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Saturday, November 12, 2011

For the birds.....

Sometimes I'm asked for fabrics, wallpapers or rugs that have an animal or bird theme, but birds seem to be the most requested.  Once I began researching I was surprised how many animal and bird themed fabrics there are.  Mostly they tend to be more classical in their style but there are some which would suit a contemporary setting as well.  Today I shall concentrate on the bird theme.

The new Designers Guild Royal Collection ‘Rosa Chinensis’ features a peacock.  This range is a beautiful addition to the previous Royal Collections, with gorgeous and luxurious fabrics.

In this collection there are ready made cushions, including the peacock one below.

Two more bird themed fabrics below in a more traditional style with parrots, birds and flowers from English company Titley & Marr

The pretty blue and white fabric below is from Galbraith & Paul, a Philadelphia based studio workshop specializing in hand block printed textiles, handmade rugs, and studio printed wallpaper

And here is the same pattern as wallpaper in a different colourway.

The rug below is Glabraith & Paul Pewter Birds - Hand Knotted Wool and Silk

Soleil Bleu make some beautiful fabrics and below is a detail from a gorgeous fabric featuring parrots - note how the birds feathers look like a collage of butterfly wings

And here are two real birds to finish with:  I photographed this beautiful pee wee at Manly Dam recently.  It very patiently sat on that branch for quite a while as I snapped away.  And the native noisy minor below was taken at Bradleys Head.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beautiful custom rugs

Have you thought of having a custom rug made for your home?

Custom rugs can be made up in any colour, design, texture and size to suit your interior decor.  Designs can be created to match a colour or theme in your furniture or curtain fabric and we offer a complementary design service.  Or you can choose a standard design but change the colours.  

Wool rugs are a favourite and by having the design element in silk a subtle but beautiful effect is created as in the rug below.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Changes ....

Well I've made it!  The move was a big effort (what move isn't?) and I have my hard working husband and son to thank for all their help.  So now I'm ensconced in my new little office at Crows Nest.

I'm sharing with you today the latest from Designers Guild, as always a colourful and dramatic collection and this time with a big emphasis on blue. The fabrics are beautiful and the quality of the cloth evident when you feel and see them.

Designers Guild not only supplies fabrics, but a stunning range of ready made cushions, rugs, throws, bags, trimmings and more.

Email me if you'd like to see this collection.

Kasida silks

Rosa Chinensis wallpaper

Monday, August 22, 2011


A decorating fabric which I think charming and often used with flair is checks. The lightness and simplicity of this decorating style appeals to contemporary tastes. 

Gingham is the simplest form of check; white stripes of equal width in both directions with one other colour. 

Checks don't need to be 'cottagey' and are included in elegant interiors, maybe for summer slip covers or as in the curtains in the photos below.

Checks on cotton or linen look very cheerful in a kitchen or dining room made up into a Roman blind or curtains, or on a table cloth or chair cushions.

In the bedroom below by Kathryn Ireland the checks are combined with patterns and stripes to create a restful room with a country feel. The splashes of red add interest.

Ralph Lauren uses a wool tartan check to cover the chair above in an elegant and cozy study. 

Let me know if you'd like more information on fabrics like these or any other and I'll be happy to show them to you and discuss your decorating requirements.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011


I'm deviating from decorating today to pass on this really scrumptious cake recipe which is from Belinda Jeffery's latest book "A Country Cookbook", a beautiful book with terrific recipes which would be an excellent addition to your cook book collection.


From The Country Cookbook by Belinda Jeffery

180g almond meal
80g self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 free-range eggs
250g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond essence
200g unsalted butter, melted & cooled
Icing sugar, for dusting
Cream, to serve
2 fairly large just-ripe pears
1 cup (250ml) Muscat (or pear nectar)
A squeeze of lemon juice

To poach the pears, peel, quarter and core pears. Fit them snugly in a single layer in a frying pan and pour over Muscat and lemon juice. Heat to medium-high and when it comes to the boil turn down so it bubbles gently. Cover and poach the pears for about 10 minutes until tender.

Transfer pears to a bowl.  Increase heat under the pan and reduce the cooking liquid to ½ cup.  Pour over the pears and cool.

Preheat oven to 180°. Butter a shallow 24cm cake tin and line base & sides with buttered baking paper. Dust lightly with flour and set aside.

Put the almond meal, flour and salt into a large bowl and whisk them together with a balloon whisk for 40 seconds.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and almond essence until they’re thoroughly combined, then mix in the cooled butter until it disappears.  Scrape this buttery mixture into the almond meal mixture and stir them together.  Spread the resulting batter evenly into the prepared tin.

Take the pear quarters out of their liquid and pat them dry.  Halve each quarter lengthways and lay them decoratively over the top of the batter (there is no need to press them in as they will sink a bit as the cake bakes).  Sprinkle a tiny bit of caster sugar over each slice of pear.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until the top springs back slowly when gently pressed and a fine skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  You may find that after 40 minutes or so the top is looking quite brown enough – if this is the case, just sit a sheet of foil loosely on top of the cake to stop it getting any darker.

Transfer the cake to a rack and leave it to cool in the tin until it’s barely warm.  Carefully invert the cake onto the rack, remove the tin and paper, then invert it again onto a plate so it’s pear-side up.  Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve with cream.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rubelli 2011 Collection

I was lucky enough to attend a showing of the latest collection from Rubelli Venezia last week and the fabrics are truly gorgeous.

Rubelli Venezia has been making fabrics in Venice since the mid 1800s and is renowned for its products.  Rubelli donated fabrics for La Fenice (Venice), rebuilt after the fire and supplied the damask for La Scala opera house in Milan.

Here is a small sample of the fabrics from the new collection:

The fabric above is a velvet

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quirky and fun things.....

I find it fun to discover the creativity of other people and am impressed by their inventiveness, whether because on a tight budget or just because they love crafts and expressing their artistic and practical skills.

This DIY wall was featured in the Design Sponge blog:  What a creative approach to recycling old pieces of timber!

We recently visited friends in Bowral and I love the old cane chair and its hand painted cushion on the veranda.

This is a friend's house in Chile; she said she'd found the panels, which are painted on hessian, in a boutique when travelling in Costa Rica.  They were made up into a room divider as a changing space.  So she talked the owner into selling them to her and brought them home, then had them made up as you see below, and the effect is quite stunning.  Isn't the chandelier beautiful too!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I am always attracted to colour and when used with care and balance will make a very warm and welcoming room.  Colour looks great in all sorts of settings.  Even if just used in a feature chair and cushions, colour and pattern will transform a room.  

Inspiration comes to me from varied sources and I often take photos of things that catch my eye; it could be autumn leaves, flowers, a colourfully painted building, shop displays, etc.  

I took the photo below at La Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the Thibaut fabric in the next photo reminded me of that colourful corner of BA.

La Boca

I loved the old theatre panels which decorate a winery shed in Orange NSW (De Salis).  They add some real style and colour to a corrugated iron former packing shed!  If I half closed my eyes I could imagine I was back in Italy in an old palazzo.  The colour is actually more vibrant in real life.

I took the photo below on a stunning day at Armstrong Bay which is near Port Fairy on Victoria's south/west coast.  With the cold windy weather at this time of year it's nice to dream of long summer days lazing at the beach.  The beautiful Schumacher indoor/outdoor collection in the next photo had me dreaming of summer.  Maybe Trina Turk, the fabric designer, was inspired by somewhere like Armstrong Bay on a summer day!

More summer dreaming!

Back to winter now - I've just been to Orange, New South Wales where the cold and wind were biting (lots of layers kept us warm!).  In the little heritage town of Millthorpe near Orange a colourfully decorated chair and cushions by a sunny window immediately made me feel toasty, and brought to mind autumn leaves in the following photo taken in autumn in Bowral, NSW.

And this photo is of a really beautiful Osborne & Little fabric which has been hanging in my shop window and received many favourable comments.

These are the fabrics which are currently in my window, the beautiful and colourful striped sheer is from JAB and the linen Chinoiserie fabric is from Soleil Bleu


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Warm winter quilts in alpaca, silk or bamboo

With the coming of winter now’s the time to think of these light but warm quilts, either alpaca, silk or bamboo.

Alpaca fleece is very soft to the hand due to its unique fibre surface. Under a microscope, alpaca fleece has a very smooth surface with very low cuticle-scales which are one quarter of those of wool. This means that alpaca fleece feels "slippery" and beautifully soft when compared to a similar micron (thickness) wool fibre. The luxurious softness is one of the fleece's outstanding features. With experienced preparation and processing, pure alpaca quilts are dramatically softer than any other natural fibre.

Softness is important as it feels good over your body but also it is important for its warmth. Ideally your quilt should "snuggle" or wrap around your body to trap air that is naturally heated to keep you warm. A stiff quilt filling or quilt casing can create larger air pockets around your body which take time and energy to heat to keep warm.

Silk-filled Quilts

  • Luxurious
  • Cocoons your body, soft, tactile & drapery
  • Naturally hypoallergenic - dust mite don't like to live in silk so beneficial to allergy sufferers
  • Very light weight - excellent for arthritis sufferers and those who don't like heavy bedding.
  • Naturally thermostatic - Warm in winter, cool in summer
  • Thin, neat profile on the bed - easy to make
  • No chemicals used in the production of the silk
  • Easy care - just hang on the line to air occasionally

Bamboo Quilts

  • Ecologically friendly - One of the "Greenest" plants on the planet
  • Anti-bacterial & anti-microbial - used in surgical dressings
  • Naturally deodorizing - Used in socks & underwear
  • Dust mite & mould resistant - Great for allergy and asthma sufferers
  • Three times more absorbent than cotton - Used in towels
  • Made using world patented technology - our product is authenticated 100% bamboo
  • OekoTex accredited - contains no harmful chemicals
  • Bamboo requires no fertilisers, pesticides, irrigation or fungicides to grow.
  • Produces 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Throw out or recover?

I find my clients often face a dilemma when their sofas or armchairs start to look tired and worn and the springs are sagging.  They wonder whether to throw out and buy new or rejuvenate and update a well-loved piece.

My advice is that if an armchair or sofa is well built and comfortable then it is worth recovering.  Often to replace the piece to the same standard will cost more than to reupholster. 

One just has to drive around our suburbs on household rubbish collection days to see the folly of purchasing cheap furniture.  It may seem cheap at the time but it doesn't last.  (I won't get onto the topic of wasted resources and our throw away society!)

Here is a chair which was comfortable but dated:

And here is the chair recovered.  It is covered in a raw linen and the cushion fabric matches a Roman blind in the room.  The fabric is also linen, hand blocked from Galbraith & Paul.

Here is another armchair in a quite different style.  It sat in a corner of an apartment which was flooded with early morning sun and had faded badly.  My solution was to use a fabric designed for outdoor furniture:  fade resistant, tough and washable.

The old faded fabric

The recovered chair

This old chair was a much loved family heirloom which was recovered in a beautiful JAB cut velvet.  My client wanted the buttoned chair back changed and the result is a smarter look.

The recovered chair