Interior designer and stylist, Natalie Walton, takes us behind the scenes of her Byron Bay cottage.
There are man caves, granny flats, and then — well, Natalie Walton’s Still Studio.
A shed-cum-studio-cum-cottage-cum-future holiday rental, the space is as multi-hyphenate as Natalie herself.
An interior designer and stylist, you might recognise the name Natalie Walton from her podcast, as a best-selling author, or one of her several styling masterclasses. She also runs Imprint House, a curated collection of homewares — and she’s a mother of four.
The aforementioned Still Studio came part and parcel with their property five minutes outside of Bangalow, in the Byron Bay region. A “tree change” from the Central Coast (which originally was a tree change from Sydney), the home ticked all the boxes that Natalie and her husband Daniel were looking for.
North facing, two acres, gentle sloping block, a number of established fruit trees — mango, avocado and orange, just to name a few — and twenty minutes from the beach. Discovering the home in August 2018 — “after a long search” — the family moved in October 2018.
The cottage? “The project started in November 2019” — with a big break in 2020 due to COVID lockdowns — and was completed in February 2021. But as Natalie tells us, “It was well the wait!”
Calling it a “true passion project” the space was originally a shed that stored “a lawnmower, paints and a basic workbench”, and measured 46 square metres. In fact, it still measures 46m² — as the interior designer explained, “We used the existing footprint of the building, it was all about improving the space inside.”
Describing the experience as a “challenge that I loved”, Natalie spoke about how the constraints actually encouraged her to be creative, in the best ways. The importance of the SLOW movement — Sustainable, Local, Organic, Whole — is seen throughout, from natural, breathable materials on the walls (tadelakt) to microcement on existing floors.
“Other choices include a table made from reclaimed timber, salvaged doors and windows, and vintage furniture.” With a focus on “natural liveable materials”, the stylist talks about how this contributed to the feeling of calm in the space — and the fact that sustainable design can be beautiful.
It’s seen with the furnishings they used across the space — linens, like our Abbotson Collection, crafted from 100% Belgian flax linen. Tactile wools, like the Pembleton throw, crafted from 90% wool and adding striking texture to the space.
As Natalie said — and an ethos we live by — “I’m a big believer that embracing timeless design and materials is an easy choice.” And in doing so, it really does create a space that’s “beautiful but relaxing”, that still boasts longevity.
In fact, when it comes to sourcing items for her home, she asks herself a series of questions throughout: “Do I love it? Is it timeless? Is it sustainably made? What will happen to this piece at the end of its life cycle?”
Just like one of our offerings crafted from considered fibres, “When something is well made, it can live a long life or be passed onto someone else.”
Her embrace of natural materials is reflected across the palette she uses in her work and her wardrobe — something she calls her “signature style.” She cites the “vintage French limestone sink in the kitchen” as what set the palette in the cottage, also calling it the most meaningful item in the kitchen. It also helps “give a space character.”
It’s even seen in the bathroom throughout the cottage, with our Luxury Egyptian Towels in a cloud grey. Made with certified Egyptian cotton pile, they fulfil both of Natalie’s requirements.
Her thoughtfulness with sourcing is also reflected in the fact the place is “decluttered”, talking about how in previous moves she “only wanted to take with us the pieces we truly loved.” And it’s these pieces that truly make a home for her — the connection, the fact “everything has a story.”
“It’s a space to relax and unwind, and reset for the days and months ahead.” And less physical — and more metaphysical — it’s “filled with the memories of friends and family.”
Something else the space is filled with? “Light.” Calling it beautiful, she talks about how she loves “seeing how it moves around the space” — crediting the “careful” placement of windows and doors for making the difference.
And if you’re interested in the place as a holiday rental one day — something we can’t say about all our At Home With’s — don’t worry, it’s kid-friendly. A triple bunk bed, dressed in Abbotson Linen bed covers and shams, are tucked cleverly away in a nook. Not part of the original design, she talks about how every child just “LOVES them” — and talks about how fun it is being up high in that top bunk… sounds to us like personal experience.
Or as Natalie said when reflecting on the space: “I love every single feature because everything has been chosen with a clear intention. Everything is there for a reason, and all contribute to the greater vision of the space.“