“Home should be a sanctuary, a place to recalibrate your mind and soul every day,” says Melinda Aldridge, founder of Grounded Living.
Mel’s sanctuary is the beautiful Byron Bay area of northern NSW. The region’s freedom, peace and simplicity is what she wants everyone to enjoy.
“I want to be surrounded by beauty every day,” she says, and that includes how we style our homes and what we mentally buy into everyday. “I want it to mean something. What we surround ourselves with should blend together and compliment each other.”
Taking inspiration from the colours of the Byron Shire — a sunrise bringing first light to Cape Byron; a sunset darkening Mt Warning; the beauty and violence of a storm off Broken Head; the muted olive reeds in Bangalow Weir; the red clay soil trodden down by her own brown suede boots — Mel connects those elements with what connects us: the ocean, the land, the coast, and the hills.
Grounded Living is all about connectedness and, importantly for Mel, how we connect with our homes. “There is a special feeling, a timeless, ancient quality, you experience when your feet touch a natural flooring. That’s why there are no man-made fibres in Grounded Living products; everything is naturally derived fibre – what your feet come in contact with – what you connect with – is all natural,” she says, “Sole for soul I believe”.
To ensure that level of quality and connectedness, Mel personally travels to India to work side-by-side with her production team and loom weavers; selecting the wools and dyes that will best encapsulate the Australian landscape and lifestyle – the final step in a creative process that has taken a lifetime to nurture.
The result is simplicity – a sense of space and timelessness; it is the ocean, it is a walk in nature, it is the feeling of being at home – and Grounded.
Melinda Aldridge is all about colour and texture. Born in the dense green rainforests of Tasmania and growing up surrounded by the harsh browns of her grandfather’s cattle station in Tenterfield and the rich vibrancy of her mother’s property in the Hunter Valley, Mel could only ever be influenced by the Australian landscape.
When she speaks now, she speaks of the colours and textures of her childhood and of those seen from a life living and travelling throughout Australia: the red dust of Weipa, the kaleidoscope of Sydney, the violent greys of Bass Strait, and now, the coastal palette of Byron Bay and its surrounding hinterland.
Mel seamlessly blends her love of colour and texture with her three most-valued life commodities: Time, Space, and Simplicity. The result is a delicate interaction that will enhance any living environment.
“Design should support those three commodities. It’s about functional living that brings together family and friends, whether it’s by the sea or anywhere in our country’s vast and varied interior,” she says.
“I’ve launched Grounded Living because I love living in this country and expressing that in our interiors” she says.
“So many people throughout Australia know and love Byron Bay for its lifestyle and its stunning beauty. It’s such a creative area and the perfect environment to reflect on the Australian landscape and design a range of interior products.”
Mel can be found most mornings walking with her ‘best friend of 11 years’ Bronte – a “vintage” Groodle – feeling the sand beneath her feet and taking in the horizon from Belongil Beach or breathing the fresh mountain air in the bush behind Bangalow.
But while Mel’s inspiration comes from the surrounding area and her own experiences, she also draws inspiration from each client, their existing furnishings and colour palette. For Mel, connecting with each customer is of fundamental importance, it is why she prefers to deal with clients direct – the end destination and “home” for her textiles.
“The home should embrace creativity and passion. It’s all about how you like to live your life, your personal style. It’s amazing what a slight change in colour or texture can do to help someone find that,” she says.
And that’s Mel: passionate, connected, grounded.