VIP mum Tara Dennis

Interior expert and mum to 16-year-old Avalon and baby Harry, Tara became a mother when she was just 22.

Today the Australian beauty is a one-woman enterprise.

She works hard presenting her popular interior design segments on Better Homes and Gardens, running her informative website (www.taradennis.com.au) and publishing books. We caught up with the busy mum/businesswoman between television shoots and giggly chats with her daughter (and only months before baby Harry conceieved!)

What is it that you love most about being a mum?

The friendship - my daughter Avalon is my best girlfriend we have an amazingly close relationship.

You have a very busy schedule. Between long shoots with Better Homes and Gardens, a new book out called Home, personally updating your website and participating in countless workshops and exhibitions, how well do you juggle your work/life balance?

It's always a struggle with time but fortunately I have an incredible partner and my daughter is amazing - they are both so supportive and keep the wheels turning when I'm really busy or out of town. Among their many talents they can each cook fabulous meals and will clean and keep the washing under control if needed! It really helps. My partner also helps me run the business which is keeping us very busy at the moment but we are so passionate about it that it all works.

There must be times you have to spend away from your daughter Avalon for work, how do you manage this time away and do you think she would prefer you spent more time with her?

Since she was two I have worked in roles which have involved travel so although she doesn't like it when I'm away, she copes really well. I used to get the guilts, but I do think she is a stronger person as a result of my work. She has been able to experience so many wonderful things and really respects what I do. I think it has given her a great start in life.

Your daughter is now 15 years old. How has parenting changed for you over the years. What new challenges do teenage children present.

I was lucky enough to have had Avalon when I was only 22 so I guess I feel I have grown up with her. Being a fairly young Mum, I feel I'm in touch with her and love the fact we have always been more like friends than Mother and daughter. Of course every age has had its challenges but her becoming a teenager hasn't been as bad as I thought. I just always try to treat her like my equal and guide rather than dictate.

As an interior designer your home must be a beautiful haven. Every mum knows keeping a home looking good is a challenge when you live with children. How have you managed it over the years?

Well I have only one child so I don't face what other Mums have to when the house gets trashed by the kids on a daily basis! I try to be organized and have systems so the house runs smoothly but ultimately it is our home and we have to be comfortable there. I'm not into ‘show home' living, I like it to be clean but don't mind a bit of mess too.

Who does most of the domestic chores at home? Is your partner ‘hands-on' around the house?

Yes, we all are, it's shared around!

What chore do you simply despise?

Ironing!

Life with children can be fairly chaotic, how do you and your partner keep the romance alive?

We work together in our business and spend a lot of time with each other - we rarely ever argue but just enjoy each other's company so much - we are really happy.

What has been your greatest personal sacrifice since becoming a mum? How has motherhood changed you?

I used to travel a lot for pleasure, but becoming a Mum changes your priorities, you become less selfish and I think a better person as a result.

How often do you take time out for yourself?

Rarely - but that's not from becoming a Mum - it's because I'm married to my work!

What's your top tip?

To add personality to the dullest room, new season fabrics and accessories are bright and full of colour. Expect to see lots of pattern this year as well as fun ‘fifties' polka dots. Stripes are still big, and speaking of big, oversized florals are a huge! This season my favourite colours are clean, soft and fresh. Watery blues and sea greens are wonderful for creating a calm, relaxed room with a coastal feel. For texture, add a few natural fibred accessories like a sisal rug, wicker chair, as well as baskets for storage. And because Spring evenings can still be cool, cosy up your sofa with an ivory coloured knitted throw rug as well as cushions in natural colours and soft fabrics like cotton, silk and linen.

Can you tell us about the last time you had a big belly laugh with Avalon?

We laugh together all the time - more like giggly girls though!

If there was something you would change if you had your time over - what would it be?

Nothing, I have no regrets, I am who I am as a result of my past.

If you had just one wish (no matter how fanciful) to change something in Australia to better support being a 21st century parent, what would that be?

I would start an awareness campaign for the two most important things I think our society in general is lacking - respect and morals. I think we need to all learn, or be reminded to respect ourselves, each other and our world just a little more. It will surely be a happier place to be as a result.

Check out Tara's website at www.taradennis.com.au Her book,
Home, is available from all good bookstores or through her website
 
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