Friday, July 30, 2010

Hamilton Apartment Before the Unveil!...Taa Daa!..New Arrivals to the Showroom...Goat Cheese Tapas...Harrys New York Bar - In Paris! Hemingway Daquiris and More!

More on the Hamilton Apartment
 Last week we had a little snippet of our latest design project in Hamilton Brisbane.  An Art Deco Apartment with gorgeous views of the Brisbane River that needed a little bit of Charcoal Magic.  We are so excited to have the final images ready to share with you.  These will be published next week.  Until then, here is a 'Before' pic of the lounge room before the painting started.  Think...smokey tones....stunning eclectic mix of Antiques and modern contemporary most amazing textures...I could go on and on....until next week!

Our Reveal...Next Friday.  You wont believe the Transformation!

We are always sourcing amazing new Furniture and Accessories in our Showroom at 18 Doggett Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.
This week is no exception.  
We love...

Antique Wooden Carved Horse...Amazing Detail!

Red Painted Sideboard 19th Century

Northern China Sideboard Circa 1880's.  This beautiful piece has three drawers and two doors.  A super versatile piece to suit a multitude of applications.
....just a snippet of what is new and exciting in store at Charcoal Interiors!

We had a great response to the Bruschetta Tapas last week...and here is more of the simple, healthy Tapas menu that we promised again for this Friday.

Capsicum, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Mint Tapas Wraps

Super Tasty and Preparation Time is only 10 Minutes!  The combo of capsicum and goats cheese is simply moooooorish!



  • 1 (4-ounce) goat cheese
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 (8-inch) tortillas
  • 1/2 cup chopped bottled roasted capsicum
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


    1. Combine cheese and mint in bowl.
    2. Wrap tortillas in paper towel. Microwave on HIGH 20 seconds.
    3. Spread each tortilla with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture. Divide capsicum evenly amongst tortillas; sprinkle with salt. Roll up tortillas; wrap each tightly in plastic wrap, twisting ends to secure. Chill 1 hour.
    4. Unwrap tortillas. Cut each wrap into 4 pieces, cutting one end of each piece diagonally and one end straight across so the piece can stand on end (see photo above).
    Delicious and the presentation is just so easy...Donna Hay would be proud :-)

    Imagine yourself sitting down for a Cocktail this week at 'Harry's New York Paris'.  
     Since 1911, Harry's New York Bar has been mixing masterpieces for Parisians and international celebrities like Ernest Hemingway, Roosevelt and the Duke of Windsor. The expatriate community is celebrated and encouraged there -- a somewhat atypical attitude in Paris -- and the bar is adoringly referred to as "Sank Roo Doe Noo," which is what the address sounds like if your French is terrible.

    One of the worlds acclaimed writers,
    Hemingway moved in 1921 to Paris, where wrote articles for the Toronto Star. "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then whenever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." (from A Moveable Feast, 1964)

    Hemingway loved the odd Daiquiri or two....if he was alive today, we could be besties, as incredibly we too love the deliciousness of the Daiquiri.
    For Hemingway himself the Hemingway Daiquiri (or Papa Doble) was served without sugar and is almost always printed that way although most people prefer the sweetness.

    Let's dig in....
    The Hemingway Daiquiri


  • 1 1/2 oz white rum
  • 1/4 oz maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 oz grapefruit juice
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup


  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

  •  Next week, we introduce you to a lovely gentleman...Anatoli.  Anatoli is a representative from Milton Cater Oriental Handmade Rugs and will be here on Thursday for a chat.  If you happen to be in the area and would like to know more about these beautiful rugs, he will be happy to accommodate.

    We have had the best week together in the showroom.  We welcome our new clients and look forward to a new week.  Wishing everyone a terrific weekend!
    Yours in Design and Style...In the City!
    Cathie, Colette and Jen

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hamilton Apartment...Our Latest Design Project Video...New Arrivals...Guilt Free Tapas...Sangria Anyone?...It's Cocktail Friday Folks!

This week, we introduce you to our latest project...The Hamilton Apartment.  
This Art Deco Apartment with views of the Brisbane River had the potential to evolve into something really special, and the design team knew from the moment they walked in that this was going to be a project they could really sink their creative teeth into.  The client, a lady with great taste, but not the time to put into renovating and decorating had a clear vision.  She says: "I wanted to maintain the character of the apartment in keeping with the architecture of the building."  "I wanted to really achieve an individual style and look as a reflection of myself and my lifestyle."

Over the coming weeks we will be showcasing this gorgeous Apartment in all its glory.  The finished product truly does reflect the original grandeur of the building, whilst introducing almost a Manhattan-esque sophistication.

Today, we start with the Before Images and take you on a tour with our Designer Cathie.  She takes us through the rooms before work starts and gives us an insight of what to expect.  So, stay tuned for the end result and enjoy these 'teasers'.

River Views at Hamilton
(just click play for the video boxes below) 

Initial Consultation...Cathie takes us through the vision for the Sunroom Area
Footnote: Thanks to Cath for being such a good sport...all footage was taken without me giving her a chance to prepare...snaps to you Cath!

We love....
this Elm Wood Altar Table...circa 1820's with its ornate carved detailing...superb

...and this unique Timber Animal Trough Circa 1900's from the Shangdong Province

Sold out...but now more in stock..gorgeous soapstone wash coffee tables...perfect in so many applications
 Horseshoe Chairs...Circa 1880s from the Shanxi Province

...and thats just a snippet of what is new and exciting in the Charcoal Showroom.... 

Ahhh....Spring is just around the corner and my mind is already diverting from Winter Fashion, big coats that cover a multitude of sins over the colder months, to the cute Spring dresses that I just wont be able to look 'right' in if I dont do something about my food choices from here-on in.  I am such a fan of Tapas, but those small morsels can sometimes be big on the calories.  This week we discovered the most delicious low fat Tapas that are packed with flavour....fresh on the palate and just so very easy to prepare.  We found quite a few to choose from and will be featuring one recipe a week over the next month or so.  Each recipe adheres to a simple formula....being quick and easy, yet sophisticated and flavoursome....oh...and low on cals!  

Olive-Goat Cheese Bruschetta


Spice up traditional bruschetta with this crowd-pleasing recipe. This rendition uses traditional tomato and basil but adds savory olives and robust goat cheese. For a boost of fiber, make this dish with a multigrain baguette instead of traditional white French bread. With less than an hour of prep time, you can create this tasty dish right before guests arrive. 


  • 1 cup diced seeded plum tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 (1/4-inch-thick) slices French bread baguette (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup mild goat cheese, at room temperature


1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
3. Arrange bread on a baking sheet; bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Remove toast slices from oven, and cool 2 minutes.
4. Rub both sides of each toast slice with garlic clove. Spread goat cheese thinly on 1 side of each toast, and top with the olive mixture.

Su coctel viernes! … Aclamaciones!
(That's Spanish for....Its Cocktail Friday!...Cheers!)

....and you cant get more Spanish...than the 'Sangria'

Sangria Cocktail Recipe

1 liter Red wine
(any kind)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 shot glass Contreau
2 shot glasses Martini-Rossi White
2 shot glasss Cognac
1 bottle Sprite
6 slices Lemon
4 slices Orange

add tray of ice cubes
and stir well
(serves 8 glasses) 

Its been a terrific week for us!...we hope its been a good one for you too.  Cheers to you...and Cheers to us!  Happy Friday everyone and wishing you a very relaxing weekend with family and friends. Pop your head in to say hi over the weekend if you get a chance...if the light's on...we are in! :-)

Colette...Cathie...and Jen (we have managed to rope Jen into a profile stay tuned..she does actually exist....hee hee....) Happy Friday! xxx

Friday, July 16, 2010



I broke my hand on Tuesday.  Actually my teenage son broke it....big brute that he is!  A fracture of the scaphoid bone....a boxing training session gone terribly wrong.  So I wanted to tell you all about it as I am feeling quite sooky lah lah....please feel free to leave a comment about how brave I am and also how completely impressed you are at my one armed typing skills :-)
And so, the quest began this morning to find a way to 'pretty up' my clunky plastered arm.  I am now sporting a stylish leopard print covered cast, complete with diamante brooch.  The makeover has made me feel so much better.  Its a bit of fun, and purely designed to brighten my day up a bit.  A bit of sparkle and faux animal prints brings to mind, over the top 'kitsch' kind of luxe.  But peoples interpretation of luxury comes in many forms, i have found through my little survey this week.  For some, luxury means cruising the whitsundays whilst sipping Krug champagne, and for others through circumstance, it is to have the time to sit and ponder lifes little humble pleasures.

I was also sent some info on the most unique restaurant, that I thought not only was a good example of a great luxurious location, but also was struck by the sheer uniqueness of the idea.  As you can see below, who on earth thinks of these things and then follows through with such a quirky idea to the completed fulfilment of their vision....obviously a lot of talented people out there.  

It gave me a new found appreciation of our design team. Visualizing....Careful Planning and Consultation....Creating.....Completing the vision  

And so here are some options to satisfy the diversity of the dreamers out there.....enjoy!



With a tradition steeped in creating innovative experiences for guests, the Soneva resort chain is at the cutting edge of intelligent and luxurious accommodation. Soneva Kiri by Six Senses on the Island of Kood in Thailand, is discretely nestled in the south-east corner of the Gulf of Siam. If arrival via private jet, endless white sand, a barefoot-is-best policy and utter privacy isn’t enough to convince guests that they are in resort heaven, a meal in a hanging rattan basket will surely do the trick. Gently swinging above pristine beaches, The Dining Pod is designed to replicate a cocoon with a huge open window to take in the views. Meals are delivered via a harnessed waiter, and guests are left to enjoy the sweeping vistas and gentle breeze.  Now, this is my idea of luxury!


One of my little luxury fantasies is to drive up into the hills in an old classic luxury convertible car...with my own version of Carey Grant in the front seat...Pete The Greek will suffice quite nicely....and off we head with the wind in our hair...roaring through the hills for a picnic lunch at the top!  That would be luxe of luxe!


For one of our Facebook Fans, his idea of luxury was sailing the Whitsundays, scotch in hand, sun on his face.  He's a bit of a dish, and there were a few ladies who read his comments and wanted to join him!

Our designer, Caths idea of a luxe lift was kicking off her heels and curling up in a luxurious this one 'The Austen' from Andrew Martin, beautifully crafted using Debussy Pearl fabric.

For others it was a night in front of the fire on a faux bear skin rug, or as simple as lying on a beautiful white sandy beach on a warm summers day....her happy place....or a walk in wardrobe a'la Carrie Bradshaw!

The Ultimate 'Happy Place'....A Walk InWardrobe with Chandelier!

One reader just wanted a bathroom with a chandelier!....her idea of true pretty, and a definition of true indulgence and luxury.


And then, there were the beautiful comments from those readers, expressing that their idea of luxury was for one lady the appreciation that she is growing older....a deep appreciation of the one real and true ultimate luxury.....and for another lovely lady, it was the luxury of time to just sit alone and contemplate all of lifes little beautiful....

When I think of culinary luxury and indulgence, chocolate is the first thing that comes to, warm, sticky...yummy...chocolate.  But, as anyone who has been reading the blog for a while now would know, I am a girl of very little time and all recipes that I put up on the blog need to be super quick to make without detracting on the taste factor.....and so, I bring to you my tried, true and tested 5 minute chocolate cake...serve it warm!


Here's all you'll need:
4 tablespoons of flour
4 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons of milk
3 tablespoons of oil
optional- 3 tablespoons of chocolate chips (Oh, hello! NOT optional in my opinion!)
A splash of vanilla extract
A coffee mug
The recipe:
1. Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well.
2. Add egg and all wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
3. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and gently mix in.
4. Place the mug in the microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if the cake rises over the top of the mug!

Now you can eat it as is (I recommend) or you can wait for it to cool, slice in half, top with some whipped cream or ice cream and voila... a perfect five-minute treat. 

Now, I dont know about you?...but, boy do I need my Cocktail fix this week!  Nothing like a few smooth brews to take the edge off, and this Friday I am offering you something extra smoooooth...extra sweet and extra indulgent....

(Note:....if you can drink it...then its not fattening...)

Serves 1


  • 1 tsp of chocolate spread (like Nutella)
  • 1 espresso coffee
  • 25ml rum
  • 30ml coffee liquor
  • 15ml caramel syrup
  • 40ml fresh double cream.


1. Gently lay the chocolate spread on the bottom of a martini glass. Pour a freshly made espresso on top.
2. Shake the rest of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill up the glass.
3. Sprinkle chocolate powder on top to garnish.

Now, that's what I call 'Luxe'

And so, as we draw another curtain on a Friday, we truly wish you all a wonderful weekend with family and friends.  Hopefully we have enthused you to look at ways that you can introduce some luxury into your life.  

Come Visit Us Soon!
Charcoal Interiors - 18 Doggett St. Fortitude Valley

'The Charcoal Girls'...Colette and Cathie (Jen is still hiding under the table...)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Transformational Before & After Pics of our latest design project, Muse Mooching...Dali, Austen, Andrew Martin and Starck...Plus! Cheers to the Lucid Mint Muse Cocktail..Happy Friday Everyone.

The 'new look' study...completely transformed with custom made built-ins and oak desk, stunning hand crafted rug, and leather feature chair...just a few of the beautiful new additions to this space.

On the far wall...a unique Ancient Chinese Ancestral Painting that was carefully framed and now stands pride of place in the study.

More Before Pics of the now transformed Study....below

Musings over our Muse.....

I heard a friend talking about her 'muse' this week....and wondered...what is being a muse all about?  It sounded like a pretty important role...I mean there is a fair bit of pressure involved with being a muse I can imagine.  A muse is the source of inspiration for creative work....a bit like a creative, artistic style of mentor really.  Everybody has someone that they look to for inspiration or creative validation.  Salvador Dali looked to the love of his life 'Gala' for inspiration.  She was his greatest supporter,and also his business manager.  She inspired Dali and many other writers and artists.  In music, the most influential muse seems to be patti boyd-probably the queen of muses. She has inspired three songs about her sweet self. First-"Something" by the Beatles, specifically first hubby George Harrison. Her second husband Eric Clapton wrote "Layla" about his tortured feelings about romancing his best friend's wife. It did not stop him from marrying Patti and writing her third song "You Look Lovely Tonight".

I was inspired just by the idea of the many muses over the years...of course everyone is inspired by something or someone.  Who inspired our design team then?...I made it my mission to find out!  Its hard to get the design girls to sit down for five minutes, let alone chat with them about who inspires them....but when I sat down for a chat on this topic, both ladies were energised and transported into another place.....gosh I would like to get into their heads sometimes :-)  
For Colette, her inspiration is Andrew Martin.  Colette: "The Andrew Martin team has travelled the world and is able to creatively put a design together from almost nothing...and create something spectacular".....their style is not contrived or predictable...and I draw on this for my inspiration".
Andrew Martin

Cathie: "I simply cant decide on just one (a little bit like Caths shoe shopping habits...just quietly...but I digress...) so firstly, it would have to be Coco Chanel.  She was an extraordinary influence on fashion, with her designs now transcending time and trend.  From humble beginnings designing hats as a hobby, that soon turned into creating beautiful couture for her wealthy European clientele.  The little black dress (an iconic Coco creation) now is a necessity in any modern fashionistas collection. 
 Coco Chanel
And secondly, Phillipe Starck.  The famous French furniture designer in contemporary style, with one of his most recognisable pieces being the Louis Ghost design.  His designs also transcend time....ageless and are used worldwide.  He also designed the interior of the private apartments for French Prime Minister Francois Mitterrand.  He has produced some of the most iconic shapes of the 20th Century, perhaps his most permanent mark on design is through his bold reworkings of everyday objects....he thinks deeper than the glossy surface".

Phillipe Stark

A Phillipe Stark Design...The 'Louis Ghost' Chair.  We used the Louis Ghost Chair in one of our Photo Shoots for Q Weekend Magazine.  An exclusive Charcoal Interiors Design Project.

Winter Goodness Roasted Vegetables with Bacon

With all of the beautiful fresh produce in season at the moment, there is a literal plethora (I love that word...and use it as often as possible in context...) of fresh garden vegetables out there at the moment.  Perfect timing for a healthy, quick side dish recipe.
We have 6 in our household and it can be hard to find a healthy side dish that everyone will eat.  I have come up with the perfect option.  Vegetables roasted, and then jazzed up that little bit extra with some diced bacon....yum!  I also grate a little bit of fresh parmesan over the top at the end...its a great twist to the same old same roasted vegies and the kids love it too.

Roasted Vegies and Bacon

  • 5 slice(s) bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 potatoes peeled and halved or quartered depending on the sizing
  • 1 stalk(s) celery, trimmed and cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 small onions, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon(s) chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon(s) fresh lemon juice
  • optional...10 minutes before the completion of the roasting, add a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes..they blister nicely and add colour to the dish. 
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Cook bacon to desired crispness, drain, and reserve 3 tablespoons rendered fat. Set bacon aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, potatoes, celery, onions, rosemary, salt, and pepper together with reserved fat and lemon juice. Spread vegetables in a single layer on a baking pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and roast until tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove foil and continue to roast until vegetables are browned, about 20 more minutes. Toss in bacon.

    And Finally...Friday just wouldnt be complete without another amazing concoction from the Charcoal Interiors Friday Cocktail Recipe Book!

    The Lucid Mint Muse....Get ready for it!


    2 oz. Pineapple Juice
    1 1/2 oz. Lucid Absinthe
    1 wedge of Lime
    Mint leaves


    Muddle mint leaves with lime wedge and add Lucid. Add ice and pineapple juice and shake briefly. Top with Lemonade and add the mint sprig.

    To all our readers, thank you for your comments this week via the facebook page.  We do love hearing from you and the support and feedback is most welcome.

    Wishing you all a very happy Friday....Cheers to you all....From the Charcoal Girls - Cathie, Colette and Jen xxx
    Cathie and Colette Venardos....Jen is hiding under the table in the background :-)

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    Meet The Designers, More of our Latest Design Project, Stylish Bedrooms, Potato and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon, Between The Sheets Cocktail...Its Friday Folks!

    Meet The Designers
    Hello everybody and welcome to another Style In the City blog.
    I have had quite a few people ask me over the past few months...what do our Design Team look like?  To be honest, they work so hard that it can be hard to nail them down for a photo opportunity.
    Fortunately a few weeks ago, our resident Photographer Mark Turner tooks some wonderful pics of the girls whilst on location in Brisbane.
    Introducing....Colette and Cathie Venardos. The Charcoal Interiors Design Team with over 35 years combined experience in the Design Trade.
    "A good designer is like a good doctor" says Cathie...."He/she consults with their client to find out what the best treatment is and then achieves a balance of harmony between the architecture, the furnishings and the works of art. We try to provide all of our clients with a permanent source of inspiration for the future, and also help them to discover new things in themselves through their home and importantly...make them love their home".

    More of our Latest Design Project

    As promised, we continue our journey through this magnificent Queenslander, completely rejuvenated by the Design Team combo of Colette and Cathie.

    Stunning Queenslander Circa 1800's

     The Master Bedroom

    The Master Bedroom was completely transformed with everything from the addition of new bedhead in sumptuous velvet, including the gorgeous Bergere Louis XV style armchair that we had made and upholstered in European Fabric.  The fireplace was completely rendered with a washed painted finish to give it more texture and definition, in keeping with the character and style of the room.  We introduced a very luxurious curtaining with rich texture to balance the harmony of the room.  This is a bedroom that our clients love so much, that it is now quite ritualistic for them to enjoy Sunday morning breakfast in bed over coffee and paper.

     We Love This....

    We just love this look because of the simplicity.  Everything has been placed in keeping with the architecture of the space....a bit like our vision for our latest design project.  If you break it down, there are basically 3 key elements to this look....beautiful artwork, the Moroccan lighting and a gorgeous Chaise.  Floorboards are left bare and walls are in their original condition....allowing the 3 key pieces to speak for themselves. 

    Warming the Cockles of our Hearts with lunchtime Favourite Soup
    Potato and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon
    Oh we do just love our lunch time get togethers here at Charcoal.  Its our daily ritual to sit down over a nice meal every lunch time.  During summer its a fresh salad, and in Winter we love our soup! 
    This week, Colette made up a soup that was just so delicious and so winter warming that I just had to share it with you.  It simply is...the best soup I have ever had!

    • 25g butter
    • 3 rashers streaky bacon , chopped
    • onion, chopped
    • 400g pack trimmed leeks, sliced and well washed
    • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
    • 1.4l chicken stock
    • 142ml pot single cream
    • 4 rashers streaky bacon , to serve

    • Method

    • Melt the butter in a large pan, then fry the bacon and onion, stirring until they start to turn golden. Tip in the leeks and potatoes, stir well, then cover and turn down the heat. Cook gently for 5 mins, shaking the pan every now and then to make sure that the mixture doesn't catch
    • Pour in the stock, season well and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 mins until the vegetables are soft. Leave to cool for a few mins, then blend in a food processor in batches until smooth, leaving some of the rustic chunky potatoes aside for a soup with great texture.  Return to the pan, pour in the cream and stir well. Taste and season if necessary. Serve scattered with tasty crisp bacon and eat with toasted or warm crusty bread on the side

    • Cocktail Friday
       I dont know about you, but this week I have just had the worst time getting out of bed in the mornings!  Its so cold and dark here in Brisbane (forget the beautiful one day perfect the next adage for this week...its been anything else BUT!)  So, we decided that in keeping with our bedroom theme for the week, that we would indulge in a very aptly named bevvy...the 'Between The Sheets' Cocktail to celebrate our Friday.  Its been such a great week....beside the chill in the air.  So, we wish you all a wonderful weekend and hope that you have enjoyed our little bit of sunshine via the blog :-)


      • 1 oz. Brandy
        1 oz Light Rum                                                   
      • 1 oz. Triple Sec
      • ¾ oz. Lemon Juice


        Mix all ingredients in an iced shaker for 10 seconds and strain into a chilled Cocktail Glass. Serve. 

        Until next week....The Charcoal Girls...Cathie, Colette and Jen xxx