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I have a love of vintage objects and furniture, I also dream of a big old character house that I’ll buy one day. For this perfect home I will bring in the best architects to combine an element of contemporary to the old structure, to the highest detail.

I realised this years ago when I would go for walks near where I once lived in Surry Hills, Sydney. I would always stop and admire in almost awe a design studio that did this to perfection. They acquired an old boarding house with a stable and converted it to a contemporary office space. They combined a perfect use of glass and steel with the original masonry. When it’s done well like this, nothing is more beautiful to me than the marriage of this heritage with new, it’s combining the best of the two worlds.



Of course there is a huge element of risk and responsibility to the past when undertaking something like this, so I’ve started with baby steps for now. In my home you will find many examples of this love of mine; a vintage side table with a contemporary lamp, a vintage lamp on a modern table, and while you’ll see the modern together, rarely will you see me coupling vintage. Is it because I fear of not moving on I wonder?



I need to be surrounded by stories. They could be my family, or those of others. Our old kitchen table is a perfect example of this. It dates to the 1800’s, and I often try to imagine the scenarios that have been played out around it. The generations of families and friends that once sat there, the laugher, the board games and meals shared. Somehow we are connected to these people that we never met, we will never know who they were, and yet somehow, our lives are entwined around this table, just as our lives are somehow connected to those that once lived in that old home.

My love of contemporary aboriginal art echoes this feeling of moving on and yet acknowledging the past. It draws on my heritage, to be Australian. It tells the stories of the soil where I was born and its original people. It is the history that’s moving into the future and holding the hand of the past.

And I thought I wasn’t sentimental.


About the author: Mel Chesneau is a writer, stylist, blogger and style columnist for NZ House & Garden magazine. Find her at (formerly known as Armoire Pegs and Casserole). Photo by Larnie Nicolson.

All images courtesy of Smart Design Studio.