Creative director Tom Adair and his partner Nikki’s Melbourne home glows with neon signs, tongue-in-cheek art and whimsical uses of found objects.  Here are 10 ideas to steal from their creative abode…


1. Wooden it be nice
“I love the contrast between the wood and the concrete,” says homeowner Tom of the kitchen, which he built himself, even pouring and casting the benches in his backyard. The raw grain of Oregon timber brings tactile texture, while the concrete gives an urban feel.

TIP: Tom powder-coated the stools in hot hues to contrast with the raw materials.


2. Express yourself
“Art is a great creative outlet,” says Tom, who produced most of the home’s art pieces. “I have all these mad ideas that I can’t use in bedlinen, so this is a good way for me to express my craziness.” He goes by the name of Juan Mcarb, creating commissioned pieces, although he hopes to hold an exhibition soon.

TIP: Large artworks work well in small spaces.


3. Couch potato
“We wanted a big, deep sofa to act as a centrepiece, and this one [the ‘Jasper’ lounge] from King Furniture was perfect,” says Tom. “The living and dining area was intended to be open and relaxed, so a low couch enables you to sit and talk easily to whoever is in the kitchen.”

TIP: Extending an L-shaped sofa along the length of a wall offers ample seating, and even a bed, for guests.


4. Shelf life
The kitchen’s subway tiles, from National Tiles, were expertly installed by Nikki, a first-time tiler. Open shelving prevents this narrow area feeling claustrophobic. “Bulky cupboards extending all the way up to the ceiling would have really closed in the kitchen,” explains Tom.

TIP: Everyday essentials can make beautiful displays. “We use the items frequently so dirt doesn’t build up,” says Tom.


5. Hang out
Baskets of greenery break up and soften a stark backyard fence. Planter boxes, which Tom made from old railway sleepers, work well in a tight space where a wilful dog is liable to destroy anything at ground level. “We originally had grass around the edges, but Sookie kept tearing it up and it looked a mess,” explains Tom.

TIP: A raised garden creates interest. “Elevating the plants adds more dimension to the backyard,” says Tom.


6. Finders keepers
Tom’s home showcases decorative imagination. A bull’s head (“My dad calls me Skull Boy – I find them intriguing,” says Tom) sits near an old notice on the bathroom and a road sign. “It’s a joke between Nikki and me,” says Tom of the sign. “We’ll keep it forever.” The patina of the table and the By Joost ‘Rio’ column add industrial appeal.

TIP: Consider every corner of your space as a multi-layered way to showcase pieces.


7. Light show
At the flick of a switch, one of Tom’s neon artworks infuses the white bedroom with a vivid pink glow that floods out to the street. “The front of the house is so clean and classic, and then there’s this rush of fluoro pink,” says Tom of the effect. “It looks great.”

TIP: Keep decor simple in a small bedroom – the neon light here is enough. “Anything else would feel cluttered,” says Tom.


8. Nature’s best
Timber isn’t just for rustic homes, but for urban dwellings as well. “We wanted a contemporary look with a natural-material influence,” says Tom. He loves the bathroom tiles’ matte finish and very subtle neutral shade, which changes with the light.

TIP: Allow plenty of time to choose tiles. “We looked at 10 or 15 samples before we were happy,” says Tom.


9. Treasure hunt
Ornaments can be found in the most surprising places. Tom found the toy car under the bathroom floor he’d ripped up; it now has its own place in the kitchen. “We don’t have favourite stores for shopping,” he says. “If we see something while out or travelling, we’ll bring it home.”

TIP: Play around with your ornaments for a personal vignette and mix them up occasionally for variety.


10. Smoking hot
“The number of people who stop to take pictures of the ‘Macarbro’ cigarette is incredible,” says Tom of the piece he created by painting the pole which protects the house from trucks that turn into a factory next door. “It’s on our title, so there was no problem with the council,” he says.

TIP: Art has a place outside the home, too.


For more creative home tours try:
>> industrial style factory conversion
>> bright outlook: a colourful and eclectic home
>> home tour: bright ideas from a modern family home