Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Are you sitting comfortably? I'm just loving the Armchair Collective

9 oC this morning in Sydney which officially qualifies as jolly nippy in my book, but the upside is glorious, blue sky days where the sun provides enough warmth during the day to instantly create a feeling of well being.

Like London, Sydney has very clear geographic divides, however unlike London where people will ask “Are you North or South of the River?”, the question here tends to go, “Are you Eastern Suburbs or North Shore?”  Then you can start adding in Inner West (trendy inner city suburbs), Western Suburbs (suburbs sprawling into each other all the way to the Blue Mountains with a bit of a Wild West feel thrown in), Upper North Shore, (leafy mansions complete with serious driveways in the suburbs all the way up the train line), Lower North Shore, (desirable harbour side housing) and the Northern Beaches (peninsula with beach after fabulous beach, going all the way up to the Palm Beach of Home and Away opening sequence fame).  South doesn’t seem to get much of a look in as an identifier in Sydney, the geographically Southern suburbs are almost ignored until you get to the Shire, which is less of a hobbit home and short for Sutherland Shire – almost a country to itself.

We live on the Lower North Shore and I love the mix of tree filled streets, harbour beach you can walk to and the city only 15 to 20 minutes away by bus or ferry.   However I do recognise that you very quickly get parochial about your particular patch whether it be Edinburgh, London, New York, Hong Kong or Sydney and it is definitely to get out at regular intervals and appreciate the joys of different areas.  Sydney’s Northern Beaches have a reputation for a laid back, surfing orientated lifestyle fuelled by good coffee.  I had to take one of the Drama Queens up there at the weekend and whilst I was only 40 minutes from home it felt like a different city, customers were spilling out of Woolworths as they do in every suburb in Australia on a Saturday morning, the difference here was a significant proportion weren’t wearing shoes.  Boys in wetsuits darted across the main road from the ocean beach, whilst teenagers on bicycles wobbled past, surfboards clamped precariously to their side. 

I had an hour to kill and went for a coffee at the totally fabulous Armchair Collective in Mona Vale.  I had heard about it and always wanted to go, and having built it up in my mind as dream destination, was somewhat disappointed to find a nondescript looking red brick building.  

However as soon as you step inside, the so so streetscape is replaced by an Arabian Night’s fantasy of colours and fabrics.  Armchairs, as you would expect from the name, dominate the space, with a variety of vintage frames upholstered in the types of material that brought an immediate smile to my face. 

I was overcome by the longing to buy at least four of them and dot them round my house to give rooms the zing that is created by a fabulous piece in a fabulous colour. 

The whole thing is a cross between a shop and a cafĂ© and what genius idea is that to combine the good things in life? Besides the armchairs taking on almost sculptural role and the tables filled with people having a leisurely breakfast and coffee, the space was filled with lamps, household goods, flowers and books.  With a coffee and vegemite on toast in front of me, Saturday paper in hand, the beach less than a minute’s walk away and an hour to myself, I was in heaven – perhaps it’s time for a move to the Northern Beaches?  Definitely time to kick off the shoes.


  1. Think you missed out a word after..and it is definitely.....and get out...
    all spring to mind as my great escape to Sydney sorted me out! xxx

  2. Great cafe!! Have you been to Burnt Orange on Middle Head Road in Mosman? Different feel from Armchair collective, but also combines a cafe and shop. And it has a huge verandah overlooking the harbour.

  3. Dear LRS - Sydney definitely land of great escape at moment, glorious autumn weather, just loving it. Cx

  4. Hi Diane, love Burnt Orange - we had a fabulous sunfilled lunch there to celebrate Drama Queen No. 1's 18th birthday. There is nowhere to beat that view from the verandah on a sunny day. Cx