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Home Stories: Maria Cerne

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This week on Home Stories, Ashley and Cass arrive at the home of interior designer and stylist Maria Cerne to find a modern home full of thoughtful, personal design.

Most of us tend to be quite humble in social situations. For example, when you’re really good at BBQs and someone at work says “Geez Gary, you’re a bloody master with the tongs”, you’d probably brush it off and say you know how to turn a sausage just like anyone else.

Or when you’re a professional musician and someone says, “Deborah, you’ve got an awesome set of pipes on ya”, you’re likely to say that you can just hold a tune as well as that howling dog.

I’m really not sure why I made those comments sound so Aussie, but that’s not the point—my point is that you can’t trust people’s humility. So, when Cass and I were planning to visit Maria Cerne’s home in Chifley and she said “Oh it’s just a little warm and homey place” I should have known it was all a beautiful lie.

You see Maria is an interior designer and stylist that works with many private and commercial clients through her business, Studio Black Interiors. That should have been enough of a clue to know that we were in for a treat, but no.

Cass and I arrived none the wiser looking for a ‘little home’ and instead were presented with a superbly neat modern structure with an impressive entrance.

After we rang the doorbell, the lovely Maria came out with the biggest smile and took us through a journey of her home and her professional life—both of which are in fact intrinsically linked.

Maria used to be a campaign manager for the ATO, however, about five years ago she saw the shiny light of design and styling and decided to move towards it. She quit the ATO, went to study at CIT and started picking up projects on the run.

At the same time, Maria and her husband purchased a block in Chifley and built the home of their dreams. More importantly, she used the blank canvas of the new home to kick off her portfolio and show off her skills.

Even though the home was brand new, this didn’t mean buying furniture and décor that was also new and on trend. In fact, Maria is a true believer that great interior design is built on items that have meaning and often that includes odd pieces people have collected though their lives.

“You see this red table over here in the entry?” she said. “That was the first piece my husband and I bought together. It’s red and quirky but means a lot to us, so then I styled other items around the piece, like the print and books, to give it new life. Interior design and styling are often a mixture of old and new, cheap and expensive—it’s the balance that matters, it’s your relationship with it that matters.”

Balance is certainly visible on all the rooms. You can see from Cass’s photos how the stunning large open rooms including the living, bedroom and laundry are balanced out with items that give the space intimacy and the feeling of personal liveable comfort.

Even the home office, which was stylised and stripped back to allow clean space for various mood boards, had prints of Palm Springs—not just to add character but also to remind Maria of her favourite place of inspiration.

I loved the darker tones and the structured simplicity of that office and when I was complimenting the room, Maria explained that she feels somewhat bad about ruining her husband’s man cave to set it up. Apparently, it has been full of 80s movie posters and other retro memorabilia!

I have to say that as much as I love my moustachioed and dentist-glasses heroes of the 80s decade, this office sat higher on my appreciation levels.

So, there you have it. I’m sure you’ll pick up some styling picks from this story, feel supported when you move the man cave contents into the garage and also take home the lesson not to trust humility.

Or, if you want me to stick to the Aussie expressions that I started with…I hope you see that Maria’s place was bonza and that it was grouse meeting her. What a top sheila.









Moving into your new home soon? Save your energy for styling and leave the rest to ActewAGL—your home for moving home.

For a simple and seamless move, connect with Canberra’s local energy experts.

Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here. 

Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with ActewAGL.

Photography: Cass Atkinson

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