Interiorssneak peeks

sneak peek: kate challis & andrew hollo

by anne

The Melbourne, Australia, home of Kate Challis, Andrew Hollo and their 2.5-year-old son, Jasper, is in fact a 19th-century storefront in the inner city, complete with gallery shows in the front window. When they first bought the place seven years ago, friends thought they were crazy, but they loved the rawness of the area and seeing it develop, as well as the village’s strong community. Andrew works as a management consultant and has a love of books (see below). Kate, who authors urban kaleidoscope, an interiors blog devoted to spaces with soul and personality, has run the gamut of experiences, from completing a PhD in art history (early Renaissance illuminated manuscripts) and opening a yoga studio to working as a corporate trainer and facilitator, saying “Like my personal style, my life is very eclectic.” These days most of her time is spent doing what she loves most: being with her family and exploring her passion for design. And when they’re not in Melbourne, they’re in Bali. Thanks, Kate! Anne

Image above: This antique table I found on eBay; it’s in the kitchen, where we spend most of our time. The curtain fabric is by Timorous Beasties, an avant-garde Scottish textile and fabric designer. At first glimpse, you think it is a traditional toile depicting sweet rural scenes when, in fact, it shows down-and-out life in contemporary London. Totally appropriate for the street on which we live.

Image above: The curtains are a brilliant deep aqua blue. A number of people tried to talk me out of such a bold colour. Conventional wisdom says to stick to more neutral colours for curtains. But where is the fun in that? I have not regretted it. The painting of the girl on the polar bear is by one of my closest friends, Pacquita Maher. What I love about this room is that it is both minimal and luxurious. The chair is an eBay discovery that was recovered, the little deco table is from an antique shop and the metal tin that sits underneath is Balinese.

Image above: The sofa in our living room is 2.5m (over 8 feet) long and big enough for the entire family (including the 2 cats). The Madeline Weinrib raspberry pink rug I found on sale. I almost didn’t get it, as someone else had put it aside, but then they changed their mind and bought a grey or taupe one instead. As the saying goes, their loss was my gain. Like the curtains in the bedroom, it’s bold and not for everyone, but I adore it; it breathes some fun and warmth into the room, which is what you want in a living area. The metal Moroccan tray table I searched for for several years until I found the stand in one shop and the top in another. The art on the wall is a combination of photographs, prints, paintings and watercolours, which were found, bought, collected or given over many years.

See more of this beautiful home after the jump!

Image above: This walnut cabinet is one of the first things you see when you come to our house. We have had it for years; my husband found it as a university student. It had been painted lime green, and he spent countless hours stripping the paint away and varnishing it. The collection of glassware is eclectic: the smoky vase with the peonies is an eBay find, the turquoise blue one is from Ikea, the musk single-stem Venetian vase from the 1950s belonged to my grandmother and the tall white glass vase my best friend gave me when my son was born. The fabulous plastic modern light is an original from the 1960s and belonged to my grandfather.

Image above: Space is limited in our house, so we have to be quite innovative. These wooden Ikea CD drawers came in sets of two, so we bought 30, which we white washed and used to create a wall of drawers. Initially, they housed my husband’s collection of 3000+ CDs. Since we have now gone digital, the storage unit has been relocated and repurposed as our pantry. Most of the labels reflect the new content, but we have kept a few of the old ones including “Dead Guys with Wigs” (baroque music) and “Sub-Continental,” which once contained Indian classical music and now houses our spices.

Image above: This room doubles as the dining room and my workspace. It is also a passage connecting the front of the house to the back. We love cooking for friends, and the table comfortably seats 8. I am on the look out for something more interesting to replace it, but for the time being, it allows us to entertain with ease, and that’s far more important. The stools were seconds on sale, and the pink plastic Kartell Frilly chair by Patricia Urquiola looks like it’s made out of glass when hit by natural light. The super-sized photo is of my grandmother at Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park, in 1937 when she was a student. It’s a captivating image, and inevitably, whoever is sitting opposite it wants to know more about it by the time dessert is served. The Crazy Daisy pendant light is by Volker Haug, a Melbourne-based up-and-coming lighting designer. Double-decker Ikea Expedit shelving is filled with books and items from our travels and life.

Image above: Jasper’s bedroom. The chair I found on eBay and recovered it in teal felt; the poster is a reproduction of a Raymond Savignac in an Ikea frame. I fell in love with the Leander cot/bed when I was pregnant but couldn’t justify the price. I then found one on eBay. The sloth I ordered online from an amazing French sticker company, e-glue, that does amazing super-sized decals. Curtains are made out of Ikea Inger fabric, and the toy box I found in a local coffee shop is an ice-cream seller’s box from Senegal.

Image above: Years ago, my husband showed a picture of a bookshelf from an in-flight magazine to his brother, who is a carpenter, and challenged him to reproduce it, without measurements. This is the result; it used to be downstairs, and at 8 months pregnant, I decided it’d be perfect to house children’s books and toys and had to be in Jasper’s room. Getting it up our narrow and steep staircase was quite a challenge.

Image above: This is the top of our stairs. The WOW pendant lights are by Volker Haug. At night they are incredible. His work sells for quite a bit now, but we got these before he was discovered. The tram roll I found on eBay before they became popular, and I love it, as the last destination is 50m from our house.

Image above: Our house is a 19th-century shop and has a huge window, which we use to exhibit the work of local artists. Here you can see a show by my friend, Pacquita Maher, of original paintings in vintage frames. It’s really interesting sitting in our living room and hearing people through the glass talk about the art.

Image above: This huge vintage poster is by Bernard Villemot. It only just fits into the space, but adds some interest, colour and fun in the bathroom, a normally fairly bland room. I have all sorts of bold plans for this room, but not too sure if I dare!

Image above: This photo gives you an impression of the entire living room with the shop window and original leadlighting at the front where Jasper’s play area is, but in reality, it all merges. It really is a living room: my husband can be reclining on the sofa listening to music and reading a book, Jasper building a train set on the floor around my yoga mat where I might be practicing. Quite different from living rooms when I grew up, which were formal places to entertain guests.

Image above: As you can see, both my husband and I adore books; we are constantly collecting and culling them. My brother-in-law made these custom bookcases for us. The Utrecht chairs were a real indulgence, purchased when our son was born. They are incredibly comfortable and beautiful. We will have them for the rest of our lives.

Image above: This table and lamp are by London-based artist, furniture maker and friend, Marianna Kennedy. The chinoiserie table has been made the traditional way, applying 30 coats of lacquer on top of hand-ground pigments using an 18th-century recipe. The lamp base is hand-polished resin from a plaster cast of an antique wooden lamp stand. Marianna is a friend and sold me these pieces years ago before the likes of Ilse Crawford and Philippe Starck began commissioning bespoke pieces from her. They are among my most treasured possessions and remind me of a very special and formative time in my life when I lived in London.

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  • This is a gorgeous home! Love the brilliant colours used throughout. I could live here quite happily.

  • This home is gorgeous!! Looking at these photos is like looking at something I would live in….only a million times better and more beautiful! It’s soooo me. And I can tell this is soooo much a reflectance of the Kate. Love this. My fav sneak peek of EVER!

  • I love the idea of breaking up the living space and have a designated area for kids. Super adorable home! I am not usually a big fan of pink, but that rug is amazing!!!!

  • Hi! Lovely home. I am interested in your friend’s paintings, but don’t see them on her website. Does she have a site that displays the paintings?


  • I live in a storefront in Toronto, Canada, and really enjoy seeing what others do with these long skinny abodes. Love the mixture of traditional and modern.

  • Trying to figure out if I would like stools as kitchen table seats! How do you like it?

  • Living in a storefront is SUPER intriguing to me! I love the way they have transformed the space – you can’t tell it’s a store at all – until you see the big storefront window!

  • Many thanks for the lovely sneak peak! Any chance you know if the fabric on the pillow in the second image (maroon and magenta teardrops) is available for purchase?

  • I love her place! Everything about it is amazing! I love that it feels so inviting and personal. She did an incredible job of keeping things mixed and modern but incorporating unique personal touches to the space.

  • Lovely to see the hanging of the Villemot above the loo was a success! More posters in bathrooms I say! Beautiful use of colour…. très jealous.

  • Wow. Very inspiring design. You have an eye for design. Love your bold choices, such as the raspberry area rug and teal blue curtains. Those Ultrecht chairs are my favorite!!Your space looks comfy yet modern and inviting. I agree a living room should have fun colors. Mine has oranges, teal blues light lime green, greys and pops of fresh white.lol. You are very creative , you should be proud of yourself for creating such a great living space. Have a wonderful day!!

  • This is one of the best spaces I’ve ever seen featured here. Love it!

  • Wow, I am with Lindsey. Amazing place… so lovable & livable. Put together fabulously.

  • Love the use of bold items and colors in small spaces! They fill the space without being overwhelming ~ so delicious. Excited to see what you do with your bathroom… Thank you for sharing so many details, I’m inspired.

  • Thank you for all your lovely comments. They have made my day!
    To answer your questions:
    @Amber: The grey Moroccan poufs can be bought in Australia at http://www.tabletonic.com, but if you google Moroccan leather poufs you can find lots of suppliers across the globe.
    @Kelly: Pacquita sells originals and limited edition prints. I am thinking about setting up an online shop of her work. In the meantime, you can contact her directly via email at pacquita@gmail.com
    @Katherine and Laura: The fabric for cushions are Du Barry velvets by Osborne&Little. They were remnants. The chair fabric is from the same collection. It’s divine fabric; velvet on a natural linen background.

  • I love this house! Amazing. I would also love to know the sources for all the fabric choices in the bedroom. They are exactly my style, right down to the bright blue curtains. Thanks so much.

  • I love that they have included a floor plan, sometimes its confusing trying to visualise the space but not in this case.

  • Gorgeous home! Lately I’ve been feeling very uninspired by home tours, because I keep feeling like I’m looking at repeats. But yours is fun and feels lived in without being cluttered, and has a nice amount of depth and personality. I was especially excited to see it because I ran across your blog recently but hadn’t been able to find it again. Yay!

  • Lovely home! I always like the ones that actually look like people live in them. That bookshelf is stunning – not sure I’d share it with my 2 year old ’cause I’d like to look at it all the time :-)

  • I have always dreamed of living in a building exactly as you are. What an adventure! You have made a beautiful home.
    a few years ago I got to see some sort of special TV documentry or DIY style show about a family that converted a 4 story with a basement 19th century store front in to 3 seperate apartments. The top floor with the most spectacular windows and large open space became a common area for all. It included a roof top garden and the basement was a garage/workshop.
    The woman convinced her parents and siblings that if they worked together it would be a fantastic place for them all. And she was right.
    I love to see spaces renewed. Wonderful just wonderful!

  • Thanks again for all these beautiful comments! I am so very touched.
    @ Susana. We love the stools in the kitchen and around the dining table. Our space is so narrow that chairs with backs just take up too much space. Our 2.5 year old actually usually sits on the stool and it seems to work.
    @ Julia. The curtain fabric is raw silk. It’s shot so has this gorgeous shimmer to it which is impossible to photograph! Warwick Fabrics has something similar but not quite with the same illuminessence. Hope that helps. Kate

  • there is absolutely nothing i like as a together theme in your house, but what i do LOVE is your baldness and personality in it! Nothing is matchy-matchy, everything is full of life and color and obviously u have put in an enormous amount of thought and planning in designing it-THAT is what i love about your house.

  • A thousand Thank Yous to Kate for including floor plans of the house !
    As a french architecture student I always find it frustrating not to be able to rebuild the sneak peek houses in my head.
    More please !

  • Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your amazing home – ditto on comment about color – j’adore! Please give us an update if you end up doing your bathroom :-)

  • I just love the colours!! Looking at these photos got me inspired to change some bits in our home!! Thanks!!!

  • using those cd storage boxes as a pantry is a brilliant idea. my spice cabinet is a nightmare and i think this is the perfect solution. thanks for the inspiration!

  • Wow. More amazing comments. I am blushing! Really lovely. Thank you.
    I’ve painted the bathroom . . . very dark. Needs some fun and colour now as it’s a bit serious. Let you know once it’s done.
    @ Virginie, Anna from Design Sponge asked for the floor plans, which I agree is a really good addition to the Sneak Peeks
    @Caroline, the sofa is custom by Diane Bergeron http://www.dianebergeron.com/ (a New Yorker who now lives in Melbourne) as the space is so narrow and long I couldn’t find anything off the shelf that worked.

  • Your Ikea wall of drawers is the most perfect solution to my cd problem. You don’t happen to remember the item name, do you? I can’t find it on their site and am fearing that having found the perfect solution, it’s now discontinued.

  • Well done! A space like this can be challenging because it is so long and thin, your design and layout is a brilliant solution. I wouldn’t have even spotted the layout without your hand drawn floor plan, impressive and of course beautiful!

  • Every time I see a store like this for sale I wonder if it is possible to turn it into a house. Now I know. Amazing. I’ll have to tell my husband I’m not crazy after all.

  • Lovely home.

    I love the idea with the IKEA storage, a great reuse! Though cd’s are like books to me (of which we also have quite a few), I’ll never part with all of them.

    Is that book at the bottom simply full of quotes? What a fabulous idea to have favorite/special quotes written out on blank pages and to display and change them at will.

  • Btw Susan, there is supposed to be a cd storage solution similar to the one above (which I believe is the Moppe?), but I haven’t been able to find it in the US (yet anyway).

    Though it has no doors and isn’t as ‘clean’ looking, we use the Benno cd/dvd storage tower. It can be freestanding or wall mounted. There’s also the Lerberge, a metal wall mounted unit.

  • what a beautious and eclectic home! i am just in love with all the little details. does anyone know where i can find a large photo sleeve like the one that the photo of kate’s grandmother is in?