I thought I'd do a little round up of things I've found that are interesting or that I like at the moment, it's been a while between these sorts of posts, and I always find them fun.

 via Veranda magazine

Firstly, to China. Long time readers will remember a few of my early posts were on the subject of fine China, of which I have none. This is not because I don't like it, or have a need for it (I would use it fairly often, I don't believe in saving things for best, and would happily pull it out for a family dinner). My problem relates more to commitment issues. I suppose as tastes evolve, so do tastes in china - no where is this more evident than local estate Auction rooms, which are full of 60's and 70's barely used sets of Royal Doulton etc.

Now ideally, I'd love a set of Flora Danica, but it's ruinously expensive, along with very formal, so putting that aside the next best options for me are ones that can work in a reasonably casual setting, or be dressed up. That way you won't only pull it out when you're doing some sort of semblance of silver service. One account I follow on Instagram is the Laboratorio Paravicini account. They're based in Milan, and hand paint plates in beautiful and unique designs. I was clicking around on the Julia B (beautiful linen, another weakness of mine) website, and happened across a tabletop tab, which includes the most beautiful plates, as well as linens, glasses and cutlery, all newly launched. Interestingly I noted that they've been commissioned from the aforementioned Laboratorio Paravicini and are made to order. I love the way they're interesting, decorative, but not overly formal in presentation (no gold, a looser pattern).

Coincidentally I was then reading the latest Veranda magazine over the weekend, and saw an article on the launch of the collection, which made for interesting reading - the family house that Julia B spent childhoods at near San Francisco is Italian in style (the garden is pictured above), which explains the quite Italian style collaboration. Unfortunately, the plates, while not Flora Danica in pricing, are still fairly expensive (US $750 for 4, more if you want them monogramed with your initial), so I can't say I'll be rushing to commission a 12 person set just yet.... the hunt continues.

Romy's Airbnb apartment in Hobart

On to wallpapers. This is one of my favourite topics, and wallpaper has had a massive resurgence in recent years. I feel like every week there's another collection being launched, and it is pretty hard to keep up with all the manufacturers now - with the advent of digital printing, and the flipside interest in traditional block printing, there are a lot of niche producers now. While I'm not overly fond of the feature wall (despite having a large one in my house!) the scenic feature wallpaper can work really well where you have a large, blank, boring wall to fill, and mostly this is very expensive, produced by the likes of De Gournay, Zuber and Gracie.

If you don't have the money for a scenic wallpaper, or for decent art, then this could be the solution for you. Andrew Martin in London were the producers of my own library book feature wall, and always have good solutions such as blue and white plates on the walls (pictured above is one of my friend Romy's Airbnb apartments in Hobart with the Cargo wallpaper used in the entrance), panelling, stamps... and now a collaboration with the National Gallery (London) whereby you choose any of the paintings in their collection, provide your measurements, and they'll print it onto wallpaper and ship it to you.

Here in Australia you'd have to do this through a decorator, as their wallpaper here is to the trade, but I thought this was such a fantastic solution for some potentially awkward rooms and certainly would give bang for your buck without resorting to faux art.

Books - I've read a lot over the long Summer holidays, partly because my family and friends know a safe bet is a coffee table book, so I tend to be given many of the new crop for gifts for my Birthday and Christmas. One that I've loved has been "Life at the Top", about the grand apartment buildings of New York. These apartments were built for the very wealthy, and still are inhabited by the very wealthy. Each chapter is devoted to a landmark apartment building, with information on who designed it, who lived in it then and now, and, best of all, a floor plan of a typical apartment in the building, and a featured apartment usually decorated recently by a big name designer.

I can't tell you how much I've loved looking at the floor plans! Many have multiple living areas, designed enfilade style where one room opens into another to allow for entertaining on a grand scale, as well as more intimate room scales. Many have say, 4 bedrooms with ensuites, but 7 separate maids rooms (these are historical floor plans, I'd say those that still have live in maids wouldn't have quite that number anymore). They again make me bemoan the apartments that are built here in Australia - designed for sales to Investors that won't live in them, with low ceilings, no storage, and a single open plan living room/ kitchen with walls of glass (no where to hang art, put furniture up against, no where to escape your partner entertaining their friends aside from a bedroom). They're not apartments to live in. I'd dearly love to design a decent apartment building here - there are a few good ones in Melbourne and Sydney, but really the best apartments in Australia were built in the 1920's, and we haven't seen anything like them since.

Moving on, I've been meaning to blog about this book for a while "The Princess's Garden", about the Princess of Wales who was a driving force to found Kew Gardens in London. This particular Princess of Wales never became Queen, as her husband, the Prince of Wales (Prince Frederick) died before ascending the throne, his younger brother then becoming King George 3rd (the mad King). She has been written out of history in a way, as she was deeply unpopular, but had an interest in Landscape design and botany, and one thing that I have found so interesting in this book was the concept of landscape as Political Propaganda. At that stage in England, the Whigs and the Tories were the two political parties, with the Tories representing absolute Monarchy, and favouring the Stuart dynasty (the pretenders to the throne, such as Bonnie Prince Charlie who were supported by the French), and Catholicism, and the Whigs believing in Constitutional Monarchy, the independence of Great Britain from European influences, the Church of England and therefore the Protestant Hanover Dynasty (the rule of the Georges).

Capability Brown designed garden at Stourhead

Up until this point, landscape design in Great Britain aped the French style with parterres and intricate knot gardens. These were designed to be beautiful looking from above in your Stately Home, and were very much in the style of the French Court at Versailles. Of course the French were closely aligned with the Scottish rebellions and the Stuarts (the Jacobite uprisings), so it was seen as a political statement of alliance to the King to rip out the formal French style gardens and replace them with newly fashionable Capability Brown style parkland gardens instead, the complete opposite to the old style,  and purely English in origin.

Last book recommendation: Fiction. I read "Lincoln in the Bardo" over the holidays and loved it. It's a story woven around the death of Abraham Lincoln's 11 year old Son Willie, who died of Typhoid Fever at the height of the American Civil War. His devastation at the death of his son, at a time when mothers across the country were also experiencing the loss of their sons on the bloody battlefields of the South is beautifully written. The Bardo is the in-between world between heaven and hell, it's a book that stays with you and I highly recommend it.

Clothes: We're in that difficult part of the Adelaide season where the Winter stock is arriving in shops, but it's still 40C outside. I feel like I've been wearing the same summer dresses over and over and over... but if I cast my eye over the new seasons arrivals that are just trickling into the shops, I am really loving the latest offerings from Melbourne designer Megan Park like this Kazari Gypsy dress which would look good with knee high black suede boots and a fine merino knit under it in Winter as well as working in Autumn without the layers (when it's not exactly chilly in Adelaide, but feels inappropriate to wear a beachy sundress).

Of course the flip side is that over the other side of the world, the Spring collections are starting to appear. I do love Lela Rose dresses (New York designer), and this is my pick of the current offerings.
I love the Emerald green botanical print over the fine black/white stripe, and the forgiving lines of the skirt. I'd wear this with black espadrilles, rather than white shoes, or black strappy sandals if going a little dressier.

Lastly, I thought I'd share a few Instagrams to follow if you don't already.

Firstly, Margaret the Italian Greyhound. I promise this is the only dog I follow! Margaret is an Adelaide girl, and has a very funny sense of humour that always makes me laugh. 

On a completely different tack, another that I follow is Stacie Flinner, an American travelling the world for a year with her husband (in style). Look, it's all fantasy travel - beautiful photos of amazing places, and her wearing lovely outfits while doing it, but I'm enjoying following along and seeing the architecture and natural wonders they're experiencing. Maybe one day I'll manage to get a trip on the Orient Express, or stay in a former Maharaja's palace in India...

Last recommendation - my now real life friend Kal . For a long time I thought he was an Interior Designer, but he's entirely self taught, and has a real world job that is nothing to do with Interior Design in Sydney. He proves the point that talent doesn't need to be taught, and that curiosity and self education can go a very long way. He has a beautiful house, and while he is not exactly a prolific poster, his photos of perfectly set dining tables, his incredible house, or his super chic Mum in her Chanel are always spot on.

Hope you've found something interesting and new to you from this post, and have a happy week!

Well I finally have time to sit and write a post after a busy Christmas and Summer Holiday... and then back to school chaos.

We spent some time on Kangaroo Island over January, which is our favourite spot for a beach holiday, with our friends. The days passed in a blur of fishing, boating, swimming, walks on the beach, drinks and cheese platters on the deck, boardgames and chat.

My latest Project Ten bags were suitably nautically themed - My go-to gift for friends and family. Thank you to my friend L for being the prop legs for this photo. My legs at this stage were still pasty white and covered in mosquito bites.

 The dots in the photo are playing beach cricket

Then it was back to reality with a frantic week of school uniform labelling, book covering, searching out the lunchboxes and drink bottles, and the new routines of homework, sport and music practice once school resumed, and all the associated parent info nights etc etc.

One exciting thing that has happened over the holidays was that we have adopted a dog. We had promised the children than when the renovations were all finished, and the garden secure, that we would get one... and they've been campaigning hard. My youngest's favourite book series are the Pig the Pug books. He is obsessed with them, and naturally decided that he wanted a Pug.

It got to a point where his toy version of Pig the Pug (it makes farting sounds) was becoming some sort of surrogate real dog for him... so I decided to investigate the breed.

cuddles with the toy, farting Pig the Pug.. oh and footy cards 

Investigating the breed involves my younger sister, who is a Vet, and a bearer of bad news on pretty much any pure bred dog. She sent me a lengthy text message pointing out all the problems inherent with Pugs, accompanied by fairly horrific photographs, and vetoed it.

So, S thought for a while, and a few weeks later asked tentatively if perhaps my Sister would approve a sausage dog? Pig's best friend in the book is a sausage dog called Trevor, so S thought that if he couldn't have Pig, he'd have Trevor instead. I texted my sister about sausage dogs.

So, it was back to the drawing board. I started thinking about perhaps finding a mix breed dog, as they're genetically stronger so my sister would not object, and this then led me to dog adoption websites, and we found Patch, our now 15 week old puppy.

He comes from a very remote Aboriginal Community in the Northern Territory (the nearest town is 700km away), that love dogs - they have a dog dreaming story. He would probably be descended from various working dogs that would be used on Stations (Ranches) in the region - Cattle dog, Jack Russel, Kelpie and maybe some Staffie throwback somewhere, so his official "breed" is a Camp dog. He was apparently born under the school house to a stray, and brought into a community charity group that rehouse them by the school teachers. After being vet checked, desexed, microchipped and vaccinated, he was then flown down to us in Adelaide aged 10 weeks old. He is quite a character, and I have had trouble photographing him as he is constantly moving, or glued to my side. Needless to say the children are besotted with him. He'll hopefully live a long and healthy life, and is adjusting to city living, a family, and a lawn quite well.

Design Stuff: Late last year I did a little refresh of my hall entry. I had been looking for a longer hall table for some time - the existing one was quite short and unable to carry a lamp. I wanted an antique, so this took time as dimensions had to be narrow enough that it didn't intrude into the traffic pathway. Finally I found a beautiful Georgian oak sideboard at the Adelaide Antique Fair last October from Quigley's. It has a lovely scalloped base to it, and beautiful patina. I had some blue and white temple jars converted to lamps (a painfully long process...) and then had my lampshade maker do some scalloped grasscloth lampshades for it. Both the lamps and the table are quite overscaled in the space, and have dramatically transformed the entry. The old Georgian side table has been moved into my daughter's bedroom as her bedside table, so it has been a little bit of a shuffle around. I also switched around some artwork (not shown in the photo), but have left in the old patchwork kilim rug. It's really refreshed the whole entry. Above it's pictured with a bowl of faux Orchids - we have had a lot of heat waves in Adelaide, and nothing really lasts long in the airconditioning. Roll on the long, hot Summer....

Speaking of, the Garden suffered enormously while we were away, I returned from Kangaroo Island to find most of the garden beds in a state of death. Unfortunately the automatic watering system had failed  during some 40C plus temperatures (why does this always happen when you are away?!?!?) so I've spent some serious time in the garden last week (finally cool enough to do something about it all) cutting back  dead things, weeding, pruning and we've been pouring water on everything since the watering system was fixed. I have to say that gardening with a puppy is challenging... he likes to sit on my lap while I'm trying to weed, and thinks I must be doing something interesting when I'm trying to dig so joins in. It was a little tedious.... but fortunately it's all bouncing back - the benefit of using so many drought tolerant plants.

The Veggie garden has been so-so - great for tomato and eggplant production, but the carrots were a total curly failure.

I think I'll leave it here for the time being, and instead of making this an absolute monster post, I'll do a few separate ones on things that have caught my eye with art, wallpaper, china and clothes, and the progress on the heritage cottage project.

Happy Year of the Dog!

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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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