Aimee McKechnie is the Founder and Creative Director of Curated + Made, a boutique interior design studio, creating homes that are timeless, carefully considered and a joy to live in. We spent a morning at her luxury holiday home, The Shore at Gerringong, to chat about her lifestyle centred approach to design, top tips for curating a coastal home and her passion for local makers.
A Designer, Sunshine Seeker, Curator, and Nurturer; Aimee, the founder of Curated + Made and The Shore at Gerringong is a self-described role juggler. After fifteen years in project and event management, she decided it was time for a career change, returning to study at Sydney Design School and the International School of Colour & Design, before launching her bespoke studio in 2014. A lover of all elements of interior design, her goal is to create truly unique spaces for clients to call their own. “My approach is to always keep the two key tenets of timeless design and laidback living top of mind when working with clients,” she says. “I carefully consider how clients want to use their home and work with them to create spaces that are functional yet layered with detail.”
Drawn to the beautiful northern light and raked ceiling, Aimee knew she was onto something when she found the home that would become The Shore, “I just knew it had great bones and we could create something special” she muses. Describing the final transformation as “a warm minimal, Australian coastal palette with a Mediterranean influence” Aimee shares the two things on her mind when developing the interior scheme, “to ensure it didn’t compete with the beautiful views and to make people instantly feel warm and relaxed like they could kick off their shoes and flop on the sofa when they walked in the door.”
Natural materials were key to achieving both of these outcomes. The finishes at The Shore are both elegant and laid back, an elevated take on coastal living. Every surface is textural, tactile and comfortable. “It starts with the flooring in the form of engineered oak boards which means they feel soft underfoot and don't have the click-clack sound associated with other types of floorboards. The travertine in the bathrooms gives that same feeling of being really solid yet warm and handmade - especially with the underfloor heating. All the sofas and seating are linen, leather or wood and have a tactile but luxurious feel. And then add in a bit of brass and a few unique vintage items and it elevates the look to be more interesting.”
Passionate about the Australian design industry, Aimee has included several Aussie Makers, Artists and Designers in her styling of The Shore. “I think it’s so important to support the local design industry and there is such an abundance of incredible talent, we’re actually spoilt for choice. They really understand the local market and have a unique but distinctly Australian feel to many of their pieces.” Some of her favourites include Pop and Scott, for their timeless aesthetic and use of quality materials, Create Estate for their beautiful bespoke bed heads and Agostino & Brown, for their innovative yet timeless designs. Aimee shares the importance of supporting our makers “by championing them to clients and trying to include some element of handmade in each project.”
Based on the beautiful south coast, The Shore is located right in the heart of town, looking out on the coastline and in close proximity to coffee shops and restaurants. “My go-to is The Kiosk at Gerringong SLSC. They do great coffee as well as delicious toasties, perfect before you set off for a stroll on Werri Beach. I also love Clay Coffee Collective in Fern Street, they serve coffee in handmade ceramic mugs which suit my style!
“For a late afternoon cocktail, you can’t beat The Hill Bar and Kitchen and for delicious pub food, Jack's Grill by Smith St Foods is always a winner. My favourite by far though is to get in-house catering by Dandelion and Mallow. Karina uses all local produce and is an amazing chef. Her grazing platters are so good!” she tells us.
“For clothes shopping, I always hit up Ziba Lifestyle and for home and kitchen, it’s Oak Home. I also love the Collective Beat which is an indoor marketplace that gives local designers and artists the opportunity to sell their work.
If I'm up for some outdoor adventuring the Kiama Coastal walk is a fantastic escape to nature and takes you from the north end of Werri Beach to Kiama with incredible views. And you can often find me at Regal Riding School in Shoalhaven Heads waiting for my daughter to finish a ride.”
Dedicated to reflecting her client and their lifestyle, Aimee’s expertise lies in creating timeless designs for laidback living. We asked her to share her top five tips for curating a coastal home:
- Texture is key. Mixing textures while keeping the colour palette tonal makes the space feel cohesive and warm.
- Don’t overdo it. Less is definitely more so the beautiful pieces you do have, can shine.
- Rethink the classic coastal theme of blue and white. It only reflects one element of the Australian coast - there are so many other tones and colours such as the sand dunes, the sage colours in coastal grasses or the grey-blues of the ocean on a winters day.
- Keep it relaxed and use the appropriate flooring so there’s no stress if someone walks inside straight from the beach.
- Sheer linen curtains are perfect for catching that afternoon sea breeze and making you feel like you’re on holiday.
Currently, Aimee is working on taking a break. “There’s a few projects ticking over though so downtime might have to wait. Zoom and people staying at home has opened up my client base to interstate for styling work which has been fun. And of course, there’s a plan currently underway for the next luxury holiday property - I’m thinking country with an eco-home might be my next personal project that I can share with guests in the future!”