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..it's Kristine from Townmouse

Tuesday, 16 September 2008 by Irene Hoofs

Today we're going to visit a very stylish and I would call it a modern classic home in Australia. Kristine Lempriere lives here with her family and she is the founder, the creative talent and the superfriendly women behind Townmouse ... a very lovely and high quality clothing label for newborns to children aged 8 ... as a trained patternmaker and dressmaker Kristine knows exactly how to make a perfect fit dress and all her clothes are French inspired, drawing on classic designs...i think you can find some French influences in her house as well ... enjoy!
{Kristine's studio and home office}
1. )Can you tell us a little bit about your personal background and how you started TownMouse (where did the name come from)? I studied marketing at university and worked in business development for consulting and legal firms for 8 years – very dry stuff.  I’ve always loved working with textiles (as have all the women in my family).  In 2000 and 2001 I studied a fashion course and we had our first two children.  At the time I finished the course I had two boys under two so children’s wear seemed like the right thing to focus on. The name was inspired by Johnny Town-Mouse, who was the well dressed, refined mouse in the Beatrix Potter tale. 
{Collection spools in the studio}
2.) Do you work from home and do you make everything yourself still? How do you decide on your color palette, do you follow any trends? I work from home, which I love.  For the last two years 100% of the manufacturing has been outsourced, mainly to local manufacturers.  I still have some products in the range which are personalized.  They are done in my studio by two seamstresses who work with me each week. Selfishly I choose the colours that I like.  I love little girls in blue, and I like clear, fresh colours.  Pink always has to feature heavily because that’s what sells the best.  No, I don’t think I really follow any trends.  Elements of designs are inspired by what is out there in women’s and children’s wear but it’s usually brought back to a very classic look by the time it makes it into the Townmouse range.


{The livingroom}
3.) What kind of house do you live in, with whom and what made you decide to live in this house? Were the old ornaments already part of the house when you moved in? Our house is about 120 years old.  I knew I wanted to live in the house as soon as I stepped through the front door.  I fell in love with its scale and proportions.  It was very tired and run down when we bought it but it had some lovely architectural details that we didn’t mess with.  The house is in a lovely street with lots of other houses of a similar style and age.  We neighbour two much larger houses with huge gardens and established trees.  So although our little patch of earth is small if feels a lot bigger and we have a lovely outlook.

We renovated and added a children’s wing at the back of the house for the 3 boys (now 7, 6 and 3).  That freed up some rooms in the front of the house – one for my studio, another for Will’s study, and a sitting room.


{The livingroom}
4.)Can you describe your style, what kind of items are you always attracted to when shopping for your house? I see many books on the table … what kind of books do you like best? My style is probably classic, contemporary.  I like understated pieces that are timeless.  We are fortunate to have been given some lovely antiques that have been in the family, so we haven’t bought a lot of furniture.  Both Will and I enjoy Australian aboriginal art which seems to work well with the old furniture. 

We are also passionate about natural fibers. Will is the fifth generation of his family to work in the wool industry.  Anything synthetic doesn’t fly in our house.  I guess when shopping for our house I opt for rather classic pieces with clean lines and beautiful workmanship. Many of the books on our coffee table are books on interiors and gardens (as well as a hefty selection of craft books on a nearby shelf).  In terms of reading, the kind of books I like best are historical fiction and biographies, as well as twentieth century classics like Henry James.


{Kristine's husband study}
5.) Can you tell us a bit more about this beautiful room, I love the curtains and the carpet?
About 3 years ago I decorated this room as a birthday surprise for Will.  He came home from work to find it fully furnished with the wing back chair, lamp, rug, curtains and blinds all installed.  The curtains are a Manuel Canovas linen fabric with a print in colours that pick up on the bricks and tiling on the verandah that the room looks onto.  The old trunk was something we found in an antique shop in Argentina 4 years ago for the princely sum of $100.


6.) Such a beautiful kitchen, this must be a great place to cook, do you like cooking? Is it possible being a mom and run a successful business at the same time?
When I first moved out of home in my early 20s I couldn’t cook a thing.  I have since learned to cook and I do enjoy it.  I have a sweet tooth so desserts are my thing.  The kitchen is open to the living area so there’s always company while I cook. Yes, I think it’s possible to be a mum and run a successful business at the same time.  I think I’m a better mother because of my business, because I have a more balanced life.  For me, the answer is having dedicated work time, dedicated family time, and not mixing the two.


{Boy's bedroom}
7.) What kind of toys do you really encourage your boys to play with and where does the beautiful old train come from?
All three boys absolutely love Lego and we’re happy with that.  It’s a great creative toy that entertains them for hours.
The train was made by my grandfather at the time my mother was born.  It’s actually a billy cart (with peddles and a steering wheel) that mum and her two sisters used to ride down their street as children.  There was also a powder blue racing car and a fire engine.  I vaguely remember riding on them as a child with my cousins. 


{Boy's bedroom}
8.) You told me your boys share a bedroom…what made you decide to let them sleep together? Such a lovely little print (little boat) on the wall above the desk, who made it?
The deciding factor for the boys to share a room was lack of space.  There was only room to add on two bedrooms and a bathroom.  So we made one a nice big one that they would enjoy sharing.

The print is from the book, “Where the wild things are”.  The child in the book is called Max, as is our eldest.  It was given to our Max for Christmas by Will’s brother a few years ago.


{Boy's bedroom}
9.) How smart to create this built in bed, closets and couch, was it already in the room or did you have it custom made for the room?
The whole room was newly built as part of our renovation.  The built in beds were inspired by pictures I’d collected from magazines.  It was the best way to make use of the space and low ceiling height along that wall.


10.)You also sent me some images of these maps … why are they so important to you?
Will travels an awful lot, and to all continents.  He’ll often use the globe that sits in his study to explain to the boys where he’s travelling to, or where he’s just returned from.  The boys also have a framed map in their bedroom that they enjoy studying.


{Handmade Quilts}
11.)These quilts are absolutely beautiful, did you make them?
Yes, the quilts are my creations.  Quilting is my favourite craft, but I don’t find much time for it now -  Townmouse and the family keeps me so busy.


{Townmouse collection}
12.) and finally for all the people out there who would like to start a great business like Townmouse, what would be your advice?
Do something you love and are passionate about – because then you will do it well.


..Townmouse blog..
..contact Kristine..
..Online shop..

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