Tour the Bohemian Home of Vintage Curator Yvonne Starr
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, vintage enthusiast and Ukitu founder Yvonne Starr welcomes us into her home.
When it comes to sourcing second-hand homewares, Yvonne Starr has an exceptional eye. After running out of space in her own home, Yvonne launched her thoughtfully curated vintage furniture business, Ukitu, as a means to share her pre-loved passion with other interior enthusiasts.
Meaning “touched” in Basque, Ukitu sells everything from fossil stone consoles to antique ceramic urns in limited drops on Instagram. Her loyal community excitedly awaits each and every specially curated drop, which almost always sells out within seconds of her posting.
Still, if you thought her feed was envy-inducing, wait until you see her home. Set to an earthy palette of beige, tan, and natural wood, there’s a beautiful consistency and flow throughout the space. A lover of texture, Yvonne weaves spectacular second-hand cane and rattan pieces together with contemporary artwork and unique sculptural vases to create a modern-Mediterranean-meets-bohemian aesthetic.
With stunning dried floral arrangements sprouting from terracotta vessels and ceramic spheres, Yvonne’s perfectly curated abode is warm, welcoming, and oozing with character.
Hi Yvonne! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
Hello! Well, I’m less a maker and more a curator. I source, restore, and breathe new life into pre-loved furniture and wares.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
In the context of my business, I love to make and create stories through my styled photos featuring the sourced product that is being sold. I think it relates to my personality as sourcing, shopping and styling are my favourite things to do—in every aspect of my life. It comes very naturally to me and I don’t have to ‘push’ these traits, so when I use them through Ukitu, it’s very authentic. And that’s shown to have paid off because the response to my styled shoots and pictures is great.
What made you begin to collect (and now sell) vintage furniture and wares?
I was uninspired by the conventional homewares and furniture on the market, so I started sourcing second-hand for our own home and found that they were much more special and unique. I would continue to source and swap things around my home and then began to run out of space, hence Ukitu being born! It became a platform for me to be able to showcase the pieces I was finding, and a hobby of mine very quickly developed into a career.
Have you always had a sharp eye for interiors?
Yes! My background is European, and I think being so I cannot help but be drawn to interiors and design. My mum is very similar to me in that way and I guess I have her to thank for my love and passion for interiors. I remember even as a little girl I would rearrange my bedroom at least once a week and would take mum’s beautiful homewares and “style” them in my room. I haven’t changed one bit!
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I used to produce weekly timed drops as I found it worked for us and our customers, but with baby #2 on his way, we’ve slowed down the pace and are doing especially limited drops. Now, when we source near and far for pieces, we have a certain look we shop, and most of the time the piece needs some serious TLC, which is my husband’s domain. He’s a perfectionist, and I couldn’t run Ukitu without him. Once the piece is the best it can be for being vintage, we wait for the perfect light and shoot at our studio/home. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes for second-hand selling but it’s the best feeling once it’s all photographed and ready for sale in the next drop!
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
Consistency. In every aspect of Ukitu, I strive to be consistent—with selling, the quality, the look, the customer service and everything else in between. I feel I know my customer base very well and they know me, so they know what to expect and trust what I’m doing and selling.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
It has definitely been learning the art of balance. My husband also owns and runs his own business on top of helping me, which is huge! Also running a household and being a mum—it’s hectic and busy but we’ve learned how to manage it all…Kind of. Ha!
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
The best thing is definitely being able to connect with so many people on Instagram, our customers! It has allowed me to meet some of the loveliest people. I’ve had a few fan girl moments chatting and meeting some of the women I’ve followed and been inspired by for years, so connecting with them has been so rewarding.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/ someone looking to start their own business?
Take the leap of faith! And don’t overthink your idea, once you start simmering on the idea it can spoil it—you just have to jump in the deep end and go for it.
I was so nervous to put myself and my heart out there on social media, but I did it and I can’t imagine my life without Ukitu.
Shop Yvonne's look with the Rachel Saunders Woman Vase in Terracotta.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
We have lived in our little home for three years.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
I didn’t actually see it before we bought it—my husband saw it and jumped on it!
I don’t think I knew what we wanted, just a home we could entertain in and start our family in.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
Just a fresh lick of paint and new floors. We went for soft terrazzo floor tile in the living and kitchen space and cream carpet for the bedrooms. It was a fairly new unit block so we were lucky it didn’t need a lot of work. I’m saving all the big design ideas for our forever house!
Shop Yvonne's look with the Objet Aimee Coquille Vase.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
It had to be light, non-cluttered and full of personality and design. Being an apartment, you have to work with the space you’re given and you don’t have a lot of creative freedom when it comes to the structure. So, we worked with what we had—light walls and floors dressed with quality and preloved wares and furniture. I think it’s important to spend money on some pieces, but not everything needed to be “designer”, so we have filled in the gaps with handmade or vintage pieces.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
My current favourites are my LRNCE lamp which I adore and my wave cane lounger I sourced second hand. They—along with a lot of other pieces I own—are so unique, and I love how they double as pieces of art as well as being practical. My followers know I’m all about that!
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I would love to be able to source some vintage beige Casala chairs for outside. We have a beautiful second-hand teak dining table that has a matching bench, but I think it needs that extra touch. They are next on my list!
Which is your favourite room in the house?
It would have to be the living space. It oozes with my favourite neutral and warm tones, a lot of texture, sculptural pieces and raw material, and is the best place to sit back and enjoy a cuppa! I feel inspired and relaxed at the same time.
Tell us about your bedroom.
Like the living space, I have kept the flow and the ‘ingredients’ the same and continued it in every room of our home. My clever husband built the bed frame and sideboard which is covered in linen, and mostly everything else is sourced second hand, which I’m so proud to say! It will be a temporary nursery soon so it’s very simple and cozy at the same time.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
My biggest tip would have to be to stick to your palette and theme throughout your home. Continuing the same textures and colours makes the entire space feel connected and effortlessly thought-through.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I think my biggest project will be advancing from a mother of one, to two!
My babies will be my main priority, but I would love to be able to grow Ukitu more and be able to specially source for clients. That’s a dream I endeavour to make a reality in due time!
Loved this home tour? Inside the Annandale Home of Florist and Plant Whisperer Sophia Kaplan