Alison’s “Perfectly Imperfect” Australian Apartment

published Mar 12, 2016
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(Image credit: Luisa Brimble)

Name: Alison
Location: Redfern, Sydney
Size: 527 square feet
Years Lived In: 6 years; Owned

Earlier this year, we got a glimpse into Alison’s ‘Eclectic and a Little Rough Around the Edges’ Sydney apartment. We’re back to take a deeper look into her 527-square-foot home built for life and creativity. Since buying the apartment in 2012, Alison has spent the past few years discovering its quirks (sloped floors and warped walls) and hidden treasures (original hardwood floors). And instead of changing or fixing these elements, Alison has embraced them!

(Image credit: Luisa Brimble)

Alison is a jewelry designer and runs her business from home; she has set up a small yet functional workspace in the living room. Alison explains that working from home definitely has its ups and downs. Perks include being able to get into it as soon as inspiration strikes or getting stuff done at 3am on a sleepless night, but there are also many distractions! There is always one more chore to do, chapter to read, or hour to sleep, all of which can get the better of her. She also finds it tricky when others come to work with her, and it’s challenging not being able to use the space as a showroom like a lot of shared jewelry studios often do.

One very clear decor inspiration in Alison’s space is Catholic iconography, stemming from her aunt’s influence. Her aunt always had interesting crosses and rosary beads around her house, and Alison fell in love with one Mexican piece early on, which she has since been given. It now hangs with pride among the others she has collected. Since she was young, Alison has always had an interest in Christian artwork and, in particular, the beauty and detail in the Catholic iconography. She started her collection with a few pictures, but it didn’t take long for friends and family to figure out the perfect gift, leading to at least one-third of her collection coming as gifts. Everyone that has traveled to Greece has brought her back some of the stunning Greek Orthodox imagery.

(Image credit: Luisa Brimble)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic vintage with a dash of an industrial feel

Inspiration: The ’70s, my travels, nature, Mexican religious folk art, and Christian iconography

Favorite Element: The floorboards!! We only found them in 2012 when I did renovations. They were under four layers of carpet, linoleum, floating floor boards, foam, and a newspaper article from 1936.

Biggest Challenge: The lack of windows. Being one of six apartments above shops means we all only have one window to the outside world. Plenty of skylights but they just aren’t the same!

What Friends Say: They think it couldn’t be more representative of me and has a comforting lived-in feel. There also isn’t a time where they come and haven’t wanted to sneak something home with them!

Biggest Embarrassment: The electrics! Power points keep falling out of the wall and there’s only really one socket in each room, so there are cords along the floors and walls!

Proudest DIY: Besides the bookshelf, which I didn’t actually build myself but I designed it and had it custom built before I moved in, I’d say the TV unit. I used an old workbench, vice and all, and had shelves and a door put in. I used two metal tubs that were window props in Anthropologie in NYC that I persuaded the visual merchandiser to sell me as drawers.

Biggest Indulgence: The bathroom sink! It cost more than any other item in the renovations, including the tiles, and it is the most impractical sink for a small bathroom as it has zero storage!

Best Advice: Have patience decorating. I haven’t always had the furniture I do now. I started off the first few years putting up with the most uncomfortable ’60s settee that I got for $35 from a Vinnies when I first moved out of home. It was cute but useless for relaxing in front of a movie. I was determined to find the perfect couch. I searched for about three years before I found my current dream leather sofa. I always think about all the ones I almost came home with that I had figured “they’ll do.” Always so thankful I waited until I found such a classic couch.

Dream Sources: Mitchell Road Antiques in Sydney and Salvos in country towns.


(Image credit: Luisa Brimble)


  • Wooden bowls and plate: made by my mum’s dad—he was also an opal miner and sparked my interested at a very early age for jewelery.
  • Large floral and yellow cross: Jai Vasicek
  • Yalalag cross: Holy Kitsch in Surry Hills
  • Tea set: Royal Winton’s Queen Anne, which belonged to one of my grandmothers
  • Dinner set: Villeroy and Boch’s Acapulco, which belonged to my other grandmother
  • Raccoon skull: The Evolution Store
  • Photograph: Max Berry
(Image credit: Luisa Brimble)


  • Bookshelf: custom-built by a friend
  • Horse cushion: DIY using vintage fabric
  • Photo cushion: gift from a friend
  • Palm tree cushion: CHARLES OF LLOYD
  • Coffee table/chest: Mitchell RD Antiques
  • Large rosary beads: Etsy
  • Miracle charm hand: Holy Kitsch in Surry hills
  • Rug: picked up in Morocco
  • Couch: Natuzzi
  • Elephant stained glass window: made by Alison’s father
(Image credit: Luisa Brimble)


  • Shelf: IKEA
  • Bottle openers: primarily gifts, but the horse was from Fishs Eddy and the brass is Japanese brand FUTAGAMI.
  • Tooheys paraphanalia: all from my grandfather who worked for them for over 30 years
(Image credit: Luisa Brimble)


(Image credit: Luisa Brimble)


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With next to no storage in the place, Alison utilizes an old chest instead of a coffee table. It stores a blow-up mattress and extra bedding for guests. (Image credit: Luisa Brimble)

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Thanks, Alison! And thanks to Lusia Brimble for photographing the space!