Belinda Evans’ rented space is an apartment in Brighton, Melbourne.
Brighton is a suburb famous for its flashy beachside mansions, but it’s also home to several beautiful art deco apartment blocks with ornate design details and large living spaces. Belinda has been lucky enough to live in one of these tightly-held apartments for just over a year.
“I much prefer to live in older homes with character rather than more sterile, newer homes, and the older homes can often be a bit neglected in my experience. I feel very lucky with this space in that regard,” she says.
“I spend a lot of time choosing and decorating my home, because it changes my whole mood in life. I need a calm home, a beautiful place I can rest my eyes…I’ve always got music on and incense burning. I just think it changes your quality of life.”
Belinda has a somewhat Instagram famous knack for styling the mantelpieces in her home with an ever-changing array of ceramics, vases and flora collected on walks. Pieces currently on high rotation include feathers, native plants, ceramics by Tantri Mustika, Takeawei, Wingnut & Co, Sophie Harle and others found in op-shops.
Most of the items on display in her home have sentimental value due to being handmade by friends or Belinda herself. Her pink bed sheets, for example, were personally hand dyed using eucalyptus.
“My preferred buying model is to either get something for free (or almost free) that's secondhand, or purchase a high quality (preferably artisan made) item with timeless styling that will last forever,” Belinda says.
Other remarkable items on display include the very established anthurium plant inherited from a colleague, and tapestry above her bed by Mirador.
One of the only items Belinda paid a significant amount for was the living room daybed/couch which she bought about 15 years ago from a local maker.
To keep the space looking uncluttered, electrical cords are hidden under timber boxes by Like Butter and furniture as much as possible.
By day, Belinda leads the team responsible for curating the businesses trading at South Melbourne Market. She was previously the owner of the label Alchemy – known for its naturally dyed textiles, and clay and wood jewellery pieces.
“I was a bit reluctant to work a full-time job, but this opportunity came up and I thought, maybe I could be satisfied growing other people’s businesses and getting enjoyment that way. Turns out, I actually enjoy it even more,” Belinda says.
“It’s the most amazing job. It’s my dream job.”
Belinda has recently moved to another art deco property in Ripponlea with her partner. Her mantelpiece styling has continued.
“Because this place feels so perfect, I can’t imagine anything else living up to my expectations after,” she told us, prior to moving.
“It has lots of space, natural light and white walls – all of which are important to me. I have a pretty hectic life, so it's important to me that my home is a sanctuary. These three features go a long way toward creating the light, airy and serene space that I crave when I come home.”
Top rental styling tip?
I've found that one can make any space feel homely with art and plants. Unsurprisingly, these are my two biggest vices!
What are your most frequently searched home-related terms online?
I'm constantly looking to be inspired by the way that other people use shape, colour and texture in their homes. I'm also interested in seeing how people arrange their furniture and other home accessories in a space, and more specifically, the arrangement of plants. It's more about using what I already have well than acquiring new objects.
What are favourite furniture and homewares stores?
Locally, there are three stores I love for purchasing furniture and homewares.
Klopper, South Melbourne Market: Jenny is an absolute master of sourcing beautiful vintage and interesting new homewares. I'd love to be doing that myself but I have so little free time with all my other projects, so I let Jenny do the hard work for me.
Mr Kitly, Brunswick: If I need something useful for my home, I know I can get a version of it that will last for the rest of my life (both in terms of quality and style) at Mr Kitly. I want everything in my life to be good enough to hand on to future generations.
Modern Times, Fitzroy: I'm a huge fan of both high quality vintage (especially modernist) furniture and beautiful local art and craft, and you can get it all at Modern Times. Amy and Joel never disappoint with their beautifully curated store.
Everyone knows published design images don’t always show the realities of living in a space. What did you do to prepare for this photoshoot? Any bins hidden away or washing stashed in the nearest drawer?
I put the doors back on my wardrobes, and they’re so crooked! I have a garage too with good racking and shelving that I store things in…
What’s the best thing about renting?
The opportunity to try out living in new spaces and areas, and varied living arrangements, and to decorate a new space (I never tire of it!). I've found that renting also allows access to beautiful homes in desirable areas at a much lower cost than buying a comparable home in the same area.