March 16, 2017

A guide to Sydney's Best Florists

We give you our 10 top Sydney florists. The go-to places and names we can't live without for the best blooms used by PRs, celebrities and stylists. 

Among them are the names whose look and influence have been monumental on our homes (people now play with pattern and texture, duplicate arrangements and stick to single hues).
Queen of blooms, Saskia Havekes's statement-making branches, succulent leaves and fab flowers have inspired books, photographic exhibitions and many a copycat florist. And her illustrious client list reads like a roll call of the great and the good of the fashion world. Think Elle Macpherson, Cate Blanchett, Toni Colette, Hugh Jackman, Jane Campion, Sarah Murdoch, Sass & Bide, Kylie Kwong, Donna Karan, Dries van Noten, and Hermes. What more can we say?  
Shop 1/12 Macleay Street, Potts Point,
9357 7902, grandiflora_sydney
My Flower Man
Kieran Birchall’s oversized, dramatic bunches often combine classic flowers with mod foliage and natives so expect to see English roses mixed in with showier leaves, and blooms. Instead of combining flowers evenly, he often keeps each type distinct in the bunch, so there are pockets of light and dark. He can deliver same day around inner Sydney. Currently online only.
My Violet
The secret is out on this little Redfern-based workshop, which is like looking through a keyhole into a secret garden. It is fast becoming Sydney’s go-to flower shop for home-grown flowers arranged in owner Myra Perez’s signature informal vintage mod style. A fave with the fashion crowd for weddings and events.
4/21 George Street, Redfern
0405 910 029
Seed Flora
This Glebe florist is responsible for the annual epic David Jones flower shows. Proper flowers, a mix of modern and classic blooms. Seed can make magic happen with just a few magnolia or cherry blossom branches and orchids.  
79 Bay Street
Glebe Sydney Australia
+61 (2) 9552 6677
Sophia Kaplan
If you’re looking for flowers that offer something out of the ordinary, Kaplan could be your first port of call. Inspired by picking wildflowers around France, Germany, Italy and Australia, she is an artist who likes her bouquets to look as natural as possible. Working from a shared studio space in Alexandria, she textures each arrangement with unexpectedly shaped foliage. Nothing too stylized. Online only.
Poho Flowers
This florist creates modern-looking displays from its airy Art Deco space that houses a contemporary, cool show of greenery, branches, berries, pods, palm leaves, fleshy flowers and natives. The arrangements focus on lush, earthy tones. Statement flowers.
Shop 2, 117 Macleay Street, Potts Point
(02) 9331 4333
Tracey Deep Floral Sculptures
Much more than flowers. Deep, who holds regular exhibitions of her work, brings an artist's sensibility to her edgy 'living sculpures'.  She uses architectural branches, pods, wood, even metal with unusual flowers such as clivea, sedum, ginger flowers, and coral-like celacia. A firm fave for high-profile weddings, big parties and corporate events. 
Studio G01, 59 Great Buckingham Street, Redfern,
(02) 9318 1177. floralsculptures
Long revered by magazine stylists, this hotspot located in Darlinghurst is as modern as the name suggests. Inside the crisp layout and a wall of hundreds of coloured roses is Jai Winnell’s signature informal style. Simplicity and freshness are key.
237 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
(02) 9380 4725
Jardine Botanic
If you like your flowers to look as natural as possible, not as if they have come out of a glasshouse, Jardine Hansen’s loose, free-form arrangements will strike the right note. Flowers are not bunched up, their heads don’t bang together; their form is not lost.  The emphasis is on botanical varieties. Jardine offers floral styling for weddings, events, corporate spaces and private homes across Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
0412 890 841
Mr Cook You’ll find amazing inspiration here. The place does classic, classic blooms in a contemporary and organic way. You'll find everything from cabbage garden roses to arrangements that incorporate succulents. Great style.
318 New South Head Road
Double Bay Sydney Australia
+61 (2) 9363 5550
Mandalay The kind of flowers that look good anywhere. Fresh-cut,  relaxed but just dramatic enough. A fave with well-heeled Eastern suburbs types. The bunches are generous, the flowers will last, and you can pick up a useful and affordable vase while you're there.
6 Cross Street
Double Bay Sydney Australia
+61 (2) 9362 5000
October 20, 2014


How Concrete has become the Darling of the Interior Design World

Once the poor relation of the interiors scene, concrete has come into its own thanks to a new generation of designers and architects eager to exploit its authenticity, sensuality and potential for enhancing our homes.

The extent of its use (and transformation) can be seen flicking through any major lifestyle magazine right now, where it graces the surfaces of the world's most gorgeous interiors as well as features in style-defining advertising campaigns for lots of our fave brands.

Almost every great design brand, from Gervasoni to Society and Ivano Radeallo is using cement as a backdrop to showcase current collections. Missoni kicked off its 2014 summer collection with rooms that were noteworthy for their raw, textural polished concrete flooring. Carl Hansen & Son's 2014 catalogue featured incredible rooms defined by concrete floors and walls.  

Hot New York designer, Antony Tod used it for most major surfaces in his glam Instabul pied-a-terre, which graced a recent issue of US Elle Decor magazine.

Lightworks (creator of the fab Caravaggio light), featured cement flooring for it's 2014 campaign. 

Closer to home, Armadillo is choosing cement as its preferred background to showcase it amazing rug collection. Papaya is apparently having great success with the material, and can't keep up demand for its concrete outdoor tables, sofas, benches, lights and planters. 

The great thing about concrete is that it is affordable. You can topcoat another layer of cement over an existing concrete floor, and finish with a polished wax-finish. Or pour concrete with a radiant floor system. Equally gorgeous are concrete floor tiles. 

Photos Courtesy of Papaya, (02) 8571 7777; Carl Hansen & Son and Lightworks, Cult Design, (02) 8062 6060

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. 
April 20, 2017

The Search for the Perfect Statement Chair

Statement chairs provide not just extra seating, but are a great way to add a new silhouette, style reference, or colour to any room. 

We’ve gathered our five favourite retailers offering a mix of looks from occasional to wingbacks, and bergeres, old to new, at all ends of the price spectrum - so you have plenty of upright and sprawling options to suit all guests. Beautiful chairs that you can curl up and that always make you feel better. 

1. FANULI FURNITURE Italian Flexform contemporary stunners by Antonio Citterio that you buy like a Kelly bag - to love forever - which can pack a lot of punch, completely changing the atmosphere of a space.

2. LYDIE DU BRAY Beautiful antique French 19th-century Louis-style fauteilles that can go a long way in a room.

3. FORMATIONS Hand-carved timber chairs, good for town and country houses.

4. JAMB Chairs so beautiful, you don't need to dress them up.

5. WILLS FURNITURE A good bet for polished upholstered looks.

November 5, 2015

Must-Have Broom: Isn't It Just The Best?

A broom pretty enough to display inbetween use? Yep, we think Lepaar’s new Gardenlust artisanal millet design might be the prettiest one we ever did see.

The broom has been aiding household cleaning since the dawn of domestic history. Initially made of anything on hand, from reeds to corn husks, the broom as we know it has evolved thanks to the early Anglo Saxons.
The modern straw broom emerged in Massachusetts at the end of the 18th century with the discovery of sorghum grass, a local crop grown mostly for animal feed. Long and strong, sorghum was soft enough to be trimmed to a uniform length, which made it perfectly suited for sweeping up fine particles of dust. A
About 30 years later, the Shakers, took the broom and improved its efficiency by flattening the broomcorn (as the grass became known) to give a wider and more precise sweep.
In recent decades, the rise of synthetics put the broom industry into a sharp decline. But lately, the artisanal broom, particularly the Shaker version, has been muscling its way back into our houses.
You won’t go wrong with Lepaar’s Gardenlust broom handmade in Tumut using local millet bound with solid brass wire. The handles come in rolled spotted gum in a choice of three finishes: ebony, chestunut or amber.
Gardenlust Essential broom, $160; Luxe broom, $260
LEPAAR, 0411 636 161,
March 23, 2017

Exactly what you should buy from Ikea’s new Stockholm collection

For more than 50 years, Ikea has been refining its skills at creating quality Scandinavian-style home goods at a reasonable price. But it’s latest collection might be the best looking and -  greatest value - so far. 

STOCKHOLM first started back in 1984, with the aim of incorporating "smart craftsmanship" in everything, meaning design details are carefully considered and produced with fine materials, resulting in collections that include some of the best quality products produced by IKEA.
It’s latest series features deep-seated velvet sofas, hand-blown glassware in rich cobalt hue and crafted rattan and light-wood cabinets.  Plus the prettiest rattan armchairs we've seen for a while. And it's affordable, too. Check out the stunning collection for yourself online, and then shop it at Ikea from April 1.
April 28, 2017

Unexpected Items to Look for When Vintage Shopping (& Things to Avoid!)

Most people love buying vintage, but don’t know how to shop vintage. Shopping vintage is a skill and to do it right you need to know the rules. Here are a few tips to help make the best decisions.

Buy great vintage pottery. Look for interesting, handmade pieces (both decorative and functional), if they're the right price.
Enjoy looking for household staples - tableware to servingware in your colour palette. Stock up on antique plates, handmade bowls, glazed platters, lovely 1950s teacups, Georgian glasses that will add character to your pad.
Aim to find gorgeous old-fashioned mid-century flatware with teak handles and wooden spoons. Rummaging through the cutlery bins (carefully...) and look for random pieces to add - they are usually good quality, and made of solid construction. 
Do look for lovely, unique textiles from vintage woven blankets to old tea towels and random scraps of fabric that you can reinvent into pillows. 
Do buy art and design books about interesting artists or subject matter - you can find great books in my home for just a couple of dollars. Seek out titles about '70s and '80s interior design.
Think of vintage shopping as a treasure hunt, and apply your usual quality standards. Enjoy looking for the gold among the dross.
Never pay big money to buy vintage furniture. Buy only quality pieces. 

Keep your antennae out for a wide variety of things. While not everything on the list above may make it onto your shopping list, you should definitely make sure that the things below don't!
Smelly rugs and blankets. Don't buy rugs, blankets or textiles that harbout deep smells in rugs and blankets (because the cleaning cost can be prohibitive).
Don’t buy obviously mouldy things, such as furniture or books with mildew issues. Other than that, pretty much everything is fair game!
March 2, 2017

How French Girls Make The Most Of Tiny Parisian Wardrobes

There’s something about French girl’s bijou wardrobes that feel so chic and effortless.

They’re compact yet can feel spacious, and ignite admiration for their intimacy and efficiency. Carve space out of every niche and optimise space out of every alcove.

We love Audrey Leighton, the Paris-based blogger Audrey Leighton's top tips on how to make the most of a small closet. With the ever-increasing wardrobe that comes with being a fashion blogger and the limited space that comes as a tradeoff of living in Paris, the name behind Frassy is full of inspired ideas that are both creative and clever. 

1. FASHION AS ART “I have always chosen my truly cherished pieces and hung them up on a pretty hanger in other spaces such as the living room or bedroom. Trays of jewellery or racks of sunglasses make cool decorations.”

2. AFFORDABLE SHELVING AS SHOW RACKS “Rather than clutter floor space, think upward! Floor-to-ceiling shelving is a great way to store dozens of pairs of shoes.”

3. BAGS IN BAGS “I store my bags like Russian dolls, putting smaller ones inside bigger ones. This helps the bigger styles keep their shape but also saves space.”

4. COLOUR AND GARMENT COORDINATING  “In an effort to keep my closet organised, my pieces are stored thematically by colour and garment type. Anything that doesn't adhere to the hanging categories goes in drawers. This keeps everything organised and easy to access without making a huge mess. Small spaces are prone to quicker chaos!”
December 12, 2016

5 Favourites: Outdoor Showers

What's not to love about SGO outdoor showers? The Australian-made design comes in all sorts of different materials to suit your setting.

Choose from copper or brass, black or white, with hot or cold water options.

Once you see them, you will wonder why anyone ever bathes indoors.

Slightly Garden Obsessed,
March 30, 2017

The Four Fabrics That Go With Everything

Fabrics are the key to comfort: they determine quality, durability and funtion. Light or heavy, the fabric you choose should always be tactile, natural wins over man-made. 

These four fabrics - canvas, silk, linen and wool - have enduring appeal. 

CANVAS (and COTTON) Hard-wearing, inexpensive and practical when it comes to laundering, canvas and cotton will serve you well. Nothing brings a crisp edge to a room like sofas curtains and sofas in plain canvas and cottons. Try plain white canvas, plain neutral cottons or a a stylish array of parallel stripes in (thick or thin). The latest super-sized cotton stripes, prove the simplest ideas are always the best. Cotton is a time-honoured classic used in the best interiors.  

LINEN Linen and linen blends are generally hard-wearing and mix with everything - the more expensive are usually tougher and feel softer. Go for contrasts. Mix plains and patterns. Stripes and checks. Big and small patterns. Same-size patterns together look wrong.  Smooth with rough. 

SILKS (and DAMASK) A longtime favourite of the international style set, embossed damasks are now taking wing on modern sofas, chairs, ottomans, and cushions. And for good reason. Put damask with its opposite such as linen or canvas and watch its style value double. Medium-scale damask patterns will be very definite in small rooms but in larger spaces will become almost like a texture. If you have a great chair or stool, show it off with a great silk or damask. Natural silks does tend to rot and fade under our strong Australian sun, so avoid direct light. 

WOOL Cultures from around the world use wool for everything from seating to bedheads, banquettes, walls, cushions, throws. It adds a soft, warm element to a space, and wears well. 




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