Reflections Of Motherhood: Olivia Babarczy On Family, Fashion & Interiors (And A Peek Inside Her New Beachside Abode)



For creative Olivia Babarczy, travel has always been one of her greatest inspirations. “Australia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world but transport yourself to a flea market in Paris or a beautiful hotel in Spain or Italy and that really starts to get the ideas flowing,” she says. And she’s inspiring wanderlust in her four children, too...

Last year, Babarczy and her husband took three months off and travelled around Europe (their youngest was 18-months-old). “I think the fact we were so much more present with our children and our lives were simplified substantially, the day to day became a whole lot easier and more interesting. If we could, we would do it again in a heartbeat. After all, life is about the journey, not the destination,” she reflects.

Inside her newly renovated Palm Beach holiday home, there are memories from their travels in every corner. Photographs from their trip hang on the walls (as well as their good friend Stuart Cantor’s beautiful prints); there’s furniture sourced from flea markets in Paris, objects from around the globe on the shelves. Minimal in style and filled with neutral textures, it’s a calming space and the perfect retreat for this busy family.

Babarczy left the corporate world after a 15-year career in finance to launch resortwear brand The Plunge Collective and more recently, interior design business, The Interior Collective (you can see the dreamy interiors she’s designed here). How does she juggle it all? “My biggest downfall has always been when I try to do too much or if there is a disaster in the family that wasn’t expected. In those circumstances, I have learnt to ask for help; whether that’s from my husband, a friend, a family member. Sometimes you can’t be everything to everyone and it has been an enlightening journey to realise and accept that,” she says.

Ahead of Mother’s Day, we spent the morning with Babarczy to talk motherhood, fashion, travel, interiors and more.
 
Images: Alice Mahran | Hair and makeup: Jess Diez | Go to www.theplungecollective.com, www.interiorcollective.com.au| Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen jewellery worn throughout


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I will be spending Mother’s Day with my cherubs...

The best part of the day will be the start, with everyone piling into bed together! No doubt my husband will spoil me in some way, whether that’s organising the children to make some beautiful handmade cards or a gorgeous attempt(!) at breakfast in bed. We don’t go over the top for Mother’s Day, but it’s always a very special day.


 A typical morning in our household is mostly about expecting the unexpected...

Whether that’s a two-year-old tantrum, walking out the door realising your top is inside out (I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me!) or a school dress-up day we forgot about and now need to pull together in five minutes. It doesn’t seem to matter how organised you are, the proverbial just hits the fan sometimes! But with all that said and my son now going to a different school to the girls, we have two shifts in our household. He is up with our two-year-old and out the door by 7:30am whereas my five and seven-year-old often don’t wake up until after he has left, lucky ducks! That gives me a bit of breathing space to have those extra cuddles in the morning and drink in their fresh and (mostly!) happy faces. When I was working in finance, I never got to see my children in the mornings so it’s still one of the most magical parts of the day for me.


Motherhood is a mixture of highs and lows...

Many more highs than lows but the lows can really push your boundaries… sometimes I handle them well and other times, not so well. I am now better at releasing some of the mother’s guilt that creeps up from time to time, understanding that if I am thriving, so will my family. I fill my bucket up through yoga, meditation, time with family and friends, nights out with the girls or my husband and working. It’s always been important for me to have a career as it makes me feel alive and connected. But we are all beautiful and unique people and what’s right for me, isn’t always right for everyone else and that’s what makes us special. My biggest downfall has always been when I try to do too much or if there is a disaster in the family that wasn’t expected. In those circumstances, I have learnt to ask for help; whether that’s from my husband, a friend, a family member. Sometimes you can’t be everything to everyone and it’s been an enlightening journey to realise and accept that.


The dynamic between my children is ever changing...

Oscar is ten, while Evie, Lila and Sarshi are seven, five and two, respectively. There are all gorgeous little people but with different views and personalities and that keeps things interesting! Oscar ruled the roost until Lila was born but then there was a shift in dynamic because the girls became best friends as they are closer in age. But then with the arrival of Sarshi, everything changed again. Despite being the smallest, she has been the glue in our family, by nature of the fact the is the cuddliest of all my children, but also the most confident. She keeps them (and me!) on our toes. But I see a softness in Oscar when in talks to Sarshi that blows my mind daily. It is truly special. And now with Evie looking back up to her older brother, it has paved the way for a beautiful friendship to strike up with Lila and Sarshi. Despite there never being a dull moment, I feel very lucky to have these amazing people at the centre of my universe who I continue to lean so much from.


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I have always wanted a big family...

I am one of five and my husband is one of four, so it was in the genes I think! I had two brothers until my mother had twin girls at 42, when I was 13. That was a huge shift in our family and it showed me how beautiful a big family can be. After I had Lila, I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to go again, but luckily for us, there was another baby written in the stars. And while it certainly hasn’t always been easy and being part of a big family means the children need to compromise; it has been such a gift to see them share their lives and care for one another.


I think motherhood is a juggle, whether you are a full-time mum, the CEO of a company or are working part-time...

Finding the balance is always a challenge. In my career, it has been a beautiful step to owning my own businesses and being autonomous in what I do. And I love what I do! Working in a creative space through The Plunge Collective and The Interior Collective means I am lucky enough to work in a collaborative environment with people that inspire me. Everyday is new and exciting and that motivates me and makes it easier for me to strive to find a balance that works for my family. I work when the children are at school and preschool, at night or sometimes on the weekends. And I also have help when I need it and an amazing husband who supports me. Lately I have been going to the library once a week with my son and we sit together; him doing his homework and me doing my work, which we both love. The smoothie we have together beforehand is pretty good too! I think it’s all about being conscious of how much you take on, but also making sure you have one on one time with your children and are there for the special moments.


My mother has always been an inspiration to me...

She is such a special lady. She was ahead of her time, carving out a career when many people told her she should be at home with her children. And while she’s one of the smartest people I know; through all of that, she still managed to find a balance and make sure she was there for us. And continues to be. With five children she’s always on the phone to at least one of us daily! She has taught me to be ambitious, even in the face of adversity and the importance of home; creating a space in which the family can prosper and thrive. But more importantly, she has shown me how much joy there is in big, crazy family!


I find a lot of inspiration through travel. If I am designing a new collection, it gives me the extra headspace to think more creatively...

In terms of interior design, there really is no better way to cultivate and organically carve out a style that is true to yourself. Australia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world but transport yourself to a flea market in Paris or a beautiful hotel in Spain or Italy and that really starts to get the ideas flowing. And there are absolutely people and things that inspire me as well; I have been lucky enough to work with a few artists lately who are so humble but so, so clever.  I am also in the middle of a love affair with Spanish antiques! I adore Joseph Dirand’s French modernist work and I think Studio KO are insanely talented.


I like wearing clothes that make me feel good...

Whether it’s the fabric, like a silk cotton from my Plunge range, or the silhouette because its flattering, or the pattern, be it a classic black or something bold and eye-catching. I am less concerned about trends and more about feeling comfortable, confident and happy in what I wear.


My sense of style changed after my first child. I probably went a little more conservative because I felt I had to even though that wasn’t the case...

I was young and so overwhelmed with motherhood, that I didn’t really realise there are no rules! While my shopping habits turned to online, I think the biggest adjustment was dressing so that I could breastfeed easily and not overheat! Now my family is complete and after 10 years of either being pregnant or breastfeeding, I have really enjoyed having my body to back myself and burning those maternity bras! When I shop now, I try to support our talented emerging Australian designers. Otherwise, it’s very much restricted to when I travel, buying quality pieces I will have forever and be able to give to my daughters.


Jewellery is very sentimental to me...

Most of my pieces were given to me after the arrival of a new baby or a milestone birthday or date. While there is absolutely a place for bold, statement pieces to give that extra wow factor; for every day I prefer fine jewellery which I never take off.


As with most of the projects I take on, Palm Beach was a renovator’s delight...

You couldn’t see the front or back door because it was so overgrown and neglected. There was asbestos throughout the house, the roof and floorboards were rotting, the ceiling was waterlogged and leaking, the usual drill! With all that said, it was a very speedy renovation as I had a wonderful team of builders and landscapers around me. While there are a few things left to do down the track, much of the work was done within three months. Palm Beach is one of the most magical and relaxed places and I wanted the house to reflect that. For the interiors, I channelled an Ibizan beach vibe. A lot of the pieces were bought in flea markets in Europe or in vintage stores in and around Avalon and the northern beaches. The artwork consists of a couple of key pieces from my talented friend, photographer Stuart Cantor and photos I took of some of the beautiful landscapes we visited during our overseas trip. Every time I see them they trigger happy memories. On the outside, the house is not an architectural masterpiece, but it was sympathetic to the direction I was taking the interiors and painting it black enhanced those features and modernised it.  And while the garden required a huge effort, the house now sits very considerately in its new Mediterranean landscape.


In my own home, once I have the look I am after, I don’t tend to change it very frequently...

I think it’s important to be comfortable and connected in a space and not feel the need to constantly alter it otherwise you will find yourself exhausted! While spaces can evolve over time the main catalyst for changing a space for me personally would be bigger renovation.


The last piece I bought was a bamboo console with a travertine top at the flea markets in Paris...

It sounds terrible (!) but it’s very organic and unique. Every time I look at it I am teleported back there. And the last piece I bought for my wardrobe was a dress while I was staying on the Amalfi coast which I wore today. I do look a little bit like a big Italian tile, but I love it.


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SHOP: Olivia wears Olivia wears The Plunge Collective dress, $165


We were incredibly lucky to be able to take the children overseas for three months last year to Italy, Spain and France...

While we had travelled reasonably regularly before, this trip was a once in a lifetime, bucket list kind of trip that was hatched soon after Sarshi was born, more for our mental state of mind than anything else! But amazingly, it came off the ground and it has changed our family forever. Sarshi was only one and a half when we went, but we had a window and we took it. It was very easy to sit at home before we left worrying about what could go wrong (no pool fences, language barriers, pulling the children out of school yadda yadda) but we were completely blown away at how adaptable the children were and how much they got out of it. We had our moments (namely realising there was no school for three months and we were in charge of the entertainment, two of us to four of them!) and while the flight is long, its just a blip in the ocean in the whole scheme of things. I think the fact we were so much more present with our children and our lives were simplified substantially, the day to day became a whole lot easier and more interesting. If we could, we would do it again in a heartbeat. After all, life is about the journey not the destination!


My favourite travel destination as a family is Rome...

I hadn’t been since backpacking in my early twenties but there is no question that it was one of the highlights of our trip. The food, the history, the culture, the fashion, the design and the people! It has it all. My husband and I were blown away, but the children surprised us…they still talk about Rome regularly.


My definition of self-care is making sure your ‘bucket’ is refilled on a regular basis...

As mothers. we are constantly giving, we are the sounding board, the company secretary, the shoulder to cry on, the maths or English tutor, the milk factory, the taxi, the chef, the travel agent, the diplomat… the list goes on and that’s before our own careers and interests! Being aware of what you need to fill your bucket and making it happen is key.


Motherhood is my everything...

Beginning. Middle. End.


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