Celebrated artist and illustrator Kerrie Hess, whose client list includes the likes of Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co, returned to her home town of Brisbane from Paris 11 years ago. “Whilst Paris was beautiful, my son Marcel was turning five and I wanted him to enjoy a childhood filled with sunshine and playing in a backyard, not braving European winters in an apartment,” she says.
First settling in a riverside suburb of Brisbane, Kerrie more recently purchased an inner-city Queenslander in need of some love and care.
In a recent Instagram post, Kerrie revealed that her home was for sale. “Back in 2016 I bought this home …. and over many years, lovingly renovated almost every corner of it,” the post read. “It’s a tuly magical home.”
In November 2023, the home sold at auction for $2.3 million. AFR reports that the auction resulted in a “record sale for a home of that style without a swimming pool in the area.”News flash
“I find old Queenslanders so charming,” explains the talented illustrator. “They have these beautiful architectural details you just don’t see anywhere else. They also have high ceilings, which allow in a lot of natural light – especially important to me as an artist.”
When they bought the home, it was painted in shades of brown, inside and out. However, a residence that was structurally sound and only in need of a cosmetic makeover was exactly what Kerrie was after.
“I wanted something I could make my own, without having to do any major renovations,” she says. As a result, the makeover was kept as simple as possible. “Before moving in, we had the entire interior spray-painted white, including all the trims and architraves, and then tackled the rest from there.”
Other changes included a quick kitchen update, which saw the brown benchtops replaced with Caesarstone ‘Calacatta Nuvo’ and the installation of a new Perrin & Rowe ‘Provence Country’ mixer from The English Tapware Company. The home’s existing dark hardwood floors were retained upstairs, while the orange ceramic tiles downstairs were replaced with whitewashed timber laminate.
The one traditional Queenslander feature the house didn’t have was tongue-and-groove walls, which gave Kerrie an opportunity to add Parisian-style moulding. “It was simple moulding bought from Bunnings and painted in a high-gloss white,” she says.
“It was relatively inexpensive, but it really makes an impact.” The interiors are decorated in Kerrie’s signature French-inspired style, mixed with an Australian sensibility. Chandeliers and a high-back ‘Louis’ chair, shipped over from Paris, sit comfortably with more relaxed, family-friendly pieces.
Perhaps the biggest selling point of all was the home had space for a studio. “I’d never had one before,” says Kerrie. “In our last house I painted in the garage, which was sweltering in summer and freezing in winter.” With the living areas and bedrooms all upstairs, almost the entire downstairs is devoted to her illustration studio.
“Walking downstairs into this space is inspiring,” she says. “I think your environment matters when you’re a creative. I also work a lot, so I love that Marcel can come down and join me. He often brings his homework down after school and we work side by side. It’s one of my favourite times of the day.”
What are your tips for incorporating art in interiors?
“It’s important to get the balance right. For example, the pink sofa is very feminine, so it was balanced out with a more graphic piece (‘The Eyes’ by Kerrie Hess). Proportions are important, too, so large works are more suited to rooms with higher ceilings.”
What’s one part of your work that you love?
“I’m the happiest when painting in my studio. Working on original pieces or watercolours that will become prints is my happy place.”
How would you describe your decorating style?
“A mixture of romantic and eclectic.”
Do you have any decorating tips?
“I always think it’s nice to not have too many things but to really look after and cherish the things you do have. And fresh flowers are always a welcome addition.”
What do you love most about the home’s location?
“I love [that] our street is so leafy and quiet, yet we live right in the inner city.”
Is there anything else on your wishlist?
“It’s a subtropical climate, so we’d love to have a pool. Just a small one to sit in and read a book.”In her own words …