The Thinking Chair

The Thinking Chair

Every apartment needs a good, oversized, comfy chair. Somewhere to read, think, write, blog, or sit oracle-like while you offer your friends advice over a glass of wine. Especially on rainy Tuesday nights like tonight. This chair has a good … Continue reading

Decorating with unexpected objects

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Decorating with unexpected objects can be a brilliant talking piece as well as show BIG personality in a small space.  I found this little ledge in a cafe close to me over the weekend with my family.  The singer sewing machine brought up fantastic memories of a similar one my Nan used to sew with.  Over the course of a very yummy brunch, we talked about birds, native flowers (my Nan was also a florist), sewing, and of course new decorating ideas for the home – all while surrounded by beautiful objects that provided a quirky and quite familiar environment.

Up-cycling can as simple as an old family object (here a sewing machine and old jars) or using something from nature (branches hung on a plain wall with a bird as a feature).  The story of where the object was found or how it was used can be just as special as the piece itself.

Note the textured walls which provide a brilliantly simple and effective backdrop for the hero of the story, which is the display.

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A cup of tea – a universal luxury

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Essentials should be beautiful as well as functional in any home.  In fact it’s even more important to make them part of the charm when space is at a premium and there isn’t much room for superfluous objects.

Therefore, a beautiful teapot is one of my apartment essentials – for decoration, for entertaining, and to give myself a little bit of luxury every day.

I recently visited friends in Holywell, UK and I was lucky enough to be served a cup of tea and the paper every morning.  It was made even more special by the fact that it was in a Jack Russell cup, which really said everything about the couple I stayed with and how much their pets Jessie, Dulcie, Jamaica and Jack Russell Spottie are part of the family.  That cup of tea was one of the most special parts of the day when I took 10 minutes to relax and contemplate.

Here are some of my favourite tea time experiences that I’ve come across (both mine and others):

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A tea set from the Silk Market in Beijing, China – part of the fun is the tiny tea cups to share and re-fill often over conversations with friends

ImageA beautiful green and herbal tea floral arrangement at High Tea, Hotel Windsor Melbourne

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Japanese inspiration at a cafe in Sydney

The Fab Weekend Entertainer’s Courtyard

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It’s the weekend, and the weather in Melbourne is gorgeous!  I am super inspired to come out of hiding and start entertaining again.

So what to do if you don’t have a big backyard for a barbecue?  You can still make your small outdoor (or indoor) space completely stylish!  My fabulous friend recently invited a group of us for a simple and glamourous Sunday brunch in her small courtyard.  Apart from being a brilliant cook, she made the day special using these touches:

  • Create a theme – here the green and white was fresh, and enhanced the lush outdoor feel.  Even if you are indoors, you can add some flowers for an outdoor feel.
  • Small touches count – my friend had grown her own rosemary, and as well as using it in her cooking, she made little displays in small glasses.  It didn’t take up too much space on the table, but having real herbs with beautiful fragrances really made it feel like spring.
  • Fresh food can be the best ornament of all – it may sound boringly functional, but where space is tight, using your meal as a centrepiece can actually be very exciting!  Think beautiful fresh fruits, lime in glasses, and great, colourful salads
  • Keep it simple – you don’t need to overcrowd with big floral arrangements that people can’t see over!  Keep the hero of the day as the food you serve and the fabulouscompany you keep!

Happy weekend everyone!Image

The reader’s corner

ImageOne thing I can’t ever seem to stop collecting is books!  I LOVE them.  I love the characters, I love turning the pages of a new book, I love getting absorbed in a story and entering a whole new world.  However my books take up quite a bit of space for a little place.

So I found this perfect desk, which folds itself away to become this beautiful display cabinet – fantastic for BIG readers in little spaces.  In the desk I can file all my boring reading (bills, study, work and other life admin), and in the glass-doored shelves I’ve been displaying all my favourite go-to books, memories and keepsakes from special places.

Play with your books to create more display space and interesting levels. Some can be upright, others can be flat and form a platform for all manner of treasures – a blue porcelain horse from my great grandmother, a monkey from Bali and little statues from China.

Mix and match colours and styles to infuse a little life into your space!

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Fixing it up – medicine cupboard

Gen Y does DIY!!!  This is a really simple fix it job that I did in a few hours over my weekend…

I found this old pine cupboard, which was actually a really good size for a very little bathroom. Then I found a cool vintage tin poster which I inserted into the middle like this:

ImageIt still wasn’t quite right for my place, so I embarked on my very first (mini) DIY project:

  • Get a Screwdriver – Unfortunately not the cocktail variety, these little things come in very handy for taking doors off cupboards.  Pick one up from your Dad, brother, mate, partner, or a local hardware shop!
  • Parts and pieces – Now that everything is in parts and pieces, sand them back (pretty roughly).  It doesn’t need to be perfect, just a bit roughed up so the paint will stick (and look smooth).
  • Undercoating – I love painting, especially things this small as you see a result so quickly.  The undercoat needs to be painted with the grain which means the way the wood would stand if it were still a tree.  Don’t make it too thick as it can get uneven, but don’t worry, you can always sand them back once the paint is dry.
  • Topcoats  – I let my undercoat dry overnight, however with topcoats you don’t need to get bored watching paint dry!  I did three, and with only an hour needed between coats of paint (check with your local handyman how long to leave yours), I knocked this over in a day.  Antique white was the right colour for me, but these days there are more paints than imaginable that have all sorts of textures and effects.  So it’s very easy to give BIG personality to reflect your style.
  • Putting the pieces together – it’s a bit like a puzzle but much easier!  Use that screwdriver again to put back in the screws, find a new handle that you like (I went with a simple black one), and there you have it, a new storage cupboard for your little space!

I’ll be completing my weekend DIY in tomorrow’s post on putting it up!

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London colour inspiration

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Some people say London is a bit grey.  But I think Londoners just get it.  They put colour wherever they can and they live a BIG life in little spaces.  I recently stayed with a lovely friend in her place in Notting Hill above a pizza shop.  I entered through a tiny little door and up a teeny stairwell and found my way up to a gorgeous BIG loftspace, beautifully decked out with couches, flowers in vases, and bookshelves with favourite books and collectibles.  Who would have thought I’d have found something so beautiful in such an obscure location?

Above are some of the flowers I found outside a London apartment window.  See the pictures for more colour inspiration in the form of flowers and bunting in and around London, which could be used inside or outside.  Also check out my previous post on bringing outside, inside!

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Water water everywhere…

ImageIn Bali, life is surrounded by water and it definitely seems more serene.  The sound of water always reminds me of life, whether it’s the waves crashing at my favourite beach, a beautiful waterfall, or a pretty little winter creek.  Here in Australia we are lucky to be surrounded by water, however living in the city means it’s not always immediately accessible.

I was inspired by this water feature I found in a tiny Balinese garden, and now that the nights are getting longer I want to enjoy being on my balcony as often as possible.  So here’s my view tonight of my own little water feature, and I’m feeling very calm indeed and ready for a brand new week!  Happy Sunday!

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BIG spaces for little people

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Growing cities, shrinking spaces…. and kids.

Some of my inner suburban friends have recently found themselves with a growing family in a small apartment space.  So how do you make sure your kids are still connected to the BIG world around them?

Thankfully, there are some great shared spaces where our kids can still run free, fall over, climb fences, and get muddy, all while learning about the world around them! The brilliant volunteers at Collingwood Childrens Farm in Abbotsford provide education in a very fun environment.  My little friends love the chickens, goats, pigs, cows and horses, and can learn everything from how their jumpers are made (thanks to some lovely ladies spinning wool), to where milk comes from (and even have a go at milking the cows).

Even better for Mums, Dads, and grown up friends, the Farm Cafe is full of freshly made, healthy food and brilliant coffee.

So even though your space may be little, don’t forget to use the world around you – parks, trails, rivers, and other shared spaces can be a great way to broaden your little space and connect you to your local community.

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