Sonia: breakfast before the day begins

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.

“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.