Chalk Boards – Too Cool for School

Chalk board has come such a long way since I was at school.  I vividly remember the screeching sound of chalk against the framed green board on the classroom wall.  Although I am sure it was never intended to be a feature but rather an educational tool, the use of chalkboard paint has certainly found its way into our homes and has turned into a decorating phenomena.

Chalk board decorating


Whether used in the office for jotting down notes; or a feature wall in the kitchen to help with planning for next week’s menu, the versatility is without bounds! (more…)

Conversation Pits

I recall how, in the early 80’s, the conversation pit at my friend’s home became my greatest envy.  The two of us passed endless hours creating magnificent attire for a vast array of Barbie Dolls, marching blue-eyed and perfectly manicured along their imaginary runway.

As technology slowly takes over our home life, the art of conversation is slipping out the door.  Competing with IPhones, IPods and other electronic devices, has become a form of art in itself!  I am slowly becoming an expert at talking to myself, facial expressions included, I have been told.  So, in order to educate those around you in the art of conversation, why not create a comfortable abode to liven up those tongues?

I wouldn’t mind the last one, how about you?

conversation pits

conversation pit with feature wall (more…)

How to use the Wasted Space behind your Sofa

We all have odd spaces that are hard to decorate around the house.  Some of us give up hope and start looking out for another house to buy, while others just let it be and learn to live with it.  For me, it’s the wasted space behind the couch in our odd shaped tv room that I find difficult to live with.  After removing used teaspoons, sweet wrappers, chewed up dog toys, and (believe it or not), an empty dish from behind the couch, the decorating  process  could begin.  The rest went pretty smoothly, as I discovered the console table to be the most versatile piece of furniture you could ever buy!  It’s the perfect height behind the sofa, especially for placing down a glass of wine at the end of the day.  Here are a few options I found to be very effective:


Image Source


The space behind your couch can easily be used for storage.  If you are an avid reader like me and like to have a book ready when in relaxed mode, this option will really tickle your fancy.


Image Source


A beautiful table lamp on a console table behind the couch is always eye catching and create a warm glow in your home when the sun sets.  It is also practical for those who enjoy reading, playing board games, or continue working.  For a more formal look, place a lamp on either end of the console, or have one large lamp to make a bold statement.  A small vase of fresh flowers or a stack of books will always make a space feel more inviting.


Image Source

A console table with a narrow surface or desk behind your sofa could create an extra workstation to place your laptop, an extra seat for having dinner, or an area to put a few plants and ornaments to pretty the place up.


Image Source

If you are very short on space, a wall mounted shelf can create a dramatic backdrop behind your sofa.  An elegant arrangement of black and white photos will create a unified look and immediately draw the eye to the back wall.  Remember to style your couch with an array of cushions and add a few items of interest to your coffee table to complete the picture.


Image Source

Gallery walls are perfect for creating a focal point and incorporating creative ideas in any room.  Play around with items found at flea markets or garage sales to create an instant talking point when guests arrive.  For extra depth, use a mixture of textures and materials, but try to stick to a theme.


Image Source

With the vast array of products on the market today, there is no excuse to be boring!  Textured wallpaper or an eye catching wallpaper print will create immediate interest in your living room.


Image Source

This bookshelf behind the sofa will solve every storage headache you’ve ever had!  A few well placed picture frames and ornaments add some extra character to this space.

Cheerio ’til next time!

My favourite gift wrapping tools for this Christmas

I don’t know if the same thing happens to you every Christmas, like it happens to me…

Every year I buy the latest creative tools so that I can wrap my Christmas presents with personalised tags I made myself. I always have all these plans for beautiful wrapped presents for my friends and family. Then suddenly it’s Christmas, and I did not make anything, and I run off to the Reject Shop on the last minute to buy the last lonely left over gift bags with boring images of red nose reindeers. This year, I make an official commitment, that it will NOT happen again!

Here are some of my favourite wrapping tools I found online during the year:

wrapping gifts stamps best

1= Mandala set of 6 Rubber stamps, from the rabbitandtheduck store on Etsy. $15-30. Are they not adorable? I love supporting local Australian shops on Etsy. This seller delivers promptly and is worth a try! These stamps are perfect to use on a gift tag, or even to stamp on to brown wrapping paper.

2= An alphabet wooden stamp set for just $19-95, from the gorgeous website of Paper Cotton Love in Perth.


Poets Ode – Monochromatic Heaven in Hahndorf

Thankfully, our day does not start with another wine tasting like it has for the past few days.  Wine for breakfast could easily become a habit, so today we prefer to avoid it.  Our holiday in the Barossa has been a glorious fest thus far and the only hindrance (from our husbands’ point of view) could be the amount of time we spend photographing every wall, stone, log, rusted corrugated iron and other textured surfaces we can find.  Today we head in the direction of Adelaide Hills to visit the much talked about German settlement town of Hahndorf, just 30 minutes from the CBD.


Among the original and beautifully restored and maintained “Fachwerk” (medieval brace timber) buildings, we unexpectedly come across a store that stands out from the rest.  From the bustling main street, we enter its calm interior and it is immediately apparent that each item has been carefully selected and displayed in a way to delight all those who enter.

The owners of Poets Ode are husband and wife team, Alia and Scott, who are talented wedding photographers who travel all over Australia taking remarkably memorable photos of those special moments.

teatowel display

Poets ode shop

Their philosophy is to keep things simple and they always source ethically made goods locally or from abroad.  The cascading light from large windows and the backdrop of white walls create a perfect setting for natural, handcrafted and classically designed pieces.


The muted tones of creams, greys and caramels lend a perfect serene calmness to the area and one tends to spend hours browsing through the unique wares. A monochromatic heaven! 

whitewashed drawer and linen

Alia tells us that her love for being surrounded by beautiful things, comes from her mother.  She regularly took Alia to antique markets and second hand stalls from a young age.  Even though she didn’t enjoy it at the time, she is now grateful developing such a keen eye during those annoying shopping expeditions!  (I think I’m going to make my kids grateful this weekend!)

book display

Duck egg basket

The highlight of Poets Ode is to experience all the different textures together. So well chosen, all with a neutral tone, create a shop filled with texture and makes you want to touch each and every item.

leather textures

Chunky knits and leather

church bench

Cup and saucer, rustic table

Part of the shop is a beautiful tea room where you can relax and daydream about all the lovely home ware you can’t resist buying.

row timber chairs

We just love the beautiful rustic timber chairs.  When asked about future plans for Poets Ode, we hear that live music, exhibitions, workshops and poetry (of course!) are on the cards soon.  Remember to visit their Facebook page or follow their Instagram feed to keep up to date with future events.

Poets ode shop counter

Thank you to Alia & Scott for inviting us into your monochromatic world of Poet’s Ode. Whenever you are in Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills, make sure to visit Poet’s Ode at 100 Main Street, Hahndorf.

*(All photos in this blog was taken by Vanilla Slate Designs)

Coffee at The Grounds in Alexandria

A “destination café” is a café that has coffee, food and atmosphere so wonderful, that you would be willing to travel great distances to experience its uniqueness.  Although we came across The Grounds per chance and without well thought out travel plans, we would certainly take this journey across town again, without a second thought.

Coffee at the Grounds

As we take a seat inside, mouths agape at the rustic chic décor and absorbing the cosy ambience created by soft lighting, we order a cappucino.  Lyndie decides that hers lack chocolate sprinkles and generously pours some over her coffee from the container on the table.  After a greedy gulp, she realizes that the newly acquired peppery taste, is not due to the ground organic coffee beans!  Luckily, the dumbfounded waiter replaces it with a smile, head shaking as if not believing in such stupidity!

Hanging plant and yellow tollix chairs

As described in our previous blog, The Grounds of Alexandria is situated among factory outlets and showrooms, so it was an unexpected delight coming across this oasis of kitchen gardens, chicken pen and a sprawl of casual seating.

Outdoor seating, industrial

The Grounds café, is a former warehouse and 1900s pie factory that was turned into a restaurant with artisan bakery and coffee roasting facility.  The renovated space opens onto an urban kitchen garden, with a fit-out that creates a rustic, inviting atmosphere with contemporary highlights.

black board and timber table2

The designer, Caroline Choker, embraced the former rustic, industrial interior and combined it with eye catching polished tiles in interesting patterns, steel frames and timber cabinetry to create this unique atmosphere. The starting point for their design concept was a seed to cup approach and it combines well with the holistic dining and coffee experience.

The Grounds interior shelving

The Grounds Coffee poster

The site also hosts a coffee research and testing facility.  The Grounds offers wholesome, rustic food where fresh herbs are picked from the garden every morning.  A full-time horticulturalist grows seasonal produce for the menu.

Fresh bread display

Caroline’s brother, Ramzey Choker, and his longstanding business partner, coffee roaster Jack Hanna, own the café.  Caroline also designs and manages bespoke events there.

Brick hallway with lighting

If you would like to have a unique outing, visit The Grounds at Building 7, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria.  Phone 02-96992225 to make a booking, especially for large groups or over the busy weekend period.


Cheerio ’til next time!


Lyndie and Eriana

Images found on petitepassport; nicoalaryjr on; and Pinterest by


A Country Escape to an African inspired home

On our mission to find our next photo shoot destination, we drive through little country towns and delight in the landscape flushed with sunshine.  Our mood is light and as we pass the next bend in the road, we see the exquisite house that awaits us.

This lovely home was built by ex-South Africans who had been living in Australia for the past 5 years.

The project to build this entertainer’s dream, took two years to complete, but was certainly worth the wait!


VSD:  What attracted you to this area of NSW?

We received work opportunities in the Central Coast and looked for a place where we could find peace and solace.  This is our dream home, overlooking a lake just meters from our house.  This is where we sit on the verandah, sip coffee and watch the cattle and horses graze in the valley.


VSD:  Where did the farm’s name “Braeside” come from?

Braeside means “on the side of a hill” in Scottish.  This house is built right on the side of a hill.

VSD:  How did you decide on the design style for the house?

We’ve taken all the items we’ve collected over the years and combined it in the design of the house.  We wanted it to not only work together to create a comfortable living space, but also fit our need for a farm/holiday/weekend home and blend harmoniously with the surrounding environment.


The custom made barn door entry and colourful water boots give the home a welcoming country feel fitting for the rural area.


VSD:  We see that you are an avid collector of antiques.  Do you have a favourite piece?

We’ve been collecting for many years, but some pieces have a special story attached to them. During the Boer War in South Africa, English troops invaded the Boer farms and burnt it to the ground.  My great great grandmother had holes dug into her back yard, covered her furniture in sisal and buried them to protect them from the English troops.   She left the furniture pieces buried in the ground for the entire Boer War in an attempt to save the pieces.  She was sent to a concentration camp and was released after the war.  She had the furniture restored on her farm “Oskraal” in the Free State, but died shortly after as the conditions in the concentration camp have taken a toll on her health.  We were fortunate to inherit these pieces that were passed down through five generations.


VSD:  We love the paint effect on the kitchen cupboards.  Who did this for you?

We met a local artisan, Deborah Buckley, in the village of Yarramalong.  She specializes in all kinds of paint effects and did a fantastic job.  She has a factory in Tuggerah, not too far from here.



The use of tractor seat chairs creates a more informal atmosphere around the formal marble kitchen counter top.


The elegant tap ware add to the French Country feel of the kitchen and bring an old world charm to the space.


VSD:  Your dining table is magnificent!  How did you come across it?

We needed a substantial table to not only integrate well with the timber beams and columns, but to easily fit a number of guests. We sourced the table from Burning Mountain Antiques just north of Scone in NSW.  It took twelve men to carry the table into the house.  It’s made of Siberian Cypress which was salvaged from a Russian Orthodox church that was burnt down.  The table was handmade by the owner of Burning Mountain Antiques and a poem is added to the under side of every table he makes.



The high ceilings are accentuated by an elevated dining area which overlooks the lounge area.  The ceiling beams were sourced from the Northern Territory and adds grandeur and substance to the space. Furnishings and accessories are kept to a minimum, but does not affect the homely, unpretentious feel of the interior.



The main part of this house consists of two wings with two bathrooms and bedrooms each. The main bedroom and bathroom in both wings are bathed in natural light and utilised to full advantage by adding cabinets full of character and accessories to match.



The second wing’s guest bed and bathroom portray a real French charm and are filled with antiques, among it a beautiful French armoire, sourced locally.



A delicate feel in the girls’ bedroom is created by adding a pale blue palette to the dominantly neutral colour scheme.  The birdcage lighting and subdued artworks add a feminine touch and soft furnishings and upholstered  headboards make the surrounds feel sheltered and cozy.


The verandah and living areas are reminiscent of “Out of Africa” and this is where the owners tend to spend most of their time.  This comes as no surprise, as a relaxed atmosphere is created by a sandstone fire place, comfortable furniture and animal hides.

VSD:  Where did the antelope horns come from?

The Gemsbuck was hunted in Namibia and the moose in Canada.  The deer head is from Scotland.



A daybed on the verandah and a few tucked away nooks with plush pillows invite you to be enveloped and rocked to sleep.  These hide aways make it very easy to get in a few winks before the party gets started.



VSD:  You have perfected the concept of the man cave and it seems like a great place to entertain.  Is this where you gather after a long day at the office?

We enjoy the man cave mostly on weekends and love to barbeque and watch rugby on the big screen while playing billiards, pool or snooker.  What makes it extra special, is that this area also adjoins the wine cellar, suffice to say, double trouble.



It is with a little bit of sadness that we leave this quiet slice of heaven behind, but we continue to reminisce over it in the weeks to come. We have another mission in mind… winning the Powerball!

Cheerio ’til next time


Lyndie & Eriana



RED: How to use the Colour of Passion and Energy in your Home

Representing passion, fertility, anger, blood and energy, no other colour evokes as many emotions as red.  Some people might be attracted to the energy of red, while others find red too alarming and intense.  The Chinese consider red the colour of happiness and good luck, while North Americans associate red more with danger and emergency.

If you are passionate about red, you might tend to overdo it in your home.  Red is such an energising colour, that the over use of it can easily become furious and intense.  The idea, when using red, is to entice, intrigue and invite, not to feel as if you’ve been clubbed over the head with it! There are many shades of red, from faded rose to deep burgundy.  With the right shade in the right place, red can be used almost anywhere.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of how red has been used in an appropriate way.

Image Source

The position of a colour in a space has to be carefully considered, as it has a significant impact on the psychological effect of the colour.  To give you an example, a burgundy rug on the floor will feel regal, solid and inviting, but the same colour on the ceiling, will look heavy, disturbing and intrusive.

Image Source

Adding an area rug like a kilim or Oriental carpet, is a great way to bring in colour, regardless of décor.  It lifts a monochromatic living space and picks up colour throughout with a few well placed accessories.

Adding a conversation starter, like a red sofa to your living room, might be the key to a companionable vibe when having a get together with friends. As it is also an excellent choice for hiding red wine stains, I can’t think of a better option for a living area.

Image Source

To inject a burst of colour into your dining room, cherry red chairs might be the way to go. It is also the colour that stimulates appetite and blood flow (no appetite enhancer in my house needed, thank you very much). Just make sure that you don’t overdo it with an overabundance of other red accessories.  Sometimes less is more…

To make a sitting area come alive, adding a deep crimson table or chair might be just the thing to finish it off.   

Image Source

Red has a fantastic way to neutralise cooler colours like greens and blues, lending a real sense of warmth to the room.  It’s a great way to add life and energy to a lifeless and uninviting space.  To introduce red into a room, do it by adding throw cushions, flowers and vases as accents.  Red is extremely eye catching, so it anchors the observer’s attention to an area of the room or highlights a more stunning part of the room.  It is believed that red backgrounds increase the attractiveness and desirability of someone standing in front of it.   My friends are all extremely attractive, so I’ve left my walls white! 

Image Source

Before you try to go too bold, make sure your space can handle it.  High ceilings, lots of natural light in combination with a few muted colours could help tone it down. 

Don’t forget to send in a photo of your bold and beautiful red decor!

Cheerio ’til next time!

Nataniel – An artist home without any colour?

Have you ever seen a home where everything is white? No, not mostly white, but everything white?

A few weeks ago I attended a show of one of my favourite artists & singers, Nataniel, a well-known entertainer from South Africa. He has an amazing voice, is a great storyteller and he has a sense of humour that makes you laugh uncontrollably. As my one friend said, “I am still laughing about the previous story, and then I already have to start laughing about the next one!”

His costumes change constantly and they are all so dramatic and colourful. However, when you view images of his house, you are surprised how such a fun, outspoken artist can live in a house with NO colour!… yes, you heard correctly, everything in his house is white! You will love today’s images of such an unusual home.

nataniel living area

Unusual and fabulous! An achromatic colour scheme, which means a “colour scheme without any colour.”

Never heard of it? Today you will see what this looks like! Let’s first introduce you to Nataniel, and how colourful his shows and clothes are:

Nataniel Main poster

Nataniel sees his home as a haven away from his colourful public life. His home is his blank canvas (vanilla slate!) where he can create & write his shows, stories & books. For someone with more than 10 godchildren it is amazing that you will find no clutter anywhere.

nataniel white cupboards

This does not mean he has no colour in his life. Hidden behind tall white cupboards are all his artwork, books and colourful ornaments. He uses them when guests visit, but they all get packed away afterwards!

nataniel artwork

The most colourful part of the house is where he displays some artwork of Catherina de Bliquy. Well, it is still in neutral colours, but looks colourful compared to the white interiors!

nataniel bedroom

The white bedroom with stunning cushions from Fornasetti.

nataniel fireplace

The textured fire place breaks the all white interior and gives it a more cozy atmosphere.

nataniel dining room

I love the dark timber ceiling beams and industrial pendant lighting. Interesting table decorations!

The big windows bring the lovely green garden inside, which gives the white finishes a softer look.

nataniel kitchen

The all white kitchen of a writer of many cook books! It almost has a Scandanavian look.

Not only is Nataniel a singer & entrepreneur, but has written many cook books too.

nataniel clothes

Having so many interesting costumes, it is wonderful to see that some of them are displayed in his home. No surprise it is a neutral one!

Nataniel bought this house in 2005. Yes, you either hate it or you love it!

He is a firm believer of living life in a way that makes you happy. This house makes him happy!

Even though it is unusual, I can understand if you have such a colourful life in the spotlight, that you would want to come home to a place where your senses can rest and recharge.

nataniel white ornaments

Nataniel’s “all white” ornaments.

nataniel kaalkop shop

Nataniel has a shop called “Kaalkop” in South Africa. (Translated as “bold headed”)

Not surprisingly, the shop is also all white!

nataniel me and him

* Eriana & Nataniel

Let us know what you think about his home!

Until next time,

Lyndie & Eriana

* As indicated, many of these images are from the apartmenttherapy website.

* Most of the other images are from Nataniel’s own website.

Coffee, food & music at The Grounds of Alexandria

<a href=””>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

We were just strolling down the street, minding our own business, on the busy streets of Alexandria in Sydney. Then we turned a corner, and unexpectedly faced a small piece of paradise with a strong smell of freshly brewed coffee.

alexandria the grounds

alexandria the grounds outdoor tables

This amazing cafe garden was built in 2012 into the remnants of an old heritage-listed warehouse. It is almost like a little town. There is a mixture of freshly brewed take-away coffee stands. The lovely Industrial style coffee shop, The Grounds, is the centre of attention for this cafe garden.  Walk around and explore and you will find more restaurants, deli’s, bakery’s and even activities for children.

rustic outdoor table

alexandria the grounds coffee shop

In the outside courtyard you will find either secret spots or huge sharing tables. Plans for a beer garden is well on it’s way! Order something, have a seat anywhere and just relax!

coffee shop wine barrel table

alexandria coffee shop take away

There are so much to explore, you will have to plan to stay a while.

alexandria children playground

alexandria petting zoo

There is even a play area for kids, and a petting zoo with a pig called Kevin Bacon.

alexandria the grounds markets

alexandria live bands

With regular market stalls and live bands on weekends, this cafe garden in Alexandria is the place to be on a lazy Saturday morning. Check out their facebook page for updated shows & markets.

dog parking

outdoor bathroom

Even dogs are welcome, with their own special “Dog Parking” for water. An outdoor bathroom with rustic features is available. Don’t worry, the toilets are inside!

So here is the address for your next visit to Alexandria:



Until next time,

Eriana & Lyndie