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What about saying I love you with an exciting unusual surprise this Valentine’s Day?

In Melbourne you could take your loved one to the Melbourne Ice Lounge surely one of the coolest of Valentine Day treats.

In Sydney what about going back in time for a BBQ lunch on a Tall Ship Harbour Cruise

Or what about a hot air balloon flight with a champagne breakfast. For example Hot Air Ballooning in the Hunter Valley wine region offers champagne in flight and a gourmet breakfast after.

Instead of flowers say it with berries. In Aus in the state of Victoria Fancy Berries offers a wonderful range of delectable delicious alternatives check them out at  In the USA Shari’s Berries also offer a range of berries and other special treats. I have featured some of their goodies on the image above.

What about a lasting surprise an interior decorating makeover?

You could do a romantic bedroom makeover for a Valentine’s Day treat. Use a sophisticated grey, elegant black and passionate red color scheme. Add some funky feathered lamp shades and trendy classical styled furniture. Also add fluffy bed throws and satin and/or silk fabrics for cushions, curtains and bedding to create a sensuous luxury.

Concept Board created by Rosena on

To get this look

  • Graham Brown Wallpaper
  • Province Lighting of South Africa Chandelier
  • Fabrics from and Osborne & Little
  • Andre Stead Sculpture
  • Wunders armchair
  • Fundi Design lamps and cushions
  • Dare Gallery Lamour bed
  • Black bamboo floor from Bamboo and Timber

If click on the concept board you can find out more details about the suppliers. You can have some fun and create a concept board of your own on just follow the links on the right.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day


Recipes for Interior Decorating Success: Part 1: How to Create a Black and White Room

A recipe according to the dictionary is any formula especially one for preparing a dish in cookery. There is such a glut of food and interior design shows at the moment on Australia TV. I am having a great time with all the design shows and my husband is addicted to Master Chef. This has been to my advantage as he has now become serious about cooking and often cooks. I have often thought of creating interior decorating recipes. The idea came to me again last night so I thought just give it a try it so here goes this is my first series of interior decorating recipes.

Board created by Rosena on

A recipe is a formula

My first series of interior decorating recipes are based on an all white room. In the image above the timber floor boards have been painted white. The ceiling, walls and architectural detailing (skirting boards…) have also been painted white. The only variation to the white is the art work and accessories we can use this as the starting point.

Introducing my 1st series of interior decorating recipes using an all white room

Many cooking recipes have some basic ingredients. Then a number of various on the same dish can be developed. Below are the ingredients for the basic all white room. Then added to this are the ingredients required to make it a black and white room.

Black and White is Always Right    

Basic ingredients for an all white room

Timber floor boards – painted white

Skirting board, architraves – painted white

Ceiling & Walls – painted white

Sofa – white fabric

Cushions – white fabric

To these basic ingredients – a black & white art work has been added

Sample Board created by Rosena on

To create the Black and White room; pictured above the following items have been added

Black and white floor rug from Zuomod of South Africa

Leather armchair with animal sink upholstery side feature from Wunders of South Africa

Black side and coffee tables from Zuomod of South Africa

Floor cushion fabric faux leather from Comfort Creations of South Africa

Feature black and white wallpaper from Thibaut Design

Table Lamps from Spazio of South Africa

Sculptures from Andrestead Sculpture

Scatter cushions from Fundi Designs


Margaret Lord a pioneer Australian designer stated ‘…it is through the wide and continuous observation of many things that good taste as well as knowledge develops’.  One of the most helpful things you can do to develop your design skills is to become a great observer.  When you analyze interior design; check for each element of design individually. One of the best ways to do this is to ask yourself questions, for example ‘what sort of lines have been used are they straight or curved?’  Then do this with each element and then check how each of the principles of design has been adhered to.

The method

When decorating a room it is important to use the elements of design in such a way as to adhere to the principles of design. This will ensure the decoration of the room will be successful.

In this example the black and white used throughout the room creates a sense of harmony and unity

Contrast and emphasis is achieved by the black being placed to contrast with the white for example the leather floor rug, and leather cushions on the white timber floor. Also the black and white art work on the white wall allows the art work to be emphasized.

Adhere to the principles of design

Rhythm has been created in this design by repeating the bold black and white patterns throughout the room. For example the wall art, floor cushions, wallpaper and floor rug.

The principle of Proportion/gradation/alternation has been achieved with different sizes of patterns in the art work, floor rug, lamp shades and wallpaper.

Each element in the room has been played against each other to create a sense of balance.

Discord has been achieved with the armchair. It is dark brown making it an irregular object. It works because the black and white animal print on the side of the chair relates to the other items in the room.

Use (the tools of design) the elements carefully

Black and white are referred to as non colors or neutrals however colors schemes can be made up of neutrals as has been done in this project.

Color and line

The room is dominated by straight lines and the rectangular shapes, of the furniture, doorway, rug shape and art work. The organic forms in the patterns; of the rug, wallpaper, armchair and floor cushions add interest. Curved lines in the art work and lamp shades add variation to a room dominated by straight lines.


Textural variation is achieved with the smooth hard surfaces of the floor, walls and tables contrasted with the rougher texture of the floor rug and the finer softer textures of the sofa upholstery and cushions. The shinny smooth surfaces of the sculptures and lamp bases and the shiny grey cushion add shine to contrast with the dull surfaces.


The strong bold patterns of the art work, floor rug, floor cushion fabric, and wallpaper, side of the armchair and lamp pattern shapes are played against the plain walls, floor and sofa and add drama and interest.

The element of space/area also needs to be considered this can be done on a floor plan via drawings or on site. Playing around with designs on the SampleBoard website is a great way to hone your design skills. One of my design lecturers advised us to get as much practice as we could by playing around on paper. If you can make great design on a page this will help you with your space manipulation skills.

Edwardian bedrooms recreated in contemporary interior design colours

The interior design in bedrooms during the Edwardian era often had floral stripe wall papers in green, blue and pink. In Australia the range of wallpapers for interior design were available from Coles & Son. The Rose du Barri a floral stripe pattern in shades of green, blue and pink were popular. Also popular were the Cole’s Moirés. Radford Furnishings are the sole distributors of Coles and Son wallpapers to the design trade in Australia.

A fascinating site on the history of wallpaper is the Wallpaper History Society website There is a great video called Wallpaper That Moves

Interior decorators during the Edwardian era painted walls in the bedroom pink beige or apricot or milkshake or arctic blue. Magnolia was often used on the mouldings as was green with the cornice and ceiling painted white. The joinery in the bedrooms could also be painted a light bronze green or grey green or pale cream or grey green. Sometimes these surfaces were French polished or varnished. The chart below shows some British Standard colours used during this era.

The interior design project The Edwardian house I am working on was built in the 1920s. So some of the colours used during the 1920s could have been used. The 1920s interior colours tended to be stronger than those used during the Edwardian era. Shell pink, salmon pink, light cream and mushroom were popular for the body of the walls in the bedrooms. Ceilings and joinery were painted white. Sometimes joinery was just oiled or varnished in a redwood colour. The chart below shows some of the British Standard colours used in during 1920s.

You can see from the images of the bedrooms the house has decorative features from the 1920s. The architraves and skirting boards are still deep as in the previous eras but have plainer profiles .The fireplaces of the 1920s were as in this house simple in style with rectangular openings, small tiles and timber mantels and surrounds. The Edwardian fireplace tended to have arched openings and were more decorative. The doors used in this house are also in the later 1920 style with fewer panels and a high lock rails.

The paint colours I have selected for the bedrooms are modern versions of some of the traditional colours. The colours in the house at the moment are very dark and much duller than the photographs of the interiors indicate. I wonder if an interior decorator was called in and selected the colours. The colours really belong in a Victorian style home.

The skirting boards and joinery in the bedrooms will be painted Dulux Antique White USA. The ceilings are in very good condition and have informed my colour choices.  The walls in bedroom one will be painted in Dulux Garlic Suede a soft green picking up the lightest green in the fireplace tiles. Bedroom two will be painted in a pink beige colour called Tree Less. The blue cupboard doors will be repainted in the Tree Less colour. Bedroom three will be painted in Manila at half strength similar to Buttermilk BS 4052 and bedroom four will been painted in Great Star a soft green grey.

Although I have selected fabrics for the window treatments, curtains, pelmets and blinds the final selections will be made later as will the other fittings. Well I hope you have gleaned some useful information on the colours used in bedrooms during the Edwardian and 1920s eras and this will help you with your interior decorating.

Interior Designers often find they have to work with the colours already present in a home. In this home the ceilings in most rooms are highly decorative and are painted in the soft muted colours of the era. The fireplace tiles, the timber floors and wall panels and the stained glass windows have all had to be considered. As always the client’s desires have also been taken into account.

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The Edwardian Bathroom Recreated in Contemporary Style

The bathrooms of the Edwardian era were usually simple affairs. Walls were tiled with small white rectangular tiles laid in a brick like pattern. Sometimes feature, border capping or pencil tiles were used. Decorative borders in flat strips or of candy twist, egg and dart designs were popular. Patterned feature tiles varied from classic, Art Deco, Art Nouveau and floral motifs  Floor tiles were often white mosaic tiles, with feature tiles of black. You can see an example of this in the photograph of the house I am working on below.
Tessellated tiles were another option for the floor.The colours and patterns used varied from check board black and white designs, to octagon shaped tiles and designs to patterns with names like Chelsea. Wealthy home owners also used marble on the floor and walls.
Vanities were often timber cabinets with white sinks or white wash basins on legs. Baths and sinks were usually white porcelain or enameled cast iron. White toilets with timber seats and cisterns were situation in a separate room.


Showers were attached to the bath with a semi circular surround. Or placed on a flat porcelain or marble basin and surrounded with a water proof curtain. A huge shower rose and semi circular pierced piping allowed the water to shower the body. Heated towel rails were popular features of the Edwardian bathroom.
The wall above the tiling, the cornice, ceiling and joinery were usually painted white. Sometimes a dado placed about 2100mm from the floor was used and painted in the BS381 107 colour called strong blue or harbor blue.
There are a number of sources of items from the Edwardian period for example the Edwardian Tile company if you visit you will find numerous tiles available.
The client of the Edwardian home I am working on wanted to honor the integrity of the house but wanted a contemporary look. He has already selected a modern free standing bath. I suggested using the lead light stained glassed windows (see image above) as a starting point and presented some ideas on sample boards.
The bathroom is very small so I suggested using white wall tiles. However instead of using the small rectangular tiles similar to the ones used during the Edwardian era using a much larger version would give a contemporary look. The addition of a horizontally placed line of feature wall tiles as illustrated on the sample boards was another suggestion. Using some 10mm aluminum trims powered coated in colours to match the stained glass colours is another and/or option.
I also suggested painting the very high ceiling darker. The walls above the tiles, the architraves, doors and other architectural features will be painted white to match the wall tiles. The aim of the white colour scheme is to make the rooms appear bigger. This bathroom is not open plan like many modern bathrooms. There is a separated toilet, sink room and the bathroom has a bath, shower and vanity (see floor plan and elevations above). 

Both sink cabinets will be custom made. The doors will be white and the bench top in a colour to match one of the suggested colours schemes presented on the sample boards. This will add another horizontal line of colour overcoming the verticality of the room.


We (that is the architect and I) spent some time consulting with the client and I presented the client with a number of sample boards to help him visualise the different colour options for the room and help him make decisions. There is another bathroom and one of the suggested colour schemes will be used for that room. 

Well that’s all for this week. The creative Edwardian buzz continues…..
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Edwardian, Federation and/or Queen Anne instead of Art Deco

caerleon, sydneyImage via Wikipedia
As I explained in my last blog I am working on an Edwardian restoration. On my first visit on site I realised my creative buzzing about Art Deco may need to be revised. Although built in the 1920s the house was Edwardian with features from other eras. On my second visit I noted numerous variations.

The house above is Caerleon found in Belleve Hill Sydney. Many consider it one of the best examples of  the Queen Anne style built in Australia.

The Edwardian style a term used by some really denotes a time in history in the early 1900s. The style was influenced by the Queen Anne style popular in England from about 1700 to 1720. It was an unpretentious era with warm colours, restrained ornament and a sense of spaciousness. Furniture was designed in simple curving shapes with little carving. The cabriole leg is a feature of the era. Indian prints and crewel prints were popular and the scallop shell was one of the main motifs.

A style of architecture popular in Australia during the early 1900s was the Federation Style. Last year I did a blog on the Australian Federation Style. So if you are interested please refer back to that blog for more information. 

Some Edwardian Exterior Features
  • Walls are usually of red faced brick
  • Slate with terracotta edging or marselles terracotta tiles was used on the roof
  • In country areas corrugated iron roofing was used and painted Tile Red
  • The broken roofline has many gables
  • Faced red brick chimney stacks with brick corbels and motifs and terracotta chimney pot with hat
  • Shades of green or cream to buff were the most popular outdoor colour schemes
  • Mid buff and beige was also a common colour combination during this era
  • Deep Indian Red was used on window sills
  • The front door often had many panels painted in red oxide or forrest green with asymmetrical sidelights
  • Double Hung leadlight windows have colourful stained glass in Art Nouveau patterns
  • The window sashes were often painted cream
  • Gutters and down pipes were painted in darker colours
  • Veranda floors were either cement render or encaustic tiles
  • Veranda brackets were usually painted off white
The examples of colours shown are from British Standards (BS) 2660 and BS318. Australian colours are taken from these standards when working on heritage or traditional buildings. This is a small sample only. Other colours used (besides those listed above) include Red Oxide BS318 446, Pale Cream BS4052, Opaline Green BS318 275 and Terracotta BS318 444. 

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