Meet The GRACE Collective: Heather Nette King - The Grace Tales

Meet The GRACE Collective: Heather Nette King

In this brand new series, we're excited to be introducing you to members of our thriving GRACE Collective community...

First up is incredible interiors stylist, writer and mother of two, Heather Nette King!

Read more about Heather and her work here (where you’ll also find some world-class interiors inspiration), and if you’re interested in finding out more about the GRACE Collective, please click here

Portraits of Heather and Allie are by Armelle Habib. Images of Heather’s previous Armadale home are by Mike Baker.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your work? 

First and foremost I am a mother to two wonderful daughters, Annebelle, who is 22 and studying law and political science in Canberra at ANU, and Alexandra, 20, who is a singer, completing a Bachelor of Music at Monash uni here in Melbourne.  I am married to my (almost) childhood sweetheart, Jeremy, who l met in first year of uni at RMIT – he was 17 and I, 18.

I am also a freelance interiors stylist and writer for many interior brands, titles and newspapers. The hallmarks of my styling are colour and vibrancy, and I like to think that I write passionately about peoples’ homes and how they live in them.

I have worked on campaigns for West Elm, Cult Design, Porter’s Paints, Myer, Lightly, Fenton & Fenton, Network Ten, Bonnie & Neil, Armadillo, Australia Post, Renault, Habbot, Carpet Court and Dulux.

My work has appeared in both Australian and international magazines, including Sunday Life Magazine, The Sunday Age, Inside Out, Country Style, House & Garden, Home Beautiful, Elle Decoration UK, Vogue Living, Inside Out, Urbis, Fete, Elle China, VT Wonen. And my own home has just been featured in the Australian style bible, Belle.

In my spare time, I love to spend time in the incredible communal garden at the apartment we moved into a year ago.

What does a typical morning look like in your household? 

Well, Jeremy is the only one with a regular routine – he’s the GM at a branding agency. I am trying to re-learn the art of snoozing after the alarm if I don’t have a shoot to get to, but it’s not really working out – so l get up at around 6:30am and take my dog down to the park, collect the newspaper and wander back up to drink black coffee at my desk and start working. Shoot days are more chaotic – I’ll have packed my car the night before, so I do a quick email check, pour my plunger coffee into a keep-cup and hit the road, generally whilst it is still dark. Allie wont get up until uni or her part-time burger-flipping job dictates that she must! It’s funny, when l was up to my eyeballs in lunch boxes and cleaning school uniforms l thought that stage would never end, but all of a sudden it does and it takes a long time to get used to the no-routine routine!

Did your work or career shift since becoming a mother? 

Massively! I was working as a publicist at Network Ten, but had longed for children for quite a while, so I took a year off when I had Annebelle. I started back part-time, just doing maternity leave covers, then became pregnant with Allie, so l took two more years off. Jeremy and l made a very conscious decision to live within a really tight budget in order for me to stay at home with the girls as long and as much as possible. So I kept up part-time work for a few years, then went freelance, so I haven’t really had a nine-to-five job since.

Where do you find inspiration for the beautiful spaces you create? 

Oh everywhere – movies, Instagram, music, TV shows my daughters are watching – I‘m so inspired by the look of Euphoria (on Foxtel and HBO) at the moment, and fashion magazines and books. Occasionally I look at Pinterest but it is a bit overwhelming.

You’re known for your spectacular use of colour. What tips do you have for incorporating colour into our homes? 

I think paint is easiest way to incorporate colour – it’s the easiest to change if you don’t like it, and way cheaper than say buying a dramatically coloured sofa, or committing to a colourful rug. I think we need to pay more attention to what colours we really love ourselves, rather than following colour fashions. Always apply sample paint colours on your walls, and if you’re nervous, get a decorator whose style you admire to help you out.

Something many of us struggle with is making a home look homely, lived in and interesting, while maintaining some sense of order in the chaos of young family life! Do you have any tips on how to balance the two? 

Well young family life did have its challenges – it is much easier now. I was always one to pack the kids stuff away at the end of the day, so the house never really got wildly out of control. I don’t like things to look too neat and tidy though – I love lots of books, lots of flowers, increasing amounts of indoor plants, loads of art (from galleries as well as by the kids) plus animals – you cant be too precious with a great hairy Golden Retriever dropping hair all over the house.

Do you have any hacks for keeping kids’ rooms organised and tidy?

None! Despite years of nagging, my daughters’ rooms are messes – clothes, towels, shoes, books, dirty cups. They are exactly the way I was, and I now get why it drove my mother spare. So I shut the door, and do the best I can to ignore it.

“ We need to pay more attention to what colours we really love ourselves, rather than following colour fashions ”

How do you make the juggle work in your family? 

I really try not to sweat the small stuff. I think it’s so much more important to get a good night’s sleep than stay up late cleaning the house, or folding washing. Perfect houses and homes are a myth. We’ve never really been the type to plan meals for a week – we are quite ad hoc – Jeremy and I call each other and whoever is leaving work first hits the supermarket and sorts dinner. I guess if you are semi-relaxed like us, the juggle doesn’t bother you as much. Having said that, I despise going to the super-market, and luckily Jeremy doesn’t mind it at all, so he probably does most of the gathering.

What’s your proudest career achievement to date? 

I always get a thrill when of the shots have styled makes the front cover of a magazine, but l guess my proudest achievement is that l have been the Melbourne Home’s Editor at Sunday Life magazine for eleven years this month. It was my first real styling and writing gig and I love everything about it. Being allowed to enter people’s homes and hear their stories is a privilege I will never, ever take for granted.

What’s your most memorable moment of motherhood so far? 

Oh I am so nostalgic about it all – they really were sweet kids, and hardly gave us any trouble at all as teenagers. When they both finished high school it was such a weird mix of pride and melancholy. This was compounded when Annebelle moved interstate to college after year 12. I won’t lie, Jeremy and I were devastated, we really struggled without her at home. You know, everyone warns you about what a huge change it is to your life when you have babies, but there are not many (any) books about how to cope when they leave the nest. Particularly straight after year 12, which is such an intense year, and they are at home so much. She’s in fourth year now, and will hopefully come home after five – but then it probably wont be for long as she’ll want her own place. We’re getting used to it…. slowly. Thank goodness Allie has no intention of moving out yet.

How do you switch off and make time for you? 

I garden, and I walk my dog. There are a few of us keen gardeners in this beautiful heritage listed apartment block, and we love getting stuck into the garden. l‘m planting some really interesting things at the moment, and hoping they will thrive. Our new home is next to the Yarra River, and just near the Botanic Gardens so there are loads of beautiful places to walk nearby.

What lessons are you hoping to instil in your children, or legacy are you hoping to create?

I think more than ever these days, attempting to teach your kids to be happy and content is the most important thing you can do. We live in such crazy, aspirational times – so recognising that your cup is more than half-full is super-important. Oh and kindness too – I hope they will always endeavour to be kind to everyone they meet. Lastly, l want them to remember that a great work ethic is important, but so is a great fun ethic.

“ I really try not to sweat the small stuff. I think it’s so much more important to get a good night’s sleep than stay up late cleaning the house, or folding washing. Perfect houses and homes are a myth ”

What sacrifices have you had to make since becoming a mother?

Ooh that is a tough question – I think just less time overall is the sacrifice – but really, who cares about time when you get to be surrounded by your own children. I was so ready for kids that I never really thought about the sacrifices. Actually I can think of one – my Scanlan & Theodore habit took a back seat for about 20 years, but I‘m making up for lost time now!

What are the top ten things on your favourites list at the moment?