When it comes to interior decorating, Briar Stanley is the kind of woman you should have on speed dial. The Sydney based interior decorator and founder of Sunday Collector, a blog that focuses on interiors, food, entertaining and motherhood, can transform any room. With a background in set decorating (shes worked on films such as Australia, Wolverine and The Great Gatsby), Stanley launched her own business after the birth of her angelic blonde-haired daughter Sunday Enid.
Ive found a good balance where I can work three days a week while Sunday is cared for by an amazing home daycare carer who lives close by. Ill do extra work at night after Sunday is asleep and on the weekends, but I like to make sure Im in the moment when Sunday is by my side, at least 90% of the time – sometimes that urgent email just needs to be answered, says Stanley. We caught up with the talented interior decorator to find out more…
SHOP THE LOOK: Divido Swedese dining table from Fred International. No.18 Thonet dining chairs. Pot from Bunnings. Kara Rosenlund photographic print, $220.
On how she juggles work commitments with being a mother:
Its hard! Again, its all about good organisation. Ill book most of my meetings a few weeks in advance. As a sole trader, I have to space out my projects, so I dont have too many going at the same time. Its pretty easy for me to structure my week around the three days Sunday is in daycare, and Im also lucky that my husband works really close to home, which cuts out his travel time every night. Hes home in time to give her a bath 90% of the time, which is a godsend, as Ill usually spend that half hour checking emails and wrapping up my day. Im fortunate I can set my own hours, but that can also be a bad thing sometimes, as there really is no such thing as switching off.
On a typical workday:
No two days are the same for me. It really depends on what brief I have that week, but it usually involves answering emails, furniture and homewares sourcing, meeting clients at their homes to take briefs, often followed by an installation day where the brief comes to life. I may also take some time out to concentrate on my blog, but I find I get most of my blog work done over the weekend (I see that as more of a hobby than my job).
On how she stays focused:
I really like to work in silence with no distractions, which is easy when working from home on my own. If Im working on a deadline to get a presentation out, Ill go as far as to close the windows, crank the air conditioning up and turn off my phone. Ill get a lot of work done in the afternoon too, after taking a quick lunch break. My brain cant function without some fuel.
On advice her own mother gave her about juggling a career and family:
I remember when I had Sunday my Mum told me I may get bored if I stayed at home for too long. I didnt leave Sundays side for her first year, but I was definitely ready to get back to part time work after that. As much as I loved being a mother, I guess I realised how important my work was to me too.
Her tips for home organisation:
Ive always been keen to keep our living room looking like an adults living space, so I make a point of packing away any of Sundays toys or books at the end of the day. We store her things in the entertainment unit cupboard, and keep some lovely storage baskets on hand from Country Road. In the kitchen, I have a large drawer dedicated to all of Sundays melamine plates, bowls, tupperware and sippy cups, and in the pantry I have some large canisters that hold her snacks and treats (out of reach from little hands). Staying organised is a lot easier now she is older. Newborn days was a different story I definitely let the house go there for a little while with the raging hormones, sleep deprivation and a baby with silent reflux – I was just glad to make it out alive at the end of the day.
On what she loves about working from home:
I love the quiet and the level of concentration I can achieve when Im working at home alone. Im a bit of a chatter box so if I dont have anyone in front of me to talk to, I find Im rather productive. I also love the flexibility of my hours, and the fact I can draft an email at 10.30pm at night in my PJs if I want to. In saying that, Ill always get dressed for the day and put a bit of makeup on as I find that to be a much more motivating way to start the day.
On her approach to interiors:
I like to have fun and dont take myself too seriously, Im flexible with style direction and Ill always try and achieve a unique look for every individual clients brief. Id never expect everyone to want to live in the same way/style I do. Every client will have different budget expectations too, so I make sure to source from affordable to high-end shops, and I can never pass up a thrift store, especially in a country town.
On describing her home:
We have been in this home for nearly 8 years (time has flown). My decorating style at home could be described as a little bit Scandinavian with injections of fun colour. Its certainly comfortable, and I place emphasis on things like the beds and sofa. I have a cushion and throw addiction, much to my husbands dismay. The home contains a mixture of vintage and new objects, new and old furniture, and a collection of art and photography that weve collected over the years. I see decorating our space as a never-ending and exciting project, and its something that will evolve over time. Put simply, its my favourite past time.
SHOP THE LOOK: King Furniture sofa, covered in Warwick Fabrics Husk Dust. Country Road throw. Country Road cushions. Vintage rug from I & B Perryman. Corn cob stool from Third Drawer Down. Side table (trolley) from Normann Copenhagen.
On what motherhood has taught her:
Nothing prepares you for the all-consuming big love you feel for your baby. Its not necessarily instant like all the books say, it certainly grew for me over Sundays first year – but its a love like no other, and a feeling that gets stronger every day. Patience also gets you a long way as a parent. Im still learning and my level of patience is definitely improving. I tend to want to rush naturally, always living life on a deadline, but I make a point of never rushing Sunday, shes got years ahead of her to worry about things like that. Motherhood has taught me to slow it right down. A walk to the car can become an adventure with a toddler in tow. Sunday will stop me to talk about a new paint splatter or a pretty flower she has never seen before, I guess you could say she makes me stop and smell the roses, which is a lovely thing.
Her tips for decorating childrens rooms:
Take your time in thinking about the look you want to achieve, and create a mood board (it doesnt have to be fancy, just a collection of images) there are some amazing reference images on Pinterest to get you inspired. If shopping on a budget, check out places like Gumtree for a change table or a vintage chair that could be reupholstered, there are often gems to be found! Most of all, have fun and try and get it in to the headspace of the child. It is a space for them, after all.
Describing the style of Sundays room:
Colourful and slightly fruity. A complete mish mash of things she loves and a kids room in every sense, as its fun and carefree. It started off as a fairly organised nursery with a very sweet pink cot, but it has evolved as she has grown to include all her treasures and display her very important range of books (she just loves her books). The addition of her big girl bed (The Sunday bed from Bednest, which was named after her), transformed the space from being a nursery to a toddlers room really easily.
On where she shops for furniture:
It changes for every brief, and I dont limit myself to a few shops, but I certainly have some favourites:
Fred International for beautiful quality Scandinavian Furniture and Lighting
Jardan seems to get better every year, I love that its all made in Australia and is such stunning quality.
Urban Couture have a really clever edit of items that makes you want to deck an entire living room out in their products.
Blu Dot has its own distinctive look and feel, the quality is great and I love their marketing.
Great Dane Furniture can do no wrong in my opinion, I just love everything.
Orson & Blake have some great lounge chairs and couches.
Mark Tuckey is a shop I just love to visit. I really like how they display so much of their furniture alongside Rachel Castles work a favourite artist and crafter of mine.
I also love a forage in an antique store, and my local favourites are:
Mitchell Road Antique + Design Centre in Alexandria.
Doug Up on Bourke and Ici et La, both in Surry Hills.
Newtown Oldwares in Newtown.
Quintessential Duck Egg Blue in Balmain.
Seasonal Concepts in Redfern.
On her go-to stores for childrens décor:
I love My Messy Room, Kido Store, Incy Interiors, Lulu Little & Co, Lark and Ikea. Sunday also has a few pieces I have picked up over the years from thrift stores. Ill give it a good clean and maybe a lick of paint, and its as good as new!
On the best advice shes been given about motherhood:
I read a great quote the other day: Behind every great young child who believes in themself is a parent who believed first. Its such a cliché, but I want Sunday growing up believing she can be anything. Also, take the time to be present. No gift is ever going to compare to actually sitting with your child and giving them 100% of your time. I never want my conversations with Sunday to end, so when she is 16 and ever finds herself in trouble, her Dad and I will be the ones she comes to for an honest chat.
On the hardest and best parts of motherhood:
It has been said before, but Ill say it again the hardest part is the lack of sleep. Im a person that needs her 8-9 hours of sleep and my daughter clearly didnt get that memo. The best part is just being the world to that little person you created. I found an instant and life long best friend in Sunday on the day we met, and its an absolute privilege to know that Im going to raise her (so corny, but true).
On her favourite part of the day:
If Sunday has slept through the night, its in the morning, when she jumps into our bed for a snuggle and a chat, and my husband brings me a coffee. I also love it when Sunday is fresh out of the bath and she sits on my lap in her cute little pajamas and I brush her hair. Shes turning in to a bit of a girls girl, which suits me just fine. Work wise, its always fun getting a new brief my mind tends to race for the next twelve hours with ideas, which is why I always keep a notebook in my bag.”