TURN UP THE VOL­UME

– the Aus­tralian fash­ion de­signer whose home is a riot of con­trast­ing colours

Simply You Living - - Contents - WRITER: JU­LIA GREEN. PHO­TOG­RA­PHER: ARMELLE HABIB / LIV­ING IN­SIDE.

Fash­ion de­signer Vanessa Kort­lang’s home is a world of ri­otous

colour and pat­tern – this is how to live loud.

There’s some­thing to be said for the wise, pre­dic­tive pow­ers of those who fore­cast trends for a liv­ing – ev­i­denced in the de­ci­sion by Aus­tralian fash­ion de­signer Vanessa Kort­lang to pur­chase a home in the then largely mi­grant pop­u­lated area of South Yarra 27 years ago. The fact this lo­cale has be­come one of Mel­bourne’s most soughtafter neigh­bour­hoods is of sec­ondary im­por­tance to Kort­lang, how­ever, who felt an im­me­di­ate con­nec­tion with the old Vic­to­rian house.

She pur­chased the small sin­gle-fronted weath­er­board cot­tage in 1989. It had been in­hab­ited by the same woman for more than 60 years and it was fall­ing down around her. The cot­tage had a sim­ple floor plan of rooms off a hall­way and very dated ameni­ties. Kort­lang re­garded it as a res­cue mis­sion and felt ex­cited to take on the chal­lenge of ren­o­vat­ing such a di­lap­i­dated prop­erty.

She im­me­di­ately dis­cov­ered the piles un­der­neath the house needed to be re­placed, liken­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing in­side the prop­erty to be­ing on a list­ing ship. “I will never for­get the first bath I took there be­fore the repil­ing – I had to hang on to the sides for dear life so I didn’t slide down to the other end,” she laughs.

Af­ter some ur­gent rewiring, repil­ing and paint­ing, Kort­lang could be­gin to stamp her colour­ful per­son­al­ity onto the prop­erty’s in­te­rior, a process that has taken years. “This has been a work in progress for me. My home is an evo­lu­tion not an in­stant overnight ren­o­va­tion. It has taken more than 20 years of col­lect­ing, mor­ph­ing and tweak­ing to get it to where it is to­day,” she says. “Pa­tience is a virtue!”

Kort­lang’s ren­o­va­tions in­cluded a new bath­room and kitchen fit-out 10 years ago, and more re­cently knock­ing down a wall be­tween two smaller rooms to cre­ate a sin­gle, larger space. The slow process was

Be­low: a paint­ing by Arite Kan­navos hangs above a blue replica Florence Knoll sofa from Clickon Fur­ni­ture. The French-style two-seater is from Vavoom. The wall­pa­per is Peek-a-Boo Graphic Trel­lis by York Wall­cov­er­ings.

ben­e­fi­cial, she says, al­low­ing her to live in the space to see how she used it be­fore mak­ing big – and costly – de­ci­sions.

Re­li­gious iconog­ra­phy, pop art, sten­cil art and muti­nous colour com­bi­na­tions all fea­ture heav­ily in Kort­lang’s home. “I think a house is a re­flec­tion of its owner and tells a story about the per­son who lives there,” she says, adding that the ‘happy chic’ vibe of her in­te­ri­ors keeps her up­beat. “I am a colour­ful per­son by day, by night, by fash­ion and by in­te­ri­ors. I adore colour and cel­e­brate it in all of its glory.”

Kort­lang used wall­pa­per to add an in­stant in­jec­tion of colour and per­son­al­ity to her rooms, and proudly con­fesses that her love for wall­pa­per pre-dates its fash­ion­able come­back (she bought her din­ing room’s sil­ver wall­pa­per 15 years ago from a lo­cal op shop for just $2 per roll).

For the most part, she opted for sim­ple but strik­ing pat­terns in a mono­chrome pal­ette. The only room in which she de­vi­ated from her largely black and white wall theme was in her bed­room, which fea­tures a strik­ing blue pat­tern and large mir­rors to give the il­lu­sion of a big­ger room.

“I wanted the bed­room to feel dif­fer­ent and the aqua ikat wall­pa­per by Schu­macher did the trick,” she says.

With such busy walls, Kort­lang de­lib­er­ately kept her floors plain. The white floor­boards were de­signed to give the rooms space to breathe, to cre­ate theatre, and al­low her multi-coloured

I’m pretty much in­te­ri­ors ob­sessed so I read mag­a­zines, blogs and books con­stantly. I get in­spi­ra­tion from th­ese sources, of course, but my big­gest in­spi­ra­tion re­ally comes from the things I love

and from within.

Above: an in­stal­la­tion of antlers and crosses hangs above Kort­lang’s bed. The blue ikat wall­pa­per is by Schu­macher.

fur­nish­ings the chance to ‘pop’. De­spite be­ing warned about the im­prac­ti­cal­ity of white floor­ing, Kort­lang says she is pleas­antly sur­prised at how well the floors have worn.

When it comes to the colour­ful ob­jects, art and fur­nish­ings that adorn ev­ery room, Kort­lang says she finds in­spi­ra­tion ev­ery­where – “I took an aqua Tif­fany bag into my lo­cal paint shop and had them match it and that be­came the colour of my front door” – and ref­er­ences to her pre­vi­ous life as a singer in a rock‘n’roll band are scat­tered through­out her home.

“I’m pretty much in­te­ri­ors ob­sessed so I read mag­a­zines, blogs and books con­stantly. I get in­spi­ra­tion from th­ese sources, of course, but my big­gest in­spi­ra­tion re­ally comes from the things I love and from within,” she says.

Kort­lang be­lieves that if you love some­thing you will al­ways find a space for it, but ad­mits her great­est

The red din­ing chairs make a state­ment against the graphic wall­pa­per while a glass cabi­net

re­flects light around the room.

chal­lenge was in com­bin­ing her di­verse tastes into a co­he­sive whole. “I have so many dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests and pas­sions and am drawn to a lot of di­verse cul­tures and styles,” she says. “The chal­lenge when you have broad and eclec­tic tastes is how to put so many dif­fer­ent styles to­gether and make it work. There needs to be an un­der­pin­ning of colour you build on and a natural sense of dis­play to make it work as a whole.”

The suc­cess of her ap­proach shines through in ev­ery room in the house and, un­sur­pris­ingly, the busy de­signer cher­ishes time spent at home.

“I love putting on some vinyl, por­ing over a de­sign book and en­joy­ing my time with like-minded peo­ple,” she says. “I also equally love throw­ing open the court­yard doors on a balmy sum­mer night and cook­ing for my friends – you’d never know you are in the heart of the city out there.”

Liv­ing so close to the re­tail Mecca that is Chapel Street means in­dulging her shop­ping habit is all too easy for Kort­lang.

“When I buy for my home I like to shop lo­cal and sup­port the small lo­cal re­tail­ers. South Yarra and the sur­round­ing area has so many great unique in­te­ri­ors stores, where you can find some re­ally quirky and in­ter­est­ing pieces. Be­ing a to­tal shopa­holic that suits me down to the ground,” she laughs. “I can al­ways fit more onto those shelves.”

The chal­lenge when you have broad and eclec­tic tastes is how to put so many dif­fer­ent styles to­gether and make it work. There needs to be an un­der­pin­ning of colour you build on and a natural sense of dis­play to make it work as a whole.

Above: the ver­dant deck is Kort­lang’s ur­ban oa­sis. The replica Aca­pulco ta­ble and chairs are by Sokol.

The colour­ful Mel­bourne home of Aus­tralian fash­ion de­signer

Vanessa Kort­lang.

Far left: Kort­lang had the paint for the aqua blue front door colour matched to a Tif­fany bag. The floor run­ner was cus­tom­made by Fen­ton & Fen­ton.

Left: a piece by graf­fiti artist

Pure Evil hangs be­hind a chair, which Kort­lang had up­hol­stered in a be­spoke colour. Be­low left: a colour­ful bracelet sits on top of a book on fash­ion de­signer Stephen Sprouse. Be­low right: Kort­lang painted 70s Anaglypta wall­pa­per bright yel­low to con­trast against the black and white striped wall­pa­per from Tim­ney Fowler.

Above: the bone in­lay chest of draw­ers in the bed­room is from Fen­ton & Fen­ton. The paint­ing above it is by Stephen Lang­don. Be­low left: a dis­play of pieces col­lected by Kort­lang on her trav­els.

Above: a Ra­mones poster and gui­tar case hint at Kort­lang’s for­mer

life as a singer in a rock’n’roll band. Above right: her di­verse tastes see taxi­dermy birds dis­played along­side a For­nasetti jar.

Right: a Mex­i­can Day of the Dead skull shares the man­tel­piece with an orchid and

glass­ware in com­ple­men­tary colours.

Above: Wall­pa­per

from the Grand Chateau col­lec­tion by Nor­wall cov­ers

the ceil­ing in the white kitchen. The Ber­toia Barstools are from De De Ce. Right: the star light

is from Fen­ton & Fen­ton, and the gold rab­bit is from Down

to the Woods.

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