Its been a while since I have written any posts. I have been busy with my many and varied projects. I tried to make Christmas a deadline so I could tick items off our list. So I am posting some pics from our Christmas decor. We had a lovely day and count ourselves very lucky as many people on the Victorian coast were evacuating for bushfires.
It has been many years since we had a tree, so this year I decided to get out my mother's tree she bought in New Zealand in 1961. It is very sweet, made from dyed duck feathers. I gathered all our old decorations and settled on a gold theme. The tree is quite fine and delicate so no lights as they are too heavy, and no tinsel to overwhelm the decorations.
When I first became interested in design while I was still at school, I was drawn to Art Deco. Well it was the 1970s Great Gatsby, the movie with Robert Redford has started the nostalgic interest in all things Art Deco and I remember Evelyn Waugh books were relaunched with deco inspired cover illustrations. I confess I first read 'decline and fall' because of the cover. My father had purchased an Art Deco dining suite for his parents in the 1930s and he was keen on the modern style. Our little house in the country is a classic Art Deco inspired Californian Bungalow, but when we first furnished it we chose Mid century modernist pieces as they had a casual but stylish feel the look we wanted for our second home.
But now I want to find a home for my father's Art deco suite and to display it and appreciate it as he once did. So we have redecorated our dining room and as you can see from the photos it has a very different feel from the mid century look, see blog 3/9/2014. We only modified the colour scheme, by painting the walls a slightly deeper colour, this time we went for a Porter's colour, 'Camel'. I like the very matt finish the Porter's paint has and it complements the classic deco timber detailing. We finally got around to restoring the tapestry brick fireplace too. This now gives the room its focal point once again. We changed the striped sisal rug for a velvet pile from Supertuft Carpets, and made the dining table with its strongly grained timber the main focus. The room now has a much more formal feel to it. It is more luxurious and glamourous finally giving this art deco furniture a fitting home. Oh the mid century suite of furniture, never fear that to has a new home, stay tuned.
In this photo the ceiling is visible you can see the dentil edge cornice and corrugated ceiling rose. We reused our light fittings as they had a bauhaus modern feel, that fitted in with our take on Art Deco. The uplighter a popular fitting of the 1920s bounces light to highlight the ceiling details.
There are many essentials to my life, but I thought I would talk about one in particular : calico. This is such a versatile and affordable fabric. Honest and practical, it adds a noble note to a room. It has many uses not only for furnishings including making toiles or patterns when creating clothes. Christian Dior used it as interlining to stabilise and add structure to his costumes, and of course it makes great dust covers for protecting furniture. I like to use it for curtains and blinds and also as curtain linings. It drapes well and you can use generous quantities without feeling guilty about blowing your budget. Many years ago a client asked me to stencil a Greek key border onto some calico curtains to dress the windows in her antique shop. They were very successful. Stylish yet affordable. When I was creating the kitchen library in our country house I thought I would repeat the idea. Calico works with both modern and traditional furniture. I also like to have a few meters put aside in case I am feeling creative. You can print, dye or stencil calico to create sumptuous fabrics as well.
I have been reorganising my rather large stash of fabrics and I have been doing a little reminiscing about past projects. One fabric I came across I have always loved. I can't remember where we used it but I am sure it was used for fabulous curtains with strong graphic borders and possibly a bonded blind with the border applied to the base. This is my favourite colour way, brown,black and it is very classic. The design was by Warner Fabrics and was called Oakleaf Trellis and was printed onto a lovely crisp cotton chintz. I think this one is due for a revival it is very today.
As you know I love shopping for antiques and second hand treasures. One of my favourite places is Newlyn Antiques in country Victoria. Faye and John are always very welcoming . They have a lovely complex with an old hall and cottage and a shed set in pretty gardens. The interiors are laid out with furniture and old wares in pretty tableaus, colour coded or themed. I can always find something to take home and inspire me. Of course a piece of blue and white willow pattern can be added to our laundry. This is my latest purchase. I attach their website details and now I can spend time searching their premises online, which could be quite problematic.http://newlynantiques.smugmug.com
We are fortunate to live in a street with friendly neighbours. Each year we exchange Christmas gifts with the neighbours next to us. They are usually small thoughtful presents carefully selected. But this year our neighbour must have telepathy. In our little collection of goodies including lovely jams and shortbread was a pair of red and white chinoiserie plates. They are absolutely perfect for our red sitting room. A soon as they were unwrapped Max and I immediately had the same idea as to where to place them. Our red sitting room has quite a few Chinoiserie pieces and I am always on the look out for more little treasures. These plates are perfect to add more style to our mantlepiece. It was just lacking something. These plates reinforce the theme in a subtle way and are a bit bigger to draw in your eye. Thank you very much Margaret for your fabulous present.
One of our projects that we have been working on is our new conservatory. Well maybe this is a little pretentious, closed in porch may be more accurate. But its good to fantasise. We have created this little room out of an existing pergola and deck that we built many years ago. While shopping for some recycled windows for another project I came across these two large colonial panels. I could envisage them making a conservatory off our dining room. I came home and measured up and they would fit with a little adjustment to our existing structure. They are made of hardwood and came from a house being demolished in a salubrious suburb. The reason why the salvage yard had not sold them was they were very heavy and difficult to move. So we had four students deliver them to our home and after watching them struggle we let them deposit them under our carport before they dropped them and planned our next move. We had to make some repairs and modifications to our pergola and deck to accommodate the windows so once that was done, with the help of our long suffering neighbour, Michael, we then planned the next move. Carrying these huge panels from one side of the house to the other over gravel paths and without trashing our garden was going to be no mean feat. Michael suggested a piano removalist, I tried one but he was too busy but he suggested a billiard table removalist, bingo! An old established firm had just relocated down the road from us, and they very helpfully sent four men around to do the deed. The windows were positioned and the conservatory started to take shape. Timber quarter round and flat moulding was used to hold the panels in place. A few additional pieces of timber hid the gaps. Three coats of paint unified all the timber work and 'Amberlite' panels created a roof. While for Max and I it was an engineering feat as carpentry is not our forte, with patience and persistence it came together. It is furnished from pieces that we have had hanging around waiting for a purpose. We painted the deck and stencilled a border, even the stencil had been waiting for a place for twenty years.
The table is a hard rubbish find. Many years ago we painted it Dulux 'Cold Steel' and the colour works in this scheme too. The little card showing a kitten in a blue and white bowl is coincidental. Max found this while we were hunting for the window scraper. The kitten is the spitting image of our early Christmas present, our new kitten "Tunja".
This is the table late new years night. Our friend Penelope gave us these dear little candle lights, one has a butterfly, the other a dragonfly. They look perfect on the marble topped table. The only items I bought for this space was the large hurricane lamps with the orchids. The small one was a present a few months ago when my mother died. It is still flowering. I only bought the large maiden hair fern and its pot, otherwise everything is recycled.
I love any reference to Venice and the 17th century. I enjoy looking back to that truly romantic period in history, when rakish fops in damask coats were plotting revolutions. I am pleased I don't live in those turbulent times but I still like to make reference to them in interiors. This interior comes from a fabulous book written in praise of textiles, one of my guilty pleasures. I confess I purchased this book because of this illustration. I believe the room is in a New York apartment belonging to Vito Giallo, originally he was a graphic designer, who established a gallery, known as the Loft Gallery and was responsible for giving Andy Warhol his first one man show in New York. With those credentials he went on to establish an antique shop on 3rd Avenue. Giallo had a great eye for interesting objects and collected items that gave him pleasure. This fabulous understated room has plain cream coloured walls providing a background for the interesting objects. A flush panelled door is put to use as a space to display gilt frames containing monochrome drawings. The whole length right down to the ground is used, the bottom is just an empty but lovely shaped frame. Above the door is a gilt wall bracket that holds two vases, another great use of space. The main part of the image is gold and olive green stencilled canvas panels, that have been attached to the built in cupboard doors. The background of the doors have been painted a sludgy green colour to frame the panels. It doesn't matter that the patterns don't match, it makes them more intriguing. The caption in the book suggests that the panels are Venetian. The motifs are chinoiserie in style and the gold pigment glints in the light. An unusual counterpoint is the twig style chair.
The image is from Textile Style, decorating with antique and exotic fabrics. Written by Caroline Clifton-Mogg, with photography by Andrew Wood. Published in 2000 by Jacqui Small
I have just being reading in 'The Age Good Weekend' magazine an extract from Sophia Loren's autobiography. She talks about her relationship with Cary Grant (lucky woman). But what she says is really interesting. I quote:" Cary and I would talk about or dreams, which weren't about fame or wealth - which we already had, along with the respect and love of the whole world- but the more intimate dreams, which many took for granted: the miracle of a house, a person with whom to laugh and share one's life. What kind of house would you like? Do you care for dogs?" I can identify with these words. I have never been interested in fame, fortune or even power. I just want to have a good life, a small life, for example, close friends that I don't have to impress, to maintain the friendship and I enjoy helping people reach their potential and achieve their dreams which is why I enjoyed teaching. Owning a simple house that is one's sanctuary is also important. It doesn't mean its the latest fashion, but it can still be aesthetically pleasing and contain objects that have meaning to my life. And the dog comment I also identify with. As I sit writing this Ernest our little spaniel is curled on the leather sofa, sound to sleep and Doris the black cat is too curled up on her bed, safe in the knowledge that her little family is close by. These are some images of things that make me content and make my life good.
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.