Name: Kathryn Elkins and Anthony dal Forno
Location: Brunswick, Melbourne, Australia
Size: 1800 square feet
Years lived in: 15+ years; owned
Kathryn and Anthony find themselves in Brunswick, the heart of one of Melbourne's most eclectic spots, spoilt for choice with delicious food, some of the world's best coffee, and boutique shops. Fierce supporters of Australian artists and crafters, they've have amassed an enviable collection of art and design objects made locally. Yet their many travels around the world have transformed their home into a beautiful mix of old and new, hand-woven rugs and laser cut ceramics, neon pops and textured wood.
Inhabiting a large 100-year-old house with eight rooms has brought its challenges, but none they regret. The pair originally wanted to buy a fully-renovated “teeny tiny place” in another suburb, but couldn't quite afford
it, so opted for a house which was three times the size and needed everything done. “Roofing, insulation, electricity, plumbing, plaster, even glazing was not all intact when we arrived,” says Kathryn. But with Anthony an artist and art teacher, painting has never been a problem. The pair frequently change wall colour,with their biggest recent decision to paint their first ever white room (!).
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: A medley of eras, held together by either materials or colours. As the house has many separated rooms as was the Victorian style, we experiment with different colours from year to year, which is a great cheap way of injecting new life into the place. The dining room for example was yellow, then had a blue period, and now is a vintage pink.
There are yastik cushions from Turkey, a leather ottoman from Morocco, a vase from Nicaragua, Tunisian glasses, a Portuguese bed spread—all remind us of the places and experiences we enjoyed.
Inspiration: Travel, art and reuse of materials are all points of inspiration. There is a corner nook in the dining room which features artworks re-purposing old materials. There's a Gregory Bonasera screen-print on crockery from a defunct airline, tiny birds made from roadsides signs by Story, laser cut vintage crockery from Lightly, amongst others. They sit across some very traditional Wedgwood plates given to me by my mother, one of a thousand sets depicting Melbourne and she bought four for me and my sisters. They could seem very formal and stuffy, but juxtaposed with the modern art pieces they feel much lighter.
Favorite Element: So hard to choose. Probably the art. Mainly works on paper from Australian artists including Charles Blackman, David Bromley, Judy Watson, Sharon West, Gary Shead, Susan Hewitt, Graham Fransella, Kylie Stillman, Marise Maas, to name a few. There is also a liberal sprinkling of art made by Anthony himself, a favourite being a piece based on his sister which won the cancer council award a few years ago and clearly has great personal significance.
Biggest Challenge: Keeping the integrity of the 100-year-old house and yet making it interesting and liveable in modern world. (The sooner there is cordless electricity the better.)
What Friends Say: “So much art.” They don't know there's lots more hidden upstairs and small pieces in drawers!
Biggest Embarrassment: None to think of.
Proudest DIY: Putting the very heavy ceiling rose up in the dining room. We hadn't read all the instructions to the end when we installed it. Finally we read that it needed to be held in place against the ceiling for thirty to sixty minutes until the plaster went off. We had very sore arms.
Biggest Indulgence: After art, it would be the large leather couches. Not cheap, but well worn and lasting the rigours of lots of visitors and two scruffy canines. Also the three big rugs lugged back from Istanbul. Heavy, but so so loved!
Best Advice: Buy what you love, what is well made, what has integrity. A cheaply made chevron decorated vase from the third world will line the junk shops of tomorrow, but a well made piece from real material or which is handmade will give pleasure for many years.
Dream Sources: Anything found during travel. Finding pieces not hard, but it is the returning them across the globe which is the true pain. If I could I would send them via a 3D printer!
I would also love unlimited access to Hermon and Hermon, Mr Kitly, Loom, and Angelucci 20th Century. Favorite shops for local pieces include make designed Objects in Carlton, Melbournalia in the CBD and Five Boroughs in Brunswick for cosy blankets by local makers Uimi and Otto & Spike, as well as divine printed linens and wooden placemats from Bonnie and Neill. Mr Kitly is a favorite spot for metallic kitchen goods, utilitarian objects of good design and bespoke Japanese pieces. Rae Ganim's Brunswick street store is loved for similar stock and her neighbour in commerce PanelPop makes old photographs look amazing with a combination of wood, polystyrene and plaster. Wooden trivets and cutting boards in the kitchen by local maker SandsMade.
Hallway - Dulux - Candle Wax
Dining room - Porter's Paints – Half Petal Face
Living room - Dulux – Bakers White
Bedroom - Porter's Paints – Country Road
Sewing room - Wattyl - Bok Choy and Stripe – Lemoncello
Vase - Robert Fink
Artwork - Anthony dal Forno
Red chairs - Kathryn's mother's
Painting by back door above side table – Charles Blackman
Painting standing near back door – Dennis Ropar
Painting at top of stairs – Anthony dal Forno
Book sculpture – Anthony dal Forno
Two small mounted screen prints – Me and Amber
Animal screenprint on antique encyclopaedia – Lara Brighton
Bowl – Tom Dixon from Mr Kitly
Table runner – Bonnie and Neill
Rug – bought in Istanbul
Artwork on right – Garry Shead
Cushions – Florence Broadhurst
Vintage crystal on side board– Kathryn's mother
Photograph of Kathryn's mother teaching (on sideboard) – mounted and printed by Panel Pop
Painting above crystal – Graham Fransella
Pieces hanging on wall in the corner: Half plate with skull – Fiona Hall;Black sculpture with miniature and numbers from Rose St Artists' market, Yellow bird by Story; Ceramic bird by Lightly; wooden slide box with slide of Venice from where Anthony was born by Magic Lantern Studio; embroidery by Anthony dal Forno.
Trio of paintings on right-hand wall – Viv McDermott
Japanese mountain print on side table – from Mr Kitly
Wooden Flower vase centrepiece on dining table – Bonnie and Neill
Painting above dining table – David Bromley
Hanging elliptical paper sculptures – Hermon and Hermon Wooden sculpture stand – Grandmother
Radio and speakers– Tivoli
Carved book with bird – Kylie Stillman
Rug – bought in Istsanbul
Main painting – Michael Morgan
Painting on left of person lying down – Anthony dal Forno
Orange painting on right – Charles Blackman
Plywood bookshelves – Bonnie and Neill
Vintage Kokeshi dolls – a Christmas gift from Anthony
Wooden shoes – found under house and also from Kathryn's father who was a cobbler's apprentice in the early 20th century.
Red woven post – Anthony dal Forno
Orange cushion – Bonnie and Neill
Brass sculptures on coffee table – from Mr Kitly
Green cushion on sofa – Bonnie and Neill
Green throw – LUNA
Green velvet cushions – by makers in Sligo Northern Ireland
Red pouffe - Morocco
Orange jug on book shelf– Robert Fink
Knitting needs from thrift shops
Painting above fireplace – Charles Blackman “Remembrance”
Painting above chair – Charles Blackman “Geisha sleeping”
Blue and white vase – Samantha Robinson
Striped cushion – by Rifat Ozbek
Black Fridge – Maytag
Stove/oven – Miele
White vases by Gregory Bonasera
Blue vase from Laos
(Image credits: Sophie Timothy)