Gratuitous garden photos

Technically, it's now Autumn. But we have had several weeks of 30C plus days, and warm nights, and I always think the silliness that is deciding on a season based on a calendar date is particularly true of March in Adelaide, which I always think of as our hottest and driest month. At any rate, while the retailers have the memo, and have adorned their shop windows with coats and boots, it's definitely summer dress weather in real life. I thought I'd try to do a bit of a round up of what's been going on..

 Corner of a master ensuite. This is a double vanity unit with scalloped sconces set on the mirror.

I've been working, a lot. I haven't ever really written much about client work on the blog, but I do share images on the fly sometimes over on my Instagram.

Formal sitting room, the bookcase being painted. There is navy blue grasscloth on the walls

Back wall of the kitchen

Love the big farmhouse sink and classic lever tap

This house is a project I've been working on with my clients for the past nearly 2 years. It's now up to the bit that is exciting to photograph - all the months of drafting, dirty building site and frames and spaghetti junctions of wires is coming together and we now have the more visually exciting part of joinery, wallpaper and curtains that I can share glimpses of.

W/C with beautiful hand blocked wallpaper reflected in the mirror above the panel. We chose a lot of blue in this house to compliment the original stained glass windows

Finished bookcase with blind, wall sconce and books in. Just waiting on the cushion for the window seat.

It's a family home, and my client has been brave with her choices in colour and there's lots of wallpaper. I am so pleased with how it's all looking! We are now up to the furniture part and are waiting on a lot of orders to arrive. I'll share some photos once it's all a little more finished.

We've also finally started on our garage/ studio project at home. This is the final element of our total renovation of our house. After a very long lead up to starting, the slab was finally poured and the frame started going up, all very quickly. Hopefully within a couple of months it will all be finished, and I'll have somewhere to put all the stuff cluttering our back veranda (all the tools/ bikes/ gardening equipment) and the Sitting Room (all my work related samples etc). I'll post more about the design as it gets to the more visually interesting part, because while small it did require a lot of fiddling about to get it looking right, as well as functioning well.

Ground floor frame

I've also been working on a Beach House project, which has been fun. It's a starting from scratch job, furniture wise, and will not be a permanent house but rather a holiday house, so this changes the approach I'd normally take to a project, and I've started at one point, and ended up at another with the design as my thoughts gradually evolved on the whole thing. Firstly was that a beach house here in South Australia is very different to a Tropical beach house, of which images abound both here in Australia in our tropical North, and up through Bali and over to Florida, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic etc. Palms, bamboo, bright coloured prints, British Colonial style etc don't really look place appropriate here- we have a Mediterranean climate and the house has native scrub nearby in sandhills. There isn't therefore very many inspiration photos to draw on as starting points. So I've just made it up as I've gone along with what has felt right to me.

Guest Bedroom scheme - Aqua bedspread, the small print for the bedhead, and leaf print for cushions

It's also very easy to go crazy with seaside theming - Navy/White stripes, Seagull pictures, mini lighthouses, coral prints, and on and on... There will naturally be a lot of seaside theming, but I wanted to pull back a little from it and not get too literal. The existing house has good bones, and generally all the finishes are perfectly fine to work with, but it is quite 'shiny' in some ways (highly polished floorboards), so it's been about taking it down a few notches to make it feel less yacht- moored- at -Monaco and more relaxed and layered.

Main living area. Matching colours too perfectly would not give the relaxed, layered feel I'm after.

The colours I'm using for the main living area are a sort of dusty Aqua and shots of red to highlight mixed in with natural linen and white linen on the sofa.  Lots of raw timber for the dining table, coffee tables etc... and I've sourced all sorts of fun things for Art for the walls...

Including this vintage 1910-1920 wool bathing suit with greek key detail, which has been framed. I posted this on Instagram and had a few questions as to where I found it... so to preempt anyone else asking, it came from I've sourced decorative things/ art from all over - eBay, Etsy, 1stdibs, Bluethumb and local galleries. Decorator Art (by which I mean the ready made, ready framed prints) has a place in design, I suppose, but it can vary enormously in quality. You can find all sorts of interesting, more individual things if you're prepared to put in a little more effort in sourcing, and to think creatively about it.  It doesn't have to cost a lot either - none of the things I've found so far have.

Aside from work, it's been the start of the School year, so I've had a myriad of Parent Information Nights, Welcome Drinks, Class Drinks, Movie nights, Swimming Carnivals, a couple of trips to Hospital with  two of the children (one had a fish bone to dislodge from her throat, the other needed an appendix out, both now fine) and then a few dinners out with friends to keep the candle burning at both ends.

I've also been addicted to a Spanish mini series, called Grand Hotel (entire series on Netflix). It was first filmed in 2013, and has high production values (it's subtitled). Set in a Hotel in Spain circa 1907, it's a little bit Downton Abbey and a little bit Agatha Christie, a little bit scheming mafia family style, with a forbidden romance with a dishy male lead meaning it ticks pretty much every genre box. I loved it, and am bereft now that I've finished watching all 64 episodes (or something like that).

Grand Hotel

One purchase that I've absolutely LOVED this summer has been this Binny dress, which is called the Victoria. It ticks all my Summer dress boxes - cap sleeve and higher neckline to give sun protection, loose, which makes it cool on a hot day, plus comfortable to wear, and a reasonably modest length, which is essential with children as you tend to bend over a lot. It's cotton, so I can throw it in the machine and being white can bleach it when something stains it... It also walks the line between dressy and casual quite nicely. I will happily wear it on a weekend around the house with flat sandals, or with wedge espadrilles during the week to work in. I have given up trying to get anyone in the family to take a photo of me, and my efforts at a selfie didn't work out so well... so here is a photo from the Catalogue. I look exactly the same in it (ha!).

Binnywear Victoria dress - a winner


I started the year off well with a lot of baking for the children's lunchboxes... and have gradually slid back to no treats as the term has worn on. But I have made a bit of an effort with dinners, and trying to put a few new recipes into rotation. One thing that I cook a lot is a slow cooked lamb shoulder. This works for having friends over, or for a simple family dinner mid week. It's super quick to do the marinade in a food processor or thermomix or mortar and pestle, and then it takes around 4-6 hours to cook, which means it's a good thing to start cooking in advance.

Thursday night's dinner

Slow Baked Lamb Shoulder (Karen Martini - Feasting cookbook)
2 Tbsp sea salt
8 cloves garlic
6 sprigs of rosemary, stripped and chopped
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
100ml olive oil
3 Tbsp dried Oregano
1.8-2.2kg lamb shoulder, boned (I have also done bone in)
100ml white wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 150C fan forced
Grind salt, garlic, rosemary, peppercorns in a mortar and pestle (or food processor), add the olive oil and dried oregano.
Open out shoulder and rub all over, place in baking dish, splash over the vinegar and pour 150ml water in the base. Cover with tight fitting lid and bake for 2.5 hours. Remove the lid/ or foil and then turn up heat to 200C for 5-10 minutes until nicely browned. The meat will be so tender it will fall apart, and I like to serve it with a couscous mix (parsley, lemon, roasted almonds, spanish onion)  and steamed green beans.


The thoughts I wrote about Art above, dovetails in nicely with a book that I bought and read this weekend - Imogen Taylor's "On the Fringe". Imogen Taylor worked at Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler for 50 years, the venerable English decorating firm. Her memoir is about her time there, the projects she worked on, and how they did things post WW2. Everything was bespoke and invented by the designer, from mixing paint colours on site, to finding scraps of wallpaper or fabric and recolouring and remaking it for projects. They revived many old trades, designed lamps, furniture, carpets and rugs for projects, and in general are about as far removed from what a lot of people term Interior Decoration these days as you can imagine. Again, there is space for all types in this world - not everyone has a bespoke budget for one. But the creativity at a time when there wasn't really a design "Industry" makes this a really interesting read.

I've also added a couple of second hand books to my reading list this month. I use Abebooks to find second hand books I'm looking for, and am eagerly anticipating a copy of "Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House" in a few weeks. One Instagram account that I've been following designs Private Libraries - they specialise in out of print books revolving around Gardening, Interiors, Architecture, Food, Fashion and Biography. They are Kinsey Marabel & Co, who are located in the USA. A great source of tip offs on interesting books to buy or borrow from the library.

As I've mentioned Instagram, I thought I'd include some accounts that I've been enjoying following.

Ivy and Bricks restored house facade

Firstly, for renovation and restoration lovers there is Ivy and Bricks a beautiful, grand 1908 house in the US. It's being meticulously restored to a high standard.

The start of one of Timothy Long's short videos

I love watching Timothy Long, Fashion Curator's little mini videos on Instagram. He works in the UK in museums, and will do little videos of the garments from the store rooms behind the scenes with explanations on the detail in the clothing. Fascinating!

Jupeculotte - Pierre Balmain dress

Fashion historian and curator Jupeculotte posts interesting fashion photos from the past, with descriptions on the clothing/ designer/ fabric/ social context.

I will finish up by saying I was saddened to see this week that Bill Leake, the Australian Newspaper's Cartoonist died suddenly from a Heart Attack. The tribute they put in the paper was brilliant. He was a very clever satirist, who railed against the Politically Correct Thought Police, and naturally offended, prodded, and questioned through the age old medium of satire, as the best do. A political cartoonist from the old guard, he was clever, and thought provoking, and I can't imagine the letters to the Editor page without his funny jabs at life in modern Australia. Cartoons and Satire have long been a tradition in Western Democracies, and as we have seen with the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the cartoonists have become targets for extremism from both the far left (he was relentlessly trolled on twitter) as well as the religiously extreme of all persuasions.

I hope you had a great weekend. It's a long weekend here, and I'll leave you with a photo of sunset on Saturday night  where we were having drinks- we get spectacular sunsets in Adelaide. The CBD can just be seen poking up in the centre of the photo (this view was taken from a house in the foothills).

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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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