Sonia Killmore is both serene and graceful, an energy of which she has instilled into her beautiful Tamarama home. The beachfront space, shared with husband Murray and children Ellul and Loïc, is naturally bedecked with luscious greenery – Sonia is the founder of the boutique plant store, The Plantarum. After leaving the fashion world where she had worked as a designer for many of Australia’s biggest fashion labels, Sonia created The Plantarum, with the idea of helping busy people create harmonious spaces through the use of plants.
Photography by Will Braden.
How did the idea for The Plantarum come about?
“I started the Plantarum about four years ago. I used to work in fashion and I found that after having kids I had somewhat evolved a little bit. I was home a lot on maternity leave and I really missed having so much green around me. I grew up in the country, in Jamberoo, so I was used to be surrounded by nature and I guess I was just craving that.”
“I started looking around for indoor greenery and found that it was really hard to source. Similarly getting information about which plants suit which spaces was very hard to come by. The only option really was to trek out to these big nurseries, which were quite far out or not that inspiring.”
“I decided to curate a small collection of plants and pots to sell online. The collection was aimed for busy people who live in small spaces – full of beautiful but easy to care for plants. I thought that if I was craving that bit of greenery in my home then I’m sure there’s other people out there too.”
What is your favourite part of the process?
“Being with the plants. I still love going to source them; going to the big nurseries and finding these little plants and collecting the really unusual ones. I handpick each of them and store them here, at home, or at the Semi Permanent office.”
Do you have any advice to impart when it comes to caring for plants?
“The biggest things are light, water and air. Plants really need fresh air which I think a lot of people seem to forget about. And then I think it’s just – now this is weird but true – but it’s just getting to know them, listening to what they need and taking time with them. Often I think people look after them too much and give them too much attention. You know a leaf may go brown and they think they haven’t watered it enough so then they over water it and move it to another location. We should really just let the plants be.”
Onto summer now, what are some of your most precious summer memories?
“Long, long days at the beach. When I was a kid we would spend hours upon hours at the beach and then all wander home with sun-kissed skin.”
As a young family, how to you like to best spend your days?
“Days on the beach are the best, especially living around here. Ellul and Murray surf together, he’s teaching her to surf here at Tamarama. She has a little wetsuit and she can swim pretty well. Murray teaches her how to read the ocean; she knows that the ocean is alive and you have to be mindful of that.”
Tamarama is such a beautiful spot, what is it you love most living here?
“The fresh air, the nature and the community. We’ve been here for a while now, Murray even longer than me. We moved in when we had Ellul and she’s now in kindy. During the mornings and evenings in summer, the beach is full of locals; everyone will be down there for their morning swim and then in the evenings we all take dinner down and sit by the water. There are lots of kids in the street for them to make friends with, and their families are amazing. It has a real village feel about it.”
What, in your opinion, defines an Australian summer:
“The beach, long days, barbeques, sunrises and sunsets.””