Tilly Barber, Yuksel Yucetepe and their son Marley (aka Mars) rent a two-bedroom house in Fitzroy.
As well as being a full-time mother, Tilly is the founder of hand-dyed bed linen label, betweensheets. Yuksel (who was unfortunately working on the day these photos were taken), is the venue owner and director of the city pub Collins Quarter, and has recently opened a new dive bar.
When Marley is asleep, Tilly turns into furniture flipping mode – buying items online, restoring them, and reselling them. Her secret is to keep keyword searches as wide and vague as possible, as not to rule out any pieces that haven’t been accurately described. Just this week, she purchased four Breuer cantilever chairs off eBay for just $60.
This work is a relatively new part of Tilly’s everyday life, although, it has been arguably a long time coming given her mum’s love for restoring pieces.
“I’m definitely grateful that she’s handed down her creativity and her vision…When I was growing up she had 12 vintage televisions stacked on top of each other, and not one of them worked,” Tilly says.
When Tilly turned 16, her mum converted a former horse-truck into a unit for her on their country Queensland property.
“It had a bedroom and sink, she had spray painted the roof with stars, and you could let the ramp down and I’d have views to all the mountains.”
With the exception of choosing a printed living room rug, Tilly and Yuksel have not let having a child influence the styling of their home. The majority of their pieces are mid-century and made from aesthetically pleasing, practical materials such as brass, glass and linen. The leather couches ($50 for the pair on Gumtree) have been slightly damaged by Marley, but this only adds to their character.
Tilly’s rule for keeping an uncluttered home in the absence of storage space is to remove an item (donate or sell) every time something new comes through the door.
“I am a lot more conscious of what I’m buying and considerate of why I’m buying it – I have to feel good about it,” she says
Overheard skylights in the cathedral-like vaulted ceiling invite light into the back of the house throughout the day, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows around the courtyard and bathroom.
“Having a dark home is probably my worst fear,” Tilly says.
This former worker’s cottage has been the perfect size for this family of three during Marley’s early years. After renting the home for 12 months, the family have now moved to a slighter bigger home in Brunswick East, with a larger outdoor area for bug enthusiast Mars, plus more living spaces.
The new tenant of this home has since become a friend of Tilly’s, and the family look forward to revisiting the place where so many of Mars’ early memories were made.
Top rental styling tip?
Tilly: Take your time when furnishing. I like to be conscious that I collect only items that are good quality, versatile, functional or aesthetically pleasing. A carefully considered space feels so nice to be in.
Also, make friends with your agent and try not to leave greenery out of the equation!
What are your most frequently searched home-related terms online?
Tilly: I normally search the broadest imaginable categories on Gumtree, eBay and Facebook Marketplace for things as straightforward as 'armchair, 'table', and 'cabinet.' I love to spend time scrolling through the items in search of special hidden gems.
I'm currently searching all corners of the internet for the 1987 'Moment' dining table by Niels Gammelgaard for Ikea.
What are favourite furniture and homewares stores?
Tilly: Op-shops, eBay, Gumtree, and Facebook Marketplace, and I am really into the goods sourced by Home Union.
What’s the best thing about renting?
Tilly: The best thing about renting is the temporary and rotating nature, which means that a change of scenery, or town, or even country can be so easily considered – which is pretty freeing!
The furniture and homewares in this home are from the following sources...
Chain stores: Ikea (shaggy rug and television storage unit)