Today is “Pink Ribbon Day” and in honour of the late Wendy Mattern, and with the permission of her family, I would like to share this interview with you. This article was intended to be published earlier this year, however, due to the complexities of the print publishing world, was not published.
When Interior decorator Wendy and her husband Rob decided to downsize after their daughters left home, they were looking for a house that would incorporate modern open plan living with the ability to house the grandkids for sleepovers.
Their single level elevated house is located in a quiet cul-de-sac in the western suburbs of Brisbane, and allows enough space for entertaining as well as showcasing the collection of memories from their travels, and careers in Interior Decorating and Styling.
Wendy began collecting miniature containers and other silver boxes, when she was given her Paternal Grandmother’s Hobnail Glass perfume bottle. This she says, “sparked a life long love of all things miniature, including hat pins, “Netsuke” and a collection of “Limoges, which was a gift from my mother”.
Upon entering the combined lounge and dining area you are immediately struck by the careful curation of oriental pieces, seamlessly integrated with charcoal sketches, and family heirlooms.
Wendy, a Brisbane girl and Rob from Pennsylvania met and married in Los Angeles when Wendy was on a working holiday in America. During their time in LA they met Charles Phillips, who assisted clients sourcing special features for movie and television sets. Wendy joined him on some of the forays into interesting haunts in LA. Charles became such a good friend that he even sketched the design of Wendy’s wedding dress. The sketch, however, no longer exists as it was left with the dressmaker.
Ten years and two children later, they returned to live in Brisbane. Charles sent them many hand drawn charcoal sketches as Christmas cards during their life long friendship, and some of these are now framed and hang on the walls.
The antique furniture in the lounge area was collected in Los Angeles and brought with them when they moved to Australia. Wendy’s mother’s hope chest, one of an original three, was sent out from Hong Kong. On it sits a delicate collection of Easter themed miniatures. There is a pair of antique Chinese porcelain lamps of “Kwan Yen”, the Goddess of compassion and mercy beside the chaise.
Many locals of the western suburbs of Brisbane will remember when Wendy and a friend ran the highly successful “Shop 91” at Indooroopilly Shopping Town. “There wasn’t a significant birthday or wedding gift that wasn’t purchased from us in the area”, Wendy laughs. Shop 91 allowed Wendy and Rob to keep in touch with trends in collecting and enjoy continuing to collect themselves.
After this, Wendy began her career as a stylist, preparing homes for sale. Many of her clients loved her so much that when they moved to their new home, they hired her to purchase and decorate and design their new interior. Husband Rob, began the management of the trades people involved in the design and decoration projects.
Bronwyn, Wendy and Rob’s youngest daughter has begun to follow in her mother’s footsteps, launching her styling career on Instagram. “It’s been really interesting listening to mum talk about all her collectables today. You take things that appear in your family home for granted- it’s been wonderful to hear the background stories of so many of the objects, that until now, I have not stopped to think about the significance.”
Bronwyn can be found on Instagram at BRONLOVESDESIGN.
Note from author: Sadly, Wendy Mattern died as a result of secondary Breast Cancer June 5, 2015. It was an honour to have met her, and I will be forever grateful that even when terminally ill, she took the time to tell me about her life, and graciously allowed me to photograph her house.