Tucked away in Melbourne's inner-north, Plyroom’s director Elise Heslop lives in a home furnished with a well-curated mix of new and second-hand pieces and dotted with treasured artworks. Elise lives with her husband Shane, their two boys Sam (13) and Charlie (14) and their West Highland Terrier Piper, who’s certainly not camera shy!
We spoke to Elise in the midst of Melbourne’s fourth lockdown about her favourite spaces, the items she treasures and her sanity saving lockdown rituals.
Elise describes her house as a ‘typical old Edwardian’ that the family renovated 12 years ago to add additional bedrooms and a study upstairs. She tells me the rooms at the front can be quite cold and dark, but a light-filled north-facing living area and garden at the back ensures the rest of the house gets plenty of natural light on winter days.
‘I would definitely say I’m a minimalist at heart, but our home really is a family home and a combination of tastes. The furniture is a happy blend of special pieces and some from when we didn’t really have the budget to invest. The stools in the kitchen for example. We have had them forever, and they’re holding up well, so I can’t rationalise replacing them with something new just yet.
Quite a lof of our furniture is from Plyroom. Prototypes or pieces that may have been damaged in some way seem to find a home here. My favourite pieces of furniture are our Shibui drinks shelf (from when we were first prototyping), as well as the sideboard in our bedroom and Hans Wegner armchair, which came from Ross Hines of Tongue and Groove back when he was restoring vintage furniture on Smith St, Collingwood. I love how we have a mixture of various timbers and tones, it all adds to the texture and warmth of our home.
A lot of our favourites at home are special second hand pieces or pieces we picked up on Gumtree, like the Thonet rocking chair, which was a real find and loved by the boys.
‘I try not to accumulate too many things but I make a bit of an exception for books. I always have a pile of books next my bed that I can dip into at night depending on my mood. I like to have four or five on the go at once: fiction, history and philosophy. And we have a lot of cookbooks. I love food and I love cooking. It’s an escape, creative outlet and an expression of love all in one.
The town we lived in when we were in Italy, Biella, is well known for its wool and textile industries. So we have some really special blankets that we treasure. They’re in high demand in the evenings at the moment. In the evenings we’ve been lighting a fire in the living room. That always brings everyone together after we've been on our own during the day which is really nice.’
‘The photograph at the end of our hallway is by our friend Dillon Seitchik-Reardon. He and his partner Caroline wrote the beautiful book, Places We Swim. The incredible painting above our bed is by Alyawarre artist Lizzie Moss Pwerle.’
‘For the boys rooms I just try and keep things as pared-back as possible as their lives are really full and they spend most of their time outside. They aren't big collectors of things, so it does make it easier. In Sam’s room we've put up some hooks on the outside of his door which is near our entrance. He’s got a lot of caps and hats he loves to display. Charlie would like to paint his bedroom black at the moment but that's not happening anytime soon!’
‘During lockdown I am trying to do simple things to help me get some headspace. I make sure I get out in the morning by the river with Piper, and if I'm feeling restless during the day I do a short yoga practise or get out into the garden for a moment.
I am working from the dining table while both boys are at home so I make sure the laptop and other work things are out of site at the end of the day - the dining table is also our table tennis arena so we need everything out of the way for that! Sometimes during the boys' school breaks we play table tennis on the dining table to get away from our computers.
My favourite space at home is probably in our garden. The front yard gives me a chance to connect with neighbours and out the back I like to sit out there next to the veggie patch and look at how things are changing. We've just planted loads of winter veg in there like spinach, endive and silverbeet.
Our neighbourhood really feels like a small village nestled within the city. It’s a really nice mix of young people and families and older people who have been here for decades. At the start of the year, after lockdown, our neighbours organised a laneway party. Some of them we've known for a really long time but others we only knew to say ‘hi’ to one the street. It was a really nice opportunity to reconnect as a community and has helped throughout even this short lockdown.
'Being at home so much recently, I really appreciate how important sunlight and greenery are. Having natural light and even borrowed greenery from the trees over the back fence really do have such an impact on your wellbeing and can make a huge difference to how you feel about the space that you're in.'
Photographs by Bianca Virtue
Interview and Introduction by Amy Snoekstra