A serendipitous web-stumble is how we would describe our discovery of Amelia Barnes and her photographer partner Dan Soderstrom’s delightful blog Rented Space (both pictured above). Showcasing photography and features on interesting Australian rented homes and their inhabitors, the site is just as much a testament to the talented team the couple, and co-founders, Barnes and Soderstrom make in life and in work.
In the blog, Soderstrom beautifully captures people in the place they are most at ease, cheerfully and honestly to delight the viewer with frames of living interiors, quirks and all. A frequent writer for Domain.com.au Barnes’ immersion in the Australian property landscape is deep. That ubiquitous title has, in turn, regularly featured Rented Space stories in it’s own glossy.
When appointing Contributing Editors for the Milray Park magazine it was obvious to us that Rented Space had to be included and we promptly appointed Barnes to our masthead.
Excitingly, in this special story we turn the tables on the pair so used to being behind the lense, to tour their very own rented space.
Amelia and Dan's beautiful rented apartment in South Yarra
Collected & curated home decor
Sally BevanWhere do you live?
Amelia Barnes South Yarra in Melbourne.
Sally How long have you been living there with Dan?
Amelia We’ve lived in this apartment for a year. We had lived in another apartment that was very similar, just a block away, beforehand. But we wanted to live somewhere a bit bigger. We love the Art Deco apartments in the South Yarra area, so we were keen to stay in this neighbourhood. We found this flat on Domain. It took us a while to move in but we were very happy when we finally did.
Sally How would you describe your style?
Amelia People always walk into the place and they say it’s very me, but I don’t know what “me” is. I guess, at the moment, it looks like a lot of plants, a lot of velvet, a lot of pink, and a lot of yellow. Weirdly, I am not too sure where that’s coming from. I like things that are handmade. I like an eclectic mix of things. We definitely shop at chain stores, but we also get stuff from op shops. Sometimes we even get old furniture from friends and family. I like having a mix and then putting that all together. So I guess the mix is high and low, which is a really boring answer, but that is our style. We haven’t decorated our apartment with a budget, it just comes together over time.
It’s not like we were seeking to create a look, or seeking out pieces for different areas, which I think is just something you have to live with when you’re renting. You can’t be like, “Oh we’re just going to look for this colour, and this size,” because you just have to kind of go with the flow. It’s always evolving, it’s always changing.
People always walk into the place and they say it’s very me, but I don’t know what “me” is.
Art Deco features in Amelia and Dan's South Yarra's appartment
Plants are key design element in Amelia and Dan's apartment
Sally How do you obtain pieces, collected or curated?
AmeliaNearly all our furniture come from a Facebook group called My Stuff = Your Stuff Melbourne.
With Facebook groups, things pop up all the time. You can’t necessarily just be like looking on a certain day. You’ve got to be on the ball, and open to different pieces that come your way. That’s why our space is always evolving, because we just jump on things. Also, because I work from home, I have the luxury of usually having Facebook open to do that.
Very few things here are new. It’s not because I don’t like buying new, necessarily, it’s always nice to have something shiny but we just don’t really have the budget for it, to be honest.
The yellow couches have actually been handed down through my friends, I think I’m like the fourth person to have them, in the chain of friends, which is kind of nice. They’re kind of ugly but they’re comfy and they have a nostalgia attached to them. Other pieces are from eBay, one from Hard Rubbish, one’s from an antiques bazaar, and then everything else is My Stuff = Your Stuff Melbourne.
Sally What’s on your list of things to buy next? What’s on your wishlist?
Amelia Dining table chairs are definitely number one. After that, I’m always on the lookout for new plants, especially the ones like Devil’s Ivy, a really established one of those I love. Just because they’re just impossible to kill, and they’re so great. We’re going to be moving soon, because our lease is up here, and we’re really excited about getting a place where we can hopefully hang things on the walls, ’cause we weren’t allowed to in this place.
The yellow couches have been handed down through friends
Amelia is always on the lookout for new plants
Sally What’s your favourite treasure piece, in the house? Then what would you say Dan’s was?
Amelia Mine, I really love our velvet green armchair, which was another buy off My Stuff = Your Stuff Melbourne. Giving a big shout out to them. But that was only $100.
Dan’s favourite, I must say I’m generally in charge of what we buy.
In saying that, the pink chairs aren’t overly practical, so he’s not a fan of them. So he makes it known if he doesn’t like something. He doesn’t just let me get whatever I want. I think he really loves our couches, just because they’re comfy and practical. I think we both really love mid-century design, and we hypothetically would love to have a ’50s couch with wooden arms and that kind of thing, armrests. But they’re just not that comfy, so yeah, comfort does play into your house quite a bit. Especially when you live in an apartment, it’s not like we live in this mansion where you can kind of have one room that’s for comfort and one room that’s for aesthetics, you kind of have to go comfort all the way. So I think that’s probably his favourite pieces.
Amelia's favourite velvet green armchair
Rent-friendly gallery wall
Sally Yes, and finally who waters the plants?
Amelia Yeah we’ve got a few. I water them mostly. Dan’s dad is a gardener and he used to work with him growing up. So Dan does have some background in gardening, but unfortunately it’s mostly outdoor, landscape gardening of mansions, not indoor plants kind of thing. However, he does really like being around them. But, I water them mostly. Even if all the ones we have are really low maintenance. I’ve definitely killed a lot in my day. I’m not an expert, but the ones that are super-easy to keep alive, like Monsteras, Devil’s Ivy, you just can’t really go wrong. It’s just fun, they’re not expensive, it’s an easy thing to experiment with, plants.
Sally Are there many clipping in there, that you’ve done yourself?
Amelia Not many. A couple that have just randomly fallen off things, and then I’ve just tried to salvage them. I have some friends that are a lot more clever about using clipping. I’m not that good at it myself. So no, they’re all from different nurseries. There’s a plant selling group that I sometimes buy off on Facebook, it’s called Plant Selling and Advice, or something like that. It can sometimes be good for buying plants, but in saying that, it’s just kind of nice to go to a market, or go to a nursery, and buy a new plant.