Lisa’s love of mod and whimsy

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“MY husband has no interest in decorating – he doesn’t see what the big deal is,” says Lisa Barrett, stay-at-home-mum and the creative mind behind handmade “home and wardrobe” accessories label Tango & James.

“It’s okay though, because this way I get to do what I want; I get my own say all the time!”
Lisa’s creative craftiness is evident throughout her colourful, quirky home, especially in her home-made art, re-upholstered chairs and bold curtains in fabric she designed herself, and a hand-painted monochrome chevron rug.

“I don’t spend lots of money on my home, and if I can make something myself, I will,” she says. “I’ve always been creative. I get bored if I’m not making something.

“Lots of my furniture and accessories come from Ikea and junk shops, like the cane coat rack, which just needed to be yellow. I always have an eye out for things.”

Lisa says she’s inspired by Kate Spade and interior designer Jonathan Adler, for their love of vivid colour, fun, and mixed-up patterns.

“Their designs really fit with my aesthetic, which is sort of mod, whimsy and eclectic, with a slight Scandinavian influence,” she says.

“When we moved in nine years ago, the house was all gumball colours; a bit scary. It looked like an oompa-loompa had exploded in the hallway.”

Lisa and her husband extended their “humble Higgins” home when son Hugo was a baby, adding two new bedrooms for the now six-year-old, and (future son) Dylan, four, as well as a light and airy open-plan family/play room.

“The space is great for the boys; they play up a storm in here, and it gets lovely light from our first and only north-facing windows,” she says.

“We always eat breakfast around the coffee table in the living room, but I love the big dining table, Ikea pendants and Harry Bertoia chairs. I saw a set of these come up on AllBids and blogged about it – stupid, stupid!

“I was outbid then, so when I saw this set come up I didn’t tell anybody!

“For someone who’s a stay-at-home mum, and a bit out of the interior design scene, I’ve managed to keep my finger in the pie. I’m daring to do more and more now with my designs.

“If I make something for Tango & James that I really adore, I’m not tempted to keep it – I just know that someone else will love it.”

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist.

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