Image: Alex Mills sitting on her Slideaway Sofa Bed in Oatmeal.
“I believe styling your own home that you live in is such a personal thing, and you should always go with things that YOU love, and what makes you happy."
Alex, 32, discovered her passion for interior styling when she and her partner bought their first little home, an old 1950s miner cottage. Unable to afford renovations, they relied on clever styling solutions to create the beautiful home they dreamed of. She began documenting her tips and learnings on Instagram and gained a loyal following which lead to a job as a Property Staging Stylist.
The family have since welcomed 3 adorable children (and 2 cavoodles!), moving into a gorgeous 1930s Art Deco home in Newcastle, NSW. Alex continues to share her styling tips, home DIY projects and general life on Instagram.
We spoke to Alex about her experience and achieving more with less at home.
What are your tips for someone who isn't sure where to start?
A great starting point is choosing an artwork that you love, and for it to be in the correct scale for the space you’re hanging it in (if in doubt on sizing you can use painter’s tape to kinda map out the size and where it’s going). From there, it’s easier to pull colour and inspiration for your styling pieces like cushions, throws, vases, florals etc.
The ‘Rule of 3’ is tried and true for interior stylists - where you use 3 objects to create varying heights, shapes and overall visual interest for a space. This can be used for the cushions on your lounge or bed, for objects on your bedside table or coffee table etc.
My last tip - and honestly this may not be for everyone - but personally I like to go by a ‘less is more’ approach to styling my home. I like to avoid clutter to simplify life and tidying up. This also helps me to be more intentional with the things I do have out, they are all things I love or find to be useful (or just aesthetically pleasing!)
What do you look for when purchasing furniture for your home?
Having worked with a lot of different styles of furniture through property staging, I feel I have been able to really hone in on what I love and works for me in my home. Obviously, it’s got to be beautiful - but definitely not at the cost of practicality. For example, I have a white lounge and armchair, but the covers and removable and washable. I have a beautiful big wool rug, but I chose a grey marle to be more forgiving when it comes to traffic, crumbs, our two Cavoodles, 3 kids….that’s a lot!
I look for pieces that are excellent quality and timeless, I try to steer clear of trends, and would rather save up for a special piece than have that instant gratification from a quick/easy/cheap purchase - I’ve learned this as I used to be that person.
I think a focus on ‘balance’ is important - for example, if you’ve got a lot of white in your space, you can warm things up through timbers, textures (rugs, cushions, throws) and of course artwork!
What is your bedtime ritual?
Look, having 3 kids of fairly varying ages (13, 8 and 8 months) the morning and evening routines can more often than not be a bit hectic. I do make sure I get up before everyone else in the mornings for my coffee and Vegemite toast, can’t function without those!
Something of a special weekly ritual we have had for 6ish years now is ‘Friday Family Night’ where my husband Toby and I put our phones away, and we all just focus on spending some fun quality time as a family - this might be boardgames, video games, a picnic dinner, going out somewhere special, having friends over or just snuggling up for a movie. It’s a moment every week that we all really look forward to, I think it’s important to carve out some family time with the day-to-day being so busy.
Where is your favourite spot in your home?
My favourite spot in our home is our main living area through spring and summer - our kitchen, dining and living flows on to French Doors and out to our backyard, so the doors flung open of an afternoon/evening when the light is golden and gorgeous is juuuuust *chef kiss*.
Any personal recommendations?
Places to eat in Newy - Light Years (the best Asian food, and the interior fit out is to die for) Earp Bros Distillery (the best cocktails in town) and Antojitos, for a relaxed vibe and a delicious Mexican feed and margarita.
Podcast - Tob and I enjoy a murder mystery poddy, most recently listening to ‘The Coldest Case in Laramie’.
Movie - I love a Quentin Tarantino film (Kill Bill vol. 1 & 2, Pulp Fiction are my faves) and another all time favourite is The Constant Gardener.
Music - Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Nick Drake, and my daughter and I love a bit of TayTay. Classic millennial, I could happily listen to playlists from 1998-2012ish on repeat.
Follow Alex on Instagram to see more of her Newcastle home, styling work & beautiful family.