Meet Mom Fleur from Avalon in Australia…
My name is Fleur Robinson and I live in Avalon on the northern beaches of NSW (just a little further north than Hayley in Dee Why – another Mom Story). This area and lifestyle is still very new to me after having spent the majority of my life literally on the other side of the country in Perth, Western Australia. My husband is from Avalon, originally, but after completing his studies in WA he decided to stay on – lucky for the both of us. He is a ‘left brain’ and I am most definitely a ‘right brain’ person, having been involved in design all of my adult years and in many guises. I studied Interior Design, however I’ve never practiced in a formal sense, preferring to stay on the perimeter and falling into sales positions where my peers became my clients. I ran an agency representing fabrics & hand-made rugs ect… for many years and in my spare time, contributed editorial features to a few design & architecture journals. Writing was a passion, but it was based on an interview with a designer and photographs of his/her work so I was always working to a streamlined brief. Now, with two young children in tow, I’m writing for children’s fashion label Alex&Ant in a far more organic and open-brief environment that constantly alarms the perfectionist in me!
What kind of house do you live in, are you and the kids happy here or is there anything you all terribly miss …?
Our house is a gorgeous 1940s-ish white weatherboard cottage, quite unique to this neighbourhood. It couldn’t be more different from the architect-designed renovation we’d completed in Perth that paid tribute to modernism with an industrial edge. We were so excited to add this ‘box’ onto our small 1920’s home, to make way for baby number 2 and to insert the kitchen of my dreams. However, after living in it for only one year we realized our priorities were quite wrong. Where were the outdoor living spaces, lush garden and huge expanses of lawn for the kids? We don’t miss the house, but we left behind an amazing group of friends in Perth, whom we all miss terribly.
Do you like to spend time on decorating your home and the children’s room?
I used to daydream about my ‘ultimate’ contemporary interior. These days I’m much more relaxed about how it all comes together and typically the pieces I buy are far less of an investment. We sold a lot of furniture and possessions before we moved owing to this house being much smaller and the style so different. It’s been exciting to embrace a new aesthetic and enjoy trawling unfamiliar antique/collectables stores. Our kids sleep together so this really helps to control any desire to personalize their room. One boy + one girl = neutral loveliness.
What are your children’s favourite items in your house?
Olive’s favourite thing is her Klippan “Bruno” bear rug given to her at birth by my closest friend. Nordic Fusion sell Klippan rugs in Sydney, a great store.
Zac’s favourite is his Parker Furniture desk containing all of his drawing & craft supplies. He can sit there drawing literally for hours.
Where do you look for interior inspiration, favorite magazines, websites, blogs?
Interiors inspiration: Inside Out, frankie – mags
Haus Maus – blog
Love Loans & Linen, David met Nicole, The Society Inc. – stores
delicious, Donna Hay, Donna Hay Kids
Donna Hay General Store, Belle Fleur Chocolates, any niche food store – stores
LMNOP – mags
Bleubird – blog
All of our Alex & Ant stockists – stores & webstores!
What places in your new neighborhood do you like to go to for shopping?
Love Loans & Linen is in the next suburb, Palm Beach, which is as far north as you can go on this Peninsula. It’s a pared back, considered collection of homewares with a few beautiful pieces for children, housed in a tiny store as part of an old post office. Very special, just like the area.
Little Paper Lane is located in Mona Vale, a short drive South of Avalon. It stocks beautiful paper goods.
Antiques General is Narrabeen is a stylists heaven, full of delightful 2nd hand goods at reasonable prices. I picked up a split cane lounge for our front deck at only $280AUD. Ebay is also a friend of mine – a stunning deep blue West German vase is on its way to me from Byron Bay as I write.
What's it like to raise a child in your town?
The reason we moved from Perth to Avalon was to discover a simpler way of life. We didn’t live hear the beach in Perth and never longed to, but now that we do I can’t imagine what we did all day. There is water all around us, the Pittwater river system on one side and the ocean on the other. We’re always outdoors and taking cues from what the kids like to do rather than what we think they’d like to do. There are a lot of families with young children around here, so I’m meeting people quickly. The park in the centre of town is always heaving with kids so you inevitably get chatting with other parents. Most everyone is relaxed, smiling & friendly and we feel privileged to live in these parts. Sydney is only 1 hour away whenever we need a city fix and I try to drive in alone once a month to meet up with friends, and appreciate what their suburbs have to offer.
Who do you consider is a good example for your children?
To always find time to stop and interact. We all work and there’s also the housework, but 10 minutes spent reading a book to your kids whilst you’re in the middle of vacuuming, isn’t going to totally sabotage your cleaning goals. Who wants their kids to think, or much worse say, that you’re always pre-occupied with the bigger picture? Zac has accused me of spending too much time on the computer in the past, and it really hit home.
Are their any books you can recommend for parents and how to raise your children?
I followed the Tizzie Hall ‘Save Our Sleep’ routines for Zac & Olive and I have to be careful not to boast about how much they love their sleep! I wasn’t able to express much milk so I left this out of the routine, but as for the feed & sleep times throughout the various ages & stages – I worked my days around Tizzie’s advice. Sure, I didn’t get out much but I was perfectly happy because the kids have slept through the night since around 4 months of age. It was also really important for me to know the time I’d have in the day, either to myself or to get things done. I was never a Mom who just went with the flow and took all my cues from the bub – maybe moreso these days.
Can you mention some of your ‘how-to-raise-your-kid’ values?
I simply try to treat my children how I like to be treated. Sometimes I wish the roles were reversed
and I could have a tantrum over something small that has got under my skin!
What kind of DIY projects do you like to do with your children?
We try not to go too crazy with craft projects like I used to living in Perth. I spent a fortune on gorgeous stickers, stamps, glitters and papers without realizing there’s more fun in finding your own materials to work with. These days we collect shells from the beach and string them up with twine or we draw on my old letterheads instead of pristine paper. And how much fun do the kids have with a nappy box!?!
Any tips for keeping the house clean when crafting?
Fishing tackle boxes are great to store everything in.
Are you a crafter or DIY person?
Each year at Christmas I make something with textiles to accompany a baked treat(s), but I’m not a great crafter or sewer! I love the raw appeal of fraying linen and stitches such as a blanket stitch. Last year I made felt & linen gingerbread man decorations…not sure about this year yet.
Books, websites, local shops you can recommend to get tips and ideas for kids crafting?
Bloesem Kids, of course. And I like to stay in touch with the books that ‘Chronicle’ release as they seem to represent all the most creative.
What do you do with all the projects your children made at home or in school?
I have some linen bunting strung up between two photo canvases above our bed. At the moment a few of Zac’s drawings are pegged up and I love it. The majority of his paintings & drawings are kept in a drawer – I find it very hard to dispose of any.
Any nice decoration ideas how to hang them, keep them or use them as presents?
We often use drawings or paintings as wrapping paper with a layer of cello over the top – it looks so personal and gorgeous.
Are you a ‘cook’ or ‘food’ lover or both?
Oh yes, I’m both. I cook every night for the family, sometimes a special kids meal, but more often than not they eat what we’re eating. Either I choose something from one of Annabel Karmel’s great books (kids food that’s sophisticated enough for adults) or from Bill Granger (adult food suited to kids!) I enjoy the discipline of following a recipe at the end of a day when I’ve usually had to pander to the random needs, wants & whims of my children. My husband leaves me to cook and he takes care of bath-to-bed for the kid – it’s my relaxation time. My favourite cuisine to eat out is Thai and there are some amazing Thai-influenced restaurants in Sydney such as Spice Temple and Longrain (the cocktails are amazing here too). You can read about my fascination with food on my “Feed Me Friday” blog where I put my own spin on a great recipe. I try hard to style and photograph the dishes well too, so they look appetizing at least!