Becoming a mum changed my life more than I could ever have imagined, but I don’t think it changed me as a person – although I learned to love in a way I’d never felt before. I was never a hugger, but I can’t stop giving my daughter, Sunday, hugs these days. I probably worry more – it’s so true when they say you have an extra heart beating outside of your chest when you have a child.
I spent my whole pregnancy working as a senior buyer in the set-decorating department of the film The Great Gatsby, so my day was never completely normal. You never know what life will throw at you working in the film industry, and I certainly miss the excitement and the buzz. Weekends were different in that we’d decide to go out to a nice restaurant at the last minute. These days it’s a monthly event, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Having Sunday definitely changed my career path, as I started working on the interiors of private residential projects, instead of films.
It sounds funny, but I actually imagined the exact person Sunday is becoming – as soon as we found out we were having a girl I dreamed up this little personality and she really is bringing that to life. I’m finding her particular age (she just turned three) fairly easy – she’s a fantastic communicator, so I can usually find out exactly what’s wrong and what makes her happy. The first year of her life was beyond hard though – Sunday suffered from silent reflux and was incredibly unsettled. I shudder just thinking about those early days.
I started working as a creative straight out of school. I studied for three years at Enmore Design Centre and worked part-time at my aunt’s Garden Centres. I loved being surrounded by plants and lovely homewares, and took great pride in my window displays. After eight years as a set dresser and buyer in the film industry (which was an incredibly hard industry to crack), I made the natural transition into working with private clients on their homes. I already had a fairly established blog, which made it easy to make the ‘announcement’ that I was moving across to decorating houses, rather than film sets. Working on The Great Gatsby was definitely a career highlight, but I have to say my recent residential decorating projects bring me a lot of joy.
I was obsessed with my little bedroom as a kid. My mum always made sure we had lovely bed linen. A peachy rose duvet cover springs to mind – it was the ’80s after all. I was constantly rearranging my little space, and always hung my own artworks on the wall. I was never a ‘Smash Hits’ poster kind of girl.
Creativity was absolutely encouraged. Growing up I attended art classes after school throughout primary, and then ended up at an adult night class learning oil painting through the majority of high school. I hope I wasn’t seen as a pain to the adults wanting peace and quiet, as I was a bit of a chatterbox. My dad was a creative director in advertising, my mum was a very creative and passionate primary school teacher, who also collects antiques and curiosities, and my step mum is a very talented painter. You could say my siblings and I were surrounded by creativity.
On parenting and creative work…
I took nearly a full year off when Sunday was a baby and then found a fantastic home day-carer, who now takes Sunday three days a week. I try to make sure my workload doesn’t get too large, and that it flows over three days worth of work, although it doesn’t always work out that way.
I really try and switch off work when I’m with Sunday. I’m lucky in that half the time my work feels more like a hobby, which would be the case with most creatives. Hard work, confidence and believing in your self certainly goes a long way. If I could make changes to my current life to allow for more creative time, I’d employ a project manager who is fantastic at accounting. I feel like so much of my time is spent quoting and billing, and I’ve found myself stuck a few times where jobs have overlapped and I’m pushed for time.
Sunday loves nothing more than to get the paints out. We’ll often paint together or make a little craft project she has spotted on her favourite show, Play School. She hasn’t been involved in any decorating project of mine, but who knows what the future holds? She always passes comment on something new in the house, “Mmmm, nice new cushion, Mumma!”
Briar Stanley is mum to 3-year-old Sunday Stanley, and the interior decorator, stylist and blogger behind Sunday Collector. They live in NSW. You can follow Briar on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.