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Heatherly Design Blog

7 secrets from styling the first Heatherly home

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Most of you will probably know I started Heatherly Design while I was an interior decorator. I had a passion for decorative fabrics but, at the time, I couldn’t find upholstered bedhead options that indulged these features so I decided to take matters into my own hands and create them myself.

What you might not know is that I named the business after our family property, Heatherly, which is located north of the Yarra Valley among rolling hills and rich green valleys.

It is as blissful as it sounds. I wanted to bring these two worlds together, which is how Heatherly Design was born.


The beauty of Heatherly

The farmhouse at Heatherly has been in my husband’s family for 40 years, so when it came to moving in 17 years ago, there were already rich layers of history throughout the home.  Whether it was the the old golf clubs on the verandah or the library of books which had been collected over the years, I came to a home that had so many “props to merchandise with” I really didn’t know where to start!


Tip 1: When styling an established space, don’t think you have to redecorate all at once to make your mark.   Get a feel for what is already there, what works, what doesn’t work and edit accordingly.  Use gradual changes by working with existing décor, furnishings and objects to make what’s already there your own.


Work with what’s already there ….. Here I reupholstered an old op shop chair in camel suede and used a Warner Tulip Chintz remnant I had for a cushion.  Adding a chunky wood basket and bold ceramic dish with statement lampbase and shade gave what was a traditional corner of the home more interest with different textures.  All other pieces had been in place or over 20 years, the artwork was rehung to help my cause though!

When I moved to Heatherly, I came from Melbourne with a glory box of cushions and fabrics from my life in interiors.

Tip 2: Style in context. What you like is not necessarily what will suit the place you’re decorating. Work to complement the place, don’t try to force your style onto it.


Country style for a country homestead

Luckily I was able to use my Colefax and Fowler Fuchsia chintz in the dining room.  Contrasted with bold red velvet for a bit of punch and warmth, the dining room has evolved over time to what it is today.  I feel I am forever re-merchandising bits and pieces in each room!  A recent addition to the dining room was filling the fireplace which was never used with beautiful pieces of timber.  Instead of being a dark hole, all of sudden it became a talking point…… a very economical way indeed of creating a WOW factor!

Tip 3: What’s perfect for a time and a place will rarely stay that way. Don’t be afraid to evolve a design as time goes on.

Hughs room      Hugh


Decor can evolve as things change (and kids grow up!).  Hugh’s bedroom from a two year old through to now at the age of 11.

More recently, my style has pared back to a more organic approach. At the moment I love  Belgian linens, glazed pottery and textural Turkish rugs so I’m using these elements more and more.

Tip 4: You’re allowed to change your tastes! What you love when you’re 20 years old may not be what you love 10, 20 or 30 years later. Your tastes change as you become exposed to different styles. Travel and seeing other people’s homes can be a big part of that.


Still a traditional floral linen on the blinds, but now the room is held together with a Turkish rug, a belgian linen ottoman and bold cushions.

Because Heatherly is more than the homestead—it includes the garden and surrounding area as well—one thing that I’ve tried to do is bring some of the outside in and the inside out.

Tip 5: Use colours and motifs to connect spaces. This will make the design more harmonious and give your home a sense of continuity.

Eliza bed


Roses inside and out

Outdoors, the garden has become an extension of decorating for me. I’ve made a formal entrance with structural plantings, and my mother-in-law’s heritage rose garden is interspersed with perennial plants.

Some of our fallen Red Gum trees have found new life as a pavilion, which we’ve layered with ornamental grapevine. They also make handsome timber post and rail fences.

Tip 6: Found objects can be a source of inspiration. You can work with them as they are, or create something new from them.

Grape vine

Fallen Red Gums became a pretty pavilion

Not all of the decorative features are organic, though. You’ve probably already guessed how much I love Darren Gilbert’s work, so you’ll find several of his sculptures in the garden too. Funnily enough, he also uses found objects in his artworks.


I’ve already mentioned how much I love colour—my Porter’s Paints chart book is now a permanent resident in my handbag—but I had to laugh when my husband saw a photo of our sitting room in Porters’s Apple green and asked: “Is that room really green? I have never noticed before.” Funny that what is important to some, is not obvious to others!

It just reminded me that Heatherly is a home first and a decorating project second, so my last tip is: DON’T GET TOO HUNG UP ON WHETHER IT’S PERFECT, JUST ENJOY THE SPACE FOR WHAT IT IS.