My Favourite Curtains

I love a good curtain. Drawing the curtains in the early evening is, to me, the epitome of a luxurious life. Particularly on a cool night, who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by all that fabric loveliness?

This first example also illustrates how important it is not only to choose the right fabric, but also the right ‘hardware’. Nothing old-fashioned about a clear perspex curtain rod and oblong brass curtain rings!

Even if the rest of your windows are content with shutters or blinds, curtains really come into their own in the bedrooms. Whether a new build or an older home, and whatever your taste and style, bedroom curtains will add that final ‘finished’ touch. Don’t be skimpy – place your curtain rod high above the window for a bit of drama. And do have both a decorative fabric and a lining fabric. Bedroom curtains should be about darkening the room to promote good sleep. I know the TV reno shows are obsessed with floaty, semi-sheer linens, but they won’t look as good when the morning sun wakes you up at 6am.

If you happen to be living in an enormous loft apartment, you might consider suspending a circular curtain track to pull around your bed!

Custom curtains are an investment. There’s a lot of fabric and a lot of skill to make them. But if flinging open those crushed velvet bedroom curtains every morning starts your day happy, perhaps it’s actually a small price to pay.

More info on the designers of these four rooms via the links below.

1. Peti Lau

2. Sisalla

3. Fiona Lynch

4. Brett Mickan

A Lot Can Happen

We all have quotations and sayings that stick in our minds for their accuracy and wisdom. I can’t remember who said this or where it came from. It goes something like “we over-estimate what we can achieve in one year and under-estimate what we can achieve in a decade”.

Perhaps 2020 will go down in history as a particular year of major under-achievement for many of us! At least in regards to what we imagined we were going to be doing. Of course many of us have been nudged (or forcibly kicked) into new directions, and that is in itself an achievement …..

I tend to be harsh in regards to my annual self-audit. Suddenly it’s the end of the year and what have I actually done with my precious time?

But a decade? I find that a very exciting yard-stick.

Ten years ago I was putting on my daily armour and parading on the corporate battle-field. I was solving complex problems, balancing divergent interests, supporting and growing people through their daily challenges. My brain was spinning, but my body and heart had been largely left behind. I was constantly in motion but mostly just running around in circles.

What a difference a decade has made.

I left that work environment and studied Interior Design. I gave up financial security for the chance to explore other parts of myself. I took up exercise – scarcely able to unbend my stiffened spine for the first few years. Now panting, puffing (still complaining!) but lifting weights and stretching in ways I could never have imagined.

I’ve been a carer and, like most carers, forgotten to take care for myself. I’m still re-learning how to do this.

A decade ago I excitedly joined a small group of women on a Sunday afternoon who were all happily and industriously engaged in their craft projects. I sat a little separate to the group, totally paralysed, unable to pick up a pencil or cut a piece of paper. I found that I wasn’t able to connect with this part of myself at all.

And now, I’m on the brink of launching a range of OLIO cushions in my own fabric designs. I couldn’t have predicted it, and yet it is all about a decade of thousands of tiny steps in this direction.

A lot really can happen!

Introducing Lucy

Q Lucy, tell us a bit about yourself …..

A My name’s Lucy Timbrell and I’m a visual artist and teacher.

Q Why did you start your Adelaide business?

A I began my visual art business upon finishing art school and my post-graduate teaching qualification. It enables me to showcase, share and sell my lino cut artworks. I also teach lino printing workshops as a way of imparting my knowledge and spreading the joy of printmaking!

Q How would you describe what’s special about your Adelaide business?

My artwork is entirely original, unique and all handmade, often inspired by the beautiful native flora and fauna. I love connecting with people through art, and have been able to meet new people through teaching workshops and hosting Open Studio days.

Q What are your favourite Adelaide places to eat?

A For a casual night out, I love Cinnamon Club on The Parade and Parwana on Henley Beach Rd.

Q What is your favourite South Australian made drink?

I love a good reisling, and anything from the Clare Valley has my vote!

Q What books are you currently reading?

After preparing work for an exhibition about Homer’s Odyssey, I have been engrossed in books about Ancient Greece and am currently reading Circe by Madeline Miller. Next on the list is The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.

Q What’s on your current playlist?

My playlist is very eclectic and depends entirely on my mood! Currently I’m working my way through various Paul Kelly albums.

Q Which travel destinations are ones you’d recommend?

I was lucky enough to travel to Turkey a number of years ago. Istanbul especially was full of absolutely beautiful art and design, including stunning rugs, ceramics and architecture. Definitely worth a visit! Italy is also a fabulous destination and has an amazing history as well as great food and wine.

Q What are your favourite things to do in Adelaide and South Australia?

I love visiting Kangaroo Island for the beautiful wildlife and scenery. The Art Gallery of South Australia and the SA Museum are also wonderful places to visit for artistic inspiration.

Lucy Timbrell

Lucy Timbrell is one of the fabulous people we visit on some of our OLIO Tours.

My Favourite Fireplaces

A living room needs a focal point – a hub from which to start your placement of sofas, chairs, tables and all the other bits and pieces. Personally, I’m not a fan of a huge television screen being the main focus if the living room area is used for non TV watching activities as well. (By all means go for a huge screen if you have a separate media room.)

I understand I’m in the minority, but here’s a few reasons why a more modest sized TV screen works better for me.

I don’t enjoy watching sport. (If you do, I totally get that you want to see every grimace and bead of sweat). I prefer going out to watch movies at the cinema on an even bigger screen (with a choc-top ice cream in hand). I grew up in a home with a small black and white TV with very poor reception.  I just get excited at actually being able to see an image on the TV – a modest sized colour screen that doesn’t roll (you have to be over a certain age to understand that reference) is bliss! And lastly, TVs just don’t look very nice.

On the other hand, fireplaces look fabulous even when they’re not blazing. Fireplaces don’t even have to have a real log fire – I include all fuels and even those fireplaces that don’t actually work.

The first image shows how a restored marble fireplace can look right at home with more contemporary pieces.

The second image shows how the combination of polished concrete and recycled or handmade brick is always a winner. And how a shelfless mantle can look sleek and modern amidst equally sleek and modern furnishings.

How extraordinary is the simplicity of this coiled black metal fireplace? Only made better with the display of a small flock of green ceramic birds.

This Mid-Century concrete fantasia of a fireplace is sure to divide opinion – I absolutely adore it.

But let’s finish on a more contemporary fireplace look in our last image. See how perfectly its unique texture works with those gorgeous quilted upholstered armchairs.

There truly is a fireplace design to suit every taste (even though some will cost at least as much as a huge screen TV!).

More info on the designers of these five rooms via the links below.

1. Hare + Klein

2. Arent + Pyke

3. B.E Architecture

4. Alison Damonte

5. Doherty Design Studio

The Joy Of Making

“I think doing something creative is the most important thing, it’s probably just good for the soul for anyone, whatever it is. You don’t have to be a film director – you can do gardening or something – but I think everyone needs to create something.” – Ricky Gervais

Making, creating, building, doing. I value the makers.

Making by hand is a small act of defiance in an industrialised world. It says ‘I’m not interested in faster, cheaper, more ….. what I care about is that my hand made the object that your hand touches each day.’

I try to include visiting at least one maker, or retailer of handmade objects, on each OLIO tour. It’s all part of sharing the enormous wealth of skills right here in Adelaide. Sometimes we just need a little ‘OLIO insider knowledge’ to help us locate these talents and their treasures.

I feel incredibly excited and privileged to now have an entire OLIO tour dedicated to showcasing Adelaide’s makers. It’s super special to be invited into makers’ homes and studios and be able to experience makers at work.

Plus I love the idea that tour participants may be inspired by meeting these Adelaide makers to do a bit of making themselves. We all have it in us!

OLIO’s Makers Tour

Vintage Picking 3

Yes, it’s another Mid Century dessert service! Whitefriars was Britain’s longest running glass maker operating from the 1830s to the 1980s, leading fashion and technology in the manufacture of domestic decorative and table glass. These ones are not particularly rare or valuable, although there are definitely serious Whitefriars collectors out there. I just like the colour and shape, plus the overall practice of serving dessert in a separate set of dinnerware.

Speaking of dinnerware (although I wouldn’t put this particular dinner set and dessert set together), whole or near-whole vintage dinnerware sets do often become available at auction.

We do dine differently now than we did in the mid 20th Century. In vintage sets you’ll find a lot of pieces dedicated to tea – brewing it in a teapot and drinking it from a cup and saucer. No mugs and tea-bags in sight. You might also wonder where the big round pasta bowls are. Vintage soup and dessert bowls can seem quite small. But even if you later give away some of the un-needed vintage dinnerware pieces, you’re still bound to get an awful lot of style (just look at those platters!) and quality for very little expense.

Whose 1970s Adelaide home didn’t have at least one plastic Caroma stool? These are a local design icon. Don’t be surprised if you see hipsters bidding high for these – the 1970s aesthetic is hot right now. The perfect piece for your bathroom as a shower seat or pedestal on which to display your best cleansing gels and shampoos.

1. Whitefriars Glass Mid Century Dessert Service $69.90 ($60 hammer price + 16.5% buyers premium)

2. Johnson Brothers Dinner Service $29.13 ($25 hammer price + 16.5% buyers premium)

3. Four Caroma Stools and Table $93.20 ($80 hammer price + 16.5% buyers premium)

Scammells Auctions

Scammells Auctions is one of the fabulous destinations we visit on some of our OLIO Tours.

Introducing Michelle

Q Michelle, tell us a bit about yourself …..

A My name’s Michelle Hank and I’m the owner of Morocco by Mish in Glenelg North, Adelaide.

Q What is Morocco by Mish?

A Morocco by Mish is a merchant of Moroccan wares and a curator of Moroccan travel.

Q What’s your connection with Morocco?

A I fell in love with Morocco when I visited in my late twenties. I found my ‘heart home’ so I packed up my life in Japan where I had been living for six years and moved to Morocco without a second thought. A few years later I met my husband and our daughter Bahija was born in Marrakesh. Morocco was my home for nearly 20 years. We are now based in Adelaide and I travel back and forth three times a year to source new treasures, host tours and work with my charity Red Goes Faster – that provides wheelchairs for Moroccan kids.

Q How would you describe what’s special about Morocco by Mish?

Morocco by Mish is a heart-driven story where each arm of the business is intertwined and works hand-in-hand. Giving back is an integral part of our philosophy. I’m passionate about visitors giving back to the host communities they visit and directly supporting local traditional artisans and small operators. Too often we see the bazaar owners (the middle men) benefitting on the back of the maker. On the road, we shop at the source where possible. Meeting the artisans and seeing the products being made adds extra value and meaning to the item. We get off the tourist trail and offer a choice of curated boutique small group tours, bespoke itineraries for the independent traveller and travel for a purpose which is an enriching cultural journey that includes gifting and fitting wheelchairs for Moroccan children.

Q Why did you start your Adelaide business?

Six years ago we returned to Adelaide. While it was lovely to be home,  I missed the ‘exoticness’, the medina, the call to prayer, the sense of community, the vibrancy, the flavours, the souks…… It was then I realised I wanted to share ‘my Morocco’ with others through small group travel and Moroccan style. I have made it my focus to have a foot in both countries so I can make the most of the completely different opportunities and way of life that both worlds offer.

What do you sell in your shop?

Authentic, one of a kind pieces I collect on my journeys including textiles, natural fibre clothing, homewares, Amazigh (Berber) and Touareg jewellery, leather bags and ottomans, new and vintage rugs.  Morocco by Mish has ‘the feel-good factor’. We offer conscious, thoughtful and kindly produced handmade products that enrich and empower the artisans. Whether it’s Fatiha who crochets our earrings with her Mum and sisters in a small village outside Marrakesh, or Najib who makes our bags deep in the souk  –  they are all fairly rewarded and valued for their skills, expertise and friendship. We like to share with our customers the human and background story. For example the intention of the Agdz cross pendant, the meaning behind the Berber symbolism on the carpets or why the rug has tassels only on one end. There is something special that comes with a heartfelt and handmade purchase. Moroccans call it Baraka. Baraka is an Arabic word for divine or holy blessings and good luck. When choosing a handmade rug or piece of jewellery we can all feel those that come with Baraka. Maybe it’s the rug that you can’t stop thinking about or the talisman that gives you goosebumps – this is a sign of a gift with Baraka.

What are your favourite things about life in Morocco?

It’s a country that values community and connection, there is always time for family and friends. Food is always shared around a round table off one plate. Extended families live and socialise together across generations. Mint tea is a ritual, people stop, sip and share. Hammams – Once a week most Moroccans go to a public bath. It’s a place where you can relax, chat, gossip and scrub with olive oil soap. After a couple of hours of steaming, scrubbing and socialising you float out the door! Riads – The traditional home offers peace and serenity. Rooms are built around a central courtyard garden complete with a water feature, citrus trees and Zelij Moroccan tiles. Comfortable banquettes line the walls with cosy corners piled high with cushions. Brass lanterns cast intricate patterns across the rooms and the flat rooftops function as outdoor rooms to entertain and watch the sunset.

What is one of your favourite places to visit in Morocco?

Sahara is my all-time favourite. I have always been fascinated by the Touareg tribes with their indigo dyed robes, turbans and nomadic lifestyle. Now with borders, the Touaregs can’t roam as free but there are still plenty of nomadic families living on the fringe in their open tents made from camel and goat hair. Getting to the Sahara you travel along the old Timbuktu camel caravan trade routes passing kasbahs, mudbrick villages, oases and date palmeries along the Draa valley. When visiting my Sahara friends, we camp out under the sea of stars and enjoy drumming and dancing around the campfire. Sunsets and sunrises over the dunes are incredible! The villages and local country markets on the edge of the Sahara are where I buy hand-embroidered leather shoes and Touareg nomad tassels and scarves.

What music are you listening to?

Two of my favourite Moroccan artists – Hindi Zahra and Oum.

Favourite Moroccan dish?

Definitely Tagine. With combinations like chicken, preserved lemon and olives, or lamb, prunes and almonds… it’s hard to choose!

Morocco by Mish

Red Goes Faster

Morocco by Mish is one of the fabulous destinations we visit on some of our OLIO Tours.

My Favourite Pattern Mixing

In the land of interior design, the art of mixing patterns is what separates the women from the girls!

The first image is a room designed by the wonderful Brisbane-based Anna Spiro (an absolute pattern mixing Queen). What we can learn from this image is that stripes, checks and animal prints are all neutrals – yes really! Mix them in with a range of other patterns to ground your overall design.

The second image is a bedroom designed by English-born US-based Kathryn Ireland. All her patterned textiles here have a common design thread. Dominant colours of red, blue and yellow in a variety of global-inspired motifs. The style of the bedframe and coffee table also reinforces her global design theme. See also how she’s cleverly repeated the one pattern on the walls, bed cover and pillows in two different colour combinations.

A very different and bolder bedroom in the third image. The Greek key motif on the rug goes into the ‘classic neutral’ group of patterns that can be mixed with anything. And see how the repetition of chocolate browns (including in the timber furniture) and pinks brings a consistency to the mix.

And lastly, I am seriously in love with Kit Kemp’s layered, textured, coloured and patterned hotel rooms.

I admit that pattern is not for everyone. But if you love it – go for it!!

More info on the designers of these four rooms via the links below.

1. Anna Spiro Design

2. Kathryn Ireland

3. Katie Ridder

4. Kit Kemp

My Favourite Bedheads

I think a bedhead is a visual must. Your bed frame may already come with a bedhead built into it – problem solved. But if it doesn’t, consider adding a separate bedhead. It will be the finishing piece, the ‘full stop’ to your bedroom.

If you like to sit up in bed and lean back against your bedhead you may prefer a soft, upholstered version. The first image is a beautiful example of a velvet upholstered bedhead – so tactile and luxurious.

But timber can also be a good choice, and a timber bedhead style can be classic (in the second image) or dramatic (in the third image) or many other styles in between!

Back to a delightful children’s upholstered bedhead in the fourth image. A reminder that you can custom make an upholstered bedhead in any shape or style of fabric.

More info on the designers of these four rooms via the links below.

1. Arent + Pyke

2. Jessica Helgerson

3. Commune Design

4. Decus Interiors

Own Your Creativity

I mislaid my creativity for a while, possibly for a decade or two. I got caught in the demands of a corporate career where my brain was in high demand but my heart less so.

I believe that to be human is to be creative. That the urge to create something that has a life separate to ours is universal. There’s something both basic and profound in viewing an object that we’ve created, and having it be both familiar and unfamiliar to us at the same time.

My creativity for the last few years has been in pattern making. When I starting studying for my Advanced Diploma of Interior Design, an early drawing assignment was called ‘144 squares’. Pretty simple. We had to fill 144 squares of 4 cms x 4 cms with hand drawn and painted patterns. Each square different from the last.

I guess the assignment was about pushing us to go beyond the obvious. To get into the habit of drawing. To make bold choices. To know that whether good, bad or absolutely ugly, it was just one 4 cm x 4 cm square. Finish it and start another. And then another.

For me, this simple assignment was a break-through. With each 4 cm x 4 cm square I opened up (for the first time since childhood) to the joys of coloured pencils, of mixing paints and playing with textas. And basically I haven’t looked back!

Now I’m teaching myself how to transfer my hand-drawn motifs into computer drawing software. I’m exploring how to create repeating patterns that could, one day, be printed on to fabrics and other objects. And, after many years of this being my private creativity, I’m starting to show and share my designs with other people.

I’m finally learning how to own my creativity. We all have it. What’s yours?