Jo’s Understated Retro Rock Style in Melbourne

published Sep 22, 2015
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(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Name: Jo Walker
Location: Coburg; Melbourne, Australia
Size: 75 square meters (807 square feet)
Years lived in: 1 year; Owned

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I was so excited when Jo Walker, the editor of the award-winning Australian magazine Frankie, said I could photograph her home and share it on Apartment Therapy! I had fairly high expectations of her at-home style, and it seriously did not disappoint. With a well-curated and displayed collection of mostly local Australian art, vintage/op-shop/Etsy finds, travel trinkets, and books, all mixed in with a bit of Grandma cool, Jo’s apartment is comfortable, friendly, and fun.

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Entry: the home’s entrance is opposite the coats. (Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)
(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Jo bought her two-level apartment just over a year ago, after renting for many years in a neighboring suburb. With original concrete floors downstairs and pristine white walls everywhere, not much was in need of change or updating — except for the kitchen. Jo enlisted help from her dad; he designed the room and helped install the flat pack kitchen from IKEA, and the results are stunning. Jo’s home is filled with great natural light, and the white walls help to showcase her fascinating collection of art and trinkets.

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Understated retro rock horror (with a Hong Kong twist)

Inspiration: Places I’ve lived. Awesome gigs. My subconscious. I love that weird place where cute meets ugly, so a lot of my stuff is probably of questionable taste. But I live alone so I don’t have to please anyone else! (Just the fish.)

Favorite Element: My bedroom! I have never had a bedroom this big before. I put a bed and a bedside table in and there was still MORE ROOM. Now I have a revamped ’50s sideboard I use as a vanity table, and a little Caroma stool, and an ottoman that’s actually Ottoman (it’s from Istanbul), which is basically a fancy place to chuck semi-clean clothes.

Biggest Challenge: Redoing the kitchen. After I moved in I discovered this was pretty much necessary-without-delay, but I took ages deciding what I wanted. My dad basically project-managed this for me. Can I still call myself a grown-up and admit that? He actually picked out the tiles. He is quite proud of that.

What Friends Say: “I feel like I am in your head.” “This place is very… you.” “Why do you have a lung-shaped pillow?”

Biggest Embarrassment: You can’t see it so much, but when people come to stay I am embarrassed by how terrible my shower is; it’s next on the reno list. Also, I am slightly embarrassed by how many pieces I own from a single local Melbourne artist: Sean Morris. Sometimes I worry that he thinks of me as his stalker.

Proudest DIY: I couldn’t find any bed pillows I liked, so a lot of these I made myself from vintage fabrics I’ve collected. I spent one mad weekend stitching furiously on my old sewing machine while rewatching The Wire on my laptop. There’s a lot of angst in these pillows.

Biggest Indulgence: My West Elm couch. I had just bought a sofa in my old place before moving in here (well, it was 5 months old on moving day). And when I got in… it didn’t work. It seemed so ridiculous getting rid of something so new! But it had to go. This is almost more of a maxi chaise lounge – it’s more for me to stretch out on than to have other people sit on it with me. Because it only has half a back, it’s actually quite anti-social. Haha. It’s normally half-covered with blankets and pillows and other comfy things.

Best Advice: Spend money on pro installation (if you possibly can). My kitchen is from IKEA, but my dad – who’s built a lot of boats in his time – and my crazy handyman friend Dan and an OCD electrician spent ages installing it and getting everything millimeter-perfect. So even though the components are fairly cheap and cheerful, it ends up looking quite posh. So yeah: I say skimp on components and splurge on professional help to put it all in 100% perfect.

Dream Sources: I have always LOVED the flea markets in Berlin. If I was made of cashola, I would fly there, buy a ton of awesomeness, and ship it back to Melbourne. Air miles be damned.


(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)


  • Inherited from previous owners
(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)


(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)


(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)


(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)


(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)


(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)


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Thanks, Jo!