Vivien Hollingsworth and David Suter rent a combined shopfront/dwelling in Abbotsford, Melbourne.
Split across two storeys, this space is the couple’s home as well as the site of Viv's business, Flos. Botanical Studio. The nature of the Viv’s work is highly conducive to a shopfront, allowing her to sell directly to the public (the florist component of Flos. is open Thursday to Saturday), with the added space to create installations and host in-house workshops.
Dave is in his final semester of civil engineering and also manages the bookkeeping side of Flos.
“For us being able to have Viv’s workspace and home in one was the dream. There is little division between work and personal time and this space reflects how the two bleed into each other,” Dave says.
Before this property, Viv's business was operating out of various sharehouses.
“I was trying to make arrangements on the communal kitchen table and my housemates were understandably less than excited about it!” she recalls.
Having bed so close to work is also a wonderful luxury of this space given that Viv’s work requires at least one 3am flower market visit a week.
“I’m home by about 5am usually, so I just dump the car out the front and go upstairs and back to bed until about 8am,” she says.
Viv and Dave first heard about this property when it was advertised on Gumtree as a lease transfer. Because commercial leases are generally at least three years long, a shorter lease transfer arrangement proposed the ideal testing grounds for the business.
“I’d always liked the idea of living above a shop and having the shopfront as a workspace, but I always assumed it would be a little while longer before we could make it happen,” Viv says.
“But when we came and looked at the place and it was great, we decided to take the plunge and do it.”
Despite living here for just a few months, Viv and Dave's home already feels remarkably personal and inviting. The couple love the property’s many quirks and evidence of its former tenants, such as written instructions explaining how to turn on lights and the oven hoisted up on a shelf in the pink bathroom.
Most of the furniture has been inherited from friends and family including the dining table and chairs. The couch was a Gumtree find and the floral chairs were bought off a Facebook selling group.
“Nothing new and nothing expensive!” Viv says.
The shop itself was fitted out on a miniscule budget. The main workbench was put together using shelves from Bunnings and many of the timber details are from the previous tenants, Retrograde Furniture.
Viv and Dave love their surrounding neighbourhood situated on the rapidly changing Abbotsford end of Johnston Street.
“Living between the river and the city gives us a perfect blend of lifestyles, being walking distance to pretty much all our favourite spots,” Viv says.
“There is a real community feel to this pocket, and it feels like we are in on a secret the rest of the city are just figuring out.”
While this space is most likely home for the next couple of years, in the long term, Viv and Dave have their sights set on moving to the country.
Top rental styling tip?
We are both very sentimental about objects. Viv has collections of things made by friends, travels and remnants of projects form art school, while David has things from his research and various interests.
David's family live in the UK so having family photos around provides a sense of familiarity, as well as a reminder to stay in touch. Surrounding yourself with things you love with instantly makes you feel at home.
And flowers of course! Fresh flowers and plants bring life into any room.
What are your most frequently searched home-related terms online?
Shag rugs, round coffee table (still on the hunt for the perfect one) and floral patterned everything.
What are favourite furniture and homewares stores?
What’s the best thing about renting?
Having the flexibility. It's hard to know what we/the business will want in a few years, so having the freedom is important. Also, being able to secure a shop/dwelling in this area – there’s no way we could have made this happen if we weren't renting.