Home Life Series

Inside the Groovy Home of Australian Radio Host and DJ, Emma Peel

This week on the Home Life Series, get ready to step back in time and embark on a groovy journey through the retro family home of Australian radio host and DJ, Emma Peel

Emma is a self-confessed vintage fashion and lifestyle nut with a penchant for all things 1960s and 1970s. It’s a passion she’s inherited from her mum, and now lives and breathes in every aspect of her own life. 

Spoken like a true colour lover, Emma champions ‘you only get one life so you might as well make it bright.’ Amen to that! So grab a cocktail, slip on your platforms and put your eye liner on max…we’re going on a 70s trip!

1. Hi Emma, we have been eagerly awaiting to step back in time into your AMAZING vintage home! For those who haven’t yet heard of you, can you please introduce yourself? 

Hello! I’m Emma Peel - a self-confessed vintage fashion and lifestyle nut with a penchant for all things 1960s and 1970s. I’m a walking time-warp, if you like. I’ve been a radio presenter on Melbourne’s PBS FM for over 15 years. My weekly show, Switched On, is all about sharing undiscovered vinyl gems from around the world. I’ve been Djing and collecting records for over 20 years. I’m also a mother of two, festival director (Reservoir Stomp), and a copywriter by trade.

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2. You have been gracing Melbourne’s community radio airwaves for over 15 years! Can you give us a back story on how it all started and where your love for music stemmed from? 

I grew up in a family where the record player was always on, so it’s been a constant in my life and a never-ending source of wonder and happiness. In terms of specifics, though, there are a couple of ‘music moments’ that fuelled my love. 

The first was when I was around 10 years old. My sister and I were at my grandparents house (a big old place built in the 1800s) looking through antique toys and knick-knacks in the attic. Pop came upstairs to see what we were doing, and then he pulled out a gramophone for us to look at. It was a 19th century model which played wax cylinders - not records - and had to be wound up to work. We spent the afternoon in the attic with him listening to crackly old music, the likes of which I'd never heard before. 

Fast forward to a few years later, when I was a teenager - I found my mum's 1960s portable record player in a cupboard along with a few of her records - Booker T and the MGs, Ike and Tina Turner, that type of thing. Classic 1960s hits, but they were new to me. Listening to them through the tinny speaker in the record player transported me back in time instantly. I wanted to jump into the record player and live there. I also found mum’s Dusty Springfield record, which I played to death. The album cover features Dusty posing in a chambray shirt with her big hair and smokey black eye makeup. It resonated with me. I thought to myself - “I want to look like that.” I loved the music, but I also identified strongly with the fashion, the colour, the style. 

After this discovery I started collecting records and I’m still collecting records 20+ years later. For most of this time I’ve also been Djing and I’m lucky enough to have a weekly radio show on PBS FM where I get to share my vinyl finds with everyone. I started out doing summer fill-ins on RRR FM. Then PBS FM offered me a regular show, so of course I said yes!

3. Your home is TRULY a time machine back into the 60’s/70’s! Where do you source this inspiration from and what are your favorite corners and pieces of the home? 

I have to give some credit to my mum here. She was an aspiring interior decorator in the 1970s with a soft spot for zany wallpaper. In the entryway of our childhood home she installed a floor-to-ceiling Andy Warhol-esque mural of Marilyn Monroe winking. It was fabulous and totally out there. Everything in the house was orange and yellow, with a peppering of wood-panelling and shagpile. Obviously this made an impression on me as a newborn. These days I source inspiration from old interior design magazines, fashion magazines, 60s/70s movie sets etc. 

It’s hard to pick favourite nooks and pieces, but I love the kitchen because of the lime-green splashback, the original cabinetry, and how it gels perfectly with all of the orange canisters and appliances. When you’re sitting at the breakfast bar in the kitchen, there’s a great view back through to the hallway and into the main bedroom. It’s so colourful, with the tropical wallpaper and paintings in the hall, and the floral wallpaper in the bedroom. It pleases me! I’m also fond of the downstairs step-up bar which is under an arch. 

In terms of favourite pieces, I have chosen the lime green lamp in the kitchen because it's so large and lurid and I got it for a steal. Another fave is the original ‘space-age’ Casala dining setting. It was one of the first ‘proper’ vintage pieces of furniture I invested in when I moved out of home. I had to live pretty darn lean to pay it off at the time, but I’m glad I bought it.

Stripe Glassware coming soon! 

4. We are officially declaring you the QUEEN of retro and vintage homewares. Where do you look to find your unique treasures? And what is your most treasured piece? 

Well thank you! I love nothing better than poking around country op-shops. I’ve found so many great homewares there over the years. I’m also a fan of some of the vintage bazaars. If I'm looking for something specific I’ll go there. I’m not big on online shopping because it’s too easy. I like the thrill of the hunt! My most treasured piece is an adorable set of Snappy the Snail salt and pepper shakers that belonged to my Nan. She had them (and many other cute salt and pepper shakers) in a cabinet in her dining room. When I was little I LOVED looking at them all, particularly the snails. When I moved to Melbourne (from Tasmania) she gave them to me as a gift. They’ve followed me around ever since and always have pride of place. I now also have her cabinet and all of the other salt and pepper shakers, too.

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5. Your talents also extend beyond music, as you are also a freelance copywriter and mum of two! What does a typical week look like for you with all those balls in the air? 

Umm… busy! Haha. Usually my week entails smashing out some copy for a client in between doing art projects, playing with my two girls after school and helping them with homework; Plus DJing a few gigs - sometimes mid-week, but mostly weekends - and planning and presenting my radio show every Saturday. Tuesday nights I have band practice, so there’s that too. It’s mostly all fun though, so no complaints!

6. Just like us, you are clearly a huge fan of colour and texture! What does colour mean to you and why do you love putting it in your home and outfits? 

To me, colour IS life. It’s a total mood-shifter. You’ll never see me wearing black because I just don’t feel good in it. Colour makes me feel alive, it makes me feel happy and it definitely stimulates my creativity. When I’m at home, I love resting my eyes on something colourful whether it’s the wallpaper or a lamp or a vase. Some people who’ve seen pictures of my house say things like “oh wow - how do you go to sleep with wallpaper like that,” but for me the warmth of the colours are much more soothing than no colour at all. You only get one life so you might as well make it bright.

Shop Emma's Curated Collection

7. We came for the home tour but we could’ve stayed all day in that epic downstairs wardrobe and bar. What’s the crowning jewel of your wardrobe? 

The crowning jewel is, ironically, not from the 1960s or 70s, but it’s over 20 years old so I guess it’s classified as vintage?! Anyway, it’s a 70s style jumpsuit that I designed and had made by a seamstress in Tassie in 2000. It is navy blue and has a big white belt, cuffs and collar. It has enormous bell bottoms, naturally. But what makes it special are the large white stars all over it. They look like they’re part of the fabric, but each one was hand-stitched on. Every time I’ve worn it over the years people come up to me and ask where I got it from.

8. What should we all be listening to this beautiful Sunday? 

You should definitely listen to Africa Brazil by Jorge Ben (1976).