December 8, 2016

It's Official: The Most Popular Vintage Shop in Australia

A sensational one-year renovation is just one reason to visit Dirty Janes this weekend. Then there’s the shopping. 

The place has been a hit since it opened many years ago, moving Bowral’s centre with it - and the recent expansion (it’s now a 2000 square metre stylist’s paradise) completes Australia’s best vintage shopping destination. 
It’s where our A-list interior designers, collectors and dealers go for everything from bargain Georgian desks to 1950s wingbacks, French salon chairs, kitchen island benches and other things you see in the best Architectural Digest interiors. Think Palm Springs glam meets French vintage.
There’s a mindblowing collection of second-hand furniture and antiques with tables, dining chairs, stools, French watering cans, plinths, wire baskets, clocks, chests of drawers, 1950s shop mannequins, soda cyphons, fab white enamelware, galvanised Amish barn stars, jumbo French breadboards, vintage tennis racquets, timber baker’s paddles, and Georgian bookcases.
You’ll also find European workbenches, butcher’s blocks, parquet-top coffee tables, industrial-style storage racks, excellent Irish Gainsborough chairs, upholstered sofas, and the best table lamps.
Much of the handpicked pieces are from grand American and European interiors – that are elegant and well made pieces with a worn patina.
Think rough textures, natural materials, subtle hues: an old wooden bowl, a wicker hanging lantern, a tarnished goblet. Pieces that will give your house soul, lots of style and nostalgia value as well as reflecting your interests and sense of beauty. Perfect for adding warmth. Embellishment. And lots of texture.
We recommend taking it slow to explore the vast collection – hit Dirty Janes first, then peruse the other 75 stores. Here’s our top picks (which look a lot more expensive than they are).
1. Swedish timber dining chairs with cream paint finish that would look at home in a World of Interiors magazine, $55 each.
2. French bergere armchairs that will make any interior look like a million dollars, $350.
3. Beautiful kitchen island counters in solid timber, $1400.
4. Vintage wicker armchairs – the kind of thing you see in houses in the Hamptons, France and the Cotswolds, $70 a pop.
5. Upholstered low French-style stools, $120. 
6. French watering cans, from $50.
7. Georgian breakfront bookcase cabinet, $695
8. Large Burmese baskets, ideal for indoor plants, magazines, drinks, books, $80.
9. Irish Gainsborough chair – the sort you’d see in a Sotheby’s catalogue or grand English country house, $1200.
10. Collectable porcelain lamp bases in classic shapes, $85 up.
Oh, and don’t forget to pop into newcomers like The Society Inc - yep, Sibella Court’s covetable hardware collection of door handles, hooks and clips has now joined old faves like Suzie Anderson and The Potted Shed. Make sure you also visit The Inspired Paddock, among the many others. It is the best vintage shopping in the country - and some of the cheapest. Visit as soon as you can - there's even a great tea salon, so you can make a day of it. 
DIRTY JANES BOWRAL, 13-15 Banyette Street, Bowral, 02 4862 1522,
December 8, 2016

The Happiest Shop In The Southern Highlands

Can certain homewares and objects make you happier? We think so. Home is where the heart is, and a beautiful interior full of pretty things boosts your happiness.

See for yourself at The Inspired Paddock, a new store within Dirty Janes Bowral, which is brimming with beautiful things to create good moods.
People are flocking in for wooden game gems (think backgrammon, chess, scrabble, solitaire, even basketball baseboards) that will put you in great spirits.
There’s feelgood antlers (naturally shed) and reindeer hides you’ll love. Plus feathers and quills (pheasant to guinea fowl and turkey) that will make you feel good.  
Worth a visit, for items that work for their keep, and inspire. The products have plenty going for them.
Inquiries:  0407 211 445,
December 8, 2016

Everything You Need For A Super Stylish Christmas

Christmas is such a time of excess that many people lose their sense of style. Most tables are a riot of food, flowers, crackers, candles and Santa-themed things.

It's visual indigestion. Celebrate the art of easy entertaining with our simple tips for a super-stylish Christmas this year.
Tip 1: Keep It Classic Considering you’re probably going to use your Christmas kit year after year, you won’t go wrong with traditional choices. Christmas colours (and decorations) should reflect solid values, so avoid anything too mod (think acqua, white). Use a two or three-colour scheme, but avoid green and gold, or blue and silver: they're shopping centre cliches. Silver and gold, or taupe and green is more chic. Or try gold and a soft pink.
Tip 2: Use Nature to Channel the Season Turns out adding a festive touch can be as simple as heading to your local market for simple berry branches or pomegranates in a bowl. Plus branches of spruce or fir mixed with buxus, pinecones and red apples.
Tip 3: Establish a Look Do you want classic or contemporary.....what message do you want to send?  Italian countryside with a Christmas twist? Long Island summer with a festive flourish?  Perhaps a Nordic fairytale candlelit affair? Go for a look that fits in with your vision of you, your home and family.
Tip 4: Layer On The Greenery If you have a tree in a big pot or container, consider filling the top with bits of greenery, pinecones, or moss. 
Tip 5: Make It Look Good Presentation is everything. Use a low centrepiece. Place a bowl of jumbo silver baubles in the middle with a simple bonbon at each setting or an urn filled with holly leaves or huge, perfect cherries. Avoid anything artificial. Lovely, generous napkins send a powerful message. So unfortunately do stains, fraying edges, and musty smells.
Tip 6: Posh Crackers Your crackers say a lot about you. Cheap crackers, cheap event. They speak of your values, and whether you know and appreciate good things. Upgrade your cracker-game and don't disappoint your guests. 
Tip 7: Don’t Make Everything From Scratch When Entertaining Make some, and buy the rest. There is nothing wrong with cheating – as long as your shop bought food is stunning. The French have been doing it for decades.
Tip 8: Keep The Canapes Simple And Generous The higher quality the ingredients, the less you have to do. Think proscuitto served with melon, figs or provolone: so stylish, so easy to serve and far better than sweating over something complicated. Or go for a whole side of salmon with crusty bread.
Tip 9: Serve Christmas Drinks With A Visual Punch Nothing makes people more relaxed than a generous glass of something when they arrive. Hit your guests with a grand gesture in a glass. Try jugs of Campari, Aperol spritz, generous slugs of gin-and-tonic or, of course, good champagne or prosecco. Limit the choice. You don’t want to turn yourself into a bartender. Serve drinks in big, well-proportioned glasses and make sure they are full. Nothing looks meaner than handing someone a half-empty vessel.
Tip 10: Keep Gift Wrapping Simple Yet Striking Melissa has two giant holly trees in her country garden, so takes cuttings and adds giant sprigs to presents she’s wrapped in repurposed wallpapers that she has saved.
December 8, 2016

The Best Shopping Habits To Establish By The Time You're 30

Most people know how to buy, but not how to shop. Establishing good habits in your 20s, especially in the shopping department, will benefit you for years to come.

Shopping is a skill, and to do it right you need to know these rules, and then practice, practice, practice.

1. Focus On Buying The Best You Can Afford In the long run, it’s cheaper.
2. Invest in timeless pieces you'll have forever like a copper ice bucket to a cashmere throw.
3. Splash out on a few hero pieces that will take a room from whatever to wow.
4. Do the rub test, whether it’s towels, sheets or ceramics. Feel is more important than threadcount. It doesn’t matter how lovely it looks, if it feels scratchy, forget it.
5. Don’t compromise your standards. A low price doesn’t equal a good buy if you’ll never use it.
6. Don’t be a snob. Remember that quality doesn’t always mean big names.
7. Don’t pinch pennies on the things you use every day. A cheap knife will make your life a misery, so will a poorly sprung armchair.
8. Don’t shop to make yourself happy. The latest whiz-bang sofa or couture frock won’t make up for a lost love.
9. Buy great glasses and towels in bulk, especially when they are on sale. Twenty is better than twelve, ten is better than six.
10. Spend with your head, not over it. If your credit card is out of control, cut it up.
11. Don’t feel a failure if you come home empty-handed. It’s still a day well-spent if you’ve picked up ideas and avoided bad buys. 
December 1, 2016

Gift Guide 101: Can't-Go-Wrong Christmas Gifts 2016

Go on pamper the people you love this Christmas. Here's a quick round up of what we're hoping to get: a mix of classics and on-trend kit to bring joy to the everyday.

Everything from traditional treats to their inexpensive equivalents and the failsafe pieces everyone wants.  
Even gifts for your own sweet self.

If you are stuck for what to give your family and friends this Christmas, seek treats they would never buy themselves. It's easy. A lovely cake stand, a set of bowls, the latest book that’s the ultimate reference; things like these will give a lifetime of pleasure. So will anything that conforms to your friends' tastes - things they may hesitate to buy because they may consider it too indulgent. The idea is to spoil them.

Give things they would like, not things you would like. Use your imagination and empathy gene to envisage what they would like and need.

Be smart and observant. Fill in their collections. Don't assume your presents are no good because they didn't cost a lot, or superior because they were expensive. It's the thoughtfulness that counts.

Look for the kinds of things your friends and family would never find, let alone buy for themselves and wrap them in drop-dead packaging.
Don't underestimate the appeal of anything that makes everyday life pleasurable - a wonderful chopping board, even a pretty glass that can double as a vase or pencil pot.

Timeless napkins, placemats, Italian, French or English soaps, candles or bubble baths. A lightweight silk or cashmere scarf. A cosy throw rug in a pretty colour.

Remember: with these kinds of classic presents, quality is key.
December 1, 2016

See Melissa's Daughters Ultimate Christmas Gift List

When it comes to gift giving, millenials understand it instinctively. No other generation understands of-the-moment trends like the highly visual 20-and-30 something group that spends so much time online researching instagram.

And then add their own stamp.  

So we asked Melissa’s daughter, Isabella who has her own strong sense of fashion and style, to reveal what's on her Christmas list for 2016.

We love Isabella's mix of covetables, high to low, which reveals millennials are much more about immediate results. When they open a present they want to see something they can use immediately – a fab frock, face mask, or statement-making beach towel, which will slot effortlessly into their lives, and boost their egos.

Bottom line? Seek out things that are practical, personal and beautiful but also send out strong style signals. 

December 1, 2016

Armani Casa! (Need We Say More?)

Armani Casa doesn't change its look much from season to season (year to year, or decade to decade), which is a great lesson in style.

Launched back in 2000 to mirror Giorgio Armani’s iconic fashions, the home collection – soft furnishings, lighting, and gifts - comes in a timeless neutral palette (black, white, silver, brown) and materials in metal, leather, glass, linen, and natural weaves on which the fashion has built its mega-successful brand.
It’s the kind of stuff that always looks appropriate, but with edge, that you know will be an interiors staple for years.
Quick fixes? Luggage rack, lamps, cushions, throws, diffuesers, even playing cards which make a great gift for the person who has everything.

Armani Casa Janette cushions, $510 each; Logo lamp, $3200; Nemo stand, $1500, throws, $1050; candles, $120- $160, diffusers with sticks, $360; Diffuser spray, $320; playing card sets, $520; notebooks, $185.
Giorgio Armani Sydney, (02) 8233 5888; Melbourne, (03) 9662 1661,
December 1, 2016

How To Leave A Party Early (And When It's Acceptable To Politely Escape...)

People always worry that it's rude to leave early. Actually, it's ruder to overstay - to be at a rave when everyone else is at a (grim phrase) kitchen dinner.

Conversely, though, it is perfectly acceptable to be at a kitchen dinner while everyone else around the table has their metaphorical rave hat on.
Because - within reason - if you leave and they mind, they are terrorist friends and you need to examine the power balance, says Tatler magazine in a recent story on the subject which covers all aspects of when it's acceptable to make a dash for it. 
Here, according to the Brit magazine, are some rules and some ways to leave should you need a little assistance:

Yes, you can leave after pudding but before coffee. And that is the general rule.
If you are at a house party and there is no commute (other than up the stairs to your bedroom), you cannot leave until coffee is drunk. It's the price you pay.
If you are given tea (not coffee) and pudding and chocolate all at the same time, then the host has a box set/secret lover/early start and you should get your coat.

If you are at a wedding, it really is best to stay for the speeches.

If it's a weekday supper and they serve you dinner after 10,  then it’s perfectly acceptable to leave after the main course.

If your host starts doing any chores other than washing up (such as emailing, making packed lunches, ironing), just leave. You will by this point have missed many hints.

If your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife is there with a new squeeze and no one has bothered to warn you, then - providing  the break-up took place less than  a year ago - you can leave as  soon as you arrive. 
If you are drunk enough to slur/trip/grope/be sick, then off you go.

The children are getting up for school. They must NOT see you - you think you look normal. You do not look normal.
November 24, 2016

Meet The Melissa And Isabella Lamps

Ready for a little pre-Christmas decorating? We thought so.
What better place to start than with a couple of knockout table lamps, selected and named after Melissa and her daughter – Isabella.

We know our style resonates with you…the recent story on Isabella’s first apartment was the blog’s most-clicked post this year. And our Melissa chair has sold out. Bonus: the table lamps are glamorous pieces that can give an old room a fresh look and will cost you far less than a complete overhaul.
Expect classic lamp designs that will make a $100 table look like a million dollars. See for yourself why they’re Melissa and Isabella’s choice.

The Isabella lamp has a glass base that will add a transparent glimmer to any room - the bronze finish and Belgian linen shade will give any space instant confidence. Available in two sizes, it's the kind of lamp you find in a Ralph Lauren or John Saladino interior.

The Melissa lamp is a classic bronze design that will give a room a well-rounded appearance, and last forever. It’s used in some of the smartest houses in the country and comes with ultra-smart linen shades in black or stone.
“Great table lamps are essential; they’re the first things people notice and you can’t skimp: cheap lamps signal cheap interiors,” says Melissa. “A pair of brilliant table lamps give a room elegance, gravitas and confidence.”

ISABELLA LAMP in glass with bronze finish and Belgian linen shade, medium 76cm height, $625 or large 90cm height, $695
MELISSA LAMP a candlestick design 62cm height in bronze with linen shade in black or stone-hue, $295

SHOP ISABELLA OR MELISSA lamps by emailing,  marked LAMPS

Main image of Melisa and Isabella at the family country house appeared in Sunday Life magazine earlier this month. Photography Jennifer Soo. 

November 23, 2016

Win $2000 Dash & Albert Rug By Bunny Williams

Here’s an unbelievable chance to update your house for Christmas, thanks to Dash & Albert.

The American rugmaker is giving away a beautiful Bunny Williams Marco Oak rug that will change the mood of your rooms instantly —valued at $2000—to one lucky Melissa Penfold reader.
Dash & Albert is renowned for its great line of rugs in affordable chunky weaves and textures made with wool, jute, cotton, hemp, even poly, in natural shades, using Fair Trade practises and no child labour. 
They’re chic, make everything else look right, and there’s all styles from thick-ribbed knits to herringbone weaves and ultra-chunky weaves.
Whizz online at (the Australian distributor of Dash & Albert) and check out the timeless designs of gorgeous rugs that are in a league of their own – you’ll want them all.
They are pieces to love forever. This season there's no shortage of heavily textured rug options that are on-trend and modern. Best of all, you can choose the one that fits your style, look and environment. 
To enter the competition to win Dash & Albert's best selling Marco Oak rug by Bunny Williams, just sign up for emails from Melissa and Winton House by sending your email address to marked DASH & ALBERT Competition before midnight on Sunday, December 17, 2016. The winner will be chosen at random and notified by email by December 18. The contest is open to residents of Australia only; see Official Rules for details. 
TERMS AND CONDITIONSELIGIBILITY: Melissa Penfold and Dash & Albert Giveaway (“Giveaway”) is open only to legal residents of Australia, 18 years of age or older. Void Where Prohibited. Employees (and their immediate families (parent, child, spouse or sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and those living in their same households, whether or not related) of Melissa Penfold, LLC. (“Sponsor”), and their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliated companies and advertising and promotion agencies and fulfillment providers are not eligible to enter or win. By entering your email address you agree you would like to be subscribed to the Melissa Penfold Weekly Email and receive occasional marketing emails from Winton House (Australian distributor of Dash & Albert). You will have the opportunity to unsubscribe at any time, immediately, once you receive your first email. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and Melissa Penfold’s Privacy Policy Winton House Privacy Policy and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are binding and final on matters relating to this Giveaway.
GIVEAWAY PERIOD: The Giveaway begins at 7am on November 24, 2016 and ends at midnight on December 17, 2016 (“Giveaway Period”).
TO ENTER: Entry must be in English, and comply with Melissa Penfold’s Privacy Policy and Winton House Privacy Policy. The Giveaway begins at 7am, November 24, 2016 and ends at midnight on December 17, 2016. All entries must be received by midnight on December 18, 2016, to be eligible. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means or by any means which subvert the entry process are void. All entries become the property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned.
DRAWING: One (1) potential winner will be chosen at random on or about December 17, 2015 from all eligible entries received. The odds of winning are based on the number of eligible entries received for the applicable drawing. The decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding on all matters relating to this Giveaway. 
WINNER NOTIFICATION: Potential winners will be notified by email on or about December 17, 2016 and are required to reply to Sponsor's email within seven (7) days of initial contact in order to claim prize. Potential winners may be required to execute and return an affidavit of eligibility, a liability release and, where lawful, a publicity release within seven (7) days of date of issuance. If required documents are not returned within the specified time period, if a prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, if a potential winner is not in compliance with these rules, or if Sponsor is unable to contact a potential winner within the specified time period, prize will be forfeited and, at Sponsor’s discretion, an alternate winner selected for the drawing at issue. If a potential winner is at least 18 but still considered a minor in his/her jurisdiction of residence, prize may be awarded in the name of his/her parent or legal guardian who will be responsible for fulfilling all requirements imposed on winners set forth herein. Winner's name will be published on the “Win $2000 Dash & Albert Rug" post page once winner is confirmed. 
PRIZE: Winner will receive a Dash & Albert Marco Oak rug designed by Bunny Williams, 152cm x 243cm, value of $2000.  Standard shipping costs are included for prize delivery to winner in Australia. Prize is subject to terms and conditions specified by issuer. The prize cannot be exchanged for cash or credit and cannot be combined with other offers or coupons. Prize is awarded “as is” with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied. Winner may not substitute, assign or transfer prize, but Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to substitute prize with one of comparable or greater value. All prize details are at Sponsor’s sole discretion.
PUBLICITY GRANT: Winner, by acceptance of a prize, except where legally prohibited, grants permission for Sponsor and its designees to use his/her name, and prize information for advertising, trade and promotional purposes (including, but not limited to, announcing winner’s name on the website) without further compensation, in all media now known or hereafter discovered, in any manner, worldwide in perpetuity, without notice or review or approval.
LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY: Released Parties (as defined below) are not responsible for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, stolen, delayed, misdirected, undelivered or garbled comments, up-votes or emails; or for lost, interrupted or unavailable network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), website, or other connections, availability or accessibility or miscommunications or failed computer, satellite, telephone or cable transmissions, lines, or technical failure or jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions or computer hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or other errors or difficulties of any kind whether human, mechanical, electronic, computer, network, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with the Giveaway, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of the Giveaway, the processing of entries, tabulation of up-votes, the announcement of the prize or in any Giveaway-related materials. Released Parties are also not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by site users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Giveaway. Released Parties are not responsible for injury or damage to participants' or to any other person's computer related to or resulting from participating in this Giveaway or downloading materials from or use of the website. Persons who tamper with or abuse any aspect of the Giveaway or website or who are in violation of these Official Rules, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and all associated entries will be void. Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to suspend, modify or terminate the Giveaway (or any portion thereof) should any portion of the Giveaway be, in Sponsor’s sole opinion, compromised by virus, worms, bugs, non-authorized human intervention or other causes which, in the sole opinion of the Sponsor, corrupt or impair the administration, security, fairness or proper play, or submission of entries. If terminated, Sponsor may, at its discretion, select the potential winner from all eligible, non-suspect entries and/or up-votes received prior to action taken or as otherwise deemed fair and appropriate by Sponsor. Entrants, by participating, agree that Sponsor, its parent, subsidiaries, divisions, affiliated companies, advertising and promotion agencies and fulfillment providers, and all of their respective officers, directors, employees, representatives and agents (collectively, “Released Parties”) will have no liability whatsoever for, and shall be held harmless by entrants against, any liability, for any injuries, losses or damages of any kind, including death, to persons, or property resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from acceptance, possession, misuse or use of the prize or participation in this Giveaway. In the event of a dispute regarding entries received from multiple users having the same e-mail account, the authorized subscriber of the e-mail account at the time of entry will be deemed to be the entrant and must comply with these rules. Authorized account subscriber is the natural person who is assigned the e-mail address by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), on-line service provider, or other organization responsible for assigning e-mail addresses.
PRIVACY: By entering, each entrant agrees that any information collected in connection with this Giveaway may be used by Melissa Penfold Privacy Policy and Winton House Privacy Policy.



Every season, we do the work for you, to find the season's must-have buys in our pick of the latest looks to prove that you really can have style for less. Introducing Melissa Penfold essential basics - wicker wingbacks, linen sheets, soy candles and much help you transition your home instantly for summer. Happy shopping!
Melissa Penfold