Above all things, I am a wife and mother; I have two adult children Tom & Molly, who give me great joy. I have been a country girl all my life; I grew up in Broken Hill and now live in the historic village of Carcoar in NSW where I own ‘Tomolly’ (named for my children) and am the host of Hargan’s Cottage, a beautiful accommodation venue in our village. When I opened my store, I became known as ‘The Shopkeeper’, a simple title that I hope embodies my shop’s character and warmth.
Nature is my biggest inspiration; the textures, colour palettes and fibres are a boundless stimulus. For me, natural compositions ignite the senses, inviting you to look, touch, smell, taste or listen.
I take inspiration from books by other designers and stylists, and social media platforms like Instagram give us all access to so much inspiration from different people and places.
Places I have visited also give me inspiration, my favourite two places being Italy and Greece. Whether it is the white walls in Greece or the terracottas of the roofs in Italy, I found that, like nature, these two countries evoked the senses; they hold a special place in my heart.
It would be remiss of me not to mention my father, who always encouraged us to get out there and to “do what you want to do because if you don’t, you will never know'”. I have taken this philosophy through my life, and I am grateful for my Dad instilling that in me. His words have inspired me to try new things, take great leaps of faith and to give something a go; we learn by our mistakes, as he would say to us.
Elegant, informal, unpretentious, natural, and a little bit rustic, those elements are consistent throughout my shop, home, and personal style.
My life is a love affair with natural fibres! You will find a lot of linen used to dress my bed and my body; it is such a versatile fabric, but I don’t need to tell you that! We have beautiful wool products here in Australia, so when we are in the cooler months, snuggling up in a woolly jumper and socks by the fire is perfection.
I love the richness of colour found in timbers and the amber hues of the rusting metal sculptures my husband creates, paired with white walls of painted brick in my home. Throw in some texture from beautiful fabrics and a pop of colour from some foliage; I believe it makes for an informal, sophisticated style that takes its cues from nature.
The Old Flour Mill
The simple answer is, beauty landed in our lap. We lived in a neighbouring town called Millthorpe, where I originally opened Tomolly and ran it for ten years. My husband and I went to have a sneaky peek at the Old Flour Mill in Carcoar when it was listed for sale. We had no intention of ever leaving our life in Millthorpe – but the Old Mill had other ideas; it was love at first sight, I was blown away. The rest is history as they say, my husband made an offer then and there and we became the custodians of this little slice of Carcoar’s past.
The Mill dates to the 1850s and has these fantastic 13ft ceilings. It was a chance to own a piece of history and contribute to its heritage. I love that this property has a story, the things it must have seen!
When we moved to Carcoar, a friend asked if I would bring Tomolly to the village too? I thought, ‘why not’ and with the availability of a shop front in the Terrace on Carcoar’s main street, the opportunity to operate Tomolly in the town that time forgot was a reality. I had a loyal following that has only grown since I moved to the village.
I think people enjoy visiting here; there are so many beautiful old buildings, relatively untouched. This town has a soothing quality, hugged by hills, surrounded by nature with the sound of the Belubula River running through – it is a balm to any soul!
A day in the life
I am so grateful that my commute to walk only takes me 2 minutes … a little longer if I stop pick a wild apple from a tree or stop to watch the river cheerfully trickle over its stony bed.
As I meander the short distance to my shop, I can hear the bells ringing on the hour, which brings back my memories of Italy and Greece. I think of what the day will bring, the people I will have the pleasure of meeting and whether to order a coffee or a tea at the café next door to my shop.
It is a common occurrence for me to arrive in store with a bundle of foliage in my arms, foraged from the side of the road on my walk … I always have a pair of secateurs on hand to snip branches off from the bounty of nature along my travels!
I love that my lifestyle is simple, peaceful and slow. There is no traffic, no long commute, and there is plenty of fresh air.
I am eternally grateful that I have created a life that gives me the flexibility and the opportunity to connect with so many people from all walks of life.
Although I am tucked away in this historic village, I have bigger towns like Orange, Bathurst and Cowra close by, so the big shops, arts, wine and food experiences are still on our doorstep.
I opened Tomolly all those years ago because I loved beautiful things, either making them or purchasing them to fill my home and the accommodation we ran. I am immersed in beauty every day, from the items housed in my shop to the people I meet and the place I live.
I don’t think I will ever tire of this lifestyle.
Beauty is natural, and it is raw; it is living unashamedly as yourself. I think that nature is an excellent example of this, and I love to be a person in nature’s landscape. I think earthy, natural tones have eternal beauty and that the textures and fibres we find in nature add depth and warmth.
I also think beauty is kindness; it is found in treating people how you like to be treated and showing gratitude for the many blessings bestowed upon us.
I am drawn to natural fibres as they are more sustainable, and they wear better. Linen, for example, can be so beautifully soft and warm, but in summer, linen is deliciously cool to wear.
I like clothing that is comfortable, interchangeable, and classic. Staple items of a high-quality last forever and are diverse; a beautiful linen shirt can be dressed down with a pair of jeans and sneakers or dressed up coupled with silk pants and natural pearl earrings for a special occasion.
I love that family is woven into the fabric of La Bottega di Brunella’s history; it is at the centre of the brand’s culture.
When I felt my first La Bottega di Brunella linen piece, the fabric’s texture took my breath away. The materials are beyond beautiful, and I love that it is all made in house from the beginning of the weaving process to the end products I sell in my shop.
La Bottega di Brunella’s pieces are designed for anybody; their one size fits all clothing make it an inclusive clothing line. Their pieces look good on anyone and celebrate the female figure’s diversity.