Well I finally have time to sit and write a post after a busy Christmas and Summer Holiday... and then back to school chaos.



We spent some time on Kangaroo Island over January, which is our favourite spot for a beach holiday, with our friends. The days passed in a blur of fishing, boating, swimming, walks on the beach, drinks and cheese platters on the deck, boardgames and chat.

My latest Project Ten bags were suitably nautically themed - My go-to gift for friends and family. Thank you to my friend L for being the prop legs for this photo. My legs at this stage were still pasty white and covered in mosquito bites.


 The dots in the photo are playing beach cricket

Then it was back to reality with a frantic week of school uniform labelling, book covering, searching out the lunchboxes and drink bottles, and the new routines of homework, sport and music practice once school resumed, and all the associated parent info nights etc etc.

One exciting thing that has happened over the holidays was that we have adopted a dog. We had promised the children than when the renovations were all finished, and the garden secure, that we would get one... and they've been campaigning hard. My youngest's favourite book series are the Pig the Pug books. He is obsessed with them, and naturally decided that he wanted a Pug.




It got to a point where his toy version of Pig the Pug (it makes farting sounds) was becoming some sort of surrogate real dog for him... so I decided to investigate the breed.

cuddles with the toy, farting Pig the Pug.. oh and footy cards 

Investigating the breed involves my younger sister, who is a Vet, and a bearer of bad news on pretty much any pure bred dog. She sent me a lengthy text message pointing out all the problems inherent with Pugs, accompanied by fairly horrific photographs, and vetoed it.

So, S thought for a while, and a few weeks later asked tentatively if perhaps my Sister would approve a sausage dog? Pig's best friend in the book is a sausage dog called Trevor, so S thought that if he couldn't have Pig, he'd have Trevor instead. I texted my sister about sausage dogs.





So, it was back to the drawing board. I started thinking about perhaps finding a mix breed dog, as they're genetically stronger so my sister would not object, and this then led me to dog adoption websites, and we found Patch, our now 15 week old puppy.


He comes from a very remote Aboriginal Community in the Northern Territory (the nearest town is 700km away), that love dogs - they have a dog dreaming story. He would probably be descended from various working dogs that would be used on Stations (Ranches) in the region - Cattle dog, Jack Russel, Kelpie and maybe some Staffie throwback somewhere, so his official "breed" is a Camp dog. He was apparently born under the school house to a stray, and brought into a community charity group that rehouse them by the school teachers. After being vet checked, desexed, microchipped and vaccinated, he was then flown down to us in Adelaide aged 10 weeks old. He is quite a character, and I have had trouble photographing him as he is constantly moving, or glued to my side. Needless to say the children are besotted with him. He'll hopefully live a long and healthy life, and is adjusting to city living, a family, and a lawn quite well.



Design Stuff: Late last year I did a little refresh of my hall entry. I had been looking for a longer hall table for some time - the existing one was quite short and unable to carry a lamp. I wanted an antique, so this took time as dimensions had to be narrow enough that it didn't intrude into the traffic pathway. Finally I found a beautiful Georgian oak sideboard at the Adelaide Antique Fair last October from Quigley's. It has a lovely scalloped base to it, and beautiful patina. I had some blue and white temple jars converted to lamps (a painfully long process...) and then had my lampshade maker do some scalloped grasscloth lampshades for it. Both the lamps and the table are quite overscaled in the space, and have dramatically transformed the entry. The old Georgian side table has been moved into my daughter's bedroom as her bedside table, so it has been a little bit of a shuffle around. I also switched around some artwork (not shown in the photo), but have left in the old patchwork kilim rug. It's really refreshed the whole entry. Above it's pictured with a bowl of faux Orchids - we have had a lot of heat waves in Adelaide, and nothing really lasts long in the airconditioning. Roll on the long, hot Summer....



Speaking of, the Garden suffered enormously while we were away, I returned from Kangaroo Island to find most of the garden beds in a state of death. Unfortunately the automatic watering system had failed  during some 40C plus temperatures (why does this always happen when you are away?!?!?) so I've spent some serious time in the garden last week (finally cool enough to do something about it all) cutting back  dead things, weeding, pruning and we've been pouring water on everything since the watering system was fixed. I have to say that gardening with a puppy is challenging... he likes to sit on my lap while I'm trying to weed, and thinks I must be doing something interesting when I'm trying to dig so joins in. It was a little tedious.... but fortunately it's all bouncing back - the benefit of using so many drought tolerant plants.




The Veggie garden has been so-so - great for tomato and eggplant production, but the carrots were a total curly failure.

I think I'll leave it here for the time being, and instead of making this an absolute monster post, I'll do a few separate ones on things that have caught my eye with art, wallpaper, china and clothes, and the progress on the heritage cottage project.

Happy Year of the Dog!





I recently posted some images on Instagram of a new project that I've started working on of a very run down Victorian era sandstone inner city cottage here in Adelaide. There was a lot of interest in a blog post on the topic of how to start a renovation project on an older house, so I thought maybe this would be a good project to follow from start to finish. I do want to make mention however, that I am an Architect but not a Heritage Architect, which means that I don't have the depth of knowledge that someone that has specialised in the area has. My advice in this post is based on renovating two (very different) old houses of my own, commercial work that I've done over the years on heritage projects, and extensive discussions on the topic with my friend Kate, who is a Heritage Architect.

I'll start by saying that house styles vary enormously in Australia from region to region due to climate response (Weatherboard Queenslanders designed for cross ventilation in the tropics versus stone Georgian era cottages in cold Tasmania), because we live in a vast country that was difficult to traverse back in that era (affecting building materials used by keeping things local), and because white settlement and our built history occurred at different periods of times throughout the country which means that building materials and styles reflect Architectural fashions of that era. What was available in South Australia may well not have been available in Queensland, so paint colours, building materials and local vernaculars all reflect this.


Unfortunately the one place that might seem logical to find help on a topic like this isn't - the National Trust. They are concerned with buildings and places of historic significance that they own, not in preserving streetscapes, or restoring old houses with no particular architectural or historical importance. For this reason there is no advisory board, fact sheets or anything else to help the average homeowner. I find this really disappointing - it would be a great way to engage with the public and be at the forefront of preserving history as well as raising funds, however this has always been the way that they operate. They like to run historic house museums.


The best starting point for any Heritage restoration in Australia is therefore with your local council. It is usual that the council's library will house a local history section, which will have photographs of the area you live in over the years. If you are fortunate then  you will find a photo of your house or street, or of your house in the background of other photos, and this will give you some vital clues as to how it originally looked. Most libraries now have this information online.


Looking up your suburb and street name on the State Library's online digitalised photo cache could also provide some clues, as well as taking note of any other houses that look the same as yours in the area - Victorian houses were often built by builders out of pattern books, they were the project home of their era, so you can often find an identical house to your own not too far away, hopefully with the missing features that you can copy. Additionally you could try looking at suburbs that have many houses of the era that yours was built in - for instance in Adelaide, you might look to Unley or St Peters for a typical Villa, Toorak Gardens, Colonel Light Gardens and Myrtle Bank for a 20's era Bungalow, and Norwood, Parkside and North Adelaide for workers cottages. In Victoria it would be Hawthorn for villas, Port Melbourne, Richmond, Prahran and South Melbourne for weatherboard cottages etc.

The second point at which a local council can help, is if they have a Heritage Consultant in the Planning department. This is usual if the council has streets that are Heritage protected, or a large number of properties that have individual heritage listings on them. Councils offer as a free service an on site pre- application meeting with the Heritage Advisor who can advise you on colour schemes, point out what is original, and advise on what was typical for the era of the house when there is little or no evidence. Be aware though that the Heritage Advisor is not necessarily your friend. They will be looking at the property from giving a reasonably authentic appearance to the street and being faithful to the house originally, and won't necessarily view something you think is in your best interests in the same light, such as putting in a garage on the street, changing something you regard as ugly but that is original, etc.


If you're unable to get the advice of a free Heritage Consultant through your council, then there are a few things that you can do to work things out yourself. Firstly, through reading up on what was typical for your house at that time (I will list resources at the end of this blog post), and secondly by doing a little detective work on the house. You could also consider employing the services of a Heritage Architect to help you choose a paint scheme, advise on a fence or veranda, and also advise on any aspects particular to a heritage house (such as the tuckpointing of stonework, replacement veranda tiles, roofing materials and where to find replacements etc). As I often say on this blog, the money spent on a design professional pays for itself, and a Heritage Architect will cut through potentially months of research for you, and give valuable information on your particular set of circumstances.


Verandas
It is pretty common to find that verandas on Victorian era houses are no longer the original. This is because they were built of timber and usually rotted out at the base of the posts around the 50-80 year mark. Often they were replaced with something that wouldn't rot in the future (such as metal poles), or something that would give a more "modern" style to the house. It's not uncommon to find a heavy 1920's bungalow style veranda attached onto the front of a Victorian villa for example, or, as more commonly occurred, a straight 1960's style veranda with wire posts, such as in the cottage that is my new project.

In order to work out what was originally there, the best thing to do is to look up against the facade of the house, where you can often see quite clearly the outline of the original veranda roof line, and the impressions of the posts in the plaster or from the paint build up around where the original posts sat. From this, you can easily copy the detailing. Sometimes you may be lucky and find that just the posts were replaced, but if not it's not a difficult thing to replace a veranda roof on a house.


When looking at a typical High Victorian era veranda, they were commonly adorned with cast iron lacework. There are several companies that produce replicas of the original patterns, but you can also consider using reclaimed iron from a salvage yard. Ensuring that you have a pattern that is scaled correctly is important though. If you have a cottage to restore, then you should be able to tell from the impression on the plaster what the width of the cast iron frieze was, and if not then look at other cottages that are similar in scale to yours to see what would be appropriate. Wider, more elaborate iron was used on larger villas and terraces.

Highly ornamental cast iron lacework veranda

Cast iron wasn't used from about 1900 onwards (and was actually considered in bad taste and excessively Victorian), and timber fretwork was more in favour, so putting cast iron onto a house that is more Queen Anne/ Federation in style is not appropriate.

There are several fact sheets that are helpful regarding veranda styles, and I've listed them at the end of the post.

Front fence



The second aspect most often missing is the original front fence. An easy pitfall is to replace an unsympathetic front fence with something far grander than would have originally been there before.

The most common Victorian era fence was a picket fence, and the main reason why it will be missing is because it would have rotted out and been replaced at some other point in time with something durable but inappropriate, or something that gives great security to a house (a high brick wall) but that doesn't add to the streetscape. If your house originally had a brick column and iron railing fence, there will likely still be the remains of it. While brick columns and iron fence panels may look nicer in your view for your tiny cottage, they were actually very uncommon on cottages in Adelaide, and a low picket fence was more usual. After about 1910 fences could also be made of woven wire (emu wire), or have panels of iron in between timber posts.


For those that do put in an iron and columned fence for a villa or larger house, then using salvaged fence panels or reproduction fence panels is the best way to go (rather than pool fence style tubular aluminium). Columns should be built by a bricklayer, however tempting cost wise it is to use the precast concrete faux Victorian style columns that are commonly seen in Adelaide, and this is because they are proportioned incorrectly and overly fancy.  The most common problems when people use this style of column is using them on a house from a later period than the Victorian era, and also putting in too many columns along the fence facade. Usually there was a column on either end of a property boundary, and at most one on either side of a gate (the house in the picture above is a bit of an aberration!). Columns were not commonly spaced every 2 meters down a fence line. Victorian style columns don't look great on a later period house, such as a bungalow, as the style of column in that era was chunkier with a taper, and otherwise fairly simple in detail but substantial in scale. Generally speaking, in heritage terms a Heritage architect would always prefer to see something obviously modern and a later addition to a house, rather than from a period in time before the house itself was actually constructed.

Dowel fence. These were once very common

One thing that can be very helpful in establishing an appropriate fence style for your house is to look at old photos, as generally this will be the most common feature in a street of consistent housing. One book that I've been recently looking at is called "Lost Adelaide", and it contains photographs of early mansions, terraces (uncommon in Adelaide compared to Sydney or Melbourne), and cottages that have been demolished in the past 100 years. It is really useful to get a feel for the typical streetscapes of the era, and you can see that fences were divided into two pretty basic types- there were cast iron and pillars in stone or brick on larger houses, and the cottages had rows of low and simple picket fences.

Paint Colours
Paint colours are the next biggest question. The basic rule in Heritage in Australia is that you shouldn't use the colour black. It wasn't used until relatively recently on the exterior of buildings here, and that is why you'll not find black in any of the paint company Heritage colour palettes.

You will find dark colours like dark brown, dark aubergine and deep navy blue, but definitely not black. All the major paint companies have Heritage Colour Palettes in their paint ranges, and these are based on colour analysis of different paint colours they have found on heritage houses around the country from different eras, so these are a good starting point. There are a lot of regional differences in paint colours - for example in Adelaide a lot of olive/ dark green was used as there was a shipment of the minerals used to create this colour that was forfeited in the 1880's. The stockpile was gradually used up in paint, but this means that our use of paint colours differs a little from houses in Sydney, for instance, which used more maroon/ red/ brown paint colours.

Depending on your house listing status with your local Council you may or may not be able to paint the house in colours that you prefer (this will depend on your listing type, if you have one, and what is allowable under that listing. Often a change in paint colours need approval from Council before painting if your house contributes to a heritage area). If you don't want a fancy style authentic Victorian style paint scheme, then simplifying it is a good alternative by using two or one colours from a heritage palette on painted surfaces.

If you want to do something resembling your house's original colour scheme, the best thing to do is grab one of your keys and do a little scraping. By doing this on the cottage I was able to tell that it originally had a creamy white paint on the quoins, and the window frames and door were a dark brown and this gives me a starting point to choose roof colour, and other details.

Windows and Doors
Where the original Windows and doors have been altered, it's usually fairly easy to spot if you're familiar with heritage houses. If looking to replace you can usually find something appropriate at a salvage yard, but if it needs a custom size, then the original sash style window or Victorian door can be made up new but in the traditional style to fit.

Roofs
If your house originally had a slate roof, then there will likely be evidence of it - either slates sitting up in the roof cavity or the actual roof still on intact. The most common roofing material until the advent of the terracotta tile (around 1900) though was corrugated iron sheets. This was used as ballast in ships coming out to Australia that would return laden with wheat and wool. The ballast was then used to construct sheds, outbuildings and to roof houses and is now identifiably Australian. If you have a Victorian era house with terracotta tiles then it is not original and should be replaced if possible with iron or slate (also because if the roof wasn't strengthened at the time the tiles were installed it can also cause it to start to sag). Gutters have naturally often been replaced over time, and if you wish to use the correct profile, then the OG shape is the way to go. It's larger and more elaborate than a straight gutter, and there would usually be a scotia bead running under it. On bungalows onwards (1920s), they didn't use OG gutter, so don't use it on a house of a later period as it won't look right.


New project

So, that's the basic parts that make up a facade, and it's a tricky thing to write a non prescriptive blog post on this topic... so I'll just explain what I've done with the project I'm working on and why.

Aluminium windows down the side of the house

The cottage has some significant problems: the veranda has been entirely replaced, there is rising damp (saltdamp) in the sandstone facade, the front fence has been replaced by cinder block, and the windows down the side of the house were replaced with aluminium windows. The paint colour scheme is also entirely wrong.

Original veranda floor

The parts that are original include the front door (missing the stained glass panels on all sides and in the transom window), front windows and the veranda floor (very damaged).


Front door

So, to get started I measured up the facade, and looked for the impressions of the original veranda roof. You could see quite clearly from the curve on the house wall from the dirty to light coloured stone that the galvanised iron was a convex shaped, and from the impressions on the plaster the ghost of the post, which had a very large and elaborate capital. As with all houses of the era, there would have been OG profile gutters with a scotia bead running underneath - this is the sort of blobby bit at the top of the post impression where it meets the curve of the original iron roof outline.

You can see the curve from the original veranda roof, and the impressions of the post in the plaster on the left. 

Having measured all of this up, I consulted with the publications listed at the end of the blog post, and worked out the sizes for everything. The other thing that was noticeable from this cottage is that it is more elaborate than a standard cottage, so the detailing on the replacement parts I need to work out would have been reasonably elaborate too. There is a lot of chamfering, mouldings, and generally frilly Victorian detail, and the room sizes in the house are reasonably generous along with containing elaborate plaster work (deep cornices), so this was not such a simple cottage.



Close up of the post capital impression

Unfortunately my search for images from the State Library of the street it's in turned up nothing - frustratingly the house next door is pictured, as well as the house across the street, but you can't see anything of my project in those photos.

The front fence I have decided to design as a dowel fence, which were very common at the time in Adelaide.


So, after a heavy duty drafting session, and having laboriously transferred my measurements onto the plan, here is the finished product above (at this stage: I will have a pre application meeting with the Heritage Consultant at council, and they may well change something).

The colour scheme will be in browns and creamy white, reflecting what I've found as original to the house from my paint scraping, and what was pretty typical at that time. The sandstone will also need substantial restoration - it will likely have to have a modern damp proof coursing put in as the saltdamp is pretty extensive (they can use injectables if it's not so serious). Some stones will have to be replaced entirely, and then it will be re tuckpointed (the black lines that are painted on around the stone).

Severe saltdamp - sandstone is porous, so you can see that the damp has caused the stone to decay away, and mortar to be lost. I can't wait to paint out the olive green to creamy white on the rendered parts...

So my next step is a pre application meeting with the Heritage Consultant at Council to smooth the way for the Development application for the rear extension, and discuss the approach for the facade works. Unfortunately I doubt I'll have any pretty pictures to show of the finished product for about a year and a half... wheels turn slowly with applications and building... 

Here are some helpful places to start with your own project:

Resources

Books:
Not terribly useful unless you live in Sydney or Melbourne, but still the only books on this topic in Australia

Great for images of large and small houses that have since been demolished, I think there's also a Lost Melbourne book and Lost Sydney as well

Fact Sheets:
Adelaide City Council has a large Technical notes section with fact sheets on verandas, fences etc - link here
There are also Technical guides produced by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources SA on topics such as Saltdamp, roofing materials, bricks, fences  etc - link here

Trove is an online resource linking all the libraries in Australia, and will list resources for photographs, newspapers, books, magazines and anything else that might contain a reference to your property from the past


Breaking the blogging fast to do an update on Spring. I have completely skipped Winter - life has been very busy and I feel like I spend a lot of time drafting on my computer, so the last thing I want to do is write a blog post in the evening... and of course now that the weather has completely turned to extremely warm this week,  writing about what I did in Winter seems completely ridiculous. So, I'll try to update the past few months with more of a Spring theme...

Doing:


There has been a little bit of travel in the past few months. In September I attended a Design Weekend with my friend Romy (her beautiful instagram is here, she no longer blogs) in New Zealand at Kauri Cliffs lodge. Guest speakers included Paul Bangay (one of Australia's better known Landscape designers), Thomas Hamel (whose career in Interior Design started at Parish Hadley in New York, and continued to Sydney and now part time back in the States) and Paul Swanson from Mossgreen (Antiques and Art gallery).


As you can see by the line up it was an ideal drawcard for both of us, and the added bonus of a long weekend escape from family duties with sleep ins and no meal prep. I have never been to New Zealand before, so this was a great little taste. We had a night on either side of the time at Kauri Cliffs in Auckland due to flight times and enjoyed exploring the waterfront precinct which is full of fashionable bars, cafes, restaurants and the best of New Zealand designer fashion (and some European labels too).


Kauri Cliffs, where we stayed, is about 4 hours from Auckland by car (there are flights from Auckland, but again they didn't line up well for us). It revolves around a golf course which I believe is very good (we are not golfers) and that has spectacular views over the water. Romy and I did quite a lot of walks in the areas, down to the beautiful pink sand beach as well as to other coves that had small streams running into them and that looked out onto jagged islands.

I took a lot of photos of details... the floors are apparently typical to this part of New Zealand and are large planks with mortar inbetween.

The hotel itself is beautiful, and worth a mention as it had many elements that you would feel inspired to emulate in a home. Kauri Cliffs is a luxe lodge, so it has the main old weatherboard house on the site which houses the restaurant, library, private dining rooms and lounges for guests, and then the guest lodges are set some distance away down a path. The interiors are really beautiful and had a sort of classic, rustic nautical edge to it. There's a mix of old and new furniture, pattern, and a play of scale that I found really interesting. I think in Interiors the one thing most people are afraid of is going big, particularly with lighting, but you can see how it was done really successfully here.


The talks themselves weren't aimed at design professionals, they were more overviews of the individuals careers, but I particularly enjoyed talking after Dinner one night with Thomas Hamel, who is the loveliest man, about all things design. The best part of the trip though was chatting with Romy about Art, Design, Books, Fashion and then the trials of life and motherhood in general.

The walls were a sort of shiplap with a wood effect to them. I think they were a gyprock panel system.

Work has been busy, but a lot of it is in the boring planning stages, so not a lot to show of interest. I have a couple of images of projects nearly completed. I do post more on Instagram... I had thought I'd never fully abandon the blog for it (and I'll try not to!) but it is a lot quicker and easier to upload a photo and brief description in the car while waiting for kids to come out of school...  Here are a few recently completed bits I haven't shared on the blog before

Window seat in a Library that I recently completed. The cushions were custom with applied braid. Walls are in navy blue grasscloth wallpaper that picks up the original stained glass detail in the window.

Beach house completed bedroom reflecting the colours of seaglass in blues and greens. I really love the fabric combos in this room.

The garage/ studio at our house has finally been finished. It was s.l.o.w going due to the render. The render is Venetian plaster, with Ashlar block impressions in it, and it is very finicky to apply due to sensitivity to weather conditions. Doing it in Winter meant constant delays, but it's finally all done (with a big of a clear out of builders junk still to go to finally finish for good).

Street view - the attractive pole is an iconic Adelaide invention from the 50's - the Stobie pole. Made of concrete and iron it is termite proof, and car proof too. 

view from the garden of the path down to the garage/ service area and the raised veggie beds. The hedge will grow and hide it all

We have landscaped the final bit of the garden down to the garage - this was a bit of work as we have a slope in our block, and so there were some retaining walls and paths that needed to be built. There are veggie patches in raised beds, and they're slowly coming along with some promising tomatoes on vines.

Ensuite in the upstairs Studio - round steel window and Bird and Thistle wallpaper. I did the internal doors as Beadboard.

My desk area - the rest is still a bit of a mess...

The rest of the garden has exploded this Spring, and it's really looking very established now, especially the front garden which is only 1 year old. I've been picking lots and lots of roses, and have had a couple of big sessions in the garden, but am still woefully behind on the weeding/ pruning schedule.


New lamps in the living area with roses from the garden

so many roses

back garden neatly clipped by Kurt.

Wearing:



While in New Zealand, I spied a dress in the window at Kate Sylvester. I think I could say it's the most perfect dress ever... it is made of light silk, so is perfect for a hot day, swishy, and very flattering hiding all sorts of sins. On me it comes below the calf and has a high elasticated neckline. I can't tell you how much I love this dress!! I was contemplating buying it in the other, bright, colourway. Her clothing in general is fab (despite some dubious fashiony styling with the models - the dress looks far better without trousers under it...!) and worth investigating.



Long term readers know I have a love affair with shoes, and this pair from Aquazzura that I purchased a few months ago from Matchesfashion.com are perfect. I tend to wear fairly plain and unadorned clothes with a tailored aesthetic in Winter, so interesting shoes are always easy to include in my wardrobe. I also tend to wear flats most days due to all the running around/ schlepping of stuff I do and the persian carpet style print of these shoes really grabbed me. When I'm just wearing some dull outfit like a fitted chambray shirt and my favourite black Joseph stretch trousers that I've blogged about before it definitely makes it look more interesting. Of course it also helps that I had an electrician in fits of laughter on site when I wore these one day, and also that when I popped into a Trade agent in Adelaide I found that they matched perfectly with the Colefax and Fowler fabric range...

Reading
I have done so much reading lately. One book tends to lead into another...

Bunny Mellon's Antigua bedroom from "How they Decorated" 

Firstly, I bought "How they Decorated" which is a fabulous overview of well known personalities from the 20th Century and their Interior Decoration style. Many of the Interiors were very inspiring, and some of the Interiors that I found interesting were those of Bunny Mellon. Featured in the book was the house she had in Antigua in the 1960's, which featured painted floors (something she introduced to the US in concept), chintz and simple elegance.


Tory Burch's bedroom in Architectural Digest with painted floors and chintz


Then out came Architectural Digest, with Tory Burch's new house in the Hamptons on the cover, designed by Daniel Romualdez. The internet started swooning over the whole thing, from the picture of her in a Land Rover Defender (naturally), through to the immaculate perfection of the lettuceware table setting. But it occurred to me (and some others) that there was a lot of "inspiration" (not attributed) being drawn from other sources. Many credited the master bedroom with being a copy of Lee Radziwills. And it was, but I thought it reminded me strongly of Bunny Mellon's bedroom in Antigua....

Tory with her Diego Giacometti bronze table. These cost about $4.4 million at auction

And it was then that I started reading the new Bunny Mellon biography and read about how Lee visited her in Antigua, and how Bunny collected Diego Giacometti  bronze furniture (Tory's hall also has a bronze Giancomo table in it, pictured above), started the fashion for painted wooden floors and essentially Bunny was copied by Lee, was copied by Tory.


The Bunny Mellon book was a really good read- very balanced, but oh my goodness, was Bunny an unpleasant woman. She was really pretty mean to her children and grandchildren (or one child - she played favourites), and would cut off friends of many years standing for absolutely no reason. They'd just find she was no longer home/ answering their calls. She is a figured revered for her good taste in the US, ironically because she favoured stealth wealth and discretion over flashy logos etc (ironic because most of those that revere her would kill themselves to own a Hermes Birkin or some other uber status symbol) but it seems to me that it's not necessarily difficult to have good taste when your budget extends to Picasso and Monets and the ability to stack them one ontop of the other all through your multiple houses. She was a shopaholic, and would buy things every day, and at the age of 103 had 200 staff and 6 houses that she never visited. She left very little money to her surviving son and grandchildren, nothing to her great grandchildren (but money to staff, friends and to charity).  Her marriage to Paul Mellon wasn't a happy one (he had many affairs), and seems largely driven by her desire for a larger budget to create her perfect houses and to have the convenience of her own Boeing at her own private runway on standby. I've subsequently read reviews on Amazon of the book, and while many say a similar thing to me, there are a few reviews where the readers are still breathless over her good taste and billionaire lifestyle and seem blinded by the other aspects of her actual personality. It's a great read, and I recommend it.

Eating:


Smoked Salmon and Asparagus tart

I use my grandmother's Quiche Lorraine recipe and adapted it - the pastry is excellent

Pastry
1 Cup Flour - half plain (I like spelt, it gives a shorter crust) and half Self Raising
3Oz/ 90 Grams Butter chopped
1 egg
1 Tablespoon water

Ingredients
1 Cup milk
3 eggs
1 Tbsp Butter
4 Oz/ 120 Gram grated cheddar cheese
2-3 Spring onions/ scallions finely sliced
Parsley, dill and chives finely chopped
250grams (small packet) smoked salmon
1 bunch asparagus

Method

Butter a 25cm Quiche or tart tin and set aside, preheat oven to 165C fan forced.

In a food processor whizz together the pasty ingredients until it just forms a ball, then place in fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

While this is chilling, combine the spring onions, cheese and herbs (I do these all at once in the food processor as I'm quite lazy on the chopping front... I also just chop the cheese rather than grate it). Add the eggs, milk, butter and combine in the food processor.

Prepare the pastry by rolling out and placing into the quiche/ tart tin. Add half the mixture, and place slices of smoked salmon all over it. Add the rest of the mixture and then add the trimmed asparagus on top. Grind over some pepper and salt and bake in the oven for 45minutes.

For Quiche Lorraine substitue the salmon for 3 rashes of chopped bacon, and the asparagus for slices of tomato.

Think that's enough for me for a bit! I'm so sorry I've been so absent from the blog - I'm not sure anyone cares that much one way or the other, but I'll try to drop back in and get back into the swing of things... I have missed it and constantly write blog posts about things in my head... it's just finding the impetus to get it out on the computer that has eluded me.

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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