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anne ditmeyerinterior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: deborah bibby

by anne


It’s always fun to dream about our own homes, but it’s just as fun to wonder what the homes of others may look like. Today we have a special peek into the 1950s beach cottage of real living editor Deborah Bibby. Located in Clareville Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Deborah describes her home as one with a holiday-house feel. It sits beautifully in the landscape surrounded by tall eucalyptus and banana trees; the smell of citronella lanterns burning; and the sounds of the tide coming in, birds so loud they can overpower a conversation and deafening rain on the tin roof. The cottage has recently taken on the name “Fish Shack” by Deborah’s son Jack, who is a devoted fisherman. Living by the beach also means lots of sandy feet through the house and flotsam and jetsam everywhere. As Deborah says, “it’s not an interior I can be precious about — and that’s how I love it.” Thanks, Deborah! — Anne

Photos by Chris Warnes

Image above: One weekend, I decided to paint my room turquoise. The colour is fun and it does make me smile — it’s Porter’s Paint Seven Seas. The bed and bedside lamp are from a shop, which used to go under the name of Manning & Manning it’s now called Chuck & Bob. The hand-sewn linen pillows are from rough linen, and the tiny hearts on the wall have been given to me over the years by my son Jack.

I try to look beyond the pure aesthetics of the interior (which can be hard when you work for an interiors magazine!) and instead surround myself with loved objects such as my books, stacks of magazines, black-and-white prints from past magazine shoots, my son’s paintings, sofas you actually want to curl up in and collected treasures — they all tell a story, and our home is all about the journey. Occasionally, I’ll update the space with a fashionable item but I try and resist the trends. My home is a loved, rich, happy space that fuels my creativity daily and hopefully makes family and friends feel warmth when I open the front door.


Image above: The canvas was a prop from a past shoot and I was lucky to retrieve it. The flower is a waratah — the official floral emblem of New South Wales. It’s usually in red, but the day before my house was photographed, I found some in pink and just had to buy a huge bunch. I love that it has a strong graphic look.


Image above: The front door needs a coat of paint. Eek! That’s our beautiful Labrador Chino having a nap. The pendant light was a gift from an old friend — he found it by the side of the road. The cabinet came all the way from Camden Markets in London.


Image above: We’re always short on space around the table, so one day, out of desperation, we dragged two random tables together and it worked beautifully — and that’s the way they’ve stayed. The chandelier is a one-off, a collection of old jam jars made by an artist friend — they make a glorious welcome at night with tea lights flickering inside.


Image above: The old rocker was a gift from a friend in London. The ram’s head was also a gift — a slightly strange one at that. It was a farmer friend’s favourite bull that had lived a long life — everyone now calls him the “cool dead bull.” The bus scroll canvas, from PrintDolls, features all the stops on the way to Clareville. Alice Flynn, an ex-stylist from real living, started this business when she left the magazine, and she now has another business called Penny Farthing Design House.


Image above: Not the trendiest sofa but definitely the most comfy — in the entire world! I think every friend of mine has overnighted on it at some stage. The linen slip covers wash up beautifully, making it easy to keep looking fresh.


Image above: Large, square timber coffee table (shot from above) stacked with items I’ve gathered from travels. I bought the coral while on holiday at Lord Howe Island, Australia (we stayed here); hide drink coasters from Africa; a smooth stone collected by my son from a riverbed in Kangaroo Valley, Australia; books — African Visions by Mirella Ricciardi; Peter Lindbergh’s photography — he’s my all-time favourite photographer; Flair by the brilliant editor Fleur Cowles, tea lights, candles and lanterns.


Image above: This floral flock sofa was bought at St. Vincent de Paul Society, otherwise known as Vinnie’s — a second-hand charity shop in Brookvale, Sydney. It was a great buy at just $100! It’s perfect for curling up and reading on a winter’s afternoon. But as the sun streams through the window, the pattern is fading away to nothing.


Image above: A very cool artist — David Bromley. This painting is titled Romy and has a long story as to why it’s hanging in my humble shack, but I haven’t space to write it all down here. Check out davidbromley.com.au and be inspired.


Image above: I love magazines, need I say more?


Image above: The little oil painting was bought at a student art event and the coral was a gift from a friend. I was going to frame it in a box frame but instead decided to attach it to the wall so you can see its fragility.


Image above: My desk is from Guy Mathews Vintage Industrial Furniture, Fitzroy Street, Melbourne. There isn’t a website but the store is featured in the archives of The Design Files. The beautiful curved bench is made from a single sheet of ply. I’ve been minding it for a friend for some 15 years now. Do you think that makes it mine? The collection of black-and-white prints is from my former life as an editor of a fashion title. Another skull — this time a “cool dead sheep.”

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