Lynda Gardener by Dan MagreeLynda Gardener herself – image by Dan Magree

1. Lynda, you are a stylist and decorator – could you share your journey in the industry and your creative interests?

I started very early in my working life… a secretary (19yrs old) in the fashion industry.  I worked out pretty quickly that I wanted so much more in my life and knew it had to be in a creative role.  The company I worked for also took notice of my capabilities and I was quickly moved to merchandising/prop buying, setting up concept stores all around Australia!  From there I decided to do my own thing and give a retail vintage store a go and started selling my one-off finds and collections and opened up Empire Vintage, which I had and owned over 23 years ago.  I then had my warehouse home featured in an international magazine and not long after that it just grew from there.  I began with my decorating partner Amanda Henderson Marks, Gardener and Marks around ten years ago, setting up bars in Melbourne, as well as interstate.  We still do many homes/interiors and our work is very varied.  We have now opened a retail store under our business name and continue to work from that base.  Amongst all of this, I opened The White House around 8 years ago…it was successful immediately and ever since I have opened two more: The White Room, and  The Estate Trentham with my partner Mark Smith.  I love every day that I wake up and step out of my bed and each and every day is totally different from the next.  I think I am very very lucky!


2. Could you tell us more about your boutique properties across Victoria, their unique styles and uses, and how you discovered them?

The White House was purchased after thinking hard about where I would want to travel to, how far, what was the trip going to be like and where would I want to go every few weeks.  Daylesford was the chosen town.  Picturesque with a drive along winding roads, forest and tiny towns and only 1.5 hours away from Melbourne…it just felt right.


Lynda Gardener The White house 1 by Tim JamesThe White House – image by Tim James


After looking around for 8 months, a run down, rather ugly old 1850s brick cottage popped up for sale .. it was the one.  I just felt it and knew it would be perfect.  A huge renovation, lots of details had been taken away from the original house, so I reinstated everything I could and restored it to appear as it was renovated 100 years ago.    As I love a ‘rustic’ look and tone, I kept it that way….leaving small cracks and hints of its age (something which always appeals to me) I have never been one to over-renovate and try to make something so old with character, new again. The more aging and fading and cracks and tears the better.

I then opened up The White Room in Fitzroy…having the perfect separate studio space at the rear of my warehouse!  I decided to add to the country property with a city studio for guests to enjoy.  That was decorated in line with the warehouse, lots of white and white concrete floors, white brick painted walls, collections of mine from many years of sourcing.  It’s a gorgeous room with its own private courtyard, totally separate entrance and features lots of bright light, kitchenette and beautiful linen sheeting, lots of gorgeous light and details.


Lynda Gardener The Barn at The Estate Trentham hall Lisa CohenInside the barn at The Estate at Trentham – image by Lisa Cohen


The Estate is the newest of the bunch and is all about the garden.  The house is a beautiful old 1902 weatherboard, once again needing work but more so in putting my stamp all over it.  We (Mark my partner, and I) started by taking off all the doors and details, paring it back to the bare essentials and starting all over again.  What was wonderful about this house is that there is a stunning barn on the property and an original potato pickers shed (which is now converted to the third bedroom).  The barn was just a workshop used by the previous owner for furniture making and storing tools and wood . This beautiful space was totally re-lined, re-built from the inside and painted to create a space for intimate bespoke gatherings, workshops and small events.

We added a concrete bench, simple kitchen, unique lighting, left the concrete floors and made it a very special place. It overlooks the stunning gardens filled with a small fruit orchard, herb gardens, and berries of all varieties in summer.

It is such a special place to get away and a totally different offering from the others.  That’s exactly what we wanted, a different experience in each and every property.

I have had many people actually stay at all three in a row wanting the experience of them all….what a compliment!!


Lynda Gardener The White house 2 by Tim JamesThe White House – image by Tim James


Lynda Gardener The Estate by Lisa CohenInside The Estate at Trentham – image by Lisa Cohen


Where do you get your inspiration from, and how and where do you source pieces for each styling  job?

My inspriation always comes from the moment I walk into the space….it needs to feel right (not sure how to explain that) but it just has to be an instant feeling of…I have to have this, it just feels right.  So far so good with that natural gut feeling. When doing people’s homes it usually comes from the surroundings, i.e. the house, the tone and mood, the owner, their current furniture and what they love or even as simple as what they love to collect. Gardener and Marks always seem to just get a good feeling and it literally just spills out…we have had some very challenging and interesting homes and interiors, however, each and every one we managed to hone in on and work wonders. Sourcing can be all around the country, but most of the time it depends on the budget and requests.  We are currently working on a very low budget bar in Hobart…which we are very proud of and can’t wait to show off.


4.  Aside the work at your own properties, you work with bars, cafes and restaurants. Which have been some of your favourite styling and decoration projects so far?

We completed another wonderful bar in Hobart a couple of years ago, one we are very proud of particulalry as it was just a couple of rooms in a boring ex-office space upstairs and an old fashioned retail store downstairs. We totally transformed this space. If you walked in now, you would think it was there from over 100 years ago…we are very much into details and together, don’t miss a thing…always making sure it feels authentic, cosy and with a collection of found original objects, as well as mixing in the new.


Lynda Gardener The Barn at The Estate Trentham Lisa CohenMore beautiful details inside The Estate at Trentham – image by Lisa Cohen


5. The barn at your property The Estate at Trentham, is available for event hire. What are some simple table/space styling details that can really make a difference to a small gathering or special occasion?  

I think always keep it simple…a rustic, pure linen table cloth left with all its creases and folds crumpled up on the table, old jugs with hand picked leaves and flowers, overhanging foliage tied up with rope and hanging low over the table, old wooden chopping boards, mixed crockery, nothing try hard, collected finds, natural timbers and colours, greys, whites, charcoals, naturals, and even indigos…cannot go wrong.  Feature the centre of the table and try to keep it all about the table and above (i.e. the lighting and the foliage) that way your table is centre stage for your event.


Lynda Gardener The White house 3by Tim JamesAnother peek of The White House – image by Tim James


6. In Melbourne we have no shortage of great cafes with stunning interior design, which are some of your favourites?

It’s endless….I love so many…..Chin Chin for its huge NY warehouse feel, smaller individual spaces like Baker D. Chirico, Captains of Industry, Standing Room Coffee in the Block Arcade, even tinier places like Toast in Fitzroy North for its simplicity, Bar Americano as it’s the smallest place imaginable for a drink and so unique….my list would not ever end,  as that is really what is walking distance from me…don’t get me started!!



Lynda Gardener The Estate bedroom by Lisa Cohen The Estate bedroom – image by Lisa Cohen


7. What is next for Lynda Gardener?

Always hunting, looking, seeking and being a sticky beak around town…so you never know.  I have always wanted a boutique hotel – that’s my biggest dream, we will have to wait and see.



Facebook:  The Estate Trentham, The White House Daylesford

Instagram: @lyndagardener & @theestatetrentham

Pinterest: lynda gardener

Notes: Stay tuned for Lynda’s next boutique accommodation, The Apartment St Kilda opening in mid-March 2016 (a large, one bedroom 1920s art deco apartment overlooking a private garden).


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