My arty warehouse: an industrial space transformed
A former coathanger factory has made a gloriously quirky home for artist Stephanie Jane Rampton, writes Hande Renshaw.
For Stephanie Jane Rampton and her late husband, finding a warehouse space with a garden in the inner Melbourne suburb of Collingwood seemed to be impossible. “I remember a real estate agent telling me that what I wanted – a warehouse with a garden within a very specific area – did not exist,” says Stephanie.
Thankfully, the agent was wrong. Having fallen in love with the area for its vibrancy and proximity to cafés, restaurants and the quick tram ride into the city centre, Stephanie was extremely happy when they found a converted old coathanger factory in her dream suburb.
Since moving in in 2004, Stephanie has stamped her mark on the threebedroom warehouse space. From the floorboards and staircase to the kitchen, almost the entire home has been revamped with the help of Matt Staples, Stephanie’s close friend and interior renovator. “Matt was recommended by a friend and I sensed he was the right man for the job straightaway,” she says.
“When I discovered we had both studied art in England, it was all too good to be true... little did I know at the time that I’d form a lifelong friendship with Matt and his family.”
Together, they have transformed a tired warehouse into a remarkable open-plan home. “I trusted Matt to be as creative as he liked,” she says. “Without a formal plan, we scribbled ideas on scraps of paper as we went along and it worked out beautifully.”
The kitchen was custom-made from oak and walnut with stainless steel worktops. The island bench has a mild (low carbon) steel surround treated with Penetrol, an anti-corrosion product. Open shelves hang from cleverly designed brackets against a “concrete
look” tiled wall. For Stephanie, it’s the little touches that she loves the most, from the kitchen joinery, which includes her copper etching plates set into the timber, to the skirting boards, which have little plugs of walnut inset, echoing the wood used in the kitchen.
Her pride and joy is the wall of artwork. An avid collector, Stephanie can’t resist acquiring new pieces and many of them are swaps. “Each and every piece has special meaning for me,” she says. “Matt hung them as a gift at the end of the renovation –
I’d never get on a ladder that high.” To get a feel for the arrangement, they laid out all the works on the floor and then looked down on them from the mezzanine before hanging.
Almost everything in Stephanie’s house has a special significance. “What is important to me is the feeling of home, which comes from having things around me that evoke memories of people or places,” she says, “whether that be the prints on the walls or my grandmother’s china.”
An internal window brings muchneeded light into the bathroom. RIGHT: Glass blocks provide privacy and an interesting feature wall. BELOW: Rustic storage solutions.
The backyard barbecue was made from a furnace used to burn sawdust in the original factory. BELOW: A printmaker and avid art collector, the renovated factory is both Stephanie’s home and studio.