#InBedWith: Female Form Founder Madeleine Chard
Colour Reigns Supreme in Madeleine Chard’s Avalon Home.
In partnership with The Sheet Society.
Welcome to our brand spanking new series, In Bed With, made in collaboration with our pals at The Sheet Society. On the surface it might just look like a really cool apartment series featuring really cool people, but in reality it’s so much more than that. In Bed With is an excuse to live out our most thrilling voyeuristic dreams (and, let’s be real, yours too): snooping around the homes of people with exquisite taste, becoming a fly on the wall to their shopping habits and interior styling choices. In today’s edition, we visit the happy household of Female Form founder and mum-of-two, Madeleine Chard…
Madeleine Chard’s gusto for life is palpable. She is the human embodiment of her sunny home, where colour, laughter and happiness reign supreme.
After touring around her Avalon home—which she shares with her partner Jake and two kids, Olive (5) and Dot (15 months)—we picked her brain on everything from the correlation between her decorating choices and personal style, to the series of career curveballs thrown her way during her 20s. Whereas her career trajectory is proof that life can’t—and shouldn’t—always be planned, her approach to interior style is as meticulous and considered as her home appears eclectic and fun. (Very!).
If you do one nice thing for yourself today, it should be scrolling the above gallery where you’ll find, among other things, joy-inducing snaps of Madeleine in bed with her babies and a strong case for living in a plush multi-coloured bathrobe. Then, get to know her better below…
Name: Madeleine Chard
Location: Avalon Beach, Sydney NSW, Australia
Star sign: Leo
Bedding: Butter Tie-Dye (Approved by Olive and Dot of course)
Hi Madeleine! Can we have your elevator pitch?
How much time do you have? Are we stuck in this elevator? [Laughs]. OK, this is the “short” version: I am a mum to two girls Olive and Dot. I own an organic cotton maternity and underwear label, Female Form, and also do some creative consultancy work with my partner Jake on the side.
And the long version: Quite randomly, I was a professional dancer back in the day before dislocating my knee dancing in a weird show in France—it resulted in a knee reconstruction, which in turn ruined my entire life plan. After months of self-pity, I had no choice but to pick myself up and switch careers; I needed to find my plan B. I loved writing and creating things, so I ended up studying Communications and Media. I then did an interior design course, which I dropped out of as I just wasn’t inspired. (I decided I didn’t want to design homes to other people’s tastes, I only really enjoyed designing and decorating for myself).
Combining both these interests, I went on to be the Marketing/PR Manager for a high-end furniture company for five years which I loved. Once I became a mum, things were a little tricky, especially after separating with Olive’s dad when she was just over 1…again, entire life plan ruined. It was during this time that I re-evaluated everything and decided that I needed to be my own boss. My time as a single mum was really difficult and isolating, and I realised that the glorified image of motherhood was very unrealistic and outdated. This is what drove me to create Female Form, which I launched just before having my second daughter. (Not the most ideal timing). Nowadays I’m very much juggling 50 different hats, but hey, I’ve always been a hat person! I see now that my entire life plan was never really ruined, because that’s the thing about life—you can’t really plan it.
Where does your mind go when you hear the word ‘home’?
Laughter, mess, colour, treasures, my pink bath, frangipani trees, Jake cooking yummy food in the kitchen for us, washing on the line (always), incense in the air, music blasting, animals everywhere, our pink bath, time in the garden, collecting eggs, all the things I love… My happy place.
How would you describe your home in five words?
Colourful, considered, happy, eclectic and chaotic.
What kinds of things do you think about when you’re decorating?
I don’t really think, I guess it’s more of a feeling I get. It’s like that saying, “You know when you know”. When I see something I love, I LOVE it and just know I need it in my life. I don’t tend to follow trends, I simply put things in my home that speak to my soul.
Is there any correlation between your personal style and your approach to decorating? Elaborate!
100000% yes. I am essentially a real-life walking, talking version of my home.
All my personal interests stem from a place of creativity, integrity and authenticity, whether that’s in my wardrobe, home, lifestyle or whatever creative scenario I can immerse myself in. I have a down-to-earth yet meticulous aesthetic and approach to style. I like to think of myself as a modern-day hunter and gatherer, filtering through the noise, searching only for the things that speak directly to me, then bringing them to life in whatever shape or form I see fit.
What is your most treasured possession and why?
Definitely my vintage Featherstone Numero sofa. I bought it from an op-shop for next to nothing (I even got the price down as it had a small mark on it—lol) and had no idea what it was at the time, as I had never seen something like it before. I just fell in love with it straight away. My friend who I was shopping with at the time laughed at it and thought I was weird—not an uncommon reaction to my style, to be fair. Despite this, I knew I needed it in my life! I begged my little brother to come and collect it in his van and after some convincing he agreed. (Liam, if you’re reading this, thanks). The fabric is now worn from all the love it’s received since I bought it, and my friends recently all put in for me to get it recovered for my 30th birthday—they know me too well.
What’s the best thing about your neighbourhood?
Avalon is a small, mostly quiet town with a great sense of community. It’s the kind of place where a quick trip to the local supermarket is practically impossible as you are bound to bump into someone you know. This is something I love (and sometimes secretly hate) about it.
Where is your favourite spot in your home to chill, and why?
It would have to be our bed. We up sized to a king after having Dot and will never look back. It’s just so comfy and can fit all of us in it. Our bedroom has large windows overlooking the gardens that my mum planted and it’s just the perfect spot to read stories with the kids or watch movies on lazy Sunday afternoons.
Best place online/IRL to score a bargain?
Op-shops! The side of the road, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace (I have had both great and not-so-great experiences on here—let’s just say I am now the not very proud owner of a questionable purple shag pile rug that smells funny). There are also some great Instagram pages like @curatedspaces and @homebody_______. I try to shop second hand and sustainably as much as possible, however I think it’s all about having a healthy balance and mixing old with new. I must admit I don’t hate a good IKEA trip – it may have something to do with the meatballs, though.
What are your hot tips for styling a bedroom?
Invest in good quality key items like your bed and chest of drawers and play around with fun and colour with the smaller, more interchangeable pieces like pillows and rugs. Keeping your bedroom simple is important—you don’t want to feel as if you are surrounded by clutter when you are trying to relax and sleep. Good storage is key in helping to achieve this. A full-length mirror is always a plus for when you are doing those impromptu at-home fashion shows or trying on 40 different outfits prior to leaving the house. Also, some nice artwork to inspire your dreams along with somewhere to display special items you use daily like perfume and jewellery. No one wants harsh lighting in their bedroom, so soften the space and set the mood with a pair of statement bed side lamps. They are great for adding some extra personality as well as practicality. Oh, and a textured rug—think extra cosy vibes!
Lastly, your bed is usually the focal point of the space, so it’s good to invest in some high-quality bedding that shows off your personality.
On the Marie Kondo to hoarder spectrum, where do you sit?
Let’s be honest, I am a former hoarder in remission. I love (read: have an addiction to) collecting unique furniture, objects and clothes…I love it so much, I find it hard to stop. Living with less and buying wisely and consciously are things I have to constantly work on. I found we were over-consuming, despite buying predominantly second-hand, and have been trying really hard to decrease this and only invest in things we truly need that “spark joy”. Having lots of ‘stuff’ makes your life cluttered, both physically and mentally, and I have found that since we started cutting back and decluttering that I’m feeling a lot lighter! Word of warning: Do not let me loose in a thrift store with a credit card.
Best Sunday morning read?
I can’t say that this is a regular occurrence anymore with kids, however if the rare occasion pops up it would have to be a vintage interiors book—I am all about the pictures!
Where do you find most of your decorating inspo?
I love mid-century modern architecture and find inspo in old interiors books, Pinterest, and Instagram pages like @okolo_architecture and @slow_roads. However, a lot of inspiration comes from the actual pieces that I find themselves, which then spirals into an entire rearrangement of the house.
What are your morning and nighttime rituals?
My morning ritual is to attempt to sleep-in for as long as possible until my two human alarm clocks go off. (This has the added feature of small children jumping on my head). My nighttime ritual is literally the opposite to this. I attempt to stay awake as late as my eyelids physically allow so I can squeeze in some work and ‘me time’ while the kids are asleep. If I’m lucky it involves chocolate and a trashy reality TV show.
What is the best piece of decorating wisdom you’ve ever received?
Only fill your home with the things you love.
Words: Madeleine Woon
Imagery: Belle Coutts