How This Aussie #GirlBoss Discovered Her Unique Decor Style

  • Interview By: Kelly Etz

After sneaking a peek at Alisha Williams’ bright, airy space, we’re ready to book our tickets to Australia, pronto. The Brisbane-based designer behind Alisha Loves Coffee has created a cozy-yet-minimal home, perfect for herself and her fiancé Trent — with their three guinea pigs and three birds in tow!

Here, we chat with Alisha on working from home, sourcing the best second-hand pieces, and where she stores her collection of board games.

Name: Alisha Williams
Age: 25
Current Job/Company: Designer behind Alisha Loves Coffee + Co-Owner of The Montrose Barn.
City: Brisbane, Australia 

Your studio, Alisha Loves Coffee, is a one-stop shop for creatives and entrepreneurs looking to launch their own blogs and businesses. How did you get started working in the design community?

I’ve always loved design, but was initially more focused on the tech and marketing side of small businesses. I eventually felt as though studying to be a graphic designer would be complementary to everything I’d been working on, so it felt like a natural progression. I had been freelancing for about five years off and on while working full-time, so I had a lot of time to decide what I wanted to be doing and who I wanted to be working with.

What’s your favorite part about working with other creatives?
They’re often in the same boat as I have been before, so there is a lot of support, camaraderie, and genuine hope for each other. I try to approach every project as though it was my own business, and luckily most of the people I work with are really transparent with what they’re hoping to achieve, which makes my job easier. Most of my clients are creative women with huge ideas and great concepts, who just need someone to have their back and give them a service that isn’t just a final product, but a supportive process. It’s funny, but I’ve noticed how much I have in common with other women in the creative industry. We’re all one hundred miles an hour, bursting with inspiration, and really trying to get things started and flowing. I’ve surrounded myself with women who inspire and drive me, and it’s definitely been a big influence on my work.

Looks like you have big plans for 2017, with a new business in the works (congratulations!). What are you most excited about this year?
Thank you! Yes, The Launch Bar has been about two years in progress, with lots of changes, feedback and new additions to the site and I’m looking forward to the launch. 2017 is going to be a really huge year, so it’s hard to hone in on what I’m most excited about! I’m planning my wedding (finally!) along with some international travel and an interstate move to Tasmania. The venue I co-own, The Montrose Barn, also has some incredible events coming up in every possible industry that I oversee. It’s all very nerve-wracking and will be a challenging, full-on year, but I’m looking forward to the experiences and growth that’ll come with it.

I’ve surrounded myself with women who inspire and drive me, and it’s definitely been a big influence on my work.

You started your multi-disciplinary studio in 2013. How has your style evolved since then?
I think it’s really natural for any small business or creative to go through constant changes and transitions and I’m no different. When I first started designing, I was easily influenced by those in my own industry and I didn’t really have my own “brand.” I’m far more confident in myself, my abilities, and the work I’m able to produce now that I’ve been doing this for close to five years. I try to focus on learning as much as I can and honing in on what my skill set is, which has really changed the way I work.

Your home is so airy and bright! Did you have a vision for the space when you moved in or did you build as you went?
Funnily enough, the home tours definitely served as a huge inspiration when we first moved in four years ago! We’d originally been living in an apartment that had an orange kitchen and carpet, so at the end of our lease I said, “we’re getting an actual house!” I look back on how the house was styled in 2012 and cringe a little; I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing. Eventually, I started putting more of an emphasis on what was important to us — natural light, neutral colors, space to entertain, functional bedrooms and offices, and it progressed from there. We were incredibly lucky to find our home — discovering it, viewing it, applying for the house, and moving in all within 24 hours was a huge process, but something I’m really glad we did.

I look back on how the house was styled in 2012 and cringe a little; I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing.

Do you have a favorite room? Where do you end up spending the most time?
It’s currently Summer in Australia, in fact, it’s 34 degrees Celsius (i.e., 93 degrees Fahrenheit) as I write this — so my office, which is a sunroom, has been a little neglected with a lot of my time being spent in our third bedroom that has the best airflow/access to air-conditioning. When it doesn’t feel this hot, I love my office and the space I’ve been able to make. I can switch between working on calligraphy projects, sketching brand ideas, and hopping on my computer in the same large area, which is perfect for me and also helps to prevent the spread of paperwork/coffee cups/general mess that happens when I don’t use a “designated space!”

Your open shelf styling is on point. How do you choose what to display?
The shelving in our lounge room is constantly on rotation depending on what we’re doing. We’ve got an embarrassing amount of board games (that people keep gifting us!) and a bunch of candles that I switch in and out. In my office, I have a shelf that just contains the things I access often, such as current calligraphy/watercolor inks, inspiration books, and some storage. Another shelf contains backup ink, day bags, and a box that holds every polaroid/card I’ve ever received. Trent, my finacé, is really analytical and has to be given some credit for constantly organizing everything we choose to display throughout the house, as sometimes, I find it hard to reign it in!

What kind of fabrics and textures do you like to utilize in your space?
I will pick almost everything based off of touch. I love timber, linen, and anything that just feels good to touch. I’m a fairly minimal decorator (in my opinion), so I prioritize things that wear well, look good, and are easy to maintain.

You work from home running your studio. Did working from home affect how you designed your space? Do you keep your work areas separate from your living spaces?

When we first moved into this home, I was still freelancing on the side of my day job, so while it wasn’t a key consideration, I knew I wanted my own “office” space that I could try and keep as separate as possible. Of course, I’ve moved my office around to virtually every room in the past few years, but I’m happy with how it’s set up now. For a few weeks I based myself out of our lounge room and it was really challenging being in one space for hours and hours. Luckily, I also share a studio in South Brisbane that I work out of with one of my best friends, Mim, who runs Aurora Floral Studio, so I can go into an office if I choose. Often I’ll stay home so I can be with the animals and have as much coffee as possible!

We’re obsessed with your gallery wall — they really pull a space together. Where do you source your artwork and frames?
Thank you! The artwork is a really blended combination of hand lettering, illustrations, and photography work — both my own, my friends, and pieces that have inspired me. I try to balance out the ‘feminine’ pieces with some darker, moodier ones to make sure the wall reflects both Trent and my style. The frames are completely assorted — some are from IKEA, a few are from second-hand stores, and a couple were gifted.

You live with your fiancé, Trent. Do you have similar aesthetics? What was it like creating a space you would both enjoy?
It’s been a process, and he has been so tolerant! When we first lived together everything was white. Every. Single. Item. I never deviated and I still can’t believe he lived with it! Now we discuss things together, but for the most part, each room will have natural fibers, a heap of plants, and a few things that are personal to both Trent and I. Trent is actually really great at pulling things together and I definitely can’t take all of the credit.

It’s so much easier said than done, but when you start with your own sense of style, you really find out what’s important to you and your home.

Do you have any quick tips or tricks for making a space feel cohesive and beautiful on a budget?
It’s so much easier said than done, but when you start with your own sense of style as inspiration, you really find out what’s important to you and your home, and purchases are easier to make if you know your own style. I also research before I buy anything — even if it’s just an IKEA couch, I want to know how it will work in the space I already have and how long I can expect to have it. Some of my favorite items — such as our dining table, most of our vases, and even our bed-frame — are second-hand. I always start off with neutral colors, knowing exactly what I want and checking to see if I can get them second-hand (both for the cost and the act of not buying something new) before I start looking in store. Before making any purchase, I always check measurements.

Alisha Williams is The Everygirl…

Drink of choice?
Strawberry Gin Smash or Moscato — sugary and fruity is always a good start!

Favorite spot in Brisbane?
For coffee, I visit Little Genovese in Coorparoo. For a day trip, South Bank is beautiful and holds so many great memories.

Song that you can’t stop listening to?
There’s an incredible band called Glades from Australia — the song ‘Her’ is definitely on repeat!

Fantasy getaway location? 
New Zealand, always!

If you could have lunch with one woman, who would it be and why?
In all honesty, Kate Arends from Wit and Delight has inspired me in so many ways and continues to do so. I think we’d have a lot to talk about.