Bondi blue: dreaming of Summer

It’s mid winter here in Sydney and we’ve been spoiled by a lovely week of warm sun and sparkling blue skies. There was even a whale visiting down at Bondi beach!  Suddenly today, the rain is back and it’s got me reminiscing about all of the beautiful blues that mother nature treats us with.  Here’s some interiors in Bondi blues (‘Bondi’ is the best description I can think of!) and some tips on why they work.

Blue and Green should be seen.

If there was ever a rule that should be broken, it’s to mix blues and greens.  I think the image below is great evidence of this.  The reason these colours work so well together is that the blue and green are of the same intensity.  Instead of competing or one colour being washed out, they sit together happily balanced.  I love the timber bench seat, see how it softens the whole room because it brings in an organic element and looks so interesting because it is aged.  I’m already wondering if it’s from an overseas trip, found in an antique store… much more interesting that a chain store buy!

Contrast for maximum impact.

Speaking of interesting furniture pieces, I was out sourcing today and saw a few of these oriental armoires.  Not only are they incredibly practical and versatile, they come up so well when refinished in brighter colours.  This armoire really pops because it is placed in front of the red wall.  Red/orange and green/blue are complete opposites on the colour wheel, which guarantees maximum contrast.  Notice again, the colours are of similar intensity.

Just another great example of colour contrast, this time the colours reversed.

Break the rules.

There’s a lot going on in this room, but doesn’t it look fab?  I’m putting this one in just because even though it’s not perfectly balanced, looking at it makes me happy.  It must be all those beautiful jewel colours!

Now for the count down ’till winters end…

Styling your home office: get productive!

Today I’m dreaming of styling my own, perfect home office.  It will be filled with light, super organised and comfortable.  Here’s my styling advice to create a beautiful home office space.

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Comfort comes first

It’s really important to be comfortable in a home office, particularly if you work from home.  Probably the hardest part of styling your office will be finding a chair that not only looks great but is also ergonomically correct.  I recommend treating chairs as you would a new mattress purchase – don’t be afraid to try them out.  Sit in them for a while, right in the shop!

Further comfort can then be brought in with a cozy floor rug.  Keep in mind if you choose a chair with rollers, a shaggy rug won’t fair so well underneath.

Shed some light on the subject

Hopefully you are lucky enough to have your desk right near a window, letting the sunlight spill right through your space and enabling you to gaze out when tired eyes set in.  If not and for night time, an adjustable task lamp is essential.  Also consider the location of your screen to minimise glare.

A place for everything

Depending on what your space is used for, you will need a variety of storage.  Try getting creative with pinboards, where you can style your most inspirational images, swatches and important reminders.  Bookshelves and loose shelving are ideal for styling favourite objects amongst books and files.  Best not to have too much clutter though.

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The fun part

Once all of the essentials are in place, it’s time to style and have fun.  Hang art on the walls or stacked on shelves.  Put together a pleasing vignette and bring in some life with at least one indoor plant.  If you have a dedicated home office, it’s a great opportunity to wallpaper or paint the walls a feature colour.  Keep in mind that soft neutrals and the cooler colours, such as blue and green, tend to promote concentration.  Red and purple a renowned for being distracting.

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Learned on the job: mixing furnishings

As with any profession, there are some things that can only be learned on the job.  From my experience, getting that first job in Interior Design is no easy task.  I’d like to share some really vital tips in my next few posts that seem to be missing out there…

Mixing Furnishings

Successfully mixing furnishings is not an easy task and is something that Interior Designers will spend some time on, carefully considering their best options.  This is where reality TV shows are misleading – it’s not about a day of tearing through retail stores and making snap decisions, ending in bringing home half the showroom!

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This room really is an eclectic mix and is successful in relating each piece. The timbers are all harmonious in their tone, but not an exact match. The black and white zebra print is carried across from the floor to the sofa upholstery, even cleverly again in the black and white print on the wall. Colours are brought in on cushions, art and accessories that all seem to have a ‘friend’ somewhere else in the room.

Wether you are following a theme or putting together an eclectic mix, the pieces need to ‘talk to each other’.  There will need to be something that visually relates all of the furnishings.  Ask yourself, how does the colour of this chair (or texture, finish, pattern, shape, scale etc) sit with the colour of this side table?  Do they complement and bring out the best of each other?  Or do they clash and fight with each other?

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Placing artworks in a french hang is fantastic practice at relating odd furnishings. These artworks appear random at first, but they all have colours that relate to other colours not far away. Framing is kept quite light in colour and thickness. The fabric on the sofa and cushions relate back to the artworks. See the geometric black and white artwork with the sofa? And the green leafy artwork with the cushion?

Furnishings don’t have to match and I think are better when they don’t.  Relating is more about linking one piece to another.  As an example, imagine a soft linen sofa placed on a sisal floor rug – both are natural tactile materials that will sit well together.  The same linen sofa placed on a graphic and bold synthetic floor rug… not so much.  Look for relations in style, texture, fabric, colour and shape.

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The chairs are painted in different colours, but if you look closely you will see that these colours are taken from the wallpaper and are of similar intensity. The curving shape of the chairs is also reflected in the shape of the trees in the wallpaper.

Belle Editor-in-chief Neale Whitaker articulates my point well in a recent article– ‘Interior design becomes about balance and harmony – just because it’s free form doesn’t mean it’s a clash. There is a harmony and discipline to it.’

Styling your coffee table: fun and easy!

Styling a coffee table is a really enjoyable way to instantly transform a living room and display your favourite treasures.  With a few tried and tested tricks that I’ll share below, you’ll be able to update, rearrange and beautifully style not just your coffee table, but most other surfaces in your home!

Firstly, my golden rule above all else – it’s all about the layering.  

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Books

Stacks of books are a must for building height, adding colour and also imply a lot about the owner and their interests (so choose wisely!).  Neatly piled ‘coffee table’ books look great on their own, perhaps with an interesting object on top.  If your space needs a bit of character and edge, try sourcing some second hand vintage books, they are an incredibly cost effective tool in styling any space.

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Trays

Trays are perfect for grouping collections and acting as the base of a layer.  I look for trays that are a contrasting material or colour to the table, but also stay harmonious to the scheme.

Floral

I may be going off on a bit of an ‘ideal world’ tangent, but when you can, invest in or pick fresh floral arrangements, they will literally bring life and vibrancy to any table.  I promise you will feel so much happier every time you walk by.  A more long term option is an indoor plant.

Treasures

The objects that you pick up on holidays, receive as gifts, find in the park… anything that is special to you will personalise the scheme and add the perfect finishing touch.   I always like to have at least one organic object to soften the look, so this can be in place for in between floral arrangements.

One last thing, as Coco Chanel would say ‘Once you’ve dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off’.  This advice applies just as well to styling.  Goodluck!

Having it all: A Designer’s Dilemma

Like a plumber with a leaking tap, a designer’s hardest job is their own home.  Honestly, we make our most difficult clients look like a breeze in comparison.  Personally, when it comes to my own home (which is currently rented, adding to the dilemmas), I am faced with such indecision that I end up doing nothing at all.  You see, I see so many beautiful homes, furnishings, textiles, styles, trends and every colour in between – how can I possibly choose?  How can I commit to a style, when I know I’m keeping my eyes open in case something better comes along?

I think I have found the answer.  I CAN HAVE IT ALL.

I can, really.  And I’ve found evidence, in Jessica Helgerson’s latest interior.  Here’s my checklist of my dream home – all found in the images attached.

* Neutral palette of whites and timbers, a must for all big purchases (just incase I change my mind again….)

* Moody grey / charcoal walls (ala Abigail Ahern)

* Light and airy space (a must)

* Australian / Scandi / Japanese style (in that order, mostly Aussie)

Local artisan: Sixhands

Today I was lucky enough to be re-introduced to local textile and wallpaper artisans Sixhands.  Australian owned, designed and made with a commitment to sustainable practices, Sixhands was founded in 2006 by three women – Alecia Jensen, Anna Harves and Brianna Pike.  I first learned of Sixhands a few years ago whilst sitting in traffic in Redfern, I used to peer in to the studio window and thought it all looked rather exciting, but never quite made it in there!  How fabulous now, that their designs be draped in front of me at a fabric showing.

What excites me most about Sixhands is that the designs are so versatile, all distinctly and proudly Australian in style.  From vivacious prints to monotone graphics to subtle neutrals, I am in overdrive plotting out where I can use them next.  I’d love to see Lorikeet Tequila Sunrise birds flying down my hallway walls!

See my favourites below;

Styling your entry: first impressions do count!

When a guest enters my home, I would like them to feel immediately warm and welcomed.  I would like the first impression not only to invite guests further in, but also hint at what is to come.  The entry to a home is often overlooked, however with some clever styling can become a real highlight to enjoy each day.

Flooring

As with any scheme, it’s often easiest to start from the floor up.  Floor rugs and runners are so versatile and come a multitude of colours, shapes, materials and styles to suit any entry.  Floor rugs will warm the space, reduce noise, suggest the style of the home, inject colour and if well placed, will direct they eye onwards to the main areas of the home.  I love durable grass weave and faded middle eastern rugs.

Walls

You can really have fun on the walls in this typically small space.  Play with the forbidden dark paint colours, break up the wall with panelling and even consider including the ceiling.  Mirror panelling is the perfect way to bounce light around and make the space double in size.  Mirror now comes in all sorts of finishes, from traditional silvered to endless antiqued effects.  Wallpapers can make a seriously stylish impact and cover damaged walls.  Try a light timber look wallpaper to cocoon the space and allow the horizontal planks to lead the eye, as suggested with the rug, onwards…

Furniture

If your space permits, a seat for taking off shoes and a quirky umbrella stand will be welcome additions.  A console creates the perfect surface for a vignette, perhaps with an artwork or mirror hung above.

Accessories

Hooks and shelves break up the wall and allow for an evolving style.  You can hang practical objects like hats and coats, or have more fun with any of your treasured objects.

Lighting

Your entry will need adequate lighting and there are many pendant lights, wall sconces, floor lamps and table lamp options available.  If you only use one, I think the best option is a feature pendant light, hung centred from the ceiling to create a general wash of light.

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