September 29, 2016

How to Give A New-Build Home Charm

One of the biggest design trends we’re noticing this year is the New-Old house; 'historic" on the outside—but full of walk-in wardrobes and modern kitchens within.  

It is not about exact replicas of historical houses or that pastiche of styles that can make vast McMansion facades seem phony.
The best examples are sanely proportioned residences (from French farmhouses to Italian villas, Cape Dutch styles, carriage barns, rustic retreats) with architectural purity in the elevations and the details, but conceived for modern needs on the inside with connectivity and open floor plans. 

American architects are leading the charge including AD 100 fixtures like Gil Schafer, Russell Versaci and McAlpine House noted for designing structures that reflect contemporary needs while easily passing muster as something built hundreds of years ago.
“You want to learn from the historic precedent,” Schafer says of his design approach. “But you don’t want to make it too perfect—an old house feels charming precisely because there’s something a little off about it.”
The aim is to avoid a new-looking building; it’s about establishing an organic sense of place, grown over time, by inventing a certain architectural mythology.  
Think French farmhouses, Italian villas, Victorian carriage barns, rustic retreats and Cape Dutch–styles that have all the charm of trad homes, but are in fact new builds, painstakingly crafted from trad building materials. 
Soulful is arguably the word that best describes the creations of Alabama architects Bobby McAlpine and Greg Tankersley. For the past 30 years their firm has been crafting evocative historically inspired homes of stone, timber, thatch, and other time-honoured materials. While the structures are deeply rooted in tradition, “the floor plans are very modern and edgy,” notes Tankersley.

To ensure that the exteriors of these New Old Houses have architectural integrity—their designers often pore over builder's guides and house-plan collections from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Fluent in historical styles and vernacular settings, they use a vocabulary of rugged stone, painted clapboard, charred wood, and weathered cedar shingles. Pieces that have a history and texture that’s great to look at and live with.
Old bricks for flooring will recreate the look of an ancient villa. Raw timber looks natural and rustic. Handmade pieces are unobtrusive, so won’t disturb the architecture of a house. Reclaimed materials (stone or wood floors, old doors, fireplaces, bathtubs, windows, and fountains) with a history that have a texture are great to look at and live with. Natural finishes such as linen curtains and bedding, cashmere for sofas add authenticity.

Closer to home, Australian company Giddiup specialises in building barns, stables, houses, fencing that could easily pass muster as very old structures; adapting tradition for contemporary needs.
September 29, 2016

Dash & Albert's SS16 Rugs are Truly Next Level

If you need to see proof of a rug’s transformative power, just look at the latest knockout arrivals from top US rugmaker, Dash & Albert.

Famous for its range of weaves, patterns, colours and design, the new-season collection which arrives in town this week are ideal for adding instant depth to rooms.
They strike the right balance between comfort and practicality, form an excellent backdrop whatever your look, don’t draw too much attention to themselves, and feel good underfoot. And what textures...
Our top new-season picks? It’s hard to go past Herringbone Indigo, the best selling cotton rug that now comes in a cotton and poly outdoor version that we are told is almost indestructible. Ideal for high traffic areas like halls, kitchens, laundries and children’s bedrooms as well as patios, terraces, and balconies.
Then there’s Samson Navy by Bunny Williams in recycled poly which has apparently been a monster hit at leading Australian stores like Suzie Anderson Home, The Classic Outfitter and Magnolia Interiors.
Also on our radar: Alpine Diamond in wool, and Temple Ink in micro-hooked wool – both standouts that won’t overwhelm furniture, and are amazingly good value.
Oh and make sure you check Chekat Grey, Marley Grey, Rugby Stripe and Herringbone Shale, too. There’s so much choice, you’ll want the lot.

WINTON HOUSE (02) 4861 3389,

September 29, 2016

Enter to Win: $500 Giveaway From Orient House

To celebrate Spring, one of our fave shops, Orient House is giving away beautiful blue and white porcelain, (it’s impossible to have too much in a room) —valued at $500—to one lucky Melissa Penfold reader.
Blue and white porcelain, well displayed, will give your house a look of timeless sophistication. From ginger jars to bowls, plates, vases, pots, temples, stools, vases and cache pots, you can’t go wrong with the blue-and-white power couple, so why not be brave and use it en masse?
Hang Chinoiserie plates on a wall, line temple jars and Chinese vases along shelves, group them on a tabletop.
Whizz online at and check out the timeless blue and white porcelain collection – you’ll want it all. They make for the perfect update for your interior, this year.
And as top designers who regularly shop the collection demonstrate so well – nowhere is the universal appeal of blue and white more apparent than in Chinese porcelain. A couple of these pieces are ideal quick fixes for Spring. 
To enter, sign up for emails from Orient House and Melissa by sending your email address to marked Orient House Competition before midnight on October 23, 2016 The winner will be chosen at random and notified by email by October 30. The contest is open to residents of Australia only; see Official Rules for details. 
ORIENT HOUSE ((02) 9660 3895
TERMS AND CONDITIONS: ELIGIBILITY: Melissa Penfold and Orient House 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 Orient House. 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 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 September 29, 2016 and ends at midnight on October 23, 2016 (“Giveaway Period”).
TO ENTER: Entry must be in English, and comply with Melissa Penfold’s Privacy Policy. The Giveaway begins at 7am on September 23, 2016 and ends at midnight on  PT on October 23, 2016. All entries must be received by midnight on 23 October, 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 October 25, 2016 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 October 30, 2016 and are required to reply to Sponsor's email within seven (7) days of initial contact in order to claim prize. Potential winners must select prize by December 23, 2016. 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 “Enter to Win: $500 Blue and White Porcelain Giveaway from Orient House" post page once winner is confirmed. 
PRIZE: Winner will receive blue and white porcelain up to the value of $500, which they can select from the website, subject to stock availability.  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.
September 29, 2016

The One Chair Every Party Needs

Here’s the lowdown on slipper chairs: the small, portable seat that are as entertaining as they are versatile

The armless slipper chair was invented to suit the needs of Victorian women in sweeping gowns, who required a low seat on which to perch to pop on footwear.
But it may have found its true purpose as an entertaining essential. Its compact size and open sides allow a guest to swivel from one conversation to another with ease. 
People tend to love sitting in slipper chairs. They generally have deep and wide seats, which makes them very comfortable for relaxing. In a living room with limited space, they’re easy to navigate around, move from room to room, or house to house. Plus they look great in a hallway, bedroom, bathroom, anywhere really.
Here’s 10 slippers on our radar.
September 29, 2016

5 Ways to Set a Stylish Spring Table

Setting a table (whatever the season) is like dressing yourself. Look for quality, balance, understated elegance and character.

A beautifully set table makes people feel welcome the minute they walk in and creates a sense of anticipation. Even if all you’re serving is a simple salad, a great table setting will make is seem like so much more.  Here are 5 ways to update your table for easy Spring style.
1. Forget all matching tablecloths, napkins, coasters and placemats. They scream “I have no taste and no personality.’ Mix things up.  Opt for plains, stripes, florals, or pretty print tablecloths in cotton or linen which should hang at least 20 centimetres below the rim of the table on all sides. What’s charming for a Spring breakfast or a casual lunch (exuberant Provencal or Indian prints, ikats, perky ginghams, etc) will be wrong for a dinner party. 

2. If you want to keep the tone casual and you’ve got a wooden table with a good patina, just use some placemats in lovely linen, cotton, bamboo, rattan or seagrass.
3. No flowers? No problem. Put parsley in a vase, olive leaves in a jug, a cauliflower in an urn or lemons or bay leaves in a bowl. Grab a few pretty leaves from the garden: foliage is the cheapest and chicest table decorating accessory. See the beauty of nature in all its forms,; all you have to do is display it. An inexpensive bunch of spinach or rhubarb will look better and more original than your standard wilting supermarket flowers in a common vase.
4. Give white crockery a fresh spin by adding notes of palest grey, pink and silver. Keep patterns delicate, finishes smooth and cutlery unfussy.  Picking a single colours as a them can make a dramatic statement. Mossy green hues work a treat in Spring.
5. Use handmade pieces for a rustic feel and create a relaxed table setting with big stoneware plates and platters – perfect for sharing.
September 22, 2016

The 20 Classic Items Your House Should Own

Beautiful basics are the mainstays of any stylish home. Impervious to fashion, seasonality, or trends, these are things that work hard, look good and function well day after day.

Straight in at #1 is great kitchen kit, because no matter how chic your home, this is the stuff you use daily. So choose aesthetically appealing designs that do their job well, with looks that last.  Great style is always about these sort of details!
Classic white crockery All food looks better on pristine porcelain – fact. 
Blissful bed linen Lovely sheeting in natural yarns, that you can curl up in and will always make you feel better. And best of all, it’s more affordable than ever, thanks to brands like H&M Home and Zara Home. If your budget can stretch a bit further, head to L&M Home for the widest choice of washed-linen bedding.
Timeless cutlery Items you use everyday should be the best you can afford. Do not skimp here. We recommend David Mellor for quality manufacturing by skilled craftsmen that is a pleasure to hold.
The Perfect Wooden Spoon So simple but when you have the right one, it can be a thing of real beauty.
A basic wooden stool  The ultimate multifunctional piece of furniture, a stool can serve as a seat, side table for bed or sofa, or a stepstool. Antique or contemporary, it will soon become a family favourite. Antique Chinese elm stools, $170, Orient House, ( or Svartan collection, Ikea, $49-$59, (
Beautiful Bowls Whether for practical or decorative use, a great bowl is a great buy that you are guaranteed to use daily. For utility, think Mason Cash, which has been making trad English earthenware for more than 200 years.
A little bit of sheepskin Long-haired or short, a sheepskin equals cosiness, with the added benefit that you can throw it in the washing machine on the wool cycle if it gets dirty. Note: avoid cream: choose tawny, grey, chocolate or black.
Tempting trays Whether you use them as tea-time platters, balanced on your knees for indulgent TV dinners or for artfully containing coffee tabletops displays, you can never have too many. Go for simple designs in rattan, wicker, timber or tole.
Stacks of white towels Some things should always be white (think: loo paper, tea towels and dinnerware). Think pure, simple, fluffy and fresh, but detailing like fringes, monograms, and embossed embroidery are always allowed.
One fabulous throw rug Among life’s essentials, everyone should aspire to own a decent cashmere throw, to keep at the end of the bed and use as a grown up Linus blanket. They are the scarves of interiors, adding warmth, comfort and sensuality.
A good tea set Making time for tea with all the rituals it imples, is something we love.
A pair of grown-up candlesticks For grown-up, read silver, and for silver think auctions for something you will use forever.
A mirror that tells the truth.
A proper vase Flowers and foliage deserve a decent holder. There are plenty of fab high and low options, but always buy something you love.
A weighty casserole dish And saucepans with thick bottoms and handles that don’t get hot.
A sleek kettle Unless you opt to install one of those hot-water taps, your kettle is bound to reside permanently and in full view on your benchtop, so it makes sense to invest in something smart. ‘Hot It’ stainless steel kettle with black or white lid by Wiel Arets for Alessi is our choice.
A flea market treasure Quite simply, happy homemaking isn’t about everything being brand new. For a quick hit of personality and patina, choose a quirky global treasure or artworkThe designer’s preference is Orient House for original global pieces with character ( or raid auction houses for one-off treasures.
Vintage baskets The secret item to giving your house a more layered, cultured, eclectic look.
Atleast one antique Beautiful old furniture, signals gravitas and confidence in your home. It speaks of pedigree, history and elegance.
A scented candle All five senses should be stimulated in the home – and smell is one of the most important, instantly setting an ambient tone. Think of it as a living light with perfumed benefits.  Diptique ‘Fea de Bois’ and Jo Malone ‘Pomegranate Noir’ are our go-to scents. 
Great glasses All your glasses should be good enough to use every day and when guests visit. Anything you drink from must be generous, well-balanced and smooth. When you find a style you like, buy in generous quantities.
Quality lamps Lights are the jewellery of the home, so invest in atleast one knockout piece to give a room confidence. It’s essential, the first thing people notice, so you can’t skimp: cheap lamps signal cheap interior.
September 22, 2016

10 Wall Lights To Suit Any Style

Here, our most comprehensive list, to date of simple wall-mounted task lights, good for versatility, adjustable, and run the full gamut: high to low. 
September 22, 2016

Kitchen Inspiration: Tips, Tricks and Ideas To Try

Designing a kitchen can be overwhelming, but we’ve narrowed down the eight latest kitchen trends plus the tips, tricks and ideas to master them. 

SPECTACULAR SPLASHBACKS The lustrous splashback is a big trend this year. It’s all about the contrast. A slab of marble against painted cupboards or a single piece of hand-patinated brass against marble benchtops; the idea is to make a statement with a glittering wall that stands out.
CRYSTAL Who knew large grain crystal would be the next big thing in benchtops? Vincent van Duysen, newly appointed head at Molteni & C Dada, has used porphyry crystal rock (prized for its strength – it was used to build monuments in ancient Rome) to create a standout benchtop and splashback for his first design for the brand. (
MIX YOUR METALS For an ultra-modern approach to metallics, which have become upbiquitous in kitchen design, combine different types and finishes. Why not team burnished cabinets with a brass pendant light, stainless steel cannisters and copper taps. There’s no need to stick to one type of metal. And there’s all kinds of metal-effect ceramics wall tiles to choose from, too, to punch up your scheme, (
PUT ON A SHOW Open shelving is displacing overhead cupboards as the preferred option for above-counter storage. Go for sleek, contemporary metal shelving to trad rustic timber options; single or multi-tier designs - just make sure your crockery, pots and pans are up to scratch.
THE SINGLE HANGING STORAGE RAIL A similar trend to tap into here, is the single rail – Ikea’s ‘Grundtal’ is an affordable option that we’ve used in our kitchens to great effect for many years. Increasingly used in contemporary kitchens, the hanging rail is proof that the industrial style can work in the home. Keep accessories neutral and tightly edited to avoid overcrowding.
COMFORT IS KEY Over-designed utilitarian spaces are taking a backseat to comfort with kitchens that are beautiful extensions of our living spaces furnished with antiques, art, rugs and curtains.
THIN BENCHTOPS Forget ultra-thick benchtops. Barely-there counters are having a major moment. The thinner, the better. Thanks to new technology, benchtops now come in slabs as skinny as 3mm thick. The growing (or shrinking) trend has been gaining momentum over the past year as kitchens are more about refined detailing.
MARBLE MINIMALISM Marble is looking more understated than ever. A closer look at some inspiring minimal kitchens by Plain English ( see it teamed with matt finishes, tarnished metals, dark paint (navy to black), and touches of timber.
September 22, 2016

The Power of Pink

The coolest colour to have in your home right now? It has to be pink, says leading homes magazine, UK Elle Decoration who investigates its journey from style outsider to hue of the moment in the September issue.

It’s curious how the meanings of colours change over time. In the case of pink it has undergone more metamorphoses than most, emerging at the start of the 21st century as one of the most semantically charged hues of the age. Few will have failed to notice, the ‘pinkification’ of products for girls and women, or the common association of pink with sugar-coated artificiality.
Pink is starting to be reclaimed as a colour of high fashion (check out Chanel’s A/W16 collection), but it is in the context of interiors that is truly breaking free of hackneyed gender stereotypes.
Scandinavian brands have embraced it wholeheartedly, giving us contemporary sticker-plaster and blush shades which, teamed with grey, pale wood and punchier hues like mustard, banish all connotations of Barbie’s mansion.
Study the collections of Danish brands like Fritz Hansen and Muuto, where pink is applied with a delicate touch. The former recently launched  Arne Jacobsen’s classic ‘Swan’ chair in a pale-pin nubuck leather. ‘Pink brings softenss and sophisitication to an object,’ says Christian Andersen, the company’s head of design. ‘It goes very well with darker colours, adding life to an interiors.
Nina Bruun, design manager at Muuto, points to pink’s joy and positivity. ‘It’s a colour for the person who wants a more personal home, it can be very in-your-face or dusty and innocent,’ she says
Mood-lifting powers are also cited by Kelly Hoppen, the queen of neutrals who is designing pale pink products. ‘It’s a settling, naturally soothing colour,’ she says.  ‘It can be paired with white, taupe and black, because it isn’t as harsh as blue.’
Handled this way, pink is a colour that even men might consider for their homes. Gentle pinks also have the advantage of creating a complexion-enhancing glow, particularly when used on walls or as lighting.
Joa Studholme, international colour consultant at Farrow & Ball, gets to the heart of pink’s appeal linking it to a sense of calm and safety.’This return to pink shades is almost instinctive – ‘they’re life enhancing, exactly the opposite of our hard-edge, flat screened existence.’
September 15, 2016

The 8 Interior Design Trends To Look for This Spring

Trends, style, taste…what do they mean? How can one look be defined as ‘in’ and another ‘out’? Certain things just feel right. It’s the same with trends.

We scope a year’s worth of trade fairs showcasing new lines and gradually themes emerge.We take our time to distinguish the transient, fun, fashion minutes from the ones that truly capture the mood at large. 
True trends are not born in a vacuum, they are the visual manifestation of what’s going on in the world around us. Here’s the things that speak to us now, of authenticity, of originality, of innovation.
Discover the 8 key looks that you need to know to be completely up to date.
1. THE NEW KITCHEN Gone are the days when all it took to pull a kitchen together was a cabinet style, splashback, and benchtop. Beautiful kitchens that are extensions of our living spaces are a key trend; places not just for cooking and eating, but for relaxing and lounging, as well. We are outfitting them with sofas, fireplaces, antiques, oil paintings and curtains. The idea is to treat the kitchen like any other room in the house, that is thoughtfully decorated and comfortable, not just functional. 

2. RAW BEAUTY The most stylish interiors feature honest materials with roughhewn finishes. The secret to achieving this look? Pick strong materials, reuse as much as possible and search for unusual furnishings.

3. MATTE FINISHES This season, it’s all about oxidized metals, matte glazes, and chalk-finish paints.

4. COASTAL Beach house ranks as #1 as the most popular décor type on many popular home sites, according to new research. And evidence of our current desire for simplicity, and laid-back, understated living. It’s an attractive aesthetic, low maintenance and we love it.

5. STATEMENT FURNITURE We are showing off statement furniture by keeping everything else in our rooms as simple as possible. By paring the décor back, you can let jaw-dropping tables, chairs and lighting take centre stage. And shine. Knockout pieces bring drama to interiors  – the idea is to fuse form and function in new ways.  
6. RACING GREENS Whichever you prefer, forest greens to moss shades, soft emeralds, pale celadons or inky teal-hinged hues, moody green shades are a big trend in your home this season. To be really of the moment, team these with pale pink, rich browns and indigo.

7. TRIBAL From vibrant prints to intricate beading, basket weaves and ornate carvings, the tribal trend is having a major moment. It makes you and your rooms look layered, cultured and civilized. Even fabric houses like Larsen are getting in on the act, with their latest African-inspired textiles offering a simple way to tap the trend.
8. CANE No longer just for chairs, this intricate weave is making a big comeback this year, decorating everything from lights to tiles. Woven cane – the outer skin of the rattan plant – has been refined over time to a six-way pattern. It’s this pattern that inspired some of the latest looks such as Bisazzo’s new Vienne Nero tiles.



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