From recipe creation, to styling and photography, the talented and creative Unna Burch from The Forest Cantina can do it all! To add to the list of Unna's creative capabilities, she is now master home renovator. Inspired by a Bali retreat, this week we step inside Unna's newly renovated Master Bedroom.
The blog, Forest Cantina, where did it all begin?
I guess you could say it started at childhood. That love for cooking and photography came from my grandparents and I spent a lot of time with them growing up. They were both such creative people with hobbies such as cane weaving, Gran made incredible handmade wool rugs (they used to own a wool shop) and they spent a lot of time gardening creating these beautiful and whimsical outdoor spaces. They were always doing something productive, something fun. My Grandad was a keen photographer - he took all of our childhood photos on his Leica and hand-processed these himself in his home darkroom. And Gran is the most naturally gifted cook I have ever met. I spent a huge chunk of my childhood on a stool next to her in her kitchen. I only had 10 years of my life with her before she passed away, but that decade is so strongly etched into who I am. My Grandad, however, lived until he was 92 and loved film photography his whole life. Who knew that all these years later, all the things that I remember so fondly of them have become the things that have turned into a career for me. When I became pregnant with Leo, I started cooking more as I wasn’t working full time. I began sharing my food photos on Facebook, and friends told me to get a blog so I could share recipes. I launched The Forest Cantina on 1st January 2014, and the rest they say, is history.
What was the process in finding the right size rug for your room?
The most challenging thing was finding the size we needed for our space - the size really was the determining factor. We needed a rug large enough to generously frame the bed so that we had warmth and that underfoot feel. I searched online for months for second hand, but the size was never quite right. I had been a long time fan of Nodi, so you were my first choice of new options. When I saw that the dimensions of your rugs were a perfect size, and there were custom options too, I had to get in touch! The fact that you not only sent samples but were also able to send rugs on appro, that made the decision process so much easier. We love the look and feel of the jute rug in our room, and what makes it more special is the ethos behind the production of it.
Any tips for those starting the renovation process or those wanting too?
It will always cost more than you think it does and there will always be unexpected payments. Always. The more organised and the more specific you are, the easier it is on the tradies and your budget. Renovations take detailed planning and research - I spend months just sourcing the items for each of the rooms. I found that creating Pinterest boards for each room we renovate, and sub organised those into categories such as storage options, bedding etc helped a lot too. Source as much as you can secondhand (ie windows, doors etc right down to decor items too), recycle and re-use where you can and spend money on quality items that will last a lifetime. I find it easier to have a theme or a colour story, and stick to that when buying.
What are the textures in your bedroom? How did you want your bedroom to feel?
We wanted that hotel-vibe to the room, where it felt luxurious and special, but like home at the same time, and I’m always inspired by Bali-style villas and that retreat feeling they give. We wanted to create a space that we looked forward to beginning and ending our day in. The wood, jute, brass/steel, linen, glass and plants give the room a warm and inviting feel.
What should we be cooking this season?
If there had to be one I would say at the moment, it’s this ‘Slow-cooked spicy coconut beef curry’. Asian food is my most favourite of all time, and this curry takes little effort for such good results. There is no curry paste, although it tastes like you’ve done something magical from scratch. It uses dry spices that most can find in their pantry and can be adapted to be vegetarian - you can replace the beef with your favourite legumes or bulk it out with more vegetables like kumara or cauliflower. It slow cooks all day and fills the house with the most incredible aromas. Simple, a ton of flavours, feeds a crowd, little effort - I love that.