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A Tamarama treasure trove for Sydney design duo.

The Property Addict / Architecture & Design

Nov 10 2016

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It was English textile designer and social activist William Morris who said, "Ë?Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.'

An adage, perhaps, that was kept in mind when Christo and Johanna Everingham set about designing their stunning Tamarama home in Sydney. Full of things that are indeed as beautiful as they are useful, an impressive intersection of sustainable living and creative design.Â

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Like Morris, they live a life combining design and sustainable practice, filling their home and their online store with all things useful, and of course, beautiful.

As it so often does, the world threw together this pair of intrepid travellers from very different corners of the globe.

Christo grew up on Sydney's North Shore, working his way through his private, all-boys boarding school to emerge ready for adventure. Johanna, on the other hand, grew up in Germany, among what she calls "Ë?purposeful hippies', immersed in the Rudolf Steiner school, biodynamic farming, organic medicine and homeopathy.

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Alas, the stars aligned in sunny Bondi beach many years ago, when Christo spotted a smiling Johanna on a park bench, and asked for her number. Circling the world several times together since, the couple have ended up just where they started, in Sydney's beautiful Tamarama beach, where they have lived from the last six years.

Their home on Gaerloch Avenue innately reflects their globetrotting lifestyle.

It's like a house-sized traveller's trunk: filled with treasures and memories from their adventures, with delicious little pockets of trinkets and curios, each a postcard from a moment passed. And it is this sense of "Ë?keeping' that is carried through their home and into their business, Lepaar.

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Lepaar is an online boutique with a creed of sustainability. Initially their offering seems rather muddled: brooms and garden hoses sit alongside biodynamic skincare and kangaroo leather goods. What's the connection?

Well, it's all in the pairs' ethos of "Ë?wholistic luxury', the keeping, the "Ë?hanging onto', the investing. Encouraging their buyers to opt for a beautiful and sustainable item to fill their home, as opposed to a cheap and/or disposable option will a limited shelf life.

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"We very much oppose today's throw-away culture," reads the Lepaar website, "and believe in distinguished products and wholistic produce which support exceptional crafts people, sustainable manufacturers and ethical growers in Australia and the world over."

"We design exquisite products of quality, beauty and function, support what delights and align ourselves with like-minded people, brands and principles."

"Whether it is the passing on of old wisdoms lost, reviving practices that nurture all, collaborating with makers that instil what they make with love and mastery, it is essentially the acknowledgement of the spirit of things which drives our intent to create a brand that defines and tells this story."

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Tucked into tiny Mackenzie Bay, the Everingham home is so close to the waves that, according to Christo, "Ë?you can throw a rock in the water.'

The house, therefore, is not without a nautical flavour: the bedroom, in a moody shade of teal, features a large vintage spotlight in one corner, and a billowing, sail-like white canopy above the bed.

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Throughout the rest of the house, the rustic wood and cosy warmth of their books and knick-knacks evoke a sense of walking through a rather luxurious captain's cottage, or far-flung lighthouse from a 19th century novel.

Outside, however, and the lush greenery of their immaculate garden breaths with the inimitable health of a Sydney beachside suburb. Fronds and ferns frame the windows, with lanterns hanging in and among the branches.

Enjoying the sea and the outdoors certainly seems important to this creative duo, who, like much of Sydney's beachside dwellers, have a strong focus on the environment and sustainability.

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Christo describes this corner of the world as a "Ë?privileged microcosm', an area where the connection with the extraordinary surrounding nature makes it impossible not to want to work towards a sustainable future.

"People who live around here generally travel a lot, and have had the education, and the space, and the peace to delve a bit deeper into the goings on. A bit more aware or conscious"¦.We can't not be aware of what's going on. You can't get away with not making conscious choices."

Lepaar promotes "Ë?conscious choices' with every item they sell, mixing practicality with beauty. But, er, why the garden hoses?

"We're both gardeners," explains Christo, "and struggled to find a hose where the end doesn't pop off. The quality just wasn't there. We spent a year buying around six hoses! But why are they green? And where is the wall hook?" He makes a good point.

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And so, like everything the Everinghams collect for their home, their Lepaar brand garden hose is made for a lifetime. (And in white, lavender and slate with solid brass nozzle and solid brass wall hanging, it's oh-so-chic"¦)

Seeing the two together, it is hard to imagine a couple that tessellate quite as perfectly as Christo and Johanna Everingham. Indeed, Christo remembers that when the couple moved in together, their taste in home decor was practically identical. "We're just peas in a pod," he says "We just shared everything, it all came together, we were so similar."

Their home therefore treads a lovely blend of the masculine and the feminine: jars of mystical looking ingredients dot the windowsills, whilst heavy leather-bound books stock the shelves. This is the home of a life well lived. So why did they choose Tamarama as their base?

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"I remember lying in the water at Bondi," says Christo, "and at the time I was living in Melbourne and travelling a lot - and I thought, it's time to come home. It was a simple choice."

With the shoreline lapping at the back of their house, you can hear the waves crashing over the sound of his kettle whistling from their bright and sunny kitchen. It is a home that welcomes in the rugged beauty of the outside, whilst still managing to create another world of their own inside. What is their favourite part of the house?

A hard question to answer: the house, they explain, has two very different sides. In summer, the front of the home soaks up the baking heat of the sun of the ocean. But in winter, the back of the house and it's beautiful garden is soaked in the gentle winter light. Favourite? "It's got to be the front of the house still!" exclaims Christo. "It's got a beautiful view and the open fire." Looking at that incredible view, it's hard to disagree...

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The couple exude such a joy and pride in their beautiful home, I comment that it surely must be hard to leave behind when they travel? They agree, but note that they love nothing more than welcoming guests to stay.

"We love to share our house!" says Johanna. "It's full of all our treasures and collections and art and books...and its eclectic and bohemian, and we love it when people come here and enjoy it. We often swap houses with people."

After six years in their Tamarama home, Christo and Johanna recently took the leap from their large corporate business (which sprawled across two offices and a large warehouse), to just a small home office, where they now both work managing Lepaar. Looking around, it's not hard to see why you wouldn't want to call this place home.

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The only problem, really, would not being tempted to poke and prod around the vast nooks and crannies filled with artifacts from their lives together. I ask Christo what his favourite item in the house is.

"I'm famous for my rock collection." I go to laugh before I realise he's being serious. "Yeah! From massive ones to small ones!" Creative Christo also notes that the beautiful Lepaar designed brooms he sells comes from a stubborn sweeping habit. "I love a good broom! And for Johanna it's baskets. We have basket's from all over the world for everything."

"We recently bought a 100 acre property in Kangaroo Valley, 2 hrs from Sydney "â?? well, basically 86 acres of nature reserve with about 14 acres cleared space and a very basic dwelling, so a lot of our things will go there. We'll jazz up the place in no time and have a go at biodynamic growing and doing the half city / half country life thing."

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But this is the most wonderful part of this down-to-earth couple and their home: a complete dedication to the small things. From rock collections to a good sturdy broom, Christo and Johanna serve to remind visitors into the house to stop and appreciate. To value a purchase, and to keep it forever.

And after all, is that not what a home is all about?

You can see more from Lepaar on their website: http://www.lepaar.com/

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