5 minutes with … Elise from Maison Balzac


Romance is so much about appealing to all of the senses and none are more powerful than the sense of smell. We are firm believers that scent can create a mood, evoke a feeling and conjure a memory. One of our favourite stockists is the divine Maison Balzac, run by the effortlessly chic Elise Pioch who is without a doubt one of the most interesting and beautiful people we’ve ever met. We sat down with her to discuss her beautiful brand and her special relationship with scent…

Maison Balzac is a business close to your heart, can you tell us how the business began and why you started?

I was born and raised in the South of France, surrounded by the love of my family and by the beauty of the nature. After moving to Australia I started to miss the smell, light and taste o my homeland and decided to bring it to Sydney through the medium of candle making. Maison Balzac is born out of nostalgia for my beloved France.

You have such a clean aesthetic and very distinctive scents for your products, where do you draw your inspiration for the collections from?

Every scent explores my childhood memories. The design of the packaging is as simple, raw, naive and pure as childhood itself. As an adult I met up with incredible artists who helped me create new scents (1642, Obscurite, Sainte T, Etrangete), the design of these boxes is more complex and narrative, a bit like us, adults.


You travel a lot for work and pleasure, do you have a favourite place to visit? Or a favourite story from your travels?

I spend nearly 3 months a year in France with my family, searching new products and fragrances for Maison Balzac and we also explore Australia and its beauty as much as we can but one of my favourite place one earth is Cadaques, North of Spain, by the mediterranean sea. It is where Dali spent his holidays and thanks to him it has remained a fishing village full of charm and style. This is where we spent our honey moon with ours six best friends, it is so magical to me.

Where do you see the collection going or expanding? What’s next?

I am one of these prolific thinker who doesn;t stop to have idea. One pops up every minute in my head. It is really hard not to want to bring them all to life but I had to force myself to focus on one at a time recently. Early 2016 you will see the result of this, I can’t say exactly what it is going to be but it involves perfumes and oils…

1642 MICKEY lr

Some words to live by?

Everything always works out for the best; everyday the sun rises on a new world; we never regret a swim (including 16 degree swim in Bronte pool in winter).

1642 with parrot HR

shop all Maison Balzac products here … 


Designer Inspiration: Clair Harris

Posted by on Feb 5, 2016 in blog, design | No Comments

Designers draw inspiration from all of their surroundings not just interiors or architecture. We asked Designer, Clair Harris, what’s catching her eye and keeping her inspired..

inspiration week 1-2

inspiration week 1-1

Sneak peek of the Paddington Project

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in blog, Home, news | No Comments

The new kitchen and dining spaces at the rear are very contemporary with black veneer, crisp white and pops of aqua blue.


Our Head Designer Margo Reed gives us a sneak peek of her Paddington design and build project. It’s so close to finished, we can’t wait to give you the full tour soon, but in the mean time… Here’s a sneak peek.

Who lives here?

A young family with two little girls.

What was the brief?

The client came to us with an approved DA for a ground floor extension and first floor update to their small terrace home.

Like many of our clients, they weren’t comfortable with the existing internal layout of the terrace, and wanted something more functional and family-oriented layout.

Providing natural lighting throughout was also a key factor.

Since the photo was taken, turf has been put down. More landscaping is to come including the installation of timber bin storage.

The DA-approved designs for a rear extension were problematic for the family.

The design positioned the kitchen as the main thoroughfare to the back courtyard, something that isn’t ideal for the family and their young children.


The owners’ weren’t a fan of the original musk pink exterior so we gave it a black, white and red update.


This layout also affected the flow from the entrance through to the courtyard as the hallway from the front door to the back was blocked by joinery, something that would detract from the amount of light within the space.

Our solution was to place the kitchen facing the yard. This new design had the added benefit of enabling us to provide more storage and opened the space up for both everyday living and entertaining.

The upstairs bathroom is waiting on drawers but you can already see how striking the monochrome palette is.

One of the main challenges when redesigning terraces is their small size. We overcame this through clever planning.

We adapted the layout, moving the proposed in-kitchen laundry into what had been a small under stairs bathroom. We also allowed for ample storage.

The ground floor bathroom/laundry features a textured tiled wall.

Opening up the wall between the front room and living room created an entirely different space with huge amounts of natural light and space. In the future there is potential to install bifold doors

The clients didn’t want the front room room to look like a study so we designed hidden desktops that pull out from the low cupboards in front of the windows.

What was the inspiration?

The clients had pulled together inspiration from magazines. When we went through their collection, the imagery strongly mixed old and new, something that would work perfectly for their own project (see the imagery that inspired this project here).

Wallpaper by Porter’s Paint and a beachy pendant light bring a sense of fun to one of the girl’s bedrooms.

To add charm and character, we played on details from the existing terrace through textured materials, herringbone patterned tiles, antique handles and mouldings throughout.

The clients love colour and we used it to introduce a sense of fun throughout the home through the furniture and wall colours.

How to care for your Fiddle Leaf Fig

Posted by on Dec 23, 2015 in blog, Home, news | No Comments
This Fiddle Leaf Fig is now about 3 years old and was .7 metres high when it was purchased (see more pictures of this project here)

Picked up a Fiddle Leaf Fig but convinced you lack a green thumb? Landscape designer Adam Robinson shares his tips to keep your plant not just alive, but to get it to thrive!

The Ficus Lyrata, more commonly known as the Fiddle Leaf Fig, is a gorgeous bulletproof indoor plant.

Grown in their natural environment outdoors, they can develop into a large tree.

This means when placed indoors they can grow into an impressive size.

But they don’t have to! By containing them in a pot they become like a bonsai.

Fiddle leafs do best in a well-lit position indoors but out of direct sunlight

Looking after your Fiddle Leaf Fig is pretty simple. Here are some tips.

Watering your Fiddle Leaf Fig

I suggest applying a litre of water once a week. You can do this more often if you’ve got it in a position that catches some north or western sun.

The plant likes drying out in-between each water, so be mindful to not overwater these guys.

Plant food and leaf care

The Fiddle Leaf has large lush dark green leaves, to keep these looking their best use a liquid fertiliser in conjunction with a seaweed concentrate.

The fertiliser is food for the plans whilst the seaweed concentrate is a pant tonic to keep the health up to the plant. I suggest Power Feed and Seasol.

Clean the leaves with a soft sponge and water or paper towel to remove dust and improve their glossy appearance.

Linen love and Christmas cheer with Sharon Patsiotis from Hale Mercantile Co

Posted by on Dec 22, 2015 in blog, design, Home, news, store | No Comments


Find out from Sharon Patsiotis, the co-founder of one of our newest brands, Hale Mercantile Co, why linen is the ultimate luxury for those to hate to iron, how to look after it so it lasts for years and tips for how to style your table like a stylist this Christmas.


What inspired you to start Hale Mercantile Co?

It was really a love of natural fibre and also, I was really tired of ironing sheets at home.

I’ve always really loved good quality sheets. I wanted to bring in something out of Europe that was done properly by proper craftsman, that was really good quality and the type of linen that you keep and that becomes vintage linen.

Our linen is meant to look good as it is rather than you having to iron and look after it.

There’s a real textured look and feel to it and it’s all pre-washed so there is no further shrinkage.

There are a lot of linen companies on the Australian market at the moment, and all seem to have a fairly high price point, what distinguishes Hale Mercantile from the rest?

Quality, and hence our price point. We’re one of the very, very, few linen companies that actually bring linen into Australia from Europe.

Our linen is grown, dyed, woven and sewed in Europe. Nothing is done out of India or China at all.

Are you saying that other companies might have linen that is grown in Europe but all the processing, dying and manufacturing happens in Asia?

That’s correct. The analogy we use is that just because you are using good quality flour doesn’t mean you can make a good quality loaf of bread – there is a lot more to it.

It is the same with linen.

Just because the flax has come out of France or Belgium, that doesn’t mean a company is buying the best quality fibres that they can.

Hale Mercantile’s Basix napkins in sable.

What advice do you give to people who are trying to choose Hale Mercantile linen pieces to pull together a mixed bed linen or table linen set?

We find most people in Australia like the neutrals, and use those as a base. Then we also provide the option of choosing from a lot of different colours for people to either coordinate with their interiors or to add to the base colours and mix and match.

We have what we call our four core colours – light grey, dark grey, white and sable, which is like a sand colour.

HMCo’s white linen, Ayrton, is powdery soft and chalky.

With all the different ranges that we have, they’re all designed to work together. You can mix and match it.

We also concentrate on having a very natural palette so that even with our more vibrant colours they really are natural tones so you don’t get that lolly look. That makes it possible to mix them quite a bit.

What recommendations would you have when it comes to caring for your linen?

We actually recommend that ours is tumble-dried.

Tumble-drying brings good quality linen back to that supple softness. One thing you have to remember though is that linen achieves its softness through the moisture it retains, and when you tumble dry it, it should never end up bone dry. It’s not designed to do that.


The Basix napkin is designed with a wide 2cm hem on all edges and have a beautifully finished mitred corners.

The other important thing is to wash it with a good detergent. We recommend a liquid detergent that isn’t too abrasive like a wool or delicates mix.

For Christmas you have done this very textured, light and bright collaboration with stylist Line Kay. Can you tell us about that collaboration?

We love Scandi-style and Line is one of our favourite stylists in the world today.

She’s a friend of ours and is Norwegian. We actually have quite a large presence in Norway and also in America and Canada.

Line has constantly supported us and always does our styling from a Nordic perspective. Then we do an Australian take on our products as well.

What would be your advice for styling your table with linen this Christmas?

With the Nordic style of the shoot, we wanted to show that Christmas isn’t necessarily about having to have everything really structured and tight on a table. I know some people like that structured look and that’s great, but in Australia a lot of people like to have a barbeque say for Christmas.

Our linen lends itself to a laid-back relaxed feel and that’s something we have tried to convey in the shoot.

The textured nature of linen is perfectly paired with other rustic materials like timber, ceramics and hides.

You can mix and match with the colours. We do melanges with our table linen. We have sixteen different napkin designs to choose from and we also do runners that you can.

But with most of the table settings, we really encourage people to pursue a more rustic style incorporating things like aged metals, wooden item, so the texture really comes through.

Visit us in-store to browse our range of Hale Mercantile Co linen. 

How to enjoy the Moonlight Cinema in style

Posted by on Dec 17, 2015 in blog, design, Home, news | No Comments


Heading to the Moonlight Outdoor Cinema in Centennial Park is one of our favourite things to do when the weather warms up. Find out how to do the night in style.

The 2015/16 season recently kicked off and since it’s in our neighbourhood, we thought we’d share our picks of the movies we want to see, the best places to pick up treats to take with you, and the must have items to make this night truly special:

1. If you want to eat healthily..

About Life is located just around the corner from the closest park entrance to the cinema. You can get a yummy healthy takeaway salad box and some delicious snacks and treats that make you feel great!

2. If you want to eat pizza…

Grab a pizza down the road at on Oxford Street Love Supreme pre-movie. If you’re feeling brave, choose the daily ‘Surprise’ pizza on offer.

3. Take a wine Bag

Wine never looked as good as when it’s fitted within our newly arrived Uashmama Paper wine bags. Now you can dress your bottle up for the movies and for future dinner parties!

4. Take a seat

The scrumptious range of Round Beach Towels are a must have for your picnics this summer. Made from a gorgeous velour front with a cotton back and tassel, they are the luxe summer essential for all your adventures this summer.

We’ve have booked in to see the classic Dirty Dancing and the remake of the 90’s cult classic Point Break. The perfect way to spend a summer night.

Moonlight Cinema is on until 27th March 2016. See the full summer schedule here: www.moonlight.com.au/sydney/program/

Win! Win! Win! With The Design Hunter Christmas Dash

Posted by on Dec 17, 2015 in blog, design, Home, news, store | No Comments


We’re getting into the festive spirit by partnering with our incredible suppliers to hold a huge gift giving extravaganza.

For 14 days we’ll be giving away 17 amazing prizes valued over $8000 in total!

To be in the running watch our Instagram and Facebook pages every day between 11 and 24 December.

Each day we will reveal what prize you could win by coming into The Design Hunter store (316 Bronte Rd, Waverley NSW) and making a purchase.

To be eligible to win that day’s prize you need to dash in to buy something in-store! 

Winners will be selected at random so you never know when you could walk away with something divine from the list below.

Heads up – the Christmas Dash doesn’t apply to online purchases.

The Design Hunter Christmas Dash Prizes*

These aren’t listed in any particular order, you’ll just have to watch out to find out what’s being given away when!

    Turkish linen beach towels and linen hand towels, prize valued $588.00


  2. 1803 DEER – WON!
    Deer leather handbag in rust, prize valued $625


    La Blanche candle, marble cloche, la crème de la crème pot and Menage A 3 mini candle set, prize valued $257.00


  4. PAMPA – WON! 
    Large black and white horse print, 110 x 75 cm, unframed, prize valued $595.00


    Linen tablecloth and set of 2 leather placemats, prize valued $300.00


    Paradisium hand and body gift box and eau de parfum, prize value of $159.99


    Flocca linen queen flat sheet and pillowcase set, prize valued $533


    Cotton moss stitch blanket in grey, prize valued $439


    Flower weave Geranium rug, 1.22m dia, prize valued $725


  10. ASHLEY & CO – WON!
    Blossom and Gilt and Tui & Kahili scent packs, prize valued $529.40


  11. CODE LOVE – WON! 
    ‘Freedom’ seed three wrap bracelet and ‘You Rock’ cufflinks, prize valued $230


  12. ENOKI – WON!
    Cumulus pendant light in white, 460mm, prize valued $495


    Large dish, mini dish and serving dish in grey, prize valued $230.00


  14. CADRYS – WON!
    One lucky customer will win a gift voucher to the value of $500 for a minimum of $1,000 spend at Cadrys


  15. OTOMYS – WON!
    Mark Tipple ‘Cycle’ print from the Mare Visa series, 84.6 x 122cm, unframed, prize valued $825


    Original artwork ‘Earth 13’ 50cm dia, prize valued $550


    Set of three brass mirrors, prize valued $575

    *The prizes pictured on this post and Instagram aren’t always representations of the exact prize to be given away, some are general depictions of a brand’s products

7 ways to transform your guest bedroom into a haven

Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in blog, design, Home, news | No Comments
Bright, white Hale Mercantile Co linen makes a serene statement in this bedroom styled and photographed by Line Kay.

At this time of the year, a lot of us host house guests. If your guest bedroom is looking more like a storage room or home office than a haven, we have some tips to help you give it an instant update.

1. Invest in some good quality sheets and towels

It’s really not hard to create a luxe experience – step 1, don’t give your guests your sad old towel or sheet sets.

Beautiful linen and towels will set the mood and tone for your space.

Made in Turkey, Bemboka’s range of beautiful pure cotton bath towels are one of our most popular items in-store and online.

The beautiful pique border design of Bemboka’s towels with chenille ribbed stripes and a sophisticated neutral colour palette make them a bathroom classic.

Often used in commercial situations, these luxury towels are tough but also soft, thick, highly absorbent and long-lasting. With their sophisticated neutral colour palette, they’ll look at home in any interior.

When it comes to luxurious bedding, you can’t go past our new range of Hale Mercantile Co bedlinen (pictured above). While definitely an investment, if cared for properly this European linen will last a lifetime and only improve with age.

Consider using four standard pillows and two Europeans, this will not only create a luxe look but will make it possible for your guests to sit up in bed to read.

2. Consider using mirrors, especially if your space is small!


Not just handy for helping your guest get ready for any festivities, a well-placed mirror can enhance the sense of space in the room.

Our round brass mirror is classic and just the right size. It looks great in a cluster of 2 or 3, the perfect balance of form and function.

3. Freshen your guest bedroom with flowers

This bedroom styled by The Design Hunter team has the perfect posy beside the bed!
This bedroom styled by The Design Hunter team has the perfect posy beside the bed!

You don’t need a huge bouquet to make an impact, plus it’ll take up too much room and could be a bit overwhelming! A couple of buds in a small vase is perfect or you could put in one of our beautiful fiddle leaf figs in a basket or pot to freshen up the space.

4. Use scent as décor

Provide atmospheric fragrance with our Ashley & Co home perfumes or a gorgeous candle from Lumira or Maison Balzac.

Ashley & Co mini bars$9.95 each, are perfect for guests, photo via @ashleyandcosociety

A collection of mini bars of soap from Ashley & Co will add to the boutique hotel feel.

5. Make a power point easily accessible!

Spare your guests the hassle of scrambling around on the floor looking for a spot to charge their phone or plug in their hairdryer. A well-placed power board should do the trick

6. Provide a bench or trunk

A bench at the bottom of the bed or along one wall creates an easy spot for guests to place their suitcases, or miscellaneous belongings. A basket is also handy for storing extra towels and blankets.

7. Consider the little things…


This volcanic bowl, $99, looks beautiful and is practical.

A water glass and carafe next to the bed and even a small bowl with some fruit and maybe some muesli bars can make the world of difference to a guest’s experience.

No one wants to be found fossicking around in a foreign kitchen in the wee hours hunting for water or a snack!


Our annual VIP Christmas shopping night is this week!

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in blog, news | No Comments


Christmas gift guide: Kris kringle gifts under $30!

Posted by on Dec 3, 2015 in blog, Home, products | No Comments


If you are deliberating over what to give as a kris kringle gift, look no further.

We’ve rounded up 9 pressies you can purchase from us now that cost between $9.95 and $30 each.

  1. Lumira travel candles, $20 each

    Give the gift of travelling fragrance. Lumira’s travel candles are also a great way to test a fragrance before committing to the brand’s Lumira 80 hour candles.

  2. Small horn bowls, $22 each

    Handmade in Kenya from re-salvaged cow horn, the small version is great for salt, pepper and spices.

  3. Maison Balzac’s crème de la crème, $20

    Made with 90% organic ingredients, this hand and body cream is formulated to nourish, protect and dry fast, leaving skin protected, hydrated and repaired.

  4. Wood and bone jam spoons, $18.00 each, and Bone sugar spoon, $16.00 each

    Handmade in Kenya from re-salvaged bone and wood, these serving spoons are for any condiment. The design at the end of each spoon is unique – all hold the same, fine line design but no two are alike.

  5. Slate coasters, set of four, $28.00

    Handcrafted from natural slate then cut to size, each piece is a dark charcoal colour that will darken further when oiled.

  6. Ceramic stardust mini dish in white, $25.00, porcelain mini dish in grey and dove, $20.00 each (CLOCKWISE, FROM RIGHT)

    The smallest size in Studio Enti’s beautiful range of stylish porcelain and ceramic vessels, theses dishes are the perfect size for everything from butter, to sea salt to rings and precious trinkets.

  7. Snowflake beaded star decoration, $20.00

    Add a little sheen to your friend’s Christmas with this oversized beaded decoration.

  8. Ashley and Co. mini soap bars, $9.95 each

    These cleansing soap bars are for the face or body. They are made from goat’s milk and Manuka honey with five scents available.

  9. Lumira ‘Paradisium’ hand and body cream, $30.00

    Enriched with Macadamia Seed Oil and Shea Butter, this rich, hydrating hand and body cream is instantly absorbed, replenishing the skin and keeping it soft and protected all day.


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