Australian design guru Melissa Penfold shares the essence of good design at home and handpicks the finest feel-good spaces that define easy elegance
THIS FRENCH FARMHOUSE-STYLE KITCHEN BLENDS BEAUTY AND PRACTICALITY. IMAGE: ABBIE MELLE
We have long been fans of Australian interior design here at The Home Page. Its sway towards laid-back styling, natural materials and soothing colour palettes has enduring appeal. It’s a sense of elegance and ease, and of course that alluring Aussie light, that reels us in time and again.
Writer and style expert Melissa Penfold is Australia’s foremost authority on style and design and her latest book, Living Well By Design, uncovers the very essence of good design. “Design should make you happy… There’s nothing more uplifting than a home that engages the senses and reflects your personality,” she writes.
“Great design creates great moods. People want their homes to look good, but the way it makes them feel is just as important. Everything that surrounds you affects you, so surround yourself only with things you love. Home is where the heart is and a beautiful interior enhances that wellbeing.”
Melissa adds: “When the magic ingredients are present, a thoughtfully designed interior can boost your mood and make you feel alive.”
It’s what we have always believed here at The Home Page; that our surroundings are key to the way we feel and how we think of ourselves. Having a huge home and spending extortionate amounts of money on our décor to impress others is certainly not Melissa’s way.
Rather, she maintains that creating a well-designed home is all about simplifying what you own and decorating with things that please, soothe and move us in some way. “Even if you live in a shoebox, honour your presence in it,” she says.
We have chosen six of our favourite rooms from Melissa’s book, as well as her practical tips, to help us all to achieve beautiful, feel-good spaces in our homes. Think elegant kitchens for family living, living rooms with comfort at the forefront and modestly restful bedrooms…
(LEFT) A NEUTRAL PALETTE AND NATURAL MATERIALS MAKE FOR A COMFORTABLY ELEGANT KITCHEN. IMAGE: SHADE DEGGES; (RIGHT) GENEROUS WINDOW TREATMENTS SET THE TONE IN AN OTHERWISE PAIRED-BACK SCHEME. IMAGE: ANSON SMART
(above left) Ideally, you should have more than one source of light in a room; think a layered mix of overhead, accent, and task lighting. In this kitchen designed by M. Elle Design, for example, there is a decorative pendant over an island, a floor lamp, and downlighting to gently wash walls and bounce light off the ceiling.
(above right) Interior designer Thomas Hamel knows that one of the first things people notice when they walk into a room is the window treatment. An expanse of gorgeous fabric in a pale tone makes a room seem larger and, when hung from ceiling to floor, even higher. Hamel often advises hanging curtains wider than the windows and being extravagant with the quantity of fabric (if you skimp on the amount, the result will always look, well, skimpy).
THE LUXURIOUS LIVING ROOM IN DESIGNER SUZANNE RHEINSTEIN’S HOME. IMAGE: LAURA RESEN
(above) The furniture arrangement – a mix of comfortable seating with good reading lights and handy tables to set drinks on – could serve as a blueprint, no matter where you live. Don’t line up chairs against a wall as in a doctor’s waiting room or all facing a big television. Remember, sofas never pull their full weight. A two-seater accommodates only one person comfortably; a three-seater, only two.
(LEFT) CLEVER DESIGN MAXIMISES A SMALL SPACE IN THIS LOFT BEDROOM; (RIGHT) THE ‘SOFT AND BEAUTIFUL’ BEDROOM AT THE COUNTRY HOUSE OF MELISSA PENFOLD. IMAGES: ABBIE MELLE
(above left) In this guest bedroom, a four-poster metal bed from Restoration Hardware was fitted under the sloping ceiling, reminding us that just because a room is small, it doesn’t mean the bed has to be.
(above right) The bedroom sets your mood at the start and end of every day, so turn it into a haven. We like ours to be soft and beautiful; it’s our most powerful ally in pursuit of wellbeing. When it comes to the bed, position it with care, giving it pride of place in the room, most likely with the headboard positioned against one wall and paths for walking on both sides. Get the height right. Move up in the world – as high as 76 centimetres off the ground – and you’ll elevate the entire room.
A freshly dressed bed is one of the finer things in life, and yet many stumble here. For harmony, work with your overall colour scheme. The colours do not have to be identical to those in the rest of the room, but they do need to be similar in tone. You want to create a place for slumber that looks beautiful, yet also cultivates a state of serenity.
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