When I started following blogs years ago while we were still living on our farm, I stumbled across the work of Judy Elliott. At the helm of her Brisbane based store Lily-G at the time, I was completely taken by Judy’s style and taste, which completely resonated with me, not just because of her love of all things blue and white, but her timeless, classic American influenced style is very akin to mine. I followed Judy when she sold Lily-G and started her bamboo furniture line which she has since sold, then set up Verandah House Interiors, renovated and sold her stunning Brisbane home and set up her new showroom. Judy’s business has gone from strength to strength thanks to her inimitable style, flair and talent. I have since had the pleasure of meeting Judy and her stunning daughter Jess, and she is as delightful and generous in person as she comes across on her popular blog. I was thrilled she agreed to be included in this week’s Designer Spotlight, so I can showcase her work, and I’m sure you’ll find her answers in this interview as fascinating, enlightening and helpful as I did. Enjoy!
How did you get started in Interior Design? I actually fell into it without even realising at the time I had any talent. I was 22 years old with my first home renovation. We sold the home and made a huge profit. Our third home was snapped up as a prize home and they asked to buy all the furnishings. We had just built our fourth home when we had a national TV show “The World Around Us” feature our home. We just designed and decorated, we then continued to be featured on shows like “Burke’s Backyard”, magazine features and we won several industry awards. I discovered decorating and I became almost obsessed. Nothing has changed.
Did you study Interior Design? Do you think a qualification is important in the industry? I studied at TAFE 20 years ago with two small children. Most of my experience has been self taught but when my daughter wanted to follow in my footsteps I encouraged her to study Interior Design as I believe in today’s society it’s essential. However, I strongly believe you also have to have passion, drive and talent. You can’t learn that!
Who/what are your design influences? Without a doubt nature, travel and architecture are by far my biggest design influences. I am passionate about classic, timeless design blending contemporary and traditional design.
Who are you international design heroes? Ralph Lauren, Mary McDonald, Suzanne Kasler, Barbara Barry, Thomas Pheasant, Aerin Lauder, India Hicks and Jeffrey Alan Marks.
How would you describe your style? Classic, timeless design with a touch of the unexpected. It’s all down to the detail and I try to make sure my work always remains stylish and current. I allows trends to guide me but I’m never influenced by them. I tend to shy from bold colours and seek a more relaxed, livable look. I’m practical but not overly. I love one off pieces and uniqueness.
Favourite interior design book? Currently I have a few….Thomas Pheasant, Barbara Barry and Jeffrey Alan Marks. Also on the look out for Aerin Lauder’s new book.
Name your favourite classic decorative items that never go out of fashion? My vintage blue and white ginger jars, they just get better over time.
What are you coveting at the moment? I would have to say Animal print, but not too much. It’s sneaking into my work, seconding is India – I can’t wait to get there next year!
Favourite decorating colour scheme? Neutrals with soft blues.
What’s your go-to white paint? Dulux Natural White
Imperial Trellis (by Kelly Wearstler) – love it or hate it? Love, love love it….timeless.
What are your tips for collecting and buying blue and white china? Avoid buying blue and white china from mass-produced chain stores. I prefer authentic old ginger jars, the patterns are always so much more beautiful and the colour is more intense. I can always spot a real deal over the fakes. I find my jars from antique Chinese furniture importers.
Do you like to use animal print in a room? How? Well, let’s say it’s my latest addiction! I am installing a seagrass wallpaper with a white and natural zebra pattern to a client’s beachhouse bedroom. I’m covering rattan chairs for a client with Ralph Lauren zebra fabric in browns and taupes, an outdoor area for another client and my front window showroom has zebra cushions. Did I mention the custom artwork of a zebra that is commissioned for my client’s entry? Less is more with animal print.
Is trendy a dirty word in interior design? Yes, I hate that word. Trendy means now, which means throw it out next year!
You’ve just sold your house – can you give us an idea of what your next house will be like? One by one our children keep leaving home and now it’s just the two of us and Lily, so we have decided to down-size to a cottage near the city, renovate it because I won’t be happy unless it’s done my way. My wish list is a pool, veggie patch, verandahs and lots of character, but small and quaint. I plan to work hard and travel everywhere, I have the travel bug! My new colour theme for my home will be earthy tones, loads of texture and interest. My bedroom must stay soft blue and white, and Lily has requested a grown up girl’s room, but happy to stock with soft pink and aqua blue, but that could change!
What colour and design trends are you favouring at the moment? When launching my showroom several months ago, we introduced a mauve, chocolate brown sofas with fabulous trims, motifs to our cushions and Hollywood Regency furniture. We can’t keep up with the demand. Our coastal room has proved to be a winning look too, with loads of whites, caramels and soft blues.
Favourite wallpaper at the moment? Hand-painted de Gournay and Gracie wallpapers. Ask me in ten years I will say the same things. It’s art for your walls.
Which elements of a room are the most important and worth spending the most money on? I am all about classic elements such as wall panelling, built-in cabinets, mouldings etc. But your best investment is good quality fabrics, they stand the test of time and feel and look amazing.
Which current trends to you think will stand the test of time, and which are fleeting? In colour we will see a lot more blue (did it ever leave?), mauve with grey hues on walls and fabrics and I think we are going to see warmer whites. Green is here to stay but we will mix soft blues with minty greens. I think timeless designs such a faux bamboo furniture, Hollywood Regency and classic French pieces ie Louis chairs, yet in a more contemporary design are here to stay. Chevron prints and hot pink….time to say goodbye!
What’s the most important thing to remember when decorating your home? Buy less and spend more on quality pieces that will stand the test of time, how many times do you say, “I will just buy this cheap sofa for now and replace it later”, only to be stuck with it for the next five years!
Is interior design an innate skill or can it be taught? I strongly believe it’s an innate skill, I don’t think you can be taught style.
Has social media and the internet changed the face of interior design and decorating? Definitely and in a big way! When I was my prior business Lily-G over five years ago I was religious with my daily blog posts, I connected with women all around the world, I was stunned how many international and national clients visited by store and knew me so personally! Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have given my blog a little bit of a backseat (Social media is a full time job in itself!) but I do miss the personal connection I had with my followers on my blog, so I have decided to return back to my blog on a weekly basis.
The perfect home is……Family, happiness and a good interior designer!