Brighton Family Business Nicholls Interiors Celebrates 100 Years

Nicholl’s Interiors father and daughter duo, Doug and Kathryn Dowsett, are excited to commemorate 100 years of their Brighton family business. Respectively, the 3rd and 4th generation family members are proud to reach the milestone of a century in business.

Family Business Brighton Kathryn and Doug Dowsett of Nicholls Interiors Brighton
Kathryn and Doug Dowsett of Nicholls Interiors Brighton

Nicholls Interiors was first established as ‘Nicholls Drapery and Mercery’ in 1920 by Bert and Hilda Nicholls. The original Gardenvale store, known as the destination for textiles and trimmings, quickly became a popular store in the post WW1 era. Now based in Brighton, the business honours the tradition of personalised service, and values working with the Melbourne Bayside community as one of Melbourne’s longest continuously operated family businesses.

Bert created Nicholls with a personal touch. Granddaughter Kathryn says, “… He always greeted customers at the door, personally addressing hundreds of regulars”. Today, Kathryn and Doug are heavily involved in client consultations and in-home measurements, ensuring an exceptionally high standard of service. Nicholls decided to undertake the project of renovating their new store in the 1940s. By removing walls to add space and expand retail opportunities in 1950, the range extended to offer men’s and women’s fashion, alongside soft home furnishings.

Vintage photo from 1950s of the interior of Nicholls Brighton Retail store
Nicholls Interiors Brighton in the 1950’s

Today, Nicholls specialises in interiors, homewares and window treatments such as blinds, curtains and outdoor awnings, while also maintaining its long-standing community service – selling local school uniforms. The business is a well-known member of the Bayside community, working on many high profile commercial projects, as well as with schools and residential clients. Kathryn says,

“We love working in the Bayside community and we strive to establish long term relationships with our clients as they move throughout their lives, whether it be to upsize or downsize.”

The Martin Street store is now Brighton’s local ‘one stop shop’ for interiors, blinds, and soft furnishings. Nicholls has strengthened its exclusive partnership with Luxaflex, enabling the business to offer the community a wide range of innovative, quality window treatments.

Clients trust Kathryn and her team with recommendations for their dream interiors. The family business provides expert advice and a wealth of knowledge to assist clients in creating perfectly styled rooms.

Recently, Kathryn worked with Precision Projects, a luxury builder in Brighton, to bring a stylish vision to life. Nicholls Interiors worked closely with the client and builder to create a comprehensive suite of contemporary window treatments for this Brighton home.

Kathryn says ‘This build with Precision Projects was a joy- the client was trusting and open to advice, and the result was fabulous”.

Linen curtain modern home installation
Vanda curtain tracks recessed into the ceiling using ‘Marco’
100% linen, installed by Nicholls Interiors in collaboration with Precision Projects. Image: Alex Reinders
Luxaflex Silhouette Shadings by Nicholls Interiors
Luxaflex Silhouette shadings installed by Nicholls Interiors for Precision Projects. Photo: Alex Reinders

In the face of the COVID-19, the business has quickly adapted in order to continue operations throughout the pandemic. The school wear range has moved online to provide an additional means for parents to purchase safely. As Stage 4 restrictions have been eased, the showroom has reopened for consultations.

Kathryn says the Nicholls Interiors focus will remain on interiors, continuing to be a one stop shop for all things furnishings. Doug, Kathryn and the wider Nicholls family are very proud of the business’s reputation for quality interiors and window treatments, and its role in the Bayside community. They continue to strive to establish strong relationships with clients, assisting them to decorate their homes as they move throughout their lives.