Welcome to The Makers. Each month, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans, and crafters of all stripes, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces to find out exactly how the magic happens. For our first instalment, we headed over to the Wheeler Heights home of Danielle Dean, multi-skilled creative, stylist, designer and founder of The Ware. The spacious family abode (which Dani shares husband James and beautiful kiddos Dallas and Smith) is decked out with chic-but-kid-friendly pieces, ever-evolving greenery and an eclectic mix of art. Keep reading for our Q&A.
It’s difficult to explain what Dani Dean does for work. She is a creative (and a naturally gifted one at that), but that descriptor alone doesn’t do her justice. Dean specialises in everything from interior styling and set design to ideating and executing weddings and brand events through her business The Make Haus. (FYI, she has a particular talent for crafting floral wizardry that’s unlike anything you’ve seen.) Dean’s skill for both conceiving original concepts (more rare than you might think) and bringing them to life is something to behold. She would shy away from acknowledging this, but she is a master of many trades. (In fact, this writer first met Dean in her former life as a visual merchandiser and she was tops at that too.) Recently Dean branched out to set up The Ware, a blank canvas intended to service other businesses in need of office space, photoshoot facilities and an inspiring atmosphere. We sat down together to chat about what “making” means to her, the pieces she loves most in her home, and the importance of sleep when you have a baby.
Bed Threads: Hi Dani! This series is called “The Makers”, what is it you make?
Dani Dean: I make a lot of things. (I named my business The Make Haus in reference to this!) I’m not always a maker of tangible items, sometimes I make spaces come to life or transform ideas into a reality. Other times I craft floral installations and props for brand activations and interiors.
BT: How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
DD: Without it, my life would not be full. I am, and always have been, good with my hands and with creating things from scratch. I like the challenge of producing something from nothing. My friends laugh when I move items around my home to make the space feel new. It’s a knack and I’m fortunate it falls under the category “work” for me since I enjoy it so much.
BT: How would you describe what you do for a living?
DD: I explain The Make Haus as a creative studio servicing the A to Z of the visual. From florals, interiors, styling, curating props, curating art—it might seem varied to some but it all runs through our studio. In a nutshell, my team and I execute on people’s ideas, turning their thoughts and ideas into a real something.
BT: What’s something we don’t know about you?
DD: I have two little boys named Dallas and Smith. They generally stay out of the limelight (and off my business socials) so it’s surprising to some clients when they realise I have little kiddies.
BT: Now the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
DD: We have lived here for three years.
BT: How did you initially know this was the space for you?
DD: The home was my grandma’s and she had lived there for two decades before it went up for sale. It was a place I spent most of my weekends growing up and as a teenager. I had reimagined the house in so many ways over the years, as her interior was very different from my aesthetic. I love that I’ve been able to take on the house and grow in it—it’s sentimental.
BT: Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
DD: We were lucky in that the floorplan was already great. We have only knocked down one internal arch to open up living areas, painted the floors and walls and updated all the lighting fixtures. My husband excavated our gardens and we have invested in the outdoor space. We are both big plant lovers and have tried to create in a front and back garden that is great for the boys to play in.
BT: How would you describe your home in a sentence?
BB: Casual, lived-in and styled with a mix of pieces that we love.
BT: How does your home reflect you as a person?
DD: Our home is a work in progress. It’s not perfect as there are areas we often talk about changing. However, as we grow as a family, the home has become a reflection of this. We are all about the kids at the moment and our home styling decisions are made with them in mind. I’m looking forward to a time in our lives when we can completely renovate and invest in some statement pieces that will last a lifetime. (Not get immediately grubby as a result of little hands!)
BT: What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
DD: We painted the floors and walls white as a neutral base so I could inject bolder elements into the space. This works because I often change the styling to suit my moods and the trends I’m into. As a stylist, I come across many interesting items in weird and wonderful places—I am always bringing different things home. For now, I’m keeping the vibe loose, casual and eclectic as the house can feel chaotic with our busy lives.
BT: What are your favourite pieces in your home?
DD: I love our timber bedhead. It just makes me happy. It’s simple, honest and homemade. We have two vintage timber slingback chairs in our lounge room which we both love. They are effortless and evoke a retro feeling. Our dining table is another significant piece. It seats eight and is great to entertain around whilst also grounding the space.
BT: Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
DD: Just after the shoot we invested in a big beautiful lounge and marble coffee table.
BT: Which is your favourite room in the house?
DD: I love our master bedroom as it gets the best sun.
BT: Tell us about your bedroom, what do you do in there aside from, um, the obvious?
DD: Our bedroom is a place I try to keep quite styled—I love having a well-made bed. It’s my ritual to make it daily, much to the confusion of James as he reasons it will only get messed up…again. It’s also home to our newest little boy Smith, so we are all quite cosy there. The room is not huge but it’s our place of rest. We have a huge wall of brass mirror sliders that hold all our belongings and a beautiful armchair (which often becomes the laundry pile). I hope one day James and I can have a room that is a parents retreat, with a TV so we can really unwind and escape.
BT: What does getting a good night’s sleep mean to you?
DD: Currently I’m working on minimal sleep—sleep has never been so important to me. But I’ve accepted the fact I will be without a full night’s sleep for a few more years and that’s okay.
BT: What is your favourite local hotspot?
BT: Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
DD: I am continuing to finish styling The Parlour Room in Clovelly, and have started on the planning for the next Sephora press day (always a big one in our calendar). We have events and projects which are opening and closing weekly at The Make Haus. It’s always changing and always evolving. I love the pace.
BT: Tell us about The Ware—what was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the space?
DD: I wanted to relocate The Make Haus out of my home studio and into a standalone space, however, wanting to be there alone we came up with The Ware. It’s a space that can host a collective of businesses with a similar requirement for extra perks and lots of room. At any one time, I can need a lot of space to prep for a job, build objects, host events and workshops or shoot, so it was a natural step to build somewhere to house all of that under one roof. The Ware’s interior is clean and industrial with white walls, glossy concrete floors and our putty-coloured branding on doors and in different nooks. I wanted to move away from the typical Northern Beaches coastal aesthetic and went with something more unique and European-inspired. It’s a versatile space that can be manipulated into many things, and that’s the beauty of it.