A Step Back In Time

On our recent trip to Hong Kong, I wanted to visit Tai O Fishing Village to see if it had changed in the 12 years since we lived there. Tai O is a rare example of traditional Chinese stilt houses built over the water and was once a true fishing village. It is situated on Lantau Island between Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China and dates back to the Ming Dynasty. In it’s hey day it had a reported population of over 30,000, however, now as few as 2000 residents live there.

Tai O Fishing Village

Tai O Fishing Village

So we set off from Hong Kong by ferry to Mui Wo, then bus to The Big Buddha at the peak of Lantau. After a walk around The Big Buddha, we boarded another bus down the hill to Tai O. I had read that there was a new hotel at Tai O which was a great stop for afternoon tea. After alighting from the bus, we walked for about 20 minutes following the signs to the Tai O Heritage Hotel.

The Big Buddha

The Big Buddha

Now this village is not a pretty village and the smell of dried fish is strong and attacks the nostrils. We passed the local school and many small houses some of which were made from metal. We couldn’t help but wonder how on earth people live in such small, dark homes with very low ceilings. The houses often have common walls with their neighbours which meant the fire of 2013 would’ve caught very quickly and destroyed so many properties. It’s a miracle no lives were lost and more damage wasn’t done.

Tai O Fishing Village

Tai O Fishing Village

As we walked further and further along the path away from the main area, I was starting to doubt that the reward would be worth it.

Sign Street Post

It was hot, and smelly and I had envisioned a beautiful oasis with potted palms, rattan fans and beautiful food but feared we would be dining in a house with animals and washing.

Cats Washing

There were fishermen fishing and women in big coolies sitting on the rocks collecting something.

Fisherman Oysters

There was a building out on it’s own that appeared to be sinking and for a few minutes I thought this was going to be our destination.

Sinking Building

But a turn in the road took us paste the shrimp paste drying in the sun. More overpowering fishy smells!

Shrimp Paste

And at last I caught a glimpse of a building high up above the path. It was exactly what I had imagined, from the outside anyway.

Heritage Hotel

There was nothing else around so that had to be it. A few more steps and the sign pointed to the pathway. Oh, wow, it was everything I had imagined and more. The building was the Old Tai O Police station built in 1902 by the British Government as one of the first colonial police stations. It closed in 2002 and was left vacant and dilapidated until it was restored in 2009. In 2012 it was reborn as a nine-suite boutique hotel and to help rejuvenate the historic Tai O fishing village.

Heritage Hotel 1

We found the dining room, with sweeping views of the South China Sea, and took our seats. I was thrilled to learn the furniture came from the now closed China Tee Club (another past favourite of mine).

The China Tee Club (formerly in the Pedder Building in Central but now closed)

The China Tee Club (formerly in the Pedder Building in Central but now closed)

The food was great and for a short time I could pretend I was back in Colonial Hong Kong.

The Dining Room of the Tai O Heritage Hotel

The Dining Room of the Tai O Heritage Hotel

It’s a beautiful spot and well worth the trek. It’s also pleasing to read that the hotel operates as a non-profit social enterprise with surpluses being used for conservation and maintenance of historic buildings. The hotel also provides local employment opportunities, employs local service providers and uses Tai O ingredients at the restaurant in order to support the local economy. There are numerous hiking and nature trails in and around Tai O and the hotel would be a welcome respite for overnight.

Looking back to the village from the Hotel - not the prettiest of views

Looking back to the village from the path to the Hotel – not the prettiest of views

I hope Tai O never loses it’s charm and remains available for tourists to visit and see how life used to be.

Drying salted egg yolks

Drying salted egg yolks



Do you understand that speak? JA = Jonathan Adler and CR = Coco Republic.

Jonathan Adler at Coco Republic

Jonathan Adler at Coco Republic

Last week I attended the launch, here in Sydney, of Jonathan Adler furniture and homewares which is now available through Coco Republic. If you type Jonathan Adler into the Search Box on the right hand side here, you will see I’ve mentioned him on numerous occasions. I love everything about Jonathan Adler – his quirky style, his OTT decor (just check out The Barbie Dream House) and his fun outlook on life.

Jonathan Adler at Coco Republic

Jonathan Adler at Coco Republic

To have access to the fabulous products will be fantastic and add a touch of glamour to any space.

Greg Natale Wallpaper looks at home with Jonathan Adler furniture

Greg Natale Wallpaper looks at home with Jonathan Adler furniture

Coco Republic put on a great night with lots of blue decorations including a very popular lolly table. You’re never too old for a lolly table, right?

Lolly Table at Coco Republic Jonathan Adler Launch

Lolly Table at Coco Republic Jonathan Adler Launch

If you would like to add some Jonathan Adler furniture to your home, contact us for an appointment.


Mixing Industrial Style with your Existing Style

This post has been sponsored by The Orient Express.

Industrial Style is such a great style to incorporate into your family home. It has that raw, utilitarian look which is just right for all the knocks and spills a family will give it when used everyday.

Industrial style kitchen from The Block

Industrial style kitchen from The Block

And surprisingly this designer look is not that expensive to create in our homes as it’s a blend of furniture and objects preferably worn, salvaged or recycled. The style incorporates raw timbers, castor wheels and metal frames. Light fittings, which were once used on outside tennis courts, now hang above kitchen island benches and tractor seats are used as bar stools. There’s also the use of man made industrial type substrates like concrete, metal, glass and dark, moody, industrial colours like black, charcoal, red and green.

Industrial style coffee table with iron legs from The Orient Express

Industrial style coffee table with iron legs from The Orient Express

It’s one of those styles that will be translated in many different ways and incorporated with other styles and pieces to create a truly unique look. If you’re not keen on having an entire house of industrial style furniture then it’s perfect for the casual living areas. Just one or two pieces will give that industrial flair to your home as it mixes so well with furniture items from other styles and eras.

Industrial style shelving unit from The Orient Express

Industrial style shelving unit from The Orient Express

Our friends at The Orient Express have a great range of industrial pieces. Any one of these blended with your existing furnishings will give that edgy vibe. These items can be purchased directly from The Orient Express in Abbotsford, Vic or your selection can be shipped to you anywhere in Australia.

Timber Bookshelf from The Orient Express

Timber Bookshelf from The Orient Express

If you would like assistance creating the Industrial Style in your home, contact us for an appointment.


Sofa So Good

I have been asked a number of times lately to source suitable sofas for my clients. Invariably they also want some direction on which type of sofa is best. As you know, the sky’s the limit when it comes to styles, finishes and sizes of sofas. However, there is generally only three shapes of sofas – the modular or L-shape, the sofa with chaise and the standard sofa.

Avon Modular Sofa

So in deciding which is the best shape for you, you need to answer the most important question in home decorating – what will the sofa be used for? Will it be to entertain, watch TV, have a Sunday afternoon snooze or reading? Now many people say all of the above, but what will happen MOST of the time? There are many other things to consider when buying a sofa too but let’s just start with shape for now.

L Shaped Sofa

Two sofas either opposite or perpendicular to each other create the perfect conversation layout. By creating a circle the conversation flows and no one will leave the room with a stiff neck or sore back.


A sofa with a chaise is ideal for TV watching or lazing around but not great for entertaining. If there is a crowd, not every seat is filled and conversation can be difficult as everyone is pretty much in a line. The person sitting or perching on the chaise part doesn’t have back support so it either doesn’t get used as a chair for any length of time or whoever uses it moves around a bit.


An L-shaped sofa does have back support for all seats however the corner seat is rarely used if the room is at capacity. The L-shape is more conducive to conversation and the addition of a couple of occasional chairs at the open end or just some floor cushions will complete that conversation circle. When it’s time to laze around and watch TV a couple can sit at either end of the L and stretch out.

Baby Jasper

But there is a solution should the sofa be used primarily for conversation and only occasionally lounging, or if the space won’t allow the larger sofas – the versatile ottoman. It can be used instead of a coffee table but can also be pulled up to the sofa like a chaise when you just want to stretch out and watch a good movie. It can also be used as additional seating when required.


If you would like assistance sourcing the perfect sofa for your home, contact us for an appointment.

The best seat in the house

I recently saw this quote on Pinterest and it reminded me of the home in which I grew up.

Furniture plan

Mum and Dad built our home, which was architecturally designed and we moved in when I was 9. At that time everyone was converting their garages to rumpus rooms but our house had all the living areas on the one floor. We had a family room off the kitchen and casual dining. Pretty much like today’s KiDiLi. This was the room in which we watched TV. The “good” lounge room was not for kids, except for Christmas lunch.

Pangeza St

Mum bought a Jason recliner for the room. It was “Mum’s” chair but my brother and I would race to get to it first for our Brady Bunch watching after school. I usually won because I could get a lift home from school with our neighbour, whereas my brother had to walk and catch a bus from his school. There were many arguments over that chair.


One day we came home from school and Mum had moved the chair to the other end of the room. My brother was stoked because he could sit in the chair and push it right back and bring up the leg rest. I didn’t care, I was happy sitting in the chair that was moved into the spot the recliner previously occupied. You see it was the perfect position for watching TV and I didn’t want to miss an episode of Greg, Marcia, Jan, Peter, Cindy and Bobby.

Jason Recliner

One of the questions I start with when designing a living room for my clients, is “What is the purpose of the room?” If you ask yourself that and answer truthfully then furniture style and placement should be easier.

TV Room

If you would like assistance creating the perfect room for your family, contact us for an appointment.

Re-love Project 2014

Do you remember last year, I was involved in the Feast Watson Re-Love Project? Well it’s on again this year and the re-loved items are now available for purchase via eBay. As before, all proceeds will go to Salvos Stores.

Re-loved TV Cabinet

It’s a great project to showcase what can be done with second-hand pieces of furniture that many would not look at twice.

As part of the Feast Watson Re-Love Project, eight lucky Australians will have the chance to take home a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture with all proceeds donated to Salvos Stores.

The project launched in May this year and eight talented designers across Australia have been busy upcycling worn timber furniture items into unique designer pieces, kindly donating their time and expertise to the campaign.

Feast Watson Re-Love Project before and after preview

From shabby bedside tables to an old tripod and even a rocking chair, each talented designer has provided inspiration and breathed new life into old furniture. Each item is marked with the designer’s unique creative style, and the outcomes speak for themselves with eight truly exceptional pieces of furniture.

Salvos Stores Chief Executive Officer, Allen Dewhirst, is grateful for the generous donation and excited to see the results from the auction.


“Salvos Stores are excited to once again be the charitable beneficiary of the Feast Watson Re-Love Project. Last year was a great success and we are thankful to both Feast Watson and the designers who generously donate their time to the project. We couldn’t help but love an environmentally conscious campaign which gives second-hand furniture a new lease on life. We are very excited to see the outcome of the eBay auction,” Dewhirst said.

Feast Watson’s Brand Manager, James Fisher, says the talent and creativity displayed in the Re-Love Project has been outstanding.


“Our eight designers have blown us away. They have each done an incredible job in creating something truly special. Wood and timber accents are a hot trend at the moment, so it’s been exciting to see eight different timber pieces be transformed over the course of the campaign. The end result is a collection of amazing design driven pieces,” Fisher said.

To find out more information about the project or for inspiration for an up-cycling project you can complete at home, visit the Feast Watson Pinterest page.

Painted Hive

To bid on your favourite item, between Thursday 24 July to Sunday 3 August visit Feast Watson’s eBay site.


If you would like assistance mixing upcycled furniture with new or existing pieces in your home, contact us for an appointment.

It’s June!

Can you believe that? That last week of May slipped by in a flash with so much going on.

Firstly a bit of sad news. We had to have a tree removed from our front garden. I know, there are worse things that could happen but it was such a favourite. When we bought our house over ten years ago, I remember telling our then neighbours where the house was and they knew it because the Crab Apple draped over the fence and footpath and was so spectacular when it was all in flower. It would always flower for my September birthday and herald the arrival of spring. Unfortunately it was dying and had to be removed. About 30 years of growing was a 5cm stump in under an hour. Now we have to decide what to plant in its place.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 10.01.39 am

Designex was held last week at the new temporary home of Glebe Island. One of the nice things about this venue is that it is accessible by ferry and Sydney Autumn is perfect for a short ferry ride.

On the ferry from Circulay Quay

On the ferry from Circulay Quay

I’ve been attending Designex for over 10 years now and it has changed so much since my first visit. Back then it was a jam-packed exhibition hall with so much to see and do. Speakers were dotted around at various stages and there was everything from fabrics to outdoor furniture, rugs, carpets, soft furnishings, lighting, windows, doors, tiles, pavers, planters, mirrors, Homewares and artworks – just about everything required for home design. Over the past few years the shows have become smaller and smaller and this year was no different. It’s one of those catch 22 things where if I don’t go I might miss something and if I do go then there’s nothing really exciting there.

Interesting wallpapers at  Designex

Interesting wallpapers at Designex

But I did find a couple of nuggets. The first are these fabulous power points. I know right? Power points? But look, they have USB slots too so no more clunky transformers sticking out of the wall. You can charge two devices and use two electric sockets at the same time. Perfect for that spot in the kitchen where everyone charges their phones. And they can be retrofitted into the old power point spots by a qualified electrician.

Excel Life Power Points with USB Ports

Excel Life Power Points with USB Ports

A few of the fabric houses have returned to Designex and it was great to have a look at the exquisite fabrics from South Pacific Fabrics. Anyone have a cool $800 for a metre of fabric? If you do I’ve got a lovely selection to show you.

South Pacific Fabrics' stand at Designex

South Pacific Fabrics’ stand at Designex

I also attended the launch party of Timothy Oulton furniture at Coco Republic. It was a lively evening with the best of British on display. The furniture is gorgeous but big.

Timothy Oulton furniture

Timothy Oulton furniture

The light fittings were stunning.

The lights in the background have 1500 crystal balls. Just stunning!

The lights in the background have 1500 crystal balls. Just stunning! Oh and that’s the man himself on the right.

Everyone who attended received a leather luggage tag which you could have embossed with your initials. The champagne was flowing and the cheese table was heaving.

Cheese table at Timothy Oulton launch at Coco Republic

Cheese table at Timothy Oulton launch at Coco Republic

Coco Republic sure know how to put on a party!


And finally I did spend some time on client work during the week. Custom made furniture which I designed was delivered and installed as well as window coverings. I can’t wait to show you this home when it’s finished. Just a couple more pieces to finish it off.

Client living room taking shape with custom made bookcases, dining table and banquet seat.

Client living room taking shape with custom made bookcases, dining table and banquet seat.

If you require assistance with furniture for your home, contact us for an appointment. We have a very thick black book of suppliers for all styles, tastes and budgets.

Art Deco Makeover

Wasn’t it lovely to have four days off? Did you do anything exciting? The family and I headed to the South Coast of NSW for four days of R & R. I love the beach and the warm weather so thought I’d top up before I start hibernating for winter.


This week I’ll be placing orders for furniture and fabric for a client’s Art Deco makeover. The young couple love the era and wanted their apartment to be furnished in the Art Deco style.

Art Deco Movement Poster Revised Tight Rough

Art Deco Style was heavily influenced by the abstract shapes of Cubism and the exotic motifs of nature and is one of the most glamorous and popular styles of twentieth century design. First fashionable between 1920 and 1945 and named after the 1925 Expositions des Artes Decoratifs in Paris, Art Deco heralded the coming of the modern, industrialised world with its structured elegance.

Perhaps it was a reaction to all the clutter and dark colours of the Victorian period or simply a desire to escape from the ugliness of the events of WW1, but without doubt, Art Deco demonstrated great optimism, clarity and modernism. The style featured aerodynamic rounded forms together with vivid colours that reflected what was happening in the world at the time.

West Elm Chester2

We’ve chosen a custom made sofa in the Art Deco style with wide rounded arms. We’re teaming that with buttoned velvet chairs and of course lots of cushions in Art Deco inspired fabrics.

H & J Deco

And as can be seen in the Great Gatsby, this era liked to party so we’ve purchased a cocktail cabinet for my clients’ crystal decanters and glasses. And to complete the look, we’ve wallpapered a feature wall in Catherine Martin’s Limelight wallpaper.

Lubna bar

Now I wish I could wiggle my nose and have everything installed tomorrow.

Limelight Wallpaper

If you would like assistance creating a home in the style you love, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.

Rosie Basket The Market Basket Co. RRP $65.00

PS. Don’t forget our Market Basket Co giveaway. Leave a comment and you’re in the draw! Easy Peasy.

When space is at a premium

Not all of us have the luxury of living in expansive homes with spacious rooms to decorate. Many of my clients wish their rooms had an extra square metre or so. Unfortunately we can’t always knock down walls and create bigger rooms.

Demolishing walls

Demolishing walls

But we can dig into our box of tricks and make the rooms appear bigger.

Now we all know mirrors help as well as light walls. But making every square centimetre count is the most important. And don’t just think about the floors pace. There is lots of room on the vertical plane that can be utilised as well.

Small Bedroom with hanging bedside lights

Small Bedroom with hanging bedside lights

In the bedroom, build storage units including wardrobes and display space around the bed. Use pendant lights which hang from the ceiling and small bedside tables or shelves instead of wide, bulky bedside tables and lamps.

Small bedroom with built-in wardrobes around bedhead

Small bedroom with built-in wardrobes around bedhead

In the living room, use a coffee table with stools or ottomans underneath to provide extra seating when needed. Or use two small tables that can be placed together for one larger table or separated and drawn up to the sofa for individual side tables.

Small living room with two coffee tables

Small living room with two coffee tables

Cabinetry can be taken all the way to the ceiling which will assist with creating height plus providing much needed storage.

Small kitchen with full height cabinetry

Small kitchen with full height cabinetry

But don’t think small space small pieces. Oversized items can trick the eye into thinking the space is actually much larger than it is.

Small dining room with oversized pendant light

Small dining room with oversized pendant light

These images along with more ideas and inspiration can be found on my Pinterest board, When Space is At A Premium.

If you would like assistance with creating space in your home contact us for an online or in-person consultation.

Custom Made Sofas

The biggest piece of furniture you will probably buy for your living room, is your sofa. It’s usually the piece I advise clients to purchase first. There are so many things to consider when purchasing a sofa that it can sometimes be overwhelming. I wrote a post about it here.

Living Room by Inside Out Colour and Design

Living Room by Inside Out Colour and Design

I was recently asked for assistance to source a sofa for a client as they couldn’t find what they were looking for and keep it within budget. With the price of TV’s and other living room electronics dropping, the sofa is often the most expensive piece in the living room too. We have a number of suppliers that make furniture to order here in Australia. That way you can ensure you are getting your choice of fabric, colour, style, size and comfort.

New sofa

New sofa

If you are looking for some living room furniture, you may like to consider The Sofa Maker. A completely online solution to a custom made sofa and lounge room chairs. The prices look good for what you get and there are options in fabric, style and leg stains to suit every taste.

Smart Eddie by The Sofa Maker

Smart Eddie by The Sofa Maker

My only concern with this system is that you cannot sit in it before purchase. I would always recommend to my clients that they try a sofa before they buy. However, The Sofa Maker is offering free shipping and returns and a 100% money back guarantee so they are obviously convinced that they will provide comfort as well as style.

Colour and Stain options at The Sofa Maker

Colour options at The Sofa Maker

If you would like assistance sourcing the perfect furniture for your living room, contact me for a consultation.

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