At Plyroom nothing gives us more pleasure than seeing how our furniture lives with our customers in their homes. Down an instagram rabbit hole recently we stumbled upon one of our customers' homes not far from us in Melbourne’s north, and we were thrilled when its kind owner welcomed us into her home to share the space that she has created.
The home is owned by Rachel Engel, a freelance makeup artist who shares the home with her husband, three children and German Shorthaired Pointer, Tommy. Rachel has an incredible eye, exemplified by a timeless renovation of her sanctuary-like 40s brick home 10 years ago and the fact that she has been entrusted to manage the restoration of her parent’s Alistair Knox home in Melbourne’s east.
It was great to speak with Rachel about her approach to renovating Madeleine House, and to see some of our best-loved Plyroom pieces living well in this light-filled 40s brick home.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your home.
I’m a freelance makeup artist, I started my career as a national retail manager for a cosmetic company. From there I then went on to running a hair and makeup business in the heart of Melbourne, before starting my family. I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. My parents still live out there now, so it’s always so nice to take a drive out into that leafy part of Melbourne. My husband, myself and our German Short haired pointer Tommy, bought this 40’s clinker brick home 9 years ago, with the vision of breathing some life back into it. We now have three beautiful children Mylo, Maxwell and Mars that fill our house and keep us super busy.
And what was your initial vision for the space?
When we were looking for a home, we knew we wanted something with lots of character and charm and something we could one day renovate. We were instantly drawn to the exterior clinker brick, and all the beautiful art deco finishes within the home.
When we decided to renovate, we wanted to keep as much of the original character of the home as we could. Each bedroom has the original ceiling roses and architraves, original Tasmanian oak timber floors, large walnut timber windows in each bedroom, as well as the very beautiful, but extremely loud, door bell that hangs in our hallway.
We then extended the house to the back of the property with exterior details of charred black timber joining the old house to the new surfmist colorbond cladding for the new open-plan design. This includes a living, dining and kitchen space, which is surrounded by sliding doors and louvered windows which floods the space with natural light, and overlooks our garden.
We wanted the design for the new space to be a little more contemporary, with a unique take on a cathedral style ceiling, polished concrete floors, as well as floating blackbutt timber benches, exposed steel beams and a timber cladded ceiling in the kitchen. Keeping the design and layout minimal allowed me to inject character and texture into the space through furniture choices and soft furnishings. You’ll find a fusion of styles throughout the home, all cohesive to a neutral colour palette, reflecting my personality and what I love.
Your home is so calm and organised, what’s your secret?
I think my secret to a calm and organised home is being a minimalist. I don’t like a lot of stuff haha….I like to make sure everything has a place, so that things can remain organised and not cluttered.
Do you have a favourite space or nook in the house?
That would be the living room. It’s such a warm and inviting space in the winter, with large sofas and cushions to laze around with the kids and watch a movie. Then in summer we pull back the sliding doors which lead onto the deck, and enjoy dinner parties with family and friends outside amongst the greenery.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on mood boarding some ideas for a commission piece of artwork for the living room. I’m also in the midst of helping my parents with the restoration of their Alistair Knox home.
Who has been most impressionable on you and your approach to life so far?
My husband and children are my world and they shape a lot of who I am and my approach to life. I feel so grateful to have my family, and I try to be the best person I can be for them.
Do you have a ritual you can’t live without?
Yes, my morning starts the same way everyday. I wake up, turn my record player or speaker on and play music. There isn’t one day that passes without music being played in our house. It really sets the vibe for the day, before my husband hustles off to the office in the CBD and I take the kids to school.
We noticed quite a few Plyroom pieces here, do you have a favourite?
My favourite piece of Plyroom furniture would have to be the kids’ beds. They have such a minimalist design, yet they have so many intricate details that I love. They are also such a perfect choice, as you can have them set up as standard bunks or you can separate the loft bed and single bed pieces and use them individually.
I love to support local Melbourne brands, and throughout the home we have chosen lots of locally made furniture pieces, ceramics and artwork. It was a very easy decision to choose Plyroom furniture for this reason and also for its design that fits into any style of space effortlessly.
Do you have a favourite place to visit in your neighbourhood?
We are so spoilt for choice in our neighbourhood for the best food and coffee, so choosing a favourite is so hard, but if I had to it would be Umberto’s on High St in Thornbury.