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Serene, elegant and timeless are just some of the adjectives that describe Jennifer and Lee enchanting Sydney home. A vase of lilies, a Buddha sculpture and a collection of blue-and-white china on a console table set a tranquil tone that continues throughout the three-bedroom, two-bathroom beach house. This classic style isn’t limited purely to Jennifer’s home: it’s also her business. Online homewares emporium Whiteport is the epitome of relaxed chic, although the path toward home and store was paved with challenges.
After a 12-month secondment to London turned into a six-year stint, Jennifer returned to Australia with an English husband, Lee, and a new mindset. “We initially settled near the city but after we adopted our dog, Scout, and decided to plan for a family, we wanted more space.”
Finding their home was a lengthy process, marked by the disheartening experience of missing out at auction on another property. Perseverance paid off when an internet search brought up a house in the Northern Beaches area where Jennifer was born. “When I walked in, I just fell in love with the house, but I wouldn’t even go upstairs as I thought it would break my heart; I thought we wouldn’t get it,” she says. Luckily, fate was on their side and when a higher offer fell through, the house was theirs.
It was while the couple waited for the house settlement to go through that Whiteport evolved. “We were in a tiny apartment, all of our furniture was in storage, Scout wasn’t with us and we were feeling really down,” says Jennifer. Not ones to sit back and mope, the couple brainstormed business ideas on a sheet of paper. Jennifer, leaving the corporate world of investment banking behind her, saw a unfilled niche for beautiful white homewares available online. “I wanted to establish a classic range. I’m not into fads and having the latest look that can go out of season, so with that in mind it was easy to rule things out.”
The same aesthetic philosophy helped in decking out the house, which dates back to 1918 and was in desperate need of TLC. “The previous owners had a big family and the house hadn’t been a priority,” explains Jennifer. “We found toys buried in the garden for months.”
A major tidy-up and a lick of paint has made the house their own. “I think the house is grateful we bought it. We’ve really tried to look after it and return it to its former glory,” says Jennifer.
Modern and traditional investment pieces and eBay bargains all effortlessly combine to create a comfortable, relaxed home. It is this classic white look that has also made Whiteport a success. “Decorating with white just makes sense,” says Jennifer. With a baby on the way and plans to turn the business into “a leading Australian lifestyle brand”, it seems that decorating isn’t the only thing that makes sense in Jennifer’s world.
Photo by Craig Wall Jul 30, 2012
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