Bethany and Joel Penman live in a Huntingdale house with their dogs Peggy Sue (a-six-month old Bullmastiff cross Bull Arab), Moose (Boxer cross Staffie) and cat, Moët.
Originally from Noosa, the 26-year-old high school sweethearts moved to Melbourne eight years ago. At the time, Bethany was a disillusioned hairdresser and Joel was in a band looking to establish a career in Melbourne. When the band broke up and the rest of the members wanted to move back home, Joel and Bethany decided to stay.
“We moved down when we were 18 thinking we could do it, but we soon realised it was a lot harder than we thought…We had it pretty rough,” Bethany says.
“It took us a while but once we got on our feet we were so glad we did it and went through that.”
They first came to know their current house through friends who previously rented the property. When their friend’s lease ran out, Bethany and Joel jumped at the chance to move from their one-bedroom Toorak apartment.
“We had just gotten engaged and wanted a change, and they wanted to move out, so it just worked,” Bethany says.
“I enjoy going into the city but then it’s nice to come back here where it’s quiet and no traffic.”
The cheerful house is filled with furniture salvaged from hard rubbish, personal photos and decorative signage from their wedding.
“It’s all secondhand, I don’t think anything’s new,” Bethany says.
The velvet-esque couch in the living room was purchased from a friend for $20, Moose’s favourite armchair was found on the side of the road, with other items gifted from Bethany’s mum.
“I think when you purchase something secondhand it’s got a bit more character to it – that’s what attracts me,” Bethany says.
“Most of the old stuff is made so well and it lasts amazingly.”
Hanging from the wood panelled walls are numerous framed art prints and tattoo flash sheets.
“We’re pretty big on the tattoos. We love the traditional styles like Sailor Jerry from around the war,” Bethany says.
“That whole thing fascinates us…there’s this whole history behind it.”
By day, Bethany is a receptionist and visual therapy student and Joel is a tiler, but by night they pursue more creative passions.
Joel is the drummer of the band From Oslo and can regularly be found practicing in the property's soundproofed converted garage/man cave.
Bethany has recently started a label, Betty Weaver, for her wall hangings made from wool purchased at op-shops and markets. Each piece is handmade at her lounge room desk.
The couple imagines they will live in the home for at least two more years, with hopes to one day move closer to the water.
“We’re happy with what we’re doing and we’re not in any rush to buy,” Bethany says.
“[There’s this perception that] you only have it together if you buy a house. There’s so much pressure...It happens when it happens.”
Top rental styling tip? Use stick-on Velcro wall hangers to hang art.
What are your most searched terms when looking for furniture and homewares online? Right now, the thing we are most hunting for is a cute little two-seater retro couch. And we are always on the look out for plants!
What are favourite furniture and homewares stores? My favourite online store would have to be Arro Home; they always have the nicest bedding. I also absolutely love Modern Times; I could spend hours in that store. And you can't go wrong with Savers!
What’s the best thing about renting? The best thing about renting would have to be that change is easy. You could be living somewhere for the 12 months and if you are sick of it, you can pack up and move somewhere else without the hassle of having to sell.