I love panted finishes. I know they are not serious design, they are frivolous, but there is something glamorous and exciting about the theatricality of a painted faux finish. I had taken some classes in how to marble and wood graining when I was a young student. I enjoyed creating the glazes, cutting the stencils and using things like sponges and steel wool to create magical textures. But it wasn't until I found a book written by Jocasta Innes an English writer. She brought these finishes to life in her famous book 'Paint Magic'. I think it would be fair to credit her with kick starting the revolution in the 1980s for fantasy finishes. I spent many hours pouring through that book. It inspired me to try some of these finishes myself in our own home as well as for clients. I think when they are done well they add another dimension to a scheme. I particularly like painted floors. They can make a great base to develop the furnishings around. They are practical and can be scrubbed clean easily. The first painted floor I did was in our blue sitting room. I was inspired by some Colefax and Fowler patterned carpet and followed the eighteenth practice of imitating a carpet design. In this period serviceable floors were made by using painted floor clothes the forerunner to linoleum. Quite grand houses had painted floors or floor clothes like Robert Adam's Kenwood. So my motto if its good enough for the guru Robert Adam, then its okay for me.
As you gather I am not a minimalist. I like to collect bits and pieces that tell the story of my life. So my house if full of little treasures that have been given to me by friends and family or bought when I have been in special places. Sometimes these items are not always 'designer' but they might make reference to a certain experience or special event. The challenge is to get them to all fit in like they belong to the 'still-life' I am creating.
This eighteenth century 'cricket table' has a lovely wavy top showing the timber's grain. It holds little pocket books and old silver frames with family photos. The candlestick belonged to my parents On the window sill is a few pieces of 18th century pewter and a french jam jar that we bought in an antique store in Adelaide.
As you have now guessed I don't shy away from colour when it comes to design and decoration. While neutral colour schemes can be calm and soothing sometimes a bit more excitement is required. Our red sitting room is used mostly in the evenings to gather with guests before dinner. We wanted a glamorous wow effect for this space. We decorated this room back in 1988. It hasn't changed very much over the years. We started with the two two seater sofas covered in a Warner's linen called 'Chinese Panel'. The sofas inspired the red wall colour. The colour we wanted to evoke was laqauer red of a antique tray or reminiscent of Pompeii. The incandescent lighting and the red walls make everyone glow in this room. The walls are finished with a glazed 'broken colour' effect, that gives the colour both more depth and creates the illusion of space. To balance the rick red walls we used a soft gold coloured ceiling, off white skirting boards and timber work and bronze coloured picture rails. This room was the first one we did in this house. It was the room to escape to when the rest was a demolition and renovation site. It is furnished with an assortment of pieces from different eras. The coat cupboard was made by Max's grandfather in the 1920's. A three legged cricket table circa 1760 made from elm was my first antique purchase in my new job at Crichton Interiors many years ago. I decided to set a policy of each year buying an antique piece to slowly build a collection of treasured items. It came from Lee Harper Antiques in High street, Armadale. The country Chippendale carver Max bought from John Dunn Antiques. We covered it in a piece of crewel embroidered cotton that picks up the warm rust colour of the room. A pembroke table from C1790 holds a quirky collection of crystal bottle stoppers. They refract the light. A fur rug made from Fox paws covers the old pine floor, that we waxed to keep the colour soft. To add some modernity the brass and glass coffee table sits on the rug allowing the rug to be seen as well as Max's childhood collection of rocks and minerals displayed in a display case, also made by his grandfather. The paintings on the wall range from my dodgy fake 'our lady of the snow" 15th Century oil to early twentieth century New Zealand water colours, to an oil known as' the pirates and pumpkin people' from the mid 1970s. Defintely an eclectic mix. We added 'silken satin' curtains that spill onto the floor and lots of cushions in treasured fabrics, hand printed silk taffeta, patterned velvet, cotton damask and even a chintz pattern with a monkey in the design. This room is nicknamed 'monkey's room' as the Chinese Panel' fabric has little green monkeys in the design. I added a monkey cameo to the stencilled border on the floor and we found a bronze monkey candlestick.
Rich red walls contrast with golden coloured 'silken satin curtains that theatrically spill onto the floor.The Warner's linen 'Chinese Panel' fabric inspired the red walls for this room. Hand printed silk cushions have napoleon bees and stars. I made these many years ago. The silk damask cushion is the most recent, it is a sample from Gainsborough Mills, England. The green silk cushion with the pearl buttons has bound button holes.
Hi I am Elizabeth an interior designer who lives in Melbourne, Australia in a little Californian Bungalow cottage with my partner, Max, who is also an Interior Designer, and our beloved furry children, Doris & Ernest. I believe that design can make our lives more rewarding and productive. I love, architecture and design theory but my everyday passion is fabrics and decoration, as I don't think we should get too serious but have fun with our homes and enjoy the process of creating our own environments. I am interested in classic cars, and collect Georgian and Mid Century furniture.