Agathe Touguet’s Cremorne apartment carries all of the hallmarks from her work as an interior designer. She has transformed her bayside home into a fresh and light-filled space, decorating exclusively with items she loves. Layers of texture in the floor rugs, cushions and lightweight linen curtains help to make the space comfortable. And her preference for a neutral colour palette keeps things timeless and elegant.
As the head of AMA Studios – the Sydney design studio she created five years ago – Agathe works with her clients in much the same way. She aims to help her clients create warm and relaxing spaces in keeping with their unique brief and features the before and after shots in her website that illustrate each dramatic transformation.
Originally from France, Agathe has artfully used The Dharma Door collection in nearly all of her projects to date, so we spent some time learning more about her approach, picking up some wonderful tips on how to work with rental spaces along the way.
Before we talk about your style and approach, tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what were the things you most enjoyed doing as a child?
I grew up in a small coastal town in France called Piriac-sur-Mer. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it, but it is really lovely, especially in summer. My primary school was literally 100m from the beach and we used to go sailing as part of our gym classes, which was really amazing now that I think of it!
As a child, I loved creating things. I always had to be making something with my hands, even when I was watching TV. I’ve made my parents countless keyrings, jewellery, candles and glasses cases! This is something that never really left me and DIYs are now my favourite lockdown activity (just after wine maybe)!
You have been located on the North Shore of Sydney for the past four years. How did you come to be in Australia? And what do you most love about living in this stunning region?
I’m not sure exactly why but I’ve wanted to go to Australia since I was a child. I first went to Brisbane for a 6-month internship in 2013 and fell in love with the Australian lifestyle and the beauty of nature here. As soon as I moved back to France, the only thing I was thinking about was when I’d be able to move back to Australia. I finally moved to Sydney with my partner in January 2017. I absolutely love Sydney and will never get tired of the view of the harbour we have from our balcony. The quality of life here is amazing and I love that winter days are so warm and sunny.
Your website includes before and after pictures of your projects, which is such an eye-opener! In addition to considering your client brief and budget, what are the first things that run through your mind when you first step into a space?
When I first step into my client’s homes, the worse it looks, the more excited I am! I see every negative aspect as a design opportunity - challenges are usually what drives my creativity. The first thing I consider is how to make the space brighter and warmer for my clients. I find old homes are often dark, while new homes generally lack warmth and character.
You often stick to a neutral palette with lots of texture and natural materials in an effort to create relaxing spaces. What are some of your fool-proof ways to achieve this?
I truly believe a home should be a haven where you can relax with your family at the end of the day. I generally stick to an earthy neutral colour palette as it creates a timeless and relaxing atmosphere. To make sure I keep things interesting and not boring, I mix various natural materials and textures. Jute, linen, wool, clay, travertine and reclaimed timber are my favourite materials. To me, a large jute or wool rug, generous linen sheer curtains and real plants are the best ways to make a space inviting.
You have spoken about how you think a home should ‘give you a big hug each time you come back’. What design choices should others consider to create this feeling in their own space?
My top recommendation would be to always choose natural over synthetic materials. Nature has something that is very comforting. I also recommend saving to purchase pieces that you really love and that make you happy instead of going for a cheaper alternative that you will regret after a couple of months or years. Loving every single item in your home will really give you that ‘hug’ feeling. Warm indirect lighting, a comfy sofa with feather cushions and soft throws are also a must!
You have used The Dharma Door collection in a number of your client projects, including Berkeley Vale Cottage, a home for a family of five that includes the gorgeous kitchen, dining and lounge space you remodelled for them. Tell us a little bit about the project and why you selected the Tassel Wall Hanging, Seafarer Basket and Sona Square Basket to be a part of it.
I’ve used The Dharma Door products in most of my client projects (if not all). The brief from our clients for the Berkeley Vale cottage was to create an inviting, family-friendly home, in a style somewhere between earthy boho and coastal. My clients decided to polish the existing concrete slab, so it was important to add rich textures to the space to balance the coldness of the concrete flooring.
The Jumbo Tassel Wall Hanging was the perfect wall décor for the space as it makes a real statement, without competing with the sage green cabinetry in the kitchen. The Seafarer Basket is my favourite basket to store throws by the couch and makes a living room a lot cosier. It also adds a natural element to the laundry which is a space that can often lack warmth. The Sona Square Basket is a great way to add texture to a kitchen and make the benchtop or shelves look tidier.
You have also used items from the collection in the stunning apartment in Cremorne you share with your partner. This space is quite dreamy - featuring neutral tones, lots of soft texture and light and some unique design pieces. Can you tell us about your selections here?
I do have quite a few things from The Dharma Door in our home. I have your products in every room of my apartment! My home is a true representation of my design aesthetics and it’s filled with things I love. I also like to try brands myself before I can confidently recommend them to my clients. I’ve chosen a mix of your baskets to store random things on my open shelves - the Seafarer Basket to have my throws handy by the couch for the cold winter nights and your Trio of Round Baskets keeps things tidy on my desk. One of my favourite baskets is the Minikin Bowl. I really love the shape of this basket but for some reason, my cat has decided it makes a great cat bed! I also have your Jumbo Hemp String Bag and your beautiful Woven Coat Hanger Set on display in our bedroom.
You rent your apartment. What top tips or secret hacks can you share with other renters who want to make a space their own?
There is a lot you can do in a rental home. You just need to be a bit more creative! Rugs are your best friends, especially if you don’t like your existing flooring. Don’t hesitate to personalise your space with adhesive hooks, that’s how I’ve hung everything that’s on our walls, including the coat rack in our bedroom. IKEA hacks are a great way to create custom banquette seating or built-in cabinets without spending thousands on custom joinery that you won’t be able to use in your next rental. A fresh coat of paint will often transform your space and doesn’t cost much. It requires your landlord approval but if you’re simply planning to paint everything white, they’re usually more than happy for you to do it. Sheer curtains generally also make a huge impact.
Why do you think The Dharma Door baskets and bags work so well in your home?
They work perfectly with my design style and add texture, warmth and a natural element to my home. They’re the details that finish the space and make it feel homey.
How do you keep the space interesting? What are some of the things you do to keep things fresh and continue to reflect your changing style and taste?
I tend to get bored of things quite quickly so I’m always moving things around the home! Changing an artwork from the bedroom to the dining room makes it look like a completely new piece. I also love mixing new and vintage pieces, so I’m always on the hunt for pre-loved items that I can give a new life to. It took me a while to define my personal style and tastes but I think I’ve now found it. It will always be evolving but I don’t feel the need to follow trends anymore and don’t make changes in our home as often as I used to as it’s now only filled with things I completely love.
And finally, what design elements most excite you? What are you looking forward to working with at the next available opportunity?
Imperfect and organic shapes are what I love the most in design. I almost always prefer curves over sharp angles as they add a lot of softness to a space. I’ve been eyeing your beautiful new range of pendant lights and can’t wait to specify them for my next projects!
Images by Abbie Melle and The Palm Co.
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