I’ve long admired the work of mother-daughter design duo, Judy Pereira and Jess Bandiera, who specialise at the luxury end of the interior design industry in Queensland, and across Australia. They consistently produce interiors that are that perfect mix of classic and contemporary, which create timeless and unique homes for their clients. In addition to their full design schedule, in 2020 they launched VH Design Co, a programme where they share their knowledge, experience, systems and insights with other interior designers. I am delighted that they have agreed to be part of my new blog series “At Home With…”. Judy shares her thoughts with us below, as well as images of her home.
Tell us about your design journey and where your passion for decorating began. Did you start your career in interior design, or was it through another avenue?
I think it came as a complete surprise to my parents that I would become a designer and an entrepreneur. A a young girl, I never enjoyed school, I was a dreamer, always hustling and selling something. I loved being creative and thinking up big ideas.
In my 20’s I was literally flipping houses, even though back then it was simply a way to make money and get ahead. We even moved out of one of our homes, to open it up to the public for several months as a display home, literally my career in design started at that point, clients engaged us to build and decorate their homes.
Close to two decades of building and designing homes the opportunity to add my creative flair, sent me on another journey to open retail homeware stores, import furniture and to launch an Interior Design business with my daughter Jess. I have no formal qualifications, I was hungry to learn, not afraid of a challenge and knew what I didn’t know I could learn in the university of life.
Close to 30 years later, my passion for design hasn’t wavered. I love nothing more than spending every spare moment thinking and breathing design.
What is your design ethos?
It would be without a doubt a fresh interpretation of classic design, an intuitive understanding of our client’s needs and to deliver liveable spaces that stand the test of time.
We design in collaboration with each client with an approach that emphasises the creation of a space reflective of the people who live in the home. We use our timeless approach to design, work with our client’s needs and desires, helping to broaden our client’s view and introduce concepts that make each area of the home liveable and beautiful.
What do you consider the key elements or the “must have’s” of a timeless home to be?
That would be the use of natural materials, timber and stone, texture and natural lighting, quality furniture, beautiful fabrics, rugs and art work. A home that looks collected, books stacked on the coffee table, a bowl of shells collected from holidays anything that tells a story of the people who live in the home, but mostly a home that is collected and inspiring, that has you dashing your eyes over a room taking in its beauty.
What items would you recommend people splurge and save on?
I would have to say splurge on custom made furniture, investing in antiques, designer fabrics and one-off finds, pieces that you never want to part with, that age over time, artwork, pieces that your cherish are worth investing in.
I would save by using large natural sisal rugs vs expensive rugs (unless you can afford them ), finding an affordable lamp base but custom making the shade for a designer touch. I love nothing more than fossicking in antique and flea markets for one-off finds, reupholstering or painting an existing piece of furniture rather than buying new are just a few things to save on.
Who are the designers (past and/or present) that you really admire?
I have a long list but only a few really stand out to me:
In Australia it would have to be Adelaide Bragg, a true representation of classic design. Her use of colour can be bold but yet it transcends into almost serene, like it was always meant to be. Her rooms are effortless but you know so much thought and detail has gone into every single space, the mix of old and new, the details speak volumes.
My international favourites would have to be Heather Chadduck – I love her classic style and she is such a lovely person, which to me says everything about a designer and of course Bunny Williams, because she is iconic and a style master and true representation of superior design.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I love to look at a space and take in every element and detail of a room, to process what works and what doesn’t, I’m inspired by how a room feels, the way light fills a room, beautiful fabrics. I’m often inspired by the simplest things – a hand painted tile, architectural details and staying in beautiful hotels and locations.
What is your favourite room in your home and why?
I love my living room with its huge vaulted ceilings and open living space, I love how the natural light filters in during the day, sitting by the fire at night with a glass of wine chatting with friends and family.
Tell us about the vision and inspiration behind launching Verandah House and more recently, VH Design Co.
I have never been one to shy away from a new venture or challenge, so when my daughter and now business partner finished design school over 12 years ago, it seemed a natural fit that we would start a business together and we have never looked back.
A decade later we launched our recent new venture VH Design Co, driven by a desire to help others and give back to our industry, to encourage new and established designers to create better systems and streamline their processes, our dream is to make this industry profitable for designers who often feel undervalued, to support and encourage, mentor and to make a difference.
What advice would you give to people about following trends?
It’s okay to follow a trend so long as you’re also prepared to discover a few years later, that curved bouclé sofa may be on the “Not so hot list”. The problem with trends, is simply that – it’s in for the moment. Instead my advice is, be guided by a trend but stay true to your own design aesthetic whether it’s considered ‘in’ or not!
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome as an interior designer and/or business owner ?
One of the biggest challenging is the balancing act. To be successful in our industry takes determination and hard work but when you go too hard and put far too much expectation on yourself, it can take its toll on your own health and wellbeing, and it can make you question whether you even enjoy it. The biggest challenge for me was understanding that success is not the perception of what others think of you. Success is built on how you feel, how you treat others and knowing that you’re making a difference.
Take us behind-the-scenes of a typical day for you.
A typical day starts at 5.30am, I either go for a long beach walk or a session at the gym with my husband. We always pick up a coffee from our local café and enjoy time together before the day begins.
My work day usually starts by 8am, our week is usually dedicated to either site or zoom meetings, working on our projects, dedicated admin days, coaching and working on content for our courses. Our days are always full and busy, but I try as often as I can to finish up by 3pm so I can dedicate time to my family, cook and disconnect from work life.
These days I have mastered the art of balance, if I need a day off I just take it, if I want to read a book or listen to a podcast or whip up something for lunch, I do it, I take the breaks, these days I am much kinder to myself.
What is the most valuable advice you’ve received with regards to being an interior designer, or as a business owner?
To deliver on your promises, that charging your worth is an equal exchange of value, a client will never question your worth or what you charge if you deliver and exceed their expectations.
Repeat business and referrals has more impact on your business than any form of social media.
Oh and always remain humble.