little letters of gratitude...celebrating the best of one year of blogging

Little letters of gratitude after a year of blogging:
- to all the lovely people who have stopped by for a visit on these pages
- and the even lovelier people who came back and told their friends
- for the amazing brands I have been privileged to work with
- and for every blogger out there who has shared their tips and tricks and helped me get better
- to my lovely friends and family who have supported my creative space and blog obsession
- to every person who commented (it really makes my day)

Thought I would share my favourite posts and yours, just in case you missed anything.  Thanks for reading and making the last year so rewarding.

What do you think?  Were these your favourites too?

Looking back its been quite a year!  I started blogging to join in the global blog conversation, and along the way I: 
- found some lovely readers
- met wonderful bloggers
travelled all the way to Salt Lake City to be part of Alt Summit
- worked with amazing brands
- and had a whole lot of creative fun 

Its been wonderful and looking back I can see how I have grown and how the blog has developed its own flavour and style.  Can't wait to know what happens next year...hope you will be along for the ride.

in the garden...don't you love it when a plan comes together

Just a few weeks ago the garden had a really dull mid winter look, but finally the ranuncula corms I planted have started to flower!   They look sensational against the fine foliage of the lime wave grasses and pick up the red tones in the last of the autumn leaves.  This is exactly the look I was trying to achieve - a modern meadow.  Now I just need more!!!
See what the garden looked like in summer, the orginal modern meadow inspiration, and my final choice of plants.
After months of being attracted to pastels and minty colours I am loving how this vibrant pink sets of the fresh green leaves.

The grasses are really sensational but I am waging a war against the curl grubs which are determined to eat their roots.  I have finally resulted to using pesticides (which I don't like).  There are just to many and I have lost about a third of the grasses I planted originally.  If anybody has a more environmentally friendly solution let me know.

Quick flowers for home that will last and last

There is nothing I love more than fresh flowers, they just add life to any room, but they can be expensive.  Real luxury is being able to pick your own flowers, on our farm I filled the whole house with roses from spring through summer.   Every few days I went into the garden with a basket and came back with bunches to fill every vase in the house.  Hopefully I will be able to do that again one day, but for now I will share a little trick to getting fresh flowers that last and last and take just minutes to arrange.  That's my quick and easy solution in the photo below.  Sound good? 
Do your own quick long lasting flowers:
Flat bottomed basket + drip tray + 5 flower pots

Start with a flat bottomed basket or bowl that is about 15cm deep.  
This basket comes from Pond but keep an eye out at second hand stores for large silver bowls. I saw this lovely basket at Freedom the other day which would work well too.
Then pop out to your local garden centre and buy however many kalanchoe pots you need to fill your basket.   
You don't want to see the pots.  The basket needs to be deep enough that the sides cover the pots from the side, and you need enough plants packed in so that the leaves cover the pots from the top.  It should look like the basket is full of flowers.  Take yours to the garden centre so you can test out just how many you need to get this effect.

You will also need a plastic drip tray to stand in the basket and protect the base when you water the flowers. 
Kalanchoe are perfect for this outdoor basket or a sunny indoor spot.  They are succulents with long lasting flowers that gradually change colour as they get older.  Mine have been looking gorgeous for a few weeks now and have turned a pretty soft pink which I love against our black exterior walls.  If you have your basket in a shaded spot they will need to be placed in the sun for a few days every few weeks to keep healthy and keep flowering.  

Orchids are lovely too, use one larger pot in a deep vase.  They can be expensive to buy but flower for ages and you can enjoy them again next year.  My orchids love the shady spot at our front steps and have sent up a gorgeous spray of flowers which are just about to open.  I may just leave them there and not bring them inside this year.

There you have it!  Quick, easy to get a lovely look, and your flowers will last for weeks.  

an elegant home...what is elegance and how do you get it

What is elegance?  The first thing that popped into my head was Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy Onassis, I wonder what just popped into yours?    
How do you get elegance?  It is such a personal vision there can't be an exact guide, in fact I think that's the point, it is a unique quality so it needs to be personal to you.

But like Audrey and Jackie there is a certain similarity.  They were certainly unique but there is a similar feel to their looks, bold but simple, striking but always sophisticated.
Essential qualities don't you think?   Today I am sharing my tips for elegance (as I see it) with you, and some lovely quotes from fabulously elegant icons, but please let me know what you think elegance is too.

Elegance is the art of effortless style - it appears effortless even if it isn't.
Elegance is edited but not minimal, it is just the right thing in just right place.  
Elegance is not fussy or cluttered, it is carefully edited collections, and items chosen for beauty and functionality.
Elegance is not over designed, it is a personal statement that doesn't come from a catalogue.
Elegance may be faux, but it is never fake.
Elegance is quality over quantity.
Elegance is a bold statement done in a simple way.
Elegance is understated and not overbearing, it a large statement done with simplicity.
Elegance may look expensive but it doesn't always come with a large price tag, it is the hint of luxury without trying to hard.
Elegance cannot be copied, it is unique.
1 - Buy quality over quantity, less really is more.  
2 - Edit rooms carefully but don't lose your personality, elegance cannot be copied so your rooms must be unique to you.  Fill them with objects, fabrics and furniture you love.
3 - Say goodbye to clutter.  Absolutely show off your collections, your photographs, your favourite things but edit carefully.  Make sure collections have room to breathe and are displayed in a space, not crammed onto a shelf.
4 - Be bold in your decisions - Choose that dark wall paint you always wanted, blow up those photo's extra large, create a gallery wall with photo's and paintings, go for that crazy wall paper.
5 - Don't try to hard, don't be over designed, remember elegance should look effortless.

Remember, be memorable not fashionable

This post was written in partnership with Nick Scali - where buying furniture is an investment in your life and style, and quality is the right price.  But as usual all opinions and content are entirely my own.

fun diy outdoor blackboard

During the holidays we put up an outdoor blackboard in a lovely sunny spot at the end of the verandah.  Miss J and I have had fun drawing under sea creatures and sailing boats.  Her favourite is the rainbow fish.  The best thing is every time it rains the board is wiped clean, ready for more art.
Make your own!
You will need: a sheet of marine ply, undercoat, and Rust-Oleum Chalk Board paint.  
I got the hardware store to cut the marine ply sheet for me.  Top tip: measure your car before getting the board cut to make sure it will fit.
Once you have your marine ply to size it is as simple as prime, paint and hang outdoors.  We attached ours to two metal garden posts which were hammered into the ground.
The Chalk Board paint goes on smoothly.  After a few coats let the paint dry for a week and then season the board by covering entirely in chalk and leaving for a few days.    Ta daa!!  You are ready to start drawing.
I put our board in a spot that gets afternoon sun in winter but is lovely and shaded in summer, now the chalk dust and the children are all outside.  Perfect.  

Rust-Oleum supplied the product for this road test but all opinions, as usual, are entirely my own.


It was deeply unfashionable to like Tretchikoff when I was growing up.  His prints were everywhere, in every waiting room, every guest bathroom, they were just over done (like Monet's water lily posters).  I secretly always loved the colours, the serenity of the women in the portraits, the exotic clothing.  Like many things it appears Tretchikoff has gone full circle and is set for a world wide revival.
I don't think I could do a print in my home, the childhood stigma runs to deep, but I rather like the lampshades and cushions.  

And I love the idea of doing a whole wall in Tretchikoff wall paper, perhaps even full circle in the guest bathroom.  
Wallpapers and cushions - crazy good!  Must have these cushions!

Read more about his rather amazing life at the official Tretchikoff website where you can shop for cushions, lampshades and prints.  And visit Robin Sprong to find out more about the wall paper.

What do you think, do you like him?  Did you grow up with these images too?   

Target style picks for little girls - summer 2013

Look I never write about fashion, but I could not resist posting about the gorgeous girls wear that Target has in for summer 2013.  Girls 1-7 has a gorgeous selection of coral and navy, I could hardly choose there were so many pretty things, and the price was right too.  I bought Miss J's summer wardrobe in half an hour.

I haven't even show the gorgeous T-shirts and jerseys because they didn't come out well on screen.  Its worth popping into your local store before they are all snapped up.

Please Target, get these buyers to help with the ladies section, I would totally wear all these lovely dresses in my size.

This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are, as always, entirely my own.

kitchen candy...smoked and grey

Some kitchen candy to kick of the day, I hope its a good one for all of us.
I love my wooden floors, smoked and black oak from Royal Oak Floors, absolutely the first thing I would do again in my own home.  Smoked oak seems to be having a moment on counter tops and cabinets too.  Pretty pretty...
Gorgeous cabinetry and such pretty restrained styling.

Never thought I would meet a herringbone floor I liked but turns out I was wrong.

French oak in pale grey with an industrial feel. 

A smoked wood cabinet from West Elm, love the round handles.

And finally grey and great art in this lovely extension to a period home.  That painting reminds me of the Tretchikoff's of my childhood, in a good way.  And I love the niche for the statue in the fire wall.

|  Line Klein on CocoCozy  |  Birgitta Wolfgang Dreyer via Remodelista  |  
| Lee Harper Design at Royal Oak Floors  |  West Elm  |   Home Designing  |

colour inspiration for a traditional home

I was asked to make some colour suggestions for a beautiful Victorian home that is in bad need of an update.  At the moment the living rooms are an unfortunate custard and maroon which detracts from the superb high ceilings and lovely period details.  The owners recently had lounge curtains made up in the lovely Morris trellis fabric (below).  This traditional print has a lovely fresh colour palette which ties in with other green touches in the home, a perfect starting point.

If you have the luxury of traditional high ceilings I love rooms painted in two colours.   A darker colour below the picture rail, and white above the rail, onto the ceiling and for skirting's and window frames.   This scheme is traditional without feeling old fashioned and shows the volume and period mouldings at their best.

Recommendation for lounge area paint colours:
- below picture rail porters paints herd
- above picture rail, ceiling and trim porters paints chalk nsw

Taking the fabric as a base, white and grey seems the perfect solution, a classic combination that mixes beautifully with different accent colours and won't date like the maroon and custard combo has.  The warm grey will really show off a collection of inherited bird prints, other pieces of art and furniture, and the gorgeous original fireplace complete with ornate mirror.

The kitchen is also getting an update to create more practical work areas and storage.  It is separate from the lounge but linked visually and has its own challenges: yellow stained pine cabinets (to be changed) and light pink terracotta tiles throughout (to stay).

Recommendation for kitchen update: 
- continue the white of the ceiling from the lounge area throughout this area
- paint base and tall pantry cabinets in a warm olive green (see inspiration board above)
- remove all above counter cabinets and replace with thick white shelves (same colour as wall paint) that return around the corners (see below)

The olive cabinets will tone in with the terracotta tiles and the grey in the living room, and set off the rustic wooden kitchen table and sideboard.
Open above counter shelves create lots of storage without enclosing the space, but they do need to be packed judiciously.  Lots of white crockery, stacks of glasses and collections by colour as in the examples above.  Coordinated rather than cluttered.

I can't wait to see the results.  Simple changes that will set this lovely home up for her next 100 years.

| Ralph Lauren Home | Paint details from Ellis House |  Unknown source  |  Detail of Josephine House  |  House & Home  |