Window Shopping

I’m not exactly sure what the builders are up to right now, but the odd little bit of “behind the scenes” information is sneaking into my inbox.  What are the soak well requirements for the pool?  Can I confirm that I want the front door stained not painted?  And, most excitingly, the names of our Construction Liaison, the “Starts Manager” (in charge of site works and slab), and Site Supervisor. Any moment now there will be a start date!

Meanwhile, I’m having a little holiday in Australia.  And as I take my job as Chief in Charge of beautifying House By The Water seriously, I plan to do a bit of retail research.  This week I’m in Sydney, hitting the shops for a couple of days with Aunty Kate.  Then, my husband and I are having a rare child-free 24 hours in Beechworth, North East Victoria.  And finally, a mini-break in Melbourne with the kids to soak up all that we love about that great city.  Food, shops, interesting architecture and a European vibe, all seen through the rose-coloured glasses of sentimentality.  (My husband and I met in Melbourne 20 years ago and lived there for several years.)

I thought I’d share my itinerary wish list with you, in case you have some recommendations for me.


  1. West Elm.  (Pictured top.) I’ve seen a lot of pinning action on some lovely West Elm furniture and their prices are not too shocking.  I want to see how it looks in reality.
  2. Williams and Sonoma.  When I lived in Canada I visited this paradise for home cooks regularly and was always in awe of the quality cookware.  Can the Australian store lives up to my expectations?
  3. The Society Inc..  Sibella Court’s little office in Paddington.  This lady has mastered the art of making clutter look good.  I need lessons.
  4. Zaffero Pop Up Shop.  I’ve never been to a pop up shop before, but in a world of online shopping, it’s a great idea.  If I’m going to spend a few hundred dollars on a light fixture or rug, I really want to see it first.  This way, I can look now, buy later.
  5. Matt Blatt.  The king of replicas.  Will they fool me?  I hope so.
  6. David Jones.  Australian-made towels by Country Road are currently 50% off.
  7. Adriano Zumbo.  With all that home decorating research, I’m going to need some sustenance.  Zumbo is everywhere these days (Tim Tams anyone?) but I like the tiny, original store in Balmain.

Hardly revolutionary, I know.  But don’t forget I’ve been in the depths of wild Brazil (slight exaggeration) for the past 8 months, deprived of shops tailored to Australian taste.


Provenance accommodation, Beechworth.

Our accommodation at “The Provenance“, Beechworth.

On my last visit to Beechworth, 20 years ago, my highlights were sticky beesting from the Beechworth bakery and viewing the jail where the infamous bushranger, Ned Kelly, was held.  Beechworth is a gold rush town that has maintained many of its beautiful old buildings.  It’s now also a gourmet destination and I’m hoping that it will have a few cute antique and home wares stores for browsing.


  1. H and M.  Trendy and cheap clothes and home wares.  I’m interested in their linen bedding and curtains.
  2. Corporate Culture.  One of the stockists for the gorgeous Coco pendant that is in top spot for contention as our dining room pendant light.  At $1500, I have to see it first.
  3. Fonda Mexican Restaurant.  The interior design of this restaurant has been a bit of a talking point, but I suspect my family will be more interested in the guacamole and margaritas.

I’d love a little more “Australian-made” on the list.  I suspect we’ll make a few discoveries as we wander the streets of Melbourne.

Do you have any favourites to share?  I won’t bore you with another shopping post, but if I find any treasures, I’ll share them on House By The Water’s Facebook page.


10 thoughts on “Window Shopping

  1. I’ve made one purchase with West Elm and was more than disappointed. I ordered a gold leaf, monogrammed tray. The first one I received I had to return for a replacement because it was damaged. The 2nd I received, I had to return for an exchange because the gold leafing was peeling off in several places. The 3rd one and last – I returned because it again was damaged {huge dent in corner, just like the first one I received}. I haven’t ordered anything from West Elm since.

    Leaving on a good note, I am a fan of Williams and Sonoma. 🙂

    • What a nuisance! I hope that the Aussie store has their act together because I really liked some of the West Elm stuff – particularly the rugs. W&S in Sydney need to work on their visual merchandising, but the products looked good. I bought a really delicious curry sauce there.

  2. Amanda Hyde says:

    The Coco Pendant is available in Perth at Design Farm on Hay Street. I have my eye on the white one, worth the $$’s

  3. trixee says:

    Exciting that you know something is happening! I’m a fan of Matt Black’s replicas, though I’ve never seen one in person. I’d be interested to know if indeed they do look good. I’m also a fan of Zumbo. I made his V8 cake once and it was awesome, even if it took me 3 days! The coco pendant is gorgeous, and I was thinking of using it for dining light as well, but I’m a bit scared of the price.

    • Hi Trixee, Matt Blatt had a good match for my tractor stools. (2 of mine were damaged in our last move.) Zumbo did not disappoint. Too late for photos, I’m afraid. I’m impressed you made the V8. I like to make macarons. I noticed that Beacon have attempted a rip off of the Coco pendant. Not in the same league, but nice enough if you don’t compare the two.

  4. Some fun shopping it is looking like you are having. :). Love love Williams Sonoma. We have one in Ft Worth and I get almost all my kitchen stuff there. Love that your already towel shopping…..such fun.

    • HL, I did buy towels! I know it’s a bit premature…. It’s “end of financial year” sale time here in Australia. Will post a pic of them soon then they are going away until HBTW is ready. Williams and Sonoma here did not have the same “Wow” as the stores I used to visit in Canada and the U.S. I think most of the products were the same but the visual display was average at best. I don’t think they’ll make money in-store here, but probably they do well online.

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