Grain sack fabrics both rustic and elegant

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I first stumbled across these fabrics at the iconic Peppergreen antique emporium in the Southern Highlands…..sadly no longer.  Shelves and even bolts of this vintage linen, cotton and flax grain sack fabric. I think what draws me to it is the subtlety in colour variation.  All very neutral, really only varying in texture from the soft scrubbed finish to a much coarser, almost hessianlike fabric.

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The faded imprint of the logo or manufacturer only adds to the appeal….almost like works of art.

 Also falling into this category of fabrics I feel are the gorgeous antique european mangle cloths.  These are a softer colour palette and finer texture….fabulous for tablecloths and serviettes. I love the subtle stripe to the edge…..always faded red or navy.

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images: homelife

Being so neutral these fabrics combine well with pattern…..however with their subtle shades of cream, putty or taupe are at their most elegant when incorporated into a cream or white interior.   Have fun with scatter cushions and interesting trimming….and think about loose covers !!

The most exciting part is searching for these fabrics at your favourite antique market…..

Tips for organizing your home office

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The time has come to reorganize my working space so that it not only functions more effectively but is inviting to spend time in.  I am particularly lucky to have taken over the room with the best view of our garden!! I overlook magnificent 80 year old maples and elms which I expect any day will start to turn for autumn and put on the usual spectacular display of colour.

I have to say that I do relish the thought of those bookshelves full of coordinating files and binders…..magazines perfectly filed in date order….you have the picture!!

However before I get to the fun bit there are certain tasks which I guess take priority –

create a clean space to work on by filing into binders, storage boxes or magazine holders any superfluous documents, stationary, pens, pencils etc

simple document trays allow you to keep in sight current items that you are dealing with, working on or referring to

if you are a visual person, a white board or planner would be helpful on a nearby wall beside or in front of your work space

assess whether additional shelving is necessary…those piles on the floor just don’t work

if your desk chair isn’t as good as it could be now is the time to start looking and trying out new ones…..you spend a lot of your day in this chair so it isn’t worth creating posture problems

good lighting is essential and task lighting is easily introduced with an adjustable lamp

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Now is the time to head off to buy those gorgeous binders and boxes…..try    Kikki K, or the gorgeous Semikolon stationary.  Filing can be fun if you have all the appropriate tools.

An ordered and calm space can only inspire creative thinking!!!

Carolyn quartermaine fabrics rediscovered

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Featured in countless leading design magazines worldwide Carolyn Quartermaine’s fabrics have always been a favourite.  It is only fairly recently that I noticed that the fabric house Boyac in Sydney were the agent for them.  Carolyn, a London based designer and stylist works on projects both in the design and fashion world.

She is the textile designer who modernised my other favourite fabric….toile de jouy.  Always light, floating designs…ethereal.  ‘Art and inspiration flowing onto fabric’….Vogue Living Australia.

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These fabrics are feminine and pretty yet hold their own in elegant, formal rooms ….. particularly when used as upholstery on french furniture, in fact any antique furniture …..aged, gilt or white washed!!! Her classic designs of lace or script create a formality.

I have on the other hand seen her fabrics used in very formal interiors ….. they seem to provide the whimsical element… it just works.

Since the 90’s Carolyn has always been able to predict and translate trends.

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Interestingly, I noticed that there are parts of her collection that have moved away from the colour pallettes here…..she has a brighter more vibrant range with turquoise, aqua and lime…..just fabulous for beach houses and resorts !!

James salmond style

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It was with much pleasure that James Salmond launched his latest collection of exquisite furniture pieces this week.  Classic and contemporary is his trademark and doesn’t he do it so beautifully.  The thought he puts into each piece is very evident……his wonderful style shining!!

He is always on the hunt for original bits and pieces that he can incorporate into his designs or take inspiration from in some fashion.  The cabinet above has been designed around his collection of small stone bottles….only James could create such an elegant piece with the choice of timber and design complimenting the warmth and earthy texture of the bottles.

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James explains that this classic chair covered in gold with stud trim is the perfect size, height and proportion to have as a pair with side table in any room adjacent to the dining room…..simply add them in to your dining room setting for extra seating. All furniture is custom made to order with of course your favourite fabric.

 I do have to say that James has impeccable taste and style when choosing the perfect fabric to suit his pieces of furniture.  The fabrics in his showroom currently are particularly fabulous……grey, gunmetal and gold…..the future direction we are told.

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images: tess brennan

The tall bookcases above show his fine ability to combine classic elements yet create a contemporary piece…in fact a piece that would be at home in any interior…as long as you had the ceiling height!!

These bookcases were my favourite pieces in the showroom.  When I mentioned this to James he replied “you know you have created something special when you want to take it home” …I guess they are a favourite of his too.

White on white ……

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images: love french bulldogs

There are so many beautiful books published about a predominantly white interior. The look can be rustic, slick and contemporary, opulent or minimalist.  It also allows you to showcase anything you choose.

It could be bookcases filled with books, artwork, flowers in a vase, baskets, gilt mirrors or picture frames, porcelain ….. patterned, cream or white, architectural detailing or warm timbers.

Everything else in the room will be in contrast or shadow against the crispness of the white.

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My favourite shade of white has never altered…..Dulux White Birch.  It has enough warmth to give the room a certain glow.  For a very polished, state of the art interior I adore Dulux Vivid White !!!

An all white kitchen gives a feeling of orderliness and cleanliness…..an all white bathroom…..elegance and an all white bedroom……peacefulness.

Be bold…..floors can be cream or a light coloured carpet to complete the look. White painted timber floors can be both rustic or contemporary…..rather Scandinavian.

Don’t stop with the fabrics……what could be more divine than cream, white or antique linen in varying textures…..have fun!

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The latest design hunt by habitus living magazine

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As I glanced at my Habitus Living magazine March edition (online) I was particularly interested in the interview with interior stylist and author Sibella Court.

Sibella’s design favourites included the Sydney artist Anna-Wili Highfield, making wonderful paper sculptures of all manner of animals but predominantly birds and horses. Her impressive client list includes no other than Hermes who commissioned a series of majestic horse masks.

It is worth also looking at her sculptures made with copper piping….quite amazing the movement she captures.

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Without doubt my favourite of her paper birds is the owl in flight.  This may have something to do with the fact that we have a beautiful large white owl that visits our Southern Highlands garden at a certain time of the year …..sadly not every year.

For those of you that don’t know Sibella Court….she has a very interesting shop in Paddington and can be best described as being all about collecting and styling…..positively everything in sight.

  Her books Etcetera and Nomad showcase her talent beautifully….showing how to display your very own possessions and collections with style.  In the case of Nomad she works with the treasures and memories you have acquired while travelling…..so much better than poking them into a cupboard somewhere….the memories gone with them.

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The elegance of neutral bathrooms

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The simplicity of this bathroom is very appealing.  I am loving the neutral tones and finishes…..classic and elegant.

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Let the accessories tell the story and create the feel and mood…..what ever that may be.  Bring in texture, warmth and contrast.

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Natural materials have a natural warmth and texture and require little else. They provide their own contrast and variation within the material itself.

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Slick and contemporary or rustic and earthy …. neutral works best.

The White Company London stocks the most fabulous range of everything one needs for the bathroom….online.

images: the style files

Clever design for new baby

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This caught my eye when running through some favourite blogs.  So often impending parents get caught up with the boy/girl baby dilemma when decorating the nursery for the new baby.

For a start they are not babies for very long.  It can be a mistake to take the short term view and decorate a baby’s room with lots of baby colours and pattern….all too soon you are faced with a redecorating exercise.  This gorgeous room above, to me is very clever……both now and for later.  It is also rather clever if the sex of the baby is not known at the time you are decorating.

What could be smarter than a palette of soft grey and white where you can then add the appropriate splash of colour as above or pinks and reds for a feminine touch.

This scheme will stand the test of time and for an older child simply add navy, red, orange or even charcoal and silver.

I do love the horizontal stripe and these can be in any width.  It can be achieved by a painter, you painting or finding the stripe wallpaper you love.

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images: jessica comingore 

The sartorialist does navy, black and tan

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Image: The Sartorialist 

Why is my eye always drawn to these colours together.  I think it is just so smart to have the subtle black, navy combination with a luscious tan contrast bringing it all to life.

Tan has been big in Europe this winter but I love it anywhere, anytime.  I was thrilled when I did my dark inky blue woollen armchairs in our sitting room to then find divine tan suede Mulberry cushions to contrast. These, apart from the timber furniture, were the only colour in the room as the walls are the same inky navy blue.

I also love the colour that the natural IL Bisonte leather bags and diaries go after using them lovingly…..tan !!

One of my favourite projects recently was a Polo Clubhouse/Bar Lounge where I did large tan leather armchairs and sofas with brass studded trim ….. and chocolate and cream tartan woollen cushions.  It looked fabulous…..the building itself was spectacular….lots of dark timber rustic panelling, natural stone fireplaces and very large terracotta flagging.

I still miss the greatest source of woollen fabric ever ……. yes mainly shades of tan, coffee and caramel……Fabric Fantasy in Commonwealth Street, Sydney.  Sadly now closed.  It stocked bolts of Italian suiting fabric bought out from the mills at vastly reduced prices.  I couldn’t stop buying it to cover furniture, make bedheads and valances and even tablecloths.  The colours were a dream !!

Where it’s at……hotel 27, copenhagen

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I keep reading about Copenhagen and thinking what a truly stylish city it is. Danish design has always been at the forefront ….fashion, furniture, architecture and interiors not to mention the arts.

Hotel 27 is in the centre of the city…..a heartbeat from where it is all at…..both culture and shopping !!

As you know, I have more than a passing interest in hotel guestrooms having spent a large portion of my life as an interior designer working on their design or redesign.  Hotel 27 has the hotel guestroom sorted.  The timber floors underpin the use of colour in the furniture itself… so different to the standard hotel guestroom. So simple, elegant and so well designed.  The colours are gorgeous…..slick, young and fresh. The attention to detail is brilliant.

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Hotel 27 has the warmth and comfort factor so often missing in a lot of inner city hotels.  Designers put together a lot of hard finishes and think that opulent furnishings will be the icing on the cake…..so often the spaces may have the initial wow factor but are simply not inviting.

The Danes do timber well.  The use of either timber flooring, panelling or furniture (or all three) creates warmth and gives a space a certain character.

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And now for some really vibrant Danish design…..iconic furniture combined with gorgeous fabrics for the Bar….only in Copenhagen !!

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