by Jessica Bellef
(Murdoch Books, 2019)
It’s hard to resist reading this book in one gulp. A decadent treat, Individual grants readers permission to snoop through gorgeously curated spaces at a museum-visit pace.
Bellef is the head of styling at Temple & Webster, Australia’s largest online home retailer. She lives, breathes and exhales creative design. The 15 eclectic interiors she explores in her coffee-table book are genuine celebrations of the soul. I wanted to hang out with every single one of these homeowners and poke around their rooms a little longer. Instead of suggesting copycat design, Bellef encourages readers to write their own autobiography of time. The visuals explain how to naturally integrate second-hand finds and family heirlooms with the texture of your daily routine. Inadvertently, you will effortlessly infuse your space with you and your personal story.
The Australian homes that Bellef has selected blur the lines of financial and spatial limitations. She steps inside a rustic seaside shack, rural cottages, rental apartments and an art-dazzled urban space. Each home demonstrates how chroma, confidence, genetics and primal urges can be conveyed. The science is basic: It’s about understanding which colours are a positive and inspiring match for you.
We are all archivists of family history and custodians of heritage. Furniture bearing maker’s marks can still stand alongside functional, budget-friendly Allen key pieces. Whether you live with kids, pets, a pack rat or minimalist, it’s all about creating harmony and good tension within your space.
Rooms can be wholly functional, decorative or sentimental, or a combination. Achieving this balance is often a matter of designing with intention and developing a strong personal narrative. After reading Individual, it’s guaranteed that you’ll have a knee-jerk reaction to re-evaluate not just your own home but your friends’ and families’ spaces too. Can you “read” their story? Like any moving autobiography, editing is critical and ongoing. Creating your own emporium of salon hangs, slouchy couches, poufs and hardcovers isn’t a one-stop shop. Instead, as Bellef reminds us that it’s a lifetime of finds from travels, experiences and relationships. It’s a perfect, unexpected little brass crab found in a roadside shop, a framed and faded pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey print, a darling set of Russian nesting dolls.
It’s harmony under construction, and Individual is a timeless and delicious escape into some of Australia’s most colourful and inspiring homeowners. Isn’t it time to tell your own story?
Jules Torti’s work has been published in The Vancouver Sun, The Globe & Mail, travelife, Canadian Running and Coast Mountain Culture. With experiences as a canoe outtripper, outdoor educator, colouring book illustrator and freelancer, she is thrilled to be able to curate, write and read about the very best things in life.