Well, I can no longer feel ashamed of the cushion-less state of our house. It only took around 6 months (!!) to get them, due to repeated sagas I won't bore you with, but Ta-Da! Here they are:






For some reason in the last photo the flame stitch cushion looks a little bit green, which it is not.

Peeking out from under the chair in our dressing room  in the above photo is the wooden shoe polish box I gave Mr AV for his birthday a couple of weeks ago. He is passionately in love with it. I know, odd. It was rather expensive, considering that up until two weeks ago, the shoe polish equipment had been living quite happily, and cheaply, in one of those green coles enviro bags in the laundry. He specifically asked for this as his present. It was from Henry Buck's and came full of the shoe polish and brushes and cloths etc as well. I quite like the box, it's like a mini campaign chest with its brass recessed handles. It's called a Shoe Valet. I'm waiting for the man who presumably comes with the box and polishes the shoes to knock on the door any day now.




I've been admiring the beautiful liberty fabric wrapped wire names and words that Jane from Life on Planet Baby creates at Planet Joy, her etsy shop. After seeing them on Romy's blog a few months ago, I asked Jane to do one for E's room. It arrived before Christmas, and E loves it. The colours match her room perfectly.

Then, lovely Jane sent me a beautiful one in my favourite blues for my birthday too! Absolutely gorgeous, and such a treat. These are going to become my favourite present for a little (or big) girl's birthday this year. Jane also makes lovely liberty wrapped large letters, or ampersands which make lovely gifts (or a treat for yourself).




 And in reading news, I finished "The Bolter" and have ordered in "War and Peace", as instructed by lovely blog comment maker Pamela. Strangely, the local bookstore didn't have any copies for sale. I picked this up from the bargain table outside Dillon's on The Parade to tide me over for a while. Love the jewels that Debo wears while feeding her chooks.


And I've also been dipping in and out of this absolutely divine book "Garden Mania" which Janelle sent me a few weeks ago. It has lovely pictures of historic garden plans in it, and is in such a pretty binding, I've been enjoying just looking at the cover on my bedside table as I walk past. Although it has made me want to go on one of her garden tours even more!! Boo Hoo. Next year, I will.......





I've been working on both the Laundry and Kitchen plans for the upcoming renovation. While I'm not under any pressure at the moment from the Joiner, I've been trying to finesse the layout and choose the finishes, and work out the finalised layout for the cabinetry.


Unfortunately, it's taken this long to get to this point because Mr AV seems to think that he is allowed to have a say in the design of the kitchen. I know, Unbelievable. Firstly, he doesn't cook, and secondly, I'm the Architect, not him. Anyway, we've come to an understanding (he seems to have given up), so things have moved along a little in the past week.

Firstly, here are the finishes I'm thinking of for the kitchen. I've got a mountain of samples at the moment, as I've had Reps visiting and I've ordered in all sorts of things. The colour palette is in warm greys and creamy toned whites. There will be stainless steel ovens, a built in (concealed) fridge and freezer, and an underbench mounted stainless steel double sink.



Firstly, the blackish background is the Marmoleum (linoleum) which I've chosen for the floor throughout the renovation. It's from a new range by Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek. He apparently mixed a lot of pigments together, and ended up with a blackish colour (no surprise there!). The thing that is probably not apparent is that it does have a little bit of movement in it - it's not a flat matt colour. Hopefully this will make it a good backdrop to the spaces it's in. Some of the other linoleums were a little bit too perfect and dull looking for such a large area. It also goes well with the slate, which will be at the thresholds on the french doors, and outside as paving on the veranda and outdoor dining area.

The laminate I'm thinking of using is an Italian one, and is in a whitewashed/ greyish timber grain, the very small sample shown above. It is textured, rather than flat and I'm thinking I'll lay it on the horizonal with the grain. The cupboard doors will be plain (no decorative routing).

The benchtop is still slightly undecided. I like the dark one in the photo above, but I worry the whole thing will look too dark with the dark floors and cupboards. I'm not planning to have overhead cupboards at all, so above the benchtop will be benchtop to ceiling tiling in a handthrown wavy subway tile in a creamy white. Option B is a white marble with grey veining below. Both of these benchtops are composite stone products that look like marble. I don't like real marble in kitchens - I'm just not able to keep it immaculate as it's a family kitchen, and as I like to cook and not worry about spots of lemon juice, this is the best choice for my family. The new composite stones are actually looking really good now, so I'm quite comfortable with this as an option.



Here's a photo of the sketched out plan for the kitchen, it's in pencil so it doesn't show up that well. The reason why it's so drawn over again and again is because of the arguing with Mr AV.  Some of that is his handiwork. I'm going to draw up a proper one tonight (hopefully).


And this is an sketch elevation of the wall looking out of the two big steel windows, with the two ovens and the stainless steel rangehood, and the wall covered in the wavy subway tile above the lower bench level.


The central square island in the plan I'm going to make look like a table at bench height. It can be another prep surface, or somewhere to eat breakfast, or have a glass of wine while cooking etc. It will have a simple leg detail, and three of these light fittings hanging over it at different heights in a cluster - they look like mouthblown glass, slightly bubble like and opalescent and imperfect. Light source


I'm trying to achieve quite a modern, pared back look, but that still references the traditional front of our house. I'm also pushing myself a little, as I've been a white kitchen lover since childhood (my mother always had a white kitchen). I have to admit I'm slightly nervous about the grey because of this, but I think it will look good, so fingers crossed.....

Next post on the kitchen, I'll hopefully have better plans to show, and I'll discuss the appliances I've chosen, handles and other things I didn't get to in this mini post! With school holidays finally at an end this week, I've got two days a week with none of my little darlings around to finally get a move on with some of the detail work that needs blocks of time (in hours, rather than minutes) and push along the project.
I've been to Melbourne again, this time for a little longer than the last - a whole 48 hours in my former home city. We went for a little bit of client entertaining for Mr AV, and to catch up with friends, and I squeezed in some shopping as well. Usually we go to the Tennis, but it seems the Corporates aren't handing out tickets so readily this year. Boo to that!

Wore this out to dinner on the first night: A black Chloe dress, which I accessorised with some new earrings and clutch bag that I bought at Christine, a gem of a shop in Flinders Lane in the city. The most interesting things happen in the laneways of Melbourne - there are hidden bars, cafes, and restaurants, tiny shops and galleries that you're supposed to be in the know to find. Christine is a shop devoted to accessories. A blink and you miss it entry (just a door to the street, no shop window) and you follow the red tartan carpet down the stairs to an Aladdin's cave of jewellery, hats, bags, scarves, perfume and everything in between. Large selections of Lanvin, Alexander McQueen and Anya Hindmarch compliment other smaller niche designers making for an interesting range. They were having an extra 20% off already reduced prices for the Summer sale while I was there, and I couldn't resist the bargains, so the black glittery clutch bag and earrings came home with me.

My other accessory for the night was this ancient old Chanel belt, which I sit rather on the fence about. I bought it in 1989, and it certainly screams the 80's. It's enormous, shiny gold and worked well with big shoulder pads and the loads of gold jewellery that everyone wore back then. I saved up my clothing allowance and babysitting money for around 9 months to buy it, and it's been living in the back of my wardrobe since around 1994, when the fickle winds of fashion changed and big belts suddenly went resolutely Out.




new earrings - they are very thin and all sparkly 

 So I've resurrected it, but it does seem rather....ostentatious and flashy. Back when I bought it, there was very little brand recognition of Chanel from the average person. Now, everyone is so brand aware that it's instantly recognisable, and frankly, it's hard to miss this belt. It's hardly subtle. Anyway, after dressing, I thought about Coco Chanel's directive - that before leaving the house, you should take one accessory off. So I did as told, and took off the belt. Would love to hear other's thoughts on it....am I being a little oversensitive to the fact that it may make me look tacky, rather than well dressed? Some of my rationale is in the somewhat rambling paragraphs below.


My Chloe dress is all trickily draped, and quite 60's I think with a train thingy that goes from the shoulders to the hem.

Moving on, next to Christine in Flinders lane in the city is the most charming floral artist (or something, they don't call themselves a florist) called Pollon. I took a terribly blurry photo with my iphone of the shop front, as they have moss and flowers going up the outside, and the most incredibly creative window displays, it's all very textured and 3 dimensional. The second photos are from someone who has learnt that it is best to stop walking when you take a photo....


via

Yesterday I had a look around High Street, Armadale, and Beatty Avenue in Toorak, and bought some knitwear (also reduced heavily) from Cable Melbourne I love their knitwear, and have invested for the past 4 years by buying one of the (fairly expensive, but  quite good on sale) knits for Winter, gradually building up a small stash that Mr AV refers to as my "uniforms". It is such good quality - Merino wool, well designed, I really do live in their stuff in Winter. And it's always good to support locally designed, manufactured and sourced product - which I am very happy to do when it is world class. Their summer range is in linen or cotton and cashmere. Perfect transeasonal pieces.

And wandering around the more upmarket areas of Melbourne eating at nice restaurants and looking in the shops, buying bits and pieces and doing a bit of people watching (and eavesdropping on snippets of conversations), I was struck by the great contradiction that is that part of Melbourne, and really enclaves of many cities around the world. Friends we caught up with on the other night for dinner were talking about the area they live in (Brighton) and how people at the local community kindergarten had the fees on instalment plans due to financial hardship, yet were living in $3 Million dollar houses, and had their older children at Private School, driving a BMW X5 and toting designer bags etc and yet they couldn't afford to pay around $400 up front for kindergarten fees.... I hear stories all the time about people that look like they have the life, but there is nothing substantial behind it (usually the stories only come out after a spectacular downfall). How stressful it must be to live in a house of cards that will fall down if the financial winds blow in the wrong direction. I am often struck by the way things don't add up as to how people live the way they do with the jobs they have - high debt is the most likely common scenario. The areas I visited verily drip with money. How much of it is genuine is anyone's guess. Side by side with the businesses selling expensive furniture are the furniture hire companies that specialise in antiques - houses in those areas are often emptied of the owners actual possessions and restocked with expensive and unique antiques for the period the house is up for sale. This just exacerbates the cycle of everyone thinking that is the standard way in which others are living. I though quite a bit about the way in which "Luxury" has become normalised for us all in every facet of life, it's expected rather than being something special.

Years ago I watched the excellent documentary "Status Anxiety" by Alain de Botton. If you haven't watched it before, I can't recommend it more highly - it's very though provoking, and will definitely make you think about modern Western lifestyles, and consumption, and the reasons why we live the way we do. We're all guilty of wanting to keep up with the Jones' to some extent, and I know blogs often have a way of making people feel bad about their own lives. A tiny snippet of someone's life is by no means a reflection of the whole, mine being no exception.

If you are embracing Frugal February, and need some motivation, check out the Status Anxiety DVD's (the book is good, but the documentary is fab). And if you're feeling on the back foot compared to your neighbours, or friends or blogs/ magazines you read or whomever or whatever, or that these rambling thoughts of mine are striking a chord with you, it's definitely worth a look too. I guarantee it will make you feel more secure in yourself, and more aware of why you do things the way you do.

So, that was my paradoxical thinking - a bit of consumption/ shopping myself and then contradictory thoughts about the consumption all around me. And a truly contradictory post with the start a shallow ramble about a designer outfit and then my deeper thinking about the normalisation of luxury goods....and about not wanting to buy into that way of thinking.

So, loved the brief trip to Melbourne, and have come back inspired by design, refreshed from not playing slave to my children for 48 hours, and with much to reflect back on. xx
I'm late again for my weekly post..... unfortunately I left my camera at a friends house on Sunday, so I have only blurry iphone photos to post instead. The post I was going to do was to have been incredibly witty and had the most stunning photos to accompany it. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Due to the (hot, hot, hot) weather, I have given up on having real flowers in my house. They just die in around 24 - 48 hours, and it's all too depressing really. So, I have embraced the faux fully - here is a picture of my current hall table flower arrangement - a large bowl of faux orchids. It even has faux soil and faux moss (that looks incredibly real). It's from Laura Ashley. They had an absolutely enormous bowl of orchids that I loved.... just a little too pricey for me ($800), so I settled for this much smaller bowl full instead.


I've been absolutely loving "The Hour", currently screening on ABC tv. It's similar to Mad Men in a lot of ways (set in the 50's), but is a completely different snapshot of that era, being set in Britain for a start, and also focussing on the current events of that time. On a completely shallow level, Mr AV and I were thrilled to see that our decanter starred in a recent episode. Ours was from his grandfather's estate, and would probably date to the 50's. It's Waterford Crystal. Here's a photo of it vying for space on our overstocked drinks table.


And speaking of the 1950's, I've been wearing my new perfume - it was a birthday present from my Dad, Robert Piguet's "Calypso". As he is unused to organising presents, it was rather late in arriving... my birthday being around 4 weeks before the gift finally surfaced. It had to be ordered in specially, as you can't buy it from any local stores (David Jones in Adelaide (it's stocked at the French Perfume counter in Sydney and Melbourne) were incredibly unhelpful and told Dad that he could ring the Melbourne store, check if they had it and ask them to post it to him.....but no offer from the sales assistant to organise that for him while he was in the Adelaide store. Terrible service. He bought it on the Internet from overseas instead). Anyway, I love it. At first it is quite heavy on the musk (which I normally don't like), but it settles quickly and is quite a modern scent, given that it is one of the very old French ones - lots of green and spice notes.


 And I finished Anna Funder's "All That I Am" (excellent - lots of deception/ betrayal and all closely based on real events and people). I picked up the book "The Bolter" by Frances Osborne. It's about the scandalous life of Idina Sackville. She was the five times married woman at the centre of the scandalous murder portrayed in the movie "White Mischief", and was characterised (as The Bolter) by Nancy Mitford in three of her books including "Love in a Cold Climate" and "The Pursuit of Love". I'm often drawn to these books of women who throw everything away to do something scandalous. Possibly this is because I've always been called "sensible". It's not something I'd ever do myself, but reading about it is slightly voyeuristic. Oh, and the new Vogue Living is out, and is fab.


And in dull news, I'm on the worlds Worst Diet. That should be it's official title. It's for health reasons, rather than weight loss, although that will definitely be a side effect. I have suffered from eczema since I was 13 on my hands. I was a little bit naughty at school one day, and was made to scrub the hallways with a scrubbing brush and Ajax. I remember it being caked around my nails. Of course the next morning I woke up with eczema, which I've never been able to rid myself of. This diet is supposed to work out what food items I eat causes it (many things contribute to it, the Ajax was a trigger point at that time). I'm not eating Dairy, Gluten, Sugar, Alcohol, any Vegetables from the deadly nightshade group (potatoes, tomatoes, capsicum etc), Citrus and Strawberries. Not a lot left really. Only 6 weeks to go..... sadly the eczema is diminishing, so it is obviously some of those things that cause it.

And I continue with the slow process of designing the Kitchen and Laundry joinery. It's not working out the way I want at the moment, so I've been dragging my heels a little....only a week left until School Holidays are over, and I get more free time to get on with it all.

Hope you had a great week xx

The smallest room in our soon-to-be-started extension is the Powder Room. It's going to be carved out of a corner of what is currently our kitchen. The new kitchen is going to be in the new extension, and the current room will be stripped out to make a new bedroom for S., minus a small corner which is being sacrificed for the Powder Room.


As this space will be strictly off limits to the children and their friends, I am planning to make it an adult space. In terms of Architectural features, it is having a Velux skylight (fixed, not opening), as natural light is important to me in all rooms of the house, and I don't like Solartubes, which give light via a diffuser in the ceiling. I like to see the sky.

The toilet is the same Duravit one that I bought on super sale at Mary Noall in Melbourne nearly 2.5 years ago and put into the other bathrooms. I like back- to- wall toilets with simple lines - easy to clean, no strange ridges to collect dust etc. It's modern, but fairly simple.

The handbasin is going to be this cheapie from Recollections on sale for $99 "The Manhattan". It's fairly classic in style, which is what the front (old) part of the house is stylewise.


The taps are probably going to be this Perrin & Rowe set in the unlaquered brass. It will age nicely and match the mirror that I'm planning to buy. Taps are hard in Australia - we have very strict plumbing standards, the highest in the world. This means that you can't just import taps from overseas - the plumber will not install them as they have to warranty and certify all their work, and the overseas taps don't comply. Our ranges are somewhat limited because of this, but it's gradually improving - overseas manufacturers are lifting their standards to ours. Other accessories, such as the toilet roll holder etc, will match the selected taps.
The mirror above the basin is the big budget part - I'm planning to buy a really beautiful antique mirror. I've been looking around, and while I'm not in a rush, I really like this one which I've found locally: a c1880's French cushion style mirror (it's 3 Dimensional as it angles out) with its original mirror (nicely spotted with age) and its original gilt finish, rubbed off in places, which I also like.




On either side of the mirror, I'll do wall sconces, and I've been looking around and think that these ones from circa lighting in the US might do the job in the antique hand rubbed brass finish, rather than this pewter finish. This may change however, I'm not totally sold on these.


To make this tiny space more interesting, I'm going to wallpaper it. Unfortunately the more flamboyant styles of wallpaper that I favour have been vetoed by Mr AV. He is strongly anti- flowers, so anything he considers too "pretty" is not allowed. Boo. Ideally, I would like De Gournay wallpaper, but it does seem like a little bit of overkill considering that it's around $1500 per sheet of wallpaper... so it would still cost a small fortune even for a tiny room. One day I will have it....



Continuing on in a more modest budget, I'm thinking that this Schumacher grasscloth with a subtle pattern of leaves (and maybe a stylised flower that Mr AV won't notice). It won't be this colour, likely one of the other two colour backgrounds, smokey grey or a sea glass blue/green.



And here is the one I'd love to put in: Brunschwig & Fils "Kanchou". So beautiful with its cockatoos and foliage, but vetoed at this stage by mean Mr AV.


So that's the plan for the smallest room. Now I just have to complete all the details for the larger spaces....

This post is a bit late from my usual Sunday.... I am blaming the School Holidays and the ensuing chaos.

I placed an order for the first time in the Net-a-Porter US site's sale (Thank you again, Faux Fuchsia, for your services to humanity by alerting me to the fact that the US site of The Outnet and Net-a-Porter will ship to Australia, and are often cheaper) and bought this Lela Rose dress at 70% off. It was $350 and I have two weddings coming up this year, so will get some use out of it. I took a photo of the inside of the dress to show how well it was made - you could basically wear it inside out it's so perfect. Unfortunately the dress is a touch too large, despite it being my usual Lela size....and most unfortunately it's in the bust area - I'll be getting it taken in. Quite a bit. The waist still fits me no problem (who are these skinny pneumatic breasted women that fit these dresses?). It's a problem I've been finding with US designer dresses lately... I'm going to wear it with my gold Kate Spade strappy heels, and probably my pearls.





On to books, and I thought I'd review some of my Summer reading. Whilst in Kangaroo Island I ploughed through a few books:  Maggie Alderson's "Everything changes but you" - this one left me a bit cold, I usually love her books but I found the characters unsympathetic and the ending a little rushed. Peter Carey's "My Life as a Fake", which I loved (loosely based on the Ern Malley hoax, a literary hoax in the 1940's in Melbourne). Bill Bryson's "Down Under" - Hilarious, and very interesting, part travelogue and part history of Australia. I hate to say it, but I did learn a lot. Anna Funder's "All that I am" which I am half way through, and enjoying so far....


Some Christmas design books - Bobby McAlpines "The Home Within Us" completely irritating, babbling text, I stopped reading. He does very good roofs though, so I like the pictures. Bunny William's  "An Affair with a House", where the importance of collections and Antiques are demonstrated in her own beautiful home to give personality and layering to spaces. "The Private World of Yves Saint Laurant and Pierre Berger", pure eye candy. They had the most extraordinary homes filled with museum worthy pieces. Loved it


Mr AV and I went to see "The Life of Pi" on Wednesday and LOVED it. It's the sort of movie that you keep talking about after. For days. The cinematography is spectacular and a definite must to see in 3D.

And I bought a hand basin for the powder room on the weekend. I went into Recollections/ Early Settler, a place I have never deigned to shop before (I am a design snob from way back), and was surprised at the stuff they had - some items were quite good, and without designer shop price tags. This handbasin cost $99. It's on sale (the Manhattan), and I checked it over very carefully, and it's as good as one with an extra zero on the end. Ironically, the taps are now going to cost more than the basin (it comes without taps, which was fine by me as I didn't like their taps anyway). I'll do a post about the plan for this tiny space separately - it's going to have wallpaper, and an antique mirror over the basin. I think it's going to look fab. They also had some quite good mirrors....like the gilt sunburst one below which I could see in our Study.



In renovation news we've appointed our builder (same builder that did the front renovation of our house, but we still did a competitive tender for the job for the back, as it's such a big job). I've been harassing the Engineer to finish up his part of the job so that we can get the Building Surveyor to give approval and then finally start demolition. I'll be very excited when that day comes.... most likely in mid February at this stage. In preparation I've started the big clean up of the kid's playroom and my "laundry" (a notional term as it's just the vile old unused bathroom with my washing machine and dryer shoved in the door). Somehow all that stuff has to fit into the front of the house. Wish me luck!

Hope you had a great week too xx
My last post about using your good things, has made me think a little more about China. And I've become slightly obsessed with the need to have a new dinner service. Don't get excited, I won't be ordering any time soon. The small matter of an upcoming expensive house renovation, lack of a Dining room, or a Butlers pantry to store it all in for that matter, will definitely keep the credit cards in my purse. In addition, we don't have easy access in Australia to many of the truly beautiful designs out there in the world.

So, if I had to choose my fantasy dinner setting, these are some of my picks:

Herend's "Queen Victoria"
Via

Faux Fuchsia's friend Zsa Zsa ("Hungarian to the stars") has a rather hefty collection of Herend, including these pieces of Queen Victoria, which FF posted pictures of after my post on Good Things, no doubt to cause me sleepless nights of envy. Zsa Zsa's collection in Australia would only be rivalled by Pixie Skase, who as you may remember fled Australia in the late 80's after her husband Christopher's company Quintex collapsed. They sailed off on their luxury yacht to a life in exile in Mallorca, Spain with Louis Vuitton duffel bags stuffed full of the Herend china they had lifted from Hardy Bros jewellers (owned by Quintex at the time). I can't say I blame them for that, it would have been very hard to leave behind. Here's part of Zsa Zsa's collection in her private museum in Brisbane. I'm also confident in saying that Zsa Zsa's collection did not come from such nefarious means as Pixie's.



Herend's "Queen Victoria" been endorsed by royalty for over 150 years now (it recieved its name as Queen Victoria purchased a set on display at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London). Hungary presented Prince William and Kate Middleton with a newly re-coloured service for their wedding. It's called "Royal Garden" and is in purples and greens. Very pretty. I just love the butterflies. I'm also now wishing Hungary had sent me a gift for my Wedding: it would have been very gratefully recieved, and I would have written them a lovely thank you note.



Jenni, who writes the lovely blog South Acres Farm filled with beautiful images of places she owns (and her friends beautiful homes) mentioned in my comments section her love of Herend's Rothschild Birds. It's so beautiful as well, I would have a hard time choosing. 
Via

And in a totally different style, as I wrote in an earlier post on Isis Ceramics, I wouldn't mind a personalised set of their beautiful hand painted designs incorporating places that are important to Mr AV and I.



I was also rather taken with this set by Bernardaud "Constance" with its pretty neoclassical design



Then I found these beautiful Fortuny plates, which would look stunning in a more modern/ textured/ layered/ Italian style interior. Not too classical, but the patterns are just beautiful.

Via Architectural Digest
And then moving onto crystal, you definitely need beautiful crystal to complete the table. Like these pretty Waterford wine glasses which work so well with the pink china.



Or for before dinner drinks a side table with some lovely Baccarat crystal would be nice, this is a more masculine style, which I quite like the style of for drinks.





Or some beautiful glasses by William Yeoward crystal


I so enjoyed reading in the comments about other people's dinner sets, and the happy memories that they have had around the dinner table - Romy's beautiful "Cornucopia" setting by Wedgwood, Patricia and Kate's Spode "Italian Garden", Fiona's Pillyvuyt set, Patricia's "Old Luxembourgh" by V&B.

So doesn't this post make everyone throw out their big white plates and embrace the decorative again? And if you were starting from scratch, what would you choose?
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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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