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Falling in Love with Yass

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She’s the louder, crazier side of the Moxom&Whitney floral empire. But Loulou Moxom finds peace and tranquility at home in a 100-year-old Yass cottage—far, far away from the bustle of Lonsdale Street.

Loulou Moxom is a bit of a Canberra identity. One half of the dynamic Braddon duo Moxom&Whitney, she has helped elevate the humble flower into art.

But now, the irrepressible Loulou is also a bit of a Yass identity.

Having sold her Dickson home after an extensive renovation in 2016, she and her husband Dale (now there’s a love story and a half, but we will get to that in a minute) fell in love with Collector. And together they dreamed of building an enormous black barn from which Loulou could teach floristry and host events and functions.

Life, however, is rarely so simple.

While the concept of building a barn may seem straight-forward for the uninitiated, the rigmarole of getting planning approval from the Crookwell Council took the couple by surprise. A year later, still living out of a rental and haemorrhaging money for yet another round of plans, surveys and approvals, Loulou and Dale reached breaking point.

In despair, Loulou started flicking through Allhomes. This is when she saw it—a 100-year-old genteel and slightly-falling down cottage in Yass. She didn’t even go in before putting in an offer.

Lucky for both of them Dale is a builder, and Loulou laughs now that perhaps there’s a reason people pay for professional house inspections and consider the practicalities before throwing their life-savings on the table.

The house has some definite quirks, odd angles, slopes, and floor boards that give so much you can make the furniture shake. But rather than look down at the problems, Loulou gazes lovingly upwards —towards the lofty pressed tin ceilings, or out the original lead-light windows as she runs her hand over the horse-hair plaster. She is home.

She and Dale have filled the home with an eclectic mix of meaningful pieces that reference their separate pasts and joined future.

Most importantly, they share the home with Loulou’s daughter Tory and her 20-month old son Bear. Bear’s tiny room is the centre of the household—as is he.

Family is everything.

Loulou’s tiny lace christening gown hangs from a sturdy picture rail in her bedroom, family photos are everywhere, antiques and old pieces from her past stand side-by-side with contemporary pieces and somehow it all comes together in the most perfect curation of style and warmth.

It is clear Loulou’s eye for floristry springs from a broader aesthetic gift.

Dale seems happy to let Loulou take the lead on decorating, slowly fixing the home from the ground up. At over-100, the house’s old bones are joined by old wiring and plumbing—both of which have had to be replaced.

Dale is a patient man, Loulou less so (she wants all the renovations completed in a dust and mess-free manner but realises this may be pushing the marriage).

The fact the couple now call this little pocket of regional New South Wales home is fate.

When a wild 18-year-old Loulou left Canberra for London (she was actually born in Cornwall but the family migrated to Australia when she was three) she was hanging at a pub when the dashing young soldier Dale pulled up next to her at the bar. They fell in love immediately.

But after a few years, when Loulou’s homesickness for Australia was reaching its peak, her mother told her to leave Dale alone, lest she derail his career in The Life Guards Household Cavalry Regiment. Loulou returned to Canberra with a photo of Trooper Moxom in her wallet.

She would marry three times, have a son and daughter, and lose her third husband Jay to a brutal battle with cancer in 2011.

But in 2012, on a whim (and still holding the photo of him in her wallet because she is sentimental like that) Loulou would search Facebook for her long lost love Dale. And he would respond to her message within minutes.

“I’d been looking for her for 21 years,” says Dale.

“I secretly flew to London to meet him,” says Loulou.

“He proposed after three weeks and it was on like Donkey Kong. Four weeks later we were married. I had seen with Jay how short life is. I was not going to take a chance on losing Dale again.”

Dale agreed to move half-way around the world with Loulou but neither felt particularly settled in the artificial capital city that is Canberra.

“We like Canberra, but it doesn’t feel like home to us. Living in the country is instantly peaceful and we both feel much more at home out here than we did in Dickson.”

On the weekends you’ll find them at Clementine, Trader and Co. or Kaffeine, or taking to the wide streets to give Trooper the pup some exercise.

So while there is work to be done in shoring up beams, building a deck, and finishing the new addition of a bathroom and mudroom out back, Loulou and Dale have made a beautiful home together in Yass.

They sit by an enormous red brick fireplace in the winter, or enjoy breezy sunsets on the front deck in summer. Every corner holds a treasure—whether it is a Bison vase, a wooden crucifix, or an old sepia photograph.

“Everything means something to me,” says Loulou.

While her former Dickson home was extremely colourful, Loulou reckons she is mellowing with age.

“This home is definitely softer, calmer, more muted.”

Evidence of this is in the choice of lots of tans and greys, and enormous leather chairs from Bay Leather Republic from which to survey the scene.

There’s an Italian linen sofa from The Snail and Petal, and quaint bedroom side tables were picked up at Merchant Campbell in Yass—as were the baskets that are liberally scattered around the house. Artworks by Jess Cochrane and Katie Clulow rather unsurprisingly tend to focus on florals. It is a picture of bucolic bliss.

“I don’t subscribe to the idea that you copy the latest trend or look and go out and buy a whole new room full of objects and furniture. I like to keep all the things that make me happy and put them together in ways that bring me joy. So my home tells a story of me. And of us,” says Loulou.

“Even if the house is a bit dodgy,” adds Dale helpfully.

“Well, we will eventually fix it all up, won’t we darling? It will be perfect, or perfectly imperfect, in time.”

Yes, things are definitely falling into place in Yass for the Moxoms.

Photography: Tim Bean

This article originally appeared in Magazine: FALL for Autumn/Winter 2019, available for free while stocks last. Find out more about Magazine here.

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