Meet The Locals: Design Eleven Co’s Sonya Harward
The perpetually sunny Gold Coast is a vibrant place to live and work, and Sonya Harward and her business partner, Jessica Ball, wouldn’t have it any other way.
When it comes to their property styling and interior design work, the in-demand duo takes inspiration from the glitz and glamour of the boulevard to the salt and sand of the beaches.
Thanks for taking time out to chat with us, Sonya. Is life and work busy right now?
Yes, so busy! My business partner and close friend, Jess and I run an interior design and property styling business, Design Eleven Co. Jess and I are loving the way business is evolving. Whereas once upon a time the bulk of our business came from interior design, these days we are finding that we are filling our days with mainly property styling work.
What exactly is the difference between interior design and property styling?
Interior design is focused around a design concept for both the external and internal areas of houses, developments, commercial properties and other builds. It involves looking at colours, finishes, plumbing, fixtures and all the other elements that fit within the architectural side of design. Property styling, on the other hand, is based around the existing colours and finishes, so the styling is about the furniture, layers, linen, cushions, décor, homewares and the like. It’s nice being able to do both. Jess and I have a combined experience of over 30 years in the interior design space, but you can get so swamped with paperwork and meetings. When it comes to property styling it’s a lot more hands-on and fun.
Are you and Jess both based on the Gold Coast, and where does your work take you?
Jess and I live in different areas of the Gold Coast, but we both think that it’s an amazing place to live and work. We both actually grew up in Brisbane, but Jess has been living on the Gold Coast for close to 22 years, while I’ve been here for around 10 years. We met six years ago and the business evolved from there. Although we work from Noosa and Brisbane to the northern parts of New South Wales, a lot of our work is based in and around the Gold Coast.
What do you love about the Gold Coast?
Everything! The linear set up around the beach is really attractive and everyone jumps around between the sub-villages. I love heading to Burleigh Heads for dinner. Miss Moneypenny’s Broadbeach is another great place for dining. My favourite coffee spot would have to be Hard Coffee in Main Beach. Spending time outdoors is always great, too, whether that be taking your boat out, relaxing on the beach, or heading inland to Tamborine Mountain for beautiful bush walks among waterfalls.
Does the beach vibe inspire your styling work?
When it comes to both interior design and property styling the beach look is definitely the backbone, but it’s no longer the predominant design theme. Thanks in part to socials like Instagram and Pinterest, people have more access to a huge array of design concepts. The beach look is still there, but it’s come up 10 levels in the last few years. Today, the mixing of luxe and beach is popular, as is a Mediterranean feel.
What's my property worth?
You sound like you’re describing my dream home, but then you’re in the business of styling dream homes. How do you bring everything together?
It comes naturally to us. Spatial planning and selecting the right furnishings to get the aesthetics of a house just right is what makes a property complete. And, importantly, also makes it feel like a home.
Can people buy the products they see inside a property that you and Jess have styled?
They can and they do. We style properties that are going on sale, high-end homes, holiday apartments and apartment complexes. Sometimes people buy the property only, but other times people ask if they can buy the property with all the furnishings included. This is happening more often now, as we are seeing an influx of buyers from Sydney and Melbourne who want to move straight in and avoid long wait times for furniture items.
Jess and I are working on an online store of beautiful lifestyle products that we will launch towards the end of 2021, called Scarlet and Jola. We will be selling products that really capture the essence of the Gold Coast, including a unique beach towel that’s designed for a dog owner and their dog, a gorgeous designer dog lead, beach robes and picnic baskets… to name just some of the items. Watch this space.
It sounds like you have plenty going on. Thanks for the chat.