Amangalla ….. gracious elegance

Another wet weekend indoors …. the bonus being the time it has allowed me to peruse my inbox in slightly more detail than normal.  In the process I was delighted to find that the latest Habitus Living online magazine had arrived. It’s images of Sri Lanka’s Amangalla I thought worth sharing.

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I quickly became lost in the world of Old Ceylon and the grandeur of this retreat … so very Aman.

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Dating back to the 1600’s these grand old structures have had a number of incarnations …. the New Orient Hotel, an icon in Galle and the hub for passengers from the P&O and Dutch East India Company vessels. In another life …. the Dutch governor’s residence and army barracks.

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The current Amangalla retreat captures it all …. large timber shutters on windows, wide timber floor boards, huge chandeliers hanging from the 6 metre ceilings, cord pull lights and the most fabulous and interesting solid timber furniture !!  They certainly have captured an era …. so pared back and yet so elegant. My favourite pieces …. the gorgeous wicker recliners !!

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They could so easily have thrown masses of colour into the interior …. very brave not to …. the vision being ‘to allow the centuries-seasoned building’s soul to shine’.

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I have always had a fascination with Sri Lanka …. just to explore the different regions…. the beaches, the tea plantations …. and maybe even a visit to Amangalla.

Pure and general ….. from travels far and wide

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This was not my first trip to Pure and General, however as it turned out, it was their first birthday.  The store looked as fabulous as I had remembered …. I think it just keeps getting better and better !! These shelves are constantly changing.

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It truly is a visual delight …. however, what sets this store apart is not just the totally unique product but the merchandising !! I was on a mission to find the perfect wedding present …. the choice was endless (and I kept getting distracted by what I personally just couldn’t live without).

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It was terrific to cross paths with the owner, Linda Gregoriou who can tell you the source, the story behind each piece …. and of her travels !! We are talking Cypress, Turkey, Greece, Denmark, Spain, Morocco, Belgium, France, Finland, Japan and the list goes on ……

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There is such joy in discovering something new and something totally unique …. ‘homewares with enduring quality, physically sourced’. (There does seem to be a sameness amongst homeware stores where product is sourced from Gift Fairs.) When Pure and General have sold out of a product, it won’t be replaced …. something even better will probably arrive instead !!

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Pure and General is a favourite with Interior Designers and Architects who are always on the lookout for different and one-off pieces of furniture, lighting or rugs for projects. The secret is to pop in regularly to keep an eye on the latest in store. By the way …. their very smart little cafe is very close to opening ….think Victoria Room delicacies !!

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The word from the milan furniture fair 2012 via Gervasoni

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I was thrilled to chat with Jenny Gill, Australian agent for the fabulous Gervasoni furniture, on her return from the Milan Furniture Fair. This is the word from Milan.

What were the trends and future direction in furniture seen in Milan ?

loose covers, lots of timber furniture, ‘big’ sofas, the new ‘big look’ for most furniture, shiny fabrics, flokati style rugs and long pile carpet in general, over sized/exaggerated pendant lighting

What were the colours shown for the new season ?

orange, purple, grey and soft grey/green

Which range proved to be particularly popular at the Fair for Gervasoni ?

inout range which is modular furniture for outdoor use and upholstered in waterproof removable covers

Apart from the Gervasoni range, which collection had an impact ?

Minotti’s large furniture range

What are your tips for a visit to Milan for the Furniture Fair ?

it is a distinct advantage to be as close to the centre as possible, near the Duomo and furniture showrooms

Can you recommend a hotel in Milan that you have stayed at ?

the NH President, Milan is where I stayed this trip and it is terrific (4 star)

Any fabulous cafe’s you can recommend ?

bar erri, via durine near hotel

Do you have a final tip for visitors to the Fair ?

a must …. visiting the area where the new designers not able to afford the Fair exhibit ….. Zona Tortona

Retail Showroom for Gervasoni : Anibou, Sydney

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10 tips for creating a black and white interior !!

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image: likainen parketti

There is nothing as smart as black and white !! And you don’t need another colour at all if you are clever with texture and pattern.  How inviting is the grey woollen blanket above, not to mention the rustic trunk …. the juxtaposition of the contemporary slick white walls with lots of texture, pattern and vintage !!

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Again, a simple white interior contrasted with the warmth and texture of the linen sofa and timber table.  Interestingly, it is the definite contrast of the black shade, television and other smaller pieces that create the statement.

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images:jakob nylund

This is an example of pure white on white with not a lot of black …… however you don’t need a lot to make the statement.

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image: apartmentsilike

In contrast, the black in this interior is strong and bold and looks fabulous !!

The combination of the very definite black and white stripes with the softer lines of the sofa and armchair works beautifully. The detailed window architrave and rustic side tables soften the linear effect of the rug.

So be bold ….. go forth and embrace black and white for its simplicity, its inherent style and its flexibility.

Some black and white suggestions ……

almost black walls with white ceiling, doors, windows, skirting and architraves, floors pale bleached timber

white walls, ceiling and trims with black gloss timber floor

bathrooms with white wall tiles, predominantly white tiled floor with small black tile in check pattern, black vanity as a contrast with white bath and basin

all white kitchens with a very thick black benchtop … particularly good with black timber floor or even grey bleached timber

staircases in white with black handrail and tread only

charcoal to black painted exterior for timber houses or sheds with white trim on windows, doors and shutters

black and white photographs framed in black on a white wall or framed in white on a black wall

a soft black fringed throw rug on a bed made with crisp white bedlinen and doona

thick black bath towels hanging or folded in an all white bathroom

a large vase full of fully blown pink roses in any black and white interior ….

Mercedes benz furniture launched in milan

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Really not sure about the range of Mercedes Benz furniture….their first !!!!

It is being launched as we speak at the Milan Furniture Fair.

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In their own words they are describing it as dynamic, futuristic and having nice form and lines……and I am sure the ergonomics are brilliant, however it really just doesn’t look terribly comfortable. 

Perhaps, the statement piece in a Mercedes Benz showroom or state of the art harbourside apartment !!

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The collection comprises chairs, chaise lounge, dining table, shelf for the home theatre system, drawers and bed. 

No doubt the quality is impeccable, however I suspect the prices may be approaching that of the smaller cars in the range.

Food for thought…..I don’t think so.

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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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…..

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.

French antiques to share

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I enjoyed receiving notification of the shipment of gorgeous french antiques from Architectural and Antique Elements in Sydney. It is definitely worth browsing amongst their new collection either for fun or if in search of a specific piece.

My favourite pieces are the french oak haberdashery table above, console and chest of drawers with marble tops, french oak buffet and metal trough.

I do love the scrubbed lighter oak finish and am always drawn to it……it reminds me of Appley Hoare’s heavenly french antique shop in Woollahra….sadly for us, long gone. Since then she has run a very successful antique business in Pimlico Road in London.

For those who are interested Appley Hoare is currently based in the south of France still sourcing unique french antiques which can be viewed online.  Of even greater interest is the beautiful house she rents in the south of France.

Daughter Zoe Hoare is now in the USA living and sourcing gorgeous bits and pieces as well. Her beautiful taste can be seen in the Oct/Nov 2011 Vogue Living.

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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 !!

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