July 28, 2016

Decorating on a Budget: 20 Tips From The Pros

Think of decorating on a budget as fun, an opportunity for ingenuity and new directions. Get inventive. Turn it into a game. Part of creating style is trying new things. Money can never do what imagination on a shoestring can do.
Here's few tried-and-tested tricks. 

Go Neutral Choosing classic pieces in neutral colours will enable your furniture to have a long and diverse life. Neutral items can be moved from room to room throughout the years, and by switching accessories, cushions, lamps, throw rugs, art, they can easily be transformed when tastes change. Opting for versatile items in neutral colours and finishes means you’ll only have to incur a high cost once, rather than every few years.
Throw in Some Black No matter what style your interior—modern, traditional, or eclectic—introducing a black element such as a piece of furniture, painting or or accessory will add instant edge.
Go to different parts of town – geographically and culturally. You’ll be surprised not just at the different looks but the difference in price.
Use your imagination When you are on a budget of zero bring all your powers of observation and imagination to charity shops, discount outlets and clean-up weeks. If there’s nothing you like, walk away. 
Split costs with a stylish friend For a money-saving shopping secret, split costs and sets. The bateau lit sofa in the living room at our country house was part of a set, but it was expensive, so a friend and I both chipped in — I took the sofa, she got the two armchairs.
Use what you’ve got You don’t need to whizz off to the shops, rearrange what you’ve got. Move paintings, tables even china from room to room.  Change the furniture arrangement, reupholster existing pieces, paint your wood furniture, add new knobs to a soulless cabinet. Often many of the things you own are fine, they just need a tweak to make them fresh. Shopping at home can be your most inexpensive resource.
Shop wisely and well Avoid making hasty or compromise decisions you’ll repent at leisure. When you have a budget, it’s easy to buy things for the price, rather than buy good things. If you buy a bad sofa, for instance, you will always want to replace it as soon as you can.
Visit auction houses because they have sales A good place to snag bargain antique furniture, paintings, mid-twentieth century design, good porcelain, and more. I recently picked up a pair of English upholstered library chairs for $50 each and a pretty French writing table with original paint finish for $150.
Pull it all together with affordable accessories Inexpensive Chinese porcelain, woven trays, placemats, and basketware can really stretch a budget and still get the last layer of personality.
Choose affordable art Seek out reasonably priced online sites like Easy Art or 20x200. And for maximum impact, hang artwork en masse in a group rather than scattering it around a room.
Look at the shape of furniture before you look at the fabric Don’t fall madly in love with a $700 sofa from a vintage store just because you happen to love the navy velvet. Remember: you can refinish or reupholster anything.
Love something? Buy just one Beware of duplication. Don’t always buy the same thing. For instance, you have a stunning coffee table you love. Then you see a gorgeous brass side table that resembles it. The coffee table won’t look as special if it has a matching design.
When buying inexpensive items simple things are safest Cheap things usually go wrong when they are tricked up. Look for household staples in your colour palette.
Think of bargain shopping as a treasure hunt and apply your usual quality standards Enjoy looking for the gold among the dross. Don’t pay top dollar for things you know you’ll see on sale. Wait for the big sales for items like sheets, towels, china, cutlery, glasses, knives, pots and pans.
Asian discount shops are a necessary stop for canny decorators You’ll dig deep for treasure but it’s worth it. Go to areas in your city where there’s a critical mass of these shops, so you can compare and contrast. Most of what you’ll find will be rubbish but 5 per cent will be pure gold – the sort of artefacts that make a home unique, and for a tiny price. Plant stands, trays, tables, chairs, woven placemats, Asian porcelain figures, storage boxes, storage containers, wicker coasters, noodle bowls, glassware, oil pourers, ceramic vases, stoneware plates, teapots, white towels. Look for natural textures, muted colours and minimal decoration.
Shop around Take the time to see what's out there. You can find character pieces at secondhand stores. Try revamping them. Get a piece of marble, glass or granite cut down to size and put it on top of a table or revamp a world-weary chest or commode with coat of fresh paint and new handles.
Mix quality pieces with less expensive finds When it comes to collecting, not every piece has to be precious. It’s much more important to find things you truly love. That is the point of collecting. Be original. It makes economic sense to start collecting something that is out of fashion, or has not yet become a fad. We know people who collect cake stands, rattan trays, brooms, convict bricks, and books will silly names. They’re all fascinating.
Go for gallery glam Give a humble piece of art the appearance of a masterwork with oversize mounting and framing. When surrounded by a 15cm mount a small print will look important. Mount an object as simple as a shell, vase, mask, or sculpture on Perspex plinths, blocks, and stands, to make them look like something out of an art gallery. Also consider investing in original artwork by local up-and-comers and find out when art colleges are having student showings of original works at affordable prices.
Do a chuck out Before you start worrying about what you can and cannot afford to buy, consider what you should get rid of. Dated, worn, or damaged items could be doing the look of your home a disservice, and if they’re non-essential, removing them can give your home a clean slate. One of the worst offenders in rental apartments is vertical blinds. Plus those college posters you’ve been holding on to. Bin, bin, bin.

Outdoors or indoors? It doesn’t really matter The stone plinth and urn is a garden ornament, and it's really heavy but just because something's meant for outside doesn't mean it can't be used indoors to great effect.
July 28, 2016

Let's Go Antiquing... Australia Style!

Every entrenched industry is getting a dose of disruption these days. One that’s seen a great deal of shakeup in recent years is the antique trade.

Times are tough for dealers in a fast changing, nervous world where time is short, connoisseurship is out of vogue and minimalism is the prevailing fashion. The internet too has made pricing more transparent with antiques more accessible through an ever-growing, user-friendly auction industry.
Core antique buyers - 50ish boomers and their parents - already have filled their houses 10-times over with antiques. But their Gen-X would-be successors just don't have the taste for the traditional furniture, paintings, silver and ceramics they grew up with.
The result has been a dramatic drop in prices, with English antiques great value at the moment. You can now snaffle up a pretty farmhouse table or old mirror that would have cost several thousand dollars a decade ago for a few hundred dollars.
Get out there and make the most of the opportunity, because they’ll be back. The fall in price is part of the cyclical nature of furniture fashion.
Here’s a list of our fave auction houses and trad antique stores  – all great examples of their kind. Places to get inspired – and take up the hunt!
Michael Greene Get beautiful silver, jewellery, photo frames, silver-plated drinks trays, ivory beakers, 19th century porcelain, and goblets for the godchildren. Also the place to take your heirlooms when not in working order for repairs, conserving or making as good as they can be. Engraving, too. (Greene & Greene), (02) 9328 1712, www.greeneandgreene.com.au

Grafton Galleries Put together as well as any museum display, the family business stretches back 70-years, and is run by Hartley Cook who has an excellent eye. You'll find French elm farmhouse tables, lovely library chairs, lamp bases, and an outstanding line up of very old English decanters, corkscrews, wine accessories and glassware. Best antique furniture polish around, too. (02) 9361 3567, grafton_galleries@bigpond.com

Antiques-Art-Design, Jason Becker (ex-Becker Minty) has opened a smart antiques store well worth adding to your little black book. Potts Point, (02) 8937 0959, www.antiques-art-design.com

Potts Point Galleries Good pickings and good names like Janet Niven, Wendy Varley, among others. (02) 9357 2033, www.pottspointgalleries.com.au

Mittagong Antique Centre The place to seek out top names like Derek Greengrass (Greengrass Antiques) who has one of the biggest collections of walking canes, treen (turned bottle holders), campaign furniture, 19th-century objet and hunting memorabilia. (02) 4872 3198, www.mittagongantiquescentre.com.au

Hunters & Collectors Deals in natural history specimen and taxidermic heads (buffalo fox, rabbit, geese, the lot), armoury, pond yachts, Edwardian toy engines, black forest carvings, vintage motor bikes.  Mittagong (02) 4872 1661, www.huntersandcollectorsantiques.com.au

Graham Geddes Melbourne's best known antique dealer - is closing down - yet remains a rich hunting ground of pieces for house and garden. Go for 18th and 19th century furniture with great bones, plus follies, fountains, rugs, the lot. (03) 9509 0308, www.grahamgeddesantiques.com.au

Edward Clark Antiques  Good mirrors, tables, chests and objects regularly raided by top designers. 0408 313 497.
Auction houses: 
Mossgreen A market leader in art and estate sales, it recently opened a huge Sydney showroom from which you can view its regular big-league single-owner auctions. A good spot to look for great art, decorative arts, serious furniture and pieces. (02) 9195 1900, Melbourne (03) 9508 8888, www.mossgreen.com.au

Sotheby’s Strong on pictures, (02) 9302 2402, www.sothebys.com.au

Leonard Joel Fancy an affordable impressionist-style painting? The auction house specialises in Australian and international art from 17th-century Europe to contemporary local art with five sales a year. Rare books, too. (02) 9362 9045, www.leonardjoel.com.au

Bonhams (02) 8412 2222, www.bonhams.com.au

Shapiro Auctioneers Regular sales focusing on design, art and estate auctions (think lifetime collections of bargain Wedgwood china up for grabs).  (02) 9326 1588, www.shapiro.com.au

Lawsons In business for 130 years, the house is best known for its antiques, fine art and jewellery but keep your eyes peeled for bone-handled knives, Georgian tables, Regencey sideboards, faux bamboo chairs and pretty wingbacks. (02) 9566 2377, www.lawsons.com.au

David Barsby Auctions Its general sales are a good place to snag bargain antique bookcases, desks, mirrors, commodes, stools, etc. (02) 9439 7432, www.barsbyauctions.com.au

Vickers & Hoad Keen collectors cn sometimes pick up a pretty portrait, good porcealin, farmhouse table, or garden furniture for a song. (02) 9699 7887, www.vickersandhoad.com.au

Deutscher & Hackett (02) 9287 0600, www.deutscherandhackett.com
July 28, 2016

Why Individual Sofas are the Next Big Trend

We are entering the era of the new social living room. Yesterday’s living rooms may have used the TV as a focal point, but with cable subscriptions on decline, today’s living rooms are more civilised places for person-to-person interactions.

"Everybody is working really hard, and they want to come home to a clean, elegant, calm environment," says Fabio Fanuli, of Fanuli Furniture which sells top-notch Italian and Australian sofas including Flexform designs that are used by top designers, both here and abroad.
Individual sofas, are a great solution to this cultural shift, with the latest vintage-inspired designs a great way to open up a room and soften the angles of spaces with their rounded edges (instead of cornered) and square arms (instead of flared).
They’re also void of extra trimming, are a great fit for clean, modern spaces. "People are looking for an uncomplicated, easy life. That is what contemporary design is all about," says Fanuli.
Picking the right sofa is one of the biggest furniture decisions anyone makes. Your sofa is in many cases your anchor and statement piece of furniture. It’s also where you do a majority of your lounging, entertaining, reading, and, of course, dozing.
If you're someone who enjoys movie nights in, then having a pillow-back sofa is much more comfortable. If you entertain a lot then you want something sleek and easy to clean. A quick look at Fanuli’s stunning new addtions to its popular Australian sofa range - Nelle, Charlie and Scarlett - demonstrate what we're after.  
According to Fanuli, “Sofas are lower, deeper and softer than ever.  It’s now all about casual, elegant soft seating for relaxed living. We’ve noticed a move away from tailored pieces to beautifully contoured sofas with finer arms, deeper profiles and softer seating with lots of extra-feathering that hugs the body.”
"Single sofas are on the rise taking centre stage in our homes with 70 per cent of people opting for individual sofas that are flexible, versatile and great for entertaining. Modular sofas remain popular with families who want cosy, comfortable seating options that can accommodate the entire family, and making up about 30 per cent of the sofa market", says Fanuli. 

Texture has been big for a few years now for sofa fabrics, and will continue to be a trend in 2016/17. The most popular weaves for this year will be high-quality wool, linen and cotton mixes as they add character to a room, don’t date, and are easy to live with. Look out for leather and velvet, too.
According to Fanuli the fashion is shifting away from stone to greige fabric for sofas – that smart tone which sits somewhere between grey and brown and makes everything look expensive. The light grey-brown shade has all the versatility of a neutral, adds a touch of warmth and sophistication to any room, and works whatever your look.
Watch out also for rosy pinks, mints, teals, forest greens and blues, especially for occasion pieces such as ottomans, chaises and cushions to punch things up. It’s about full palettes, good textures, (like velvet), and strong contrasts that lift a room and add instant life.

Fanuli Frankie, Charlie, and Nelle sofas from $4990. Scarlett sofa from $5390; www.fanuli.com.au
July 28, 2016

The Right Basket: Have You Found The One

You might recall a time not too long ago, perhaps ten years or so, when suddenly everyone was toting oversized market baskets and filling their houses with wicker.

As with many things in fashion, what appeared to be an overnight phenomenon, was in fact, the result of a lot of media attention and the work of people like India Hicks who made wicker and island style…cool.
Now with so many brands doing versions, there’s no excuse not to have a great basket. You can use them to stow everything from magazines to wood, blankets, towels, toys, loo paper, ferns, a citrus tree, whatever you fancy.
Remember, there are a few rules to observe when purchasing a new-season basket: the emphasis is on proportion, weave, colour, detailing and finish.  You don’t want a basket that is top heavy, badly-made or too yellow in hue.
Here is a roundup of our fave suppliers:
Dunlin Home, www.dunlin.com.au
Flamingo Road, www.flamingoroad.myshopify.com
Freedom, www.freedom.com.au
Ikea, www.ikea.com.au
Inartisan, www.inartisan.myshopify.com
Market Import, www.marketimport.com.au
Orient House, www.orienthouse.com.au 
Pottery Barn, www.potterybarn.com
Town & Country Style, www.townandcountrystyle.com.au
Tribe Home, www.tribehome.com.au
West Elm, www.westelm.com.au
Weylandts, www.weylandts.com.au
Zara Home, www.zarahome.com
July 21, 2016

A Guide to Figuring Out What Kind of Art Turns You On

Are you a minimalist, or a traditionalist? What message do you want your art to send to the world? Do you want it to be a bold statement, or something more polite and restrained?

Go for art that fits in with your vision of yourself. Here are some ideas we spotted via Elle Decor for different types to help you navigate the tricky art world and be true to yourself (and your home), be that extroverted, introverted, the outdoors type, gypsy, or homebody. Consider it speed dating with all the pros (eye candy) and none of the cons (everything else).

Are you a perfectionist who adores attention to detail? If you want to get up close to a work and admire every line, curve, and shape, then drawing is the genre for you. Only you will appreciate the intricate work and the patience required for the consistency in lines that artists use to transfer their imagination to paper.  In this medium, the art-world descriptor words will be ink, graphite, pastels, chalk and charcoal. 
Are you more of a traditionalist? Put your faith in the classics and choose paintings where artists express themselves in all kinds of ways within the means of the traditional medium of layers of oil, acrylic paint or watercolours on canvas.
Photography When going from Point A to Point B, do you take the fastest way? Obviously. Is that even a question? If for you, it's not: photography is your thing. From a very simple process—point and shoot—an entire world of creativity awakens. Artists can capture reality in a split second that will impact the viewer for the rest of their life. A moment forever captured in time that perhaps was completely overlooked will now be cherished always, thanks to this beautiful genre. 
Do you think outside the box? Did you always colour outside the lines at school? If yes, sculpture is for you. Sculpture allows the artist to use a third dimension as an additional tool to express a message that makes you question, discuss and wonder.
Do you like to take the scenic route? Do you enjoy every leg of a journey? Then you will delight in printmaking, a medium with a process just as fascinating as the final piece. First, the artist comes up with an idea and then carves the negative or reverse image onto a wood block, silkscreen, stone, or metal plate. Once the negative image is created, the artist will then cover it with ink or paint, press paper on the block, and transfer the positive image on to the paper. There's more. Typically, each colour is applied separately to the paper. This means that if there are 13 different colours in one piece, there are 13 different applications to that one block to get to the final image.

July 21, 2016

Herringbone & Chevron: The Must-Have Wood Floor

We’ve seen wood floors, but now you can reach new heights of chic with herringbone and chevron versions which are lending classic timber floors fresh appeal. They are like the tweed jacket of interiors and never go out of style.

We spoke to wood flooring specialist Woodstock Resources who works with all the big name architects like SJB and Luigi Roselli, on projects small and large, on why classic herringbone and chevron wood floors are enjoying a fresh appeal in houses everywhere.
MP: What is the first thing to consider when choosing a wood floor?
WOODSTOCK RESOURCES: Visual appeal and practical utility. Easy care is a priority for most people.
MP: If you like the look and texture of wood, and the way it wears and lasts, there are a whole host of considerations to be made, like colour, grain, dimensions and stability. What’s your advice?
WOODSTOCK RESOURCES: There are many species of wood; every type of tree has it own qualities. Don't go on-trend when selecting a wood floor. Go for something classic with enduring appeal. Flooring is expensive, (especially timber) but it’s an investment, that sets the tone for everything else. We only supply original French oak floors and parquetry plus a Dutch pre-finished European oak product. Oak just holds furniture so well. 
MP: When selecting a wood floor, colour is available two ways: there is colour that is intrinsic to the wood–walnut has a brown hue,  oak is yellowish - or you can add a stain; some woods stain well, others don’t. How do you advise people on choosing a colour?
WOODSTOCK RESOURCES: When using antique and reclaimed wood flooring, we recommend a good buff and polish. With re-milled flooring using old barn planks, we recommend a mid-chocolate or grey colour.  It’s not too heavy, it’s not too pale, and it’s not too Scandi.

MP: In the last few years we’ve noticed a lot more greyish brown wood floors popping up in beautiful houses around the world because of Restoration Hardware and its weathered woods.  What colours are popular in Australian interiors?
WOODSTOCK RESOURSCES: You’re right. The most popular stains we're using right now are a mid-chocolate and a grey-brown.
MP: What is there to consider when it comes to grain?
WOODSTOCK RESOURCES: It’s a matter of personal preference. If people want the floor to be a focal point, they need a more active grain. If they want the floor to blend into the background, they may opt for a calmer grain. We offer a wire-brushing option which takes the loose grain out for those wanting a less grainy look.
MP: What are the most popular woods?
WOODSTOCK RESOURCES: All our wood flooring is oak, and I’d say more than half of the wood flooring used in Australian interiors is oak. Maybe even two-thirds. Although Australian hardwoods are a good flooring option, too.
MP: What about width of wood?
WOODSTOCK RESOURCES: We do flooring from 180mm to 240mm wide, which is quite wide. The wider it is, the more expensive. But our most popular width is definitely 180mm.
MP: Trends?
WOODSTOCK RESOURCES: We love oak for flooring because it has a rustic quality. And as I mentioned, we are using a mid-brown chocolate finish. People like a worn look, that harkens back to things hand-made. We wire brush boards if required to create an extraordinary patina and texture with a sense of permanence. And our reclaimed wood, and antique boards and panels remain hugely popular. It seems they never go out of style.

MP: What about staining with colour?
WOODSTOCK RESOURCES: The stain provides the colour and the finish goes on top of the stain to protect it and the wood.
Beware of Designers who often love to put a thick layer of stain on a wood floor to give it uniformity, but most floors that are uniform in colour are going to be compromised in longevity.
Woodstock Resources supplies the best timber floorboards and parquetry made from original French oak. Antique and re-milled. Also beautiful Dutch pre-finished Euro oak flooring in droolworthy colours. www.woodstockresources.com.au
July 21, 2016

You Need To See Ikea's Latest Tableware

While Ikea looks to cater to a world that is fast becoming more cramped and connected, and expand beyond it’s bread-and-butter offerings of sofas – it is still the place to find fab tableware.

We adore the latest additions to its best-selling Vardagen range with everything from new bowls, plates, mugs, platters and cups set to be released next month. Expect beautiful basics to love for a lifetime. 
July 21, 2016

The Mercedes of Garbage Bins

Since Holger Nielsen produced a pedal-garbage bin for his wife’s hair salon in 1939, the Vipp Danish design has become one of the world’s most coveted bins and shipped around the world in the million

Today, the company is run by his daughter, and little has changed. Vipp still manufactures its pedal bins in Denmark and the materials are the same: stainless steel and rubber. “Good design never goes out of fashion,” said Nielsen whose original garbage bin is in the permanent collection at MoMA. Each hand-assembled bin consists of up to 42 components. One craftsperson can create six bins per hour – ensuring quality that lasts.
It comes in various sizes, plus laundry versions, a dustpan and brush, even hooks. A quick fix that will instantly elevate your kitchen, bathroom, laundry. 

July 14, 2016

THE US Rug Company That's Gone Global

If you could only buy a few things this year, what would you choose? On our list would be must-have rugs in antique, midcentury, tribal, industrial, preppy or laidback styles from hot American rugmaker Dash & Albert.

Its inexpensive yet on-trend, hard-wearing rugs are setting the tone for the interiors scene, with more than 550 designs down including 160 fantastic new 2016 releases in 9 different sizes.

And if you're extra rough and tough around the house, consider its indoor/outdoor rugs (more than 220 designs to choose from) which are completely child and dog-proof.  And any tragedies (like spilt red wine, coffee or badly placed plants), you simply hose away.
The US company does a huge line in affordable weaves, patterns and textures made with cotton, jute, wool, PET and poly, in natural and bright shades, using fair-trade practices and no child labour.
Perfect for lightening up the feel of your pad (and making it look like you’ve spent more than you have). Not only will they finish your room, they will reflect your style.
Annie Selke, who named her rug company Dash & Albert after her Clumber spaniel and basset hound, offers the most divine colour combos loved by top American designers, magazine editors and stylists. Ideal for city pads and weekenders, (beach or country), they form the perfect backdrop whatever your look. 
Even leading AD100 designer Bunny Williams has jumped on board to create a collection of droolworthy rugs for the brand – many with an oatmeal-background that don’t show the dirt.
Our picks? The best selling, Samson stripe (the designer’ choice) plus Catamaran Stripe (a classic look that always works), and brand new release, Blue Moon (a colour-block wool creation that decorators are going nuts over).
Then there’s Cousteau Jute (that could easily pass muster as a Missoni zigzag piece), Herringbone Jute in great blues and greens (a winner), as well as boho numbers like Numa, Zama, and Massinisa (that are apparently selling like hotcakes at Sydney retailer No Chintz).
Also worth checking are it’s ultra long six-metre runners which are ideal to use up stairways to make everything feel relaxed and elegant. Or there are striped runners that can lift any hall, kitchen, bathroom, or laundry.
So much style, so much choice. You’ll definitely find what you’re looking for. 

STOCKIST INQUIRIES WINTON HOUSE, (02) 4861 3389 www.wintonhouse.com.au
July 14, 2016

10 Easy Pieces: Glass Hurricane Lanterns, from High to Low

Hurricane lantern candle holders earned their name because their tall chimneys protect a flame from wind.

Not sure if they could stand up to a real hurricane - but with their pleasing shapes we like to crown the table, block the wind and set the mood with a blazing centerpiece indoors and out at night.
Great also for creating atmosphere on sideboards, consoles, coffee tables, pretty much anywhere really. Oh and when investing in hurricane shades, simple designs are safest, they usually go wrong when they are tricked up.

Here's 15 that are grabbing our attention right now. 




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 more....to help you transition your home instantly for summer. Happy shopping!
Melissa Penfold