Tell us a little about yourselves.
STEFAN: Leen and I grew up in Broken Hill, New South Wales. We’ve been together since we were sixteen. We sort of inverted our 20s and 30s. After high school I got a full-time job at the local paper, accidentally. We bought a house in Broken Hill for about $110,000 and settled down. Then just before our thirties we decided to go to uni, so we sold our house and came here. We never thought we could buy anything here.
EILEEN: It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do, and eventually I discovered textile design and did a course at RMIT. That’s what brought us here around 2011. We’ve lived in Brunswick this whole time - including two other places also on Albion Street.
I work at Country Road as a textile designer, on their prints for teens and newborns, and I’ve also got a studio at Schoolhouse Studios in Coburg.
STEFAN: Leen has a wonderful aesthetic. Everywhere we’ve lived is gorgeous because Leen makes it gorgeous.
How did you come to live in a Nightingale home?
STEFAN: I’ve ruined heaps of dinner parties complaining about how housing-as-asset doesn’t work. Then we went to one of the information nights for Nightingale 1 and I thought, ‘This is the thing!’ I wanted to be a part of it.
EILEEN: We balloted unsuccessfully for The Village. Then when Nightingale Anstey came up we said, ‘We either have to get this one, or we have to move. We can’t watch it being built across the road and then not be able to move in.’
Daph was born three weeks after we found out our ballot was successful, and three days after our first resident meeting.
What’s it like living in an apartment as a family?
EILEEN: It’s really good. I was worried it would be too small, because our last place was bigger and had a yard. But it’s a good size for us at the moment. Daph’s got the big room.
DAPHNE: You’ve got a small one.
EILEEN: It’s a bit smaller than yours, isn’t it.
DAPHNE: I jump on your bed.
STEFAN: We bought Daph a bath outfit, for the shared bath house on the rooftop. Daph is a big bath fan. We got her a robe and head towel and slippers to make it a bit of an event. It’s really worked; she just staunches up there like she owns the place.
We’ve got an online booking system for the bath. I’m a communications practitioner, so I got nerdy about it. We surveyed the community to find out what people want, and drafted up a community hub website.
Stefan you’re on the building Owners Corporation. What have the OC's priorities been so far?
STEFAN: The thing people have been most excited about is getting the rooftop sorted in time for summer. We also have a shared guest house, and a big part of the survey we did was learning how people want to use that. It’s a cool resource for the community: it’s both a place where people’s friends and families can stay, and also a money-making asset to offset the cost of living. So we’re working through how to use that well.
What’s your favourite part of your apartment design?
EILEEN: I love the timber floors. I love the mix of materials like terrazzo, brass and cement all together. I think you can put anything in here, and it works. It’s not too opinionated or over-designed.
STEFAN: I’ve become a really annoying insulation evangelist. Depending on the day, either I feel very lucky to be here, or I feel retroactively angry about all the other places I’ve ever lived. It shouldn’t be that big a deal; this place isn’t made out of sci-fi magic material or anything, it’s just mindfully created. The thing I’m always telling people is that at three o’clock in the morning, if I wake up and need to go to the bathroom, I can just go. I don’t need a six-point plan to avoid freezing.
What are your top local spots?
STEFAN: Lobbs has the most dependably high quality oat milk coffee, which is the most Brunswick answer imaginable.
EILEEN: Where is your favourite place to go for babycinos, Daph?
DAPHNE: Next to gymnastics.
EILEEN: Oh, that is a good palace. Madera Bar & Cafe in Northcote. They put so much chocolate on the babycinos, and two marshmallows.
DAPHNE: I had two marshmallows.
STEFAN: Which is your favourite park, Daph?
DAPHNE: The sandpit one.
STEFAN: Yes, Garrong Park.
EILEEN: Hope Street Space is good for plants.
STEFAN: A huge vibe is when on a warm night the Beatbox Kitchen van parks at Three Phase Studios at Tinning Street, and you can sit there and have some chips.
Published October 2022