gipps2IMG_0401gipps5 gipps3gipps6 gipps7 gipps8 gipps9 gipps10 gipps11 gipps12 gipps13 gipps14 gipps15 gipps16

In April 2013 I embarked on a two-and-a-half year journey of a lifetime as the host of ABC’s Restoration Australia (with new baby Silver in tow). This is my album of our incredible journey throughout regional Australia, the people we met, the places we stayed, the landscape, the historical houses and the adventures we had.

Tarraville is three-and-a-half hours into Gippsland from Melbourne on one of the loveliest scenic drives – I always looked forward to this travel although it was a long one from Sydney!

We would stay at the best B&B (a grouping of cabins, boat sheds & cottages just next door to the Marine Museum) called Rodondo, Port Albert. Run by the very clever Susan who is a collector of very specific sewing machines & the maker of the best breakfasts in the world!

Along the journey there was always time for a quick explore of this beautiful landscape. Look for the Heritage pear orchard signs in Toora where you can fill a brown paper bag for $8 of 60+ varieties and then head into town for the best Austrian strudel, located next door to the junk store, which kept my crew very, very happy

This week meet the fabulous & energetic Jo, Marcus, Byron & Emerald of Woodcot Park built in 1855.

Tune in to ABC on Tuesdays 8:30PM or ABC iView


The Stylist Alphabet: G is for…

G is for…

Gaming paraphernalia
Over the years, I have picked up random gaming pieces (not whole sets), which come in handy when styling: a bamboo & bone mahjong set with dovetails, French mother of pearl round chips, plastic 1950s chess pieces , etc. I like how they feel in my hand and the different materials they are made from. I like all the strategies and deep thought they may have engendered while being gently turned during a tense game.
There’s a very famous still-life by Irving Penn called After Dinner Games that may have sparked my desire to have gaming pieces, or perhaps it is the gambling vein that runs through the family (I am referring to an old-fashioned, slightly romantic version, not that very sad & sorry variety). Up on one of my top shelves is my great-grandmother’s gambling box made of walnut. Inside is a treasure trove of cards, matchsticks (the ultimate betting device), counters and cigarette holders. A portrait in a box.

What’s not to love about glamorous camping? Most definitely involves staff, G&Ts at 5 o’clock  sharp, mosquito-netted camp beds, riding jodphurs, folding writing tables & a safari hat; sits somewhere between safari style and English Raj campaign furniture. Bring out some folding chairs, a metal table and leather backgammon set. Note to self: this can be done at home, you don’t have to be out in the elements.  


Glass vessels
There are so many reasons to amass glass vessels (two of them being the ease and affordability of acquisition), but it’s the multitude of shapes that really makes them worth collecting. Look for beakers, bottles, jars, test tubes, jars, goblets, vases, domes, and bowls. Fill and layer them on shelves so everyone can see your collections. The refracting light is a glorious bonus.


A prop to transform one’s appearance & to be unrecognisable; to go incognito; mask, cape, moustache, silver-streak hair & the like.


Gypset style
A hybrid of jetsetting (although I prefer globetrotting) & gypsy. I love this look and embrace it regularly. It is forgiving, loose casual. It’s about collecting fabrics & remnants, carpets & scarves & draping them on your walls, lamps, beds, floor & yourself. It’s reflection of a life well travelled & much enjoyed.

The Stylist Alphabet:
A is for…      B is for…
C is for…      D is for…
E is for…      F is for…


Tips For Making A Rental Feel Like Home

If you are not yet in your forever home, and are renting, there are ways of creating a layered look without leaving a mark on the walls.

Styling- Sibella Court Photography- Chris CourtEtcetera0033

Get the hang
Consider interesting objects to suspend from ceilings or anchor to floors and encourage your guests to look here, there and everywhere. Here, a kite in the shape of a pirate ship becomes a mobile held up and roped down with a green silk cord.



Colour code
Objects stored on open shelving and flung-open cupboard doors take on new appeal when blessed with a uniformity of colour, because what’s the point of possessing beautiful and meaningful things if you can’t show them off for the world to see?



Captain hook
Affix light objects to the wall using removable adhesive hooks, and change the vignette when the mood takes you. This old lampshade has been customised with a bedtime phrase, but you could pen a nursery rhyme, poem or a favourite saying.



Stick ’em up
I always have a stash of Blu-Tack (or other brand of adhesive putty) on styling jobs or when I’m doing some redecorating as it allows me to quickly stick things up – postcards, old theatre tickets, anything on paper – and remove them without a trace when the mood takes me.


Full house
If you’re not ready to wallpaper or paint a wall – or can’t – try another tactic. Giant playing cards, available from party suppliers and stuck up with tape, act as both art and wallpaper; mix with patterns, such as caning or palm fronds.


Page turner
Books are the ultimate styling tool. They make a space feel like home and are a direct reference to your interests & fantasies, and a reflection of whose space it is. They can create a beautiful backdrop (as mine do) or simply add height, colour & a point of view on tables, shelves and mantels. Bright idea: Have a sense of humour and use recycled bricks with favourite book titles painted on for display and bookends.



Meet the Maker | Felix Allen

IMG_0673 IMG_0676

Felix Allen is the calm & curious mind behind collection of bespoke creations, Somewhere South. A young whittler & craftsman, he makes strong and honest pieces with inventors, adventurers & wanderers in mind. Felix has been a good friend to The Society Inc. for many years and we love having his fishing hooks, tiny timber Turkish eyes & enormous sheds inspired by the net-drying sheds of Hastings all sitting (or standing) proudly in our shop.

Can you describe your workspace and location in detail?

My workshop is in an old industrial area 5 minutes from home, halfway between the Tasman Sea and a Mountainside covered in gumtrees and rainforest. The workshop has had a million different lives, from brewing beer to building tractors. It’s beneath these giant metal silos, which tower over my little wooden shed like skyscrapers. I built my shed under the branches of a huge tree. It has a wood fire inside and is jam packed with materials, tools, experiments and paintings of sailing ships.

Which part of the creative process excites you the most? 

I am constantly sketching little ideas in my notebook and recording all my thoughts on paper but nothing beats just going out and physically making prototypes, experiments and collecting all the great raw materials I use to make things. There are always new materials, techniques and processes to discover and learn.

What are your favourite materials to work with? Where do you source them?

My favourite material at the moment (this usually changes every couple of days) is coal, I find it on my adventures to the mountainside near my house, littered on the forest floor, hidden in old mine shafts, and lately washed up on the beach in perfect round pebbles. Coal is ancient forests buried under pressure over millions of years and has played a big role in the history of my town, so it means more to me than just a material. I try to find this personal connection and story in all the materials I use. Old bricks, weathered copper and lead are my other current obsessions.

What keeps you inspired?

I love local history and the local environment, there is always a new place to discover whether its digging for buried treasure on the beach, exploring abandoned buildings or climbing ancient fig trees in the rainforest. I get a lot of inspiration from both nature and man-made items. I love trees (I still can’t believe how awesome it is that we can make so many things from them) and I love broken things like broken glass and how they were made, used, broken and discarded.

What do you do in your spare time?

When I’m not at work I like adventuring, surfing, bushwalking, painting, sitting by the fire, gardening, collecting things like bottles, feathers and rusty things and going to markets and garage sales. I’m also halfway through restoring an old wooden boat that I bought from an amazing old couple down the coast for only $50! One of my best ever finds.

Who would you love to chat with over a drink?

I wouldn’t mind having a dinner party with a bunch of inventors and explorers from history such as Nikola Tesla, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham-Bell, Jacques Cousteau and Leonardo Da Vinci. There would be some wild ideas and arguments going on around that table! Maybe I would bring Margaret Olley along too, I think she would keep them all in line.


Bringing Scottish Style Home

After getting my bearings in the lush Highlands of Scotland & refining my Scottish colour palette, it was easy to draw inspiration from the style I encountered as I drew it back to my interiors.


Because of wet weather & strong winds, we were deterred from visiting Iona, the island on the tip of the Isle of Mull in Scotland, and made a dash instead for the Drovers Inn at Inverarnan, which meant a ferry trip back to the mainland and about a one-hour drive from Oban towards Loch Lomond. What a treat we were in for. Built in 1705, one of the oldest pubs in Scotland, and in the middle of a national park, you travel down a picturesque road (perfectly timed for us at dusk) and see this beacon of warm light in the distance, making you think of comfort, soup and red wine. I’m sure that’s what comes to mind for most visitors, hikers exploring the surrounding mountains and lochs.


Inside there are boxes upon boxes upon boxes of taxidermy and mounted specimens are coming from the wall and ceiling and every which way. Many small rooms branch off the reception area – my favourite has a fox knocker on the door and opens to the bar which is dark and moody and candlelit with everyone chatty and talking about the day’s hike, where they’ve been to and where they are going next. I liked it so much I could have lived there. For this reason, I have harnessed those feelings in this setting (above), a not modern at all version of a studio apartment with everything you might need.


The small wooden discs above the fireplace are like books, an ever-useful tool for a mantel still-life. Use them to create different heights. I bought a scout leader’s hat in its holder when I was sourcing for a commercial space and loving all things campland. I saw Duart Castle from afar and navigated my way to its doors. I was not disappointed with its tartan-clad flooring nor to discover that its original owner was chief scout of the WORLD! We got a good dose of his achievements and past after climbing a stone spiral staircase with rope banisters.

I am not Scottish, but I love tartan and the history that it represents – its colour and pattern defining the clan you are from. I had two bespoke tartans made for me in my own colour palette from 21st Century Kilts.


I love that there are honesty systems that still happen, from bars in New York to country roadside stalls! Here is my very own. This is inspired by my non-visit to Tobermory whisky distillery. We had chosen this one out of hundreds of distilleries in Scotland, and on the day I went to explore it, it was all booked out. It will make me travel all the way back to the Isle of Mull just to see inside. For now, this is a homage to Tobermory.


This has elements from one of my favourite childhood books, The Magic Faraway Tree – in fact, it is what I picture it to look like at the very top! I went for a walk with my dad and we discovered wooden steps that climbed all the way up the highest pine I had ever seen. Up & up until they disappeared from view. If I had ascended, I know I would have found Dame Washalot and Moonface and everyone else.


Even if the vegetation of where you live isn’t like Scotland, you can re-create the overwhelming feeling of green and lushness by creating your own magical forest. If you don’t have access to these string balls, just cut foliage and put it in vases at all different heights. This achieves a feeling of being surrounded, and mimics mountains and lakes which are never at an even keel.


My homage to the night I spent with my dad at Bramble Bield.


Manners were very important in our household when I was growing up and I think there’s a lot to be said for table etiquette. You can take the formality, and then loosen it up. I took a very formal table setting and relaxed it by adding a leather machinery belt and strewn flowers.


The Gulf Stream is a powerful, warm and swift ocean current that starts at the tip of Florida and makes its way across the Atlantic Ocean to northern Scotland. It creates an unexpectedly warm climate in what is otherwise known for wet, rug-up kind of weather. The Highlands are typically mossy, scrubby and lush but at Inverewe Garden you discover plants that normally sit on a tropical island or in the desert! It was all so unexpected – to invoke this, make a decorative arrangement out of  something unusual like prickly pear.


I have always been attracted to humble materials. Those that have a utilitarian purpose, such as a flour sack, are now used as upholstery on a sofa and as a window treatment. A defunct fireplace can add an extra layer onto a wall; stack it tightly with birch rounds or wood from other trees you love. Flat things are good souvenirs – I often buy paintings that can slip between my clothes in my suitcase for a safe return. This oil painting is from Unicorn Antiques in Edinburgh.

Tune in next week as I wrap-up my tour of Scotland, including final interior inspiration gleaned from my journey as well as my guide to fantastic spots to check out when you head out on your own Scottish jaunt.



wang1 wang2 wang3 wang4 wang5 wang6 wang7 wang8 wang9 wang10

In April 2013 I embarked on a two-and-a-half year journey of a lifetime as the host of ABC’s Restoration Australia (with new baby Silver in tow). This is my album of our incredible journey throughout regional Australia, the people we met, the places we stayed, the landscape, the historical houses and the adventures we had.

Whilst shooting Keith Hall I had the chance to drive between locations, from Daylesford to Beechworth on many occasions. I would travel with my new daughter, Silver, my partner Ben Harper or my father in tow and make pit stops & breaks along the way.

This part of the world is incredibly beautiful and the towns of Newstead, Castlemaine & Beechworth have a contagious vibrance, full of life & activity.

Keith Hall is a fair drive from Beechworth town, tucked away at the end of a dirt road, surrounded by paddocks & cattle with views of the most spectacular sunsets.

It was built in 1885 by Scottish master stonemason, John Morrison after his success in the gold fields. When owners Clay & Narelle fell in love with Keith Hall it was not much more than a few walls & a big pile of stones!

The story of this crumbling structure became the story of its owners, one of discovery, renewal & restoration.

Tune in to ABC on Tuesdays 8:30PM or ABC iView