Upon entering Neel Morley’s Melbourne abode, you’ll be instantly struck by the abundance of vibrant colors and zany patterns. You’ll quickly understand that the converted Brunswick warehouse belongs to a happy man, one who derives unadulterated pleasure from the energetically rainbow decor. But only once these observations have sunken in will you begin to see the many faces that fill the space.
The masks from around the globe covering the double-height wall are eye-catching. Neel, a bubbly English transplant who owns Australia’s first curly hair salon, started collecting them when he moved Down Under in 2010. He found them in thrift shops, picked them up while traveling, and received them as gifts from friends and clients. “I think I’ve got over 300 masks in my house now,” he says. “They’re literally from all over the world: Japan, Mexico, India, Papua New Guinea, Korea, Africa.”
Eventually, it appears that the masks are simply the most obvious example of a theme that’s intricately woven throughout the home. Faces are everywhere, from the Day of the Dead–style calavera pillows to the youthful Buzz Lightyear bust to the vintage wood table with elephant heads for legs. “I love faces,” Neel confirms. “I love people, and I like costume parties and festivals, so I think that’s why most things in my house have got a face on them.”
The largest and most impactful faces appear in the murals Neel commissioned by local graffiti artists. The smiling, exploding sun above the staircase was crafted by Sebastian Berto, who is also responsible for the homoerotic Greek gods in the bathroom. Veins created the three calm women in the primary bedroom, and Pedro Arteaga painted the bright smattering of masks located in the courtyard equipped with an outdoor shower.