Five years after purchasing this 1910’s house in a leafy pocket of St Kilda, Alex McCabe of Kip&Co and family undertook a total rebuild of their home. No mean feat! Executed by architect Michael McManus of McManus Lew Architects, renovations included extending the footprint of the house, creating a large open kitchen and living area, and introducing natural light with new windows and skylights.
Alex describes the home as ‘light, bright and personable’ – and we can only agree! The new design deliberately brings the outside into the house, with huge floor to ceiling glass doors. The styling is eclectic and fun – Alex explains her approach as underpinned by the philosophy that ‘too much is never enough!’ She highlights ‘there is no strict style, period or colour palette in the house, just a collection of pieces that make me happy and treasures I’ve picked up along the way.’ Of course, Kip&Co pieces are smattered through the home, lending texture, colour and personality.
Beloved treasures include a triptych the family commissioned from Fred Fowler, which runs the length of the living area. Alex explains, ‘it somehow creates a sense of space rather than closing it in, which is really beautiful.’ The eye-catching crocodile bamboo quartz splash-back (!) is identified by Alex as ‘the biggest statement in the home.’ This incredible addition looks like an artwork, but comes from deep underground, in Brazil. Alex explains how ‘having a beautiful new kitchen made me want to stay home and cook – that’s a really awesome part of our lives now.’
The families new living style is enhanced by their new-found love of St Kilda. Alex highlights that as ‘a bit of a south-side convert, I like to think this hood is as ‘north’ as you can get this side of the river.’ With the St Kilda Botanical Gardens and foreshore walking distance away, the local neighbourhood becomes their backyard over the summer.
The renovation process itself was a joy for Alex and family, with the only niggle being remaining within budget. Alex admits, ‘I am not very good at sticking to one!’ While the budget may have blown out… this home is incredibly successful in capturing and celebrating the identity of its inhabitants. Alex explains ‘I like homes that really reflect the personality of the people living in them, and tell a bit of their story.’ This story is one of sheer joy and over-the-top enthusiasm – we love it!
The bright and joyful house of Kip&Co co-founder Alex McCabe, partner Bobby Babb and 10-month old Quincy! Pink concrete bench by Rutso, ‘the one thing I absolutely wanted for the house and love it’, Alex tells. Crocodile bamboo quartz splashback, found by Bobby and Alex peeking out from a dusty corner of a stone warehouse in Melbourne. Aged brass cabinets ‘roughed up” by Alex and Bobby with some apple cider vinegar. Black paper maché vase from India. Blue and white Italianate ceramic pot handed down from Alex’s grandma. A mix of European pottery and Indian paper maché vases on the shelf. Custom-made stools by Jason Blake. Mud Australia Pebble Bowl Large in Slate used as a fruit bowl. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
The hanging garden is one of Alex’s greatest green thumb achievements ‘though it’s on a watering timer so I can claim no credit’. Black and white vase on shelf by Claire Johnson. Jimmy the Wheaten Terrier in the background! Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
Quincey (dressed in new season Kip & Co tracksuit, ‘The Patch’). Panther statue named George by Melissa Grisancich. Ivy Muse plant and pot. Vintage German and local pottery sourced online and ‘from the back of grandma’s cupboards’. Alex and Bobby, Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
Vintage lotus couch from a Modern Times warehouse sale. Cushions by Kip&Co. Black and green paper mâché vases from India. Table from Angelucci. Mid-century chairs from eBay. Beenleigh Rum bust from a family pub. ‘My dad’s family were in the pub business in Western Victoria a long time ago. Beverage companies used to put these statues in bars as sale advertising. This little man sat out in the elements for over a decade at my parents’ house before I rescued him’, Alex says. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
Crocodile bamboo quartz splash back. Aged brass cabinets. Black paper mâché vase from India. Blue and white Italianate pot handed down from Alex’s grandma. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
The butler’s pantry is ‘a real mish-mash of textures, materials and colours that we love and couldn’t fit into another spot,’ Alex explains, ‘We can close off the whole space from the main house with a giant floor-to-ceiling swinging door’. OSB Cupboards. Green tiles from Earp Brothers. Black terrazzo floor. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
Painting over fireplace by Mignon Steele. Plant and planters from Ivy Muse. Rug and cushion by Kip&Co. Chairs from Grandfathers Axe. Spirit men from Elcho Island were a gift from Alex’s family for her 30th. Assorted knick-knacks on the shelves include: ceramic bowl by Kaye Clancy; blue vase by Brooke Thorn; tractor painting from Alex’s sister’s neighbour in Newcastle; stone Ganesh from India; stone bookends from a Mornington Peninsula market; 70s/80s neon case/bottle from the south of France. Table base by TUCKBOX Design, with Cat’s Eye stone top from India. Green painting by Fred Fowler, part of a ‘huge triptych’ (about 6m x 2m) Alex and Bobby commissioned for the space. Black painting by Nyah Isabel Cornish. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
A snapshot of Quincy’s nursery (UMMM….COOLEST NURSERY EVER?!). Blue cushion by BFGF. Other cushions and rug from Kip & Co. Couch from Bisque Interiors in Byron Bay. Table base from Obtainium, ‘a vintage store in Mornington with lots of crazy and off things’. The table top is an offcut from the honey onyx bench in the bathroom (the piece they cut out for the sink!). Wall hanging from Kip & Co, no longer available. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
Outdoor chairs from Bali. Marble table top sourced on a trip to India. ‘Kip&Co’s manufacturing base is in India, so we try to get there at least twice a year’, Alex tells ‘Sometimes we get some time to sneak off and connect with amazing local artisans, like those in the stone workshop where this table is from’. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
Looking into the house from the backyard. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
Bedding and rug are new season Kip&Co (available in March!). Simple bedside tables from Grandfathers Axe. Bedside lamps from Cove Island Essentials in Canggu, Bali. Paintings are by Nancy Nodea and Peggy Patrick from the Warmun Art Centre, ‘both artists are from the Kimberley and work in traditional style, including using ochre from the local area.’ Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.
Gold brass taps from Brodware. Honey onyx bench. Handmade Light from Portugal. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.