One Man’s Junk
A talented wine maker and a doctor of geriatrics live here with their very creative three-year-old-son and ridiculously gorgeous new baby daughter. Unpretentious, honest and genuine are just a few words that come to mind when describing this couple and their Thornbury home.
The way this family lives with “less stuff” and interacts with the community really struck a cord with me. Think recycled, up-cycled, handmade or handed down and bought locally. They live a relaxed simple lifestyle raising their children, pursing their passions and helping others.
This family has quickly learnt what they really love and need in their two bedroom home, and what they can live without. They are a great example of living without excess. Music is played often, art is enjoyed, wine is a passion and experimental seasonal cooking is a constant.
The couple watch their children play and grow, instead of watching TV (they actually don’t own a TV!) and nearly all of their furniture has been found/recycled. I was inspired.
Living Space. A favourite piece of artwork by Salvatore Zofrea called “February” takes pride above the side board. It’s from the artist’s “Days of Heaven” series. The couple bought it from one of their favourite local second-hand shops on High St in Northcote called Retro Active. They love the beautiful delicate etching. The previous owner of the artwork was Patrick White. This added to the value of the painting for the couple! The sideboard is from Smith Street Bazaar, another place the couple love to peruse. It was cheap and has a nice history too. It’s by the designer Gordon Russell. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Hallway Details. On the wall is a picture of the couple’s son when he was a baby. The green chair was found in Clifton hill on hard rubbish day. The rug is a Turkish Kilm. It was a 21st birthday present from an aunt. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Loungeroom. The three seater leather lounge is Danish design. The coffee table is Swedish and (besides their kids!) it’s the couple’s most prized possession. It was their first furniture purchase together when they moved to Melbourne from New Zealand. The beach scene picture on the wall was bought from an annual Wellington (NZ) art sale and is by an amateur artist from Gisborne, NZ. The black lamp is from Vinnies. The pink stool was bought from an amazing (possibly pathological!) “hoarder”’ who runs a local shop that is so full of stuff that it’s hard to get past the entrance! The stool was bought as an excuse to have a chat with the shop owner. Apparently she was fascinating. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Living Space. A lot of music is enjoyed here. The couple are loving their friend’s compilations currently featuring Sun Kil Moon, Nightmares On Wax, Courtney Barnett, Bob Dylan, Neko Case, The Swingers, Bill Callahan, Ex Hex and Rob Snarski. Their son is loving Paul Kelly at the moment, so he is a fairly regular backdrop to their lives. The cream leather chair and the little round coffee table were kerbside treasures found 20 years ago. The couple said that they have been carrying around this oil painting of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea for 20 years from house-share to house-share. It was bought from a second-hand store in Christchurch. The painting is special to the couple as it brings back memories of time spent in PNG, and nostalgia for the river delta scenery. The bookshelf was homemade. In fact, all of the shelving seen in the rooms was made from old solid pine kitchen cabinets left out as hard rubbish by neighbours. The doors were removed, sanded back and orange oiled. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Living Space. The Brocade chair came from kerbside rubbish around the corner. It’s now the “nursing” chair for the little lady kicking about in the hallway. The arrival of the couple’s baby daughter has brought some calm to the house. She is a relaxed, round little smiler. She is the eye around which their oldest son’s storm rages. The artwork on the left was created for the couple for their wedding by some friends. They’re into fonts and collect letters and numbers from all sorts of interesting places. It shows the date of the couple’s wedding and some other detail. The poster in the hallway is of David Gulpilil, entitled ‘Two Worlds’. It was the 2004 Archibald Prize winner, by Craig Ruddy. Photo by Briony Skeen.
The backyard looking onto the neighbours stable. The man who lives next-door is a generous and friendly Italian who has lived there for more than 50 years. The stable used to be the dairy distribution depot for the Thornbury area. It’s now used for the Italian family traditions of wine, salami and sugo making. The ’70s-looking pot holder on the left was the previous owner’s. She was a Greek woman in her ’90s who raised six kids in this home! Photo by Briony Skeen.
Bedroom details. The Snoopy sheets were handed down from father to son. Lovingly kept for him by his mum! The squirrel monkey is a favourite toy, but otherwise their son seldom plays with toys, preferring instead sticks, wood, pegs, rope, brooms etc; any household item he can get his hands on! Photo by Briony Skeen.
There he is in all his red-headed glory, exploring in the garden. He’s on the move a lot! Photo by Briony Skeen.
Spare bed in the son’s bedroom. This room gets bathed in beautiful sunlight. The bedspread is from Ikea. The pink pillowcase is from Vinnies. The crochet blanket was made by great-grandparents. The cute little vase filled with flowers was made by the owner’s mum, who is a ceramic artist in her spare time. She keeps the family in lovely crockery! Photo by Briony Skeen.
Main bedroom. Like most kids, the couple’s son likes to squeeze through small spaces. The window on the left gives him the perfect opportunity. He’s always climbing in and out on warm sunny days. The bedspread is a Florence Broadhurst print. The white lamp is from Vinnies. The picture was found during kerbside hard rubbish in New Zealand. It’s an amateur artist’s impression of Lake Wanaka from a neighbouring hill. The vase was a wedding gift. It’s by Royce McGlashen, who is a well known New Zealand ceramic artist. Photo by BrionySkeen.
Kitchen details. The bag hanging on the door was brought back from the famous Zabar’s Deli in New York by the kids’ grandma. The black ’60s-style stool was found kerbside. It’s well loved and needs fixing! Photo by Briony Skeen.
The kitchen. The couple describe their kitchen as pokey and “country style”. They said “you can’t be too choosey when it comes to rentals”. Their main focus is the food that is produced in this space and the lovely natural light. The winemaker has had a life-long interest in food and cooking. Apparently, he is exceptionally gifted, so mostly they just let him at it! They have the challenge of using up their CERES fruit and veggie box weekly, which means produce is almost always seasonal. The preserving jars on the window sill are filled with plums from the couple’s plum tree. There’s a love here of making things from scratch. – A few examples of this include five-day fermented pizza bases, beer made from grain and jus from litres of homemade stock and red wine, reduced over many hours to a few hundred intensely flavoured millilitres. Thats dedication! Photo by Briony Skeen.
Backyard. The kids love being outside. The oldest boy is so creative, that “its inspiring for the rest of us!” says the couple.
This little weatherboard in Thornbury has been home to this family of four for about 18 months. For them it has been one of the most special houses they have lived in and that’s saying a lot, as the couple (a doctor and a winemaker), have led a kind of a semi-nomadic lifestyle. They’ve been happy not to commit to any one particular place. This house and the neighbourhood of Thornbury just resonated with them.
The couple said, “initially the house was just the best place we could find at the time, and we knew we wanted to be in Thornbury”. At first they were hesitant due to the lack of storage, the pokey kitchen, the absence of a bath and insulation, and 150-year-old plumbing, but they are glad they took it now. They love this little home, faults and all.
They solved some of the storage issues by creating shelving for each room from a great collection of ‘90s-era solid pine kitchen cupboards “re-purposed” from a neighbour’s hard rubbish. Their carpenter brother-in-law said, “Solid pine! nothing’s made from solid pine anymore!” They knew they were onto a good thing.
The couple describe the house as a “beaut place to live”. It has its nice quiet corners, as well as great family activity zones. The high ceilings give it a lovely sense of space and light. The rooms are spacious with some great features such as the coloured glass windows in both bedrooms and the plaster detailing on the ceilings/cornicing.
Other bonuses have been the huge rosemary bush, olive tree and shed out the back, and the great little piece of lawn with the plum tree and lemon tree out the front for their swing, some shade and a lovely place to play.
The couple love pre-loved furniture because they feel it’s giving something another life/story. It’s nice thinking about its past. They enjoy being creative with the stuff that comes their way.
The family love this neighbourhood for many reasons including its cultural and generational mix. They’ve enjoyed daily encounters with local elderly Greek and Italian couples stopping in the street to chat. Their neighbours are great, the suburb is elevated and there are some nice parks and playgrounds around such as the All Nations and various little playgrounds around the train line including Batman Park, CERES and the Merri Creek path. The public transport is also useful. Northcote Aquatic Centre is close by and the family enjoy the Scarecrow Festival held on Rossmoyne Street. It’s a yearly community get-together.
- Psarakos Market – Particularly for the small goods counter – it’s fantastic.
- Preston Market – It has all the variety and colour a good market should have.
- Northcote Bakeshop – A true local. Great coffee, bread and pastries; lovely staff.
- Brother Alec – Coffee!
- Red Door Cornerstore – Coffee and food.
- The Moor’s Head – Inauthentic pizza – go-to takeaway. Delicious and simple.
- Il Pizzaiolo – Authentic pizza.
- High street Thornbury has more Pizza joints than Napoli!
- Iroha Japanese – New kid on the block. Fresh and beautiful.
- Carwyn Cellars – Craft beers and wine on the street corner. Great selection.
- Trumpy – Nice for a drink/simple eats. Very nice atmosphere and friendly.
- Jerry Joy – Very kid-friendly back-street cafe, plenty of outdoor space
- Velimirovic Butchers – Dried meats. The double smoked bacon is amazing.
- The Herbert Cafe – An outdoor coffee with a sandpit!
- Sahj Bakery Cafe – Spinach/cheese pies.
- Som Tam – Beautiful fresh Thai with a lovely ambience. Som Tam with soft shell crab and Kana Moo Krob (pork belly) are delicious. Great takeaway options also.