A Perfect Melbourne Home for a Creative Couple

updated Apr 30, 2019

A Perfect Melbourne Home for a Creative Couple

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Dawn Tan and Darren Lee
Location: Yarraville — Melbourne, Australia
Size: 2647 square feet
Years lived in: Rented 2.5 years

Dawn Tan is a Melbourne-based artist and school teacher who draws inspiration in art from her love of food and travel. Darren is a mostly desk-bound policy wonk but also photographer who is very fascinated by his travels with Dawn. As soon as you enter this single-fronted weatherboard home you are greeted with treasured photographs, like Dawn and Darren’s favorite wedding day photo, an engagement group shot, photos from their honeymoon in New York and a trip to London. These photos are accompanied by various toys that were used as wedding and engagement cake toppers…

Dawn and Darren spent AGES looking for a rental property in inner-city Melbourne. This was their 32nd house they looked at. The super sweet couple have created an inviting, comfortable and happy home, filled with treasures collected on travels together and special artwork from friends, as well as Dawn’s own creations.

Dawn works on paintings in the dining room a few days a week. “I call it my kitchen studio!” They used to have a studio area set-up — complete with a long trestle table — but it started to get a little cluttered with two tables in one space, so they put the trestle table in storage, sold a small dining table and bought a larger one. She now uses the dining table instead. “We use it as my studio table in the morning and our dinner table at night!”

They also love food a whole lot and enjoy cooking; they spend a great deal of their day together in the kitchen. “Not only do we cook in here, I paint and create soap bars in here too! It’s our second favourite spot in our entire home.” They like the bedrooms to be simple with just light pops of colour. “We find it easier to fall asleep this way!” The embroidered piece above their bed was Dawn’s wedding day present for Darren. “He gifted me a Tokyobike and I gifted him art!”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: A little bit of this and that all thrown into one mix!

Inspiration: From all our travels!

Favorite Element: The tall and pretty pressed metal ceiling.

Biggest Challenge: Trying not to paint or do anything else to the house. We’d love some coloured walls, more pictures hung but we’re renting so it’s pretty limiting!

What Friends Say: “Ooh! What have you been cooking?” We’re always cooking and inviting others over for dinners.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our beloved toilet floor. It is simply just painted and not made to withstand moisture so it just keeps cracking.

Proudest DIY: Our six original Thonet dining chairs! These chairs were the original ones used by the diners at the former George Hotel in St Kilda. They came straight off the ship and to the restaurant post-war and have been in use since. The owners sold them to us in 2014 and we found old stickers and tape stuck to some of the chairs. I know it’s gross but we even found gum on one! It took us many, many layers of sanding, chipping away bits, painting and staining before finally restoring it to a sturdy condition. As much as we loved the original natural wood finish, we painted them black to match our furniture, as well as to cover up tricky glue spots. We love how we have a part of history in our home!

Biggest Indulgence: Our bed! We splurged on our king bed after a good friend’s advice. They told us it was important to invest in a really quality bed as we spend more than half our lives in one. We took her advice and we now look forward to melting into bed each night. It’s the best feeling after a long day!

Best Advice: Buy a very good bed! Hah!

Dream Sources: We do love the home tours on Apartment Therapy, as well as on A Cup Of Jo. Both are sites we’ve followed for years.

Thanks, Dawn and Darren!

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