OLIO’s Adelaide

“Thank you so much for a fun, fabulous day. Really loved it! Great destinations, great experience, fun people, exceptionally well organised.”
“I definitely learnt stuff that I’ll use in the future. Loved your narration between our destinations.”
“We were chauffeured in air-conditioned comfort with a most delicious lunch and wine provided, along with cold water and giveaways. What a treat!”

“I highly, highly recommend OLIO’s Adelaide tour for anyone with an interest in interiors, projects, furniture, restoring, rejuvenating, building, shopping, having fun and well… just breathing!”

OLIO’s Adelaide 30th March 2019

One By One

Knowing I’m moving to a smaller home is making me think deeply about each object I own. One by one weighing up their form, function and the memories and emotions embedded within them.

I’ve got at least 18 months before I move. My new apartment is currently just a billboard and a sales centre. So I have the luxury of time to approach this task in my own way. I understand that ‘my own way’ will see chaotic to some. But I love having the space to look at each object as it captures my attention, rather than it being the next item on some sort of logical list.

I found this set of Mid Century salt and pepper shakers in the shape of birds when my cousin and I were clearing out my family home.  Perfect simplicity and so lovely to hold. They used to come out with the ‘good plates’ in the 1970s when there were guests for dinner. I don’t know why it seemed normal then that the salt and pepper came out of the bird’s eyes. Now it seems so painful! They will live the rest of their lives with me in a purely ornamental role.

My cheese slice is more functional. It was a gift from a treasured school friend who brought it back for me from her exchange year in Norway. Beautifully designed and made. It just needs a bit of oil every so often to nourish the timber so it looks its very best.

The silver plated servers with fish scale decoration and horn handles are of mystery origin. They too were found in my family home but I don’t remember them ever being used. They were blackened and filthy when I found them and needed professional attention and re-silvering. I assume they were originally owned by one of my grandmothers.

Was it my grandmother who migrated to Adelaide from London in the 1920s (imagine her shock at the size of her new city!)? Perhaps they were a farewell gift from the family she never saw again.

Or was it my other grandmother who travelled by ship around Asia in the 1960s? Did she buy them as a gift for my mother in a Hong Kong store?

I could feel sad that there is nobody left to ask, or I could feel happy that a beautiful object of mystery has come into my possession for a while.

I choose happy.

To be continued…

Previous Installment

Decorative Twist

In 2002 Vanessa Branson and Howell James walked into the almost ruined courtyard of one of Marrakech’s formerly great private homes and instantly fell in love.

Vanessa and Howell knew they wanted to create a home away from home retreat that combined great food and service with the spirit of the building’s past and a contemporary decorative twist.

During a two-year renovation, local craftsman used traditional techniques to breathe new life into the building. Polished lime plastering was used in a rainbow of colours to create walls, baths and bed frames, original tiling was renovated and carved cedar ceilings restored.

Retro furniture sourced from local flea markets was combined with one-off bespoke pieces to create a unique interior.

El Fenn opened with six bedrooms in March 2004. Since then twenty-two more rooms and suites, three swimming pools, a restaurant, bar, spa and library have been added thanks to the purchase of neighbouring courtyard homes and the expertise of renowned Moroccan architect Amine Kabbaj.

El Fenn

Living Design

Interior Designer Thom Filicia launched his successful business in 1998.

But it was in 2003 when he debuted in the original cast of ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ that he truly became a global phenomenon.

His camera-friendly personality is as engaging as his design acumen is deep.

Filicia graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design and is a visiting design professor at the School of Art & Design. Filicia began his career at the renowned design firms Parish-Hadly, Robert Metzger Interiors and Bilhuber & Associates.

Filicia is known for his ability to create stunning modern, yet classic, interiors that reflect the individuality of his clients.

I’ll leave the last word to Thom as he expresses it so well.

“In the end, the lifestyle you create for your house is the final piece of the decor. How you use your house – or, more accurately, that you use it – is what gives your home a soul. The design is in the living.”

Thom Filicia

The Promise

I’ve bought an expensive piece of air. A piece of air that promises to become a home to shelter and inspire my next life stage.

Maybe that sounds too poetic a way to describe buying an apartment ‘off the plan’. The copious contract I’ve signed certainly wasn’t crafted by a literary wordsmith.

But if poetry is made up of beginnings and endings, loves and losses, fears and aspirations, then this particular piece of air is undeniably poetic for me.

In 18 months or so I will move into a new apartment, a small home. On a practical level the move will require me to downsize. Take measurements and make decisions.

I have recently become a middle-aged orphan. Is there actually such a thing? I don’t know what to call it when your last parent dies and you are finally and irreversibly cut adrift. When you are concurrently more yourself, and less yourself, that you’ve ever been before.

Clearing out the family home, and another elderly relative’s home a few years prior – I am the owner of more objects than ever before. What will come with me and what will be left behind?

I’m pleased my new home is now just a promised piece of air. I’m going to need quite some time to make this change. The physical move will, after all, be the simple part. The re-imagining of this next stage of my life may be quite a bit more complex.

Next Installment

Historic Lisbon

As Janelas Verdes (The Green Windows) is a charming boutique hotel in the historic centre of Lisbon.

Beautifully refurbished and restored by one of Portugal’s most acclaimed interior designers, Graҁa Viterbo, the period interiors in the older wing contribute to the feeling of a private home.

Each room has been individually designed and, though the new wing boasts a more contemporary style of decoration, all parts of the hotel blend together to become a quirky and comfortable whole.

The hotel is part of the Heritage Lisbon group, a small group of hotels offering boutique stays in historic settings.

As Janelas Verdes

Strong Contrast

Ottoline is a prolific London-based design house founded by Ottoline de Vries in 2010.

“There is so much that inspires me, from antique decorative arts to modern design. I love all things colourful and shapes with stong contrast.”

Ottoline’s artwork is imaginatively transformed into vibrant designs using a mixture of materials including paint, pencil, ink and crayon, creating spirited and edgy collections for the home.

Ottoline’s philosophy has a light-hearted approach to pattern, encouraging those who wish to add personality to the home to be brave and embrace the wonderful spirit that lifts the home and those who live there.


Organic Essence

Heather Rosenman creates ceramic vessels and sculptures rich in form and texture. A New York native, currently based in Los Angeles, she studied at The Cooper Union and The Basel School of Design in Switzerland.

Rosenman is inspired by the Mid Century movement, emphasising minimalism by simplifying forms to their organic essence. Her goal is to create artifacts that bridge the organic and man-made, the natural world and a speculative futuristic one.

I love the way that her pieces simultaneously appear as a fossil, a Mid Century artwork and a being that’s just arrived from another planet.

Heather Rosenman Ceramics

A Part Of Me

Guest Blog by Libby Hanson

An object of significance to me ? …. I thought about this for some time.

Is it the terracotta garden pedestal and bowl I love that came from my Mum’s garden?

Is it the old lounge suite from my Grandma? … Yes it’s that old!! And comfy, so comfy.

Is it all the pieces of ruby glass that I have?

No, none of those ….

It’s the dresser, side board, hutch, or whatever you call it, that takes pride of place in my home.

It came to us in the early 1970s from my late husband Tony’s family. Made of the most beautiful oak, very early Australian, elegant but chunky. A very heavy piece.

But covered in white enamel paint!!

It took him hours and hours to strip it back to its former glory. Not to mention the hours of sand-papering that followed. So yes, very significant.

It has had a few moves with us. From Norwood, to Marryatville, Kensington Gardens, Wattle Park, and now back in Norwood.

A part of me.

Libby went nursing when she left school. The old style training in hospital. She worked in operating theatres and learnt a lot from some amazing surgeons (including how to swear!). She then got into catering and cooked for gourmet shops around town (her Mum was a fantastic cook and she’d learnt a lot from her). She had the opportunity to buy a business in the Adelaide Central Market called ‘Gourmet to Go’. Fantastic place to work. Lovely customers. Lovely suppliers. After 10 years, back into a busy GP clinic. (GPs work so hard and are there for everyone – admirable people.) Then came retirement and she loves it.  Playing bridge as much as she can. Playing Pétanque every Sunday in the parklands and then enjoying lunch with the crew on the balcony of the Exeter Hotel in Rundle Street. And having a ‘sleep over’ once a week with her grandkids (24 hours with those two is always fun!).

Relatable Luxury

Housed in a historic flatiron building in the heart of San Francisco, Proper is a fresh take on the quintessential urban hotel experience.

Proper Hospitality unveiled its first project in June 2016 with Hollywood’s Proper Residences, then followed up with its first hotel in San Francisco (hotels in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Austin are in the works.)

Though each property celebrates the unique personality of its respective city, what they have in common is relatable luxury, hip amenities, and a striking look masterminded by famed interior designer Kelly Wearstler.

Wearstler’s trademark style is evident in the collage of clashing patterns, vintage furniture, bold fabrics and custom pieces. All set within beautifully preserved original details.

Basically, Proper Hotel San Francisco is the coolest kid on the block.

Proper Hotel San Francisco