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.

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