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Design life… with LeeAnn Yare

People will be most familiar with LeeAnn’s colourful work as stylist, lending her skills to home interior magazines both in New Zealand and overseas, as well as filling her retail store Collected with bright and beautiful modern homewares.

We spoke to LeeAnn about her incredible work ethic, colour trends for 2015 and how she keeps organised with so much on her plate.

You’ve created a powerhouse brand with your work as stylist, designer and store owner. How did you begin your foray into this world?

I have always been inspired by creative interiors, and loved nothing more as a child to decorate my room with as little as a stack of A4 sheets of paper and a packet of blue tack. 

My first break into the world of magazines was entering and winning a monthly Resene colour competition with Your Home & Garden magazine. Thanks to an encouraging editor I was offered my first opportunity to get my styling and writing work into print.

What do you love most about your work?

That I am able to combine my love of travel with my love of design, and being a mum. There is never a dull moment.

And what inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by everything around me, from nature, to people, to the cities I travel to and the things I see while I am away, along with magazines and books, and all that the internet has to offer.

You have an incredible work ethic. Was this something passed down from a family member or role model, or is it simply something you learnt along the way?

My parents have always worked extremely hard, and have always been a great example to both my brother and myself. They taught us about the value of money and how to work hard to achieve your goals.  

They also taught me that life is more about good management than good luck, and that you should seek to create opportunities rather than hoping they will just come along, all of which I have already started to teach my own children. 

I assume you’d have to be very organised to juggle a family and a busy career. Any stylist tips for keeping organised?

I love the current trend of home organisation. I have a huge list of things to tick off for 2015 starting with my wardrobe, and the kids’ wardrobes, and then I will move onto the linen cupboard, and the kitchen will follow. I am trying to put aside my stylist “that-might-be useful-for-something” attitude and be more deliberate when it comes to moving things on. 

We have a monthly blackboard in our kitchen, which we use to keep track of things, and review each week at the start.  Our boys are busy creatures and it’s important to keep track of where they need to be when. Running them around is almost a full time job in itself! 

Most recently we signed up for My Food Bag, which has been fantastic. Anything that gets Glen (my husband) enjoying time in the kitchen is a winner in my book.

Speaking of trends, what popular colour choices will we be seeing in 2015?

I am not really a trend follower, but we have seen a shift towards big bold bright hues over the past couple of years. And while there will always be a place for that punch of colour I think this year will trend towards more muddy and softer hues, with plenty of sophisticated metallic thrown in.  

Black and white is also strong, but any monochromatic or neutral palettes have to be executed extremely well, through layers and layers of shapes and texture. By not being super strict, this look can stray into many other variations of colour, and looks even better if you dare.

What is your advice to prospective business owners in New Zealand?

Find your own style. Create something that is original, authentic, and that you believe in, and then do it and do it well.  Create your own point of difference, stand out, and work to your strengths.

And what’s next for you?

This year I have taken on the challenge of producing a charity cookbook as a fundraiser for Balmoral School, the school our sons attend. 

I have a small but awesome team of volunteers and we have a fantastic school community, so hopefully my experience with my own two books – New Zealand Interior Style and Rooms to Love – will mean we produce a beautifully curated, styled and written book that can sit on the shelves at Collected, alongside all the other amazing foodie books we sell. Watch this space! 

Surf, design, travel – these are the things that gets Leigh out of bed every morning (those, and a piping hot cup of milky tea). She holds qualifications in both fashion design and communications, and has written a bunch of fashion, beauty, food, travel and design stories.

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