Organised wardrobe shelves and drawers: declutter, tidy and beautify Wednesday, Mar 9 2011 

One of the easiest ways to live a life that Doesn’t Cost the Earth, is to reduce consumption.  And one of the easiest ways to reduce consumption is to actually use what you have.  So many of us have so much stuff.

But can you actually find any of it?

earrings drawer divider organiser storage tidy wardrobe interiors

I love nothing more than a good sort out.  I thrill to the idea of going through things, chucking out, tidying and organising.  I’m not so hot on weekly cleaning, but an annual sort through ‘stuff’ really rocks my boat.

So here are some ideas if you’re not so keen (pity the poor man…).

Firstly, don’t attempt to tackle more than one area at a time.  This is supposed to be fun, not forced labour.  Either do the garage, your wardrobe, the spare room – not all of them.  That would be exhausting!

When you’ve decided on an area, take everything out that you want to sort through (either in total, or in sections) and be brutal.  If you haven’t worn it or used it for a year why are you keeping it?  If it is sentimental, create a treasure chest for those items that really mean something to you.

If you are unsure, put those items in a separate box.  Leave it for six months and if you haven’t missed them – you don’t need them.

shelving organised wardrobe jumper storage interiors tidy

Those things you are keeping, should be kept beautifully.  Shops know how to display things in a way that ensures you desire them.  Your wardrobe should do the same.  Shelves and spaces are better designed to fit, with small compartments.  Larger shelves means piles of clothes that topple when you try to remove something, and a resulting disorder that is too exhausting to continually tidy.

The shelves above show jumpers and sweaters stacked one or two deep.  Any more and it’s hard to keep it tidy.  The shelves are the width of each item – as two piles next to each other always get messy. 

shelving organised wardrobe jumper storage interiors tidy hanging

Arrange items by type first: jumpers together, shirts hanging together, trousers etc.  Then organise by colour.  This makes it very fast and easy to find things.  If you want a blue top – all your blue tops will be hanging together.

Use every inch of your space – here high heels are stacked along the top shelf beneath the sloping ceiling.

And just as shelves are best arranged to fit – so are drawers.

tidy drawer ties organised wardrobe interior

You can purchase (or make) so many fabulous drawer dividers – and they really do make all the difference in the world.  You’ll be able to find things.  Everything will be better preserved (no ironing) as you’re not permanently rummaging through hunting for the one thing that evades you.

Ties can be hung – but (above) are arranged like flowers in a drawer – making it easy to find the right colour.

Rolling items (such as the ties above) means no creases.

Drawer dividers work for small items such as underwear, socks, ties and belts.  But a simple strip down the centre of a large drawer makes it easy to store T-shirts and the like as well.

tidy drawer jewelry organised wardrobe interior

Jewelry is lovely when you can find it easily.  Lots of sections, each with colour-coded earrings, make accessorizing an outfit fun, rather than stressful.

Overhauling of an area of your house, giving (or selling) the unwanted items to a charity shop, cleaning and tidying the remaining goodies – is definitely a very rewarding thing to do.  You can sit down with a large cocktail and be certain that you deserve it.  And what’s more – you can wear matching earrings while you’re drinking it!


Nudity: sexy, embarrassing or just plain wrong? Friday, Feb 25 2011 

Can you imagine opening the door to guests naked?  Can you picture their embarrassment (far greater than one’s own, I’m sure!).

I think that’s something few of us would ever do.  But would you have a picture of a naked woman on your walls?  Or a naked statue?

Tacky, tantalising or true art?  What do you think?

Is Rodin’s statue ‘The Kiss’ (below) too much for your home?  It’s a very sensual piece of art.  Would you feel comfortable seeing it in a gallery, but not in someone’s home?

Rodin The Kiss interiors sculpture art

What about this photo?  It’s anonymous (as it’s headless) but it is full-frontal nudity.

nude photo art arrangement interiors sepia

You may not have noticed, but it forms part of a Parisian-style art display here….

recycled interiors chair parisian art

If one picture is acceptable, how about a display of cheeky photos?

black and white photos interiors art nudity female form

Do you find them witty or too-much?

Or what about this lady?  I have to admit, she inspired the post as I fell in love with her last weekend!

ceramic interiors art nudity female form

She is drawn on a plate (and actually I have purchased her as a gift for my mother, who doesn’t usually read my blog – Dad does!).  Look at her crazy corkscrew hair and her dainty little feet!

ceramic interiors art nudity female form

Does nudity make a room sexy?  Or is it best kept behind closed doors?

Personalised Presents: the ultimate in luxury gifts Monday, Feb 21 2011 

personalised gifts initialed box interiors gilt writing

It’s so hard to buy presents these days.  We all have everything we could wish for.  When we want something – we just go out and buy it. 

So, what do you get a close friend for a special birthday?

Personalised gifts are the new ‘in’ thing.  These can be things you have commissioned someone else to personalise: linens embroidered with initials, stationery and so on.  Or, it can be something you’ve made.

When my close friend Ben had a significant birthday recently, I spent several happy hours creating something just for him.  A lot more fun than spending several desperate hours traipsing round a shopping mall…

Old filing box vintage before

Remember these boxes?  I bought several at a sale and have already altered two here and here.

personalised gifts initialed box interiors gilt interior

This time I painted the interior gold.  Once that was dry, I prepped the outside and used a spray enamel paint in a lovely masculine Burgundy colour.  I love how smart it looks suddenly.

Then, to make it specially for Ben, I designed a flouncy letter ‘B’ (not that Ben is flouncy) and stencilled that onto the lid.

personalised gifts initialed box interiors gilt interior

Of course, you should never give an empty box.  So I set about making some delicious goodies to go inside.  I already had Quince Paste that I had made, so I wrapped this carefully.  To add to the fun, I decided to label everything as though it was from a speciality store (old marketing habits die hard).  So the paste was labelled “Clare’s Quality Quince Paste”.

homemade gifts personalised jam quince paste

Plums are just coming into season, so I made jam: Clare’s Frightfully Plummy Jam.  (to be read in a frightfully plummy English accent).

homemade gifts personalised jam quince paste

And then to top it off, I made Fudge.  This is one of those things that I love making, and that I’ve made so often that I’ve become proficient.  I always take a big box to my family where it is consumed in record time.

I made chocolate and walnut fudge and labelled it Clare’s Fabulous Fudge.  Actually, there was another adjective there, but for those of you with a more sensitive disposition, I leave you to work it out yourselves from the photo.  Because the fudge really is that fabulous.

homemade gifts personalised jam quince paste fudge

I would never have had the luxury of so much time in my role as Head of Marketing.  What a delight it is to be able to give that to a dear friend.

homemade gifts personalised jam quince paste fudge box gilt

I’ll show you how to make the fudge later in the week.  Although don’t read it unless you’re prepared to eat a lot of fudge in a short space of time.  It is very hard to be strong-willed around it…..

How small pops of colour brighten an interior Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 

I had the good fortune to have lunch with Scott Weston the other day.  He is one of Australia’s top Architects and Interior designers.   Scott has an imagination and an attention to detail that defy belief.  There are so many ideas in his work, and lots of techniques and themes that can be used elsewhere.

I thought I’d share some of his amazing creations, and some of the lessons I’ve picked up.

scott weston fuschia pink stair carpet

If you absolutely love a strong colour – then why not use it for a stair carpet?  You only see it in transit (you don’t sit down to dinner or on a sofa and stare at it for hours) so you’re unlikely to tire of it.  And it really lifts an otherwise functional area.  It just makes this stair and landing pop!

scott weston internal drawers cupboard colour

One of Scott’s trademarks is his use of unexpected colour, particularly for interiors and hidden areas.  Every time you open a drawer or a cupboard there is a delicious surprise!  For those who like to live with muted colour or neutrals, this is a fun way of having some colour in your life.

scott weston tiled interiors pond and niche

Scott uses this technique to draw attention to focal points.  In this instance, a pond and tiled alcove in a courtyard.  It makes the area feel exciting and vibrant without the need for any extra decor.  A small amount goes a long way to brighten the whole area.

scott weston gold leaf pantry cupboard

Even the mundane is special and glamorous when glossed with gold leaf.  Here a pantry cupboard is slathered with it!  This is the home of the editor of Vogue in Australia, so you’d kind of expect something luxe!

Scott Weston felt lined drawersScott personally works on every little detail and it shows.  Drawers are divided into convenient sections and then lined with cobalt blue felt.  How I wish the interiors of my drawers look like this!  What utter joy I would feel on opening them every day.  Maybe I’m inspired?  Felt is such a brilliant idea as it’s easy to work with.

scott weston beading on light fringeEven lamps are carefully selected for colour and then trimmed with beading.

Scott actually makes models of all his projects.  Look at this utterly darling little doll’s house of a bedroom!  And once his client is happy, he creates the real thing for them. 

scott weston model for bedroom

Even shelves are constructed with colour singing on the wall behind – bringing the whole area to life.  This is such an inexpensive way to liven up a room.

 scott weston mauve behind shelves

Here a linear kitchen is hidden by a long curtain.  Don’t bother with the washing up and mess – just draw a veil over it.  Don’t you love that?

scott weston linear kitchen curtained off

This hair salon was designed by Scott and is a total fantasy for me.  I’m sure Marie Antoinette would have come here to have her hair done (although she may have had some issues getting all the way to Australia…)

scott weston hair salon design faux panels

I love that Scott isn’t afraid of colour.  It’s rare to see a designer use it in such proliferation.  And even if that isn’t your style, maybe his work has sparked some ideas for you?

scott weston moroccan seating

Get lost with maps: the newest look! Monday, Jan 3 2011 

It seems that either you’re a map-reader or you’re not.  I have friends who can turn a map upside down trying to work out where we are and which is the way out and still get lost.  Others throw it a cursory glance and have the position nailed and the route defined.  Whichever camp you sit in, a map can be a wonderful reminder of a holiday, a place once lived in or a beautiful visit.  They can even tempt you to destinations on your dream list.

framed antique map

The most common way to use maps inside is by framing the antique versions, as above. 

These are becoming very popular with interior designers, and I notice even Ralph Lauren is using them in their advertisements:

Not content with this minimal approach, I have been known to cover entire walls with maps – as this little washroom shows.

For details on this project have a look here.  I just love this room!  It’s a lot more work – but hey – what else are you going to do over Christmas? – a map as a mural.

If you’re looking for more unconventional takes on maps, check out these cushions. 

silk aviator escape map cushion interior

They are covered in silk escape maps from World War Two. 

silk aviator escape map cushion interior3

Pilots were given maps printed on silk that they wore like scarves so that if they bailed out or crashed into the sea or a river, the map wouldn’t dissolve (as paper maps are wont to do).

world war two silk escape aviator map

Maps look great on books:

leather bound book map cover vintage interior

The worn leather contrasts so beautifully with the antique map cover.  I feel that Darwin or Livingstone might have held this (although I’m quite sure that their stationery was nowhere near so glamorous!)

leather bound book map cover vintage interior2

Maps can make gorgeous linings for cupboards, shelves and display cases.  I lined this one with a black and white town map.

cabinet lining map cover vintage interior

You can see how do this project here.

Maps are now appearing on everywhere.  Seletti have a range of plates and mugs featuring Europe’s grand old cities.

seletti plate map cover vintage interior

I’m not sure you’d want a whole dinner service – but one or two would be stunning.

You can easily recover your old lamp shade with your unwanted, or unused maps. 

Despite a personal dislike of shower curtains (somehow, when I’m having a shower, they get sucked into towards me, through some invisible vortex and I end up wrapped claustrophically in a clinging wet wall of fabric with a life of its own), I might be tempted by this one with the Tube on it.

And of course, my favourite, the map covered globe as a cocktail cabinet!  More of which here…

Open antique globe cocktail drinks

In a couple of days I’ll show you how to make the chicest coolest map accessory – with minimal effort.  Check back and see how it works out!

New use for old books (and a cute gift idea) Wednesday, Dec 15 2010 

Do you live with someone who just can’t throw stuff out?  Or are YOU that person?  Sometimes loved ones have items that they inexplicably cling to – things that appear to be precious for no apparent reason, and that grow into piles of hoarded ‘stuff’.  As you’ve guessed from that comment, I’m not a hoarder.  In reality, neither is ‘the man’ – but he has insisted on keeping the 1989 Michelin Guide on our shelves, despite the fact that most of the places mentioned have either shut down or been replaced by motorways.

What better project for a cute little refurbishment?

I had always had a love of those stories where treasures were hidden in books, secreted in holes cut into the pages, so this spurred my ideas.  In fact, Anthropologie are charging a few hundred dollars for something similar:

I wanted to created something more fun, arty and personal than useful.  (I’m still considering doing another book the Anthropology way – but that might be for next year).

secret hole cut into book vintage interior

I divided the book into two, keeping the majority of the pages to the back, and then I painted PVA glue throughout the edges of the pages to glue and bind them together.  This took quite a bit of time and patience.  I painted several layers until the back pages were almost lacquered like a box.

secret hole cut into book vintage interior

Then I used a scalpel to cut through the pages, until I had created a box within the book.  I kept going until I had an interesting page for the base of the cavity.  This is hard work.  I actually got a blister on my finger from doing this.

secret hole cut into book vintage interior beetle

Then I painted two little beetles and stuck them on pins inside the cavity.  A bit like Victorian specimen cabinets.  And a bit like beetles eating old books and wood.

And then I protected it all by gluing acetate onto the top (I just used an old overhead projector piece of acetate!)

secret hole cut into book vintage interior beetle

On the opposite page, I painted a large beetle onto a page, and then glued the pages together on top.  And I cut three holes until I revealed parts of this huge, painted insect.

insect hole cut into book vintage interior beetle

I know you’re wondering why I’m obsessed with beetles – but actually, it was a bit of a joke, for ‘the man’ to enjoy – as I had found a pile of sawdust as large as my fist on my desk – which we created from an antique altar table…. (remember?).  This kind of freaked me out.  I then found several HUGE beetles in the room and discovered to my horror that they were top of Australia’s most wanted list.  (totally freaked now)

beetle book art holes cut in books vintage recycled interiors

Aww – look at its leg!  Is this too creepy for you?  Well – I called Quarantine and they were over in a flash and wrapped the whole desk in clingfilm (yup – that’s how high-tech we are over here) and took the beetle away for analysis.  Apparently it was very exciting as the beetles were very lively (usually they only get dead ones).  Later they picked up the desk and stuck it in a freezer at -27C for two weeks, and then brought it back.

And it was all FREE!  Sometimes, I’m glad I pay taxes.  (not very often, admittedly, but I may as well be thankful on those rare occasions).

Anyway – hence the joke of the beetles.  And the actual Asian Longhorn beetle that was in our desk – is the one painted on the left.

beetle book art holes cut in books vintage  interiors

After all THAT – I did the cover.  I kept some of the title, and then added all kind of personal stuff like metro tickets from our trip to France, photos, labels from great French wine we’d drunk and so on.  I photocopied these so I didn’t have to spoil the originals.

beetle book holes cut in books vintage recycled interiors

All this resulted in a very personal and unique ‘objet’ – with memories galore.

Michelin france book art

Was ‘the man’ thrilled at this wonderful creation from his treasured book?  Well – after a few whiskies he was reconciled to the idea….

secret hole cut into book vintage interior

What about your remote controls? A new use for old cutlery boxes… Tuesday, Dec 7 2010 

remote control storage solution before

What about those remote controls?  I mean, there are so many of them now.  I know you can get one almighty mother to control them all – but we don’t have that.  There is the TV, the DVD, the stereo… not to mention stuff for games.

They can make even the most glamorous room look cluttered.  Add to that pens, the TV guide, and there is a load of necessary but unbeautiful ‘stuff’ in your living room.

remote control storage cutlery box recycled

The easiest way to deal with them is to store them in a beautiful box on your coffee table or next to your sofa.

The perfect fit seems to be old cutlery boxes.  These were designed to prevent silver from tarnishing.  But now that no one really has silver cutlery any more, these can be picked up for next to nothing.

cutlery box new use before recycling

These can be painted, stained or recovered.  Even if you don’t change anything, they look pretty fabulous as they are.  Often they are made of interesting wood.  This one has brass inlay.

remote controls in cutlery silver box vintage

Whilst you could recover the interior with new felt or fabric, the dividers for the cutlery work fabulously as remote control sections.  Who would have thought?

remote control repurposed cutlery box

A far more elegant solution that doesn’t cost the earth….

Leather bound books – the new ‘must have’ accessory Thursday, Nov 18 2010 

Ancient library leather bound booksMedia rooms are so last year – as soon as everyone has one, they just aren’t cool.  The new fashion in houses is to have a library.  Even people who admit they don’t read, once they are possessed of wealth, are building whole rooms filled with books.  But not just any old books – not Mills and Boon, or Dan Brown… No – these rooms have the ancient hush of tooled leather tomes, the gleam of gold on parchment, the serried ranks of intellectual prowess and history.

leather bound books

This delightful series of the history of the world was written prior to World War One.  It’s main focus (in true Victorian style) is on the character and moral rectitude of historical figures.  But what a handsome series.

leather bound marbled book

A tiny volume of Milton is leather-bound with exquisite marbling on the cover.  It is a delight to hold.

red leather books

Vintage volumes of fabric and leather books, embossed with gilt titles look magnificent on shelves.  The faded texture of old books, in sage greens or wine reds look wonderful in almost any room.

Fabric books

Even worn paper covers can add something…

faded vintage books

It’s time to frequent those second-hand book shops and stalls and look for the exquisitely produced books of yesteryear. 

If you really aren’t into vintage, publishers are cottoning on to this trend.  Penguin is offering some beautiful editions of classics, in leather or in gorgeous covers.

These would make such lovely Christmas presents…  You can search on Amazon and find a stunning array of newly published classics in lovely covers.

And if this is all too much for you – you can even wallpaper it on.  Brunschwig and Fils were the first to do this with their Bibliotechque wallpaper, but now many companies are doing it.  The photo below is wallpaper – not books!  How much fun would this be in a toilet?  As long as they were supplemented with some real reading matter….

Why a screen is a fabulous investment Monday, Nov 15 2010 

screen behind bed

Folding screens were very popular last century – they kept out drafts, hid doors that servants used, provided a discreet area for ladies to disrobe….  And they were often beautiful works of art.

Nowadays, we have other methods for keeping out drafts, few of us have servants (although there are days when I could really use one!), and most of us aren’t so shy about getting our kit off…. so what would you do with a screen?

Screens are a stunning way of framing a bed.  We’ve had discussions on using large artwork above a bed here – and a screen does it all for you….  You can get them covered in a fabric which tones with your bedroom colours.  Or you can go all out, such as the gold screen I used above – which injects real glamour into the boudoir!

You can actually make a screen very easily – just cut plywood to size, and cover each panel with batting and then fabric, and hinge them together.  On Wednesday I’ll show you how to recover a screen from scratch.

Screen on wall

Screen can be hung on the wall like art – but because they are large, they can fill some of the featureless and huge walls that some houses have.  They can imbue a room with such a different character, depending on their look.  I love the antique depiction of a river and a city above.

Screen behind sofa

Screens are also great ways of framing a sofa or couch.  It feels cosy to sit in front of one, and the seating arrangement looks much more inviting.  You can use it to add a sense of grandeur, depending on the style of the screen.

Some can act as room dividers in today’s open plan living – giving you a flexible way of changing your room around. 

And because they fold up, you can always pop them up against a wall when you don’t need them.

They come in every conceivable look – from antique wall-papered examples, to the art-deco gold and silver one above.  Oriental screens are usually covered in gold or silver leaf and then painted.

Other have a mural-type painting on. 

You can create a mood with a delicate filigree Moroccan style:

On Wednesday, I’ll be recovering this mildewed pink taffeta with something much more exciting!

mildewed silk screen before recycling

Watch this space!

The ultimate James Bond accessory… Friday, Nov 5 2010 

No – it’s not a gun….

James Bond cocktail drinks globe

It’s a drop-dead gorgeous antique globe that opens to reveal a cocktail cabinet!

James Bond Globe cocktail

The first one I found sits on a table-top.  It appears at first glance to be an antique globe of the world.  However, it opens up to reveal layered shelving.

Antique Globe drinks cabinet

Tall bottles sit in the bottom of the globe, extending up through the full height, while round the circumference is a narrow shelf for glasses and crystal.

cocktail cabinet

It’s so divinely hidden when it’s shut, and such a nifty way of storing cocktail paraphernalia.  And it’s just so James Bond!  Of course, once people saw mine, everyone wanted one, so I’ve been on the lookout for more.  And I found this one at an auction last weekend:

Cocktail globe James Bond style

This one is a tiny piece of furniture in its own right, with its own stand, a shelf below, and casters.

Open antique globe cocktail drinks

You can store bottles below (in a beautifully designed shelf with a wood surround), as well as in the globe.

antique globe cocktail cabinet

The equator of the globe has the months of the year and zodiac symbols.

Antique recycled Globe cocktail cabinet

Aren’t they divine?

Do you have something in your home that reminds you of a great movie?

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