interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: sibella court

by anne

imagine that there was a beautiful shop that was more like a gallery, and every three months would take on an entirely new theme, no detail would be left untouched, a 10-color color palette would be chosen, and everything inside would be curated to match. even the color of the front door would change. well, it’s not a dream, and it does exist – in australia. the society inc., a shop run by sibella court in paddington (a suburb of sydney), is a true vision, and today we are pleased to not only have a look into her shop (second part of post), but also her home, where she lives above the shop. it is truly a labor of love, and a style that is beautiful, elegant and all her own. sibella also currently has a new book called, etcetera etc, available exclusively through anthropologie stores (currently US only, with a march 18th release date for the UK). mark your calendars now to catch sibella on the july 21st episode of keith johnson’s man shops globe. click here for more gorgeous images of sibella’s home – all which were shot by chris court, sibella’s brother, who photographed most of her book! {thanks so much, sibella!}anne

[above: Again part of my large main room.  A lover of all things “cabinet curiosity’ a wall of framed specimens inspired by Darwin’s collections are hung haphazardly from my picture rails (one of the best inventions for those who like to forever change there wall art!).  A pirate flag for all occasions bought at John Derian, NYC rests on a burlap covered chaise (bit scratchy but looks great).]

My large bedroom cum lounge cum library. This looks busy. It is not as hectic as this when in the room. I’m a lover of textiles; this Japanese pilgrims jacket of Rami is one of my favourites. I go through colour phases & have a love of red,white (my next theme is of this palette: inspired by sailors,exploration, sea shanties & wooden worlds). This fab flag Vivienne Westwood cushion was kindly given to me by The rug co .

This is my very pokey kitchen but I love all the piled chopping boards & hanging utensils. Its small but very well equipped.

My boyfriend & I recently were potographed for a fashion campaign. We decided to be photographed in bed & to re-enact the famous picture of John & Yoko.

CLICK HERE for 19 more images of sibella’s gorgeous home and shop after the jump!

This is the view from my bed: a giant antler found at Chelsea fleamarkets, NYC, Wild bird seed bag found at Sandwich , IL markets, a school chair & a fan for a hot Sydney Summer. I like to play with scale & shape- it makes a fun corner.

This is a section of my walk-in wardrobe. After moving from a 2000 sq ft loft in NYC to a small 2 room house in Sydney, I worked out I didn’t need a huge living space but I did need a walk-in wardrobe room. I converted (with the help of my setbuilder) the second small bedroom into a wardrobe made just for me!. These are some of my things.

My mother was a textile collector. She instilled the same passion in me. The beautifully handmade ‘Nuits’ cushion is by textiler extradonaire, Tara Badcock. Based in Tasmania she mixes embroidery, old & new fabrics with perfection. An vintage japanese indigo futon cushion sits on floral print quilt by Utility Canvas , New Paltz NYC. Nothing like a random hook to hang a lamp that looks like a felted fez!

My little nephews & nieces are constanly fascinated & in wonder that I have stones in my bathtub. I have a huge collection of hand selected tossed stones found all over the world. I love the feel & sound of them and never tire of combing on an unexplored beach.

This is a little annex off my bathroom. I tire of paint myths so to illustrate that dark rooms don’t make a room look smaller I painted it black in its entirety. I love things 3D & hanging from the ceiling: here I have 2 of my many favourite art/crafts people. The black sculptured cardbaord mirror is by Noelle , who is French & draws inspiration from a love of Louis XIV furniture. She lives in Sydney. The raven that appears to be studying an ant very carefully was sewn by the talented Laurie , who once had a beautiful shop on 10th St in the East Village. My 3D chinoserie lady (can’t quite determine her origins) I found in the back streets of Istanbul that made me think of Paris in the 1800s.

The other end of my mantle with random pieces. My favourite quote from Jeanette Wilnterson’s Lighthouse Keeping: My Mother called me silver. Part precious metal, part pirate chalked on to an old slateboard. I like to be surrounded by words.

I have a (or many) fascinations with honest materials & hardware. Here I have  a selection of barbed wire samples that I found in Des Moines that I have just leaned on the mantel. They sit with a hand blown glass & wire vase bought at INterius, NYC, a cool folding mini lamp found at a fleamarket in LA , a paper slinky & old school slate board.

Green stool.

These are my stairs that I laboured over/hand sanded & extracted 100’s of nails by hand when I bought my corner building. I have painted them a couple of times. This is my latest colour called ‘Cherry Nose’. These stairs lead from the shop downstairs to my little house above. I painted the stairs in ‘Porcelain’ first then did one coat of “cherry Nose’. I am a bit slapdash in my paint application but it always has a lovely textile-y textural movement.

Situated in my walk-in wardrobe. A bookcase serves as hat display. I wear a lot of hats.

Cabinet of curiosities. As you can see I have a serious beach combing habit.

This is the Society inc. Situated on the corner in Sydney suburb, Paddington in a 1860’s terrace house. I design a 10 colour palette every 3 months. The shop gets changed/painted/restocked to reflect these colours and their story [paints are all Murobond]. This colour, ‘Cicada’ is in my latest paint palette’ called Tender is the Night. I change the door every 3 months to tie in with my theme. Tender is the Night is based on the book of the same name. The flowers that would have been found in the Divers rocky garden in the South of France: nasturtiums, geraniums etc & the vivid colours of cicadas. In Australia when I was growing up every summer we would be on the hunt for cicadas that had great names like Yellow Monday, Greengrocer, Cherry Nose, Black Prince etc.

A love of typography & old signs. I found the old diner board in a flea market in California & the ‘Closed’ card is an old flashcard I found in a fleamarket n Illonois. The ‘&Friendly Service’ is a sticker a friend thought I might like from a recycling shop. The top paper sign I made over the Christmas break so everyone could get excited about the next theme

This is part shop part office. I had my set builder make floor to ceiling shelves upstairs & downstairs. The shelves are based on the shelves from a Glass library existing in a Venetian mosaic school. Nothing is level or too precise (although we did measure my magazines ). Just how i like it. This rolling ladder is from the amazing Putnam ladders that up until recently was on Howard St, NYC. I had shipped it back without knowing where it would g, but it looks like it was suppose to live here.

A love of old trades is shown through my rather large collection of old paintbrushes.
I have these hanging in a door way near my paint samples.

This colour is called ‘Geranium’. My assistant & I paint the floor differently with each theme. Just like getting a new rug. This one is giant abstract nasturtiums. The birch chair is made by a guy in Melbourne, Greg Hatton.

I saw these old French labeled boxes in a pic of a friends shop in Melbourne.
I quickly called my very good friend who has an amazing furniture shop in Melbourne called Guy Matthews Industrial on Gertrude St, Fitzroy. He had found them at a late hour in Paris after too many drinks when builders were tearing apart an old shoe makers’ shop. He managed to sober himself up & organize a van to take them away!!! I bought 50 to house my extensive ribbon collection & other bits n’ bobs.

This is my main shop display cabinet. I found it at auction the week before I moved into The Society inc. It was  a real find that fits perfectly at 12ft high x 10 foot wide. Its originally from a pencil factory in Alexandria, Egypt.

I originally did this for messengers & package delivery for when we are out. However, I do stencil a lot -my stairs, walls, boxes amongst other things.

Each of my past colour ‘themes’ are housed on my custom build (by my set builder) shelves. These beautiful rich warm colours are from my theme ‘Atelier’. This theme was inspired by the story of Julien Tanguy and his shop in Paris in the 1880’s. He supplied the local artists of the Montmartre with their pigments & essential art supplies. Van Gogh painted him in 1887.

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  • Hmmmm, I predict you may get more comments on this fab post than any before. I have seen Sibella’s place before but I don’t mind seeing it again and again and again – thank you!

  • this is insane and gorgeous, the house, the shop, all of it!!!

    sigh, this site never fails to remind me that i havent won the lottery lately…

  • So much cool stuff! The building is beautiful and nice stories too. We can relate to drunken street finds :-)

  • BEST SNEAK PEEK EVER!!! So much fun to explore all of the curio-packed nooks and crannies!!!! What terrific collections. Wow. Ok… time to go back and look some more!

  • OH my! Sibella’s book is on the very tippy top of my wishlist(I think I mentioned it on my blog twice just last week) and now? This gorgeous sneak peek? My heart is all aflutter….absolutely in love with Sibella’s style, and I am bookmarking this so I can come back and see all the little details again and again. I too love things 3D in my home, words all around and am slap dash with my painting! A girl after my own heart & an inspiring creative soul! I have never wished to visit Australia more than right now, so I could visit that amazing shop! Thank you ladies!

  • this is what i want my life to look like. a beautiful organized collection of collections. how inspiring!!!! i am kind of giddy right now.

  • Wow. Just wow. Love all of it! I wish I could change color palettes and themes in my home this frequently!!

  • I’m with Anne. The clutter is way too much. I do like some random awesome things, like the green stool, the old shoe boxes etc. I had a mild heart attack when I saw the “cabinet of curiosities”

  • I adore Sibella Court! She is so inspiring! I hope to one day visit the shop in person so that I can absorb every nook!! I have a little post on my blog from the fall when I first bought her book, which by the way, I HIGHLY recommend!!

  • I echo Anne and Alisha — this space is entirely too cluttered! While I love the look of curated “found” objects and ephemera, this collection is very busy, which detracts from the special qualities of each of the objects. I do love some of the textures in the rooms — especially the feathers and wood tones, but these are diminished by all the distracting piles of things, and the space lacks cohesion and room to breathe. It feels very stifling. I recommend a good spring cleaning and some thoughtful editing!

  • i saw a piece on sibella’s nyc loft in a copy of living etc a few years ago and loved that so was really excited to see this sneak peak – and it does not disapoint!

  • omg. every 3 months? tender is the night? set builder? it makes me want to re-imagine my whole life.

  • When I saw this – I could NOT believe the amount of time that was spent on this home. Then, after looking at the pictures (always the most important part) I decided to read. AND THEN I FOUND OUT! It’s a store and they change the decor every three months! UN-FRICK-N-B-LIEVABLE! Sheesh. What a great way to get “repeat traffic” in the store. ;-) Amazing – really.

  • I do like all her collections, but for me, it is a lot of stuff. Those French boxes…beautiful!

  • As others have mentioned, I feel very overwhelmed by the clutter. I found myself wondering “how do you even begin to dust such a thing?” – especially that cabinet of curiosities.

  • re the “clutter” – what you are looking at is not just a shop and home its the life of an artist and everything has meaning – clutter does not have meaning. i have sibella’s book and its not just beautiful to look at – its sensual to feel – papers of different weights and textures, a heavy wraparound cover – it feels like she made it just for you. i’m off to sydney on thursday for trade fairs (3 in 5 days) and hoping i might be able to find an opportunity to visit the society – literally a dream come true as this is just the sort of place i often find myself in when dreaming – mysterious and full of curiosities and collated beauty.

  • I have to agree with Gayle – Sibella’s world is unimaginably creative and if you read about her background you will understand the collections etc. Her book is a work of art – I am smitten :)

  • Love love love.

    FYI anyone wishing to visit Guy Matthews’ shop, it’s actually on Johnston St. Industria is on Gertrude St. Both amazing stores well worth a visit if you’re in Melbourne!

  • Wow, thank you for introducing me to this beautiful designer. Unfortunately I have swiftly had my heart broken as her book is not yet available in Canada!

  • I just bought this book the other week, and have been pouring over it ever since. It’s a true work of art, not just the photos but the wonderfully meticulous way way it was assembled…blows my mind.

  • I would sooo love to visit this store – like a wonderland for grown-ups. I will def be looking for her book. Thanks for sharing such an incredible space!

  • What’s keeping me fascinated is the clutter, collections, whatever you want to call it…

    I have a houseful of stuff, of the gatherings of life, but I can never get it to look anything other than messy. I can’t parse out how all that looks so put-together for her!

    Is it possible ever to learn to work this magic?

  • Extra-ordinary sneak peak. I drool so often at them and now my very favourite is in my home town! Unbelievable. – Big visit coming up. thankyou!

  • My absolute favorite sneak peak eva. Every time I feel like I want to make my house sleeker and pare down on stuff (treasures) I see a magical home like this and remember I am not alone. I want to swim in your collections!

  • so, so amazing!! this is design taken to the level of Art…this is what anthropologie tries to do…so raw, natural, and beautiful. love it! can we make a museum??

  • I LOVE sibella’s work and have been eagerly waiting for her book to arrive (it’s on back order!!) . visiting australia and her shop are high on my list of places to go. what an amazing eye!

  • I would love to walk around, meander, and look at her collections at my own pace. Seeing it all at once in a photograph is too much for me. I understand the feel she’s going for, but I also felt overwhelmed by all the stuff. I didn’t think of it looks like ‘clutter’ as some people said, but I find it over the top. The kitchen almost gave me apoplexy. I love the pirate flag and the French boxes, though.

  • yes jackie you can learn the magic but it takes a lot of practise – like juggling. i think also fiona is spot on about the importance of sibella’s background – especially the influence of her mother. in sibella’s case i think the saying that “work is love made visible” is so, so true. her love for her mother in particular is so evident in all writings. and a reminder that as parents we are the starting point for the creative eye or ear or hand or palate. karina maybe you could buy a copy through fishpond here in australia?

  • I walk past her shop every week as it’s just near my house… The windows are always beautiful and mysterious, and the first time I went in it was like being drugged with the most fabulous alice in wonderland “drink me” potion.
    Sibella is adorable and completely down to earth…while I was shopping she was making a fluted cardboard candle holder of some sort…she was just so relaxed and at ease in her curious world.
    I love walking past everytime…

  • Don’t get me wrong, I like decorated cozy spaces, but this cluttered look makes me feel like I’m gonna have a panic attack.

  • If I was in this house with someone I don’t think I could focus on what they were saying for one second, my eyes and mind would be trying to take-in-everything!

  • Am IN LOVE with Sibella’s new book- i bought it for myself for christmas. It’s amazing. I have started my own collections at home!! She is increadible- luckily im only an hour flight away from Sydney, if i get the chance I will most definitely visit her store!!!! LOVE!!

  • i really admire how courageous she is with her space. and being a beachcomber too, i love how she keeps stones in the bathtub. they always look prettier when wet. :)

  • Waht a lovely place !
    But FYI, it’s not a school chair in the bed room, it’s a chair from a church, in French we call it “prie Dieu”, God’s pray…

  • Wow! I somewhat agree with Miss Miller. As an artist and designer I really appreciate the art and aesthetics behind it – ABSOLUTELY stunning! I could spend hours and hours discovering something new in this place. But as much as I love it, I am not sure I could leave everyday among this incredible collection.

  • I have loved Sybilla’s style since reading about her in Vogue when she was in NY. I still have the magazine.
    I stocked her book in my shop Scarlet Jones in Melbourne last year and they flew out the door within days. So I was surprised to read that the book is only available in Anthropologie in the US.
    This is the most beautiful post, I love this blog, so inspirational!

  • Definitely she is an artist. I like the way you design your very calm world, just by looking at the picture i can figure out the message on it, and and i saw some creepy collection of brushes… Be careful in might poke your eyes! Nice Work!

  • Is there anything I don’t like about this woman’s life? Possibly that mine doesn’t quite follow parallel :)

    I think this may be the look I am going for, but I love colour too much. I wonder what it is like to live life in only neutral. Hmmmm… If I put all my odds and sodds into lovely glass vessels would it have the same fabulous feel? Worth a shot maybe LOL…

  • While there are some cool pieces in this space (V Westwood flag :)), I am not a fan of how it is all designed. I think it’s just messy. It may be “Arty”, but it’s not good interior design.

    • debbie

      it may not be your version of good interior design, but i don’t think it’s fair to say something flatly isn’t “good” interior design. that’s a pretty subjective term and i hate to see things denounced as if there’s one version of good interior design.


  • bits and bobs, bits and bobs…. FINALLY an adorable label for my piles of collections! Thanks d*s and Sibella for giving them a voice! This is one post I’ll have to study over and over again. And to think she picked up some of it in my backyard flea market in rural Illinois …amazing.

  • An awesome place to visit, but I absolutely couldn’t live there. So. Much. Stuff! I just look at it and think, who’s gonna dust all of this??

  • Wow, thank you for sharing this site! I could easily spend hours going through every photo and link. If only I had known about this place when I was in Australia!

  • This has to be my favorite “Sneak Peek”
    to date. Sibella’s interior is The World Of Interiors material. I think it’s a matter of time for this dwelling graces those pages. This is eclection (my word) at it’s best.

    • wayne

      it’s mine too. when i saw it i immediately thought “world of interiors”! i think it’s got a distinctly european feel to it that i love- something that i know not everyone loves ;)


  • Whoa! What inspiration. Even if I like things simple (maybe because it’s easier to clean)…I love this, it’s truly wonderful! I like the changing out every three months – perfect and seasonal! I think the themes are great as well!

  • I’ve been a fan of Sibella’s since seeing a feature of her NYC loft in Living Etc magazine. When I found her book at Anthropologie, I immediately bought it, and I’m thrilled to see her style evolving to fit her new apartment.

    Thanks for the amazing Sneak Peek, Grace!!!

  • Sibella, Grace, what can I say? Anyone who can group that amount of treasures so artistically, magically, beautifully… I have no words for. But I will bow humbly and put my overcoat over any and all puddles in Sibella’s way! Oy! Swooning from Seattle!

  • such a ‘real’ space, very lived-in homey feeling. really dig it! always love these posts :)

  • I have the book and I fell in love with Sibella’s style. i couldnt afford it but i still bought it. Finally an interior and way of living that resonated me with after years of looking at white minimalistic empty spaces that were out there. I love the black room. I love the collections, the meaningfulness and the whimsy, the raw materials and textiles, and apparent randomness of it. While some have criticised that its just messy and cluttered, I am challenged to create this myself, as it obviously has been placed with an ‘eye’ for how things work together and her own personal sense of style. I think its arrogant for someone to say this isn’t good interior design. It’s fantastic.

  • Finally a home with excess decoration and mess!! Everything is obviously thoughtfully placed. This is the first Sneak Peak that looks like my apartment. Thank you for this look into your home!

  • I love that Gayle said “work is love made visible”….

    I have spent two days flipping back and forth because I am so in awe of it’s beauty…..(clearly…..” it is in the eye of the beholder”). It screams PERSONALITY to me and I find that so refreshing!

    Sibella Court KNOCKS MY SOCKS OFF!
    I had to read all the comments because I was so intrigued by every little bit and bob! And I love that she has traveled the globe in finding such treasures!

    After all, this style makes a house a “home”.

  • knowing Sibella, & having visited Society Inc in it’s MANY incarnations – you just NEVER tire of the visual overload.

    everywhere the eye rests there is another inspirational idea – & Sibella can passionately share the provenance of each object / colour / texture!

    thanks Design Sponge for this extensive sneak peak. love your work!!

  • Thanks d*s for an insight into Sibella’s abode and store. She validates my collections of shiny, rusty, felty, woolly, blingy, pretty things.

    I love that her inspirations are out on display – that she finds solace and pleasure in sharing these things. I also love that this sneak peek, like many others I have gobbled up with my eyes do not ascribe to a set layout – that has not been edited for a particular look – or cleaned for days to meet a certain aesthetic.


  • Hello lovely Design* Sponge people,

    Sibella just told me about this gorgeous feature on her home and store in Sydney, and that I get a mention too (Thank you so much!!).

    Could I be cheeky and ask to have my website link included in the article also? My web site is still under construction and the holding page links to my flickr.com page which is only a gallery of images of my designs and artwork.

    So it’ll be like showing people lots of pictures rather than promoting my personal business, which you do not do.

    Can you please let me know if this is possible, or if I ought to approach you again with a more solid article and images about my design practice, home and art inclusively?

    I adore Design* Sponge and this feature on Sibella and The Society Inc is so rich and like a sensory banquet in every way!!


  • So inspiring. I find the clutter to be comforting actually. I feel like it’s a place I can honestly live in and maintain, whereas a lot of beautiful homes are so neat I feel I will just mess them up in a few days.

  • I love that this space is clearly her own personality shining through. It’s so nice to see this in a home. That’s what home should be about.

  • This is my absolutely favourite sneak peak. I adore the style, the whimsy of the collections is so, so inspiring. There is nothing boring in that place.Love it.

  • I love design*sponge so much, but I’m rather intimidated by the beauty of everything featured here so I don’t think I’ve ever done anything but lurk. This sneak peak, however, is absolutely the most inspiring I have seen. My favorite amongst so many awesome spaces.

    Somehow this space makes creativity in interior design seem approachable. I love it so, so much.

  • Table tonic- my mum wasn’t proud! I’ve been into this look since I was about 15, you don’t get any gold stars from a mother when you drag ‘god knows what’ in to the house and cover your floor in leaves. :D

    If you like this sort of thing (and why wouldn’t you!), track down anything you can find on Ann Shore’s Story (Spitalfeilds) and Rebecca Purcell’s book Interior Alchemy – both are as elusive as they are wonderful.

    I was going to correct the shop location, well done Mindy! I used to visit Industria waaaay back in the olden days when it was at Tyabb packing house, that was probably the first time I’d seen anyone say ‘it’s okay to like this weird junk.’

  • I love that book, it’s awesome, I can understand what people are saying about it being cluttered but to each its own right?

  • The thing also about Sibella Court is that she is SO GENEROUS! With all her insider hints and quips in her divine book and when you meet her also. She shares her vast knowledge and artistic flair, so we can all create a little corner of treasure or enormous wall of beauty in our lives. Whether we see it as clutter or art, she elicits a response and makes us dream and do and think…and that GREEN is Cicada…luscious…

  • Karina, I live in Toronto, Canada and I order books from Barnes and Noble. Shipping is hassle free and not expensive. The books cost less too.

  • Hi, I am an architect and I live in Naples, Italy, I’ve just bought the book of Sibella….gorgeous!!!

    I not only love her interiors, but also the way she expresses beauty….using pictures, calligraphy, materials, nature, papers, ETC……

    ….sorry for my english!!

  • I think it’s lovely & Dr Heliotrope gave me the book for Christmas & I carry it around with me.
    I do sometimes worry about dusting, but figure that’s what minions are for.

  • Absolutely amazing & totally gorgeous!! I can’t wait to get home to Sydney in a few months and visit the shop. As an aside- I know it is mainly about the pictures, but I find the typos a little distracting.

  • Hugely disappointed at the shop. The books are wonderful. Where is the glitch!

  • I think its really refreshing to see a space which is fully wonder and mystery, and so reminiscent of a life fully lived.
    Anti clutter specialists have sprung up allover the place suddenly trying to make anyone with an ounce of personal history or character in their abode out as having deep psychological problems…another way to make money I guess.

    This woman obviously has a whole bunch of style and talent, and I must say I love the way she has produced her books, with their thick heavy pages, and all the different textures and fabulous photography, they are a thing of beauty in a time of austerity – food for the imagination and the senses. Im a fan! Wish her shop wasn’t on the other side of the world though :(

  • I have come back to this sneak peek over and over and though I’m late to the comment party I must add: not only do I love the personality behind these images, but I’ve been thinking a lot about surfaces and daily use and the function of objects in our lives: Living surfaces don’t need to be dusted; things that get used and touched and loved don’t need to be dusted. I would like to imagine that all of the things and surfaces in these pictures don’t NEED to be DUSTED. And that not everyone can pull this off because we all interact with things and our environment differently, another beautiful aspect of our individuality! Every thing in these photos looks loved, not dusty. A true environment, not clutter.

  • Did you know the school chair by the bed is a kneeler? For praying. They often have graffiti on the underside of the top rung – from naughty schoolchildren scratching their names without looking, whilst pretending to pray.

  • And every piece would tell a story I’ll bet , that’s half the beauty.Nice to spot the oz contributors, caught Adrian Richardsons’ digs in Carlton in sneek peaks. As a chef I always love to peak into the kitchens .Let’s see more kitchens in D*S.Thanks from an OZ fan.

  • Her home and office are so inspirational, that seem to be saying ‘tell your story through your living spaces, be who you want to be in there, design trends don’t matter only your journey and point of view does.”