Friday, July 22, 2011



 Neutral tones work well in this Hamilton Art Deco Apartment - An exclusive Charcoal Interiors project

Our clients needs are wide and varied, and its our job to be able to accommodate them whatever their design dilemma.  For some, its a major renovation and we pop on our Project Manager boots or it can be working with a blank canvas for a retired couple who have down-sized to a smaller space. 
This week we had a lovely young couple approach the Design Team for some advice on furniture and placement for their rental apartment.  With the clients not knowing where to start, the girls looked over the space and gave them some sound advice, which we wanted to pass on.
There really are just a few key points to keep in mind when you are looking at fitting out your apartment or making use of a smaller space in your home.
Choosing the right sizing in this furniture kept the balance in the room....note the tasteful rug running lengthways drawing the eye and creating the illusion of space.

Rule number one:
Keep with neutrals on the walls and window coverings.  Neutrals for one, never date and they also create a nice blank canvas colour for artwork.

Rule number two: 
When arranging the furniture in your small space, try to resist the temptation of lining up your furniture along the walls. By doing so, you give a definition to the boundaries of your small living area.  Hang pictures in small groupings rather than displaying them randomly here and there. Or, as we have done in our apartment project if you are going to choose art....go big!  Just have one stunning piece of art that you absolutely love on the wall.  We also have a client who ended up having a huge oversized clock mounted on his living room looked amazing!  Hard for the hoarders amongst us we know....but...keep knick-knacks to a minimum.  Too many little knick-knacks just look bitsy and messy.  Even Offsprings Nina has a collection of owls, but she groups them together in the one space, not spread out all over her bedroom.  Arrange lamps or vases on tables so they are in balance with the other furnishings. 

Rule number three:
If you are going to have a rug in the room, just make it the one.  Multiple small rugs scattered here and there do nothing but look messy and also make a small space appear even smaller. 

Rule number four:
Keep furniture in proportion. Choose furniture that opens up a small space. Pick glass or see-through tables. Longer legs on chairs can also create more space or open up a room.   Select classic furniture styles with for example a tapered leg on a table, and avoid any cushions that look overstuffed. Steer clear of any furniture that is too elaborate.

Colette Venardos (Co-Director and Head Designer at Charcoal Interiors) says "Whether your room is big or small, you need to keep proportionate.  In a smaller apartment, less is more and its better to have well proportioned pieces.  One big piece that will work well and have functionality rather than lots of smaller pieces always is the best option". 

Tasteful selection of pieces of interest, and the wall mirror add a touch of glamour to this small space...a Charcoal Interiors project.

Rule number five:
The use of mirrors in a small space is also essential. Hang one or two mirrors in each room, or choose mirrored furniture to enhance the size of your living area.

So, in a nutshell, choose classic dateless colours and furniture styles.  Keep knick-knacks to a minimum. Group smaller prints, or just go big with one feature piece.  Use mirrors to create a sense of space, and if you are going to have a rug, make it big! 

For More Charcoal Interiors Design Projects Check Out The Website



Have you joined our Facebook Page yet?  If you havent, you are missing out on the chance to not only receive great design tips, recipes and other fun stuff but also the opportunity to WIN amazing prizes every month!  This month you can go into the draw to win a piece of history in this beautiful Antique Asian Scroll with silk patterned border.  The wording on the scroll translates to 'LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!" and is valued at over $650.  To enter the draw, just click on the Facebook badge at the top right of the blog and 'like' our page.  Every month we have great prizes to win!  Be sure to tell us you saw our blog and get 5 entries into this months draw....yes you read right...5 entries!



These cold nights call for a warming meal and to me, the King of comfort food cuisine is Italian.  I discovered this recipe a while ago, and found it quick and easy to make as the ingredients are all off the shelf....I simply dont have time to make my own Gnocchi, so a good one off the shelf is a happy compromise.

Photo credit to nettsu via flickr...with thanks


Preparation Time

20 minutes

Cooking Time

45 minutes

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 short-cut bacon rashers, coarsely chopped
  • 200g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) white wine
  • 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 120g baby spinach leaves
  • 500g pkt shelf-fresh gnocchi
  • 200g bocconcini, drained, torn in half


  1. Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic, stirring, for 1 minute. Add bacon and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until bacon is light golden. Add mushroom and cook for 3-4 minutes or until mushroom is soft.
  2. Add the wine. Cook, scraping any bits from the base of the pan, for 3-4 minutes or until wine reduces by half. Stir in the tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach until it just wilts.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Cook the gnocchi in a large saucepan of salted boiling water following packet directions. Drain. Add to tomato mixture. Stir to combine.
  4. Divide among six 330ml (1 1/3-cup) capacity ovenproof dishes. Top with the bocconcini. Place on a baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bocconcini melts.



Get out your violin case, black suit and sunglasses for this one.  The Godfather cocktail is perfect after a hard day on the take with Cousin Vinnie.  One of the top 10 iconic Italian Cocktails, The Godfather is traditionally had after dinner...and there is also a Godmother version, just to be politically correct and all....

Ingredients: 3/10 Amaretto di Saronno, 7/10 Scotch Whisky
Preparation: Pour the ingredients in a ice filled Old fashioned glass and stir well. And then theres the female version of it, God Mother (3/10 Amaretto di Saronno, 7/10 Vodka)


Giorgio Armani Logo
"I love things that age well - things that don't date, that stand the test of time and that become living examples of the absolute best". 

The Charcoal Team...Colette, Cathie and Jen xxx