I am often reminded of the power of scent. A particular scent can instantly transport me somewhere else, to a time long ago, or remind me of someone.

I remember when I was living in London 13 years ago, at the tail end of a most miserable and grey Winter, and I decided to purchase a new perfume from Jo Malone. At that stage, Jo Malone perfume was only available in London, in her little shop on Sloane Street. After sniffing away at all the different scents, I selected French Lime Blossom. For some reason, it reminded me of childhood Summers spent at our beach shack, and feeling rather homesick, this was the one I decided upon.


It only became apparent why I chose this scent upon my return to Australia. Fast forward 1 year later, and I walked into work in Melbourne wearing my French Lime Blossom cologne only to have one of my work colleagues sniff the air and say "who's wearing sunscreen?". The penny dropped. No wonder it reminded me of beach holidays.

More recently I have been helping my Father clear out my mother's things. I have to admit, this has been rather depressing. I burst into tears on entering her Dressing Room, as not only did it have all her familiar things in it, but her smell too. Mum always wore Hermes Caleche, for as long as I can remember. The smell still reminds me of being little and in bed, Mum dressed up ready for a night out somewhere leaning over to kiss me goodnight with a heady whiff of her perfume enveloping me.

My Father has, for as long as I can remember, also stuck to a signature scent. Dad is quite particular about scent (although I think his sense of smell is used more for sniffing wine than perfume), and has worn Dior's Eau Sauvage. This does not seem to be a common aftershave, so I do tend to associate it with him, in the same way Caleche is my Mum.


When I was 15 years old, I determined that it was time I should have my own "Signature Scent". I used to subscribe to Vogue, and my reading had lead me to believe that this was of vital importance. The scent I chose should be my scent alone for the Rest Of My Life. With this weight on my shoulders, after a lot of deliberation, I chose YSL's Paris. Frankly, it epitomises the 80's. Very overblown and full of Roses, it has the ability to leave a tailstream of scent behind you hours after applying. Of course I "layered" it, as the perfume marketing execs told us to, using the body cream and powder as well.


A few years later, I was seduced by Ralph Lauren's Safari, partially because I loved the cut glass Victorian style bottle. It's a scent that Mr AV associates with me, as I used to wear it when we first met, back in 1994. I stopped wearing it around 4 years later, but even now, if I squirt a bit on, he will always comment on it.


I can't say I have a signature fragrance now. I stopped wearing fragrance while I was pregnant and immediately after having children, as the hormones did strange things to my sense of smell and I found perfume overbearing. I have a few on rotation at any one time, my favourite probably being Jo Malone's Lime Basil and Mandarin in Summer, or her Nutmeg and Ginger in Winter.

Do you have a Signature scent, or choose as your mood depends?

We've had a funny week with the weather - started hot, went freezing cold, then pleasantly warm today. I've broken out a few of my summer dresses. I love a dress in summer - you put no thought into your outfit and look effortlessly pulled together. Plus, a flattering cut hides a multitude of sins. Saturday evening we were invited to a drinks party in a house down at the beach (Henley Beach). It was a pretty blustery afternoon, so I wore a cardigan and this navy and white chevron print Milly dress with my seaglass green Kate Spade necklace. I thought it looked slightly nautical...

Earlier in the week I wore for the first time a new by Marlene Birger dress. It was very cheap on The Outnet, however when I tried to wear it the first time I discovered that it was fairly see through, necessitating the purchase of a slip to wear under it. That cost more than the actual dress.....oh well. I guess sometimes a bargain isn't really one...

This week, my oldest child, H, turned 7. This meant that I made 3 cakes. Three because the first one I made was an epic failure (do not attempt to make Self Raising flour out of wholemeal flour, it ends up with a rather chewy textured cake). So I remade the cake for the actual birthday day afternoon tea with the family. And today was the party with a small group of H's friends at the Adelaide Zoo. I made these cupcakes for the lunch portion of the party (this was all I had to provide. It was complete bliss after doing every aspect of every child's birthday for the past 7 years). The little flag toppers and cupcake wrappers were by Meri Meri, purchased via Peters of Kensington. They fancied up the cupcakes quite nicely.

The zoo ran the boys ragged. And the guide was excellent. I highly recommend it to any Adelaide readers.

My daughter E. feeding the Kangaroos. Wearing a Liberty print dress that wasn't looking so fresh by the time she arrived home......

I finished the book "That Woman" about the life of Wallis Simpson. I had previously read a biography about her back in the late 80's, and so had heard the allegations of her being an hermaphrodite, however the Duke of Windsor being on the Autism spectrum was new to me. It did remind me however, that I owned some Jewels belonging to Wallis..... a bit of digging in the dim recesses of my costume jewellery produced this necklace and matching clip on earrings. I bought them to wear to a school formal back in 1991 from a costume jewellery chain store called "Ooh La La". It is probable I was wearing a velvet bustier and tartan taffeta skirt with them. Nice.

I picked some of my Fig branches for an arrangement on the Drinks Table in the Study. There are some figs on the tree this year, and providing the Possums don't get to them first, I'm anticipating a good crop around Christmas time maybe?

 And lastly, here is a beautiful Delbard "Camille Pissaro" rose growing in the wilds of the back garden. This is also slated for removal in the upcoming renovations and is thriving on my neglect. As I've said before, Roses grow like weeds in Adelaide. Apparently David Austin himself has said that his roses grow twice as large as they do in England - they are Trifford like. We have them in nature strips and lining the middle of roads and on roundabouts, and they chainsaw them in Winter for pruning.

And I've spent a large amount of time continuing to draft up our house plans for the builders to price, fingers crossed I don't get a horrific shock as to the budget blowout......

I've been thinking a little about our trip to Italy earlier this year, in March. This was no doubt partly procrastination on my part (I have been drafting my little fingers to the bone trying to get the extension plans finished for the builders to price), and partly inspiration.

Via JK Place Hotel website
Library reception, via Lonny
I started by looking at our photos of the hotel we stayed at in Florence, JK Place Hotel Firenze. It is located on Piazza Santa Maria Novella, and is absolutely beautiful. I booked into it on the basis of the photos (I did all our bookings through Mr & Mrs Smith) - as it's pretty much exactly how I would like my house to look. When we walked in, I immediately started to gush about how beautiful everything was in a fairly overexcited manner, and Mr AV then said "I can see why we're staying here - you pretty much want to move in". Truly, I didn't want to leave. 

Via JK Place Hotel Website
The rooms are not big, but they are exquisite - all cashmere and silk and Frette bed linen. Marble bathrooms with beautiful chrome fittings. We spent a lot of time hanging out in the downstairs Lounge. Being a boutique hotel, it doesn't have a Lobby type feel (in fact, the reception desk is in the Library). There was black and white, chrome, zebra upholstery, candles and orchids galore and lovely waiters who plied me with glasses of Prosecco and Mr AV with glasses of Aperol Spritz after the many hours we spent walking the city.

Brunch on a Sunday
The breakfasts were served in the atrium style Dining Room. It was all buffet style (with the most delicious museli that had chocolate bits in it) and then you'd sit at the communal dining table. There were always a lot of candles burning, which was very atmospheric, but unfortunately Mr AV managed to set his newspaper on fire one morning. This made one guest up the other end of the table go into absolute fits of laugher. At any rate, it was all very civilised aside from the near disastrous fire (as it always is when you travel sans kids).

Via JK Place Hotel Website

And Florence itself is one of my favourite cities in the world. I studied Renaissance Art at University, but hadn't been back to Italy since I was 10. I was in 7th Heaven in the Uffizi, loved wandering in the Boboli Gardens, and viewing the Renaissance Architecture, and Mr AV visited his spiritual home, the Zegna flagship store (where strangely, we ran into one of his junior staff members who was on holiday. What are the odds?).

Boboli Gardens Parterre

Anyway, I'm going to be borrowing heavily from the design of the hotel, and from our far too brief holiday there.

This before and after will not seem to fit together. When I was planning the house out, I decided to take the front formal Drawing/Sitting room for the Master Bedroom, and then knock through a door into a bedroom that was next to it to create a dressing room and ensuite bathroom. We didn't have a need for a lot of formal rooms - we don't entertain like that, so my main mantra has been that we use all the spaces in our house, and not have spare rooms with junk in them, or too many formal rooms that are used 2 or 3 times a year.

So for the before shot, here is the original bedroom from the real estate listing photos:

We removed the chimney in the room (it had a timber mantel) and divided it into two. The new door into our Bedroom is where the wardrobe is in this picture. I like privacy in a bathroom (probably because I rarely get any with three children....), so the dressing room was put on the half that has the window, and the bathroom is in the other half and has a new skylight. The original door from the hallway was bricked over, and a medicine cabinet created in the alcove.

Same view now, with dividing wall

I chose a grey flagstone effect floor tile. I had honed Limestone in our previous bathroom, and it didn't wear terribly well (it stains easily, even from colourless shampoo, and is quite a brittle stone so develops cracks and chips). For this reason, I wanted something durable (it was used in both bathrooms), and as I have a lot of grey tones in the house (the Melbourne influence), this worked well with the carpet and cabinetry in the dressing room. A creamy white wall tile complemented it. All the tiles were from Aeria Country Floors (who have now gone into liquidation, sadly).

The double shower was born out of Mr AV and I fighting over which shower head to buy - we never shower at the same time. He favours the type that drown you with water, I like the ones where I don't get my hair wet. In the end, I decided to get him his, and get one I liked for me too, as we don't plan on moving for the next 20 years. The shower head (drowning one) was Hansgrohe, and the other one is Grohe. The mixers were from Astra Walker, as were the handbasin taps.

Toilet is Duravit. I went to the Mary Noall warehouse sale in Melbourne when my youngest was 2 weeks old (that's how committed I was to the cause), as they had 50% off all the European imports. I bought all the toilets, a bath, kitchen sinks, laundry sink, kitchen tap and then had to work out how to get it to Adelaide.

I'm very into practicality in design (this probably differentiates me from many other Architects who will go more for pure aesthetics), and so I did an upstand on the vanity (so the mirror doesn't meet the vanity) as I hate seeing water spots on mirrors, and any time you use a basin, you'll end up getting some water on the mirror. As a result, the mirrors are almost always perfect.

 We have a very large expanse of benchtop. It's in a composite stone (quarella/ caesarstone). You can see the two medicine cabinets in the photo above which are where the old door was to the hallway.

The heated towel rail runs off the hydronic heating system, and is large enough that it dries all the towels hanging on it in Winter. We also have underfloor heating (this is not as expensive as you might think to install if you are doing your bathroom up, so if you're going to put in a new bathroom and it's cold where you are, investigate it).

I wanted the legs of the vanity unit to look more like a cabinet.

Lastly, a skylight (Velux) which opens via remote. Masses of daylight and natural ventilation.

In person, this bathroom is a lot whiter than my fairly poor quality photos. The floor tiles are a softer grey too, but no matter. You get the idea! Having gone from a tiny cottage where we only had one bathroom (with a laundry cupboard in the corner) to having our own space and the children theirs, it feels very luxurious.

On the weekend, it was my 12th Wedding Anniversary. I'm not sure where that time has gone, and I'd like to state, for the record, that I was a child bride. All right, maybe not a child, but I certainly look pretty young in the photos from the big day.

So, to celebrate, Mr AV and I went out to dinner at Celcius in the city for a 5 course degustation. For some visuals, this is what I wore:

I wore a Lela Rose dress, fishnets and my black patent peeptoe Bally heels. I nearly crippled myself on Saturday morning tripping over in the dressing room and have done something painful to my foot. Don't think that prevented me wearing my extremely high heels to dinner though. I never give in. Mostly because I am 5'4" and Mr AV is 6'1". 

Started the night with a glass of Veuve

Crab Bisque with fancy cracker things and panacotta something or another and lots of that dust that is so popular at the moment.

Lamb with miniature vegetables. More dust.

Food was excellent. 

And to take a trip down memory lane, here is me arriving at the church 12 years ago. I was very lucky that for my "something borrowed" I had a few family heirlooms (sadly not a tiara, dammit). My veil arrived in South Australia in 1836 with my Mother in Law's family and has been passed down through the women in her line. It's Brussels Lace, and is very fine and fragile. And beautiful. I was very lucky.

Another borrowed was a sterling silver Victorian posy holder. It was carried by my mother on her wedding day. I'll try to get a picture of it next time I'm up at my Dad's, but it has fern leaves and grasshoppers up the side. I had Lily of the Valley for my bouquet. I know my dress looks unoriginal now, every dress you see is strapless and draped to the side, but take my word for it, it was very cutting edge at the time. 

Bridesmaids wore pale green silk and carried posies of Pierre de Ronsard roses.

And we had the reception at my Parent in Law's house, where we kicked up our heels on the dance floor in a Marquee.

Hilariously, when I went to the hairdressers the other day, I was telling her that I'd been married 12 years ago, and that my photos were not digital because they didn't have digital cameras back then, and, I kid you not, she gasped. She also was incredulous that my wedding research was all done from Martha Stewart Wedding magazines, as no one had a website. It was The Dark Ages, well before Pinterest. 

Anyway, enough trips down memory lane. I need to get on with the business of organising a 7th birthday party...busy week ahead!

I'm not sure if anyone noticed that I was gone this week? I very cleverly scheduled the hallway post so that the blog was not lonely....I'm starting to get the hang of the blogging thing I think.

So, my apologies for not responding to comments or visiting blogs. I did manage to read the comments, but I was in a place with very limited reception on my phone so no response from me. More on that later.

So for some visuals, here is the Sponge that started the week. I used to be afraid of baking sponges. You hear so many stories about them sinking, being temperamental, not rising etc. I am afraid no more......behold in all it's glory a sponge with strawberry cream filling that I made for afternoon tea last Saturday for my Dad and younger sister when they popped in.

And after that, I spent a mad Saturday cooking, doing laundry and writing lists so that I could leave guilt free for Gwinganna which is in the Gold Coast hinterland. It was fabulous. I went for a 5 day Wellness program with one of my close friends from Melbourne. She is a mother of 4 (spaced the same as mine, but her last pregnancy was twins) who works nearly full time, and was needing a break. I needed the break from the stress of the past few months with my Mum's illness.

So, it was a great week of concentrating on ourselves; exercising, eating very good for you (and delicious) food, spa treatments in the afternoons, lazy stretches by the pool reading and chatting and laughing and a little bit of crying, and being re-educated via seminars on wellness, healthy eating, exercise. It was a great circuit breaker for me; I've come back full of energy and feeling like a lot of the stress that I've been holding onto has melted away somewhat. I guess a massage every day does that for you! And as an added bonus, I lost another 1 KG, which now puts me at the lightest weight I've been since having children 7 years ago (I lost 4 KG through stress over the previous month).

And everyone survived my absence, although I had been gone no more than 4 hours when my youngest had a trip to hospital with a bit of superglue to the head involved (Mr AV said "it was nothing really, just a scratch"....). As none of the children have had to go to hospital before, this was somewhat unfortunate. And so today, I'm catching up on time with the children (gratifyingly they were all completely overexcited by my return), doing an awful lot of laundry, cleaning up and tidying up and getting some food into the house as the cupboards are bare.

So, while I was away, here's what happened to my garden - it literally exploded with blossom and flowers. I picked these pretty single petal roses for the hall table this morning - they are an unknown climber in the back garden. My mother, the rose expert, told me last year that it was an old rose, probably one of the French ones, but she couldn't remember the name. Unfortunately it's slated for removal as it's where the extension is going, but I'll enjoy it for its final season.

David Austin's Sharifa Asmar 

Flag Iris

Crabapple, which has finally blossomed
And to match the flowers outside, I got out for their first wearing of the season my new Alice + Olivia floral jeans (stalked them on the netaporter sale until they had my size back in stock). Here is a bad iphone pic to show you:

Enjoy your weekend everyone x

Front door surround
 I thought I'd show another before and after of our house. This time the hall. The hall originally was carpeted (in a dull green), and had three different light fittings down it, two which were passable, and one heinously ugly. It had floral wallpaper and extensive water damage to the ceiling, which had also affected the arch, causing the keystone on one side to drop off at some point. Unfortunately, there were no professional photos for the real estate listing, and when we next went to Adelaide to view the house after buying it, the builder was already in and demolishing, so here is what I have:

Wallpaper, passable lightfittings in the back part of the hall

Work in progress, ugly light fitting in the entry part

The first part of the hall, from the front door to the arch, is wider than the second part. Obviously, you're somewhat limited by what you can do furniture wise, but in this entry part we put a serpantine front George 3rd tea table (wedding gift from my Aunt and Uncle) and a large iron mirror over it. I chose the mirror for the sale of our last house, but the iron works well with the glass inserts around the front door (they are quite unusual in that they are not stained glass which is more typical for the era of the house) so the mirror fits quite nicely here. We put in new hardwood floorboards (brushbox) as the original were baltic pine which I don't think wear well in high traffic areas, and put in new iron lanterns (large version in the entry, two smaller ones in the hall) that complement the iron mirror and windows.

entry looking toward the front door, sorry the lantern tends to twist in the breeze when the door is opened,  I'm sure it's bugging some readers...
View toward the back door
I also had a rug custom made that is out of antique kilims that are cut up and stitched back together. There were no rugs off the shelf that would fit the space, and I quite liked that the rug was made of a very traditional looking item that was put together in a more modern way. The art on the walls is mostly family black and white photos that I've had professionally taken of the children over the years (mostly every 2 years) and framed the same way. We also have a Jeffrey Riccardo print that is in the entry. Eventually, I'd love to have a lot more art, but I'm happy to live with blank walls in the meantime while I wait for the right thing.

view from the back door looking to the front door
I may still one day wallpaper the hall, but I quite like that this will all flow through to the back extension, bouncing the light around. Also, the rooms off the hall have quite a bit of colour/ fabric going on, so it's nice to have a somewhat more neutral space to balance. The one thing that I'm not so happy about is the return air grills for the air conditioning that are in the front entry. I really dislike them, but unfortunately, there is no other solution (other than having no air conditioning, which would be horrible in Adelaide, as we get very hot Summers). So, not the most exciting space, and not exactly radical on the decoration front, but it has a warm feel to it and now makes for a nice welcome to the house.
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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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