Heidi Carter is a woman on the go. The founder of fashion brand Paddo to Palmy admits she loves to move homes, suburbs, even cities. So much so, that her business (which began as a blog) is named after her family’s move from Sydney’s eastern suburbs to its northern beaches, a mere 90 minutes away by car, but light years apart in terms of lifestyle. Three years ago they moved again, to their current home in Vaucluse, close to the easternmost tip of Sydney. And when she’s not moving house, Carter is planning her family’s next holiday, which generally doubles as a research trip for her line of dresses (“when you have your own business you are always working, even on holidays”).
In spite of this life in motion, of perhaps because of it, Carter’s home is a sanctuary of calm. The Arts and Crafts house dates back to the early 20th century but feels airy and modern, thanks to its white walls and Carter’s chic and eclectic decorating style. Home to Carter and her husband, as well as their daughters, Ella, 10, and Giselle, 8, and Isabel the dog, nothing feels too precious here; this is clearly not just a stunning house but also a comfortable home.
Your brand is named after your houses in Paddington and Palm Beach, and you now live in Vaucluse. How has your style evolved to suit the different locations?
I think it’s probably become a bit more traditional with the architecture of the house. When we were in Paddington, we did a quite modern renovation on the back and it was traditional on the front, and the colours were quite bright. Here, I’m trying to be a bit more restrained on the colour front and to use softer colours. It’s hard to tone it down when you have yellow chairs and so many colourful artworks, but I’ve tried! I love to buy art and ceramics [when we travel] and our walls are chock-a-block with paintings that we have collected from around the world.
How do you like to use scent in your home?
We use more calming scents in the bedrooms and uplifting scents for the living areas, especially the fireplace in the formal living room. In winter I’m drawn to grounding scents, whereas in summer I like to keep it light and tropical. Jasmine and gardenia are my all-time favourites.
Which scents from the LUMIRA range do you most enjoy and why?
I love the Tropical Gardenia and Tahitian Coconut candles – they uplift my spirit and remind me of summer. My 10-year-old daughter, Ella, loves to light them after dinner in the living room, and in her room before she goes to bed. She is very into hygge which is a Scandinavian feeling for cosiness and wellness. They believe that when lighting candles, you should light at least five to get the sufficient level of hygge!
What do you love most about travel?
I am mad about interiors, architecture, art and food, so hunting out the best on show in a new destination is always at the top of the list. I also love discovering beautiful swimming spots – I am a mermaid at heart and I get a bit down when you take me away from water.
Can you share the details of your most recent trip?
We visited the Spanish island of Formentera; first we stayed in a gorgeous boutique hotel called The Casbah for a week so we could explore the island by car, then we sailed around the island and also around Ibiza on a yacht, hunting out the best swimming spots. Formentera ticked all of the boxes – probably the best beaches in the world ( I know, it’s a big call, but they had some seriously clear water and white sand), as well as amazing beachside restaurants and beach clubs, and gorgeous ancient villages to explore. The food has a big Italian influence and the whole island just has a magical calmness over it, so we were pretty much in heaven.
What’s been a favourite discovery from your travels?
Positano was such a gem of a town and staying a few nights at Le Sirenuse was an interior addict’s dream! Their buffet breakfast is served on the terrace overlooking the beach and we would linger at the table for hours. I ate the best peach I have eaten in my life!
Which destination is currently informing or inspiring your work as a designer?
We’re booking our upcoming trip to Harbour Island in the Bahamas – the pastel-hued historical town has been on my list since I was a little girl. We are definitely drawing on the pastel hues and lush tropical landscapes for our upcoming collection.
What else is on the cards for you this year?
We are off to LA, Miami, then the Bahamas – it will be a long trip, especially for the kids, but hopefully worth it! As a designer I am always drawing inspiration from my travels, whether it be people-watching, seeing how different cultures dress, or visiting galleries for pattern and color combinations. And I’m also trying to slow down and just appreciate the girls, they’re growing up so quickly. So I’m consciously slowing down and appreciating the smaller things in life.