Interior Designer Anna van der Gardner of The Design Barn has a keen eye for coastal interiors, travel and gardening, which is evident in the recently restored BRONTE HOUSE. When working on the home, Anna focused on bringing the outside into the 1845 building. Anna has successfully brought a classic contemporary style that has put a spotlight on the architecture of the Bronte home and the revived historic gardens.

Anna Van Der Gardner, The Design Barn | Interview | Travelshopa

Bronte House, Bronte, NSW
Images supplied by Anna van der Gardner

Since it was first built by Robert and Georgiana Lowe in 1845, Bronte House has seen multiple residents and owners. Since 2015 the van der Gardner family has been residing in the two acre property in Sydney’s Bronte.

With an advanced Diploma of Interior Design from Enmore Design Centre, Anna van der Gardner has added her feminine touch to this historic home. On the eve of a Bronte Home Open House, we chat to Anna about her work, style and of course all things Bronte House.

How did you start out as an interior designer? 

I started working for a boutique architectural studio where I was lucky enough to have two amazing mentors – I then went on to work for a high end residential Interior Designer until I went out on my own.

What’s your first interiors memory?

My absolute favourite building is a place called Neuendorf Villa in Mallorca by Claudio Silvestrin and John Pawson. I love the clean, simple, raw lines and textures.

I can’t start my day until…

I have my morning coffee in bed!

What is your top interior styling tip?

Don’t rush it – take your time finding the perfect pieces.

Where do you look for inspiration?

The rustic coastal regions of France and Italy as well as more exotic places like Morocco and Mexico where I have been on my travels.

If you were not an interior designer, what would you be doing?

Travelling the globe sourcing antique/vintage pieces to sell in Australia and taking photos along the way

What do you do in your downtime?

Hmm… how could I not be gardening!? I have also just started a botanical watercolour course.

Anna Van Der Gardner, The Design Barn | Interview | Travelshopa
Anna Van Der Gardner, The Design Barn | Interview | Travelshopa

We didn’t choose a ‘period style” look for Bronte House, rather a Classic contemporary style that allows the houses simple architectural details to shine.

How has style changed at Bronte House over the years?

Bronte House has had many uses over the years from the ‘country’ residence of the Lowes when it was built to being a wedding venue and Red Cross branch in the late 60s. We didn’t choose a ‘period style” look for Bronte House, rather a Classic contemporary style that allows the houses simple architectural details to shine.

How would you describe the style of Bronte House today?

A provincial inspired elegant coastal family home.

What changes have you made to Bronte House?

We have freshened the house with some new lighter wallpapers, light fittings, floor coverings and furniture.

How did you go about the design process of Bronte House?

I took inspiration from the house and its surroundings, bringing the outside in – I started with the foundation pieces such as rugs and lounges and built it from there.

What advice do you wish you had received before taking on Bronte House?

That you may have trouble getting wifi as the walls are so thick!!

What is one interesting fact one should know about Bronte House?

The original owner of Bronte House, Robert Lowe, was an albino and hence the exterior shutters to the house.

Anna Van Der Gardner, The Design Barn | Interview | Travelshopa
Anna Van Der Gardner, The Design Barn | Interview | Travelshopa

That it has opened a whole new world of knowledge for me – especially in the garden.

Favourite thing about Bronte House…

That it has opened a whole new world of knowledge for me – especially in the garden.

Favourite room at Bronte House…

The Dining Room with its large Bay windows looking out to the yellow and white border garden – this is where I like to do my paintings.

Favourite interiors item at Bronte House…

The large shell mirror above the fireplace in the Lounge Room.

Favourite Australian fashion designers…

Camilla and Spell & The Gypsy Collective

Favourite local homewares boutiques…

Orient House, Parterre and Maison et Jardin

Get The Look

Anna Van Der Gardner, The Design Barn | Interview | Travelshopa

Camilla

Sign of Peace Long Sleeve Wrap Dress

Anna Van Der Gardner, The Design Barn | Interview | Travelshopa

Orient House

Blue & White Ginger Jar

Anna Van Der Gardner, The Design Barn | Interview | Travelshopa

Parterre

Forged Iron Console

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