STORY BY RICHARD CORNISH
Lynda Gardener has an infectious enthusiasm. Her eyes light up as she describes a house she is styling or the new small hotel she is working on. The interior stylist, with her broad smile and signature mane of untamed hair, is an unmissable part of the local business community. She and partner Mark Smith have the carefully styled but refreshingly casual café and homewares store Trentham General (37A High Street, Trentham), housed in an old bank in the historic town. Using a blend of old and new furniture, found and built surfaces, random and organised objects Lynda has made a store that showcases of her skills not only as a curator of homewares but her ability to transform an old building into a hospitable dining room.
Lynda also has two stunning accommodation properties in our region with another to be finished in winter. The Estate Trentham is an original three-bedroom federation house set amongst beautiful gardens in the heart of Trentham. The clean white painted rooms are counterpointed with warm natural wood and fabrics. The White House in Daylesford has Lynda’s light approach to styling but with more curated spaces such old leather chairs in the library, patterned wallpaper in the bedrooms.
Lynda is a masterful storyteller using props, paintings, furniture and surfaces instead of words. She learned her trade while working with Levi's in Melbourne. "I stumbled into fashion, but when the team at Levi's were looking to decorate their concept stores, I put my hand up," recalls Lynda.
When not rifling through second hand and antique stores she was walking around town with her eyes skyward. "I love the old buildings. I love them when they show signs of their age. When they're renovated, they lose their appeal to me."
Lynda founded the seminal vintage store Empire Vintage in Albert Park and then continued her career as a stylist. She worked on photo shoots moving into hospitality decorating small hotels and then into the real estate field. She has the eye to transform the everyday abode into a desirable property. "Some of the best days I have is when a client returns to their home after we have styled it, and they burst into tears of joy," says Lynda with a smile. (The other part of the ‘we’ she refers to is Belle Hemming, and their styling business called Inside Story. "I love to blend the old with the new," says Lynda. "The mistake some people make when styling a home is buy everything brand new. Anyone can do that. But what you really want is a painting or a vase that means something to someone. It is about the story. The patina."
She spends her time in and around Daylesford scouring the markets, having the skill to find beautiful objects in bins and boxes of chaos within seconds. Lynda can have a seemingly disparate assortment of objects and bring them together as a collection that seem like they had always been together. "I might start with a portrait of a man," she says, "And I build from there, bringing in other portraits or building on a colour. It’s about creating a story."
Styling and Design Commissions: Inside Story, www.insidestorystudio.com.au Accommodation: The White House, Daylesford, thewhitehousedaylesford.com.au The Estate, Trentham, theestatetrentham.com.au; The White Room, Fitzroy and The Apartment, St Kilda, theapartmentstkilda.com.au Shop: Trentham General, 37A High St, Trentham.
For your chance to win a night stay at the exquisite White House in Daylesford, click here.