Style Update | Interior Designer: Melissa Penfold

by Polly Rowan March 17, 2015

Style Update | Interior Designer: Melissa Penfold

Style Doyenne. Shopping Guru. Tastemaker. 
Melissa Penfold is a walking style bible. She elevated The Sydney Morning Herald's design column to cult status over a 16-year stint and penned Australian Style and Melissa Penfold's Little Black Book: Sydney's Shopping Secrets.Today, her interior savvy is found in Australian House & Garden magazine and chic-seekers have flocked to her just-launched Style For You And Your Home website. Here she shares her enviable style…


Colour of the moment?
Pale (dusty) pink is popping up in the best interiors from Copenhagen to New York. The new approach to pink is not about nostalgia or romanticism, it’s about freshness and keeping it modern. It’s great for everything: walls, sofas, bedding, glassware.


What's in your Vase?
I usually grab a few leaves from the garden: laurel, camellia, ivy. Foliage is the cheapest and chicest decorating accessory. The vase is vital. The best ones have a wide opening: if leaves or flowers are too bunched up, their form is lost. And I always make sure the water is really clean (I change it every two days) and don’t fill it to the brim, it often looks more elegant half or quarter full.


Which Scent are you Burning?
Jo Malone anything. Cire Trudon anything. Manuel Canovas anything. A good brand gets me everytime. And the scents are more subtle. I find the cheaper the brand, the stronger the scent (and the more it resembles hairspray). My favourite local brand is Lumira which is perfect to give your friends as a hostess gift.


Most Thumbed Style Book?
I adore books on interiors, but am just as likely to be thumbing a hot-off-the-press lifestyle magazine. My current obsession is UK Elle Decoration Country – it doesn’t get much better than its laid-back luxe vibe, which feels totally right for now.


Your Current Style Icon?
Home is where the heart is and my current style icon includes anyone who is truly interested in their surroundings and great ways to revamp it!


What Are You Coveting?
I can’t get enough of the super-chic mix and match bed linen that’s everywhere. Because it reminds you on a daily basis about the simple pleasures in life. And it only get better with time. But my antennae is always out for easy updates (dinnerware, vases, art, lights, mirrors, etc,). I never shop with an agenda – I usually find the best things when I’m not looking. And if I see something I love, and know in my bones that it’s right, I grab it, because I know it won’t be there tomorrow.


Key to a Dreamy Bedroom?
A beautiful bedroom doesn’t need much – just a comfortable bed with a proper bedhead, beside tables, lamps and enough storage. When it comes to the bed get the height right. Beds that are less than 60cm off the ground make a room look like student digs. Move up in the world – up to 76 centimetres off the ground and you’ll elevate the entire room. Plus beautiful bedding with pure cotton or linen sheets, that can be changed with the season (or your mood), that always makes you feel great, (and ensures a great night’s sleep).


Top Tips to Personalise an Interior?
Accessories are the little touches that make any space your home, and they signal attitude and glamour. Cushions, throw rugs and table lamps are central to an interior. They are the ultimate finishing touches – I use them like works of art. Baskets are also a quick, easy way to introduce style into your home. And candles are the ultimate room (and mood) booster.


Essential for the tabletop?
* Placemats, preferably rattan or wicker, for easy entertaining and relaxed glamour.
* Decent napkins: you'll be amazed at how something as simple as fresh, crisp household linen can improve your spirits. Beautiful textiles and materials boost our happiness and confidence.
* A set of quality dinnerware with looks that will last.
* Good glasses, neither too thick, nor too thin.
* Cutlery that is a pleasure to hold.


Key to a Chic Living Room?
Suitability is everything. Every living room, no matter grand or modest, can look equally fabulous, as long as you use pieces that suit it. Go for harmony: the same colours, tones and textures will instantly make the space look pulled together. And if you think your living room is looking a little flat and you want some high-impact updates you can make in less than an hour, here are my two fave quick fixes. Add a fabulous plant: a tall or potted plant will instantly inject new life into a living room with its fresh, pop of green plus soften the area, and create a focal point. Move your lamps around – reposition a floor lamp from one side of the room to another to see your space in a whole new light (literally).


Favourite Interior Style?
To be beautiful an interior doesn’t need to be full of expensive furniture and art – quite the opposite. The first trick is not to try too hard. Have the confidence to be comfortable. Remember if something works for you, it works. You don’t need jaw-dropping architecture to make a space feel better. The most successful interiors are those curated slowly: a glorious mix of cherished family pieces, saved-for designer kit, and great high-street buys. All you have to do is follow one golden rule: choose only what you truly love.


Key to a Soulful Home?
Of course you want your home to look good, but the way it makes you feel is just as important. It needs to speak to and of you. So only have things you love!

Melissa-Penfold2





FOLLOW Melissa on instagram @melissa_penfold or sign up for her weekly newsletters at melissapenfold.com

Polly Rowan
Polly Rowan


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