We can happily confirm that renowned interior designer Blainey North’s home – and wardrobe - are as stylish and bold as you could hope for. We met with her in her light-filled, 1910-meets-now Sydney apartment to talk how she manages a career that constantly sees her travelling to the other side of the world (and found out the one beauty product she will not get on a plane without). Our favourite takeaway? There are two, actually – that the woman gets ready, top to toe, in ten minutes… and that despite how many huge projects she has overseen in her career, she still has such incredible passion for every job she undertakes.
“We’re working on so many amazing projects at the moment.
In particular we’ve got some very exciting hotel projects, like the new five star hotel in Brisbane we’re working on. It’s in Fortitude Valley, so it’s going to be very urban, cool, and artistic. We have a strong background in hotels. In Perth we did the Crown Metropole, which at the time was the Intercontinental and then we did their spa, which is just amazing. We didn’t know then that the spa would be a La Prairie space but we just happened to design it in exactly their shade of blue, so that was a happy coincidence. We’ve even done a resort in the Maldives – we’re always working on lots of different things. At the moment we’re working on a project at the new Crown Towers in Barangaroo, which is a gym and spa precinct that takes up an entire floor of the hotel. That’s going to be fantastic. And we’ve just been doing some new stores and the new brand concept for Alice Temperleyin London, Doha and Dubai.
I use a different lipstick every single day. I have to have the exact perfect lipstick for my outfit. And the perfect perfume for the way I’m feeling. I’m very particular.
I’m very into Frédéric Malle at the moment – I don’t know why, I think there’s something about the musky tones in some of his perfumes that I love. Portrait of a Lady is for nighttime and when it’s a little bit colder. En Passant I’m using at the moment for fun, happy, fresh days. It’s all about the mood, and what I’m wearing. French Lover is for when I want to feel a bit sexy and powerful. I believe really strongly in the power of scent. So I always dress in tune with what I want to do that day, and I always have my makeup in tune with what I’m wearing.
We’ve been in our home for six years now.
We did a very quick renovation about five years ago which really was inspired by the building, which was done circa 1910. So I wanted to reference that period a little bit and just make the interior feel like it had almost come out of that time, but with a little bit of my own twist which is a bit more ‘fashion’. For instance, in the keystone and in the panel moulding, we’ve got that diamond stud detail. It was part of the detailing that they had on the front gate of the building originally, and then it also was a bit like a Givenchy cuff that I had, so also a bit urban.
I love makeup more than anything. I’m an absolute makeup collector.
I always work with Samantha Powell, who did my makeup today. I love having my makeup done and trying different looks. People do tell me I look a bit like Reese Witherspoon… I’ll take it! I loved Big Little Lies.
When I get in the shower, that’s when I think about what I’m going to wear.
So within the couple of minutes I’m in the shower, I’ve already planned it all out. And then I take a maximum ten minutes to get ready, including makeup. I’m pretty fast.
My skincare routine depends on the day.
Usually I put on a facial oil, often the Face Oil for Glowing Radiance by ila Spa – it’s made in the Cotswolds and is all natural. Their products are often in the Four Seasons and hotels like that; in fact I think the Aman Resorts group are about to start using them. It’s a really lovely brand. Then I follow up with Actinica sunscreen. I’m using La Mer at the moment, really for no other reason than that’s what I bought last time I was travelling. It is fantastic, though. And I use what I call Eve Lom’s quick cleanser, the gel one, not the solid balm. I did have the balm originally that you put on and take off with the special muslin, but I thought ‘I’m just never going to do that whole process every day’, so I’m very pleased she brought out the quick version!
In terms of makeup, I don’t like to use too much.
I like Baby Glow from Guerlain. It’s so good. It’s kind of like a sheer tinted foundation but it’s got little pearly bits in it. And then I use By Terry foundation and concealer, and Dior mascara. For my hair I see Shari Reynolds who works out of Barney Martin’s in Surry Hills, and Josh Wood in London. My hair is a project that they’re working on together!
Most days I like to use a body cream, just to add to however I smell from the perfume I’ve chosen for that day.
So at the moment I’ve got an amazing Armani body cream that you can only get in the hotels. Every time I go to the hotel in Milan, I quickly go get it. Apparently they’re going to bring it out for purchase soon, due to the demand.
I do travel a lot, especially now that we have an office in London. I usually travel with my daughter and our nanny, and we do girls on tour!
When I decided to have a kid, I thought, ‘the only way that I’m going to be able to do it is by taking her with me.’ How often we travel depends on the projects at any given time, but I’m in Europe maybe once a month plus America and Asia. Luckily, I still absolutely love it. And I think if you enjoy even the time you spend on the plane, then that makes a big difference. My daughter is great and loves it too. Now that she’s four, it’s so easy compared to when she was really little. Suddenly they can go to the café with you, you can go shopping, they’re easy-peasey. It’s like they just transform after four.
I have an in-flight beauty ritual that was recommended by one of the stewardesses I’ve travelled with.
I always use the product she told me about, this Chantecaille mask. It’s called the Bio Lifting mask and you just put it on right at the start of the flight. It’s clear, so you don’t look too crazy with it on, and you take it off at the end when you get home and it’s the only thing that will protect your skin. I’ve tried so many other things and that’s the best thing ever. And you must drink heaps of water. And I always eat and drink what’s on offer on the plane, it’s too boring not to. And when it’s lights out I like to put on a little silk sleep mask.
We’re working on a number of big, beautiful homes at the moment, which are all really exciting, and all based on different interesting concepts.
We’re working on a whole floor apartment at the building next to the Opera House, at Macquarie St. When you’re inside, you don’t actually see the edge of the water. You just feel like you’re almost sitting on top of the water and then there just happens to be the Opera House. All the boats go very slowly along the water there, and it gives you this feeling of being in a slow moving landscape. So our inspiration was that idea that you’re in the water and it’s very slowly moving around you. We’ve used rods of glass, like little tubes of fluted glass with lights coming up through them on all of the walls. I’m quite excited about that!”