The painter's new apartment in Sydney's Northern Beaches has been completely renovated with a mix of old and new pieces.

| By Rachael Thompson | Home tours

Inside Artist Ashleigh Holmes' Wabi-Sabi Apartment on Sydney's Northern Beaches

The painter's new apartment in Sydney's Northern Beaches has been completely renovated with a mix of old and new pieces.

Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we celebrate innovators, artisans, and crafters of all types by taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we tour abstract artist Ashleigh Holmes' new minimalist apartment and studio in Sydney.

Emerging artist Ashleigh Holmes is a familiar name here at Bed Threads. The Sydney-based artist took us on a tour of her beachside studio and home in 2020 and spoke to the Bed Threads Journal about her long family history of artists and her trick to getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Since then, she has moved into a new abode that boasts a similar design aesthetic, but with a more sophisticated look and feel.

Ashleigh's new apartment in the beachside suburb of Curl Curl has been completely transformed by her and her friend Mariah of interior design studio Folk Studio. The space boasts a minimal, contemporary style warmed up with wabi-sabi touches. "My studio is chaotic at times and usually messy so I like to come home to a space that’s clear," she says. The home's dialled down colour palette also taps into the hues of the landscapes with warm neutrals and varying shades punctuating the otherwise white scheme. 

Ashleigh wanted to draw from Japanese design elements in the styling of her home. "I’m in awe of their craftsmanship and eye for the finer details of objects," she says. Rustic timber beams salvaged from an old wharf were placed above the sheer curtains in the living room and main bedroom, bringing a wabi-sabi touch to the home.

The curved walnut table and walnut wine rack in the dining space were handmade by Ashleigh's brother and bring a wonderful handcrafted element to the apartment. To keep things cohesive and in keeping with the Japanese-inspired aesthetic, walnut timber was also used in the kitchen and bathroom joinery. This bathroom features green tiles in a vertical subway pattern on both the floors and walls for a look that's calming and stylish.

The space is also dotted with Ashleigh's own artworks. In her practice, she draws on colour psychology and her environment to create her ever-evolving abstract paintings. These large-scale works have made her a finalist in the Mosman Prize Finalist in the Lloyd Rees Memorial Award and Combat Prize Finalist, and seen her selected as the resident artist for the Harbord Hotel in Sydney.

Ashleigh also recently opened multidisciplinary gallery space HAKE House which was born out of a desire to showcase artworks and the artists in a particular way. "It was founded by myself and my partner Jake," she tells Bed Threads Journal. "We decided to take the leap together and open a space where we can work with like-minded people." This design-led gallery and studio space is bright and airy and makes for a chic backdrop to display Ashleigh's artworks.

We spoke to Ashleigh about how her business has evolved over the last couple of years, what inspired her to move from her former home, and the styling choices within.

Hi Ash! Welcome back to The Makers. What have you been making since we last caught up with you?

Last time we caught up I was working in my previous studio painting. Since then I’ve been painting larger scale works and creating a gallery space!

What inspires you to paint?

The way that being in nature makes us feel, why it has such a calming effect on us and what colour combinations I can learn from the natural landscape and project into my own work.

[I'm inspired by] the way that being in nature makes us feel, why it has such a calming effect on us and what colour combinations I can learn from the natural landscape.

- Ashleigh Holmes

Who or what are the greatest influences when it comes to your art practice?

I love the bravery in Mark Rothko’s work. I haven’t worked with such large scale block colours yet but feel emotionally moved by Rothko’s work.

What has been the highlight of your career as an artist?

Being a finalist in the Mosman Art Prize was an incredible experience, it helped me connect with other artists and the art world. Personally creating a space for other artists to exhibit and create has also been a highlight. I feel very grateful for our new space HAKE House.

We wanted the space to be a collection of new and old, with a minimalist feel.

- Ashleigh Holmes

Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in this home and what inspired you to move from your old place?

We have lived here nearly a year! Previously, I was living at home with my beautiful patient parents, but it was time for us to move out. It’s nice having our own space. Also, now having our little cat Inki is a treat.

How did you initially know this was the space for you?

Well, the outlook is all greenery and we’re walking distance to the ocean so it felt right based on our natural surroundings. That’s what we gravitate towards.

Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?

Yes! We basically gutted the whole apartment. My friend Mariah at Folk Studio helped us transform the space.

What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?

I’ve been to Japan a few times and those trips really changed me. I’m in awe of their craftsmanship and eye for the finer details of objects. If you’re familiar with the term ‘wabi-sabi’ I resonate with this in a big way! We wanted the space to be a collection of new and old, with a minimalist feel and a space that’s clear. My studio is chaotic at times and usually messy so I like to come home to a space that’s clear.

What are your favourite pieces in the home?

My favourite pieces are both the walnut curved table and walnut wine rack. My brother hand made both of these pieces, he put so much thought into them and the quality is beautiful.

Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?

Always looking to buy little artworks. Next on my list is one of Minna Leunig.

Which is your favourite room in the house?

The living room would be my favourite room.

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