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Home tour: creative co-living in the city

Hannah Matthews and her partner Blaine are temporary residents, or property ‘guardians’, of an industrial building that’s also home to six other people. Step inside their pop-up apartment…

A living room with floral sofa, display cabinets and lamps.
A living room with floral sofa, display cabinets and lamps.

The couple’s apartment showcases their individual sense of style. ‘Knowing that our stay here won’t last doesn’t stop us from filling it with things we love,’ says Hannah, an artist and ethical taxidermist. A mix of open shelving, glass cabinets and bell jars helps to store, protect and display their most beloved items.

The living space is a meeting of old and new. Blaine’s collection of antique furniture adds a warm sense of permanence in temporary surroundings, with more modern furniture and accessories adding functionality and fun. ‘This is our first home together and collaborating on creating it makes it an especially magical space for me,’ says Hannah.

The couple share kitchen and bathroom facilities with six fellow guardians. They also have a kitchenette of their own, which Blaine partly helped to build. A wall rail and hooks add handy extra storage in the small space. ‘It’s tiny but we make it work,’ says Hannah.

Our home is like a treasure nest of curiosities. It isn’t perfect, but that’s part of what makes it interesting

Hannah Matthews

The apartment benefits from huge windows, but they’re overshadowed by a large building next door. Hannah’s solution was to invite nature inside and add privacy with a living screen of plants and cuttings. ‘It’s become one of my favourite places at home,’ she says.

The guardians are allowed to put their own stamp on their homes. ‘When we moved in, everything was bare,’ says Hannah. Her top tips for creating cosiness? ‘Rugs. And crisp bed linen in nice floral patterns, throws, lots of lighting, unique plants and cushions.’

Property guardianship can mean a nomadic lifestyle. ‘Moving is a big job,’ says Hannah. ‘We have a 12-foot long dining table! Most people would live more lightly.’ For smaller items of furniture, it makes sense to think flexibly – a stool can triple up as a seat, bedside table and plant stand.

Originally a tram shed, then a collection of shop units, the building is now home to a community that includes a photographer, an artist and musicians. ‘The housing crisis means creative people can no longer afford to live and work anywhere near the city centre,’ says Hannah. ‘But here, Blaine and his band have a recording space in the basement, and I have my studio in the shared internal courtyard.’

Hannah and Blaine’s apartment is made up of a living room, kitchenette, storage room, bedroom and guest room. Outside their front door is a vast internal courtyard for fellow guardians to use as they please, with room for communal eating and relaxing, as well as Hannah’s workspace. ‘It’s good to have the shared space,’ says Hannah. ‘There’s rarely a lonely moment, which is important for me as my work can provide rather a solitary existence.’

We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial guarantees and your right to return the products will be lost.

Made by
Interior designer: Katie Phillips
Photographer: Mel Yates

Follow Hannah on Instagram: @hannahmatthewstaxidermy
With thanks to: Property Guardian Protection