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The lifestyle and wedding photographer engaged award-winning studio Arent&Pyke to transform her abode.

| By Rachael Thompson | Home tours

Inside Photographer Sam Riles’ Chic Beachside Apartment

The lifestyle and wedding photographer engaged award-winning studio Arent&Pyke to transform her abode.

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 tour lifestyle and wedding photographer Sam Riles' chic home on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

From a young age, Sam Riles knew she wanted to be a photographer. "As a teenager I would take my parents’ camera and run into the nearby paddocks of our home, taking photos of my friends dressed up," she shares with Bed Threads Journal. She majored in photography at school before going on to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photo media. Since then, she has gone on to produce lifestyle content for clients like Gritty Pretty, Assembly Label, and Ace Hotel, and focused on capturing the essence of people's weddings.

As someone who has a keen eye for detail and who appreciates aesthetics, it's unsurprising that Sam's home, which she shares with her partner Max, a builder, is beautiful. "We like to live minimally but with purpose so we wanted to make sure the function of the spaces, although small, was a top priority," she says. The renovation process involved gutting the home and creating a contemporary space that still paid homage to the original art deco heritage of the building. In doing so, classic details like ceiling roses and cornices were retained and give the home character.

She called upon award-winning design studio Arent&Pyke, founded by principals Juliette Arent and Sarah-Jane Pyke, to help layer her apartment with their signature warm, chic style.

The living area has been coloured with gentle pink and terracotta tones and styled with elegant curved furniture. This light-filled space is connected via fluted glass doors to a charming guest area with a built-in single bed, and timber cabinetry. The curve motif carries through to the kitchen where a rounded marble island takes centre stage. A brass rangehood adds a glamorous touch to the space.

The main bathroom features a beautiful vanity made from Calcutta viola marble, brass tapware, and a mix of burgundy, grey, and pink terrazzo tiles. In the primary bedroom, wicker wall sconces from Paris flank the bed that's clad in earthy Olive Stripe, Terracotta, and Oatmeal linen. Overall, the home is design-led and welcoming, "I really value the importance of a visually calm and inviting space–It’s something I’ve always taken pride in from a young age."

We took a tour of Sam's stylish home and spoke to her about life as a photographer and the details of her apartment.

Shop Sam Riles' Edit.

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

I’m a lifestyle and wedding photographer.

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

I generally consider myself a creative person and have always been interested in art. I love to express myself through my home, my clothes, my journals and photos. I really value the importance of a visually calm and inviting space – It’s something I’ve always taken pride in from a young age.

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

I have always loved photography. As a teenager I would take my parents’ camera and run into the nearby paddocks of our home, taking photos of my friends dressed up. In school, I majored in photography and after that, I went on to complete a degree in photo media. Although, the most valuable experiences that helped shape my career have been shooting alongside other photographers and learning skills you can only really gain on the job.

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

The process is a little different for everyone but I find the best work I produce is often when I’m most inspired by my surroundings and clear-headed. My health is a top priority and it has a ripple effect on everything else I do. I sauna every day and eat really clean now so I know I can put the best version of myself into my work.

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

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You can only grow from mistakes and no one has built a successful career without trial and error. Experiencing a few pear-shaped jobs as a business owner will only help build a backbone. There are many talented people in this world but the ones who make a career out of their talents work hard and experience many setbacks in their journey to success.

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

Having the support and appreciation for my work over the years has been really special. My favourite moments are when I receive emails from clients saying they have been following my journey for some time and have been waiting for the right opportunity to work together. I also love to receive feedback after I send through a wedding gallery, I get on such a high when they get to relive the day through the images.

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?

Take risks, say yes to opportunities if you are starting from scratch – do the right jobs for free or contra. Be persistent, don’t let the tough times set you back from pursuing your dream job.

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

We have lived in our place for a little over a year, including 6 months renovating.

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

We were looking for a property that we could create value out of. My partner, Max, is a Builder and when we stumbled across this apartment in the heart of Manly, we saw the potential it had. The complete north-facing aspect with the sun coming through all day, the top floor views, the location being minutes to the beach, and restaurants nearby.

Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?

We painted everything white when we first moved in, to make it a comfortable, temporary home and then set out to engage with designers to create something special in the space. We collaborated with Arent&Pyke, not only for their unique and elevated designs but also because Juliette Arent is my partner's cousin! So it was special to keep the project within the family.

In our renovation, we completely transformed the space and essentially gutted it. We then built a contemporary new space that paid respects to the original art deco design of the building, including ceiling roses, cornices and pendant lights. I think the renovation speaks for itself!

Which is your favorite room in the house?

The living area. I love the light we get into our space. I also love reading in our bedroom with the sheer curtains blowing in the afternoon breeze, it feels so tranquil!

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

Less is more. Keep only what you love and cherish. Not everything has to be on display, some things are better kept tucked away until needed.

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

We are actually in the process of selling our little Manly home and are excited about the next project. Hoping to stay in the local area and close to the sea.

For more from Sam follow her at @samrilesphotography

Photography by Sam Riles. Styling by Audrey Won.

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