A decaying warehouse space is transformed into an eclectic family home. By Lucy Feagins.

Kate Ratner and Michael Tait’s Alexandria warehouse

A warehouse apartment in the truest sense of the word, this vast space in Sydney’s Alexandria is home to interior designer Kate Ratner and her partner Michael Tait, who works in film distribution.

Occupying the top floor of a two-storey industrial building (downstairs is a boxing gym), it took a creative approach to procure this rental property and create a home. Kate discovered the warehouse in 2011, in disrepair after having previously been a storage space for six years. After much negotiation, she finally talked the building’s owner into renting her and Michael an entire floor, which they spent two months bringing up to a liveable standard.

“It was full of mouldy boxes – it really was quite disgusting – but we saw the potential,” she says.

Kate set about clearing the space, ripping out the decaying fixtures, building a functional kitchen, and constructing internal walls to create two bedrooms, both with glass doors to let light and air into the central living space. The interior was also painted from top to bottom. “We injected a lot of love into this space to bring it back to life,” Kate says.

Two years on, the couple has been joined by baby Elliot, and their versatile space has now been re-imagined as an eclectic family home.

Furnished almost exclusively with vintage and salvaged second-hand finds, Kate and Michael’s warehouse is layered with history and nostalgia.

“We have a lot of precious found objects that I have collected over the years, including many that belonged to my grandparents,” Kate says.

Particularly treasured is her grandfather’s large collection of antique padlocks.

Both at home and in her work, Kate is drawn to pieces and spaces that tell a story.

“I want a space to work emotionally as well as functionally,” she says. “Spaces I love are never over-designed or too considered. They should be humble and quiet, with attention to detail.”

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on March 15, 2014 as "Kate Ratner and Michael Tait’s Alexandria warehouse".

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Lucy Feagins is founder and editor of The Design Files. She is The Saturday Paper’s interiors editor.

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