Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas in Flower

This will be my last blog of the year! I'm off to spend it with family in New Zealand where the beautiful red Pohutukawa will be in full flower. It is our unique Christmas tree. You never know I might find some inspirational things there and will post on them in the New Year. In the meantime, I found these two Pohutukawa-inspired New Zealand designs ...

Pohutukawa tea towel from Ingrid Anderson Textile Design. Printed on 100% natural fibre fabrics and made in New Zealand, the complete product range includes contemporary textiles and homewares for kitchen, laundry, living and bedroom spaces.

A Pohutukawa tree decal from Sticky Kids who design a wide variety of wall graphics - all handcrafted in New Zealand.

Enjoy the festive season!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Time to Celebrate!

Image source The Contemporist
We are very excited because we have just received DA approval - yipee! And what better way to celebrate than in a very stylish bar like this one at the Condesa DF Hotel in Mexico City, designed by architect Javier Sánchez and interior designer India Mahdavi.

I love everything about it - the funky bar stools, the shiny white, ultra-large tiles, turquoise walls and spider web-like lights. If it wasn't for the size of the bar and the number of stools and lights, you could easily be forgiven for thinking this was in someone's home.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

M.I.L.K Inspiration

This is what Christmas should be about - flying away to be with friends and family and having times filled with love and laughter.

I was given the latest M.I.L.K book for my birthday and it is just beautiful - gorgeous images and inspiring words.

The Family, Friendship, Love & Laughter book includes 150 winning images from the Fresh M.I.LK. competition selected by Elliott Erwitt, and an introduction by M.I.LK. creator Geoff Blackwell.

For more on the M.I.L.K book, check out their website.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Eco-friendly furniture

On the weekend I discovered a fantastic new cottage business recently started by the sister and two friends of a friend of mine and couldn't help but make some purchases with the beach house in mind.

Literally working from their backyards, Sydneysiders Camilla Schroder, Sarah Hargrave and Nicole Elliott, source old, unwanted furniture and house parts, spruce them up and turn them into fabulous 'new' furniture, lights, bed-heads, chairs ... you name it, they'll do it. As their business card says - it's all about 'upcycling' and 'decorating the eco-friendly way by merging vintage with contemporary to create a classic style'.

Like these old door knobs which they have turned into a coat/hat/beach towel hanger - whichever you prefer (and which I have yet to put up on the wall!).

Or these two chairs - with fabric sourced from Cloth - and table (whose top lifts up like an old school desk). The chairs are super-comfy and will be perfect on the deck to watch the world go by. The table can be used, not only for drinks, but to house a secret stash of mozzie repellent, sun-sunscreen and maybe the odd book or two.

The trio, whose company they've called S.H.E (an acronym of their surnames), currently sell at the Manly markets, will make to order and are in the process of setting up a website. Watch this space!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Design & DAs

Well, another week is nearly over and Christmas is looming rapidly and we're still waiting on DA approval! Oh, the joys of trying to build a house.

I just hope that we don't have to wait too long and our current house doesn't end up looking like this one!

This is another photo from UK-based photographer James Merrell. It's a great shot, contrasting the decrepitude of the house with the beautiful bed and linen. Although I think I could hang out on that porch watching the world go by. What about you? You certainly wouldn't have to worry about having, what I call, a 'Martha Stewart moment' trying to spruce the house!

In the meantime, I have been asked by the publishers of Fast Thinking magazine to blog on design on their new Think Tank blog. I've just posted my second one: On the Scent of a Good Book. Come and check it out at

Monday, November 30, 2009

Floating Stairs

I am in love with stairs that float, like weightless piano keys in the sky, belying the engineering feat required to ensure they can be climbed. What seems to make them look even more amazing is when they meet or follow windows or skylights up to the next level. Stairway to heaven anyone ...?

Apartment Therapy - Lauren and Eric Wendlandt's house, Framework Design architects.

E-Architect - Sycamore House Scotland, ICOSIS architects.

Contemporist - Poliform's 'Mylife in 80m2'

E-Architect - Portobello Road House, Pitman Tozer Architects, images Nick Kane.

Not strictly floating but these stairs still offer the same effect and I really like the all-white walls and shelving, wide timber floors and great view on the second level.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Moochinside Design Store

Every so often I’d like to feature interviews with designers, decorators, architects and others whom I meet on my travels – whether for work or in researching our house build.
Today I’d like to introduce you to Margie (Mooch) McFayden and her Hardy’s Bay store Moochinside which would have to be my favourite shop outside of Sydney. It is a combination of design, gift store and gallery and I always find something to buy in there, whether for myself or for gifts – from jewellery to clothes, homewares to art or just gorgeous objects to indulge in.

When did you open?
We [Margie and her husband Pete] opened Moochinside on the August 1, 2006. We moved up to Killcare from Drummoyne in 1999, already had a block of land there and were ready to build.

What are your backgrounds?

Pete is an architect and has had his own practice for 25 years. I re-trained as an architectural technician after our children were born. We still have our office in Balmain and Pete also has a studio at home so works between the two.

What designers and artists are you featuring at the moment?

I try to feature local artists as much as I can. At present I have Debbie MacKinnon from Sydney who has a weekender in Killcare and whose paintings hover between landscape and abstraction and Sally McDonald who is from Newcastle.

Debbie McKinnon, Bouddi (Re)Generation,

Tell me about them and their work?
Debbie is an established artist and her profile is on the website at the moment. Sally is up and coming and her work is lovely. She uses a lot of multi-media in her works and then finishes all works with layers of resin.

Have you any exhibitions planned in the near future?
The next artist to come is Maree Coleman who we have featured before and very successfully.

What is your favourite piece in store at the moment?
At the moment my favourite pieces are the Pappelina rugs from Sweden. They are fabulous, eye-catching, durable and functional floor mats made from plastic and linen that are great for any room both indoors or out.

Their online store and Ecomooch online store will be open soon so keep an eye out.
The Ecomooch store features a range of sustainable, eco-friendly building products and solutions including Ecosmart Fireplaces, Australian Recycled Timber, Quantam Solar Heat Pumps, BP Solar Photo Voltaic Cells, Stormwater Harvesting and Reuse Systems and Hunter Pacific Fans.

Or even better, take a trip up to Hardy’s Bay and check it out in person at 1/1 Killcare Rd (in the heart of the shops by the bay). Or telephone them on 02) 4360 2257.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Union Jack Chair

I have just found the perfect chair (or should I say chaise longue) for my patriotic English husband. It's bright but funky and looks seriously snore-inducing!

I discovered it on UK photographer James Merrell's website. You should check out his work - great stuff.

Closer to home, though, David met Nicole in Surry Hills, Sydney stock cushions made from vintage Union Jack flags and currently have a Union Jack wingback armchair! I feel a visit coming on ...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Armchair Corners

I love not only a good-looking and comfortable armchair but a well-designed corner to put one in that makes you want to kick back and enjoy the moment - whatever that may be. Here are some gorgeous armchair settings in which I'd love to curl up and read a book ...

Image courtesy Interstudio
Image courtesy Alkemie

Image courtesy House of Turquoise

From Avantgarde Design, image courtesy House Beautiful space

Image courtesy Design Sponge*

Not exactly an armchair, I know, but how welcoming does it look? Even the dog looks at home!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bathroom Planning

From Porchlight Interiors: NZ House and Garden magazine.

Last week I met with our architects, Castlepeake, and their interior designer, Pip, to talk about, among other things, bathroom and kitchen fixtures and fittings. Believe it or not, now is the time for us to decide what we'd like because their placement needs to worked into the detailed plans the architects are currently drawing up in preparation for sourcing building quotes.

It's all about the detail versus the brand ie do we want vanity taps coming out of the wall or from the vanity? Toilets with hidden cisterns in the wall or ... not? Baths enclosed or freestanding? Shower roses attached to the ceiling or the hand-held variety? The choices are endless but if we come to some broad decisions now and, more importantly, don't change our minds, then we can get an idea of the overall cost and hopefully try to stick to it. Keeping to budget is as integral to the build as the style of the bath we choose.

But, I'm struggling to get inspired by bathrooms. While I am drawn to the serene, peaceful oasis look, they can sometimes appear bland and boring. These two win hands-down for maximising view ...

From Porchlight Interiors: NZ House and Garden magazine; Photo Sharyn Cairns.

... but I'd love to get some other ideas. All suggestions welcome!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Laundry Heaven (did I just write that?)!

I never thought I'd be inspired by a laundry - ever! Their purely practical and functional raison d'etre coupled with the fact that they're only ever used and seen by their owner precluding any need for them to be decorated or styled. But then I found this one at High Heel Foot in the Door and have definitely changed my mind. It's all rather Martha Stewart but hell, I'd spend time in here, wouldn't you ...?

Enjoy the weekend!

Tricks of Light

Lighting effects don't always have to come from lights themselves. Following on from my earlier post on lamps and standing lights, I have since found some beautiful images from different houses around the world that show different ways to play with light. See what you think ...

What a wonderful play of light with this decorative biscuit-shaped, untreated Iroko Tree wood curtain wall over glass in 'The Biscuit House' in Lyon, France by architect Pierre Minassian.

Another view of The Biscuit House -this time from the outside where, from a distance, the wood curtain looks rather like a lace doily screen.

A potentially bland black outdoor screen is jazzed up and reformed with the cut-out outline of a tree to provide filtered light and snippets of the view on the other side. Called the Barrow House it was designed by architect, Andrew Maynard, and is in Melbourne. Photo Peter Bennetts.

Indian design firm, Morphogenesis, have used white string curtains to effect in this residence where light is tempered and the view diffused. Design for Use have curtains like these in red, orange, lime green, black and white. They may not offer much privacy or thermal properties but I think they look cool!

A window design that mirrors the timber ceiling and follows the form of the stairs on one wall provides for dramatic plays of light in this Chilean house by architect Enrique Browne. The grand tree inside offers dappled light and mirrors the established trees in the garden outside. Photo Luis Poirot.

For similar outdoor screens to the one at the Barrow House, Urban Balcony in Sydney have some stunning ones like this Flower Tower, as well as decorative screens, sculptures and pots.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sculpture by the Garden

My girls were so inspired by the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition that they decided to put on an impromptu one of their own, entitled Sculpture by the Garden. Here's some of what they came up with - amazing what you can do with a little imagination!

Popstick street by Hannah

Spying is framing by Hannah

Spider web by Amy

Chime by Amy

Sculpture by the Sea

I visited one of Sydney's landmark events on Saturday - Bondi's Sculpture by the Sea - and as always was impressed by many of the artists' ingenuity, skill and talent. In its 13th year, the outdoor exhibition along the coastal board walk features work by artists from, not just Australia, but around the world. It is on for another week, till the 15th, so there is still time to see it. Here are some of my favourites.
A man above by Philippe Moreau. Or, a man searching for something ...?
The shoppers by Chinese artist Jie Qian. "In a commercial world full of temptation, will one gain salvation through material satisfaction or be lost in a life of luxury?"
Or just plain lost?

Chaos and order by Barbara Licha where "the contemporary individual is surrounded by the magnitude of everyday emotions." Well, I can relate to that!

To be or not to be by Danish artist Keld Moseholm.
That is the question.
Rat Race by Marguerite Derricourt in which rats are "caught up in the treadmill of life...and are making a brave attempt to escape." Good luck to them, I say!

Sanctuary by Serena Horton where a nest is "a place of new life, comfort, security and potential." Aah...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Inspiration in the most unlikely of places

Who wants to think about house building on a weekend away? I didn't think I would but I seemed to find inspiration in the most unlikely of places. We took a trip up to Hardys Bay last weekend which is a one and a half hour's drive north of Sydney, near Killcare surf beach ...

Where boats bob in the bay and people are ingenious with their letterbox design ...

It is a place where original meets new, traditional meets designer but one thing will always stay the same as long as motorists pay attention to the road signs ...

The 'ducks crossing' road sign not only looks quaint but, as we found, is very necessary - ducks are everywhere and they have no road sense! It wasn't just duckling season either but Jacaranda flowering time. These trees would have to be one of my favourites and the mauve colour is so striking against the green foliage. It would be a great colour for a girl's bedroom.

The ducks not only like to cross roads but traverse lawns and even ride in boats ...

But I never thought ducks would provide inspiration for the colour scheme of a house and yet, after this weekend, I think they just have! I love the colours of these ducks: the chocolate brown and white bodies (I'm thinking white walls and dark timber floors), and the teal and forest green heads (perhaps for accent colours in cushions, lights, even wallpaper) and the caramel body of the third bird (for a sofa colour or light wood coffee table or dining table). Mmm ... could I add these pictures to a mood board, I wonder?

I then started thinking about the deck and how wonderful duck-egg blue coloured deck chairs would be - like these from Ici et La. The company not only has a beautiful range of deck chair upholstery fabric from France but striped textiles for cushions and lampshades.

Finally, on the topic of places to visit, I don't profess my photos to be anywhere near as good as Louise Hawson's on her 52 Suburbs blog (where she is visiting one Sydney suburb a week for a year and documenting it) but I try! Louise's photos are amazing and her captions fantastic. It is definitely worth checking out.


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