I was flicking through the latest Country Style magazine the other day (thanks mum for subscribing!) and in the back section where there’s often advertisements for comfort bras, wigs and furniture polish was the most beautiful little picture of dreamy upholstered furniture.
So straight to the laptop I went to do some investigating and it ended with me now being head over heels with an inspirational Australian furniture and homewares online retailer.
Lavender Hill Interiors started just a year ago and its carefully selected products from across the world are already being featured in countless glossy magazines, online blogs and of course, great Australian homes.
Twin sisters Gina Courtenay and Mary McManus started Lavender Hill Interiors with a shared passion for home décor and interior design, particularly the French Provincial and classic European styling. Mary’s background is in public relations, working with fashion and lifestyle products and Gina worked in the legal arena.
The company is going from strength to strength with a new children’s range launched just days ago.
I caught up with Mary to find out more – enjoy!
Put simply, what does LHI offer or sell?
We created a totally unique online concept – offering complete collections of classic French styled rooms online, at affordable prices. We have done all the research and will act as both the store and the interior designer rolled into one.
We take the hard work out of the equation, choosing the furniture, colour scheme and accessories. All pieces in the collections are also sold separately.
When did LHI first start and why?
LHI was born in 2012. We had already run a successful online gift soap business but wanted to follow our passion for French style interiors and create a business out of it.
Most people think of French Provincial furniture as out of range and out of pocket. We reject that notion and came up with the idea of offering beautiful and complete collections of furniture and homeware at reasonable prices. We wanted to make French décor accessible to everyone – not just those who can afford an interior designer. We felt that online shopping had come of age and that it will continue to grow for areas including furniture and products for the home. There is no other online furniture store in Australia offering this concept.
You’ve come a long way in a short amount of time. Tell us how!
Firstly we did our homework and spent almost a year researching the market and establishing contacts with suppliers and importers. We also invested time in creating the website and our image so that it was not only a beautiful site to behold but easy to navigate.
We also offer high quality and a beautiful range of products, backed up by impeccable customer service and competitive prices. Our mantra is “Provençal Style at Provincial Prices” and the growth of the business has followed this path.
Many of our customers live in rural Australia who have never had access to French Provincial collections and they have been among our biggest supporters. For the first time, they can order this kind of furniture and have it delivered to their doorstep.
Where do you source your products and from which countries?
Our products are sourced both locally and internationally – from gorgeous sheets from Italy, botanical pictures and sisal rugs from the United States and linen table runners from France. We also import our own exclusive range of French-inspired children’s beds, bed-heads, bedside tables, chairs and sofas.
Describe your business in five words.
“Unique, chic, affordable and accessible”
What kind of people do you think LHI appeals to?
We’re acutely aware that many people are lacking in time and resources and may be overwhelmed with the idea of styling their own room. They would like French furniture and homeware but simply don’t have the means to attain it. That’s where LHI steps in.
Soft tones and colours are prevalent in the French provincial theme. What is it about these colours that make for such great design?
French Provincial décor originated in the provinces of France in the 18th Century and features simply carved wooden furniture with decorative curves and cabriole legs. Combined with a calming neutral and white palette, with muted colour accents like duck egg blue, French Provincial décor is all about casual elegance.
And what about materials – which are in fashion at the moment and any classic ones to be aware of?
Lavender Hill’s focus is on all natural materials –100% pure linen, pure angora and wool, natural timbers and pure cottons form the basis of our collection.
Tell us about the idea behind the new children’s room collection. What type of kids to you think this will appeal to? And what about their mothers?!
In Australia, there is a dearth of quality French-style girl’s bedroom furniture and classic boy’s bedroom furniture, at affordable prices. Girls will love the fairytale French Provincial linen upholstered bed, the pale pink linen cushions and bedspread, the white painted French bedside table and their own linen buttoned armchair. And the boys will love the navy linen upholstered oak bed-head, blue ticking quilt, oak bedside table and lots of red, white and blue cushions. Mums will love quality, the design, the colours and the price!
Investing in a child’s bedroom need not break the bank but if you buy them quality, well designed pieces when they are young you won’t need to change when they are in their teens. Our furniture will grow with them and take them from toddler to teenager with simply a change of bedding and wall decor. It will be a lot less expensive in the long run.
The children’s bedroom furniture is exclusive to Lavender Hill Interiors and the craftsmanship is of the highest standard.
What are the key elements to styling a kids room? How much say do you think kids should have about what exactly is in their room?
Kids should definitely have a say in the style and general colour scheme of their room – girls are particularly interested in designing their own bedroom space. The first step in styling a kid’s room is to focus on a décor theme and include your child in the process. Then begin with the larger furniture pieces – the bed, bedside table, bookshelf, desk, etc – invest in classic pieces instead of character or childlike designs which won’t grow with your child. Choose colourful accents in wall decals and pictures, bedding and decorative pieces, mixed with neutral colours so the room is bright and fun as well as relaxing.
Take a look for yourself: