About ten years ago I was looking at another place to buy as a holiday house for the family, when a friend insisted that I see this one first,’ says Collette. ‘I was so busy, as always, with no time, so I flew in by helicopter to see it on a Sunday, and 48 hours later we’d exchanged. Surrounded by trees, with rainforest a few minutes’ walk in one direction and the beach in the other, it was so enchanting. The late 1880s house, located on one of the area’s oldest dairy farms, offered the freedom of getting away from it all.
‘I’m very good at walking into a space and imagining right away what I want to do – I always concentrate on making the most of the natural light, the proportions, and lending colour through textures of natural materials, fabrics and vintage pieces. I like symmetry so I rarely mix and match. The house’s structure was sound, so I concentrated mainly on finishes such as tiling the floors, painting everything white, including the woodwork, and recycling a lot of the timber from around the property to make new floorboards or furniture. I wanted to keep it classic but for it to still feel fresh.
‘For friends and family coming to visit, we’ve converted one of the barns into a fantastic entertaining space and the old butter shed into guest accommodation. Usually I’m drawn to European design influences, inspired by regular visits to Paris, where I showed my collection for more than 20 years [I’ve since wound down my business to focus more on family life and design collaborations such as my recent capsule range for Anthropologie], but this house, with its existing tongue-and-groove, corrugated iron and hardwood floorboards, needed a rustic, modern Australian feel. Anyone who visits finds it very healing – they walk in and after just one day they feel as though they’ve been on holiday for a week.
Collette’s five-piece capsule collection for Anthropologie is available online and at the London Marylebone store (anthropologie.eu), with prices from £138. Her book Obsessive Creative, a visual memoir of Collette’s fashion career, is published by Harper Design, price £50. To order a copy for £37.50 (25% discount) until 7 June, go to you-bookshop.co.uk; free until 2 June. Collette’s country retreat, Milton Surf & Stables, is available to rent via airbnb.co.uk, from £279 per night.