Clara Bradley and Rosie Garner rent a two-bedroom house in Fitzroy with Clara's Burmese cat, Keiko and Dachshund cross, Wool.
Clara has been renting this home for three years (with various housemates along the way), and Rosie moved in eight months ago. They met when Clara was advertising the home on Flatmate Finders.
“When I came through I just loved the house – it was so different to anywhere I’d lived. I loved Clara’s style and how she’d set it up,” Rosie says.
“It was the only house that I looked at. I saw that ad and just thought, ‘that’s it’...I literally wrote out a post-it note of everything I wanted, and I couldn’t even visualise what that was, but this was exactly it.”
Almost all the furniture items are Clara’s, and are mainly pieces collected from the side of the road including the kitchen table, coffee table, lounge armchair and some of the dining chairs.
The living room leather couch is one of the only chain store items, and has aged beautifully from sunlight exposure over the past eight years.
Rosie’s bedroom with its period design features is situated at the front of the home, while Clara’s is towards the middle of the house and lit via a high ceiling skylight.
“I don’t have any window or storage, so it’s an interesting space,” Clara says.
The lack of storage space has partly been the impetus for Clara’s pursuit of a low-waste lifestyle. She describes the house as ‘lo-fi’, as it is without a dishwasher, air conditioner, and television, and only has minimal heating.
“I would do this thing where I’d say ‘I won’t buy anything for the next three months,’ and that would be a [positive] challenge, rather than telling myself ‘I have no money to buy things for the next three months,’” Clara says.
“Crystals are my big downfall. I spend heaps of money on crystals – I usually buy two crystals a pay – but I think that they do contribute to my life.”
The housemates share a love of wellness, yoga and healthy eating. Rosie is a nutritionist, who blogs regularly over at her self-titled website and Facebook page. She moved to Melbourne four and half years from New Zealand.
At the rear of the home is their vegetable garden with watermelons, pumpkins, zucchini, capsicum and potatoes, all of which were planted as seeds after Clara won a subscription to the seed delivery service, Easy Come Easy Grow.
“I love Melbourne – it’s such a cool city. I’d hadn’t even been here before I moved. I was living in Wellington studying, and I had friends who said Melbourne’s the next ‘step up’ from Wellington, whereas Sydney and Auckland are quite similar," Rosie says.
Clara currently works in town planning admin, and is also a textile artist specialising in hand embroidered, large-scale soft sculptures. She was originally taught hand embroidery by her mother and grandmother, and has been incorporating this into her works, which are all encouraged to be touched, since early university.
“It’s an embossed aesthetic and it’s all text-based. It’s almost like I don’t feel confident enough to be an artist, and I don’t feel confident enough to be a writer, so I can just do this which is an in-between!” Clara says.
“Usually the work will start out as a writing piece, then it will translate into something else.”
Many of the homewares in the house have been bought secondhand, or purchased for their natural, healing or sustainable qualities such as the Tibetan singing bowl, crystals and indoor plants,
Rosie’s favourite items include her large vintage ladder which was bought at the Lost & Found Market.
“I'm sure it has some interesting tales to tell judging by the questionable 'deep red' paint it's laced with,” she says.
“More recently, I found an antique saucer from the Sacred Heart Mission on Brunswick Street that’s similar to a dinner set I've inherited from my great grandmother. I hope to migrate that set over to Melbourne soon!” Rosie says.
Among Clara’s favourite pieces are the oversized, brass shell case from the Smith Street Bazaar that’s currently being used as a vase, and an inherited hand painted Persian plate that has been hung in every home she’s ever lived in.
“It's small, metal and unassuming, but it's been on the wall of my kitchen, wherever that's been, forever.”
Top rental styling tip?
Clara: Plants! Foliage! Forage for big branches in your local area and always keep an open eye for hard rubbish gems!
Rosie: In full agreeance with Clara! Plants and foliage! It completely changes the energy and brings some vibrancy and life to a room. I also love getting ideas from Pinterest, especially if there is a particular feature in a room you're working with such as a fireplace.
What are your most frequently searched home-related terms online?
Clara: Oh! I don't think I search specific items. I'm hideously addicted to Pinterest and often repin items to do with plants in the home. My wish list would be a gigantic shell as a sink and Moroccan tile splashbacks!
Rosie: I'm always on the lookout for vintage lamps and vases. But I think it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time and the perfect piece ends up finding you!
What are favourite furniture and homewares stores?
What’s the best thing about renting?
Clara: Your home is not an anchor :)
Rosie: Renting is all about making someone else's house your home.
Words by Amelia Barnes
Photography by Dan Soderstrom