Lauren Freestone's Newcastle Home Is the Perfect Canvas for Her Art

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 instalment, we head to the airy Newcastle home of Indigenous artist Lauren Freestone.

When we visit artist Lauren Freestone’s home for this feature, she’s actually in the middle of renovations. There are splashes of paint on the floor, chunks of carpets pulled up and strips of wallpaper coming down. “There must have been around five different types of wallpaper, including textured red velvet,” she says, all of which they decided to remove while renovating.

Lauren and her husband bought their Newcastle home about a year ago. And though they’re in the middle of aesthetic renovations and touch-ups, the space appealed to them because the bones were so sturdy. “We loved the layout of the house—it has a great flow and it backs onto bush. It had a very eclectic retro vibe in its original state, but we knew it could be revived. We wanted something older that didn’t need structural work and this was perfect.”

Open and inviting, you simply want to spend days lingering here. Lauren’s aesthetic is “simple”—she prefers to focus on earthy tones and natural elements to create a relaxed and warm atmosphere. You’ll find plenty of woven rugs, cane armchairs, and leather couches here, where the colour palette echoes the Rust and Terracotta linen on her bed. “Less is more for me," Lauren says.

Pride of place, though, are Lauren’s artworks. The house is full of the artist’s own work, as well as paintings by her father, also a celebrated Indigenous artist. The pair recently worked together on a mural, a meaningful and memorable experience for the pair. “My paintings definitely relate to who I am—they are about my family and our Wiradjuri history as well as our connection to country so they all tell a bit of my story.”

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Hi Lauren! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?

I paint. I use acrylic and mixed mediums on canvas.

How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are? 

I have always been a creative person, I grew up watching my dad paint and exhibit his work. My grandfather made and sold Yidaki and boomerangs at the markets so I guess it has always been a part of me.

Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?

No, definitely not! I always loved painting but never thought anything would come of it. It was more a hobby and a cultural connection I shared with my dad and Fafa – that’s what we call Dad’s dad. I always wanted to do interior design actually. I never studied it, but I worked for ten years in visual merchandising for furniture and décor which I really enjoyed.

I started selling my work to friends and family, but I guess it got more serious when I was asked to put some work into a gallery in Sydney. I was so nervous about it and so shocked that they sold. From there I had two exhibitions in Newcastle which went well. We set up a website and the power of social media took over from there. I was lucky enough to be a feature artist with Kyal & Kara as well as have my work represented by Jumbled Online which really got my work out there.

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

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

I generally have an idea or story in mind when I start painting, but sometimes it evolves on the canvas. Being Aboriginal, my work mainly stems from either my family or country. I grew up on Gumbaynggirr country in a little coastal village so most of my earlier work is drawn from the ocean and the bush, but since visiting our grandparent's country I think my work has steered more to our Wiradjuri landscape. Experience and emotion are definitely part of my creative process too, knowing what my ancestors went through.

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

Probably networking, collaborating, and also connecting with other creatives to see how they are working. Don’t be scared to ask for help and direction. 

What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?

Probably putting myself out there has been the most challenging for me – I’m a pretty quiet person so exhibitions and public speaking are terrifying to me. I have gotten a lot better, but I guess believing you can do it is the biggest hurdle.

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

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

Connecting with family and community and being able to help others. I have met so many great people in my community as well as other artists and creatives. I recently did a mural with my dad too which was pretty special. 

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to start their own business?

Believe in yourself and be true to yourself. I was always really hard on myself growing up and I think a lot of us are. Just know you are enough, you have a place here.

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

We bought our home in May 2019 after looking for about 12 months.

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Shop Lauren's look with Rust and Terracotta in the Build-Your-Own Bundle.

What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior? 

I have always loved a relaxed simple space. Earthy tones, timbers, and natural elements. Less is more for me. Keep it simple. My previous job was to set up new season looks in store so I knew what I wanted and after ten years in the industry we got a 50% discount which definitely helped!

What are your favourite pieces in the home?

My dad's artwork. I have it in my studio so I can always see it when I’m painting. I find it very grounding.

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

I want to get a large wall hanging so I’m on the hunt for a local weaver. I am also loving Soot n Gully ceramics, I saw them in an exhibition at Koskela and they are so beautiful. I’d love a large artwork for the dining area one day too, but we are just focusing on the house itself for now.

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Lauren Freestone Art Home Tour

Shop Lauren's look with Rust and Terracotta in the Build-Your-Own Bundle.

Which is your favourite room in the house?

Probably the lounge room, it’s where we relax as a family at the end of the day.

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

I think simple, relaxed, and functional. Go with your personality and what you love rather than what’s trending.

Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about? 

I have a few things lined up, but I’m currently working on a football for the GO Foundation which is a nice change of pace and also a great cause as they auction them off with all proceeds going towards Indigenous scholarships. I have also been approached by Fenton & Fenton so I guess I’ll just see where it takes me. It’s been a bit crazy the last few months so I’m just trying to keep up.

For more from Lauren, follow her at @freestone_art and freestoneart.com.au

Loved this home tour? Step Inside the Rustic Country Cottage of Jemima Aldridge

Discover more of Australia's most beautiful homes in our series, The Makers.

Bed Threads Home Tours The Makers

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