Kathleen Prentice takes furniture seriously. She spends her days designing for hotels around the world at her day job at Bar Studio. She also runs her own award-winning eponymous homewares label, which creates experimental forms out of wood, aluminum, leather and rope.
That’s why her Fairfield shared apartment in north Melbourne includes so many signature bell bottom stools – made to order in Australia from 100% recyclable aluminum and powder coated in rich colours.
Also curvy Melt Console tables. And displaced benches made of wood and rope.
“I have a lot of work scattered around the house,” says Prentice leaflet. “In my bedroom I have the first piece of furniture I designed and made in college – my bedside table with a leather sling and terrazzo top. It holds good memories.
“I have a prototype bench and a prototype stool in my bedroom, plus a few pieces in the rest of the house. This is also where I store orders until they are ready to go to their new home. I don’t have a separate studio; All the magic happens right here.”
But living with childhood best friend Gemma and Gemma’s partner Jamie isn’t all grind. Along with Prentice’s partner – a frequent visitor to the mid-century house – they have ensured many good times in the leafy back garden, especially when the paddling pool comes out on sunny days.
They are also involved with Prentice’s furniture label. “I do all my design work at home,” she explains. “I start with 3D modeling parts and making prototypes. I also do a lot of photography at home, often with the help of my roommates. They love to get involved in the process.”
Surname: Kathleen Prentice
Life: In a leafy 1950’s suburban apartment share with my best friends – we all enjoy the garden and a sunny beer together.
Since: In the middle of Covid.
With whom: Gemma and Jamie (roommates and partners) and their cat, Captain.
Have you made any architectural changes since you moved in?
We installed floating shelves in the sun room, bathroom and bedrooms. We have also done a coat of paint here and there and upgraded the front yard. There’s so much we would do if we owned the house – starting with ripping open the ’50s linolino in the kitchen to reveal the beautiful hardwood floor and redoing the bathroom. I find myself renovating the space in my head quite often. It has so much potential.
What made you fall in love with the house in the first place?
We fell in love with the bedroom and living room windows – they bring in so much natural light and really open up the space. Also, the mid-century character and cute little quirks, like the fold-down kitchen shelves and curved bench. We moved into this house from a small apartment in Braunschweig during the height of Covid, so it was nice to have a more spacious living situation. On hot weekends we often set up the parasol with paddling pool, creating our own inner-city oasis.
Can you describe the atmosphere of the house?
This place is a typical 1950’s Australian house, full of plants and mid-century quirks. We don’t have a fixed approach to furnishing – it’s a mix of our furniture that all seem to work. My designs are featured throughout the room, as well as found and vintage furniture, some high-end design pieces, and artwork collected or gifted from friends.
how is the neighborhood
We live in a cute cul de sac with young families around us. From time to time we are initiated into a game of cricket or a water fight with the neighborhood children. Everyone is super friendly and will stop for a chat. The neighbors’ cats also like to stop by and run straight into the house when the door is open.
The conservatory. It’s always light and I love looking at it from my bedroom while I’m working. It’s the perfect alcove filled with plants and views of the back garden.
Favorite piece in the house?
That must be my Kai #42 chair. It was gifted to me by my previous employer and has great sentimental value. I once had the pleasure of meeting Kai Kristiansen at a work event. He is a pioneer of modern furniture design and at 94 he is still drawing. I find that pretty amazing.
Favorite homeware stores?
Ours in Fitzroy features emerging and established local creatives, myself included, and they always throw a good party too. I also love Modern Times – for the perfect combination of vintage and local design – and Makers Mrkt, an online platform with the most amazing furniture, ceramics and planters.
See more in broadsheets Series of home visits.