This warm, modern home defies all the stereotypes typically associated with sharehouse Iiving, being beautifully decorated and home to three high achieving lawyers. Emily is a sessional law tutor, lecturer and architecture student, Simon is a PhD student studying international criminal law, and Patrick is a federal prosecutor.
Emily is also known as a miniaturist who specialises in creating detailed, tiny home and furniture pieces. Since resigning from her full time job at a corporate law firm to focus on making miniatures, she has amassed a significant following on her Instagram account @architectureoftinydistinction and has been featured internationally on websites such as Buzzfeed and Bored Panda.
Emily and Simon (a couple) moved into the house two years ago, followed by Patrick who joined them eight months ago.
The narrow three-storey layout (four storeys if you include the private rooftop courtyard) of the home means Patrick has his own level that’s separate to the couple.
On display in his room are his own books and a range of Australian designer pieces such as artwork by Stephen Baker.
On Emily and Simon’s level is the ensuite and master bedroom, the corner of which doubles as a very small studio for Emily’s miniatures.
“I even had to change the scale of the dollhouses I work with because they got too big [for the space],” she says.
Emily and Simon have decorated most of the main living space, which houses the Scandinavian inspired dining set and furnishings, dozens of architecture, poetry, history and law books, and a Danish inspired sofa purchased as part of $160 furniture bundle from a Bendigo auction house.
Particular effort has been made to source artworks for the home – an element that’s often overlooked by sharehouse renters.
“That one’s by an artist Lily Kelly Napangardi from the western desert and her work is actually hanging up in the Bendigo [Emily’s hometown] art gallery,” Emily says.
“I thought it was so beautiful that I Googled it and found one for sale from a not-for-profit organisation, so the money actually goes to the people who create the art.”
The plant stand was a purchase from the Christmas Market in Toorak and is filled with the same plants Emily’s grandma had when she was growing up, which have a nostalgic, sweet smell.
“It was a real bargain and just fits underneath the window so perfectly. It goes nicely with the Dala Horses which I got when I lived in Sweden,” Emily says.
The record player was a Gumtree purchase, which also doubles as a daybed for Frankie Mayonnaise.
“It doesn’t have the best sound, but it looks quite handsome,” Simon says.
There’s an underlying Tasmanian theme in this home, with furniture pieces and artworks from the state found throughout. Simon is originally from Tasmania, and Patrick lived there while studying.
“My bedside table is Tasmanian blackwood, which reminds me of my time in Tasmania and my family connections there. It was a 21st birthday present from my uncle,” Patrick says.
Given their combined credentials, this is a household that know a thing or two about property law – knowledge that sadly often comes in handy when dealing with rental contracts. There have been several occasions where the trio have used their knowledge to challenge agents and landlords asking for fees and work not required under law.
“They tried to charge an $800 fee when I moved in for a transfer of tenancy, but it was a new lease, so there was no legal basis,” Patrick says.
“I reckon most tenants would have no idea so they would just paid it, but we knew better.”
While the trio love the North Melbourne area, they plan to move when nearby developments commence construction. This pocket of North Melbourne in particular has been the subject of significant property developer interest in recent years.
“I really like living in North Melbourne…It’s a very kind of ‘easy’ neighbourhood,” Simon says.
“It’s really quiet, surprisingly. It really feels like a country town,” Patrick says.
Top rental styling tip?
Emily: Shop at rummage sales and estate auctions. Not only will you get some great bargains, but it won’t matter so much if the furniture gets scuffed when you move (as you almost certainly will have to move).
Patrick: Moving into a fully furnished house where other people are already living makes things much easier!
What are your most frequently searched home related terms online?
Emily: I have so many saved searches, but most are related to my miniatures. I find buying full-size furniture as a renter a difficult balance – you don’t want too much stuff, otherwise moving becomes completely overwhelming, but you also want all the stuff, so it’s tough.
Patrick: I used to do a search for Danish furniture on eBay, but it was either imitation, too expensive or both. So that was a bit demoralising.
What are your favourite furniture and homewares stores?
What’s the best thing about renting?
Patrick: It means I can live in a pleasant house within walking distance from work. If I save up for the next 50 years, it’s unlikely I’d be able to buy a house this close.
Emily: I agree. It means we can live close to university and work, and it gives us flexibility. We don’t have to make a huge financial commitment and stay in one place for decades. In saying that, we don’t have the money. We didn’t choose the renting life, the renting life chose us.