December 1, 2016

Gift Guide 101: Can't-Go-Wrong Christmas Gifts 2016

Go on pamper the people you love this Christmas. Here's a quick round up of what we're hoping to get: a mix of classics and on-trend kit to bring joy to the everyday.

Everything from traditional treats to their inexpensive equivalents and the failsafe pieces everyone wants.  
Even gifts for your own sweet self.

If you are stuck for what to give your family and friends this Christmas, seek treats they would never buy themselves. It's easy. A lovely cake stand, a set of bowls, the latest book that’s the ultimate reference; things like these will give a lifetime of pleasure. So will anything that conforms to your friends' tastes - things they may hesitate to buy because they may consider it too indulgent. The idea is to spoil them.

Give things they would like, not things you would like. Use your imagination and empathy gene to envisage what they would like and need.

Be smart and observant. Fill in their collections. Don't assume your presents are no good because they didn't cost a lot, or superior because they were expensive. It's the thoughtfulness that counts.

Look for the kinds of things your friends and family would never find, let alone buy for themselves and wrap them in drop-dead packaging.
Don't underestimate the appeal of anything that makes everyday life pleasurable - a wonderful chopping board, even a pretty glass that can double as a vase or pencil pot.

Timeless napkins, placemats, Italian, French or English soaps, candles or bubble baths. A lightweight silk or cashmere scarf. A cosy throw rug in a pretty colour.

Remember: with these kinds of classic presents, quality is key.
December 1, 2016

See Melissa's Daughters Ultimate Christmas Gift List

When it comes to gift giving, millenials understand it instinctively. No other generation understands of-the-moment trends like the highly visual 20-and-30 something group that spends so much time online researching instagram.

And then add their own stamp.  

So we asked Melissa’s daughter, Isabella who has her own strong sense of fashion and style, to reveal what's on her Christmas list for 2016.

We love Isabella's mix of covetables, high to low, which reveals millennials are much more about immediate results. When they open a present they want to see something they can use immediately – a fab frock, face mask, or statement-making beach towel, which will slot effortlessly into their lives, and boost their egos.

Bottom line? Seek out things that are practical, personal and beautiful but also send out strong style signals. 

December 1, 2016

Armani Casa! (Need We Say More?)

Armani Casa doesn't change its look much from season to season (year to year, or decade to decade), which is a great lesson in style.

Launched back in 2000 to mirror Giorgio Armani’s iconic fashions, the home collection – soft furnishings, lighting, and gifts - comes in a timeless neutral palette (black, white, silver, brown) and materials in metal, leather, glass, linen, and natural weaves on which the fashion has built its mega-successful brand.
It’s the kind of stuff that always looks appropriate, but with edge, that you know will be an interiors staple for years.
Quick fixes? Luggage rack, lamps, cushions, throws, diffuesers, even playing cards which make a great gift for the person who has everything.

Armani Casa Janette cushions, $510 each; Logo lamp, $3200; Nemo stand, $1500, throws, $1050; candles, $120- $160, diffusers with sticks, $360; Diffuser spray, $320; playing card sets, $520; notebooks, $185.
Giorgio Armani Sydney, (02) 8233 5888; Melbourne, (03) 9662 1661,
December 1, 2016

How To Leave A Party Early (And When It's Acceptable To Politely Escape...)

People always worry that it's rude to leave early. Actually, it's ruder to overstay - to be at a rave when everyone else is at a (grim phrase) kitchen dinner.

Conversely, though, it is perfectly acceptable to be at a kitchen dinner while everyone else around the table has their metaphorical rave hat on.
Because - within reason - if you leave and they mind, they are terrorist friends and you need to examine the power balance, says Tatler magazine in a recent story on the subject which covers all aspects of when it's acceptable to make a dash for it. 
Here, according to the Brit magazine, are some rules and some ways to leave should you need a little assistance:

Yes, you can leave after pudding but before coffee. And that is the general rule.
If you are at a house party and there is no commute (other than up the stairs to your bedroom), you cannot leave until coffee is drunk. It's the price you pay.
If you are given tea (not coffee) and pudding and chocolate all at the same time, then the host has a box set/secret lover/early start and you should get your coat.

If you are at a wedding, it really is best to stay for the speeches.

If it's a weekday supper and they serve you dinner after 10,  then it’s perfectly acceptable to leave after the main course.

If your host starts doing any chores other than washing up (such as emailing, making packed lunches, ironing), just leave. You will by this point have missed many hints.

If your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife is there with a new squeeze and no one has bothered to warn you, then - providing  the break-up took place less than  a year ago - you can leave as  soon as you arrive. 
If you are drunk enough to slur/trip/grope/be sick, then off you go.

The children are getting up for school. They must NOT see you - you think you look normal. You do not look normal.
November 24, 2016

Meet The Melissa And Isabella Lamps

Ready for a little pre-Christmas decorating? We thought so.
What better place to start than with a couple of knockout table lamps, selected and named after Melissa and her daughter – Isabella.

We know our style resonates with you…the recent story on Isabella’s first apartment was the blog’s most-clicked post this year. And our Melissa chair has sold out. Bonus: the table lamps are glamorous pieces that can give an old room a fresh look and will cost you far less than a complete overhaul.
Expect classic lamp designs that will make a $100 table look like a million dollars. See for yourself why they’re Melissa and Isabella’s choice.

The Isabella lamp has a glass base that will add a transparent glimmer to any room - the bronze finish and Belgian linen shade will give any space instant confidence. Available in two sizes, it's the kind of lamp you find in a Ralph Lauren or John Saladino interior.

The Melissa lamp is a classic bronze design that will give a room a well-rounded appearance, and last forever. It’s used in some of the smartest houses in the country and comes with ultra-smart linen shades in black or stone.
“Great table lamps are essential; they’re the first things people notice and you can’t skimp: cheap lamps signal cheap interiors,” says Melissa. “A pair of brilliant table lamps give a room elegance, gravitas and confidence.”

ISABELLA LAMP in glass with bronze finish and Belgian linen shade, medium 76cm height, $775 or large 90cm height, $795
MELISSA LAMP a candlestick design 62cm height in bronze with linen shade in black or stone-hue, $295

SHOP ISABELLA OR MELISSA lamps by emailing,  marked LAMPS

Main image of Melisa and Isabella at the family country house appeared in Sunday Life magazine earlier this month. Photography Jennifer Soo. 

November 23, 2016

Win $2000 Dash & Albert Rug By Bunny Williams

Here’s an unbelievable chance to update your house for Christmas, thanks to Dash & Albert.

The American rugmaker is giving away a beautiful Bunny Williams Marco Oak rug that will change the mood of your rooms instantly —valued at $2000—to one lucky Melissa Penfold reader.
Dash & Albert is renowned for its great line of rugs in affordable chunky weaves and textures made with wool, jute, cotton, hemp, even poly, in natural shades, using Fair Trade practises and no child labour. 
They’re chic, make everything else look right, and there’s all styles from thick-ribbed knits to herringbone weaves and ultra-chunky weaves.
Whizz online at (the Australian distributor of Dash & Albert) and check out the timeless designs of gorgeous rugs that are in a league of their own – you’ll want them all.
They are pieces to love forever. This season there's no shortage of heavily textured rug options that are on-trend and modern. Best of all, you can choose the one that fits your style, look and environment. 
To enter the competition to win Dash & Albert's best selling Marco Oak rug by Bunny Williams, just sign up for emails from Melissa and Winton House by sending your email address to marked DASH & ALBERT Competition before midnight on Sunday, December 17, 2016. The winner will be chosen at random and notified by email by December 18. The contest is open to residents of Australia only; see Official Rules for details. 
TERMS AND CONDITIONSELIGIBILITY: Melissa Penfold and Dash & Albert 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 Winton House (Australian distributor of Dash & Albert). 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 Winton House 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 November 24, 2016 and ends at midnight on December 17, 2016 (“Giveaway Period”).
TO ENTER: Entry must be in English, and comply with Melissa Penfold’s Privacy Policy and Winton House Privacy Policy. The Giveaway begins at 7am, November 24, 2016 and ends at midnight on December 17, 2016. All entries must be received by midnight on December 18, 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 December 17, 2015 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 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 December 17, 2016 and are required to reply to Sponsor's email within seven (7) 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 seven (7) 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 Sponsor is unable to contact a potential winner within the specified time period, prize will be forfeited and, at Sponsor’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 “Win $2000 Dash & Albert Rug" post page once winner is confirmed. 
PRIZE: Winner will receive a Dash & Albert Marco Oak rug designed by Bunny Williams, 152cm x 243cm, value of $2000.  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 and Winton House Privacy Policy.
November 24, 2016

The $30 trick that will rescue your interior

Want to know a high-impact tweak designers use to transform rooms?
Lamp shades can change the entire tone of a space, give an old room a fresh look and will cost you far less than a complete overhaul.

If your lampshades are right you won’t notice them. But if they’re wrong, you eye will go straight to them.
Shades come in a range of materials, but card, linen and paper are classic choices. Shades go through fashions, particularly when it comes to their shape but a drum or wide design in the right shade is timeless – avoid gimmicks.
The best colours are white, beige, and black. And just make shure you get the base-to-shade proportion right. Most people’s shades are too small. If you’re in doubt, pick the larger size: a wide lampshade is preferable to a pinhead.
November 24, 2016

High/Low: The Modern Bedhead

Installing a bedhead is one of the most dramatic and cost-effective things you can do in a bedroom.

They can be detailed in all sorts of ways but buttoning and studding are good looks that won’t date.

Keep your heads away from it, and your bedhead will last for years. Just use a hairdryer (on a cool setting) to blow the dust out of any crevices.
Scroll our gallery for a roundup of our favourite styles – high to low – to update any bedroom. 
November 17, 2016

High Street Homewares Never Looked So Good

Shopping for the home on the Australian high street has become a wonderfully democratic experience.

It’s a world of bargains (Axel Vandervoort-style faded velvet cushions, crushed linen bedding and worn wood objet from Zara Home, would you believe it?)

What’s really exciting is that these are not low-quality copies (although beware the high street is ripe for plagiarism and copyright theft) but interesting pieces in their own right.
They are from collections that have been curated rather than copied, often sourced in far-flung corners of the world.
The high street is quick to react to trends and collections appear in shops just ahead of a realization that they’re exactly what your home needs at that moment in time.
In many cases, these pieces are original, great examples of design, as well as being accessible and affordable. The fusion of fashion, homeware and good living is a heady one. Beware…you’ll want everything! 2016 is one of the best seasons yet. 
Take Zara Home, who has gone for subtle pieces this season fit for an Axel Vandervoort interior. Who doesn’t want to buy raw timber plinths remininscent of a Belgian palace, or faded velvet cushions that could easily pass muster as bespoke Rubelli designs? Check our gallery to see the interesting gems with Belgian edge that make it one of our fave new collections.
Our ultimate accessories at H&M Home are its brass planters, from $8.99, raw wood trays, $34.99, and metal vases, $29.95, that are plain, pretty and well-designed.
Head to Kmart for linen-look cotton napkins in beige, set of four, $4, linen-style cotton tablecloth in stone, $15, of 16-piece gold cutlery sets, $25. There’s even the most marvellous marbleized range of chopping boards, $10, kitchen cannisters, $7, and black marble-look iPhone covers, $5.
Ikea is the place to sniff out affordable linen-look curtains, pillowslips, planters, bowls, tea towels, throw rugs, baskets, candlesticks, side tables with some of our fave quilts and sheeting in town. The standout this season is collectable yet inexpensive Vardegan tableware. Other hot picks include: Ihallig woven placemats, $4.99, Klima cut-glass goblets, $3.99 and tumblers, $1.99 and Intagande rose-coloured goblets, $2.99.
November 17, 2016

Trend Alert: (A Case For Display) Modern Curiosity Cabinets

The 17th-century trend for curiousity cabinets and oddities is well and truly back. No longer are we hiding our love away like a secret vice or shoving objects away in a cupboard.

Glass fronted cabinets and etegere are the accessory du jour displacing built-in cabinetry and joinery. It’s part of a growing interiors trend that’s about curating the memories and the history of the owners of the house.  

At the affordable end of the market, brands like Ikea, Tine K Home, HK Living and Horgans have all launched great looking display cabinets that reference the 17th-century European trend of curiosity cabinets and oddities.

Choose from myriad designs in metal or timber with sliding or hinged glass doors and different cabinet and drawer configurations - all of which will make your collections look important.
It's all part of the trend for vintage treasures and personal mementos adding character to our houses.



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