February 16, 2017

Melissa's 2 Week Kitchen Remodel For Less Than $5000

Off-the-peg open shelves and slabs of honed, not polished, marble, plus a budget kitchen mixer, chainstore spotlights, even an antique lion.

See the ideas we used to give our 1970s Sydney kitchen an entirely fresh look – and surprisingly spacious feel - that cost far less than a major overhaul. Oh and, the tried-and-tested tricks that look so expensive.
FIRST UP Before we whizzed off to the shops; we decided on what we’d keep. The laminate cupboards were in good working order, as was the sink and basic layout. 

APPLIANCES One of the worst offenders of the room was the dated kitchen appliances. We called in specialists, Winning Appliances and Handy Crew, who measured up and advised on the best equipment. We splashed out on good, reliable known-brand appliances built to last that instantly updated the space: a new Westinghouse hood, Ilve electric oven, Elctrolux gas cooktop, Bosch dishwasher and Fisher & Paykel skinny refrigerator, fat with features, all in matte stainless steel finish to update the entire space.

OPEN SHELVING The 1970s tiles were doing the look of the kitchen a disservice, so we installed, sleek IKEA readymade Grundtal stainless steel open shelves to disguise the feature tiles which saved the expense (and hassle) of re-tiling. Plus, the shelving allowed us to display everyday china from plates to jugs, carafes, candlesticks, platters and vases on open shelves with an eye to aesthetics to give the kitchen instant character. Ikea.com.au

BENCHTOPS To save on the cost of replacing benchtops, we went for big bespoke marble chopping boards – almost the size of the benchtops that looked like ancient French creations that she dumped on the existing laminate benchtops to style up everyday life. We asked for cut-off corners (it cost a little extra but made a big difference) And honed, not polished finish. Stone Bank (02) 9567 8960.
BLINDS We corrected the small window’s proportions with a made-to-measure blind that is wider and higher than the actual window is – giving the room the dimensions it doesn’t actually have. The blind has 60mm blade timber slats with an ultra-deep super-chic 85mm pelmet – that was colour matched to the walls. Wynstan Blinds, www.wynstan.com.au
LIGHTING WE went to our local lighting supplier, Universal Lighting for sleek designer-look track spotlights in brushed chrome which weren’t expensive. Most lighting specialists such as Beacon Lighting offer similar options. Universal Lighting, (02) 9328 7633, www.universallighting.com.au

PAINT The kitchen is painted Dulux USA Chalk USA (a classic ochre-based white). “It suited the amount of light the room received in a wash and wear emulsion that coated easily and concealed blemishes well”, says Melissa. Never underestimate the transformative powers of colour. Paint offers immediate gratification, and even the good stuff is relatively inexpensive. Hate your kitchen? Try paint first. www.dulux.com.au
DOOR HARDWARE Door handles can set the entire tone of a space. We used new snazzy brushed stainless-steel door handles from Mother of Pearl & Sons Trading to replace soulless laminte D-handle designs. The mini handles we chose are discontinued but we recommend dowel cabinet knobs 453 in brushed chrome, that we have used for joinery and cabinets throughout our city apartment, Mother of Pearl & Son Trading, www.motherofpearl.com.au
TAPWARE A new slick, sleek kitchen faucet is an instant update. We love Bunnings Ikonic WELS 5 Star 6L/min Pin Lever Sink Mixer, $100, that could easily pass muster as a three-figure Italian design. Bunnings Warehouse, www.bunnings.com.au

Melissa’s 4 design tips:  
GO NEUTRAL Remember to go for harmony and use the same colours for all elements in your renovation - flooring, walls, benchtops, hardware, lighting– to give a sense of flow. 
THROW IN SOME BLACK No matter what style your interior—modern, traditional, or eclectic—we always introduce a black element, such as the Ikea clock – to add instant edge.
STORE THINGS IN PLAIN SIGHT If you see it, you’ll use it. And if you don’t, chuck it out. Display everyday china from plates to mugs, jugs, carafes, candlesticks, platters and vases on open shelves with an eye to aesthetics to give your kitchen the character.
ANTIQUE ELEMENT We hung an antique stone lions head on the wall – it’s actually an outdoor piece that’s strong, durable, and adds instant individuality to a space.
February 16, 2017

Every Australian Interior Designer's Favourite Upholsterer

A serious trade secret. Melbourne-based Wills Furniture is the place bigwig interior designers go for the best sofas and armchairs in town.

The Adelaide and Cliveden sofas are classics, handcrafted with expertise, perfectionism and great detailing, that grace some of the biggest and best houses in Australia.
Owner John Sharkey's renowned company has been producing soft, plump, firm upholstery – seating of all kinds, stools, ottomans, and bedheads -  for 24 years, using traditional methods, to suit most needs, (classic to modern styles).  
Go for Wills fabulous designs including Adelaide, Cliveden, Sheffield, Suffolk, Kingsford and Bradford. Plus lovely custom work, to any size and specification. Or have things you love resprung and recovered. A big selection of studs, timber finishes, leg styles, to choose from. You won't go wrong.

WILLS FURNITURE, 6 Guest Street, Hawthorn, (03) 9815 0111, www.willsfurniture.com.au 
February 16, 2017

The Right Way To Store Your Linens

Keeping your linens fresh, crisp, white and fluffy is about more than just washing them the right way.

It’s also about storing them correctly to preserve the colour and integrity of the fabric, especially when they spend so much time stowed away when another set is in use.
The experts at Frette, the 150-year old top-drawer Italian sheeting used by royalty and the Ritz in Paris, are full of great advice on the subject of bedding.
Marketing manager Amy Skarbnik recently gave Architectural Digest magazine the lowdown on how to maximize the shelf life of your linens and we think it’s well worth sharing.
FIND A DARK DRY PLACE "Store your linens in a bone-dry space with minimal light exposure," says Skarbnik. A linen closet is ideal, but if you don’t have one, she suggests a trunk at the end of the bed or a storage bench as design friendly alternatives.
KEEP THEM CONTAINED Protect your linens from dust by storing them in a fabric-friendly container. “A white fabric bag is the best option, and we recommend placing acid-free paper in between linen sets to allow for more air circulation,” says Skarbnik.
AVOID PLASTIC "It may be tempting to leave your linens in the plastic bags from the dry clearner, but don’t do it,” says Skrabnik. In addition to plastic, you should also steer clean of cedar or cardboard to prevent yellowing and to keep  your whites looking snow white.
STAY STREAMLINED To keep your storage space neat and organized – and to avoid overcrowding – limit yourself to three sets of sheets per bed as as few as three sets of towels  (including hand towels and wash cloths) per person, plus an extra set for guests.
USE SACHETS Sachets, while not a must, are a nice way to subtly enhance the aroma of your linens when placed in the back of your wardrobe or chest. “Just make sure the sachet bag is white so no colour can bleed onto your linens,” Skabnik advises. You can also use scented drawer liners. 
February 16, 2017

The Three Colours Everyone In Paris is Decorating With

The best way to kick traditional style up a notch? Do as the Parisians are doing this season and paint your space a rich, stunning colour like raisin, truffle or herb.

Most of the shades are faint enough to be a neutral, but saturated enough to make a difference. All are colours that can created a calming, elegant or even electrifying effect.
RAISIN Parisians are using a soft amythest shade everywhere this season – it is the ideal medium-dark mulberry grey. It has warmth, but never looks drab, and has enough pigment to make a statement without being overwhelming. A classic look.
TRUFFLE It's a super soft and subtle smokey shade of charcoal-grey that feels fresh, light and airy. It reflects light beautifully to really open up a space, and serves as the perfect neutral backdrop.
HERB This is the ideal background colour: a warm, soft olive-ochre that looks good with everything. It's like the consummate party hostess who brings out the best in every guest. A perfect backdrop for blues (denim, chambray, navy) in a living room, and makes timber look fantastic. 

February 9, 2017

The Art of Australian Entertaining

The essentials for entertaining Australian style? An easy menu—because it's not about culinary gymnastics, it's about people—great lighting and really great music. 

Australians know you don’t have to be a great cook to be a great entertainer – some of the best parties are hosted by the worst cooks. Fancy food is far less important than people and atmosphere.
Here’s a quick guide to how Australians organize relaxed get-togethers that let the hostess have just as much fun as the guests.
DO SKIP THE SMALL STUFF Forget formality. Go for a relaxed atmosphere. Your guests will probably remember the pretty table setting. They might remember the super delicious aperitivo of camparis and fresh orange juice. But the three-course meal you didn’t serve will go largely unnoticed. Allow yourself to skip over somethings. No one will notice except for you. We never serve three courses.  You can go without a lot of ‘necessary’ items, save time, hassle and most importantly, money. And no one will bat an eyelid.
DO WORK WITH THE SEASONS Don’t drive yourself crazy with a pre-determined colour palette or menu. Work with what’s in season. 
DO LOVE YOUR GUESTS This is the golden rule. When most Australians invite people to their home, it’s because they like them and they come because they want to. A dinner party is a pact to have a good-time together – that means all of you, including the host and hostess. Everything else – the food, the wine, the setting is secondary.
DON’T SERVE COMPLICATED FOOD Australians don’t spend all day stuffing cherry tomatoes with 27 ingredients. You’ll be exhausted and you’re guests will tense up at the sight of the food, wondering how they’ll reciprocate. The food should be simple, generous, easy to serve and easy to eat. If you want to be Martha Stewart become a professional caterer.
DON'T BE CONFINED BY THE SPACE YOU LIVE IN  If you think your home is too small or not smart enough, think again. The people and conversation are what make a dinner party great. Sure, a stunning table overlooking the ocean at sunset is fun, but it's not necessary for a dinner to be fun and memorable.
DO CREATE A PARTY ATMOSPHERE Your kitchen and house shouldn't be the same as they are everyday. Light candles, set the table with a tablecloth, pretty china, napkins; play great music; fill the room with foliage and flowers; and put on a fab dress.
DO BE FLEXIBLE Accept last-minute party guests. If your best pal's cousin is in town for the night, or someone extra arrives, don’t glower, welcome them. You’ve always got enough food for one or two more.
NEVER BE RUDE If someone spills red wine on your new sisal flooring, or burns a hole in your favourite cushion, keep the charm flowing and go on as if they’ve done you the biggest favour. Most offences seem less serious the next morning.
IF THINGS GO WRONG If the casserole burns, the fish is off, or dessert is a disaster, never despair or apologise. Make light of the catastrophe, your guests are here for a good time, they don’t need to know your pain. Raid the cupboards, get creative. Even if it’s pizza for main course, keep the portions generous, the wine flowing and the laughs coming. Remember the hostess sets the tone of the evening.
BE FRIENDLY There’s no point having everything so, if you’re guests don’t feel welcome. Do as Australians do; be warm. Greet your guests. Rush to the door – even out to the car. Usher them in – gush over their little gifts, and make them feel loved. Introduce everyone. Give them a drink, and have one yourself. Stay with them while they drink it, too. Those first few minutes are vital. This is not the time to rush to the kitchen and start beating cream.
DON’T SHOW OFF Australians tend to resist the temptation to get out every piece of silver they own. They don’t want to end up looking like a restauranteur. One water and one glass per person is usually enough. They also prefer to keep the cutlery simple.
BEFORE ANYONE ARRIVES Preparation is the key to a great night. All you need to do is look good, be charming and dish up the food.
DO DRINK AND BE MERRY 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 Campari, martinis, or generous slugs of gin-and-tonic. Alcohol is the great ice breaker, don’t underestimate it. It’s amazing what a few glasses will do to relax a room and get everyone laughing.
DO LIMIT YOUR TIME IN THE KITCHEN Don’t leave your guests on their own, making polite chitchat while you vanish to cook. Pre-prepare as much food as possible. That will leave you plenty of time to relax and spend with your guests. Don’t wash up during dinner: what you think takes a few seconds, actually results in your guests being left alone and unloved for ten long minutes.
KEEP IT SIMPLE In the food department, do only what you can comfortably. If that’s five courses, congratulations. Otherwise, pare back to something dead simple because your guests will only be relaxed when you are. Simplicity can cost a little more (a mountain of prawns and oysters, a whole salmon cooked on the barbecue) but it leaves you free to sparkle.
The higher quality the ingredients, the less you have to do. Nothing beats slow roast lamb or a filet of beef.  So easy to serve and far better than sweating over it. To finish there is nothing wrong with cheating – so long as your shop-bought pastry is a stunner.
GET SOCIAL Once your pals arrive, work the room. As long as the atmosphere is right, all you need is enough food to go around, served simply.  With smiling relaxed hosts, people will have more fun tucking into one great course, than a feast dished up by largely absent hosts.
MAKE IT LOOK GOOD Presentation is everything. You can make plain food look great, styled correctly. Big white bowls and wooden bowls are a good start.
LET THEM SERVE THEMSELVES Don’t plate up food. There’s nothing nicer than helping yourself to what you fancy. Use different sized platters and pedestal bowls for interest. It looks (and feels) modern.
DON’T GIVE THEM INDIGESTION No lunch or dinner should have more than one creamy course or more than once course involving pastry (forget that menu of onion tart, followed by beef wellington followed by pear tart).
KEEP GUESTS OUT OF THE KITCHEN You don’t want to turn your guests into sous-chefs of scullery maids, and people who hang around chatting slow things down in the kitchen when they should be animating the dinner table. Generally, they’ll only come to talk to you if you’ve been spending so long in the kitchen that they feel guilty. Their presence is a sign for you to head back to the table.
DON'T RUSH TO DO THE DISHES One of the best parts of a dinner is the time after the meal is finished when everyone lingers at the table. Open a fresh bottle of wine.  Sit back, relax, and let the lively conversation commence.
WALK PEOPLE TO THE CAR WHEN THEY LEAVE There is nothing lovelier than having the whole family come out to say goodbye and wave guests off. Let people know you care and that you’ve appreciated their company. It doesn’t matter who they are: the richest man in Australia or your friend and her latest hopeless boyfriend. Never let anyone leaving your house open the door themselves. It’s bad luck for them, and hideously ill-mannered on your part.
February 9, 2017

3 Non-Negotiables For A Stylish Interior

How to decorate? When it comes to creating a chic interior there are really just three rules every stylish interior follows. 

Each idea is simple enough to implement into your home without taking away from your personal style. 

1. IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE APPROPRIATE When you decorate an interior your first thought should be: ‘Is this appropriate?’ Let your house be true to itself – be that introverted, the outdoors type, gypsy or homebody. You might have loved France, Morocco, or Japan but it’s best if you just introduce elements of it, rather than do a fully themed re-creation.
2. IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE COMFORTABLE Real luxury at home is comfortable chair with a good reading light and handy table to pop your drink on. You can have that wherever you live. Think comfort. Your home has to be a sanctuary – as soon as you walk through the door your spirits should lift. If it feels that way to you, everyone wo enters will be impressed.
3. IT SHOULD NEVER BE TRENDY Avoid next big things. The more understated and elegant the interior, the longer it will last. Only buy things that will serve you like a loyal dog. Never change the way you design a house for the sake of a trend.
February 9, 2017

High/Low: Coffee Tables

We've narrowed this post to simple contemporary coffee tables, from classic wood designs mixed with a few mod glass options at both ends of the market.

All good, easy tables that offer stablility and tie in with our current craving for honest materials, simplicity and laid-back living.
February 9, 2017

Where To Find Great Cushions

Cushions are one of the quickest ways to change the look of your rooms.
They’re the little touches that make any space a home, and signal attitude and glamour.

LM HOME No one does off-the-peg cushions better. Seek out its dead plain generous 50cm square designs such as Brooklyn, Hayman, Velvet and Mondo, in natural cotton, linen, some with simple fringe edging. All in great shades of French grey, Blush, Chartreuse, Indigo, Nutmeg, etc. www.lmhome.com.au
POTTERY BARN Great cushions that prove you don't have to be rich to have smart things. Pop in regularly as stock is constantly changing to find what you are looking for. www.potterybarn.com.au

TINE K HOME Beautiful casual looks in neutral tones such as blue, stones, greys, blacks and white used in some of the hippest hotels and clubs around the globe. www.tinekhome.com 
February 2, 2017

20 Trends that are going to be Huge in 2017

A new season of design has arrived....and it looks like 2017 is all about warmth, comfort and opulence.

Straight-lined minimalism is giving way to liberal ornamentation. Hard edges are fading away as we strive for warmth in our homes.

Clashing patterns, lustrous stones, vintage mirroring and exotic flourishes are a must. Clever details are the norm. Texture is king. It’s fun but it’s also quality and designed to last. This stuff is hard to get right. It requires experience and attention to detail. This is as faraway from weekend makeovers as its possible to get.

Here's everything you need to know about what to expect in the coming year.
1. LAYERED MAXIMALISM Mix pattern and colour with confidence as we strive to add warmth to our homes. Think Chinoiserie, ornate historic motifs, florals, butterflies, trims, tassels, and the handmade. Rigid Geometrics are out. Enough with the wild and crazy.  Expect a decrease in sharp hexagonal and octagonal tile designs in favor of warmer natural designs. There is also an increased worldliness in the best interiors with a blending of cultures, objects and travel finds.
2. TEXTURE, TEXTURE, TEXTURE We spend plenty of time looking at flat screens, so designers are now engaging us on a textural level. Expect material manipulation that begs to be touched – such as pleating, folding and quilting in cottons and velvets, plus huge stitching made using beautiful luxe yarns. It’s all part of our craving for comfort and having a place to retreat from all the chaos. Expect more faux fur, mohair and other soft materials in 2017, too. This year is all about cocooning comfort – so whether used as upholstery or to add another dimension to furniture the folding, pleating and quilting trend is one to watch.
For years everyone has been obsessed with DIY, according to US Elle Décor, but designers are now looking towards items that are more “artisan" than “quick” and “easy”.  You’ll see craftsmanship and materials that require a high level of skill to work with emerge. A return to glassblowing, porcelain, even amazing woodworking – not just raw, big chunks of recycled wood.
It’s the surprise hit of the year. While the free-flowing layout of midcentury modernism has long reigned, many designers and architects are reintroducing us to the joys of compartmentalization. Homeowners are realizing they actually desire a sense of separation and its time to close the door on open-concept living.
5. LAUNDRIES, LARDERS AND LIBRARIES These old-school spaces are back on the rise – and the rooms with the greatest status. It’s no longer a case of opening up every space. An increased need for privacy is driving the trend.
6. HAZELNUT BROWN From rich walnut to smoked oak to soft chocolate hued fabrics, dark brown shades are back on the design world’s radar for 2017. Add interest with marquetry and patterned parquet floors.
7.  OPEN SHELVES They’re the most wanted storage for your walls this year. Great for every room – living, laundries, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens where we’re eschewing overhead cupboards for chic open shelves in steel timber or glass.
8. STEELY GREY AND WOOD Pairing steel grey with accents of timber is striking yet modern and warm too. It’s this year’s star interiors combination that will reinvent your home.
9. MARBLE MOSAICS Decorating our interiors with beautiful marble has long been the height of interiors chic, but now luxury has reached new heights: mosaics created using the best marbles are gracing the world’s most stylish walls and floors. Think Celine’s new store in London. Think Kelly Wearstler Liason collection for Anne Sacks, (annesacks.com) and The Jet Set collection by Artisans of Devizes Paris tiles, (artisansofdevizes.com)
10. MUTED METAL FINISHES When it comes to metallics, subtle will trump glitz.  Less "look at me" materials will replace sleeker and glossier finishes that now feel too cold. Brushed and plaster walls will add subtle depth and texture. Deeper bronze fixtures and lighting are the new darling of the fashion world after several seasons of brighter metal tones. New matte finish appliances also leave the shine behind. Look out for the ascent of matte details like oxidized metals, matte glazes, antiqued brass, cold gun metal steel and pewter knobs as refined alternatives.
11. FOO DOGS The stately figures are having a major moment. Take inspiration from ancient China and do as imperial palaces and important buildings do, and protect your home with a pair of foo dogs who are believed to be protectors of truth. Or take Gaston y Daniela as a starting point who has launched a new ‘Chien’ cotton-velvet fabric covered in foos.
12. COLOUR SHIFT Expect a bunch of new neutrals that work with a wide range of styles, and bring a lot of depth, warmth, and subtlety. Bruised greens, toasted reds, and washed blues are quietly elegant yet still interesting enough to avoid being dull.
13. RAW WHITE As designers turn toward artisanal handcrafted goods in 2017, you’ll see the emergence of “raw whites”  - think chalky white walls to rough linen upholstery and organic ceramics that look handmade. It’s about the beauty of nautralu imperfection, because flat-white can look unimaginative and sterile.
14. ANTIQUED MIRROR The most wanted finish for your interior this year.  The technique of aging mirrors is a centuries old craft that can be added to virtually any surface from wall panels to shower enclosures, furniture, even kitchen splashbacks. The mirror can be shaped, bevelled, polished, backed, or framed, so you can have it cut to bespoke dimensions to fit any space.
15. BLANKETS Comfort is of the utmost importance in 2017, so invest in an ultra-soft blanket for an instant interiors update that’s fabulously on-trend. 
16. FAUX FINISHES Faux is IN. Tantalising timber-look porcelain tiles are the new, stylish, practical way to brighten up a wall, a floor, a room, or your life. They won’t rot or bow like real wood. Engineered quartz and stones can withstand heat and acidic foods. Faux foliage lasts forever. Faux leather doesn’t mark. Faux materials are generally stronger than the real thing, and increasingly hard to distinguish from the material on which they are based. Perfect for a house full of children and dogs, too. A sustainable choice too.
17. WOOD WALL PANELS When the newly renovated Ritz Paris, Chloe, Chanel, Carl Hansen, Balmain, B & B Italia and Maxalto use them, it’s time to take notice. Wood panels have been part of the decorating toolbox since ancient times but this year we are taking the light-and-shadow effects of mouldings to new heights. Even if you live in a shoebox, rhythmic interior panelling and trims will give the space the dimensions it doesn’t actually have. And add extra architectural weight. They're glamorous, provide instant pizzazz and we love them.

18. STATEMENT STAIRCASES Did Joseph Dirand start the trend? Lately we’ve been noticing extraordinary metal staircases with custom iron railings and black filigree fretwork balustrades in some of our favorite interiors projects. Think Balmain’s new store in Paris.
19. NAVY IS THE NEW BLACK Navy is huge for 2017. Whether you’re looking to update a room, your kitchen cabinets or accessorise, navy is the preferred option to black this coming year. It’s the last word in masculine and elegant, teams with almost any colour scheme, is warm and peaceful to live with, and won’t shrink a space, (as black sometimes does).  
20. APPLIANCES AND ROOMS THAT FOLD-UP Elle Décor recently reported that 2017 will be the year that designers embrace fold-up rooms and tucked-away appliances to preserve precious square footage. Features like retractable rangehoods for kitchens and even entire kitchens that can fold into a box will become popular.
February 2, 2017

100 collectible Ikebana vases go up for auction

On your marks collectors, Shapiro Auctioneers has a lifetime collection of 1960s ikebana vases, from the estate of Norman Sparnon who brought the Japanese flower movement to Australia back in the 50s, up for gr
abs on Tuesday, 28 February.
There’s more than 100 glazed ceramic vases on the block, as well as bamboo and wicker implements used for Ikebana floral arrangements. 

Several pieces from the collection have already been snapped up by the curator of Asian arts for the AGNSW’s permanent collection. We’re smitten with the designs which are emphatically 60s and should be appealing not only to Ikebana flower arrangers but to collectors of post war design, as well as anyone who wants to make their flowers look like art.  

The collection is part of Shapiro’s forthcoming 20.21C Art and Design auction on Tuesday 28 February 6pm at Woollahra.
SHAPIRO AUCTIONEERS AND GALLERY, (02) 9326 1588, www.shapiro.com.au



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 more....to help you transition your home instantly for summer. Happy shopping!
Melissa Penfold