A creative couple's art-filled Brisbane home
Images by Jack Gibson
This week we greet Dane Louie & Mitch Suchowacki in their Woolloongabba abode. The PJohnson Merchandise Manager & Head Baker of Agnes Bakery settled in this 1920s timber worker’s cottage in Brisbane’s East nearly three years ago. There’s few blank walls in the house, with the home a treasure trove of art and furniture, gathered gradually. This week we spoke to Dane & Mitch about the pleasure (and patience) of collecting.
Dane: “The house is a classic 1920s timber worker’s cottage on the East side of Brisbane. We’ve been living here for around two and a half years. The main things that drew us to this house were the high ceilings and big north facing deck. As far as rentals go, it was refreshing to find a Queenslander that had been given a sympathetic renovation that didn’t include the usual glossy surfaces and chrome fittings.
"This house also has lots of space for art. We used to be worried about hanging art in a rental, and would limit the size of any purchases to what could be hung from a Command hook. But eventually we realised how easy it is to patch a few holes when we move out. We just get permission from the owners and note down paint colours when signing a lease.
"Something else that drew us to this house is a substantial fig that branches across six neighbouring backyards, which is centred with the back deck. It makes for a surprisingly leafy outlook in the centre of Woolloongabba. Our groodle Margot loves to sit on the deck and watch the birds in the tree.”
Dane: “Our bedroom is quite cosy, with only enough space for the bed and a couple side tables. Having a smaller, but clutter-free space makes for a restful and relaxing bedroom.
"Above one side of the bed is an artwork by Kirsty Budge, which is visible from the living room and is one of the first things you see when you enter the house. The old navy timber trunk belonged to my grandmother and has been repurposed many times for storage, as a coffee table, a tv stand, and currently as a bedside. The Noguchi Akari lamp gives the room a warm glow at night.”
Our bedroom is quite cosy, with only enough space for the bed and a couple side tables. Having a smaller, but clutter-free space makes for a restful and relaxing bedroom.
“We lived in Melbourne for a few years between 2018 and 2021, and were surprised how much Brisbane was changing over that time. We returned often and loved experiencing it as visitors. There were new hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops opening constantly. So when Mitch’s previous employer asked us to move back to open their new bakery here, we jumped at the opportunity.”
Dane: “We love Brisbane's proximity to both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, and try to get to the beach at least every second weekend. Obviously the weather in Queensland allows us to do this for the majority of the year too. We’re not far from the river, and love to take Margot down for a walk.
"We’re only fifteen minutes from Fortitude Valley and the James Street area, which has a lot of our favourite restaurants. We eat at Bianca and Agnes a fair bit, which are both part of Anyday Hospitality. Agnes just won Gourmet Traveller’s Australian restaurant of the year. Mitch is actually Head Baker at Agnes Bakery, an offshoot of the restaurant that provides their delicious smoked potato sourdough.”
Dane & Mitch's bathroom is dressed with IN BED 100% Organic Cotton Towels in Toffee.
Dane: “I’m the Merchandise Manager at P.Johnson, where I’ve worked for around six years. We don’t have a store in Brisbane just yet, but I’m lucky enough to be able to work remotely here. I started as an apprentice tailor after getting hooked from the experience of buying our wedding suits. Then as the brand diversified into ready-to-wear and womenswear, I slowly moved into my current role. It involves planning and buying for the off-the-rack ranges for our five Australian stores and our two international stores in New York and London. The brand has a really unique point of view, and feels very different from anything else happening in fashion right now."
Mitch: "I’ve been at Agnes Bakery for almost a year now after working in different pastry kitchens for around ten years. Agnes Bakery is my first time working with a wood fired oven, which has been an interesting/challenging/fun learning curve. Agnes Bakery was always our go-to for pastries most weekends, so I jumped at the opportunity to work alongside Ben, Ty and Bianca when the position came up. The freedom both creatively and professionally has been incredibly inspiring."
“We’ve moved around a fair bit over the years, living in very different styles of homes in both Brisbane and Melbourne, so we’ve given up choosing pieces to furnish a specific space. Instead we just collect things we love, and hope they’ll find a place somewhere in our home. As a kid I was always rearranging my bedroom in the middle of the night, and I never really outgrew it. So a new artwork, or piece of furniture tends to be a catalyst for a full rearrange of the house.
"For example, we had been trawling auctions and dealers for an Arflex Marenco sofa for years, and finally scored one from Leonard Joel in this deep blue Kvadrat fabric. When it arrived, the blue was so jarring against everything else that we moved around the whole house to make it work. It resulted in a delightfully unexpected layout that gave us two distinct living rooms, where there was previously one.
"Our aesthetic is possibly a little too chaotic for some, but it’s a collection of all the things we love and we actually find it an incredibly relaxing space. We made a rule years ago to stop buying cheap furniture out of necessity, and to instead do without until we could find or afford something we really love. This generally includes handmade, vintage or second hand items, as there’s not much contemporary furniture (in our price range) that we love enough to buy. "
Our aesthetic is possibly a little too chaotic for some, but it’s a collection of all the things we love and we actually find it an incredibly relaxing space.
Dane & Mitch's bed is dressed with IN BED 100% Linen Duvet Cover & Pillowslips in Stone.
“We started collecting art together in 2013, beginning with a small Jodie Wells oil painting, and then a vibrant abstract by Skye Jeffreys. Our first substantial artwork purchase was Envelop by Miranda Skoczek, which we purchased from Edwina Corlette Gallery here in Brisbane. It was our third time trying to purchase one of Miranda’s pieces, because they kept selling out! Miranda is actually showing at Edwina Corlette right now, until the 2nd of December.
Another artist we love is Johnny Niesche, who makes artworks with incredible depth, made from layers of pigmented voile. His artwork, Silver Poolside hangs prominently between the doors in the living room.
Our most recent acquisition is Amentalio by Michael Georgetti, which we purchased this year from his show at The Renshaws. We missed out at the Melbourne Art Fair last year, so we practically stalked Danielle Renshaw to get in before everything sold out again.”
“We purchased a vintage Henning Kjaernulf sideboard from CCSS in Melbourne, which we use as a bar now. We’ve gotten really into making cocktails, which was a hobby we took up during lockdown. We have a vintage modular sofa that we bought off marketplace, which is upholstered in this wacky brown 80s safari jacquard. We had all intentions of reupholstering it, but ended up loving it as is… for now at least."
"Mitch has been experimenting making pleated ceramic lamps with incredible metallic glazes in blues, greens and reds. He adds wood into the kiln during the glaze firing which causes the metallic reaction. The lamps are dotted around the house, and when turned on, cast their pleated shape onto the ceiling. He’s still experimenting, but hoping to start selling them soon.”