Part 2 of Alanna Smit’s Plantation Style Home
Q&A with Alanna Smit
What would be your ultimate design project?
We live very close to the Newport Arms, recently acquired by the Hemmes group. This property is one in a million – an entertainer’s paradise abounded by tropical gardens with world-class views over Pittwater and a private jetty. I dream about reimagining this space – on a Hemmes budget!
What are the five key pieces you’d recommend for readers wanting to replicate your living room?
Juxtaposition is key to achieving this look. Don’t try to be too matchy-matchy and instead vary your textures. Linen sofas are beautifully contrasted by a more austere leather armchair, while jute floor coverings and a few rattan pieces add more layers and lend to the beachy, relaxed feel.
Unfitted pieces work best with this plantation, Bahamian style of living area. If you have an old sideboard that’s been gathering dust in a bedroom dust it off and reinvent it as a console. Likewise old trunks, suitcases and chests can be reimagined as side tables or coffee tables.
Furniture scale is important – it’s all about comfortable extravagance – so always err of the side of oversized rather than undersized. Plush, overfilled linen sofas that beg to be lounged in, preferably with washable covers, soften the heavier pieces in the room.
Add something unique, personal and special that is not necessarily on trend. This look should be timeless – not ‘of the minute’. Source an opulent crystal chandelier or fish out Nana’s tapestry from your attic. It’s these special pieces that add that layer of intrigue and homeliness and make a room feel less ‘showroom’ and more ‘lounge room’.
Finally, think about your fittings. Ceiling fans or other tropical keys such as wall paneling, wall sconces and textured wallpaper are all beautiful elements of plantation style, along with greenery, lots of it – a must!
What’s your weakness when it comes to interior objects – what can you simply not resist?
Vintage coral, seashells, silver and crystal. Fresh flowers and greenery. I’d rather eat vegemite sandwiches for a month than not have flowers in my home.
Whose style do you admire?
My mother in law has fabulous style. Her ability to elegantly unite unique artwork, antiques, Persian rugs and photographs of grandkids is simply awe-inspiring.
India Hicks is my tropical goddess. Her children, her husband – family – is clearly the most important aspect of her life and this resonates through every thing she does and through every room of her beautiful home.
All of the women and friends in my life – some creative, and some less so – are all so assured of who they are and that makes anyone stylish in my opinion.
Bunny Williams – the doyenne of New York interior design. Maybe because I love her name, and her style and colourful taste remind me of my mother’s ‘special room’. Growing up, I lived in a small, regional coastal town. My mum decorated a ‘special room’ that had pink velvet lounges, pink carpet with matching drapery, cushions and lampshades. It was glorious! Like mum, Bunny was bold, confident and pioneering at a time when most chose simply to conform. She still smashes out new ideas!
I love Stone Cold Fox and find it very hard to bypass anything by Camilla. I love fashion, shoes and make up but haven’t had many opportunities to experiment with new styles over the past seven or so years, which have been defined by suitable attire for parenting and renovating.
What are your five top tips for creating a beautifully curated, clutter-free home?
It all starts with your structure. If you have particular pieces of art of furniture you wish to have or keep then you have to design the right spaces for them. Every piece needs its own home within your home.
Don’t fall into the trap of replicating what ‘looks good’ in magazine pictures. Function is as important as form – if your room looks good but isn’t functional and practical it will constantly be covered in clutter and you won’t appreciate how good looking it is. Balance the practical with the aesthetic and you will notice the difference.
Work out where your clutter generates from. Is it school bags, work equipment, toys? Once you’ve identified this, identify the best storage solution for your budget, space and style and implement this, pronto! Even temporary solutions like rattan baskets that can slide under coffee tables, hooks in the laundry or bedrooms for school bags and oversized rattan baskets with lids (lids are great!) for storing toys make a huge difference.
Be cut throat. If it doesn’t work or you don’t use it, don’t keep it. Sell it, give it away. Same applies to shopping. If you’re not sure exactly where a piece will go or what function will have DO NOT BUY IT. It will simply become clutter.
Make places for display and for your favourite pieces. This creates areas of interest that you will want to mix up and rearrange, and helps to keep your home interesting, ever evolving yet tidy and orderly.
What would your ideal home look like? Where would it be located and how would you decorate it?
I am truly already living in it. I feel very lucky – our home is more than I’ve ever needed or dreamed of in terms of location, functionality and aesthetics.
~ The End ~
To see Part 1 of Alanna’s beautiful home, click here.
For further information on Alanna Smit and Alanna Smit Structural Interiors, visit www.alannasmit.com.au. Alanna and her husband, Mike Smit, also work in tandem as Mr + Mrs Smit to offer a comprehensive design / construction / project management service. Visit www.mikesmitconstructions.com.au.