Conversations + Colour: Nicki Nelius
If you meet Nicole Nelius in real life - you'll recognise her warmth, enthusiasm and joy for life in an instant. And of course her inherent creativity. She's a bundle of energy - who has continued pushing ahead in her career, from stylist assistant to stylist, to artist. It's a joy to watch.
With a background in gymnastics (honestly, this woman can mooooove!), Canadian born Nicki is ridiculously talented and clever and has a wonderful way with colour. Plus she's just insanely cool too. Mum of two little boys, wife to one, inspiration to many - we got to spend some time with Nicki to learn what makes her tick.
Nicki! Tell us what we should know about you: I am a Canadian, living in Sydney with my husband Chris – filmmaker & co-founder of global wildlife fund The Lion’s Share and our two boys Remy, 6 and August 2. I’m a painter and a stylist (mostly interior and still life).
How would you describe your style? My style is very comfortable, usually colourful and a little bit kooky. I’ve always found fashion inspiration from how little kids dress – aim for comfort, to feel special and not be afraid of an unconventional mix and match.
What’s your favourite piece in your wardrobe and why? I pretty much live in vintage t-shirts (some I’ve had since high school) and my favourite pair of Levis. I do end up spending most of my time at home in paint stained smocks though.
Can you tell us about your career? I started out as an assistant to many of Sydney’s top interior stylists and then forged my way as a stylist myself. I had a blog for a long time where I would often shoot beautiful homes and my own still life set-ups. I started painting my still life compositions one day and haven’t put my paintbrushes down since. It’s been a really unexpected, but organic journey into painting. I also sell limited edition prints of some of my still life arrangements. All of my creative endeavours intertwine quite naturally.
How do you get inspired? From getting out of my routine - going to a gallery, going for a walk, trying something new. I’m a homebody however and I can find different light dancing on the walls inspiring some days.
Do you listen to music when you’re painting? Yes, always! Lately it’s been Paul Simon, The Beatles or Fleetwood Mac. I had a moment where I was listening to a lot of female French folk singers from the 70s too.
Does your style at home differ from your personal style? Not really! My home is eclectic, lived-in and full of colour. It’s decorated with objects from my childhood, second-hand treasures, art and anchored with some contemporary furniture pieces.
Any tips for setting a memorable table? I feel like you can’t go wrong ever with bringing a bit of the outside in. Flowers - I usually just forage from around my neighbourhood.
What’s your favourite day of the week and why? I think I like Sundays the best. We usually take it pretty slow and watch a movie as a family before dinner or enjoy some prosecco and a game or three of Bananagrams.
When you’re adding a new something-something to your home - what do you look for? My favourite additions for my home are usually treasures found at the thrift store or more art for my walls. I look for things that are unique and spark joy, but not in a Marie Kondo way. Not everything I own needs to have a purpose. I actually love objects and art that are created ‘just because’.
It’s been a tough two years. What’s been a highlight for you? Oh man, it has been rough. The highlight for me was focusing on my family and my art without missing everyone in Canada too much. It was this strange blessing in disguise that we couldn’t travel for a while as it completely eliminated that constant distraction of planning trips and missing people. I mean, it was excruciating in its own way too, but I did feel like I had permission to just be more present here. The part I would rather forget are the four months of homeschooling my kindergartener.
Who do you love following on Instagram? So many great accounts to follow! I love @annapihan for a bit of travel escapism through her unique eye, @lisa.sorgini – her work is really beautiful and moving & @designlovefest – she’s great at sharing beautiful imagery and is really open with her creative journey and personal narrative.
Favourite LIttle Tienda piece? I spend the entire winter in my Ruth knit in Lilac. I love, love, love it. My Day Trip jumpsuit is my new favourite – I wore it barefoot at home all day and then just added fancy shoes for dinner out and felt like a new woman. I love that Little Tienda pieces can be totally casual or dressed-up.
What’s next for Nicki Nelius? I have a duet show coming up at Fenton & Fenton end of May and will have a mini show of my work at Michael Reid Northern Beaches in July. With lots of fun little styling gigs in between. I will be putting out some new photographic print images very soon too!