The Art of Life and Love

by @helenflanagan on Sunday, 17 Dec,2017

When the renovation show came to an end in 2003, Gavin Atkins and Warren Sonin, the first same-sex couple to appear on Australian reality television, seized the opportunity to capitalise on their popularity and interior design talent. Designer Boys was created and it was on a winning streak as soon as the show wrapped.

But after renovating a penthouse with Sydney Harbour views and styling more than 750 properties in less than three years, they decided to get off the treadmill and into a 4WD. Eventually, the thought of going around Australia with their Jack Russell, Charlie, like grey nomads was frightening; outback adventures were curtailed and they listened to their hearts. The next leap of faith was a 120-yearold, 24-hectare farm with Barry the Brahman bull and 30 Murray Grey cows and calves in the Byron Bay hinterland. “Over eight years we built our dream house but became prisoners to the land,” Gav says who insisted they hadn't been completely bushwhacked.

Asara Foliage Artwork

Their interior design business continued at high speed with scores of projects on the Gold Coast, Noosa and Byron Bay, while creativity had been ramped up with a new line of artwork. Their Byron Bay and Sydney properties sold swiftly and images of an African lodge-style home built by a Zimbabwean on a 4-hectare site at the base of Mount Cooroy seemed like a "message from the universe".

“As soon as we walked through the door it was a total OMG moment,” Gav and Waz both chimed. “After feeling like gypsies for so long we'd finally found the green, green grass of home. It was serendipitous.

“The property has soaring raked ceilings, is luxe yet classical. You can hear the waterfall and flowing streams in the adjoining conservation park and all our friends and family say everything is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.”

Coastal Rhythm artwork from the Clovelly Abstract Collection

Designer Boys Collections, which is available only through interior designers and is not mass-produced, also moved to Noosa in January, however space is already over-stretched. Gav and Waz are excited by the early 2018 launch of a 550-page catalogue, the largest collection in the decorative arts industry, all hand produced and framed in their Australian studio.

Collaborations range from working with talented artists globally and include Museums Victoria and historical plant species from the Herbarium at the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne.

Ornate Palm II from the St James Palm Collection

Every piece is made with heart, a sentiment also synonymous of the boys’ 18-year relationship. It was a freezing night in Times Square on 1 April when Warren orchestrated a magical proposal to then birthday-boy Gavin on ten, 17-story-high billboards that flashed photos of the pair before popping the big question on the big screen while thousands cheered!

With their shared passion and humble attitude, they concur “it’s all about living with no regrets. Just bring on marriage equality.”

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