Inside the Thoughtfully Curated Home of Interior Decorator Claudia Stephenson

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 impeccably curated home of interior stylist and decorator Claudia Stephenson.

In the home of interior decorator Claudia Stephenson, everything has its place. For the last seven years she has lived in Sydney’s North Shore, all while carefully curating her possessions. Handmade vases live on sculptural stone plinths. An edit of artwork and glassware is styled on a wooden side table with chunky handles. In the dining room—Stephenson’s favourite space at home—a marble table is surrounded by stark brutalist chairs, sourced from a little website called Gumtree.

“I am a hyper-organised person who hates unnecessary clutter and waste,” says Stephenson. It’s as true of her home as it is of her business, helping to style and decorate the houses of her clients across Sydney. “What I love doing is helping people edit down their own collection of furniture, accessories, books and distill it into a more meaningful representation of themselves—which is exactly what I do in my own home.”

Stephenson’s style is grounded in instinct. When working on her own home she tried never to overthink things, making choices based on gut feelings. The result is an intuitive and relaxed space that feels personal and special, something achieved through Stephenson’s mix of high-end designer pieces with vintage, thrifted finds.

The stylist has tips for how to achieve a similar look in your own home, and you can keep reading to find them out. Mostly, she wants to stress how significant it is right now to live somewhere that you love. “I think in these times, the importance of home has come to the fore,” Stephenson says. “So, helping people make their home a haven will be my goal for the foreseeable future.”

Hi Claudia! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?

I make people’s homes more attractive.

How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?

I love helping people live with more intention through their interior choices. I personally don’t like to hang on to too much. I am forever passing things on that once lived happily with me but tastes and moods change and I evolve with it.

Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue interiors?

I have certainly always had an interest in aesthetics, however I began my career in psychology working with disadvantaged and homeless communities and eventually more specifically with families experiencing separation and domestic violence. During this stage of life I had a keen interest in fashion which slowly morphed into interiors where I began a blog around 12 years ago and started working as a stylist purely based on what I presented on the blog. This developed into people asking me to help with their homes and things grew from there.

Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?

I always start with exploring how a person lives, how they spend their days, what’s important to them in terms of lifestyle, family and friends and then we move on to style influences. I like to steer people toward a more unique approach to their interior, always looking at how we can make existing pieces work into a new space and looking at what we can let go of. I present my clients with my ideas on what I believe would work best in the spaces and we refine things from there. It’s always a matter of compromising for both parties, especially with art which can be a tricky one.

What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?

Check measurements three times! Managing clients expectations around what can be reasonably achieved without making structural changes, and accepting that you can’t always please everyone.

What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?

Discovering that I can make a living purely based on my love of shopping and furniture! What a dream…

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/ someone looking to start their own business?

Just start, create in your own home and get it out there, if it’s authentic and you offer a unique point of view the growth will follow.

How did you initially know this was the space for you?

It was light, bright and had a great neutral base to work with.

Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?

No, we rent our home at this stage so only decorative changes were made.

Shop Claudia's look with Terracotta and White in our Build-Your-Own Bundle.

What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?

I don’t overthink things. I tend to follow the principle that if I love it I get it and it generally works with my existing pieces. Having a collected home lends itself to an eclecticism that is more sympathetic to a sense of oddness which is what I love. My home is a great mix of thrifted and fancy and mainstream.

What are your favourite pieces in the home?

Right now it is my brutalist dining chairs (Gumtree) and the viola marble table they sit around. I also treasure my book collection.

Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?

Always! I would love a new bedhead and bedside tables, an India Mahdavi ceramic and a vintage mirror.

Shop Claudia's look with Terracotta and White in our Build-Your-Own Bundle.

Which is your favourite room in the house?

The dining room as it’s the hub of the house, the table is used for work, dining and kids homework so it has to be chic.

What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?

I like my bedrooms minimal, I like layered bedding and interesting lamps and preferably no TV! I always stick by keeping only what brings a smile to your face everyday, get rid of the rest.

Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?

I have a gorgeous apartment on Sydney’s Northern beaches I am working on with a client who has exceptional taste. Our styles are very in sync and she wants it to be a ‘jewel box’, filled with vintage Italian lamps, boucle fabrics, patterned wallpaper, Patricia Urquiola scones and vibrant art – I want to move in!

For more from Claudia, follow her at @claudiastephensoninteriors and at claudiastephenson.com

Loved this home tour? Inside Artist Jordana Henry's Farmhouse and Studio In Byron Bay

Discover more of Australia's most beautiful homes in our series, The Makers.

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