Penelope Grundle is a life coach, New York Times best-selling author and twice-Editor of Australian Vogue. She is also NUPSA’s resident advice columnist, in accordance with the terms of her Community Service Order (Crimes [Sentencing Procedure] Act 1999).


Welcome back, my darlings, welcome back! Here we are once more, at the start of a new year – the future laid before us like a virgin garden of delights, all full and ripening with fresh opportunity.

For those of you who’ve just arrived – gentle novitiates in the halls of knowledge – my name is Penelope Grundle, and I seek joy in all things. I’m a woman of many faces, and just as many tastes: fashion icon, life coach to the stars, author of five New York Times best-sellers, twice-Editor of Australian Vogue, and (as of this month) High Priestess of the Cult of Hekate, Hunter Valley chapter. I’m run off my feet these days, darling, I really am.

Additionally, for the past two years it has been my ample pleasure (and the order of a federal court) to share with you my wisdom as NUPSA’s resident advice columnist: a font of hope to the weary and depleted, a beacon to the befuddled, and a veritable fairy godmother to the poor and the poorly dressed. Two years of trial and experiment, jubilation and despair… and here you all are, my children, standing tall. Still reaching and expanding towards your bliss. I couldn’t be prouder.

So here I am – ready for year three, and all the juicy conundra you may throw at me. I’m exhilarated, darling. Wild stallions couldn’t keep me away. (Though if any are reading this, I do hope you’ll still make vigorous attempt at it, gentlemen.)

Speaking of bliss, I cannot tell you how delighted I am to be Hekate’s High Priestess of the Hunter Valley. The Goddess in Triplicate has lent me no end of assistance over the years – when I was bedeviled by wraiths, for example, while babysitting the Burton children – and I was honoured, and deeply humbled, to be offered the role following the death of the previous High Priestess, Juniper Snix, over Christmas.

The cause is still uncertain; according to some of the other members, she enjoyed the Saturnalia just a tad too much for a woman of ninety-seven, but to hell with their nonsense. Well done, Lady Snix! If you’re going to meet the gods, do it in a leather thong, I say.

I’ve big plans for the Cult, of course. We’re small at the moment (the best cults are, generally), but a recent Facebook post by Israel Folau – in which he suggests that gluttony and rampant fornication are the result of a witch’s curse – has almost doubled our number overnight, with people clamouring to know what other pleasures of the flesh a hag might conjure. Oh my dear, sweet, simple boy. You know what they say: never threaten someone with a good time.

To be clear: the Queen of Night inflicts no moral judgement on our mortal delights. She invites us not to shun our own desires, but to embrace them wholly, without shame or fear. The old man in the white robe is getting tired now; let’s put him to bed at last, and let the vast primordial feminine emerge and take the wheel.

Ah, but here I go again, dear children, rambling on! Enough of my concerns. Tell me of yours.


Dear Penny,

I have decided that I wish to decorate my living room to celebrate the start of a new decade and wanted to consult with you. I am so torn because I love animal prints but I also love dolphins and I am trying to think of how I can combine the two. I am sure that you can suggest some wonderful budget-friendly decorating tricks that will help me achieve the look I want.

My two inspo pics are below. I know you probably have the classiest home in Australia so I know you are the woman I need to ensure it stays tasteful.

Eagerly awaiting your response,

Bedroom Queen


Something animal print-heavy, but also very dolphin. Can it be done?


Dear Bedroom Queen,

What a marvelous idea! There’s no better way to start a new chapter in one’s life (especially if the last one was less than glorious) than with a fresh new look, and a fresh new outlook, for the home. Our home is our sanctuary, and should be an extension of ourselves – furnished with all our dreams, our predilections, and the people and ideas we truly venerate within this world.

In designing such an auto-palace, then, there are a few things to consider. First: how closely do these images align with your vision, Bedroom Queen? That is to say, do you have a passion for zebras and dolphins specifically, or are these animals reflective of a deeper duality within your soul – a tension between sea and land, nautica and terrestria?

If it’s the former, there are certainly some charming zebra/dolphin ornaments and wall hangings you can pick up at various boutiques, knick-knack shops and furniture stores. They don’t have to be expensive; the value of art is highly interpretive, and one can find some excellent deals with the proper nous. But in all honesty, I’d be inclined to go one step further, and suggest a more explicit combination of the two. A ‘zebrolphin’, if you will.


Zebrolphin art is set to skyrocket in 2020; get yours now, before radical developments
zoological transgenics allow for actual zebrolphins to become household pets.
Artwork by Jeff Batt.


And if it’s the latter instead – if you seek true balance between the elements of earth and water – there’s an emerging trend in interior design I think you’ll find especially attractive. The living room pool, Bedroom Queen. The living room pool.

Swimming pools, lap pools, paddle pools, hot tubs… These have traditionally been outdoor spaces, evoking the serenity of nature. A large body of water, we’ve long been told, has no place within the walls of our home, as if such a nourishing force is not intrinsic to our very existence. After all – our very own bodies are comprised of water, and are we not welcome additions to our own living space? Are we not the beating heart of every room?

Of course we are, darling. And so, more and more of us are finally tearing down these age-old barriers, these walls of patriarchal control, and blending pools of water into the very fabric of our family rooms. Earth and sea, at last, in unity.


The living room pool. Once merely the vapour of myth – now made solid, liquid reality.


These pictures are just for inspiration, of course, like yours. My home (and it is very classy, darling, thank you for noticing) was built firmly with nature in mind, and so everything is exceedingly less ordered and rectangular than what you see here.

In fact, if you have the time for it, my best advice would be to plant cypress and other large conifers throughout your kitchen, hallways and bedrooms, and to allow them to grow and mature, unresisted, until they’ve colonised much of the house. There’s an ancient 50-foot yew tree growing up through the ceiling of my library that really brings the space together, I’ve found – and in the early hours, after a little wine (of appropriate fortification), it speaks to me at length on a great many subjects, whispering long-forgotten cosmic knowledge in the half-light of the fireplace. Ah, Metaxia… such times…

But an interior pine forest is not for everyone, I realise. See it more as a philosophy of home design – pursuit of the organic – and you’ll always have an excellent eye for taste.

Now, I know what you may be thinking, Bedroom Queen: “But Penny, how is a pool in my living room budget-friendly?” And it certainly isn’t, if you insist on carving out half the floor to accommodate it. But we’re talking about union, as I’ve said, and that means blurring the line between pool and living room even further. Observe.


What we have here is not a living room pool, but a living pool room.


How costly is a living pool room? Why, there’s barely any cost at all! You can have one for a song.

Simply coat your furniture in a thin veneer of resin (but not the synthetic kind – remember, we’re aiming for a natural style here), seal up any small cracks in the floor or skirting boards, extend a long garden hose from the nearest sink and let it run for three to five hours. Soon, you’ll be enjoying any number of blistering, apocalyptic summers that now lie ahead of us in cool, refreshing style, in a space that is at once artfully modern and daringly catastrophised. The next ten years are going to be very hurricane chic, darling, so get on board with it now and be the envy of your neighbourhood.

And swimming is fantastic exercise, of course. Whether you’re entertaining a small gathering (as I often do) or just indulging in a lazy Netflix afternoon, you’ll soon find your entire body quite invigorated as you work constantly to stay afloat. All your daily ablutions are accounted for, and you can even hand-wash cotton garments from the comfort of your lounge! Multitasking is a critical life skill, I always say (as is swimming, incidentally), to be employed at every opportunity.

So there you have it! I do hope this gives you plenty of food for thought as you embark upon this bold journey of reinvention, Bedroom Queen. And just think: when zebrolphins do finally proliferate and find their way into suburban homes, you’ll have the perfect place to keep one.


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