Melbourne-based interior designer Adelaide Bragg is quite possibly Australia’s best kept design secret.
Those in the know are enamoured by her timeless, fabric-oriented interiors, by multi-layered rooms created to be lived in, where no details or corners are left unconsidered. Some of Adelaide’s most loyal clients, who come to her to create their family home, include some of Australia’s most prominent families (the Packer, Baillieu, Myer and Fairfax families, to name a few). Though her design studio is based in Melbourne, she works with properties dotted throughout Australia, from manor-like, sprawling rural homes to city apartments. We couldn’t let an interview pass us by without taking a glimpse into her beautiful home, grilling her for tips on styling our interiors (including rooms with kids – yes, they can be chic), and her approach to motherhood. Consider us inspired. With her latest endeavour, Bragg & Co, Adelaide’s love of classic, enduring interiors are set to reach more homes than ever. Offering a suite of lamps in three classic base shapes—an onion, a double gourd and a ginger jar—and in a range of vibrant hues plucked from her design work on luxury homes across Australia, each can be fitted with a lampshade in off-white linen or ticking fabric. They are as stunning as they are classic, and we’re wondering how many we can justify in our homes. Adelaide has also kindly shared a 20% discount on Bragg & Co. with The Grace Tales. Use the code GRACE20 at Bragg and Co. to shop. Go to www.adelaidebragg.com.au Photography: Sarah Wood
The interior spaces you create are so beautifully classic, while still feeling fresh. What’s your approach to interior design and decoration as a whole?
It sounds like a cliché, but timeless, classic interiors are key. My interiors are very considered, in that I provide good strong bones for a room – building the foundations so to speak, with good quality furnishings which although they are influenced by fashion, are not overtly on-trend. If the foundations can stand the test of time, then rooms can continue to evolve, with nods to fashion, ensuring they always feel fresh and up to date.
What tips do you have for women looking to elevate their interiors style? Are there any small changes or improvements that can be made with big impact?
I have a great love of colour and of beautiful fabrics – my interiors are very fabric orientated, with lots of subtle detailing and layering and in fact, I quite often start a new project with a piece of fabric as my inspiration. One piece of fabric can sometimes inspire the entire journey! Colour and texture have such an impact upon the way one feels upon entering a room. My big tip would be not to be afraid of injecting some colour into your home – whether in the form of a lovely subtle seagrass wallpaper in a special room or a luscious raspberry sofa – colour says ‘welcome’ and ‘comfort’.
What are some common mistakes you see being made when we decorate our homes?
I think one of the most common mistakes is feeling that one has to strip everything out and start all over again with the latest trends, which unfortunately often don’t stand the test of time. I don’t think this creates a home with soul and in fact often ends in dissatisfaction. The interior of one’s home, should tell the inhabitant’s story and part of this is embracing the old, but finding ways to combine it with the new. Good interiors should be timeless.
How do you go about incorporating a home owner’s individual style within their homes?
I very much take a collaborative approach – I like weaving into my clients’ world, using their story to create a foundation upon which they can continue to build that story. Many bits and pieces are often sourced through the client’s own collection, rather than being purchased; again, this makes it their home rather than looking like a showroom. The most important thing to me, is that the client feels that the house is theirs, rather than a showpiece or obviously branded by a decorator. Houses and rooms should evolve with time, telling the story of the lives lived within.
Do you have any tips to quickly improve the aesthetic of our children’s rooms, with high impact?
It’s important from the beginning, to decorate a child’s room with a palette which can grow with them, so that minor changes can be made over the years without having to re-do the entire room. There are so many wonderful and whimsical fabrics available which are just as suited to a young child, as they are to an adult. Looking back to my own childhood, colour was terribly important to me. I think in colour, and am a strong believer in the visual pleasure colour and pattern give to a child.
What strategies do you employ to keep children’s toys and various accoutrements under control?
Good quality, built in, open bookcase shelves are wonderful for storing children’s accoutrements; the contents also add colour and texture and generally assist in creating a magical, welcoming space. Bookshelves continue to evolve in their use as the child grows, well into their young adult years.
Do you feel that interiors can blend a mix of high and low furniture? (For example, can designer pieces live harmoniously next to Ikea?)
I am not a furniture snob. As long as they quality is there, if it feels and looks right, it is right. In fact, it is the eclectic mix which again, makes a home feel ‘real’.
For those who are looking to invest in one or two key pieces that will transform their space, where would you start?
First and foremost, it’s important that good foundations are in place – the things worth investing money in are good quality sofa’s, curtains, staple furniture, such as dining tables, chairs etc., and flooring. As far as key pieces that will transform a space – definitely lamps. A good character lamp or two, positioned well in a room, can completely alter the ambience, lending both sophistication and comfort as well as the ability to instantly change the mood in a room.
What’s your approach to interiors seasonally? Do you change your furnishings as the seasons shift?
It’s very easy to make seasonal changes to a room – the choice of vases and flowers, table linen and tableware. One always reads about changing ones cushions and throws for seasonal change – this is not always possible in every interior, or budget, but definitely a lighter touch in summer and cosier colours in winter. I usually tend towards pinks and similar warm colours in the winter, then bring in cooler palette blues and greens for summer.
Do you follow interior trends? If so, what are you most excited about for interiors in 2019?
My own style is very classic and not overly driven by trends; however, one trend I am very excited about (and am currently launching my own range) is raffia covered furniture – bedside tables, consoles, etagere tables, coffee tables etc. The raffia is a wonderful gentle means of bringing more layers of texture and colour into a space with great subtlety. We are also creating a range in high gloss, which is super modern yet vintage at the same time.
Tell us about Bragg & Co – what are some of your favourite products?
My own lamp range is a definite favourite and came about out of sheer need, as I found it increasingly difficult to source lamps in particular sizes or colours in Australia. Lamps are so integral to my design style – to any room actually – they create balance within a room, creating symmetry and height, and the shades are another opportunity to bring another fabric or texture into a room. I mentioned earlier, I’m all about colour – the porcelain bases of my lamps are the perfect way to inject strength of colour into a room and create instant mood, without ‘fighting’ with the décor. My new range of raffia tables offers the same variety and flexibility – another means of adding texture and colour, beyond soft furnishings.
Do you have any favourite stores or resources when you’re looking for inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere! Having said that, I have always been strongly influenced by English decorating and design and was particularly influenced by my time with Colefax and Fowler. I also gravitate to the American aesthetic and can see my work evolving in this direction – maybe a little less co-ordinated , more layered and slightly more subtle. I particularly like the work of Roger Banks Pye, Michael Smith and Victoria Hagan. Syble Colefax will always remain a major inspiration. Locally, I love working with fabrics from Colefax & Fowler, Tigger Hall & Elliot Clarke. For quirky finds – Pigott’s Store and The Vault in Sydney; Nyary ES, Brownlow Interiors and Cromwell in Melbourne.
Tell us about your family.
My three wonderful boys are Oliver (2004), Kipp (2006) and Rupert (2007). We also have a wonderful Galah Holly who rules the roost and of course, our adorable Jack Russell, Flossy.
What you love most about motherhood?
I love everything about motherhood. Nothing is more important to me than my wonderful boys and husband and I love nothing more than when we escape together to our farm in Scone. No ‘X-box’, no interruptions, just good healthy living and family time.
How to you juggle working and looking after 3 boys? Any tips?
Delegate, delegate, delegate! I have a wonderful team around me, whether it is the team at work, Iris my extraordinary housekeeper or my wonderful Nathan who pops into my home to blow-dry my hair! The most important thing is to surround yourself with the support you need, to allow you to provide your family with the time they need, when they need it. Flexibility is key. Most importantly, I also have an incredibly supportive husband Tim, who is very hands on with the boys, and oversees my business.
How do Bragg & Co and Adelaide Bragg & Associates work together?
Bragg & Co is such a natural extension to Adelaide Bragg & Associates. It has allowed me to develop products, where I myself find a gap in the market. If I am looking for it, and can’t find it, then others must be doing the same. So far, the reception of our product has been so enthusiastic – designers are loving that they can now find a lamp base in almost any colour they need and we are continually updating and refreshing our catalogue of colours and styles, to meet current trends as well as the timeless, classic style for which I am known.