Join design editor Ariane Moore for Hunker Down as she gets to know the creators and designers she's followed for ages.
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.
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!