It’s been a month of highs and lows for Kit Willow Podgornik. Here, the Sydney-based designer reflects on family life, her new home and the courage that has unexpectedly come from exiting her label
The flipside to all this, is the completion of Kit Willow's harbourside home: a modern architectural space that she and her husband began transforming two years ago. “When we bought it, the garden was a rainforest and there was practically a small river running through the bottom of it,” she says with a laugh. “But we moved in and it surprised us just how much we loved living in this mad square house.”
What followed was a labour of love for the couple. “We were very clear on how we envisioned it: we wanted to modernise the house by adding another level while also maintaining its original stamp, it had so much character,” explains the designer. Hence, its architecture incorporates exposed beams pinned with industrial screws, black steel-framed windows, an open-plan kitchen and living area with steel benches and tall cupboards with elegant grated doors. The wide oak floorboards were transported from Melbourne and left raw and unstained, while the ceilings on the lower levels retain their ornamental mouldings. "The functional elements inspire the design on the new level creating a masculine, industrial feel with an organic touch. It is a comforting space which is bright and open,” says Kit Willow. “We wanted the space to feel airy and without clutter.”
To capitalise on its sea views, the designer decided the top floor should feel cosy, her “cuddle zone” as she describes it. She decorated the room with white linen sofas, Moroccan pillows and a giant diamond-weave Beni Ourain rug. Her art collection is equally compelling: on the wall hangs an antique mirror, a gift from Kit Willow's husband to mark the birth of their first child, together with oil paintings by Clemens Krauss and Andrew Macdonald, and a limited-edition print by Brett Whiteley entitled, The Willows. Kit Willow says, “The couches are a ridiculous luxury considering we have children but the rug was a great find. I love the idea of having a nesting area where the children can lie down or roll around and play games.” Indeed, the doting mother has a habit of interrupting our conversation to scoop up her son and daughter in order to smother them with kisses.
Despite the comfort of her new home, it is the garden that has become Kit Willow's true sanctuary. “It may sound weird, but I feel like I have this strange kind of synergy with nature right now. Over the last few weeks, my children and I have discovered wonderful magic spots in the garden, perhaps it’s just more of an awareness to my environment,” explains the designer. “It feels amazing, it’s very calming and peaceful and, best of all, the timing is perfect for us to be here.”
Kit Willow’s scoop on motherhood: “My children have taught me so many things. I think the most important lesson has been to live in the moment. I also know that the more love you give them and the softer you are, the more they look up to you – all you need to do is feed them with love, affection and support and they just blossom. That’s an amazing thing.”
On balancing career with family life: “After I had children, I learnt to be very focused and super efficient in the job – lunch was always at my desk or had during a meeting. It allowed me to be completely devoted to my children when I was at home, and there’s nothing more important that that.”