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Sibella Court has a strong aversion to white rooms. So it might seem odd that, for the longest time, the kitchen in her family’s Bundeena, Australia, home featured a trifecta of white subway tile, white counters, and white cabinets (she promises, it wasn’t her doing). The multifaceted product designer and founder of The Society Inc.—a retail line made up of industrial door knockers, haberdashery scissors, vintage-inspired textiles, and more—had inherited the bright and airy space from the previous owners. To get by, she put her own spin on things by bringing blackened steel hardware and shelving into the mix, knowing that one day she’d eventually replace the space with something more her speed. 

Court is fresh off a two-year-long renovation that involved shifting internal walls, replacing most doors and windows, adding decks, demolishing an old garden shed, and constructing an art studio. Still, she managed to make all that newness appear old, cladding the stairs in seagrass carpeting, wrapping poles in thick rope, and mounting interior curtains for rooms in need of a touch more privacy (and insulation).

The process also called for a lot of paint. Court finished the exterior overhaul by drenching the facade in Oilskin from her range of interior paints with Murobond, which she color-matched to the Australian bushland surrounding her house. The only time she stopped herself from taking a roller to her walls was, shockingly, in the kitchen. When she clad the space in reclaimed floorboards from a salvage yard in rural Victoria (her thought being they’d be great for soundproofing and would last forever), she had every intention of painting them. “But then I fell for them as they were,” she says, calling it “a perfect mistake.” Court also left the cabinets, made out of Baltic pine cheese board, in their raw state. That way, the designer says, you can see the bits of rind still on the door fronts. 

She also has a thing for thresholds and “transition” areas. Where the kitchen shifts from cooking zone to the pantry, she added a vintage cast-iron window frame and further defined the spaces by staggering hex terrazzo floor tile within the wood floorboards. 

Just off the kitchen, there’s a breezeway finished with a curved roofline—a nod to some of the other rounded doorways in the house. She maxed out the open hallway with storage: The shelving holds all the vases, jugs, and mixing bowls she’s collected over the past 30 years. “The leech jars are a favorite for flowers, and all the other pieces…I remember where I bought them and they are all the more special for it,” says Court. 

In her art studio, you’ll find an expansive shell collection she started at age 3, with many of her first finds sourced from Smiths Lake, an area three hours’ north of Sydney where her grandparents lived. She still hunts for small treasures on beach excursions, but a generous number of them have also been gifted by friends or acquired through vintage dealers. Her other hobbies—watercolor painting, botanical archiving, concocting natural fragrances—are on full display, too. 

When Court isn’t passing time creatively, she’s spending it on a Pilates machine. The veranda-turned-gym is as welcoming as any other room in the house, with its soothing green paneled walls and swirly hand-marbled cement tile. Not to mention, “it’s situated off our bedroom, so there’s no excuse to not frequent it daily,” says Court. 

You don’t need shelves-on-shelves of shells to remind you you’re at the beach: You can feel the sea air rolling in when the doors are left open. “I am committed to catching the breeze and using it for cooling the house in the warmer months,” says Court. In the morning, she’ll drag cushions out onto the deck to read or play backgammon with her family, but the rest of the day is spent getting a little dirty. After originally building a lower platform perfect for a daybed into the new patio design, she realized her petite greenhouse fit perfectly in the spot. So she pivoted. 

“I have always dreamed of a garden but wondered if I would have time with my work schedule,” Court admits. She considered hiring a professional landscaper at first, but many long hikes introduced her to the area’s native plants, and she decided to dig in herself. Among her gardening go-tos: a leather belt from Wootten, gloves from Sophie Conran, and tools from Japanese Tools Australia. As someone who makes chic utilitarian objects for a living, Court appreciates any good-looking gadgets she comes across. “It’s a world of beautiful tools out there!” she says. 

When the yard was being cleared for construction, Court hastily stockpiled all the sandstone the crew dug up so she could reuse it. Eventually she turned it over to her stonemason, who chipped off pieces for the fireplace hearth in the living room. He left some scraps for Court, who laid them back down outside as stepping stones throughout the garden, carving out a new path that’s all her own.