There's a style revolution happening in Sydney's south, and Kathryn Whitwell is partly to thank for it. Located in Sutherland, Ur Place is a monochromatic homewares store that specialises in Australian-made goods. Whitwell started her own business doing interior styling while studying a Bachelor of Visual Arts.
“I found myself going to the eastern suburbs, the inner west, and doing a lot of online shopping,” says Whitwell. “There was pretty much nowhere in the Sutherland Shire where I could buy the brands I loved.” Whitwell’s store is unique in the area.
Whitwell stocks local brands such as Ahoy Trader (ceramic tiles and planter boxes handmade in Byron Bay); Zakkia (kitchen utensils); and Pony Rider (printed cushions and towels) as well as fair-trade and sustainable brands from around the world. Her goal is to teach consumers they don’t necessarily need colour in their home; they can instead style with textures.
“I really wanted to do a store based on neutral and monochrome homewares,” says Whitwell. “I’m not really a colour person. I’m not saying you shouldn’t put colour in your home, but it’s like having a little black dress – you need to get the basics right and then you can add to that. Monochrome is also more sustainable because it’s never going to go out of style.”
Whitwell (with her husband) undertook the massive task of revamping the former solicitor’s office. Underneath 30 years of multiple renovations she found several sheets of wallpaper and a layer of green carpet on the walls. Those layers of wallpaper were hand-steamed off, to reveal brick walls. All display furniture was designed and built from scratch. The black plywood flooring required five coats of paint, all hand-sanded in-between.
Whitwell has plans for another fit-out before Ur Place’s second birthday in October when she will begin stocking larger items such as lighting, furniture and rugs.
“I really want to be an end-to-end homewares store,” says Whitwell. “I’d love a big warehouse space eventually. But my business would definitely stay in the Sutherland Shire.”
2/728 Old Princes Highway, Sutherland
(02) 9521 2381
Mon to Fri 9am–5pm