This week on the Home Life Series, we're stepping inside Henry Home, the thoughtfully designed and homely boutique accommodation in Carlton North’s Rathdowne street, curated by talented chef Mike Barker.
Situated above the sister restaurant Henry Sugar, the previous three-bedroom apartment occupied by chef and co-owner Mike, has now become one of Carlton North's coolest Airbnb and event spaces – the 1881 building now lovingly restored to house intimate dinners and short terms stays.
“We want to create a space for people who are looking to experience quality, local food, wine and hospitality in Carlton North. Three couples could stay, one couple, it’s for friends to get together, enjoy Melbourne and come downstairs for dinner or Sunday lunch.”
With his very own (Australian-inspired) art painted especially for the Airbnb, a chef-designed kitchen, fully stock wine fridge and room service from Henry Sugar restaurant, Henry Home is the leafy, calm staycation (with city views) you’ve been looking for.
So whether you're in need of a place to stay, dinner reservation or new artwork for your collection, it's time to meet Henry!
You learnt your trade through cooking and travelling overseas in many European kitchens. Tell us the story of your journey as a chef, and how your restaurant Henry Sugar came about?
I have always cooked to support myself part time even while studying at art school. At the age of 26 I decided to take it to the next level. Some of the most innovative food at the time was happening in Spain. I spoke enough Spanish to ask for a job so off I went to Barcelona where I left 4 years later.
You’ve now renovated the living quarters above the restaurant and turned it into an inner-city Airbnb gem, which was much needed in Carlton North! Can you tell us a bit about the renovation process and the interior concept you had in mind?
It was on the fly to begin with. I spent months collecting furniture from market place which was at a price we could afford. I'd restore it and basically just hoped we would be able to tie it all in together. Fortunately we had help from a friends and family who have great taste and helped bring it all together.
What experience do you wish to give your guests at Henry Home?
You illustrated all of the artwork in the Airbnb too! What was the inspiration behind these collection of prints?
I was trying to create a bit of an easy going tongue and cheek vibe for the space that lent into the Australian a little bit and tied things back to the restaurant as well the hospitality touch. The Instagram for the prints is @scene_ose. Please give it a follow!
What’s on the menu of your ultimate Christmas feast?
We love to have fun with this one. Every year we do an Xmas eve dinner which is always our last service for the year. It's different every time. This year we have Smoked granny ham croquettes, mustard fruit dipping sauce, turkey Kiev stuffed with quandong and hazelnut, cherry gravy, steamed xmas pud, sherry ice cream and berries.
You’ve made a cult classic, the trifle, for our readers. What about this desert do you love?
To be honest, I love the way a Christmas trifle takes me back. As an old boss once said "the classics are classic for a reason". I also like how it can be as easy or difficult as you like but if you keep it simple anyone can knock it up at home.