Kerry Armstrong’s Art-Filled Home Is A Design Lover’s Dream

An Artists Renovation Makes for Stylish Designer Interiors
Art by Melissa Boughey

Photography by NIKOLE RAMSAY

There’s a quiet confidence about Kerry Armstrong’s home; the very same kind she brings to her work as an Abstract Expressionist. Like her paintings, the spaces in her Brighton home are driven by, and designed to, evoke pure feeling – from the International Klein Blue feature wall in the master bedroom to the herringbone oak floor that greets you upon arrival. “My husband, Michael, came home one day and all the carpet was literally ripped up! That was our dramatic start to the renovation.”

An Artists Renovation Makes for Stylish Designer Interiors
Armstrong had a pair of antique slipper chairs from 1915 restored and covered in platinum-grey velvet. Art by Brad Teodoruk

Armstrong and her husband purchased the two-storey 1915 Federation home four years ago, “but it really feels like we’ve lived here forever, in the nicest possible way!” she laughs. “The owner added some Art Deco details in the ’30s. He was a builder and it looks to me, with his well-thought-out modifications, like he loved this place as much as we do.”

Despite the cool elegance of the well-maintained home, the couple were keen to make it their own. Together with the new wooden floors, they opened up the living areas, installed plantation shutters throughout and added designer lighting to up the overall ambience and form. “Outside we built a lofty, vaulted outdoor area, which has been such a beautiful space to entertain through summer and autumn.” But the home is still a work in progress, she adds: “The next phase is a period garage, new landscaped garden and a new kitchen.”

An Artists Renovation Makes for Stylish Designer Interiors
Dramatic artwork is well placed throughout the home, which fuses a restrained European edge – like the trio of blue Ligne Roset sofas – with high-quality, tactile surfaces. Art by George Raftopolous

As the owners and founders of Studio Gallery Melbourne, a contemporary art space that recently opened its second location in Armadale, Kerry and Michael have access to some of Australia’s leading interior designers – “I gravitate towards design and architectural magazines and journals for inspiration” – and artists.

Though the collection in their abode is on constant rotation, Armstrong’s current favourite is a large-scale piece, titled Pity Party, by Sydney artist Brad Teodoruk. “It sets the entire tone of our home, hanging dramatically in the entrance hall. As I’m an Expressionist, I feel I’m drawn more to representational work in terms of what we choose for our own walls. Brad’s work fascinates me, as you can literally see him vacillating emotionally between his real and imagined worlds.”

An Artists Renovation Makes for Stylish Designer Interiors
French doors open up to reveal a leafy, private garden where Armstrong sets up her easel. Elsewhere in the backyard, a swimming pool beloved by the couple’s six children is shaded by bird of paradise plants. 

It’s hard to believe that Armstrong hasn’t spent her whole life as an artist, such is the way she discusses the minutiae of her craft. In 2013, she was still working full-time in a corporate career and painting as a hobby; a stress reliever. Following a series of life-changing events, including the death of her beloved father and the removal of a benign brain tumour, Armstrong decided she owed it to herself and her loved ones to commit to the life she’d long dreamt of.

An Artists Renovation Makes for Stylish Designer Interiors

Art is a huge feature in our home and always will be. We believe art brings soul into a house and layers it up slowly into a home.

Now, she can often be found painting in her garden studio – but, make no mistake, it’s not the beauty of the surrounds that inspire her. “My work is never inspired by visual or external elements. I’m simply painting my own emotions, experiences and stories. Being home, relaxed and well rested is the best starting point for new work.” In a space this beguiling, it’s little wonder she’s found success.

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