A night at Paramount House

“A new boutique hotel at the heart of Sydney’s most exciting inner-city neighbourhood has been named Australia’s Hotel of the Year in the fifth annual Gourmet Traveller Australian Hotel Guide Awards.”

Finally a night away (a minication) and our chosen destination is the Paramount House Hotel. The hotel occupies the upper floors of the former Paramount Pictures Studios and adjacent film-storage warehouse in Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills.

This hotel ticks all of the boxes for me and more. The heritage-listed building was restored over a four year period with the expansion of two extra levels and comprises two buildings connected behind the most magnificent copper clad facade. The original idea came from a talented collaboration of three friends and visionaries Ping Jin Ng, Mark Dundon and Russell Beard, and the build took place under the watchful eye and design of Melbourne firm ‘Breathe Architecture’.  It was bound to be impressive regardless of this being their first hotel project.

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Being newcomers to the hotel trade has bought with it fresh new approaches. From the moment you enter the building you know you’ve found yourself a special destination. The atrium styled lobby is situated towards the rear where two buildings collide, the brickwork is raw, and the pipework exposed. The space is lit with natural light streaming through the sky-high skylights, and then there is the most amazing deco inspired copper screens, referencing the buildings 1940’s heritage. You are greeted by friendly staff who are more than happy to help and offer a selection of cool drinks (Cider, natural wine or kombucha) in stemless glasses whilst you wait for them to organise your room key.

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The room we stayed in had the most amazing attention to detail, as I’m sure they all do. I was impressed to see a touch of Henry Wilson Design greeting me upon entering with the popular vide pouch (designed for your loose-pocket items… coins, keys, etc) sitting pretty on the entry bench. From opulent dark terrazzo bathrooms, brass taps, fittings and shower grates, stunning steel framed internal doors and windows with remote-controlled blockout blinds, and an enclosed private terrace with stunning lush indoor plants creating the perfect place of calm. Oiled herringbone warehouse ceilings, stripped timber sash windows that you can open for fresh air flow (a rarity in city hotels) and the most luxurious European flax linen bedding by Cultiver. Cultiver bedding is our absolute favourite and the entire range is available through Monsoon Living. Every interior detail has been very carefully considered and the colour palette is sublime.

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Henry Wilson Studio vide pouch in bronze, Photography by Tom Ross


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Dusk duvet with indigo stripe cushion covers, available through Monsoon Living


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Images courtesy of the Paramount House Hotel


The architecture is a true expression of everything that is old and raw about a warehouse whilst balanced with the juxtaposition of something soft and tactile such as lush grass green carpet, plush Loom Rugs, soft wallhangings and original artwork curated by local gallery China Heights and then there is that beautiful linen bedding (wink, wink).

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Indigo duvet and euro cushions with dusk, available through Monsoon Living


I loved our stay so much that we are already planning our next visit, but this time we may need to book one of the many rooms that feature a Japanese-style timber bath created by boutique carpenters Wood & Water.

Honestly I could go on and on about the impeccable detail and fantastic location. I should mention Longrain and Chin Chin are literally across the street plus the Paramount Coffee Project is located at the hotels entry and the Golden Age Cinema and Bar is on the lower ground floor. The rooftop Paramount Recreation Club sounds amazing but I simply ran out of time, so look forward to exploring more on our next visit. If that is not enough to temp there is a new restaurant on the cards called Poly by the successful team at Ester coming soon to the Paramount.

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One of the many private terraces, Photography by Tom Ross


If you do visit the Paramount House Hotel I hope you enjoy your stay as much as we did and if you think sleeping in those linen sheets is heaven, you know who to call.

The full range of Cultiver bed linen is available in store through Monsoon Living.

Maison Balzac

I first came across Maison Balzac and their stunning candles very early in the peace when shopping in one of my favourite antique stores in Balmain ‘Quintessential duckeggBLUE’. There was something romantic and nostalgic about the scent, not to mention the most elegant 1642 packaging. I adored the candle then and still do to this day. When deciding to open a little retail space again one of the first brands that I wanted to alight with was Maison Balzac. I reached out to Elise Pioch, the founder of Maison Balzac, who was happy to meet with me and discuss my plans. The day we met I had my then 3yr old son with me who had a ball running around her amazingly fragrant warehouse. As he played hide and seek behind huge boxes of stock Elise told me about her beautiful little girl Loulou who also happened to be 3 and we discussed the joys of juggling motherhood and business. She has since become one of my favourite people to do business with, she is incredibly generous and always gracious.

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Meet Elise and Pablo | Photography by Felix Forest


All of that aside the reason for this post was to share Elise and her husband Pablo’s charming 1880’s church on the Cola River with you. Growing up, my parents bought a cute little weatherboard church that they restored on McDonalds Road in Pokolbin (Hunter Valley Vineyards), that we lived in for a few years when I was around 10 or 11 years of age. It’s now the home of Usher Tinkler Wines and worth a visit if you happen to be heading to the Hunter Vineyards. As soon as I heard Elise also had a charming little church I wanted to know more and always had the intention of writing about it. I’ve finally had the chance to stay there and as you would expect it’s truly divine. Can I say that whilst referring to a church? Regardless, it’s understated elegance and country charm really struck a chord.

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I thought I would ask Elise a few questions.

How did you stumble across this beautiful property and what made you fall in love with it?

My husband, Pablo, always had a dream to own a property near the Hawkesbury River. He loves boating and water skiing, he also loves the wilderness of the bush that surrounds it. So one day he organised a grand tour by bike, from St Albans to Lower Portland, to visit a couple of properties for sale. The Church was the first one, as soon as we saw it, we knew it would be our home. There is a very old gordonia tree at the front of the house, and it was in full bloom, with bees buzzing around, drinking the nectar of every flower, it was magical. The bees made us buy it!

Did you renovate or just walk in and add your je ne sais quoi?

We renovated 100% of the house. We kept the bones and had to install a master bedroom, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room. We panelled all the walls, painted the entire house in a soft white grey that reminds us of the pale gum tree barks. We organised insulation, electricity, we built 2 sheds in the garden, we planted trees and installed water tanks. We fitted a new bell (the original one was stolen)… Then finally we decorated the house. It was the cherry on the cake! Little by little, we added personal objects, each with a specific story as to why they are here. It took 3 years to finish and now we wouldn’t change a thing.

After a recent move back to France, would you mind reminiscing about one of your fondest memories from your time at the church?

One of our fondest times was to get married in our own church, surrounded by 14 friends. It was the first time we rang the bell, which was a gift from Pablo’s mum (she passed away after the gift, so in a way her spirit and generosity was there with us on the day of the wedding).

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As Elise, Pablo and beautiful little Loulou have recently moved to the South of France the gorgeous little St John’s Anglican Church in Lower Portland on the Colo River has changed hands, it’s now owned by their friends, Tessa, Ryan, Loulou and Clifford. We have thoroughly enjoyed being their guests over the last three days and sadly as I write this it’s our last morning here. Available for rent through Airbnb, Tessa and her family are the perfect hosts and I highly recommend it for a peaceful and memorable get away.

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Thank you so much Elise for sharing your stories and memories, I love that the church bell was a gift from Pablo’s mother and it’s beautiful significance. The bees, the gordonia tree (blooming and buzzing just as you described it) and the fact that so much love has gone into making this little church so magical… it makes me want to come back again and again.

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Thank you also to the incredibly talented Felix Forest for sharing your images, they certainly capture this beautiful property’s true essence and have saved me the embarrassment of sharing my own holiday snaps.

Bisous x

Maison Balzac candles, accessories and homewares are available in-store and online through Monsoon Living.

An Evening with Megan Morton

Megan Morton… a name synonymous with style. So much has been said about this super stylish lady that I’m not quite sure where to begin. For those who love interiors, I’m sure you already know all about Megan. For those that do not, she is one of the country’s leading ladies in the world of interiors. A renowned interior stylist, Megan’s work graces the covers of huge publications such as Vanity Fair, Vogue Living, InStyle and Inside Out magazines’ to name just a few. She is also the founder of ‘The School’, located in the Sydney suburb of Rosebery, which offers amazing hands-on creative workshops, along with design and styling masterclasses. Then there is ‘The Studio’ and the sets and props business known as ‘The Propery’, and as if that is not enough this incredible woman also happens to be an author. Her range of interior books are available to purchase through The School website.

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Last but certainly not least, one of the most rewarding aspects of Megan’s diverse creative business would have to be ‘The Excursions’. Megan takes small intimate groups on life changing journeys, from exploring Rajasthani palaces laden with gemstones to making exquisite fragrances in Pushkar from the petals grown at the local rose farms. There’s also picnic lunches amongst the eclectic treasure trove that is Tombées du Camion with legendary dealer Charles Mas in Paris and entry into ‘Maison et Objet’, one of the worlds most coveted trade events. Or how does textile appreciation and colour exploration in Kenya sound?… Head spinning… yep, she is amazing and guess what? She is coming to Newcastle… THIS WEEK! Megan Morton is hosted by Newcastle’s very own Louise Hatcher of ‘Louise Hatcher Styling’ for one truly inspiring evening.

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If you love interiors, styling or simply want to meet Megan and connect with engaging and interesting people, you will love this event. The evening will be dedicated to the three key areas that Megan is most passionate about; Styling, Running a creative business (calling all solopreneurs!) and Inspiration Stations. It’s going to be a night to remember and seats are limited, so if you haven’t already secured your ticket ‘click here’ for ticketing.

Event: An Evening with Megan Morton

When: This Wednesday 20th September from 6pm

Where: The Lock-up90 Hunter Street, Newcastle

Tickets: $148 includes a light supper, wine and plenty of inspiring lines of enquiry!

Contact: Louise Hatcher Styling 0421 562 332

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The stunning interior shots are taken inside Megan’s beautiful home at Redleaf Beach in Sydney’s Double Bay. If you would like to see more of Megan’s home it is currently featured on Louise Hatcher’s ‘House Perv’.

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Let’s Talk House Perv

As you know I love all things interior so it’s no surprise that I also love to peek inside the homes of interesting people. For as long as I can remember I’ve collected endless interior magazines and am an avid watcher of renovation and design programs. For this reason I also like to get my regular dose of ‘House Perv’.

For those not already in the know ‘House Perv’ is a peek inside the homes of local people, not just designer homes but interesting, loved, nurtured and yes, sometimes designer, but mostly warm and inviting homes in and around our region. It’s a look into the lives and motivation of the people that make these homes special. House Perv is as much about the homeowner as the home itself and it’s that human connection that makes it so endearing.

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Louise Hatcher, property and interior stylist, officially launched House Perv in 2015 in web format on the hugely popular site www.hunterhunter.com.au, and over the years it has grown in popularity and showcased some incredible local homes. But this year House Perv has had a mini renovation and has moved into its own space. You can now catch House Perv every second Sunday evening on www.louisehatcher.com, and sign up to Louise’s newsletter to receive it direct to your inbox.

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I actually met Louise through House Perv in a roundabout type of way and our house was one of the very first to feature. In hindsight I’m a little embarrassed, we hadn’t actually finished renovating or done our landscaping, and I certainly didn’t style things for a photo shoot, but at the time I had no idea just how big and popular House Perv would be. We have since become good friends and I enjoy nothing more than catching up with her to discuss all things interior. With that said, I thought I would ask Louise about the exciting changes with House Perv and see if she might share some styling tips with us.

What are some of the changes in-store for your followers Louise?

The layout of House Perv is slightly different which means we can fit more images into the article, and I love that we now have Q&A. While Newcastle and the Hunter will remain our focus, House Perv has no boundaries. We will happily perv anywhere!

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Do you style the homes on House Perv?

Yes No. Unlike magazines who spend days prepping, sourcing extra items and then shooting, we spend about 2 hours in each home. So, what you are seeing is real, which is what I love most about HP. I think that is what makes House Perv unique and refreshing. The photographer and I spend time framing up the main shots, and then we arrange that particular shot with existing pieces. The photographer then whips around capturing details of the home and I do my best to be a journalist. It happens very often that I spend too much time gahhhhing over beautiful items in the house and leave with not enough content. Thankfully the people we perv on are awesome, and I jump on the phone or e-mail to get the details I missed!

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I have heard you mention rounds and squares together, to non-interior people what exactly does that mean?

In design world, rounds and squares are best friends. We all live on square blocks, in square houses, with square doors and square rooms. If you have a round house or room, oh please take me there! I bet it is heaven! But, most of us don’t, so adding a round is a complete space changer. By adding a round to your square, it will soften the space instantly and add more flow to your room. My favourite places to do this apart from everywhere is in the living room. In the living room there are already so many squares with televisions, consoles, lounges etc.… add a round rug or round occasional tables and watch the magic! The same goes for the super square bedroom. For the square kitchen, an easy way to do this is to display large round marble or timber chopping boards. Round dining tables are also a big favourite.

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Function or beauty, which is more important?

Defiantly function. I so often see the most beautiful furniture but the space just isn’t working. A big part of what makes something beautiful is its function and how a room or house flows.

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I know you have a huge soft spot for original art, is there a favourite piece in your styling inventory and can you tell us a little about it?

Art really does make the home. I have a few original pieces that I love, and I know I will love forever. My philosophy is, if I wouldn’t have it in my own home then I don’t buy it. One of my favourite pieces is by Louise Tuckwell, Birds of Paradise. It was the first piece I bought when sourcing my inventory and it really set the tone, it brings good memories. Unfortunately, the budget didn’t allow for the Jardan lounge sitting next to it!!!

Want to know more? Join Gen Collective this May for an evening of canapés and bubbles whilst Louise takes you on her design journey, from linguistics teacher to overseas influences and what drives and inspires her successful styling business today.

Event Details

Event: Louise Hatcher – turning a passion for design into a dream career

When: Wednesday 17th May at 5.30pm

Where: Longworth House, 129 Scott Street, Newcastle

Tickets: Non-members $47 + booking fee / Members $42 + booking fee

Ticket includes: A selection of substantial canapés and a complimentary glass bubbles on arrival. Additional drinks can be purchased at the bar throughout the evening.

Ticket sales close: Wednesday 10th May 2017

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Thanks for doing what you do so beautifully Louise and if you know anyone who has a house pervable home dob them in and contact Louise with some of the details.

House Perv every second Sunday evening www.louisehatcher.com.au

The Gather Collective

Newcastle is such an inspiring city to live in and the longer I’m here the more amazing people I’m coming into contact with. One of those amazing people is Melissa Webster from The Gather Collective. We first crossed paths in February 2015 through an event organised by ‘The Creative Women’s Circle’ where Mel was the guest speaker. She spoke about her business and family but the main thing that left a lasting impression on me was her amiable nature and pure passion. She seriously juggles more than most and although she wears many hats (not literally) everything comes together so beautifully.

To clarify she is the designer / director of ‘GatherKids’. GatherKids is a beautiful range of organic bed linen, knitted blankets, handmade feather headdress and bespoke furniture for children and parents alike. The GatherKids range is playful yet elegant and is available through her online store and selected retailers across the country.

gather-collective-bunk-bedsThen there is the ‘GatherStudio’ where the magic happens. The design studio is based in the beachside city of Newcastle and incorporates a full interior design service, styling, product design and lifestyle photography. It’s here that a lot of Mel’s ideas come to life.

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I best describe Mel’s style as serene. The spaces she creates are calm and welcoming and in tune with the Australian way of life. Although neutrals play a huge role, she adds warmth with raw materials, using tones and textures to give everything she touches a beautiful organic feel.

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One of the things I haven’t mentioned is that she also happens to be a super mum. With three gorgeous children she understands the importance of keeping things practical and therefore a lot of thought goes into creating not only stunning spaces but rooms that are a pleasure to live in. One of her tips is the importance of planning practical storage solutions; it gives you the ability to create a calming aesthetic.

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Images courtesy of The Gather Collective.


Mel’s work has featured in many national magazines as well as numerous articles on The Design Files (Australia’s leading design blog), not that she mentions such things! I didn’t realise quite how much press coverage she actually had until I started researching and writing this post. She is incredibly humble and hard-working and it’s no secret that I am in awe of her work and how much she achieves.

Keen to know more about the products and services The Gather Collective offer? Don’t hesitate to get in touch, I know Mel would love to hear from you!

Our Californian Bungalow

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It’s always been in the back of my mind to share some of the creative process of renovating our home with our readers… So here goes!

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Photography Lizzy Hodgins for House Perv


Renovating brings up so many emotions, good, bad, ugly and indifferent. Without being too long-winded I need to explain a little of my childhood and background. I grew up with avid renovators. My parents were renovating when I was born and still to this day spend hours discussing opportunities of bringing life back to run down old houses and heritage buildings. They renovated a terrace house in Kirribilli (Sydney) before a sea change to St Albans (Hawkesbury Region) where they worked on an extensive renovation of an old sandstone house that was later purchased by Maggie Tabberer (Australian’s original supermodel & fashion designer), followed by the historic Settlers Arms Inn that was built-in 1836, and all of this before I was of school age. Then a move to Wollombi in the Hunter Valley saw the renovation of an 1840’s slab cottage in the village followed by their first ‘build from scratch’… a beautiful sandstone house and a number of little cottages nestled into a gully not far from the Wollombi township. Then there’s the weatherboard church restoration and extension (now the home of Usher Tinkler Wines) along with nine spectacular sandstone buildings known collectively as ‘Peppers Creek’ in the Hunter vineyards and endless other city renovations and extensions on terrace houses. The list seems extensive and each and every one was a personal project, so we have literally lived in most of them.

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My husband (then boyfriend) and I had never really discussed renovating but when we found an old Californian bungalow in Newcastle we instantly fell in love. It was damp with plaster peeling off the walls and mouldy ceilings. We both tried to act complacent in front of the real-estate agent but the first moment we had alone we confirmed the feelings we were having were mutual and so the path was set. We did everything we could to secure the sale of the property as quickly as possible.

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We spent endless nights discussing our creative ideas. I rushed out and bought a big folder to file all of our sketches, quotes and plans and to this day I love to look back on it and see just how far we have come. Once we had nutted out our plans we ran them past my parents who made numerous suggestions one of which was to place a large warehouse post in the centre of our lounge room to create different zones and to create extra structural support for a second floor and another was to take out more of the existing rear wall to open and link the old house with the extension. Some of their suggestions literally saved us thousands not to mention the endless hours my father put in on the building site. All sounding pretty standard so far, one of the things we did a bit differently was to have my father draft our plans the old-fashioned way with protractors, pens and drafting paper. My mother (who is an artist) created the most beautiful watercolour painting to accompany our council application and along with the standard engineering reports, fees, etc our plans were finally approved. No CAD programs or computers insight!

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We more or less left the front of the house (containing the bedrooms) intact, but completely removed the rear to create an open plan living/kitchen/dining that opens onto the deck and garden. We decided to use the natural graduation of the block to step the extension down which allowed for a second floor in the gable. This also meant that we could match the roofline with the existing house so that from the street there is no evidence of a cumbersome extension. What was originally the homes kitchen was completely gutted to create room for a stairwell and library/study area. We put in an internal wall to expand the size of the bathroom and to create space for a laundry. We flattened a little rickety tin shed at the rear of the lot and replaced it with a detached double car garage reusing the bricks from the rear external wall of the old house. I love that we reused materials from the original house; it seems to keep things harmonious. We also removed an old triple pane window from the rear wall and relocated it into the stairwell.

reno fullThe building process was a huge learning curve for me not only trying to project manage our future home but learning about the tools, materials and techniques. I was quite proud of myself towards the end as I walked through Bunnings with my shiny trade card knowing what the tools and products on the shelves were for. I learnt to mix cement the old-fashioned way after the mixer broke, I know all about repairing damp walls, stripping skirting boards, wire brushing bricks, building budgets, bobcats and drill bits and was generally on hand at every stage to make the final decision. Some of the trades were amazing, some were not… there were a lot of ups and downs but at the end of the day it was worth it!

For all the work that we have done there are a million little jobs that we haven’t and now that our children are a little bit older and we’re a touch more rested, it’s time to embark on the finishes and finally select our toilet roll holders, towel rails, dressing room mirrors, laundry shelving and the restoration of our beautiful tessellated tiled verandah amongst other things… wish us luck and happy renovating!

reno lounge againreno kitchenPhotography Lizzy Hodgins for House Perv

Hunter Hunter

You had me at hello! From the minute I discovered the HUNTERhunter website I knew I was in good hands. As a mother of little ones, I don’t get out as much as I would like, but when the opportunity does present I want to make the most of it and www.hunterhunter.com.au is my go to guide for planning a great night out in Newcastle. It not only covers the city’s latest and greatest hot spots and events, but also entices me with its catchy design, incredible photography and inviting script.

Since starting my own blog just over a year ago and understanding the endless hours of work that goes into the research, writing and presentation of a website the size and scale of HUNTERhunter I was intrigued with who was behind the brand. Then one day I noticed an event being promoted and hosted by The Creative Woman’s Circle featuring the duo behind HUNTERhunter… Obviously I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a ticket!

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Meet Fiona and Alissa of HUNTERhunter


It was at this event that I first met Fiona and Alissa of HUNTERhunter. With a background in marketing and communications and a HUGE passion for Newcastle and the Hunter this creative duo were fed up of tirelessly searching for the regions hidden gems and decided it was time to do something about it. Their biggest concern was if this great city and its surrounds could continue to provide enough incredible content (they were sure they would have it covered within their first year), and it has not let them down. With an explosion of hot new bars, mind-blowing culinary events, bespoke workshops, wine dinners and exciting new shopping experiences, Newcastle and the Hunter continues to excite and HUNTERhunter has it covered.

Now entering its second year and averaging 2000 unique visits to the website each day and growing, the content base is enormous. HUNTERhunter’s huge popularity stems from Fiona and Alissa’s original vision of only covering projects and businesses that they believe to be truly unique and interesting.

Avid followers of HUNTERhunter already know the website well, but what you may not know is that they have some very exciting news…. HUNTERhunter has teamed up with talented Property Stylist Louise Hatcher to add one more element to their website, launching ‘House Perv’ this coming Sunday.

louise-hatcher-house-pervMeet Louise of Louise Hatcher Styling


Join the girls as they take you on tour through some amazing local homes, from country acreages, to inner city warehouse conversions, cute cottages and designer homes. Meet local people who are passionate about the way they live and learn about how they have designed, decorated (sometimes even built) and curated the spaces that they love to live in.

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hunter-house-perv-2Styling by Louise Hatcher & Photography by Lizzy Hodgins


With Louise’s experience in Interior Design and Property Styling and the incredible lifestyle platform of HUNTERhunter, I personally think it’s a winning combination and I’m so excited to see what’s in store. So this coming Sunday evening (18th October 2015) jump on over to the HUNTERhunter website for the much anticipated launch of House Perv, enjoy!

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Images courtesy of House Perv


Oh and did you know that you can sign up to their email newsletter and be the first to know what’s happening? Plus HUNTERhunter also have their very own app (link here to Download) and it’s geo-location specific, meaning you can pull out your phone or tablet, and with the power of GPS you can see what’s nearby. What better way to help locals and visitors get out-and-about in Newcastle and the Hunter and find something new?

hunter-house-perv-3Styling by Louise Hatcher & Photography by Lizzy Hodgins

The Villas of Byron

The sun is shining, the air is warmer and spring is just around the corner. I’m a summer girl at heart and it’s exciting knowing it’s finally on its way.

Like so many Australians we road trip north to Byron Bay for our annual summer holiday, so with Byron on my mind I’m happily immersing myself in an incredible property called The Villas of Byron.

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Think tropical luxury where every little detail in the styling and service has been thoughtfully planned and considered. From rainforest views, private heated pools, outdoor rain showers, a personal chef (optional) and complete privacy; you’re in for an incredible treat. There are packages catering for romance and seclusion to a fun and sophisticated girls getaway, or if pampering and relaxation are your solace, The Villas of Byron offer a personalised package for every occasion.

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There are so many reasons to fall in love with this property and what it has to offer, but for me it’s the decorating and styling that has me head over heels. Interior Stylist and owner Taliah Lowry has teamed up with Kate Sacks Design to create a sanctuary to indulge the senses. The softest of Bemboka blankets, bed linen and bathrobes, iconic Muumuu Design butterfly chairs, Armadillo & Co. fair trade signature rugs, MCM House linen sofas and stunning Lincoln Brooks designer furniture. Amazing Island Luxe feature pendants hang from the vaulted ceilings and fashion icon Spell & the Gypsy Collective summer kimonos are on hand for cruising around the villas private pool. As I said, Taliah and her team have thought of everything!

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To celebrate The Villas refurbishment they have an offer too good to refuse… if you’re quick there is a 20% off promotion on all stays up until 31st of August 2015 subject to availability. Jump on the link to The Villas of Byron if you are considering a Byron getaway or have any enquiries.

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So until our summer holiday finally rolls around I will enjoy the warmer weather and cocoon myself in beautiful thoughts of Byron.

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All images courtesy of Jessie & Jones Photography.

Tef Tef

This is a post I have been excited to write for some time as it allows me to reminisce on a very special time in my life. I was in my 20’s and ready for adventure so I moved from Australia to Hong Kong for a few years. It was exciting, rewarding and most definitely life changing. I could talk for hours about my love of Hong Kong but will try to stay on track as I introduce you to a talented woman that I met there and her beautiful brand.

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Photography by William Furniss for “THE PENINSULA” magazine.


I was invited to a handbag launch in a very cool little bar known as Petticoat Lane. Petticoat Lane was unique, mysterious and at the time one of the first bars in Central (Hong Kong) to move away from Lan Kwai Fong and into Soho, which is now teaming with bars and nightlife. Sandrine, a beautiful French friend of mine, had invited me to the launch and as we walked in I knew I was in for a real treat. The most exquisite bags were presented like precious jewels on viewing tables for a private showing in this amazing baroque decor bar. I was instantly captivated. The brand was Tef Tef and the artisan behind the brand happened to be a friend on Sandrine’s. Her name was Tomoko Okamura and although we didn’t realise it at the time, that introduction opened up a business relationship that would span for over a decade.

When the epiphany hit me to start my own business, Tef Tef was one of the first brands that I wanted to work with. Tomoko was still in the early stages of building Tef Tef and so we related instantly on so many levels. I returned to Australia and starting fitting out my showroom in the Hunter Valley Vineyards and soon after Monsoon Living opened its doors. Although Furniture and Homewares has always been our focus, a stunning range of Tef Tef bags and clutches have always been heavily featured. I love them as much today as I did all of those years ago in Petticoat Lane.

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Tomoko has had many successes with Tef Tef over the years. From major luxury retailer ‘On Pedder’ featuring the Tef Tef range of bags alongside the likes of leading designers Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs and Lambertson Truex on their department store shelves, to smaller retailers representing the brand in her native country of Japan.

The quality is sublime. The design and detail aspirational. A Tef Tef clutch is something special and in case you were wondering, Tef Tef is an old Japanese word meaning “butterfly”.

To view the range in more detail, please follow this link through to our shop.

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Product photography by Hannah Rose.

Styled Crush

It’s a rainy Saturday and that gives me the excuse I’m after to ignore all of the usual chores and indulge in some me time. The first thing I choose to do is head straight over to a blog called Styled Canvas and catch up on recent posts. Styled Canvas is such a beautiful blog and it always inspires me to focus on my own, so today I’m enjoying cocooning myself in a cosy blanket and settling into some writing.

Meet Mel, you may recognise her from a post I published about a year ago. She is a mother of three, an amazing cook, passionate about photography and interiors, a freelance writer and stylist with a regular column in New Zealand’s House & Garden Magazine as well as the author of Styled Canvas, aka my blog crush and my best friend.

Styled Canvas

Photographer Larnie Nicolson


When it was proposed to me by my web designer that I should start a blog to give my online business personality and to create a nice platform to be able to connect with people, I turned to Mel and asked for her advice on blogging. I have watched her blog grow over the years from a personal pursuit of finding a creative outlet to a sophisticated go-to lifestyle and interiors platform with a list of designer sponsors. Mel’s key to success is to focus on original and good quality content and this is something that she has delivered from day one. It’s a matter of maintaining authenticity and staying true to yourself. I’m amazed at how many blogs post such high volumes of material but for Mel it’s about having regular, interesting and original articles that her followers can really engage in.

Styled Canvas

Mel started blogging mid 2012 after moving from Australia to New Zealand with her French husband and then two little boys. A short time later a beautiful baby girl was born and Auckland was to be the family’s new home. At this point Mel realised she had a yearning to write and starting a blog seemed to be the perfect solution to satisfying that creative need whilst balancing a very busy family schedule. Mel enrolled in several online blogging courses and soon after Armoire, Pegs and Casserole (the blog) was launched with the help of a local bespoke web designer.

Styled Canvas

The Armoire, Pegs and Casserole blog steadily grew and opened many doors for Mel as a freelance writer, but she felt that the name was holding her back in terms of growing her now popular blog into a small business and potentially strong brand. So the exciting and arduous task of rebranding began, and with a lot of thought and research the wheels for change were in motion. A brave move considering she ran the risk of losing her already loyal following. Mel strategically decided to lead up to the launch over a four month period with regular mentions of the up and coming changes on social media and on the Armoire, Pegs and Casserole blog itself. Mel’s followers were not only supportive but also encouraging throughout the process, which gave her a pretty clear indication that they would stay with her.

Styled Canvas

The new name “Styled Canvas” was announced on social media a few days prior to the launch, which allowed for the change over across all of the social media platforms. Most importantly Mel made sure that all of the links from the old blog were automatically redirected to the new name and she couldn’t be happier with the results. Not only did her followers stay with her but readership is up and growing.

Styled Canvas

So if you are after a wonderful blog to fall in love with this winter (for us in the Southern Hemisphere) or are a blogger considering making changes to your site you really should pop over to Styled Canvas to hear more about the rebranding process, and for some inspiration.

If you need any more persuading, now is the time as today marks the beginning of a final run of amazing giveaways. The latest Styled Canvas giveaway STARTS TODAY and is called “The Styled Entertainer” in conjunction with NZ retailer Father Rabbit. The Pallarès Solsona Kitchen Knife, Robert Gordon Condiment Bowls and the Nkuku mango wood pizza board (pictured) could all take centre stage in your kitchen so good luck and you never know… Styled Canvas may just become your blog crush too!

Styled Canvas

 All images courtesy of Styled Canvas.