The Mali Bakes founder's colourful Melbourne home gets a chef's kiss.

| By Rachael Thompson | Home tours

Inside Pastry Chef Patchanida Chimkire's Retro-Inspired Home and Bakery

The Mali Bakes founder's colourful Melbourne home gets a chef's kiss.

Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans, and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this installment, we tour the pastry chef Patchanida Chimkire of Mali Bakes' retro home in Thornbury, Melbourne.

If you haven't hopped onto the Mali Bakes Instagram account, we highly encourage that you do. This wonderland of retro-inspired cakes dreamt up by pastry chef Patchanida Chimkire are as glorious to look at as they are to eat and will add a joyful element to your social media scrolling.

Patchanida studied a business degree in Bangkok before realising her dream of becoming a chef. She moved to Melbourne to study and during this time occasionally explored the realm of baking. During the first lockdown, she started Mali Bakes, a then small baking and delivery project that was run from her Instagram account. Now, the much-loved cake shop in the inner-west suburb of Thornbury is adored by locals and visitors alike. "I found that I really enjoyed creating cookies, and cakes, but that the creative processes that go into branding and constructing a business also enabled me to be creative," she shares with Bed Threads Journal.

Her retro-inspired, intricate creations look as though they've been plucked from Versailles or a Wes Anderson film, but they are also inspired by her Thai heritage. "...in Thai culture, we grow up amongst such beautiful and detailed ornamentations and a lot of that expresses itself through the ways in which I color and decorate," she explains. She creates customisable treats for everything from weddings to birthdays embracing flavour combos like yuzu, poppy seed, and strawberry as well as coconut, passionfruit, and dark chocolate.

Patchanida's home which she shares with her husband Luke is located right behind her studio space. They made extensive renovations to the existing 1960s property including fitting in a commercial kitchen to the front area of the building. "Where the commercial kitchen is now was a huge tailor room with a large window going across that we’ve kept, so we can look out into the street as we work."

The retro home is the perfect extension of her desserts. "We’ve styled the house in such a way as to complement the existing retro features and we’ve painted the walls in such a way so as to bring out these elements, and these features." The living room features olive green walls and an olive green sofa, paired with a colorful geometric rug and a selection of multi-hued coffee table books.

The primary bedroom is warm and cocooning. It embraces rich neutral tones from the caramel-colored walls to the Turmeric and Lavender linen. The furniture here is mid-century in style and perfectly suits the moodiness of the space.

Below, take a tour of Patchanida's colorful home and studio and read about her creative process and her career as a pastry chef.

Shop the Patchandia Chimkire Edit.

Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to create beautiful cakes?

It’s been a roundabout journey so far, and I never imagined that I’d be able to express myself creatively in a field like this! After finishing a business degree in Bangkok I realised that the hustle and bustle of Bangkok life wasn’t for me. So, I moved to Melbourne to study, and become a chef. Pastry wasn’t the initial focus and was something that I touched on from time to time when I could.

Mali Bakes started as a small baking and delivery project during the first lockdown here in Melbourne. I had nothing but time on my hands, and little to no work at the cafe I was working at; I needed rent money and something to do. It dawned on me that these two things could be the same thing, and so – viola!

I found that I really enjoyed creating cookies, and cakes, but that the creative processes that go into branding and constructing a business also enabled me to be creative. Things went well, and we were able to track down a commercial space, build a website, and figure out all the ins and outs that go into getting a small business up and running. And here we are!

Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?

The process always starts with a conversation with the client. We talk about the event, what they’re going to be wearing, and how the party is going to be styled (things like flowers, colour palette, etc). All of this information informs what colours and decorations will be best suited for their celebration. That’s just the start. From there I’m able to use my imagination to bring their vision to life. Mali Bakes has always operated in a collaborative sense, and it’s something I find to be integral to any creative process. I’m very lucky to be able to do what I do in that sense.

What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to further your career?

It might sound corny, but it’s true: It’s best to understand yourself, to know how far to push yourself, and to know your limits; knowing when to say no, and when to rest is a crucial aspect – otherwise you risk creating something that you’re not proud, that doesn’t speak for you. Understanding yourself and being the best you, being the best you can be, has been, by far, the most crucial strategy. But it is something that needs to be learned – often the hard way.

What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?

Being able to have such an amazing team of people working together at Mali Bakes. It’s so crazy to think that something that started as a small lockdown project has been able to blossom and bloom into a successful business. My partner, Luke, has supported me from the first moment, and there have been so many fantastic chefs and loving friends whom I have worked with and who have helped me along the way.

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?

Find joy in the process, not the finished goal.

Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?

Our living space is right behind the studio space. We moved in when we signed the commercial lease, sometime towards the end of 2020. Our old living arrangements weren’t able to keep up with the demands being placed on them by the growing business – so we had to move. Me and Luke went on a hunt for the space that we were both able to live and work in.

How did you initially know this was the space for you?

Honestly, it was love at first sight! We’d come up to Thornbury to have our first dinner outside of the lockdown restrictions and ended up in the restaurant next door. We wandered by this window and peered in. It had the most beautiful quartz terrazzo floor, and we immediately wanted to see more. It was perfect. The shop was originally occupied by a dinner-suit tailor, from sometime in the early 1960s. Where the commercial kitchen is now was a huge tailor room with a large window going across that we’ve kept, so we can look out into the street as we work. It was such a delightful change from all the years I’d spent working in commercial kitchens without much natural light. It has its quirks and such an interesting story to it, and we wanted to add to that.

Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
Absolutely! The space was being used as an accountant’s office for the 10 years prior to us moving in. It was all dark-maroon feature walls, old Venetian blinds, and a dusty green carpet throughout the entire property. Luke and I did all of the renovations including fitting in the commercial kitchen in the front area. We were ripping up the old carpet and found beautiful wooden floorboards underneath which we then sanded down and varnished. We’ve repainted every room and tried to make the space as homely as possible.

Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?

We’re always on the hunt for interesting paintings and pieces. Our hallway is perfect for a salon hang, so we’ll definitely be collecting more paintings over the next few years (and that’ll probably never stop).

Which is your favourite room in the house?

The living area, which is attached to our personal kitchen. We spend so much time in there after work having a cup of tea, reading, or hanging out with our two gorgeous cats (and I love sitting by the gas heater during our long winter months).

What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?

Always start with a colour theme for the walls; check what complimentary colours are available and start introducing these to the space with small objects, cushions, and artwork that represent you and what you love. Seeing a friend or anyone reflected in their space is always a beautiful thing!

For more from Patchanida follow her at @mali_bakes

Photography by Amelia Stanwix. Styling by Beck Simon.

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