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three /THrē/

1. Equivalent to the sum of one and two; one more than two; 3.

Three is a hugely significant number for me this year. It will be three years since I was married.  My immediate little family became three (plus dog). It is also three years since I lost someone very very dear to me. Three. A difficult and odd number. I’m not into odd numbers, unless it’s part of a design or styling situation, then.. three; basically rules.

So the AK post for the start of 2014, is not going to drone on about New Year’s resolutions or new beginnings of not drinking or eating chocolate. Both of which I have failed upon already.. thrice.

I’m going to celebrate three and all glorious triptychs in design, life and style – and give three the attention I’ve been failing to, for many years.

The Bronte sisters… Charlotte, Emily (who I was named after) and Ann. A wonderful trio without whom Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre would not exist. May their stories be read for many many years. The Conran family… Terence, Jasper and Sebastian .. No need for any further explanation.. but for me, Terence is a true winner. Fashion still baffles me. And Terence Conran’s use of space is immaculate in my eyes. Massive Attack…  Daddy G, Robert  (3D) Del Naja, and guest vocalist.. always three.. and seriously; the best. The Police; No words suffice.  The Three Stooges, Moe, Larry and Curly, the original slapsticks.

The STR Crew... (Three words… three letters, many members). All legends in the making.

My best friends.. you know who you are, you three.

And finally, these three boys… bonded like no others.

the boys

Thanks three… I’ve made my peace.

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wall wôl/

1. a continuous vertical brick or stone structure that encloses or divides an area of land

synonyms; barrier, partition, enclosure, screen, panel, divider

Never did I think I’d be so obsessed with getting walls.. ever. Eight long weeks we lived without any, and when the day came to install these temporary walls, I was a mess.

Even though they are temporary, to us; they are permanent until we move on. I felt sick in the morning. I was stressed about the size, the placement, the height of the windows, the positioning of the door and so it went on. Like every true control freak should, I removed myself from the situation as early as I could and let my husband deal with it.

I checked in on FaceTime, Skype and phone; popping in and out and fluttering through with critical eyes and comments during the forty eight hour process. Popular I’m sure.

It also felt very alien to me that once the decision had been made, it was there to stick. And coping with that is hard! Throughout my career I have advised many clients on their homes and spaces. I  help them to construct, design and decorate. I soothe them, talk them through design and decorating processes, explaining it will all be fine and has been thought out to the last detail. Now it’s my home, I’m a complete mess. I truly understand it in a different sense now.

Furniture can always be moved, walls re – painted and corners endlessly re  – styled… but these babies.. once they are in, they are staying put.

The journey home yesterday was filled with a mixture of anxiety and excitement as I opened the huge industrial elevator on our floor.. and tippie toed towards our front door. I knew what lay on the other side.. chaos, dirt, a whole apartment to re – style and possibly walls that I simply could not live with.

BAM! My husband had spent the previous day putting back all our furniture, putting together our daughter’s crib and cleaning our home. What a lucky lady I am.

I have a home. Finally.

Last night I slept just on the other side of the wall from my daughter with both the window and the door wide open.

Baby steps.

 

Model in Florence Broadhurst motif body paint.

Florence Broadhurst wall coverings

 

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Tres Tintas kids room

 

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Tres Tintas mural

space /spās/

1. A continuous area or expanse that is free, available or unoccupied

2. The dimension of height, depth and width in which all things exist and move

When we moved to New York a couple of years ago; fresh from Sydney shores all sun kissed and dreamy, newly married and searching for the epitome of NY living, we moved into a two floor brownstone.  I remember writing about what it felt like to finally settle in and be at home somewhere, and also to belong. Our home was equipped with stunning hardwood floors, period shutters, fireplaces, claw foot tubs and the most incredible afternoon sunlight. I don’t know if I will ever find such a luxury again. Although the place was bursting at the seams with character, I still couldn’t wait to get my sticky stylist mitts on it and change the wall colours, carpets, light fittings and so on.. until it was mine. It took almost the full two years of living there to get it how I really liked it. And then…..we moved. Leaving our mark. old house

Two years on, we find ourselves in a space that is the polar opposite of a brownstone with all its exquisite detail and homeliness. Now, we find ourselves in a space that doesn’t even have a simple set of walls, or even the odd door. An open industrial loft. Sure, a few eyebrows were raised when I told people… open loft, dog, 6 month old baby, both work from home.. yeah NO problem!

And now I’m sitting here, five weeks after the event with no interior walls, doors, storage and wondering where on earth to begin and what on earth I was thinking? My husband, a childhood fan of the film, Big, loves it in all its lofty glory. But then he doesn’t have to make it a home. I do. I’m going to start at the beginning.  Im going to create a wonderful, stylish, urban home.. in a huge empty space. For the first time in my life I have a completely blank canvas. Modern kitchen, modern bathroom… and 3 white walls.   Wish me luck.

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nurs·er·y ˈnərs(ə)rē/

A room in a house for the special use of young children

I feel like I am constantly apologising for my lack of frequent blogging… ‘life kind of gets in the way’ excuses spring to mind.. busy NY stylist.. blah blah.. had a baby, moved house… All pretty good reasons not to be sitting at my computer, but NO excuse is good enough.. It’s time to make this arrangement a little more frequent. So we will keep this short, sweet and visual.

The glorious brownstone is no longer and we are onto different things. As a final hurrah to a space where we shot many a beautiful image, I thought it would be so nice to show a small space not yet revealed. A space for the newest addition to our family, now rapidly growing and crawling all over the place. Her space. My taste. Her room. My baby.

Shot with with the talented and beautiful Tara Striano in Brooklyn, NY. 2013.

TS_Nursery

 

No longer in her own room now as we tackle open plan living with a small child. I will create something for her in the coming weeks. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on Appleketchup as I post an interior vignette each week throughout the winter months.

bump·kin /ˈbəmpkin/

An awkward, simple, rustic yokel. 

I am a self confessed city bumpkin. I live in the city, and I love it; but I have the country running through my veins and flickering its way in and out of the corners of my urban home.  Although I adore my reclaimed industrial style coffee table, and I like to think I’m hip and cool, Brooklyn style…nothing makes me happier than throwing a pot of hydrangeas on it and flicking through the pages of a country magazine whilst I drink my Lady Grey tea.

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On a recent trip upstate to Tivoli, NY, whilst visiting some newly converted city bumpkins, I realised I’m not ready to relocate yet, but I need my regular fix. Tivoli is a beautiful historic village about two hours drive up the picturesque  Taconic;  from New York City. It has all the amenities you could possibly need in a village –  good coffee, great sushi, a pub, a gorgeous bakery and beautiful lake nearby to swim in. Greeted by some typically rural laundry swaying in the summer breeze as we pulled into the driveway, I knew this was going to be a perfect weekend in the country.

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As well as enjoying the simple pleasures of a laid back al fresco Pimms,  paired with beer infused barbecued chicken and fresh tomatoes we were lucky enough to be visiting Tivoli for the weekend of their infamous yard sale. Designers, collectors and hoarders all swarm to Tivoli for this annual event and it is truly worth it. I managed to swipe myself a gorgeous vintage Samsonite suitcase for a mere twenty bucks. Once exhausted from the foraging and fossicking like bowerbirds all morning… we rested outside the local bakery to witness the pie contest, of which my favourite part was the pie eating. Who cares who wins, so long as you get to eat them?

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Back at the house with a lazy afternoon to while away; I was struck by the country air and a sudden urge to make something, I managed to create my own little flower fairy. Or did I just find her, hovering around at the bottom of the garden in all her glory? Who knows. in the country, anything is possible you know.

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art /ärt/

1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as a painting or a sculpture.
2. Works produced by such skill and imagination

I was once given some advice on art; which was invaluable and really resonated with me. It has stuck with me ever since, and when choosing any art either for myself; or for a friend or client I always go by this mantra. If you are deciding whether or not to invest in a piece of art, no matter how financially valuable the investment; you need to imagine yourself waking up and looking at that same piece, day in day out. If during this daydream you see yourself loving it every day, even better – it moves you in some way – then you must buy it.

Artworks by Tomo. and GORF

Artworks by TOMO. and GORF

We all spend so much time deliberating with art. Many people ask my advice about what will work and what won’t but I think it’s very much a matter of opinion. Each piece of art is a very unique experience for every person.

I awoke early this morning, (as I often do these days at thirty seven weeks pregnant) and out of nowhere a memory popped into my head of a small piece of art – that I didn’t buy; the one that got away. In Sydney’s Inner West, there is a huge auction house where I used to source props and furniture items for clients and whilst on a foraging spree one sweltering day I noticed a small painting of an African woman. She was beautiful and captivating, her eyes bore into mine as I stared at her. She was not, however; on my to – do list for that day, nor did she fit into my budget. I stood there for what seemed like ages on that scorching summer’s day – deliberating about whether or not it was worth spending $100 of my hard earned freelance cash on her. I decided not. Be sensible. Save your money, Emily.

When I got home I couldn’t get her out of my head. So I decided to go back the next day, clean myself out completely of ready cash and bring her home. Upon my return, I discovered she was gone. I was devastated. She didn’t leave my thoughts for ages. I wonder where she is now. Hopefully on someone’s wall, making them feel moved by her intensity every day; not stuffed in a box somewhere.

The very first piece of art actually did invest in was by Jamie Hewlett. Again, I was in Australia. And it wasn’t a huge investment, but at the time spending $350 on a framed, signed print seemed a lot, and so I paid it off in $50 increments until tank girl was all mine. She has been with me for years and I love her.

We are very lucky to be surrounded by talented artists within our immediate and extended family, and our close friends. So we not only get to invest in our future when we buy, but we get to invest in theirs. How deliciously rewarding.

Artwork by Inkie

Photograph by Emily Gilbert. Artwork by Inkie

Photograph by Tara Striano, artworks by Mairi Duggan, Audrey Kawasaki. Wallpaper, Tres Tintas

Photograph by Tara Striano, artworks by Mairi Duggan, Audrey Kawasaki. Wallpaper, Tres Tintas

Right now I’m having a small obsession with an Australian artist, Leah Anketell.. whom I discovered through some dear and wonderful friends of mine in Byron Bay. They supply a small corner of the world with the most delicious breakfast cereals and cheer up many a day with their quirky ceramics … The Unexpected Guest. I’m a HUGE fan of both of these beachside beauties.

All I need to do now is convince my husband two weeks before the birth of our first child is the perfect time to invest in some more art. For the baby, no?

So next time you need to fill a space or finish off a room, don’t just buy something because ‘it will do for now’ or the ‘colour works’ or ‘it’s on offer at Ikea’… take your time, wait and find something that really moves you, makes you fall in love with it so much so that you can’t wait to spring out of bed and look at it every morning.

If you are stuck for inspiration, please do get in touch. Not only do I have a small team of amazing artistic friends I can hook you up with; I also am blessed with a friend who spends her days matching art to their new owners… how fabulous is that? I’m off to meet her right now and take in a little Basquiat at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea.

Many thanks to Emily Gilbert Photography and Tara Striano Photography.

per·cep·tion /pərˈsepSHən/

The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

The state of being or process of becoming aware of something in such a way.

A few weeks ago, I found myself walking the dog in Prospect Park during a cold snap of minus six degrees Celsius, whilst getting over food poisoning, battling the flu, dealing with entering my seventh month of pregnancy and all the while… trying to dodge the rangers who might ticket me for having the dog off the lead after 9am.

Words to the effect of ‘What the hell am I doing in this godforsaken place anyway?’ ran through my then negative mind at a rapid pace, and didn’t subside. This stayed with me for several days. I was ready to pack up and leave for warmer, more friendly shores. I miss you Australia.

Then….some magical things began to happen.

A friend sent me an article they thought I may find interesting, and it was as though someone had turned on a light.
It was an interview with Sharon Beesley, writer and author of blog NYC Taught Me, and had been published on SayDaily. Her wonderful point of view of a city offering many challenges was an inspiration to me, especially as I  had arrived as a newby to NY, just like her.

Her interview covers some of NYC’s many highlights that I had begun to overlook in my bleakness. You can get anything and everything delivered, there is always something to do in one of the many museums, galleries and creative spaces all over the five boroughs. Pretty much everywhere is child friendly. It made me open my eyes and my mind.

A few days later, I was in Kentucky working on a job, and I unexpectedly passed an HSBC ad campaign that has always caught my eye in the airports in London. I was so surprised to see it in Louisville; it was another little moment of synchronicity and I lapped it up. It demonstrates in many of its images; one person’s pain may be another’s pleasure… for example things like marmite, chilli… or skydiving… or, if it were my household.. ballet… and The Vicar of Dibley.

Once my husband came back from his overseas trip, and I finally managed to fight all the illness… I started to see a little more clearly. The sun began to poke through the clouds, I realised that my previous negativity wasn’t all about where I was or what I was doing, but it was the way I was looking at it.

I needed to embrace the cold, the snow and all the things I had missed about the Northern Hemisphere for so many years.

My daily work as a stylist is all about creating an image that I hope will be pleasing to the eye; but whose eye? What I believe to be simply gorgeous may be really hideous to someone else. This is what I love about art, photography and the image – it’s all subjective.

How we perceive something may depend very much upon the mood we are in, the way we are looking at it, and many other uncontrollable things about the environment around us.

We are now in another cold snap and I’m trying to enjoy it for what it is – crisp white snow.. kids sledding, warm cosy cups of hot tea and Tim Tams whilst grabbing the slivers of afternoon sunlight through the shutters. Bliss.

Perception

AK thought for the day, keep an open mind, an open heart and next time you feel in an awfully glum mood like I did… see if you can look at it with brand new eyes. If that fails.. eat some chocolate.

christ·mas /ˈkrisməs/

The annual Christian holiday, celebrating Christ’s birth

I think a lot of people forget what Christmas is actually for….. many of us think of it as a time to get together with family, a time to give and receive gifts, a time to totally stuff your face with completely unhealthy and inappropriate foods for a day (or four)… and a time to enjoy all the fun decorating and Christmas spirit.

I grew up in a place where Christmas is a mixture of all of the above, with perhaps a Christmas morning mass thrown in and maybe some carols.

Now I’m all grown up and living in New York, a place where we will most likely say ‘Happy Holidays’ as we walk down the streets of one of the biggest melting pots of different religious beliefs; this holiday has become very much about the decorations, (food) and the lights (food) and spirit of Christmas….(chocolate).  So whilst I spend another Christmas here in our cosy brownstone in Brooklyn; I am indulging in decorating. This Christmas will be the last of its kind for me…… next year I hope to be spending the holidays with my family… who I miss very much at this time of year.

So just as you thought you might not have heard from me again as I went so quiet… I would like to leave the Appleketchup pages of 2012 with something I love dearly and something I want to share… some beautiful seasonal decorating ideas to feast your eyes on.

Merry Christmas Appleketchup

A burst of Brit meets NY, meets the farm…..pops of seasonal colour to add merriment and cheer. Merry Christmas Detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A more ethereal and relaxed approach to the fireplace for Santa…….. who is ALWAYS welcome

There is something very serene and distinctly wintry about decorating all in silver and white….. with a little natural brown thrown in for good measure…. Santa surely wouldn’t want to leave!

Whatever this time of year means to you… I do hope you have fabulous fun….. and I wish you all the best for the coming year. AK.

Christmas White Final

White Christmas Detail

stay·ca·tion/ˌstāˈkāSHən/

A vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home involving day trips and local attractions. 

I’m afraid to say that I originally began writing this piece a couple of months ago, and like many of my blogs, it falls a little by the wayside whilst I ponder its worth. After nearly a year in NYC, and several months of travelling previous to that my husband and I didn’t feel an overseas trip was either necessary or deserved. I have spent the past few notable holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter etc… watching newfound friends jet off to Mexico, Canada, London and Puerto Rico…. Not me. I stayed. Settling into life in the Big Apple.

As soon as I began to research this subject, TimeOut NYC was dropped into our letterbox, and the word smeared all the way across the cover? Staycation.  So this piece went into the folder with all the other piles of as yet unpublished blogs, to sit and fester for a while. I’d missed my chance.

The thing I noticed, however, about all other articles on this subject; is that they are not only a little obvious, but are also full of activities I would not want to do. Queue at a tourist attraction, flock to an underwhelming city beach, or perhaps visit an aquarium? How unimaginative.

For me, Staycation actually means really pretending that you are on holiday for one full day or more in your own city. Relaxing, breathing in the air, enjoying a day by the pool and indulging in a sunset cocktail.  Imaging you could be anywhere at all. Now, that’s a mini-break.

In honour of actually finishing this little snippet I decided to plan a day off, and take a mini – break at home in NYC –  and in pure Appleketchup style.  My day began with a morning stroll around Prospect Park, (I know, I do this every day, but I was getting myself into holiday mode so I walked more slowly and with the conviction of a holiday maker, without the dog).  Sometimes, very early morning Prospect Park is so green and dewy, it feels like the lush pastures of good old England.

Once gentle morning exercise was completed, I decided to book myself a day spot at the King & Grove outdoor pool in Williamsburg. I packed my sunscreen, hat, iPad, and set off.

The King and Grove is a boutique design hotel, opposite McKarren Park on North 12th, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  It’s not cheap to be a day visitor, but more cost effective Monday to Thursday. $35 from 11am until 6pm.  Upon arrival, your name is ticked off and you are given towels and shown to any area that is either free or takes your fancy. There are four-person day beds, sun loungers, bleachers and tables and chairs. There are waiting staff in white polo shirts and shorts, there is a saltwater outdoor pool and poolside table service. To me, this screams vacation, and as I popped down my belongings, stripped of down to my Seafolly bikini and lay out on my bleacher in the mid – morning sun, I was taken to anywhere but Brooklyn. Miami, Ibiza, Thailand, didn’t matter – I was holiday for one day!

I indulged in all the things you ‘treat yourself’ to whilst on holiday, a prawn salad and a savvy blanc for lunch. An afternoon nap, a diet coke, a few dips and a read of my book. Wonderful, and Ididn’t have to fly anywhere. This is how you ‘staycate’  by the way, TimeOut NY.

After my day of lazing by the pool, amongst a mixture of hipsters, rich businessmen who choose to drink champagne all day, and young Mums opting for a quick break, I decided not to just go home, and sit in front of the TV, but to meet friends at Celebrate Brooklyn for a picnic and an outdoor movie.

You know that unmatchable feeling you get, only when on holiday… during the shower intermission between the beach, and the evening cocktail time? When you check out your tan lines, sigh with delight at your natural tightness of skin and tiredness from the sun, then decide what to pop on for an evening of al fresco dining? Well, I managed to get myself that wonderful feeling, right  in my claw foot tub in Brooklyn!

Celebrate Brooklyn was showing Saturday Night Fever, this particular night, and as the sun began to set, and the fireflies buzzed around our heads, I mused at how lucky I was to have visited England, Miami and Sydney, all in one day! No flying necessary.

Granted, I might live in one of the more interesting cities in the world in which to ‘staycate’, but I tell you, no matter where in the world you might live, I bet there is still a gallery worth visiting, a walk worth walking, a pool worth swimming in, or a drink, worth drinking. You all might enjoy a staycation once in a while – I challenge you to it. I would love to hear some stories.

PS…now I’m really on vacation… in the Costa Brava…. can’t beat the real thing, I’m off to the beach.

an·nu·al/ˈanyo͞oəl/

Occurring Once Every Year

Summer is here… once a year… in most places. This month is has been so terribly humid, I’ve had to break a life long habit of having fresh flowers in the house, for fear that they will just wilt and die and the first opportunity.

Today, for the first time in a LONG time… a little style snippet from Appleketchup HQ.

How to make your home look pretty, with things that you can get your mitts on …… ALL year round. 

Whilst perusing the local farmers market last Saturday with my darling husband, dear little dog.. and newest member of our family, my shopping trolley bag, I decided to grab a big bunch of dried French lavender. At the time I though it would be a great prop for an up and coming shoot and I could also artfully place it around our home to make it smell nice. Today it’s Friday. Almost a week since the lovely bunch of lavender arrived, and unfortunately it has been there un-openend, all useless and feeling sad; until today, when I had a brainwave.

Year round, I thought, you can pick up beautiful dried flowers, mix them with fresh or dried herbs, grab yourself a few jam jars, glass bottles, and throw in a couple of shells…… Done!

Vignettes of sun and sea….. ALL year round.

Enjoy!

Sea urchins with bunches of dried lavender, rosemary.

Recycled vintage milk bottles, french lavender

An old candle votive, turned vase… with fresh rosemary and dried lavender. Makes your bathroom smell delicious!

Shells and herbs, herbs and shells…. utterly non seasonal!

Some old faves of mine… remind me of my wonderful Bondi days and Caravan Interiors…..

Dried lavender from the farmers markets coupled with a bit of old broken barnacle. Barnacle pieces can double up as a vase… or a toothbrush holder!

When my friends arrive later for a champers and a ‘Go on Great Britain’ for the 2012 Opening Ceremony, I expect they will be blown away by how fresh and beachy our home feels, despite the Brooklyn humidity!