique, Italian ceramic from eBay and cactus terrarium from Garden of Eden. Photo of Briony Skeen.
Dining space. Eames table from Luke Furniture and chairs from Grandfathers Axe. The horse fireplace stand was a gift to Sonia from Glenn when they first met. Neither of them particularly call themselves the cook of the house when entertaining. ‘But we are both very good at serving drinks and playing music’! says Sonia. Sonia has so many cute little ceramic figurines of people around the house. I asked her what draws her to them. ‘Good question. I really don’t know. Probably because they are a bit kitsch and a little silly. For some reason I can’t stop myself, they are stuffed in cupboards everywhere.’ says Sonia. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Plants used to grow so well in this sunny room….hah.. until the family got their two cats Poppy and Claude, who like to pull them off the shelves! Most have been given away to friends now until the kittens become lazy, surly teenagers. This wall unit is from Angelucci. Photo Briony Skeen.
Spare bedroom. Bed linen from an op shop, pillows from Marimekko, bedside lamp from the old Mondo Trasho store in Richmond, vintage Newgate clock and table from Leonard Joel Auctions. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Spare bedroom details. Sonia and Glenn love music, records and books. ‘We are always listening to music and “accidentally” wandering up to the Avenue Bookstore to bring more books home. We have a huge collection of records. We are constantly listening to different things and fighting over whose turn it is to choose a record or radio station’ says Sonia. The Eames wall hooks were a gift, the world globes are vintage and the 1950s Italian glass light is from Design Age. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Master Bedroom. Quilt from Kip & Co, shadow box above the bed made in Melbourne by Bride & Wolfe, vintage Carlton Ware salt and pepper shakers from Chapel St Bazaar and eBay, rug from Armadillo, bedside table from St Kilda op shop and blue vintage vase from eBay. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Ivy’s bedroom. The bed is from eBay, rug from Armadillo, vintage cane chair, desk and pram from Chapel St Bazaar, 1950s Tomado coloured metal shelves from eBay and quilt from an op shop. There are lots of special pieces in this room that have been handed down to her from family. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Hallway details. Emu tourist wall plaque from Sonia’s grandparent’s house in Sydney. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Love these laundry tiles. Sonia has the best selection of op shop tea towels too! Almost too good to use. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Laundry details. ‘Paper towel holder from The Good Store that used to be in Yarraville. We loved it there’ says Sonia. Photo by Briony Skeen.
The kitchen is original. The couple hasn’t done much other than paint it and clean it up. Sonia made me laugh when she said ‘It is terribly unfashionable but we are both the worst ever cooks! We get boxes of fruit and veg delivered here each week and have a bit of a go making something at night. Ivy often says “that smells unusual” when I cook, and she means unusual bad, not good! Too busy working is my excuse for being a bad cook. But we love wine, all wine is good.’ Wall clock from Japan and lights from ECC Lighting in Prahran. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Kitchen details. Red enamel bowl vintage Arabia from eBay. These lovely avocados were grown in Seddon in the height of Melbourne winter!! A true miracle. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Parker kitchen dining table from an op shop and chairs from Leonard Joel Auctions. The day I took this photo, Glenn and Ivy were enjoying some amazing looking bagels. Sonia said ‘they were from a pastry shop called Aviv. It’s all about the bagel in Elsternwick’. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Kitchen details. Sonia said ‘we cut the hole in the wall so we could see the garden whilst stranded/tortured/frustrated doing some bad cooking in the kitchen’. The terrarium was a gift from a client from Terra Folia. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Vintage typographic poster on the left from 1968, the same year the house was built! Assorted op shop tea towels, Smeg fridge, Alexander Girard tray on bench, vintage ceramics from eBay and mugs from Pols Potten. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Back living space looking out onto the huge backyard. Ivy loves playing in this room with Claude the cat. Arm chairs from Angelucci, rugs from Armadillo, pillows from Aelfi and Marimekko. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Cane sideboard from Angelucci and pillow from Aelfie. Sonia’s most prized possession is this gorgeous clay wall hanging that her grandfather made. Some of her earliest memories are ‘helping him’ make pottery as a child. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Glenn says this room looks like Gilligans Island with some weird cane furniture obsession happening in here. Cane furniture from Angelucci, vintage Fler couch from the old Mondo Trasho store in Richmond. ‘This is the tidiest I have ever seen it. It’s usually filled with mess and toys! says Sonia. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Outdoor space. Pot from Smith Street Bazaar. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Home office studio for Design Democracy. Ahem…I’m slightly jealous of Sonia’s sweet set up here. This was originally the garage. Grant Cheyne, the couple’s amazing architect friend reconfigured it into this Palm Springs abode, he dubbed ‘Caulfield Moderne’. ‘It is incredibly peaceful working here. We get the best of both worlds because its close to the shops, so staff can get lunch and we get to work in a garden setting where we have about a billion birds and butterflies buzzing around’ says Sonia. The steel wall feature is from Smith Street Bazaar, giant Dragon Tree in cut-out circle, amorphic 1960s planter from Leonard Joel Auctions. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Sonia is the owner and founder of brand and digital agency Design Democracy. Today she is checking proofs for a collaboration she has been working on called the Footpath Guides. They are architectural walking guides to Melbourne. Book One features Melbourne’s Mid-Century Commercial Architecture. Photo by Briony Skeen.
The backyard is currently under construction. How cool is it?! The garden is Sonia and Glenn’s favourite thing about the house. They love looking at how things change every day and can’t wait to watch everything grow really big. The stones around the fish pond and the stepping stones are from Pyrenees Quarry in Castlemaine. The garden has just been planted with cactuses, hibiscus, papyrus, reeds and a whole bunch of weird and unusual things from Roraima Nursery in Lara, which is just outside Geelong. ‘Lyle, who owns the nursery inspired our garden. We went to his nursery and had a “gardening epiphany”. His combination of plants is incredible. It is hard to explain, you need to go and see Roraima to understand. It was set up in the 1960s and has giant Dragon Trees, Cacti, Maples, Conifers and all sorts of things mixed together.’ says Sonia. Next on the agenda is to go and get some gold fish! Photo by Briony Skeen.
Even the very back section of this property looks great. <Insert envious sigh here> Veggie patch boxes by the Little Veggie Patch Co in St Kilda. The family is currently growing ‘bikini snow peas’ (!), carrots, asparagus, radishes, peas, greens and herbs. ‘It is hit and miss but great fun. The wire keeps the possums out.’ says Sonia. Photo by Briony Skeen.
House facade. The front garden plants are from Roraima Nursery and the Conifer Gardens Nursery in Olinda. Giant boulders from Transrock in Wonga Park. The gate was meticulously copied from a 1960s house in Caulfield. Photo by Briony Skeen.
The cutest letterbox. Playso Koo Koo letterbox from Top 3 by Design. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Number Nine custom made by Monstar Metal. Photo by Briony Skeen.
The front door is original. ‘We just painted it and replaced the original star door handle with an exact same one that is being remade in the US called ‘The Titan’. It even has a matching star doorbell that lights up!’ says Sonia. Shag Dot doormat by Chilewich, vintage pots from Smith Street Bazaar and the metal Scotty Dog is a special family possession of Glenn’s. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Sonia, Glenn and Ivy bought this gem in December 2013. ‘We tried and tried to buy an amazing mid-century architect designed house but we couldn’t afford the good ones, as they are so popular and waaaay over our budget. When we found this house, which was in a totally ramshackle state, we decided it was so plain and lacking in interesting features that maybe no-one else would like it and we could be in with a chance’ says Sonia.
Sonia and Glenn feel blessed to have worked with their architect friend Grant Cheyne. ‘He is amaaaazing and we would never have come up with his solutions ourselves. We added on the 1960s features we felt the house lacked and cleaned the whole place up. We added pergolas, replaced the roof and had a wooden sculptural fence installed that we copied down to the exact detail from an amazing sixties house in Caulfield’. The garage studio that Grant Cheyne designed is fantastic. It’s been fixed up into a 60’s Palm Springs style office. The garden has had a complete overhaul too. They dug into the concrete and driveway and added huge boulders, cacti, conifers and loads of plants.
Sonia and Glenn don’t really describe the interior of their home as one particular style. They say its just ‘all the things we like. We both have the same taste, which is really lucky. Well, most things….not all things!’ They want it to feel comfortable, not too fussy. They let their daughter Ivy play with everything, as the house is filled with things that interest them all.
Sonia and Glenn moved to Elsternwick for this house, not specifically for the suburb, but they have grown to really like the area. They find it really peaceful with a big diversity of people. They love Japanese food and luckily this is an area with lots of Japanese restaurants, which they say can intersperse with their bad cooking!
The family’s favourite park is Hopetoun Gardens. They call it Cannon park because it used to have two big cannons at the entrance.
- Avenue Bookstore Elsternwick – Because you can never have enough inspiring design books for work.
- Bistro Goemon – Three words – Wasabi – Tuna – Pizza.
- Tataki – For traditional and authentic Japanese. We eat here every week!
- Tokyo Deli – For Pokki Sticks! Amazing chocolate biscuit sticks.
- Bancroft Brewers – This place is new. We have just started going there. It has a great menu and friendly staff.
- Motorino Pizzeria – Good homemade pizza that doesn’t flop over when you pick it up. Nice and thin.
- Classic Cinema – A great local cinema that we can walk to.
- After The Tears – A Polish restaurant and bar. It has dark moody lighting and Vodka – perfect!
- Aviv Cakes and Bagels – We are very bagel dependent now we have lived in the area for a few years. We are always shocked when we are away from home and there are no bagels!
- The Posh Opp Shop – A particularly good op shop. Even just for a window browse when it is shut.
- The Vestibule – This is new and has great stuff. It’s a little shop in a teeny tiny corridor between two doors. It’s a curated retail gallery offering a carefully chosen range of handmade products from local and international artisans.