Ritual Dialogues with Cindy Mead
Beautifully renovated, styled and all documented on @reno.diary, Casa Bella is an escapist fantasy coastal home in the heart of Brisbane. We spoke to Cindy Mead, the face behind the diary, to explore her inspirations and at home rituals. As the name suggests the effortless style at Casa Bella has been heavily influenced by travels to Italy. Dan and Cindy embrace this lifestyle at home, their fridge is full of Corvina and Chianti, and there is probably a load of Italian rustic bread baking in the oven right now.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. Please introduce yourself, who is Cindy Mead and where is she from?
Thank you for asking me to be part of your conversation series!
Cindy Mead is wife to Dan Mead, my high school sweetheart - we've been together since we were 16!
By day I am a Senior Human Resources Business Partner for one of the biggest recruitment companies in the world. And by night, and on weekends I spend almost every spare minute creating content for brands and sharing our renovation projects and DIY videos with our wonderful Instagram community. When I do have a few hours off a screen, I indulge in good food and wine and serious self care.
In addition to your day to day corporate job, you've been renovating your gorgeous home in Brisbane, who/what do you find influences your style and aesthetic?
From a styling point of view, we have drawn a lot of inspiration from our trips to Italy. We fell in love with the country back in 2012 and started to bring elements into our home ever since our first olive tree purchase in 2012! Fast forward to 2022 our home is full of travertine, bougainvillea, olive and lemon trees, terracotta pots, linen, locally purchased artwork from Positano and Italian coastal prints. From a design point of view, we have drawn a lot of inspiration from Three Birds Renovations and Mon Palmer and they have helped us to conceptualise some of our biggest projects.
You are still yet to renovate a few areas? How have you managed living in the home while you renovate? It must get messy!
We have managed... just! We have done this before, but on a much smaller scale, so going into our third project which is much bigger than anything we have tackled before, has been challenging to say the least. Some of the hardest parts have been the demolition dust (it's almost unbearable - it gets into everything and I have to clean min 3 times a day during projects), sharing our bathroom with sometimes up to 10+ tradesmen in a day, living without a kitchen for ten weeks, and the damage to our property by some tradespeople who don't treat your home with care, even when you have quite clearly completed several zones - to them, the whole house is a construction site.
Talk us through your creative process. What are your steps for designing and styling each room?
I think the good thing about living in a home while renovating and taking things slowly, is you get to really understand how things could be better designed so when it comes time to renovate that space we are armed with lots of ideas from the beginning. Before tackling a space, I will always go through my Pinterest boards that I've been building for years and watch videos on the Three Birds website to get some practical tips and further design inspiration. The most useful part of the process is when we stand in the space, visualising all the different things we could do, brainstorming together lots of ideas, sometimes negotiating or challenging each other, and then Dan puts pen to paper and draws our simple concepts by hand. We never use design software, or professional draftsmen with our projects, unless it involves a big structural change. So a lot of what we do is "winging it" and trusting our natural flair for design. Styling is the easy part, I can do that pretty quickly, it is my true passion.
Now that you are finally getting to enjoy the beautiful spaces you have created, what are some of your most treasured at home rituals?
We have some beautiful rituals in our new spaces, our favourites are Sunday "prawn sangers" and champagne by the pool, Friday evening baths with a bottle of wine after a long week, and as crazy as I might sound, I genuinely love my Saturday morning cleaning ritual, burning my candles, playing my day spa playlist and using my beautifully scented Domenica products to clean the beautiful spaces we have created. I have a lot of pride in our home and I think after all the hard work we have put in, it really is therapeutic spending time keeping it clean and beautiful.
Casa Bella is an entertainers paradise, tell us your go-to dishes and drinks when you are hosting?
We love to host and have a few recipes that our friends would say we are famous for! Together, we make a pretty delicious seafood barbeque, Dan makes a lamb shoulder slow cooked on the charcoal weber and my specialties are my Italian rustic bread and Italian gnocchi with burnt sage butter and pancetta. Our wine fridge is always full of French Champagne and Italian Corvina or Chianti so you can expect to have endless wine at our home, and as an Aperitif, I would typically make an Aperol or Limoncello Spritz!
Finally, olfaction (the sense of scent), is one of the most powerful drivers for memory. What is one of your favourite smells, tell us about the memory/memories it conjures for you?
My all time favourite scent is my holiday perfume, Tom Ford Soleil Blanc, I drown myself in the perfume and body oil every time I am on holidays, so whenever I wear it, the scent immediately takes me to a sunny, happy place.