May 26, 2016

Easy Updates: 21 Quick Ways to Make Every House Look Great!

You don’t have to spend a fortune to do a quick makeover.  Prune your belongings, hang those pictures, replace old cushions for down-filled ones, introduce a topiary (or two).

Rip down those curtains that have made you miserable for 10 years, give existing chairs and sofas the slip with sleek new loose linen covers. Here’s the 21 quickest, most effective, ways to change the look of your interior dramatically, for a lot less money than you think.
1. Set up your own garden table Push a table against a wall (inside or out) and line it up with row upon row of potted topiary (big to small). It’s pretty easy to tackle and can make a big difference to any space.
2. Hang an open shelf
Got the feature tiles from hell in your kitchen? Cover it with a chic open shelf. An awkward niche? Fill it with floor to ceiling shelves. That old dead space might become the room’s star turn. Open shelves are great problem-solvers, cheaper than built-ins, and sometimes preferable because they don’t shrink a room.
3. Take down heavy curtains And whizz up a pair of slim silhouettes in a stripe, or sheer – the results can be astonishing.
4. Give chairs the slip Have loose clip-covers whipped up in ecru cotton, linen or canvas to lighten heavy chairs and sofas – it’s like putting them in summer frocks. They dramatically alter a room, bring harmony to discordant pieces of furniture and make everything relaxed and elegant – all for a fraction of the price of reupholstering them completely. Plain colours, neutrals and stripes work best.
5. Mirror a wall If you can’t afford an extension, it’s the quickest way to enlarge a space.
6. Scrub up Paint can work wonders, but sugar soap might be all you need – the results of a good scrub can be astounding.
7. Accessorise Replace one group of old, mismatched accessories with a new lot in your accent colour. New cushions, or a pair of great vases, artfully placed, will make your house look as if you have spent a lot more than you have. 
8. Buy some crisp white linen It's amazing what fresh linen pillowcases can do. Arrange two flat ones, side by side. Add two Euro pillows. Bedding is the quickest way to change the look of bedrooms.
9. Replace white plastic switches For a remarkably modest price, an electrician will install snazzy replacements in brushed steel. Remember your light switches are as prominent as your paintings, and you should never skimp on the things you notice or touch every day.
10. Try a hanging pod chair Grab a sledgehammer and bang a Dynabolt in a balcony beam to attach it – you’ll find it better therapy than a psychiatrist’s chair.
11. Update fittings New taps, doorknobs, cupboard handles and window latches are quick ways to add very affordable class.
12. Pack away objects Store items that have been gathering dust, and use your shelves to display something light or light-hearted – stacks of white china or your coral collection.
13. Paint over that mission-brown paintwork that has made you unhappy for years. It will take less time and money than you thought and your life will improve dramatically.
14. Don’t confine books to shelves A pile of interesting or beautiful volumes on a table or stool, or in a basket next to a favourite armchair, means no one need ever be bored.
15. Clean the windows If your windows have a visible layer of dust, cobwebs or dirt on the sills, get out there and clean them. Your house will instantly look better and brighter.
16. Paint the front door It's the quickest and most effective way to add style to your entry is to jazz up your front door.  Think of it like jewellery for your house.  It can be a little flashier than the rest of the outfit. With the right colour (and door knocker), a plain Jane door can become the goddess of cool.
17. Get a new doormat When it comes to doormats, buy them like carpets. If it’s stained, scuffed, worn or faded, replace it immediately.  Big doormats only; not small.
18. Hang art Don't leave unframed art leaning on wlls for years. Frame the best and chuck the rest. 
19. Brush up Take years off your rooms with a lick of fresh paint Colour is the quickest was of adding warmth and character to a space and its easy to change once you get bored.
20.  Add Foliage Grab a few pretty leaves from the garden: foliage is the cheapest and chicest decorating accessory. While you're at it, add a lofty plant: anything from a potted lemon, olive or ficus tree to a maple will pack a lot of punch.
21. Go for symmetry Flank your entry with matching potted plants to create instant symmetry.  A pair of boot scrapers, wall lights, plants, or pretty much anything, will add instant formality to your entrance. 

Oh, and while you're at it get a new house number - house numbers are one of the first thing people notice and set the tone of everything else.
May 26, 2016

Back to Basics: the 17 Timeless Pieces You Shouldn’t Live Without

You can live without a huge house.  You’ll never miss all your lead-crystal glasses, silverware and the gilt-edged ‘good’ china. But no home can function without the essential kit.

Rather than make do, invest wisely in steamlined, high-quality pieces that will bring daily pleasure. Try these:
1. Saucepans and pots with thick bottoms and riveted handles that don’t get hot
2. A classic clock that will keep ticking even when there’s a blackout
3. Soft, fluffy towels: thin or thick, big or small
4. A soulmate sofa
5. A cup and saucer, to remind you that some standards are worth upholding
6. A tray that will last, in timber, rattan, wicker or quality metal

7. Great glasses, neither too thick nor too thin
8. Quality dinner plates with looks that will last
9. A comfy bed, less than ten years old, with sheets made of cotton or linen
10. Feather pillows that always make you feel better
11. Great knives
12. Cutlery that is a pleasure to hold
13.  Bowls, big and small
14 Good wooden spoons
15. A mohair rug
16. An ironing board that glides open

17. A good pair or scissors: the sort your mother used to have

A few other things you need to live well include: A tape measure: surprisingly handy; a salad bowl and salad servers (not plastic); a wooden chopping board: thick, beautiful and made from a single block (no glue strips); a grater that works and doesn’t slide around or mash your knuckles, a decent dustpan and broom and garden secateurs: don’t wreck your knives or scissors.
May 26, 2016

One Thing All Insanely Stylish People Have

The Japanese understand screens but Australians lag behind. Screens – folding, portable and as useful as they are beautiful – define spaces within rooms and provide privacy, light and ventilation.

Best of all they can be stored when not in use. Screens add warmth and even mystery to an interior. They can hide clutter, give privacy and when guests come to stay, you can unfold one to create a temporary bedroom anywhere. When the children’s mess is a heavy pile of unsorted clothes and toys, a well-placed screen can make things look almost respectable. And they are also fun for children’s home-made let’s put-on-a-show theatrics.
The traditional Japanese byobu screen is made of paper and wood in six-hinged panels, usually decorated with birds, flowers and trees. They bring formal elegance to a room.
Modern architecture and open plan layouts, however, mean screens are as useful as ever, and they can be as varied as your imagination. Today’s screens can come with as many or as few panels as you want and in finishes that range from translucent to solid. 
Weight and stability remain important considerations. If you want a screen to be truly versatile and portable, it should be light enough for one person to fold and carry. And make sure it doesn’t wobble over at the lightest touch.
Making a screen is also a suitable DIY project. Buy some bi-fold cupboard doors from a DIY centre and experiment with paint, transfers, wallpaper, decoupage, and so on. Pad panels and stretch some gorgeous fabric over them. If you’ve got the talent, get creative with sketches and brushstrokes. Let your imagination run riot. After all, it’s only temporary.
Don’t, however, use a screen as an enormous photo album. Remember it’s a screen, not a screen test. 
May 26, 2016

The Unusual Question to Ask Yourself Before Buying Furniture

You've probably heard the usual “Do I already own items I can coordinate with this? Do I love it?” When it comes to deciding whether to buy something or not.

While both quite effective, there's a question we've been trying out lately that taps into a little more emotion. The unique query we're referring to is “Would I pass this down to my children?

Hypothetically speaking or not, it's a sure-fire indicator of whether or not a piece reflects your personal style, whether or not it's well-made, if it's subtlety representative of current trends, and how special and unique it is. Give it a try next time you're on the fence about buying a new piece of furniture or an accessory. You'll be surprised by how quickly you make a decision. 
May 19, 2016

Very Important Products No One Will Believe are From Ikea

Ikea’s latest collaboration with renowned Swedish designer Ingegerd Raman is every bit as covetable as the collection it created last year with Ilse Crawford, and signals a new level of design excellence at the Scandi superstore.

Raman is best known for her ultra-simple glassware and ceramics and her ‘Viktigt’ (important) collection for Ikea contains plenty of essential and versatile accessories. Available this month, there are glass pitchers that double as vases, monochrome ceramic stacking bowls and beautiful baskets, as well as some standout rattan furniture and lighting – we love the black sofa. See it all here!
May 19, 2016

Fur: the Material of the Moment

Fur is everywhere. Wonderfully shaped skins to faux fur silky pieces have become the most wanted material in your house this year, with everyone from big brands to niche makers doing a great version.

Try hurling a fur throw – real or faux - over the floor, your bed or a chair, for an unexpected texture play. Not only will it add warmth, comfort and sensuality to your surroundings, a great fur in white, brown, black or stripes will add the glamour factor and bring a room to life. 

Faux fur is a great, natural-looking alternative for those of us who shun real pelts for reasons ethical, economical or otherwise. And because faux fur is a fabric and not a pelt, it’s easier for designers to play with. New versions are softer, silkier and far less likely to shed or become matted than the scratchy synthetics of yore; some incorporate real wool fibres.

Striped elk fur throw, $495, Gaudion, 
Faux ombre throw in mocha, $99; seal fur ombre throw, $159, West Elm, 
SKOLDE sheepskin rugs in white or chocolate, $79-$349, IKEA, 
Head to Paddy's Markets in Sydney's Chinatown for sheepskin rugs and other animal hides from $35 in a range of colours and sizes. 

May 19, 2016

7 Types of Stationery for Every Occasion

Emails are fine, but there’s nothing better than receiving something in the post. And because letters are becoming special, they have to be done correctly, on the right sort of paper.  

Good writing paper can be cheaper than greeting cards. Rather than expensive one-offs, buy a box of decent stuff from a specialist shop.

These haven’t change for a couple of centuries: quality, restraint, simplicity.
Anything stiff – parchment or card and deckle-edged is classic.
Coloured paper is modern – anything from pink or green to oyster or ivory works.
Weight and feel is vital: watermarks are a good, formal touch on white stationery.
Letterhead makes you look very establishment; it’s better embossed than merely printed. Keep it simple; just your name and address. Anything more is too much information.
Lined paper is a no-no. So are pictures, unless you are a child (a very young child). However if you know someone well, there’s nothing nicer than a pretty card from a museum shop.
Forget sealing wax, it’s too try-hard. This isn’t the Magna Carta you’re signing.
Your envelopes should match your paper, and be lined for added impact.
A stiff card, with or without a contrast border, or chic motif, is smart and suits every occasion.
Never frank an envelope. Always use a stamp – so much nicer.
Write in blue ink. Black is for tax forms.

1. Rifle Paper Co takes personal stationery to the next level. Strike the memory of someone you met at an event or large meeting and you’ll get bonus points for creativity.
2. The Emoji These notecards are not for your grandmother (unless of course she happens to be well versed in emoji). Perfect for a quick hello or to show someone your playful side, emoji stationery is the ultimate way to say everything you want to say without saying much at all.
Connor Emoji Stationery, $85;
3. The Full Name Formal stationery is a must-have. This full-name version is especially great for a post–job interview note. Your interviewer may have seen three Rebeccas that day, so it never hurts to remind her of your last name, too.
Paperless Post Painted Border Notecards, from $2 per card;
4. The Elephant If there was ever an animal suited for all occasions, the elephant is it. With its many symbolic meanings (wisdom, luck, loyalty, strength) you don’t have to think twice about whether or not the elephant note is appropriate. The answer is always yes. John Robshaw Gold Thank You Notecard Set, $30;
5. The Fruit Using a fruit motif is like bringing wine to a dinner party. It’s safe, it’s thoughtful, and most people enjoy it. And who can resist sending these charming apple notes this fall? Jan Petr Obr Red Apple Boxed Flat Note Cards, $33;
6. The Single Initial Use single-initial stationery for peers and acquaintances. It’s the less formal alternative to the monogram, but still adds a personal touch.
Dempsey & Carroll Initial Note: R, $50 for box of 10;
7. The Insect There’s a fine line between creepy and charming bugs. Notecard-acceptable insects include but are not limited to bumblebees, dragonflies, butterflies, and the occasional beetle—steer clear of spiders. Smythson Dragonfly Correspondence Cards, $45;
May 19, 2016

Our Expert Guide to Decorating with Neutrals

Neutrals have been the most popular tones for the home during the first decades of the 21st century – and for good reason.
Many people feel comfortable when surrounded by carefully balanced colours that create an understated environment and make few demands on the eye.
Neutrals offer infinite possibilities for makes spaces airy and relaxing, refined and timeless, or elegantly sophisticated. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using bland, depressing colours that are nothing like the subtle, complex palettes shown in our gallery.

Light plays a huge part in how neutrals appear, which is why leading Brit paint house Farrow & Ball created distinct Neutral Groups – Traditional, Yellow-Based, Contemporary and Architectural – for every light condition.  Selecting a group is easy – simply consider the light in the room and decide which group you are most drawn to. You can then build a decorating scheme, possibly with the addition of bolder colours and patterns. Older buildings tend to demand softer effect from colours and are most suited to the Traditional and Yellow-Based Neutrals. Modern settings benefit from the harmonious greys of the Contemporary and Architectural Neutrals. 'Farrow & Ball; How to Decorate' by Joa Studholme and Charlotte Cosby tells us how. 
TRADITIONAL NEUTRALS Their underlying green-tones have a softness that feels very old world. If used in spaces starved of light or that face south, the underlying green may be more prominent. One of the most effective ways to use these shades is to layer them: the mid ‘Off-White’ on the walls, the darker ‘Lime White’ on moulding and ‘Slipper Satin’ on the ceiling and doors. This feels relaxed and refined.
  1. Lime White
  2. Off-White
  3. Slipper-Satin
  4. Old White
ARCHITECTURAL NEUTRALS This is the ideal white for those wanting a strong industrial feel. Cool with a blue undertone, the Architectural Neutrals are a great alternative to pure white, which can be almost blindingly stark. With the addition of almost imperceptible other pigments, these greys take on a new personality, creating a sense of spaciousness while avoiding a clinical look. These shades are most often used with the lightest tone, ‘Blackened’, on walls and ceilings throughout the house to create a seamless space, with ‘Dimpse’ and ‘Pavilion Grey’ used in small rooms as accents or on furniture.
  1. Manor House Grey
  2. Pavilion Grey
  3. Dimpse
  4. Blackened
CONTEMPORARY NETURALS Their magic lies in the fact they have an underlying lilac tone, which lends an urban, clean edge while bringing warmth. So they are perfect in a family home, because they will never have the gritty industrial feel of colder, bluer greys. This colour group is often used throughout an entire house. The strongest tone, ‘Elephant’s Breath’ could feature in a hall for drama, while ‘Skimming Stone’ will make living areas feel light. ‘Strong White’ is a favourite for kitchens where it feels natural.
  1. Strong White
  2. Elephant’s Breath
  3. Skimming Stone
  4. All White 
YELLOW-BASED NEUTRALS Don’t think of these as yellow – they are more complex and have an unmatchable delicacy. The trad feel comes from a dash of black. It is the prettiest and simplest of the neutrals that works perfectly in any rustic situation, and is very easy to live with.  Great for sunny garden rooms, where they will enhance the connection between indoors and out.
  1. New White
  2. White Tie
  3. String
  4. Matchstick  
May 12, 2016

The 12 BEST Wall Lights We've Seen in a Long Time!

At some point in your life you will need a light-emitting fixture (for reading, for cooking, for illuminating a sad corner in your apartment).

Bring an industrial – and cool edge – to your space with these timeless wall lights from old favourites like Visual Comfort, (adjustable swing-arm bedside classics), Bestlite (British award winners), and Tolomeo (statement-makers which you’ll see in museums around the world), as well as new hotties such as Caravaggio (sleek white gems) and La Lampe Gras DCW clean, architectural metal designs in lots of different shapes and sizes. Check out where architects, designers and well heeled Australia source them!
One of our favorite pendants, the Caravaggio by Danish designer Cecilie Manz, is now available in a wall light from Cult Design.
Laura Kincade is brilliant. (Seek out its Visual Comfort classic swing-arm wall lights in brass, black or bronze).
Also brilliant is Universal Lighting (for adjustable swing arm bedside wall brackets loved by top interior designers).
For modern stuff, head to Spence & Lyda, Cult Design and Living Edge.
For barn-style looks – some you’ve definitely never thought of - try School House Electric, Home Depot, Barn Light Electric, Dunlin, Urban Lamp Company or Bevolo.
For budget options, Beacon Lighting, Bunnings and Ikea (no one will guess how little you paid).
Bloomingdales Lighting Decorator, and Emac & Lawton are great wholesalers.
May 12, 2016


Purveyor of pared-down, supremely comfortable and refined Italiand and Australian furniture, Fanuli is giving away a pair of sleek Sharky stools  —valued at $2500—to one lucky Melissa Penfold reader.

The must-have Sharky stool, whose name comes from the two fins at the back of the chair, will instantly sharpen any interior. The sleek Italian design by Kristalia has a polyurethane finish, with legs in solid beech or European oak, and you can get it in two heights with either a low or high back to suit your environment. 

To enter, please click here. 

ELIGIBILITY: Melissa Penfold and Fanuli Giveaway (“Giveaway”) is open only to legal residents of Australia, 18 years of age or older. Void Where Prohibited. Employees (and their immediate families (parent, child, spouse or sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and those living in their same households, whether or not related) of Melissa Penfold, LLC. (“Sponsor”), and their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliated companies and advertising and promotion agencies and fulfillment providers are not eligible to enter or win. By entering your email address you agree you would like to be subscribed to the Melissa Penfold Weekly Email and receive occasional marketing emails from Fanuli. You will have the opportunity to unsubscribe at any time, immediately, once you receive your first email. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and Melissa Penfold’s Privacy Policy and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are binding and final on matters relating to this Giveaway.
GIVEAWAY PERIOD: The Giveaway begins at 7am on May 9th, 2016 and ends at midnight on June 30, 2016 (“Giveaway Period”). 
TO ENTER: Entry must be in English, and comply with Melissa Penfold’s Privacy Policy. The Giveaway begins at 7am, May 9, 2015 and ends at midnight on June 30, 2016. All entries must be received by midnight on June 29, 2016, to be eligible. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means or by any means which subvert the entry process are void. All entries become the property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned.
DRAWING: One (1) potential winner will be chosen at random on or about July 1, 2016 from all eligible entries received. The odds of winning are based on the number of eligible entries received for the applicable drawing. The decisions of Fanuli and the Sponsor are final and binding on all matters relating to this Giveaway.

WINNER NOTIFICATION: Potential winners will be notified by email on or about July 3, 2016 and are required to reply to Fanuli’s email within fourteen (14) days of initial contact in order to claim prize. Potential winners may be required to execute and return an affidavit of eligibility, a liability release and, where lawful, a publicity release within fourteen (14) days of date of issuance. If required documents are not returned within the specified time period, if a prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, if a potential winner is not in compliance with these rules, or if Fanuli is unable to contact a potential winner within the specified time period, prize will be forfeited and, at Fanuli’s discretion, an alternate winner selected for the drawing at issue. If a potential winner is at least 18 but still considered a minor in his/her jurisdiction of residence, prize may be awarded in the name of his/her parent or legal guardian who will be responsible for fulfilling all requirements imposed on winners set forth herein. Winner’s name will be published on the “Enter to Win: $2,500 Sharky Stool Giveaway” on Fanuli and Melissa Penfold website post page once winner is confirmed.

PRIZE: Winner will receive two Sharky stools from Fanuli Furniture valued at $2500, which they can select from the website or showroom in Sydney or Melbourne, subject to stock availability. Standard shipping costs are included for prize delivery to winner in Australia. Prize is subject to terms and conditions specified by issuer. The prize cannot be exchanged for cash or credit and cannot be combined with other offers or coupons. Prize is awarded “as is” with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied. Winner may not substitute, assign or transfer prize, but Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to substitute prize with one of comparable or greater value. All prize details are at Sponsor’s sole discretion.
PUBLICITY GRANT: Winner, by acceptance of a prize, except where legally prohibited, grants permission for Sponsor and its designees to use his/her name, and prize information for advertising, trade and promotional purposes (including, but not limited to, announcing winner’s name on the website) without further compensation, in all media now known or hereafter discovered, in any manner, worldwide in perpetuity, without notice or review or approval.

LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY: Released Parties (as defined below) are not responsible for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, stolen, delayed, misdirected, undelivered or garbled comments, up-votes or emails; or for lost, interrupted or unavailable network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), website, or other connections, availability or accessibility or miscommunications or failed computer, satellite, telephone or cable transmissions, lines, or technical failure or jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions or computer hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or other errors or difficulties of any kind whether human, mechanical, electronic, computer, network, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with the Giveaway, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of the Giveaway, the processing of entries, tabulation of up-votes, the announcement of the prize or in any Giveaway-related materials. Released Parties are also not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by site users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Giveaway. Released Parties are not responsible for injury or damage to participants' or to any other person's computer related to or resulting from participating in this Giveaway or downloading materials from or use of the website. Persons who tamper with or abuse any aspect of the Giveaway or website or who are in violation of these Official Rules, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and all associated entries will be void. Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to suspend, modify or terminate the Giveaway (or any portion thereof) should any portion of the Giveaway be, in Sponsor’s sole opinion, compromised by virus, worms, bugs, non-authorized human intervention or other causes which, in the sole opinion of the Sponsor, corrupt or impair the administration, security, fairness or proper play, or submission of entries. If terminated, Sponsor may, at its discretion, select the potential winner from all eligible, non-suspect entries and/or up-votes received prior to action taken or as otherwise deemed fair and appropriate by Sponsor. Entrants, by participating, agree that Sponsor, its parent, subsidiaries, divisions, affiliated companies, advertising and promotion agencies and fulfillment providers, and all of their respective officers, directors, employees, representatives and agents (collectively, “Released Parties”) will have no liability whatsoever for, and shall be held harmless by entrants against, any liability, for any injuries, losses or damages of any kind, including death, to persons, or property resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from acceptance, possession, misuse or use of the prize or participation in this Giveaway. In the event of a dispute regarding entries received from multiple users having the same e-mail account, the authorized subscriber of the e-mail account at the time of entry will be deemed to be the entrant and must comply with these rules. Authorized account subscriber is the natural person who is assigned the e-mail address by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), on-line service provider, or other organization responsible for assigning e-mail addresses.
PRIVACY: By entering, each entrant agrees that any information collected in connection with this Giveaway may be used by Melissa Penfold Privacy Policy. 



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