Design by Danni | Profile Magazine
It takes a unique skill to envision a totally transformed home in a mind’s eye, but that is Danni Morrison’s superpower. Boasting the luxe touch of traditional Hamptons style, Danni has become an interior powerhouse through her blogging business Design by Danni.
In Danni Morrison’s guest bedroom, a statement Napoleonic Blue mirror lay on the floor, surrounded by picture frames in an assortment of sizes and materials.
“The mirror is rattan and cane that I bought from Gumtree for $20 and I painted it with Annie Sloane,” Danni says, explaining she is drawing inspiration from celebrated interior decorator and designer Anna Spiro by creating a Victorian cluster wall, which will be installed on Sunday.
This burst of inspiration is a result of Danni’s mini escape to northern New South Wales, where she visited iconic boutique hotels Halcyon House and The Atlantic, and took a styling masterclass with Anna Spiro, who Danni says has been an inspirational influence in her career.
Growing up, Danni lived a transient life; her family moved around a lot (about 30 times she says!) and in that time she was subconsciously exposed to an array of styles and interiors over the years, as her mum cleverly transformed each house into a beautiful home.
“My mum has a Hamptons inspired home and has for many years, so I’ve grown up with that relaxed coastal influence,” she says.
While Danni now lives her own slice of Hamptons heaven, when she was 17 her taste couldn’t have been more different, her heart skipping a beat at the sight of an Oscar bed in turquoise macrosuede in Domayne in Brisbane, “it was awful, but at the time I loved it,” Danni says with a laugh.
The interior store was a visual playground and inspired Danni to study a Certificate of Interior Technology at TAFE. Danni was subsequently hired by Domayne, starting in the homewares department and later promoted to in-store decorator where she would fully furnish customers’ homes, or stage properties for sale.
Drawing on her knowledge and experience, coupled with her profound passion for interior styling, Danni launched her business and blog Design by Danni in March 2016.
“My friends and family were pushing me from the start saying I need to start a blog. The whole purpose is to give readers the confidence to take on some sort of renovation, DIY or upcycling project,” she says.
“A lot of people feel quite confronted and daunted when taking on these sorts of projects, so the aim is to offer readers education and resources to transform an element in their home and add value to their home and lifestyle.”
But it’s the magic Danni can create in transforming a client’s home; whether it be a complete overhaul or updating a room using a mix of existing pieces, thrifty upcycling and new buys; that has made the biggest impact.
“It’s about taking those unique pieces in their space that they may have overlooked or thought can’t be saved, and I look at them in a different way and have that vision,” she says honestly.
“What makes me happy is being able to transform old pieces, buy new pieces and bring it all together to make a beautiful space for my clients.”
You can see some of Danni’s work on her blog, and when you visit her page you’ll notice the main project has been the renovation of her family home in Tanawha, which she owns with her fiance, Matt.
The 20-year-old Heritage/Colonial style property lends itself perfectly to a Hamptons style renovation, which Danni says she envisioned from her first visit.
“It’s the biggest house I’ve renovated, it’s a huge property, so it takes a long time to achieve my desired look. I did have help with structural projects and design, but most of the DIY projects I’ve done on my own – music on for 12 hours with wine or coffee, always doing some sort of painting,” she says.
“We’ve painted the whole interior and exterior in light and fresh grey and white tones, that’s been the biggest change. We’ve also ripped out the kitchen and replaced it with a full traditional Hamptons style kitchen, we whitewashed the Tasmanian oak floors, I’ve done two aesthetic renovations on two out of three bathrooms which will last for a certain amount of time and then they’ll need renovating, we’ve changed all of the window treatments and hung beautiful new white linen curtains, we’ve installed wallpaper, and I’ve painted two feature walls in the house by hand, that was fun! I completed a DIY aesthetic renovation on the study and the whole backyard has been completely transformed, including an update to the gazebo, a 12 metre grey deck, landscaped gardens around the property and an extra 650sq metres of grass.”
The end result is breathtaking and Danni’s styling is unparalleled, with decorative vignettes of potted greenery, Hamptons-style ceramics, salvaged wood, custom artwork, books and magazines, vintage glass fishing floats, framed photos and hydrangeas placed throughout the home.
“Our style is a journey that’s always maturing, so it’s nice to collect pieces along the way, it may be an antique, something brand new or mum’s old China. In my home, everything has been collected over time, some things are old, some really old, some new and everything in between,” she says, taking me on a tour of her stylish abode.
“There is an antique white flower stand that was from Mum’s house and it was originally from her mother. It was stained timber and when I was in my early 20s and thought I was really on trend I painted it turquoise, now it's white and has a beautiful blue and white ceramic on top with a piece of driftwood styled behind it that was picked up from Warana beach, where my first investment property was. It’s a little nook and it’s beautiful,” she says.
“I also have one of my grandmother's recipes framed in our kitchen and her cups and saucers sit pride of place in the display cabinet. That’s what it’s about, beautiful old pieces, beautiful new pieces and styling them together to create a space you love.”
For anyone who has met Danni, or stalked her Instagram page (if you haven’t, I highly recommend it), you will envy her immaculate style, reflective of her approach to interiors, with every detail considered.
While it’s a genuine love of style and the Hamptons colour palette, it’s also indicative of her decision to be the face of her business.
“A big choice for me when I started, was whether I was going to be the face of my brand and I talked to numerous people in the industry, other creatives and people I respect, and the answer from everyone was – absolutely,” she says.
“When I’m out and about networking or seeing clients, it’s important for me to have that uniformed look to align with my branding, hence why white and navy follow my sense of style and interiors into fashion. The Hamptons and classic coastal style can be considered to be quite luxurious and elegant so people expect I will look the part and present myself professionally.”
So what does a typical day for Danni look like?
“It’s pretty crazy, mainly because I’m not just a stylist or just a blogger, it can be quite disconnected. I do try and time block as much as I can, otherwise I tend to lose a lot of productivity,” she says.
“I try to see clients in the morning, while I’m super fresh and have had loaded up on coffee, then it’s home to either blog or work and shop for clients in the middle of the day, afternoons are spent at home blogging or doing new Tanawha projects and nighttime is for updating my social media accounts.”
Design by Danni has recently bought an investment property in Tewantin, and has seen Danni take on the role of foreman on this overhaul project.
“It’s just a two to four month renovation flip, or as quick as we can do it and then we’ll be selling it. It’s a lot smaller than this house, so it will have a Hamptons style flair of course, but with a more modern Australian twist to appeal to the masses,” she says.
“Once this is done, we’ll do it all over again and each time I’ll document the renovation on my blog. Tanawha is about 90 per cent done now, there are still rooms to be renovated, but this allows me to utilise another project to inspire readers with more before and after photos and more blog posts.”
Throughout her own projects and client work, Danni has also produced a lot of custom items which has seen her upskill.
“Recently I put in custom made photo wall shelving for a client, made out of seven different pieces of timber. She had these beautiful photos of her family, but it needed something else to tie the room together, so I painted her four pieces of bespoke watercolour artwork,” she says.
“It’s those sorts of things that really make someone’s home unique, we can always create a beautiful space with furniture and homewares, but it’s the extra mile and sense of uniqueness that make clients really happy. It’s about giving people a space that’s practical and they love, that makes them feel relaxed and happy at home.”
As I finish my cup of tea and give her fur-baby Bozley one last cuddle before I go, I step over the words Home Sweet Home on the mat at the front door and hug Danni goodbye, it’s been a blissful morning in the most beautiful of homes.
Originally published in Profile Magazine
Photo: Duke and Gypsy