THE DESIGN FILES: DEE TANG & DESMOND SWEENEY's FREMANTLE FAMILY HOME
The 1940s home of Dee Tang — creative, stylist, and author of Love Is — and artist Desmond Sweeney, has been a place of change, work, beauty & inspiration but also incredible sadness over the past five years.
After living interstate for 15 years, Dee decided to move back to Western Australia with Desmond as a family, when their first daughter, Kawa Leaf, devastatingly passed away.
The family’s new house, nicknamed ‘The Lady California’, became not just a home during this time, but a shelter and holding space for their grieving.
Today, The Lady California comprises Dee and Desmond’s own renovated workspaces - the shack and the studio, in addition to the main house where Rafa Rose & Beau Sunray can usually be found skating through the rooms or painting.
It’s a creative place in a constant state of flux, reflective of the family and artists who previously lived there.
No one could have imagined the last five years of Dee Tang’s life, least of all herself. The creative, stylist, and author of Love Is was living with her husband, artist Desmond Sweeney, in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, when Desmond suggested they move to Western Australia where Dee grew up.
‘I was like ‘NO WAY!’ Dee recalls. She eventually reconsidered, but with conditions. ‘I had the following
criteria; we are not moving unless it is an old house, has a studio, an is in or around Fremantle.’
Naturally, Desmond found a home online right away. Seeing photos of the 1940s California bungalow’s
doorway and studio was all Dee needed to fly over and check it out, where she was fortunate to meet the home’s owners of 30 years.
‘While the home was in dire need of attention and care, there was a beautiful vibration to the space that you can’t replicate or just create immediately,’ Dee says. She was sold.
‘I often feel like the custodian of this home, rather than an owner…That it is our job to care and honour her and in return she nurtures our work, creativity and provides a warm home for our family,’ she says.
‘There’s an unspoken feeling that this home is a magical space filled with the souls of creative characters who have been here before, and continue to do so.’
Over the years since, Dee and Desmond have made numerous cosmetic updates to the home. Their intent is to maintain the soul of the space, as instilled by its previous owners, who were a multi-generational family of glass artists. ‘They imbued the
space with a creative energy that is felt immediately as you stroll the grounds or wander through the garden and into the studio'.
ps. love notes
the design files ♡ dee + desmond's fremantle home
koala eco journal ♡ straight to the heart
honey magazine ♡ [canvas on the wave]