A Jeweller’s Mud Brick Home in Warrandyte
Images by Tasha Tylee
This week we’re back in Melbourne visiting another beautiful place in the leafy suburb of Warrandyte. This mud brick masterpiece is home to jewellery designer and founder of Cleopatra’s Bling Olivia Cummings, her partner Liam and their Standard Poodle Alfonso which Olivia insists (and we agree) “there is nothing standard about at all!” We spoke with Olivia about embracing the natural environment that surrounds the property, how her love for travel and culture laid the foundations for her brand and spent some time in the kitchen with her preparing a delightful winter pie.
“Our house is a 1977 mud brick house in North Warrandyte, Victoria. It’s made from fully recycled materials and has a lot of character. We moved here only 14 months ago. I love the fact that we are fully immersed in nature and that it feels so cosy and quite removed from the city.”
“I get up very early and watch the sun rise while drinking tea on the couch with Alfie. I love our house as it’s quite convivial and the open plan living room and kitchen make for a great space to host and hang out. I absolutely love all my vintage plant stands and my paintings from artists that I love.”
“The bedroom is one of the best rooms in the house because it’s situated so that the morning sun shines right in over the valley. The bedroom is less “maximalist” than the other rooms and our sheets are generally white or a soft colour, so that the room feels welcoming for sleep and relaxation. I love my Moroccan rug in the bedroom and the Murano mushroom lamp.”
“I lived in Paris from the time I was eighteen until twenty four. When I left Paris to go to Istanbul, I didn’t know what I was doing with my life however I knew that I wanted a more creative life and career. Cleopatra’s Bling was born out of my desire to explore and tap into my creativity that I had pushed down for too long. That was ten years ago! Istanbul is the creative hub of the brand and coming back to Australia was a big adjustment but now we have a great team here in Melbourne and it’s growing every single day.”
When I left Paris to go to Istanbul, I didn’t know what I was doing with my life however I knew that I wanted a more creative life and career.
“We work only with artisans directly, no factory work or big production runs. I manage all of this with my team internally, which is a big job because we don’t have a middle person. We make sure all the stones are traceable and our gold and silver is all refined and upcycled. In terms of the team, we have a very diverse team and honoring all cultures and traditions is a big part of our storytelling and brand ethos. When making jewellery, it’s important to me to not follow trend, but honor historical references all while respecting the environment and the wonderful humans we work with.”
“I become quite introverted when creating a new collection as it’s many weeks of sitting at my desk wax molding jewellery and listening to podcasts. Once that part of the job is done, we start sampling and then the process is more “commercial” in that we prepare the collection for a launch. It’s probably around a twelve month process since my work is all handmade and not CAD moulded. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“I love the fact that we live in the most lush green area, that it’s quiet, that we are so close to nature and animals. I love feeling the elements and since living in North Warrandyte my life has been a lot more wholesome. It helped me tap into a less “turbo” lifestyle since I had always lived in very large European and Turkish cities where the cities never slept. I walk a lot in the state park in North Warrandyte and we host many long lunches at are our house with friends and family.”
“For the rest of the year, I’m looking forward to my trip to Turkey this week, also lots of Winter mushroom foraging sessions and subsequent pasta making nights with friends and family. We are lucky to be able to forage saffron milk cap mushrooms and we make quite a ritual around cooking them. I love the long walks in the crisp mornings with Alfie my standard poodle.”