THE ART OF ADDING COMFORT…
The easiest way, and certainly the least expensive, to add a new dimension to a room is with soft furnishings. Soft furnishings (SF) can soften hard surfaces and make a room warmer. (During these cooler months adding these extra layers will also assist in removing any draught!)
Even if you’re renting you can still add that personal touch to your home through little pops of interchangeable colour and texture.
Generally, items that are cloth are soft furnishings – anything from curtains, chair covers and cushions to lamp shades, linens and throws…Even the humble tea towel can be classed as a soft furnishing element adding interest to your kitchen.
Following are some easy steps you can implement to start skipping down the path of comfort!
Shower curtains: – The plastic curtain is fabulous for keeping the water in however to add that little SF touch install a second cloth curtain (e.g. standard fabric curtain that you would install in your bedroom or living room) on the outside which will give an opulent finish as well as combat the hard surfaces with a shield of warmth.
Bedroom: – For bedrooms the good old faithful valance (Bed skirt) is on its way back! For something unique instead of heading to your local Myer or DJ’s drop into your upholsterer and have one custom made. A custom made valance (Either upholstered or loose cover) is a very contemporary look and beautifully compliments a modern/contemporary palette.
Budget tip: – If the budget is tight something small like new lampshades can also inject personality into a room. A bought or custom made lampshade will take your space to the next level of design. (Note: the shade should be slightly wider than the base and approx. two-thirds the height of the base) For a contemporary look change out your existing round shades for square, or rectangular.
Have a fabulous week!
SELECTING THE PERFECT FEATURE CUSHION…
Gathering a grouping of cushions for a lounge is one thing but looking out for the feature show -stopper is a big deal. Finding that ONE cushion that will make your heart sing each time you enter the room takes time …and lots of travel! (Well, that’s what I told my husband!)
Proudly leading the pack of cluster cushions on my French chaise lounge is a stunning little hand made tapestry cushion I purchased in Stow-on-the-Wold while travelling back to London from Cardiff on a trip with my Mum many many years ago. Every time I see this beautifully made fine work of art I am reminded of our time together and the laughs had.
More recently, while in London with our eldest son Isaiah we purchased a cushion from the Portobello markets that again holds such wonderful memories and moments of joy.
Try not to rush the finishing touches. Invest time into those pieces that set the tone for each space and become launching pads for the rest of the décor.
ADDING PERSONALITY THROUGH BLOOMS…
Flowers are my favourite pass time. When I am feeling like a little change around the home I start with a fresh season blend of beautiful blooms. A cluster of roses brings elegance to a table top, while an overflowing cascade of fine fern, mixed with peonies says eclectic.
Before you race out and invest in a larger item to fulfil your need for change why not purchase a blushing bunch of your favourite flowers and transform your table top into a vignette worthy of inspiration!
TABLES FOR ALL OCCASIONS…
Nothing displays hospitality more than a comfy chair and LOTS of small tables. Having that little resting place for your coffee mug or side plate makes entertaining a delight.
A good measure for whether you have sufficient tables is to invite your family into the living area for a pot of tea and a slice of cake. Prepare the afternoon tea and proceed to serve them while they are cosily seated on the lounge. This is the test I do every time we rearrange our living area (…which is quite frequently!)
Do you have a coffee table to rest your tray on? Once the cake is cut and served has each person got somewhere to rest their cup of tea and cake? Is there sufficient lighting? (Floor lamps or a pair of lamps on your side or end tables) Are the tables scattered in a way that allows each person easy reach to their goodies?
Before long, it becomes very clear as to what is needed. I love doing the above test because we all entertain differently, so what works for me might be too much of distraction for you and your style of hospitality – however by completing the challenge you can tweak your living area to accommodate your needs and once again enjoy entertaining with your friends and family.
A great combination, if size permits is a coffee table in front of the sofa (this could also be substituted for an oversized ottoman with a large tray on top) a pair of end or side tables either side of the main sofa to house a pair of lamps as well as room for a cup and plate – remembering to make sure the lamp shades cover all the workings of the lamp from the seated position (Note: the lamps need not be the same, however same finished height works well) And finally – my favourite – is a scattering of occasional tables. Occasional tables are the finishing touches to a space, kinda like that final layering of throws and cushions on a sofa or blankets and pillows on a bed. Occasional tables are normally a little higher than the coffee table and a little lower than the side tables.
Tables are indeed a little thing that makes a big difference!
HELPFUL TIPS: Coffee Tables approx. 450mmH - Occasional Tables – vary in height, creating layers to both the coffee table and side/end table - Side/End Tables approx. 650mm – 730mmH
CREATING UNIQUE in a consumer focused world.
It takes courage to step out and be you in a mass production – must have now – economy. Custom made items can take anything from 2 – 18 weeks to be manufactured and who has the time for this, right?
So, I thought I would have this debate for you. Yep it has to be done, because ‘unique’ is in reach for each of us, however it does take thought, patience and creativity – but I know this is a path worth venturing down and hanging out for.
Custom made need not mean it will cost more. Many times when I discuss having something custom made (CM) with my clients their first response is “do we have the budget for this?” The answer is yes. When we CM an item we have the exciting task of creating an object by selecting the materials used, colours chosen and the budget.
When we CM an item (make or do something to fit the needs or requirements of a particular person) it doesn’t have to be from scratch. Sometimes to make something unique you can take something off the shelf and add additional items to transform it into an object of desire for YOU. For example take a pair of prefab (ready-to-go) pine bookcases. Position them either side of the fireplace, or window. Then to allow them to look and feel unique to you and your needs you can attach them to the wall and further attach a continuous cornice from the side right the way around the top of them from wall to wall. In addition you could paint them in a colour that makes your room zing! – This is a smart and inexpensive way of taking something off the shelf and creating something practical and special for you and your family.
Gallery walls are bespoke creations. A gathering of personalised pictures and/or objects – collected over time, or from many sources. What I love most about this new, old way of displaying things we collect is it is a unique personal touch we can each capture and outwork…despite our budgets. It is a perfect way to CM your home. You could source from galleries, antique stores, grandma’s cupboards or holidays abroad.
Another fabulous way to add that personal touch to your home is by having your furniture upholstered in a fabric you love. Or again, if you have an existing piece of shop-bought seating and desire to give it a uniquely YOU touch you can add a trim along the bottom or have the seat cushion upholstered in a selected piece of fabric – purchased from a fabric house or perhaps a scarf or blanket brought back from a trip abroad!
Look through books, flick through the pages of the latest Vogue Living or invest a little time online and look for that little bit of unique that will inspire you within your own home.
ADDING THE ‘COSY’ FACTOR…
It is a chilly winters’ morning here in Melbourne. The fire is glowing in the background as I sit at my computer wrapped in a blanket…oh how I love this time of year!
It is in these cooler months our collection of blankets and throws come into their own. They add the cosy factor to any space – transforming a chilly night into a toasty, loving setting.
It is school holidays here in Melbourne as in most places throughout Australia. Our children are ready for a little down time and fun. Poppie flew in from Brisbane last night to share 10 days with us while my dear mum continues to work as we prepare for a big July here at the ‘bronniemasefau’ design studio.
As the kids planned for Poppie’s arrival there was excitement in the air, each announcing what they were going to do with poppy. One saying “let’s take poppy to the movies”, another “or maybe fishing on the pier” each appreciating the value we place on being wonderful caring hosts.
Cosy decorating is key in these cooler months. Casually positioning throws on the ends on your sofa arms and on your single chairs creates a warm, loved-in cosy layer of comfort welcoming to all. When you set your guest rooms, further add layers of blankets and cushions so your guests sleep through till the sun awakes them in the morn.
Enjoy adding that cosy layer to your home this week! HAPPY MONDAY!!
Technical tip: – A throw is a smaller blanket. They are normally about 130 x 200 (however can vary in size). The purpose of a throw blanket is to add warmth and cosiness. You would use a throw by draping it over a sofa or chair, or perhaps position it on the end of a bed; scenic throws have also been used as wall hangings. A blanket on the other hand is intended for use on a bed. It is used in addition to a comforter (Quilt) to add a soft texture and warmth. Generally blanket sizes are matched to that of sheets. Single, Double, Queen and king.
THE HUMBLE BEDROOM…
The humble bedroom has a big duty to play in our lives. It’s where we go to rest and restore our mind body and soul in a very personal way. The living room also assists in these duties, but we all know that a night without a peaceful sleep can make for a rather challenging day ahead!
I fondly remember my teen bedroom. I was constantly tweaking it, moving my trinkets and furniture around my small space. I remember having a much-loved hatbox and suitcase collection that I would style on top of my vintage wardrobe. Looking back now I can clearly see that within the comfort of my bedroom space the beginnings of who I am today began to take shape.
Not much has changed. It is within our bedroom space I bring in the most personal trinkets. I try out new items to see whether they will blend within our layered home. I confess to being influenced by movies like ‘The family stone’, ‘You’ve got mail’ and ‘Out of Africa’ adding personality and delight to our bedroom always.
I believe it is important we keep a tight rein on the build up of mess within this space. There is definitely a close link between health and wellbeing and sleep and cleanliness. When our bedroom is in order I sleep better.
So as we step into a new week I put out a challenge to each of us to take stock of our bedroom spaces. Find design inspiration in some books, magazines, design shows, movies, museums or a brisk walk through the park or on the beach and come back and inject a little flavour into your personal bedroom space today…I know you’ll sleep better for it!
CREATIVE SPACES INSPIRE PRODUCTIVITY.
If you have the mid-week blues NOW is the perfect time to address your creative space. I know, you are feeling a little overwhelmed and are thinking that you don’t have time to stop…BUT I assure you if you just step back for an hour and do a little decor tweaking your productivity will increase and you will be back on schedule in no time!…Go on give it a try.
Let me break it down for you: – Firstly, look at your overall layout. Are you comfortable? Are you making the most of your natural light (Windows)? Can you easily reach all you need to work efficiently? (E.g. uncluttered work surface, easily accessible storage…and most importantly do you have room for your coffee mug??) Secondly, how is your lighting? Perhaps grab your bedside lamp or the floor lamp, sitting unused in your living room and use it to not only increase your desk lighting but also add a little chic to your work area.
How about the view from where you sit…is it a feast for your eyes? Or a disastrous distraction? Add flair to a space by gathering and displaying all the good stuff. If you have a pile of novels, remove the dust jackets and display them with the spine the opposite way so you only see the white pages. This will make your not-so-fabulous book collection look like a work of art! Or what about that fireplace that doesn’t work – why not use this as your bookshelf! (See picture below)
I find the best way to inject a little spring back into my step is to create little vignettes that inspire. A grouping of chairs layered with throws and cushions, teamed with a great lamp never fails to get me talking shop again, or why not invest time into hanging a cluster of artwork that packs a visual punch. If you are keen to assemble a gallery wall but don’t feel you have enough items of interest remember to check in the kitchen!…Add a woven tray or plate to the mix for an eclectic touch.
Visual delight = inspiration = productivity = purpose fulfilled!
RENT-THE-HOUSE…but, make it your home!
Reading back through some notes today I stumbled upon a beautiful message I had received from a delightful lady that had attended one of my lectures and left feeling burden-less about their current rent-a-home scenario.
We love renting. This I admit has not always been my opinion. When we first went from our-own-home into a rental property it was a novelty, however the next rental was my new reality. I found it to be a burdensome thought that me, an ‘Interior Designer’ was a renter! However overtime my opinion changed…drastically.
One morning, at our Saturday family breakfast feast I had a revelation that would change the way I saw our current rental circumstance and give me back my inspiration and passion for creating our family home. I realised, as we laughed around the table and shared stories from the week that was that we had three beautiful, funny, well-balanced children and that whilst we mightn’t own our house ( or any of the previous three )…we’d always owned the HOME!
That day my heart did a little dance (…well, skipped a beat!) and the weight of this world lifted. I felt so overwhelmed and empowered by this revelation that I continued on to write a book about it called ‘Australian Vintage Living-making anywhere home’. I desired for women everywhere who were perhaps in the same, or similar position to know that our circumstances are fleeting, but wherever you live, on whatever budget you have, you can create a home that will be embraced by all.
Well, another three rentals on and we are just as happy. Loving life and enjoying the seasons with our fabulous children. Creating memories through little experiences with our babies (well, teenagers) is the most important thing for us as parents. One day we hope to be back in our own house…making it a home, however until such a time we are living up a storm and using every new space as an opportunity to better understand what styles bring us joy and look like home to us.
Embrace the now – for tomorrow holds its own adventures.
I HAVE A DESIGN CRUSH!…
I have a décor crush on patterned tiles. There, I’ve said it. It’s out and we can now move on. Hehe – I love the personality that a great patterned tile brings to a room. A bench to ceiling splash back can transform a basic white kitchen palette into the ‘Wow’ factor of the room. An eclectic tile combination on an entry, bathroom, or Kitchen floor will become the talking point of the entire home and teamed with simple block-coloured furniture will have all guests swooning.
Now with the added comfort of underfloor heating the humble tile, seen in ancient sites throughout the world, can still today be seen in homes all over the world. With their varying sizes, designs and finishes we designers have the pleasure of creating new works of art that will hopefully be loved by home owners for centuries to come.
The rules for the design of laying tiles used to be simple, larger tiles for bigger bathrooms and smaller tiles, in proportion with smaller areas, however like most fields within the design industry we have challenged this theory over the years and now you will see Large tiles teamed with mosaic tiles in both big and small bathrooms as well as a variety of designs within one space.
There are many advantages to using glazed of fired ceramic tiles. They are hardwearing, waterproof, easy to wipe clean and dry and they come in a HUGE range of colours, patterns and sizes.
The humble tile is making its comeback!
Enjoy your week!
NOTE: We are only 2 and a bit weeks away from our next workshop! Topic: Finishing Touches…If you would like to gain greater knowledge on how to spruce up your existing home or investment property for re-sale you’ll love this workshop. I will not only be talking about the ‘how to’ but showing you! Head to workshops to book your ticket today!
TRENDS…TO FOLLOW OR NOT TO FOLLOW…
From where do trends immerge? Should we embrace them? How is it that you can search and search for something e.g. new car, new bag – and once you have decided on which one to buy you see them/it EVERYWHERE!
As I have said, on more than one occasion trends are NOT pillars, they are springboards of inspiration. A trend in fashion is a projection as to what is new and hip and happening…and transit. Trends are not timeless, they have an expiry date.
On the flip side trends – if we understand our personal flavour and learn how to sift out what works within our personal palette and style – can offer a fresh injection of inspiration.
Trends are set by trend forecasting agencies, leading industry designers, suppliers, marketing/PR agencies…and well-connected networking individuals.
Some trends that have been immerging on the home front are gallery picture walls, Danish furniture – simplicity and elegance in one, faux fur accessories, mixing up of metals – iron, brass, copper, a return to open bookcases, exposed concrete walls – polished floors, masculine décor and of course Art Deco Décor. These are all fabulous showings of beautiful stylish design and when used in conjunction with an owner’s personality can leave a lasting design décor impression.
The message of a new trend is broadcasted through many mediums. Some of which are Fashion/home magazines, movies and retail accessibility. Let’s take the ‘Art Deco’ movement for instance – after the ‘Great Gatsby’ movie our love for the 1920’s was rekindled. From here the message was reinforced through magazines and finally through the availability of both Art Deco styled fashion and home products through retail stores.
So lets work back the other way. The producers sit down with the it crowd, discuss the movie, get the set designers involved, who then chat to people within their elite network at a cocktail party, who make mention of it to the fabric house and before long all involved are on the same bus and the 1920’s is showing up in the 21st century. Trends are not pillars.
Where am I going with all this? Good question! My point is simple, be you. Embrace your personality and become your style. When you are reliant on the lasted trend to determine your next move you are living your life on a treadmill heading in one direction. However when you invest time into discovering your personal style (…good name for a workshop!) you can come alongside the latest trends only investing in those that add to your style and in doing so create a lasting impression.
THE BEGINNING OF FOREVER…
20 years ago today we said ‘I Do’. Not long before we got married we purchased a house to renovate so we could move in on our wedding day.
To look back and see this beautiful home ignites so many wonderful memories. Family gathered on the side and back porch as we announced ‘we’re pregnant’ and BBQ’s that went into the wee hours of the morn.
Our first home was a springboard to my design aspirations. We invested so much time into the tweaking of this abode, pouring in our heart and soul. We celebrated life with our first born here, Isaiah and I was pregnant with our second, Nate when we sold to venture into bigger territory.
HOME is such a powerful word. It holds the memories of our yesterdays, the expectations of our today’s and the hope for our tomorrows.
Hope you enjoy the pic’s…
OUR FIRST HOME PURCHASED IN 1993
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