Designer, still life stylist and ‘creatress’ Sonia Rentsch lives in a quiet deco gem in Princes Hill. Peers call Sonia a ‘MacGyver of beauty’ and her hands, eyes and heart create magic on film and photography across design, commercial and artistic projects. Here we share our visit to Rentsch HQ – a warm, visual wonderland where beauty is created post breakfast.

Sonia: breakfast before the day begins

“I’d been house hunting for a while and sleeping on couches – bless my good friends. Actually, this was the first non-shared place I came to see. It was out of my budget and still looked like a dive! About five people walked out of the inspection but I thought, ‘this is the place’! I moved in a week later and I am still here. I could see it was quirky and had loads of charm. I’d been in Berlin for a year and when I came back, I lived in a caravan and then a super share house for a six month sublet, but I wasn’t certain what next. I did about three months on people’s couches while I looked. I had lived in my own space before, in a beautiful city apartment with my partner at the time, which was incredible. I was looking for something similar: big, airy and light without being massive. Just enough to work and live in. Princes Hill is so close to everything, but when I come home I don’t ever see anyone I know (which I like); it’s super quiet. I like to walk and run and I like to ‘midnight explore’ a lot. Princes Hill is actually a little bit like Sydney – have you ever noticed how many alleyways there are? I always like to take a different laneway home. I realised this morning there are actually a couple I haven’t been through yet which is exciting. The nice thing about my house is even though it’s small, it’s large for one person – I don’t need an inch more, and I could do with a little less, but actually it’s just right because I do spend so much time here. It’s nice to be able to have one room covered in work stuff and then at the end of the day, I can still go to my bedroom and shut the door and not feel like work is encroaching. I can work and live.

I really love this space, I never ever feel lonely. That’s a really important thing for me because I do spend a lot of time alone. I come home to my house and I talk to it – it’s like a character – not all spaces are like that. I think it’s important with the design of spaces that you always feel welcome. It has all the ingredients that I think a great house should have: incredible light, a bath, a separate place to dine and a backyard with space for a veggie patch. I don’t know what it is about high ceilings but it does make you feel like you have more space – you don’t feel shut in. I really do think that good architecture is about access to natural light and fresh air. Opening your windows every day is an important thing in my book.

I have to repot my pot plants constantly! I bring them in when they look good and I take them out when they look bad! It’s a six month rotation, I give them back to mother nature, she fixes them. It’s like rehab. Or they go to my mother’s house and I go overseas for a couple of years and she makes them look amazing and then I take them home again, that’s what happened last time. It’s the cycle of life. I’m trying to become more of an adult and water them more. I saw both of my ‘lady nans’, my grandmother and nanna the other weekend. They both have incredible gardens so I’m hoping at one point it just clicks on – my green thumb genes!

In summer I like to get up and have my breakfast before I dress or shower. I have a ladies robe that’s not dorky – okay maybe it is dorky! Anyway, I like to swan around in it – I insist breakfast comes on a tray. I like to sit with a newspaper or magazine and enjoy that moment before the day begins. I think it’s really important to leave your house everyday, even if it’s simply a stroll up to get milk or coffee. In winter, I get up and light the fire usually, like an old lady. There’s a routine about how I get dressed, how I eat and then how I work – maybe I have quite a lot of routines. Though when I feel grumpy I try something new. I’ll leave the house straight away and go for a walk or to a new café and then I feel better – like starting fresh again. I love the freedom of my life. I work hard when I work but unless I’m on set, I start when I want to start and I end when I want to end as long as it’s done. I don’t know how many people get to do that in this day and age.”

Thanks to the wonderful Sonia Rentsch for her time, good humour and a bonus lunch! We recommend you get more beauty in your day by checking out Sonia’s website.

All photos by Eugenia Lim.

BACK

Recent Articles

  • Tokyo Life: David Glaettli

    It’s time for the second instalment of ‘Tokyo Life’ – the special Living Not Decorating series brought to us by R-ESTATE TOKYO. This week, Ben Davis speaks with David Glaettli – creative director of Japanese furniture brand Karimoku New Standard – about nomadic living, the influence of Kyoto on his practice, and life in his Toritsu-Daigaku home
  • 5×4 Hayes Lane

    5x4 Hayes Lane isn't the typical home you'd expect to find tucked in at the end of a narrow laneway in leafy East Melbourne. We step inside this pocket-sized project and speak to its owner, Ralph Alphonso, about his decision to stretch the project's small footprint of 20 square metres over four storeys, and about the challenges that arose during the construction of this extraordinary home
  • What’s in a Map? Greening Bourj Al Shamali

    The Greening Bourj Al Shamali initiative aims to green and improve the living conditions in the Bourj Al Shamali refugee camp in Lebanon, a theoretically temporary Palestinian refugee camp that's now a 60-year-old informal urban environment, densely built and without green spaces. Sara Savage speaks to the team behind the initiative about 'balloon mapping' the camp in the name of self-determination