I must admit, today's gorgeous home is one I shamelessly stalked via Instagram... (We have our methods!). It's always a bit of a challenge making contact out of the blue with someone you've never met before (especially via social media!) so I was thrilled when the lovely homeowner, Vicki Wood, was open to our advances. And when Eve and I finally rocked up at Vicki's apartment building in Redfern a few weeks after this initial correspondence, I have to say it was a wonderful surprise to find that both home and homeowner surpassed all our expectations! It's a very special space, and Vicki is one amazing lady!
The impressive factory building in which Vicki's apartment is housed was actually the first warehouse conversion in Sydney. 'It was once a shoe factory, operating from 1903 until 1970' Vicki says. Upon first viewing the apartment, she instantly fell in love with it’s exposed beams, light, history and most importantly, it’s 14 foot ceilings... and chose to ignore it’s 'dull and dated eighties persona'! She was confident she could rework the space to suit her own tastes, with the assistance of her brother Kelvin, a builder. Custom cabinetry was installed throughout the home, including floor to ceiling dark timber bookshelves in the living room - an incredible centrepiece which houses Vicki's much loved collection of books, antiques and vintage finds. In the kitchen and bedroom, cabinetry was installed and painted by hand by Vicki - 'because I like seeing the brushstrokes' she says! Perfectly imperfect tiles from Spain were sourced to give a unique texture to the splash back and range hood, whilst vintage stage lights were hung over the dining table.
'I wanted to create a classic New York or Parisian style loft apartment, that would never date, but just become more comfortable with age' says Vicki. Much like the old Chesterfield which almost didn’t fit through the front door (!), everything in the apartment has history and sense of nostalgia about it. 'From the 1930's intercom that my son found in New York, to the Bakelite light switches I searched the globe trying to find, everything has a story - I love that' says Vicki. 'My design ethos is about authenticity and history, as the surfaces and finishes here develop an aged patina, I hope their beauty will be more enhanced as they show their history... a bit like myself really!'.
Vicki designed the interior herself, with the help of talented family members. She is the first to admit she isn't qualified in design, but is a passionate collector and intuitive stylist who takes great pride in creating interesting spaces. 'I don’t have a degree in design, I just have a love for creating homes' she says. 'Homes that feel loved and lived in truly reflect the lives of the people who live there... My home makes me feel safe and nurtured, surrounded by symbols of the things I love most'.
It was so delightful chatting to Vicki during our shoot and getting to know a little more about her and her family - they're a pretty incredible bunch! We learnt that Vicki is a versatile creative in her own right; a driven and determined 'do-er' - and styling interiors isn't her only self-taught talent! Having played out her younger years as a resourceful single mother of five, Vicki is now grandmother to a brood of gorgeous kids, who have inspired her latest creative endeavour - a self published children's book and collection of recorded music created under the name Uncle Bear Skin Productions.
'My daughter and I have written a French/English children’s book that will be released next month, and a children’s album called 'Eucalyptus Dreaming' again in French and English' says Vicki. AMBITIOUS, huh!? The results might surprise you - having never written a book before, Vicki has created a uniquely Australian tale and commissioned a suite of spectacular illustrations by Bec Winnel to bring her characters to life... whilst Vicki's daughter, Kelly Elsom, a talented bi-lingual singer, has recorded an entire album of songs to flesh out the characters in the book. Not content with these insanely impressive self-initiated projects, Vicki went on to direct two of the sweetest little music videos too, featuring her gorgeous grandkids.
'I directed my children and grandchildren, which seems too crazy to even say, but it was just so much fun' explains Vicki. 'My original concept was to create something that we would love, a memory for us to always have. I am excited now to be able to share this with everyone and hopefully they will enjoy it as much as us'. The videos are well worth a look for an insight into Vicki's world and her amazing family - the English version is here, whilst the French version is here.
After chatting to Vicki at length about her family and all her self initiated projects, it's clear how much her home really is at the heart of all her creative work. It's here she conceives all her ambitious ideas, and, surrounded by museum-like bookshelves, antiques and ephemera, it's here she first developed the characters in her book. Her supremely photogenic home is also used constantly for shoots with her kids and grandkids and their various creative side projects. 'When I started on this apartment, I never imagined that I’d be shooting a film clip in the living room or having film-makers or photographers use it as a set' says Vicki thoughtfully. 'I guess if you put a lot of love into what you do, good things happen'. Indeed!
Massive thanks to Vicki for sharing her home and her world with us today !