Meet the "house whisperer". That's what Australian interior designer and stylist Megan Morton has been called; she has a way with spaces and an eye for detail which, naturally, is reflected in her own home in Sydney.
Hers was just one of many stylish houses that the 42-year-old featured in her recent book, Things I Love. As you might expect from a coffee-table tome with a name like that, it's an idiosyncratic, highly personal compendium.
The first half the book is full of glossy lifestyle shots of the swooningly gorgeous homes of her friends and colleagues, while the second half whimsically mixes a directory of associates and collaborators ("people I love"), pull-out postcards with images of knick-knacks or quirky, pithy aphorisms on them ("Men's collars. They just smell good," reads one), plus lots and lots of practical tips and diagrams for styling and organising your house. It's like Mrs Beeton for the Pinterest generation.
Morton writes with an intimate tone, but there's a lot of cutesy speak about "supernice" people and "totally inspiring" spaces and houses that "just sing"; her book's opening salvo is: "As an interiors stylist I work every day with a lot of beautiful things, things so beautiful that some days my eyes hurt from the sheer excess of what I've seen." No, really.
But when it comes to talking about her own home, Morton is a little more down-to-earth. She lives in a leafy suburb in Sydney, in an "un-iconic 1950s [house] that needs probably a bulldozer instead of a styling wand"; despite this, she loves the home she's shared with her husband and three kids for the past eight years. Her hubbie is "an Englishman, and would probably prefer something more 'trad' and 'English'," she confesses, while three children mean that naturally, when your home isn't being featured in a photoshoot, things are a little chaotic. Asked how she maintains a chic house with little ones running around, she says ,"Like everyone – not with great success. Ours are [aged] 13, 12 and three so we are always in the poo…"
It scrubs up well, though; the photographs of their house show a cool, pale, chic space, enlivened with splashes of azure-blue and emerald-green, over-sized curios, and vintage finds. "Our home is north-facing and in Sydney this is premium orientation, so I like to douse it in cooler tones to match its orientation," she says of the chilled-out palette. Those pale-mauve chairs and sofas are from an Australian design firm called Pierre and Charlotte and are, she swears, "divine, deep, dangerously comfortable".
But it's hardly icy minimalism – that wouldn't be the Morton way. "I like stuff. Always have, always will. It's really a white space for my never-ending love affair with stuff!" That stuff could be shiny recent buys or second-hand antiques – she's not a vintage obsessive, but she likes a dialogue. "New and old play so well together – combining them, in my opinion, makes each other better," explain Morton. Just note the collection of picture frames in one corner alongside a blue hand and a sweet little mouse. "It's simply a French hang of mixed sources from charity thrift stores and Hermès porcelain, whose colours and tones I admired."
She also likes to play with scale – "In a mostly white, non-deliberate space, scale is a necessary and reliable tool"; check out that oversized key next to a mirror (that's pretty sizeable too, given you'd most likely be lounging on a day-bed beneath it). "I use mirrors strategically to create light sources, and this space is just for that. It also allows large pieces like that key to get a look in."
Morton has remarked that, in her work as a stylist, she wants to create rooms that make people "obscenely happy". This rather dreamy sounding job came about by following her instinct, thanks to "a life-long curiosity and love of all things big and small". She is certainly enthusiastic – and it's nice to see that put centre-stage of home-making; the world of interior design can get a little too po-faced and serious sometimes. Typically, Morton has a crystal-clear line on this: "There should only be joy in decorating."
'Things I Love' by Megan Morton is published by Conran Octopus, priced £25