Tag Archives: Retro

Front Porch by Fiona Lenord

15 Jun

Upcycle: verb. To reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original, moving it ‘up’ the consumer goods chain.


I love creative people who breathe new life into old things. I’m not talking about The Toy Story theory of extending a discarded item’s life by passing it on to another to be loved all over again but rather upcycling. Pushing the boundaries of an item’s original purpose and creating a new form. Front Porch is one such brand riding the upcycling wave. Front Porch was launched in 2012 by Fiona Lenord after making a tree change to the Blue Mountains, NSW. Behind the brand is Fiona’s 23 years experience as a Textile Designer specialising in hand painted florals, including 13 years with iconic Australian brand Sheridan. This wealth of experience shines through her apparel and homewares designs. The attention to detail and the love put into each piece is really beautiful.

FP cushion

The Front Porch signature piece is a dress made from upcycled textiles. The design is a simple strappy A line cut with a soft rope drawstring, tapering down to varying lengths. Fiona describes her latest best seller, The Foofoo, as “the love child of a poncho and a kimono. Both styles can be layered up and down for all seasons. Worn casually or dressed up for weddings and formal events”.

FP foo

A keen op shopper who loves hunting through secondhand stores and flea markets for vintage items, Fiona found herself “rescuing” old fabric like brocade, seersucker, vintage lace, retro 60’s prints, Australian printed tea towels, embroidered and crocheted tablecloths and doilies. The textiles span across the decades creating diversity in Front Porch, “I have a collection that is constantly rotating from soaking tub to a dye bath, clothes line, sewing machine and ironing board” notes Fiona. The history of the textiles also strike up sentimentality in her customers, some have even commissioned dresses made from family heirloom fabrics. “My biggest surprise has been the repeat customers. I have some customers who own over 30 of my dresses! I have met an amazing network of creative women and friends through this venture and feel lucky to have bonded so quickly with the Blue Mountains community”.


In keeping with the nostalgia of her products is Fiona’s brand name: Front Porch, “I wanted a name with nostalgia, history and quintessentially Australian. I grew up on a fruit Orchard in Kurmond. Our fibro 1960s bungalow had a decorative Besser block Front porch. It was a backdrop to many family photos, a place to greet visitors and hang out.”



This is my Front Porch dress (above) made from a white tablecloth with pale blue embroidery and trimmed with vintage lace. Not only is it cool to wear on hot days and perfect for throwing over my cossies at the beach, it’s also super comfy! I honestly feel like I’m wearing my PJs but I must look fabulous as I always get comments whenever I wear this.

FP plum

I first met Fiona on her stall at The Bluebird Market in Leura and now I have the privilege of calling her my friend. Talented designer is but one of her many hats. Fiona is also a wonderful mother, a professional wearer of red lipstick and owner of a great infectious laugh. I urge you all to seek her out. Front Porch has a stall at The Glenbrook Rotary Market on the 3rd Saturday of every month in the lower Blue Mountains. This is a lovely market full of local farmers, bakers, artisans and producers. Front Porch also visits other Sydney markets so please Like the Front Porch Facebook page for updates. Fiona regularly sells direct from her Front Porch Facebook page so even if you are not in Sydney you can still own one these unique pieces.


Do you own a Front Porch original?

* Thank you to Fiona Lenord for the use of some of her images.


Blaxland Op Shops

6 Jul

I love visiting op shops in country areas, they seem to always be laden with fantastic vintage items particularly homewares. One of our favourite day trips is to meander through the Blue Mountains, NSW. You can spend the whole day or whole weekend even, exploring the amazing National Parks (second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon) browsing in unique boutiques and eating some fabulous food along the way. I highly recommend it.

Blackheath, Blue Mountains

Blaxland is one of the first towns along the Great Western Highway as you begin to ascend the mountain. Don’t be in too much of a rush to race to the top or you will miss all the little gems along the way. The little strip of shops that line the Highway at Blaxland is home to three op shops and I managed to hunt down great finds in each one. We almost outdid ourselves in the first op shop, Bibles for Mission. There were so many retro homewares to be had that I was contemplating starting a collection! Crocheted tablecloths, vintage tea towels, Fondue anyone? Don’t worry I left lots of great items for others to find. I restrained myself to a white melamine Bessemer butter dish $2.50 from the early seventies. A good wooden spoon 50c, how hard is it to find a good one! 6 white rice bowls for $6. The find of the day was this set of 8 BBQ plates for only $5. These are Ornamin Ware Melmac from the sixties. I picked them up for a laugh but my partner snatched them from stating they would be perfect for his BBQ! They are in great condition.

Ornamin Ware Melmac BBQ plates

The Cancer Help Op Shop had a great selection of books and they are selling them for next to nothing. Three books for one measly dollar, madness! If you an avid reader you really must have a look in your local op shop. Prices range up to $5 for hardcovers. Why pay more than $30 retail? Most books are in excellent condition, only read once then discarded. What a waste of paper. Do your bit for the environment and your wallet and buy a second hand book.

A huge event in the Blue Mountains is Christmas in July. Well now after hitting our last stop along the Blaxland strip, St Vinnies I’m rearing to go. I purchased a matching set of christmas themed tableware for a grand total of $11, oh and some festive fairy lights for $3. Ho Ho Ho!

Surry Hills Markets

3 Jul

I remember hunting factory outlets in Surry Hills more than 15 years ago in the days before massive DFO centres. The streets were dirty and the shop facades, industrial. Surry Hills today is completely transformed. It’s still kinda gritty in an inner west way but its slick and it’s very very cool. Martin Boetz, Bill Granger & Kylie Kwong are among the celebrity chefs that run restaurants here in an area that now has seemingly endless cafes & bars. In between are the boutiques. You know, all the ones you see quoted in magazines – Chee Soon & Fitzgerald, C’s Flashback, Orson & Blake, DavidmetNicole and Mushu. The cool oozes out onto the street too where you brush shoulders with an electic mix of locals – the art students, the gay community, families, the cool kids and the wannabes. Surry Hills has become one of those places where people love to hang, to people watch & be seen.

On busy Crown street you will find the Surry Hills Market held on the first Saturday of the month. It’s set in a small park complete with a playground for the kids admist the bars, cafes & boutiques. The stalls mostly sell second-hand wares like books, fashion, homewares and furniture. There are a number of antique dealers selling small collectible pieces with an emphasis on the retro 1950-70’s. You may come across authentic vintage fashion, I spied an immaculate baby blue tuxedo there, but mostly it is last season’s fashion or items you might find in an op shop circa 1992. A trained eye will have luck finding designer items among the high street brands but be prepared to pay more for them. I browsed purple Master Slave wedges, a Hermes necklace and Leona Edmiston sunglasses. There are a couple of food outlets at the market and a plethora of cafes nearby, you won’t go hungry.

This genre of market ticks most of my boxes but there are few sticking points that keep me from returning as often as I do other markets. It’s a bit of a walk from the nearest train station and a notoriously hard place to park, so be sure to bring change for the parking meter. In my book many of the stall holders over charge for their second-hand goods. As a seasoned op shopper I’ve been spoiled by the minimal prices charged by the Salvos. I find it difficult to pay $10 for a scarf I would have only paid $1 in an op shop for. I picked up a pair of brown leather boots and promptly put them back down again when told they were $85. Seriously? The boots were preloved and of no specific brand. I guess someone might pay that amount of money for them, but not me. The stall holders motivation seems to be for the profit rather than to just get rid off all their old stuff. Many of them will not tolerate price haggling and are surprised when confronted with a counter offer. Still I didn’t leave the market empty-handed. I found a red silk skirt, $3 and a Puma hoodie also $3. A pair of black Converse Chuck Taylors, $10 and a couple of new tops reduced from $40 for $15 each. 

As our parking timed out we unfortunately didn’t have time to explore the surrounding boutiques, many of which sell recycled wares or sit for lunch so we headed over to Annandale for Pub Cha, Yum Cha style food in a pub. The pub in question is the legendary Annandale Hotel. Home to some of the best live (& loud) music in Sydney for the past 3 decades. We snacked on dumplings & fish cakes washed down with beer in the sunny courtyard but when I ventured into the pub to use the toilets I was transported back to my 20’s. The stench of the beer soaked floor struck me like a baseball bat. The old pub looked pretty much the same. I like that.

After lunch we drove down the road to Federal Park so the kids could run about on the play equipment and we could walk along the water’s edge of Rozelle Bay, looking out toward the Anzac Bridge. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday with the people you love.

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