June 15, 2023
People & Places

Soiree for the siblings

Keeping it in the family, Brooke Bickmore-Bridges and Tom Bridges invite their siblings over for a night of pizza, pasta and stunning style.

Brooke with husband Tom in the suburban Adelaide home they moved to after relocating from Sydney.

In the back yard of the suburban Adelaide house of homewares designer Brooke Bickmore-Bridges and her husband Tom Bridges, the pizza oven’s temperature is climbing as the couple prepare for their family members to arrive. But before dinner begins, there’s a visual feast to devour.

Brooke is the co-founder of distinctive tableware brand In The Roundhouse and tonight she’s brought out her “Italian Words” collection, mixed in with pieces of her “Classic” collection, for a pizza and pasta dinner, celebrating her heritage.

The table is set with ITRH pieces interspersed with bright Dinosaur Designs vases and poppy dahlias.

It’s a colourful explosion that perfectly showcases Brooke’s creativity and skills honed over a 15-year career working in magazines.

Brooke Bickmore-Bridges beside her masterpiece of a table.

It was a trip to the supermarket as a 16-year-old with her mum that set in stone the path that Brooke would follow. “My mum pointed out SHOP Til You Drop magazine to me, because I think she was trying to steer me away from things like Dolly Doctor. I read it and I loved it.”

In her first year in Sydney in 2004, Brooke interned for Vogue Living, Vogue and Madison. It was a whirlwind time that imparted valuable lessons. “I remember assisting on a shoot with some very special homewares for Vogue Living. It was one of the scariest interning roles because there were things worth $30,000 – that was a very good lesson in patience.”

Brooke landed her dream job at SHOP and says she had pretty much every role across the publication over her seven-year tenure. “I started as picture and production editor and then features stylist, assistant editor and acting editor.”

She loved the care and attention to detail the team would pour into the magazine – every caption, every placement, every word was pained over.

Brooke’s table is decorated with plates, napkins and placemats by In The Roundhouse and other tableware by Dinosaur Designs and Maison Balzac.

Just prior to the magazine ceasing to publish, Brooke moved to London in 2013 to work at Hurst Publishers in their digital space, and then back to Sydney when her old SHOP editor offered her a job at Elle magazine as workflow director and then managing editor.

Before she went on maternity leave, Brooke had a three-year stint as editor of Jones, the David Jones fashion magazine.

Although they’re both from Adelaide, Brooke and Tom met in Sydney. When Covid restrictions hit and they had two little girls – Isabel and Winnie – all four living in a townhouse, the couple decided to pack up their life and move back home.

Now, as they stand in their spacious kitchen, looking out to the expansive yard, where the pizza oven continues to warm, Brooke notes that the outdoor shed shares the same sized footprint as their Sydney terrace.

Brooke and Tom, along with the girls, now aged four and two, have settled well into Adelaide life; their proximity to family undeniably the biggest perk.

Brooke’s brother Brian and Tom’s brother-in-law Chris enjoy a drink before dinner.

The couple and their extended families have regular dinners, usually with the kids, but tonight, it’s just the adults: Tom’s sister Kate, an oncology nurse, and her GP husband Chris, Brooke’s brother-in-law Alex, the chief operating officer at SportsMed, as well as brother Ryan and his wife Alicia, who is a lawyer for Adelaide Airport.

As drinks are poured and everyone makes their way into the pleasant early evening sunshine, Brooke starts on the pizza – and reveals her secret: “The bases are from Lucia’s, and so is the sauce”.

Lucia’s – an Adelaide culinary institution – is a place that Brooke was happy to come home to. She has fond memories of visiting the stall in the Adelaide Central Market every week with her mum and it’s still a go-to.

Once the pizza toppings are on, into the oven they go, and out in two minutes. The guests devour them to the soundtrack of lifestyle influencer Zoe Foster Blake’s “Italian Party” Spotify playlist.

Brooke greets Tom’s sister Kate.

Next on the menu is Brooke’s signature spicy vodka rigatoni, and she busies herself in the kitchen pulling together the delicious, but surprisingly simple, dish that’s about to be served onto her ITRH plates.

Again, her love of beautiful homewares has been influenced by her mum.

“Growing up, everyone had a job and mine was to set the table. Because my mum has really eclectic, interesting tastes, she always had different dinner sets and homewares, so I loved making the table settings look different every night.”

The idea for ITRH started small about five years ago.

The Lucia’s sauce is smothered on the pizza bases before they’re popped into the oven.

“I’d just moved back from London, was single and setting up my house and I wanted four coloured plates,” Brooke says. “I didn’t want a nanna floral print that comes in a 32-piece box set with matching mugs and bowls.”

Brooke was after something affordable and dishwasher-safe and realised there wasn’t a lot on the market.

So, she began talking to her old school friend Alyce Tran (Alyce co-founded successful accessories brand The Daily Edited; of which she has since sold her stake in), about her idea and the possibility of them creating their own brand.

The creative duo had met at Wilderness School in Year 8 and both moved to Sydney for their respective jobs, always remaining close.

“We’ve always been friends, but friends who talk about business,” Brooke says. “We’d meet on a Saturday, catch up about life and gossip for two hours and then do 30 minutes of work and slowly move things along each week.”

Brooke and Tom inherited the pizza oven when they bought their house and, with two young daughters, it gets a good run.

They launched in 2019 with a classic blue floral plate, which they still carry, and a block pink and white plate.

The plates were a success, quickly making their way onto the dining tables of stylish 20- and 30-somethings around Adelaide and beyond, although Brooke laughs that she had a plan if they hadn’t sold.

“I was getting married that year and (if the plates hadn’t sold) we would have just smashed them at our wedding – pretend we’re Greek. We’d make it into a fun thing so they’re not wasted.”

At the heart of the brand’s concept is its ever-evolving designs that allow you to have fun with your settings: you can buy four plates from one collection and four from another, mixing and matching whenever you like a new colour or design.

Brooke serves the spicy vodka rigatoni on mixed and matched In The Roundhouse plates, complete with personally embroidered napkins for each guest.

“There’s no need to buy a full dinner set and commit to that look forever. I don’t like to take myself too seriously. The brand is colourful and it should bring you joy and add interest – I like that it’s something light to keep you smiling.”

Business rapidly picked up over the global Covid pandemic.

“Everyone was at home baking banana bread and sourdough and they wanted to photograph it on something pretty because we were all living through the lens of our Instagram and TikTok accounts.”

The brand is now stocked at David Jones and some boutique stores around SA, including One Rundle Trading Co, Etienne and Bright Threads in the Barossa.

And here, in Brooke’s house, as the pasta is dished up, everyone takes time to glimpse the stunning table, before the evening’s dinner party ends with a little nod to a classic Italian dessert – the tiramispoon, a morsel of tiramisu on a spoon.


This article first appeared in the April 2023 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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