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Home Stories: Amanda Whitley

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This week’s Home Stories gives you a sneak peek inside the home of none other than HerCanberra’s Founder and CEO, Amanda Whitley.

I’ve been lucky enough to know Amanda for quite some time. In fact, longer than that first time I reached out asking, ‘Hey, so can I give you some stories about people’s homes with a few photos included and you can publish them on your website? Trust me it’s going to be fun!’.

Whether these stories are fun, you’re probably best to decide. The point is that she did trust me—and to prove that she still does, Amanda even invited me over to her place for an insight into her home.

So, what was so ‘wow-worthy’ about the home’s façade? Well, four things: the soaring two-storey wood panel feature, the inviting bright lime green front door providing a healthy dose of fun colour on a cold winter’s day, and Nigel Dobon’s industrial sculpture casually reclining in the front yard.

A well-considered front exterior like that is akin to someone dressing up nicely to welcome you, out of respect. Then there’s the location—while most of us have our homes bumped up next to our neighbours, Amanda’s home bounds a reserve with swings and trees. She tells me they feel very lucky to have this outlook and space on their doorstep.

We eventually made it to the door where we were welcomed by Amanda, husband Drew, their daughters Olivia (13) and Sophia (nearly-11), and George the cat (2).

We moved inside and quickly found more ‘wow’ moments. I was mesmerised by the layout of the living and dining space with an open flow through to the kitchen. It was so cosy, yet so modern. Amanda told me the home had been tweaked with a couple of extensions—one by the previous owners—but I couldn’t work out where due to some clever design.

Amanda and Drew purchased the 1960s home in a moment of buyer’s enlightenment (that’s the moment when you see a home that is ‘the one’), even though Amanda was six months pregnant with Olivia and the place needed a lot of work—think: replacing the roof, carpets, frosted glass interior walls, wood panelling and a whole lot of other “unsexy” stuff.

But they bought it, took out walls, opened spaces and later extended the left-hand side of the house to include an upper story for the office. Drew has a slight (read, huge) fascination with architecture—note how Amanda’s former space for her cookbooks have been entirely replaced by with a library any architect student would drool over!).

Local elements feature large in the home. The extension was designed by Canberra building designer Adam Hobill, with architect Paul Tilse and interior designer Vanessa Hawes assisting to transform the living spaces into truly welcoming areas.

Pieces from local designers Fink, Alison Jackson, Bison, Mitchell Brooks & Dan Lorrimer and Peter Bollington sit alongside items from well-known names such as Charles Wilson, Catapult and Universo Positivo.

Another thing that really grabbed me was the colour palette in the living and kitchen spaces, which flow into a seamless whole. Most people avoid placing shades of white, cream and yellow in the same space because often the whites look too stark in reference to the yellow, or the yellow tones look a bit dirty in comparison to the white. But not here.

The landscape triptych painting on the main wall in the lounge is used as the central anchoring piece that unites the transition between the shades and colours of the surfaces, rugs, walls and furniture. All this makes for a room abundant with depth and interest, while allowing it to be very warm and welcoming. Plus, it even complements the peaceful outlook onto the parkland, which you can see from most windows.

While I was hooked in the living room, Olivia and Sophia took Cass around to the other wing of the house, which was the original home. Both of Amanda’s daughters are rather pro dancers for their age, so there was lots of twirling down the corridor and opening of doors with the kind of elongated arm movements you see at the ballet.

The girls were very proud of their bedrooms, and they should be. Amanda and Drew gave both of them a makeover budget as a Christmas present so they could update the rooms they’ve been in since they were babies, and develop their own style.

Sophia (aka Boo) opted for a Bahamas-inspired tropical look, while Olivia went more ‘teal luxe’. If I got free design rein at that age, my entire bedroom would have looked like the inside of spaceship, so it was great to see that—rather than a picture of Justin Bieber on the wall—both of them opted for art.

As Cass and the girls returned, Amanda explained that art is a really generational thing in their family. Drew’s parents are full-blown collectors and used to lend Amanda and Drew paintings when they ran out of wall hanging space in their own home; this exposure to art inspired Amanda and Drew to start purchasing and hanging more art at home, which in turn has clearly influenced the girls.

As we were leaving, I did one more glance at the living room and realised that the white quartz-topped dining table is actually a Walter Knoll! I wandered over and started rubbing my chin as I admired its design and its relationship to the Coco pendant lamp suspended above it.

You know what? Perhaps I should pitch a video series idea to Amanda, where I mostly point at great pieces of design while rubbing my chin. I wonder if she’ll trust me with that idea too?


Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here

Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with Canberra Outlet Centre

Photography: Cass Atkinson

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