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A Scientist Turned Interior Designer On Why It's Never Too Late To Change Careers

Creative People

Rebecca Jansma turned to her childhood passion for interior design after a serious health scare prompted her to make some big life changes.

Before starting her own interiors studio, Space Grace & Style, Rebecca worked in pathology and later managed mining laboratories in Tasmania! Now her day-to-day is focused on helping clients transform their lives and own homes, from a light-filled Geelong studio that showcases her love for classic, but not too predictable, design.

14th September, 2022

Inside Space Grace & Style’s Geelong studio. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

The team of three gather around a beautiful marble table for their meetings. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

‘We’ve kept the style [of the studio] very simple and non-specific,’ Rebecca says. ‘By mixing eras of furnishings as we do in our projects, the space will never feel dated or as if it’s trying too hard.’ Photo – Nikole Ramsay

The interiors firm has a rotating art arrangement with Salt Contemporary Gallery in Queenscliff, which means they are constantly looking at new art and sculpture! Photo – Nikole Ramsay

‘I wanted the studio to be an interesting space that isn’t predictable or “designery”… I don’t like predicable design, or design that is like leafing through a textbook of significant and identifiable furniture.’ Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Space Grace & Style principal and interior designer Rebecca Jansma left her medical career behind for her creative passion. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Photo – Nikole Ramsay

The team’s ever-changing moodboard. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Photo – Nikole Ramsay

One of Rebecca’s prized possessions is this Trega chair by Scandinavian designer Tormod Alnaes. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Christina Karras
Wednesday 14th September 2022

‘My story is a testament to anyone looking to change careers – if you’re not 100% in what you’re doing, then change!’ Rebecca Jansma

Space Grace & Style principal and interior designer Rebecca Jansma has always had a keen eye for interiors. As a kid, she took notice of upholstered sofas her grandparents had in their traditional, English-style home and her parents had furnished their home almost exclusively with furniture from renown Australian mid-century designers like Fler and Jack Parker.

‘There was a refined simplicity to both of those childhood homes, and I do think that aesthetic has influenced and stayed with me,’ Rebecca says. But it wasn’t until the late 90s, when she was diagnosed with lymphoma, that she realised she needed to chase her dream job of being an interior designer.

‘This is my third career,’ she adds. ‘I was a haematologist and microbiologist by trade, and worked contentedly in diagnostic pathology for many years before switching up to managing mining laboratories on the West Coast of Tasmania.’

‘Along the way, I bought and renovated houses and helped friends with their renovations. It didn’t really occur to me that I could establish a career in this field until much later.’

She went back to university, studied interior design, slowly started building up her clients before opening her own studio in 2011 – and she hasn’t looked back since. ‘My story is a testament to anyone looking to change careers – if you’re not 100% in what you’re doing, then change!’

Now with a team of three behind her, Rebecca works on everything from residential to commercial projects, based in the new Space Grace & Style office right in the heart of Geelong’s arts and dining precinct. They were drawn to its ‘abundant natural light, dark stained timber floors, and soaring ceilings’, but they’ve made it their own with a few special pieces, including a ‘beautiful big marble table’ and vintage Trega chairs by Tormod Alnaes. Shelves decorated with layers of art, ceramics and other sentimental ‘beautiful things’ complete the polished atmosphere.

The office also reflects Rebecca’s own design ethos of mixing eras of furnishings in order to ensure her projects are comfortable and timeless, without being too ‘predictable’. ‘We design homes that are for living in and enjoying; sometimes that means we throw in a marketplace find and for me that is unexpected and honest,’ she adds.

See examples of Rebecca’s work below or visit Space Grace & Style’s website here.

One of Rebecca’s projects of a renovated Jan Juc kitchen. Photo – Cricket Saleh

Rebecca’s approach involves ‘listening’ to the needs of both the client, and the house itself. ‘Somewhere between these two you find the answers and then start to overlay detail and texture to bring something new and exciting… hopefully unexpected.’ Photo – Cricket Saleh

The luxe looking Arch & Scallop House by Space Grace & Style. Photo – Cricket Saleh

Photo – Cricket Saleh

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net