A Vintage-Loving Fashion Designer’s Retro Townhouse — House Tour
Name: Paula-Jane Buckland, son Rocket (9 years old) and Dixon
Location: Coburg North — Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Size: 3229 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, renting
Paula-Jane and her son Rocket moved to Melbourne from Adelaide about four years ago. While they live in a relatively new two-level townhouse in an inner-north suburb of Melbourne, it goes to show that you don’t have to live in a vintage home to collect and display wonderful retro and vintage furniture and collectibles.
Paula-Jane has been collecting vintage furniture, trinkets and clothing ever since she was a teenager, so it’s no surprise that she runs her own ’50s inspired clothing label Powder Puff Boutique.
Many of the items in her home have a story to tell. And her beloved “lady head” wall vase might be her favorite story. When she ran her Powder Puff Boutique store in Adelaide, the landlords lived out of the back of the shop, and Paula-Jane developed a close friendship with the elderly couple, Clara and Rocco.
The lady vase once belonged to Rocco’s sister, and it used to hang in their over-crowded backyard. Paula-Jane commented a few times on how beautiful she was and one day the couple said Paula-Jane could have her on loan for the store, (which was decorated with 50s collectibles). But only on loan, as it was sentimental to them.
“When I left the store to move to Melbourne, Clara and Rocco said I could keep her to remember them by. And she does. She reminds me of the wonderful times I had in my past store, which got me through some very personal tough times and reminds me of their special friendship. I am still in contact with Clara and visit her when I return to Adelaide; she always likes to hear I still have [the vase] hanging in my entryway.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Girly Cutesy 1950s and 1960s. I have collected many items, furniture and art over the years from the ’40s to ’70s (I used to have a collectible on every inch of space), but I have now narrowed it down to mostly cutesy pastel collectibles and ’50s and ’60s lighter or blonde wood furniture. I still love Art Deco and bright ’70s home wares and collectibles, but this is the style I’ve chosen to focus on for my home. I have tried to be a minimalist and I think this is about as close to one as I might be for some time. It’s a big difference to how much I used to own though!
Inspiration: Inspired by other friend’s mid-century styled homes and some magazines. But I mostly just buy art, ceramics, collectibles and furniture that I love and put them all together. And…voila!
What Friends Say: Visitors always love my home, which is lovely. Girls always gush over all the pink and look at all the little ceramics. Men always like the foxy lady prints by Tretchikoff, Beall, Lynch, Fahey etc.
Biggest Indulgence: My pink 1950s Formica table and chair set. I bought it approximately seven years ago. I won the auction on eBay and had it shipped from Bendigo to Melbourne, to Adelaide where I was currently living. Cost of the table and the shipping ended up in the big $$$.
Best Advice: Crème de la Crème. Save your money (or display real estate) and buy pieces you LOVE! Don’t cram your home with pieces just because they are collectible or from the era you like. Having space around the pieces you love will highlight them and make them ‘POP’! Collect items that your eyes love looking at and fill you with happiness. And enjoy the hunt for them also.
Dream Sources: I started collecting around 16 years ago and back then I would go to retro stores and auctions. I especially loved super early Sunday morning trips to the Trash & Treasure Markets. Sadly, in recent years those cheap scores are very few and far between. I do get some things from eBay, but mostly now I buy on Etsy and most of those purchases come from America, especially the cutesy big-eyed ceramics. I don’t really purchase much nowadays though. It’s kinda a “one in, one out” rule and I find it tough to find items I like more than I already own.
I love my late ’50s/early 60s Pink lounge setting. It comprises of seven pieces and I think I purchased it around 11 years ago in Adelaide. It was displayed on sale in front of a great retro store. Driving by it looked like it was a salmon colour. I had another friend at the time that was also collecting some pink home wares, so I went back around the block to take a look at it for her. But when I got up close to it and looked at the back of one of the chairs, I saw that the vinyl was actually baby pink — it was just disgustingly filthy! There was no way then I was going to pass it onto my friend. So I purchased it for $250 and took it home. I still remember to this day the time I had cleaning it with Jif and warm water and a scrubbing brush. Watching all the water turn brown bucket after bucket was so fun. And just look at it now!
I won the auction for my Flamingo coffee table on eBay about seven years ago. It was in Melbourne and I had a friend deliver it back to Adelaide to me where I was living at the time. Features art by Bernard Russell.
“The Nymph” by Lynch is one of my favourite bargain purchases. I bought her from a Trash ‘n’ Treasure Market about 15 years ago for $12. I had no idea she was collectible, I just thought she was beautiful.
My first ever vintage purchase was my ’50s/’60s baby pink Melamine tea set that I bought from a St Vinnies Op Shop when I was 17 or 18. Maybe that was what first sparked my love for 1950s pink collectibles? I love cooking for loved ones and friends and I love it even more with all my pink canisters and bakeware. The kitchen cupboards are also full of pink crockery and ceramics.
My bedroom consists of mostly the art and collectibles that used to hang in my past store as well as pie-crust and picture mirrors. I love the soft pastel Vernon Ward prints. It started with the flamingo prints and then I moved into his swans and ducks. Definitely a very feminine room with the soft colours, kitties, birds and ballerinas.
Rocket’s room is loosely themed on a vintage cowboy theme. But also has some vintage pirate and robot and other fun vintage things that are fitting for a little boys room. Rocket’s interests are Mr. Potato Head and the Solar System, planets, stars, earth, so those elements are present in his room also.
The guest room houses souvenirs from my trip to Japan and art by Richie Fahey purchased from Outre Gallery.
I love religious icons, so my upstairs bathroom has a fun kitschy Virgin Mary and religious “shrine.” I was raised Catholic, but now as an atheist I still love religious art. My little toilet shrine also serves as a memory to what I used to collect and the kitschy-ness that my homes in the past used to hold — before I came into my more “grown-up” style that my home now has.