Styling your dining table: keep it simple

One thing I know is key to successful dining table styling is to keep it simple.  Unless you are a skilled stylist, too many colours, styles, complex centrepieces and crafty gimmicks found on Pinterest can get all too much.  I’ve found some lovely images (ahem… some on Pinterest) that I think are good examples to learn from.

The settings in the two images below have kept a muted and soft colour palette, introducing interest with layering and textured details.  The centrepiece sets the natural theme for the table and has been left on its own – not too fussy!  Light timber is echoed in the tableware and table itself.

Height can be cleverly introduced with sparse florals or twigs, like the beautiful magnolias below.  Guests will be able to see each other past this centrepiece.   Again, the colours are kept simple.

Any excuse to use your collections (as mentioned in my previous post… Styling your collections: the kookier the better!) can be very effective and add a personal touch, such as these vases, brought to life with fresh florals.  I think any setting deserves some sort of living feature, if not florals then fruit or vegetables can add a fresh element.

Finally, candles will add a warm finishing touch to any setting.  I love candelabras and candle sticks as they are romantic and entrancing as they burn down.  Tea lights are handy in adding a bit more light and sparkle.  There are some great safe candles out there which are battery operated and flicker continuously, a great option if you have flammable decorations nearby.  Just remember to dim the lights and enjoy everyone looking their best in a soft glow…

Styling your collections: the kookier the better!

I am a firm believer that happiness lies in the simple things.  It’s amazing how much joy a person can find collecting, organising and then just admiring whatever objects their heart desires.  I like to collect teapots, with best intentions to use them though I rarely do.  If you saw my balcony, you might say I collect (and obsessively grow) plants.  It doesn’t matter what you collect so long as it gives you a thrill – and the kookier the better I say!  Collections can be used to great effect in styling your home and showing your personality.

Imagine the person who owns this collection?  I bet the thought made you smile… even if in a slightly odd way.

Fornasetti plates look more like artwork here than a collection and is a good example of how a collection can be styled to really add something special to an interior.  The subtle monochrome palette, warmed up with timber, allows the artworks to take centre stage.

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This collection isn’t all the same object, but could be more of a theme like their favourite finds at a flea market.

A simple and inexpensive display such as this one can be made more interesting with some fresh flowers.

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I’ve been thinking of starting two new collections, pottery and hand held clocks!  What do you collect?

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)