Social Media has taken over the world - between Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr,Snapchat and Instagram – to name a few - we are connected to each other in ways never before imagined.When I became so interested in the Twilight books, I would be on Twitter for hours, talking with others who loved the books and movies as much as I did. In fact, one of my closest friends is a 25 year old from the Canary Islands in Spain whom I met on Twitter through our mutual love for Twilight. For the past few years, we have Skyped nightly – showing the power of Social Media. How in the world could I have ever become friends with someone I never saw before, who lives halfway across the world and who is more than half my age?Instagram is another favorite Social Media tool. By posting pictures of your house, your family, your pets and your trips – you invite total strangers into your private world and vice versa. Instagram has overtaken the popularity of blogs and pinterest. With the stroke of a computer key, anyone can put up their personal pictures and become world known. It’s a wonderful tool to see exotic design. Interior designers upload pictures of their work – creating fans who would never have otherwise seen their designs.I’m addicted to searching for new designers on Instagram or reconnecting with long forgotten ones. Lately I’ve been following a few designers from Africa. One, who is my age, has the chicest clothes and jewelry and takes the most romantic vacations. Another, Serena Crawford, is already well known to designers. She lives in South Africa and has the most fabulous aesthetic. Her designs are a mix of English Colonial mixed with an African mood. I’m obsessed with her style. Bloggers are familiar with her houses:
From Serena’s web site – a collection of her houses. I love this entry with the two large oil portraits.
Love this room, with her collection of large Louis Vuitton antique trunks, which she uses as end tables.
This room is popular on the blogs. Serena is great friends with another South African designer – Penny Morrison - whose fabric covers the French chair!
Serena recently designed a new house and has been showing a few rooms from it on her Instagram. Wow. It’s to die for! Seriously. The Instagram pictures are wonderful to peruse while we all wait for her new house to be published:
The library off the living room with huge antique sconces flanking the doorway.
A nighttime view of the new house’s great room – overlooking the library.
Past the living room is the dining room and kitchen, with its open shelves filled with piles of blue and white porcelains.
Her bathtub is outside – on the rooftop of the house!!! Yes, that is the roof covered with grass. The umbrella was designed and bought in India – Serena says she waited a year for it to arrive.
It’s not just Serena’s house that is so beautiful, it’s her life, her trips, and her friends around the world that also intrigue. Recently, one of those friend’s ranch was featured in House & Gardens UK. I had seen the feature, but in her Instagram, Serena added so many more interesting details about the house – which is an cattle ranch or “station” in New Zealand.
I thought that even if you had seen this fabulous house in the magazine, you probably had not read the details that Serena provided. So, here it all is for your enjoyment. And enjoyment is an understatement.
Here we go…..
The estate is located in Mount Algidus, New Zealand, on a cattle station covering 53,000 acres. It is an completely isolated location, straddled between two rivers and the Southern Alps. It’s a two hour drive from the nearest airport; a 4x4 is a necessity to cross the rivers, since there is no bridge. Reaching the estate is sometimes only possible by helicopter, the rivers being so unpredictable. To build the house, everything – down to the last nail – had to be brought across these rivers on a tractor’s flat bed. The finished product is clearly a tremendous labor of love. The owners chose the English Colin Orchard, formerly with Colefax & Fowler, to design the interiors. Orchard is the partner of the well known designer William Yeoward. Paul Bangay designed the landscaping.
Here, from Serena Crawford’s Instagram is a truck crossing the rivers to the estate. This gives you an idea of how treacherous the voyage is.
And here, all the building materials and furniture were brought to the ranch on the flat bed of a tractor, seen here. Because the rivers can be either quiet or roaring, great planning had to be undertaken when bringing in a load of supplies. Amazing!
A cropped photograph of the house, with the lawn that looks out onto the rivers and mountains. Here, you can see the front door which is at the rear of the house, and the drive that passes under the back wing of the house to the garage. At the right is the pool, with the large pool house.
A veranda that looks out to the spectacular views.
The front of the house – still under the finishing touches of construction.
Before the landscaping went in. An moody view from landscape designer’s Paul Bangay’s Instagram.
From Paul Bangay’s Instagram. An early view of the landscape.
From Paul Bangay’s Facebook, the landscape, overlooking the rivers and mountains – two years later in full bloom.
From Serena’s Instagram.
The landscaping by the house.
This land was bought over ten years ago and farm buildings were erected years before the house was even started. Apparently another house once graced this land – in the 1870s a large home was built here, but it burned to the ground in the early 1900s. Back then, everything was transported to this isolated spot by horses.
Once the owners were ready to build their house, they hired designer Colin Orchard, with whom they had worked with twice before when he designed their homes in Sydney.
The entry with faux stone walls.
The house is strictly English in feel. Here in the living room, symmetrical consoles and mirrors flank the stone fireplace. A simple seagrass keeps the room from being too fancy. Notice the blue stripe on the curtains, which picks up the same hue of the French bergeres and the fabrics found through the room. The antler styled chandelier is a nod the owner’s Scottish roots.
The other side of the living room, which opens to the dining room.
The expansive dining room which opens to the kitchen and, through double doors, to the library. Fabulous fabric on the host chairs and the curtains. Wood floors turn into stone with wood borders in the dining room and kitchen. English styled green/blue wall color.
Another view of the dining room which is open to the kitchen.
The library, off the dining room and kitchen, is cozy in red walls and red and blue chintz fabric.
Wallpapered powder room.
The beautiful master bedroom is pure English design. Filled with a cream and blue Colefax & Fowler chintz, the walls are painted the same tone of blue. Notice the ceiling with the dormer window. Also, be sure to notice the fireplace mantel!!
Serena said this photograph doesn’t do the bedroom true justice – she says it is the most beautiful space you will ever see. The owner, who is a very stylish and chic dresser, collects antique quilts, of which, one is covering this bed.
And from Serena’s instragram: The same bed filled with the owner’s dogs. Benji, the yellow lab, was a recue who was abused and starved in earlier years. Benji was one of the most difficult dogs adopted by Labrador Rescue of Australia. Three prior owners had tried to tame him, without any success. He was due to be put down, but at the last moment he was given one more try by Serena and her husband. For two years, they gave Benji all the love and care he desperately needed. Finally, he was ready for his new own permanent home at the estate in New Zealand. Here Benji is totally settled in with his new brother!!
One of the bathrooms in the house – notice the freestanding towel warmer. That is on my bucket list for my next house!! I love the lime green paint treatment on the walls. The shade is Colefax & Fowler’s Snow Tree.
One of the numerous guest bedrooms with another beautiful canopy bed designed by Colin Orchard. In New Zealand, he hired Robert Andrews, who had worked for Colefax & Fowler, to construct all the curtains and bedding in the house. The curtains are Manuel Canovas fabric while the quilt is a Chelsea Editions fabric.
In her instagram, Serena talks about the canopy beds in this house. She says that she would only buy one that had been made in England because they have the trained craftsmen who know how to put one together properly. She talks about the fabrics: the ceiling silk that is finely pleated (a very special skill), the backing silk, the glazed chintz, the lining, the trim and the quilt coverlet. Then there are the light fixtures that have to be installed into the back curtain so that you can read in bed. The installation of the bed can be quite perilous, and finally – there is the huge expense to get the English styled canopy bed completed. Taking all this in account, Serena says she prefers to just visit friends with such beds instead of having one in her house.
Personally? I always think of the dust and how all that fabric must collect pet hair! How do you ever clean it? I’m a slipcover lover for the ease of pristine fabrics – a bed like this, though gorgeous, is something I could never have.
And, here is Benji in his new home, overlooking the two rivers and mountains of south New Zealand. After spending two years rehabilitating Benji, Serena brought him here to his new home – something that tore her heart out when she had to leave after a week, but he is very happy with his new owners. There is a special place in heaven for people who rescue neglected and abused dogs!!
To be continued….