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Kings Road by Phoebe Nicol

This artful reimagining of a 1920s Sydney home is emblematic of Phoebe Nicol’s approach to design. The interior is light, airy, calm and quiet – filled with pockets of space that offer respite from the outside world. Embellished by bespoke design details and French antiques sourced through The Vault Sydney, her business with husband Jeremy Bowker, it’s an intimate home with enduring style. 

Styling by Joseph Gardner
Photography by Dave Wheeler

How did you find your calling in interiors? Who are some of the people who have mentored you along the way?

My upbringing was steeped in the world of interior design, thanks to my mother who was a decorator. Surrounded by the eccentric and creative atmosphere of my mother's family, I've always felt a natural affinity for design – something ingrained in me. Growing up, I enjoyed creative freedom and developed a keen interest in my surroundings, firmly believing that our living spaces significantly impact our creativity.

Fortunate to have had inspiring mentors, such as Geoff Clark from the Country Trader, I've been able to nurture my passion for antiques. Geoff, with his incredible design eye, played a pivotal role in shaping my perspective. When the Country Trader closed its doors in 2016, Geoff encouraged Jeremy and me to embark on our own venture, leading to the establishment of our antique business, The Vault Sydney. I am truly grateful for these experiences that have enriched my journey in the world of design.

How would you describe your philosophy as a designer?

My philosophy towards design is about creating spaces that go beyond any single style. It's about blending materials, forms, and architectural gestures, letting emotions guide the process rather than adhering to rigid styles, I think the resulting interiors are both refined and comfortable. This approach allows me to create spaces that are unique, reflecting the individuality of each client and their personal story.

Give us a little insight into your creative process. From initial meetings to breaking ground and beyond, what aspect do you enjoy most?

We tailor our approach to each concept and project, recognizing the distinctiveness of every client brief. Our design process and philosophy are guided by an appreciation for the architectural aspects of the home and a keen understanding of the client's lifestyle needs. Collaborating closely with our clients, we translate their personal visual inspirations into spaces that evoke joy for them.

What was your brief for Kings Road? 

The client outlined a desire for a minimalist and neutral aesthetic infused with warmth and character. The goal was to create a family home that radiates light while ensuring an effortless blend of liveability, functionality, and purpose.

"The goal was to create a family home that radiates light."

The home was designed in 1925 by Bruce Dellit, with an A-frame extension added in 2001 by Allan Dukes Architect. In what ways did this history inform your vision?

Recognizing the importance of honoring a home's architecture and heritage, it becomes crucial to capitalize on its inherent features. In this instance, leveraging the grand scale and proportion of the high ceilings and spacious rooms is paramount. The original details at the front of the home, such as the distinctive leadlight windows and art deco cornices, contribute beautifully to its unique character.

What were the lifestyle needs of your clients, and how did they shape the finished product?

The clients are a young family. They emphasized the importance of creating a functional home that can be both enjoyed and lived in.

The accents you choose inject so much character into your spaces, which is why we’re honored that our Sistine rug made its way into the home office. What considerations are front of mind when selecting rugs to work back with a room?

First, palette – ensuring that the colors of the rug harmonize with the overall color palette of the room. Whether complementing or contrasting, the rug should contribute to the cohesive visual appeal.

Secondly, size and proportion. Pay attention to the size of the room and the proportions of furniture. The rug should be appropriately sized to anchor the space and create a well-balanced composition.

The home feels so bespoke, curated with vintage objects sourced from France through your other business, The Vault Sydney. Are there any stand-out pieces?

In keeping with the language of the architecture, we have introduced art deco and mid-century pieces including a 1940s Charles Dudouyt-style desk, a Guillermeet Chambron bar and sheepskin armchairs, and an oak daybed in the style of Rene Gabriel, to name a few. Despite blending an eclectic mix of styles, the design language remains both original and familiar, creating a distinctive yet comfortable aesthetic.

Do you have any advice on creating a home that strikes a balance between the historical and the modern?

Avoid succumbing to tricks and trends; showcase architectural details that speak to the history of the home. Integrate artwork and accessories that represent both historical and contemporary aesthetics. This can be an effective way to express personal style while maintaining a balance. I encourage my clients to gradually build a curated collection of pieces over time.

Finally, interiors or otherwise, what has been inspiring you lately?

I find you can seek, source, and stumble across many forms of everyday inspiration in day-to-day life. Travel and art are also at the forefront of my creative process and drawing inspiration to form ideas.