Sonia, Murray & family, Tamarama NSW
Words by Elisha Kennedy
Images by Andrew Butler
Sonia Killmore is one of those people who is innately grounded and holds a calming presence – her home in Tamarama is an extension of that. Here she lives with her husband Murray (the founder and director of Semi-Permanent, an annual design festival that brings together speakers and industry tastemakers from all over the world) and their two children, Ellul and Loïc.
Sonia, can you share a bit about your upbringing and background?
I was born on the south coast in Kiama, and spent my childhood in Jamberoo. It is a beautiful spot. I grew up with three siblings and we were and are very close. I loved being in the country air and having so much space. I loved playing on my grandparents farms and being with nature and the animals. Space, trees, dirt and animals is something I crave now that I’m in the city. As I got older, in my mid teens I started to yearn for something else, and was ready to adventure out of the country. After finishing school and I went to studying fashion in Sydney, which I then worked in for 10+ years, spending most of my time with Sass & Bide, which I loved. I learned a lot, travelled a lot, met some many people, some of my most cherished friends. After working with a few Australian labels I then changed direction and followed my love of nature and plants, and started The Plantarum, an online nursery specialising in Indoor Plants and creating spaces for restaurants, offices and homes. It was really fun to do, But a lot of work starting a new business whilst being in my other role as a mum to now two young children. I love being a mum so the business is something I am going to press pause on until the children are older.
I was born on the south coast in Kiama, and spent my childhood in Jamberoo. It is a beautiful spot. I grew up with three siblings and we were and are very close. I loved being in the country air and having so much space. I loved playing on my grandparents farms and being with nature and the animals. Space, trees, dirt and animals is something I crave now that I’m in the city.
How did the two of you meet?
Haha, well we first saw each other at the Cricketers in Surry Hills, of all places! We didn’t speak….but to cut a long story short we then met properly in person on our first date, outside my apartment at the time when Murray picked me up to go to the airport for a trip to Melbourne!
What is it that you love about living in Tamarama?
The sea and the sea air. Also the little community of families we have met since having our own family, Ellul and Loïc have a some many friends in the street and streets close by, it’s awesome to be able to walk to each others houses and see each other just passing by. In summer its particular nice, early morning or late evening swims with the locals is lovely.
You have a beautiful and vast collection of both ceramics and plants in your home, can you share some of your favourite ceramicists and/or sources for these?
Ah thank you, they are mostly Australian ceramicists. I love Wingnut & Co, Keiko Matsui & Alana Wilson. I also picked up a few older traditional pots and urns from a trip to Italy we did last year. If I could have carried more home, I would have bought loads! The plants I have been collecting for a few years, and they are from all over. The hanging plants are from a grower in Peats Ridge, the succulents from a grower down the south coast, the cactus I bought back from a trip Murray and I did to a place north of Dubbo, and some are from many of the nurseries in Dural and around that area. One of the perks of having The Plantarum.
As a family do you have a morning routine?
We all try to get up as early as we can. We find our days are more fulfilling when we spend the morning easing into it. Murray and Loïc like going for walks and watching the sun come up. Murray enjoys the ritual of rugging Loïc up and getting out into the air. It helps to process his thoughts. Loïc is always more than keen, even when it’s freezing. Ellul and I will generally stay at home by the fire, reading, writing, or listening to something, she likes to draw, and we will meditate together. Now Ellul is at school, I find this settling for her and seems to give her a nice grounding for the day. I really love the stillness in the mornings and I like to tap into this and carrying it through my day.
We find our days are more fulfilling when we spend the morning easing into it. Murray and Loïc like going for walks and watching the sun come up. Murray enjoys the ritual of rugging Loïc up and getting out into the air. It helps to process his thoughts.
A bedtime routine?
As we like to get up early, we try and get into bed as early as we can. We start the night routine around 4.30-5pm with a bath. We don’t really do anything particular special for bedtime, Murray and I like to make sure everyone is feeling wound down from the day. We like to talk about our days, and connect back in as a family. I love putting the kids to bed, tucking Loïc in, and chatting to Ellul about anything that may have happened in her day, hearing her thoughts or stories. Ellul likes to listen to audiobooks while she falls asleep, and Murray and I will usually read before going to sleep.
Murray, you’ve wrapped up Semi Permanent 2017, are you enjoying some down time or do you launch straight into preparations for 2018?
Last year when I finished the Sydney event I took a month off and we went to Puglia (Italy), but I had a lot of broader business opportunities in the works and they didn’t really free themselves from my mind, so when I finished the Sydney event this year I’ve just kept working through all these opportunities.
More broadly, I’m not really a fan of working hard and then having a break – working hard, having a break. I’m trying to find a place where I feel relaxed every day and I don’t need to meditate through a break. It’s tricky, but after 15 years running the business I feel like I’m getting to a nice place.
That said, I’d be more than happy to head to the Maldives and get a few waves…
What are you reading to / listening to or watching at the moment?
I am reading An Open Letter to Humanity by Serge Benhayon, and am enjoying a audiobook, True Refuge by Tara Brach.