I remember one of the first classes that I had at The Inchbald School of Design in London, where I studied Interior Design and Decoration back in 1998 revolved around colour. We were told that the majority of people have a fairly poor memory for colour, and as an example we were shown a piece of A4 blue card and told to find something that evening to bring to class the next day that was the same colour. Naturally, we all failed.

I do, however, like to think that I have a fairly good colour memory overall. I selected the fabric for my Mother in Law's Dining room chairs that matched the existing wall colour perfectly from Melbourne (her Dining room being in Adelaide).

And I realised fairly recently, when several of the school mothers commented on how well matched my accessories were, that I have been having way too many "accidental" purchases where the colours I've bought match things in my existing wardrobe for it to perhaps be such an accident.

Here is the proof:

Gary Castle Sydney shoes in a patent Persimmon/ orange colour, which match a Kate Spade bag bought a year and a half apart, and a Kate Spade necklace, also bought at a separate time; and purchased more recently, this navy silk Milly top, which has beading that matches perfectly:


Yellow Sambag ballet flats, and purchased 6 months later a yellow Kate Spade handbag:


Emerald green Boden cardigan, and a pair of emerald green patent ballet flats bought from a shop in Rome around 6 months apart, I also have an emerald green silk blouse from Kate Spade which is not pictured as it's at the dry cleaners in an attempt to remove little greasy hand marks off it (silk + toddlers wielding cheesymite scrolls from the bakery do not go together)


Sea glass green Boden cardigan and Sea glass green Kate Spade necklace bought a year apart (please excuse the strange, jail like impression taken by looking in the hall entry mirror).


I also, somehow, managed to do this in my house. The Study/Library has an existing marble fireplace that has reddish brown marble with black marble accents. Despite not taking this into consideration when I picked the paint colour and curtain fabric from Melbourne, I ended up choosing colours that co-ordinated perfectly.



I also managed this in our bedroom, where a white/pale grey Marble fireplace co-ordinates perfectly with the silver/grey seagrass wallpaper and the charcoal and cream patterned fabric I chose for our curtains and bedhead.


I think, though, that there are some colours that are harder to remember. Navy is difficult - there are so many various shades. And we all know how difficult it is to pick a white paint colour....a shade off can be a disaster.

At any rate, I try not to get too hung up on perfect matching - our eye is naturally drawn to what occurs in nature, and nature is not perfect. This is why one of the first principles of decorating well, is not to buy everything from the same source/brand - the colours are absolutely perfect matches across the range, which can give an overall dead and lifeless showroom type feel if used in a room together. I'll never forget the effect of walking into a client's flat in London's Mayfair, which had been decorated (under her instruction) completely in Colefax and Fowler papers and fabrics. It felt exactly like a photo shoot for the catalogue. To complete the client's obvious love of matching, we were charged with the task of unifying all the various lampshades to the same type of fabric, so that she didn't have a visual jarring of card v's various shades of creamy white fabric shades, some offensively pleated and others plain. The horror.

So, while I'm obviously not afraid of not matching, I do seem to suffer from matchy-matchy disorder to some extent.....hopefully in just the right way.
We came back to Adelaide at the start of 2010 for my Grandfather's funeral. I was pregnant with our third baby, we had recently sold our house in Melbourne's Albert Park (it was a little weatherboard cottage, as is common in the area, which we had outgrown with the advent of our second child starting to walk), and we were renting elsewhere in the area while we searched for our next house. While we were in Adelaide, I happened to see a real estate advertisement for our house. I just loved the look of the house, it was in an area that we liked, and so we drove past on our way to a family dinner that night. We rang the agent and viewed it on our way to the airport the next morning.

We ended up buying it at the Auction a month later. I like to think that my Grandfather had a hand in it - he loved family, and would do anything for us, and it would have pleased him so much to have us moving home. But with my husband's work in Melbourne, we had to work out what to do with the house. Initially we thought we'd rent it out for a few more years, then renovate and move home. Eventually we decided to just move back home almost immediately, and that my Husband would continue to work in his current job by commuting from Adelaide (he travels a lot anyway, so it didn't make much difference). And so I found myself with a 6 month deadline to get the untouched interior renovated for a Christmas move in (so that our oldest could start school in Adelaide, rather than be moved again). The only problem was that I had a two week old baby at that point, and a husband that did helpful things like flying to London for a week for work when I had a two week old baby...... but we survived, and somehow I managed to renovate the interiors, selecting bathroom fittings, tiles, wallpapers and fabrics, doing a lighting and power plan etc etc all while located in Melbourne, with a few flights to Adelaide to sort things out.

Some interior views from the real estate listing








And my builder, who did a fantastic job, made sure we moved in on our Christmas deadline (they were literally doing finishing touches as the truck with our furniture pulled in).

Some shots of the overgrown garden:







So, what we did initially was to put in two new bathrooms (I think you can survive with a horrible bathroom or a horrible kitchen, but both at once is really hard going), a dressing room, re roofed the house (there was significant water damage), new insulation, rewired the entire house (it was so old the meter box was inside the house in the hall, which meant that the meter readers had to come inside......), entirely new plumbing to the street main, new carpet, new hardwood floorboards in the hall, removal of 50 layers of old wallpapers and replacement with paint and new wallpapers, and new light fittings.

After photos to come....




My Isis Ceramics lampbase, vase by Alvar Aalto, Spode trinket box


One of my favourite things in my house is my Isis Ceramics lampbase. It's blue and white and handpainted, and I actually found it on eBay in Australia, and bought it for $20. These cost around the $600 mark new, and are hand made in Oxford, UK. I coveted anything Isis when I first went to live in London for a year in 1998. They were sold in places like the General Trading Company in Sloane Square, and I remember that Colefax and Fowler also sold pieces. When I returned home at the end of the year, I bought my mother a blue and white flower brick from the GTC as a gift. And then coveted that as well. Well, lucky me, when I found the lamp on eBay, I searched the sellers other items, and found that they also had two flower bricks up for sale. I bought them for $5. For both. I use them for flowers that have short stems, such as roses from my garden, or camellias.

My Isis flowerbrick with mixed roses, lambs ears, hellebores and bluebells from the garden


Ginger Jars by Isis Ceramics

Another view of the top of the black lacquer Secretaire in our Bedroom with the lamp. Tortiseshell tray and framed Intaglios


tea caddy by Isis Ceramics
Joe Nye, who wrote a beautiful book about entertaining "Flair" used a handpainted Isis plate for his cover photograph. I love the addition of the bamboo handled cutlery.



One thing that I would love is a whole dinner set by Isis - they will do an entire set where they handpaint scenes that are significant to you on the service. Unfortunately my Husband is a bit of a killjoy and has said no. So mean. I was excited to see though, that Juliska, a US china company have produced a set in black and white. Unfortunately the Husband has vetoed that as well. He likes the lamp and flower brick (actually, he doesn't seem to have much of an opinion on the flower brick), but he doesn't like the service in its entirety.

Juliska dinner service

This is a fireplace that I've bought for the extension we are planning to do on our house (once our council approval comes through, that is). It's going to be in the open plan living/dining area to create a focal point in the seating area. It came from Antiques Avignon (pictured above in the shop, a great source of lovely French chandeliers, fireplaces, furniture and objets), and is a French 18thC limestone number - I can't remember which Louis off the top of my head (and am too lazy to find where I wrote it down).

I am trying hard to not recreate a faux Frenchy feel, or a faux Victorian feel (the era of the original part of our house) rather an Orangery/ garden room feel and a mix of old and new. The fireplace will contrast well with the more modern aspects of the design, such as the steel windows, and the very minimalist detailing (such as skirting boards and kitchen) that I'm planning elsewhere. At least I hope it will be a successful mix.... Currently the fireplace is housed at my parent's house in one of their sheds, not such a glamorous resting place.

And on the subject of steel windows, I have so many pretty pictures to post....as soon as I work out how to post from pinterest to the blog.

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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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