Like many people, I was forced to cancel my 2020 travel plans (Ciao, Amalfi Coast!) But whether I'm looking for a visual escape to make up for a global pandemic ruining my vacay, or I'm just craving a little worldly inspiration, I know that I can always turn to a handful of resources to satisfy my wanderlust.
Topping that list is Australian photographer, stylist, author, and all-around creative spirit Kara Rosenlund. She has a knack for finding and capturing the beauty in simple everyday moments and objects, not to mention dreamy destinations, making it easy to get lost for hours at a time looking through her Insta feed and blog, reading her books, or shopping her lifestyle brand.
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While perusing her stunning work, you can't help but notice that Kara has an impeccable sense of style — which of course, you want to copy at every turn. So, I did what any rational fan girl or boy would do, and I asked if she would be so kind as to share her signature style secrets. Luckily, she didn't call the authorities and she generously agreed to hunker down with me for a chat about her life and her enviable beach-chic aesthetic.
Hunker: How would you describe your home's style?
Kara Rosenlund: My home style is very natural and textural. I love to incorporate one off objects and pieces from nature for a unique interior feel.
Hunker: Do you live in Brisbane or on an island? Does island life play a role in your decor aesthetic?
KR: I split my time between the mainland and the island. During the week I'm at the studio in Brisbane where I'm working on my photographic print collections and lifestyle brand, and [while there] I stay in our little wooden cottage. Then [on] Fridays I escape over the water to the island for the weekend. It's such a vital work/life balance.
Hunker: Is there an item in your home that looks expensive, but was really a bargain find or a DIY project? If so, what?
KR: Probably the fireplace. I found the firebox secondhand and built the surround together with my father out of light hebel bricks and then applied a fine layer of white stucco. It acts as a fireplace surround, but also a shelf and a large scale floating shelf [to] display my larger photographic framed works. It looks rather artful and a bit posh, but it's really not.
Hunker: Do you have anything in your home that has been handed down? Would you mind sharing the story/history behind it?
KR: A stoneware vase of my mother's — it's not particularly valuable, though it reminds me of [my] childhood. My mother would always move it around from room to room and I always thought it was so ugly. A few years ago it caught my eye at my parents house and I asked mum if I could borrow it and she gave it to me. I just love seeing it and filling it with banksia cuttings from the island, and remembering the simplicity of growing up as a child.
Hunker: Many people are working from home right now, what are a few of your home office/studio must-haves?
KR: A beautiful handmade mug. [I like it] so much so [that] I have just included [it] in my shop. I got in touch with the potter who made mine and asked her to make a special run of them for me. A warm mug in the hands settles the soul in these unnerving times. [Also,] beeswax candles to light in the evening after work to cleanse the air of all that 'work talk' at home.
Hunker: What home decor/architectural trends are you obsessed with right now? Have you worked them into your own home?
KR: I don't really have a trends-based approach to my interiors. I tend to listen to what is already there within the house and build upon that. For instance, the island house has a midcentury feel to it and I wanted to listen to that and respect that, as opposed to fighting it ... [and] the interiors are stronger because of it. If anything, I have gently introduced layers of natural textures to complement the house, and to incorporate what is happening outside in nature.
Hunker: Where do you go for inspiration?
KR: Nature. That's where I find most of my inspiration. When designing the bedrooms, I collected fragments of seashells from the nearby beach and used the color combinations on the shells as my [lead]. Also, the native scrubland, the beautiful neutral [color] of the paperbark trees, led me to the decisions in the living spaces.
Hunker: Of all of your travels, what city is your favorite and why?
KR: I really enjoyed my time traveling through Namibia a few years ago, staying with the tribes. There was such a sense of freedom and joy being by campfires and sitting in the sand with no shared language, yet still able to communicate.
Hunker: Do you have any pets?
KR: We share our bush block with a goanna who lives in the backyard [and] a small mob of kangaroos who visit and graze on the grass. They aren't pets, though they are animals who we love to watch when they visit — as this is their home, too.
Hunker: Describe a typical Saturday morning at home.
KR: Saturday is my favorite day. It starts with a swim in the ocean and usually a walk to collect plastic off the shoreline — I'm obsessed with doing this. Then, a visit to the green grocers and the local fish shop to buy some supplies, and then a quick drive by to [collect] some some banksia branches off the side of the road for the vases at home.
Hunker: For those in the U.S. it's summer, but it's winter in Australia? Any plans for how you will enjoy the season despite the pandemic?
KR: We swim and surf all year round and then usually come home and warm up by the fire, which is a lovely thing to do. A lot of cooking and simple rituals and appreciating what's around us. No grand gestures.
Hunker: I've been seeing a lot of people talking about their morning routines lately. What's your morning routine?
KR: I'm an early riser, so I'm up early and I always have a [hot drink with] lemon, honey, and ginger. That's probably as far as the routine goes. Each day tends to be a bit different, though I really enjoy that hot drink.
Hunker: What is the secret to keeping your home looking so effortlessly stylish?
KR: If you just fluff the cushions everything else will look neat. Lazy, sat-in, sad-looking cushions on the sofa will always bring the vibe down.
Hunker: What book is on your nightstand and/or coffee table right now? What show are you binge-watching right now?
KR: A book called Truganini — it's about an indigenous Australian woman in the 1800s during the colonization of Australians in Tasmania. It's a heavy read. I just finished off The Great — [that] was a lot of fun!