Alice Garvey and Izzy Rayson live in a three-bedroom single fronted cottage in Flemington, Melbourne.
If you’re a member of the popular Facebook selling groups PPENNYLANE SELLING or My Stuff = Your Stuff, you may already recognise Alice and Izzy’s home. The living room in particular is often featured in Alice’s ‘for sale’ posts, frequently attracting compliments and questions about the beautiful items scattered throughout the background.
Since moving in late last year, the couple have wasted no time making the home feel warm, cosy and unique. Their eye for detail and commitment to adding finishing touches gives the space an inherently homey atmosphere.
Almost everything in their home is second hand. Some items have been picked up in op-shops near Alice’s hometown in Narooma, New South Wales, found in hard rubbish, or bought on Gumtree.
“When we moved in here it was the first day of hard rubbish in the area. I own a van so we dropped our stuff off and then did a cheeky drive around,” Alice says.
Alice’s large desk was collected via the The Freecycle Network – a non-profit, volunteer run movement of people to give and receive items for free.
“It gets really addictive because you get emails every day and people are so quick with it…I’ve had to exit it for a while because it gets really full on!” she says.
The indoor plants have been purchased from numerous sources, mainly Westlake Nursery and from local curator and furniture maker Kelly Murphy of Benna Co. More decorative items have been picked up on their travels, with several pieces of jewellery and prints collected from Zanzibar, Tanzania and Kenya.
Throughout the house are a number of crystals and artworks gifted by Alice’s mother, who sadly passed away late last year. Many of the paintings were collected during her time working in remote communities across the Australian outback.
“She always made a point of buying the artwork in every community she went to,” Alice says.
The lounge room record player was bought at a Torquay garage sale, and the telephone table was purchased from a store in Mount Barker, South Australia, near Izzy’s hometown of Adelaide.
The ceramics on display in the kitchen are mainly seconds from Alice’s former neighbour, with the remainder found in op-shops.
“Mum was always at the markets, on eBay and recycling so that’s kind of where I picked it up from,” Alice says.
“Op-shopping is my greatest passion, and it’s a good hobby, but it would take over if I was unrestrained! Izzy keeps a check on me.”
The main items in the space – the leather couch and sideboard – are on loan from a friend while they are overseas.
It’s clear Alice and Izzy both share similar values, particularly in terms of minimising humans' environmental impact, which is part of the reason their furniture is almost entirely second hand.
“That’s the thing about buying things second hand – there’s always a story…It means more,” Izzy says.
Alice is currently studying nutrition with a focus on natural health, while Izzy alternates working across ventures including OFF.the.GRID – Melbourne’s 100 per cent solar powered music festival.
Alice is also a keen sewer, with the home’s study (the third bedroom) typically covered in natural fabrics.
“It’s mainly for myself because I really like to take my time. If it’s a big job I really don’t like doing it because I hate the pressure of someone wanting it back or me not doing it properly!” she says.
The three-bedroom home is set up as one-bedroom with a study and sitting room.
“We weren’t looking for three bedrooms, we were just looking at the price range, but this one just happened to have three,” Alice says.
“I’m stoked about it because Izzy has this huge television that demands so much attention, so I’m really glad it’s hidden away in the front room and not in the living space, and I can be messy in the study.”
There’s also a courtyard at the rear of the property where they are currently growing berries and herbs. When we visit, Izzy is in the process of building a bike shed for the space using salvaged recycled materials found in skips, tips and on country properties.
Whether or not Alice and Izzy stay in this home for a long period depends on if they’re allowed to introduce a pet into the mix. In the distant future, the couple hope to buy their own home, possibly in the country.
“I actually have a lot of friends in different social networks who want to start a commune, but that’s just kind of this pipe dream,” Alice says.
Top rental styling tip? Accepting that you have to work with the existing structure and playing to those strengths. We have learnt to use mirrors if there isn't much natural light and to use indoor plants and fluffy textures to soften up sharp modern lines. It’s also important to think creatively about the furniture you have – a stool can be used for so much more than just a seat!
What are your most searched terms when looking for furniture and homewares online? Anything handmade, plus Le Creuset, stoneware, wall hangings, cane/wicker, planter boxes and wooden buffets.
What are favourite furniture and homewares stores? In a bid to keep the budget in check and to do our bit for the environment, we rarely buy new items and instead keep an opportunistic eye on places like the Fitzroy Market and outer suburbs op-shops. Our favourites are in Greensborough, Deer Park and Ballan. My Stuff = Your Stuff is perfect for when we want to browse online, not just for buying cute homewares but for getting a sneak peek into other people's homes for inspiration!
What’s the best thing about renting? The best thing about renting is the knowledge that we have a safe, secure home to live in. So many people struggle to find a secure housing, let alone get approved for a rental property, so we are very grateful for our position in life. Also it's pretty great to never have to pay for a plumber!