Rarely caught without a pencil or trowel in her hand, Kelly Thompson is unabashedly herself. And her Melbourne home is no different.

TEXT: BEA TAYLOR
PHOTOGRAPHY: KELLY THOMPSON

The personification of personal style and with a genuine eye, you’d be loath to find anything in Kelly Thompson’s home or wardrobe that was merely there just for having ‘designer’ credentials. 

In fact, she and her partner Christian moved out of their beautiful Melbourne rental because it was “too designer for its own good.” With a pool, floor-to-ceiling sliding doors and designer taps, it had “all the faff” but also “frustrating impracticalities.” And therefore, despite its architectural brilliance, no longer fit their needs. 

Now, a little further out in Ivanhoe, Kelly and Christian have the thing they were craving most; space. Space inside and space outside. Light, peaceful and with the added bonus of high ceilings, there’s room for Kelly’s studio, from which she runs her online store Maker’s Mrkt, and room for Christian’s wine (“he owns a restaurant, so is always stashing something,” says Kelly.)

It’s easy to forget that Kelly and Christian are just renting, their home has such a personal appeal. But Kelly’s advice on how to make a rental feel like a home isn’t a secret, it’s just simple, low-key genius; “you just have to pretend it is your home.”

There’s a limit, of course. In most rentals, knocking down walls and re-painting rooms is normally a no-go, but Kelly has managed to make a few adjustments. She’s painted the previously dull-grey fireplace a fresh white to match the walls and swapped ugly plastic blinds for beautiful turmeric velvet curtains that she found at a vintage store.

Vintage finds and objects collected on travels are the pièce de résistance in this artfully styled abode and Kelly is well-trained for the vintage hunt thanks to her past life sourcing vintage objects for Curated Spaces. “I’d say 90 per cent of the furniture in my house is vintage, found on Gumtree, at markets or on random drives to small towns,” she says. 

Two of the most valuable items she owns — burl drums by Milo Baughman — were an accidental investment. Not realising at the time that the “super cheap” pieces were in fact designer and highly collectable items.

She’s a collector of beautiful and interesting objects, but to think of Kelly as a hoarder would be a huge misconception. “Often when I find something new, it means I sell something. It’s all very transitional, I’m constantly upgrading as I learn more about myself and my tastes change,” she says. And with every new item that makes its way into her home, a readjustment of all the others follows, she says, “it starts a flow of rearranging until it feels right and I find visual satisfaction from various angles.”

Kelly describes her interior style as a progression towards eclectic, with maximalism in sight. “There’s a low level of glam to it, that would be more so if my pockets were deeper,” she says. Nevertheless, she’s still managed to strike the perfect balance between cosy and sophistication. 

Unlike those who rush to the nearest shop as soon as the new year’s trends are announced, Kelly’s approach is slow, patient and thoughtful. Touting the well-known saying; “a home should always be an expression of you, not what everyone else likes,” she is one of the few whom wholeheartedly embody it. 

Much like her wardrobe, she’s attracted to textures and shapes in interiors. But that’s not the only thing her home has in common with her (enviable) clothing style; “I’ve started to realise that the colours that interest me for my home also seem to creep into my wardrobe, and vice versa. At one stage I was obsessed with yellow and orange in my wardrobe, and I ended up with all sorts of orange things in my home. I’m kind of happy that moment passed to be honest,” she says.

Her home, despite her currently colourful wardrobe, is less so. Wanting it to be warm and have consistency, she’s working on a more limited colour palette; there’s warm wood, brassy tones, browns, golds and creams, “and recently more black and green sneaking in,” she says. But, again proving she’s not a one-trick pony, she follows with; “however, if I owned my own home, I would be more dramatic and have bold-coloured pieces or rooms. I’d love to have a sea-green dining room.”  

One of the motivations for her and Christian’s move out of the city was the promise of a backyard and their own vegetable garden. Kelly now has six garden beds under her green thumb, having built them all from scratch herself. “I love the ongoing satisfaction of knowing I made it happen,” she says. “It’s calming and grounding. I swear, a day in the garden makes my eyes and my whole face look different.” 

But it’s not just thriving in the fresh air that’s spurring her inner gardener on, it’s the feeling of being in control of where her food comes from. “I like knowing it’s not sprayed with Roundup, that it’s fresh and growing under the same sun as I am,” Kelly says. “I’ve learnt that the bio-dynamic planting calendar does seem to influence plant growth and health. I’ve learnt to trust my intuition and that good companion planting and crop rotation can keep pests at bay. I’ve also learnt that it’s actually really easy if you just try it out, pay attention and learn from your mistakes.”

So now, as well as illustrator, Maker’s Mrkt founder, content creator, style muse and vintage hunter, she has one more notch to add to her predictably stylish belt; gardening guru.

kellythompsoncreative.com

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