Think you need formal training to become a successful interior designer? Simply not true! Lynda Gardener has none at all. “It all has happened from sheer love and determination.”
Not surprisingly, word of mouth is key. “I have now worked on many large warehouse spaces of my own, magazines also found them to photograph, then in turn people wanted to know who did the fit-outs or decorated the spaces. I seriously thought, why not give it a go? I am very passionate about my interiors and decorating, so I found it very natural for me.”
Prior to this, she had worked for Levi Strauss, sourcing, decorating and styling their concept stores around Australia, which was invaluable experience.
Lynda is one half of design duo Gardener and Marks (with Amanda Henderson-Marks) and owns Empire Vintage in Melbourne’s Albert Park.
I couldn’t not try and steal some of Lynda’s top tips, so I asked her what advice she’d give someone moving into a new home. Where to start? “Start with a theme and continue it all the way around your home. Don’t put different looks in each and every room. I know sometimes it is tempting but it’s always so much nicer to have consistency as you walk through the house.
“I always like to have a basic colour for the walls, like white, then you can add anything you like: big huge pieces of artwork, clusters of old black and white prints, old mirrors, everything looks great against white. If you keep your space basic and dress it with your beautiful collections, furniture and cushions, you cannot go wrong.”
Where to spend and where to splurge? “With vintage finds, some pieces will be bargains you can find at the local junk shop and others more expensive from beautiful vintage stores. I like to spend money on good quality sofas where you really are comfortable and cosy. You can save on the smaller bits and pieces. You may be able to find an entire wall of old floral oil paintings from auctions which won’t cost much at all. Simple linen curtains and cushions are all inexpensive and can be mixed with other, more expensive items.”
Lynda doesn’t follow trends and has always been all about vintage but currently she’s loving hessian which is cheap and easy to use. While it’s very hard for her to sum her style, she says: “I’d describe it as vintage, rustic, stylish, a touch of classic, country and industrial!”
She changes her own home about once a year. “Not totally but areas or colours or even just all of the walls. Right now I am collecting black frames with black and white prints, whereas a year ago it was mirrors; vintage mirrors in all shapes and sizes.”