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A visit with Masterchef judge Poh Ling Yeow in her colourful Adelaide home

Colour is queen in the eclectic abode of Masterchef judge and artist Poh Ling Yeow.
Poh Ling Yeow in her colourful homePhotography: Cath Muscat

Poh Ling Yeow has a lot to thank her budgie Trevor for. Each morning, the cook, author and artist once painstakingly collects Trevor’s tiny moulted feathers from the bottom of his cage and carefully sorted them according to their vibrant colour. “My dad thought I was loopy the first time he caught me picking up the feathers,” she recalls with her trademark smile. “He’s ‘Mr New’ – he’s horrified that half my dining chairs are salvaged from hard rubbish – and he asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m going to make artworks with these feathers at some point in my life’.” Ultimately she did just that, meticulously placing Trevor’s feathers in concentric circles to create majestic artworks that proved irresistible to others as well. The collection sold out straight away.

Poh’s other great passion, art is evident in every corner of her vibrant home. “Even when I was a poverty-stricken artist, I always had beautiful artwork because I’d do swapsies with my artist friends,” she says.

Here, a wall is dedicated to some of Poh’s favourite pieces, with a ‘Great Britain’ sofa and armchair from Bay Leather Republic providing a warm, slouchy spot for art appreciation. (Credit: CATH MUSCAT)

An appreciation of all things beautiful along with a fascination with colour is seen in every space in the quirky, 1959-built Adelaide home Poh and her former partner Jonathan spent years slowly retweaking. With its mezzanine levels, concrete floors and bursts of colour, the home is an ideal fit for the artist who can’t go past a piece with history. “I’m a major hoarder, but a lot of the time it’s justified,” says Poh. “I love coming across an object that looks like it’s been around a bit and tells a story from its dings and scratches. They’re the things I’m attracted to.”

“I just love pottering around and beautifying my home, creating little projects for myself. That fulfills me.”

Poh Ling Yeow

While the lounge room with its sigh-worthy, gallery-like walls draws visitors into this enticing space, not surprisingly it’s the studio and kitchen that are the real stars for Poh. “They’re the centre of my universe in a way,” she says. The kitchen includes plenty of benchspace and a large induction oven and stovetop that Poh adores. “When I was buying it, the guy was like, ‘Not many people need five hot plates.’ And I said, ‘I do!’ ”

With an ABC television special and five cookbooks under her belt, Poh is set to return to her Masterchef roots as a judge this year, but her schedule will have to include some downtime. “My favourite thing in the world is just being at home, rearranging my books or going to the garden and potting some plants,” she says. “I’m a total homebody.” Her latest book, “What I Cook When Nobody’s Watching, Recipes & Musings for a Simple Life,” is a testament to this philosophy.

“The way I collect is very undisciplined,” says Poh. “I don’t curate, I hoard!” This antique-style cabinet plays host to a framed photograph of Poh’s grandfather and a doll from her childhood in Malaysia (Credit: CATH MUSCAT)


A splashback of vibrant Turkish tiles sets an upbeat tone in this chef-friendly kitchen. The mosaic border of tiny brick-like tiles was customised by Poh, who couldn’t resist adding her own touch. “They were tiny square mosaics and I wanted a brick pattern so I had to cut them all in half,” she says. “I nearly lost an eye or two doing it because they ping in weird directions when they shatter!” A Smeg oven and cooktop takes centrestage.


Dining room

An artwork by Betty Pumani provides a colour-drenched talking point in the dining area, above a quirky bird-shaped timber bench that houses Poh’s extensive cookbook collection. To the right is a hand-carved stick, crafted especially for her by internationally acclaimed Italian chef Antonio Carluccio. “It’s really precious to me,” says Poh. “I’ve shot twice with Antonio in Adelaide and we fast became friends – his TV career also came about after coming second in a cooking competition. The last time we met, I painted a tiny portrait of him and he carved this stick for me.”

The fabulous rug satisfies Poh’s penchant for pattern. (Credit: CATH MUSCAT)

Poh considers it important to make brave choices when decorating your home. “I guess it’s personal. Some people like their homes minimalist. When they come into my house, they nearly have an anxiety attack. I have friends who say, ‘Your house is mental, it sends me into a spin.’ But for me, colour and clutter are endlessly inspiring!’ ”

An elegant chandelier, vintage-style mirror and a stunning artwork by China-born, Australia-based artist Zhong Chen set a fanciful mood. Always looking for a project, Poh reworked the powder-coated Snooze bed – “We actually sliced a bar off the top!” – she says, and dressed it in Morgan & Finch ‘Mojo’ linen from Bed Bath N’ Table. “That’s the sort of nutso thing I do – I buy a brand new bed and then chop off the top!” says Poh.



Poh’s light-filled studio is a hub of creativity and also a spot for concentrated calm. Clippings and cuttings embellish the wall while much-loved collections sit close by, providing inspiration for Poh as she gets to work. 

Poh has been a professional artist for over 20 years. (Credit: CATH MUSCAT)

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