Miriam and Hamish McWilliam and their cavoodle Poncho live in a three-bedroom home in Spotswood, Melbourne.
Since moving from their hometown Geelong over a decade ago, this couple have become seasoned renters. In the past 12 years they’ve lived in Kensington, Abbotsford, Fitzroy North, Kingsville and even a stint in Edinburgh before finally settling in this home almost two years ago.
“We’ve never stayed longer than two years in any house for the past 12 years,” Miriam says.
“This home feels really comfy and has everything we need, and we shouldn’t grow out of it for quite a few years.”
Their three-bedroom home is filled with personality. The couple’s maximalist, colourful style is apparent as soon as you enter the front door, with even the bathroom decked out with plants, photos and wallpaper, and a surfboard hanging above their bed.
It comes as little surprise that Miriam is a professional stylist by day. Together with her friend Megan Schmidtke she owns Mimi-Myrtle + Co, a design, styling and events business.
Both Megan and Miriam have worked in the respective fields (floristry and graphic design) for over 10 years and recently teamed up after spotting a gap in the market for an all-in-one events, flowers and design studio. They generally work at least one day a week out of Miriam’s home studio, with the remainder of the week spent on individual jobs.
By day, Hamish is a research scientist, but at home he is also a part time illustrator who works with Miriam and Megan on occasion.
The nature of Miriam’s work means there’s often a few unique styling props around the house. The garage, for example, is home to a bar, and several of the walls feature stick-on photographs. Miriam makes (and sells) these herself, calling them ‘photographic portholes.’
The remaining furniture has been purchased mostly from Gumtree, op-shops and garage sales.
“The couch is seriously one of the only new things we’ve ever bought…You don’t have to buy new things,” Hamish says.
Among the couple’s favourite pieces is the plant stand by Capra Designs – one of many beautiful items in the home that can also be purchased brand new from Miriam’s online store.
“We also love our big round comfy chair, bought years ago from Freedom with a voucher from our friends for our engagement,” Miriam says.
“Most other pieces have been collected from op shops – we love the cane/wicker pieces in particular.”
The couple’s very impressive potted plant collection has been dragged from house to house since the couple’s north side days.
“We’ve always had pots where we go because we’re renting, because you can’t actually plant a proper garden,” Miriam says.
“We don’t have a view out to a garden so it was really important in this house to have more greenery inside because I feel more calm and with nature.”
Top rental styling tip?
Miriam: I’ve developed a rent-happy way to display photos, via a removable and re-useable product called PhotoTex. I am currently selling them on my little shop, so you can have access to a beautiful view, no matter where you are. I call them Photographic Portholes. I have also bought some removable wallpaper to brighten up our bathroom.
Hamish: Picture hanging rails are the best! But it's hard if they are not already in the home.
What are your most frequently searched home-related terms online?
Miriam: Depends what we are after at the time, but it could be along the lines of: giant clam shell, vintage day bed, loft bed, teak dining table, cane chair, vintage champagne ice bucket and indoor plants.
What are favourite furniture and homewares stores?
What’s the best thing about renting?
Miriam: Freedom to move around easily, and reinvent your space with every move.
Hamish: Not being bound to a location or a house. Being forced to move house is tough, but it means you clean out the cupboards and discard unnecessary accumulated items, which is very cathartic!
Words by Amelia Barnes
Photography by Dan Soderstrom