Lifestyle - Busy Life

Do your research, if you have a plan it’s not daunting; everything in life feels overwhelming until you have a plan! I highly recommend starting a ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ folder, it may seem strange to have a folder holding your dislikes but they do act as a reminder of where you don’t want to end up when you are getting swamped in the decision making process.
Once you have a clear indication of what you like, start from the ground up.

This first decision is to balance practicality and desire – what you want and want you need. You may like lighter floor colours, but with kids and pets, hard flooring might be a better option than carpet. Or, if you’re really after softness and want carpet, then you might compromise with a darker colour. You can have a play in the Flooring Finder [diagnostic link] to see what products fit with you.

And then there’s the budget – set yourself a budget and start a cost sheet with the items or services you need to get the job down and put realistic figures next to it.

Answering both these questions up front will help set expectations. Often, I will get clients to do their wish list, we cost it accordingly and then we cull, or decide to complete it in stages to stagger the costs. You may not be able to do all you want in one hit but that doesn’t mean you can’t break up the process and do the next stage next year.

We’ve created some handy project templates and look book layouts to help you get started.

Design Trend - Nostalgic Charm

It’s natural to think of the walls first when you’re designing, but you really do pick the paint last.
Pick your floors and key design features first, because the paint is the last thing that goes on in a reno project or build and is the easiest thing to change if it’s wrong.
If you’re struggling to visualise what different wall colours will look like with different flooring options, paint a portion of a wall to determine how you are feeling about that colour in the space.

And when you’re looking at your new colour or colours, don’t look at it by the existing one, as both those colours will interact and affect how you see your new colour. I always tell my clients to paint the new colour on a section of wall and surround it with newspaper so you are seeing the colour against a neutral grey.

Be brave and use the colours you love. Colour is emotive and what we all base or likes and dislikes on, so don’t go for something you’re not drawn to.

Create a palette, (or we’ve created some for you) don’t just think ‘I’ll paint it white’, just be cohesive in your approach. Having colours that complement each other makes it feel like there’s a flow rather than jarring change from room to room. If you do just paint white, consider shades of white so that there is movement from room to room, or from wood work to wall colour.

If you’re struggling, it might sound silly but refer to nature. Often the answer can be right outside your window – look at the cool greens of plant and tree foliage against the soft blues of the sky and greys stone or many of our native plants. Then it becomes natural to consider muddy browns and burnished reds as an accent.

When picking a palette of colours for your space stick to 3, but you can change the combination of where you use each colour.

Lifestyle - Affordable Life

Consider your light sources when designing a room. Light adds character and warmth – it can open up dark corners with the flick of a switch and illuminate. It can be the finishing touch, or sometimes all you needed to bring life into a dull room.
You might have thought you needed a full design overhaul – but changing out your worn floors, a lick of paint, and the right lighting could be the refresh you’re after. And all your existing furniture might work and have a whole new life.  Different light sources add layer and texture without breaking the budget.

So in addition to natural light, there are 3 types of lighting we use, and think of them as layers:

  • Ambient (overhead)
  • Task (specific reason e.g. Kitchen)
  • Accent (interest)

For example, think about a living room. You’ll have natural light from the windows, you’ll want ambient downlights in the ceiling, and adding some accent light, maybe a table lamp or a freestanding floor lamp, can bring the whole room together.

First, look at how much natural light you have to start and then add your layers. Just remember to think about when you use the space, and what for – so your light has purpose. A floor lamp in the kitchen would be weird, but makes sense in the lounge where you would read.

With your table lamps think about the shade and the lamp height when positioning, where would the readers or viewers head be and how does that light affect them? It’s amazing how much sense the right light makes in the room, and draws it all together.

Also, don’t forget wall lights as they offer layer and warmth to empty wall areas and can be interesting design elements.

Design Trend - Comfortable Contemporary

Sometimes it’s not all about ‘out with the old, and in with the new’, it’s actually refreshing a space and creating a new feel by moving furniture and objects, and choosing a few new investment pieces.
You might be surprised you can get a whole new look by replacing the floor, and re-purposing some old faithfuls.

Rearrange before you redesign!

I will often move pieces seasonally to catch the light and work with the change of temperature in different rooms. Or invest in a rug or carpet square for wooden floors and switch the couch to another viewpoint. Change out your objects from room to room, and switch lighting – you may be able to add a lamp for the darker months from another room.

Doing this helps you work out what pieces you can keep, and what you need to invest in to get your new look.

Putting the finishing touches on your new space

Whether you’ve just done the floors or a bit more, spend time thinking about how you hang art/photos and objects on your walls. This can really make or break a space. Some of the best money I’ve spent has been on getting a professional picture hanger who helps me group and chose the best place to put pieces through the home. This isn’t an expensive process particularly if you have all pieces laid out in a format ready for discussion.  How you hang changes a space from feeling bitsy and disjointed to collected and calm.

De-clutter! I know it’s hard but sometimes it’s just about having a good old cull. I employ this theory with clients when they are struggling to determine a look. Often, once you remove a few things the good pieces start to breathe and the space starts working.

Use odd numbers when you are grouping or arranging, stick to the 1,3,5 theory and it will work, as it’s more visually appealing to eye. Vary your shapes with heights and textures if you are clustering the same elements. If placing on tables or sideboards – off centre them so it doesn’t look like they’re perfectly placed in the middle, which can feel forced.

Lifestyle - High Life

The floors are down and the walls are painted. Consider your light and fabrics.
If you’re buying new furniture, begin with a base colour; this may be the body of the sofas or chairs or curtains. Remember these are costly items and ones you don’t want to change regularly, so keep the larger items either neutral or smaller in pattern and softer on colour.
Don’t base your decisions on trends for these pieces; you can do that with items such as cushions that are inexpensive to change out. Choose a fabric that reflects your style, is it relaxed and informal or is it more structured and controlled?

Go back to the wants and needs theory and ask yourself those questions around practicality vs. desire, do you need a very hard wearing fabric that can withstand the rigors of everyday family life? Or are you beyond that stage. Do you need to consider natural light – our southern hemisphere light is extremely strong and breaks down natural fibre quickly.

Can it be a light colour or does it need to be a mixed weave that hides multitude of sins? And don’t forget to look at the rub rates of the fabric you are choosing, these rates are included in the fabric composition and in general terms mean the higher the rub rate the more durable the product. Any fabric with a synthetic mix will be stronger and more durable than a pure fibre.

Once you have your key pieces, or if you’re reusing your existing furniture, now it’s time to accent. In each of our key looks, we used the same couch and wall colours, changed the floor and our accent pieces.

Also, if you’re using existing furniture look at whether you can re-purpose pieces from other rooms in the house. You might have a corner in the living area that looks empty, which could home an extra chair from the kitchen table jazzed  up with cushions and a throw with a floor lamp behind it.

Here you can play with colour, texture and patterns simply with cushions, rugs and throws.

Choose patterns that match the scale of the room and the piece you are using it on. Patterns repeat on fabric so you don’t want a very large pattern on a small item as you won’t end up with the full effect. You could miss the gorgeous large pattern on the throw, if it’s tightly folded on a small chair.

Create a flow, it maybe an accent pattern or colour that you naturally fall back on, take that idea and weave it through every space. If it’s a pattern, then change the colour in each area but keep that pattern repeating throughout in small and effective ways, either cushions’, shades or a detail in a rug.

And the best thing with accents, is you can affordably switch them up if you feel like a change.