Next in the Real Homes, Real People series is Taylor Pitsilos’ luminous apartment in the Australian capital city.


Taylor and her parents, Sharyn and Dion, own the Designer Op Shop Emporium (DOSE), which is where Tiger and Moth is based. The Emporium sells pre-loved fashion and luxe clothing, as well as vintage, antique and contemporary homewares. It is a collective of small boutiques, each with an individual but complementary style.


Taylor is an extraordinarily talented businesswoman, stylist and fashion enthusiast. She has worked in the fashion industry for over ten years: buying, merchandising, and styling, as well as managing the Emporium from its inception in Braddon to its current Fyshwick location.

This life

This Canberra apartment is home to Taylor, one of the three partners behind DOSE. Her one bedroomed home is a demonstration of how to make a small space very beautiful. She shares her home with Frankie, a French bulldog.



When Gordon Parks, American photographer, writer and director said ‘enthusiasm is the electricity of life’ he could have been talking about Taylor Pitsilos. She brings a calm yet dynamic energy to everything she does, be it the Series magazine that showcases the DOSE design ethos, or the magical fashion shoots she styles and directs with her team of creative collaborators. She is instigator, visionary, director, and doer.


Not surprisingly, her apartment reflects her curated, exquisite aesthetic. Here, her unstinting capacity to absorb and interpret fashion and style manifests itself into an ever-evolving but always perfect package. Opening the door onto her jewel of a home is like unboxing a Chanel parcel: white walls, black trim and comprised of perfect details inside.



‘My home is constantly changing. It’s a small, 80 metre square apartment, so there isn’t a lot I can alter about the fabric of it, but it has evolved with me over the past four years,’ says Taylor. ‘Since I first moved here, I’ve changed out every piece of furniture aside from my bed and the dining table. Being part of the DOS Emporium certainly helps me to keep my look fresh!’ she laughs.



Her signature interior style, which also reflects her approach to fashion and the DOSE business model, is all about the tantalising tension between vintage and modern pieces.

‘I have a balance of both. I find vintage pieces have so much character…but they are at their most stunning when contrasted against modern pieces,’ observes Taylor. ‘My vintage furniture is more likely to have a sentimental connection to me. For example, I’ve got a few small tables that Mum had in her house for 30 years.’



‘And I adore the Lydie du Bray antique chair in my bedroom. It’s stunning if impractical, and it reminds me of shopping trips to the Southern Highlands, which is one of my favourite places close to Canberra. Likewise, my Czech bentwood chairs. I value them more than my IKEA dining table, but together they look great.’



Taylor’s assertion that she hasn’t changed much of the actual fabric of the space is a little misleading. She swapped out the dark grey carpet in the living area for a light, hardwood floor, which has dramatically improved the quality of light in the space and changed the mood completely. She has used mirrors to enhance natural light, creating depth in the small space.


‘I also transformed a hallway storage cupboard into a wardrobe. As you would imagine, I own a lot of clothes! My advice, even in preconfigured space, is not to be afraid to put your own spin on how you use a floorplan.’



Taylor bought the apartment when she was only 24. ‘I was really keen to get into the market. My friends were also investing in property at that time, and my parents transitioned out of the family home into an apartment, so it felt like the right time to strike out on my own. I’m very independent, so having my own space is vital for me.’



The apartment’s location was one of the deciding factors: ‘It’s well situated in Phillip, just south of Lake Burley Griffin, with stunning views across the pool towards the ranges,’ observes Taylor. ‘Sunsets are fabulous here. And the balcony is unusually large for such a compact apartment. It’s another room – outdoors – which I love.’




Taylor enjoys having friends and family over for casual drinks and nibbles. She has a simple but stylish approach. ‘I always have grazing platters set out on different marble trays. And beautiful vintage wine glasses with crystal jugs, and coasters. Table scaping is fun for me. Even if I’m home alone I’ll use lovely things. I drink water from a Waterford crystal glass, for example. I don’t save things for special occasions.’


Q&A


1. What do you want this house to say about you?


As a stylist, the way I dress is part of my brand. Likewise, I feel it’s very important that I present a home that looks its best…why wouldn’t you want your environment to reflect you, and how you feel?


My motto is ‘a clear space is a clear mind’. As my space has evolved, I enjoy less clutter. Some people would say that my apartment doesn’t look lived in because I like things to be perfect. But I think it’s just the way I was raised. My parent’s house is always immaculate, and you could eat off the floor of both my grandmothers’ houses!



2. Which is your favourite space in the apartment and why?


I love my new Wassily chair, which is vintage, but still looks contemporary. [Marcel Breuer designed the chair in Germany 1925-26]. When I open the door to the apartment, it’s the first thing I look at. I can’t see myself getting rid of that anytime soon! I love seeing it framed by the olive tree and one of my sister’s photographs of San Francisco.



I also love my bookshelves. They used to be much ‘busier’ in style, with lots of candles, vases and artwork, but about a year ago I decided to pare them back and to highlight my book collection by arranging them in colour blocks. I’ve collected books about fashion and interiors for many years, and they’re both an inspiration and a companion to me. I love the tactile quality of books.



3. Which domestic luxury can’t you bear to be without?

It’s no secret that I love Cire Trudon candles! When I’m at home, I’ll always have a candle burning in the apartment. I love the light it creates, as well as the scent. My favourite Trudon fragrance is Abd el Kader (Moroccan mint tea).



Lighting is a critical element in my approach to decorating. I’d never have harsh, white lighting. I use heaps of lamps, and all my overhead lighting is dimmable. I use an app to control every one, so I can dim or raise the lighting depending on my task.


I have lamps and music on all the time, so that when I come home it feels cosy. My favourite ambient station is SBS Chill. Frankie likes the white noise, too. He’s quite particular in his habits; I like to say that it’s really his home, and he lets me live here!



It’s very important for me to have fresh flowers for the natural endorphins that they generate. I also love arranging them. It’s another creative activity that makes me feel happy. I might spend 30 mins ‘reflexing’ the roses, for example [flipping some of the rose petals outwards opens up the buds and extends their life].





4. Which colours do you love to live with, and why?


White is my big neutral. My cushions usually have blue tones. That sometimes changes but I always go back to blue. I find it calming. A lot of my photographic artwork is light blue. And there’s a bit of soft pink, and shades of green in the plants and the antique chair in my bedroom.



5. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?

It’s very hard to pick one place! I have a heartfelt connection to Paris – I’ve always loved it, and because it’s the heart of fashion I always try and go there if I’m in Europe. If I lived there I’d choose to marry contemporary pieces in an old apartment with beautiful windows and detailing, somewhere in Montmartre.


I’m very lucky to have a family home on the Greek island of Aegina. Outside of the pandemic, we try and spend as much time there as possible. One day, I’d like to arrange my life so that I miss winter in Canberra, and spend it in Greece instead.





Words: @tigerandmoth

Images: @stylebytala

Welcome to the second post in my series about homes that are cherished and loved by the special people who created them. Real homes, that are full of life and memories, and which may not be as perfect as some of the content we see in other parts of the digital world.


This house belongs to my Mum. We created the story while under various stages of lockdown, thousands of miles apart.

This life

This two storey cottage is home to Gill and Clive, who are both retired. It has two bedrooms, a bathroom and a large open plan living area. The garden enjoys a south-facing aspect on the edge of a village in the county of Northumberland, England

The southern façade of Denton Little House

Richard Ford, the American novelist, wrote ‘it's interesting to leave a place…Leaving reminds us of what we can part with and what we can't, then offers us something new to look forward to, to dream about.’


For Gill, the transition from her previous home—a Northumbrian farmhouse with a large garden, crowning the top of a hill—to what she calls her retirement home, was not an easy one.

Northumbrian landscape near Gill's cottage

‘Sandhoe was a very special place for me. Leaving it was an enormous wrench. Finding the right place to downsize to was a big challenge. It took 18 months, much longer than we anticipated.’


Not wanting to move far from their treasured rural home, she and her husband, Clive, made a sensible list of requirements and searched throughout the Tyne Valley.


The area is famed for Hadrian’s Wall, begun on the orders of the eponymous Roman Emperor in AD 122, and which borders the northern side of the Tyne Valley. The area is also known for the Abbey town of Hexham, which straddles the River Tyne that runs through the heart of the valley. The sparsely populated Hexhamshire district to the south of the river rolls into the moorland of County Durham.


Having looked at virtually all the properties they considered suitable—and even those they thought unsuitable—their final choice of Denton Little House rather surprised them as it didn’t tick many of their boxes, other than the one for a village location with bus and train connections on the doorstep.


‘Denton Little was very small and had recently been refurbished in an efficient but unattractive style. However, it felt endearing from the outside and upon entering I knew it had the right feel. I saw how I could enhance the property to suit us,’ Gill reflects. ‘We were drawn to the life of the village: the pub, the cricket club, the church, village hall and the activities therein. Without too much debate or procrastination we said an eager yes, which has proved to be the best of decisions.’

A bedroom door, hand painted by Gill

Their ‘final’ home is rather like a pretty doll’s house, akin to a cottage that Beatrix Potter might have painted to accommodate one of her well-dressed mice. The house nestles against a hillside, stitched into place by a late nineteenth century terrace and a sixteenth century barn conversion. These homes shelter Gill’s cottage from the noise and busyness of the village; her views lie south across her pretty garden and adjacent farmland.


‘Once I made the commitment to the house, I was full of enthusiasm and did lots of drawings to work out how to enlarge the living areas without detracting from the charm of the original building,’ notes Gill. ‘We had a limited budget to work with, so I was also a little anxious because it was my last chance to create something special.’


‘When Denton Little was built in l920 it was a very ‘on trend’ building with interesting art nouveau windows, but basically it was a two up, two down property with a small kitchen to the rear and a very small bathroom upstairs,’ Gill observes.


From the summer room, towards the garden

While the cottage’s footprint was not radically altered during the update, the living space required an infusion of light to give it an additional sparkle. Gill added a sympathetic extension to the front of the property, knocking through to the kitchen and opening the dining and sitting rooms into a ‘u’ shape with a central staircase. This created a long kitchen, dining and summer room and formed a study/sitting area with a cosy winter sitting room. Gill also added a new laundry cum boot room and the essential guest loo.


The summer room is always full of plants and flowers

The garden, which lies to the front of the house, is south facing and the summer room’s large French doors make you feel as if you are in the garden.


The winter sitting room has a lovely white painted pine French fireplace and Gill’s much-loved Lewis and Wood’s Adam’s Eden wallpaper has been used here and in the dining area.



The winter sitting room with its Adam's Eden wallpaper

Gill sourced the fireplace during the renovation

‘The new design is all about the flow,’ says Gill. ‘The connection between each of the rooms and the garden is very important. The beauty of this design is that I can be in the kitchen while guests relax with drinks in the living area; I can keep an eye on them but they’re not crowding my preparation space.’


Skylights ensure the kitchen is always bright

‘I love to have family or a good mix of close friends around the dinner table, lingering over coffee with debates on varying topics, current or otherwise. It is one of my happiest occupations!’

Denton Little, ready for Christmas

The pandemic has tested everyone’s commitment to their domestic spaces, asking more of them than ever before. The cottage and garden have been a safe sanctuary for Gill and Clive, who, restrictions and weather allowing, were able to host friends on the terrace during some of the more difficult months.


‘I love this house,’ Gill reflects. ‘Since I married and left home at the age of 19 I’ve lived in 14 different houses, but I’ve never felt as protected as I do here. This is my forever home.’

The back door is off a gated courtyard.
The cottage is a playful mix of old and new
Gill's study nook is part of the kitchen

Q&A

1. What do you want this house to say about you?

Most of all, I hope Denton Little is interesting and attractive, with a feeling of comfort and happiness.


2. Which is your favourite room in this house and why?

The little bedroom is my special place, because it’s very small and cosy. I use it as my ironing and dressing room, as well as a place to read and watch my iPad. My lino-cut pineapple tree pattern on the walls and my home-made headboard make me happy.

The little bedroom overlooks the garden
Gill made the headboard in the main bedroom

3. What has inspired a particular decorating or design approach in this house?

The winter sitting room is an eclectic combination of my most precious heirlooms and my favourite wallpaper. I’ve always wanted to use Lewis and Wood’s Adam’s Eden, and this room was the perfect place.

Gill inherited the clock and the bureau

The paper embraced my grandfather’s watercolours and the mahogany bureau I inherited from dear family friends, Alice and Ethel.


My most treasured possession in this room is the clock that my father, George, left me. It belonged to my father’s parents, Della and William. It sat in their first-floor drawing room in an elegant, terraced house off Westgate Road in Newcastle upon Tyne. As a child I was allowed to pull the string at the side and watch the animals turn within the glass case as it played a little tune.


William Milne’s watercolours are also my loved treasures and fit so well in this small but very ‘safe’ sitting room.

William Milne's watercolours above the sofa

During the pandemic the reproduction Santos dolls that my daughter sent me from Australia [Tiger & Moth] have become very special to me. True to their original purpose they have an almost spiritual quality that I find deeply comforting.


4. Which domestic luxury can’t you bear to be without?

Flowers. I do buy them every week—just from the supermarket when I’m doing my grocery shopping. I like lots of plants and greenery in the house. If I had endless amounts of money, I’d have flowers delivered every week.


Also, it’s a family joke that my life would not be worth living without chocolate, and kitchen roll to support my cleaning addiction.

View from the kitchen into the dining area

5. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?

I’d like houses in Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand, so I could spend long stretches of time living close to my family, all of whom are overseas.


Failing that, I’d choose Edinburgh. We went there every year when I was a child. Some of my mother’s family lived in Morningside and we would go there from our cottage in Coldstream, on the Scottish border, every summer.


There is a danger, in our contemporary, perfection-obsessed world, that we lose sight of what is real, and lived and lovely. I'm certainly guilty of sharing only the prettier parts of my home and life on digital platforms. Unfortunately, I think this quest for aesthetic perfection means we don't get to peek inside the beautiful spaces created by everyday people like us.

I have been to so many gorgeous homes that reflect the individuality of their owners, but these lovely spaces are not the kinds I see featured in magazines. Whilst I love to see editorial content, I also want to see inside homes that are cherished and loved by the special people who created them. More importantly, I want to know why the homes have evolved as they have, and what they mean to the people who live there.


My family have agreed this may be an interesting journey, and to share their homes here. We were all in various stages of lockdown when we put together these stories, so please forgive the limitations of the photography. They also live thousands of miles away from me, and from each other, so these homes are interesting examples of how different environments shape different interiors.


First up, my brother, who lives in KL. Shortly after we collaborated on this story he and his family moved into a new place, so it's poignant that these images capture a particular time of their lives.

This life

This Mont Kiara apartment is home to Michael and Sarah, who work for IKEA, and their teenage son, Charlie. It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large open-plan living area and a wraparound balcony. Mont Kiara is in the heart of the Klang Valley in northwest Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

View from the balcony towards the dining room at dusk

As expats living overseas, Michael and Sarah have learnt the importance of creating a home, wherever that may be. Expat accommodation is usually a rental property taken on a relatively short tenure, which means all the interior magic must come from possessions, rather than a transformation of the fabric of the building.


Sarah and Michael have made beautiful homes in many different places: a flat on the coast near Newcastle upon Tyne and a Northumbrian farmhouse in England, a Georgian townhouse in Leith, Edinburgh, and a large apartment in Kobe, Japan. Each place has influenced the next as they learnt what works best for them and their son, Charlie.


Rugs add texture and warmth

‘When we looked at this apartment, we were under a lot of pressure; we viewed several places in half a day and had to make a decision quickly,’ Michael reflects. ‘What instantly struck us about this apartment was its quality of light. Many of the rooms open on to the balcony, which makes the rooms feel very open.’


An Arco lamp is paired with an IKEA armchair

Having lived in an apartment in Japan, they were determined to find a home in Malaysia that had a better connection to the exterior. ‘We loved the living space in our Kobe home,’ says Sarah. ‘However, the balcony didn’t get much sunshine and we didn’t use it a great deal. Living there could sometimes feel claustrophobic.’


Malaysia enjoys an equatorial climate, so the weather in Kuala Lumpur is hot and humid all year round. Being able to use the large balcony has been critical to the family’s sanity during the Covid19 pandemic; they have spent most of the past 12 months working and studying from home. The balcony has room for lots of plants, seating areas and a much-used barbeque spot.

The Weber Q bbq is hiding to the right of the sofa

‘Having that outdoor space has been so useful during lockdown. It separates us,'' says Michael. ‘When we are inside at night time, we like to leave the curtains open and to look out on to lamp light and candles. It feels cosy and stops us feeling closed in.’


Sarah enjoys the cocktail corner on the balcony

The apartment has a modern, Scandinavian feel. The main living area contains a lounge space, a dining area, the kitchen and a study area. While it flows seamlessly from one area to another, Michael and Sarah were keen to create separate zones for different functions.


IKEA furniture is paired with vintage finds

‘The rug in the dining room creates a focal point for that space. We also added the floor to ceiling shelving unit to the edge of that area as a way of partitioning off the study area without losing the flow of light,’ Michael notes. ‘It separates the space and gives us the opportunity to display some of our favourite pieces, too.’


The old cameras belonged to Michael's father

Sarah and Michael both have a keen eye for design and style, and love to pair contemporary pieces with vintage finds. They use occasional pops of intense colour and darker accents to punctuate an otherwise white, bright, and neutral palette.


Sarah and Michael painted the vintage hall table

‘We have a lot of IKEA furniture, mixed with older pieces,’ Sarah observes. ‘Most of the antiques or vintage furniture weren’t hugely expensive, but they have interesting stories to tell. They remind us of special places in our lives. Almost everything has a sentimental value.’


The Penang lounge

Michael adds, ‘We have a lot of Asian finds…some of which we gathered before we left the UK. We were already influenced by Japanese and Chinese style before we came here.’


An IKEA cabinet contains many sentimental treasures

The couple concede to a mild chair obsession. ‘We are at the ‘one chair in, one chair out’ stage,’ Sarah laughs. ‘Michael has a tendency to impulse buy, so we had to put a cap on it!’ Having said that, many of the chairs are links to previous lives and precious memories.


Family photos create a gallery wall

The scarlet chair that underpins the gallery wall is actually an antique commode that Michael painted. ‘We found it in the back lane of our Tyneside terrace,’ Michael says with a smile. ‘I love that we found it, that it was free, it’s old, and that it’s also a bit like a throne!’ The pot that the chair contained is now housing a plant on the dividing shelves.



Q&A

1. What do you want this house to say about you?

Michael: Even though it’s not a forever home, it’s super important that it feels like home. I want people to think, ‘this is a cool place. It’s interesting.’ I’d like to inspire people a bit.

Sarah: Most of our possessions tell a story of who we are and where we have been. We have lots of family photos around us—probably more than if we lived near our family.


2. Which is your favourite room in this house and why?

Michael: I like the living room, a space with the big ‘L’ shaped sofa. I like lounging on that with Sarah and Charlie, relaxing, watching TV, while having candles and the dimmable lamps on.

An antique blanket box anchors the contemporary sofa

Michael: We had an impromptu cocktail night here a while ago. It started at 6 pm and didn’t finish until 2 am…the spaces worked really well together. Some people stayed out on the balcony, others sat at the breakfast bar. It was a fantastic evening.

Sarah: I like the interactive aspect of the kitchen…even though the storage is badly designed, I like being able to see the whole living area while I’m busy at the breakfast bar. This space is so much better than the Japanese kitchen we used to have, which was tucked away around a corner. It didn’t have a window and cooking in there felt like being in a prison.

Sarah and Charlie in the kitchen

3. Which domestic luxury can’t you bear to be without?

Sarah: We both love candles, and we always have a special fragrance in our essential oil burner. Our favourite is ‘Catherine’ by Aesop, which is made up of orange, cedar and clove. Scent is one of the most important ways we create a sense of home. Christmas, for example, will forever be associated with ‘Noel’ by Crabtree and Evelyn, which Michael’s Mum used each year until it was discontinued.


Michael: Lighting is crucial to making a home feel special. Looking at apartments in Japan and Malaysia, I’ve noticed that many people are satisfied with cold, blue overhead lighting from a single light source, which is not cosy or comfortable. We like to use lots of different lighting to change the mood of a space. Warm, white light from overhead downlights is practical, but it can be harsh if it isn’t diffused by other lighting. We have used a lot of floor and table lamps to create gentle pools of light at different levels.

4. Tell me about your favourite piece of furniture or decorative object. Sarah: I love the Balinese cabinet and all our big plants, both inside and out.


Sarah's favourite cabinet

Michael: My Dad’s Leica camera, and the three box cameras he collected. I also love the three turquoise blue Thai temple dogs on the dividing shelves. We have some lovely Japanese artwork that we collected when we lived there. With each of these pieces it’s not about their financial value. It’s about beauty and sentiment.


Framed vintage art and photographs from Japan

5. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?

Michael: I’d choose an old cottage in the Scottish Highlands. I’d renovate it so that it looked traditional from the front and add a huge glass wall that overlooked hills or a body of water to the rear. I’d open the contemporary space on to decking to embrace the outside.


Sarah: I’d love a Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh, close to the city centre. It would have three stories and a big staircase. On the ground floor I’d have huge bi-fold doors opening on to a garden.


The last word

Michael: Making a home comes naturally to us. It’s a passion. Some people find it a chore or uninteresting. For us, the joy that our objects bring us is so important; they are like the clothes you choose or the watch you wear. Once your house is in a good place, your mind is in a good place. Home is the place that keeps you alive.


Sarah: My Dad died recently. When I went back to England to be with my Mum, she wanted to make some changes to her home. She wanted to change it to reflect how she lived, and how she felt about the future. They were quite simple changes, but they made a big difference. Creating a home is also about control. It can set your mind and the tone of your mood.

Words: @tigerandmoth

Pictures: @mrcoxx