Exuding warmth, history and colour, Kerrie and John’s home is a melting pot of art and culture. Nestled in the middle floor of the converted Wool Store on Milford Road, Islington, this light and spacious home is as unique and sophisticated as the owners. 

Former visual arts teacher and practicing artist Kerrie Coles and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Newcastle, John Rostas, walk us through their beautiful home and treasure trove of belongings for April’s ultra-artistic House Perv. 


IMAGES: Atelier Photography

What do you love about living here? 
J: I fell in love with the charm of the building with its industrial history and wide communal spaces. I love how it was cleverly transformed into individual units and how the architect opened up the original enclosed floors to allow light to flow between the three storeys. In terms of the unit itself, I love the layout and feeling of space as well as how quiet it is here. The proximity to our favourite café in Maryville, Uprising, is an added bonus! 

K: I love our views of the city and the rooftops from our balcony, I plan to sit and paint it one day. As the balcony faces south, it remains beautifully cool in summer and our position on the middle floor means that once it heats up, it stays warm in winter too. I love how safe and secure the building is so that when we travel overseas, we can just lock it up and leave. 

Can you tell us how you met? 
K: We met on a date in 2012 set up by a friend who worked with John when he was the Director at HMRI. She invited us both to the theatre and unfortunately fell ill at the last minute, so it ended up just being the two of us. We talked all night and have been talking and laughing ever since. I was divorced in 1989 and I had been through breast cancer twice. John’s wife had passed away 10 years ago, and he had been through open heart surgery. Neither of us were expecting to fall in love again, so it was a great joy to find each other at this stage in our lives. 

J: We were married in 2016 on the banks of the beautiful Ord River in Kununurra, Western Australia and we have just celebrated our second wedding anniversary. We have four children and nine grandchildren between us so our lives are very full with family time, artistic and musical interests, overseas travel and my research. 

Can you tell us when you purchased the property? 
J: After being together for two years we decided we wanted to sell our own homes and buy something as a couple. Four years ago, we were thrilled to find this unit for sale and we fell in love with it as soon as we walked in the front door. 

Your art collection is very impressive; can you tell us a little about it? 
K: We both have a love of beautiful things and an appreciation of art, theatre and music as you can probably tell! We like that our home tells the story of our lives, both individually and as a couple. Our individual collections merged seamlessly together when we moved in here and I curated each and every space, just as I would at a gallery. 

As a practicing artist, many of the paintings are my own and as a collector, many are by renowned artists from Newcastle and further afield. John’s family emigrated to Australia from Hungary and so some of the paintings in our collection are treasured possessions packed into their suitcases when they left Europe. Additional works are by John’s uncle and other family members, as well as from our travels in Australia and overseas. 

We have over 100 works of art and sculpture so we have installed a specialised hanging system normally found in art galleries. It also means we don’t need to put too many holes in the walls!