Up amongst the native trees in a small corner of Newtown, four Balmoral Terrace flatmates are brewing coffee and preparing breakfast. Rosemary Patterson, Kate McKenzie, Samantha Guillen and Beth Hilton gather around the retro tiled coffee table. Some perch atop cushions on the carpet, while others spread out on their mattress base-cum-couch as they dish up muesli, yoghurt and fresh blueberries.
It’s a picturesque scene, something you imagine the most sophisticated people doing at 10am on a Sunday morning. Like the house, the setting is effortless and welcoming. In the open-space lounge and kitchen, it’s the small details that make the place inviting. Even on a gloomy day, the area is filled with light and warmth, thanks to earthy tones and soft lighting.
On the mantelpiece sits the household’s enviable pottery collection, filled with mismatched op-shopped mugs and plates of grey-blue, moss green and deep brown. In the fireplace, a group of salt lamps and tea lights have been scattered, and plans are made to set them aglow tonight.
It’s lucky the girls, who met through school (and through each other), have very similar styles. “People probably think we’re a cult,” Kate jokes, “a short-haired, pottery-loving, cat lady cult.”
However, having such similar tastes means everyone contributes something of their own to the shelves, walls and table tops, and the rest of the house appreciates the input.
Beth admits her Japanese-inspired bedroom is where you are most likely to find her. Surprisingly, Sam pipes up and also expresses that Beth’s room is her favourite space in the house. A minimalistic haven of books, vintage kimonos and Beth’s own impressive pinhole photography, it’s no surprise that this is their happy place.
Also evident in the house is a love for nature, with fresh flowers on the kitchen bench and dried bouquets adorning the walls. Rose enjoys spending time in the spacious, sun-flooded back garden, where a fertile vegetable garden has been crafted.
“Often someone will buy seeds, and no one else will know what they’re for. Then suddenly we’ll have rainbow carrots! Other times they won’t work out,” she says, pointing to an immature pumpkin on the windowsill, which came to an unfortunate end at the blades of a lawnmower, “but that’s fine too.”
All four girls have very different schedules, so although they grow their food together, it’s a privilege when they find the time to cook collaboratively. Tonight, they’ve arranged to make home-made pizzas and immediately set about organising who will do what.
“We’re sorted on the feta front.” says Rose.
“I’ll make some more bases,” adds Kate.
Despite the small details and enviable op-shop finds, it soon becomes clear that it’s not the possessions that transform Balmoral Terrace from a house into a home; it’s the people. Everyone gets along so well it’s hard to imagine this house with anything other than its distinct positive energy and laid-back vibe.
Either that or the household cat, Mickey, acts as the string that ties everyone together.
“He’s the heart and soul of the flat!” confesses Sam.