Organic approach to the art of timeless style
Interior design is something that comes naturally to Rebecca Jansma.
A scroll through her stunning Instagram account or some time spent in her presence assures you of that.
Combined with a collaborative approach and warm personality, her innate design aesthetic has seen Rebecca’s Space Grace & Style business flourish as customers seek her out to work on an array of inspiring projects.
So, it comes as somewhat of a surprise to discover that Rebecca had a successful career in science, working in medical and mining laboratories, before a change in direction saw her take up interior design studies.
“Growing up, I was surrounded by simple, well-balanced interiors,” she recalls.
“My parents and grandparents both had homes with beautiful classic pieces of furniture.
“I think what you see as a child really does influence where your aesthetic lies as you grow.
“I had always designed interiors – both for friends and myself – and wanted to explore how that would translate to a career.
“I loved and still love the idea of transformation, and how simple changes can make such a big difference to a space and people’s experience within that space.”
Rebecca describes her approach to interior design as organic and says she “feels” the space, whether in situ or on a 2D floorplan.
“I would say that it’s the most important part of what I do,” she says.
“To somehow gain a sense of the space; the light; the ambience at different times of the day and translate that to a working design.
“I then work collaboratively with our clients to achieve their goals in terms of functionality, aesthetics, budget and timing.”
The Geelong-based designer takes a personal approach to work in which an interior space reflects a client’s life and the places, people and experiences that have influenced them.
It is the same with her own home.
“I surround myself with things that make me feel happy – art is non-negotiable for me, and I’m always on the lookout for emerging artists either for myself or clients,” she says.
“I also love antique and vintage furniture, so have a complex mixture of pieces that I just love and would find it difficult to part with.
“Comfortable sofas, beds and luxurious window coverings are also important in creating a warm and inviting interior.”
Her greatest source of inspiration is nature and Rebecca loves nothing more than a hike in the bush, a walk along a beach or river, or a sunny afternoon spent gardening.
Each experience provides the colours, textures and scents that are reflected in her creative work.
Travel is her other muse.
“I love to travel and of course long to travel to places I’ve never visited, but in the meantime, we have so many diverse environments in Australia that I’m content to spend more time on my back door for a little while,” she says.
“And books … I’m always reading and have a crazy library of all topics – but lots of historical design, architecture and art.”
When working with clients, Rebecca likens the job of an interior designer to that of a detective.
“I’ve seen clients in a state of design paralysis because they love everything, but there’s no way it can all work together,” she says.
“It’s our job to edit all the ideas and come up with a core concept and that is often as simple as starting with a piece of art that they love, or a rug, or a ceramic and you can work from there.
“There’s always something … it’s a bit like detective work!”
Natural materials are a constant for Rebecca and a starting point for any project.
“Natural stone is infinitely varied and beautiful, the colours are outstanding and often surprising,” she says.
“Timbers feature in a lot of our work as the warmth and connection to nature brings so much to a space.
“I find these materials are also quite timeless so you have less risk of creating a space that will date.”
With this in mind, Rebecca’s advice is to avoid being a slave to trends and to surround yourself only with the things you love.
“Colour plays a really important role in our feelings, moods and wellbeing and once you realise that, it can inform so many of your choices,” she explains.
“Don’t feel you need to reinvent a space to reflect the latest trends or expectations of your peers.
“That’s always a trap and it will never feel like home – unless of course it also happens to be your personal style.
“The other tip is to reduce the number of pieces of furniture you have in a room.
“Move things around until they ‘feel’ right – sometimes you can completely change a room by moving one piece.”
Which leads to her other key piece of advice – less is more.
“I have always promoted the ‘buy well and buy once’ idea to our clients, and now I think it’s even more important to invest in our homes and create lasting spaces,” she says.
“I am really enjoying the more rustic elements that are emerging for interiors.
“Venetian plastered walls; zellige and terracotta tiles; repurposing old roof tiles as floor tiles, and reupholstering beautiful vintage furniture to give it another life.”
For seaside homes, Rebecca says it is important to recognise that coastal environments in Australia are some of the harshest in the world.
“We have salt, wind and temperature extremes that really ask a lot of the finishes we use on exteriors and also interiors,” she says.
“So, the practicality must take priority … after that, the aesthetic is crucial.
“The colours of the coast are so varied that it’s very easy to create a mood board to start a concept and somehow the imperfect, rugged nature of the coast seems to give you licence to be a bit more fluid with the design.”
For those determined to tackle a project on their own, she suggests creating concept boards of images that you like/love so you can identify themes in those images.
“Next step – drill down into those images and look for the essential elements that appeal,” she advises.
“That becomes the basis of your materials board. From there you can visit retailers, tile stores and start a collection of materials that will work in the spaces.”
For the best result, it is important all the finishes speak to each other.
“There needs to be a dialogue as you move through a house, the rooms need a connection – not matchy-matchy – but a thoughtful relationship to the other spaces,” she says.
“Start with your materials palette and try not to deviate too far from that style wise without being too prescriptive.
“It’s a very fine line between a loose, refined interior and one that feels overwrought and designed by numbers.”
Pre-pandemic Rebecca was running one-day workshops, Unearth Your Interior Style, to personally guide people through that process.
“I’m hoping to run the workshops again – and also shorter versions just around colour – as soon as we’re permitted, so maybe keep an eye out on the socials, or sign up to the newsletter on the website if you’re struggling with getting started!”
Discover more at the Space Grace & Style website, Instagram @rebeccajansma or call 0419 105 121.