Monday, 30 May 2011

A Decorating Challenge

We are four months in our Melbourne house now.  We are loving our neighbourhood and enjoying the amazing local parks and colour.  As experienced intercontinental travellers, we now recognize that moving presents a wonderful occasion to shed the 'stuff' from our life that hadn't yet been regifted or recycled.  It's a chance to pare down to the essentials, the furniture and bits that matter, that represent a life lived thus far.  It's an opportunity to recreate new living spaces that reflect our newer and matured experience and taste.

Both C2 and I are passionate about interior design.  We love great textures, shapes, lines and materials.  I am no Sarah Richardson (my style and decorating icon) but we have tried to infuse every room in our home with elegance and design appeal but have also kept in mind comfort and use by an active family with a sofa-loving Labrador.  Most items in our house have a story.  A place it was discovered, a meaning behind it, a reason it belongs. We eliminated a lot of flotsam on this last move from Geneva.   However, once we had placed everything in our new house to our satisfaction, we were left with a challenge.

We had two items left to occupy our near-empty family room.   A large red painting I have never liked (but C2 loved) bought in Calgary for a song to temporarily occupy a large wall in that house.  Somehow it is still with us.  The second item was a chair purchased impulsively many years ago which I love but is ugly and PINK.  Therein was our challenge: to economically create an inviting living space around an inexpensive red painting that I hated, and an ugly pink chair that I loved.

My mum and I scoured design magazines in vain looking for inspiration but nothing suggested how to reconcile red and pink.  I couldn't imagine creating a pink space - blech!  After hours of debate and reflection, I decided that red would be the focal colour supported by other bright colours against a neutral background hoping to have that incipid pink recede in the process.   The other focus would be squares.  The red painting was based on a series of squares, and squares would be reflected throughout the space.  I also decided to include things I love like mirrors, wool rugs, and books - lots and lots of books!

Squares in the mirror, squares in the magazine rack and squares in the sofa pillow - score!   Do you see the square Sid Dickens tiles reflected in the mirror?  An old and beloved Hudson's Bay blanket helped to anchor the red.  I originally wanted to find a red throw but my wise mum advised that two much solid red would "argue" with each other - wise woman.


My library corner, where I can curl up for a read embraced on all sides by my books both classics and classic mysteries.

Here is the end result.  I still want to add a couple more large orchid plants; the natural light in this space should help them thrive.  Also perhaps a corner lamp and a candle lantern or two.  Otherwise, I think I managed to make the pink work?  What do you think?

Monday, 23 May 2011

Il faut profiter!

Il faut profiter is a French expression and one of several that just works better in French than in English.  A direct translation means "to take advantage", but its' nuances are much broader and romantic; more like "savor, luxuriate, revel or as one of my favorite bloggers puts it 'suck the marrow from the experience'".  And that, my friends, is just what we did this past weekend!

Saturday dawned a sunny and warm Fall day.  I bustled everyone, including Murphy, out the door mid-morning, and in spite of a garage door that wouldn't open, misplaced keys, and a forgotten jacket, we made it to St. Kilda beach by 11:00.   There, we walked the beach looking for shells and starfish, stopping for lunch at The Beachcomber and for coffee on St. Kilda pier.  While on the pier, we spotted a pair of Fairy Penguins nesting in the breakwater; a treat for my visiting mum.  Murphy chased sticks and ambled happily in the surf.

After a couple of hours, my mum and I deposited ourselves and Murph on a bench with a view and a scent of the sea while C2 and J spent an hour on the rides at Luna Park.

Counting Starfish

That evening, C2 and I made ourselves beautiful and headed out on a date night.  Our destination was the Cafe Provincial on Brunswick St. in the funky and fantastic Fitzroy section of Melbourne.  An epic Boeuf Bourgignon later, we made our way to the Cinema Nova for a late viewing of the Canadian film "Incendies"; it was searing, brilliant, and calamitous; all in all, a terrific date night.

Sunday, again, we all piled into my car (minus Murphy this time) and drove into the Yarra Valley to the Healesville Animal Sanctuary.  In spite of a steady downpour, we had a great time visiting and learning about the animals native to this land. 

J and C2 had some special one-on-one time with a lovely pair of Dingos; while mum got up close and personal with a sleepy Koala  named Benny.  We learned of the medical crisis threatening the iconic Tasmanian Devil.  Healesville acts as one of 4 "Arks" keeping pairs of the Devils to safeguard the future of the species.

 One of the gorgeous pairs of Dingos.  They clearly thought C2 was delish!

We witnessed a magestic flight show of native Australian predatory birds like Wedge-tailed Eagles, and Black-breasted Buzzards, as well as amazing parrots such as Sulfur-crested Cockatoos, and the endangered Major Mitchell's Cockatoo.  We laughed at the indignant stare of the Emu, and the bored air of the Kangaroos.  Florence the Wombat indulged in her usual thrilling deep sleep while Storm the Tasmanian Devil posed for pictures puffed with self-importance.

 Bored Kangaroos

A Tasmanian Devil - looks meek and charming but ferociously hilarious

We ended the weekend with a late dinner of crepe completes, crepes with lemon and sugar, and crepes with Canadian maple syrup; a perfect ending to a perfect weekend.