STM My Space: Photographer Lajos Varga and author Anna Balston’s summer abode

Clare RyanSTM
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Lajos Varga and Anna Balston at home in Cottesloe.
Camera IconLajos Varga and Anna Balston at home in Cottesloe. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

This is a real-life story of neighbours falling in love. Before Lajos Varga, photographer and owner of Ooh Coffee, and Anna Balston, author of Everything I Do Not Know and founder of Rhythmkeeper, were engaged, they lived on the same street in Cottesloe.

“Lajos lived across the road and then when we became a couple, he moved into my house,” laughs Balston. “I was actually using the downstairs for yoga and didn’t have any furniture, so once he moved in, it felt more like a real home.”

The couple have seamlessly blended their belongings to create a vintage, timeless style, while keeping clutter to a minimum.

“I actually like even less,” laughs Varga. “The house belongs to Anna’s mum and she will want to move back to Perth at some point, so we never bought anything to match the home, as we always knew we wouldn’t stay here long term. It was more about what to keep and how to make it all fit together.”

The couple are living in Balston’s mother’s home, which is filled with natural textures and raw wood.
Camera IconThe couple are living in Balston’s mother’s home, which is filled with natural textures and raw wood. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

The spacious home is filled with natural textures, raw wood, leather and a number of plants, which Lajos is responsible for keeping alive. Beautifully styled vignettes featuring flowers, vases, homewares, books, and Balston’s collection of woven baskets, add depth to the home, as well as artwork by Sara Winfield.

“I like to collect keepsakes and mementos from nature, letting my displays evolve with the season and whatever’s been happening in our life. I’m also a big furniture mover, so I’m constantly moving the house around,” explains Balston.

As they both work from home, the couple like having spaces that inspire creativity.

“We like to organically collect pieces we love rather than actively shopping to fill a space or style a room. A blank space is more exciting to us than something that lacks meaning or a story,” she says.

The serene home is a relaxing haven of natural light, that floods the master bedroom, lounge room, dining and kitchen areas.

The open plan kitchen and dining area in Anna Balston and Lajos Varga’s home.
Camera IconThe open plan kitchen and dining area in Anna Balston and Lajos Varga’s home. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

“We both like vintage pieces, but Anna doesn’t like blue, so all of my printed photos that are mostly blue, aren’t allowed in the house,” says Varga, who has an online print store of photos he took while travelling around the world.

Over the last few years, Lajos has turned his lens from the beaches of Europe, to the natural landscape of Western Australia. His photo of Mt Trio in the Stirling Ranges, takes pride of place in the dining area above an Empire Homewares buffet table.

“I took this after a bushfire and when you get up close to it, you can see that the trees are starting to regenerate. It was in my cafe, Ooh Coffee, for a while and now we have it here because it’s just really beautiful,” he says.

Varga’s photo of Mt Trio in the Stirling Ranges takes pride of place in the dining area above an Empire Homewares buffet table.
Camera IconVarga’s photo of Mt Trio in the Stirling Ranges takes pride of place in the dining area above an Empire Homewares buffet table. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

The main dining and kitchen area completely open onto the white courtyard, where the couple have decided to get married next year.

“It will be a nice final send-off for the house because we met here and have so many memories here. Then hopefully we’ll go overseas for a few months,” says Balston.

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