Grand Designs

Grand Designs Live came to Sydney over the weekend.

I have long been an avid fan of the TV show Grand Designs, and have marvelled at the amazing creations Kevin McCloud finds on his travels in the UK and further abroad. I have also marvelled at the sheer tenacity of the home owners who tackle the building process with naivety and determination. And naturally I marvel at the end result and how, most times, it all works out and they all live happily ever after.

The Gap House via

So I was intrigued as to how the TV show would translate to a Live event. I had no idea what to expect.

Grand Design Live Official Opening via Facebook

It turned out to be more like every other home related show I have been to, for both trade and the general public, however the difference was the appearance of Kevin McCloud. And doesn’t he have a following? About 200 – 300 people packed the area of the Grand Stage with seating quickly snaffled up by the early birds. The doors only opened at 10am and Kevin was due on stage at 11am, but by 10.35am it was standing room only.

Kevin McCloud - photographer Mark Fairhurst. Image via

Kevin is naturally passionate about homes and building and his 40 minute talk centred around the fact that all homes, in fact all things, we love have three main attributes. They have firmness, commodity and delight. Like the Fiat Spider, Kevins’ favourite car. It is solidly built, very comfortable and has the WOW factor.

Fiat Spider via Wikipedia

And of course the interesting point, and one that I have so often mentioned here and in my work, is what one person finds comfortable or attractive, may not have the same effect on the next person. He spoke about the famed Eames chair and how for years he had coveted an original. However, when he finally did sit in one, it was not comfortable for him as he is fairly tall and therefore it lost all it’s appeal. The one perfect piece that is perfect for and to everyone, does not exist.

The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman

However in our homes, we should fill them with things we love because of their meaning. The things we touch every day, like the humble light switch, should be top quality and beautiful to touch. Kevin’s parting piece of advice was that the story in things is what makes the design.

What piece or pieces do you have in your home that tells a story?


If you would like assistance with colour or design for your home, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.


Absolutely Amazing

One of the places we visited on our recent holiday to the States was Las Vegas. We had a very packed two days and three nights in the place and it was “absolutely amazing”.

I loved seeing all the hotels with their international replica architecture but what really stood out was the lighting. I’m a sucker for interesting light fittings and think they can really pack a punch in a room.

I think I was the only person in the city taking photos of the ceilings.

I could just imagine the fun the interior designers had in putting all this over the top decor together and either sourcing or designing the fittings for each area of the hotels.

Like The Cosmopolitan which had a central Chandelier Bar with the biggest Chandelier I have ever seen. In fact it was the whole bar.

The other interesting lighting was in the foyer of the Bellagio Hotel. Looks like Murano Glass to me.

I mentioned on my Facebook Page how nice it was to see the many seasonal decorations and installations in the hotels and shopping centres, something we really don’t do in Australia, or if we do it’s not as grandiose as these.

If you would like help with decor or lighting for your home, contact us for an on-line or in-person consultation.


Cape Cod and Beyond

We have well and truly left New York behind now. We’ve been travelling around New England and taking in the sights we’ve read and dreamed about.

Newport House

Our first stop was Newport, Rhode Island. Famous for the home of the America’s Cup (which Australia won in 1983) and historic houses from the Gilded Age. It is a colourful, harbour town with cute homes and lots of shopping.

One of the historic homes

From there we drove the entire stretch of Cape Cod to the very tip and stayed overnight so we could explore the town the next morning. Cape Cod homes have a big influence on the houses in Australia and many people would like to replicate the style. The easy-going relaxed lifestyle suits our Australian way of life.

Cute Cape Cod Home with bright yellow door

Then it was into Massachusetts to meet up with fellow blogger Linda Merrill. Linda writes a number of blogs including Surroundings and Silver Screen Surroundings as well as co-hosts the popular podcast The Skirted Roundtable. I’ve been following Linda for a number of years now and we have exchanged emails and blog comments from time to time. When I knew we were visiting her “backyard” I emailed her for some insights into things to see and do for an Interior Decorator from Down Under. In true Linda style, she emailed back with loads of ideas and information so it was only natural that we should meet for a bite.

Linda and Me

We met in her pretty hometown for lunch and a long chat on design, country similarities, what’s popular and general chit chat before heading further up the coast to Maine.

One of the "neat" houses in MA

I wish we had more time to explore this interesting and beautiful state. The houses are so cute and the word “neat” kept popping into my head when I stopped to snap photos of them. I’m not sure what makes them appear so neat. Maybe it’s the symmetry of the architecture or the neat gardens. Maybe it’s the high pitched roofs which don’t attract leaf litter or maybe it’s the manicured, green lawns.

Don’t you agree, the houses here are “neat”? You can check out more photos on my Facebook page. Don’t forget to “like” it while you’re there.


New York Colour

I’ve spent the past week in New York City. I’ve never been to New York before, or America for that matter!

Colourful Candles at Bond No 9. Every scent is named after an area in New York City

I’ve had a wonderful time and managed to tick off many things on my To Do/Must See List. Not all mind you, so I’ll have to plan a return trip. Of course many on the list had a home decor bent.

Gorgeous crockery at Fish’s Eddy

I’ve taken loads of photos but thought you might like to see this collection – my take on New York Colour.

Colourful Building

I’ve now moved on to a week in New England so will update you later on the many colours I find there.

Cabana Display at Tiffany’s

Fall Display at Pottery Barn

All photographs taken by me!

I’m Baaaccckkk

Did you miss me? I hope you had a good week and a bit. I had a wonderful week in Brisbane visiting friends and family.

I called in to Black and Spiro in New Farm when we visited Chouquette for morning tea on Bastille Day. Very appropriate to munch on French pastries on 14 July.

Yummy french pastries from Chouquette

I also managed to visit the Woollongabba Antiques Centre and check out Sandy’s little shop there. The items she has on display are just beautiful.

Paint Me White at Woollongabba Antiques Centre

One of the buildings I noticed in Woollongabba was this colourful monster. Not sure I’m lovin’ it though.

New Building at Woollongabba

There was a sister building at Herston/Bowen Hills near the Royal Brisbane Hospital and it was red. I was driving in traffic and couldn’t stop to take a photo without causing a major traffic hazzard. Anyone know what they are?

I’ve cleared the mail – both snail and email and ready to get back to some sort of routine. Enjoy your Wednesday.


Vivid Sydney 2011

Ominous rain men

On Saturday evening we rugged up and headed into the city for the annual light, music and ideas festival known as Vivid Sydney.

Lights on the ceiling

The historic Rocks area and Circular Quay are swathed in light. The surrounding highrise buildings have coloured lights projected on to them and the Sydney Opera House is aglow with a magnificent light show projected on to those iconic sails.

Opera House aglow

The building that we loved the most this year was the Customs House which constantly changed and at one stage looked like it was crumbling to the ground. All done with lights! Amazing.

Customs House feeling rather blue

As my daughter said, “They took a very ordinary building and turned it into something spectacular.”

I had fun making my first movie and uploading it to You Tube. Click on the Customs House photo to have a look.

Vivid Sydney is on until 13 June.


designEX 2011

designEX is Australia’s leading “trade only” design and architecture event which has been running for the past 23 years. Each year the show alternates between Melbourne and Sydney.And for some inexplicable reason it is held the week after the Milan Furniture Fair.

This year's theme was Unwrap Tomorrow

My first trip to designEX was 6 years ago when I was undertaking my dual Diploma in Colour Consulting and Interior Styling. I organised a group of my fellow students to travel to Melbourne for three days and visit the show. We were like kids in a lolly store and walked around all day with our jaws dragging on the floor. We collected brochures and samples from just about every exhibitor and handed out business cards like there was no tomorrow. We didn’t see everything the first day and with aching feet and backs, we ventured back the second day to spend the morning visiting the stands we didn’t fit in on the first day.

via Australian Design Review

The next year the show was in Sydney. We had all graduated and many were working in the design industry in various capacities. We met up again for a lunch and walk around the show. Not quite so daunting, it was still huge and we easily filled the day. We were, however, more selective on who we visited and which brochures we collected. Having set up my own business and servicing residential clients for 18 months I now knew what suppliers I needed.

Stopping for lunch

I then settled into a rhythm of visiting designEX each year regardless of what town it was in. Melbourne always appeared to be bigger and better than the Sydney show, but I was never sure if that was just because it was an opportunity to be out of town or infact there were more Melbourne based suppliers there, that I didn’t get to see regularly. Many suppliers would launch new ranges at designEX and my inbox was packed with invitations to drop by certain stands to see the new releases.

via The Design Files

So this year, I made my biennial pilgrimage to Melbourne for designEX. It was so disappointing. I know over the years, the show has become smaller and smaller with many of the fabric houses opting to have showings in their own showrooms rather than take a stand at the show. But 2011 would have to be the smallest designEX I have ever visited. Many of the big players were absent and I was able to complete the show in less than 2 hours. The best thing about the show was the “bling” bag we received to store all our brochures.

My Bling Bag

But my trip to Melbourne was not wasted. I do like visiting this southern capital and had a great day exploring a couple of suburbs and suppliers that I hadn’t visited before. But I doubt I’ll be back to Melbourne solely for designEX. Perhaps next year I should head to Milan?

Californian Bungalows in Australia

I’ve mentioned before that many of the homes in my area are Federation style homes. The other architectural style that’s prominent around here, is the Californian Bungalow.

via L J Hooker

The Cal Bung, as it is affectionately called, became popular in Australia in the 1920’s. It was imported from Pasadena, California in 1916 by an Australian Real Estate Agent who assembled it for show in the Sydney suburb of Rosebery. It caught on rapidly and was so popular that not many other styles were built in the 1920’s.

via Real Estate View

It even underwent regional adaptations being built in local red brick in Melbourne, local liver-coloured brick in Sydney and in limestone in South Australia. The Queensland version was elevated and made from timber and galvanised iron roofing.

They were typically of sound and solid construction. They were often built of rustic materials including rough-hewn sandstone, heavy timber and wood shingles. The roofs were low pitched with two or three assymetrical gables with pillars supporting the front verandah. They were generally positioned on a good-sized block with a large backyard and usually had room for a driveway and a garage as cars were becoming more popular during the time of construction.

via Simplified Bee

The attractive brickwork at the front often changed to common brick, which was cheaper, down the sides and to the rear of the house. On the inside, the floor plan was more open than the Victorian and Federation homes which came before.

Colour and decor by Inside Out Colour and Design

They are ripe for renovating, as they are usually close to public transport within a relatively short distance of the capital cities. Families tend to add another level either into the roofline or ontop in the southern states, or build in underneath in the north. The back of the house can fairly easily be extended to take further advantage of the indoor/outdoor living and create open-plan family areas. Usually the many period features such as exposed beams, leadlight windows and ornate ceilings are retained.

Decor by Inside Out Colour and Design

If you would like assistance with renovating your Californian Bungalow, contact us for on on-line or in-person consultation.



Hoppy Chinese New Year

Just hopping in to wish you a lovely weekend.

It’s Chinese New Year and time to welcome in The Year of The Rabbit. From all accounts it’s meant to be a calm and peaceful year. I think the people of Queensland are looking forward to that!

This house, or at least information about it, landed in my Inbox this week.

Byron Bay House

I love their garden art, very apt for the Year of The Rabbit.

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Federation Style on Australia Day

One of the most popular style of houses around my area, is the Federation House. It was an early style of Australian architecture and consists of a sprawling, assymetrical structure. It often will have a verandah that encircles the house and roofs with gables, turrets and dormer windows.

via Domain

There are often unlikely angles, bay windows and towers at corners. It was developed to meet the demands of the prosperous middle classes who wanted to show off their new-found wealth that coincided with Federation itself in 1901. The Federation House borrowed styles from many countries and eras which is fitting for this melting pot of a nation, we call home.

via Domain

Inside the house, colours were muted but decoration was ornate. Australian motifs abound with flora and fauna both displayed in the plaster ceilings or used in fabrics, wallpaper or tiles.

from "The Federation House" by Hugh Fraser and Ray Joyce

Coloured glass or lead-light was used throughout Federation homes and the top panels of the front door often featured panels of colour in soft pastels with Art Nouveau or Australian motifs. Round bulls-eye windows as well as bay windows were popular. The bay window would often house a window seat which is such a versatile design.

Colour choice by Inside Out Colour and Design

Fortunately today, these houses are being remodelled (rather than bulldozed) to include many of the period details but with an emphasis on more contemporary living. The dark, muted tones of the turn of the century are gone and the window coverings are more streamlined and suited to today’s busy lifestyles.

Modern take on a Federation Living room by Inside Out Colour and Design

The verandahs are sought after and have often been extended to create an outdoor living space adjacent to the modern kitchen.

Wide verandah

The bathrooms have been updated but still include that old world charm.

Bathroom Design by Inside Out Colour and Design

I love working with these houses. Not just because they are iconic Australian houses but they lend so well to being enhanced and modified to suit today’s families. If you require assistance with colour or decor for your Federation Home, contact us for an on-line or in-person consultation.

Happy Australia Day

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