Tag: #opulentminimalistlifestyle

Eat and Drinks Diary – Ho Chi Minh City- Part One

Eat and Drinks Diary – Ho Chi Minh City- Part One


One of my favourite cities.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  Formally known as Saigon..

It is famous for the pivotal role it played in the Vietnam War, stunning French architecture, traffic mayhem , cheap guesthouses and 5 Star hotels, street food and high end roof top bars, crowded markets and luxury designer stores.

It is a crazy and intoxicating clash of commerce and culture. And it will grab you by the throat and drag you along for the ride. This is why it is one of my favourite cities…


So, we left a chilly Melbourne winter and flew via Singapore with Jetstar to Ho Ch Minh. Its an easy trip. We arrived at 9pm local time and after a seamless exit through customs and visa approval, we hopped straight into the pre booked a car that was waiting kerbside. I always suggest this as my preferred option upon arrival. It can be a bit daunting landing in a foreign country at night and its just easier to spend a little more and get to the hotel. (**check with your hotel prior to travel, as most will offer courtesy shuttle, so you can pre book it before you leave home.)

I had booked the Hotel Liberty Central Riverside. It is as it sounds, on the Saigon river, located in District One, which is the best district for nightlife and shopping. 600 mtrs to the Ben Thanh Market, 20 minute walk to the Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon and only 15 minutes to The Saigon Opera House. It has a fitness centre and roof top bar with a pool..so all my preferences were ticked!

Life balance!




Day One:

After a traditional Vietnamese breakfast which consists of Pho Bo ( beef noodle soup), lots of chilli, coriander, bamboo shoots and fresh lime…we hit the Ben Thanh Markets.


This is the place to find local handicrafts, ‘faux’ Nikes and lots of T-shirts, sunglasses, belts , travel bags and electronics …You name it ..and it is here. It also has an amazing array of market food, fruit, vegetables, dried fruits and most important the Vietnamese herbs and greens for the traditional street foods and soups.


Expect to spend about 2- 3 hours here and prepare to bargain. Start at half asking and creep up to no more than two thirds of the original price. The Vietnamese people thrive and expect bargaining…so don’t be shy.

Getting used to the traffic in Vietnam is probably the most difficult task to master.  The streets are full of honking trucks, taxis and motorbikes on a intensity level not known in Western Countries, with road rules that don’t exist. Bikes, cars and people seem simultaneously, collectively and individually to be heading straight at each other.


Be warned, drivers will not slow down, or stop, so therefore you must be confident. Step out into the traffic, start walking, keep an even gait at all times  and just keep walking.

DO NOT STOP. I liken it to blood flow. It keeps going and flowing at a natural pace. The traffic will ebb around you. They anticipate your speed and adjust to suit. The honking of horns is considered a polite gesture…to let you know they are near…not as an angry one. So take a deep breath and go for it. (it will take you a day to get used to it.)

Once we had loaded up at the markets, it was time for lunch. Vietnam is all about fresh  and light food. So we headed to a local restaurant and ordered all the traditional options. More Pho soup, fresh rice paper rolls, vegetable noodles and completed the feast with my new obsession.

Vietnamese Coffee.


Iced or hot, this is an addictive blend of ox-strong black coffee and sweetened condensed milk. Addictive. Delicious. Heart Racer. More please.

After lunch we did what any other 3 gals would do next…hit the day spa. We found a clean, modern beauty salon near the market and proceeded to spend the next four hours being completely pampered. Leg scrubs, body massages, facial steams, eyelash extensions, tummy wraps, pedicures, manicures, eyebrow wax, hand massage, foot massage, head massage..total cost $300.

It was the best few hours and totally refreshed we headed back to hotel to change for the night time activities.

… Sx


Expert Advice for Bathroom Renovations

Expert Advice for Bathroom Renovations

Top Designer Tips and Renovation Advice for the Perfect Bathroom.


When you decide to renovate your bathroom, it can be an overwhelming and daunting task.
How is it possible, that one of the smallest rooms in your house, requires almost every tradesmen necessary to build a new house from scratch!
The key to reducing the anxiety related to renovating, is to be prepared and organised before you begin any demolition or construction.
And the most important factor in achieving the organisation is to hire a professional who will assist with the key steps in keeping your project on track and on budget.

Design and Plan :
Before you obtain quotes or engage the contractor, have your plan and design ready. The size and space needs to be considered, so that the scale and proportion of the design is correct. This includes the functionality as well. Write up a wish list and then apply the ideas to the plan. A designer will assist with executing your goals and will also offer more solutions and options that you may not have considered.


Lighting Features :
Bathrooms pack a lot of punch in one small space, so creating some key features is important.

Lighting is paramount and is required for both task and ambience.
Consider using recessed lighting under a floating vanity or recess shelving for ambience.
A stunning feature pendant over the bath for hotel like opulence.
A wall mounted LED light for makeup and shaving.


Storage Features :

Good storage is quite possibly the most important component of your bathroom.
Recessed Mirror Shaving cabinet storage is perfect for smaller items and easily accessible.
Drawers instead of cupboards is a better form of storage due to the availability of internal dividers and partitions that be inserted and keep everything organised.
Recessed feature shelving in the shower or running along the bath wall is at the perfect solution to housing shampoo and bottles. If you apply a feature tile to the recess it also creates a key feature.


Budget :
So how much is this all going to cost….

Depending on your material selection..marble bench top versus laminate bench top, porcelain tile versus ceramic…The price actually shouldn’t vary too much. If you consider using a floor tile at $65 p/m for 10 mtrs of tiling versus a $35 p/m tile, the cost savings is not huge with only a $300 savings. So bear in mind that the product doesn’t really alter your final budget dramatically. (**It certainly will bring down the overall spend if all items are at a budget pricing)

The best way to consider how much is a realistic spend on your renovations, is to base it on the current value of your home. Professionals will advise that a minimum of 30% of the value of your property be spent on a bathroom renovation. Therefore, if your house is valued at one million dollars, then expect to pay $30,000 + for the materials and construction of your new bathroom.

Contracting the right builder for the job is also paramount, as you are relying on their expertise to ensure good workmanship is done. Waterproofing is one of the most important factors as a leaky floor is a nightmare once the bathroom is completed..you guessed it…the whole space has to be ripped up and redone!
Allow 4 weeks from demolition to completion. All of the trades have a section to complete, in order, and most can’t go in and work until the trade before him has finished. So patience is key, and if you are living in the property during the renovation, consider staggering the bathroom fit outs, so you still having one that works.

In conclusion…Hire a professional interior designer to advise and assist with the design and plan. A well thought out, scaled plan is paramount before you begin.
Select everything. Basins, tiles, toilets, cabinets, lights..everything.
The builder can then quote accurately on every item you have selected and you will know the cost beforehand. This should prevent any budget blowouts once construction commences.
And then, light a candle, pour yourself some wine and sink into that beautiful bath tub and enjoy your new space. You’ve earned it.




Are you following White Chalk Design on Facebook?
If not, click the link and you can watch us stream live videos from building sites, award nights and weekly renovation discussions. Ask all of your design questions, and interact with us LIVE.

Click the link to watch one of our latest live feeds.


Project of the Month.
Multi Residential Townhouses – Bayside.


White Chalk Design prides itself on working closely with our local Bayside developers to help achieve a practical and desirable fit out for the discerning buyer. This month we are proud to feature this recently completed 2 town house development located close to the beach. We used natural organic materials and light colours to achieve a coastal vibe, with out being obviously beachy.

“The key to creating a harmonious living space is to use a variety products that are cohesive and appealing to the buyer. Therefore the design needs to be aimed at all tastes and a variety of requirements, however, executing a point of difference is of the utmost importance for us. We never want our developers to feel that we are all churning out cookie cutter designs, everything the same on each project. The developments must resonate with the buyer and still feel as if it has been designed exclusively for them”

Serena Elise

Principal Designer  WHITE CHALK DESIGN

Inspiration from the Milan Design Fair 2016

Inspiration from the Milan Design Fair 2016



What a busy month we have had at White Chalk Design!

Our projects are varied and exciting, ranging from decorating beautiful residential properties, redesigning bars and hotels and our all time favourite… designing and building new kitchens.

It is such an progressive time in the design world, with the new trends coming through from the Milan Design Fair.

Kitchens are getting darker and more textured, with the accent being on creating a harmonious work space that is timeless, yet cohesive with your family environment.

Consider using dark oak timber cabinets, with soft grey veined marble and slim lined feature pendant lighting.
Very simple, yet completely adaptable to any home.
Take a look at what Milan delivered this year.



Thinking of renovating your old kitchen?
White Chalk Design is offering a ‘free of charge’ initial consultation to discuss your kitchen plan. We can design, quote and install your new kitchen. Take advantage of our new ‘3D walk -through’ option to ensure you are completely comfortable with your plan before we commence construction.
This offer is valid for the month of June.
Contact us now to book your free site meeting.



White Chalk Design is proud to be nominated as one of the Top 100 Interior Design companies in Australia.



Project of the Month.

Contemporary Family Home. Bayside.

‘The owner of this magnificent home, built recently in Bayside, had one main design request in his brief…to successfully incorporate a live fish tank into the plan, and thus creating a magnificent feature and focal point.
We think we hit the brief perfectly. ‘

Serena Elise,
Principal Designer,
White Chalk Design.


White Chalk Design Rewards You…

White Chalk Design Rewards You…

White Chalk Design | Luxury Lifestyle & Design


We want to thank you for being a loyal White Chalk client.

Do you have a friend who is thinking of renovating or building?
White Chalk Design can help ease the stress associated with the process.

This month, White Chalk Design is offering a special referral gift to you.

Refer a friend or colleague to WCD and you will receive a free 12 month subscription to any magazine of your choice.
Its as simple as that.
Remember to tell them to mention your name when booking their initial consultation and we will contact you to arrange your magazine subscription.
It’s our way of saying thank you.



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Project of the Month.


Modern Family Home, Bayside.

‘We loved working with our client on this decorating project in Hampton. The client had full faith in White Chalk to execute a modern and striking monochromatic palette, whilst still keeping the home family friendly. The grey velvet sofa, paired with the black leather tub chairs, created a very masculine feel, and by adding a feature chair with the pop of soft blue, this created the warmth we needed to avoid a stark environment.”

Serena Elise,
Principal Designer,
White Chalk Design.



Hobart Eat and Drinks Diary Part Two | MONA

Hobart Eat and Drinks Diary Part Two | MONA







MONA. (Museum of Old and New Art)

The must do when going to Hobart is to visit Mona. Built into a cliff on the Berriedale Peninsula, (approx 30 minutes from the CBD),  it was opened in 2011 and is the brainchild of owner David Walsh, a multimillionaire gambler and art collector. Walsh has described his MONA as a “subversive adult Disneyland” and he’s not far off.






Even before you enter the museum, you realise that this guy means business. His reserved car space is loud and obnoxious. I find it intriguing and kind of cool. He probably doesn’t have a lot of friends.




You enter the museum on the top floor and descend via a spiral staircase deep into the earth. From there, visitors slowly work their way back up towards the light, as there are no windows in the galleries. Walsh’s vision is almost wacky in its ability to entertain. This is not a traditional museum, but one that is designed to sometimes shock, sometimes disturb, but overall initiate discussion.




Each visitor is given the equivalent of an iPhone on a lanyard- there aren’t any signs or labels next to the exhibits. Push a button on your electronic device and all the nearby art exhibits are displayed. Press the button for your exhibit of choice to learn about it. Hit “Gonzo” and get a summary; press “Art Wank” and receive greater detail about the piece. You may learn more about the art, the artist or even details on how the curator obtained the piece.





The sheer volume of the rock face around you is amazing. The art work is provocative and very sexual, it is still ok for kids as it is easy to by pass the super weird gallery section. But parental discretion is advised. Plaster cast vaginas line one wall, and the ‘poo machine’ is hard to miss. This section has working machinery mimicking our digestive system. It smells wretched. I feel sorry for the security guy who drew the short straw on that look out. And they call it art!






Then that part of the day when you head out to the open ‘cellar door’ grassed area. Grab a bottle of the local wine, a platter of food and relax in over sized beanbags while listening to the musical talent of the alternative band performing. I felt like I was at a rad music festival. And I was 21…It was fine.





MONA is a full on brand and business. Transport options are numerous. The Mona ferry can take you from Salamanca to the museum, the Mona Hummer can pick you up bring you to the museum and deliver you safety back to your hotel, The Mona bike hire is available from the Brook St ferry, The Mona seaplane…well, you would if you could…




Plus you can book your wedding, Christmas lunch, a function, a birthday…a conference…or hang out alone in the venue centre or restaurant. Spoilt for choice.


So next time you are in Tassie…. go to MONA…it is an intensely visceral, thoroughly engaging, conversation starter. (Oh..and if you visit the rest room…sit down and relax…then look overhead..and enjoy the image…if you dare)











White Chalk Interiors Design Tip | Guest Room Makeover Part One

This week we are installing furniture for our clients’  guest room on a beautiful estate in the country. The key is not to overdo the room as it has a natural stone wall, which is the feature. The velvet bedhead is my favourite piece so far…


Plant Holders | The New Chic Accessory |

Take a stroll down any street in Paris in Spring or Summer and you will see classic architecture coupled with the traditional hanging baskets filled with colourful potted flowers. This is as synonymous with Paris as the Eiffel Tower or The Champs Elysees.


Right now I’m crushing on all thing plants. Hanging, potted, in stands..even oversized classic white pots with a simple succulent. I am no green thumb, the plant is not the hero as it may change..often..so therefore the stand must be.

Here are some modern twists on the pot plant holder.


Cool, modern and super chic..this is my hands down favourite. Stunning in all homes. Loving the gold.



The clear glass hanging pendants with a selection of pretty blooms is eyecatching and fresh..Great for a bathroom.



Keeping up with the Neon trend…old school macramé : new school version.



A simple glass candle votive. Potted. Small detail with big impact.



This plant is the art. The drama in what is a simple room. Plain metal holder.


Add some greenery to your home. Add some impact with how its potted.

Add a kick ass holder or stand. Add a conversation starter for your guests.

Happy Planting…


Beauty Product | The Lift

I blame my mother. Totally her fault. I am becoming ‘healthily ??!!?? obsessed’ with beauty products, and this seems to be a genetic predisposition I have inherited.

My Grandmother used Ponds Cold Cream as a cleanser and moisturiser and she had beautiful soft skin. Simple. My mother, on the other hand, seeks out, experiments, orders online, cuts reviews from magazine and newspapers, sends them on to me…and actually has more samples of creams and potions in her bathroom then she will use in her lifetime. I have become her.



So…the most recent heads up she passed on to me..was The Lift. This is a serious tightening 3 step process that was advertised on a morning show, and I was called immediately. “You should try this…I should try this”…ok Mama. So we did. I ordered the kit online, one each, and waited for the postman to deliver me this new ‘miracle’ in a jar. At $235 per pack, it is not the cheapest gamble.

Plus, Mum had not even used it before..but we had to have it…just in case…it could be the one..maybe…


A few days later I mixed the powder with the cream and applied the brush in upward strokes, as per the instructions…and I waited. Let me tell you it has a severe tightening effect. I have never felt such a powerful mask before and it is actually a little uncomfortable. It felt like I had covered my face in shellac and 20 minutes later and I was happy to wash it off. Included in the pack is a cream to apply after the mask and there are 10 sachets of each product. It is suggested that you use The Lift as a quick fix before a night out..or use twice a week for a maintenance system.


The Lift claims to restore elasticity, tighten and brighten the skin, and intensively tone facial muscles and lift sagging skin. And leave a healthy glow. My skin certainly felt soft and velvety after the treatment..but the small wrinkles were still visible. Surprise surprise! I guess we all know deep down that we can’t really stop the signs of ageing…but there’s no harm in trying right?? As far as I can tell, there is no dramatic change in appearance to my skin..at this stage..


I have only used it once so far and plan to use The Lift once a week..Check out my  after pic and you can judge for your self. Please disregard my bronze eyebrows..wow ..really need to fix that!



Fingers crossed this is the beauty trick that Hollywood kept a secret and now has let the cat out of the bag! Oh, and thanks Mum for keeping me ahead of the game..What’s the next one? Just is case this is not the cure for youthful skin…


This Weeks Most Clicked…

Thank you for enjoying my blog. These are your faves from the week.


Fabulous Friday | Getting Your Fitness On | Home Gyms806aa8c36abb7042fa54a8e49f8a9c3f

Click Here : http://opulentminimalistlifestyle.com/2013/04/25/fabulous-friday-getting-my-fitness-on-at-home/


Namaste India | Part One


Click Here : http://opulentminimalistlifestyle.com/2012/12/06/namaste-i-adore-india-and-all-it-has-to-offer-part-1/


Weekend Round Up | What I Wore | Colour



Click Here : http://opulentminimalistlifestyle.com/2013/12/08/weekend-round-up-what-i-wore-colour/


Have a Great week..


Fabulous Friday | Glass Bottles |



We all know that everything tastes better in glass. But I didn’t realise until recently, how much better. Tea, green smoothies, even cool water with lemon slices. In glass. Much better.




I was travelling through China a few months ago, and everywhere you go, people are carrying glass bottles with infused tea inside. Glass bottles with straps, covers and handles. The Chinese taxi drivers don’t leave home without 2 or 3 glass bottles full of green spicy leaves and hot water. Glass tea bottles are BPA, phthalate, PVC, and polycarbonate free.



Using glass for hot or cold drinks means no chemicals leaching into your drink and no metallic taste. The wide mouth bottle design makes it easy to add loose teas, fill-able tea filters, or ice.




In China I bought a glass tea bottle with a black rubber cover for insulation. I use it every day for my green smoothie or tea. I fill it up with my drink of choice, throw it in my handbag and sip away whilst dropping the kids to school and then on to the office. It tastes fresh. It looks good. I’ve converted.