Published on July 25, 2021

Melbourne based interior, lifestyle and portrait photographer Pin It
Photography by Amelia Stanwix for Bed Threads

Luxury linen brand Bed Threads takes us inside the homes of top designers and creatives around the globe.

There was a lot for house hunters Ryan Green and Fatuma Ndenzako, co-owner and founder of clothing brand Collective Closets, to love about the circa-1950s home in Melbourne’s Inner North neighborhood: It was close to public parks and the city’s vibrant food scene; it had been recently updated; and at 1,300 square feet, it offered room to grow. Even better, their 1-year-old son, Arlo, approved. “He ran around the open house saying, ‘This is it!’” Ndenzako recalls, laughing.

Melbourne based interior, lifestyle and portrait photographerPin It
KST Sofa, CB2; Rug, Piazza Piazza; Vintage Lamp, CCSS; Vintage Bar Cart, Grandfather’s Axe. Photography by Amelia Stanwix for Bed Threads

Immediately upon moving in, the couple replaced some of the space’s frillier accents—banana pudding–colored paint, Art Deco chandeliers—with chill, modern-minded alternatives. “The house had a very formal air that didn’t reflect our family. We wanted our home to feel super-relaxed,” says Ndenzako. They doused the walls in crisp white paint (Dulux Vivid White) and swapped in contemporary glass pendant lights.

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Pendant Lights, About Space. Photography by Michaela Barca

Joining these new additions are emotionally charged accessories that gesture to both Ndenzako’s African heritage (her parents immigrated to Melbourne from Angola in the ’80s) as well as her and her husband’s Australian roots. “Both ancient cultures take a lot of pride in storytelling and celebrate color,” she notes.

Melbourne based interior, lifestyle and portrait photographerPin It
Pendant Light, About Space; Vintage Table, Grandfather’s Axe; Quattra Chairs, Moda Piera. Photography by Amelia Stanwix for Bed Threads

Padding the kitchen barstools is a pair of vibrant cushions made from shuka cloth, a plaid-like Kenyan textile Ndenzako says has adorned the shoulders of Africa’s Maasai people for generations. “The beautiful vibrant colors of the shuka signify bravery, strength, unity, and energy,” she explains. Another shuka is draped over a chair that pulls up to the avid entertainers’ vintage rosewood dining table, which they’ve left unsealed because, as Ndenzako says, “we want all the stains and marks to tell the story of our lives.” 

Home corner, plants, paintings and wooden shelvesPin It
Photography by Michaela Barca

As family and friends gather around it, the hosts set the mood by popping on one of their many Afrobeat records. “Growing up, my family listened to African ’70s funk every week,” Ndenzako remembers fondly. Her favorite album? Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s Thank You Mr. D.J.

Melbourne based interior, lifestyle and portrait photographerPin It
Photography by Amelia Stanwix for Bed Threads

 

Melbourne based interior, lifestyle and portrait photographerPin It
Sofa, Freedom. Photography by Amelia Stanwix for Bed Threads

A collection of portraits, including a painting by Mafalda Vasconcelos, a Mozambican artist with a reverence for the African female form, lead to the living area, where a photo of Ndenzako’s late mother leans regally atop the mantel. The couple’s library of African literature bookends the fireplace with a pair of beaded sculptures, which Arlo has affectionately nicknamed Sally and Morris. “My sister bought them in Kenya on her last holiday. I move them around depending on my mood,” says Ndenzako.

Melbourne based interior, lifestyle and portrait photographerPin It
Bedding, Bed Threads; Vintage Side Table, Curated SpacesPhotography by Amelia Stanwix for Bed Threads

Native plants, including blushing brides and golden wattles, Australia’s national flower, pepper the house. “I pick flowers from my garden every week. They put a smile on my face,” notes Ndenzako.

Melbourne based interior, lifestyle and portrait photographerPin It
Photography by Amelia Stanwix for Bed Threads

Oftentimes an object will pique Arlo’s interest in his dual heritage, something the couple is eager to foster. “My parents always celebrated our culture and reminded us that we were African, and my sister and I attended Swahili class every weekend. I loved that we are able to alternate between two beautiful cultures and express another aspect of ourselves,” Ndenzako says. The tradition continues.

Melbourne based interior, lifestyle and portrait photographerPin It
Photography by Amelia Stanwix for Bed Threads

The Goods                                                                      

Bookmarked decor site: House of Orange.

Favorite local vintage shops: Piazza Piazza and CCSS.

Best sources for African textiles: Collective Closets and African Fabrics Australia.

Most affordable object in my home that gets the most use: Candles! I was lucky enough to work at Aesop many moons ago. One of the amazing chemists made up a scent blend just for me. I still burn it in my home to this day. I only use a small amount each time, because once it’s gone, it’s gone. 

Biggest splurge: The dining room table from Grandfather’s Axe. It was the first item Ryan and I ever bought together. The chairs were a wedding present from my in-laws and auntie. Each one is handmade from rosewood by the team at Moda Piera.

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