This week – for our new series In My Place – we met The Designory head designer Margo Reed, who walked us through her light-filled two-bedroom rental apartment in Bondi.
Margo Reed reckons she has one of the best jobs in the world. She gets to work with a range of people – with different tastes, styles and needs – to make their homes as functional and beautiful as they can be.
She’s created stunning interiors for million-dollar homes in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, as well as for restaurants, such as Italian fine-dining mecca Via Alta.
Given her line of work, you’d think Margo might follow a very distinct set of rules when it comes to interior style. In fact, it’s a much more collaborative approach.
“I don’t feel like I have too much of a style – I tend to work with the client and what their needs are, where they live and the character of the building, and bring all that together,” she says.
Her go-with-the-flow attitude to work has seeped into her home life – and we’re loving the results…
A homely mish-mash
The designer lives in one of those classic three-storey, cream-brick apartment blocks built in the 1970s, which she calls her “blank canvas”.
“It’s really just a white box, so I was able to add layers and personality,” Margo says.
These layers come in different forms: Three-dimensional ornaments, different kinds of lighting and other accent pieces she’s picked up over the years during her travels.
Not only do these pieces offset the boxiness of the space, they also add softness, texture, and, most importantly, make her smile when she comes home.
Whether it’s the antlers she hunted down on eBay, the op-shop armchair she’s kindly “minding” for a friend or the Christmas decoration which has earned a year-round spot on the living room wall – almost every “layer” has a personal memory or significance attached.
“It’s a real homely mish-mash,” she says. “I’ve lived here for six years now and the styling has been very gradual. In the last three years I’ve really started making it my own.”
Somewhere to kick back
Margo lives in her Bondi digs with partner Grant Lewers, a restaurant marketer, and Manoo the cat, a gorgeous tabby rag doll.
The spare room functions as the couple’s walk-in robe and Bunnings beechwood lino strips have been laid over the “terrible marble-look brown lino” in the kitchen. The landlord thoroughly approves.
Another favourite recent addition is the balcony daybed, which answers to the trio’s shared passion: Relaxing.
Designed in collaboration with Grant’s boss’ partner, a builder, the bed functions either as a two-seater couch or folded out as a double bed. It’s not built in, so if they ever move on it will go with them.
“I love the classic blue-and-white stripe holiday vibe it’s got going on,” Margo says.
“Creating that outdoor space is a big plus for us – we love relaxing there at the end of the day. It’s a nice little spot to read or have a glass of wine.”
When you walk in the door it’s instantly relaxing.
As renters, it’s hard not to think about how they’d completely renovate the apartment – but for now, small little changes are making it work.
“It’s got a really comfortable homely feeling. When you walk in the door it’s instantly relaxing,” Margo says.
Get the look
Love Margo’s laid-back style? Try these top tips to achieve the look in your home.
1. Add layers. Think outside the box. Add softness and roundness to basic geometric frames with three-dimensional wall hangings, macrame and different types of lighting.
2. Keep it relaxed. If you’re not using your balcony to its full potential, consider adding a daybed. You won’t be able to leave it.
3. Don’t try too hard. The pieces have to mean something to you. Buy things when you feel a connection and only then. Gradually your collection will grow, and as you look around the home, each memento will make you smile.