Last week I was fortunate to have a few wins at one of the local Antique estate auction clearance houses. One of the items I was very, very keen to buy was this Georgian style (likely Edwardian) serpentine wing-back armchair. It has solid mahogany legs, original nailhead trim, and the original horsehair loose seat cushion.


Naturally it will be reupholstered, the orange velvet was likely not the first covering it had, but at any rate it's very threadbare and tatty and needs to go (as I vacuumed it more of the pile was sucked out). I'm going to have it in our casual living area, where I think it will contrast nicely with the more modern furniture we have there. 



Of course, that lead to what to cover it in. This is clearly a Statement Chair, but how much of a statement to make it? Long time readers will know that my living area is a sea of neutrals… or has been, up until I had a rug made earlier this year with coloured spots in it, and also purchased a Designers Guild throw rug which has some of the same colours in it in varying sized stripes. One thing lead to another and I have finally decided to finish off this space. I've currently got 14 cushions in motion with the workroom in varying colours and sizes which will hopefully arrive soon, and so what to cover the chair in started to become a little confusing. 


I could go with a bold colour, picked out from the cushions and rug… but I worried that with the chair already being antique and very different from everything else it would be a little too much of a statement. Then there was texture - I was drawn to velvet, but was concerned it would feel visually 'hot' when Adelaide's peak temperature runs of 40C in Summer started. In the end I've decided that it will be upholstered in a Manuel Canovas chenille (low pile) which won't look 'hot', and in a neutral mole grey/brown colour. But to tie it in with a little addition of the colour elsewhere in the space, I'm planning to use a contrast cord piping in tones of green/plum/reds on the arms. The nailhead will hopefully all be reused - it's a lovely mellow toned brass, and I'd like to keep as much original detailing as possible. The horsehair chair pad will go though - it's flat as a pancake and not comfortable at all… I'm thinking of redoing it with a down cushion pad.



I have a feeling this chair will be the favourite in the room. Men in particular love a wingback armchair due to its generous size, but the children are also drawn to it - perhaps it's the feeling of enclosure it gives at head height? A feeling of security perhaps? After its new upholstery has been completed it will go on one side of the fireplace with a modern table next to it for drinks, and probably a library lamp like this in bronze.

via 

I'm also planning to complete the seating in general at long last in this space. The two sofas are fine, but I'd always planned to have a pair of armchairs on the other open side to offer different seating options (a variety of different seating options in a conversational seating space is always a good idea - there is no single chair/ sofa that suits all people for all social circumstances). This is one shape I've been thinking would work - a good combination of modern with traditional proportions, and a reasonably elegant design.

Via Maxalto

I can't remember if I've updated the blog with the lamps in this area too - I know I put them on Instagram, but a pair of these bronze sculptural table lamps are on either end of the sofa now, so I'm finally getting close to sorting this area out. The last room in the house in fact (odd given its our main living area). 

Newish lamps

The other item I purchased at the Auction house was a gilt mirror. The frame is very old, ornate and weighs a tonne. I think it probably had a painting in it once upon a time, although the mirror now there seems quite old. At any rate it's going to hang above the handbasin in the guest powder room. 

Insert mirror here

A room that has been mirror less since the renovation. I've been waiting to find something the right size (everything was always either too big or just tiny or horrendously expensive), and the right style of course. 


The gilt has a lovely age to it, and I think it will look fantastic in here. I'm getting my picture hanging woman in to hang it, as I'm concerned that due to the weight if I have a go at it we might hear an almighty crash one day...



 A few people have asked about the front garden progress. The main part of the works have been completed - we have a tree to source still, and are waiting on the perennial grasses to appear in the plant nurseries, but it's nearly there… just need everything to grow!



I'm so pleased with the fountain - it looks like it's always been there, and the base is a very realistic cast iron looking fibreglass, so I'm happy with the quality of it all. The fountain itself (bronze) is starting to age with the green patination it will have.


We love the overall design, and have had a very positive reception from friends and family on it too (although that may be because they were looking at the dead grass for 10 weeks prior). The planting has gone into the gravel as well - the idea is to soften the margins between gravel and plants. Eventually the plants will all spill out over the gravel from the beds. Can't wait.



The plants have a lot of contrast foliage - spiky things, grey green, dark burgundy and lime green leaves, strappy leaves, things that are soft and pretty like roses and grasses, lilacs and prunus… with the trees all planted in the garden now it brings the total in the entire garden to around 42 that we've planted to complement the original 2. The garden prior to our ownership was heavy on the flowers and bushes. In some ways I can't believe we've fitted in that many trees, but it's a reasonable sized garden, and trees give much needed structure that was lacking before.



In the back garden my roses that weren't decimated by parrots eating the buds have put out a few sun bleached blooms

David Austin's Golden Celebration

And everything is growing like mad. I love this corner of the back garden - the textural and colour contrast is beautiful. The tree at the front is the Forest Pansy with its leaves that change to dark green in another month or so, then bright golden yellow in Autumn.



 There are a few patches that need to be filled in - I have some seeds coming that I'll propagate to add into the patches - some salvia ground covers with interesting flat leaves.

So, I think that catches things up somewhat - not long until I can say the house itself is 'finished'… well, sort of. I think things always evolve, so maybe not that finished after all!

40 comments:

  1. I am looking forward to seeing how the chair works out. x

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    1. Unfortunately with Christmas coming it likely won't be finished until Feb - all the upholsterers etc are v. busy… but I think it's going to turn out really well. xx

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  2. love the spilling into the gravel LOVE!!! and the chair will be nice but I LIKE the orange velvet.

    So glad you kept the agaves. xxxxx

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    1. Well of course you like the orange velvet, being an orange lover! It doesn't actually look so bad in that colour in the room either… I've seen so many chairs upholstered in the 50's in orange velvet, must've been a very popular upholstery colour at the time. The agaves were all divided and there's lots in there, plus so many plants I've pinched from other people's gardens and propagated. Happy memories x

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    2. I love the orange too!!! But I'm a fellow orange lover. My next thought was hot hot hot orangey red pink. But I have absolute faith in you as I love your taste. Can't wait to see the finished product. It's a beautiful chair.
      The fountain looks stunning and the garden has changed so much. You must have had a wonderful growing season. Or maybe things just really do grow like mad down there. Beautiful!

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    3. Well… I've been sitting on the choice for the past week (not literally, figuratively!) and I'm going with aubergine. So watch this space! I like the orange, but there's no orange anywhere else in the house, so the aubergine will work in with the rug. Plus be neutral enough that I can use it elsewhere if I move things around.
      We do have a great growing season - more than 6 months. Things don't grow so much in the middle of Summer int eh heat, but spring is going crazy this year!

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  3. luff the mirror and the fountain too so House at Bronte x

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  4. I quite like that orange velvet chair as is but see your point about the heat and the condition it is in. I think the living space is such a big project that most tend to get to it later. I have a settee that I am letting breathe ( procrastinate in other words ) but you are reminding me I should get around to it...I suppose the thing about gardens is that it just gets better and better with time truth be told. I think patience has paid off for you and think the mirror has found a great home xx

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    1. I like a velvet chair, but I don't think it works so well in the open plan living during Summer… Love that term letting it breath (rather than ignoring the elephant in the room!!). I think I found doing other distinct rooms more fun in a way - open plan living spaces can be more difficult because they need to flow better with other spaces. Probably why there is such a great love in Australia with the white painted open plan living space in tone on tone neutrals!! But I've figured it all out now, so am happy it's all finally coming together. xx

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  5. I'm loving everything, I've followed the project from the first shovelful of dirt. What I admire most, Heidi, is your perseverance and determination. And of course your impeccable taste.

    Still shaking my head over the marauding rose-eating parrots, though. Noting it for my chapter on "Monty Python was a documentary... "

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    1. Thanks so much Fred - that's so kind of you to say, and I didn't realise you'd been such a long reader… it seems like so long ago now to me that we started the renovation.
      The parrots though… that is a running theme on the blog - there are so many in Adelaide!! I was really annoyed about the roses, and last week we bought three fish for the fish pond and they disappeared within 48 hours. I blamed the parrots (they'll eat them if they can get them). The kids were distraught (the fish are named), but fortunately they'd found a hole under the fountain base that they were hiding out in. So the parrots got a pass. It is a little like a Monty Python sketch I guess! There are little parrot heads poking out of tree hollows all over the neighbourhood at the moment, so the next generation is getting ready to launch the next wave attacks!

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    2. Try feeding your local magpies. We've been doing it for a few years and they regard our little garden as their territory. They make the parrots feel unwelcome. As the maggies are flesh and bug eaters they don't bother the roses or our veggie garden - they just hang around looking for earthworms or bugs or bits of left-over mince or cheese. They never swoop us around here either because they think we belong to them. Can be a bit bossy the way they warble loudly at the back door sometimes. Get louder and louder and then stalk off in high dudgeon if we don't appear. Pammie

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  6. Your garden is gorgeous! LUFF the fountain. What a perfect choice. We've gone back and forth on putting a fountain in our garden and we'll likely go for it in the next couple of years. Christopher drew one into the original design back in 2009 but our priority this last go-round was creating the stone steps and stone banding around the terrace, now we see that the fountain would fit right in.
    The chair! It's divine. It's true kids love crawling all over a chair like that, we had one in a brown velvet when our kids were small. Your idea with the upholstery and contrast piping is perfect. And the mirror is fabulous. It's not easy to find the perfect gilt mirror. I'm having one made for our sitting area because I'm never going to find the ideal size.
    It's all coming together beautifully and I really enjoy reading your thought process on the whole thing. XOX

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    1. I highly recommend a fountain Dani - it's so lovely to hear the tinkle of water in the garden. Your last photos you posted of the garden were beautiful though - the stone work really is so perfectly complimentary to your house style.
      Don't blame you at all about the mirror being made up - we have a limited source of antique mirrors in Australia, and I think the dealers tend to bring in larger ones… but not too large! Too big for the powder room, and in most instances were smaller than what I wanted in the Library (although finally got lucky on that front!) xx

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  7. Hi Heidi
    Gorgeous garden update post. I love the gravel! I would have gravel at my house but there are too many gum trees which drop leaves, bark, twigs and I don't think I could ever keep it clean.
    I particularly love the height variation in your back garden bed - those slim pine (?) trees are very eye-catching!
    K

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    1. The gravel is a bit of a pain to keep clean - I have more of a problem at the moment in the side garden as the jacaranda makes a mess. But a leaf blower does help! Yes, they're pencil pines. They're being 'trained' to be very highly groomed (they will be fuller eventually). The height element really does do a lot in that bed in creating a much more 3d feel to the whole planting scheme.

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  8. The garden looks gorgeous. The front does tie in so nicely with the house facade.

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    1. Thank you so much Vicki- that's so good to hear as I really did want it to look suited to the house, rather than imposing a style that wasn't in keeping so much.

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  9. The mirror is gorgeous! Love the details - specially the flowers! Will look perfect in that beautiful powder room. Also the chair is wonderful too. Will give just the right contrast in style with the other furniture in the casual living area. Can't wait to see all the cushions. There was a great shop in Sydney called The Armchair where the owner searched out old chairs with character and then restored and re-upholstered and covered in the most gorgeous modern fabrics, including by Canovas. Our son gave me a small occasional chair he found there. Sadly it's now closed down.
    Now the Front Garden is looking amazing. All superlatives - the fountain and the plants, just beautiful. Can't wait for the second go around after Brisbane and Canberra to see your garden again, settled in and growing up. Golden Celebration is doing so well - our buds too have just opened and are gorgeous. Though we had a big storm and heavy rain all night so have been going around tying up the climbers that were quite beaten up by it and the weight of water. Adore the corner of your garden with the Forest Pansy Tree! It's a poem - a work of art! Love the soft contrasts in colours.

    Also noticed your Obsessive Creative volume. Finally got to see the Collette Dinnigan exhibition at the Powerhouse. Wasn't it divine! I particularly loved her mood boards! Pammie xxx

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    1. That shop sounds fantastic! There are so many great shapes in the old armchairs. One upholsterer I used to use I stopped going to as he started getting sniffy about the old chairs I was bringing in to be upholstered. He would ask me how much I'd pay for the chairs and tell me it wasn't worth redoing them!! The frames are usually so much sturdier than new, and you can get much more interesting shapes and legs than new chairs too… two of the armchairs I'd taken in were 200 years old, so I wasn't particularly impressed with his assessment!
      I wish you'd all come this year to visit! The garden looks so much better and more done than this time last year, and the pool hadn't even been finished. Oh well, it will be ready for its repeat viewing! xx

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    2. Oh and so glad you got to see OC at the Powerhouse - some of those dresses were just divine!! Made me so sad she'd closed up shop. x

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  10. Oh my goodness the chair is amazing! What a find. It is a shame that the orange velvet has to go as it looks fabulous as is, but I agree the need for a comfortable seat is paramount! The mirror is truly a magnificent find as well. You really have such an eye. Looking forward to seeing the chair finished and in place. xx

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    1. It's definitely past its prime in person - plus the springs need retying at the base of the chair, so it would all have to come out at any rate! I really feel lucky to have found two great pieces at the auction - I've not bought anything all year, so it was just a good one this time 'round. xx

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  11. Lovely to see an update of your house and garden. I'm in love with wing- backs. The scale of the chair looks perfect for the room. I too love the orange because I love orange. The fabric your chosen sounds great and I love the idea of the piping and reusing the nail head trim. 14 cushions should make the man in your life happy!!
    Wondering if you've resolved the television and storage for the electronics? I'll be truly interested as to what you. The gardens looking gorgeous. Love the Forest Pansy Tree. Now the trees have been removed behind us my garden is going to need some changes.
    Fabulous mirror. I don't think a house or garden is ever finished there's always tinkering which is the fun of it.

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    1. Well, he'll now have plenty of cushions to throw on the floor every night Karen! I have finally resolved the tv debate - in two weeks time it will be moved, and I'll do a blog post about it all as it will make such a difference to the space. I highly recommend the Forest Pansy - it's really the prettiest small ornamental tree, with year round interest. Definitely consider putting it in now that you have less competition from all the pines (? I think that was what you said there were?) xx

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  12. Stunning. Have loved watching the progress of your beautiful home. You are so talented. Can I suggest feather-wrapped foam cushion for your chair rather than pure down? Lovely and comfy, and keeps it shape so no constant plumping!

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    1. I usually do a feather wrapped foam seat cushion, but I sort of feel like this will look more appropriate with the full down for some reason… it won't bother me about the plumping too much during the day as once done in the morning it will stay like that the rest of the day until evening. And then I'll just think of it as looking 'relaxed' :)

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  13. I do love a wingback! The garden is looking fantastic! I think those 2 maxalto armchairs will be great. I like the shape of them.
    www.lasscreative.com.au

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    1. I love the shape of them too, and have been thinking about them for ages… might go ahead with them - we'll see! x

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  14. Oh, that chair is gorgeous. Well done! Auctions can be rather fun and you made out like a bandit with your two purchases. I think the chair will look lovely once you've reupholstered it (adore the orange fabric on there now, but can see your point in wanting to refresh it).

    The garden looks splendid, indeed, and the fountain is a perfect addition.

    Oh,and well done for saying you think the house is almost done, an enviable position to be in. I'm decades away at the rate I get things done around here.

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    1. I love an Auction CD, and it's so lucky that I am never able to attend in person (they are always in the evening when I am on homework duty etc) and have to leave an absentee bid as otherwise I'd likely buy all sorts of things on impulse!
      Well, when I say done, I'll always be tinkering away at the edges… but the major things are going to be in place. There have been empty rooms, and major pieces of furniture to buy etc… but slowly it's all getting there. xx

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  15. Terrific finds. Your place is stunning!

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  16. Your garden is looking fantastic. With this nice warm Summer weather you'll be able to spend more and more time outdoors enjoying it :)

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    1. We are loving being out in the garden at the moment. I can't wait to see it all in three years when it's grown even more too. x

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  17. Your garden looks amazing Heidi, so pretty. My husband has been through $80 worth of Seasol in record time - but the garden is thanking him for it. Love the Maxalto chairs and your fabric choices for the wing back chair. The mirror is just perfect for your powder room. Enjoy the rest of the week - school holidays will be here before you know it!! Jo xx

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  18. Could you please reveal the name of the silver foliage plant wedged amongst the pencil pines? I want one in my garden! So lovely

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    1. It's a wormwood Emma! They're very pretty and I cut it back hard in Winter.

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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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