Olive Cooke Invites Us Into Her Self-Designed ‘70s-Style Sanctuary
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the retro-styled home of swimwear designer Olive Cooke.
The light at Olive Cooke’s Lennox Head home is magic. On any given oven-baked day in the northern New South Wales town the sun sparkles through the windows of the home she shares with her husband Henry Tervenski, and fills each of the airy, open rooms with warmth. It skips across the surface of the swimwear designer’s backyard pool, floods into the bathroom, where a floor-to-ceiling window overlooks a deep marble tub and filters through gauzy curtains into the open plan kitchen and living space.
Light is everywhere at Cooke’s home, which is a good thing because it’s so much a part of her life. Whether working on swimwear and resort clothing designs for her brand Cooke & Kin or sharing snippets of her laidback, beachside days with her almost 300,000 followers, Cooke’s aesthetic is all sunny disposition, openness, and warmth.
Cooke and Tervenski built their home from scratch, with production commencing in October 2019. A midcentury modern aesthetic was the design inspiration, with plenty of natural materials – dark timber, pale marble tiles, and soft furnishings in shades of mustard and clotted cream – to provide a blank canvas for their life. Accented with Sarah Ellison furniture, concrete-clad walls, and pleated lampshades aplenty, the result is a perfectly balanced and harmonious forever home, one that the couple will treasure always.
Hi Olive! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make swim and resort wear for conscious women, created with our environment in mind.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I have always been an active person both physically and mentally. I feel "making" has been my preferred outlet to express myself.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue fashion? And what gave you the impetus to start your own label?
I have always loved fashion. As a child I used to cut up everything I owned and sew it into something new or spend entire days gluing buttons on shoes I had found at the second-hand store. In the last five years I have worked in digital content, within my own blog and social media channels with a focus on fashion, travel, and lifestyle. So when I launched Cooke & Kin just over a year ago it felt natural as I was honestly just following my passion for the ocean, the environment, and, of course, fashion.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I take inspiration from the natural world, so spending time in nature is the start of any of my creative processes.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
I think my best strategy was to actually begin with no strategy at all and just wholeheartedly pouring my all into things I truly care about and am passionate about. Authenticity and confidence in what you are creating is so important and really shines from within each business or venture which then organically translates into growth.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
The biggest challenge in my first year was to realise I could not wear all the hats and be across every area to the standard I was expecting. I have now outsourced things like website creation and email design which I have to accept is not my strong point. I need to focus on what I am good at and ask/accept help in outsourcing others with alternative skill sets that together make Cooke & Kin what it is.
I also find an enjoyable challenge in researching and finding the newest in sustainable fabrics. I make it my goal to source materials with minimum impact on our natural environment while also supporting small local businesses. It is an ever-changing road to this that keeps me learning and adapting.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
The best thing that has happened from starting my business is connecting with people on a global scale. I love talking, discussing, and learning from new people who have incredible skills or new ideas.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/ someone looking to start their own business?
There is never a "right time" to start a business. Just get the ball rolling!
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
We moved in about 5 weeks ago so it feels really fresh, but already so homely.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
We designed this space with our good friend and architect Hayley Pryor who understood what we love and what is important to us in a home.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
I am so lucky that my husband is a builder so all our changes were made during the build process so it has felt amazing from the day we moved in.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
As our structural space is created with sharp angular lines I was looking to find a contrast in soft lighting and curved furniture. I have always loved Mid Century Modern design, vintage or second-hand furniture and including eclectic but minimal pieces we found on our travels.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
I love our custom bed that local creator Morgan James brought to life and also our Sarah Ellison couch that is just as comfy as it is beautiful.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I am still looking at some artwork and also currently making a mosaic mirror to go into the living area.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
I love our open plan kitchen, living, and lounge, I feel this is the space we spend most of our time together cooking, eating, and entertaining.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
Stay true to you and always shop second hand if you can.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
New Cooke & Kin pieces coming very soon!
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