How to Style Your Home Like an Aussie
Surrounded by stunning landscapes, an impressive coastline, and abundant sunshine, Australia has topped the world’s happiest country list for three years in a row, and it’s no wonder! If you had to describe an Aussie in three words or fewer, laid-back, open, and fun would probably spring to mind, and it’s this very trio of traits that defines their homes, too. Australian interiors have coined the “laid-back look,” a timeless, personal, and distinctive style that’s very relaxed and simple yet incredibly sophisticated, with an international flavour. Since there’s so much space to be had, the open-plan look is incredibly popular, and Aussies love to bring the outside in. When it works, the Australian style appears effortless, but how to achieve that sophisticated simplicity isn’t always so evident. We asked some of Australia’s top interior experts how to mimic this native look, wherever you are.
For 13 years, Greg Natale has helped to shape the Australian interior aesthetic with his tailored, polished spaces. He is a master at curating layered interiors and styling homes that cater to the environment, culture, light, and temperature, which he believes are the biggest influences on our homes. “As in the U.S., Australia is geographically an enormous place,” says Natale. “The way we live our lives differs greatly from one end of the country to the other. … This impacts how we like to feather our nests.” On the whole, he says Australians love layered interiors but don’t care for clutter or spaces featuring too much upholstery and heavy drapery. He adds, “We embrace texture, pattern, and colour gladly, but we don’t overdo it. We tend to reject too much decadence—we like characterful interiors with some bold gestures, but it must be considered and clean. There is a sweet spot, and I think it is that elusive, hard-to-define style that makes our homes unique. I liken it to tailoring.”
Australia is a relatively young nation; it’s fast-growing and enriched by multiculturalism, and Natale says we love to explore these cultures in our homes, too. “Our penchant for an indoor/outdoor lifestyle borrows much from Southeast Asia due to our geographic location, but at the same time, our architecture sees many European influences,” he says. “Our population is from all over the world; this also influences what cultural influences we adopt and reinterpret. My own parents are Italian immigrants to Australia, and this inspires me often.” Greg reveals more of his unique Australian style in his new book "The Tailored Interior" launching in the U.S. this September.
Darren Palmer has quickly become one of Australia’s most popular interior designers thanks to his guest judge gig on Australia's renovation reality series The Block; a successful book, Easy Luxury; and his design of the home of Miss Universe Australia Jennifer Hawkins. When it comes to Australian homes, Palmer believes it’s all about the outdoors. “Australians take every opportunity we can to nudge our living spaces closer to the vista so we have a greater connection to light, nature, and fresh air,” says Palmer. “This sometimes means reconfiguring layouts so that the living space is on the perimeter of the property, adding in larger openings for doors or windows, and installing skylights to let the blue sky float above and let the light stream in.” Due to the harsh UV exposure, Darren recommends using quality indoor/outdoor fabrics like cottons, wools, linens, or blends, which have a natural and authentic feeling. This creates what he describes as “a raw comfort.”
With great weather most of the year, Australians live a predominantly outdoor lifestyle, so the interior needs to accommodate this. “We need hard-wearing or forgiving floor choices so the dirt from the bike tire or the sand from your trip to the beach won’t send you into a meltdown,” says Darren. “Timber flooring is super common in Australian interiors because of its natural aesthetic appeal, visual softness, and durability. We’ll soften the large expanses of wood with over-scaled rugs to add softness, colour, pattern, or necessary texture. This facilitates that dance between aesthetics and durability perfectly.”
As soon as you step onto the tarmac down under, the spectacular Australian light hits you. There really is nothing quite like it, which is why Australians want so much of it to infiltrate their homes. Popular interior stylist Mr. Jason Grant is a master at letting the light in. “Light really sets the tone when decorating,” says Grant. “Australian style to me is light and bright, and not fussy.” For a uniquely Australian feel, he also recommends timber furniture and architecture. “Timber provides an earthy feeling and is a great grounding material,” Grant adds. “A solid timber hero piece, like a dining table, gives a relaxed and casual style feel to a room.”
Aussies are extremely proud of their coastal lifestyle, with Sydney’s Bondi being one of the most iconic, and probably most photographed, beaches in Australia. As a local, Grant is a big fan of importing that salty-fresh look onto his client’s walls. “Adding imagery of the beach and the ocean is very Australian,” he says. He loves famous Bondi photographer Aquabumps. The beach aesthetic is also important, and this can be achieved using a neutral, sandy palette and natural materials where possible.
Interior designer and television personality Juliet Love has a knack for creating “beautiful environments” with her cool yet understated homes. For inspiration, she turns to nature, especially for the colour scheme. “Australia is abundant with beautiful scenery,” says Love. “The beach and the outback in particular can provide lots of ideas for colour combinations.” She loves deep blue, white, and grey or the earthy tones of the country, including tan, charcoal, and rusty orange. This love for the outdoors has made the popular inside/outside look an interior staple in Australia. To bring the outside in, Julia recommends creating a seamless space with large glass doors.
Australians love their homes to look contemporary and chic but never too trendy. Personal items and trinkets are popular “to inject your own personality into your home and create a timeless, classic space that you will still love in 10 years time,” Love says. She recommends updating this annually or seasonally with some new decorative accessories to keep things fresh and interesting. Discover practical tips and advice on how to create your own "beautiful environment" at home with Juliet's latest book, Love Style.
James Perse James Perse Sonoma Chair (price upon request)
So if you love a home with loads of light, natural materials, and a neutral colour palette, then give the Australian interior style a try. You might just find your disposition is as sunny as their coastline.
What do you think of the laid-back Aussie look? Share it in the comments.