The Townmouse attic studio in our new house

Now that we are a few weeks into the school year I am finding the occasional hour to potter in my attic studio and I am loving it.

Come on in, I'll give you a tour.

To create the attic studio we sacrificed a small room on the first floor (or second floor for American readers) and used that space to install a staircase.  During the renovation the roof came off, the attic was built and the old tiles were put back on the new roof. This is what you see at the top of the stairs:

Studio landing

I love my glass lamp base filled with vintage thread bobbins. The bobbins I sourced on ebay.

Studio entry lamp base

Through the glass doors is my little haven in the treetops.

Studio door

The room is a great size (about 4 metres wide) and this is the view from the doors:

Studio view from the door

This is how the space looked on the day we moved in:

Studio moving in 1

Studio moving in 2

I loved unpacking all my boxes and seeing all my much loved crafty items again.  It was better than Christmas.

Studio Basil the cat

I now have lovely bookshelves to store my quilting and Japanese and French craft books.


Some favourite storage units and pieces of furniture are doing their thing.

Studio fabric stash

Studio threads

This little storage unit was once in my grandmother's garage storing jars of nuts and bolts.  Then it came to us and stored our CD collection (remember those?).  Now it's keeping my stationery items in one place.

Studio stationery storage

My quilt tops hang on this airing rack.  The hope is I will be inspired to finish them if they are sitting out on display rather than forgotten in drawers.  This tactic hasn't worked so far.

Studio quilt storage

I have my own little nook.  When Will pops up to the attic in the evening he sits on the sofa on the right and I sit in my nook in the window and we chat.

Studio my nook

I've made a couple of trips to Ikea in recent weeks.  I now have my overlocker and old domestic machine on this table.  The four machines I use are in a "U" shape which I can access easily from my swivel chair.  The ironing board makes up the fourth side of the area.

Studio view from my sewing machine

I also bought a second fabulous trestle table so that when I roll out wide rolls of fabric they don't spill over the edge of my single table.

All in all I'm as happy as a lark in my new studio.


Beautiful storage jars

Don't you love beautiful storage options?


These jars seem wonderfully old fashioned to me.  My mother has a whole set of jars very similar to this that came from her mother's pantry.  Original and stunning jars with bakelite lids from decades past.  I think these jars are in homage to those.


I was very excited to find these online a while back.  I ordered lots of them and they sit two deep in my pantry.  We don't have a large pantry in our current kitchen - just a cupboard.

I dream of having something like this in our next house:

Perfect pantry storage

So I'll be at the ready with my set of lovely jars in our next house (I have a few more jars in storage in the garage waiting for a bigger kitchen - call me crazy).  On top of my wish list for our next house is a blow your mind pantry and laundry.

But for now, opening my little pantry at home and seeing these jars makes me happy.

(Above photo from my Kitchen Pinterest board - image source located there.)

Grosgrain lanyards

One of the lovely things about taking the family skiing is that the children have a lot of freedom at Mt Buller.  It's a safe place for them to get around without us having to escort them. The boys will walk to a friends lodge, ski in groups with their buddies after their lessons, and come and go on their own.


They each take a key to the apartment when they head out for the day.

Whenever Will comes home from a conference or event with one of those lanyards I keep the clip and throw away the cheap ribbon.

I've just rifled through my box of ribbons and made these up for the weekend.  The pink one is for me.  I figured there will always be a key for me if it's on a pink ribbon - the boys aren't going to wear that around their neck.

Old fashioned and good

There is a shop in Melbourne called "Step Back In Time".  It sells relics from former decades in the way of furniture and simple household implements.  Everything from watering cans to beautiful old jars for the pantry can be found there, with lots of interesting ephemera in between.

I dropped in there on Saturday, on the hunt for something else, and came away with this simple wooden clothes airer.

Airing rack

This is so much nicer than those awful plastic coated metal ones of today.

There was also a rather large set of wooden pigeon holes there.  It would be perfect for storing and displaying a considerable fabric stash.  This is the shop where I bought my smallish set of pigeon holes a few years ago.

When you're there, say hello to Archie the corgi who spends his days in the shop.  65 Burwood Road Hawthorn.

Fabric, I missed you

Don't you love looking at photos of other people's fabric stashes?  Ooh I do.

I missed my studio while I was away for the whole of summer.  I missed being around my fabrics and crafty bits.

Crochet 4 ply

I had a selection of crochet yarn to keep me company, but I still missed my fabric.

Fabric stash

To kick off what I hope will be a creative year, I decided to sort my fabric stash.  This old wooden set of filing shelves was previously storing Townmouse t-shirts and bodysuits.  That's not nearly as inspiring to look at as sorted and neatly folded fabric.

Fabric - rockpool quilt

There's an eclectic mix of fabric here.  This stash goes back to the '80s and '90s.  As in all things, taste in fabrics has changed somewhat, as has my liking for certain things. 

Fabric - mixed

I've even retrieved the bits of my stash that had been relegated to shoe boxes in the garage.


The gathering of fabric from all corners of the house also unearthed other things, like half finished quilt tops that had been long abandoned.

Quilt top WIP

And you know what conclusion I reached after all this ironing and folding and sorting?  My fabric stash is not that excessive for someone who has been collecting for 3 decades.  Either that or these shelves hold a lot of stuff.  What do you think?

Odd? I suspect so

At 1am, this is what I'm doing.

For the freezer

While cooking up a large batch of bolognese I've been thoroughly entertained watching taped copies of the Graham Norton show.  Hilarious.  Many laugh out loud moments.


The freezer is now stocked and I'm off to bed.

PS: I have a secret ingredient in my bolognese.  It's a can of Heinz Big Red Tomato Soup.  Cheating I know - my Italian forebears are turning in the graves in Ticino - but it tastes good. 

To do lists

I'm a bit of a list maker.  Just making a To Do list makes me feel more organised, even if I don't get around to ticking off many items on the list.


There is a lovely Australian stationery shop called Kikki K.  I was in there the other day and picked up these cute charcoal grey notebooks.  The A4 size is perfect for my To Do list.  The A5 size is ideal for carrying in my handbag.


I screen printed a little gocco butterfly onto the front of each one.  The larger one fits into my laptop case.

Better get onto that list now.

A brief affair

It was love at first sight.  For both of us.  We weren't looking for it.


At the first open for inspection both Will and I were mad for this house.  Four children's bedrooms, a study for Will, a studio opening to the garden for me, a pool out the back.  We wanted it badly.

Moorakyne interior

It set in train a flurry of activity at our house.  Painters, handymen, landscapers, real estate agents came calling.  Everyone was hard at work.

Moorakyne back

There was much ruminating in the middle of the night.  Thoughts were shared: "I'm worried we may not love that house as much as we love our current house"; "There's no wall for the piano"; "Not all our furniture fits."

Moorakyne kitchen

We were torn.  We were in, we were out.  By the time the auction came around we were out.  The house sold for an absolute steal today.  One fifth less than we thought it was worth.  (Since when does that happen?)

But we're OK with it.  All those pesky odd jobs we needed to do around our house have now been done - from a broken fence paling at the front, to school bag hooks in the garage out the back.  Fresh paint, a decluttered house and garage, a spruced up garden and look:

The Lego Drawer

Is that an impressive toy drawer or what?  Flylady would be proud.

And thankfully I don't have to turn my studio into a formal dining room for our own auction campaign.  That would have killed me - trying to run Townmouse and packing up all signs of it for open-for-inspections twice a week. 

Travel wardrobe

The organiser in me was very impressed by the forward planning of Heather from Habitually Chic when it came to her trips to Paris and Los Angeles

I do like the idea of travelling light.  Will has it down to a fine art - all his business travel is done with no check in luggage.  When you're just dropping into a country for one business meeting and don't want to wait at the baggage carousel that makes sense, but not when you're travelling at leisure.

Paris wardrobe

I had a little play around with my clothes in an effort to be as organised as Heather, even if the chic part eludes me.  It's funny how ho-hum ones clothes can look when scrutinised through the camera lens.  

The thing that always gets me stumped when packing is shoes - you end up with so many pairs.  One way around this is to stick to a colour theme (for me it will always be grey).  Even with the limited colour palette I still have 5 pairs in contention.

I have my strolling around the grounds of a chateau in the Loire outfit at left.  Walking the streets of Paris in the centre outfit (with this coat if it is cool).  On the right is my casual dinner in a Montsoreau bistro outfit.

A few more outfits and scarves and wraps have gone into the case but, well, I got bored with the photographing part.  It does help with the planning though.  I think I am travelling lighter (apart from the two winter coats packed) so thanks for the tip Heather.

An organised kitchen

In my attempts to be a little more organised I have streamlined the process of feeding the family.

Glass storage

I picked up these lovely storage containers over summer.  I much prefer storing food in glass, rather than plastic.  These are for keeping Adelaide's mashed vegies in the fridge.

Flylady mentions the importance of menu planning.  This is something I've always been terrible at.  I'm trying it (and doing quite badly at the moment).

Organised kitchen

The above two things have helped.  A shopping list of all the things I usually buy, by category.  This works as a reminder too.  I can do a quick pantry 'stocktake'.  All I have to do is read over my list and tick the boxes.

I store a supply of these lists in the front pocket of my recipe folder.  If a recipe is good enough to be made more than a couple of times it makes it into my folder.  That saves me dribbling food spills over good cook books too.  It's one of those folders where you can pull out the plastic sleeves.  So if need be I can grab the page as I'm flying out the door to the market (if I haven't done my pantry stocktake and shopping list preparation, that is).

So I'm not there yet, but with a few pretty props I'm on the way.  (Happy to share my shopping list with anyone who wants it.  It's in Microsoft Exel so you can easily edit it for your own ingredients.)

What keeps you organised in the kitchen?  I'd love to know your secrets.

By the bed

For Christmas, Will gave me an e-reader (a Kindle thingy).  And I love it.

I do adore a house filled with books.  I have some favourite books that I would never part with.  But there are many books I read that, once read, I'm not fussed whether they go or stay.  An e-reader is perfect for this sort of read. 

My bedside table has gone from this:

Bedroom before

To this:

Bedroom after

All those books are going out.  The worthy reads will go onto my bookshelves.  The fluffy stuff will go.

Now who wants the Twilight series?

New year's project

Strangely, despite the addition of a fourth child, last year I felt closer to achieving the elusive balance between work and life than I have since starting a family.  I intentionally pulled back on the pace of work so I could enjoy Adelaide's arrival in a more relaxed context.  It gave me a taste of what life could be like when I'm not always scrambling just to keep up.

I'm going to keep working on that this year.  My goal is to become a domestic goddess.


I've found myself adding blogs to my blog reader on the subject - blogs like Zen Habits and Unclutterer.  A couple of great pieces of advice that I've read of late are:

  • keep your horizontal surfaces clear of clutter to keep a space under control
  • never leave a room without taking something with you (in your own home, that is).

That first point certainly applies to my sewing studio.  I always feel so much better when I take the time to clear my patternmaking table and comptoir.

And the second point is probably pretty obvious to everyone, but when I consciously took that on board and made a point of always looking for things that need to be returned to their rightful place, the house looked a lot better for it.

Agnona cashmere slippers

Today I got the boys involved in that process.  We played a little game called "The Treasure Hunt".  I set the oven timer for 10 minutes.  Their challenge was to find items in the living room and kitchen that belonged to them and needed to be put in their proper place.  They had to present the item to me and tell me where it needed to go, and then put it there.  Each time they did this they scored a point. Ten minutes and 54 points later, the living room looked great and I was ecstatic.  It was so easy.  Got to love that.

Oh, and my favourite blog/site on the subject of organising is Flylady (recommended by Zen Habits.)  It's kooky and daggy but it offers some great systems.  Has anyone else discovered it?  I'm off to shine my sink.

Pretty pictures from here.