Marianne's Playful Vintage Mix in Melbourne

Marianne's Playful Vintage Mix in Melbourne

Gregory Han
Mar 4, 2013

Name: Marianne Rutherford of Esme and the Laneway
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Size: About 11m long and 8m wide
Years lived in: 3.5 years; Owned

This may be our first tour brought to you by way of Instagram. While perusing my friends' feeds, Marianne's pastel-tinged photos commonly popped up as "liked" by the decor-loving demographic in my feed (alongside for her collection of dazzling vintage outfits).

Update by update, I got glimpses of a life of a collector, lover of color and print, a young woman with enough flourish to set design a Douglas Sirk feature! Marianne has now opened the doors all the way from halfway around the globe to share a look into all corners of her home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I love vintage in general and a number of eras including Art Deco, and Victorian, and here I like to mix mid century modern styles with new and older things. I like to be playful, and I love colour.

Inspiration: A mix of homes from the 1950s and early 1960s, other Melbourne homes in the inner suburbs, and the house itself, which was built in the 1960s, in a very midcentury Melbourne style. I had to work out what it wanted, too!

Favorite Element: I love the high pitched ceilings in the centre, with the large windows, and the two huge windows that make up the front walls of both of the front rooms. And the floorboards! I'd always dreamed of living in a much older house, with high ceilings and floorboards and fireplaces - places with great bones - but knew that couldn't be what we'd get with our first place, so I was chuffed to get at least part of that.

Biggest Challenge: There have been a few big ones! When we moved in, I was into a much darker, heavier style, and liked lots of Victorian and 1940's furniture, which was too dark and heavy for this place - and also simply too big! I had to get rid of my old vintage dressing table and wardrobe. It is technically a three bedroom place but that makes it sound way bigger than it really is. All the rooms are small, and we are always wishing there was just another foot here or there! Also, despite all the windows, it is quite dark, especially in winter, and there is very little direct sunlight during the day. And there is no kitchen window, so I've had to improvise! Oh and we keep three - yep, for two people, I know - bikes in the house!

What Friends Say: They've been really surprised in the past 6 months or so, as that is when we really made some big changes, got the furniture we have now and so on. They were a bit surprised we moved our bedroom into the room that is meant to be the study, but it is completely practical - it gets the heating/air conditioning so it's much more comfortable all year round. 

Biggest Embarrassment: Oh, our backyard. It's terrible. We put in a little herb patch and that was nice for a while, but I want to start again out there. It's not a big yard and there are lots of things to consider, like access to meters, two gates, etc. But I plan to make it a nice place to eat outside on warm evenings. Also, our bathroom cabinets, bath, and sink are far from ideal, but they work and there's plenty of storage, so they are staying.

Proudest DIY: Easy - our white floorboards in two bedrooms. When we bought the place, these two rooms had carpet and everywhere else had dark stained boards. We were excited to find untouched boards under that old carpet, and felt we had to match them to the rest of the house, which was of course impossible, and a nightmare! I decided that we had to do a contrast instead, and I spent ages reading about white boards - including lots on here, which was really helpful! - you know, whether they are hard to look after and so on. I am thrilled with the result, which is white, but not opaque, and not too shiny. There is now so much light in both these rooms and it's easy to look after. Every now and then I get tempted to do the whole house but that would be a crazy investment! To be honest, I'd love to have kept the boards natural with just a clear varnish to protect them, all through the house, and have all the wood the same, or even painted white, the walls painted white, and then have natural wood shelves in the kitchen and so on, but that is a dream for a bigger budget. Actually all the walls were white when we moved in, or rather a dingy pale grey, and whoever had painted hadn't taken any care with it and it just looked tired and boring and depressing rather than fresh and airy. We could have experimented with better shades of white but I didn't want to risk it, and I love both strong and softer colours on the walls.

Biggest Indulgence: Not so much a cost but an inconvenience: keeping the enormous, dark wood Victorian mantle piece in the back room. Doesn't really fit physically, or style wise, but I don't care - I just love it! And I've put it to use. Also, I painted our tall, small bathroom a very dark teal-blue. It was a bold move but it's worked really well. The bathroom gets loads of sunlight all day, and when it was white it was difficult to even walk in there because it was so dazzlingly bright - and then on the first hot summer day we had here, we came home to find all the shampoo bottles had melted! We now have UV filter nets on the windows and the dark blue is just perfect.

Best Advice:  Be who you are with your style - don't be afraid to do something bold - and don't be afraid to admit you made a mistake either. I found I had to live here for a while before I knew what I wanted to do with it, colour wise and so on. I painted the study pink in a kitsch phase and it was not right at all! I think it is important to make it somewhere comfortable and pleasant to be in for you, and to do what you like, rather than follow trends regardless of your own taste. We've also been very practical, in that we haven't wanted to spend too much, as we don't plan to live here forever!

Dream Sources: I love beautifully made pieces, whether antique, vintage or new. There are some incredible furniture designers in Australia and I'd love to buy some of their work.

Resources of Note:

• couch - on the footpath at the end of my street. I carried it home by myself! 
• old tin (?) trunk, antique table (for the TV), big painting above the couch, 1950's yellow tall lamp, vintage magazine holder, Big Band records - op shops.
• tall skinny CD shelf, white plant pots, green rug - IKEA.
• plant stand - from our neighbour, on hard rubbish day. It was rusty but beautiful, and I'd have loved to have kept it that way but it looks much better in bright shiny white, although painting it took a surprisingly long time!
• coffee table and yellow armchair, low, narrow and wide mid century book shelf near the dining table- local vintage furniture shops.
• wooden ladder - built by John's late father decades ago.
• red 1960's record player - vintage curios shop in Carlton.
• old Shellac records (78s) in album, they still play so well and there are great tunes on them - antique market outside Melbourne.

• table and chairs set - amazing vintage and retro furniture shop called Model 143 in Preston. They always have great stuff at really good prices, we love them!
• two vintage dark green industrial lights/shades - I found three in a box in an opshop and got them for $10. I had a big smile on my face when I carried those home!
• blue and red book with personalised message dated 1916 - op shop.

• glass jars, cake stand, blue-green trolly - IKEA
• wooden chopping boards - a friend made them from a tree on from their property. They're very heavy so I use them to put hot pots on when I'm cooking.
• vintage yellow and jade green sugar and flour containers - from two different vintage shops, years apart! 

• sheer white curtains, two sets, which are essential, we close them when we have people over and it lets in light but obscures the view of our bed, so it doesn't feel like a bedsit - IKEA (two sets).
• pink bedside table - stool from IKEA.
• green and mint 1960s lamp - Model 143.
• vintage Penguin books - ebay, Betty Macdonald is one of my all time favourite authors and they just happened to be orange Penguins!
• vintage and antique books and vanity case - op shops.
• 1960's suitcase - op shop

• the spider plant was a gift that Babycat has enjoyed a bit too much, but it is recovering.
• pictures - op shops
• glass bottle vases - tiny Italian fruit drinks.

• desk - IKEA
• ladder - also from hard rubbish, and I've just painted it coral (Solver Paints Cherokee) to store things like belts, my vintage hats and so on.
• 1950's green lamp - op shop 
• flowers: Fowlers Flowers in Clifton Hill (gorgeous florist! Right next door to one of our favourite cafes so we are tempted every weekend when we walk past!) 
• blue stool - IKEA 
• globe - vintage and retro furniture and curios shop
• pink filing cabinet - op shop
• old wooden print tray - retro furniture shop in Reservoir. John used to be in the print trade before becoming a graphic designer and we both love lead type. But don't touch it too much! 
• Olivetti typewriter - was John's brother's, and he typed up his uni assignments on it! I hope he doesn't mind us sharing that and therefore his age!

BACK ROOM (where all my clothes live!)

• vintage ladies bike - found on the street near our old place (in North Fitzroy) with a note saying "please take me" so I did, and it's perfect for me! I then saw the woman who owned it and left it to be taken and she was pleased it had gone to a good home. It has since been restored because after a few years of hard riding it was more rust than bike!
• mantle piece - found in a laneway in that North Fitzroy too. Weighs a tonne!
• mid century bookshelf under mantlepiece (and under the shoes!) (a perfect fit) - model 143.
• clothes racks - IKEA
• antique hat box - markets
• mirror - vintage shop in Clifton Hill

Other: vintage singer sewing machine - found on footpath (I thought it was an interesting looking wooden box and was thrilled to find what was inside it)
• 1960's blue suitcase - op shop 
• old film reel, vintage vases - op shops

Thanks, Marianne!

(Images: Marianne Rutherford)

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