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Professionally, I am an interior designer located in Sydney bringing you this blog about all that inspires and captivates me.

top posts


I Love Lucite

Snow Wonder

Muscovado

Mauie Wowie

In the Garden with Sophia

Purple Reign

The Italian Job

Pink Diamonds

 

 

Blog Archive

 

 

Wednesday
Apr042012

melon baby

Pantone have announced that Tangerine is the colour of the year. 

Tangerine, melon, orange, lobster, crayfish, coral.  Call it what you will, it provides a good punch to grey, pulls up the sunrise and balances out the blue days.

Think deep tangerine, melon, coral glow.  Is this lighting your fire?  Why not create a little smoke at your place this weekend with these new pieces.  

You are going to heat him up in your little bunny suit baby… I know you can already see yourself rolling around on this (1) tangerine zebra rug from the collection of Joseph Carini or Rococo-ing yourself out in this (2) 20th Century re-finished mirror in lobster.  Can you hear the jingle jangle sweetheart of the (3) tangerine and blue discs of this hand-crafted, glass-blown chandelier?  You almost will have to be Robinson Crusoe to grab this 1920s poster; it's the only one and it will rock at your place (4) over this refinished Ming Dynasty cabinet (5). You've just spotted the (6) Murano glass bowl but please don't drop your keys in there sugar, it's not that kind of party.  Are your feet tired big boy?  (7) Either relax on these 1950s Baker slipper chairs or throw yourself down ready for your Easter foot massage on this (8) Harvey Probber sofa.  Swoon.

Wednesday
Mar282012

Still swooning...

Wow – I cannot believe almost one week has passed since I wrote my first blog post.  I’m quite low-tech so I am unsure whether this is a weblog or a blog post but it’s attached to my website, so I think I’ll call it a webloggy thingy posty thing…

The response to our mail-out last week with an updated website and blog was fabulous.  We had around 8,000 page hits.  Now, I am not entirely sure if that is loads but I’ll take it.  Thank you so much for taking the time to have a wander around and see what we have been up to. We had so many really thoughtful and encouraging emails sent.  Thank you.  Please feel free to post comments on the blog.  Don’t be shy... Also, I had a few requests for recipes.  I will give loose directions for now, as posting entire recipes will almost send our studio into a spin.  It would be catastrophic if I wrote a cup of salt instead of a pinch.

This last week I've managed to whip up a few meals and photograph them.  I am still getting use to my new camera and went back to the store where I purchased it. The same sales guy super-sized me again.  He has to be the best sales guy I have met in quite a while. 

It has also been a week of working with a new client to design her magnificent 1920s home on the North Shore.  It’s one of those homes that is stunningly grand but has warm feel as soon as you walk in.  The wonderfully curved path leading to the home is trimmed with Hydrangeas, and one of my favourites trees which is in full bloom at the moment, a Tibouchina.  Our interior decor and furniture palette is growing in shades of blues, browns, purple, lilac and grey.  We'll bring the outside in, filling the home with the prettiness and natural glamour of the garden.

In this week's posts we feature artist Shannon Crees, share with you a beautifully inspired emerald green 'tell me a story', and keep you warm with something I whipped up in the kitchen.

Before I sign off today, I cannot leave without mentioning my wonderful and talented friend, and exceptional and successful photographer, Carla Coulson.  Carla just reminded me that it has been years since we first met when we were 15 on a gorgeous sunny beach in Australia... young, spirited and covered in sand.  Most of you will know of Carla Coulson and her beautiful books, including her first book, Italian Joy.  Carla will be in Sydney in November, all the way from Paris where she now resides, and available for a really short time to take portraits of Sydney women.  So if you want to feel rockstar beautiful for a day, get in touch with Carla here.

I just love how my wonderfully talented friends inspire me so much.  We have come a long way.

xxx

Wednesday
Mar282012

shannon crees does graffiti

This week I'd like to introduce you to Shannon Crees.  Shannon is a graffiti artist with a twist.  While she may have painted on walls and won several awards for doing so, she doesn’t hang from trains and you won’t catch her hanging out around Enmore station late at night with a can of fluoro green in her hand.

Shannon's art is much more sophisticated than that.  I came across her several years ago now when I was pitching some ideas for one of my client's projects.  I just love that her work is so feminine, yet it also has an edgy rawness about it. I call it glamour graffiti.

Over the past couple of years I have commissioned Shannon to create and paint several installations for me: one at a client's home and one in the foyer of my home which appeared in InStyle.  She also donated a large artwork to the YWCA Mother Of All Balls charity event of which I am a committee member.  It was live-motion art with Shannon working on the piece while the event unfolded.  It was auctioned on the night and raised much needed funds for Australians in need. Thank you Shannon. xx

Shannon is not only an incredible artist but she is one of life’s really great, cool and genuinely nice people. I have uploaded a video interview with Shannon below and I really recommend you take the time to check it out (you can also visit her website here).


   

Wednesday
Mar282012

PorkFest - Tuscan White Bean + Speck Soup

It has been announced that 'April is Pork Month' and I must say that this has really grabbed my attention.

Well, who am I to miss out on this wonderful opportunity?

Personally, I am into a natural, organic, free range style of pork.  I like to know that the pork I am about to eat has been happily splashing around in mud baths and frolicking in grassy fields.  Just imagine!  For this kind of pork, I usually get down to GRUB Butchery in Vaucluse, or get the fabulous supplier Feather and Bone to deliver it. 

Meanwhile, it’s time to partake in a little pork.

Pig out on this wonderfully delicious White Bean and Speck Soup.  If you follow the images below with my simple directions, you will be able to ‘wow’ your friends with this gorgeous soup and the theatre of singeing it at the end with the burnt chilli and sage leaves.

While I might not be Martha or Nigella I have gone ahead and included the method at the bottom. That, and some Marvin Gaye. 

Start with one onion, rough chopped, 6 garlic cloves and white beans.  You can either be pure and soak your own white beans, or if you don't have time, or forgot, you can use tinned.  Make sure you strain them first...

Don't brown the onion, we want the soup to remain white.  Lightly toss it in oil first.  Throw in the beans (if using tinned, I generally use 4-5 tins).  Grab your piece of speck and sliced garlic and place in pot.  Swish around for about 5 minutes to bring out the flavour.  

Place the celery and 3 bay leaves into the pot with enough water to cover the contents by about 3cm.  Bring to the boil and stir then take down to a simmer for at least 2 hours, season with salt and pepper.  Add water as necessary but don't make it too runny and try not to over-stir.  It looks a lot better if some of the beans are still intact.  Frankly, I never over-handle food.  There is nothing worse than seeing food that has been handled so much it probably should have had a shotgun wedding with the chef before hitting the table.

Once you are ready to serve, remove the bay leaves, take the piece of speck out and slice in thin pieces.  Serve each bowl with a hearty amount of the bean soup and ensure each plate gets a piece of celery along with speck slices.  Just a note not to over-do the celery. I know one stick sounds 'mean' but it's the simplicity of this soup that really makes it sing.  Once you are ready to go, quickly pan-fry sage leaves with a pinch of chilli flakes and spoon a little into each bowl.  Watch the sparks fly.  This is the theatre, and the oil infused with the sage and chilli in the soup is the hero of the dish.

In simplicity is beauty.

Now click the button below to get in the mood for a month of pork:

Wednesday
Mar212012

Swoon...

Welcome to my lifestyle blog.  Thank you for visiting.

This blog is really to let me loose on all that captivates me. So, it's a 'lifestyle' blog.

Professionally, I am an interior designer and am one of those fortunate enough to spend everyday 'working' doing something I absolutely love.  And, I have been fortunate enough, along the way, to work with really fabulous clients who let me loose on their projects. Brave huh! So, before I go any further...drum roll...a big thank you to you all and you know who you are. 

I love creating and arranging flowers at home, re-arranging the furniture and cooking.  Yes, cooking. I love it. It's another outlet for me.  Its one of those things in life that I am completely unafraid of.  I know the thought of whipping something up in the kitchen sends shivers down the spine of some but I'd be delighted to get a call that ten friends were popping in for lunch in two hours.  No big deal...just please don't call today.

And, the setting, the lighting, the music is all so important. It's the sense, the first impression that feels so good.

Traveling, bringing new ideas back.  From eating a dish is a village in India to a super cool meal in New York. I'll try it, copy it.  Always changing.  Colour is also so important to me, I can't get enough and it's all colours and all combinations.  I might see a fabric on my travels or an object, or an old wall, an imperfectly beautiful flower or a smile in an imperfectly beautiful face and it will spark a sense.  An idea. A feeling.  I'll take you on my magic carpet ride and I hope to translate these feelings to you in my posts.

You may discover along the way that I can, at times, have an unconventional sense of humour.  So, if it looks like it doesn't belong, it probably doesn't - but, whatever, it will in my eyes.

The format (and this is planned if I have time..) is, Tell me a Story which is a furniture and decor story as in my first posts below, 'Pink Diamonds' and 'Purple Reign'.  Whipped and Plucked, I cook something, photograph it and serve it up for your eyes.  Surround Me, I post music I love or am listening to. Move Me, is all about travel and places that inspire me. This first issue has a post from New York delivered by my wonderful, smart, gorgeous friend, Ashley, who is living there at the moment (so incredibly jealous). Freshly Picked will be all things from the garden and Share the Love will be things I love from others. Shopped will eventually be items you can purchase from me and I hope to begin a new range of decor items really soon...need time....oh, deep breath.  And, of course, you can Hire Me to bring your design dreams to a reality.

Andy Warhol's banana on the side is my gift to you.  Press it, but not if you are at your desk, in your open-plan office pretending to be working, as the banana is very noisy and your cover will be blown.  I promise, it will make you happy. I was going to have the words scratch and sniff below the banana but the thought of you damaging your screen scratching and bruising your nose sniffing was a responsibility I simply couldn't bare.

And finally, a little about me and my inspiration.  I grew up with a beautiful mother.  One who painted beautifully in oils, played the piano, gardened and arranged flowers and cooked delicious meals with love and never reading the recipe, just looking at the picture.  A mum, who when we had people over, before the days of dimmers on light switches, would put sticky tape over the main lights so no-one could turn them on, relying on the ambience of lamps, garden fresh flowers, Shirley Bassey on the turntable and the smell of her fabulous kitchen and decked out in a fabulous outfit. A mother who could wallpaper the entire 'good room', re-arrange the furniture and have new carpet installed in a day, while we were at school.  Thanks mum.  You filled my senses and life with all things colourful and beautiful. Thanks allowing me to be brave, for letting me be me.

In my eyes, there is beauty in so much.  And, much of the beauty is trying it and giving it a chance.

 

lots of love,  Melissa xxx

p.s. A big thanks to the very talented, our very own GEN Y site, blog, tech head, media savvy, clever and funny NENA for working with me without pulling her hair out and helping design this site.

p.p.s. We don't have a copy clerk in our studio, so if you see a grammar or spelling error, please feel free to return it corrected complete with a full time copy clerk.

 

Were you a pink girl?

A pink girl is always a pink girl like no other.  Our story board here is to inspire glamorous femininity. Pink doesn't have to be childish and girly.  Pink is smart and clever.

If you decide to change your whole home and go pink this weekend, you might like to start with one of Porters Paints new pinks from their hot off the shelf colour chart.  Check out Pink Ginger or Wild Strawberry.  Swoon.

Meanwhile put the items above on your shopping list. (1) Tiffany + Co Platinum pink diamond ring - you're worth it. (2) 1950s Murano Chandelier which has a drop of two metres, hope you have high ceilings...(3) Pink carpet from ABC Carpet & Home, don't burn your knees feeling the quality sweetie .  (4) Feeling like you need to sit down now, try one of these Pierre Paulin armchairs circa 1960s. (5) Maybe need a drink now that you've looked up the price, drink out of these Pairpoint Cranberry glasses. (6) 1950s French Eglomise mirror clad buffet - go on, none of your friends will have this little baby and they haven't got this either, (7) 1963 'Untitled' Charlotte Park oil painting.  (8) Ok, you are feeling a little faint now, turn on this gorgeous Murano Pink swirl lamp, please don't knock over the (9) 1960s Antonio de Ros for Cenedese vase. All of this shopping has probably started to make you build up a little glow, check yourself in this French mirrored room divider (10).  And darling, please leave the Pairoint glass on the mid 20th Century Famille Rose Chinoiserie Ceramic seat (11) on your way out. Your pockets aren't deep enough...

 

Wednesday
Mar212012

Maz burns the stairs. Press the link and listen to her purrrrrrr in pink.

Wednesday
Mar212012

tea + cake

How gorgeous is the pink tea set in the picture below?

It is my mothers and her parents gave it to her for her 21st birthday.  Remember as a child there were always things that you were not allowed to touch?  This was one of those in our home.  It was always in the dining room console and no one touched it, ever.  

The first time it was used, as far as I know, was at my mum's 70th birthday.  Her sister insisted we finally use it and the second time was last weekend.  It just couldn't sit there for ever, idle wishing someone would take it out and play.

Out came the baking tins, the mixer, wooden spoons, chopping boards + on went the oven.  As most of you know this is one of my first blog posts and I wanted the blog to be about all things beautiful that make you swoon...I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.  Cooking, styling + photographing and making it all happen at once.  Next time I think I'll wear an apron.

Given the above, you can imagine I have the utmost respect for food stylists and photographers.  Can someone please tell me how many hands to you need to watch the cream as it is being whipped, thanks to the person who designed mix masters, chop the strawberries put it together with a camera in one hand, cream on the other, not getting it on the new lens of the camera I bought (guy in shop super sized me, could have flown to New York) and take a shot?  help.

Anyway, I am knee deep in it now...

I hope you enjoy the images below of a cake baked by me, a home cook, who doesn't measure anything so is hopeless at the science of baking and an amateur photographer (me) who at this stage only knows about one button.  On and off.

I'd love you to enjoy this post while listening to Marilyn's, Diamond Are a Girls Best Friend.  

Marilyn, diamonds, pink, cosy and gorgeous. 

p.s. Mum, this first post is for and in honour of you. love forever dolly xxx

Tuesday
Mar202012

Purple Reign

Purple is a colour so often misunderstood.  It's a fringe dweller of the colour society and sits out there with orange. Another misunderstood colour - but, I'll talk about orange very soon.

Today, it's all about you purple and how magnificent you are in all of your passionate glory and the depth of your emotion.  Who can raise an orange flame better than you deep purple.  You are proud, powerful.

Purple, the king of colour, you rock, you reign.

Ready to come shopping? Please feel free to take a seat in these (1) Kofod-Larsen chairs in purple velvet but don't lean back Doll, you might scratch the (2) Flavor Paper Wallpaper...Flower power. Lovin' this (3) Barovier + Toso teardrop chandelier, might be time to play Eartha Kitts, Lilac Wine and put your feet up honey on this stunning (4) Vintage 1970s French coffee table and off (5) ABC Carpet & Home stunning purple rug. A pair of these Amethyst lamps will look gorgeous at your place darling (6) grab them while you can however if they are a little out of your price range, please don't hurt yourself dreaming about this vintage Hermes Birkin bag in purple (7).  Oh, and the gold swirly thing, that's a beautiful sculpture by the very talented Dan Murphy but you already knew that, didn't you?  Time to go, better get big boy to whilst for a taxi. (Lizzie is so overwhelmed, she has pulled out a ciggie.)  Don't trip on the purple dining chair on your way out (9).

 

click Jimi jams bar for some purple haze (it's noisy...)

 

     

Tuesday
Mar202012

guess who's coming to dinner?

Whipped and plucked.  The crabs have been whipped out of the ocean, plucked of all of their scary stuff - prepared and ready to be eaten.

If you have a close look at the vignettes below you will see a beautiful hand painted silk wall paper in a toffee colour.  It has been hung in one of my recent projects to complete the dining room and my lovely client had it shipped all the way to Sydney.  An even closer look will take you to a wall of coral coloured roses and silver grey birds that seem to flutter across the wall.

This home has a very warm, classic feel with a French Asian twist and a touch of glamour.  And, I just love my clients very proper and traditional cream and gold dinner service.  Bring your manners...

The perfect setting for an over the top bouquet of mixed garden roses in every colour possible and some hydranga thrown into the mix.  Of course, they were from Australia's best florist, Grandiflora.  I try to use Grandiflora whenever I can as Saskia and her team create the most wonderful pieces of floral art.

Without hesitation I got to the kitchen, with my new camera, a steamer and the poor blue swimmer crabs to create part of the perfect meal for this classic setting.  Marinated for 10 minutes in a mix of oyster, soy + fish sauce and a mind blowing amount of fresh garlic.  Steamed and tossed in the wok with a few shallots. BYO bib. Eating these babies is messy. 

Feast your eyes on this.....

 

Tuesday
Mar202012

Ash does New York.

Here is our first postcard from Ashley giving us the hot tips on all things edgy and beautiful in New York.  As he makes his way through one of, if not, the most impressive and exciting cities in the world, he will let us in on its latest secrets.  Shhhhh...

"Spring has arrived in NYC with clear blue skies and temperatures in the high teens and low 20s; daffodils are turning the parks a fabulous shade of yellow, and cafes are opening their doors to the streets. Tucked away in lower Soho, Antique Garage provides an alluring taste of the Mediterranean. Just around the corner and well worth a visit, is the Mondrian Soho, another innovative vision by Benjamin Noriega Ortiz, inspired by Jean Cocteau’s cinematic interpretation of the tale of “La Belle et la Bête. Just off the lobby, Imperial No. Nine brings sustainable seafood to downtown New York with a 150-seat restaurant. It boasts a timeless setting complemented by an elegant crystal chandelier collection and is accented with potted plants and natural ficus trees, all beneath the shelter of a dramatic glass roof!"

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