Meet The Locals: In the Loup
After 30 years in the business, interior designer Loulou Paterson has a style all of her own.
Loulou is renowned for her modern aesthetic, exquisite joinery, organic textures and creative custom design. She has transformed spaces from Hamilton Island to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, and a number of country houses in between.
In March, Loulou launched her fabulous new website for her interior design business, ‘Loup’, which showcases her latest projects in spectacular style. And we recently sat down for a chat.
Loulou, first off, congratulations on such a gorgeous website! Your interiors are stunning.
Thank you, Robyn. It’s been a long time coming and I always knew that if I was going to have a website, it had to be beautiful – as an interior designer, you have to put forward quality work.
How long have you been a Surf Coast local?
My husband Alister and I moved down here from Melbourne in 1996. At the end of that year, our eldest son, who is now 24, arrived. Then our second son followed precisely 18 months later in June 98. The boys loved growing up on the Surf Coast. We’ve been in the same beautiful spot in Bellbrae ever since we arrived. The eldest is now living and studying in Melbourne. The younger is a die-hard surfer, and about to start his carpentry apprenticeship so he’s a rusted-on Surf Coast dweller.
As an interior designer, you’re used to talking about other people’s homes. What can you tell me about your own home?
When we bought it in 1996, it was an old Federation weatherboard house which had been moved here on a truck from Belmont, some 20 years before we came along. Then we extensively but simply renovated it in 1999. It’s a modern-classic home with lots of ‘treasures’ collected along the way – lots of light, polished boards, natural colours, understated and I think pretty timeless. The best feature is its location overlooking the Spring Creek valley to the ocean.
Being an interior designer is a dream job for many. How did you start?
I was born and raised on a sheep station in outback SA. I was always naturally a bit artistic and creative and I think that, combined with my pragmatic and resourceful country upbringing, developed into a natural fit with design because it is essentially a creative and problem-solving vocation.
Like many kids, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school, but after travelling overseas I fell in love with the amazing diversity and antiquity of European architecture and I decided interior design was my path and I moved to Melbourne to access the course. I was fortunate enough to start working for a group of young, energetic, architects in the late eighties who had many high-end projects around the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Therefore, I was exposed to good quality projects very early in my career.
You’ve worked for some huge names, including Qantas and Country Road. Can you tell us about that?
There was a recession in 1989, which forced me into becoming a sole trader as there more work in smaller decoration jobs. Then I landed a job with Cato Design (of graphic design fame), who were engaged to rebrand Qantas. Out of that came new aircraft interiors and airport lounges. It was a really exciting time, with lots of frequent international travel.
After having my children, I started my own consultancy Loulou Paterson Interior Designer. I worked from home while raising my two boys with my husband. The boys went to the local Bellbrae primary school but once they started senior school, I wanted to try something different. I took a job at Country Road working with their team in homeware product development. It was a great opportunity and valuable learning experience but commuting to the office in Richmond for 18 months took its toll. With two teenage boys, it was a hard slog so I decided to reinvigorate my design consultancy and started developing my loup. brand.
Your style is so beautiful. Is there a particular aesthetic favoured on the Surf Coast?
Our world is trend-driven, and so most people want to go with the current trend. Australians, particularly coastal dwellers, have a reasonably understated, relaxed style.
Just researching the market?
But there are no rules really and there shouldn’t be – we love our natural timbers, natural stone and neutral palettes. I tend to keep fixed finishes and fittings relatively classic and simple as they are complicated and costly to change. That way, you can go to town and get creative and colourful with furnishings and decorative items. Like all industries, there is also a massive shift to ecologically sustainable materials and products which is fantastic.
When browsing your website, I was smitten with your kitchen design as I can’t imagine them ever dating.
I tend to design for longevity. I work on the premise that a kitchen should last 25 years as opposed to 10 years. Again, my philosophy is to keep it classic and make sure it’s highly functional. However, I appreciate that we all have different tastes and preferred styles and no two clients are the same so I strive to provide them with the best of their chosen aesthetic.
Can you just tell us a bit about the recent projects you’ve showcased on your website?
The house on Kangaroo Island was a beautiful one to work on. As a child, I spent all of my Christmas holidays there. It is situated on a breathtaking, unique north-facing coastline, which is quite rare in that part of Australia. My client had very clear ideas about what they wanted. However, we had very similar tastes, and I closely collaborated with them. Everyone was thrilled with the results.
The Torquay job was a divine modern contemporary new build. My clients were super creative in wanting to explore lots of different textures with ceramics. They are passionate about food and cooking, so there are two stunningly beautiful kitchens in the property: one upstairs and one downstairs for entertaining.
The house in Lorne is a beach house for a lovely Melbourne-based family. It was a marvellous, fairly open canvas for me as the whole house was completely gutted and fully renovated.
Incredibly, the Lorne, Torquay and the Woollahra project in Sydney, were managed via Zoom!
You’ll never have to leave the Surf Coast again! What do you love about living here?
Apart from living on one of the most iconic and spectacular coastlines in the world, we love the relaxed community here. We’ve made lots of life-long, fabulous friends over the years and, despite the huge population growth, it hasn’t lost its beach town vibe or community spirit. We’re so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.
I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for the chat, Loulou. To check out Loulou’s stunning work, visit loup.com.au.
Photo credits: loup.com.au.