Yvonn Deitch on Design, Motherhood and Creating a Home
In this collaboration with Double (who make very clever machine washable rugs), we visit stylist and creative mum of three, Yvonn Deitch at her “new, old house” to talk about what makes a home.
Tell us a little about your childhood home.
I grew up in East Germany, which was then Russian-occupied. When the Berlin Wall came down in ’89, I was fourteen. My whole childhood was very different to many people growing up here, in Australia. We had no phone and no car, and there wasn't a bu. We only two channels of TV and spent time listening to records. Our toilet was half a staircase down from our apartment. Once a week we all had a bath. It feels, when you talk about it, like a childhood from the ’50s. But for us kids, it was normal.
You couldn’t rely on food from the shops, so everyone was given a plot of land. It was like a garden colony. You went there on the weekends and tended to your gardens.
I have an older brother, so there were just the two of us. I consider my childhood extremely happy and beautiful. We didn’t have many toys and we played a lot outside. We were very free. My parents rarely saw us until they called us in for dinner.
When the wall came down, we embraced everything that was Western. We wanted to push aside and forget anything associated with East Germany. Where we lived had been quite grey–we had never actually seen a neon colour–and the ’90s were all neon! It was a huge change.
Describe your Byron Bay home now.
We built our family home five years ago. I call it my old/new house because it was built to fit into the neighbourhood and have the feel of an established home instead of a new build. It's in a quiet cul-de-sac with old timber cottages on a spacious double block within walking distance to town.
Who lives there?
I live with my three children: Matilda (12), Frida (10), Leon (7) and a handful of chickens.
Jag Cotton Feel Rug in Yellow & White (200 x 300)
Describe the interior of your house.
I wanted the house to feel a little like a Queenslander but with wider hallways. It has beautiful blackbutt timber floors and cross ventilation instead of air conditioning. It has timber windows, french doors, and vintage inspired tapware and light switches. Instead of any downlights there are only pendant and wall lights. It's a house that's big enough for entertaining family and friends, but not so big that you need cleaners and maintenance help.
What in the house gives you comfort?
We have a little nook in the kitchen which is the perfect space for breakfast. Instead of feeling lost at a large table, or sitting on tall bar stools in the morning, the children can nestle into the cushions and ease into the day over breakfast.
Plinth Royal Blue New Jute Rug (200 x 300 cm)
How is the house an extension of you?
The house is constantly changing and evolving. I will often paint the walls or sew new curtains with the seasons. Artworks from local artists are right next to embroideries my daughter made.
We love to explore the hinterland and forage for blooms and branches. Or we bring back paper daisies and eucalyptus from camping trips.
Food plays a big part in our family. There are slow cooked soups simmering, roasts or cake in the oven. The kitchen counter is usually full of vegetables or fruit after a trip to the farmer’s market. Play dates involve making gyoza, pasta and eating dinner together.
Lady Bugs Red Chenille Rug (160 x 230 cm)
How do you handle mess?
Mess is unavoidable with three children, but I try to teach the children to respect the shared spaces and clean up after each activity. I have one child who makes her bed in the morning, like she’s been trained in the army. I have another child who would not even care if there were bed sheets on hers.
Crew Cream Chenille Rug (160 x 230 cm)
What are the kids' favourite spaces in the house?
Building a home gives you the freedom to create a little magic the children hopefully will remember. Leon, being the youngest, has his room right next to my bedroom. We added a tiny door for him to sneak in through my walk-in robe at night when he has a bad dream. There are little secret compartments behind frames for treasures. The shower is named the kids car wash—it’s a sunken bath with three shower heads. That way everyone can have a shower after the beach and nobody fights for the most water.
What is your favourite place in the house?
My favourite place is always the kitchen but also my courtyard. Instead of building a carport, I loved the idea of a walled courtyard surrounded by bougainvillea. We named the bougainvillea The Beast, because it grows out of control twice a year. We also have olive trees and terracotta pots with herbs.
The courtyard is a space for long lunches with friends and there’s an old tin bath for a cold dip in summer. It comforts me to create spaces which remind me of the simplicity growing up in east Germany, the garden of my grandparents, and the old feel of the apartment building I lived in with my family.
Double rugs were designed for homes where life happens. Homes with muddy boots, spilled wine, splattered paint. Homes that host parties and people and pets. With rugs that look beautiful beyond a photo. Machine washable, stain resistant and easy to clean. For more info head to Double.
Photos by Nat McComas.