The other day, after leaving the house, I realised I was a walking fashion cliche - striped blue and white Breton top, skinny jeans, ballet flats and beige trench coat.

This outfit has been pinned over and over on pinterest (type Breton and trench into the search engine and prepare for your eyes to glaze over with the repetition), and it's a look that's cited in pretty much every style book ever written as classic and timeless in fashion. But my God, is it dull (unless worn by a 4 year old, when it looks quite ironically cute). When women from Paris to New York to... Adelaide... are wearing the same outfit, it becomes less classic fashion and good taste, and just uninspired and homogenised.

 all trench images via Pinterest

As I'm in decorating mode at the moment, I started to reflect on the fact that there are cliches in Interiors too. At some point, everyone seems to become enamoured with the same things. These things are hard to get initially - usually some big name Interior Designer uses it in very high end design, but eventually these things make their way to the mass market, whether it be by copycat imitation and cheaper manufacture in the case of furniture, or by mass adoption of a trend. Here are just a few:

Fiddle Leaf Figs
Yes, I have bought one too. No, mine is not doing so well, despite its appearance in the photo above. For every person saying that theirs is thriving on their neglect, there is someone saying theirs is turning up its toes for no apparent reason and dying a slow and lingering death. This plant is, to the Interiors blogger, the equivalent of the topknot bun to the fashion blogger. RIP my fiddle leaf fig.

I predict the next big thing in Interior plants are ferns and palms - their moment in the spotlight is due for a return.

Chevron is to 2010 what polka dots were to 1986. Used on blog headers, for personal stationery, rugs, lamp shades, lamp bases, mugs, cushions, bed linen..... it's spread like an out of control rash. The chevron moment has passed - a key indicator is when you can easily buy it in Target. When things trickle from high end to mass market, it's become a mass trend and is best to avoid. Future patterns that are and will be popular - Ikat, trellis (still strong due to the variation in different patterns across different brands), flame stitch (a natural progression from chevron), but floral is the really big trend for the next few years. A return to chinz as well as florals wrought in a more modern way (over scaled on wallpapers for instance) are putting an end to the popularity of safe geometrics like chevron.

Hello...Welcome...Home...Eat...Cucina...Food...Drink...Sleep...Dream...Beach...Bathe.... Initially this idea was invented by magazine stylists using beaten up Industrial lettering, such as that above, but now with the advent of wall decals and easily available ready made letters, writing something - anything - in your home, especially if it states the obvious, has become an easy way to fill a shelf or a blank bit of wall. You get bonus points on the cliche scale if you decide to write the definition of the word, or a quotation from someone or something you find personally meaningful. I can't actually think of anything that is going to take over from this trend, this is something that will just fade away and people in 100 years time will think was a little odd that in the Olden Days we used to remind ourselves to DREAM when we went to sleep.

Mid Century Modern
I know there are a lot of fans of Mid Century Modern, and for good reason. This was a fantastic period in furniture design, and the designs deserve to be celebrated, continue to be made and used. But this does not stop it from becoming a cliche as well. At one point I cancelled my magazine subscriptions to two of Australia's leading Interiors magazines as I became so sick of seeing pavillion -style boxy Modernist houses with large glass picture windows and a self consciously placed Barcelona chair angled in front of it in every issue. Architects used to love Barcelona chairs (most still do), but overuse has rendered it all a bit predictable. Instead they are using slightly more obscure Scandinavian or Italian designed furniture as a point of difference.

Oh, there are so many I could just keep going on. But I won't - I've probably offended a whole bunch of you out there who are thinking  "But I have that! And I love it!". Never fear, many of these things are, in fact, a classic. Just as the trench and the striped Breton top are too.... it's all in how you use it and mix it up that makes it interesting and fresh - just look at the pictures of Olivia Palermo below, and how she wears her stripy top, compared to the ones of the trench coat army at the top. So fess up - what are your cliches, Fashion or Interiors wise?

She never gets it wrong - Olivia Palermo adds a sparkly neckpiece and saves the striped top

Full Disclosure - I own a dying Fiddle Leaf fig, have several lampshades covered in chevron, one of my children has his name in large letter on his bedroom wall, and I own replica Eames dining chairs.  
Well, I'm calling the extension finished. Sometimes in construction there is no particular 'event' that signifies the end of a project, like having keys handed over to you by the builder and a truck with your belongings rolling up soon after. Things have a habit of dribbling on, with small defects being rectified, people popping in and out... and only you can pick when a project is finally finished. 

Well, this week, two events occurred that signified to me that the project is finally finished. The first was that I finally had the windows cleaned. I have a pet hate of dirty windows, and it has pained me enormously to put up with dirty (really properly filthy) windows since we started living in the back of the house 4 months ago. So I was beyond excited to have the window cleaner show up earlier this week - while I could've had the windows cleaned before now, there was no point with continuing messy work with the render, painting, carpentry and silicone still underway both inside and out (some of it was in rectifying the problems caused by the steel window company - it's taken a long time to sort out and complete the window installation). So happy, and its lifted my mood enormously.

The second momentous event occurred this morning when the builders port-a-loo was taken away. Hooray!  It has been there since March last year, so we felt like throwing a ticker tape parade for it as it trundled off on the back of the plumbers ute.

So, with that all said, I thought I'd show some before and after photos pre landscaping, as I love a good before and after.

old back door 

 same corner now, approximately the same location

Here's the back of the house in early March 2013

and now

 Looking to the new outdoor dining area 



 a view from the front of the house to the old extension

same view now

 Well, it's stating the obvious to say what an enormous change the extension has made to how we live in the house. We love the new living area, the spaces are working really well, and living with light filled, spacious rooms has made an enormous difference to our whole family.

I'll update with some interior shots in the next week or so - May is a very busy month in our house, and while I've had lots I want to blog about, I've had no time (or energy!) to do so.

the other side of the house from the street

So happy days here with a bit of peace and quiet for a week or so at least... until more machinery arrives to start work on the garden and pool.
So, what's in your bag?

I'm pretty sure these two are carrying their walking shoes in their Birkins. Why else would they need such a large bag?

I thought for a flicker of a second about posting a photograph of the contents of my hand bag, in the style of numerous women's fashion magazines for the purposes of illustration of this post. Those photographs in magazines always depict the individual style of the handbag owner by showing the highly personal contents of their handbags. Usually things are colour coordinated, new looking and highly organised. Like this example below:

This bag must weigh a tonne when full - shoes, an ipad, and a hardcover novel. But no money. via

So visualise, if you like, the contents of my handbag. Because I can't be bothered trying to make this look good by laying it out in military order and photographing it for posterity for the blog. Inside my bag:

  • purse, stuffed to the brim with random credit card receipts and dockets.
  • keyring, with enough keys that I could be mistaken for moonlighting as a jail warden
  • lipstick and compact
  • phone
  • sunglasses and sunglasses case, separately as they usually don't end up together
  • tape measure
  • either 10 pens, or none. There seems to be no in-between
  • small diary
  • 4 or 5 used tissues
  • random pair of small child's underpants/ one sock
  • a couple of matchbox cars
The point of writing this all out, is that I would think that aside from the child's underpants, matchbox cars and tape measure, I would carry approximately the same quantity of stuff around as most other women - maybe you'd sub your hairbrush for those items. My point is, that the list above doesn't require a huge amount of space to accommodate it in a handbag.

So then why are handbags getting bigger and bigger? Who put the handbag on steroids?

Katie Holmes and her Hermes Birkin. You wouldn't win in an arm wrestling match with Katie, just look at how easily she holds her bag.

Recently I read an article in which they interviewed handbag designers about the weight and design of their bags. They all admitted that It handbags were becoming very heavy, and that they had to actively think about the weight of the bags they were designing, with an upper limit to it. The size of the bag, plus the hardware (zips, studs, buckles etc) were all factored in, as once the normal contents of a bag were included, it could become akin to carrying a load of bricks on one arm.

Certainly in terms of fashion at the moment, it seems that either you carry a slimline clutch which fits pretty much a phone and a credit card in it, or an enormous oversized tote bag that could double as carry on baggage for a week long holiday somewhere exotic.

So what are women carrying in their enormous tote bags - surely there is not enough to justify needing a bag of this size? If you're not doubling up and using it as a nappy (diaper) bag, then it's purely for the look....


 definitely empty......

there may be a credit card inside one of these bags, but not much else. via

Now what is interesting is that I had read an article, 4 years ago, in which they predicted that women were going to be carrying smaller and smaller bags as smart phones were doing away with all the extra stuff that women previously carried around with them.

Far from this prediction becoming true, it seems the average bag has increased substantially in size. With the rise of the It bag (I note that the current bag de jour seems to be the Saint Laurent tote, taking over from the Celine with its exploded sides), it would seem that the functional aspect of the bag is irrelevant. Just as, to be taken seriously in fashion blogdom, you need a pair of Valentino Rockstud shoes (any pair, doesn't matter what colour, heel hight or any other factor... just take a look at the reward style "conference" that was instagrammed to death recently by the top fashion bloggers/ earners), if you're not photographed fake walking down the street with one of those very large bags hooked over your arm, you're nobody in fashion blogging, darrrling.

Atlantic Pacific is so high up the top of the blogging fashion pyramid, she carries two oversized totes. Plus a Starbucks. I'm sure one of those bags is just for her Diptyque candles and Lauduree Macarons.

So tell me, what's in your bag? And is there any need to carry an oversized Hermes Birkin in your life?
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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
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