my muse

My MUSE | Jessica Durling

Mar 14 2024
My MUSE | Jessica Durling

Hello everyone,

Olivia here, to introduce you to this week’s MyMUSE: the vibrant, driven and profoundly creative, Jessica Durling.

Along with her husband Warren, Jess is widely celebrated for her major-scale – and totally exceptional – renovation of Ponsonby’s historic R.A.O.B. hall. A powerhouse when it comes to visualising, building and styling beautiful spaces, Jess is nothing short of a visionary, bringing together warmth, light, colour, architecture and flair with awe-inspiring results. When she’s not transforming spaces, Jess adores spending time with her mum; one of the people she credits most for her creativity, and building and nurturing the life she shares with her husband and their two beautiful children, Stevie and Walter.

A long-time friend of MUSE (and of mine), Jess is everything you could want in a muse. A lover of art, storytelling and beautiful interiors, she feels most at home surrounded by creativity. She’s passionate and engaging, with a penchant for DIY. Determined and ambitious, with an inherent appreciation for beauty. Easy-going and inspiring, with a modern, understated style.

I sat down with Jess to talk about inspiration, renovations and dressing for the seasons of your life.


Jess, hello! You are such a creative person – from renovations to design to craft. Where did this creativity come from, and how have you used it so far in your life?

Hello! Thank you so much. I was blessed with two very creative parents who always placed a lot of value on experimentation, resourcefulness and being creative. Reflecting now, I think the most enriching experiences of my adult life have been during times when creativity has been flowing. 


Who or what inspires you?

For me, inspiration comes from lots of places; books, travel, vintage shopping, tinkering and testing ideas. I'm a very tactile person and often when I see or feel a material, I immediately envisage what I could do with it. I remember when I was 7 or 8 years old, I was taking sewing lessons because I wanted to make my own clothing. I would go to a fabric store with mum and pick up a fabric – and immediately describe a design (with very specific details) that I had in mind for it. Then I would go off and make it. I really respect my mum for always being supportive, even when I would style what I thought was a killer outfit, centred around the rather out there (*cough* ugly) homemade clothing I’d just made. I never felt judged, and I think this allowed my creativity to grow.



You’ve recently moved house – leaving your first incredible renovation project behind. How does it feel to be in a new space?

It feels very exciting and inspiring! We loved our old home; it was a phenomenal experience learning about heritage renovations and pushing our skills to the limits. We worked so hard transforming it from a dingey old hall into a home, but after the pandemic lockdowns and my pregnancy with baby #2, we knew that it wasn’t serving us anymore. We wanted our kids to be able to run outside and play in a backyard, which we didn’t have. Our new home is everything we dreamed of and making the change was so worth it. I feel so incredibly grateful.


Do you have big plans for your new home?

I do…but don’t tell my husband, Warren! Everywhere I look I see potential, and I find it hard to wait! But we have two young children and anyone who has ever had a toddler knows that they can be tornados of mess and destruction. So, at this stage in life it’s a blessing being in a home that isn’t freshly renovated so we don’t have to stress about kids being kids. In a few years’ time we’ll get stuck in to making some changes and updates, but for now we are just enjoying life.



You have two beautiful children. How has motherhood changed or shaped you?

I was changed from the very first moment that I looked into my gigantic baby’s beautiful brown eyes. Every day since then, motherhood has stretched and grown me into someone I am content with and proud of. I still find it staggeringly challenging, relentless and all consuming. Yet it is also inspiring, fun and deeply rewarding. Becoming a mum also forced me to look at my relationship with my own mum. I feel such profound gratitude for the unconditional love and dedication she has shown me throughout my life, it’s tough to put into words but I think once you become a parent it gives you a new perspective. She is an amazing mum and I really admire her.

Tell me about your personal style. Has it evolved since becoming a mother?

Beyond dressing for seasons in the year, I am dressing for a season in my life. One that, above all, that demands practicality and comfort. For a while there I felt discouraged and limited by needing to dress for breastfeeding or the fact that I was at home all day when my babies were young. It took me a while to shake that feeling, and now I've found my groove again and really enjoy getting dressed – I remind myself an outfit doesn’t have to be ground-breaking; it just needs to make me feel good.

What’s on your MUSE wishlist?

A summer dress with the perfect cut (hello Rixo!) is always a yes from me! And you can’t go wrong with jeans that make you feel great (love the Anine Bing Briley Jean in Arctic Blue), paired with a classic tee, sweater (the Soft Goat Boyfriend O-Neck jumper looks incredible) and a great bag. I’ve literally been dreaming about the Coperni Heart Tote Bag!