Home, family, business and personal passions beautifully combine in this stunning Sydney residence. As the owner and founder of popular online boutique Coco Ribbon, Alison Barton Chow’s fashion-forward style and love of beautiful things is clearly evident in both her work and home. Sharing the three-bedroom house with her husband Paul, baby daughter Gala Rose and German shepherd puppy Bear, Alison and Paul have worked hard to create this stunning space.
Located close to Sydney’s Centennial Park, Bondi Beach and the city centre, the area ideally suits the family’s lifestyle. “It’s perfect for our dog Bear, summertime swims and Paul’s work,” Alison says. Having lived in Hong Kong, New York and London over the last 12 years, Paul and Alison’s decorating choices have been greatly influenced by their extensive travel – the young couple was able to stick to a budget for their Sydney home as they made most of their purchases while overseas.
“As a retailer I’m lucky enough to get most things at wholesale prices, including furniture, as we used to sell a lot of it in our stores.” Alison says. “So before Paul and I left London we went to the famed Maison D’Objet trade fair in Paris and bought a lot of furniture, silverware, glassware and linen from a French supplier. It was driven from Paris to London and we put it on a container to ship it home to Australia.”
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
To decorate the home, Paul and Alison decided to create a different look for each room. “The lounge room was designed with my husband’s taste in mind as I had so much feminine furniture. Sadly, after much negotiation, the Louis XVI sofa had to go!” Alison laughs. “Instead we went for a Ralph Lauren-style masculine look with large neutral sofas, dark wooden furniture, bronze and gold accents in the mirror and picture frames, and a crocodile butler’s tray. Paul loves the African safari/ hunter’s lodge look.”
Alison’s favourite room is her daughter’s nursery as it gets so much light and is decorated to look like a fairytale, with white antique furniture from Paris and handpainted de Gournay curtains with feather trim. “It’s girly but beautiful at the same time, with lots of character and some lovely pieces of art,” Alison says.
Meanwhile, the master bedroom is an elegant affair. “The black and white space is a sophisticated, classic look I love. Keeping it simple in the bedroom is key, as it’s meant to be a place of calm, not clutter,” she explains.
A collector of beautiful things, Alison likes to bring home a variety of items when she travels. “If something catches my eye I get it and usually find a place or purpose for it down the track,” she says. “I love picking up items like a bowerbird, mixing and matching different colours, textures and styles together to give an eclectic look and tell a story.”
Creating a feature wall of artworks in the dining area, Alison was able to display pieces she collected on her travels. “The feature wall was large so I thought it would be a good excuse to put up lots of different art I’d collected over the years,” she says.
“There is a general theme of nature that wasn’t planned but illustrates what appeals to me – feathers, butterflies and flowers. I felt that this common theme was enough for
the pieces to work together.”
The dining area is a perfect union of masculine and feminine styles – the dark wood table and black leather director dining chairs echo Paul’s love of the safari look while the ornate French mirror, turquoise porcelain dragons and chandelier stand are intrinsically feminine. Also in the mix are artfully combined French and Asian elements, like the blue porcelain Chinese urn which provides a splash of colour and sits beside the opulent silver candle holders atop the dining table.
To continue with the nature theme,
Alison added indoor plants. “A wonderful interior designer and friend Sera Hersham- Loftus, who’s designed interiors for Kate Moss and Yoko Ono, taught me about using plants such as large Kentia palms indoors,” she says. “It brings the outside in, feels exotic and breathes life into a home, much like flowers do.”
Founded in 2002 as a girly boutique in London’s Notting Hill, Coco Ribbon has evolved into its own lifestyle brand of bohemian-luxe fashion and gifts. Using opulent, bespoke prints, quality fabrics and feminine silhouettes, the timeless collection features garments that are sourced from around the world. As founder and creative director, Alison is excited to share her creations, finds and inspirations as well as providing a global guide to places to eat, see and be seen at cities around the world. Browse and shop online or sign up for the newsletter at the award-winning website www.cocoribbon.com.au
BEHIND THE SCENES
Favourite things: “The bespoke zebra ottoman made in London – it didn’t turn out as I had briefed but it’s grown on me over the years,” Alison says. Her favourite artworks are Feathers by Adam Bricusse with its layers of crackled lacquer, and an illustration painted by a friend and talented artist, Sian Faber, that was inspired by Sydney Dance Company performers.
Luckiest find: Alison bought a tiny pair of Moroccan sequinned slippers about four years ago for the child that she hoped to have one day. “I sat them on my desk all that time waiting to create someone to wear them – and now my daughter’s tiny feet will soon fit into them,” she says.
Biggest challenge: It was tricky arranging artworks to look balanced on the display wall. “We laid them all out on the floor to see how we wanted them placed and had a professional picture hanger measure up and hang them in order to get it right,” Alison recalls.
Top tip: “We have moved several times and I find that if you buy pieces that you love – including furniture or artwork – they somehow seem to fit together perfectly in any space,” Alison says.
STORY TAMARA STANLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY TONY POTTER
STYLING GREG SUKENDRO