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Opulence and minimalism combined: The Aman Grand Canal, Venice

Venice is one of my favourite places in the world. My love for that city, if you can call it that, began when my parents first took me there as a seven year old. Like millions of people before and since, I was captivated by her stunning architecture, her mystery, her elegance, but most of all her art.

Fortuitously one of the manuscripts central to my doctorate research was housed in the Biblioteca Maricana, opposite the Dodges Palace in St Mark’s Square. For two weeks I spent my days in the Director’s Office (the manuscript being too precious to be read in the public reading room). When I glanced up from my work I would look directly over to SS. Giorgio Maggiore. As a post-graduate student on a scholarship even the local youth hostel was out of my budget, so stayed at covent. There was a strict curfew at 9pm, about 100 narrow metal beds were crammed a hall. The nuns would turn off the lights by 9:30pm  having recited nightly prayers in Latin. A Renaissance altarpiece depicting a most penitent St Magdalen looked down upon us all.  Having been brought up an atheist, I was intrigued by the nightly sermons and rituals. It just added to the other worldliness of Venice.

My husband has never been to Venice and I have promised to take him one day. When I do it is the Aman Grand Canal where I’d love to stay. It seamlessly combines the grandeur of a 16th century Venetian palazzo complete with elaborate  Murano chandeliers, wood panelling and frescoes by Tiepolo with modern sleek design for which the AmanResorts is renown. The refurbishment is the work of Jean Michel Gathy of Denniston Architects.

Take a look, what do you think?




















Do you have a favourite place in Venice?

All pictures Aman Grand Canal

Ascending into the Clouds: Fornasetti’s Nuvolette

Recently, the fabulously talented Matthew Collins wallpapered the entire stairwell of my house in Fornasetti’s Nuvolette. It is, oh, so beautiful. Something incredible happens when wrap an entire room in wallpaper . . . you are subsumed.


After years of being considered passé, wallpaper has made a huge comeback, especially as feature walls. While these can look great, it usually ends up appearing timid . . . lacking in confidence. You  loose the impact and the transformative quality that wallpaper can bring. I say, commit yourself fully, throw yourself in and paper an entire room. You won’t regret it.


Ahhhh, who knew that some paper stuck to a wall could make me this happy.

Photos are mine.


Dieter Ram’s 606 Universal Shelving System: A Design Classic

I have recently fallen in love with Dieter Ram’s 606 Universal Shelving System, or shall I say, I have fallen in love again. Growing up in Germany in the early 1980s, I remember these in the houses of most of my parents’ friends. Now, I am finding that I am including these shelves in many projects on which I am currently working.



One of the things I love about Dieter Ram’s shelving (apart from the sleek elegant aesthetics) is that they are incredibly practical. They  are the preultimate “kit” so you can totally tailor it to your needs and space and they can be easily reconfigured. They work just as well in kitchens, living rooms as they do in bedrooms and offices and even retail spaces as shelves, workstations, display cabinets, sideboards and storage.









The only draw back is their cost. Like anything which is superbly designed and made, they are expensive. As I’ll be insist on taking them with me to my nursing home I’m planning on getting a lot of use out of them.

In the meantime, I am installing some in my office combining a workstation, drawers, filing unit and shelving and would love to do the same in my husband’s office, but he isn’t convinced. Growing up in Australian suburbia in the 1970s, he says the shelves feel too institutional.

Is furniture something you have for a life time or is that way too much of a commitment? Do you like the simple post-war aesthetics and practicality of Dieter Ram’s design or is it too austere for your tastes?

All images Vitsoe


Intimate dark atmospheric bedrooms

Dark bedrooms are on my mind. I recently painted our bedroom really dark (Porter Paints’ Triple Strength Lead). It looks incredible. It’s not black, but almost. The colour of artist’s charcoal. Hanging on the main wall (the one I see  when wake up every morning) is a mural from Surface View. There are some small touches that still need to be done before the big reveal . . . but, so far I love it.

In the meantime, here are some dark bedrooms to whet your appetite (and one pink one, just because I love it). The first is possibly my favourite. It just makes you want to sink into those sheets . . .


via live creating yourself


Sam Roddick’s Bedroom via Living etc


The bedroom of the Queen of Darkness herself, Abigail Ahern


via Lonny


via house to home

Riding the wave darkness euphoria, I went dark in the dining room . . . and I am not sure yet whether I love it or whether it actually depresses me. Stay tuned.



Dare to go do pink walls?

I used to have a metallic pink dining room. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of it. But, I loved it. It was sophisticated and stunning and inspired by the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest picture gallery in England, which opened its doors to the public in 1817. It is also a colour favoured by Mexican architect, Luis Barragan and can be found in everywhere in India, most notably the Pink Palace.


The Dulwich Picture Gallery


Luis Barragan via DecoArq


The Pink Palace, Jaipur

It’s been only 60 years since pink has been so strongly associated with girls. In fact, in 1918 a trade publication for  American department stores advised its readers that “the generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Another reason was that the Virgin Mary is traditionally in blue and hence it was thought to be a feminine colour.

It is sad that pink is now exclusively associated with little girls, because people are frightened to use it. A few years ago, I purchased an amazing raspberry Madeleine Weinrib rug at a tag sale. The reason why I managed to nab it was because another woman who loved it was concerned that her husband would find it too girlie and not want it in their home. So she opted for the beige version. Her loss was my gain.

I have show-cased pink before on urban kaleidoscope: Betsey Johnston’s apartment, Trish Pinto’s apartment and an ode to pink and I am doing it again because it is just so fabulous. Those who dare to use it are rewarded.


Lilly Pulitzer‘s Store in Palm Beach Gardens, FL created by Print & Pattern via The Selvedge Yard


via haute mama’s faves


The Office of Ines de la Fressange via Girl Whimsy


via absolutely beautiful things


Kim Beck’s art installation HolyMoley Land via Ideal Cities


Bisazza via Vintage Modern


Liza Bruce’s living room in Jaipur, India via Elle Decor


via Fresh Homes

I am using an incredible pearlescent pink-purple paint for a job I am currently doing. It’s the wash-basin area of an exclusive hair salon in Melbourne. The 2nd coat of paint is being sprayed on as I write this and I can’t wait to show you the results.

Have you ever gone pink?  Or would you?