Decorating with Inspiration

When I revealed my living room on this blog, there were a few comments eluding to it as Pottery Barn-esque. It seemed a couple of people assumed that’s were I had drawn inspiration from. Truth is, if you had mentioned Pottery Barn to me a few months back while I was in the middle of decorating it I would have assumed you were talking about some kind of terracotta factory!

(In fact, I do recall having that vision when I did first hear the name though before you assume I must’ve been living under a giant rock somewhere, bear in mind that I do live on the land of them  – Australia that is – where there’s no such thing as Pottery Barn, Lowes, Home Depot, Anthropologie and lots more of these other cool stores I’m now always hearing about).

My Living Room

So what’s my point?

Well, while I’m not too sure whether drawing a parallel between my living room and a Pottery Barn catalogue is a good or bad thing (I know it was meant as a compliment, so thanks ladies), I’d like to think my style of decorating has a bit more soul than that.

Truth is, the journey to my finished (for now) living room was a patient, intrinsic and very personal one – though seriously, let’s not go toooo deep, while I do believe our homes are our castles and it’s important they nurture and reflect us it’s still a good idea to put things in perspective sometimes by remembering they are still inanimate objects.

Like all of you, I love looking at and admiring images of beautiful interiors and whilst I might find myself motivated by them, truth is, I rarely drawer direct inspiration from one.

We and our homes are all so individual that at times ‘borrowing’ a template a little too precisely from someone else just won’t work. For a space to feel right it needs to have ‘you’ in it.

That said, there are certain design factors (such as balance, scale, harmony) which are pretty universal and when well-contrived can create a generically appealing space, though in the end it’s the uncontrived elements – the unique personal touches – which really make a home sing.

So, there’s a pretty tricky balance to strike.

Except for in nature (and rare moments of subconscious human brilliance), there’s little we find beautiful that’s not planned and considered in some way – and really, without any thought or care, how can what we create have meaning?

Though it’s finding that at times elusive harmony between intent and instinct which gives truth and personality to design.

I’m lucky enough to be at a point now where I know what I like and what I don’t and, most importantly, what I can live with as opposed to what I like to look at. That doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind about little things every other day, it just means I’m pretty certain about the general direction I’m heading in. It also doesn’t mean I’m just gonna close my eyes from now on and go forth blindly. I still, and will continue to, cherish my ever expanding folio of inspirational home images.

Before I started this blog, only a few short months back, I felt kinda lost. I was devouring image after gorgeous image and idea after clever idea though with no outlet to filter the massive mountain of information I was feeling totally overwhelmed and, to be honest, a little deflated.

Though slowly but surely, through the writing of posts and reading of comments, a certain clarity has emerged along with a motivating confidence.

Somehow this little blog of mine has taught me to trust myself more, be more decisive, unafraid of making mistakes.

And if for some reason I’m ever feeling confused or uncertain again, I know I can come back to this blog for direction and reassurance….and if that doesn’t work it’s also given me the best group of people to share my little dilemas with and ask advice of!


Antique Farmhouse Table

After a bit of a break I’ve finally found some time between private client requests (and real work) to be able to offer some new pieces through eBay.

This antique farmhouse table was a wonderful find. I was told it’s full colonial cedar though whilst I have a love and passion for vintage and antique furniture, sadly I’m no expert, so really can’t say for certain. I am, on the other hand, pretty sure of its age which is circa 1870’s! How cool is that?

It wears the most beautiful, original patina and has definite primitive charm.


The Makings of a Dining Room

Thanks for all the lovely comments about my little dining space.

As promised, here are the item origin and cost breakdown details.

I found this vintage Kauri farmhouse table on eBay. Unfortunately, someone had roughly lacquered it so to get the natural rustic finish I was after it needed a strip and light sand back. Luckily, the character of the timber remained and to retain its integrity I just sealed it with beeswax. The drawer handle and porcelain castors are original.

I had always loved the styling of these IKEA chairs and after seriously considering buying them brand new I eventually found a used set for sale on eBay for a quarter of the price. When I went to collect them, the seller mentioned she also had the matching chair pads (which had never been used!) and I could take them too if I liked – need she really ask? YES, please!

If I’d bought the chairs and pads new from IKEA it would have cost me $420, which isn’t too bad, though with a little time and patience it’s amazing how much you can save.


It took me a while to find this piece. Once I brought it home and put it in place I wasn’t quite convinced though. Its subtle deco lines seemed a little too masculine. I played with the adorning vignette until I found the balance I was after and now I absolutely love it! I found it on eBay (surprise, surprise) and chose to retain its original patina with all the character bumps and bruises.

Although our table’s a standard four seater, you can always squish a few more in so I like to have some chairs nearby. This vintage blackwood chair is one of my great grandma’s old kitchen chairs.

I bought the massive mirror as is from a local country market. I got $10 off just for asking!

The roman blinds are the same as those in our living room. They weren’t particularly cheap though we needed blockouts (for light filtering and weather reasons) and I certainly wasn’t going to make them! I had seen these ones at a homeware store and knew they’d be just right so waited until they went on sale. The day I chose to buy them there was also a storewide 20% off everything including sale items so I ended up saving quite a bit.

Vintage Fan – An eBay find – $25
File Drawer – Found at a local antique store – $30
Obelisk – Birthday gift from Mum – $0
White Jugs – Found at local charity stores. The large jug was bought as is though I spray painted the smaller one white – $8 (for both)
Little Box – I’ve had it since forever and it’s been reincarnated a few times. Originally a gift from Mum – $0
Terracotta – I found all three pots when I shopped the backyard. I already had the spanish moss, the twine is from the local hardware store and there are tonnes of pinecones waiting to be collected from the reserve behind my house – $2
Breadboard – A recent purchase from Kmart – $8
Wire Lanterns – I LURVE these. Found them recently at a local homewares store and bought the twine from a hardware shop – $35
White Urn and Hydrangeas – I’ve got a vast collection of white ceramic ware. This urn is from a local thrift store and the faux hydrangeas were bought from a furniture shop – $20
Gallery Wall – Some frames were gifts, others are from thrift and dollar stores. All the pics are black and white family shots. The baby is me! – $15

Overall total $578.00

The next room on my list of reveals is the master bedroom. It’s been sorely neglected since we moved in and is in serious need of some love (which is funny because given the personal, possessive nature of bedrooms you’d think it should be one of the first spaces to concentrate on making your own).

Anyways, given its current sad state, rather than wait til it’s finished to blog about it I’m hoping to take you guys on the whole messy, fickle journey with me.

You in?

The Painted Hive Dining Room

More a nook than an actual room, our little dining area forms the southern end of our living room.

The neutral palette combines loads of natural elements and character-rich texture – with nothing too pretentious – for a relaxed, yet fresh space. So, whilst it’s nothing super special, it’s warm, inviting and very much me!

Here it is just before we moved in….

And here’s the floorplan to give you an idea of the layout….

As per our living room, we painted out all the dirty apple green walls in pale cream and all the timber trim in gloss white. Taupe linen romans were also added in place of the heavy green drapes.

The previous owners had already installed the faux timber floating floor which, whilst it wouldn’t necessarily have been my first choice, is nice, clean and neutral.

Pretty much all the furniture and decor is either second-hand, thrifted or gifted.

The big mirror, with its pale frame which makes it almost undistinguishable from the wall, really helps create an illusion of space.

I’m a sucker for pretty, earthy vignettes and for now, to tie in with the living room, there’s loads of terracotta and twine plus white ceramics and some vintage finds.

I’ve been too slack to add pics of my own wedding to this photo gallery yet though it’s the perfect sentimental filler for this narrow little wall space and I’m looking forward to watching it grow!

I’m still searching for the perfect light fixture at the right price (vintage gal pendant or wrought iron chandy) and am contemplating painting the chair frames white and mirror border dark…..we’ll see though.

So again, just for comparisons sake. Here’s the space before and after….

Glamorous Wardrobe Makeover

Confession: Because I’m a naughty blogger I forgot to take a real ‘before’ pic so the above robe is just a comparable one I found on-line. The actual robe I madeover was in way worse shape than this one though and didn’t have any mirrors or a head plinth but you get the idea, right?

Having come straight from the tip the finish on the robe was weathered almost dry (not in the nice silver coastal way though, more in the cruddy “I’ve-been-in-landfill-for-the-past-two-months” way) so it was pretty easy to take it right back to raw timber with a light sand.
Having a raw base gave me a few finishing options so rather than just paint it black, I instead chose to apply two coats of an ebony timber stain.

The rich semi-transparent stain allows the timber grain to peek through here and there which gives the robe a rustic, antiquated elegance.

To compliment the commanding black base and add a unique touch, I highlighted the corners and grooves with a genuine copper pigment paint which, after first trying to apply with a brush, I eventually figured out was easiest rubbed on using my finger.

I rarely use gloss sealers though in this case, to create some extra impact and formalise the rusticness of the transparent stain, it works perfectly.

Finally, the handles, escutcheons and key were coated in the copper pigment paint for that finishing touch.

TIP: Painted metal can scratch easily so for some added resilience bake it in the oven after each coat. The heat helps set and bond the paint and, whilst not fool-proof, will strengthen the finish some what.