September 22, 2016

The 20 Classic Items Your House Should Own

Beautiful basics are the mainstays of any stylish home. Impervious to fashion, seasonality, or trends, these are things that work hard, look good and function well day after day.

Straight in at #1 is great kitchen kit, because no matter how chic your home, this is the stuff you use daily. So choose aesthetically appealing designs that do their job well, with looks that last.  Great style is always about these sort of details!
Classic white crockery All food looks better on pristine porcelain – fact. 
Blissful bed linen Lovely sheeting in natural yarns, that you can curl up in and will always make you feel better. And best of all, it’s more affordable than ever, thanks to brands like H&M Home and Zara Home. If your budget can stretch a bit further, head to L&M Home for the widest choice of washed-linen bedding.
Timeless cutlery Items you use everyday should be the best you can afford. Do not skimp here. We recommend David Mellor for quality manufacturing by skilled craftsmen that is a pleasure to hold.
The Perfect Wooden Spoon So simple but when you have the right one, it can be a thing of real beauty.
A basic wooden stool  The ultimate multifunctional piece of furniture, a stool can serve as a seat, side table for bed or sofa, or a stepstool. Antique or contemporary, it will soon become a family favourite. Antique Chinese elm stools, $170, Orient House, ( or Svartan collection, Ikea, $49-$59, (
Beautiful Bowls Whether for practical or decorative use, a great bowl is a great buy that you are guaranteed to use daily. For utility, think Mason Cash, which has been making trad English earthenware for more than 200 years.
A little bit of sheepskin Long-haired or short, a sheepskin equals cosiness, with the added benefit that you can throw it in the washing machine on the wool cycle if it gets dirty. Note: avoid cream: choose tawny, grey, chocolate or black.
Tempting trays Whether you use them as tea-time platters, balanced on your knees for indulgent TV dinners or for artfully containing coffee tabletops displays, you can never have too many. Go for simple designs in rattan, wicker, timber or tole.
Stacks of white towels Some things should always be white (think: loo paper, tea towels and dinnerware). Think pure, simple, fluffy and fresh, but detailing like fringes, monograms, and embossed embroidery are always allowed.
One fabulous throw rug Among life’s essentials, everyone should aspire to own a decent cashmere throw, to keep at the end of the bed and use as a grown up Linus blanket. They are the scarves of interiors, adding warmth, comfort and sensuality.
A good tea set Making time for tea with all the rituals it imples, is something we love.
A pair of grown-up candlesticks For grown-up, read silver, and for silver think auctions for something you will use forever.
A mirror that tells the truth.
A proper vase Flowers and foliage deserve a decent holder. There are plenty of fab high and low options, but always buy something you love.
A weighty casserole dish And saucepans with thick bottoms and handles that don’t get hot.
A sleek kettle Unless you opt to install one of those hot-water taps, your kettle is bound to reside permanently and in full view on your benchtop, so it makes sense to invest in something smart. ‘Hot It’ stainless steel kettle with black or white lid by Wiel Arets for Alessi is our choice.
A flea market treasure Quite simply, happy homemaking isn’t about everything being brand new. For a quick hit of personality and patina, choose a quirky global treasure or artworkThe designer’s preference is Orient House for original global pieces with character ( or raid auction houses for one-off treasures.
Vintage baskets The secret item to giving your house a more layered, cultured, eclectic look.
Atleast one antique Beautiful old furniture, signals gravitas and confidence in your home. It speaks of pedigree, history and elegance.
A scented candle All five senses should be stimulated in the home – and smell is one of the most important, instantly setting an ambient tone. Think of it as a living light with perfumed benefits.  Diptique ‘Fea de Bois’ and Jo Malone ‘Pomegranate Noir’ are our go-to scents. 
Great glasses All your glasses should be good enough to use every day and when guests visit. Anything you drink from must be generous, well-balanced and smooth. When you find a style you like, buy in generous quantities.
Quality lamps Lights are the jewellery of the home, so invest in atleast one knockout piece to give a room confidence. It’s essential, the first thing people notice, so you can’t skimp: cheap lamps signal cheap interior.
September 22, 2016

10 Wall Lights To Suit Any Style

Here, our most comprehensive list, to date of simple wall-mounted task lights, good for versatility, adjustable, and run the full gamut: high to low. 
September 22, 2016

Kitchen Inspiration: Tips, Tricks and Ideas To Try

Designing a kitchen can be overwhelming, but we’ve narrowed down the eight latest kitchen trends plus the tips, tricks and ideas to master them. 

SPECTACULAR SPLASHBACKS The lustrous splashback is a big trend this year. It’s all about the contrast. A slab of marble against painted cupboards or a single piece of hand-patinated brass against marble benchtops; the idea is to make a statement with a glittering wall that stands out.
CRYSTAL Who knew large grain crystal would be the next big thing in benchtops? Vincent van Duysen, newly appointed head at Molteni & C Dada, has used porphyry crystal rock (prized for its strength – it was used to build monuments in ancient Rome) to create a standout benchtop and splashback for his first design for the brand. (
MIX YOUR METALS For an ultra-modern approach to metallics, which have become upbiquitous in kitchen design, combine different types and finishes. Why not team burnished cabinets with a brass pendant light, stainless steel cannisters and copper taps. There’s no need to stick to one type of metal. And there’s all kinds of metal-effect ceramics wall tiles to choose from, too, to punch up your scheme, (
PUT ON A SHOW Open shelving is displacing overhead cupboards as the preferred option for above-counter storage. Go for sleek, contemporary metal shelving to trad rustic timber options; single or multi-tier designs - just make sure your crockery, pots and pans are up to scratch.
THE SINGLE HANGING STORAGE RAIL A similar trend to tap into here, is the single rail – Ikea’s ‘Grundtal’ is an affordable option that we’ve used in our kitchens to great effect for many years. Increasingly used in contemporary kitchens, the hanging rail is proof that the industrial style can work in the home. Keep accessories neutral and tightly edited to avoid overcrowding.
COMFORT IS KEY Over-designed utilitarian spaces are taking a backseat to comfort with kitchens that are beautiful extensions of our living spaces furnished with antiques, art, rugs and curtains.
THIN BENCHTOPS Forget ultra-thick benchtops. Barely-there counters are having a major moment. The thinner, the better. Thanks to new technology, benchtops now come in slabs as skinny as 3mm thick. The growing (or shrinking) trend has been gaining momentum over the past year as kitchens are more about refined detailing.
MARBLE MINIMALISM Marble is looking more understated than ever. A closer look at some inspiring minimal kitchens by Plain English ( see it teamed with matt finishes, tarnished metals, dark paint (navy to black), and touches of timber.
September 22, 2016

The Power of Pink

The coolest colour to have in your home right now? It has to be pink, says leading homes magazine, UK Elle Decoration who investigates its journey from style outsider to hue of the moment in the September issue.

It’s curious how the meanings of colours change over time. In the case of pink it has undergone more metamorphoses than most, emerging at the start of the 21st century as one of the most semantically charged hues of the age. Few will have failed to notice, the ‘pinkification’ of products for girls and women, or the common association of pink with sugar-coated artificiality.
Pink is starting to be reclaimed as a colour of high fashion (check out Chanel’s A/W16 collection), but it is in the context of interiors that is truly breaking free of hackneyed gender stereotypes.
Scandinavian brands have embraced it wholeheartedly, giving us contemporary sticker-plaster and blush shades which, teamed with grey, pale wood and punchier hues like mustard, banish all connotations of Barbie’s mansion.
Study the collections of Danish brands like Fritz Hansen and Muuto, where pink is applied with a delicate touch. The former recently launched  Arne Jacobsen’s classic ‘Swan’ chair in a pale-pin nubuck leather. ‘Pink brings softenss and sophisitication to an object,’ says Christian Andersen, the company’s head of design. ‘It goes very well with darker colours, adding life to an interiors.
Nina Bruun, design manager at Muuto, points to pink’s joy and positivity. ‘It’s a colour for the person who wants a more personal home, it can be very in-your-face or dusty and innocent,’ she says
Mood-lifting powers are also cited by Kelly Hoppen, the queen of neutrals who is designing pale pink products. ‘It’s a settling, naturally soothing colour,’ she says.  ‘It can be paired with white, taupe and black, because it isn’t as harsh as blue.’
Handled this way, pink is a colour that even men might consider for their homes. Gentle pinks also have the advantage of creating a complexion-enhancing glow, particularly when used on walls or as lighting.
Joa Studholme, international colour consultant at Farrow & Ball, gets to the heart of pink’s appeal linking it to a sense of calm and safety.’This return to pink shades is almost instinctive – ‘they’re life enhancing, exactly the opposite of our hard-edge, flat screened existence.’
September 15, 2016

The 8 Interior Design Trends To Look for This Spring

Trends, style, taste…what do they mean? How can one look be defined as ‘in’ and another ‘out’? Certain things just feel right. It’s the same with trends.

We scope a year’s worth of trade fairs showcasing new lines and gradually themes emerge.We take our time to distinguish the transient, fun, fashion minutes from the ones that truly capture the mood at large. 
True trends are not born in a vacuum, they are the visual manifestation of what’s going on in the world around us. Here’s the things that speak to us now, of authenticity, of originality, of innovation.
Discover the 8 key looks that you need to know to be completely up to date.
1. THE NEW KITCHEN Gone are the days when all it took to pull a kitchen together was a cabinet style, splashback, and benchtop. Beautiful kitchens that are extensions of our living spaces are a key trend; places not just for cooking and eating, but for relaxing and lounging, as well. We are outfitting them with sofas, fireplaces, antiques, oil paintings and curtains. The idea is to treat the kitchen like any other room in the house, that is thoughtfully decorated and comfortable, not just functional. 

2. RAW BEAUTY The most stylish interiors feature honest materials with roughhewn finishes. The secret to achieving this look? Pick strong materials, reuse as much as possible and search for unusual furnishings.

3. MATTE FINISHES This season, it’s all about oxidized metals, matte glazes, and chalk-finish paints.

4. COASTAL Beach house ranks as #1 as the most popular décor type on many popular home sites, according to new research. And evidence of our current desire for simplicity, and laid-back, understated living. It’s an attractive aesthetic, low maintenance and we love it.

5. STATEMENT FURNITURE We are showing off statement furniture by keeping everything else in our rooms as simple as possible. By paring the décor back, you can let jaw-dropping tables, chairs and lighting take centre stage. And shine. Knockout pieces bring drama to interiors  – the idea is to fuse form and function in new ways.  
6. RACING GREENS Whichever you prefer, forest greens to moss shades, soft emeralds, pale celadons or inky teal-hinged hues, moody green shades are a big trend in your home this season. To be really of the moment, team these with pale pink, rich browns and indigo.

7. TRIBAL From vibrant prints to intricate beading, basket weaves and ornate carvings, the tribal trend is having a major moment. It makes you and your rooms look layered, cultured and civilized. Even fabric houses like Larsen are getting in on the act, with their latest African-inspired textiles offering a simple way to tap the trend.
8. CANE No longer just for chairs, this intricate weave is making a big comeback this year, decorating everything from lights to tiles. Woven cane – the outer skin of the rattan plant – has been refined over time to a six-way pattern. It’s this pattern that inspired some of the latest looks such as Bisazzo’s new Vienne Nero tiles.
September 15, 2016

Bathroom Revived: The Budget Edition

The bathroom is one of the rooms that people spend the most, but it’s also where you can save the most. Sometimes cosmetic work is enough—new tapware, paint, shutters, a blind, a showerscreen, etc.

Careful planning and smart choices can keep costs down. Here’s ideas we’ve tried ourselves to great effect.
Hang a wall-width mirror To give the illusion of space, a new mirror will lighten the bathroom, add sparkle and can transform the poky into the palatial.
Work with a limited palette A fresh coat of paint can make a bathroom look larger, wider or taller.  
It’s all about clean, uninterrupted lines A new frameless showerscreen is the way to go.
New tapware can set the entire tone of a bathroom Use your imagination: choose anything from snazzy mod black taps to budget styles that could easily pass muster as designer pieces.
Add a thick marble shelf  For a feeling of luxe, attach marble shelves to the wall, window ledge or shower step.
Replace your showerhead A high-efficiency showerhead is a simple, affordable change that can have big impact.
Get the five-star hotel look Fill your bathroom with pretty soaps, candles, scrubs, balms, bubbles, shampoos, creams, oils and potions.
Stock up on towels Go on, invest in 10 new fluffy, fresh, white towels. It’s amazing what a difference they can make. 

Window treatments A new blind, especially in pale tones, will make the bathroom appear larger. Windows too small? Hang blinds (rollers to timber venetians with fat slats), wider or longer than the windows' dimensions, to the size the window should be. 

Hang pictures Gather all your unhung art, to create a bathroom gallery wall that will siganl attitude and confidence. 
September 15, 2016

More Light Please! Sheers Made Easy

Lightweight sheer curtains create privacy and textural detail, without blocking natural light. Here’s our top tips on how to hang them.

Measure up If you need to correct poor proportions (small window, low ceiling, and so on), allow your sheer curtain to be as wide and as high as the window should be, not as it is.  Hang your pole fixed high above the window. Start by measuring the curtain height from the desired position of the pole. For the width, account for wall space on either side of the window to allow the curtains to stack back when open. 
A square of fabric running floor to ceiling will improve a room’s proportions instantly, giving it more weight.
Ready-made sheers are quick and easy, but if your window isn’t standard size, opt for made–to-measure.
Choose your fittings Tracks are a great option: conceal them under a pelmet or paint them so that they blend into the wall. If it is the only curtain in a room, a simple pole will work well. Choose from a minimal metal pole to rustic timber designs.
Style the folds There are lots of ways to create the desired fold in a sheer fabric. Gathered headings create a soft, ample effect while pleated headings will give more structured linear folds.
If money is tight It's better to be extravagant with the quantity of sheer fabric and canny with the quality (you can make linen lookalikes look good if there's enough, but if you skimp on the amount the result will always look mean). 

The best sheers You can't go past voiles, hemps and lightweight linens. 

Accessorise Where there is limited space either side of the window, use tie-backs to hold the curtains away from the glass. These can be anything from fabric tassels to copper plumbing pipes fitted as tie-backs.
September 15, 2016

The 10 Best Landscapers In Australia

Here we name Australia's best landscape designers who are shaping the way we use our outdoor spaces—one garden, one courtyard, one terrace at a time.

Each of the landscapers in our list has a vision: some are innovators, some are classicists, but all are supremely confident. From dynamic designers recalibrating beloved traditions to enterprising plantsmen shaking up a landscape near you, these 10 thought leaders—are raising the bar for Australian garden design today. (In no particular order).
PARTERRE Owner Richard Haigh probably has the most glittering client list of any Australian designer – creating exteriors which are just as impressive as his interiors. Renowned for blurring the boundaries seamlessly between inside and out, balancing architecture, hero pieces and an abundance of planting. A visionary.

PAUL BANGAY Has a reputation for creating idylls, rich in English, French and Italianate allusions. Expect the formality of parterres and statuary framing ponds that appear elegant and expensive.

MYLES BALDWIN DESIGN A brilliant plantsman who draws on a wide palette of plants to suit every environment and setting. Projects include Sydney landmarks from Bronte House to Boomerang, Parliament House and Government House to name a few. The big names in architecture love Baldwin, including BKH, Tobias Partners, SJB and Greg Natale.
ANTHONY WYER Cultivating breathtaking landscapes with strong structural form. Defined layers. Sophisticated, refined stuff.
WILLIAM DANGAR For decades - trees, hedges, grasses and flowers have bent to the will of Dangar who provides Sydney with an excellent (and complete) landscape service covering all fields. Solid design, construction and maintenance.

SECRET GARDENS Takes ordinary exteriors to the next level. A big firm that can handle big projects. Swimming pools, architectural, the lot.
PETER FUDGE  The style set favourite, renowned for profoundly beautiful gardens rich with English and French allusions and monumental geometrics. One of the best.
SPIRIT LEVEL DESIGNS Hugh Main specialises in garden design, construction and maintenance with the focus very much on the naturalistic and lyrical. These gardens have the appearance of inevitability in that it’s hard to imagine any other garden in the settings. The big names in architecture come here (repeat clients include Howard Tanner, Sam Marshall, Alex Tzannes, Stanic Harding, Chenchow Little, Campbell Architecture, Philip Abram, Corben Architects, Collins & Turner,  Architecture Saville Isaacs, Nic Graham). Gardens you would not see anywhere else in the world.
GARDEN LIFE Richard Unsworth is your secret design weapon when it comes to small outdoor city spaces.

GOOD MANORS For trad garden looks and a good design service, head here.


September 8, 2016

Global Glamour: Pure Inspiration From Around The World

How we choose to pretty our homes is a profoundly personal decision. But decorating is how we make a home our own.

Give an interior guts with a strong statement-making table, the most wanted piece for your house this year that will instantly update your look. Lash out on lighting with a couture spin– we can’t get enough of the accessory which is enjoying decidedly fashionable status.
Style up spaces with gold, grey and white. Daring to do things differently does make an impact. It’s about confidence. We look at the brands who are turning utility staples into luxury heroes. 
Tables The interior’s staple has a laid-back reputation, but this season’s strong statement pieces are a lesson in geometry that take them to a more high impact place. Use a new-season design as a console, dining table, entry table, desk, even kitchen bench. The best piece money can buy.

Here’s our favorite finds from recent collections:
Meridiani We’ve long been fans of the Italian sofamaker, now it’s turned its attention to statement tables with a strong graphic quality, and metal bases that catch the light differently depending on the time of day. Available at
Flexform Mood The Italian’s elegant styles shine through in its newest tables in marble and metal like Riviera, which have wowed the international style set. Available at
Bonaldo The Italian is gained a lot of attention with its striking tables that combine timber with metal bases, and are notable for their sharp silhouettes. New in-store at
Lighting The modern day interiors essential. It’s the go-with everything accessory that will instantly update your look. Here are a few brands on our radar:
Ochre The name to buy in lighting.
Bomma Clever, minimalist handcrafted designs that are producing some of the most desirable styles around. Available at
Neri & Hu The Shanghai-based studio has an original way with materials, making its mark on the the international design scene with its eyecatching lights. New in-store at
September 8, 2016

Paint Colours With Cult Followings: 10 Picks

Why reinvent the wheel every time you need to paint a room? Even architects and designers turn to their favorite colours—versatile and universally flattering—again and again. Here's 10 that have stood the test of time.

1. Lexicon from Dulux The top choice for an all-purpose white paint. Leading designers from Thomas Hamel to Iain Halliday, Greg Natale, Anna Spiro and Parterre owner Richard Haigh, love it. Use in a mix of quarter-and-half strength. If it’s good enough for the award-winning boutique hotel Halcyon House, it’s good enough for us. 

2. Popcorn from Porter’s Paints Clean and calm, it’s the perfect backdrop for art with a slightly tea-stained hue. Not too warm or too cool.
3. Parchment from Resene It’s fresh yet has depth, and versatility. You can halve it, quarter it, or double it.

4. Whisper White from Dulux The warm white of old, pre-brightened starched linen has a cult following in the paint world. A fave with big-name designers who use it in half-and-quarter strength.  

5. Hague Blue from Farrow & Ball If you're thinking blue, look to this quintessential shade for a fresh, modern feel.  If the choice of celebrity London chef Skye Gyngell's for her kitchen cabinets. 

6. Timeless Grey from Dulux A cult favourite grey with designers everywhere, that goes bluer or browner depending on the light. 

7. Cashmere from Dulux It has replaced Hog’s Bristle as the designer’s go-to neutral. It has a tiny amount of grey and warmth to it, that moves it away from pure white. It's in tie with another great warm driftwood grey neutral, Calf Skin from Dulux, that changes from grey to beige depending on the light. 

8. Pitch Black from Farrow & Ball When you are ready to go dark, not just any shade will do. For a dark overhaul, this colour is the blackest of shades. 
9. White Alpaca from Taubmans One of the best warm whites out there with just the right amount of grey and yellow, and no pink tones. 

10. Twill, Basalt and Rock from Murobond also belong on the greatest hits paint list. They are versatile, deep earthy shades that are the kind of colour used by A-list architects to paint landmark buildings like Boomerang, Old Government House and Hyde Park Barracks. 

Honourable mention also goes to Beige Royal from Dulux A warm neutral that top designers swear by which is neither too blue, too icy or too yellow.  



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