Jessica Bragdon and Paul Davidson, the founders of Koala Eco, traded in the bustle of New York for their mid-century suburban home in Sydney.
Koala Eco co-founders, Jessica Bragdon and Paul Davidson, set their sights on their mid-century home five years ago. Leaving behind the exciting energy of the West Village, New York in 2007 (where they lived together after meeting in grad school), they, along with their two sons, Arthur(8) and Emerson (10), cat, fish and a dog, moved to Sydney. They chose a leafy and relaxed suburban dwelling in Edgecliff, which they now call home. “A 25-minute walk from the city, we live between two worlds—with the city on one side of us and Trumper Park on the other,” Davidson shares. With their abode located over three levels, the home looks out into the trees and is submerged among nature. “You can hear Kookaburras singing in the morning and hunting in the evening, it’s so amazing! We have the ideal juxtaposition,” Bragdon adds.
This juxtaposition is also played out in the couple’s work and home life. With so much time spent in the office running Koala Eco, coming home each evening is like opening the door to harmony. “Everything feels very tranquil and silent, it’s a lovely respite from being in the city all day,” Bragdon explains. “Coming from the sirens and police sailing through the streets in New York, I couldn’t sleep when we first came to Australia—it was so quiet—but I suppose that grew into the special element of the house, the Kookaburras, the parrots, the trees, the most magical experience,” she concludes.
As founders of a sustainable and ethical line of cleaning products, Koala Eco, Jessica & Paul started their business as they believe that cleaning should be a healthy experience for your home and family, not for it to be corrupted with or blitzed with toxins from cleaners. “Koala Eco products are formulated to sanitise kitchens, fight mould in bathrooms, and naturally degrease anything with antimicrobial properties as well as kill 99.9% of germs. I believe the ethos of home cleaning is changing. If you are cleaning your home, but filling it with harmful chemicals, is it really clean? All of our products are safe, non-toxic, and naturally derived. They are also beautifully fragranced but only by essential oils, and never synthetic perfume. Becoming parents, and then seeing the connection between our environment and our health I came to realise that cleaning our house by filling it with toxic chemicals found in most cleaners was not actually creating a clean and healthy home” Jessica explains.
It is taking this ethos alongside the natural environment that they are surrounded by that working sustainable practices in the home becomes an integral way of living for the family. “We have 2 composts: a rainwater tank, and a worm farm. We live in an urban area but Paul has planted a small garden with the boys and is growing herbs, tomatoes, lettuce and chilis and I love gardening but I focus on flowers… I make sure to plant bee friendly varieties and natives” she shares. “Australia has taught me personally to be better with water conservation. I think Australians understand fresh water as a vital resource for the survival of our population. Like all parents we want our children to have as healthy a future as possible. We want to instill mindfulness that actions have consequences, and just a few simple choices can end up making a difference – I’d like our sons to grow up as independent thinkers and become compassionate men” Jessica adds.
Taking the idyllic and serene surroundings as their inspiration, they have created a home that bodes well to nature but also complements and reflects the influence of their travels. From London and Buenos Aires, to Morocco and parts of Africa, their home has become a passport of memories that lends itself to the inspiration sparked by arts and culture. “I like having elements that we’ve collected from travelling,” says Davidson. “I’ve got Rhinoceros bookends from Africa that are beautiful, and we have rugs hanging that we got from Morocco. It’s nice to see things that take you back.”
In the same breath, Bragdon has formed her influence and inspiration in styling their home from her childhood roots—her mother was an artist. “I’ve always been inspired by lots of different artists, some George Eguchi and Kara Walker. I love her work as a multidisciplinary artist, she’s incredible. For me personally, it’s not necessarily the style but the movement that invokes curiosity—those are the pieces I’m drawn to,” she says. The expression of movement is a clear influence in the styling of the home as pieces of art are dotted throughout with a firm favourite being the work of Indigenous artist Pansy Hicks. One special piece reflects Hicks’s deceased ancestors moving across the land.
Aside from being animal obsessed, with further plans to expand the pets in the family, the couple also love to collect special elements that make up their home. “I collect surfboards, I’ve got a whole bunch,” Davidson admits. (The location of the home allows him to surf at 6am in the morning before heading into the office). “I have also collected a few Chesterfields over the years. We’ve got a big three-seater and others dotted around the house that don’t match but I equally like that” he confesses. The furniture closest to Bragdon’s heart is a collection of trunks inherited by her grandfather. All dating back to the pre-civil war, these trunks were left inside a horseracing farm her grandfather brought in upstate New York. “These pieces have so much history behind them, you can look inside each one … some even have paintings on the inside. It’s pretty incredible,” she says.
When asked to describe their house as a whole, they decide on a definition combining “travel, art and nature”, adding: “It’s all these different experiences that we’ve collected and brought into the home.” Taking in the cinematic light of the city’s skyline, the historic fig tree that cascades over the home and a huge fern and eucalyptus trees that surrounds the grounds, they concede it feels like home: “It’s when the wind blows, you just sit there among so much beautiful movement and green right outside the window.”