It’s the last Friday of the month, which means it’s time for our new-ish ‘Monthly Musing’ column! This guest column is loosely themed around our favourite topics – homes, interiors and design, and each month we invite a different writer / personality / awesomely entertaining person to share their anecdotal or autobiographical ‘musing’.
This month we’re thrilled to welcome best selling author, columnist and founder of Go-To Skincare, Zoe Foster Blake to the hallowed halls of TDF! Having lived in various apartments / homes across Sydney before settling down in Melbourne with her fella Hamish Blake around two years ago, Zoe knows a thing or two about setting up house. Today she shares with us a few valuable lessons learned about restraint and patience when it comes to home decoration. BEWARE the floor stock clearance section!
You should never judge a person by his or her couch.
Unless, of course, that couch looks like a horizontal Michelin man, and is made of red, shiny, tough leather, in which case you should judge them until you’re short of breath and damp with sweat.
I had such a couch. It was bought in haste, and surprisingly, sobriety. I had just moved into a glorious, art deco apartment in Potts Point, and crazed with excitement, I decided a trip to the Supacenta (it’s as fancy as the spelling suggests) was in order. I flirted briefly with the idea of ordering a King sofa, cos they’re well made and present useful storage opportunities, but when I found out it’d take 12 weeks, I balked. Twelve weeks? I want to entertain this weekend! I need something in there fast. I wanna start living already! Why are you trying to stop me from living, King Furniture?!
It was this precise juvenile impatience that sealed the aesthetic doom of that apartment. The bones were fantastic: dark wooden floorboards, ornate, high ceilings, cloudy grey and moody navy on the walls…it had been freshly renovated by people with taste; even the most simple furniture would work.
I chose to spend a whole month’s wage on a garish, bulbous red sofa instead, because it was floor stock, and they could deliver it on Monday, and I wanted ‘a stand out sofa’ which is code for :
‘I have noticed a brightly-coloured couch in Belle or on Tumblr and I will copy that look in a frightfully amateur fashion.’
There were other captives taken during my violent voyage of instant gratification: a dining table (a blocky monster with bench seats that were not only spectacularly uncomfortable but hardly actually fit in the allocated space, demanding Olympic gymnastic ability from all who dared to join me for dinner), a coffee table, rug, bedside tables, and the guest room sofa bed. Apparently I thought Neale, Shayna and Darren would be sweeping through later that afternoon.
I furnished the apartment with trinkets born of my love for the pioneering-lumberjack-hipster look popular at the time, and spent whole weekends trawling Vinnies and second hand furniture stores for whisky trolleys and kitsch vases and vintage dressers, which, coupled with my affection for loud prints and novelty art, made for a lively abode. Or as one guest said, ‘it’s a bit like being in a little museum,’ which luckily is only offensive if you’re deeply insecure like I am.
When I moved to Melbourne in 2013, following a year renovating our new home, we began with a clean slate, and a ‘Quality Only’ policy. The era of instant gratification was over! Rooms would remain bare until they weren’t! All my urgent fictional dinner parties could wait! Only the beautiful or the practical would enter. (And that’s just the visitors, boom-tish!) (Sorry.)
We wanted stuff we’d still love in 10 years time. Grown-up, married people stuff. Stuff that would look great whether in this house or a potential new house. Stuff that was designed beautifully, thoughtfully. We finally had the resources and patience to understand investing in quality! Except for the patience.
As anyone scarred by renovating knows, things take for god damn ever. This does not end once it’s time to furnish your shiny new digs. So, why not buy a beautiful Arflex lounge in baseball glove tan like you always wanted. Relaaax; it will only take 16 weeks. Order some chairs from Living Edge, but be sure to custom powdercoat each of them a different colour so you add a month to production. And don’t forget to order some Kartell armchairs from Space! (Or rather, do forget, for a couple of months), then find out they also take 16 weeks, or in non-showroom speak, ‘four f**king months.’
It has since occurred to me to order furniture while you’re still renovating, but, then again, I do like to see the lounge in place before I buy the rug, and the rug in place before I buy the cutlery, and so on.
The perfect outcome always takes time. No great project was ever created in haste. It takes time to find the right pieces, and even longer to be able to save for and acquire them. And as with anything you have to wait for, you appreciate them so much more.
Which is why I am selling my red sofa for $7000, and holding it in storage for four months after it’s been paid for. Email me if you’re interested.