Photography by Jacqui Turk
If there’s one thing Melissa Penfold knows, it’s how to create a classy, expensive look without spending a small fortune; something we can’t get enough of at Interiors Addict. We couldn’t wait to see what’s on Melissa’s coffee table and how she styles her living room space.
“Some sneer at coffee tables, but for me they’re an indispensable accessory,” Melissa Penfold says. “You want to be able to put a glass, teacup or book down without thinking, but you don’t want coffee tables to block important traffic routes through a room or involve you in awkward manoeuvres when you reach for your evening aperitif. Stability and positioning are vital. My favourite options are Chinese black lacquer stools, glass or timber tables with metal frames or ottomans with a hard top. A pair of cross-based stools can also look terrifically chic.”
There are just a few books on her coffee table!”I always choose ones with lovely pictures covering subjects such as houses, gardens, food, flowers, travel and art. I pile up glossy hard-covered books to the edges of my coffee table. Four to six deep piles. Not only do I think books finish a room but they also reflect your personal style. For me, books are central to an interior, the ultimate finishing touch. I use them like works of art.They are decorative, interesting and a statement that you are interested in the world.”
Melissa also stacks her coffee table with beautiful things that inspire her, from coral to bowls, boxes, baskets and flowers. “It’s a passing parade of covetables. That’s the magic of decorating. You can can change one group of accessories for a new lot and instantly update a space. I find my books and bits at shops everywhere: high-end, bargain, online, offline. I never shop with an agenda, I find the best things when I’m not looking.”
Browse the Covet My Coffee Table section
She bought the Chinese stool many years ago at Oriental Arts (now closed). “Try Orient House for similar pieces. It’s a brilliant source of tables of every kind, old and new in lacquer, timber, bamboo, the lot. A-list designers swear by the place.”
Melissa recently launched a website covering the latest in interiors, design and shopping. “I am also offering a fab new e-decor service which is a quick hit of professional design advice for a single room or your whole house. It’s about engaging with design-savvy folk who are looking for a quicker, more affordable way of decorating their rooms, for less than a traditional decorator. It’s a flat-fee design service with a transparent pricing system, that’s about sourcing the right door knob, table lamps, fabric, furniture, blinds or paint colour for you and your interior. If it becomes a bigger project, and you want a hand in actually executing what we have suggested, we hand you over to one of our preferred decorators who we think is perfect for your job.”
She describes her own home as about 70 percent classic, and 30 percent trends. “I think that’s the best ratio for ensuring that your interior is both timeless and up-to-the-minute. My own style is a mix of things from all times and places. Interestingly, our new country pad has a laid-back, contemporary, casual look with aged timber floors, bagged ecru walls, white woodwork, raw stone fireplaces, and lots of easy pieces that can be mixed and matched. I’ve filled it with old and new sofas and armchairs slip-covered in tactile natural stone and white linens, timber tables and weathered cabinets painted in muted hues. It’s a relaxed way to live.”
Melissa is a former columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald on all things style and currently writes for House & Garden. She wrote Melissa Penfold’s Little Black Book and co-authored Australian Style.
Come back tomorrow for Melissa’s top tips for interior style on a budget.
Lucy Chen says
I can so imagine having my big coffee table like this, with my favorite art books stacked on top… But with two toddlers, I have to be content with their play table occupying the space for the time being. Your post just stirred up my longing for a more “me” living room… But wait, I just realized that maybe I can get that in my studio?