Farrow and Ball "Hague Blue" via

My favourite thing to do with a spare five or ten minutes is to busy myself on Pinterest. For those of you who are not on Pinterest, it is much like Facebook or any other social media in that you follow people, and they follow you. You can see what people pin, and they can see what you pin… and then re-pin away at will. One thing I see an awful lot of are Australian pinners obsessively pinning paint colour pins for US or English only available paint brands. These are usually Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore and Farrow and Ball paints. There is also one blogger that I'm aware of who has imported paint from the US to get the colours that she fell in love with in a magazine or on the internet.

Farrow and Ball "Pavillion Grey" via

There are a few reasons why thinking about importing paint is not a good idea, aside from the obvious cost involved. Firstly, paint colours change according to light. In Australia, we have extremely strong light - colours that work overseas do not work in the same way under our lighting conditions, the colour will alter from what you thought you were getting. This also holds true for the performance of the paint. Australian paint is made to hold up to extremely harsh UV levels. Pigment in a paint will fade (just as everything else does), so having paint made here for our conditions is better if you want a colour that still looks the same in a few years time. A third consideration is that many builders and painters will not warranty work that is done using a paint brand they are either unfamiliar with, or that they have no ability to go back to the source if something goes wrong (like the paint flaking off) due to a lack of warranty from the company.

Farrow and Ball "Down Pipe" via

The next point to remember is that the vast majority of photographic images you see that you like enough to pin (or in a print magazine) are professional photos, and they have had the colour saturation amped up, or dulled down, or photoshopped in some way. If you're viewing the image on a computer screen it will also have settings that change the way things look on it, and that may be different from the settings the producer of the image uses, so a colour you love on screen is not necessarily what will arrive in a pot from overseas.

Farrow and Ball "Hardwick White", Plain English Kitchens via

I know a lot of people bemoan the lack of paint colour choice in Australia - however unlike many other things we lack in terms of choice,  we do have boutique brands of paints (Porter's and Murobond amongst a few others), and several big name brands (Dulux, Haymes, Solver, British Paints, Taubmans) with the bigger brands having thousands of colours in their ranges. The problem is that you won't necessarily see these colours when you go to a hardware store and choose a paint colour. Just like anything fashion related, Colour forecasters will put together a range for the paint chips you see in the stores from the very large range of individual colours within their brand.

Benjamin Moore "Beach Glass" via 

Some of this relates to what they think people like (i.e. the majority of people tend to be attracted to 'clear' colours - I'll explain what I mean by this further down), and partially this is set by what the colour and trend forecasters internationally say will be popular. Every era has its own particular paint colour story to define it, browns/ neutrals were the early to mid 2000's, currently its greys and linen colours, the 70's orange, yellow and dark brown, the 80's were peachy pinks, corals and turquoise, the 90's yellow and blue. So you'll see a lot of choice in those fashion colours on sample chips, and maybe not so much in a colour you like but that is not currently on the radar.

Benjamin Moore "August Morning" via 

The colours you'll see in the Hardware store relate to all these things - if they were to put out all their colours on sample chips, you'd find there would be over 5,000 sample colours from Dulux alone.

Benjamin Moore "Wythe Blue" via

Back to the colour factor. Generally speaking, the reason why a lot of people love the overseas paint brands, like Farrow and Ball, is because they are a little 'dirty'. They have a bit of black pigment mixed in, and this gives the paint colour a sophistication and depth. You can in fact replicate their paint colours using Australian paint, it's just that if you're trying to do that off the chips in the Hardware store it's unlikely you're going to find the exact colour you're after. As I mentioned upthread the biggest sellers are 'clear' colours. They have a bit of a primary element to them, even if they're quite pale pastels. There's not a lot of depth and dimension to them, but these are the colours the average person will be attracted to on a tiny sample chip. My late Mother made a bit of an error with a yellow paint colour that she painted their casual living room in. Unfortunately at the time she was choosing paint colours, I was tied up in a meeting at work. I texted her back that I'd get out the Atlas and choose a yellow for her after the meeting was over, but it appears that when she said she needed a yellow straight away, she meant absolutely at that moment. So by the time I got the Atlas out and rang her to give her a name, she'd already instructed the painter and bought the paint. It's quite a bright yellow with a lot of white mixed in, so in my view, it doesn't have a lot of sophistication to it in terms of depth of colour, and isn't particularly period correct for the house. It's been a tricky colour to work around, as curtains etc came after the colour had already been chosen and applied, and it can look a little sickly under low light levels. But as my Mum said "It looked good on the chip". And this is another tip - get a sample pot. I never choose paint colours off a tiny chip. As a designer I can order A4 sized samples for projects, and frequently find it's often not the colour you were thinking it would be when it's in a larger sheet. So if you're thinking of choosing a colour try painting a larger sample first to see if it is what you thought it was.

Farrow and Ball "Blue Grey" via Tone on Tone blog

There are so many variables as to how a colour will look when its applied to a wall - geography and light levels for that particular room are the biggest. So if you fall in love with a paint colour in a magazine and you'd like to replicate it, try finding it locally - you can definitely find that colour in Australia, it's just not necessarily going to be displayed on the rack of a paint chip selection in a hardware store. If you naturally don't want to hire a Architect or Interior Designer to assist you in picking a couple of paint colours, you can always have a colour consultant come to your home from one of the paint companies (I linked to Dulux, however the other companies may offer this too if you check their website) and show them the images of colours you'd like to replicate. For a small cost outlay you'll end up saving yourself a lot of potential heartache and will find the colour you fell in love with in a magazine or Pinterest on your walls, without having to freight it over with all the potential pitfalls that may bring.
It's extremely hot here. After our  chilly big 40th party a few weeks ago, the weather has (naturally) warmed up to the oven-like temperatures that we usually experience in an Adelaide Summer. This weekend we've spent it either in the cool of the house, trapped by the air-conditioning… or in the pool. It's been 40C both days.

Mr AV and I went out to dinner together to From Orient in the city. I wore this navy Tory Burch shift dress, which has a sparkly neckline so negating any further accessorises. Easy dressing. Food was delicious, service was lacking.

I've spent the rest of the weekend doing all sorts of odd jobs. I've finally got around to writing out the 22 thank you cards that I owe for all the presents we were given by our friends for our 40th party. I don't mind writing a thank you card or two occasionally, but it always makes me realise how little handwriting we now do. When writing things en masse like this I find my hand cramps up, and there are the frequent spelling mistakes that occur when there's no auto spell check (I am terrible at spelling, much to my late Mother's chagrin. She was a High School English Teacher once upon a time). There were a few things that were nice about this task - I love using nice stationery, I had some very nice Open Garden Australia stamps, and I always feel a great sense of satisfaction when I've finished and I get to stamp our address on the back of all the envelopes. This is one of my favourite things - the address stamp. I ordered it when we moved into the house from an etsy seller, and it saves a lot of time when I've got a few letters or cards to send out. The stamps make for a good housewarming present too.

This also lead to me deciding to clean all my silver, as I was staring at a tarnished pen pot during most of the writing. Now the Christening mug/ pen pot is all sparkly, plus the toast/ letter rack, letter opener and my tea strainer and various pieces of cutlery and salt and pepper pots. I was also prompted to clean the silver by the fact that I went to Costco on Friday morning and bought a 6KG bag of Baking Soda. So handy for all my cleaning jobs! I like to put a mixture of vinegar and bicarb down the drains every few weeks to keep them clear, as well as using it for other cleaning tasks and baking and as a result I get through the small boxes available at the supermarket fairly quickly.


The trip to Costco caused a few other things, like cleaning out the pantry. This was because I'd shoved all those bulk buy boxes of bits and pieces in it before rushing out to do other jobs, and it was a terrible mess.


 the drawers weren't too bad though. It was mainly the shelves

I do love a trip to Costco, and I was very excited when they finally opened in Adelaide last year as I used to go all the time in Melbourne. The problem with our Melbourne house was that there was very limited storage, as it was so small… so I had to be careful not to overbuy. But now with a bigger house, and lots of cupboards and a cellar to store things in and a growing family it's perfect.

My favourite things to buy are the books (perfect for kid's birthday party presents), the bunches of 24 long stemmed roses (as above in the photo on my hall table), the gift wrap ribbon (latest purchases were ombre pink and an ombre green wire edged 50m in a roll), the discounted movie tickets, the incredibly cheap petrol, and the fresh produce which is very fresh, very good quality and about 1/4 the price of my local supermarket.

I've caught up on my design magazine reading. I have to say the best thing about the latest Architectural Digest was the ads. I will be cancelling my subscription. The English House and Garden never disappoints, and Veranda is also reliably good though.

Around the garden things are frying. Some plants do very well in the heat though. Like the thistles. I have a lot of weeding to do once the weather cools down enough to get out in there.... But my side garden is thriving. Do you remember what it looked like when it was planted back in September last year?

Here it is now.

The trees are probably more than double the size they were, and the hedges are looking really lush and healthy. They're actually noticeable now, rather than when we first planted them and they were barely visible. I have to get out and paint the white pipe too - it's for the solar heating for the pool, and is a bit of an eyesore. Eventually the rose will grow up it and conceal it.

first planted


I have olives growing in the olive trees in here.

And figs growing on the new fig tree in the back garden. Excitingly the parrots have not yet discovered them, so I haven't had to net the tree and we've been picking them and enjoying them in a baby spinach salad with blue cheese, toasted pine nuts and balsamic and olive oil dressing. So yummy.

The upside of the heat has been the (very) balmy evenings. Last night in the evening after the two youngest children were in bed, Mr AV, our oldest and I played a few rounds of Petanque on the new court. The adults played with a glass of chilled Rose in hand.. it was very pleasant to be out in the garden on such a warm evening. We need quite a few more plants in this area (it's largely unplanted aside from the hedges and trees), but things are growing, and it's all looking good.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend.

The other day I was making idle chit chat with the Supermarket Checkout Chick, when I noticed that her name badge said she was called Chanel.

This got me thinking a little about how common the Chanel branding has become. Back in the olden days as a Vogue Obsessed 15 year old (1989) I saved up my babysitting money and clothing allowance for 10 months and bought a Chanel belt. It's very 80's and I still have it (pictured above), but I now wear it only occasionally. It has quite a large buckle, and the Chanel logo has become so ubiquitous that I tend to feel the belt wears me. Back when I bought it Chanel was not quite such a household name with a logo recognised the world over.

I was also struck by this when I attended the "Fashion Icons" exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia late last year. Faux Fuchsia, Pamela, Romy and I examined each and every piece of couture on display and discussed them in minute detail, and one thing I found quite interesting was that the buttons on the Coco Chanel designed early 1960's tweed suit were logo-less.

The buttons on the late 80's Chanel suit had the intertwined CC logos (the same vintage as my belt). The Chanel logo, along with other Chanel icons such as the Camellia motif, tweedy wool, quilted leather and the leather woven chain have been cleverly manipulated by Karl Lagerfield each season to put such a brand on the House of Chanel that these things are forever associated with it.

Every time I click around on Pinterest, I am reminded of what a hold the name and brand of Chanel has on the general public now. There's the Chanel Cocktail for instance which popped up in my news feed last week (and who knows if she ever drank this particular mix… it was invented by Harpers Bazaar it seems, and has a Chanel No 5 infused spearmint sprig attached to it).

There are the endless quotes (Audrey Hepburn is a close second in this category). As an aside, I have often felt like making up something inane myself, writing Coco Chanel under it and watching it catch on like wildfire on Pinterest as an interesting social experiment.

There are pages of faux Chanel merchandise


Oil barrels as bedside tables (or are they supposed to be perfume vats?)

Highly unattractive bedding

And then there are the parties - Chanel themed Baby Showers, Birthday Parties, Weddings, Engagement Parties, Wedding Showers… from Cakes, to Decor to printed cocktail napkins.

Coco Chanel's key tenants were of simplicity of form, understated luxury, borrowing from menswear and sports wear with fabrics and style, an ease of dressing in an elegant way, the understated detail and I have to say…

 it all seem like it's gone a very long way away from this.

All images bar the belt ones via Pinterest

I haven't done a proper house update in a long time. I think this is because while I'm constantly (slowly) working away on it, I tend to jump from room to room as I find things that suit. So while I might have added one or two things to a room, I don't tend to update on what that is. Most rooms aren't really that finished, but I'm trying to get a few ticked off in the first part of this year.

Firstly, the Library/ Sitting room, which came to a screaming halt over the Christmas period. Frankly, I had to work so hard at clearing out all the junk and going through all the paperwork (plus all the painting etc) prior to Christmas, that I wasn't terribly motivated to do a lot for the past month and a bit. But I'm getting back on track with it. First up I have to antique the brass grill panels for the base cupboards of the bookshelves (I have strategically left the bookshelves out of these photos as they haven't changed from the last lot of photos I posted, and consequently are not looking very styled/ finished). I also have to put on the cupboard pulls, which came months ago, but have been sitting in a box ever since. 

In terms of progress on the accessorising of the room, I've purchased a coffee table! Hooray for that. It came a few weeks ago and was from West Elm. I know, cheap! In my Good Room! But it works perfectly. Others I'd found that were round and not too rustic looking were horrifically expensive, so I'm happy with this piece. It was $300 and has a foxed (distressed) mirror top, and antiqued brass frame. It fits in really well to the room. Here's my top tip with decorating - just like with clothes you can mix in the high and the low, but you have to do it carefully. Lighting is always worth putting money into. So are cushions, and these are the things that bring a room to life. Side tables and coffee tables can be cheap and you won't notice if you choose carefully. And I say this regardless of what your budget is - good lighting is worth the money. And if you mix in antiques with anything cheaper, it instantly elevates it.

The Chandelier in here twinkles and sparkles, and looks lovely reflected in the mirror of the coffee table. I'm also planning on getting a huge, oversized antique French mirror for above the fireplace. Unfortunately the sunburst mirror looks disproportionate with the bookshelves, so something taller is needed. But I'll wait for the right thing to appear….

I've also been hunting on and off for a fabric for the cushions. The current two that you can see that match on the armchairs are Celerie Kemble Betwixt for Schumacher, and I love them, but they worked better with the casual living room arrangement we had before the house extension was finished. I need something more polished for this room. So I've been looking in all the showrooms, and finally found something at Dedar that will work perfectly (strangely enough, I always thought I'd find it at Dedar). It's got sort of circles on it and has a lot of shine and is a very luxe looking fabric, so I think it will work well against the cream armchairs. Here's a bad photo of it above. It's not so grey as it looks here, more brown tones.

I've also got a bunch of lights coming on a slow boat from the US, and two lamps will be going in here. One is this Bracelet lamp from Circa lighting. It will go on the Georgian drinks table where there is currently some greenery in these photos. I think it will echo the curtains quite nicely. The bookshelf down lights are part of this shipment, so I probably won't post photos until they arrive and are installed properly.

So, into another room I haven't shown at all since the initial posts about the renovation… Mr AV's study (home office as it was formerly known). For newer blog readers, we excavated under the house to create a new home office for my Husband. We had an existing stone cellar, and had to replace the stairs going down to that, so we dug out another room at the time to create a quiet place for him to work away from the family. We did a light well, and lined it in mirror with trellis over it to bounce a bit more natural light around. It doesn't feel too horribly cave like down there as a result, and most males that come over to the house seem to like hanging out in there… during our 40th party there were a few groups that went down to have a look and didn't reappear for an awfully long time!

Late last year I finally got around to ordering the sofa, up until then Mr AV had his 1920's burr walnut desk and that was it. The sofa is Jardan's "Leila" which has a slightly rounded back profile, and I liked the relaxed cushions as they gave a good contrast with the desk. I bought the standard lamp from Linge Roset in the floor stock sale. It has a chrome base and black shade and also has a slightly Deco moderne overtone to it. In the light well, we finally hauled one of the topiaries down into position. It's not looking the healthiest (I had forgotten to water it consistently in the past few months when it was up above ground), so hopefully it recovers now that it is getting a bit more TLC. The pebbles at the base of the light well allow the water to drain down to the sump pump (which will pump rainwater up to the storm water), and stops mosquitos getting in to breed in any residual water down there. The things you do with underground spaces...

Still a bit of work on the accessorising department down here, but it's coming along! I won't bother with cushions as Mr AV has a deep seated hatred of scatter cushions and treats them with disdain and contempt by throwing them on the floor or using them to balance drinks on (the horror!). So while it pains me slightly not to have any, they'd be a waste and get ruined. I'll pick my battles with our Sitting room and bedroom cushions!

So, a couple of little additions that have made quite a difference. And more to come….
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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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