Karen McCartney writes about Alvar Aalto’s ‘Savoy’ vase (so well known that it has its own Wikipedia entry!) which is available with free shipping in today’s Iittala sale event.

There are few designs that genuinely deserve the title ‘iconic’ but Alvar Aalto’s collection of glassware for Iittala, in the form of the Savoy vase, is one such piece.

Aalto’s original drawing(left) illustrates the freeform line of the vase, combining a simple modernist line with an organic curve that recalls the Finnish landscape. The translation from drawing to realisation (right) is remarkably accurate.

Designed in 1936 by Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto, it was showcased at the 1937 Paris World Fair. With its organic freeform shape, it was said to recall the natural lines of the Finnish landscape. A staple of modern Scandinavian design, its sensuous shape is still formed in mouth-blown glass in Iittala’s factory.

The beauty of the sculptural shape is that it works with a single stalk to a generous bunch of flowers. The votives, with textured or smooth surfaces, double as exquisite serving bowls.

Collected by world famous institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, the Savoy vase has become one of the most famous pieces of glass in history. Originally designed with size and colour variations in mind, the vases look good in groups as well as singly.

This beautiful shot sums up all the quiet simplicity of the Scandinavian aesthetic. The Savoy vase, in the wonderful inky blue, with herb cuttings, twine and picture-perfect scissors, placed on marble emphasises its connection to nature as much as its clean modernist line.

Aalto was an architect who believed in the house as a ‘total work of art’ and so designed buildings, their interiors, the furniture, the lamps and the glassware. His vision was complete and the Savoy vase is an opportunity to bring some of that timeless design thinking into your home in the most appealing and useful of ways.

It is interesting just how the shape integrates with natural objects and other curvilinear ceramic pieces. By placing the opaque white Savoy vase on a black surface it adds drama, but equally white on white, or placed on pastels, works decoratively too.

Shop for timeless glassware from Finnish brand Iittala today.

Posted in   Know your classicsTags  1 comment

For the first time on T&W, and just in time for Christmas, we’re excited to feature exclusive hampers and gourmet gifts from Simon Johnson, one of Australia’s leading purveyors of fine food. Simon shares his relaxed approach to the celebrations here, plus one lucky T&W member will a spot at a cooking class for 2015 – full details are below.

My Christmas style is: Simple things in abundance. Family, friends, great wine and good food.

This year I will be buying: This year I’m giving instead. Remember: give what you would like to receive…

My failsafe Christmas styling tip is:  Remember to chill the champagne. People are always at ease once they have something in their hand, don’t over complicate it – do a few great dishes en masse. Think scale and a few of your failproof dishes.

Artichoke Dip & Prosciutto Grissini

This Christmas Ill be serving: Kurobuta Ham for sure. It’s made from rare bred Berkshire pigs and has a sweet, rich, delicate texture. We are talking the Wagyu of pork so it’s lovely and moist. I’ll serve it with a few great seasonal salads and following it with Nana’s traditional pudding with Joan Campbell’s brandy butter. Yummo…..

My Christmas playlist: Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, and a good dose of Wagner.

All I want for Christmas is: Christmas for me is about relaxing with friends and family and it’s a time to reflect on the year just gone and plan for the year ahead. It’s feet up, long walks and time to recharge the body and soul after a busy year.

Summer Peach Champagne Jelly

My biggest Christmas disaster: No such thing in our house, simplicity is the key, don’t try too hard, relax and go with the flow…

After Christmas Im planning to: Walk down the hill to Whale Beach and after a long walk, have a nice dip in the ocean.

Shop now for Simon Johnson treats and gifts for Christmas.

Leave a comment here with your favourite Christmas dish before 5pm (AEDT) Wednesday 19 November 2014 for your chance to win a Simon Johnson voucher worth $120, which you can use to book a spot in a cooking class in Sydney in 2015, or to shop in the Simon Johnson online store.  You must be a member of Temple & Webster to enter, and you may only enter once. We’ll pick our favourite comment and contact the winner via Facebook or email by Friday 21 November 2014. If we are unable to contact the winner within 30 days we’ll pick an alternative winner. Good luck!

Posted in   ChristmasTags  5 comments

Brisbane-based Anna Spiro first developed a following with her Absolutely Beautiful Things blog, showcasing her layered and pretty style, with a focus on beautiful fabrics, a mix of colours and patterns, old and new, and always fresh flowers. Her Brisbane store Black & Spiro is now also her digital home, where it’s possible to see her projects and order the wallpaper she created for Porters Paints. In her first book, she explains how she developed her own style, and shares her ideas about how to create your own unique and interesting look. Read on for your chance to win a copy – full details below.

The interior of Black & Spiro, Anna’s Brisbane store

It has only been in the last few years that I have truly developed my own sense of style. At about the age of thirty, I started to establish some sense of the different things and looks I loved, and to understand how to bring them all together beautifully and in a balanced way within a space. I’ve had to evaluate my influences and try different things before I’ve had the confidence to run with what I really love.

I have always been very wary of heading full steam ahead with one particular theme, such as the Balinese look, the Hamptons look or the Hollywood Regency look – going wholeheartedly into any one of these means the scheme eventually dates. Instead, I have always tried to throw in a bit of every style so that the look will stand the test of time. To prevent it getting tired or needing a major and expensive overhaul after a few years, this style of decorating can evolve and be updated along the way.

“I’m definitely a fan of upholstered bedheads,” says Anna. “They’re soft and luxurious to lean against while reading in bed.”

A few years ago, I arrived at a place when I just thought, ‘This is what I love, this is what I want, and this is what I will do.’ I have always used lots of bright colours in an eclectic way, but believe my style has now matured into a more ‘collected’ style of brights as accents mixed with antiques, modern and vintage art, textiles and texture, which can be found in the likes of timber, glass and ceramics.

Anna’s Brisbane home

There are a few common elements in every room I create:

  • Antique furniture, such as a table, sideboard or chest of drawers, to ground the colourful fabrics I use.
  • A mix of fabrics in different patterns and colours.
  • A specific underlying colour that will pull everything together.
  • A surprise element, such as a vibrantly patterned lampshade or quirky vintage piece of furniture or even a collection of Staffordshire dogs displayed in a vignette on a table. It’s all about the unexpected.
  • A mix of expensive and inexpensive pieces. For example, a cushion collection looks wonderful when you throw a cheap ready-made cushion into the mix or include a vitage fabric. This makes it look less contrived and a little more effortless.
  • White painted walls as a backdrop for the entire mismatch. That way, there’s some cohesiveness to the room.
  • A collection of art which is added to over the years and which may comprise a mix of valuable pieces and paintings created by children.

Extract from the book Absolutely Beautiful Things by Anna Spiro & photography by Sharyn Cairns and Felix Forest (portrait by Jared Fowler), published by Lantern, RRP $49.99

Leave a comment below before 5pm (AEDT) Monday 17 November 2014 to win a copy of Absolutely Beautiful Things by Anna SpiroYou must be a member of Temple & Webster to enter, and you may only enter once. We’ll pick our favourite comment and contact the winner via Facebook or email by Friday 21 November 2014. If we are unable to contact the winner within 30 days we’ll pick an alternative winner. Good luck!

Posted in   Books, Giveaways, Interior DesignTags  44 comments

Karen McCartney writes about the undeniable appeal of Tom Dixon’s scented candle range, our newest Objects of Desire

OK, we know we are having a bit of a Tom Dixon crush here on T&W’s Objects of Desire but with Christmas around the corner, and the opportunity to bring you simply the best present in the world, we couldn’t resist this candle range.

Tom Dixon is one of Britain’s most successful and respected designers, who also manages to maintain a reputation as something of a maverick. As well as designing furniture and lighting pieces he launched into the accessories field in 2012, bringing all his design acumen, knowledge of materials and visual excitement to bear on his range ‘Eclectic by Tom Dixon’.

When he launched at Maison & Objet in Paris this was the mantra on the side of his stand outlining the reasons for creating the range. “As we scour the world for materials and manufacturing techniques to innovate our lighting and furniture, we thought it would be a shame not to find a space for some of the smaller ideas we had along the way. Things that are to play with or give or use every day, things that are designed and are undesigned, things that are…eclectic.” We just can’t have enough ‘things that are…” And one of those things is a beautifully designed scented candle.

Right from the sturdy designer boxes with their bold geometry, to the choice of three scents inspired by global travel, the design pedigree is evident. The fragrance descriptions are like no other as this is where the maverick kicks in. London, in a copper vessel, evokes red brick, London parks, crocuses and wait for it, the river Thames at Dagenham. Orientalist, in brass, is all about light rose petals, cinnamon and herbs while Royalty, in nickel, conjures up Earl Grey tea, scones and strawberry jam and a drive home in a ’52 Bentley with tattered leather seats (are you still with me?) In their hand spun containers with debossed lettering and fabulous milky white marble lids they all feel, look and smell wonderful.

Treat them with care, bring them out on special occasions and use when empty as chic lidded vessels. I do think this is a case of: buy one as a gift for someone else and one as a gift to yourself!

Order your Tom Dixon candles now and enjoy free shipping.

Posted in   Objects of DesireTags  4 comments

Neil Perry needs no introduction – he’s one of Australia’s best known chefs with restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and a role designing menus for Qantas. He has written several books, and this summer treat comes from his book Easy Weekends (published by Murdoch), thanks to eatlove.com.au.

It’s hard to beat the first mangoes of spring as you reacquaint yourself with a beautiful fruit that has been out of your life for the past eight months. Here, a creamy, rich ice cream meets a tangy fruit salad. You’ll need to start this recipe the day before.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

Fruit salad:

1 small peeled pineapple
2 mangos, peeled
4 finely chopped mint leaves
4 lime segments, each cut into 4 pieces
juice of 1 lime

Mango ice cream:

500g of mango flesh
190g of caster (superfine) sugar
375ml of thin (pouring/whipping) cream (35% fat)
3 free-range or organic egg yolks


To make the ice cream, purée the mango flesh in a blender until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve, forcing as much purée through as possible. Discard what is left in the sieve. Add 90 g of the sugar to the purée and mix to combine.

Warm the cream in a small heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a bowl until pale, then, while whisking continuously, gradually add the warm cream. Return the mixture to a clean pan and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the custard coats the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat, and strain into a bowl sitting over another bowl full of ice. Stand until cool, whisking occasionally. Once chilled, stir in the mango purée. Refrigerate in an airtight container overnight.

The next day, churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container; store in the freezer until firm enough to scoop. Makes about 1.3 litres.

To make the fruit salad, cut the fresh pineapple and mango roughly into 1 cm pieces and place in a small bowl. Add the mint and lime segments and juice and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, divide the fruit salad among chilled serving glasses and place a large scoop or two of mango ice cream on top of the fruit salad.

See more at eatlove.com.au where you can follow your favourite chefs, share their recipes and order their books.

Posted in   EatloveTags  2 comments

Petrina Turner is a Melbourne-based interior designer who describes herself as a lover of mid-century architecture and design, contemporary furniture and lighting, lush textiles and a passion for the power of colour. All this is apparent in her sometimes whimsical Instagram feed, along with her dedication to some serious causes. Here she shares an insight into her busy and multi-faceted life…


I am constantly curious and eager to learn new skills. My latest obsession is Shibori… after a class shared with my gorgeous friend Sheena at The School in Sydney. Not typically a “blue” person I can now say that I am officially addicted (Megan Morton knew I was before I did). I never thought I’d be happier to arrive home looking like Smurfette – my blue hands have only just faded…


I have lived in Melbourne for 10 years now and love it… and I’m lucky that my beautiful family and friends in Sydney are only short flight away. I love those late afternoon flights home… after a few days of love and nurturing… floating above the clouds… thinking… dreaming… basking in the warmth…


My home is my sanctuary… and a quirky, top floor sixties rental apartment with an amazing terrazzo staircase leading to my front door. Flooded with light from a two story window, I’ve made a little indoor garden. The man at the nursery said that a Daphne would never grow inside. I’m glad she proved him wrong… her scent as I walk in and out  of my front door is heavenly.


A sea of humanity… For the past five years I have been volunteering with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, and this year was privileged to be able to help them with the interiors of their new Home of Hope. I recently took part in the Walk Together rally in Melbourne organised by Welcome to Australia… to share my hope for an Australia that is welcoming and compassionate, no matter where you come from or how you arrived.


Growing up in another state it’s always wonderful when family comes to visit. Not only because I get to spend time… but also because I can be a tourist in my own city. I love these bathing boxes at Brighton Beach for the nostalgia, the sea air, and of course the colour.


I am so blessed that I get to do what I love everyday. I have always had a passion for interiors and to be actively running my own design business Petrina Turner Design is a dream come true. I have a passion for colour, texture and local design… and I love that my clients are brave enough to trust me with their personal spaces. This current project is bursting with custom coloured joinery, fresh patterned papers and textiles… and everything my client’s heart desires.


I love filling the my home with fresh flowers… especially at this time of year when the peonies are in full bloom. They are my absolute favourite flower. I love their sweet smell, their gorgeous colours and their beautiful ruffled skirts…


There is nothing better than immersing yourself in the wonders of art. As well as being ever so inspiring… I find it just makes me feel good. Some of my favourite Melbourne galleries are Heide Museum of Modern Art, The Ian Potter Gallery and of course the NGV. Right now I am in awe of the wonder that is the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the NGV. The details… the drama. His work is delicate yet somehow architectural, which speaks to a girl who grew up in her mother’s bridal shop with dreams of becoming an interior designer…


For the past nine years I have been taking tap dancing classes at Glamourpuss Studios. It is simply the most sparkly thing you can do in your spare time. We are currently getting ready for upcoming our end of year extravaganza “Kittens on Wheels” next weekend, so its time to finalise our formations, pack up my costumes and to give my shoes an extra coat of pink and yet another  sprinkle of glitter…


I seem to have come full circle from my first image… with a love of making. Earlier this year I was inspired after Tamara Mayne’s macramé class to combined my newly found skills with a love of lighting design to create a beautiful Neon Knot Macramé Light. I was thrilled recently to be commissioned by a client to make one for their home… the finishing touches are happening now… and it will soon be installed.

Follow Petrina on Instagram @petrinaturnerdesign or visit her website to find out more.

Posted in   My week in picturesTags  3 comments

Today’s simple, summer-ready beach house belongs to Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky of Sydney furniture and design emporium Koskela, and the story is an edited extract from Spaces volume two by frankie magazine. For your chance to win a copy of this book of inspiring, creative and perfectly imperfect homes, leave a comment here – full details below.

Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky were in the middle of renovating their little weatherboard and fibro house in Patonga when they noticed some strangers parked outside. They went out to say hello, and ended up finding out far more about the house than they possibly could have imagined.

One of those people was Jean, the granddaughter of Fred and Annie Flowers, who had built it in about 1920. They had a chat with her for a while, and she later wrote them a letter, sharing as much as she could about the house and her memories of it. One thing she shed light on was its odd name – Dickebusch. It was named in memory of Fred and Annie’s son, a media in World War 1, who was killed in battle at Dickebusch in Belgium, and buried in the war cemetery there.

When it was first settled, the only access to Patonga, which lies on a peninsula where the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater meet, was by ferry. So all the houses were kit homes, transported there in pieces. It’s that sort of unpretentious, old-fashioned detail that attracted Russel and Sasha to Patonga in the first place. “We just fell in love,” Sasha remembers. “All the houses were in their original condition, painted in pretty pastel colours and it was like a beautiful little movie set. It had this really cute kind of village atmosphere and was just so different from typical Sydney life.”

They promptly contacted a local real-estate agent who showed them Dickebusch. At the time, it wasn’t exactly dream house material. “It was pretty scary,” recalls Sasha with a shudder. “It was divided into a lot of smaller rooms. They’d replaced almost all the original floorboards with chipboard paneling. There were those hairy caterpillars all through the house, cocoons everywhere. The kitchen was virtually non-existent and it didn’t really have a bathroom. It was disastrous!”

Despite the sad state of the house, they could still see the potential, and six weeks after inspecting the property they made an offer. Russel and Sasha always knew Dickebusch was going to be a holiday house. “The aim was to create a house that people could rent, but design it as thought it was just for us,” says Sasha. “We really wanted something that made you feel like you were on holidays, so it didn’t feel like a city house – all downlights and polished surfaces and bright, white walls. We wanted it to feel really different.”

Having experienced some very disappointing holiday rentals in their time, Russel and Sasha were determined that their holiday house, which has two bedrooms in the main building, would be much more comfortable and practical. The open-plan space flows from indoor to outdoor when the bi-fold doors to the deck are thrown open. There is plenty of couch space for a post-lunch nap and the kitchen bench faces in towards the living area so the chef can still socialise while meals are being made. They’ve used lots of timber, sisal floor coverings, rustic finishes and natural materials to create a casual and comfortable feel. A separate building in the backyard, which would have once been a garage, has been converted into a cottage that now sleeps four.

Unsurprisingly, Russel and Sasha used a lot of Koskela products in the house, but they also had a lot of fun going to auctions to find other interesting bits and pieces. “The kitchen buffet was a great old shop counter that we restored,” says Sasha, “and the coffee table is an old chest from Germany that was used to store ammunition.” The amazing stag screen door was another auction score.

Dickebusch is well loved and well lived in. Russel, Sasha and their boys Anders, 8, and Mike, 6, try to visit at least every couple of months. Christmas is often spent at their holiday hideaway and part of every school holiday, too. “For our boys, it’s kind of like their second home,” says Sasha. “They can ride their bikes around the street, go fishing and jump off the jetty. It’s a more relaxed lifestyle for them, where they don’t feel like someone has to be watching them all the time.”

The adults feel the same sense of freedom and, as Sasha will tell you, the peace of the place has a powerful effect. “As you coast down the hill and turn into ‘Tonga, you just feel the weight of Sydney has left your shoulders and you can really relax.”

Dickebusch is available for holiday rentals.

Spaces volume two by frankie magazine is available in stores or order a copy here ($24.95; free postage within Australia). You can also follow Frankie on Facebook, on Pinterest or on Instagram @frankiemagazine. 

Images by Luisa Brimble. Copy by Kate Veling. 

Leave a comment below before 5pm (AEDT) Thursday 13 November 2014 to win 1 of 2 copies of Spaces volume two by frankie magazineYou must be a member of Temple & Webster to enter, and you may only enter once. We’ll pick our favourite comments and contact the winners via Facebook or email by Friday 21 November 2014. If we are unable to contact the winner(s) within 30 days we’ll pick an alternative winner. Good luck!

Posted in   Home toursTags  22 comments

In his new book ‘The Tailored Interior’ celebrated interior designer Greg Natale is generous enough to share his immense decorating knowledge, accumulated over years of practice. In the words of Jonathan Adler’s foreword: ‘A Greg Natale space has an almost mathematical precision. The layout, the scale, the comfort, the function are all spot on. He uses an economy of gesture: not too much stuff, just the right amount.’  Here we showcase some of Natale’s key themes and how he approaches, layering, cohesion, contrast, colour and pattern and objects in an interior space. Leave a comment here for your chance to win a copy – full details below.

“When you’re creating the mood for a space, the first step is to find your inspiration. A revamped personal favourite, such as a reupholstered piece of furniture can often set the tone for the room’s design”: Greg Natale.


Layering is the most fundamental component in decorating – it adds warmth, comfort and interest to an interior giving it a finished, cohesive look. It’s a chance to play with different textures and experiment with balance and contrast. It is also a way of stamping your personality on a room, adding the various elements that tell the story of you.

Assuming  that you have created your canvas of walls, floors and ceilings and made your first layering choices, in terms of paint and/or wallpaper, I have detailed an order to follow with your layers. This is the approach I use and find it the best way to build up a cohesive design.

  1. Window treatments
  2. Key pieces (sofas, feature chairs, rugs)
  3. Extra pieces (coffee and side tables)
  4. Soft furnishings
  5. Accessories
  6. Art and wall décor
  7. Books
  8. Flowers

Against the moody charcoal-gray backdrop, gilt elements in the living room create a visual ‘conversation’ between pieces.


Contrast generates visual excitement and creative tension in a room, preventing a space from appearing flat or bland. It uses an interplay of finishes, fabrics, colours and pieces to keep your eyes moving around a space, thereby making a design more dynamic. There is good reason why we pair a black suit with a white shirt. Opposites just don’t attract – they look great together.

A study in monochromes features on the landing of a Melbourne house, with the tones of the ornaments and painting highlighted by the intricate gold design of a Porta Romana Honeycomb console table.


These powerful, enigmatic and enchanting elements can do so much for a space, finishing it by injecting contrast, ensuring balance and creating a particular mood. It is a pleasure to work with them but by no means an easy task. While I am known for my use of both colour and pattern, they are actually among my last considerations in an interior. There’s a reason why they should be thought about further along in the conceptual process, particularly colour.

Against the whorls of Fornasetti Malachite wallpaper in an Edwardian house in Croydon, the soft blue of the walls and terracotta of the painting are picked up in the rug’s organic curves, forming a subtle connection.


Once you’ve ensured that your key pieces and palette appear balanced, it’s time for the finishing touches. I’m talking about accessories, flowers, vases, books, artworks, ornaments, trays, and boxes – the final layer of decorating that will complete your house’s look. It is the interior equivalent of adding a belt and cufflinks or jewellery and perfume to your outfit. For most people, it’s the fun part of the process, but interestingly it is also the part many struggle with. A common mistake is forgetting to budget for this last piece of the design puzzle – I recommend planning for 10% of what you spend on furniture.

The smaller scale of this Fitzroy apartment was no barrier to creating a successful tabletop vignette. On the Jonathan Adler coffee table, a bowl by Ilse Crawford for Georg Jensen sits atop a book about sculptor Anish Kapoor, with a simple vase of flowers and two vintage candle holders adding intricate details behind.


Cohesion is all about making sure everything flows and fits, with all the different elements coming together to suggest one seamless space. The main reason houses don’t come together properly is because people tend to look at things in isolation when they are purchasing pieces and styling rooms. With interiors you need to look at every element as part of one huge composition or collage, where each piece and every treatment has a role in the space and shares a relationship with the others. Cohesion is all about context.

The bed and surrounding pieces make a statement in the ample space of the master bedroom of a Melbourne house.

The Tailored Interior by Greg Natale, with foreword by Jonathan Adler and photography by Anson Smart is published by Hardie Grant Books ($69.95)

Leave a comment below before 5pm (AEDT) Wednesday 12 November 2014 to win 1 of 2 copies of The Tailored Interior by Greg NataleYou must be a member of Temple & Webster to enter, and you may only enter once. We’ll pick our favourite comments and contact the winners via Facebook or email by Friday 21 November 2014. If we are unable to contact the winner(s) within 30 days we’ll pick an alternative winner.

Posted in   Books, Interior DesignTags  47 comments

Deb Bibby is the editor-in-chief of Real Living magazine, and is also just completing the renovation of her own home. She shares her joyful approach to Christmas, along with a playlist to steal and images from the brand new issue of Real Living.  

My Christmas style is…relaxed but special. I love my family to feel that it’s an occasion, but not precious – it’s joyous and fun! This really is my most favourite time of the year – I love the house full and bubbling.

This year I’ll be buying…Noek Design outdoor wood-fired pizza oven (above)– I’m allowed to treat myself, right? It’s glorious and the only thing on my wish list. Designed and made in Australia!

My failsafe Christmas styling tip is…You can never have enough fairy lights – they create magic and it’s pretty much all you need. Oh, and flowers from The Boathouse Palm Beach – loads of them. I fill the house with them and then go ahead and put out even more in big fat bunches for a beautiful festive feel.

This Christmas I’ll be…firing up my totally gorgeous new vintage-style Smeg oven (if the reno is finished, that is – it’d better be, groan!) and cooking a juicy turkey with my sister-in-law Alex’s amazing stuffing. Plus loads of different salads for the vegetarian nieces and nephews. A ham recipe like none other from Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine will be cooked. And, in honour of my brother Adrian, a huge bowl of meringues with fruit and ice cream. He used to devour them before I could get them to the table – no matter how well hidden in the kitchen, he’d find them, to my madness! Oh, and a delicious shaken cocktail on arrival – it gets all the relatives, young and old, dancing before lunch.

My Christmas playlist includes…

Buena Vista Social Club (necessary every year, we can’t resist partnering up and dirty dancing, especially after the cocktails );
Lana Del Rey;
Jessie Ware;
Angus and Julia Stone;
and always one ABBA song – my sister-in-law Helen finds it irresistible and the kids all need a laugh!

All I want for Christmas is…

To be surrounded with family and my best friends.

My biggest Christmas disaster was…

Sister-in-law Alex doing serious damage to her knee (three operations so far) playing my son’s new Wii Fit athletics game a few Christmases back – we are all fierce competitors. Let the games begin!

After Christmas I’m planning to…

Lie down near cool water and not move for at least a week. Then I’ll rev up and party with friends as the New Year arrives.

 The Christmas Issue of Real Living is available in newsagents now, or subscribe and never miss an issue.


Posted in   ChristmasTags  1 comment

Design writer David Harrison, creator of the Design Daily app and blog, shares his tips on caring for your outdoor furniture to keep it looking good for longer. And if you’re ready to update your garden, balcony or patio, visit today’s sale event for the contemporary chairs and tables above, styled here by Adam Powell and shot by Denise Braki. 

Australians love spending time outdoors relaxing or entertaining, whether on a tiny balcony or a generous backyard. A necessary ingredient for this delightful scenario is, of course, outdoor furniture. Unlike interior items, which are designed to pass the odd stress and weight test and survive general carelessness, outdoor furniture has a far greater hurdle to clear – the natural elements. In an ideal world all furniture designed for outdoors would be made of sun, rain and salt spray resistant materials like titanium or concrete but most people like their furniture a little cheaper, softer and lighter, so we see timber, metal and plastic making up the materials used for the majority of outdoor products. These may not be maintenance free but a little regular light work can go a long way to increasing the life of your outdoor furniture. Here are some tips to do just that.

Image via our Outdoors Pinterest board.


Old timber furniture can be restored using special wood cleaning products to remove mould and ingrained dirt before re-oiling. Remember to wash off the cleaner with fresh water before reapplying new oil. If you do this once a year there will be no need to do any sanding.

Timber furniture left outdoor needs to be re-oiled every 6-12 months to keep its original appearance. All timbers will turn silver grey if left untreated and develop a greater chance of surface checking and splintering. Certain timbers are more prone to this than others – teak is one common outdoor timber that resists cracking due to its naturally oily and fine-grained structure. Some native Australian timbers are naturally longer lasting than others too. Spotted Gum is naturally more forgiving of direct sun exposure than the harder timbers like Grey Box and Ironbark which tend to develop surface cracks and splinters unless oiled regularly.

If you like the grey look but want to extend the life of your timber furniture just oil it annually after a light wash with soapy water.

Image via our Outdoors Pinterest board.


All metal outdoor furniture lasts longer if kept clean of dirt and airborne pollution regardless of whether it’s aluminium, powdercoated steel or stainless steel. Wash down frames every 6 months with mild soapy water.

Coated metal furniture will corrode if allowed to sit in long grass, dirt or leaves for long periods. Keeping water from sitting in any joints or where feet caps meet legs is key to making painted steel furniture last. Damp shady spots will cause the furniture to rust more quickly. Minor scratches or chips in the paint can lead to corrosion also. Touch ups can be done with automotive spray paint (it comes in a wide variety of colours). Do so before rust gets a hold or remove as much rust as possible before doing any touch ups.

‘Tea’ staining on stainless steel is a common complaint in seaside areas. Unavoidable, this natural oxidization of the metal is not harmful to the furniture but can be unsightly. Regular washing down will keep it to a minimum and there are stainless cleaners designed specifically to address the problem. Higher quality marine grade (316) stainless steel is less prone to oxidisation and is the best choice if the furniture is situated near salt spray.


Plastics suffer from UV breakdown more than anything else. Leaving them in full sun year round will shorten the life span, creating either a crazing of the surface or a dull white chalkiness over time. This can lead to the furniture becoming brittle. Wash plastic furniture down periodically with soapy water and avoid leaving in direct afternoon sun year round.

Image via our Outdoors Pinterest board.


  • Keeping more delicate outdoor furniture under verandahs or awnings will increase the life of your outdoor furniture by many years. Less durable products like natural cane should be kept out of direct weather.
  • Outdoor fabrics are designed to handle the odd soaking by rain and long periods of sunshine but for a greatly increased life span try to remember to bring outdoor cushions inside as often as possible. Standard grade upholstery will go mouldy and eventually rot if used outside. It will also fade with alarming speed. Specify only proper outdoor fabrics for any cushions or seating pads.
  • High-rise apartment balconies can experience very strong winds. It is recommended that furniture chosen for this application be heavy to avoid being blown away! Some light plastic items offer water or sand filling options for this reason. In inner city areas black airborne deposits of diesel, brake pad and road dust particles, will become ingrained in the surface unless washed off periodically.
  • Leaf tannin stains are a common problem in Australia. Gum tree leaves that drop onto furniture should be swept off as often as possible to prevent the tannin from marking timber, stone or plastic.

Shop for contemporary outdoor furniture or visit our Pinterest board for inspiring ideas for your outdoor space.

Posted in   How ToTags  0 comments