Q&A WITH STYLIST CLAIRE DELMAR

We stumbled across Claire Delmar’s name while admiring her work in the glossy pages of an interior magazine. Her compositions stood out as simultaneously beautiful in their simplicity and telling in their story-like quality.

We were immediately attracted to Claire’s moody, earthy and elegant style, and later to her impeccable attention to detail and tireless drive for perfection.

We revealed our Raglan Street project last month and this month it has been a pleasure to sit down with Claire, who brought her aptitude for colours and textures and eye for beautiful artwork and ceramics to Raglan’s shoot day. Here she talks inspiration, trends and life lessons.

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WHICH THREE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?

Fast, Focused and Food obsessed.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE GROWING UP?

I knew I wanted to do something creative from a very early age. My passions were art and textiles and after completing a Bachelor of Media I coincidently ended up in publishing as a Fashion Stylist. My mother is very creative so I grew up surrounded by her creativity in the kitchen and her eye for detail which was expressed through our home renovations.

 WHAT DID YOU DO TO EARN YOUR FIRST PAY PACKET?

I worked at a pasta shop but fainted a few weeks into my first shifts so it wasn’t a great start!

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WHAT'S THE BEST LIFE LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNT ALONG THE WAY?

That if you are having a hard time remember tomorrow is always a new day. Don’t let something get you down or stress you out too much because after a decent sleep it’s a fresh start and new perspective, and almost always, it isn’t as bad as you may have thought.

WHAT'S YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

When I hear my children making each other laugh. Happiness is my biggest goal in life and I feel both my kids have a love for life, and each other, which makes me so proud.

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WHO INSPIRES YOU?

My beautiful Mum. She’s my muse and has always supported my creative work even though she comes from a background of science and my father from medicine.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST VICE?

Food! I’m always talking or thinking about my next meal before I’ve finished the one I’m eating. I need to live more in the now and enjoy what’s in front of me. I coordinate my days around meals and if I’m sourcing I make sure I end up near a great cafe. My mum is an amazing cook and it’s something she has instilled in all her girls.

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DO YOU FOLLOW TRENDS OR ARE YOU A TRENDSETTER?

I tend not to follow trends but rather create from the space the project or client inhabit. It’s part of why I’ve enjoyed moving away from fashion. Interiors cross over many styles depending on the history of the space and I love that a building tells its own story and it isn’t just focusing on keeping up or following the latest trend.

WHAT DREAM DO YOU STILL WANT TO FULFIL?

I wish I had more time to travel with my children but apart from that I love what I do so I’m fulfilled through my career aspirations. I’m curious as to where it will all lead but have no specific end goal. For now I just hope to continue enjoying that every day is different, exciting and challenging. Challenge fuels my creative drive.

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WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH AKD?

The AKD team. I’m at a stage in life where it’s all about the people and the collaborations that inspire me. I don’t want to be spending time away from my children unless it’s valued so I try and work with people that make me laugh and are as passionate about design as I am.

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Images 1 - 2 via Claire Delmar / Image 3 - 6 via ©Alexandra Kidd Design

RAGLAN STREET REVEAL: BAMBOOTIFUL!

Situated just a stone’s throw from Sydney’s idyllic Balmoral Beach, Raglan Street is everything a home should be – tranquil, comfortable and, perhaps most importantly, well resolved. 

Our clients approached us with a brief to create a mid-century inspired, Palm Springs-influenced home that paid homage to their love (aka obsession!) of all things bamboo. With only a section of the lower ground floor of the original house to remain, it was a unique opportunity to build their dream home, quite literally from the ground up.

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Tasked with creating a beachside abode befitting a young family, each space required finding the perfect balance between style and practicality in pursuit of achieving the harmonious holy grail between ‘the luxe’ and ‘the everyday.’

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Nowhere is this more apparent than in the heart of the home, where the open-plan kitchen, dining and living area needed to be at once an entertaining space as well as the helm for juggling family life. To achieve these opposing requirements, we created a careful dialogue between the grandeur of the space and the practical needs of our clients.

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Take the kitchen breakfast nook for instance – the curved form of the custom banquette seat is irrefutably stylish, whilst it’s shape seamlessly embraces the family way of living and works harder still by hiding convenient storage underneath. The finished space is an area that frames meal times, all the while keeping the cook company; it nurtures afternoon naps as well as aperitivo; and it provides focus for homework sessions and formal dinner parties alike.

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‘I start my day having a cup of tea at the nook before anyone else is up. It has the most gorgeous aspect first thing in the morning. [In the afternoon] my youngest child does her homework at the table, and then books and pencils are cleared away for dinner. It's such a comfortable and inviting spot it’s not uncommon for someone to get horizontal and have a little kip in the sun on this lovely banquette.’

To counteract the sprawling ground floor, which might easily have felt cold and cavernous, we introduced moments of bold colour to create a sense of intimacy and play with scale. Despite this occasional vibrancy, the home maintains a sense of calm and elegance owing largely to its cohesive, monochromatic palette that ties seamlessly into the architecture of the home, making for an easy-on-the-eye backdrop to everyday life.

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Calm within the home is the ultimate destination for a young family, and the custom-made screen – designed to evoke the rhythm of lush bamboo forests – fosters the journey to getting there. Defining the different zones in the open-plan space, the screen creates the feeling of privacy, whilst ensuring adults in the kitchen are always within earshot of young ones playing in the adjacent informal living room.

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For added dimension, the home has plentiful opportunities for moments of escape, solace and privacy. Drapes can be drawn in the dining room to accommodate late-night soirées; doors close on pantries to hide dirty dishes from sight; French windows pull open to chase the last of the sun into the outdoor kitchen.

Upstairs, the master suite was designed to provide a luxurious retreat from the commotion of family life playing out below. Plush carpet, rich velvet fabrics and brass finishes set a nurturing mood for the adults to unwind and recharge.

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The result is a beautiful, bespoke residence that is both playful and contemplative; a home that feels luxurious whilst at its core, will forever be adept at accommodating its family’s ever-changing needs and lifestyle.

All images via ©Alexandra Kidd Design
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WE TEACH BEST WHAT WE MOST NEED TO LEARN: THE SCHOOL TOILET PROJECT

Late last year I received an out-of-the-blue email from the award-winning educator and bestselling author Dannielle Miller. It proposed a project that the likes of our studio (and, to be honest, probably no other interior design studio) has ever seen. But more than that, it discussed a topic that doesn’t come up too often at all. Anywhere. Ever.

School toilets.

And more specifically, girls’ high school toilets.                                

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‘It’s one of those ideas that NO ONE has ever discussed. Yet when you hear it, it makes absolute sense!’ Dannielle wrote.

She was right. As I read through her email, I was instantly transported back to my schoolgirl days, back to navigating my way through puberty, friendships, a broken family, acceptance, romance (or the lack of), fashion on my ever-changing body, self-respect and struggling grades.

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I remembered moments in school bathrooms – spending time with girlfriends away from authoritative eyes, confiding, grieving, expressing frustration or simply having a much-needed moment of solace.

Picturing that time brought back memories of the unloved, unrecognized and underfunded environment that held us during our schooling highs but mostly lows. I wondered, what could that austere, and often dirty, space have done to make us feel better during those moments of vulnerability?

The answer is Dannielle’s brainchild; the inspired idea that considering the design of a school toilet might have a positive influence on teenage girls.

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Encouraged by my own ethos that good design truly can change lives, I was excited to take on the challenge as Dannielle invited me to mentor a group of girls at Sydney’s Cheltenham Girls High School through the re-designing of their school bathroom.

Over the course of a day I talked them through the design process, beginning with my ‘life changing’ design philosophy, colour psychology, the design brief, the floorplan, and then to balance, focus, rhythm and repetition, scale and proportion, colour and light, harmony and unity, onto brainstorming, developing, presenting ideas, improving ideas and finally, the execution. Needless to say, it was a full day of learning, for all of us!

The actual concept design of the bathroom was entirely in the girls’ willing hands. I was there to mentor, guide, and (hopefully!) inspire them, but it was the girls who spoke beautifully and expressively about what their space could do to serve them.

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The overarching idea was to empower the girls to do the work themselves, so they would respect and embrace the space as their own. We discussed what colours might inspire them during moments of deflation, what shapes might soothe them through the exam period, what words might uplift them on those down days. Each girl had their own ideas of the potential of the space, but we weaved together a common thread (just as we would in all of our AKD design projects), assigning different roles to small groups for the final stage of execution.

Aside from being a priceless lesson in project management, team work and brainstorming, the result is what every child deserves to have – a place to escape to, be inspired in, to feel comforted and nurtured.

Last month, I proudly cut the ribbon on Cheltenham Girls High School’s new bathroom, their inner sanctum, ready to support the students through all the trials and tribulations inherent to a day in the life of a schoolgirl.

It’s a space that was much needed during my own teenage years, and one I hope can inspire more student-designed bathrooms to support my daughters through theirs.

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The renovation of the Cheltenham Girls High School bathroom was generously funded by the Department of Education.