Written by Sibella Court
In 2013, I signed up for a dream job as host of Restoration Australia. With an Australian history degree under my belt and a great love of heritage trades and historical houses, this was a match made in heaven.
Over two and half years I followed the restoration of seven houses as the passionate families who owned these time capsules embarked on a journey of a lifetime. Not only was this about all things history & building process, it was an opportunity to visit some beautiful locations around Australia and really get to know them, the people and the surrounds.
While being a TV host is not my main job, the premise of the show aligned perfectly with the philosophy of my very own store The Society Inc and design studio. Our products are designed & crafted with the shared values of all those involved with the show including a deep appreciation of heritage trades, honest & humble materials, craftsmanship, age-old skills and a love of sourcing original building materials and vintage wares.
I shot largely on the weekends but it never really felt like work - I would naturally fall into lengthy conversations about hand-forged nails, pressed glass from the 1900s, hardwood timbers, pre-fab houses from the gold rush era - all these subjects and more I enjoyed immensely and experienced great joy in learning from other enthusiasts.
I always looked forward to a trip down to Hobart where I would squeeze in some downtime between filming. Not only is MONA always a must-see but Haydn & Penny have a fabulous antiques & vintage business called Willow Court. It is full to the brim of loot & treasure. I always came home with a heavy bag or a load following me on the boat.
(Without sounding like a Tourism Tasmania representative) If you can, spend some time at Salamanca Markets of a Saturday and grab a coffee at Tricycle Cafe. Or walk around Battery Point and stop at Jackman & McRoss for baked deliciousness. For some road tripping try the Huon Valley to Willie Smiths for organic cider & lunch or head to Richmond and the Derwent Valley for some beautiful old towns & great antique shopping. Haydn is a wealth of information & has been salvaging building materials for decades - I not only come home with half his store but definitely with a lot more knowledge!
If you too are excited by this and looking to introduce a touch of heritage trades & craftsmanship in your home, we’ve put together some pieces from my own hardware & homegoods range that would fit perfectly in any of the historic houses that feature on Restoration Australia.