By Fiona Stocker.
‘This is what my house looks like, and that’s why the shop is called ‘At Home With Sunny’, says Sunny Bell. ‘My friends always say it’s exactly like being in my home.’
Little wonder this ‘home from home’ on St John Street is furnished with such panache. Owner Sunny spent fifteen years travelling to the world’s most stylish destinations as a journalist for interior magazines.
Creating family homes in Sydney, Johannesburg and Singapore before heading home to Launceston gave her a wealth of influences to draw upon and contacts to plunder, when it came to fulfilling her lifelong dream of opening a homewares boutique.
The style is modern country and French, a soothing palette of classic colours that’s inviting and never dates. It’s a little bit vintage and eclectic, but mostly it’s natural, with charcoals, beiges and linens that marry happily with any decorating scheme.
‘I love using natural fibres like wool and linen or cotton, and hides too,’ Sunny enthuses, pointing with an elegantly shod toe at a handsome black and tan goat hide on the floor. ‘They blend together so beautifully.’
Her mantra is ‘beautiful homewares at an affordable price’. Goods are craftsman quality and often handmade, the classic and the unusual, more often than not Tasmanian or Australian. The shop features lavender bags from Waverley Woollen Mills fabric, Tassie timber jewellery, furniture and textiles, ceramics and crystal, with a sprinkling of vintage and influences from India and France keeping it interesting and ultra-chic.
With the shop dressed to the nines and desirables on every inch of floor, wall and shelf, it’s time to pin Sunny down to some choices.
Absolute winter must-have?
‘Winter’s a time when people want to cosy up their homes, and that means cushions, throws and rugs, nice lamps. We want a haven, because we spend more time indoors and have more time at home in winter. It’s a great time of year for me to help people redecorate and get a new look for their home.’ She ruffles the plush wool of a throw, the colour of a flat white and gossamer soft. ‘This is my absolute favourite. I have two couches and an armchair in my lounge room, and a throw over every arm. They make a room inviting, make you want to snuggle up and read a book or watch a movie.’
Winter handbag essential?
‘A nourishing hand-cream, ideally scented rosemary or mandarin, and my leather gloves.’
Guilty winter pleasure?
‘A good glass of Tasmanian Pinot by the fire – it’s my all-year-round guilty pleasure. I just love nothing more than snuggling up with a good magazine.’
What’s Launceston’ winter style secret?
‘I change my cushion covers and rugs around in the winter - it’s an inexpensive way to redecorate and ring the changes. And when we come in from the cold, I have a candle burning all the time, in the bathroom, the kitchen and the lounge - throws and candles add such cosiness and warmth to a room. I’m a real homebody, I love being in my house. I’m a potterer, and I paint and love craft and sewing. So winter is this wonderful time to indulge in all those things.’
It’s tempting to settle in for a while, with the sun slanting through the window and plush textures and fabrics all around. Occasional shop assistant Minnie the Chihuahua, a favourite with many shoppers, is wintering at the real ‘home with Sunny’, and returns later in the year. Sunny herself is there bringing harmony to our homes and warmth to the soul throughout the season.