newcastle reflections

Merewether, a suburb of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, is an area brimming with funky cafés, fashion stores, and creative artisans. It’s also home to some of the region’s most famous beaches, beautiful national parks, and dramatic cliff top walks according to Louise Walsh, an interior designer located in Lennox Head, NSW. “This 4,300-square-foot home was built in 2015 by a couple who bought the original land and existing house twenty years ago,” explains Walsh. “The original home was demolished in 2014 to make way for new construction designed by EJE Architecture [with offices in Sydney, Newcastle, and the Gold Coast] and my company, Louise Walsh Interior Design [with additional studios in Brisbane and Sydney, and current projects in Aspen and San Francisco]. Construction was completed by Newcastle’s Malman Constructions.”

“From the outset, it was clear that the clients were passionate about this project and had spent many years planning their dream home,” says Walsh. “For this reason, it was very important to us that the interior not only reflected their environment but was also a true reflection of their personality and lifestyle.” One partner particularly loved splashes of color and tribal patterns, while the other preferred calmer blues and greens. “We developed an interior palette that responded to each person, but also married their individual preferences together,” she adds.

The kitchen is white with a backsplash of gray-hued glass mosaic tiles. “The Di Lorenzo tiles were the starting point for our overall color palette,” says Walsh, who custom designed the white cabinets. Countertops are Caesarstone quartz surface for durability. Lighting pendants, with a white ceramic frame and walnut base, tie together the wood and white tones.

Continuing the neutrals into the living space are walls in Dulux Natural White paint and a stained hardwood floor made from native Australian blackbutt. Walsh says that she dappled color and texture in accent items such as cushions and decor while keeping the base palette of larger items, like sofas, in neutral tones. She then layered textural items throughout with occasional chairs, lighting, and decor. “We added touches of blues and greens to reflect a beachside environment,” explains Walsh. “This further complemented the many natural textures we used, such as hardwood timber, wicker, aged oak, metal, and weighty fabrics like Belgium linen, natural hemp, and cotton.” The textures and patterns play into the use of color, each becoming a tone in itself.

A coffee table offers practicality with a unique use of a conservative American oak top and modern, white tubular metal legs. The pale-white sofa is accented by colorful cushions that were custom designed by Louise Walsh Interior Design using Australian fabric patterns. The floor covering is a custom woven jute rug. “The rug is a key element that anchors the furniture and pulls the space together,” says Walsh.

Adjacent to the living space is an area that can function separately or join with the interior when the owners are entertaining a large group. Walsh kept the palette in this room complementary to the interior palette, maintaining a real connectivity between the areas. Walls of windows have shutters that can be closed to protect against rain and wind or provide privacy from neighbors. The floor is a neutral ceramic tile laid in a brick pattern. The lovely Manutti dining table, made in Belgium, has a steel base and a timber slatted tabletop. Dining chairs are rich, dark wicker. “Occasional seating allows the space to open to the internal living space so when entertaining, the two areas can become one,” says Walsh.

The four bedrooms in this home have individual interpretations. The master suite looks to the beach, so Walsh picked up muted grays and greens from the landscape to create an elegant aesthetic. Two of the guest bedrooms have brighter color play. One, overlooking an inner courtyard, has pops of yellow and sage green in tribal textures. Another guest room is in a secluded area of the house and, according to Walsh, it has become a sanctuary for guests. There, she used muted greens, blues, and tribal prints to enhance the serene ambience.

“The clients wanted an interior that reflected their natural environment. They wanted a house that was relaxed, interesting, and fun,” says Walsh. “Entertaining was important to them, as was practicality of finishes to ensure selections made were durable and timeless.” Walsh combined subtle and strong neutrals, accenting them with interesting textures and patterns, and an occasional dash of bright color. The result is a lovely space that relates to the beach landscape and succeeds as a livable, comfortable, yet refined home.

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the whole harvest

This is the glorious season of fresh ingredients. It’s the time of year when my family enjoys countless vegetables and herbs from our garden and berries and stone fruit from the farmers’ markets. This season of fresh ingredients ripened by the summer sun and ready to be enjoyed during the warm days of harvest makes for a plethora of meal options. Here are a handful of my favorite ways to utilize the fruits (and veggies) of summer’s labor.


During the summer months, I find myself with a kitchen counter full of vegetables from my garden; I adore roasting them and using the vegetables for various recipes throughout the week. One of my favorite recipes is this simple roasted vegetable Panzanella salad. The flavors of the harvest are complemented by toasted bread cubes, creamy mozzarella, and a sweet balsamic vinaigrette. It’s a delightful low-fuss meal for a summer evening.

Serves 6
1 baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
⅓ cup plus 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch rounds
1 medium yellow squash, cut into ½-inch rounds
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 orange or yellow pepper, sliced
6 cloves garlic smashed
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (white or red)
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, diced into bite-size pieces
1 bunch fresh basil, coarsely chopped or torn
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the baguette cubes with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Transfer them to the parchment-lined sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool. Then transfer them to a bowl.

Next, toss the zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, red onion, peppers, and smashed garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Transfer the vegetables to a parchment-lined baking sheet and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. I like a crisp-tender vegetable, so I usually remove them at 15 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooling, prepare the vinaigrette. Whisk together the ⅓ cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss together the baguette cubes, roasted vegetables, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, half of the fresh basil, and the vinaigrette. Pour the salad into a large serving bowl or a platter and then garnish with the remaining fresh basil. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.


Although this dish is quite impressive—in presentation and in flavor—it’s also simple to prepare. The pork tenderloin lends well to oven roasting. When cooked to 145 degrees F, it will remain moist and tender. The Romesco sauce is the perfect complement to the pork roast with just the right balance of sweet, smoky, and spicy.

Serves 3 to 4
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ to 2 pounds pork tenderloin
2 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
1 large ripe tomato
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Meat thermometer
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix together the dried herbs, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and olive oil.

Score the top of the pork tenderloin in a diamond pattern, about ¼-inch deep. Rub the herb and oil mixture on the pork and then place it in a shallow baking dish. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the pork reaches 145 degrees F internal temperature. Remove from the oven and let it rest about 5 minutes before slicing.

To make the Romesco sauce, add roasted peppers, tomato, walnuts, parsley, garlic, smoked paprika, and vinegar to a blender. Blend until all the ingredients are smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice the pork tenderloin and place the slices on a platter. Ladle the sauce over the top and garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve warm.


Fair warning: when you make this for your guests, they will be green with envy. The vibrant color is enough to garner anyone’s attention, but what makes it even better is the flavor that follows. This exquisite minted pea soup combines a slightly sweet pea flavor with spicy aromatics and fragrant herbs, finished with a contrasting dollop of crème fraîche.

Serves 4
2 tablespoons ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cups of sweet peas (petite)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
¼ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Salt and Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Crème fraîche, chopped fresh chives, or mint, for garnish
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons ghee or extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions. Sauté the onions until they are wilted and translucent but not caramelized. Then stir in the garlic, parsley, chives, and dried oregano and sauté for 1 minute longer.

Next, stir in the peas and vegetable broth. Simmer stove top for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the peas are soft. Take the pot off the heat and add the fresh mint. Using an emulsion blender, puree the soup until smooth. If using a countertop blender, cool the soup and then puree in the blender and pour the pureed soup back into the pot.

Place the soup pot back over low heat and stir in the heavy cream. Heat the soup but do not bring it to a boil. Stir in the white wine vinegar and then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve warm in bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and chopped chives or mint.

Note: Thin the soup with additional vegetable broth if it’s too thick.

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Article by Home by Design.

Smart Start

Getting Started with Elementary Education 


As a parent, it’s natural to want what’s best for your child—especially where his or her educational enrollment is concerned. When it comes to the classroom, selecting the best learning environment can be a challenge. Before you determine which type of schooling best suits your student and your family, it’s important to educate yourself on the options.

First, it helps to weigh the pros and cons of each classroom style. Although there are countless different styles around the globe and across cultures, there are a handful of traditional options in the West. Get started with this simplified roundup of everything from public schools to Reggio Emilia to get you started on the process that puts your child on the road to success.

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Visual vacation

If designer Ana Donohue was ever told not to color outside the lines, she ignored the advice. The Boston-based designer is principal and founder of Ana Donohue Interiors, a “Best of Houzz” favorite, an HGTV regular, and is beloved for her deft handling of rainbow hues—so much so that clients flock to her for it. “I’m known for unusual pairings of colors, patterns, textures, and different styles in a room,” she says. “My work is pretty consistent—usually color, but with a neutral ground.” Donohue’s clients run the gamut: she gets many Europeans who are looking for something edgy and sophisticated, as well as American empty nesters and families that are just starting out.

Take this sweeping 6,000-square-foot Park City, Utah vacation home, which is anything but typical western mountain style. Colors in ice cream sprinkle–worthy tones run the spectrum throughout the property, from the floral Anthropologie rug in the living room to the turquoise wall color (Sherwin-Williams’ Freshwater) in the powder room. “These clients are the nicest people on the planet,” says Donohue of the homeowner couple. “She is very vibrant—she loves color and she loves pattern and all the energy it gives. She couldn’t really find a designer that could do that out in Utah, where they specialize in earth tones.”

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planted in place

London-based garden designer Butter Wakefield is passionate about the natural world, and she brings as much green into her home as she possibly can. “Nature represents what I do, and the color green is my direct link to it,” she says. “I find it so life enhancing.”

Wakefield has lived in and slowly renovated this late-1800s home for decades, but it took a divorce and a ceiling collapse to finally make it her own. “Hilariously, my ex-husband and I had different tastes. When he moved out, I thought ‘Someday I’m going to recapture this and make it exactly the way I want it,’” explains Wakefield. “The first thing I did was redecorate the hallway. I put up that lovely green-and-white palm wallpaper and black-and-white carpet in the halls, stairs, and landings. That was my first bite at making it my own. Then, by sheer fluke, the drawing room ceiling developed a massive crack. . . . It collapsed before I could get the builders to take a look.”

The ceiling collapse offered Wakefield a decorating do-over from her original twenty-year-old yellow color scheme. “I was delighted that I had the perfect excuse to redecorate. I chose gray walls and then used as much green fabric as I could possibly get,” says Wakefield. Green patterned fabric shows up on chairs, throw pillows, and footstools throughout the drawing room. Sea grass matting covers the floor, while her bold landscape art collection decorates the walls. Potted plants and vases of fresh flowers from her garden sit on every bare surface, not only in the drawing room but in every room of the house.

Wakefield’s design plan carries through to the conservatory, a glass-ceilinged room that looks out on her gardens and draws in the warm afternoon light. Green fabrics hold center stage and more landscapes line the walls. The decor reveals yet another passion: crockery. Display shelves hold rows of dishes, most with floral themes. “That’s my other real weakness,” confesses Wakefield. “Over the years, I would always detour into junk shops and have a little look.” Green is the predominant dishware color, but pinks and lilacs also appear on teacups, small plates, and other decorative objects.

Without upper cabinets, Wakefield’s kitchen provides yet another place to display botanical prints and plates. When the kitchen was first renovated, the upper cupboards were ditched as a money saving measure. Now Wakefield can’t imagine the room any other way. “I would never have hanging cupboards because I think the wall space is much more interesting to fill with artwork.” Her kitchen door leads out to her garden, providing an easy link between indoors and out. “I think the interior and exterior work hand in hand. You can’t ignore one over the other. The house sits in the middle between the front garden and the back garden, and you have to make it all work as one,” she says.

The garden designer also understands the role her home and personal gardens play in her profession. “They are my best advertisements,” says Wakefield. “I bring clients here; we have meetings here. I’m presenting to them how I do business, whether that’s inside or out.” The home and gardens reveal what clients can expect from her creative sensibility. “I’m all about color and pattern and texture and being a little bit crazy. I wanted to make my home an exciting place visually to be in and to inspire.”

The colors found throughout show Wakefield’s vibrancy and verve. Yet the home also provides her with a sense of peace. “My house has been my savior,” she says. “The children have all flown the nest, with the exception of the last one, who’s at university. My home has been a source of real comfort, a place of solace and support. It’s hard to imagine that [a set of] four walls can provide all that, but it really has.” Filled with art, objects, and colors she adores, Wakefield’s home perfectly depicts who she is. “It represents what I do, how I’ve chosen to live my life, and what makes me happiest.”

Fighting Color Phobia

Garden designer Butter Wakefield loves color, and it shows throughout her home. But many homeowners fear color and approach it timidly. Wakefield offers advice on how to fight that fear.
Have a neutral base. Even in Wakefield’s house, the underlying color scheme is black, white, and gray. Having that neutral base makes it easier to experiment with other colors.

Start with a color you adore. When you begin with a color you have an affinity for, you will be more comfortable using it into your home.

Introduce color in small ways. Wakefield suggests starting with pillows and lap blankets. They’re inexpensive and easy to switch out if you don’t like them.

Just have some fun. “Start small, but be adventurous,” says Wakefield. She recommends, for example, upholstering a chair with a patterned fabric on the inside surface and a solid on the outside.

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When you think of Colombia, the first few items that might come to mind are Juan Valdez and coffee, Pablo Escobar and Narcos on Netflix, and your vague memory of high school history and the Spanish quest for gold in the Americas; however, the true richness and jewels of Colombia are on its Northern Caribbean Coast. Not only are the beaches tranquil, but the culture radiates a warmth too—a natural alegría (happiness). From its welcoming colonial streets and music to the beauty of its mountains and national parks, the riches of Colombia await.

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under the sea: part 2


I could probably eat a dozen of these little beauties all by myself. These tasty treats from the sea are combined with fresh herbs, garlic, butter, and toasty breadcrumbs.

Makes about 2 dozen 

  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 pounds little neck clams (I try to find the largest), scrubbed clean
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon plus lemon wedges, for serving
  • Pinch salt
  • Dash pepper

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Gone to Carolina

It hadn’t been renovated or updated in nearly three decades, so the two-story home located on Figure Eight Island, South Carolina, was in desperate need of TLC from top to bottom. “The home was very charming, but it needed so much updating,” says designer Liz Carroll, who was enlisted by homeowner Tom Taft to tackle the expansive renovation and interior design process. The layout was choppy, and the lack of natural light was concerning for a home that could easily take advantage of water views from nearly every room in the house.

While Taft wanted the home opened up and brightened foremost, he also wanted it to accommodate his three children and their families for long summer vacations. “It needed to be a home where each family could comfortably stay and relax without it feeling crammed,” he says. With few directives in the way of interior design—save for a love of navy and white and a nautical aesthetic—Carroll and Jeff Morris of Old Fort Building & Development worked together to create a layout that flowed seamlessly from room to room. The goal was to make it ideal for entertaining and relaxing, but also provide enough space for each family to have their own master bedroom en suite as well as sleeping quarters for grandchildren.

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Water Gardens

Since ancient times, gardeners have used pools, ponds, and fountains to provide interest and refreshment in their gardens. Today, with the available modern materials, it is easier than ever to have a water feature in your garden.

The design possibilities are limitless and should be guided by your personal taste as well as the style of your house and neighborhood. For inspiration, look to modern minimalist projects as well as historic looks designed by the landscape masters of the past.

Take a tip from the Persians with intersected narrow waterways on an axis. Add a pond at the intersection and a fountain to enhance the garden experience with the music of falling water and a cooling element.

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island escape

The request was not out of the ordinary for designer Lisa Kanning. Her clients had been on vacation in Turks and Caicos when she received the call that they were thinking about purchasing a home on the island. “I hopped on a flight the next day,” says New York City–based Kanning, who had worked on the couple’s home in Philadelphia. “We spent a day or two looking at homes, but this one had the greatest potential.”

The request was not out of the ordinary for designer Lisa Kanning. Her clients had been on vacation in Turks and Caicos when she received the call that they were thinking about purchasing a home on the island. “I hopped on a flight the next day,” says New York City–based Kanning, who had worked on the couple’s home in Philadelphia. “We spent a day or two looking at homes, but this one had the greatest potential.”

The location of the single-family home with an adjacent caretaker’s cottage was ideal. Situated oceanfront with expansive beach and water views from nearly every room in the home, the property, named Terrapin Villa, boasted a house with an open layout and a floor plan that seamlessly combined outdoor living with the indoors. As frequent entertainers, Kanning’s clients wanted the decor to be as easy as the layout was for hosting guests. And for them, that meant starting from scratch.

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