At Home with Rachel Donath
At Home with

Rachel
Donath

Words by Riley Uggla

Rachel Donath on creating her “place”, a home that’s truly an
extension of her discerning eye for style, artistic yet practical
and uniquely designed for her and her family.

At Home with Rachel Donath - Hallway

Rachel Donath's home is "It’s very minimalistic and clean, yet it’s all very intentional".

Rachel Donath is a woman in her element. As a furniture designer and collector who creates from the heart, she is carving her own path with her brand ‘Rachel Donath’ and defines interior design on her terms. So it’s not surprising she has created a home that’s truly an extension of her tastes and sensibilities, a space that’s deeply personal and bespoke to her and her family - a 120-year-old Edwardian house that marries history with beautiful, timeless design.

As an advocate of all things Rachel Donath (especially the Wave Counter Stool), The Condo Founder Riley Uggla talks to the designer about how she made her house in the suburbs of Melbourne an exquisite yet practical family home.

Riley Uggla: What does home mean to you?

Rachel Donath: For me, home is a peaceful place where I can genuinely be myself, relax and feel comfortable in my skin. It’s serene, light-filled and calming.

RU: What’s the story of your home?

RD: We bought our home in 2011, and it was in its original condition. It had ancient wallpaper, yellow floors, and the toilet was outside, so I knew it required a lot of work. But as soon as I saw it, I loved the symmetry, the era and the style of the home. Australia has strict heritage laws, meaning there were certain things we couldn’t do. We couldn’t touch the facade of the house, the shape or any of the external finishes. Even the tiles on the roof had to stay the same! In 2011, we had to gut the house completely; the shell remained unchanged, but inside, we rebuilt the house from scratch. We had to re-stump the building, redo all the plaster work, all the electrics and plumbing. In 2019, I had my fourth child, and we realised we needed more space, so we started the 2nd round of renovations. We hired an architect and decided to build out and up. We extended the living room and renovated upstairs, adding bedrooms and a playroom.

An Intentional Home

Rachel's dining room, featuring pendant light by Anna Charlesworth and the Grace Dining Chairs.

RU: You’ve been very creative with the space you have.

RD: I didn’t want to lose the original charm of the house, so we’ve had to work within a limited space, but with some clever rearranging, we found a way to make it work within the house’s shell.

RU: How did you make the house a home?

RD: It felt like home before we moved in because I was so connected and integral to the renovation process, from the finishes to the cabinetry and the cornices. The design of the house is simple and refined. We chose the best quality we could afford but went with a timeless aesthetic. It’s very minimalistic and clean, yet it’s all very intentional. The plaster, the lights, the linen curtains, we chose everything for the feel it would give the space. There’s nothing trendy about our house, but it’s a house that will age beautifully. However, when we moved in, I was very slow to furnish it because I wanted to wait for the right pieces rather than rush. To the point where I’m still waiting to find some bits now, but I can genuinely say I love everything in this house, and that was important to me and significant in making our house feel like home.

RU: How do you want people to feel when they come to your home?

RD: I want people to feel a sense of peace and serenity. When we first walked in, I remember thinking, ‘This place smells like a holiday home’. It smelled like a garden, like a summer, even though it was anything but a holiday home! It had an incredible energy, and I wanted to maintain that.

RU: What inspired the design and aesthetic of your home?

RD: There were no magazine cutouts to guide my choices. I was guided by feel. I wasn’t subscribing to any set aesthetic or trend. I was building and creating a home that made sense to me personally. It’s not a Pinterest home but a personal “Rachel Donath” home. I imagine many of my choices will not make sense to others, but they make a lot of sense to me.

At Home with Rachel Donath - the Bathroom

RU: You’ve been very creative with the space you have.

RD: I didn’t want to lose the original charm of the house, so we’ve had to work within a limited space, but with some clever rearranging, we found a way to make it work within the house’s shell.

RU: How did you make the house a home?

RD: It felt like home before we moved in because I was so connected and integral to the renovation process, from the finishes to the cabinetry and the cornices. The design of the house is simple and refined. We chose the best quality we could afford but went with a timeless aesthetic. It’s very minimalistic and clean, yet it’s all very intentional. The plaster, the lights, the linen curtains, we chose everything for the feel it would give the space. There’s nothing trendy about our house, but it’s a house that will age beautifully. However, when we moved in, I was very slow to furnish it because I wanted to wait for the right pieces rather than rush. To the point where I’m still waiting to find some bits now, but I can genuinely say I love everything in this house, and that was important to me and significant in making our house feel like home.

RU: How do you want people to feel when they come to your home?

RD: I want people to feel a sense of peace and serenity. When we first walked in, I remember thinking, ‘This place smells like a holiday home’. It smelled like a garden, like a summer, even though it was anything but a holiday home! It had an incredible energy, and I wanted to maintain that.

RU: What inspired the design and aesthetic of your home?

RD: There were no magazine cutouts to guide my choices. I was guided by feel. I wasn’t subscribing to any set aesthetic or trend. I was building and creating a home that made sense to me personally. It’s not a Pinterest home but a personal “Rachel Donath” home. I imagine many of my choices will not make sense to others, but they make a lot of sense to me.

At Home with Rachel Donath - the Office
A FAmily home

The kids' bedroom featuring The Wave Chair and Melbourne Now Poster.

At Home with Rachel Donath the Lounge

The lounge. Featuring the Safari Chair and the Wave Firescreen.

RU: What is your favourite part of the house?

RD: It depends on the weather and the time of day. I love my bedroom in the afternoon, but the kitchen and lounge have beautiful sunlight in the mornings. During the day, the rooms upstairs are gorgeous, even if it’s raining, as it makes a very relaxing sound on the skylight windows. Or if it’s warm, you get a lovely breeze up there. I think it depends on how I’m feeling, as there’s space for me to be alone, but I also love being upstairs lying on the floor around all the chaos and noise of the kids. Maybe I’m trying to say everywhere!

RU: What are your most cherished pieces at home?

RD: I bought our dining table years ago, and it lived in my parent’s garage for a long time as it was too big for our old house, but now it’s here, it’s my favourite piece. People told me I was stupid for buying it, but I knew I’d never see it again, and I loved it, so I bought it and hoped one day I’d have space for it. We built the entire dining room to fit the table. It was such a moment when I finally unwrapped it and saw it here. On a deeper level, the table is significant as it reinforces my ability to listen to my instincts. It wasn’t a popular decision, and others didn’t understand, but I was true to myself. I knew it would be worth it, and it was. I also love our Anna Charlesworth light fittings. She is a local metal worker, and her work is beautiful, the texture and the way they throw light. I also love having my designs in the house.

RU: You mentioned you have your designs at home and purchase a lot at antique dealers. Are there any other places you like to shop for your home?

RD: I source from vintage and antique dealers in Australia and have relationships with vendors in France and Italy. However, I avoid mass-produced retailers. But I don’t just look for big names. I love non-descript items made by someone’s great-grandfather over 100 years ago, pieces with history and meaning that have value on their own without necessarily being a known brand or name. I’m more interested in the product and design than who made it.

Visit Rachel Donath’s website to see her latest collections and learn more about her work.

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