Shabby Chic at its best………

I know the term Shabby Chic has been “done to death”but it very aptly describes a particular style of decorating which I find very soothing and easy to live with. While a lot of people feel it is a bit too shabby and worn, I love the patina which age and wear and tear tends to bring to furniture and in particular linens….pieces are not new and shiny, but feel used and loved and lived in.

Living and working where I do, I find we are bombarded by shiny, glossy glamour and while initially it feels very exciting and stimulating, it is not cosy and lived in….I sometimes feel like it tries a little too hard and it can also feel very brittle. Almost every apartment here has ceramic tiled floors or marble and while they’re cool and easy to maintain, I long for lovely worn old wooden floors stained or painted white, like the image above. I would love to see more wooden floors used in new developments here…the homes here could benefit from the warmth of wood instead of the acres of marble which is the current choice of flooring!

Buildings here are clad in sheets and sheets of glass which glitter and shine in the sun….even villas are sometimes clad in glass or stone and most are built in a very square style, with very little character.Weirdly though, this style has a certain charm and somehow seems to suit the region well….it does not change the fact that I still wish we had some lovely little ivy covered cottages here and there!

I discovered this Spanish blog a few days ago and I feel compelled to share it…it is full of the most gorgeous images and despite the fact that I do not understand a word, the images tell a story which goes way beyond mere words and they satisfy my cravings for the ivy-covered cottages. Exposed wooden beams, plump white sofas and mixed patterned fabrics, books and a piano!! What a fabulous room…I want to live there! The touch of black with the warm and rustic tones of the fabrics are just sublime…and then there are the candles!!! The touches of  charcoal and black here are perfect and while not strictly shabby chic as we know it, it still has the same look, with time-worn and well loved pieces. Just some prettiness….I love the worn wooden wall… The cable-knit throw is exquisite and the mirror leaning against the wall is quite wonderful….even the carpet with its knobbly texture is perfect. All these spaces share the same feeling of serenity and calm, using neutral colour and texture to add layers and and depth to each room.

If there isn’t any ivy, a lovely trailing jasmine will do! Imagine the scent on a spring morning…

Take a peek at Desdemventana….and lose yourself in Shabby Chic beauty for an hour or two.

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Glowing Gold Leaf….

I recently discovered this amazing boutique Stella Cadente, located in Paris . It caught my eye, partly because of the clothing and displays but mostly because of the amazing gold leaf…the entire boutique appears to be clad in gold leaf! What a job….gold leaf is a difficult product to handle and even more difficult to execute well. so to see this scope of work done well, was good to see…I can only imagine the challenges which the decorative artists faced!

image via freshome.com

I find the curved walls and display units rather unique too…

image via freshome.com

The rich gold sets off the clothing and accessories very well.

image via freshome.com
image via freshome.com

Even the walls have been gold leafed as you are able to see on the right in this image.

image via freshome.com

Viewed from the outside, the boutique really does glow..such a contrast to the grey buildings on either side.Very stylish, but then what else does one expect from Paris?

I am currently sourcing some inspiration for a gold leaf project I am working on ….it seems that I have a few projects lately involving gold leaf and one which requires 23.75 k gold leaf…basically pure gold. This is one I am really excited about as it is a prestigious penthouse in an amazing property in Dubai and using pure gold always makes for a spectacular finish which literally does glow like a piece of jewellery.

I hope to be able to post some images of that soon!

Sophisticated Bush Lodge Decoration….

image via londolozi.com

South African Bush Lodge Decoration , in my humble opinion, is incredibly stylish when done well. There are some extremely talented architects and decorators who have created spaces that are spectacular in their simplicity.

While decoration in Dubai tends to be glossy, glamorous and shiny, South African decor is the antithesis. with layered textures, liberal use of natural and stained woods and lots of linen and cotton upholstery and cushions. It is glamour dressed down and yet comfort is not sacrificed in any way…in fact the natural elements are easy to live with and maintain.

Floors tend to be wood or  tinted cement…walls  are light coloured or white, often with a feature wall of stone or dark paint, and sometimes natural plasters are used for warmth and pattern on walls.Ceilings are usually non-existent, with the thatch roof and wooden beams often visible …adding to the overall texture of the rooms.

image via http://flairfordesign.blogspot.com

This style could be called global eclectic..or perhaps global Colonial….a mixture of tribal artifacts, a touch of contemporary furniture and soft, comfortable sofas and chairs…perfect for relaxing.

image via http://flairfordesign.blogspot.com

This image shows a wonderful mixture of pattern from the fabrics, organic shapes and plants and baskets for added interest. A lovely place to sit and read a book …with the cool breeze off the trees.

image via lndolozi.com

This image is my favourite with soft, plush over sized cushions, a tufted ottoman styled beautifully with books , beads and candles.The fabrics are patterned , yet the colours are all similar tones so they work well together. A warm and cozy spot to enjoy a glass of wine!

What would African decor be without a zebra print or even a genuine zebra rug…not what I would have, but this is one place I would think it truly belongs!

I love the chocolate walls and Nguni cow hide rug on the floor…

This image below is perfect….white walls, grey fabrics, loose linen covers, stone walls for interest , rattan chairs, tufted ottoman..again…I could move in tomorrow!

All Images above from londolozi.com

These images are just calling out to me to visit the bush for a few days….if only I had the time and I didn’t live thousands of miles away!

Design Details….

My eye caught this wonderfully detailed headboard in the latest online issue of  TradHome….I LOVE it….the old adage “God is in the details”is most definitely true for design, and the details , in my opinion, are what take a room from bland to layered and textured.

image via trad home

I love the slightly different take on the nail head detailing and I would love to try this on a project…..perhaps my own headboard I am planning?

South African Home Tour Part 2…..

In a recent post I shared the exterior of a wonderful home in Durban, South Africa and I will share the interior images today.

This is the living room viewed from the entrance hall…my clever and talented friend D  used a gorgeous grasscloth wallpaper on the  feature wall in the living room. It adds warmth and creates a contrast with the stained  floors.

An image of the artfully arranged vignette featuring a botanical painting of an aloe, a native plant of South Africa.

Looking across the living room from the enclosed veranda, this image shows the sofas slipcovered in white cotton and a selection of scatter cushions. On almost every surface, there is a plant or flowers….a lovely addition to every room.

A view of the ottoman in the centre of the living room , showing a collection of books, Chinese calligraphy brushes , boxes and some glamorous silver urns.

A slightly different angle looking towards the windows….every room has been fitted with shutters, an extremely practical choice, considering the climate and also the security issues face by homeowners in South Africa! They certainly add to the overtly Colonial style of this home…

This is the landing on the staircase leading up to the bedrooms and media room. The circular window is a lovely touch and it looks out on to the tropical trees planted along the driveway leading to the garage.

This vignette is situated in the master bedroom as you walk in from the landing…Antique perfume bottles, silver cigarette cases and various urns and frames create a fascinating spot to pause and discover more about the owner of this home. She is a voracious collector and has an eye for exceptional pieces, as you can see!

The magnificent headboard in the master bedroom is wonderful against the grasscloth.

This shows another angle of the table and chairs , looking from the walk-in dressing room to the door off the landing. (apologies for the slightly blurry quality of the image)

A view across the room from the window….another vignette at the foot of the bed features a gorgeous duck-egg blue ginger jar….heavenly with the roses, which I am sure are all from the garden!

Part 3 to follow in a future post!

The Heat is Well and Truly On……

The summer has clearly arrived….the temperatures are soaring into the mid-forties and the humidity is so bad it is almost like a thick fog hanging around the buildings….the next few months will be spent indoors and in air-conditioning ….for me this is the worst part of living here…I loathe the lack of fresh air and sitting in a cooled environment is so unhealthy.This year, however, I will be taking a short trip with my sister ,to Istanbul to escape the summer heat here in the Middle East and I am counting the days…I will be extremely busy with two very large projects until the second week of August but after that I will take a few days off and I will literally fly away!

We will be staying here:

image via turkishnews.com

And seeing a lot of these:

image via dailyistanbultours.com
image via http://www.destination360.com
image via photographyblogger.net
image via traveljournals.net

And doing LOTS of this:

image via travel.nationalgeographic.com
image via realadventures.com

Half the fun of a trip is in the planning and I will be spending a fair amount of time in front of my computer researching places to see and things to do in Istanbul. It will not be my first visit, as I spent about 8 days travelling around Turkey sourcing fabrics a few years ago. Turkey has an amazing Textile industry and their textile mills were fascinating to tour. I only actually spent a day and a night in Istanbul, so I am looking forward to seeing more of this historical city.

Clever Crafting….

image by Ingrid Hogg

I wanted to post this image of a hand-made bag my very clever friend Ingrid made for her daughter….inspired by an image she found on Pinterest, she fashioned this very cute little accessory! I asked her to share with us how she did it:

” I saw the idea on Pinterest, and decided that it must be easy enough to do. I knitted a rectangular piece of cabling with enough 1 x 1 ribbing on each end to wrap around handles.  The handles were made by a very talented gentleman by the name of Peter who runs a small family woodworking business across from the Botha’s Hill train station (South Africa).  I made the inner bag with some interesting cotton fabric, to which I attached boning to the sides and across the bottom. Then I put it all together. Before hand stitching the inner and outer bags together, I made a big linen fabric bow which I fed through the wool to finish on the inside,tacked the bow in places to make sure it stayed in the right place – and “Voila”

I love talented people! It always amazes me how many creative people are out there and the lovely things they make….