Monday, April 25, 2011


Over Easter here at the boatshed, we've been cleaning out a detached shed, which contains a couple of generations' worth of stuff. Here's what I found and have upcycled. A metal watering can and two little terracotta pots for herbs:

An oar and a prawning net:

Another prawning net and an old wooden crate:

This white flaking wooden box with odds and ends:

Which, when emptied and cleaned up, looks great on top of my new (old) cupboard:

As a repository for my odds and ends - French postcards, napkins and tarnished old cutlery:

It's amazing what you can unearth in an old shed.

P.S. Thank you for all your kind comments about my book. Here is the link to the publisher's blurb:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Interior Alchemy - Rebecca Purcell

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book by Rebecca Purcell, formerly of ABC Carpet and Home, and anthropologie catalogues:

I felt like she understands my aesthetic, my ideology. I have just finished writing a PhD thesis which has now been published as a book. It started as an analysis of the role of art in women's fiction. Over the six years it took me to write it, it evolved into a study of materialist culture, of objects such as paintings, curiousity cabinets, kitchen utensils and other still life elements, and the sensual pleasure that these evoke. Today when I was reading Rebecca Purcell's website, I discovered that she also has a love of objects. Her ideology captures the essence of what I tried to achieve in that thesis and what, I have since discovered, shapes my world view.

In her essay called "MODERNOSTALGIA: an Exploration Into the World of Aesthetics", Rebecca says:

"I have always enjoyed the art of personal style, but I never really liked the rat race of trying to look like I had money. Not that you have to have money to have style but the two are often linked. In other words, trying to make inexpensive things look wonderful is more enjoyable for me than having the economic means to buy something already fabulous (well, most of the time). Fortunately, there has been a growing community of like-minded individuals who adore items for their intrinsic character rather than striving for upper class sensibilities, or social sanctioning. I of course champion the recent popularity of this trend that favors nostalgic items mixed in an eclectic fashion, most often with a little something macabre or funky thrown in. A look I call modern nostalgic, or “Modernostalgia”. “Modern” refers to that which is unique to our era, a very diverse mix of genres and styles. It can also refer to 20th century design that is, often, a part of the look, like accents from the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s. “Nostalgic” refers to the use of many vintage and antique elements usually arranged in a rather casual manner. Think cabinet of curiosities, think Bobo (bohemian bourgeois), the movie “Amelie” or simply visualize the variety of a flea market turned into a home or a wardrobe."

She goes on to say:

"So, is Modernostalgia, or whatever you want to call it, tacky and/or over? Certainly not in my book! First of all this look is a part of remembering the past and when is that supposed to be over? When do we suddenly decide that we all want to live in a Star Trek environment that bears no reference to the peoples of the past and the things they used and lived with? I am not saying that every one should love the modern nostalgic aesthetic, just that it is really not a thing that can be “dated.” As a reaction to our increasingly technological world some of us really need a few old, battered bits around. Nostalgia is only a bad thing when it replaces an interest in what is new, with a misguided desire for an over idealized past that never existed. Second, the “weathered look” so associated with a modern nostalgic aesthetic, is part of reality. Weather happens. During the process of participating in life, every object becomes worn in some respect either from handling or environmental conditions. So an older table, darkened by wax, oils and spills, marked with scuffs and dings, referred to by some as having a nostalgic, even sentimental “look”, is simply a table that has participated in life. Yes, some designers actually imitate this effect, just as some create the effect of looking pristine and not weathered."

It's lovely when you find someone who is able to articulate the way you feel, isn't it?

Image from 'Interior Alchemy' book  found on this site.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ugly Ducklings and Beautiful Things

I'd seen these poor stools in the op shop a few times but had decided that, even at $1 each, they were beyond redemption. Then I started to take a bit more notice and, ignoring the hideous vinyl cover stapled to the top, I realised that the metal legs had a nice shape. So I prised back the vinyl on one of them, and saw red leather. I paid my $2 and liberated them:

I see one of my missions in life as rescuing such ugly ducklings and trying to make them beautiful, not always successfully. In this case it was easy. The red leather is gorgeous and just required a bit of stitching:

This little cupboard was also $1. I loved the wheels, handle and shabby cream paint, but hated the chipboard which had been roughly screwed on top:

A clean and a bit of black paint and it looks a lot better, don't you think?

Now I have somewhere to store my glasses:

These lovely jars, on the other hand, didn't require any work. They are beautiful in their simplicity. Three of them have labels under glass, which is very exciting, and they all have their stoppers. I was quite amazed to see apothecary jars at an op shop. I have always wanted some but was not prepared to pay exhorbitant prices. At $13 each, these were a bargain:

As was this grey and white striped jug which, along with two identical but larger ones, was only $4:

P.S. Thank you to everyone who supported my previous two posts. It was not my intention to cause worry for the wrong people, but I inadvertently did. So, after careful consideration I have deleted the posts.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pale and Interesting

I have just received my copy of Pale and Interesting by Atlanta Bartlett:

I've loved her style since I bought At Home With White a few years ago. These images are from her website, also called Pale and Interesting. The French grain sack cushions, metal lamp and chipped timber furniture:

A beautiful blue bed and dyed grey linen:

Cloches and silver candlesticks:

French vintage monogrammed tea towels:

These doors, shelf, cushions and blankets:

Apothecary jars and mirrors:

. . . are a few of my favourite things.

Peppergreen Antiques

Last weekend, we went for a drive to one of my favourite stores, Peppergreen Antiques, at Berrima, in the NSW Southern Highlands:

They had some lovely antique French grain sacks:

And I love the way everything is displayed in old haberdashery cabinets:

The sense of order is one of my favourite things about the store. These soup tureens look lovely grouped together:

As does this Johnson tableware grouped by colour:

I was tempted by the French monogrammed sheets:

But in the end, I splurged on a grain sack, which is now being used as a cushion in the boatshed:

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