With a true talent for creating, sophisticated, unique, and wholly intriguing interiors, Tara Dennis has caught the attention of the design world with her bold combinations and unexpected pairings. With an inherent knack for delivering beautiful, enviable environments, it’s fair to say that Tara is having a moment. The talented designer is now in her eleventh year as part of the team on the well-loved TV show, Better Homes & Gardens. As if Tara didn’t already have enough plates in the air, she also runs a busy design studio. Original designs for each collection are hand-painted by Tara, and then reproduced onto beautiful, practical items for around the home. In our interview we discussed everything, from what sparked her interest in design to the key piece of advice she’d give to amateur designers today.
- What sparked your interest in design?
Design has always been in my DNA. My parents have renovated houses all of my life and continue to do so in their 70’s. I grew up assuming it was normal to redecorate and undertake complete major renovations on a whim. I have two older brothers and we were always involved in some way, reluctantly or otherwise!
- How would you describe your individual interior style?
My style is quite relaxed, I guess you could say ‘modern rustic’. I’m all about mixing old with new and paying attention to detail, workmanship, material and structure. I would rather have fewer well-made meaningful pieces than a whole house filled with poor quality items that I would likely get tired of quickly.
- Do you spend as much time styling your own home as you do in your work?
I wish I could spend more time on my home, I’m hardly ever there these days! If I’m not filming or working with clients I am more than likely styling and working in my shop! I’m ok with that though, I’m so happy doing what I do.
- Do you have a key feature or element which your home would never be complete without?
I think as you get older it’s reasonable to assume you’ve had time to acquire a few significant or sentimental pieces along the way. Over the years I have collected some lovely art, not necessarily expensive but each piece means something and will go wherever we do. I am also working on some investment rugs and key furniture pieces. I would dearly love to have just a couple of great pieces to be able to hand down to my kids for their homes one day.
- What are your top tips for adding more character and life to interiors?
I really do believe a beautiful home is not necessarily about how much you spend, rather the layering and character you can achieve with what you have.
Break out of the mindset of only buying new. Mix it up and don’t be afraid to be adventurous. Paint or add details to what you have already to save money and personalise a space and forget matchy matchy or being dictated by trends. Always buy with thought and care, not only to how you live but also for what you leave behind.
- What key pieces of advice were you given at the start of your career that you still give to amateur designers today?
Understand the needs of the client, be practical, hands on and as realistic as possible.
- Tell us about the Tara Dennis Store.
We opened our store two years ago and I absolutely love it! We are part of a small shopping village on Sydney’s upper north shore and pride ourselves on being an independent boutique. We offer a mixture of new and vintage pieces as well as furniture, art, books, rugs and gorgeous accents. It really is my playground, I create displays and arty installations, we offer creative workshops and have an amazing online store too. It really is what I think all independent shopping experiences should be, beautiful, accessible products, lovely service and plenty of inspiration. We work so hard at making it fresh, every day is an adventure!
- What are your future plans? Any exciting projects in the works?
I think for the time being I’ll just keep on concentrating on what I already have on my plate, it’s a bit of a greedy portion! There is so much to be grateful for and I’m so lucky to be able to do things I love each day.