May 11, 2017

Busts In Interior Design - Minus The Pretention

Can the head shots of the sculptural world, back in vogue after decades in the wings, work in homes that aren’t mansions? Or are they just too la-di-dah?

To gauge the mood, we took our own informal poll among good pals about the rising prevalence of busts - Would you put one in your own house? Except for a few creative types here, the reactions went something like this: “They’re pretentious.” “Annoyingly academic.” “Kind of creepy.” Yet busts continue to show up in well put-together interiors, even if some designers remain slightly ambivalent. “In the ’80s, when I started, everyone was using busts, and it became a cliché,” said one of our designer pals. “They felt grandiose. But lately I’ve begun to appreciate them more, for my house and for clients’.”

The comeback has reawakened an appreciation of what was good about sculpted portraiture in the first place. A third dimension. "Most people overlook depth when they decorate", says New York designer Drew McGukin: “Flat walls, flat paint, flat basic fabrics, flat art on walls, flat-screen TVs.”

And busts in particular have the benefit of being compact. “They’re easy to place in rooms, since unlike larger sculptures, they fit on tables and bases,” says New York-based designer Thomas Jayne.

Part of busts’ appeal for designers is exactly what spooks many homeowners: the way they stare you down. “A bust’s effect really depends on its expression, whether it’s whimsical or provocative, coy or stern, said Caleb Anderson of New York design firm Drake/Anderson. “Whenever you look at them, you feel their emotion, too. It’s one of the reasons I love using busts, they’re like another personality in the room.” 

“They’re part of the party,” concurred New York designer Sasha Bikoff. “My dogs think a bust I have by the stairs is a real person, and one client’s cat loves to hang out with a female bust on the piano.”

San Francisco designer Suzanne Tucker said she was “utterly enchanted” by a the facial expression of a 1950s bust she found in Paris that was crowned and encrusted with coral and seashells. “She’s less formal with a ‘come hither’ look.”

Indeed, busts needn’t be serious. A plaster bust by New York artist Stephen Antonson portrays a heroic-looking young man taking a very realistic pie to the face. Said New York designer Jesse Carrier of his clients, “They fell in love with the artist’s playful, tongue-in-cheek interpretation. It may not be considered ‘high art,’ but it’s beautifully crafted and delivers comedic relief at the same time.”

Another subversion of the classic: a depiction of an African woman, passed to New York designer Jennifer Jean Morris by her grandmother. “Busts in Western interior design are stereotypically about a male Anglo-Western history,” said Ms. Morris. “This one tells a different story.”
The standard, stoically neoclassical, white marble bust adds a traditional touch to a modern room, noted Dallas designer Michelle Nussbaumer, but it poses the greatest decorating challenge. How to shake the inherent fustiness? After all, in most of our encounters with such busts, they’re rather dry: pedantic in universities, purely educational in public libraries and imposing at memorial sites.

Designers such as Mr. Anderson embrace sharp juxtapositions of new and old: “I like the eclectic contrast of a classical bust with contemporary artwork and furniture,” he said. Chicago designer Tom Stringer sometimes integrates statuary more subtly and casually, which mutes the pretension factor. “I tuck them in bookshelves for a charming historical element, or layer them on consoles,” he said.

“A bust becomes the focal point, so make sure that it’s the only opulent piece in the mix,” advised Natalie Shirinian, founder of NES Creative, a New York-based creative agency. “Have a balance of books and personal objects and flowers to make the space feel like a home and not a museum,” she added.

Living with a humanoid piece of art might seem more like adopting than decorating, but like the former, it has multiple rewards. “Busts are captivating,” Mr. Anderson said. “People want to know whom they’re looking at—is it a character, a famous person, a regular person. What’s their story?”
May 11, 2017

Shop Our Fave Tea Towels Starting From $1

Fresh tea towels are a  quick way to change the look of  your kitchen without a total overhaul. Raid the chains for cotton basics, then splurge on a designer buy or two to accessorise your look. Here are our five go-tos.
May 4, 2017

The Best Fabric Shop In Sydney, and Why

Looking for affordable, accessible and amazing fabrics to fill your homes with?

Whoopee, No Chintz, the little mecca that changed the way Sydney shops for textiles, has revamped its Woollahra showroom which is a great place to start looking for fabrics.
Textiles are indexed by colour. Think natural; sable, pepper, white, and blue, (indigo to dusty shades), acqua, green, red; pink, cherry and chocolate; each of which has great one-metre samples you can take home to inspire you. Easy.
The range gives the high-end brands around town a run for their money and it has a brilliant selection of looks to suit most tastes from stripes to sheers, tickings, linens, ikats, florals, embroidered crewels, checks; ideal for every look.
Plus its best-selling Bleached Barmer linen, which now also comes in French Grey or Faded Rose, can make a big impact. Or seek out beautiful blockprints like Bluebell or China Tea that resemble the expensive Euro stuff for a lot less. Then there's gorgeous prints from TeaPalm Leaf to Bindi Surf or Windrush Autumn which can bring some high design to any space. 

Owner Chrissie Jeffery, queen of curtains, opened the first shop back in 1994. Now, there’s four. You’ll be in good company at the stores. Some of our most go-ahead designers are devotees. And for good reason.

Besides No Chintz exclusives you will find popular textile names like Walter G, Megan Park, Designers Guild, and Dominique Keiffer, and it can source pretty much any US or Euro designer fabric you fancy, quickly and seamlessly.
Plus it offers very helpful advice without information overload, and a brilliant made-to-measure service to help you get your lampshades, (big to small), cushions, and curtains, right everytime. And other creative solutions for bespoke soft furnishing needs. Stacks of lovely trims and buttons in naturals and linens, too.

Also great workshops that will teach you how to whip up your own bespoke cushions to lampshades.
Run to its Woollahra revamped showroom to check the new blind and curtain display which shows some of the company’s best-selling window treatments, from soft coffee-coloured linen romans to natural look sheer drops with exposed head rails.  You’ll want them all.
“Window treatments are they are the first thing people notice when they walk into a room,” says No Chintz owner and founder Chrissie Jeffery. ‘They are what actually sell houses. So you know they’re important.’
No Chintz knows style success is in the details – and that includes everything from the beautifully detailed trim it provides to the fabric. Visit as soon as you can. 

Woollahra Store 
Address: 153 Edgecliff Road, Woollahra, NSW 2025
Phone: (02) 9386 4800
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-3pm, Sunday Closed

Willoughby Store
Address: 509 Willoughby Road, Willoughby NSW 2068
Phone: (02) 9958 0257
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-3pm, Sunday Closed

Balmain Store:
Address: 499a Darling Street, Balmain NSW 2041
Phone: (02) 9810 0078
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-3pm, Sunday Closed

Thirroul Store - The Attic
Address: 243 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul NSW 2515
Phone: (02) 4268 4963
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday Closed, Monday Closed
May 4, 2017

BARGAIN HUNTER: This week in Sales

Mud Ceramics Seconds Sale in Marrickville
Mud Australia's range of delicate porcelain pieces are on sale this weekend at its Marrickville studio.
A range of candy-coloured bowls, cups, plates and cookware will be on sale with discounts up to 50 per cent off.
Cash and credit cards will be accepted, excluding AMEX.
Open from 10am–4pm.
Sat 6th May, 2017 – Sun 7th May, 2017
Mud Australia Studio
80–82 Chapel Street, Marrickville

In Bed Warehouse Sale
Samples and discontinued stock, up to 50-80% off. 
Saturday 6th to Sunday 7th May, 9am - 4pm
3/112 McEvoy Street, Alexandria

Pottery Barn
Its Autum clearance is your chance to snaffle up to 60% off hundreds off items including 30% of selected bed linen, 30% off best-selling rug run out styles, 20% selected beds and bedroom furniture. Online and in-store. 
The Exchange Building, 470 Oxford St, Bondi Junction NSW 2022
(02) 8973 6100​

Williams Sonoma
Up to 30% off Le Creuset and Staub cookware, 20% off all stemware, 25% select kitchen aid attachments. Online and in store.
466 Oxford St, Bondi Junction NSW 2022
02) 8973 5800

Donna Hay Warehouse Sale
The highly anticipated Donna Hay warehouse sale is on this weekend. For two days only there will be discounts of up to 70 per cent off some of the brand’s kitchen utensils and accessories. This is a chance to grab a last-minute Mother’s Day gift at a great price.
Sat 6th May, 2017 – Sun 7th May, 2017
Harvey Norman Business Park, unit 14, 21–23 Bay Road, Taren Point
September 23, 2015

5 Big Nuptial No-Nos

There are certain wedding mistakes we can all agree never to make. Here's the most common five ones to avoid. 
Go easy on the bouquet. Bouquets that are too large or too loud detract from the dress.

Don't focus on one particular bloom or you'll end up with big pom-poms. Use a variety of foliage and flower shapes and textures, otherwise they will bang their heads against each other. 

Don’t forget the headpiece, veil, or jewellery. A lot of brides focus on the dress, and don't give a lot of thought to the other accessories. These can make (or break) an outfit.
Don’t show too much skin. Save it for Vegas.
Beware strong red lipstick with a white dress. Avoid any makeup that doesn’t make you look you. The same goes with hair. You don’t want to look like a prize Merino sheep covered in curls.
October 20, 2014


How do you do a quick home makeover? Change your household linen for a new lot.

Well worth checking for fresh pieces is online favourite, Linen & Moore's new summer 2015 catalogue which is brimming with stacks of must-have linens to make your home feel great. There's Mondo sheeting and duvet sets, which are among the best pure linen sheeting doing the rounds this season, and the bedding most likely to bring a bedroom to life, in gorgeous shades of artichoke, natural, seafoam or white. Also lovely things like you see in Long Island or Copenhagen, such as simple linen throws, cotton blankets in straw, white, grey or charcoal, plus big, generous cushions, such as Oslo, in natural pure linen. Oh, and timeless quilt classics like Aspen in driftwood or white. Plus divine 100 per cent washed linen tablecloths, napkins and placemats that are affordable, machine-washable, and in colours to die-for that will make your house look like you've spent more than you have.

Mondo pure French linen bedding in artichoke, natural, seafoam or white, Euro pillows, $55 each; queen duvet set, $367; king duvet set, 398; queen sheet sets, $495; king sheet sets, $526

Belle queen bed sheet sets with diamond embroidery in driftwood and two pillowcases, $268;  king bed sheet sets, 326

Savoy White or Silver sateen single sheet set, $158; double sheet set, 207; queen sheet set, $220; king sheet set, $242 

Hayman linen/cotton throws, 130cm x 170cm, $129 

Moss tablecloth in washed linen, six-seater-medium 150 x 220cm, $121; or 12-seater-extra-large, 180 x 4m, $253 

Moss pure washed linen napkins, $13 each

All duvet and sheet set prices include two standard pillowcases. 

Inquiries, (03) 9419 6800, 

November 14, 2015

10 Trends For Summer 2015/16

Are you ready for a Summer refresh? Here’s how to make your home your castle for the months ahead.

Yep, we are diving into the colours that capture the beauty of water - crystal-clear azure to deep sea-green, and teaming leafy plants with sandy neutrals and white with bamboo, rattan, ceramic and glass to bring the essence of nature into our homes. You have to see it!

1. PLEATED LAMPSHADES Are pleated shades the new linen lampshade? Whether you opt for ruffled silk, ribbed cotton or sari-fabric, you’ll be on trend for Summer 2015/16. The pleated shade gives the right, relaxed vibe.

2. ABSTRACTS MEETS MOODY BLUES  We predict even bigger things for soothing blues this season with everything from dark indigo blue to navy and denim-like hues in every geometric print adding art-school style to any room.

3. BAMBOO FURNITURE Bamboo is a sturdy, attractive inexpensive material and we’re happy to see it being used to make island-style, affordable furniture - sofas, tables, desks, chairs, stools, storage ladders - to transform any room. Look out for plenty of rattan options, too. 

4.  THE ART OF DISPLAY What's driving designers to display more seasonal collections of found objects? It’s a foolproof antidote to too much white space. Also trending: vases, pots, vessels, planters in metal to ceramic – a constantly changing collection will make your flowers and leaves more interesting.

5. THE DECONSTRUCTED SPACE The less-than-perfect space, cobbled together from disparate elements.

6. GREY STRIPES Navy stripes are a classic choice synonymous with relaxation, but it’s grey stripes that have the upper hand this season for use on bed linens, beach towels, deck chairs and pyjamas.

7. SUPERSIZE LIGHTING If you want to make an impact this Summer, big glass lanterns (and pendants) of all kinds are a fantastic idea.

8. SLIP COVER REVOLUTION It’s time to whip on the slip covers. Yes, really. Slipping your sofas, armchairs and dining chairs into the equivalent of pretty sundresses will transform not just chairs but the entire house.  It’s a simple trick, which has been used by the ruling classes in Europe for more than 100 years, that we’ve noticed is being used in the best interiors. 

9. ESSENCE OF NATURE Team deep forest greens and strikingly leafy prints with sandy neutrals to bring the essence of warmer climes to your home. Take inspiration from the exuberance of 1950s Palm Springs style by clashing your patterns and adding real foliage and metallic accents, or let a single print sing against a pared-back all-white scheme. transform your home into a balanced, harmonious space perfectly suited for this season of growth and fresh starts. 

10. CORK It’s official, cork is cool again. This 1970s favourite material has been given a new lease of life. Use it for everything from flooring (which has built-in bounce and a natural warmth) to giant moodboard walls, plus lighting, table and chair releases. Most notable is Ilse Crawford’s debut Sinnerlig range for Ikea, available now. Crawford chose to work with cork because ‘it’s a material that feels both natural and precious at the same time’.

SIDE NOTE: POWDERY PASTELS TO ROSE-TINTED PUTTY Blush pink has been trending for many, many seasons now, and remains one of the most popular neutral hues and can be used to add warmth to any room. Choose romantic pink-patterns or block colours on furniture – accent with wood and metallics. 

April 13, 2017

The 7 Chicest Paper Towel Holders

If, like us, you aren’t blessed with a built-in paper towel niche in the kitchen, you most likely have a roll standing naked on the benchtop for use at least now and then.

Here are our 7 favorite paper towel holders to help wrangle the roll from timber to metal to marble for simple utility in the kitchen. Towels tear off easily from the upright spindle.
October 20, 2014
Gold/red sisal rug with Belgian cotton binding, 2m x 3m, $740; Belgian Platinum sisal rug with Belgian chenille binding, 2m x 3m, $1770, Natural Floorcovering Rugs sisal rug

The Chunky Rugs Every House Should Own

Texture, weave and ultra-chunky rugs are back, people. Texture has been trending for many, many seasons now, and there's good reason: it's chic, makes everything else look right and feels good underfoot.

This season there's no shortage of heavily textured rug options that are on-trend and modern. Everything from thick-ribbed knit-styles that look like something your granny might have knitted on giant needles to tactile, chic weaves have our texture-loving hearts going pitter-patter. 

Almost every floorcovering retailer's Spring/Summer collection features chunky weave rugs. Armadillo can barely keep up demand for its new rib-knit rugs of wool, hemp and jute: Sierra, Sahara, Serengeti and Herringbone. Colourscope has released beautiful versions. So too has Papaya. 

And don't forget one of our perennial faves: those anti-static, easy-to-clean, hard-wearing, latex-backed sisal rugs at the Natural Floorcovering Centre. For the price of a pretty dress you can get a lifetime of pleasure with its amazingly good value designs which are edged in everything from leather to linen. 


January 12, 2017

10 Home Resolutions You Should Make This Year

New year, new start and your chance to achieve the promise of clarity, (your best self) and attain the balance you crave. 

You can resolve to improve all kinds of things but you’d be surprised what a little housekeeping can do for the soul.
Start by identifying all the projects you’ve been putting off for a rainy day and mastering them one at a time until they’ve all been checked off your list.
Need to organize your closet? Carpe deim, my friend.
Been meaning to refresh your living room. Today is as good a day as any.
It’s always easier not to do things than to do them. Here we’ve rounded up 10 projects to tackle in 2017. You’ll be impressed by how much lighter you feel, once your house becomes as uncluttered as your mind.
1. REINVENT YOUR CLOSET Getting your wardrobe—and where you keep it—in order can not only help you maximize your space but also streamline your morning routine, making your day more efficient before it even begins.  
2. GET TO WORK Whether you work from home or bring your work home with you, a designated space that inspires creativity and productivity gets the job done.
3. DECLUTTER THE KITCHEN Hang some of your kitchen tools from hooks. This will free up space in your drawers. Get rid of pretty much everything under the sink and start from scratch. Bleach and reline it. Now go shopping for new stuff, including some nifty baskets to keep it all in. It will automatically feel fresh and new. Store items where they are used, based on frequency of use. Store knives near chopping boards. Group similar items together.  Go through your pantry and throw out food that’s past its use-by date. You’ll probably find half of what you’ve been storing has vanished. Decant packets into containers. Your kitchen should make your heart sing and your mouth water.
 4. ENGAGE IN SOME COLOUR THERAPY If a full makeover isn't in the budget, go bold by adding accessories in beautiful hues or textiles in unexpected patterns.
5. DEVELOP HEALTHY EATING HABITS Ordering takeaway for dinner every day is easy when your kitchen leaves much to be desired. Make it your mission to save up with the goal of revamping your cooking space into the kitchen you've always dreamed about.  
6. HEAD OUTSIDE Learn to appreciate natural beauty by sprucing up an outdoor living or entertaining space with new furniture, accessories, or plants.
7. CLEAN HOUSE Get a head start on spring cleaning. From silver and copper pieces to antique rugs, give your treasured heirlooms new life with a thorough scrubbing. Flip mattresses; air duvets. Place a hook for your keys by your front door and always hang your keys there when you get home.
Hire a handyman to take down light fittings and clean them (no amateur over 40 should be up a ladder), patch damaged paintwork, clean gutters. And hang pictures. Tie black ribbons around sheet sets to ensure that they stay together in the linen closet.If you don’t have a hall cupboard for storing jackets, get a coat rack or install hooks and pegs on your wall to hang coats. Invest in a cord organiser to keep all electronic cords tidy. 
8. CHUCK OUT Cheap toys have done more to ruin good houses than the worst interior designers. Brightly coloured plastic might stimulate young children, but its charm quickly palls. Once your children can read, start culling. Wait until they’re out for the day. Stack, sort and fold dry washing and put it away immediately. Everyone’s house is full of gifts that missed their mark: the crystal figurine, the scarf that goes with nothing, the lamp you hate, the book you’ll never read, and the perfume that makes you sneeze. Go around the house with a heavy-duty garbage bag and collect the lot. You will not believe the difference it will make.
9. MAKE YOUR BATHROOM CABINETS THINGS OF BEAUTY Take a look at the shaving cabinet and throw out all medications past their use-by date – don’t forget the bottle of calamine that has become a family heirloom. Marshall all your Band-aids, insect bit and anti-fungal creams together so you know where to find them in an emergency. Put medical stuff on one shelf. Put pampering stuff on another shelf. Store lip glosses, makeup brushes, and makeup items that come in long skinny tubes (mascara, concealer, etc.) upright in tall ceramic beakers.
10. CHOP! CHOP! Find time to finish all the things you promised you would when you moved in, but never got around to. Tear up the carpet that has made you miserable for 10 years. Rip down those curtains. Bash down that arch. Paint over that mission-brown woodwork. It will take less time and money than you thought and your life will improve dramatically. 



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