CONVERSATION: SOPHIE BELL
Here at Concrete Nation, we are big fans of digital strategist, stylist and interiors aficionado Sophie Bell aka Peppa Hart and her impeccable sense of style. Needless to say, we are thrilled to work with her on some bespoke concrete pieces for her new modern farmhouse in the Northern New South Wales hinterland. The talented Sophie, who designed our new website, took time to chat with Concrete Nation about building her dream home, her obsession with concrete and her interior tricks for your home.
You have such a great eye. What interior design trends do you love right now?
Aw, you are too kind! I used to be all about the vibrant colours and patterns, but over the past few years I am pairing it right back and am all about neutral but mixing it up with lots of textures. I love all of the beautiful homewares stores in Northern NSW like Bisque, Hope and May and Pampa The artisans they work with to create their homewares are so talented.
I’m a crazy plant lady so I cannot get enough indoor plants! They bring life to a neutral palette and if you are a terrible plant keeper, you can get some killer faux plants that look so real.
I also love that handcrafted ceramics are making a big comeback. My mother is so talented in creating ceramics and my house is filled with all of her creations. I love every piece so much; you really appreciate how much work goes into making one cup. I think it makes my morning coffee taste even better than usual.
You’re about to build your dream family home in the Northern New South Wales hinterland. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yes, our plans are all finalised and we are getting ready to roll. The house is a mix of all our favourite overseas destinations rolled into one, so it will feel like we are on holidays all year round. It will be a mix of Mediterranean/Bali villa vibes with lots of white and concrete but really textured finishes so it adds another element. It will feature a really open living space with a cosy fire for our family to curl up in front of. The property itself is three-and-a-half acres of rainforest, it feels so lush. For a crazy plant lady, the fern situation that grows naturally sold me as soon as we laid eyes on it!
We want our beautiful son Hendrix to grow up with space, vegetables and fruit that he gets to water everyday himself and little chooks running around. I grew up on a farm and my childhood was so incredible so I want Hendrix to experience that. My husband loves the surf, so we had to be close to the water as well. Cabarita is the perfect mix for all of us - the ocean, farm and still close to everything we need on the Gold Coast or in Byron and Bangalow.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
Definitely travel. After every trip, I want to re-style my house and live differently. We just got back from Europe and my iPhone is exploding with inspo shots for our build. Instagram is also another great place for inspo and I love following stylish humans from all over the world to see how they style their homes.
Of course Pinterest is also packed with so much goodness - I have boards for all aspects of the house set up so I don’t forget ideas we have had along the way. I also think it is so handy for showing builders what you want as well. You can explain things verbally but sometimes it doesn’t translate so well, so I feel like being able to show actual images of different elements you love or don’t love gets the brief across clearly to tradesman you are working with.
I also love a good magazine like Real Living, Adore Magazine, Inside Out and Vogue Living. I buy them every month and thoroughly enjoy sitting down with a cup of tea, getting inspired.
Dream piece of decor?
Tough question! We love custom-making all our furniture so it’s perfect for the space. For our last project, everything except for our dining table and chairs were custom in the house. My husband is super-handy at creating things. For the new house, I am creating a concept for a mega sofa for our main living area. It’s modular and looks like a big linen cloud so fingers crossed that we can bring my vision to life. I’ll check back when it's done!
We’ve seen a huge rise in concrete in interior design. We know you plan on incorporating concrete into your new home so what are some of your favourite architectural concrete pieces?
Yes! I am concrete-obsessed so we are including as much concrete as possible in the new house. We are having our kitchen benches in concrete as well as baths, vanities and a floating shelf under our fireplace. I like it to not be 'perfect' in its finish and I like a bit of character to the concrete; it’s a big part of its charm. I personally love a really lightly-coloured concrete finish - not too dark or with aggregate in it - so it is clean and simple.
We are also doing a white concrete pool with the concrete extending out around the pool area.
Who do you love on Instagram for interior inspo?
So many people, I could go on and on and on! But my faves are….
Any decor tricks you can share?
I love millions of cushions throughout our house. In our last project, we had a lot of built-in day beds both inside and out. Buying cushions for all of the spaces to make them super cosy and full would have been mega expensive so we ordered loads of MudCloth fabric and linens online and made cushions for all the spaces, including beautiful floor cushions. We then mixed in some more luxe cushions to make them feel even better. I cannot take all the credit though as my darling mother-in-law did all the sewing.
Follow Sophie on Instagram @peppahart