The dream home, two gorgeous girls and a beautiful, talented mother living in one of Sydney's most spectacular homes. However there's so much more to this tale (including the most dreamy white interiors - scroll down and swoon), and the real beauty, as always, lies in the reality of the peaks and gullies of this thing called life. For stylist Romi Weinberg and her daughters Bo, 11, and Tatum, 6, this is a tale of love, resilience, empowerment and inspiration...
Romi has created a stunning, original, cleverly designed home – the minute you step inside, you feel like you’ve been transported to a luxe Mediterranian villa – has two healthy and happy daughters and enjoys a covetable lifestyle, but like most of our motherhood journeys, it hasn’t been without life-changing challenges. “Without a doubt, the most challenging part of motherhood has been being thrown into it, as a single parent unexpectedly three days before Tatum was born,” reflects Weinberg. “The saying that what kills you only makes you stronger could not be truer. I am a completely different person today in spite of it. I’m stronger… I’m more resilient. I’m more compassionate and understanding of others and above all I’m more capable. Becoming a single parent means you can’t rely on anyone else. You have to do most things on your own and you realise you can. I’ve most certainly learned not to sweat the small stuff and focus on what and who is important in my life. Whilst I’d never in a million years choose that path for anyone it has shaped me into the mother and person I am today. And I’m better for it,” she says. Since leaving behind her career in fashion design and PR, Romi has turned her focus to styling (her children’s parties are literally the dream). “It was only once I had my children that I realised a huge passion for styling. I began creating events and absolutely loved it. From there it evolved into interiors when I built my first home. At the time I started dabbling in food styling here and there and quickly realised how much I enjoyed that too,” she says. And of course, there’s her knack for transforming homes into heavenly abodes filled with character. “I moved into our home over two years ago now. The renovation took eight months, which was a pleasure in comparison to my previous home which was a complete knockdown. The house already had so much charm and character being set on a unique block,” she says. “Tucked away from the street I loved the fact that it was like a secret spot that nobody knew about. I wanted it to have a Mediterranean feel but nothing too obvious or contrived. It needed to be a mix of all the elements I loved. I wanted it to say ‘Romi’ rather than ‘Greece’ or ‘Ibiza’.” The Grace Tales talked candidly with Romi in her stunning Sydney home about how her children inspired her career in styling, raising her girls as a single mother, her own happy upbringing in South Africa, renovations, travel, creativity, resilience and a whole lot more. Photography: Julie Adams | Words: Emily Armstrong | Hair: Oscar Oscar Paddington | Makeup: Sarina Zoe
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Creative, resilient, capable.
What has motherhood taught you so far?
Most definitely to be selfless. My decisions in life are almost always centred entirely around my children and how they will impact them. I’ve definitely learnt not to sweat the small life.
What’s your approach to raising girls/teaching them self-love?
I like to think that I am a good role model for my daughters – being raised by a single mother is hopefully modelling strength of character. I make sure that I listen to their feelings and they feel validated, safe and secure that they are loved and cherished.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Not to expect life to go to plan! And that is ok!
Where are your favourite places to go when renovating?
I sourced most of the furnishings in our home from Australia. Scouring vintage shops for doors, window treatments and even a large ladder which is suspended in my kitchen. I’ve mixed this with more contemporary pieces such as my Gervasoni couch and a custom designed dining table to retain a fresh and clean aesthetic.
What are some vivid memories of your childhood?
I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and lived there until I was 10 years old when my parents made the enormous decision to immigrate to Sydney, Australia with my younger sister and I. I had a wonderful upbringing there and have the fondest memories growing up with both sets of grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins. Many of them are no longer around… Cape Town for me symbolises my family and my childhood and still holds an incredibly special place in my heart. My parents were big entertainers and I have vivid memories of Sundays spent with our closest family friends. I recall hot summer days around our pool, having a braai (South African term for bbq) and rolling down the garden that I remember as being enormous. Years later as an adult I went back to our family home and peered into that garden only to discover that it wasn’t quite the massive rollings hills I’d remembered as a child!
Talk us through your journey to motherhood – what were the highs and lows?
Both of my children did not come especially easily. Prior to my first daughter, I had trouble conceiving and needed to use the assistance of a fertility drug called Clomid. This was coupled with frequent scanning and blood tests. My first pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage at five weeks. Fortunately, the next one was successful though and I fell pregnant with my beautiful Bo. When it became time to start thinking about another baby I discovered that my situation had changed and there was no hope for a successful pregnancy using Clomid. After a year of unsuccessfully trying we moved on to IVF. This was a very stressful and difficult time as anyone who’s gone through IVF will know. I suffered another two miscarriages and only went on to have a successful pregnancy after the 3rd round of IVF. This became an even more difficult period as I separated from my then husband at 38 weeks. I went on to have Tatum under extremely stressful times. The joy of having the perfect little girl I’d dreamt of was very much clouded by the beginning of my life as a single mother.
How did you handle any sleep deprivation?
I’m very fortunate in that my girls are great sleepers and always have been. They both started sleeping through the night from 6/7 weeks so I don’t recall much sleep deprivation. I also always left an array of toys in their cots so early mornings were spent playing for some time. Now as they are older they adopt a similar routine on weekends and amuse themselves till its breakfast time. Weekdays aren’t quite as leisurely. I have to wake Tatum… she would happily sleep till 8.30/9 if I let her!
What’s your approach to health and wellbeing?
I’ve always had a sensitive gut and have always maintained what I thought to be a healthy diet. It has only been in the past year and a half that I have discovered the benefits of a completely gluten/dairy and refined sugar-free diet. It has helped me enormously and I have almost completely resolved all my stomach issues since. I love Pilates for the toning and strength benefits it gives my body.
Who are your role models?
My parents are most definitely my role models. They have a partnership which is based on an enormous amount of respect and love for each other. They are completely devoted parents and grandparents and are the biggest support to me in every way. I truly value and look up to the way they do life.
What does the year ahead hold for you?
I always like to be working on a creative project and I have a few things in the pipeline that I am excited about, one of which is a new renovation on a house. I love the anticipation of creating a beautiful home.
Describe a typical day in your life...
Due to the nature of my work, no two days are the same! My girls are my centre and I work my styling commitments around their needs. I am always sourcing, researching or creating something! I also love to cook, so you will always find me in my kitchen happily producing the latest “clean eating” dish which looks as good as it tastes!
What’s a typical kids’ dinner in your household? Do you all eat together?
We all eat together… I try to cook at least three times a week. I love cooking and have brought up the girls to eat well. I make one meal for all of us and am forever testing out new recipes and experimenting. Food is exciting to me and I like my girls to share in that passion. I encourage them to try everything once. If they don’t like something then that’s fine but they have to try before they form an opinion.
How do you juggle everything? We’d love your time management tips...
This is something that I always feel I need to perfect! I tend to stay up late at night making sure that everything gets done! However, as my girls are getting older I am finding that it is getting easier.
Are you an early bird or night owl?
I’m a night owl… I really don’t love mornings. Never have. I do often wish it was the opposite but my body naturally prefers night to morning.
What makes you laugh?
My kids… seeing the little isms that they have got from me always makes me laugh. They are both quite animated but each in different ways. I find them both very funny!
How would you describe your approach to parenting?
I’d like to think I don’t accept nonsense. Especially being a single mother I don’t have the patience for it. If they are rude or badly behaved they get reprimanded or punished. I believe consequences are important. But I also pick my battles. I don’t believe that every single little misdemeanour requires a punishment… there are phases and stages. And also often there is an underlying cause for a certain reaction which needs to be addressed rather than discipline.
Where are your top 3 places to go in Sydney with your kids?
In summer we love a day at Camp Cove in Watsons Bay. A night trip to China Town is top of our list. We have a seafood restaurant that is our fav… sharing a whole steamed mud crab is a treat the three of us love. Our home away from home is my parents holiday house in Wagstaffe on Sydney’s Central Coast. The house is one big playground for the kids and their cousins. I love cooking for the family whilst we are there or floating on a lilo with a glass of rose. The girls are in their element running a muck freely.
What about travelling – where do you love to travel to and why?
I love going anywhere that has an interesting culture and places to explore and discover. I’m not a ‘lie on a sunbed and read for four days’ person. I get antsy and love to explore architecture/interiors/food and shops. There also almost always needs to be sun. I am a major sun bunny and love being beach or poolside.