Catch those rays: These style gurus know all about bringing the inside out

Summer’s here – at last! Need some inspiration for garden living? These style gurus know all about bringing the inside out.

The chill-out deck

Lara Fells’s home
Outside, a cosy daybed, rope swing and covered dining zone take advantage of the home’s tropical green setting. ‘We love eating breakfast in the garden or relaxing on the daybed in the afternoon sun,’ Lara says. Try for wooden garden swings. Image: Maree Homer

Everything about Lara Fells’s home in Byron Bay, New South Wales, celebrates the beauty of a relaxed lifestyle. ‘My style is very neutral,’ says Lara, who is founder of cult Aussie footwear and clothing brand St Agni (available here at Net-a-Porter). ‘I like pairing natural tones with lots of texture.’ 

Lara Fells’s home
Lara had the washable white linen sofa cover made as the couple have a cavoodle, Harper. ‘This is a must for a family with a dog,’ she says. Image: Maree Homer

Inside, white-painted concrete flooring and expansive curtainless windows maximise the natural light. Although the space is stripped down and predominantly white, it’s the considered touches – handmade bowls and vases by local labels, rattan furniture, cosy throws and rugs – that create a feeling of calm. ‘I’ve also found a lot of our furniture second-hand on Gumtree and Ebay – I like pieces that have beauty in their imperfections,’ she says.

Lara Fells’s home
Family and friends regularly gather here for barbecues. ‘The wall hooks from hold towels for when the pool is built,’ says Lara. For wicker chairs try Visit for a wooden dining table. Image: Maree Homer

Lara and her husband Matt were drawn to the house’s open-plan layout and four-metre-high ceilings in the living and dining area. Its location was also a major pull. ‘We’re a five-minute walk from the beach and also really close to the town centre, but you wouldn’t know it – it’s so quiet,’ Lara says. 

Lara Fells’s home
In the bedroom, white walls are warmed up by the natural-toned bedlinen and rug. The timber bedframe ‘was custom-made by our friends at Sheoak Design Studio []’. For similar linen bedding
try Image: Maree Homer

The revved-up garage

The life of an interiors guru provides plenty of beautiful new ideas for creating a home, but top stylist and set designer Kirsten Bookallil, who works for Vogue Living and Harper’s Bazaar, prefers to add layers rather than overhaul what already exists.

Kirsten Bookallil's home
A converted garage provides the perfect place for Kirsten’s office. ‘I love working here as I can look out towards the garden,’ she says. The collage of photos on the noticeboard is a collection of family memories and inspiration for photo shoots. Try for a similar wicker armchair. Image: Maree Homer

‘I’m a modern collector,’ she says. ‘I like things pared back but I enjoy the memories of mementoes and being able to look around and see things that give me a sense of place.’ Kirsten – along with her two daughters Stella and Bronte and Monte the cat – was drawn to this three-bedroom bungalow, which she rents, mainly due to its location in the Sydney suburb of Bondi – very close to the beach and walking distance to the girls’ school. 

Kirsten Bookallil's home
This shelving system is from, and the selection of vases from The artwork is by Kirsten’s uncle, William Kentridge. Image: Maree Homer

It also helps that she is friends with the owners and, though the home had been recently renovated, they encouraged her to do what was necessary to make it somewhere she was happy to be. So Kirsten made small changes that created maximum impact – updating light fittings, painting the bedroom and hallway in a striking shade of teal and replacing the vanity unit in the bathroom. 

Kirsten Bookallil's home
Pre-loved pieces – here, a vintage dining table and second-hand chairs – are mixed with new buys and a contemporary colour palette. The result is a calm, modern aesthetic. For similar wooden dining chairs try Image: Maree Homer

As for the décor, Kirsten wasn’t tempted to start again or create a new look. Instead, she preferred to work with her existing mix of antiques, modern pieces, collected accessories and art. ‘At work, I’m exposed to lots of different trends, but I’m less trend-driven for myself,’ Kirsten says. ‘When I come home, I just want to lie down and feel comfortable with everything having a place to be in order.’

This is an edited extract from Near the Beach: Creative Homes, Australian Style, published in Australia by Real Living.

Before you hit the beach…

Check out our essential (and very stylish) kit

Picnic blanket, £12.99,

Personalised bag, £210,

Beach bats, £25,

Sunscreen, £23,

Towel, £12.99,

Hat, £35,