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Interiorssneak peeks

A Stylist’s Chance Encounter Leads to A Seaside Sanctuary in Australia

by Sofia Tuovinen

spends most of her days styling, shooting and decorating homes, and writing for Australian interior publications. She has even co-hosted an interior TV show, runs regular styling workshops and works as rainmaker for , a creative agency that markets and sells Australian brands to a global audience. Despite her vast career in interiors, Julia calls herself  “an accidental stylist.” It may be hard to believe, but Julia spent 17 years working in the pharmaceutical industry before she even knew a job like styling existed. A chance encounter with a photographer from Vogue, just hours before giving birth, ended up changing her career path completely. “He was buying a couch I was selling on eBay and when he came to collect it from my house, he asked me whom I styled for,” Julia remembers. “I told him I didn’t know such jobs existed and that I sold drugs — legal ones of course,” she explains jokingly. “[He] told me my home was special and had a ‘great feel.’ And that my style was wasted if I stayed in pharmaceuticals.”

After the conversation with the photographer, something changed. When it was time to return to work after her maternity leave, Julia simply knew that life was taking her in another direction. She called the photographer who had complimented her style, and since then life has been a whirlwind of one styling job after the next. “The happiest accident of my entire life,” Julia described the unexpected turn of events.

How Julia, her husband Sam and sons Max and Jess ended up finding their dream home in the small coastal town of Barwon Heads, Australia is also a story related to Julia’s career as a stylist. It all began five years ago when Julia was sent to shoot the house in question for the cover of a leading interior magazine. While there, she completely fell in love and dreamed of one day living in a house just like it. Fast-forward a year, Julia received a phone call from her assistant, telling her that the house was for sale, and in fact, had been for almost the entire year! “I nearly fell over, as I had no idea,” Julia recalls. “I picked up the phone, and we bought [the house] and moved ASAP. It was all kind of meant to be — the best kind of accidental house purchase ever.”

Now, four years later, the family can’t imagine moving back to the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. They’ve grown accustomed to their quiet life by the ocean. Their home, a modern mix of concrete and natural materials, located on a golf course just a sand dune away from the beach, is everything they could wish for. “We feel like we are sitting on a deep secret that other people haven’t discovered,” Julia explains. Scroll down to see how Julia and her family have created a meaningful home, full of color and art, styled exactly to their own taste! —

Photography by  /

Image above: High cathedral ceilings lined with American oak are a standout feature of the family’s lounge, where Julia has mixed materials and a choice of textiles for warmth. “A home needs to be an authentic reflection of those that live in it, not a display home styled to someone else’s taste,” she says. Throughout her career as a stylist, Julia has loved to use color to evoke emotion and create moods in any given space. “I always let the art inform the palette and take color cues from it so that the room feels tied together,” she adds. 

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“I waited until my late 40s to get my dream couch,” Julia describes her choice for the living room. “I never wanted to be one of those moms holding my breath with kids spilling things, so now that my kids are old enough I splurged!” The artwork above the fireplace is by Katie Wyatt, a piece by Candice Perese sits on the ledge.

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An original painting by Beth Kennedy adds a floral note to the family’s lounge. The sculpture on the windowsill is by Karen Morton. “I have collected art from the time I was a teenager and now that I represent so many artists, my home has become a shrine to their work. Nearly all of what you see in my home is available on ,” Julia shares.

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The view at the back of the family’s home is out to uninterrupted pines and a golf course in the distance. Although living by a golf course is something the family never considered, it has proven to offer utter privacy and private access to the beach with a golf buggy. “We often jokingly refer to where we live as fantasy island, as everyone gets around via a golf buggy!” Julia shares.

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The dining room is the most colorful and therefore one of Julia’s favorite spaces. Pieces by Elle Campbell and Madeleine Stamer add punch to the dark teal walls. 

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Julia and the family’s labradoodle, Mr. Wolf, in the kitchen. The kitchen island ties in with other constructional concrete elements in the family’s modern home.

For me, life needs to be lived in color. It needs to be kept simple. It does not get better — or become more stylish — with more money.

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We are a music-loving family, so [we] crank the tunes, and often hold sing-offs and dance-offs here whilst preparing family meals. It’s always fun, and a colorful stage for our silly antics,” Julia describes moments together in the kitchen. The artwork is by Kate Mayes.

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The minimal kitchen is adorned with a bold backsplash of aged Spanish tiles by Elegance Tiles.

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The family’s home was built nine years ago in close proximity to the ocean. “It is like a modern concrete bunker with a mix of lots of natural materials and cathedral American oak lined ceilings. Although it’s new, it still has a lot of character, mix of materials and texture, and that is what makes it feel less shiny and new,” Julia says. In the main bedroom, bright textiles add a layer of warmth to the concrete. A circular sconce by Christopher Boots brings a dreamy, soft glow to the space. 

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The playful bedside table vignette can be recreated with items all sold on Julia’s site, .

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The concrete sink adds to the rough architecture in the bathroom, contrasted by bright towels and accessories.

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A soak in this tub is the reward after a long day at work,” Julia notes. Cheerful accessories against the modern concrete construction make up a truly unique spatial experience not only in the bathroom, but throughout the entire house. 

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To celebrate her grandmother, Julia had an image of hydrangeas, her grandmother’s favorite flowers, blown up and turned into wallpaper for the guest room. The colorful linens and headboard can be found on Julia’s site, .

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Original work by Belynda Henry takes pride of place on the guest room credenza. The ceramics are by Karen Morton.

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This is the first thing you see when you walk through the front door, a cozy colorful nook reminding you that you are home,” Julia shares. 

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The morning rays stream in through the windows of the hallway. This sun-drenched spot doubles as Mr. Wolf’s luxurious daybed. Most of the textiles are by Sage and Clare.

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Guests are greeted by colorful art the moment they walk through the door. The large piece in the foreground by Kimmy Hogan is one of Julia’s favorites and sets the tone for the interior color palette. An original piece by Anne Sophie Tschiegg hangs in the background. All artwork is available from . 

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“The kids do their shoe laces up here each morning, under the vibrant jungle vibes of artist Spencer Shakespeare,” Julia describes the entry bench. 

It’s so private, so colorful, and people and things that matter to me surround me. It is where I am at my happiest.

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Jess, the family’s youngest, loves color and his bed is a reflection of that. He is also the actor of the family and loves Harry Potter, which is why his walls were lined with with a forest, ideal for acting out scene after scene.

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Jess’ shelves house his vast collection of items. Felt storage containers by Oon via Julia’s site are crucial to keeping things in order. 

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Jess often curls up in this cozy corner with a good book. Artwork by Bibianaandco adds colorful fun to the wall above. 

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Julia and Sam’s 16-year-old son Max loves to surf, and his room represents that to a tee. The wallpaper was a find from Rebel Walls.

SOURCE LIST

All artwork and most accessories and textiles mentioned below are from Julia’s site . Worldwide shipping is offered for all items.

Paint – all white is “Antique White” by Dulux

Entryway
Art pictured above nook – Miranda Sofroniou, Jen Sievers, Anna Cole
Art opposite nook – Adele Naidoo, Georgie Wilson

Living Room
Sofa – Jardan vintage denim
Art – Madeleine Stamer, Elle Campbell, Katie Wyatt

Dining Area
Pendants – handmade in Africa out of recycled bottles
Paint on walls – “Mermaids tale” by Dulux

Kitchen

Artwork – Kate Mayes
Tiles – Elegance Tiles

Main Bedroom
Circular light – Christopher Boots
Side table – Beeline

Max’s Room
Linen – Sage and Clare
Photographic print – Armelle Habib, called ‘Bondi’

Jess’ Room
Original canvas – Bibianaandco
Felt containers – Oon

Guest Room
Artwork – Anne Sophie Tschiegg
Ceramics – Karen Morton

 

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Comments

  • I’ve enjoyed revisiting some old favorites from the archives, but the newest spaces are seriously the best of DS. Thank you for featuring such vibrant, creative voices. You will be so missed!

  • Gosh! Your bedding is so gorgeous! I’m a white sheet and duvet kind of person (maybe REALLY light gray for a “pop of color”!) so I’m surprised how much this is swaying me!

  • She did an amazing job with this interior! It’s definitely not my style, but it’s so artistic, and fascinating! And, I absolutely love the sunken bathtub. My ex in Venice Beach had the same exact bathtub, and I miss it way more than him. Lol.

  • My own style is leaning towards Scandi, with white walls and little colour but I am in love with Julia’s house. It’s spectacular and I will be revisiting this tour many times.
    Another “you will very missed, DS” from me, too.

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