To celebrate the launch of our new Sleep Set, we visited the Bellevue Hill home of photographer and new mum Sam Riles to talk about morning rituals, work-life balance and her favourite places to eat, drink and shop.
What does a morning look like in your home?
I start my mornings off slow and simple but not in an intentional ‘kumbayah’ way with incense burning and meditation, more like the trying-to-catch-up-on-lost-sleep version - with a baby who is often up at 5am climbing over all of us.
I always open the blinds as soon as I get out of bed because natural light is everything in our home and I always feel good about starting the day with a clean house, light flooding through the windows, and a freshly brewed coffee - not to mention a good playlist on nice and loud (at the moment our favourite song to get us all in a good mood is “Teardrops” by Womack & Womack).
How about the evening?
Bath time for everyone because it’s a family ritual to wind down from the day. Then it’s book and bed time for the little dude and then we can finally turn our house back into a non-kid zone and light some candles, play a bit of jazz music and try to catch up with each other over making dinner. It hasn’t always been like this, especially when Frankie was little, but we are starting to feel like we’re getting our lives back and it’s these little moments together that make a huge difference.
Your apartment is beautifully curated and cosy. What has been your main source of inspiration when planning the interiors?
Aw thank you! My boyfriend thinks I have a cane basket obsession. He actually counted them one time and got to 23 (not including the baskets in the car haha). I’m unashamedly a homebody and have always thought of my home as a space of comfort and minimal style. Since moving out at 18, I have searched for homewares high and low (can’t go past a good gumtree find) and love an eclectic mix of pre-loved furniture and natural materials. I am lucky to be surrounded by a creative family - both my partner and dad are builders (@highfieldbuilding) & (@hardwoodbyhand) and my sister and mum own a store & restaurant which embrace a natural minimal aesthetic (@little_rae_online) & (@queen.street.eatery). My partner made us our beautiful bed which we often get requests for re-makes and my dad made our bed side table using stumps from salvaged hardwood.
You’re a mum of 10 month old Frankie, and a busy lifestyle & wedding photographer. How do you find calm during extra chaotic days?
I’m someone who needs my down time so I make sure I put aside some me-time like having a hot bath or reading my book. The drive home from shoots is usually another form of escape for me as I embrace the much needed solo time and chance to listen to some loud rap music. Sometimes when I reflect on those chaotic days I realise that it suits me well keeping busy with little Frankie and work as it leaves me less time to ponder the meaning of life and get too existential.
Can you share with us the last thing you read, listened and watched that inspired you?
The film Rosemary’s Baby (1968). I was surprised by how much I loved it and how cool the art direction was for such a long time ago. It just shows you how timeless films can be and their ability to span the decades and still resonate with us modern-day folk.
“Educated” by Tara Westover - the first book I’ve read in a long time that I couldn’t put down. It was all consuming and left me with many lingering thoughts about how we each come to view the world and how our experiences shape our understanding of what it means to be human. I also recently finished “The Course of Love” by Alain de Botton - A modern love story with juicy annotations written by the author on what the couple are doing wrong or how misunderstood they are of each other. It has definitely given me insight into my own relationship and how I can behave.
A few podcasts on rotation - “Highly Enthused” I’ve only recently discovered and am loving, “Conversations” with Richard Fidler from the ABC, “Ladies We Need To Talk” with Yumi Stynes discussing all things taboo.
Tell us about your neighbourhood. Where are your favourite places to eat and shop?
We live on the top of the hill (Bellevue hill) between Bondi Beach, Bondi Junction, and Double Bay so we are quite fortunate to be so close to almost everything. The downside is that it can be a bit of a thoroughfare and sometimes lacks the feeling of a community.
My favourite morning coffee spots would be:
Little Jean - (Double Bay) great coffee, service and delicious rice porridge.
The Boat House - (Balmoral Beach) the location is next-level, the cafe sits on a jetty over the water. The Organic Republic Bakery - (Bondi Beach) it’s one of the few places in the east you can rock up in your trackies for a coffee at 6am and know that no one is going to judge.
How would you describe your personal style? (Clothing, Style, Interiors)
I would say my overall aim is to invest in items that last seasons and go beyond trends in both my home and my wardrobe. I have a bit of a capsule wardrobe made up of mainly white (linen admittedly) clothes. Not too sure about how my obsession with white came about but I just like the way it makes me feel - fresh, clean and understated. My home is pieced together in a similar vein - mostly neutral colours, natural timbers and soft fabrics. Comfort is key as well as a clean, minimal style.
What are you working on at the moment?
Trying to be a better human. Since having a baby, time has flown by twice the speed and bad habits have started to seep into my life. Right now I’m focusing on implementing better ones. Get more sleep. Grow my wedding photography business (@weddingsbysam). Make more time for friends. Get healthy & recover. Be more present and engaged with my partner, Max.
What are you looking forward to?
Our spontaneous trip to Europe! I have only ever travelled overseas a handful of times and have never been to Europe so the photographer in me is dying to see that part of the world and immerse myself in a new culture and way of life (especially Italy). We are going to London, Paris, Tuscany and Amalfi coast (stay tuned for instagram spam haha).