Maggie May and Josh Kelly live in a Thornbury home with their Russian blue cats, Mina and Kansas.
The three-bedroom house is shared with the couple’s housemate/best friend Rachael Comte, and her rescue dog, Milla.
The Melbourne house is a part-time home and part-time studio for Maggie and Josh who often work from home. Maggie is a macrame maker, graphic designer and stylist for her business, The Middle Aisle. Josh is a saxophonist and composer who regularly plays in bands Windari and Finding Isla.
The third bedroom of the home is used as both a second lounge room and studio for Josh’s music and tutoring, while Maggie currently works from the large dining room table.
Prior to this home, Josh and Maggie lived in a one-bedroom apartment.
“We were basically just counting the days until we could get out of the apartment – it wasn’t a creative environment,” Maggie says.
“Maggie and I were really in the market for somewhere we could call home and be creative out of. Because of our flexible schedules, some weeks we’ll spend a lot of time at home and we wanted to be comfortable with our neighbours and influenced creatively,” Josh says.
Living in a house as opposed to an apartment has allowed them to be more connected to friends and family, with ample space both indoors and out to entertain.
“I’ve really noticed the difference in our life between where we were living in Abbotsford and where we’re living now in Thornbury,” Josh says.
“The actual space that you create for yourself and the house that you choose to live in is so important to yourself and your psyche.”
“We’re much happier,” Maggie says.
Piles of cotton rope ready to be used in Maggie’s macrame pieces can be found throughout the house. Since teaching herself macrame via YouTube videos late last year, she has been selling her handmade pieces on Etsy and hosting regular workshops.
“It was something that I immediately felt really connected to and enjoyed,” she says.
Drawing on her interior design skill set, Maggie spends most of our visit running around the house artfully arranging items.
“When I style a mantlepiece I try and think about the depth level. If it’s all on the one level it tends to look a bit one dimensional,” she says.
Several of Maggie’s creations can be found hanging from the home’s picture rails, including a large bedroom wall hanging she quickly whipped up for our visit.
In terms of the house’s furniture, the ‘newest’ item was purchased second hand off a Facebook selling page.
“I’ve got a real thing about buying things that aren’t brand new, so my desk came up on a Facebook group and it was a 1960s Parker desk,” Maggie says.
“Quite a lot of the stuff in our house is hard rubbish that’s been fixed or slightly updated or painted.”
Since moving into the home in September 2015, the couple have fallen in love with Thornbury and hope to remain in the area long-term.
“It’s just the best vibe. All the locals are really, really nice,” Maggie says.
“There are so many cafe and bars and it’s very much a community feel. A lot of local artists get their stuff in these stores…There is also the influence of the older Greek community and Italian community in this area that I really like,” Josh says.
Top rental styling tip? Hang lots of plants in your home! If you can't put holes in the walls, buy the biggest heavy-duty 3M wall hooks you can. Double them up if you're worried about things falling.
Don't be scared of killing plants, you're probably going to kill a few but you'll get better at looking after them. Maggie started making macrame because we needed a way of hanging our plants up out of harm’s way.
Vintage ladders make the perfect thing to lean against a wall to hang things from too. If you find a rental property with picture rail hooks your life will be much easier.
Only buy things you love and collect the interesting. Fill your home with your personality.
Making and repairing things always gives your rental more character than items purchased from everyone's favourite Swedish flat pack store. If you don't think you can make something, always give it a go first. You might surprise yourself with just how crafty you can be. YouTube is your friend!
What are your most searched terms when looking for furniture and homewares online? Persian rug, mid-century desk, Parker desk, three-strand cotton rope and vintage Selmer saxophone mouthpieces.
What are favourite furniture and homewares stores? - Know Your Product in Northcote is where we bought our 1960s timber coffee table/record player. That was the first piece of furniture we bought together.
- Used Pty Ltd on Johnston Street in Fitzroy – they have a great selection of awesome things.
- Suku for bamboo bedding. Our bed sheets are from here and they are straight up the BEST bed linen either of us has ever slept on.
- Mr Kitly on Sydney Road. Pretty much everything I have ever bought from there is a treasured possession.
- Lunar Store in Prahran – such a great collection of local makers and artists and Jules the owner is an absolute legend.
- Pretty much every op-shop and 'junk' store.
What is the best thing about renting? Josh: Choice. You can choose your lifestyle. If you want to live in a certain area where you can't afford to buy, you can do so quite easily. You can just as easily move out if it no longer suits you. You're not tied to a 20-year mortgage.
Maggie: The freedom and independence. I moved out of home young and even though it was really tough for a while you always have control over your little pocket of home. The house we are in now is the best place I have ever lived and it makes me happy everyday waking up to high ceilings and big light-filled rooms where I'm free to be creative. We get to live the life we choose to live in our own home.