Fashion Designer Emma Mulholland’s Colourful 1930s Apartment
Images by Saskia Wilson
This week on the Journal we meet Australian fashion legend Emma Mulholland at the beautiful 1930s apartment she shares with her husband, artist Gareth Budge and their charismatic sheepadoodle Norby. Over more than a decade Emma has solidified herself as a leading light in the Australian fashion industry, first with her eponymous label and more recently with the much loved EM on Holiday brand. We spoke with Emma about refreshing the split level apartment to meet the couple’s needs, their ever growing collection of art and the evolution of the EM on Holiday brand.
“My husband Gareth and I have lived here for a year and a half now. We looked for an apartment for a really long time (on and off for two years) we kept finding very cookie cutter apartments and often really small and poky. There was something different about this one as soon as we walked in; it was a lot more open and spacious than anything else we had seen – almost like a tiny house – the split level and high ceilings make it feel a lot bigger than it actually is.”
“There was barely any storage when we moved in and me being a collector of random things and Gareth's taste being a lot more minimal meant we needed to build in storage. We were able to add in a linen cupboard and wardrobe which has kept things a lot neater. Apart from that we have just done the odd thing here and there plus a lick of paint. We were so happy to find something we could immediately move into and it felt like home very quickly.”
“When we got together - Gareth couldn’t believe how early I would go to bed as he is more of a night owl. I’m happy to go to bed around 9:30pm and read. We stay up a bit later now. Our bedroom probably gets the nicest light in the house. We have a wooden bed base that was Gareth’s in his family home and a rather large dog bed where Norby sleeps before sneaking on to ours in the very early morning - he is our large and goofy alarm clock. We are still needing to hang more artworks in our bedroom as we left that to last to see what we were liking in that space.”
Our bedroom probably gets the nicest light in the house.
“We have definitely refined and culled things down after moving in here from a much larger apartment. We love to collect more art from friends and family, Gareth has a large collection and we have a lot of his own artwork in the apartment which is special. Some of the favourite pieces in our apartment we got together like the Montanna Miller Horse artwork, giant Cheetah statue and the HAY toaster and kettle (an engagement present from my parents).
In addition to Emma’s beautiful home we’re also, of course, big fans of EM on Holiday and were curious to know what first inspired the brand and how it’s evolved over the years…
“I really wanted to start a label that was based around a simple idea of holiday/vacation dressing as I’ve always thought that on holiday is when you look and feel your best, but when you return a lot of the pieces you were loving often don’t hold up in your regular wardrobe. We worked on improving the traditional fits and fabrications of these pieces so they can be worn on and off vacation. It’s definitely evolved over the short period we have been running. Having been in the lockdown for so long saw us have great success with comfortable and relaxed clothing; now things are opening up we want to make sure we are covered for your party and pool plans so our latest collection has seen the introduction of event and occasion wear which I’m really excited about. It’s given me the chance to reflect back on my style with a new direction and branding behind it.”
I really wanted to start a label that was based around a simple idea of holiday/vacation dressing as I’ve always thought that on holiday is when you look and feel your best.
Of her own vacation hit list, Emma say’s she would love to see more of our backyard…
“I would really love to explore more of Australia, I’m from the south coast so I do always love getting down to places like Ulladulla and Gerroa. One of my favourite international holiday destinations is Hawaii - it is such a magical place where I find a lot of inspiration and always just have a great time.”
“We are super close to Bondi now which is lovely as it’s where my Dad grew up and my sister lives just down the road. A pretty standard Saturday morning for us is walking over to Marks park at Tamarama, have coffee at my flower man, then we take Norby for a swim at Mackenzies. Our favourite dinner spot where we live is the Japanese restaurant Washuku.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the year there’s also a very special holiday on the horizon for Emma and Gareth…
“Gareth and I are planning our Honeymoon for later in the year. We haven’t decided on where exactly yet but I’m looking forward to switching off for a bit.”