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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Deirdre Macken macken.deirdre@

We bought a new couch. It’s a con­crete colour but it’s not called that. It’s called Sum­mer Li­nen or Hamp­ton’s Life­style and it’s not as if we love the (non) colour, it’s just there didn’t seem to be any oth­ers avail­able.

Stone is the colour of the mo­ment, the lady in the decor shop said. And for that colour, she added, you’ll need this hemp rug, this nest of hon­ey­comb side ta­bles, demi­john lamps and, if you must add colour, there are blah blah vases that you can dis­trib­ute as ac­cents. And, the walls are painted Hog’s Bris­tle, aren’t they?

The walls soon will be painted Hog’s Bris­tle be­cause when you start on this path of re­plac­ing a couch that has seen too many bums, you don’t stop un­til the whole room and pos­si­bly the house looks like those places in real es­tate ads.

You don’t have to be sell­ing to end up with a house that looks as if it’s on the mar­ket. You just have to read sto­ries in real es­tate sec­tions, flip through the home mag­a­zines, watch the end­less ren­o­va­tion shows or pop into a fur­ni­ture shop and talk to a de­signer.

They all say the same thing and it all ends up with the same look. And this De­cem­ber that look is “or­ganic but lux­u­ri­ous”, fea­tur­ing a “lay­er­ing of whites with op­pos­ing rus­tic el­e­ments”, with “raw, soft with hard-edged and frag­ile tex­tures for con­trast like wood, con­crete, hemp and veg­etable-dyed linens”, to quote a re­cent ar­ti­cle.

Hav­ing been through the ex­er­cise re­cently, I have be­come yet an­other ex­pert on decor. So, let’s work out whether we can change your do­main into some­thing that would pass muster for Do­main/Do­mayne.

Over­head halo­gens are gone, gone, gone. You must have LED in the ceil­ing and moody lamps that flat­ter com­plex­ions even if they don’t il­lu­mi­nate any­thing. Out­side, it’s all up­light­ing, down­light­ing, spot­light­ing but, what­ever you do, don’t do it your­self. Call a light­ing land­scaper to mood-ify the out­side room. In short, light­ing is for cre­at­ing moods, not show­ing the way.

The kids — they’re not that cute to any­one ex­cept you. So, file the fam­ily pho­tos clut­ter­ing up the place and try to source a Map­plethorpe, Du­pain or a Bill Hen­son com­po­si­tion. Note: you may need a parental guidance rat­ing to en­ter the fam­ily room.

They’re not really de­signed to hold books any more. They are more sculp­tural tow­ers, de­signed to show­case art and blah blah vases. Or they may be empty and sug­ges­tive of what may come — a post­mod­ern book­case. In any case, store the books, give the knick-knacks to the Salvos and make a spe­cial view­ing area for the kids’ tro­phies at grandma’s house.

We didn’t say car­pet, did we? No, floors should be bare — bare wood, bare stone, bare con­crete or rammed earth with ag­gre­gate — so they can dis­play care­fully cho­sen rugs. Oriental rugs are still OK as long as they com­ple­ment Sum­mer Li­nen lounges, but most rugs are about tex­ture, com­po­si­tion, graph­ics and the sort of prove­nance that you can bore your guests about. Note: you’ll need an­other mort­gage for th­ese.

We’re think­ing luxe. Piles of cush­ions you have to throw on the floor ev­ery night. Piles of cov­er­lets you’ll have to throw on the floor on sum­mer nights. Light­ing that makes you look good and makes read­ing im­pos­si­ble. Re­mem­ber, the bed­room is where you spend a third of your life al­though, frankly, it looks a lot bet­ter if you don’t.

You can go crazy here: mo­saic tiles, en­gi­neered taps, horse-trough baths, rain show­ers. It may be in­side, out­side or half in and half out — but, re­mem­ber, is must be mono­chrome, prefer­ably white. Must you? Just start with an ex­pert, try to in­clude a but­ler’s pantry, see if the kitchen can ex­tend into the out­doors and make it look as if a Miche­lin chef does the cook­ing.

OK, we’re get­ting close. A few more blah blah vases and you’ll have the look. Then, when you walk around your Do­main/Do­mayne house, the only thing you’ll want to do is sell.

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