Perth interior designers watch out, there's a new kid on the block!

Find out where to find the best homewares in Perth from an expert in interior design.

Tessa Dempster
April 7, 2017
People About Perth
Since participating on Channel Nine’s The Block, Ebony Haythornthwaite, 25, has branched out on her own with her new company, The Visionary Co. Find out about her personal design aesthetic, get an insiders tip on where the best places for homewares are in Perth and what it was really like on The Block. 
The Visionary Co. is an interior design and home styling company based in Western Australia. Ebony helps her clients bring their dream home to life. From working on the initial design concept and development, to product selection and styling, Ebony will help turn any room into your vision. While she is the sole director and operator, Ebony enlists the assistance of a skilled tradesman, suppliers and artists to achieve the best result for her clients, she’s not afraid pull on a pair of steel-caps to get the job done!

Firstly, I have to ask. How was being on The Block? Is it as manic as it appears on television?

It is actually more chaotic than what you see on television, the viewers probably see about 20% of the real chaos because two days of filming gets cut into a one-hour episode. In reality you get pulled away a lot during the day for quick interviews with the producers and that puts your renovation work on the back-burner. Ultimately it’s a television show before it’s a renovation; so interviews, photos etc…must come first.

The Visionary co. Intetior Designs
Courtesy of Impress Photography

How do you think that experience shaped your interior designing? Were there times when you questioned your style? I imagine the judges could be fairly brutal at times.

The experience from The Block was completely priceless to me – it taught me so much about myself. As a young designer on The Block I felt that there was a lot of expectation/pressure on my shoulders, but if I’m honest I did put a lot of that on myself too; I am my own worst critic. I didn’t want to seem arrogant and that I wasn’t willing to listen to other opinions, so I asked a lot of questions and that was my downfall. It completely threw me and my confidence; resulting in rooms that were far below my capabilities and personal style. I didn’t like the rooms we were producing; there was no soul, no personality and definitely no cohesiveness. After struggling for weeks trying to please the judges, the potential buyers and the viewers at home – I mentally and physically cracked. I realised this was about pleasing Luke and I to ultimately creating a space that will sell on auction day. Coming to the realisation that I needed to trust my gut and have confidence in my skills was a real turning point. We redid a lot from the first few weeks and went on to create a very cohesive apartment.

Was The Visionary Co something you had always wanted to do? Or was it a project that began to develop after The Block?

I was working for myself for about a year and a half before going on The Block. I was working under my own name as The Visionary Co. wasn’t created then; but it was definitely something I wanted to do. I have a lot of plans for my business and I’m excited to see them turn into reality.

The Visionary co. home designs
Courtesy of Impress Photography

How would you describe your personal design style?

I am someone who loves easy, adaptable living with pops of colour. My style has certainly changed since I first started studying – I was all about colour, colour, colour and I loved it EVERYWHERE!! But now I adore simple Scandinavian influences with layers of raw materials, natural fibres, greenery and lots of artwork!! I am artwork obsessed! I have loads of prints and canvases that are waiting to go up.

How do you go about starting a project? Do you create mood board to reflect the style aesthetic you are trying to achieve for the client?

As chatty as I am, when I first meet a client I am all ears. The best way to understand your client’s needs and how they live is to simply observe their lifestyle. Ultimately you are assisting in creating their home – it’s not about me – it’s all about them. After the initial meet, greet and brief has been completed I always gather a small selection of concept images and send it along to them, this is to see if I have interpreted their vision and they have communicated their wants to me correctly. Sometimes clients can use incorrect terminology by accident e.g. sleek, modern, high end – so you send them images that communicate that style and they realise that that’s not actually the look they are after. Instead they love relaxed living and coastal inspired design; so clarifying that from the get-go is really important.

Are workshops something you run often? 

I started The Visionary Co. Workshops at the beginning of 2016 alongside Dee from Frisky Deer Interiors from Mandurah and they’ve been a huge success. This year I will be coordinating workshops from 2 new locations in WA (more information to come when finalised). There are a few workshops that I rotate; a Pre Start Workshop, Styling 101 Workshop and Styling & Colour Application Workshop and I will be hosting these approx every three to four months. Each workshop is unique to the selected topic, two hours long and consists of interactive exercises and targeted information for clients. Those who attend a workshop are also entitled to my services at a discounted rate if they require further assistance.

Ebony Haythornthwaite and Dee
Courtesy of Mandurah Mail

Where could you recommend to shop in Perth to find something special for your home? 

Ooooooo hard question… I have a few. Frisky Deer Interiors (Mandurah) is one of my absolute favs! They have a ton of gorgeous homewares, linen and they have access to beautiful furniture pieces. I also love the recently opened Embassy Home Outfitters in West Perth, Lifestyle Furniture is always great for different pieces and I do love a visit to West Elm – just to name a few!

What is the thing you like the most about Perth?

I love the fact that Perth feels like a big town. I know it’s a city but there’s a sense that you can bump into your friends on the street – I love that. You don’t really get that in other major cities. And you can’t really beat our lovely WA weather!! It’s delightful …

What is the thing you like the least about Perth?

As a designer it can be hard to get some pieces over to WA without the hefty freight charge added onto it. When I am consulting in Melbourne the prices can be more competitive because they don’t have to worry about delivery charges.

What is your favourite place to eat?

I used to live near Vic Park and I was taken to a beautiful little place called Food For Me. It became my ‘go-to’ as it always had the best breakfast and lunches; I try and get back there for a coffee whenever I’m near Vic Park. Their fresh quiches and salad options are always so yummy!

Where is your favourite place to go on a night out in Perth? 

I won’t lie I am a dance floor addict when I have a night out. I would happily go to a venue without a bar if it had good dance music all night. Again a favourite place is hard to pick, but I always end up having a great time at The Casino and there’s a few places in Northbridge that have become regulars. In regards to favourite drinks, I’m a sweet-tooth; so fruity cocktails and moscato usually suites me just fine.

Tessa Dempster

Hi, I'm Tessa. I've lived all over Western Australia getting to sample food, wine, local events and more. I'm merciless when it comes to a long black, love a glass or three of red wine, and can often be found showing off my eccentric but enthusiastic moves whenever there is music playing (shopping centres included). I now document my finds and antics for Perth Underground. Hit me up if you want me to come discover your business! I'd love to pop by for a chat.