November 24, 2016

The $30 trick that will rescue your interior

Want to know a high-impact tweak designers use to transform rooms?
Lamp shades can change the entire tone of a space, give an old room a fresh look and will cost you far less than a complete overhaul.

If your lampshades are right you won’t notice them. But if they’re wrong, you eye will go straight to them.
Shades come in a range of materials, but card, linen and paper are classic choices. Shades go through fashions, particularly when it comes to their shape but a drum or wide design in the right shade is timeless – avoid gimmicks.
The best colours are white, beige, and black. And just make shure you get the base-to-shade proportion right. Most people’s shades are too small. If you’re in doubt, pick the larger size: a wide lampshade is preferable to a pinhead.
October 20, 2014

Sharpen Your Interiors With a Great Light

Sleek, shiny, and 'designed' lights are currently enjoying decidedly fashionable status.
These fab examples from Danish company, Lightyears (the brand that brought us the hugely popular Caravaggio pendant designed back in 2005 by Cecilie Manz perfectly illlustrate their charms. Simply stunning in everything from glass to metals in all colours: black, silver and gold. They don't try too hard, and are all the better for it. Use them as quick updates to transform any room instantly. Calabash pendant in aluminum with chrome lacquer, from $898.50; Caravaggio high-gloss enamel metal pendant light in black $225, or matt white, $429; Atomheart hand-blown, triple-layer opal glass, $661; Mingus aluminum pendant light, from $350. Cult, (02) 8062 6060,
July 7, 2016


French and Belgian fiends, on your marks today, when Parterre will be offering 40 per cent off everything for Melissa Penfold readers for the second time since opening its doors in 1986. (The sale kicks off officially on Saturday). 

There’s cast iron mirrors, alpine armoires, outdoor furniture, including it’s fabulous bluestone outdoor tables with timber bases, were $10,000, (now $6000).

Oh, and gorgeous plants, planters and urns in every size, colour and shape imaginable, too, including its classic terracotta Poggi pots handmade in Italy using premium Tuscan clay. A small 15cm herb pot was $75, (now $45) and a thigh-high 64cm pot, was $2450, (now $1650).  

It's also a great chance to stock up on buxus, starting from $75 (now $45). There's big to small sizes, and multiple shapes. 

Plus fab porcelain Limoges tableware by Jacques Pergay you'll have forever including his leaf plates featuring gingko, pocket tree, pumpkin or banana leaf motifs, side plates were $45 (now $27) and snaffle gorgeous round vases for $195, which make a fabulous wedding present. 

French outdoor wall lanterns, too: were $1450, (now $870). Amazing table lamps with stone, timber and metal bases from $495. Chandeliers, commodes, industrial furniture, statues, and chic clumps of coral for a lot less than usual. And a million ideas. Be quick.
33 Ocean St, Woollahra, (02) 9363 5874, 
February 25, 2016

10 New Landscape Ideas to Steal in 2016

We’re predicting these 10 design trends via one of our fave blogs Gardenista – from grass gardens, to mown grass paths, see-through fences and rollaway walls –will improve any garden this year:

Monochrome Palettes A one-color palette creates a serene backdrop for outdoor living—and plays up textures in the garden. A dash of black may be all you need to call attention to the green contours of a landscape.

Raked Gardens Environmentally friendly Gravel Gardens (one of last year’s best garden design trends) are looking more manicured this year. Raking is a kind of meditation.

See-Through Fences Increase air flow if you live in a mosquito-prone zone such as Brooklyn with spaced fence slats (the Venetian blind look also lets in light and makes a small backyard feel less like a box).

Gingko Glamour Is ginkgo the new hornbeam? Pollarded ginkgo trees add a layer of ruffly texture against a fence.

Rollaway Walls The ultimate luxury is a house that completely erases the barriers between outdoors and in. In the spirit of their predecessor the rollaway bed, rollaway walls disappear into the background when they’re not needed.

Mown Grass Paths Call it the ultimate low-impact hardscaping element. A mown grass path puts travellers in the midst of a meadow—temporarily. If you don’t like the layout, let it grow back and start over.

Blue Hydrangeas Nothing is more old-fashioned—or more modern—than electric blue hydrangeas. The hue is polarizing—and mesmerizing, when paired with the turquoise blue surface of a swimming pool as at the Hamptons home of Finnish stylist Tiina Laakonen.

Decorative Drains The French drain comes out of the basement to claim its rightful place in the garden. As beautiful as it is useful, the decorative French drain adds an element of texture to your hardscape design.

Instant Gardens Roll out pre-planted sheets impregnated with seeds to sprout an instant crop in a garden bed. Just add water to prompt pre-measured herb and vegetable seeds to grow. The trend is a natural outgrowth (pardon the pun) of last year’s practice of Sprouting Microgreens with Growing Paper. 

Grass Gardens Swaths of perennial grasses create painterly landscapes that serve as habitats for wildlife, need little water, and look good year-round.

The Grottage Garage-to-cottage conversions are on the rise. The garden grottage is the new guest room.
October 7, 2015


The one piece, decorators swear by? The uplighter; it can add another dimension, change everything, and make a difference to the furniture, the walls and the people in the room.

CREATE DEPTH by using individual uplighters to bounce lots of light across walls and ceilings. This way, you get dynamic lighting with the ability to change the mood of the room, as required.
LOOK AT ALL THE OPTIONS  Uplighters add another dimension to your scheme, with the light directed upwards or down. Remember, you don’t always need to see the light source.
CREATE THE FEELING OF SPACE by using uplighters to wash the walls with light, and draw the eye up.  Our eyes perceive light through its reflections across all of the surfaces in the room.
EMPHASISE THE ARCHITECTURE OF A HOUSE by using carefully placed and angled lighting. Uplighters can help to direct the gaze upwards toward the ceiling and accent a room’s architraves and mouldings, or a favourite piece of artwork or furniture.
A SUCCESSFUL LIGHTING SCHEME MUST ALWAYS INVOLVE balancing the effects with the design of the pieces themselves. The trick is to use products that are not just design objects, but also perform well.
It’s important to think about the quality and type of light. A poorly chosen fixture or a bulb that produces low-quality illumination can ruin even the most beautifully designed room.
One of our faves is Vaughan’s new modernist range of uplighters that look set to change the way we light our art and rooms. 
Its Autumn/Winter 2015 coolly, conceptual cube uplights in bronze, nickel and brass that illuminate our paintings and collections with a gentle glow that reflects upwards (very current) rather than downwards (passé). The effect is magic.

Fall for the sleek metal, architectural  Curtis spotlight cubes and see how the Copnall  box spotlights in bronze, nickel and brass bring grace to your collections and wash your art with a soft light that illuminates the ceiling and everything in between. Plus the Cheriton uplight that simulates the warmth of candlelight for tables (side, consoles, desks, bedsides) to showcase great paintings or bookcases.
Look out for the Buckland, a three sculptural balls in brass, bronze or nickel. Stunning in modern interiors. Or for updating trad rooms.
Take a look at the website to get a sense of the range, and you can order locally through Vaughan suppler, Walter Herman Interiors. Many of the designs don’t come with Australian Standards electric plugs, so you’ll have to use an international plug (which doesn’t bother us – makes us feel global!).
Inquiries: (02) 9360 7008,
Walter Herman Interiors, (02) 9360 7008,
June 1, 2017

The Greatest Kitchen Drawer Organiser Will Surprise You

If your kitchen tools are pretty enough, why not display them?

A kitchen tool rack—the kind that requires your utensils get hung up on display—is a kitchen drawer organizer in disguise. Adding one will help you eliminate cutlery-drawer clutter because so much of it will be on display. Consider: even the most organized cook knows that things inside drawers can get dishevelled quickly.

We’ve been writing about them in our magazine columns since the late 1990s and in our books since 2008, and find their appeal timeless. A rail banged in a wall: what could be simpler. Function, however should have great form and if you want a chic rail, you’ll need to look beyond a steel pole and two metal brackets. Luckily there are plenty of good-looking options that are a quick-fix, cheap, and look great because they don’t shrink a room like open shelving or built-ins. They can also be attached to virtually any surface.

Hang the utensils you use everyday – but make sure they look good and bring daily joy. But don’t things on rails get dusty? If you see it, you’ll use it, and if you don’t chuck it out. Plus it will make your kitchen look smart, efficient and beautiful, too.

Seek out everything from chainstore stainless-steel rails to brass rods, iron designs, and natural timber. You can't go wrong. 

May 10, 2015

Buy This Hose Before Everyone Else Does

Want to replace your heavy, hopelessly tangled garden hose? You need to know about Lepaar’s snazzy Gardenlust hoses launched this week. 

Australian-made in durable agricultural-grade hosing specifically for our harsh conditions, the kink-free design comes in chic shades of ivory, slate or lavender with solid brass nozzle, connector and optional wall hook.  We’re told scuff marks wipe away. Custom sizes to order.  

Gardenlust garden hose with brass connector and nozzle, $180; optional brass wall hook, $250

Inquiries Lepaar; 0411 636161 or 
January 12, 2017

Have You Shopped These 10 Sales Yet? Don't Miss Out

With so much to choose from, it can be difficult to find the real gems at the January sales. Yep, every store has its strengths and knowing what these are is the key to smart sale shopping.

Here’s our definitive guide to where to go for what – to find the very best pieces to buy on sale this month. From affordable treats to investment buys and everything inbetween. We’re talking stylish sofas used by some of the most successful designers in the world to one-off collectables that would look at home in Architectural Digest. 
1. Orient House Hotfoot to the Eastern Eden for 20 to 30 per cent off hundreds of global treasures and statement-making pieces handpicked in Africa, China, Thailand, India and Bali that can give an old room a fresh look and are in tune with our current craving for authenticity and character. Our picks? Malawi chairs, beautiful old marble bowls, huge white temple jars, vintage baskets, mounted Buddhas, trunks, urns, clay pots, Chinese drum stools, blue and white porcelain, carvings, and celadon. Until January 29. 

2. Fanuli Hit leading Australian retailer for 10 to 50 per cent off furniture by Italian A-listers renowned for exquisite quality like Flexform, Kristalia and Riva 1920 plus great Australian sofas that always strike the right note. Seating highlights? Flexform’s Groundpiece used in some of the world’s most inspired interiors.  Expect timeless pieces in the latest looks and luxury materials that won’t date. Until January 31.
3. Peter's of Kensington Beautiful basics and cookware classics that you will enjoy forever at up to 80% less than the usual retail price: Esteele 3.4 litre Australis casserole pot with lid, $81 (was $229), Scanpan 26cm classic frypan, $69 (was $215), Furi Pro wood knife block 9-piece set, $269 (was $599), 70% off Stanley Rogers 56-piece Chicago cutlery set, $89 (was $299), Royal Doulton Pacific 16-piece dinner set, $138 (was $249), Chasseur white casserole 30cm dish, $216 (was $539),  Lagouile two-piece black cheese knife set, $19 ($34),  Riedel Black Tie Bliss decanter, $188 ($270), Wedgwood Archive Butterfly Posy mugs, $40 (were $90) and heaps more. 57 Anzac Parade, Kensington, 9662 1099, 
4. Ikea Up to 60 per cent off some of the most affordable modern classics around, with all the essential stuff for home, family, and outdoors. Go for Stocksund, $360 (usually $439), Gurli throw, $9.99, ($19.99), Sinnerlig table lamp in frosted glass, $39 (was $39.99), Regissor glass door cabinet with four drawers, $299 (399), Galan cabinet with sliding doors in black-brown, $499 (was $649), Byholma brown baskets, $14.99 ($24.99), Galant white file cabinets, $229 ($were $349). 1 Oulton Avenue, Rhodes, 8002 0400. Until  Sunday.
5. Garden Life Sydney’s chic plant nursery kicks off its big January sale tomorrow, with up to to 70% off its covetable range of pots, planters, urns, troughs, plants and homewares used in some of the city’s best courtyards, terraces, balconies and gardens. Go for unbeatable deals on Tamagroute Marrakech green glazed ceramics, now less 50 to 70%,  with dreamy 60cm platters, now $195, (were $550), Armadillo outdoor rugs, now $485 (were $970), hand-thrown Moroccan terracotta pots from Morocco, $112.50 (were $225) and lots more. 158 Prince Highway, St Peters,  (02) 9517 3633. Until January 29. 

6. Ruby Star Trader On your marks for its mega sale which kicks off this Saturday in celebration of the retailer’s 21st birthday. Expect bargains galore: white bone inlay 4-poster bed was $6500, now $2400 (was $6500); carved timber photo frames now $40, (were $150), red Indian tikka boxes, now $20-$25, (were $85-$95) George linen six-drawer chest $2000, (was $4880), six-drawer scalloped chest, now $1500 (was $3500).

7. Pottery Barn Deals and discounts galore at the chain including its fab Belgian flax linen diamond quilt cover in Flagstone or Flax, $20.95-$331.80 (was $84-$474). Plus everything from cotton deep pocket curtains $26.95 ($68) antique mercury vases, $10.95-$25.95 (were $19 -$44), to classic English-style sofas, club armchairs, cushions, throws, rugs, lampshades and lots more. 
8. Bed Bath N’Table One of our favourite sale haunts for bedding has up to 50 per cent off. Go for Hollowlight European pillows, $20.95 ($29.95) as well as Orson Bale towel sets in white, silver or ice blue, $39.95 (were $79.95), Boston white bath towels in white, pebble, granite, dusty blue or ink, $15.95 (were $26.95), and Whythe towels in Armani-style colours of Pebble, white or charcoal, $15.95, (were $26.95). Plus Morgan & Finch Superior White cotton queen sheet sets in white, putty, silver or duck egg, $84.95 (were $169.95), (you can never have enough). Stores statewide. 9960 3366,
9. West Elm The best casual looks: up to 40% off its best selling Belgian flax linen quilt covers and pillowcases, from $34.30 (were $49), 50% off rugs, Kasbah wool rugs, $559 (were $1359), jute boucle rugs,  from $239 ($299), plus fab factory task lighting,  sofas, chairs, tables, outdoor furniture, cushions and much more.
10. Country Road Home Quick, its 25 per cent further off sale has bargains off its trend-resistent staples – reliably fresh quilts, trays, throws, vases and towels that work, whatever your look. Go for the Katio pinstripe queen quilt cover, $89.95 (was $229), Prudence standard pillowcase, $13.94 (was $34.95), Mackenzie single blankets, $74,95 (were $169), Clarry tall vessels, $29.95 (were $59.95), Xenia throws, $74.95 (were $199), Ariel bowls, $29.96 (were $59.95), Valo table lamps, $74.96 (were $179), Hara large tray $74.96 ($179), Iver small vessels, $37.46 (were $69.95) and much more.
1. Focus on what you need.
2. Don't blow your budget on splurge items when you still lack the basics.
3. Making a list will stop you buying impulsively.
4. Hit the sales for trend-resistant, household essentials that will last and serve you well
5. Now is the time to splurge on big-ticket items such as that new bed or sofa that will enhance your life.
6. Hit the sales for trend-resistant, household essentials that will last and serve you well. Think pots, pans, china, cutlery, glassware, quilts, pillows, sheets, blankets, towels, luggage.
7. Stock up on scented candles, soaps and bubbles that will lift your spirits and make you feel alive.
8. Buy only quality. Think simple, elegant and practical. Never compromise.
9. Don't buy anything that you don't absolutely love, just for the label.
10. Buy things that will work into your exisiting scheme in your colour palette.
November 26, 2014


Believe it or not, the peeling plaster wall is faux, from a stunning range of trompe l'oeil wallpapers that our top magazine editors and stylists are going nuts over.

If you covet loft-style brick walls or wood cladding reminiscent of Alpine chalets, why fork out for expensive materials when you can get the illusion with amazing trompe l'oeil wallpapers by UK companies such as Photowall and Rebel Walls who produce a range of designs including peeling plaster, concrete, bricks, wrought iron metal and aged timber.

They are the kind of thing you constantly see popping up in all our fave  lifestyle magazines from UK Elle Decoration to Australian House & Garden, Real Living, and Belle. 

The faux designs are an ideal option for adding texture and richness to spaces. Great for softening walls too, as well as concealing surfaces that have wonky plasterwork or crazy cracks (cheaper than replastering). 


Rebel Walls Panorama Collection Frontage Mural, custom printed to size, from $69 a sq/m

Rebel Walls frontage collection tin plates nebraska mural, Custom Printed To Size, From $69 a sq/m

Photowall Faux Walls Collection Concrete Wall Mural, custom printed to size, from $121 a sq/m

Rebel Walls panorama collection world map colour mural, custom printed to size, from $69 a sq/m

Rebel Walls frontage collection vintage book pile mural, custom printed to size, from $69 a sq/m 

Scandinavian Wallpaper & Décor (08) 9444 2717


August 4, 2016

It's Official: The MOST Popular Sydney Shop Among Top Designers

Orient House is an Eastern Eden with an influential aesthetic. It was the first to bring the Malawi chair – used in the world’s best clubs like Scorpios in Mykanos - to Australia many years ago.

The handpicked pieces from China, Africa, Thailand, Bali and Indonesia are so pure, and yet rugged, with a texture that other people just don’t deal in.
Much of it is made in and for the tropics making it ideal for Australian living. If it weren’t for confidentiality agreements, Orient House would be known for having the most prestigious client list in Australia.
And best of all, these global treasures look a lot more expensive than they are. Perfect for adding warmth. A touch of the Orient. Embellishment. And lots of texture.
You'll find handcrafted baskets, mounted masks and Eastern torsos like you see in major art galleries around the world, that make everything else look cultured and civilized.
Go for its new shipment, fresh from Indonesia of big round teak root tables, basketware in every shape and size, Sulawesi slatted timber benches, cane birdcages, fab woven rattan chairs, carved consoles, bronze lanterns, leather stools, tribal necklaces, mounted masks, and much more.  
Also, fresh from Thailand: old antique terracotta pots and urns, bullrush baskets, Bayon stone torsos, ceramics, trunks, chests, mounted jewellery, timber plates, chests and statuary.
Everything is handmade by artisans using ancient methods making them more desirable than ever before. Why? They are decorative, interesting, and a statement that you are educated, well-travelled and interested in the world.

The top designers and dealers's choice. 
BOTTOM LINE Teak root table, $1265; blue and white china vases, from $85, fossilised wood pieces, from $350; Java rattan chairs, $530; Atta rattan coasters from $2.50, large woven boxes, $150; Lombok woven placemats, $12, bowls, $35, baskets, $25; Java woven birdcages, from $45; Indonesian vintage rattan baskets, $35-$95; bronze lanterns, from $180; mounted masks, $110, Sulawesi wood benches, $350; leather stools, from $360; Papua tribal necklaces, $100; Java bronze crabs, $35-$55; calligraphy brushes, $33.
ORIENT HOUSE, 45 Bridge Road, Glebe, 9660 3895,

Photography: Elise Hassey.



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