Who lives here: Craig Miller-Randle, owner and creative director of wholesale homewares business MRD Home, and Bella, a five-year-old schnauzer/poodle cross.
Style of house: A minimalist three-storey warehouse apartment, which has been carved out of an old 1920s print factory in Melbourne.
Cost: Around $40k to replace the stair treads, re-finish the floors, re-paint the walls and transform the bathroom.
After many happy years renting an Art Deco apartment overlooking Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens (“My lovely old Polish landlady loved me and the rent never went up”), Craig Miller-Randle decided the time had come to buy his own home.
With his homewares business MRD Home going from strength to strength, Craig started the search for a place to call his own, eventually putting a property in nearby St Kilda East on his wishlist.
First though, he had to go to China on a buying trip, and while there – as had become his habit – casually started flicking through a real estate website back home. Five minutes later, a converted Richmond warehouse – designed by architect Michael Jan, who Craig had long respected for his affinity with industrial-style properties – had captured his heart.
“I’d been to dinner at Michael’s place in the city – he was one of the first people to live in an entire floor of a warehouse – and I really loved his aesthetic,” explains Craig. “So I saw this place and just went ‘Wow’.”
Buying trip completed, he flew back to Melbourne and went straight from the airport to view the warehouse, which was split over four levels. And it didn’t disappoint. “I think I actually gasped when I first walked in,” remembers Craig. “It was the right size for one person yet it had drama, which is a difficult combination to find. It was unlike most of the places I had seen to date.”
“So I had a dilemma. Should I skip the St Kilda auction – which was first – and hope that I could buy the warehouse? In the end, I decided I was going to go for what I loved.”
Craig, it’s obvious your home had you at hello. How did the auction go?
There was fierce competition but I decided I didn’t care what it cost and would just keep bidding. I went about $50,000 over my limit but I knew that would seem like nothing in a few years’ time thanks to capital growth.
You mentioned the ‘drama’ of the home – what else made it so special?
This building was converted into a number of apartments but unlike the ones next door – which have walls and feel more conventional in comparison – this one was left open, which increases the sense of space. I love that you can be in one area, still connect with other areas and have all these different vistas.
Did the fact that the warehouse didn’t need too much work also appeal?
While I would’ve loved to have built from the ground up, I didn’t think I could handle that at the same time as managing my business. So the fact that it had been done to a point but was still very much a blank canvas and didn’t require me to strip back somebody else’s personality was appealing.
What were your aims with the interior?
Initially, I wanted to absorb the furniture and items I had already. I’ve always collected things – such as Indonesian tribal art – and I also had much-loved pieces of furniture, such as my original ‘Egg’ chair and two leather ‘Swan’ chairs by Arne Jacobsen. I also love contrasts, so aimed for a mixture of old and new, fluffy and hard, matt and gloss, that kind of thing.
How would you describe your home’s style?
I would call it relaxed Australian with a touch of Nordic. What’s great about Scandinavian design is that it’s pared back, so it’s less about ‘look at me’ and more about the feel and the touch. I’ve always been a fan of sheepskin and leather; I love adding interest with texture, rather than colour.
Are there a lot of items from MRD Home?
It’s probably about half and half. People ask me why I would buy from anywhere else and my response is, ‘If you owned a restaurant, would you want to eat there every night?’ I love the things we do but I don’t want my entire home to be full of it. But I do see my home as my lab: I test things here to see how I like them and how I can live with them.
What does your home mean to you?
It’s a complete sanctuary. I’m a very introverted person – I can go entire weekends without leaving the house. I’m able to reenergise and recuperate from a busy week here, which sounds like a bit of a cliché but it’s absolutely true. I just love to be here and I never get bored with it.
“I should’ve had the floors fixed before I moved in. The apartment had amazing floorboards: I just didn’t love the shiny orange colour. When I finally decided on what to do, it turned into a difficult job as I had to clear out my furniture and move out for six weeks while the work was done.”
Best decorating choice: “Replacing the wooden stair treads with sand-blasted acrylic (opposite, top left) which has allowed light into the lower levels. I wanted glass but it just wasn’t practical, as well as being more expensive: $7000 as opposed to $1500 for the acrylic. I’ve never regretted it.”
For more inspiring home tours, try:
>> postcard from Finland: an elegant monochromatic home
>> interior inspiration: Scandinavian-style home
>> spacious light filled home in Sydney’s northern beaches