Living in style
Like a perfectly sewn dress that sits just so, nothing is left to chance in fashion and homewares designer Leona Edmiston’s east Sydney home. Every piece, right down to the doorstops, has been carefully selected to create an elegant home that exudes comfort and style. “There are spaces that can be your showpiece and can be very special and beautiful,” says Leona, sitting in the combined formal lounge and dining room where red wine has been banned for fear of spillage. “But then I think you need those other spaces where you can slob around and not worry too much.”
Oasis of style
Outside, the formal lounge flows to a European-inspired courtyard filled with verdant greenery.
Leona Edmiston recalls endless hours spent rummaging through country antiques stores, unveiling gorgeous finds and running her hands over 100-year-old handcrafted tapestries. “Those were some of my happiest times and how I spent my weekends – fossicking and finding fabulous treasures,” says Leona. Her 12-year-old dachshunds, Archie and Henry, are just as thrilled by their owner's finds as they perch on an antique Louis armchair.
Hunter and gatherer
With Leona’s designer eye, chic retro aesthetic and love of pattern, colour and all things gorgeous, this house, built in 1911, was never going to be a run-of-the-mill family home. Leona preserved the original layout, leaving a myriad of lovely rooms to be discovered at every turn.
Here in the formal lounge, the antique screen was originally picked up for one of Leona’s shops – “It found its way here!” she says – while the vintage Chinese chest is a perfect landing spot for her antique chinoiserie
vase collection, which is an ongoing obsession. The framed artworks were discovered at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
Delightful vignettes of Leona’s treasures bring charm and warmth to the home. Spot the ceramic sausage dogs on the tabletop, which sits near a plate found at the Burrawang markets in the Southern Highlands. “Ever since we got the dogs, everyone has given us dachshund things!” says Leona.
“I will only buy something if I fall in love with it, because I think there’s never enough room for things you don’t love," she says.
Leona uses different hues to tie her pieces together, judiciously removing an item when adding another. “I still like lots of clear space to avoid it becoming too much,” she explains.“There’s always that battle between a room looking cluttered and comfortably homely.”
The classic kitchen features a vintage-green splashback and cupboards filled with elegant plates, cups and saucers.
The kitchen’s central position captures afternoon sunlight and connects the more formal spaces of the home with the casual family zone and dining room.
With her passion for decorating and design, it was only natural that Leona would branch into homewares, and in 2014 she released a range of bedlinen with Myer that captures the prettiness and prints of her dresses.
A recently refurbished poolside deck, designed by Greg Natale, provides glamorous Palm Beach-style lounging and views towards the sunny north, with a chic white lattice screen offering privacy and a safe enclosure for the girls. “I think it’s beautiful,” says Leona. “It’s decorative, fresh and bright, and not too solid.” The blue-hued pool is tempting on a summer’s day but it will take a lot for Leona to dip her toes in. “Sun and water – I don’t care for either of them,” she says with a laugh; with her beautiful pale skin, she is yet to venture in.
Still, her home is where Leona loves to revive, refresh and find inspiration. “Home is your sanctuary, your release from the world, your privacy, your everything,” she says. “Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have the place to myself on a Sunday morning, and for two hours, I open my books, sit on the couch and lose myself. And it’s just, ahhh, heaven.”