For 20 years, Natalee Bowen has brought her love of design to client projects. As the director of the Indah Island design firm, she’s worked at the national and international level. Natalee’s work has been featured in the media from TV shows to magazines including Dream Homes, Luxury Homes Revealed, and Through the Front Gate. Offering full project management services, Natalee delivers an eye for details to each client project that starts with the colour planning and moves through every aspect of the project.
Describing her style as a combination of classic Hamptons with an infusion of tropical and island elements, Natalee realised how to categorise her aesthetic following a trip to the legendary Hamptons seven years ago. She is driven by a love for the Hamptons and also the Cape Cod style, including the architecture as well as the furnishings, in large part because they remain classic and timeless.
Natalee's Hamptons design aesthetic fits perfectly with our own Hamptons and French inspired furniture so we were excited so sit down with Natalee and chat.
1. When did you first decide to become an interior designer and how did you get started with your design business?
I grew up in Perth WA with a father that was a very renowned builder and I fell in love with all elements of design. I was in mechanising for a while to make ends meet, until I realised that I really loved designing homes and styling.
Indah Island was born a few years later, after living abroad and on the East Coast where I was finding my style and the direction I wanted to go. I went to New York and to the Hamptons around 7 years ago and realised that this was the look I had always emulated and so really emerged myself into the Hamptons classic American style and made it my own.
2. What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challanging part of my job is being a perfectionist!! I also am very hands on with all clients so I need to make sure I don’t spread myself too thin. I love every aspect of the process from the design of the home through to the cushion making and everything in between. I get very heavliy involved in every element including the selection, where fixtures and finishes are going including things like towel rails lights and then furniture. I do it all !!!
The pros of having my own design business is that I get to be creative on a daily basis, problem solving, being able to source incredible products and travel all over the world and see the most beautiful furnishings, homes and fabrics. Also trawling through magazines and online for hours on end and calling it research!!! As the saying goes "Find something you love and work out how to make a living and you will never work a day in your life"!!!
The cons!!! All the above ……. Working for yourself takes endless hours of labour intensive work, and sometimes you give more hours then you are paid. I always tell clients that they get a lot of bang for their buck with Indah Island as we really go the extra mile!!! This can mean working all hours, being on site at the drop of the hat, working out figures, and business plans and not having too much time for play. It does seem glamourous from the outside in however it is a lot of hard work. Also when you are doing projects you don’t get a lot of down time, so holidays are generally going to trade shows!!!
3. Is there an interior design style you favour and do you have your own design aesthetic?
My design style is very classic American Hamptons with a twist of Caribbean, Bahamas. It is very stylish, classic and layered. Hamptons can be such an over used cliché in Australia, however the real look is in how you bring it all together.
There are many styles within the American classic such as glamorous Manhattan style, the traditional Hamptons, using eclectic antique pieces or a classic beach style. This way, a glamorous mansion to a typical 4 x 2 home can be styled with this look.
4. Who are other interior designers you admire?
When I created my style it was really inpired from a lot of American deigners. There isn't one but a slice of many that has then created Indah Islands style.
5. What inspires you?
I am inspired daily from books, TV shows and trawling through mountains on Instagram and Pinterest pics. Also travelling is a great source of inspo, travelling all over the world you see so many different things that can trigger your thought pattern and a look is created!!
6. What do you think is the essential piece of furniture we should all have in our bedroom?
I think a fabulous custom bedhead, detailed side tables with divine lamps with custom shades, loads of beautiful layered bedding and cushions that you can lay and just feel calm and relaxed.
7. What key element do we all need for a chic living room?
Seating that invites you to create conversation. Be creative with your occassional chairs, be bold with fabric and cushions.
8. Do you have a favourite project or story behind a project?
When we renovated our own home, it was fantastic to really be very creative, to make sure we got the most out of the home. Is was a 20 year old run down home worst house best street …..in a fabulous location. The best part was being able to have a vision and bring it to life! It was very funny waking up with my trades then going on to other sites with them there. They became part of the family!!
We have done 2 renovations on this home, the first we did before we moved in, in 8 weeks!! We guttered, moved walls, re did flooring, cabinetry, painted internal and external, added bifolds to take advantage of the marina view.
Our 2nd most recent, which will be on the new channel 9 TV show in September, you will see the next transformation of the external works. We added a pool, alfresco, beautiful detailed balustrade works and re decked the levelled area. It again was great to experience what I put clients through. It is a messy, noisy experience and it can also be a long tedious ride, that being said the results are always amazing!! I always try to get clients to try to go away and then be wowed on their return!
Let's Get Personal .....
1. What else are you passionate about besides your work?
Our amazing farm!! The country has so much to offer and having land creates a sense of getting back to nature to breathe fresh air. This farm is our fifth generation homestead that we are renovating so it's a work of passion that we love!!
2. What is your most treasured belonging?
My darling husband and girls, nothing else matters for me. If they are happy I am happy . I treasure them more than anything else. Oh and of course my new puppy Alfie !!!!! Too cute for words I call him my therapy dog!!
3. What's one thing people may not know about you?
I actually wanted to be a fashion designer and was designing and selling clothes at the age of 15!! My parents had told me that they had spent way too much money on my private school eduction to justmake clothes and told me to go study!! I couldn’t see the point in studying fashion as I was already making money from this so I studied interior design and fell in love!!
4. In 10 years I'd like to be ....
What's next !!!! Well load of exciting things….. I am the ambassador for Scyon Walls, and we are about to take a trip of a lifetime and take the magazine editors of Home Beautiful, House and Garden, Country Homes, Inside Out, Grand Design and a few more and a handful of builders to a design trip to the Hamptons!! Lucky ducks….Here I am going to be showing them through some exquisite homes and really treating them to the Hamptons lifestyle so they really get a feel of why the Hamptons and how the Hamptons is revolutionising homes here in Australia!!!
Whilst I am there I have been asked to film a home in the Hamptons for a design show they produce called Through The Front Gate. For Australia and America. I will also be teaming up with an amazing architect to the celebritie !!! A pinch me moment I am sure.
On my return we are also filming a new TV design show where Indah Island will feature weekly with design tips!!! We are also launching our new website soon which will include all the TV show for people to see.
My goal is to help as duty of care for people to have incrediblly beautiful homes, to help make their build or renovation process as pleasurable as possible and to create divine spaces all over Australia and share my knowledge with client to create homes they never want to leave. 10 years from now, my own design TV show a few coffee table books and maybe a B&B on our farm!!
5. What can't you live without?
I am old school so beautiful magazines, I still love flipping through the pages and spending hours pouring over interior porn!!!! Oh and my pup Alfie ……
Natalee continues to give her all to her design work, always going above and beyond with each project. While she says her work doesn’t leave her with much free time, her love for interior design fulfills her and inspires her. She spends endless amounts of time sourcing inspiration, whether it’s in magazines, on social media or through her travels, while balancing her work load with country living on her farm she’s working to remodel.
Website: Indah Island