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Posts tagged ‘dark walls’

A super-sized chrysanthemums mural

Floral wallpapers on the whole can look really twee and old-fashioned  and not necessarily in that funky retro kinda way. But, they don’t need to. Recently I added this incredible mural to the main wall of my bedroom and it is stunning.


The image is an enlarged and cropped version of a 19th century Japanese photograph by Ogawa Kazuma. The much smaller original is part of the collection of one of my favourite places in the world: the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. For years that wall was blank. I didn’t know what to do with it. It was the first thing I saw when I woke up in the morning and it left me uninspired and some days even unhappy. Not a good way to start the day. And then I stumbled across Surface View . . .


Surface View is a UK based company which owns the copyright to numeorus impressive collections. You can select what you like and have it custom sized to fit the specifics of your requirements. The mural came in three large panels and the expert craftsman and decorator, Matthew Collins, installed it. The walls were painted in Porter’s Paints Triple Led Grey in distemper, which has an incredible velvety chalk-like texture.


Two warnings though, Surface View is totally addictive and you can fritter away hours on their site and once you discover distemper there is no going back to low-sheen, wash-and-wear finishes. But that is the subject of another post!





Am I happier now? Absolutely! But the right wallpaper and paint can do that to me.

Styling Emilie Smith

Photos Kate Challis and Emilie Smith

Quirky Masculinity: An East Village Apartment

Today I am featuring a strikingly unconventional apartment in the East Village, New York. Originally it belonged to the current owner’s Italian migrants grandparents who bought it in 1945 and lived there for over six decades. Eight years ago, their grandson, Michael Reynolds and his partner, Eric, moved in and made their own. As the building held early childhood memories for Michael, they decided to keep the layout in tact and focused their attention on redecorating. What they have achieved is quite remarkable: the place is both respectful of the past while also embracing the tastes of the current occupants.

KateChallisUrbanKaleidoscopeEastVillageApartment03 KateChallisUrbanKaleidoscopeEastVillageApartment02

I love the kitchen with the tiled floor Michael remembers from his childhood. This is now accompanied by an industrial kitchen sink, original art works and vintage items.




The walls of the dark and mysterious bedroom are jammed packed with photographs.


The apartment is strongly masculine in its aesthetics mixing art, modern design and ethnographic objects with touches of quirky humour throughout. The results are reminiscent of an 19th century natural history museum, but somehow it all works.

I love this place as as it is so unusual in the current landscape of interior design which is on the whole very tasteful and ultimately bland. I also adore that you have a sense of who the occupants are. Having said that, I am not sure I would want to live there. Would you?

Photos: François Dischinger

via the New York Magazine

Grit and Glamour: the new look for Unico Hair Salon, Melbourne

As I move into interior design, I am finding less and less time for my blog. While I love what I am doing, I am really missing posting regularly. So with my new found resolution to post more often I thought I’d start by sharing my latest project.

It’s a revamp for of a tiny salon for Unico Hair in Degraves St, a gritty little lane way in Melbourne.


Ok, now here are some before shots.

UnicoHairSalonBefore04 UnicoHairSalonBefore02 UnicoHairSalonBefore05 Unico Hair Before

 And here are the after shots.



The most transformative change involved covering the walls with an exquisite wallpaper from Merci Paris, a concept store in the Marais. Entitled “Brooklyn Tin Tiles”, the paper features a realistic photographic image of a pressed metal tile that has been aged with peeling paint, rust spots and cracks.




The next step was designing the all important lighting concept. I teamed up with Volker Haug, a leading Melbourne- based lighting designer, who creates industrial/glam lights. We eliminated basin boredom by installing one of Haug’s lights, Famous Five, made up of spectacular Edison Spherical bulbs. In the shop window we installed one of Haug’s Mega WOW lights in green.

Everything else was painted black, from cabinetry to counters, wooden floors and splash back tiles so the wallpaper and the lime green products really stand out.

Photos: Derek Swalwell

Lessons Learnt from Abigail Ahern: Flowers, flowers, flowers

This is the first of a new series about design lessons I have learnt and I am going to start it with a few insights from Abigail Ahern’s Masterclass last month.

Fill your house with an abundance of flowers: they had texture and create immediate layering.

Here are some photos of Abigail’s shop in London.

What’s really interesting is that they are all fakes! Yes, that’s right. Decking out your house with this amount of real flowers every day of the year is really only possible by those living in the country with access to bounties of free blooms, or those with a line of credit at the local florist. Alternatively, invest in some high quality fakes. These days they are so well done it’s hard to tell them from real ones especially if you have a few scented candles burning at the same time.

Last week my house was photographed for a magazine and, with Abigial’s inspiration in mind, I combined both real and fake flowers and scattered them throughout the house and below are the results.


A few tips to remember: don’t put fake flowers near natural light as your secret will be revealed; and forget posies and flower arrangements, the latest in floral design is putting clusters of vases or bottles together each with one flower or stem.

The photo below is from the Masterclass, run in the attic of Abigail’s house. It’s painted in Farrow & Ball’s Railings which is the most divine colour. Flowers (and pretty much anything) looks incredible against it. I am pretty excited that I managed to get a sample of this colour and it’s being sent to me in Australia. If I love it as much as I think I will, my plan is to have it colour matched and to start painting!

Photo by me (Kate Challis)


Guest Post: Going Gray in Formal Interior Spaces by Mari from Design Shuffle

Hello, all! I’m Mari, a writer for Design Shuffle, a fabulous social networking site where interior designers share their work and where design enthusiasts find inspiration for their projects. I am so excited to be here visiting Urban Kaleidoscope. Today’s guest post is about decorating ideas for going gray in formal interior spaces. However, you’ll notice these formal spaces all have an interesting twist though beautiful, they just don’t take themselves too seriously.

Right now, gray has become one of the favorite go-to neutrals for many different styles. Here are some of our favorites for your viewing pleasure and design inspiration. Please enjoy!

Formal Gray Room

This exquisitely formal dining room gets a quirky finishing touch with greenery as drapery tie-backs. I love the skirted cloth on the round table and the ornate lighting fixtures.

Formal Gray Room

A tall tufted headboard and formal gray seating are dressed down a bit with a hide rug and slightly rumpled bedding. What a gorgeous shade of gray was chosen for the upholstery on the chair and bench.

Formal Gray Room

Butterflies appear to have flown into this lovely bedroom creation. With beautiful eclectic flair, gray goes formal here without a trace of stuffiness.

Formal Gray Room

Gray walls seem to be the perfect background for creamy elements in this formal yet rustic sitting roomóthat contrast results in a beautiful and interesting space.

Formal Gray Room

Unexpected decorative accessories brings a sense of whimsy to this gray interioróa stunning space created by merging formal furnishings and rustic architectural elements.

Formal Gray Room

Coral silk fabrics bring this formal gray bedroom to life. The mix of textures and even the pop of pattern add to the sumptuous appeal. I would love to see this one after dark in the glow cast by the crystal chandelier.

Formal Gray Room

Taking full advantage of carved antique architectural elements, this interior design brings the bath into a sleeping space. The clawfoot tub is perfection in charcoal gray!

Formal Gray Room

We leave you with gray in a dream closet high up under the rafters. What do you love moreóthe metallic papered ceiling, the tufted bench or the golden touches? Who knew storage could be so gorgeous in formal gray? The only thing I’m longing for here is the sparkle of an oversized chandelier dripping with crystals. Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Gray never looked so good! Be sure to check out Design Shuffle here for more fantastic ideas and even connect with top Los Angeles interior designers and more!


Thanks Mari for your guest post. I absolutely adore the attic closet. Usually my tastes gravitate towards floorboards, but that silky carpet is divine and absolutely ideal floor covering in room designed to dress. I don’t think that I’d ever want to put any shoes on. The wallpapered attic ceiling also adds a touch of unexpected glamour. Just lovely.