It is her dynamic use of texture and tone that defines the spaces Tess-Newman Morris designs. The palette of neutrals - tans, whites, greys, navys and caramels - and the considered treasures dotted around create a sense of calmness and ease. In between capturing gorgeous moments shared between Tess and her family in their Macedon ranges homestead, we speak to the interior decorator and stylist about what sparked her love for style and design.
Photography by Alexandrena Parker.
What inspired your love for design?
"My surroundings have always been very important, I remember creating spaces and being quite particular about placement from an early age. It’s all in an effort to get the most from this short & lovely life, through spaces, food, music, pleasing the eye and heightening everyday moments. Good design in all areas assists with this pursuit. And if I can help others get more enjoyment through where & how they live, I am very pleased to be doing so."
You have a distinct aesthetic, how do you approach styling a home?
"Function always needs to be considered first, I determine use within spaces and try to imagine how I would want to live within them. How I could make living within someone else’s walls a more pleasing experience for them each day. I generally opt for a natural and neutral canvas of surfaces upon which to layer; classic good bones and tones will be friendly throughout all the passing trends. Our homes should be filled with quality, considered wares, fewer things, and all appreciated as individual pieces."
What do you believe is essential to a perfectly styled room?
"A good space needs to let the eye be at ease. These spaces can be brimming with interest, objects, textures & colours etc, but the alchemy of all these things needs to be in balance to achieve a happy place. Editing is just as important as adding, stripping back and allowing items to breathe can often correct an unsettled space. Lamplight is essential, the mood it creates is immediate and even the process of setting the house for the evening becomes a nice daily ritual. The layering of fabrics is also very important to soften and balance a room - a linen sofa, sisal rugs, lampshades, cushions etc all provide tactile surfaces that are a pleasure to live amongst."
What is the greatest lesson Poppy has taught you?
"I am a real homebody so I always knew I would enjoy the daily-ness of having children. To do the gardening, grocery shopping, cooking etc with a little buddy in tow was such a happy vision. It’s easy to get caught up in the real world, be too busy, be on the phone, be stressed. There are no boundaries these days, no defined working hours, no distinction between work and life at all! So for Poppy, I am mindful to try and separate these things, I am learning that ‘Poppy time’ should be just that. It’s not easy, but it’s very much worth working on."
Can you share your favourite piece from the shoot?
"My days can be quite varied so my wardrobe is pretty relaxed, mostly neutral tones of white, blue, taupe & caramel, always opting for natural fibres. A tad more theatre can come from wide leg pants or a trusty topknot & headscarf combination. Caramel leather bags & sandals or a white sneaker usually complete the look. I hop between seeing clients, sourcing, shooting, gardening, playing with Poppy etc so I just need versatile, casual pieces that all mix within the same palette easily."
How do you plan to spend this Christmas?
"I am a big fan of Christmas. I love considering presents, wrapping, going through recipe books & deciding what to cook, champagne in coupes & decorating the house with carols. There is lots of joy in being festive. This year Poppy has ‘decorated’ the tree on a daily basis with anything she can find, so I’ve had to relinquish some control and my ‘less is more’ theory is on hold for now. It’s also my mum’s birthday on Christmas day, so it’s always been a day we make special. This year we’re all at home so if the weather is nice we’ll just set up a long table in the garden, white linen, a few branches of spruce, eat yummy things, be merry & thankful and hope we’re all here to do it again next year."