Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wall inspiration

When I'm flicking through a magazine the last thing I normally spend time on is looking at the ads. Ads, especially in house magazines are particularly bland and dull, I think. Nothing to inspire or get excited about.

But this advertisement made me stop. It is from furniture and electrical store Harvey Norman (big in Australia, but not usually my style). What really caught my eye in this image (below) is the wall art. If you click on the picture you can see a much larger image.

Ok, so the picture I've scanned in isn't great quality, but I love the wall art they have created with natural cast offs. It appears to me that they've taken what looks like an off cut from a palm tree - correct me if I'm wrong - that you can often buy these days from florists specialising in modern designs.

It looks like they've hammered in a couple of nails in to the wall and balanced the palm frond/leaf thing on them.

I've looked closely at what is in the palm leaves and decided they are some sort of sculptures made from cuttlefish bones. They seem to be wired together. Obviously I pored over this picture for ages!
Do you think I'm right? Have you ever seen anything like this before? I wonder if it would get stinky...

I tried googling cuttlefish bone art and cuttlefish bone scultpure and nothing came up that looked remotely like this.

Anyway, it took my fancy and I think it is a fabulous and innovative way to decorate your wall. Go Harvey Norman!

Best wishes,

Monday, August 17, 2009

The problem with open plan living

It seems like open plan living has well and truly taken hold. And why not - it has so many benefits, the best one being that the cook is not stuck slaving over a hot stove on their own. With open plan, the cook doesn't miss out.

But - and this is a big but - open plan living does have its drawbacks! This I know - having lived in open plan spaces all my adult life. One major drawback is noise - it's very difficult to run a mixmaster or fry some food without someone complaining and turning the tv up several notches - which is my pet hate!

But even worse - there's no where to hide the mess! Have a few people over for dinner, and there's bound to be a few pots and pans lying about. Particularly with the current trend to put sinks out facing towards the dining area - you see this ALL the time in Australia now. Take this example below - where the sink is right out there on show. Beautiful now, while it's clean and clutter free, but not so much when the benchtop is full of dirty dishes! The clean freak in me cringes!

So this is why I love this kitchen below. It has a bench with a high return on it, which normally screams '80s naff. But here I think it looks stylish and it hides all the kitchen mess. I think the gorgeous stone helps.

Or if you don't like the high return style - here's a good idea below - leave the bench entirely free of sinks or stovetop and tuck the sink in an incongruous spot AND make the sink very wide and deep like this gorgeous butlers style sink, to hide as many dirty dishes in there until you get a chance to tidy up completely.

My poor little blog has been rather neglected lately. Life has been getting in the way. And I haven't been visiting all my favourite blogs either!

Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things soon.

Best wishes,

Monday, August 10, 2009

So here's some more photos from Bali. We had such a great time, and saw so many things. It was quite a packed, busy holiday, but we still found time for massages, pedicures, manicures and cocktails.

Uluwatu temple right down the south point of the island is breathtakingly beautiful (and full of cheeky monkeys!).

The Balinese Cultural Centre is quite awe inspiring with its two magnificent statues of Balinese gods. This one below is Garuda.

This one is yet to be finished....

See, here's his arms, almost ready to be attached.

We got up early one morning to watch the sunrise on Sanur beach......

After the sun was up we had a delicious breakfast at a hotel right on the beach. Heaven!

The rice paddies up around Ubud are absolutely breathtaking. This photo unfortunately doesn't do them justice.

We saw a number of magnificent, ancient temples, set in luscious tropical grounds.

The Balinese bathe at this particular temple because it is said to wash away your problems.

We visited Kintami, an active volcano in the north of the island. It was a spectacular view and there are a number of restaurants to eat at and take in the view.

Just for fun, I've included a couple of photos of the main mode of transport in Bali - scooters. There are hundreds on the street at any one time, with up to four people on them. We saw a person on their scooter carrying huge bags of rice, two were carrying a ladder and another two were carrying a window pane!

These people in the image below soon took off and were hurtling down the freeway at 60km per hour!

We also took an elephant ride, went swimming, ate out every night, saw a couple of bands and did lots of shopping. The shops in Bali are many and varied, ranging from little stalls selling shell jewellery and designer t-shirt rip offs, to rather exclusive shops selling sophisticated resort ware or homewares.
I think that if you were building a magnificent brand new house, and wanted to fill it with asian antiques, curios and modern asian furniture, a trip to Bali would be worthwhile, even when you include the shipping expenses. You can get everything from giant stone buddha heads to beautiful mother of pearl photo frames.

Like any country, Bali has the good, the bad and the ugly. There appears to be a lot of poverty, and many people work incredibly hard just to eke out a living. But having said that, the Balinese people seem very content, and from what I saw, are incredibly gracious people with the biggest, warmest smiles I've ever seen.

If you are planning to go to Bali here are my tips -
1. take good walking shoes because the footpaths are treacherous or non-existent!
2. spoil yourself by taking in the sunset over the beach at Ku De Tah or the Oberoi at Seminyak, while sipping one of their delicious cocktails
3. watch the sunrise at the beach at Sanur
4. take Travelan tablets with every meal to avoid Bali Belly
5. book a hotel for a few days overlooking the rice paddies at Ubud.

Ok, I hope I haven't lost you with my travel log. My next post will be back to business as usual, I promise!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bali bliss

I arrived home from Bali at 9.00am this morning, after a wonderful eight days in Bali. I had such a fabulous time visiting this fascinating country.

I haven't had much sleep, as we travelled all night, so it will be an early night for me, but I couldn't resist putting up some of the photos I took while I was away. I hope you enjoy them.

These last two photos are taken at one of the villas we stayed at (please excuse the wonkiness of the photos!). The bathroom was absolutely huge, and included a beautiful water feature. We had our own private pool, and because the weather was very hot and humid, it came in handy.
I'm looking forward to catching up with my blog friends over the next few days, but in the meantime, I've got some sleeping to do!

Best wishes,

Friday, July 24, 2009

Can a new home have character?

Planning on a building a new home, but concerned that it won't have the same character as an older home? Can you give your a new home some character? The answer is a resounding yes!

At the planning stage think about adding beautiful mouldings: cornices and skirting boards, and maybe even adding wainscotting or tongue and groove panelling (bead board) to your walls. Raising your ceilings to at least nine feet is also critical to give your home that old style feel. Recycled floorboards are another way to add a beautiful feeling of character and solidity to your home.

But let's face it, often the budget precludes people from doing some of the above things - they can be costly additions. But one thing that might just possibly be within reach of the average jo is architectural salvage.

I think it is really sad when lovely old homes get demolished, but the fact is, it does happen - often because the house is unsound or because it is cheaper to rebuild from scratch rather than renovate. But at least if they are going to be demolished, parts of the home can be salvaged for others to re-use.

With some patience, you might just be able to find a fabulous fireplace, a great bathtub or some wonderful old doors. And think outside the square - consider barn doors, doors from a pub, or shutters.

Not all architectural salvage is cheap - pieces from Europe can be costly. But if you look around, you might just get lucky. So patience could be required! I'm guessing you'd also need a builder who understands your vision and is willing to incorporate these treasures into your home.

So here's some images to give you some inspiration on how to add character using salvaged doors, windows and shutters. Some of them hide televisions and stereo equipment - clever!

Images 1 Atlanta Bartlett 2 Sally Wheat via Cote de Texas 3 Country Living 4 & 5 Scanned from Australian Home Beautiful 6 Mimmi O'Connell via Desire to Inspire 7 unknown 8 Scanned from Elle 9 & 10 unknown

I've had a really busy week - working extra hours at work because I'm off to Bali next week. And the weekend is full, full, full! So I'm struggling to visit blogs right now, but when I come back and have found my feet again, I'll be back with bells on!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A place to create and dream

Yesterday one of my favourite bloggers, Struggler of Struggling to be Stylish wrote about Ballard Designs, and it reminded me of the first time I heard about this company. About ten years ago I bought an interesting book called A Room of Her Own, by Chris Casson Madden. It featured the beautiful office/study of Ballard Design's founder, Helen Ballard Weeks.

Author Chris Casson Madden explained the focus of her book:

"Many of us long to find the time in a busy schedule to relax and refresh ourselves, body and spirit. I firmly believe that in order to give back to our relationships, careers, families, and passions, we must pull in for short moments to take care of ourselves, then we can return to the people and places of our lives renewed, refreshed, and ready to continue the drama of our days with all the joys, sorrows, pleasures, and stresses that go with it."

A Room of Her Own: Women's Personal Spaces features the special places that a variety of creative and dynamic women from all walks of life have created as retreats from their busy lives.

"The connective thread, for all of these personal spaces, is that each one, in dazzlingly different ways, brings its owner the sense of solitude, of the sanctuary they need in their rich and engaged lives".

Here's the fabulous Helen Ballard Weeks, as featured in the book.

So many things about Helen Ballard Week's room intrigued me. The mannequins and the architectural salvage above the door immediately captured my interest.

I adored the natural seagrass flooring and the classic white sofa.

Helen Ballard Weeks' office is full of interesting bits of bobs, which she used as inspiration for her famous catalogue. This was her place to dream and create.

Sentimental photos are displayed beautifully.

Love the desk and the mirrored screen.

Helen Ballard Weeks is now retired. I'd love to see what her home looks like now, I'm sure it is stunning and full of interesting architectural pieces and French antiques.

I love seeing the personal spaces of creative women - they can be so inspiring. I think the message of this book - that women must create a sanctuary for themselves where they can rest and re-energise before they can give to others, is an important one we should all heed.

I hope you have a room of your own, or even a corner of your own to rest, dream and reinvigorate.

Best wishes,