Simone Haag's Twice-Renovated Mid-Century Home Is an Interior Design Masterclass
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 Ringwood home of prolific interior designer Simone Haag—and our only question is when can we move in?!
Eight years ago, Interior designer Simone Haag and her husband Rhys went to look at a potential property in Melbourne’s Eastern suburb of Ringwood. As soon as they turned onto the dirt road that led to the Modernist property, they felt like they were already home. Nestled amongst the trees, Simone has created a breathtaking sanctuary reminiscent of a log cabin retreat.
Here, the rustic and hand-crafted meets high-end contemporary furniture and art, with wood-panelled walls painted white and carefully curated ceramic sculptures lining angular industrial shelving. In the living room, the exposed brick fireplace takes centre stage, neighboured by a highly-Pinnable gallery wall.
Throughout the home, a palette of white, tan and beige pay homage to the earthy natural tones of its surroundings, whilst potted indoor greenery brings the outside in. Trinkets and treasures line surfaces as far as the eye can see, but somehow nothing feels too cluttered. Instead, everything here is perfectly placed, and the result is a home you quite literally never want to leave. I guess that’s why Simone is one of the most sought-after interior designers in Australia—her home is perhaps the greatest example of her polished eye.
Hi Simone! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make moments by way of curating furniture, art, and objects for my clients. These moments are twofold—one being aesthetic or ‘Instagrammable’ moments, but it goes deeper than that.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
It’s an interesting question. I wouldn’t say I am a maker in the true sense of the word. I don’t design furniture and I can’t draw to save myself, but I like to make spaces that respond to my clients’ brief—allowing them to make memories within them. These are the moments that mean the most to me.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue interiors? And what gave you the impetus to start your own studio?
My career path was definitely unexpected—I studied Business at University before taking off overseas snowboarding. After snowboarding took me to Canada and France, I ended up working in the boutique hotel scene in London, first in reservations and then event coordinating. I then ended up working on a boat for Quiksilver (which is a crazy and much longer story in itself!) before I decided I wanted to enter the interior design industry, and that’s when I entered what I like to call my ‘eight-year apprenticeship’ with Hecker Guthrie.
I don’t know where my design interest came from, other than recollections of always wanting to re-tweak a bedroom or decorate things. When I came home from all my travels, I decided to investigate who was at the top of their game in Melbourne, and Hecker Guthrie kept coming up. I knew I was ready to start my own studio after I stepped away from my role to have my first baby, and soon after, my solo career took off.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I start with a furniture piece that I want to match-make the client with, and from there, the rest comes!
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
As obvious as it sounds, Instagram has been the tool that has helped me tell my story to an audience of mainly female, design-loving 30-45-year-olds. But the tool that has bought continuous business to me is trying my very best to provide a really nice journey for my clients which has led to predominantly referred business from friend to friend.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to go out on their own?
I actually have a few. The first is to seek out a business mentor. The second is to use a good template designer so you there’s a consistent look to all your content. On that note, invest in a social media course, because it’s a fast changing landscape online. And finally—get good insurance!
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
Eight years, and in that time we have done two renovations and had three babies. The house was built in the late 60s, early 70s, and only had one owner before we bought it in 2011. It was in a state of unloved disrepair and had ‘passed in’ at quite a few auctions.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
My husband and I were looking at Modernist homes via Modernist Australia. As soon as I turned onto the dirt road I thought, ‘How cool is this!’ It’s like being in the country.
Tell us about your renovations.
We have done two renovations on the house. The first we did prior to moving in, and that entailed painting, laying larch flooring, renovating the kitchen and bathroom, re-carpeting and furnishing the house. The second was after my husband Rhys suggested we encase the balcony that we never used because it was so high and possibly dangerous for our toddlers. So we encased it and used that space inside, and then built another deck on the west of the property. With the help of Kennedy Nolan architects, we also built a robe, ensuite and deck to the north of the property. The first renovation took three months and the second was closer to eight months.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
Scandinavian design was a huge influence at the studio I worked at when we moved in, so I think it became the natural direction for my design aesthetic. The timber paneling, raked ceilings and floor to ceiling glazing very much invited pale timbers and white walls. The house is a mix between a log cabin and a treehouse, so I make it all come together by way of a refined materiality palette but with recurring themes like textured fabric, groupings of ceramics and greenery, and cream and beige tones.
What are your favourite pieces in your home?
My favourite find is the paper artwork behind my sofa in the living room. It was sourced on a recent trip to New York. As I was on the way to JFK airport, I saw an interesting shop, and the driver pulled over and kept the meter running as I ran in. I loved this work and was told it wasn’t for sale as it was the owner’s personal piece. I left a card and asked them to let me know if he changed his mind. By the time I had landed there was an email saying he was happy to sell it, and the rest is history.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
My husband keeps telling me we are at capacity, so for the sake of our marriage I will say no! Having said that, we are working on a mountain house project so soon there will be a lot more space for cool things!
Which is your favourite room in the house?
The lounge room for sure. We are at tree level so the birds flock past, the view changes to twinkling lights at night and the fire and a glass of red wine make for one very happy lady.
And finally, what are your top tips for a well-styled home?
Grouping likeminded objects, regular cleanouts, and less toys then you think you need. A box always makes for far more fun anyway!
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