The Biggest Obstacle for Women Renovators

The podcast for women who want to create income and a life they love through renovating

Join serial renovator Bernadette Janson as she explores the ins and outs of renovating for profit!

Bernadette has over 30 years of experience in the renovating for profit business. She’s a registered nurse, a renovator, a mum, and a teacher.

102 – How To Channel India Hicks Without Moving To The Bahamas

On today’s episode,

In this episode, we’re going on a slight detour from our normal tone and topic. I thought that today, we might just talk about something a bit lighter and I invited Sheree Lamb, one of our Wonder Women who is very keen in style and designs to have a chat with me regarding this detour. Sheree and I will talk about the island style that was pioneered by India Hicks. We will share what we observed from her styling, her inspirations, tips, motifs, colours and other great cues that you can pick up to enrich your own style.

Listen to Episode 102– How To Channel India Hicks Without Moving To The Bahamas


Episode Highlights

  • [00:00:38] A detour                 
  • [00:03:05] We live vicariously through others
  • [00:04:30] India Hicks and her styles
  • [00:06:17] She is everything that you could imagine
  • [00:07:23] What defined India Hicks’ style
  • [00:08:40] Bahaman island style
  • [00:09:42] All the settings from her surroundings
  • [00:11:53] The coastal look
  • [00:13:26] The colours and textures
  • [00:14:44] India Hicks’ signature pieces
  • [00:16:08] The other world of India Hicks
  • [00:17:06] Australian designers that emulate her style
  • [00:18:48] Pull your inspirations from your environment
  • [00:19:21] Combining natural environment and her aristocratic roots

How To Channel India Hicks Without Moving To The Bahamas

“Just look around you for inspiration is basically what I’m saying. So as soon as you looked at that window, you saw palms, you saw water, even though it’s in a city and it’s a hustle and bustle busy, you can bring the environment close to you, which makes people feel so much more at ease.”


Well, hello, everyone, it’s Bernadette back with another episode of She Renovates. We’re going on a slight detour today, a detour from our normal tone and topic. The title of this episode is How to Channel India Hicks Without Moving To The Bahamas. A little bit of tongue in cheek, but I’ve invited Sheree Lamb, one of our Wonder Women to have a chat about this.

Sheree and I have done the hard yards on quite a few projects together so we’ve had these conversations on a quite a regular basis and so I thought we would let you into one of these discussions.

We all love the island style along the Indonesian flavour of our three birds, but often it doesn’t really work for your market. If you’re wanting to have some softness in your design, I have found that you can pick up some great cues from India Hicks, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about.

Now, Sheree was on the phone so the audio wasn’t as good as I would like it to be, but I think it’s OK. I hope you agree with me and we’re gonna to go for it.

Bernadette Janson: Sheree has a keen interest in design and interiors. In fact, I think the other day you said something about how do you tell if someone’s an interior addict? And then you went through all the photos on your phone or the web clips and things you’ve taken. So I think you’re pretty much qualified. I thought that today we might just talk about something a bit lighter. What we’re going to talk about is the island style that was pioneered by India Hicks. I’ve invited Sheree to share that conversation with me so, welcome!

Sheree Lamb: Hello, how are you?

Bernadette Janson: Yeah, I’m really good. You and I spent quite a bit of time together last week getting Chalmers Street on the market so that’s a welcome relief to have it off our plate.

Sheree Lamb: What an event. It was great though.

Bernadette Janson: Yeah, it’s nice to have it done. It’s great after the fact.

Sheree Lamb: That’s right.

Bernadette Janson: Let’s get into this. We tend to particularly with our interiors, sometimes live vicariously through others. We take inspiration from people that we perceive to be living our ideal life. It sounds a bit shallow, but it’s not really that shallow. India Hicks is one of those people. She’s someone that’s very prominent in the design world. What’s your view on this? Would you agree that we live vicariously through all this, Sheree?

Sheree Lamb: Yeah, totally. I think when you’re coming to styling your own design, people often don’t know where it comes from, are they copy or use other people’s styling for inspiration? But I just had to think about the questions and I just thought that if we are mindful and really present and sit with yourself and you’ll understand what it is about India Hicks’ styling and her brilliant photography that resonates and creates some powerful emotional ties. If you hark back to most Australian kids remember search; shorelines, the treasure, trash and treasure, a pump feather pillow at their nana’s and the sprinkler and running across the lawns. If you search your own memory and gather your styling, that’s all around you right where you are now, you create that belonging and your own natural style.

Bernadette Janson: Exactly. We just really look at other designers who’ve been able to do this really articulately to I guess to take some cues and to enrich our own style, would you agree?

Sheree Lamb: Yeah, totally. I love coastal areas because I live on the coast and I’m often down having a look at what’s on the beach and how to get inspiration. I guess we’ve all got a bit of artistry. We’re creative and that’s all a natural flow. When you’re feeling well and and centered, you can let that come through your styling.

Bernadette Janson: Absolutely.

Sheree Lamb: When you look at the photos of any interior designers and photographers, especially India Hicks comes from a family of interior designers, her father’s a famous interior designer and photographer. She herself has been a model in her previous life. She’s often been in front of the camera and she often sees other things. She just goes out into the environment and clips, photos like we all do. Then when you look into that, it’s what makes you feel at home when you look at those photos.

Bernadette Janson: That’s really interesting. The thing about her is that her background was very aristocratic. Her mum was Lady Pamela Mountbatten and she was actually Prince Charles and Diana’s flower girl. You can actually see in her style, although it’s really casual, there’s that sense of the establishment. Do you notice that?

Sheree Lamb: Totally, she is everything that you could imagine. Well, obviously, she is a model, we don’t like to look like that.

Bernadette Janson: We do look like, Sheree.

Sheree Lamb: Yes, we do. She’s just natural. If I looked at her and if she didn’t speak, we wouldn’t hear the accent. You might imagine that she’s a northern coastal Australian, epitomises that kind of look like she’s known all her life as her. I mean, when you’re the queen’s cousin for your mother and her father is very famous, David Hicks as an interior designer. She grew up kind of creativity around her at all times and then being in front of the camera as a model. Of course, you know, she’s very at one with the water and that’s why I feel like, if you’re a person that feels coastal or you love the water or love the bush or whatever, that’s how you can reflect your own style through what you do in your homes.

Bernadette Janson: Exactly. Yeah, and I think the thing that has really defined her style is the fact that she’s lived her adult life in the Bahamas.

Sheree Lamb: That’s right. She had, according to the history, of course, haven’t stalked, but I like studying people, I’ve got her on Instagram and things as millions of people do. She’s now in the Bahamas. Well, as a child, obviously aristocratic kind of upbringing, they had what it called a holiday home there. Then she met someone on the island and fell in love and it was a whirlwind. Then they have four of their own children, one child from the Bahamas that they adopted. So they’ve really lived there but obviously, those children didn’t stay there all the time. They would be adults now. They would have come off to boarding school and all the rest. As she leaves and comes back, she leaves and goes to Milan and Paris and and all over the world and brings back travel trinkets, as we all do.

When you’re looking through her styling, it’s just exactly how you would want it in your own home. If you’ve had a trip to Africa or you’ve had a trip to Italy, you can have a little like vignettes all around with your travel experiences on display.

Bernadette Janson: Exactly. I think that’s where her sort of Bahaman island style differs from the Balinese style or the Indonesian style, which we have a lot of. That sort of ties to history in terms of the European history. I noticed the other day I was looking at one of her sittings, the table was set with willow cotton and then willow cotton flatware. It was just stunning and I think that’s where the style differs from what we’re used to, what we bring back from our trips to Bali and so on.

Sheree Lamb: Yeah, if you can see the differences, there’s depth to the styling. I read that article, how she’d gone to a shop in England and a boot car on sale or something like that and found the old willow plates, if people don’t know blue and white willow plates, it’s a really good story, have a read.

She didn’t have a complete set but what she most people might go, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got six or I haven’t got eight” but to her, just like me, that’s part of it and says “I can mix and match with things”. That’s what she did to create a set. She’s famous, in one of those stories, she says, “I knew I couldn’t cook from an early stage” so she thought, “But what I can do, what else am I good at? Not everyone’s a decorator or a style just as I’m not a good cook. What else can I do? I think I can set the table and decorate”. She was more that way inclined and creative and inventive and she just took from her surroundings and all the settings that you see where she’s put on grand dinners for one hundred people and she was raising money. She had a huge dinner, just like some of us do, Bernadette and just to have a look at it outside, her style is natural coastal design. It’s timber, rattan, palm tree motifs, corals and coastal shore style. I’ve written down their palm greens and neutrals. I noticed in the floor and up into is timber or all black and white checkered tile floors, you see all around her collection of her travels.

Bernadette Janson: Exactly. Yeah. Beautiful. It’s against the backdrop of often the furniture is quite formal would you say?

Sheree Lamb: Yes. It’s an eclectic antique that’s coming from British colonial and what she’s been handed down I would imagine, often the furniture wood, just be bought there and then it might be one hundred years old and stored and just left in the house because there’s no way you could be carting these all around on. So they used to just leave it and drape it. Then when the next person came, they could dust it off and adjust it to their style.

Bernadette Janson: Exactly. If we were to replicate that, I have to say the reason I started thinking about India Hicks was when we were doing Chalmers Street, over Prince Alfred Park, seeing the big date palms made me think about when we’re styling in, like in Sydney or in Australia, there is a tendency to go to that coastal look. We just tend to gravitate to that but I was thinking not we can’t do that because the coast is not a location that lends itself to a coastal look. But it does lend itself to something that’s a little bit more sophisticated with those palm trees and the view brings that back.

Sheree Lamb: And I think if you look out around you, if people were thinking, where am I going to or how am I going to style this? I mean, a lot of people successfully live in a city and have African themes or whatever but if you want to feel that you’re part of your surroundings, it’s about the old camouflage like you’re settling in around your surroundings. If that’s what you’re feeling and that’s what you- I mean, people mostly live somewhere because they like the area. So why do you like the area? If you just ask a few questions like that and when you’re going to renovate somewhere like we do, obviously we’ve got that renovating and just look around you for inspiration is basically what I’m saying. So as soon as you looked at that window, you saw palms, you saw water, even though it’s in a city and it’s a hustle and bustle busy, you can bring the environment close to you, which makes people feel so much more at ease.

Bernadette Janson: Exactly. What about the colours? There’s a lot of white, as always, but what are the colours do you look out?

Sheree Lamb: Yeah, I definitely saw white. She often- I think that’s the old English thing as well and we’ve bought that from our colonialism as well, that your mother would have a tablecloth on the table. So whenever a table is set, India Hicks style, you’ll always see a white tablecloth.

We’re just talking about her island home. There’s palm trees everywhere and ferns and and it’s very lush and green and tropical. I mean, it’s just south east of Miami. It’s warm and the water’s warm and and she’s got soft and vivid pinks and salmons and reds even. I would imagine that would be from the sunsets. The textures, she has the linens and there’s tassels, which is English, like we said, the white tablecloths. She’s got lots of glass, just clear glass, candles, shells. Furniture wise, I just thought it’s very practical furniture and often wood that may not be painted; rattan, chairs, the plump feather lounges or pillow.

Bernadette Janson: Beautiful.

Sheree Lamb: It always has signature pieces such as cut palm leaves, which I often do here, cut whatever you have in the garden and just bring it in. So she often has huge like if I think I’ll just get a palm and cut like the size of your forearm palm leaf, but she’ll get half your height type.

Bernadette Janson: She matches the scale of the home as well because the homes she does are certainly very grand.

Sheree Lamb: Yes, but she makes like little things, it just even one room and then just goes from there.

Bernadette Janson: Beautiful. I did notice that she had one room that she painted in red, the walls were red and it somehow seemed to work.

Sheree Lamb: Yeah. Just the dramatic way. In the modelling world and things, she would be very fine with Paris runways and Italian, that kind of thing where you just walk in and it’s just an absolute statement, almost like a gallery like with her father, with his buildings and things that he does.

Bernadette Janson: Is he still alive?

Sheree Lamb: I believe so. Her husband, look- can I say that? He looks quite old.

Bernadette Janson: But I don’t think they ever got married.

Sheree Lamb: Oh yeah, “partner” I think that’s what she says.

Bernadette Janson: Well, one of the things I like about her is she’s a tea drinker.

Sheree Lamb: She’s English and just listening to her mother, oh, my goodness, the stories. She raises money, I’m not sure of the situation, but she raises some money for donations to give away by interviewing her mother.

Bernadette Janson: Really?

Sheree Lamb: Yes. Lady Mountbatten is very stuffy and she tells these jokes and not very many people laugh about the joke.

Bernadette Janson: Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh.

Sheree Lamb: Well, that’s the kind of thing that royalty would be exposed.

Bernadette Janson: Yeah, another world.

Sheree Lamb: That quietens, seen and not heard and that kind of thing, and I’m not sure what schooling she would have had, but it would have been incredible.

Bernadette Janson: Boarding school probably, I guess.

Sheree Lamb: Oh, yeah, absolutely, yeah.

Bernadette Janson: Poor thing.

Sheree Lamb: Exactly.

Bernadette Janson: So what Australian designers or books or emulate a similar style?

Sheree Lamb: I think there’s a lot of coastal and that kind of books and you can have a look around and obviously we’ve got the Australian bush here, you see a lot of- I’m just trying to think of the one in Byron Bay, one of the Airbnb’s, I think it’s called the- I’d have to get back my maybe The Beach or something. I see the Temple and Webster actually at one stage, maybe last year or so, did this India Hicks style, Australian style. They gathered some furniture and looked through this store. Also I’ve noticed that down the coast here, southern Sydney girl who has done a few Airbnb’s or holiday destinations, I think she calls them and one of those is some Simone Mathew’s and she has sold home and The Pause is her latest one. Actually, The Pause is a destination holiday home down Jamberoo way. She’s actually styled that off Singapore and the Bahamas.

Bernadette Janson: Wow.

Sheree Lamb: I heard the way she’s done that, I think she’s married in more hard surfaces, concrete benches, concrete floors, but then also all the other India Hicks type of overlap as well.

Bernadette Janson: Yeah, you’ve shown me some of her work and I’d agree that she’s a good example and someone to follow, if you like that style. Actually I’ve got Temple and Webster coming onto the podcast shortly. They’re doing some great things for renovators, which is awesome.

Okay, just to recap so that the style is something that really works for many Australian homes and while we may not necessarily need to replicate her exact styling choices, that principle of really pulling the things that you love out of your environment into your designing or your interiors, of course we do really love the look that she does create by combining both the natural environment and her aristocratic roots.

Sheree Lamb: I totally agree. You can have a little exercise where you just walk at a backyard and have a look around or my purple and white agapanthus are coming out and I have a huge lemon tree with lots of bright yellow lemons hanging down from it, and I have gardenias out at the moment. So you can grab things like that to your home and just put it around your things that you love and it’ll just bring it to life.

Bernadette Janson: Exactly. And go for some oversized bunches, not just the usual cuttings that you do.

Sheree Lamb: Yeah, get some different heights. If you’ve just got glass, tall glass with a smaller desk and then an overflow of the greenery down to a flower and lowering effect.

Bernadette Janson: Oh! I’m all excited now. I just want to go out and do it.

Sheree Lamb: I think for Chalmers Street, I did a morning walk and gathered a few things from around the streets of Surry Hills.

Bernadette Janson: Wow.

Sheree Lamb: Yeah and that appears on the kitchen bench.

Bernadette Janson: Well, yeah, that’s very resourceful of you, Sheree.


I hope you enjoyed that.

So we’ve prepared a little fact sheet to demonstrate some of the concepts that we’ve talked about in this episode. You can download that by going over to and opting in for the renovation library where you find the episode notes and resources from this and every single episode we’ve ever published.

So on that note, I’m going to bid you goodbye and I’ll see you next week.

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