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How to create a perfect coastal Hamptons look in your home with our special guest Susana Tolo of @coastalhamptonstyle

How to create a perfect coastal Hamptons look in your home with our special guest Susana Tolo of @coastalhamptonstyle

We were absolutely thrilled this week to be joined by the fabulous Susana Tolo of the gorgeous Instagram account @coastalhamptonstyle to talk about her inspiration for creating her account and why she loves this interior look so much. 

In addition to giving us her hints and tips on how to create a stunning coastal Hamptons style feel in your own home, Susana also takes us behind the scenes to tell us about where she sources her beautiful images for her feed, and how she managed to organically grow her following to almost 100,000 in not much more than a year and a half. 

Watch the video interview

 

Listen to the audio

 

Read the full transcript (click here)

Alison Rentoul:
Hi everybody, and welcome to Aquamarine. We are being joined today by the gorgeous Susana Tolo from Coastal Hampton Style. Hi Susana.

Susana Tolo:
Hi.

Alison Rentoul:
Some of you might know Susana or be familiar with her Instagram page, because she has over 90000 followers on Instagram. Your Instagram handle is Coastal Hampton Style isn't it, with one S. I first discovered Susana when I started Instagramming towards the end of last year, and I was just blown away by all of the gorgeous things that she is posting. I still am. I'm like completely in awe of you, and I don't know how you manage to find so much time to post all these beautiful pictures all the time. Susana's a busy mum of two, and she lives on the Sunshine Coast.

Susana Tolo:
Gold Coast.

Alison Rentoul:
Oh, sorry, the Gold Coast.

Susana Tolo:
I did live on the Sunshine Coast, but now it's the Gold Coast.

Alison Rentoul:
Oh, okay. Well, it's so sunny behind you I was just thinking sunshine.

Susana Tolo:
I know.

Alison Rentoul:
Look at her beautiful house behind her there.

Susana Tolo:
Oh, thank you. Still getting renovated, but getting there.

Alison Rentoul:
Susana, I'm going to just ask you a few questions about how you set up Coastal Hampton Style, and what inspired you to do it. Like, what on Earth was the inspiration behind it?

Susana Tolo:
I had friends always talk about Instagram, and I had the Instagram app but I didn't really know how to use it or how to search for people. I absolutely had no idea, so one of my friends said, "You should, you know, I know that you like home décor and to decorating and homes, have a look at it because you can follow people that you like." I was like, "Okay." So, one night I sat down and started learning on how to use it and how to look up people, and I thought, well you know what, I love the coastal homes. I love classic Hampton style homes. I'll just create a page that I personally love, of photos and images that I love. That way, people can sort of go ... people that love coastal homes and classic homes can find everything in one page. I think it was like November of 2016, so about a year and a half ago, where I created it. I thought oh, I'm like what name should I call it, and at that time Hampton style homes weren't as big in Australia as they are now. I wanted to incorporate the sort of coastal, breezy homes of Australia, and the Hampton style homes and classic home of the states, yeah.

Alison Rentoul:
Okay. Did you expect it to be as popular as it has become?

Susana Tolo:
No, and you know what's funny is I went all the way back on my Instagram to my first image.

Alison Rentoul:
Oh my God, that must have taken forever.

Susana Tolo:
It did. I think it had like 10 likes, which was pretty impressive, and no comments. I think I got comments maybe on the sixth picture that I posted, and it was like one comment. It was just a gradual, but I just I never sort of gave up, I just kept posting things that caught my eye, that I truly loved. I thought, I'll just post everyday and see if people like what I'm posting. I think I got like to 300 followers in two weeks, and I was like, "Ah, well ... I should continue," and then it just grew from there.

Alison Rentoul:
Oh my goodness, that's just so commendable. We've just hit the 600 mark and we've been going for like six and a half months. I don't know -

Susana Tolo:
Well, never give up.

Alison Rentoul:
But yeah, I guess just posting beautiful content that people really respond to.

Susana Tolo:
That's the one thing that I was always really picky. My husband goes, "Where do you find the time?" I would sit, at the start, I would say Pinterest, cause I knew how to use Pinterest, and really pick the images that stopped me in my tracks like, "This is beautiful. This interior has to be shared." I would really think about the images that I wanted to share with everyone, and I made sure that they were of high quality, cause sometimes images on Instagram, you can't really see it very well and I thought people would notice straightaway so they'd rather comment on something that's beautiful, and high quality, and things like that.

Alison Rentoul:
Yeah, and that's one of the things that I love about your feed because you always seem to take so much time to actually research the photographer, and even you go sometimes as far as the actual type of paint that was used or the tiles.

Susana Tolo:
I know. It's so time consuming because I try to give credit as much as possible, and if it's something like a beautiful house that I'm posting that's got a blue exterior, I know that people are gonna ask me, "What's the color?" So beforehand, I'll try to search to see if there is that information provided, and that way ill link it straightaway, or I can recommend similar colors, but I always ... I try to prepare myself for the questions that I'm gonna get asked.

Alison Rentoul:
Yeah, well I guess once you've got two and a half thousand people commenting, or however many you have now.

Susana Tolo:
Oh, no. Not that many.

Alison Rentoul:
Well, no, I've looked. You do sometimes have that many.

Susana Tolo:
I do feel like there is a lot of people that comment and sometimes it is just ... A lot of people, if there is a lot of comments, a lot of people don't read other people's comments so I have to repeat myself quite a few times. So usually if it's something that's striking that I know it's gonna be asked, I'll put it below the image already. That way, I won't have to repeat.

Alison Rentoul:
Try and get their attention.

Susana Tolo:
Yeah.

Alison Rentoul:
Cause that's the other thing that you do, you always respond to every single comment. I don't know, that's how we got talking -

Susana Tolo:
I try.

Alison Rentoul:
Wasn't it? I was always commenting and just going, "Oh my God, this is gorgeous," and then you would comment back, and I don't know, I felt like we built up our relationship, but you must be like that with absolutely everybody who comments.

Susana Tolo:
I really try to, if someone makes an effort to actually make a comment, because a lot of people can go like like like, just scrolling through, but if they stop and actually made an effort to go into your account and comment, I try to reply because it's like, "Thank you for having a look at my page."

Alison Rentoul:
What causes you to love this whole coastal Hamptons style? Where does that all come from?

Susana Tolo:
Basically, I've been very lucky with my childhood. I'm Italian, as you know, but I left Italy when I was nine years old and I got brought up next to the sea. Our town in Italy's a little, small sea town, and I used to go with my grandfather fishing at a really young age and I've always loved anything that represented the ocean, the nautical feel, so colors like blues and aquas, like aquamarine, have always been sort of my love. It's always been back to the sea and the beach. I have lived in a lot of different countries like Africa, and Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia, so I sort of travelled around and saw how people live and different styles of homes, but I always knew my style would be coastal, but a particular coastal. Mum's always been into decorating as well, so wherever we went, even if it was in the middle of Africa, she would manage to, even if it was a tiny little house, to decorate it and make it ours, so I would always see mum transforming a little home wherever we went, even if we travelled so much, it always felt like home because she decorated it the way that she liked. I already had ideas of what my home would be like as well, and what I loved. It started from there, and then I loved classic kinds too, so it's a bit of a in between fusion.

Alison Rentoul:
Yeah. It's so interesting because your style is so similar to my style, actually, and I think it is that strange cocktail of having grown up with a love of the ocean. In my case, we had a small sailing yacht, so we spent every school holiday and every weekend on the boat -

Susana Tolo:
Wow, really cool.

Alison Rentoul:
And sail all the time, and then obviously, my time over in the Mediterranean, and going to spend time in Italy and beautiful places like Capri.

Susana Tolo:
Wow. I couldn't think of anything more perfect than what you've done.

Alison Rentoul:
Yeah, so when you talk about it, it tugs at my heart strings as well. So, how did you actually go about finding all the images that you find for Coastal Hampton Style, or is that a secret, and you can't tell us.

Susana Tolo:
No, not at all. At the start, when I first started, it was mainly images through either Google or a lot of them were from Pinterest because I didn't have the community, or I didn't really know anyone on Instagram, so I couldn't really share people's homes through Instagram because I didn't really follow many people and no one followed me.

At the start, it was a lot of sort of Pinterest, and Google, and images that just caught my eye, once I started learning and started following people that I thought, "Wow, I love their homes, they're amazing," I would go onto their page and ask, "I love your house, can I share an image?" Or a lot of designers are on Instagram that might not be known, I share their photos, so now, the majority of photos I share is actually from Instagram; people that actually have Instagram accounts that are designers or it's their actual home.

It's kind of easier, in a way because they've already would have mentioned who the photographer is and where they got that item, which is so much easier than Pinterest where it's just and image and you have no idea where it came from. A lot of people ... I'll be posting an image of their home or their design, they'll be so thankful like, "Thank you so much for sharing my photo and giving me credit." It's actually lovely as well cause it's a good feeling that you're sharing their beautiful home with everyone, and I think to this day, there's only been maybe one person that's complained that I didn't ask permission to share their photo, even though I had credited it and said whose it was. So one in a million, which is good.

Alison Rentoul:
What a silly person, anyway.

Susana Tolo:
I know! I know, I was actually quite ... Cause you know, usually, I always say who it's from, and I say, "Look how amazing their work is," so I was a bit taken aback. I even said to her, "Oh, I didn't expect that," but I guess everyone each to their own. I just took it down.

Alison Rentoul:
In terms in styling your own house because, I mean, we can see a little bit of your beautiful house behind you, what's your inspiration for that? Do you use your own feed for inspiration?

Susana Tolo:
I do. I'm lucky enough to live two minute drive from the beach, this is where the Hampton style comes in, I love the classic feel of the house, with a beautiful staircase and a beautiful kitchen, which the Hampton is more of a mix of country kitchen, and I really love that look, but with your typical, usual Hampton, it's very kind of neutral tones, while this is where, for me, the coastal comes in. My base is I've got light wooden floors and light gray walls, but the color comes in by having my aquas, my blues, my kitchen tiles is all a light baby blue color, so I've got the base of a Hampton style home, but with the coastal colors throughout. It's not just one color blue, it's lots of different shades of blue.

Alison Rentoul:
Yeah. It's like those different tones and -

Susana Tolo:
Yeah. I've got on one side sort of aqua teal chairs, which you might see in that corner there.

Alison Rentoul:
Yes, I love them. They're so beautiful.

Susana Tolo:
And then in the other side, in the other living room, I've got blues, so it's a bit of a mixture of aquas and teals and blues throughout. Anything that reminds me of the ocean.

Alison Rentoul:
Lots of white, of course.

Susana Tolo:
Yes, and lots of white. To make it bright and airy.

Alison Rentoul:
Yep. If somebody wanted to just start off, like maybe they move to a new house, and they really love your style, and they really want to try to bring this coastal Hamptons theme into their house, what would be your top tips for how they could actually try and recreate that sort of look? What would be the key things they need to do?

Susana Tolo:
Top tips, for example, say if they're renovating, is paint does an amazing job of transforming a home. A lot of houses that are dated had sort of a creamish sort of colored walls, this house was yellow inside, I know, so the first thing was to paint the walls. Get something fresh and bright, it could be a very sort of light gray, almost white, or just a nice plain fresh coat of white paint, you can never go wrong. That already brightens up the room and completely changes the look, it's amazing what paint can do. And floors. That's probably my top two tips. The floors are so important. We had carpet here, which sort of was like a dark blueish gray carpet, which made also our house smaller and it changed completely when we put laminated. We put laminated flooring. Choose your colour scheme, really well. Those two things are your number one priority, everything else can come later on, like your kitchen, but as soon as you do your paint and your floor, the whole house already changes, transforms. The décor is the last thing.

Alison Rentoul:
Puts the icing on the cake.

Susana Tolo:
It is. It is. Obviously, you just thing about the spot you like spending the most time, and that was for me was the kitchen, so even before the living room or the dining area, or even where I'm sitting now, I'm like, "My next budget after the paint and the floor is the kitchen," because I'm lucky enough to have a huge three meter window, and it's the go to, I think for everyone, isn't it? You're always hanging around the kitchen most of the time. And then with your kitchen, my advice would be to try to keep it classic. I find that even having just the base a classic, even white kitchen, you can never go wrong because you can always accessorize with colors or put something soft like I've done with the walls, use the blue tiles, but the base of the kitchen is white. Also for resale] purposes, you can never go wrong with a classic white kitchen.

Alison Rentoul:
Yeah, I couldn't agree more.

Susana Tolo:
Yeah. As much as I love blue, I'll post images of blue kitchens, I'm like, "Wow, they're so daring. I love it." If I had, cause my kitchen is more of a galley kitchen, so I can't have a kitchen island, I would love to, but I don't, but my future house, if I was daring, then I would use the kitchen islands as a point of using color. You could do a navy, but the rest of the kitchen would be white.

Alison Rentoul:
Yeah, absolutely. We're repainting our kitchen white at the moment.

Susana Tolo:
I'm so glad. But honestly, it will brighten up, it's amazing what color ... I just said, number one, color, paint.

Alison Rentoul:
Yeah, absolutely because ours is sort of pine at the moment, but the bones of it are gray because it's actually got that sort of almost shiplap, that old fashioned cottage kitchen wooden look, but it's just a horrible colour wood at the moment. It's a really honey, yellowy pine, but I think when we completely paint it white, and it's quite a cool white that we're using, not a yellowy white, so it's more sort of tinting towards the gray white. I think it's just gonna look gorgeous.

Susana Tolo:
As I said, just giving a good paint job to something just transforms it. And you can't go wrong with a white kitchen.

Alison Rentoul:
A few nice accessories everywhere and -

Susana Tolo:
I know, that's the fun part, is decorating, and I'm always moving things around. My husband, he comes from work and goes, "Oh God. What now?" Yesterday, I've got, which I'll be posting on Instagram soon, I've got lots of windows in this house, but my windows are that old creamy color, and so yesterday I experimented and actually spray painted the steel of my sliding door, and it came out fabulous. I was like, "Ah." I've actually got him ... So yesterday at like 7:00 PM, he was spraying my kitchen windows, so now it's all beautiful and white. I'm learning to do DIY so I can share it with everyone as well, so I'll be putting before and after photos of that too. I'm getting quite crafty.

Alison Rentoul:
That's another thing that I love about your Insta as well, is that you're always posting stories. I honestly don't know how you actually have time to have a life in between everything else that you do because -

Susana Tolo:
I try, I said to my husband, "There's a list of things that I need to post on Instagram because we got a new light fixture, I got new pots that I need to photograph, I got new artwork that I gotta pull up," and he's like, "What's? Which ones?" I actually have a list of things that I need to do that I still haven't done. I'm trying to prioritize.

Alison Rentoul:
You have actually got a few nice things that people have given you, haven't you? Like the Sugarcane Trading Company rug -

Susana Tolo:
Yeah, which you have in your store. Amazing rug, I've got that in my living room, it's got the beautiful blues and whites.

Alison Rentoul:
What are some of your other favourite accessories and pieces that you've bought or accumulated from around?

Susana Tolo:
Accumulated. You will be seeing very soon, I'm putting a handmade, blown glass chandelier that I'm putting in my dining area in two days, and that was amazing. The guys that [inaudible 00:21:30] us here in the Gold Coast, they hand blow glass pendants, so I saw the actual whole process of them doing it, and how long it takes just to do one, and they've giving me a limited edition colour that they don't sell, so it makes so much ... Blue, of course, it's a blue aqua green colour. It makes it so much more special knowing how long it's taken them to do it, but also that they've given me something that only I will have.

Alison Rentoul:
Yeah, how wonderful.

Susana Tolo:
And then I'll be photographing it there, and it's beautiful. That's something that I'll be definitely treasuring. I have lots of artwork that, which I've got given, which I still haven't had time to put up, which I will.

Alison Rentoul:
You're running out of walls.

Susana Tolo:
Yes. And rugs, as well, another rug here behind me that ... It's got perks, but it's a lot of hard work behind it because I still need to find the time to photograph it, edit it, make sure it's great, so all that actually takes time.

Alison Rentoul:
Yeah, and then to present it as beautifully as you always do.

Susana Tolo:
Thank you, but I honestly, every time someone gifts me something, they've gone through the effort of picking it, sending it, so I always hope that it does really well because it, I wanna share the love.

Alison Rentoul:
And you do, you definitely do. Something else that you do that people may not know about is your house tours that you do little videos of as well.

Susana Tolo:
I know, so last year, I started taking a bit of video tours of homes because I went to a display home that was amazing, it was like a Hamptons home, and I'm like, "Wow. I need to share this with my followers." So I had done a tour of the home while I was there with my family and I posted it on my Insta story, and oh my God, you have no idea how many Dms I got. It would have been at least forty private messages saying, "Is there any way that we can see this again because they only lasted" ... what is it 48 hours? Oh 24 hours.

Alison Rentoul:
24 hours.

Susana Tolo:
"They only lasted 24 hours on my Insta story then they disappear," and I thought, "Well actually, it's a good idea. Maybe I should start a youtube channel." So, I've started a youtube channel a couple of months ago, now probably five months ago, six months ago, and I try to go when I got a chance and do beautiful home tours and post them on my youtube channel which is called 'Susana' and then 'T', T for Tolo.

Alison Rentoul:
SusanaT, okay. And everyone, I'll post links to all of Susana's Instagram and everything as well.

Susana Tolo:
And so that's a lot of fun, I actually enjoy doing those. Def more work to do with editing and everything that goes into it, and I've only just started, so I've got like four hundred followers.

Alison Rentoul:
Well that's still pretty decent number. I love how you're like, "Well, I've only got four hundred followers."

Susana Tolo:
I only have four hundred. I know, now that you've got, compared to my Instagram account, it's like starting from scratch.

Alison Rentoul:
How many are you on Insta now? Are you over a hundred thousand yet?

Susana Tolo:
No, not yet. I'm hoping, maybe in two weeks time I should reach a hundred.

Alison Rentoul:
Wow. Are you gonna have a party to celebrate?

Susana Tolo:
Yes! I'm on, what am I? On 97.1 now.

Alison Rentoul:
Wow. Oh my goodness.

Susana Tolo:
I don't know, maybe I'll do ... I'm thinking a big giveaway. I have to think, I've got lots of thoughts coming through, and I'll post a thank you photo as well.

Alison Rentoul:
Exciting.

Susana Tolo:
Thanks. Crazy.

Alison Rentoul:
What are your plans and hopes and dreams for the future of coastal Hampton style because this was born out of your passion, wasn't it? It was never really kind of intended to be a business, I guess.

Susana Tolo:
No, never. It was like, I mean I've always loved interiors design and decorating, but I never thought of it as a business because I've never done the traditional study of it, sort of learned by watching other people along the way, it's more of a passion than having a form saying, "I'm an interior decorator." Maybe down the road, but at the moment, I'm working on a website where, hopefully, I can share my favorite things where everyone can come in, and have a look, and purchase. I'm very excited, it's a lot of hard work because I'm trying to figure this out myself, and I wanna try and give it a go. Exciting times ahead, so keep a lookout on the Instagram account cause I'll let everyone know whenever I've launched it.

Alison Rentoul:
That's super exciting.

Susana Tolo:
And then I thank you because you've been giving me so many tips on how to do things, which I really appreciate.

Alison Rentoul:
It's absolutely my pleasure. It goes both ways, you've been giving me lots of tips and help with my Instagram as well.

Susana Tolo:
I guess like we've mentioned to each other before, some people are good at one thing, and somebody else at something else, so we all have our strength and weaknesses, so we need to use our strengths, I guess.

Alison Rentoul:
Absolutely, and work together.

Susana Tolo:
That's it.

Alison Rentoul:
It's been so lovely chatting with you Susana. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful insights and your time with us today.

Susana Tolo:
Oh, you're welcome. Any time you want to chat.

Alison Rentoul:
Thank you! And everyone, I'll post the links below so you can make sure you follow Susana and join in the big celebrations when she does hit that big hundred thousand.

Susana Tolo:
I know, I'm so excited. I still can't believe it. I think, when I hit ninety thousand, it really hit me, and I was like, "I hit ninety thousand." I'm like, "I'm nearly a hundred, I'm nearly there."

Alison Rentoul:
That's so cool.

Susana Tolo:
Yeah, it's all very exciting, but thank you for your support as well.

Alison Rentoul:
It's my pleasure, I'm sure there's gonna be lots of people watching this who maybe didn't know about you already, who'll be so happy to discover your feed as well.

Susana Tolo:
Right. Thank you.

Alison Rentoul:
Thank you so much, gorgeous. Have a wonderful day!

Susana Tolo:
Thank you!

Follow Susana on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/coastalhamptonstyle/

Subscribe to Susana's Youtube Channel for her home tours here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UComB2fnARxmcQiHYUrIVJ9A

Check out her website: www.coastalhamptonstyle.com

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