We've Stepped Inside the Homes of 68 Creatives—Here's What We've Learnt
The dreamy homes of our favourite creatives offer endless inspiration, as we've learned over the course of touring 68 homes (and counting) for our weekly series, The Makers. Even if you aren't quite at a stage where building and furnishing your dream home is a viable next step, it is only natural to want to create the world you want to live in at your home. Whether you're living in a tiny studio or a palatial estate, there is some foolproof advice you should keep in mind.
When it comes to creating your dream home, learning the tricks of the trade can be helpful—from finding the perfect vintage one-off to making magic out of what you've already got. Here are 13 lessons we've learned from the beautiful homes of our favourite creative people.
Time and effort pays off
Poppy Lissiman's vintage-filled utopia in Sydney's Eastern suburbs is a result of the designer's impeccable taste combined with time spent trawling online marketplaces like Facebook and Gumtree. It's one thing to know what you want, but it's another to follow through and get results. "Rather than reverting to going to IKEA or getting something everyone else has, I suggest getting inspiration whether it's from Instagram or magazines ... and then looking for pieces you like then searching locally for secondhand/similar," she says. "That’s how I found my rattan headboard. I saw a similar India Madavi piece, which was obviously insanely expensive, and then started searching for rattan pieces on Gumtree, Facebook marketplace and in auctions. It didn’t take me long to turn up some gems, including my antique headboard, which was an absolute bargain."
Major updates should celebrate the natural environment
Necessary renovations gave Byron Bay-based content creator Courtney Adamo the opportunity to shift focus from the kitchen to the garden at her 120-year-old country cottage: "In order for this small home to work for our family of seven, we needed to add a second bathroom, a laundry room, and squeeze in an additional small bedroom for our youngest child," she told us. "The kitchen was originally in the centre of the house and we wanted to move things around so it would be at the back of the house overlooking the back garden."
Be inspired by trends, but led by intuition
When we asked artist Leah Fraser about her thought process in styling her home, she emphasised intuition over any sort of trend-focussed strategy. "I think it's all just very intuitive and personal," she said. "Most things we have had for many years and it's just a slow accumulative process of collecting things that we love when we see or need them or have been handed down to us."
Don't be afraid of colour
These are the words of artist Prudence Caroline, and they're words to live by—just look at her vibrant coastal home. "Dusty pinks and blues are my favourite, they make a great base for adding in brighter colours."
Plants make everything better
This is a mantra that healer Allira Potter lives by, and her home—along with the other plant-filled sanctuaries we've visited—is clear evidence that says you should too. In terms of décor, plants are essentially the ultimate neutral—they work aesthetically in every situation. This means you don't need to hold back on the rest of your décor: lean in to colourful artwork and vibrant bed linen, and a healthy accompaniment of indoor plants will provide that extra zing of freshness that takes really good to truly great.
When it comes to wall art, aim for asymmetry
You might have a stack of framed art waiting to be hung (or perhaps even a pile of prints waiting to be framed), but if you've gotten to the point of actually creating your home gallery wall, keep in mind that asymmetry is far more effective than a perfect grid. Aim for frames of varying sizes and use your intuition when choosing placement for each one. Sculptor Lucas Wearne's thoughtfully designed gallery wall shows you don't need to fill every inch to make an impact. Another tip—use a mix of different frames to add interest.
Timeless style lasts forever
Timelessness needn't be cookie cutter simplicity—just look at Lynda Gardener's incredible country retreat, The Estate at Trentham. The renowned interior stylist and hotelier shows that boldly balancing old-world with modern and industrial-era décor elevates cosy and quaint to something truly special. It takes knowing what you like and not being afraid to do something unexpected: "I don't stray too far away from my signature look," Lynda says. "I'm good at mixing old and new, working on old houses and bringing in the right mix to create a warm and inviting space. I love neutrals and warm, earthy tones and all my homes have stood the test of time. My advice to others is to stick to what you know best, what you feel most passionate about and of course, have the drive to see through."
Simplicity never fails
The light-filled kitchen at florist Mikarla Bauer's Byron Bay home shows that not every part of a home's décor needs to prioritise personality over function. The straightforward layout and subtle, elegant design elements—such as the splashback of muted subway tiles—make this space one of our all-time favourites. Mikarla says that her home's tastefully designed interior isn't the result of careful planning or based on trends. when the family was renovating the home, she never purposefully styled the interiors as such. "I haven't intentionally styled the interiors as such—our home is a collection of old and new things that we have layered over the years. There's a mix of some family furniture pieces that I have inherited and a few great things from local Byron businesses."
A bathroom should facilitate serene daily detox rituals
When Jemima Aldridge and her husband got to work restoring their hundred-year-old cottage in Dubbo, she started with a colour palette that echoed the countryside outside. "I focused on a calm palette to ease the senses," she told us. "I also wove elements of our countryside surroundings into the styling of the rooms." The bathroom is a favourite spot for us, with a freestanding bathtub and handmade Tiles of Ezra tiles—plus towels from our own Bathe. by Bed Threads bath range.
When it comes to bedroom décor, don't hold back
Artist Dina Broadhurst's breathtaking home is filled with inspiring design touches and plenty of creativity, but her bedroom is a space that not only reflects her style but also guarantees premium me-time and restorative sleep. We asked for her tips for a well-styled bedroom and she responded: "Colour, individuality, texture, large art, linen, an amazing fluffy rug, European cushions and to be honest I've finally been converted to having a big TV in the bedroom—and I'm kind of addicted now!"
Sometimes working with what you've got is better than starting from scratch
Rather than ripping up the original brick flooring at their cottage fixer-upper, Josh and Jenna Densten used it as the starting point for a complete interior overhaul. "It all started with the brick flooring, which had a slight pink tinge," they told us. "This then led to the pink tile which is wrapped around the pod in the middle of the cottage. As space was tight we knew we wanted a tonal colour palette to allow the eye to flow harmoniously throughout the space and each of our decisions were made to enhance the feeling of light and space. Tactility and curves were used to create interest."
Minimalism doesn't (necessarily) mean less
As evidenced by Olive Cooke's '70s-style Lennox Head home, minimalist interior design can be a powerful thing. Her self-designed sanctuary shows that every choice matters when it comes to creating your dream home. With polished concrete floors to concrete-clad walls and a subtle patchwork of natural materials—stone, marble, timber—the home provides the perfect base for well-chosen hero pieces—a vintage Caprani lamp, a mirrored Sarah Ellison plinth, a creamy travertine table.
If you've got it, flaunt it
"It" being outdoor space. Whether you're working with a tiny balcony or a luxurious yard, approach the space with the same level of thought as you do your home's interior. A particularly luxe example of this al fresco-focussed approach to home décor is designer Ella Edwards' millennial pink paradise. After living in the block's original house for five years, she and her partner got to work building their dream home, drawing inspiration from iconic Palm Springs Parker Hotel. When it came to all aspects of design, Ella worked to optimise maximum sunlight throughout the home.