Thursday, May 15, 2014

Space Healing Series: 11 Spruson Street - Part Three

 You have arrived at the end of my Space Healing series on Spruson Street so if you have not read PART ONE it's best to catch up before continuing.

The Wrap Up! 

(Cont)......Whilst we would love to embark on a larger renovation at some point we are now in no rush. I am so glad we took the approach we did, choosing a smaller remodel with emphasis on decoration taught me more about working with the essence of a home rather than simply creating a newer, bigger one.

I have always been of the opinion that coming into a home with preconceptions of certain styles and layouts is counterintuitive. Homes have their own story, their own rhyme and I believe it is our job to heal our home as best we can with whatever means we have.

You won't find your home in a magazine or a designer alone. To find your authentic and sensory home you need to dig deep to truly understand how your space can support you and combine this with what your space has to offer. This is the starting point and this is the healing approach I term 'Space Healing'. 

The hat I wear as an interior designer only gets worn well after the essence and purpose, (the 'why'), of the home is clear to me and my client. It is the interior designer that knows how to convert the 'why' into 'what' but it's the Space Healer that uncovers the 'why'.

Finally our new sisal stair runner with brass stair rods.


Now there's my authentic home! This is actually how we style our entry sideboard, featuring my Dad's vintage Meccano and family photos which I treasure.
This angle of our entry vestibule accurately portrays the proportions of the space where the others give a slightly false impression. Finding the right wall lights to fill the space either side was my priority. Without their elongated neck I would of had that niggling feeling something needed to sit next to the sideboard. You can't see it here, but every sideboard in our home was cut into the skirting boards so they sat flush to the wall. When you have limited space to work with this makes a big difference.
 Hugh playing with my faux tortoise shell. Sideboard styling with Tamara Maynes gold sprinkled horse shoe.
My Mum's friend gave us just enough ruby crystal knobs to fit every door.
I bought this vintage privacy lock from American eBay for the powder room.


The Reward

We recently moved to Los Angeles for my husband's work and we were thrilled to rent our home easily. It was so rewarding to show people through our home who so positively responded to its uniqueness.

Finally 11 Spruson Street was desirable in a way that drew people to it.
One of the last areas I felt I needed to restore before leaving for L.A., was the front façade of our home. It's small cottage appearance no longer appropriate.

We had a new painted timber gate & letterbox made along with a hand wrought arbor. My vision however won't be complete until the canopy of roses we recently planted welcomes you in.

I hope it is as beautiful as the vision I have in my imagination.
The font pathway of our home with the new timber gate, letterbox and arbor
and our magnificent crape myrtle tree.
Remember when I mentioned in part one how I wasn't 100% happy with the gloss finish of my wrought iron entry gate? Well I lived and leant and chose a hand peened finish, primed & painted in a low sheen enamel paint. It was perfection and gave me the exact aged finish I was after.

The beginnings of our new timber entry gate and letterbox.
Life is a little uncertain for us right now which is super exciting. We are absolutely loving living here in California and I have recently won a greencard in the lottery. Whilst the thought of not returning to Spruson Street pangs me, I do feel the changes I have completed will hold our home in good stead for any new potential owner.

To our knowledge our home does not have a name and interestingly we don't have plans to name it. For some reason it doesn't feel right for us to name it.....I think we will leave this to the next owners. 

But if we return sometime soon, the first priority will be painting the exterior. These pictures don't really show how desperately it needs a fresh coat and colour. I am thinking Dulux European White, apparently this is the exterior paint colour of Balmoral's Bathers Pavilion. 

We left our mark in other ways...
Bathers Pavilion at Balmoral.

How others felt in our home

I invited two people outside our family who have spent a lot of time in our home to write a few words. It was so interesting to read about their experience of the space. I was so impressed with the sentiments of our darling live-in Au-pair Catherine. I was going to write a whole section on how I used colour in our home but Caff has touched on it here like a pro!

A big thanks to Soph and Caff for these beautiful words and for being such a special part of our lives. After all, no amount of pretty fabric or furniture can substitute for the energy another human brings to your space.


 Written by our great friend Sophie Taggart

“To walk into Bron, Jas, Hugh, Ash and Darci’s home always felt good. I mention them all, because it was a home where everyone had a space and where everyone was fulfilled with their own Interests. It was a home for everyone who lived there.

Nothing was ever out of sort in the way my home seems to be with little children. Everything had a spot, everyone knew where their favourite things were and everyone was content. To walk into their space gave you a feeling of being uplifted and deeply peaceful.

The style, colours, unique pieces of furniture, lamps and collected ornaments seemed to wrap you up with inspiration. To be in ANY room, was inspiring, stimulating and calming all at once.

It was fun, playful and easy to be there, whether for five minutes or hours, unannounced or invited. The home was always stunning, always 'done', so really, it was like walking into an indulgent boutique hotel, you know, that feeling of awe and just being there is nurturing to your soul. Just to clarify, it was never 'done' so you felt you couldn't touch, there would be dolls and puzzles and little people to step over to get from the front door to the kitchen, but that just added to the realness of this loved and lived in (drop dead gorgeous) home. This was like stepping into a luxurious Boutique family hotel that just felt GOOD all over to be there.”
Edie, Max & Toby Taggart, (Soph's kids), with our kids. 

Written by our Liverpool Au-pair, Caff O’Connor

“Bron has been very successful in applying colour in her home to lend both a sense of energy and relaxation. Each space creates a desired mood.

The lounge space I find to be most fascinating as there is an array of colour and pattern which work well together to entice a range of emotion. The use of Yellow I found to be uplifting and energising, while Orange brings excitement and enthusiasm, as do her three adorable children. Feature walls add life and interest, while Blue conveys a sense of calmness and compliments refreshing green tones, allowing for maximum comfort in this space. With natural light almost always exposed and views of the wonderful garden and pool area, I felt this space to be extremely tranquil.

Each space has been carefully designed, from the eye catching entrance to the impressive 'Playroom' area, a place which encourages her children to express themselves and use their own imaginations. In particular, I love my space. Here I have a feature wall with a travel theme. This I find very personal and a place I like to spend time.

The home Bron has created is both warm and chic. It was an absolute joy to share this stunning home with the Ballantines. Happy home, happy family, gorgeous space.”
Caff, our much loved au-pair who stayed with our family for 10 months. This was her room.

How we felt in our home

Prior to leaving Spruson Street we were invited to dinner at our neighbours, Lyn and Peter Cosgrove. It was a farewell dinner for us all as Lyn and Peter were off to Kirribilli House to undertake the esteemed role of Governor-General of Australia. That night Lyn and Peter told us that they have lived in 26 homes (don't quote me) during their married life. Peter shared with us that one of the best things about living in their 26th home on Spruson Street was hearing the joyful play of our three children. We were always so conscious of the noise our children made and this was so incredibly heart-warming to hear and encapsulates our sentiments too.

With its enchanted garden and pool area, Spruson Street is a truly family & friend focused home and memories spent outdoors with the people we love are the predominate ones that remain. 

Our kids playroom (sadly the only photo I could find of this room) 




Flower shop for Ashley's birthday party.

 Beautiful friend Letitica helping with the flower arranging.

Hugh's 7th birthday pool party. Celebrating Darci's christening.

 Getting ready to let of some steam for our USA farewell party! 

Live music, paella & friends.
 I think I was announcing our move to the US here, a few under my belt maybe!
Beautiful friends, Sahara and Mina.


How I felt in our home

And then there are a few memories that linger just for me....
My dancing lace curtains 
Our lace curtains gave me endless joy and framed beautiful views from every window.

Experience it with me here! It's better than TV don't you think!?!

My restful place
One of my favourite things was seeing the dappled light from the Chinese Elm on my sheets.
One day I hope to put a dormer window in my bedroom to capture the North Sydney skyline. 

My creative space

And then there was my creative place, my soft furnishings shed just for me.

I think I will look back on the special time we spent in this home as the colourful years. I recently asked a few of my older friends, including my Mum, what the best years of their life was. All three of them said the homemaking years I am living right now....I can appreciate why.

Kids all half each others age here, 6, 3, 18mths, Nov 2012
I am turning 40 soonish and it is such an interesting time in my life. Our youngest Darci, just turned 3 and it marks a milestone for us as a family and me personally as a mother. Professionally as a designer I also feel a big change coming.
Over the years I have acknowledged feeling somewhat disempowered to do my job as an interior designer effectively. In my ideal world I would live in my clients home for a few days so I could help them determine their 'why' and then help them select the most suitable team to turn that 'why' into 'what'. I guess I would be the intuitive medium between helping them connect with their home....


I just wanted to take a moment to review some of the techniques I use to create supportive spaces that feel as good as they look in the hope that you can employee them too.

'Why' over 'what'

In general I am never consumed with 'what' I use in a space, it is always 'why' I am using it. If I was concerned with the 'what' I would have bought a very different artwork for our kitchen / dining area. 'Why' makes it feel great, where as 'what' may make it look great, (at least from a certain angle!). There is a big difference!
As a consumer we need to be so mindful of trends and interior styled photography where we never see the why, or more truthfully, where there is no why. This can be a trap that often leads to disconnected spaces where we give into desire for things that hold no association to us nor our space.
I recently watched the documentary 'I Am' by Tom Shadyac. I highly recommend it. Tom, a famous Hollywood director, was on a spiritual quest. During the documentary he sells all of his various mansions for a very humble home. There was one line in the film that I can't shake, he comments that some people, highly developed spiritual thinkers in particular, would consider having more than you need a mental illness. WOW, it got me thinking, do I need that sculpture, that vase, all those cushions....
I Am
....but just because they are ornamental doesn't mean they are not needed. Tom found his authentic home in a less is more way, but we are all on our own unique journey and our space needs to be true to the course we are destined to take whilst at all times being courageous to evolve.
As a designer, these ornamental items are my tools. Tools to create spaces to impart emotion. They genuinely contributed to my wellbeing, connecting me to my balanced and considered space which provided immense joy, proudly reminding me why I love creating magic in my homes.

Where to start

Shy away from preconceived ideas and notions of what you like. Before you start with an 'inspiration board' determine how you want your home to feel. Ask the question that I ask all my new clients, 'what do you want people to feel when they walk though your door', sometimes it is easier to pinpoint what is deepest and most true when we look through the eyes of someone else. Answer this in conjunction with identifying your homes infinite potential and go from there.
If none of this 'space healing' comes naturally to you maybe you could create a 'mood board' instead of an 'inspiration board' with images that depict the feelings you want to create. My advice here is to limit yourself to one interior picture. One is enough and two is too many, it will cloud the vision and your understanding of the 'why'. Include images of nature, colour perhaps or even quotes with expressions of the legacy you wish to create for your life.
Observe your space and become very familiar with the dull spots that need attention. Experiment with solutions; does it need light; will a mirror help; how will the shape and size of this mirror impact the room; what style of mirror will contribute to the intended feeling, and so on. Then when you have some clear direction start sourcing the 'what'. Here an 'inspiration board' may be of use but only if based on interiors and products that contribute to healing the space and not ones you simply like.
I guarantee it will be a very different board if done in reverse!

Determining priorities

Most of us don't live in skilfully created architectural homes where the interior architecture is so powerful it becomes ornamentation. If you are a Pinterest user you may agree that so many of the interior images we are drawn too are ones with stunning high or raked ceilings, arched or bay windows, grand open spaces. Rarely can we compete with that! When I 'like' something on my Pinterest page I try to disassociate the architecture from the decorating so to be very clear on what I am actually inspired by.
Our girls room is the nicest proportioned room in our house by far. It is large, it has 3 dormer windows, an amazing high raked ceiling and stunning views of the North Sydney skyline and palm trees. It's light filled architectural bones make it feel amazing regardless of the furniture I use. My space healing techniques are less concerned with these spaces, they have already been healed by my architect collaborator and are ready for a talented decorator's touch. And here lies within another point; I am forever warning my clients of the trap of over spending during the renovation stage
and not leaving money in the kitty for decorating. Whilst good architectural spaces are innately healed it’s not enough; you have to find the middle ground between architecture and is the icing on the cake that we remember and the reason why Jas and I decided to wait for our family room bay window!

   Our girl's bedroom with yellow pinwheel Armadillo rug.
Not much space healing needed with such beautiful interior architecture.

Balancing a space

 Personally I avoid associating myself to any one style. It depreciates what I believe in. Whilst my portfolio offers a variety of styles there are some common threads in my work which I guess may lend to a signature of sorts.

One common thread is balancing the space; this is where I pay particular attention to ensuring the material placement, auditory, energetic and light vibration of any one part of the room is counteracted (balanced) by the other. I did this in our galley kitchen at Spruson Street by adding the curtain and floor runner and numerous other places within our home. This is almost impossible to show in a picture as its success is determined by the peripheral experience of the space, when balanced, subconsciously makes the space feel comfortable and you in control.

I really struggle styling my interiors for detailed pictures and very much appreciate the work of good magazine stylists when I try. My natural inclination is to shoot wide to capture it all. My eye is so keenly trained to consider the peripheral vignettes rather than the direct ones, so I can balance my spaces and inject my healing touch.

My paragraph about defining the purpose of the space which I spoke about in part one is also key to balancing a space and directly impacts the energetic vibration. Working with the light vibrations of a room is another one. Many would disagree with what I am about to say here, but if your room is dim work with that. By all means paint it white but don't be deluded by the hope it will brighten your won't!

And, well, as for the auditory vibrations, that's pretty self explanatory. I'll never forget that first week in our home where I had no rugs, no curtains, just a whole lot of terracotta tile and black granite where the sound bounced around like a ping-pong ball. It was unbearable to live in that space.

Shape, Colour, Texture

Purity of form, blended texture and contrasting colours are other techniques I always apply to my work to make them a sensory experience. I try to keep my spaces fresh and relatively pure so they are easily understood. I achieve this in the shapes I use and the way I employ white or black to sharpen (freshen) my spaces.

Complimentary textures are also a big one for me and equally as  impacting than colour. Whilst I could live without colour I could never live without texture. Once more, this is nearly impossible to demonstrate in a picture but I believe I best achieved this in Spruson Street with the use of our cotton lace curtains. If my curtains were a polyester voile fabric for example the space would not feel (or look) as good. The light in the room, the way the breeze moves through the fabric, the way the curtains hang would all be significantly compromised; in a photograph however possibly undetectable.

Achieving the desired texture on my kitchen cupboards was another invested area I took great pride in getting right. I tried numerous techniques before I decided on the very subtle hand painted silver crossed hatch that illuminates my space in a rather magical way.
I always try to inject organic shapes into my spaces. Cowhides are a favourite as are circular shapes.

'Healed' over 'Designed'

Whilst the recipe list for creating my spaces may be complicated, I strive for the end result to look in-keeping, effortless and authentic. I waned my space to be powerful, inspirational and impressive but I didn't want it to look overly designed or have any pretence.

In Spruson Street, I think it's our modest family room that feels the best and I am grateful to say that the before and after photos do come close to capturing the way the room felt. I would have never predicted the room I associated as being the worst in the house, would be the room I would end up being the happiest in. 


People say all the time how they ‘found the perfect house’….well it’s probably more true that it was the best house they could find, afford or in other cases, design. The key is to make the most of what we have and feather our nest with what is available; whether that be the calling of our own homes true potential, inspiration that unexpectedly falls our way, or more critically, a growing understanding for how a space can support us through life.
When it comes to your home, my parting advice would be that you never become complacent with your space; find time to be observant, experiment with it and enjoy the feeling of even the smallest improvement. Consider it like the feeling of entering your freshly cleaned space, a considered designed space is equally as uplifting and rewarding.
 Thank you so much for allowing me to take you through my Space Healing process. I started this blog in January 2012 for exactly this purpose. As we enter a new age where science is increasingly crediting the value of our intuition and consciousness, I feel the time is perfect to share my intimate design process.

I am not much of a reader but I am sure there are many authors out there with a similar conversation. If you know of any please share. It is an important conversation and one I am very passionate about. No doubt the whole 'healing' association would turn some people off my design approach, but I can't discredit the role I have come to know our spaces play in our holistic well-being.

I deeply appreciate the opportunity our Sydney home has opened, allowing me to showcase the very essence of what I believe my gift actually is, and it's healing nature. I truly believe the spaces we occupy or hold is intrinsic to the reality we live. It has been a joy to heal the integrity of Spruson Street and witness how this home has motivate my, and my family's life forward in a remarkable way.

I wonder what our new Santa Monica home will bring...



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