Bellevue Hill
Posted by on 22nd of June 2014

Work continues quietly but consistently on the home front. We had the DA approved for the pool, replacement balconies and alterations to the front of the house in February. Richard has been going through the requirements for the construction certificate and all going well, we can start digging the large hole we need in the back garden in about two weeks (Christmas swim anyone?). Trees have been cleared and all is ready. The increase in light to that part of the garden is fantastic – can’t wait to see it all happening. We have spoken with a gardener, Brendan Newton, from the Blue Mountains. He has produced some of the most beautiful gardens for some clients’ of mine in Blackheath and I am so excited by his vision for our house. Once the construction is finished we can start putting in hedges etc that will make the area gorgeous, green and leafy.

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The master bathroom is finished. I love the marble, the veins in the stone create wonderful patterns . We used a single piece of marble for the base of the shower and it makes me feel luxurious every morning as I step onto it. The walnut veneer we used in the vanity is repeated in the shelves in an alcove. The wood is a natural element that gives the room warmth and colour – a very traditional combination that works. The tomato and basil of interior design….(forgive me I am thinking about lunch)

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We have almost finished renovating the bottom level. The second kitchen will service the largest outside balcony and provide a dedicated space for my very talented dessert making daughter. We used a great travertine in the French pattern – again a very classic look that compliments the style of the house. We made every opening the same height and went through the process of simplifying odd bulkheads etc so the spaces make more sense. We moved the laundry to give the kitchen more room and most importantly installed steel framed doors and windows. I love these doors. They look elegant, lightweight and they work brilliantly. We have used them in every house we have had and now Bellevue Hill feels more like home.
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The finishes for this floor. The kitchen bench tops will be in an aged bronze, a wonderful greeny olive colour. The ceiling for the whole floor will be wallpapered in an amazing Larsen paper – the sheen will pick up the light and create a softly glowing ceiling illuminated by pools of reflected light. The island bench will be a block of honed travertine to match the floor. A black ceiling mounted twiggy lamp will be curved in a graceful arc to end just above the island, centred in the room.

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The view through to the kitchen. The upper carcasses are in and we waiting for the travertine to be laid on the floors in the next few weeks. Once that happens we can install the rest of the cabinetry. The cupboards will be in raw oak and finished with a clear wipe on product used in flooring. We wanted to protect the wood but not to change the colour. The product is UV stabilised, preventing the yellowing that can take place in older polyurethane formulas.

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The foyer on the way to the lower area is finished – needs a bit more furniture, probably a rug! Will think about that later. We have put a Simon Hodgson sculpture there – I love the linear quality of the wire. He is having a show at Robin Gibson Gallery from the 4 June – 9 July and is worth having a look at. The upright desk was originally my Grandmother’s and is on an extended loan from my parents. I love this piece, the marble in the top has fossils and the desk has such personality. I bought it a little jade fish as a tassel to celebrate it’s new home….

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Italy, Masseria in Puglia
Posted by on 16th of June 2014

I have been in the Puglia region of Italy for the last two weeks, working on a boutique hotel project in the outskirts of Lecce. The property is typical of the region – a fortified farmhouse, (Masseria), it was built between 700 – 1500 AD. Rob the owner is an ex-pat Australian, an old client and great friend. An extremely talented hotelier, he has put all his energy and dreams into creating the perfect hotel property. The building is extraordinary: fortified towers and stellar vaulted ceilings all wrought in Lecce tufo (stone) surrounded by 7 citrus and fruit orchards. An incredible experience: meeting wonderful local artisans, artists and sculptors – all charming and very talented. For Rob, the vision is complete, from landing in Brindisi airport to the first Aperol Spritz on arrival. Anyone lucky enough to stay at the Masseria will remember it for ever…Open for business in June 2015.

First Italian dawn over Rome
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A wonderful Masseria in the same region – Aquadolce
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Every last Sunday in the month a travelling antique market comes to Lecce. We bought these fabulous bottles that I would love to transform into little side tables.

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This is an incredible piece – used by the noble families to hang coats in entrance halls. Sexy and glamorous!

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The facade of the Masseria. The second story will form one large apartment for family rentals, or can be split into two – one with a fabulous original fire in the sitting room. The noble family would have lived in these rooms.

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Guests will enter the building through these metal gates.

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My client Rob in deep discussion under the stellar vaulted ceilings. This room will be the sitting room. It opens through a series of arched doors onto a terrace filled with lemon trees. Little tables and linen covered chairs will soon be dotted under the filtered green light – just ready for breakfast or an aperitif before dinner!

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A closer shot of the metal gates. The next room will be the foyer, looking through to the dining room that is housed in the old stable. The troughs on the left hand side will act as a service area, containing plates cutlery etc for the room. Whilst in Gallipolli (Rob’s GPS is an American, insistent on articulating every vowel of GALLY POLLY) we found a basket maker who is going to produce fish traps we will light and suspend over the troughs – belissimo!

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One of the seven orchards that surround the Masseria

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All rooms will eventually include a fireplace, sofa and in some cases separate dressing room. The bathrooms will be sensational – inside and outside. The baths outside will be nestled alongside dry stone walls and carved out of a solid block of lecce stone by talented sculptor Renzo Buttazzo…

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Coffee machine. A fantastic site ritual – every so often tiny plastic takeaway cups would appear with “cafe” – strong black pre- sugared coffee guaranteed to banish the worst jet lag…

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More great things from the antique market, hand carved solid olive wood stools, water bottles…

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Renzo’s solid stone basins and the most wonderful table – the organic pebbles are carved from a single piece of stone – the top pebble conceals a bolt that holds the cantilevered glass in place. To see more of his work have a look at www.renzobuttazzo.it

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These lights and textured wall hangings are made by Francesca Carallo an artist working with papier mache. Her work is so beautiful – intricate, hand made and stunning. The texture and the effects of the light are extraordinary. www.francescacarallo.it

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This beautiful lamp is typical of the ceramics of Puglia. I LOVED this shop and bar combined (two of my favourite things) called Blanc in Gallipolli. In fact Rob and I went a bit crazy in the shop and were then given lunch – always a sign of bruised plastic…After lunch, ridiculously priced espadrilles seemed to be the perfect gift for all at home. Not so perfect, when trying to pack at 2am for a 6am start with domestic Alitalia weight restrictions for 1 hour of a 24hr international flight…

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