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 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.’
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.