As you can probably tell, since they demonstrate a level of photographic skill I haven’t quite yet attained (still waiting for someone to shout me a DSLR and a photography lesson…), these photos are not mine. But no matter. The house is pretty, and belongs to Ellie Bradley, who heads up Xavier & Me.
So today’s post takes the form of another Q&A-with-a-professional. Below is my interview with Ellie, who takes us through her design inspirations and provides some tips for anyone hoping to pretty up their own place. It’s a bit unique insofar as the family decided to move into an already-renovated home; a rarity for design professionals.
How much did your work influence the design of your own home?
We moved into our home in October 2012 and it was already renovated. Our decision to move into a home already renovated was motivated by a year long struggle to get a DA through on another home. It was a very stressful year, so we decided to keep our home, put it on the rental market and go in search of something we can move straight into.
Rugs are used in the home to create contrast in streamlined, modern rooms.
The home was renovated back in 2010, and mixes the traditional features of the home with modern features. The home has loads of storage which was a must and we now also have that crucial extra room which I have turned into my studio. In terms of the style of home, it really was a blank canvas which enable me to fill up the home with my treasures – from porcelain tea pots, to aboriginal artworks, to loads of my cushions and rugs.
Who lives in the house?
I live here with my husband, Richard and my little boy Xavier, who is nearly 5.
How did you decide on the home itself? What was its background?
We needed more space and storage. As I work from home, I really needed (and so did my family) a separate room that I could make into my studio. It’s one of the bedrooms at the front of the house and looks out onto the street with some city glimpses through a beautiful Frangipani tree. We are slightly elevated from the street level, so it’s lovely being able to take in the day without feeling like I am in a fish bowl.
Can you take us through your approach to colour and pattern?
My approach to colour and pattern is constantly changing, as I think this is something I’m still discovering myself as I grow as a designer, but on the whole I am a big lover of bright colours and bold patterns. I love using contrasts in my designs between different materials and media or by fusing bold strong colours with complementary muted tones. I love the modernist art movement Bauhaus’ main objective to unify art, craft and technology. Their rational designs are based on simple geometric shapes and primary colours, which you see a lot of in my work.
It’s lovely being able to take in the day without feeling like I am in a fish bowl.
How heavily styled is your home on a day-to-day basis?
On a day-to-day basis my home is pared back on the styling, however I do love showing my treasures and tend to mix it up. I don’t have everything out at once as I like to more curate the spaces in my home. I tend to pick up things here and there, and they don’t all work together, so I have tended towards creating a mini gallery where I change things around, move pieces from room to room. I like the fluidity of styling my home.
Do you have any favourite stores to pick up homewares from?
Planet on Commonwealth, in Surry Hills. I am good friends with the owner Ross Longmuir and he has a wonderful curated mix of artists and his own furniture and fabrics. Another favourite shop is actually one of my online retailers, Everything Beings. Amy searches far and wide for the most interesting new artwork and objects, made by independent and emerging artists, designers and makers all over the world, which she brings to us online. A recent addition to the site was a series of artworks by Australian illustrator Letitia Buchan.
Do you have any tips for others trying to improve the appearance of their home?
Here are my top ten tips for breathing new life into your home:
- De-clutter – Even if your have created a beautiful room, clutter can detract from the overall look. Make sure those usual suspects of kids’ toys, stationery, magazines, pile of different electronic plugs for different devices (I have one of these on my kitchen bench) have their own place so they are easy to find but not scattered or piled up.
- Lighting – A great way to update your room is to add lighting. Draping some string lights over a bookshelf or updating your boring ceiling light to something a bit more stylish could change the whole look of a room.
- Rugs – rugs add texture and warmth to a room. It can also add character to a neutral décor, soften a busy scheme or tie together key colours in a room. It’s also a great way to aid in room planning and acoustics if you live with a large open plan space.
- Cushions – another great way to add colour and pattern, breathing new life into your room. Mix pattern, colour and textures to create a statement.
- Wallpaper – There are some beautiful wallpapers out there – whether you want something busy, loud, muted or kitsch. Be brave and completely cover the walls of a small room or make a statement in a larger room by papering just one wall.
- Reupholster – Old dining chairs, headboards and sofas can be reinvented to refresh a room’s look. Find a contemporary patterned fabric and get your old furniture reupholstered for a brand new sense of style and comfort.
- Colour scheme – You don’t need to go overboard when finding a colour scheme for a room – unless, of course, you really want to make a statement. Pick out the pre-existing key colours of your room or choose a specific object which you wish to use as the colour inspiration and add complementary coloured ornaments or soft furnishings. If your room has a neutral décor, inject a few really bright shades.
- Make a statement – If you’ve got a bit of cash set aside, consider splashing it on a statement item which will give your room the ‘wow factor’. Depending on budget, room type and your personal taste, this can range from a designer ornament to a framed canvas or flash contemporary fireplace.
- Flowers – Okay, so it’s not quite going to restyle the room, but displaying flowers is a wonderful way of breathing life into a room, adding colour and making a style statement. Commit to a regular change of bouquets and vases to keep your room alive and create a feast for the eyes.
- Mirrors – If you don’t have a feature mirror in at least one room of your house – why not? As well as creating the feeling of space and reflecting light, a mirror says you are proud of your home, it is vanity for your interior and a wonderful way to add perspective.