August 25, 2016

Chainstore Chic: Finding Beauty at The Big Retailers

It’s easy to be a snob about design, but beautiful stuff can be found in almost every major chainstore around the country.

It may seem an odd idea to buy your lampshades at Zara Home, H & M or Kmart but these three are really motoring at the moment. Traditionally, interiors shops only brought out new products twice a year but that has changed. 
The newest players refresh their ranges every few weeks. Pop in and there’s always new candlesticks, chairs and coffee tables. It’s these inexpensive yet on-trend brands that are setting the tone for the entire high street.  
In a similar ‘confident consumer’ shift that’s been seen in fashion, when women rejected the IT bag phenomenon, people are just as likely to buy a chair from a chain as B & B Italia…(not something we say lightly).
After all isn’t it more about things resonating with you on an emotional and personal level than where they are from?
Be a smart high street shopper with our edit of the most desirable pieces from the latest collections.
KMART Trend-driven accessories and a wide selection of fun pieces including marble-effect soap dispensers, $5, bargain matt-black soap dispensers that borrow heavily from the Danish Vipp brand, concrete-effect table lights, plus side tables for less than $30.
H & M Best for great accessories, including super-affordable brass planters in every shape, and assorted shiny and antiqued finishes. Also, good baskets, statement bottle openers.
ZARA HOME Gorgeous table linens, reversible bedspreads, stylish tableware, decanters for $69.95 that easily pass muster as the wickedly expensive designer versions which you could match with delicate golden cutlery.
August 25, 2016

The Shop Sydney Designers Have On Speed Dial

Follow the leaders, and head to Imagine This, the Sydney shop where our top-end interior designers get a mix of bespoke furniture and antique pieces to use in the best houses around.

They all come for the same thing: owner Robyn Kennedy’s inspired mix of new and old. There are commodes (French painted originals to Dutch-style), elm consoles, serpentine-front chests, ultra-deep tuft-buttoned armchairs, mirrors in all styles (multi-pane modernist, peacock, sunburst, antique French gilt, etched vintage).

Wicker armchairs and sofas, bookcases with glass doors, aged leather armchairs, stools that reference the 18th-century, and porcelain vases.

Also a lovely selection of hurricane shades, glass candlesticks, wall sconces, and statement-making pendant lights in bronze and glass.
We’re talking patina and pattern. Metals like nickel, silver, bronze, gold. Finishes that are flamed, antiqued, honed. Lots of linen, glass, wood. Decoration. Embellishment.

And what table lamps.  Think vases, ginger jars and all kinds of wonderful things that have been rewired turning them into lamp bases. Plus divinely sleek new metal consoles with bluestone tops unlike the usual offerings that can be custom made to size.

Go for decorative pieces that look like something out of Architectural Digest magazine.  Perfect stuff to liven up your rooms which is easy to layer.
August 25, 2016

17 Best New Ikea Products for 2017 ($120 Kitchen Included)

The overall theme for the much-anticipated Ikea 2017 catalogue, which hits stores on September 1, can be summed up as "Goodbye Expectations. Hello You!".

IKEA says, "We want people to care less about other people's opinions – and more about what they want themselves. It's about following your own path and listening to your inner voice. "
Basically, if it works for you, it works. Remember, it’s your house.
There’s loads of fabulous-looking, new collections – all of which are driven from a platform of simplicity and relevance to help us figure out what we need and provide a solution.
For 2017, that’s designs for small space living and flexible furnishings, plus alternative wardrobe storage, green living ideas, home office setups, and lots of great how-to ideas, too.
Here’s our list of the top new products that we’re eyeing, starting with a cool modern take on the traditional rocker.
1.   Gronadal  Rocker A modern take on the trad rocker with caned rattan on a steel frame that combines ancient Vietnamese techniques with  mod Scandi style, $199.
2.  Varu Clamp Spotlight Bedside lighting that is well-priced, energy saving, compact and convenient that you can use anywhere that needs a little swanky illumination. Designed by Eva Lilja Löwenhielm, $34.95.
3.  Vallentuna Sofa System A customizable small-space sectional sofa with hidden storage and a fold-out sleeper that you can tailor to suit your setting and lifetsyle. It comes with machine-washable covers that are designed to mix and match, from $665.
4. Harliga Glass Dome A classic glass dome that will make anything from a statue to coral, clock ot a shell look important, $17.95.
5. Elvarli Storage System A mix of open and closed cabinets with adjustable height options that you can tailor to your own environment to make every square metre work for you. Use it as a walk-in wardrobe, room divider, home office, garden studio or for extra storage in hallways, $700 for an extensive open-storage system. 
6. Kvistbro Storage Table A fashion-forward, wallet-friendly piece that you can use as a partner for beds, armchairs or sofas that also doubles as storage container, $49.99.
7. Gladom Tray Table A pretty, flexible design in green or dusty yellow that comes with a removeable tray that you can use for serving inbetween use, $29.99.
8. Barkaboka Wooden Herringbone Benchtop The new herringbone benchtop, which can be cut to size, gives the Italian designer stuff a run for its money, $229.
9. Sunnersta Mini Kitchen A genius European idea that hasn’t caught on in Australia yet: the modular kitchen that you take with you when you move house; $223.98.
10. Rimforsa Island Bench A low-commitment, problem-solving workhorse island bench which functions as extra work and storage space in the kitchen with bamboo prep bench as well as stainless steel drawers and shelving, $599.
11. Lisabo Side Table For a low profile side table that doesn’t take up too much room, and is somewhere guests can pop a glass, you can’t go past this table in ash veneer and solid birch, $99.99.
12. Falsterbo Wall Rail with Hooks If you desire as many hooks as possible like the Shakers, this design will do the trick – and make you neater in the process, $19.99.
13. Glasig Glass Candle Lanterns We consider classic hurricane lanterns a necessity for homes (indoors and out) and are always glad to find great new affordable designs. $14.99.
14. Lixhult Series powder-coated modular storage cabinets in all colours, that you can tailor to suit your own environment, from $25 each.
15. RORD Animals Adorable animals for the the person or child who has everything, $10 for set.
16. KLATTA Wall Stickers that mean the scope for updating your walls is endless, from $15.

17. ​NORRSJON Inset Sink Surprisingly handy, from $209.

Honourable mentions go to KALVIA door fronts, from $60 and Fladis Series rattan two-tone baskets which are one of the cheapest of their kind we’ve spotted and make a great planter indoors for maidenhairs, ferns and palms. $14.99.
August 25, 2016

Dior to Wedgwood: 10 dinnerware designs

With Spring suddenly upon us, it’s time to think about stocking up on  tableware and entertaining essentials.

We’ve sourced 10 tableware styles that are versatile, durable, and good enough for the fanciest dinner party but tough enough for everyday.
ANTHROPOLOGIE Unique tableware that mixes vintage, craft and ethnic influences. Seek out Etched Geo, Wildflower Doly and Ruffled Rim.

CHRISTIAN DIOR Dior’s new in-house Home label has tapped 11 designers to create everything from Limoges porcelain plates by Veronique Tattinger to ceramic plates and hand-etched glass carafes for picnic sets.

IKEA Seek out simple, beautiful pieces like Stockholm (Masterchef’s choice) and the newish Viktigt.

POTTERY BARN Head straight for its new range of contemporary plates called Leila and Joshua.

ROYAL DOULTON Top of our must-have list for contemporary tableware with faves like Gordon Ramsay For Royal Doulton and Donna Hay for Royal Doulton's new Coastal White.

WEDGWOOD  Consistently our favourite brand for quality classics; your table will look a lot more chic for beautiful staples like Tisbury and Arris. Few looks can match the elegant and well-proportioned designs.

WEST ELM Keep your table clean and serene with good lookers from the American chain.

ZARA HOME Gorgeous new-season dinnerware in the affordable price bracket.
August 18, 2016

The #1 Trend That Looks Good In All Interiors

The masterpiece mural: that’s also a work of art is big news for interiors adding an arboreal feel to our environments, plus a distinctly calming effect. 

Super on-trend trompe l’oeil still lifes have had a revival, demonstrated by many wallpaper companies who are now offering non-repeating, large-scale images usually printed on one or multiple panels, as an alternative to trad wallpaper.

We are noticing them everywhere  - evidence of the oversized art trend and a backlash against the gallery wall. We’re talking landscape themes inspired by jungles, palms, forests and lakes that dress our walls with personality, change our environments, and transport us to faraway places.

The only difficult bit is deciding on designs.

Check our new season picks that confirm this is a trend in full swing. We’ve done the comparison shopping for you with options at different ends of the price spectrum.  Get your pinterest boards ready!

De Gournay UK company who did the antiqued wallcoverings in Yves Saint Laurent’s Paris apartment offers all kinds of handpainted papers at the high-end spectrum with great new abstract pine designs.; 

HK Living The Scandinavian company’s Spring/Summer 2017 collection includes an affordable line of mural wallhangings depicting jungles, rainforests, palms, ferns in moody black and white. A great easy update that will instantly transform your environment.

Pixers The popular American online company offers a dazzling array of easy-to-install wallcoverings. Choose from mural walls of antique library books to screens of rustic timber boards or Montmartre in Paris under snow.

Surface Views The Brit mural maker offers some of the prettiest styles around with everything from moody landscapes, beaches, maps, flowers, forests, fields and much more. You’ll be spoilt for choice.

Rebel Walls The Swedish online wallpaper company offers an extensive collection of foresty digitally printed papers, and can create digitally produced photo murals from your choice of images.

Wall & Décor The Milan-based trend-driven business is gaining a lot of attention on the international design scene for it’s tech-savvy wallcoverings. Check it’s tropical style papers for an easy update.

Zuber Every roll of this venerable French brand’s paper is hand painted in France as it has been since the 18th century. Renowned for helping decorate the White House its profoundly beautiful panoramic panels.
August 18, 2016

10 Side Tables To Suit Any Style

The modern day interiors essential, the side table can do just about anything.
It not only frames a sofa, but makes a great partner for beds, bathtubs, armchairs, pretty much anything really.

It’s variety of sizes, styles and functions make the hard-working design a highly versatile player. The ultimate wingman.

Cavit & Co,
Fanuli, (02) 9908 2660,
Orient House, (02) 9660 3895,
La Maison, (02) 9331 6555,
Marle & Row,
MCM House,
Pottery Barn,
Uniqwa Furniture, 
West Elm,
August 18, 2016

Ikea's New Svårtan Range Will Blow Your Mind

Ikea’s latest Svartan collection is every bit as covetable as the collection it created earlier this year with Swedish designer Ingegerd Raman and last year with Ilse Crawford, and signals a new level of creativity at the Swedish superstore.

Svartan is a collaboration with Swedish avant-garde textile designer Martin Bergstrom and Indian fashion students. Using a strict palette of black, white and grey, the ranges celebrates the organic and the abstract with everything from imperfect glass bottles, metal bowls and coffee tables with trays.

There are timber stools with rugged good looks, ink-stained cushions, even a stationery series with books made from handmade paper. All inspired by ancient Indian traditions, and a return to a search for clarity among artisans. 

While many retailers worldwide have been affected by the slowdown in China, Chief Executive Peter Agnerfjall said IKEA has been relatively insulated from it all as the company benefits from "a growing middle class with an appetite for better homes."

IKEA's latest product and retail efforts come as its research shows that people are living in smaller, more urban spaces and relying more heavily on technology. The Swede recently published a report examing how people lived at home, based on a survey of 12,000 people in 12 countries. 

Among the report's findings: 48% of people characterized home as the place where they have the most important relationships, while just 20% thought of a home as being a physical space. Roughly 40% said their homes had a particular smell.

The retailer plans to focus on sensory research and to make the texture and smell of wood a priority. 

Svartan is available in-store from September 1.
August 18, 2016

10 Mirrors Worth A Second Look

Why choose a plain looking glass when your mirrror can be an artistic talking point asks UK Elle Decoration in its Big Trend Issue August, 2016 issue?
The 'Arch' by New York-based design studio Bower takes design trickery to a
new level, creating the illusion of a physical doorway - a device that will make tight hallways and small rooms feel more open. The clever effect is created produced using a precisely cut segment of black-tinted glass, which creates the shadow of the archway and gives the impression of depth. These New Yorkers are not the only ones creating cool mirrors, though. 
From Bonaldo's New Perspective design to the graphic looks of Neri & Hu and mirrors that appear to pop out of the wall, there are plenty to pick from. Scroll our gallery for 10 of our modern favourites. 
August 10, 2016

Outside In: Easy Ways to Bring a Fresh Outdoor Feel Inside

Want to turn your home into an urban paradise? The desire for a bit of nature in our lives is a constant one. Since we're surrounded with technology in work and play, we are looking to nature for balance.  

We all know the benefits of a life surrounded by greenery. Plants suck the bad stuff out of the air – and even the colour green is calming to our souls. 

Getting green indoors might be simpler than you think. Find out how you can celebrate the uplifting and simple power of plants. 

Be brave When it comes to indoor planting don’t restrict yourself to a few small pots, be brave and fill your home with lush greenery. 

Contrast is key in your choice of both foliage and materials. Go for a vibrant mix of succulents, jungle leaves, small trees and shrubs displayed in a combination of large metal buckets and distressed terracotta pots. 

Hip house plants Green vines, palms, ferns and orchids, are being styled in new ways; it’s about making plants into the focal point of a room rather than hidden in a corner. One of our favourite ways to work plants indoors is grouped on a table, en masse. It’s important to place plants where you will see them often. 

Statement plants Choose a statement plant of good proportions - such as 70s faves like peperomia, birds nest, fishbone ferns or cymbidium orchids, and combine with an interesting vessel, such as metal buckets, mossy terracotta pots or ribbed zinc planters. 

Go strappy Any plant that is strappy or flops is a good way to soften hard edges. The more diverse the containers the more successful the look.

Floor show Plants don’t have to be confined to tables or sideboards - experiment with other surfaces too. A big planter (or two) on the floor, can look fabulous. Or try a pair of plinths topped with urns. 

Indoor jungle If you’re the kind of person who is happy to look after plants, take a maximalist approach and create your very own indoor greenhouse. A mix of trees, wall-mounted planters and evergreens will make your rooms feel lush and verdant. Be sure to mix different shades of green to create density and contrast. Think Axel Vervoordt. 

Cosy corner A conservatory or any corner really, is the perfect place for a table of trailing greenery. The key is to have a mix of plants with plenty of height as well as smaller varieties to create an arbour-like feel. An olive tree is a great starting pioint, as it can easily be grown in a pot. 

Cool cacti Invest in some cacti and create a green view – succulents come in all shapes and sizes that you can use to create a green sculpture garden. They’re also great for narrow spaces. 

Reflected glory Hang a mirror  opposite a green space and you can instantly bring your outdoors in. This trick works brilliantly on indoor walls with large windows opposite, or on a small terrace to make it feel bigger – just place the mirror where it will reflect the garden in all its glory. It’s like a living artwork. 

Treat plants as a living part of your architecture by trailing vines along walls and hooking them to pegs on the ceiling. Designers like Axel Vervoordt have climbing palnts that have entwined themselves around old beams overhead. 

Green screens Think about colonizing a wall with living ivy as a striking alternative to wallpaper. There are systems available that allow you to grow climbing plants using simply installed modules, that work as well indoors as exterior walls. 

Use your imagination Plants aren’t the only way to create a verdant feel in your living room. Build up a collection of pictures that show gardens and landscapes or even just images in a green colour palette and attach them collage style to your wall. The result can be almost as beautiful as a real garden (no watering required!)
August 10, 2016

How To Get An Expensive Looking Interior Without Spending a Tonne

Be proud of where you live. Decorating is about self respect. Your surroundings reflect what you thing of yourself, so surround yourself with the best you can afford. 

Here are 8 tips, to work on that 5-star look at home without spending a tonne, and send a positive message to others, “I care about my surroundings, I have taste, and I’m not afraid to show it.”

Windows on the world An expanse of fabric on a window, especially in a pale tone, makes a room seem larger. Windows too small? Most high street brands do made-to-measure blinds and curtains, which you can use to correct all windows with poor dimensions (small window, low ceiling, and so on). Allow your blind to be as wide and as high as the window should be, not as it is. 

Breath Luxe into Tired Lamps with new lampshades. It you’re lucky enough to have pretty lamp bases, you’ll be amazed how they can be transformed with new shades in the right size and shape. 

Cull your collections The biggest single thing you can do to get an expensive-looking interior is to take things out of it. Streamlining what you've got, and staying clutter-free is the quickest and cheapest way to improve your interior, and give it that five-star look and feel. 

Style your vignettes Your things, well displayed, will transform your house. 

Display fresh foliage  Foliage is the cheapest and chicest decorating accessory. An inexpensive bunch of leaves sends a message you care about where you live. 

Soft furnishings Fabrics, curtains, cushions and all the layers are what makes an interior feel right. If you're on a budget use special fabrics on small pieces that make a big impact, and cheaper fabrics for curtains and sofas. Fabrics more than any other element allow you to express who you are, and be true to yourself, and your house.  

The finishing touches A few great accessories can overcome cheap furniture. They're the little touches that make any space your home, and make it look like you've spent a lot more than you actually have. They signal attitude , glamour and luxury: a pair of decent, big cushions will last a lifetime or a pair of fabulous table lamps give a room confidence. 

Instant gallery gratification Create a display of black and white prints and photographs that don’t cost a fortune. You can source old black and white images from auction houses, junk shops, or the New York Public Library’s online archive allows you to download high resolution drawings, photos and maps for free ( Bulldog- clip your chosen images to a wire or piece of string and hang them across a wall. 



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