September 23, 2015

First Look: Melissa's Wedding Gallery

I’ve walked down the aisle twice. First came a rather grand ceremony back in 1990 with a major church wedding and fab dinner dance where the marquee was filled with thousands of roses flown in from France.

There were hundreds of handpainted cherubs, live bands, fireworks, and a going-away dress by a famous French fashion house to boot. 
A few years back I married my longtime beau in a far more intimate ceremony for family and friends with a lunchtime ceremony at home followed by an evening reception at our fave restaurant, Rockpool Bar + Grill.
Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up: from how to pick the ultimate and timeless ring to 10 things every bride should know.
THE RING The type of ring you get depends on the shape and size of your bones – and personality. With the right engagement ring, a plain Jane can become the Empress of all the Russias.
Like with like is the rule: big rings for dinosaur hands, dainty pebbles for small fingers, and so on. Delicate diamond bands complement bird bones.
Don’t mix metals: stick to gold, silver or platinum.
Your ring has to work as a team with your outfit, forever. If you go for a knuckleduster ring, let it speak but be prepared to quieten down your wardrobe.
If you’re wearing killer clothes, keep your ring subdued, it’s in a supporting role.
The older you get, the better quality your ring should be. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just lovely.
1. Never buy into a passing trend that doesn’t suit you. Don’t be a slave to bridal fashion: personal style trumps trends.
2. A wedding is a great time to update your look. Most people do their makeup the way they learned to do it when they were fifteen. You don’t want people carbon-dating you by your bridal makeup. Grey-brown eyeshadows suit everybody and will make you look fresh but not too made up.
3. Listen to your inner voice, and don’t be a victim in the hairdresser’s chair. Think about the future wedding photos. Will that blonde ‘updo’ look great or ridiculous in 10 years time?  Generally you will find the colour you had as a child will suit you best.
4. Know thyself: go for a dress that plays up your assets and minimizes your faults. 
5. Cut and colour are key to bridal success. Find a mirror and hold up different things to establish what suits you. Rediscover your waist.
6. Aim to outgroom everyone. The adjectives to aim for are clean, polished, gilded, waxed, buffed, manicured, and perfect. Poor grooming can undo a thousand dollar’s worth of frock. Grooming is the basis on which good looks must be built. Your beautiful wedding dress will count for nothing if you have mascara on your cheek.
7. Get your lingerie right. It’s nothing to do with dazzling your husband later, it’s all about the shape good underwear will give your clothes and the confidence it will give you.
8. Accessorise. The right headpiece, veil, jewellery and bouquet give your look the personal stamp.
9.. Don’t feel compelled to part with suitcases of money. Be confident. Style is knowing what you like and not giving a damn.
10. No slouching! Great posture is the secret of bride fabulousness.
November 17, 2016

What We Love About A Loveseat

Bigger isn’t always better. Case in point: the loveseat, which tucks effortlessly into less-than-spacious rooms, lends intimacy to open floor plans, and is the perfect go-to for apartment dwellers.

Here are all the reasons we love it.

Whether your space is eclectic, boho, farmhouse, rustic, mid-century, vintage, urbane, preppy or laidback - there’s a loveseat to match. 

​Think bench-style bamboo numbers,  Marie Antoinette French affairs, mini chesterfields, curvy skirted styles, and sleek contemporaries.
They can be used in bedrooms to hold books, clothes, even suitcases. They look fab in bathrooms, where they add a sense of comfort, helping make the room less clinical, and are handy for holding towels and bathrobes, too. Plus they make the best dog beds.

They're small enough to tuck into a tight entry, but large enough that you can walk in the door and basically collapse on. Ideal also for alcoves, stairway landings, tiny entries, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen corners, and hallways. 
Use them in pairs facing each other to encourage conversation, or create intimate seating solutions pretty much anywhere. 

Loveseats can fit into skinny nooks that are too narrow for a full-size sofa, transform dead zones into reading spots, or you can use one to create a cozy seating vignette in an open floor plan when paired with a side table or a chair.
Perfect for adding a femme touch to bedrooms too. 

Oh and they make great children’s sofas with all the best attributes of the sofa—deep seats, comfy cushions—and when your darlings grow out of it, the loveseat is easy to move from room to room or house to house.  
May 4, 2015

The Collection We've All Been Waiting For: Celine Pre-Autumn '15

Smart casual is a hard look to get right, and yet Celine has aced it with its pre-Fall collection 2015 which is a great lesson in the way great brands do things. 

Great cuts and colours: dramatic jackets you can swim in, frayed trousers, an embroidered kaftan that harks back to Talitha Getty in the 1960s, and the ultimate long white goddess dress. We’ll take one of everything.

Click through the gallery to see the full collection, even just for inspiration; you’ll pick up the latest looks, the colours that look good together and note little things, like how a white cuff gives an all-black outfit instant style.

Even if you’re broke, checking out the latest collections keeps your eye in shape.
March 9, 2016

The Fabric Thomas Hamel Can't Get Enough Of

Decorate like a professional with the top-notch gorgeous linens that top international designer Thomas Hamel uses.

Hamel, whose work features in some of the best houses from Sydney to Provence, New York to London says De Le Cuona, the mother of all linens, is quite simply ‘fabulous’.

The kind of thing that will change the mood of your rooms instantly, and bring beauty and comfort into your life. The stuff feels and looks unlike anything else around – it’s paisleys – three metres of which apparently take a full day to weave – have to be stroked to be believed.
All in a delicious palette of milk, herb, pearl, pebble, barn, nougat, calico, coal, clay, coffee, camel, marble, stone, ochre and malachite that you can coordinate (or contrast) to taste.
Designer’s hot picks? Seek out Buffalo, Casablanca, Eskimo, Expedition, Huckleberry, Maroc, Longleat, and Weathered Web. And we hear on the global grapevine, it’s latest collection – Savage Couture - has been a huge hit with the international style set.
This brand really captures the mood of the moment: it's tactile, has longevity, and integrity.
Expensive, but worth it. You’re welcome to look at the showroom, but will need to order through your interior decorator (or upholsterer). 
BOYAC, (02) 9360 4515,
July 7, 2016

SHOPPING: An Insider's guide to the Southern Highlands

The Southern Highlands has always been a vibrant part of New South Wales. It has its own best selling magazine Highlife after all.

The pretty countryside has been drawing people to the area for generations, but these days they’re as likely to come for the shopping as they are for a great weekend.
If you’re looking to explore this corner of the country, here are 20 great places to start with (in no particular order).
WINTER HILL If you don’t want to wait years for trees grow, and fancy big, beautiful trees pruned into fab shapes, come here. The 70-acre Canyonleigh farm has more than 300 semi-mature and advanced specimen trees and dintinctive standards. (Hello cypress, beech, oak, plane, juniper, bay, laurel, maple as well as tulip and pear trees). Ideal for shade, hedges and driveways. The landscaper’s choice.  2233 Canyonleigh Rd, Canyonleigh, (02) 4878 9193,
MOUNT MURRAY Come to the gem of a nursery, where you can get a lifetime’s supply of trees in one hit. The family business, with wholesale and retail arms, is renowned for its quality exotic shrubs, pines, spruces, perennials, topiary, magnolia, fruit trees (peach, apple, plum, lemon, cherry). Also stone ornaments, water features – the whole bit. If you’ve got acreage, look no further. And trained staff are on hand to give horticultural advice. LOT 1 Old Dairy Cl, Moss Vale, (02) 4869 4111,
SUZIE ANDERSON HOME Anderson’s second shop in Moss Vale has developed a huge following since opening the doors in May. The place choregraphs its wares as beautifully as any Ralph Lauren store. There are generous sofas, chunky–knit blankets, rattan chairs, indestructible woven rugs, metal pendant lights, stone bowls, and candles that can change the entire atmosphere of your rooms.  All in a timeless palette of white, ecru, sable, coffee, grey, blue and charcoal that you can coordinate (or contrast) to taste. 409-411 Argyle St, Moss Vale, (02) 4868 2662,

COOKSHOP PLUS The kind of quality staples serious foodies use when they entertain at home. Classic white plates, generous wine glasses, timeless cutlery that’s weighty in the hand. Plus everything you could possibly need for cooking (casserole pots to sauté pans; non-stick griddle pans, and copper-base oven dishes that are for keeps). 340 Bong Bong Street, Bowral, (02) 4861 1105,
LYDIE DU BRAY ANTIQUES A-list designers go nuts over this place. The huge emporium, barn and garden is chockful of one-off French antiques that will add instant pedigree to your digs. Strong on hero pieces. Go for a new shipment of Gustavian and Swedish chairs, side tables, commodes, tables, stools, mirrors, chandeliers, tapestries, and paintings. Oh, and beautiful garden furniture, statues, urn and vintage baskets, too. 117 Old Hume Highway Braemar, (02) 4872 2844,
THE POTTING SHED BOWRAL Garden genius Maureen Gardener always has a good stock of on-trend plants, (succulents, topiary, herbs, standard cumquats),  plus lovely old pots, English-style benches, obelisks, willow ware,  fire pits, arches, and more. Her much-anticipated second store, The Green House opens in Moss Vale late July. We’re told the store, situated in the former stationmaster’s house, will be brimming with gardenware, books, beehives, cast iron urns, even mini gardens potted with crocus, snowdrops and hyacinth. Make a diary note to visit as soon as you can. Dirty Janes Antiques, 391 Bong Bong Street, Bowral; The Green House, 247 Argyle Street, Moss Vale, 0419 154 860,
ROUNDABOUT THE HOUSE  Everything in timber for the great outdoors. Huge choice of gates, half-barrel planters, pots, pre-made picket timber fencing (mostly in panels or rolls that can be mounted to posts or pre-existing fence structures), awnings, even cubbyhouses. At fantastic prices. 96-98 Bowral Road, Mittagong, (02) 4872 2866
BOWRAL BOOK SHOP Top-drawer types flock here for its beautiful and useful round-up of titles on all our fave subjects: garden, interiors, architecture, food, travel, fashion.  And jolly good novels, too. 311 Bong Bong St, Bowral, (02) 4861 3447.
DIRTY JANE EMPORIUM Dirty Janes Antique Market is the Portobello Road of Australian shopping, with more than 60 shops and a mind-blowing collection of affordable enamel teapots, vintage bentwood coatstands, old tin pales, advertising signage, (think new, vintage, industrial, antique). It’s expanding right now with major (snazzy) renovations that will be complete later this year. But it’s business as usual with everything from second-hand carved oak side tables to 1920s cane sofas,  wicker whatnots, birdcages, and vintage chests. The Emporium is the place to find 1950s American upholstered furniture classics which won’t break the bank. A good hunting ground.  391 Bong Bong Street, Bowral, NSW, (02) 4861 3231; 
BERKELOUW BOOKS The institution of a shop for old runs of books that are seriously cheap. It has a restaurant running around its shelves proving bookshops aren't dead, they're thriving. 3020 Bendooley, Old Hume Hwy, Berrima, (02) 4877 1370,
MERCHANT OF WELBY Good pickings for well-crafted, traditional, brown furniture. Lots of mahogany, and good bookcases.  Keep an eye out for solid pieces built before World War II, which are more likely to feature trad joinery techniques, better woods and less glue.  English and Australian antiques are good value at the moment as the fashion has shifted to twentieth-century classics. Make the most of the opportunity, as they’ll be back.  72 Old Hume Hwy, Welby, (02) 4871 2158,
RABBIT TRAP TIMBER The best handmade timber tables around. Renowned for hand-crafted timber tables, benches, and made of local timbers. We love the refectoray table with sturdy barn plank tops. Now there are side tables, breadboards, benches. 430 Argyle St, Moss Vale, 0432 214 520,
BRONTE TRAM The place to come for personality pieces: old leather armchairs, mirrors, armoires, the odd bergere armchair, industrial lights, French baker’s stands, and furniture trinkets.

GREEN BRIDGE STUDIOS A mod mecca of textile installations, macrame teppees and more made using hand-dyed Australian wool and top-grade rope by textile artist, Natalie Miller who has made her mark on the international craft scene. She's created the world’s biggest macramé chandelier for Hong Kong’s Pacific Place, after all. 430 Argyle St, Moss Vale, 0414 306 166,
MADE BY OTHERS In a league of its own with a unique collection of handmade ceramics, cushions, bags, aprons, napkins, paintings, prints, textiles, jewellery, object design, lighting and more. 2/366 Argyle St, Moss Vale, (02) 4868 2026
BARBARA’S STOREHOUSE The key word is inexpensive. Fantastic-looking rattan chairs, metal pendant lights, sheepskin rugs, misshapen-style tableware, metal drums and watering cans, woven placemats, jumbo baskets, even timber dining tables that are heartbreakingly cheap.  6/350 Bong Bong St, Bowral, (02) 4862 1942,
SALLY BERESFORD ANTIQUES Here you’ll find European grandeur, with serpentine-fronted commodes, oak-fronted bureaus, armoires, workbenches with vices, farmhouse plank tables (that can be custom built to order), urns with plinths, and dining room chairs. 128 Nowra Road, Moss Vale, (02) 4869 4144,
BABILONIA A Highland fave, with a dazzling selection of old faves like Cire Trudon candles, Lagouile cutlery, Cascada alpaca blankets, throws and scarves as well as covetable French soaps and bubbles by Seda France, Provence Sante and Neste Dante. Plus Jac & Jack, jewellery and lots more. 21 Boolwey Street, Bowral, (02) 4862 2033,
CLOTH & GENERAL It does the subtle blend thing on its ear, aimed at people who like things that are soothing and neutral. Everything from wicker chairs, to shell inlay trays, throws, knits, coral, candles, baskets, juju, even heavenly elixirs for the body. 1/23 Boolwey Street, Bowral, (02) 4862 2595.
BERRIMA COTTAGE NURSERY Hardly a secret, but an essential stop for those short on time and green fingers. A strong line of lavender, rosemary and buxus plants, which is set within a peaceful walled garden. 28 Old Hume Hwy, Berrima, (02) 4877 2929.
October 20, 2014


Want smart  furniture in strong woven fibres that can be painted any Dulux colour you fancy?

A-list designers (Thomas Hamel, Cameron Kimber, Michael Love, Marco Meneguzzi, Briony Fitzgerald, Brendan Wong, Victoria Hampshire) swear by Cotswold Furniture Collection. It sells major brands like Belgian fave, Vincent Sheppard which creates timeless designs such as the Sydney indoor dining chair used at fab hotspots throughout the world including Huka Lodge in New Zealand and Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island. Plus the Butterfly chair used at high-end resorts like Longitude 131 at Uluru, and Southern Ocean Lodge at Kangaroo Island. For interiors, there's great new lookers such as Yoko, Jack, Jo, and Melissa, whose name we thoroughly approve! And for outdoors, there's the popular Monte Carlo, Bordeaux, Safi, and Lucy. Oh, and we love Vincent's iconic laundry baskets which have been around for more than 20 years and you see in mod interiors looking as fresh as ever in chic shades.  

Vincent Shepperd laundry basket, $495; Yoko sofa including cushions, $2995;  Jo or Melissa dining chair, $595 each; Jack chair $695

Inquiries, 1800 677 047, 

October 21, 2015


Look at this table. It’s one of the most popular pieces in town. Expensive, yes. But the quality Riva 1920 Italian piece is totally in tune with the current craving for keeping it real.

We are choosing natural over manmade, authentic over reproductions, and timeless things created by artisans simply because they are real.
It’s all about the hand of the maker as we opt for quality designs in solid timber created by artisans that are easy to mix with most looks and styles.
And items such as the Boss table is the golden standard: a high-end, statement-making modern farmhouse, characterized by its honesty, simplicity and flexibility that suits all tastes: modern, rustic, minimal, industrial, farmhouse, coastal. A beautiful buy to love forever.
Scroll our gallery to see some of the other beautiful timber tables from the Riva 2015 which are popping up in some of the best interiors in the world.
FANULI FURNITURE, (02) 9908 2660,
December 15, 2016

These Are The Colours Everyone Will Be Talking About In 2017

In a bold move, paint manufacturers, interior designers and real estate developers pick white, off-white and greige as their top colours for 2017.

In everything from restored barns to posh penthouses, white is hot. It’s an ideal backdrop because it creates a calm, clean, elegant feel; and remains the best foil for art.
It’s about simplicity, and when people are feeling less sure, white-on-white offers comfort and a home where you can take refuge from life’s frenetic pace.
The hue of your walls has a huge impact on your psychology says Debbie Zimmer, director for the US Paint Quality Institute, a research arm of Dow Chemical Co. “For example, red typically increases appetite and raises blood pressure, and it’s a very stimulating colour, whereas white is calming and refreshing.”
Resene who has a reputation among designers for sophisticated tinting and sells some of the best whites and neutral paint colours on the market, are predicting neutrals will continue their run for 2017.
The company’s 2017 colour trend report includes its most popular ever whites - Black White, Spanish White and Alabaster – mixed with a delicious palette of new-season deep, warm muted shades and pale hues that are easy to interpret in any way to suit your individual style.
There’s lovely blues, greens, sables and greys that you can coordinate (or contrast) to taste. Colours like Quarter Truffle and Fifty Shades are a great way to give a new wall a softer, old-world feel with their an earthy finish.
Karen Warman, from Resene says, “these colours are easy to live with because they have a relaxing and comfortable feel about them – the perfect respite from busy life.”
Other great colours are Resene's Half Dusted Blue (the ideal French blue); half Grey Chateau, Steam Roller, Organic (a great ghost gum) or Half Evolution – which all have warmth and depth: and are a little muddy, not sacharine.
May 25, 2015

Meet The New LBD Of Benchtops

If you're extra rough and tough in the kitchen take a look at WK Marble & Ganite's Quantum Quartz (a dead ringer for the stone on which it is 93 per cent based), that's used in airports throughout Australia and now comes in six great new greys.

Architects and designers love the reconstituted stone for its colour accuracy, durabitity and the fact it needs little maintenance. The quartz-based range, being acid-and-chemical free, is completely husband-proof and tougher than the real deal. It is stronger than granite or limestone, non-porous so you don’t have to bother with waxes and sealer, and comes in 40 varieties. 

The company has developed a palette of greys to suit our current craving for the moody hue with pale oyster-hues to mid-smokes and deep charcoals. 

Every slab is cut to size. It can be used for benchtops, splashbacks, wall-cladding, flooring, the list is endless. 

Virgin, Versace, Gap and David Jones are all clients of WK. 

You can check the range at its showrooms (where you’ll also find WK Natural Stones in 150 types), then order through your kitchen company or stone fabricator.

WK MARBLE & GRANITE: (02) 9772 9888,
April 7, 2016

This Trick will Help Your Fancy Candle Burn Much Longer

Be honest: have you ever owned a candle that was so pretty and expensive that you didn't want to burn it?

You might tell yourself you're waiting for a special occasion or a stressful day when you need a little boost, but really you're just avoiding the inevitable. The truth is, candles are meant to be melted — but that doesn't mean you don't want that process to take as long as possible.

To make sure that happens, you need to take precautions with the first burn. When you light your candle on that fateful day, make sure you don't blow it out until the pool of liquid wax covers the entire surface of your candle. This will make sure your candle will melt layer by layer, instead of "tunneling" around the wick (as seen in the picture above), which shortens a candles lifetime. 
But make sure you set aside enough time for this process: It should take around an hour to melt every inch per diameter. (So if your candle is two inches wide, you can assume it'll take two hours to melt.) Then, the next time you light the wick your candle should burn evenly ... and you can relax knowing your fancy candle isn't going anywhere anytime soon. 

From: House Beautiful



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