Inside Baker Charlotte Ree’s Pastel Paradise
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the Newtown home of Charlotte Ree, an author and baker whose love of sweet things knows no bounds.
Sometimes you just get a feeling. You walk into a home and you know it’s the one for you. That’s what Charlotte Ree, baker extraordinaire and author of cookbook Just Desserts, felt when she first walked into the house she moved into in March. Everything made sense: the seafoam green-hued kitchen, the big, floor-to-ceiling windows, the warmth of the decoration and styling, the way it opened up into an overflowing rooftop terrace.
“I was just coming out of a long-term relationship and it seemed like such a happy space where I could regroup and rebuild. It’s really been everything I hoped for and more,” says Ree.
Ree’s move into the split-level space coincided with the Sydney lockdowns earlier this year, and so she’s been happily working, relaxing and—of course—baking in the space for a few months now, losing herself in the ritual of following a recipe while listening to classical music in her oasis. “Baking and cooking have become a love language for me, a way to connect with others,” she says. “Particularly during isolation.”
When Ree moved in, she didn’t have to do much to the home. It had already undergone an extensive renovation in 2016, courtesy of the previous owners. Their aesthetic—that minty kitchen, the millennial pink bathroom, the bottle green bannister that curves up the staircase—matched Ree’s own. A big reader, Ree utilised the home’s inbuilt bookshelves to colour-code her books. She’s also on the hunt for a Jardan Wilfred couch in Sugo, the perfect shade of peachy, apricot pink. "It will compliment my kitchen perfectly," she says.
Colour is the thing for Ree, whose biggest interior decoration tip is to fill your home with warmth, courtesy of rich hues that make you happy. In her bedroom, that means Bed Threads linens in luxe Ruby and dusky Lavender are the perfect grounding and inviting combination for the pastel-hued home. “There is something pretty special about waking up in my linens overlooking the succulent filled rooftop,” Ree says. Our only question is… when can we move in?
Hi Charlotte! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I am a no-fuss baker and content creator. My recipes are easy bakes, I want to show people that good, delicious, mouth-watering recipes really do not have to be time consuming or complicated.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I get such a great deal of pleasure from the process of baking. I discovered a love for it as a way to not only nail my sweet cravings, but to unwind after a busy working week.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?
By day, I am actually Communications Manager for a major book publisher. My love for baking really ramped up when I started managing staff in my job. I’d find myself trying to get to sleep and all I could think of were the fifteen things on my to-do list. A way to stop that, de-stress and decompress was to start baking, even at one in the morning. I call it concerto and cake. I bake to classical music and adore that baking forces me to put my phone away and get swept up in a recipe.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
For me, it always starts with the food I want to eat! It’s the flavours that excite me, recipes and smells from my childhood spent baking with my nan that I want to recreate.
And a big part of my creative process is to use baking as therapy. The brilliant part isn’t just that baking gets me away from a screen, makes me calmer and sleep better, but that it also enables me to have instant gratification. In my job, books can be years in the making and PR and marketing projects can take months to come to fruition. With baking, I had a result within an hour, which I find incredibly satisfying. The joy doesn't stop there though; truth be told I hardly ever eat what I bake. Instead, I get such a huge amount of joy from the process of gifting.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
Instagram has been singlehandedly the greatest tool for me. It’s been an incredible way to connect, to share recipes, to discover people’s interests/likes/dislikes and get creative.
I start every post and every recipe with a pun. ‘Lost without chew’ (Nutella thumbprint cookies); ‘A batch made in heaven’ (my version of Kingston biscuits); ‘I love you dough much’ (brown butter and salted caramel cookies’); ‘Appley ever after’ (apple hand pies); ‘You are the chosen bun’ (chocolate-chip hot cross buns); ‘It doesn’t get butter than this’ (chocolate buttermilk cake).
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
Learning not to overcommit myself and when to say no. I am yet to master the art of balance!
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
Definitely publishing my cookbook, Just Desserts. That isn’t just the best thing that’s happened since starting my business, but an absolute life highlight. After working in publishing for almost a decade it was a dream come true to publish a book of my own. And it has been such a beautiful way to meet and connect with so many dessert lovers and aspiring bakers.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to start their own business?
If you have a hobby or a passion, pursue it! Get out of your comfort zone, push yourself and most of all, make time for it.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
Only a few months. I moved into my home in March, just as lockdown hit and the world was shutting down around me. It has been a beautiful place to be stuck, a gorgeous space to bake.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
The owners, fashion and homewares designer Aurelie Remetter and her builder husband Jace O’Connor of Built Complete, did an extensive renovation which finished in 2016. Their incredible attention to detail, beautiful design and gorgeous colour selections meant that the house was ready-made to move into.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I owned the majority of my furniture beforehand and have been amazed at how beautifully it fit into the space. Books are a huge part of my life and I was thrilled to discover the inbuilt bookshelves. I remember specific books by their colour and cover so colour-coding has been a brilliant way to document my library.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
Definitely my Ladderax shelving unit in the dining room. It is such a beautiful piece to display my favourite cookbooks and collected treasures on. The illustration of Frida Kahlo in my bedroom is another special piece. I picked it up when visiting her house in Mexico City and brought it home with me. I find her mesmerising. Other than that I am a huge believer in quality over quantity, so some of my favourite pieces are my homewares. My Chasseur French Ovens, Mud Australia plate set, and my KitchenAid, which my family gifted me for my 21st birthday.
Shop Charlotte's look with our Ruby and Lavender linens in the Build-Your-Own Bundle.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
Always! I am obsessed with Jardan’s Wilfred couch and want to buy one in Sugo, a beautiful pink fabric that will compliment my kitchen perfectly. And art, I am on the lookout for beautiful pieces to add to my collection.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Definitely the open plan kitchen and dining room. It is where I spend the majority of my time and is so beautifully bright during the day. But there is something pretty special about waking up in my linens overlooking the succulent filled rooftop.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
For the bedroom, it is paring things back and creating a beautiful relaxing space to go to sleep in and wake up to. I am all about creating spaces that make me happy, and colour is a huge part of that for me.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I am working on editing the US edition of my cookbook, Just Desserts. It is being published over there early next year. And a big Covid-19 project for me has been to write my second book, Heartbake – how I baked my way through heartache.
Shop Charlotte's look with our Ruby and Lavender linens in the Build-Your-Own Bundle.
For more from Charlotte, follow her at @charlotteree
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