This is Melissa Bonney, the woman behind the beautiful shop The Design Hunter. It’s only been open seven months but I feel like I’ve been hearing mutterings about how great it is for much longer. Yesterday, I finally went along to have a look for myself (Okay, I admit it, I’m a north shore girl and I didn’t really know where Charing Cross was).
Was it worth the trip? Was it ever! What a divine shop, full to the brim with gorgeous things, beautifully styled, and with friendly and knowledgable staff, not least Melissa, an interior designer. The “little bit of retail” which has quickly turned into a popular store, started when she and her other half Brendan, a builder, were working from home, often together. They had three projects put on hold at the same time and started thinking about what else they could do to bring in revenue at quiet times.
With a background in marketing, Melissa decided they needed to be on the street front, with an office, and a bit of a shop to bring people in, who would then learn more about their services. It worked, and then some. While the shop has taken off, so too has interest in their interior design and building services, with Melissa employing freelance designers to share the load. I have to say, if the shop is a reflection of her taste, I can see why people are queuing up for her to help them transform their homes. “Nothing comes in here (the shop) unless I want to take it home,” she says. “I have to love how it looks.” I think I’d quite happily take most of it home with me too, thank you very much.
Interior design is something she’s passionate about making accessible too: “It’s about bringing good design and putting things together well, to the masses,” says Melissa. “It doesn’t have to be designer furniture, it can be something you’ve found and brought in off the street.” She adds: “A lot of people think they don’t know what they want but I think one of my skills is in asking the right questions to get out of them those few little nuggets that reveal what they do want, but maybe don’t realise.”
Everywhere I looked in this store, I found things by people and brands I love: cushions and lampshades by Shibori, chunky knits by Little Dandelion, art by Lisa Madigan, Voyager Candles, Armadillo & Co rugs, Bay and Fyfe scarves. You get the idea. Melissa loves stocking Australian and handmade products where possible and gets excited about discovering brands like Urban Cartel on Etsy.
It’s clear Melissa has very personal relationships with her suppliers and could tell me all sorts of interesting details about them, their products and how she came to know them. It’s why this shop has such a good feel about it, as well as just looking great. I will definitely be back for a return visit.
The Design Hunter | 267 Bronte Rd | Charing Cross | NSW 2024