On a recent trip to Melbourne, I was won over by the style of my hosts’ home – though its completely different to what I’m usually drawn to. I’m usually into what I call sleek Italian – all smooth forms and beautiful proportions – but my friends’ home was nothing like that. For a start, it is not newly renovated and it does not have the latest bells and whistles. It’s a partly renovated period home with gorgeous original features and generous proportions. What I really loved was the way it represented my friends’ life to date; their hearts and souls are on display through a mixture of new and old furniture pieces collected over time, Moroccan light fittings, a photo wall held together with masking tape and bold artwork.

It was a little bit hippy and a lot chic.

It may look thrown together but the roots of this look are firmly embedded in sophistication – reflecting our lust for adventure in global travel, our infatuation with the exotic, and our deliciously multicultural society. It has a nostalgic element and shows a deep respect for things that have been crafted, loved and considered.

Here’s how to create the look.

  1. Fabrics

Exquisite fabrics are key. Think traditional techniques such as weaving, printing and embroidering and natural fibres like silk, linen, cotton and wool, which can be used for upholstery and soft furnishings. Why not upholster mid century dining chairs with a hand made felt made locally by RebeccA’s studio, a club chair in a sumptuous and robust Alpaca velvet or modernise a church pew with seat cushions covered in a brightly coloured embroidery? To create something truly hand made, make your own Japanese inspired Shibori dyed fabric at a workshop run locally by Launchpad Workshops.

Check out these for inspiration.

The latest offering from fabric house Zak + Fox, known for its complex, beautiful, story telling fabrics, comprises four new patterns and is a translation of antique Japanese textiles and kimono stencils. http://www.zakandfox.com

Spanish design house Gaston y Daniela combines ingenious technologies with the preservation of historic archives. Their fabrics are distinctive, quirky and memorable. http://www.gastonydaniela.com

Bombay born Seema Krish studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and creates thoughtful fabrics that speak of the maker’s hand. The quiet grace that she brings to her life and work serve as a reminder to take time to savour and appreciate beautiful things. http://www.seemakrish.com/patterns.

Harlequin Fabrics is another favourite and has a gorgeous eclectic range that offers fabulous colour combinations, texture and an exotic appeal. http://www.harlequin.uk.com

Cuttings, samples and metreage from most fabric houses are available locally through your interior designer. Paul and Lance from Maypole upholstery advise you to “check with your upholsterer about the suitability of a fabric for its chosen purpose prior to purchase to avoid costly mistakes. The composition of fabrics will give a good indication of durability and the flexibility of a fabric will avail itself better to contours.”

  1. Bespoke Cushions

‘Hippy chic’ is the antithesis of the cookie-cutter approach and calls for a cool head to combine mis-matched fabrics. Avoid bold stripes. Get together swatches of many different patterned fabrics and play with them until your combination ‘clicks’. Load up your sofas and bed with a casual confidence combining square and rectangle.

  1. Black and white paint

Use white paint on walls and ceilings and use low sheen or matt black as an accent for a stair banister, chair arms and legs.

  1. Floorboards and floor rugs

Expose your floorboards if they’re hidden under carpet and coat with a low sheen finish. The older the better. There’s quite a trade in reclaimed floorboards so ask your builder to source some if you like a time worn patina.

Rugs are another key element of this look and add another layer of craftsmanship and beauty. Rugs handcrafted in India, Tibet and Nepal still use traditional techniques and materials, which add authenticity and honesty to modern, classic and traditional designs.

For gorgeous Moroccan rugs, mats and carpets made by local tribes visit www.kulchi.com.

  1. Encaustic tiles

Cement encaustic tiles are handmade using traditional methods from over 100 years ago. These unique tiles can be seen in many parts of the world in SE Asia, Morocco, Spain and Cuba. The traditional production process creates both beauty and character and means each tile is unique and interesting. The imperfections from the hand made tile have us love it all the more. These tiles can be used for walls and floors internally and externally although some discolouration may occur in tiles exposed to the elements.

  1. Artwork

Invest in artwork. It will return you with quality of life in the long term, short term and everything in between.

  1. Indoor Plants

For instant gratification put a large indoor plant such as a Kentia Palm in a corner or a collection of succulents as a feature display.



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