Golden Celebration

Like Faux Fuchsia, I've not really felt the urge to blog much this past month or so, and fear I have lost my blogging Mojo. Inadvertently we seem to be in psychic synch.

 Lady of Shalott

I have spent the week decluttering like a woman possessed. I'm pretty sure there is more to go, but I've sold outgrown baby equipment and furniture, I've decluttered the kids toys and books and taken loads of old linen/ outgrown clothes/ unused gifts dating back to our Engagement (so they would be 15 years old and never used) to the local Charity store.

Farewell orange silk dress ruined by a well known Adelaide Dry Cleaning chain. 

I've spent a lot of time photographing my roses. If you're so inclined to follow me on Instagram (anadelaidevilla) I will happily bore the pants off you with all my rose photo close ups.

Adelaide d'Orleans climbing rose, an Old World rose. It's not a repeat flower sadly.

Sharifa Asma bushes, Adelaide d'Orleans and Flag Irises, seaside daisy in the foreground.

Sharifa Asma, a David Austin rose. Smells divine.

I've spent a lot of time bemoaning the varmint that roam the AV garden. We don't get bush turkeys in South Australia (thank God - those things are horrendous looking), but we do have possums as large as dogs (so many possums - I'm about to evict one from our roof. So far I'm shopping around for quotes but it will cost $600!! Highway robbery!!), and marauding flocks of parrots.

Rainbow Lorikeets. Arch Enemy of Roses

All this time of year all around our neighbourhood you see little Rainbow Lorikeet heads popping out of tree hollows. I can hear the parents instructing their babies on where to find the juiciest rose buds in the neighbourhood. Apparently that's in our garden. Once they've finished eating that, they dig up all my babies tears in the side garden looking for grubs. Here is the sad result of their feasting - my Golden Celebration which was half nibbled on each of the buds. They're almost all opening out lopsided.


Last week was weirdly cold and chilly. Here is the Zebra Pegasus I have in the blue colour way, and which I've been wearing non stop due to its versatility. The original photo I put of it on Instagram sparked a stampede (it launched into Melbourne first in the world it seems) after I suggested/bullied my Hermes loving blog friends into buying it too. Bloggers Faux Fuchsia, Hobart Housewife, Coulda Shoulda Woulda and blog commenter Pamela have all bought it too in different colour ways. Hermes deity Mai Tai herself owns it as well, but I can't claim to have influenced her at all. I think.

I've baked bread, as I usually do on weekends because I'm too lazy to go to the shops to buy fresh. I've also made a batch of chicken sandwiches (above) that I'm going to take to afternoon tea at my Aunt C's today. 

Don't be put off by the 1 Kilogram Kalamata Olives label on this jar. It's full of a double batch of homemade Lemon Curd. Delicious. And so good for you with all that Vitamin C in it.

After Faux Fuchsia recommended Burial Rites by Hannah Kent so highly, I read it. Loved it. Very stark, and such a harsh life in Iceland back then. I've also struck gold while browsing the Dillon's Bookstore bargain table - I bought "Longbourne" for $7.99 - the story of Pride and Prejudice told from the servant's perspective (fun read with so much detail of how hard life was then below stairs. You will thank God for having a washing machine), "Mad Women" for $9.99 which was written by an Ad woman who worked in New York during the 60's (and was a working mother because she wanted to be, so was quite groundbreaking back then), "The Towering World of Jimmy Choo" for $6.99 which is about how the Jimmy Choo brand was built - more a business book about luxury good retailing and branding and quite interesting, and "Provence, 1970" for $7.99 which I'm part way through, about the few months that Julia Child, MFK Fisher, James Beard and their partners spent in Provence together - they were the most influential foodies in the USA at the time and were reinventing food after the advent of the convenience food and prepackaged meal bonanza of the 1950's.

Pamela, Faux Fuchsia and Me tripping the light fantastic in Melbourne this time last year**

Now, in good news, I've finally found my new handbag! You may recall this post in which I bemoaned the ugly ranges of hand bags that were currently out and about. Well, I was idly flicking through Instagram when I spied this - the Genius That Is Karl has combined two iconic Chanel items into one. Behold the Chanel Jacket- Handbag.

via Porter Magazine's Instagram

via CouldaShouldaWoulda's Pinterest

But after falling in love with the jacket- bag, I saw this Chanel tassel Cushion influenced handbag and am now torn. Thoughts?

via CouldaShouldaWoulda's Instagram 

And if you're looking for a giant padlock necklace and some ripped melon coloured leggings with matching cropped roll neck top this season, then Chanel also has you covered.

About the only thing I haven't managed to do Faux Fuchsia wise this week is to wear sequins.

Keep it together.

**joking - not us - photo via Eviwild's Instagram of people I don't personally know in Paris
Too often you'll read advice from a Designer that the key to designing your own home is to "buy what you love" and that it will all work together. This is true if you strictly love one particular style, but if you like things from all over the place historically speaking, you can end up with a bit of a mess and the sinking feeling that something is not working, but you can't work out exactly what it is.

I think a lot of Designers give this advice because this is what they do. The difference is that they are generally following some simple design principles fairly instinctively, and probably have never analysed how or why it works for them. I know this is what I've always done in the past. So I after a bit of thought I've narrowed it down to a few basic guidelines I follow that might help give your home an eclectic, personal and collected look that isn't a horrible mess.

Here, an old dining table and modern chairs are mixed together (an easy combination - the white chairs tie it together with the wall colour), along with an old armoire via

The 1/3 to 2/3rds rule
I would say that generally mixing style works best if you employ a loose 1/3 to 2/3rd rule. Either have 1/3 modern and 2/3rds traditional or 1/3rd traditional and 2/3rds modern. By traditional, I mean whatever is traditional to you - that could be Mid Century Modern/ Art Deco/ Georgian or Victorian or just a more traditional overall styling of sofa with rolled arms for instance. I'd also include the Architecture of the room you're using in this balance. You could do completely modern furniture within a Victorian room with ornate cornices and fireplaces and it will look fab. Or you could do a touch of traditional with modern architecture.

Traditional architectural elements (the beams, parquetry flooring and windows) are the 1/3rd and the 2/3rds are the modern off centre fireplace, chair, coffee table and otherwise simplified Architecture via

a period room that has almost no traditional features, so the fireplace is modern as are the chairs and coffee table, the sculpture and more traditional  but simplified sofas tip it 1/3rds traditional and 2/3rds modern  via

Traditional table and chairs in a traditional room, the tufting on the banquette is also traditional, but the fabric choice of the blind and the skirted banquette are modern and makes the 1/3rd modern, 2/3rds traditional via

Similar timber tones
Finding common ground in the timber tones that you use is also a good way to mix styles or periods of furniture. In our living area, we bought an Antique French cherry wood sideboard. It's a traditional country style piece, but the timber colour tones well with our existing dining table. The dining chairs have a similar colour leg (note that they do not have to be a perfect match in timber colour, just similar) That straddles old and new as it is modern, but is made of a rustic recycled timber. To tie it into the adjacent living area, I'm planning to use a similar toned timber finish on the TV cabinet that I'll have custom made. That piece will be quite modern looking, but the timber colour will tie the two areas together and unify the old and new.

 modern chairs with the rustic table are a good juxtaposition.

Generally, if you pick one timber tone you like and buy pieces in that, mixed in with one other neutral  finish (such as black in our living area in the steel side tables and timber coffee table) it will work.

Similar lines
There are some periods of furniture that work better when mixed with modern furniture and styles - these include the Georgian period (circa 1714- 1830), some Edwardian era (1901- 1910) Art Deco (1920's) and Mid Century modern (1950s). This is because they have simplified lines and restrained ornamentation, which fits well with modern furniture. It's still not difficult to incorporate pieces from other periods - the huge uptake in country pieces - French/ Swedish etc is because while ornate, they are in lighter colours and fit well in modern casual living areas. Generally, if you're looking for a slightly more formal look then the darker furniture will work well. English Oak (prohibitively expensive, but lovely) also works well with casual living areas due to its rusticity.

This house has modern but pared back traditional architecture (proportions are traditional, but no skirtings/ window choice etc are modern), a modern dining table and chairs and a huge Georgian bookcase via

I look for modern pieces that have a similar feel to the antique to tie it together. If for example you have a Georgian sideboard, then buying a sofa that has similar squarish proportions for the arm works well. I find Victorian pieces the most difficult to include in schemes with modern furniture - they are often highly ornamental. I'll try to use a more modern fabric if they're upholstered, or mix them using their timber tone with other pieces that are more restrained to then introduce a more modern feel.

Bridging pieces
There are a couple of finishes that work with all styles - they're are great bridging pieces and won't look wrong with any style of furniture. Glass is one - very simple glass coffee tables or side tables will work with all styles of furniture and instantly make things look pulled together. On that theme lucite is another material that you can use for accessories when styling a room that will also give a modern but timeless feel (lucite drinks trays, lucite or glass plant holders for a moth orchid etc). Metal is the other - thin metal frames in any finish (brass/ steel/ chrome) will work in very traditional and also modern interiors.

Bridging items can also be fabrics (a traditional sofa upholstered in modern fabric for instance as shown above) or rugs.  In the picture below the choice of colour in the armchair is picked out in one of the colours in the modern abstract rug. This plays off the traditional Secretaire and the lines of the sofa well.

Artwork is always a linking element in my schemes. It doesn't have to be expensive "real" art, it just has to have some impact.  If not using a standard format painting or print a collection of old items that are framed in a modern box frame work well - framed bathing suits, framed old cricket bats… there are infinite possibilities, but framing old things in a modern way will mix in and update an interior easily.

Old framed cricket bats via the Firmdale Hotels Instagram account

the banding detail in the traditional chest is echoed in the framed Hermes scarf which makes more of a modern impact when coupled with the modern drinks tray and jardiniere via

Getting the balance right is the key to a successful mix of styles and periods. If you manage to do this then you'll find it easy to introduce new items into your home, big or small, without it throwing out of whack your existing furniture and style. Good designers/ decorators will mix things up in a scheme - there is a skill to it - and it stops a home from feeling as if you've just decked it all out from a room set at a furniture showroom where everything is very match-matchy. It gives a personal and layered feeling.

Hopefully this post is helpful in giving those of you that were interested a bit of insight into how I approach it. I love mixing things up, and it always makes me feel sad when I hear of someone getting rid of all their things for a new home because their old things don't suit the new style they're buying into. If you surround yourself with things you love you'll never want to move on from them stylistically, and you can just tweak them a bit to create a very personal look.

I haven't done a house and garden update for a while. Things progress rapidly, then stall for a long time. We're currently in a stall phase. But fortunately I've been distracted by sorting out some Interior things, and also by the growth in the garden as Spring really hits.

 The new side garden is seeing enormous growth. All the microscopic hedges have doubled in size, and the row of pears is now cloaked in green and throwing out shoots all over the place. The viburnum topiary balls are also shooting, so hopefully by the end of Summer I'll have them looking like decent sized spheres, rather than slightly anaemic looking ones as they are at the moment.

In my front garden, the Ecchium is perhaps having its best year ever, and I've discovered the first rose today - a Lady of Shalott by David Austin roses. Unfortunately the marauding flocks of parrots appear to have eaten every single tip off my Golden Celebration, and half the buds too.

In the back garden the newly planted Crepe Myrtle has full leaf, and all the other new plants are shooting out. Mr AV mowed the new lawn for the first time over the weekend.

Then we turn to the stalled part. The pool. The new wall behind it has been built and rendered in the same plater finish as the back of the house, but the actual pool is still a concrete shell. Unfortunately the "in stock" pool coping (edging) appears to be somewhere on a boat, and won't be here until November. I'm not terribly happy about that, as we're now part of the dreaded pre-Christmas rush to get it finished. This will be a very loooonnnnggg pool construction process when you take into account the 3.5 month council approval process and the delays.

We've had the exterior veranda blinds installed. I've taken a picture with them half down. These were always planned for the veranda due to its orientation. They are motorised and operate via a remote. I can put them up and down to whatever point I want, and as the back of the house faces West, they will hopefully save us a lot of money in air-conditioning bills in Summer, not to mention the unbelievable glare that they cut. I'd had them quoted for in January, but we put it off due to (exorbitant) cost, and distractions of other things (like finishing everything off). But the sun angle has started to shift in the past month, and we now get a lot of glare in the afternoon, so I got them in just in the nick of time.

I chose a grey blind (surprise!), white appears too much like a wall when it is down, and this is actually better for glare from inside at any rate. You can see through them from inside, so you don't feel like you're looking at a blank wall.

Inside, I've got the new library bookcases going in this week. I've spent any spare time I have in the room clearing it out of 14 years of paperwork. The filing cabinet was a black hole, that's all I have to say! Here's the plan

The base of the shelving will have wire panels in them. They're reasonably traditional, as I like to mix old and new, but more with the furniture and fabrics, rather than the fabric of the building. This room has very traditional and the grandest Architecture in the house, so the modern curtains, and the sofas will be the more modern part.

Speaking of, I was thinking about writing a post on mixing old and new furniture and the way I do it - would anyone be interested in this? Most designers tell you just to buy what you like, but in fact that doesn't always work…there are a few guidelines that I use that make it a more successful eclectic mix, rather than a horrible mess.

If you've been following my boards on Pinterest you'll have seen a lot of lamp pins of late - I'm the Designer who Has No Lamps. So I'm trying to rectify that. Given that I designed the new sitting area to be lit by lamps, it's not ideal that I've left it this long to actually buy any. Things are dim in there in the evening. And then in our bedroom, the Bunnings (local hardware store) lamps are not doing so well. They're 4 years old, and one just died. So I think it's time I got some proper, long term ones.

I'm loving these ones at the moment in marble, which will work well with our charcoal and white colour scheme, and are simplified traditional.

 So that about wraps it up. So many little bits to truly finish things off. My biggest project is finishing Mr AV's study downstairs (currently it only has a desk), and the living and library. Slowly, slowly… it feels like nothing is truly finished, but I'm getting there!

There are points in your life when you're more susceptible to external influences than others. Your teenage years are definitely one of them. Finding your style, transitioning from childhood to adulthood, negotiating friendships and relationships…. these are all things that have endless possibilities and in negotiating this maze we can often grab for something to show us the way, be it the influence of a peer group, or a style guide (French women don't…et al), or an older sibling or mentor of some kind.

I've just returned from a very brief trip to Melbourne, and for the few hours that I had spare in-between flights and the dinner I was attending, I spent them (instead of window shopping on Collins Street) in the State Library of Victoria, paging through old copies of Vogue Australia from 1987 - 1990.

I was searching for a half remembered article by the late Hardy Amies (the couturier to the Queen), in which he espoused the correct way to dress. I remembered it as influencing me enormously. And I found it in the July 1987 edition in a complete "Eureka!" moment.

But funnily enough it was flicking through all the other copies that brought wave after wave of nostalgia - the front covers that I recalled instantly, the articles on artists the latest theatre and plays, the social pages up the back with boutique openings and weddings, the glamorous fashions, the ads. I realised as I read it that the influence on me at that time was far more about the collective whole, rather than the initial article that I was searching for.

It was in the fold out double page ads for Yve Saint Laurant's Paris perfume (my first "signature" scent, it's heady rose fragrance is most certainly a creation of the 80's). It was the fashion shoots (white shirts with the collar turned up, pleated short skirts, cropped jackets and double breasted jackets, hats!), I even found a big article and accompanying fashion spread on the launch of Hayman Island, somewhere I have wanted to go since… well, apparently 1987. For a 12 year old growing up in Adelaide, well before the Internet shrank our world, the impossibly chic world of Vogue was a definite influence on my burgeoning style. It was ladylike and groomed - there were no endless articles on the latest in cosmetic surgery and fillers and injectables, no tattooed models, no articles on boring celebrities that are celebrated for the size of their derriere and a sex tape.

So, the article that started the search off? Well, I thought I'd reprint it here. In many ways the dated advice is slightly disappointing on the re-read, although I can see that it influenced my style and that there are many things I adhere to today.

from Vogue Australia July 1987

"Standing on Pomp and Circumstance

In a second letter to his Antipodean Goddaughter, Hardy Amies gives some very personal advice on party-time protocol, and bedroom politics.

Dear Susie,

I am so relieved you found my letter helpful. If you give advice, as I'm supposed to, you have to appear preachy, but I want only to make it easier for a beautiful young Australian to be totally at ease in the rest of the world.

This letter will be lighter than the last because I want to talk with you about parties and appearances. I am certain we must enjoy the pleasures of this life to the utmost; that is the best use of the years that are given us. You must be totally selfish. Only you feel, only you remember, only you hope. But you must obey the rules, which are that you must do everything you can to avoid causing disorder and unhappiness.

What is miraculous about life is that we are animals who have evolved into things which think of others. If I were on a sinking boat which was overloaded I know I, an old man, would jump overboard and leave a chance of surviving to younger people.

But on with parties. Going to a party is like being born: you launch yourself into a world of competitive and often cruel people; you must be prepared to fight. Wonderful weapons are your good looks and your youth. Add some experience (from me) and you are pretty strong.

Remember you go to a party to amuse not to be amused. You give and not take. If you don't feel able to do this you shouldn't go. Don't wear anything aggressive. The knock out dress will produce the "ohs and "ahs" but a lot of men will be perplexed and the women will hate you. For you, redhead - oh well, reddish - calm, misty colours and soft caressing stuffs. Chiffon is wonderful. Also, have everything loose rather than tight. This makes you look really relaxed, a mood which is catching. Arrange it so that you have a guy to accompany you so that you don't make your entrance alone. But even if it's your favourite beau, don't ever hang on his arm (that's common) nor give any impression that you're inseparable. That's a bore. When you're introduced to a fellow put your hand out quickly and if your name has been mumbled announce yours clearly. Wait for an older woman to give you hers - her name I mean. Look everyone you speak to dead clean in the eye and never by a flicker show that you're interested in what is going on elsewhere.

This also applies to the dinner table. Talk to your neighbours as if they were the only people in the room who mattered, with one exception. If it's a small party - say eight or ten, best numbers - watch out for general conversation, and especially for the moment when an interesting or important guest is speaking. A good host or hostess tries to have general conversation, to get someone to hold the whole table. Shut up when this is happening.

Otherwise make your neighbours talk about themselves. All men like to do that. Ply them with intelligent questions. Try to accept all food and drink that is offered you but eat and drink only what you want to. It's not necessary to empty plates and glasses. Above all, don't refuse the pudding with a remark like "I never eat sweet things". A small helping, half -eaten, never hurt anyone and does not disappoint your hostess.

Thank God you don't smoke. It's not only disgusting, but very old fashioned. Don't make up your face in public. You have never seen a member of the Royal Family doing it.

And what do you do after the party? Do you go home with someone if he asks you to? I suggest you should do that only when you are certain that you would like to marry him. I don't mean in order to trap him but only after you've given it a great deal of thought. I think trial runs are a good thing and help to make a marriage successful.

Now, a few words on your appearance. I approve very much of the way you do your hair, short enough to keep it off your shoulders to show off your long neck. (a great assets, it sets your head correctly on your shoulders and makes, with your broad shoulders, a good "hanger" to your clothes.) Keep the hair well brushed and go to a hairdresser who cuts well. Never, never, wear anything like bandeaux or flowers in your hair.

Be very careful about earrings, nothing at all by day. You're a swimmer, a wonderful look, so studs of pearls or diamonds are okay by night. Never, never please think about those plastic jobs. I hope you try to avoid plastic in all forms except as ice trays. Remember that jewellery of silver, wood, china and glass doesn't do what pearls and diamonds do, light up eyes and flatter your skin. It just tells everybody that you haven't got any real jewels. Jewels which enhance your looks and your status are usually old. Don't forget to clean them. Toothpaste is an excellent cleaner of diamonds.

Should you ever yearn for furs remember this: fur should be used only as a lining. This has been done since time immemorial. You show a little fur at the neck, that is all. To wear fur outside a coat, which denies you the warmth of the turn inside, is a vulgar display of wealth. A mackintosh lined with lightweight fur, like nutria or (yes please) sable, is a wonderful garment for northern winters. Never mink: it's too heavy.

About summer clothes, you know more than I do. I know you like a plain costume for swimming and wouldn't be seen dead in any frills on the beach. Just apply this rule for further up on dry land. Avoid all prints if you can, they are used to disguise not quite expensive enough cloth and faults in making the garment. Above all, they fuss up your appearance, which should glow like a fresh peach.

I like to think of you in plain coloured tank tops with wide boat-shaped necklines and cap sleeves, quite loose; in linen by day and crepe de Chine for dresses and the evening. You can have several skirts, all full and flowing. An outfit with a white crepe top and chiffon skirt all in white with a pale pigskin belt would look wonderful on you. Don't wear any earrings until you get some diamond or pearl studs.

Make a collection of good belts: pigskin, black patent leather, brown calf. Don't have anything which is not of the finest quality and very plain. Such belts make a cheap dress look expensive. I should like you to have six shirtwaisters in genuine man's poplin shirtings. If you wore such a dress, freshly laundered, at a drinks party you would make most of the other guests look silly.

Never buy cheap shoes. Impulse buying is something you can't afford. Build up a little collection of plain shoes os every event is catered for. Keep them carefully, always on trees immediately you take them off, and train a boyfriend to clean and polish them.

You don't have to worry about handbags because you can get away with little shopping baskets in wicker or canvas and a tiny satin pochette for evening. An expensive Hermes- type handbag is very ageing.

Luggage is important. It announces your taste level, so no tapestry please and no metal boxes or matching sets in pastel colours. Try for leather trimmed canvas in neutral colours. Don't worry about matching. The best look is well-worn expensive, not that of your first trip abroad. And please no suitcases with built in wheels. But don't hesitate to have a small collapsible trolly if you've a lot of luggage for a long stay. Also to be avoided is luggage slung over your shoulder. What's the use of avoiding having to wait for luggage coming down the shoot if you look like a crumpled coolie? Your aim when travelling is to look calm, uncrushed and experienced.

What to wear? It's easy: man-tailored slacks in thin, beige, all-wool gaberdine, pleated fronts, turn-ups, belt loops and a plain, expensive leather belt; a man-tailored shirt in neutural colour, pure silk with long sleeves, buttoned cuffs (no links please) which you can roll up to the elbow if it's hot; and a camel hair cardigan for the chills of the night. Have a deep, canvas shopping bag to carry your books, newspapers and passport.

As regards evening, do keep everything as plain as you would by day. Your danger is that if you're too dressed up you'll look like a sports champion at the end of a successful tournament. Avoid taffeta!

One final word about behaviour. I know you're okay in private houses but in restaurants where, alas, it's necessary to do much entertaining, don't forget to try to give your wishes and requests to your host and hostess, rather than directly to the waiter. "James, do you think I might have a glass of water?" sounds much better than "Waiter, can I have a glass of water?" Also, if you're asked to choose your meal, you should make your requests to your host or hostess.

Well darling, that's about it. I hope it's been useful. You would have managed quite well without me but I just hope I've made it easier. Ever your devoted godfather. "

So, tell me who or what your biggest style influence was. Magazines, a celebrity, friends, relatives or a style guide book?
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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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