Tuesday 24 March 2015


"We're renovating so I'm a bit fickle when it comes to a favourite room, 
it tends to be the most recently finished. Ultimately I'm going to say the kitchen, 
it's one of the biggest transformations and after living with just a battered old sink, with temperamental hot water, and a two-burner camping hob for over 18 months it feels like 
a dream to finally have kitchen we can all safely enjoy together as a family."

It has been interesting to watch the evolution of Marie Nichols from stylist extraordinaire to mother. I interviewed her for Daily Imprint about 7.5 years ago based on her portfolio but got to know her when she moved from the UK to Australia. While she was in Sydney for just over a year she worked regularly for Real Living magazine, while I was deputy editor, and I even cut my teeth styling by assisting her on a couple of photo shoots. She was always so focussed and organised yet clever and creative, as well as cheerful. While I’m watching Marie’s life as a stylist and a mum from afar now (via her Instagram feed), she seems to be colouring her role with all the aforementioned characteristics too. And it does not surprise me that, alongside her talented husband Simon, she has created some amazing kid-inspired projects in her home, including a giant abacus above their son Albie’s cot, and a cool graphic play mat.

Marie admits, though, that motherhood has been a big learning experience. “At the moment I think I’m in the middle of re-focusing, looking at how I’m juggling motherhood and work so that these early years don’t pass me by,” she says.

1 As a child I used to wear... clothes made for me by my Mum. Cute little dresses in sweet Liberty print fabrics. I like to think that if one day I have a daughter I may attempt to make similar for her. I know my limits, so it’s unlikely that I’ll attempt to add my own contributions to Albie’s wardrobe - boys clothes seem far too tricky!

2 My bedroom was... messy. My poor mum was always asking me to tidy my room. I developed a tidying technique that I still use to this day: get a big cupboard, shove everything it, and do not open the door unless absolutely necessary.

3 When I was a teenager I used to... really want to be a rebel, but my parents had bought me up a bit too well so I never quite had it in me. I always had a “need to achieve” and hated getting in trouble so I was a bit rubbish at the whole “rebel” thing really. 

4 After high school I wanted to be... working in a job that I loved. I always knew that I wanted to do something creative, and from the age of about 14 I was certain that I wanted to become an interior designer. 

5 A seminal moment was... moving to Sydney for 14 months. I’m a home girl. I’d never before been away from my family for longer than two weeks. Giving up my job at a magazine in London, renting out the home that Simon and myself had renovated and going to live on the other side of the world was “out of character”. However, it was by far the best thing that we’ve ever done. The experience was amazing for us as a couple, with Simon working alongside me. Without my family around he really became my rock. (He proposed while on a mini break in the Blue Mountains.) Creatively, I felt so inspired and it gave me a new confidence as a stylist and allowed me to further develop my own personal style. We fell in love with the city; I hold such fond memories of our time there and still miss it. We dream of re-discovering it all over again with Albie one day soon. 

6 I never thought I would... enjoy motherhood quite as much as I am, or at least not in the early days. I remember in those first few weeks, which felt like years, feeling so out of control and way out of my depth - two things that really don’t sit well with me: I’m a control freak. How was life ever going to resemble “normal” again? The fact is I don’t think life will ever resemble “normal again” when you become a mother, but you find a “new normal”. For me that took a little - *read, “a lot of” - adjusting to, but once I got there I realised that it’s a far better normal than the normal I had before. I’m just way more tired than normal!

7 I've learnt to... or I’m learning to - because I’m still new at this motherhood thing - appreciate the value of what it means to be a Mother. Something a friend said to me in passing just last week really struck a cord - we were drinking tea, having a catch up with three crazy toddlers charging around at the time so I forget her exact words - it was along the lines of “Sometimes we just need to take a step back and realise what a bloody tough but amazing job we are doing as mums”. She’s right, we don’t give enough credit to what it means to “just be a mum”.

I always wanted my children to have the same amazing childhood that I did. My mum gave up her career to give my brother and I the most amazing childhood. She always had time for us and was so creative and inspiring, childhood was really fun. I’ve always had a need to “achieve” and I thought that I was too selfish to sacrifice my career, that “just being a mum” somehow wouldn’t be enough for me. I’m discovering that achievements aren’t just measured by gaining a new client, or seeing a shot that I’ve styled on the cover of a glossy magazine. I’m learning to appreciate just how important and satisfying - if not a little frustrating at times - it is to be a Mum. There is nothing that makes me happier than teaching Albie a new word; seeing him wolfing down a dinner that I’ve cooked for him or when he calls me Mummy (or Mum-eeee as he likes to pronounce it). Mum-eeee is by far the best thing I’ve ever been called! I’ve learnt that motherhood changes how you look at everything. 

8 I know... that there is nothing more important in my life than my family.

9 I share because… “it’s nice to share”. (I’m finding myself saying that a lot at the moment!) Primarily, I share because when I’m working on a styling project, be it for a magazine or an advertising campaign there is always a brief to meet and a client to please. Online I can create and share whatever is of interest to me personally and in doing so create friendships with like-minded people. Plus, I get to have a nose into their lives too, which I love because I’m a total sticky beak.

10 If I had an unexpected morning to myself I would... like to say sleep, but the reality is that sleep would feel like a wasted opportunity so probably start one of the craft projects on my very long list of “one day I’ll…” Or write that book proposal that I’ve been procrastinating over for the past two years, although both would require longer than a morning so can I have a week please!

image courtesy of marie nichols

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