Saturday, 21 February 2015

We are changing our name...

It has been a joy to be "Interior Decorating by Sophie" for the last few years, but we have out grown the name and its time to expand and redirect the business.  


"My Beautiful Abode" is an interior styling and design consultancy focused on helping people to make their homes beautiful, inviting spaces.  In our new direction, we will be offering a very accessible design and styling menu to suit all budgets and homeowners.  

Coming soon: our new website.

Sophie Kost, Director and Lead Designer, My Beautiful Abode

Thursday, 29 January 2015

More of how a designer decorates their home...

One of my most popular posts has been able how I decorate my own home (link to previous story), so I thought it about time I give you an update as I didn't show you my living room previsously.

My love for warm earthly colours and timber continues.  I now am gravitating towards metals such as copper and brass and have found a place for both in my living room (pictured below).

The copper geometric side table in the background is from Freedom furniture (as are the sofas, now over ten years old.  I have plans for cigar coloured leather sofas one day, but as they endure two small messy boys, the vision will have to wait a bit longer!) The jute rug is from The Rug Collection... with so many colours in the design it is a joy to decorate with. The coffee table with the aged brass legs, handy shelves and drawers is both decorative and practical.  This is from West Elm (The Chapel Street store is my favorite!)  The velvet cushions I made myself and are beautiful and soft to snuggle with.

As the living and dining area is a modest size, I designed custom built in storage to hold A/V equipment, to work as a buffet, display cabinet and more.
The farmhouse table was selected to build character over time (and by that I mean, I didn't want to be precious about scuffs, dents and spills) and is complimented by ladder back chairs with rush seats.  The pendant lights are from Ikea.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A Christmas baking favourite

I love to bake. 

I find it a gratifying to go to a little effort and receive tasty results. I also find it a good exercise to distract myself when I’m a bit stressed (and I happily tell myself I’m doing my family a service by providing baking where I know exactly the contents!) and with the hectic lead in to Christmas, I enjoy a bit of Christmas baking. 

My German grandmother, whom I adored, used to bake hundreds and hundreds of spiced, crispy biscuits called Braune Kuchen (which sadly translates to “Brown Cakes” which isn’t very exotic sounding at all) for Christmas and give tins of them to those near and dear to her on Christmas Eve.

My grandmother once told me the recipe and I quickly noted her instructions, which were something like a pound of this, pound of that, a pinch of this and maybe a dash of milk if the dough is too dry, or a sprinkle of flour if it’s too wet. 

That’s it. No method, just a list of ingredients. 

I’ve made her so called recipe with good results, but have come to realise it’s the combination of spices that evoke the Christmas memories for me. So I decided to tart up my usual gingerbread men recipe with a few extra spices and am quite pleased with the results of my version of this family favourite. 

Now I’d like to share it with you… 

P.S. I make a double batch and freeze half the dough, so I can bake the second batch at my convenience. 

 Braune Kuchen (my way) 


125g butter 
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed 
½ cup treacle 
1 egg 
2 ½ cups plain flour 
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda 
1 tablespoon ground ginger 
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
¾ teaspoon ground clove 
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 


Cream butter, sugar and treacle til light and fluffy then mix in the egg. 
Stir in the sifted dry ingredients, and then knead lightly into a ball. 
Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least ½ hour. (At this stage, if you have made a double batch, pop half in the freezer to use another day, when you are short on time and want results quickly!) 
Roll dough flat on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick. Use your favourite cookie cutters to make your shapes (this year we have a star, tree and Christmas dinosaur!)
Place on a lined baking tray and bake in the oven at 180c for 10-12 minutes (the cooking time is a bit contentious in our family… soft or crisp? Either way is delicious). 
Cool on trays. 

I hope these Christmas biscuits become a Christmas tradition for your family too.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Angry Birds themed birthday party

My youngest boy turned five this week.  To celebrate we had a party in our backyard with an Angry Birds theme as selected by Master 5.

Here are my highlights on a DIY Angry Birds party:
  • Angry Birds birthday cake.  While I had to "remodel" mine after an engineering failure (damn you gravity!) I made a pair of "TNT" boxes (iced with butter cream icing) with  a fondant icing Red bird crashing into them (icing wrapped around a foam ball).  I used Chocolate Wafer biscuits to make the box appear damaged.  Master 5 took one look at the cake and said "What the heck!", which I will take as a compliment!

  • Games included "Pin the beak on the Bird" a variation on an oldie but a goodie.  

  • I also made a Pinata in the shape of a Bad Piggie.  I highly recommend having a go at making your own pinata; they are simple, quick and satisfying to create.  Two layers of cardboard cut into your desired shape, then using masking tape, attach a length of cardboard around the perimeter to give it some depth (I made mine 10cm wide).  Before fully enclosing the shape, attach the string you will hang it from (make sure you reinforce this onto a tab so the weight of the pinata doesn't make it collapse) and tip in the treats for the kids.  Then cover the cardboard in glue (I used a glue stick as I was going) and wind on your crepe paper which you have already fringed. Finish off by gluing on some paper eyes and other features.


      • The children play "life sized" Angry Birds in our backyard.  We made a slingshot from an old bicycle tire and a couple of star pickets hammered into the ground.  The kids then flung toy plush Angry birds at a tower of cardboard boxes we had collected.  This was the most popular activity.

      • Angry bird shaped biscuits were beyond me, but these gingerbread cookies with Royal icing and sprinkles were a hit.

      • We had streamers and decorations fluttering from the trees and also from rafters over the party table. We used the pinata as a center piece on the table decorations.  The children also played "rescue the eggs" where they had to go through an obstacle course of streamers and collect a toy egg (you can just see this set up in the background).

      Our party went for 1 1/2 hours.  
      This was an ideal length of time for a party with pre-schoolers.

      Tuesday, 28 October 2014

      Crazy for Geometrics

      Do you remember when Melbourne's Federation Square was being built?  Do you remember the criticism of the design?  All those complex geometric shapes and angles were absurd.
      Fed Sqaure - image via Wikipedia

      Jump forward more than a decade and the geometric design of the buildings facade is appearing frequently in modern design.

      Here are some of my favorite sightings of the style;

      I adore this wallpaper by Cole and Son.  It is called Circus.

      Studio Cockatoo are creating gorgeous geometric prints Studio Cockatoo  like this gorgeous elephant. I have some of the Star Wars prints framed in my boys rooms, and the a utterly charming.

      I have also spotted the geometric designs in fabrics and soft furnishings.  For example Cushionopoly, locally designed and crafted cushions have their take on the style


      Furniture and wall art are taking on the style too.  Here's QuirkyBoxes ByRach  (follow them on instagram @quirkyboxes) and some of their products.

      and finally here is a beautiful example from Boyd Blue of table lamps with an elegant geometric style.

      Monday, 22 September 2014

      Are you ready to use brass and copper in your home?

      Hands up if you watch the Block on channel nine? Me too.  Have you noticed any trends in their styles?  I definitely have; Old fashioned Metals are back! Oh, and grey isn’t leaving us any time soon.

      Earlier this year I went to D├ęcor + Design and attended a trend forecasting seminar  and one of the directions was the use of metals such as Brass and Copper.  I’m not talking about a return to the 80’s; this is a subtle sophisticated trend.

      The Block; Simon and Shannon's En suite featured a timber bath with a brass plug.

      Take for example the plug in Simon and Shannon’s en suite bath (pictured above).  They only have that as brass (with a glaze stool to continue the story); all other fittings are chrome.  In other rooms you will also spy the theme continuing.

      The Block; Michael and Carlene have used small amounts of brass in most rooms

      In Michael and Carlene’s apartment we are seeing small amounts of brass in light fittings and door handles.  Further to this, the brass makes an appearance in their styling.

      The Block; Chris and Jenna splurged on this beautiful copper sink for their kitchen

      While I’m talking about these metals, I must mention Chris and Jenna’s copper bedroom wall and kitchen sink.  These guys have jumped onto this theme with both feet! And while the feature wall might be overwhelming, the copper sink is simply divine.

      We are still seeing a lot of timber (often as paneling), warming all the grey in the interiors. It looks like grey is staying for the long haul.  While matt black metal finishes are very much of the moment (furniture legs and tap ware).

      Now when you are out and about looking at interior stores, you are going to notice these trends everywhere; I do!
      Here are some goodies I have been spotting in Melbourne;

      Copper coffee tables at Weylandts with matt black legs
      Schots have furniture featuring brass details
      And I’ve slowly been adding copper and metal detail to my (and clients) homes over the last year;

      This copper side table is from Freedom Furniture

      Bronze Crossover lamp brings all the elements in this room together
      These side tables feature matt black legs.
      Porter's Paint even have "Liquid Copper" paint for re-purposing and updating existing finishes.

      Friday, 15 August 2014

      Why my clients receive their own Look Book

      When I have been to my clients house for a consultation, I put together what I call a "Look Book", specifically for their home/room.  This is a tool for my clients to use to;
      • get a sense of the style I am creating in the room following our discussions where I have listened to your brief and learnt your interior preferences and goals
      • to see the types of furniture and furnishings you could shop for (I include recommendations on where to shop and "try for size", like a shopping list)
      • to visualise the furniture and furnishings I can source and/or have custom made for your home
      I get a great deal of satisfaction from helping my clients to find their own style and to empower them to make confident decisions. 
      Below is part of one of my look books (excluding the "shopping list" details I supply to my client) to give you an idea on what I can do.