Tour the Mediterranean-Style Farmhouse of Peppa Hart Founder Sophie Bell
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 renovated home of digital strategist Sophie Bell.
Sophie Bell is the founder of Peppa Hart, a creative agency that builds websites, branding and digital strategy for businesses and brands. She’s also a celebrated stylist who lends her polished eye to fashion shoots, events, and interior design projects—including, of course, her Mediterranean-style farmhouse in Northern NSW.
Set amidst sprawling farmland, Sophie and her husband, Michael, spent a year building their dream home after purchasing the idyllic block of land literally an hour after viewing it. Sometimes you just know, you know?
White rendered walls give the home a sleek and contemporary feel, whilst a neutral colour palette with pops of rose and terracotta set the tone for this light-filled casa. Arches replace doorways, fashion books pile on tables, and hand-crafted ceramics by Sophie’s mum feature in alcoves and nooks throughout the spacious home. In the bedroom, rattan furniture and rust-hued linens add texture and depth to the space, before a wall of sliding doors open onto a spectacular tiled balcony. No wonder Sophie calls it her very own ‘slice of paradise!’
Hi Sophie! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I have a creative design agency called Peppa Hart and we work on branding, websites, production—any projects that really jump out at us. We love creating in any form, really! One week we are working on a photo shoot and the next we are designing an e-course or setting up an event. There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure!
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I am happiest when creating, I just love it. It comes out in all forms, too, not only with work but even just hosting a dinner party or styling our Christmas tree—I just love making anything, to be honest!
Tell us about your career journey to date. What inspired you to start your creative agency?
I studied Communications at Uni and was really lucky to land a job in media for an AFL team straight after. Digital media had just started becoming “a thing” so I got to work on so many different projects—from producing live TV shows to media with high profile athletes to building new websites. We really tackled so much and it set me up for where I am now. It was a very masculine environment, though, so I needed a creative outlet on the side. I started putting on dinner parties and posting my home and styling on Instagram and slowly started getting work from it, even though that was never my intention in the beginning!
When did you decide to make the jump?
When my ‘side hustle’ really started to gain momentum, my husband and I decided I should quit my corporate gig and dedicate myself full time to it. I was so nervous about leaving behind the security of a big business, but it was the best decision I ever made. My business started flourishing and I had some great clients on retainer. I was styling weddings, events, had an online print store and also an online clothing store. Then once I fell pregnant with my son Hendrix I could feel I had to make a shift again, so I evaluated what would be best for my family and reigned in some of the projects I was doing and focused my energy on the Digital Design side of things, which is where I still am today!
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
It really varies depending on the project, but a lot of the time it starts with a vision board. An overall aesthetic or feel for what we want to create. It’s like your anchor back to the core vision if you start to feel you are not on track with the creative process.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
To trust and believe in yourself and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. If you believe strongly enough in your vision other people will love that passion. I am also a big believer in supporting business all around you—there is enough for everyone to succeed.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
Trying to not work yourself to the bone. When it’s your own business you are working 24/7 to make it all happen but you have to try and sit back and enjoy the ride sometimes. I am trying to get better at the work/life juggle, which I think everyone struggles with—especially once you throw some kids in the mix.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
Oh wow, that’s a hard one. I have a few very fond memories! Being asked to do the fit-out in the Pacific Fair redevelopment food court with my mum is one of them. Our art is all over the tables and fabrics, I shop there regularly and still love seeing it every time I go. Another proud moment was finishing building our dream home, something my husband and I have worked so hard for! It was a huge process and we filmed the entire thing with my clients, Three Birds Renovations. I work as their digital manager, so it made sense that we bring my dream home to live together. It was a wild ride as my daughter arrived in the middle of it all and I was filming a week after giving birth!
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/someone looking to start their own business/go out on their own?
I would say trust in yourself and be confident. Your mind is a powerful thing, you can literally do anything if you put your mind to it. And my advice to anyone—even if you are not starting a business—is that life is incredibly short, so make sure you are doing what you love because you don’t want to waste a minute!
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
We moved in around June this year, so we are coming up to 7 months of living in heaven!
How did you know that Northern NSW was the perfect place for you and your family?
We used to spend most weekends in Northern NSW, packing the car and heading to Cabarita, Brunswick or Byron, we just loved it so much. The plan was to build a house in maybe 5 or so years, but when my husband found this block online and took me to it, we had to have it. We literally put an offer on it within an hour of seeing it. We are still only 30 minutes from the airport if I need to fly to Sydney for work and 10 minutes from the beach but completely surrounded by rainforest and farming.
Tell us about your incredible renovation collaboration with Three Birds Renovations?
It was so special that I got to collab with the girls and become the “Fourth Bird”. I have worked with the girls as their Digital Manager since they started, so it’s been such a pleasure watching their business grow to where it is today. My husband and I started designing out what our dream home would look like and it made sense to get their opinion. Next thing we knew, we’d collaborated on the entire process and got to document the build with their online series. It is so special to me that we have the whole process captured to show our kids when they are older.
What was the biggest challenge you faced throughout the renovation process?
Weather! You can plan for everything, but you cannot control the weather and we had so much rain at the end of the project that it caused havoc! But we got there in the end with a few new grey hairs.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
The interiors came together with Three Birds—we wanted a really neutral pallet, textures, timbers, and lots of handmade ceramics that my gorgeous mother created for the house. We call this our grown-up house, we have renovated in the past and our interiors were more trend-based. This house we wanted it to be pared back so that in two years’ time we still love it all.
What are your favourite pieces in your home?
Sooo tricky to answer! Some favs are our mega couch which is a few couches all joined together, we call it the party couch! All the handmade ceramics my mum Min Ceramics made; they bring so much personality to the house. And all of the art on our walls, we have an art gallery foyer at the front door and a lot of the art is travel photos from our adventures around the world. I also adore all the hand made things in the house like our bed, the guest room bedhead, my mum’s hand-painted cross details in my master…it’s all so unique and special to us.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I am on the hunt for some beautiful outdoor furniture for our pool area—I think a daybed or two next to the pool would be amazing. We spend every day near the pool so it's next on the list to give some love.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Another tricky one to answer, but it’s very hard to go past my master bedroom. It’s all our favourite hotel rooms combined into one dream bedroom, and we wake up and pinch ourselves every day when we see the trees surrounding us through the windows. My husband made our bed with our builder, and it’s perfect for the scale of the room. And of course, our Bed Threads linen looks so perfect, the warm tones against the white render—what a dream!
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
My tip is to invest in the core pieces that you will have for a long time—like your bed or a couch—and keep it in a neutral paired back vibe because you can then add colour and trends with your linen, rugs, art etc. My other main tip for a bedroom is NO CLUTTER. Make it a calm and peaceful place to relax and wind down.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I do, but right now everything is under wraps so I can’t say just yet!
Images courtesy of Sophie Bell and Three Birds Renovations.
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