Interior Design Is A Lifestyle

I have found myself repeating this to my mentees and I realize it is something I am quite passionate about. For me, being a designer is a lifestyle. Ok, I understand and am totally cool with being an archi-nerd that takes everything I do a little too seriously, however, I think you need a little crazy passion for what you do in order to really have the drive as a designer and business owner to keep yourself going in the design industry.

So why is being an interior designer a lifestyle? Well in part I think it needs to be because there really aren’t enough hours in the day to do our awesome job as well as soak up and keep learning new information. Also, as design is not only our profession but also our passion, we are constantly on the lookout to learn more and have more fun (calling it work ha ha).

When I worked at architects offices and my mates went out for drinks, I would stay back at work so that I could take a couple of hours off to go to a trade show the next day. When everyone else was out at lunch, I was reading the latest interior design and architecture magazines and adding to my knowledge during my lunch breaks. It wasn’t forced, I wanted to do it, in fact I am so obsessed with design that when I wasn’t working, I found myself working just because I loved it.

Now as a business owner I can spread things out a little more as I am in control, but if I had a choice I would be engulfed by my design world at all times. Even if I am one extreme, I do believe that there are elements of this that those who are wanting to get into interior design can start including into their lives in order to maximize the learning time and speed up their success.

An Interior Designers (and architects) lifestyle usually entails:

 

Trade & Manufacture Shows

In order to stay abreast of the industry and know what is current and what is coming up, you need to be constantly exploring showrooms, manufacturers and speaking with people. This means you need to make time to go to trade shows make connections and network continuously. There are so many trade shows each year, now I choose which ones I want to go to at the beginning of the year and book my tickets early.  It would be a full-time job alone attending these trade shows, so in order to even make a few each year, you need to include it into your lifestyle as employers in the industry rarely allow you to go to these important events during their work time (even if it is “work-related”).

Art, Architecture & Design

Continuously learning and growing my knowledge about art, architecture, building materials, furniture and design is something I include into my “free” time. I’m lucky my husband is arty too because it means we can have a critical conversation about an artist or artwork which explores theories and opens our eyes to new possibilities and themes. Going to a museum on the weekend or popping into a gallery to get inspiration or learn something new is not only fun but helps you to gain knowledge in the industry in a different way. Often our clients are educated and being able to connect with them and understand why they appreciate a particular style is critical to the work we do and to our success in our profession.

Our work is so much fun that it is hard to break away and so our interests oscillate around our industry somehow.  When I’m not designing buildings, I’m looking at them, critically analysing them, recreating them, making them better.  Even when I am out and about, if I have the choice of walking a different route that has nicer buildings or is more inspiring in some way (even if it is much longer), I always take that path.  I can’t stop looking at buildings and designing, its an addiction and an obsession, but ask any passionate designer what they are thinking about when they are trawling through Rightmove (and they aren’t even looking to buy or rent a property…)

Travel & Culture

The first holidays I ever went on by myself were to Europe (from Australia). I needed to see those cities. I needed to experience their vibe and understand their energy. There are things that you cannot learn from books like the experience of sitting in an Italian Piazza drinking a hot espresso on a hot Italian summers day, surrounded by marble and high calibre design.

As an Aussie these places were so foreign to me I just didn’t get it. Now I do, now I can relate and now I know how imperative it is to immerse myself in new cultures and get hungry to learn and explore the essence of a new place. This makes me a better designer, it helps me relate and it teaches me that creating spaces is more than just paint and surfaces, it’s about atmosphere and invigorating all of the senses.

Seeking Beauty & Inspiring Surroundings

When I moved out of London to a dull suburb town, I realized how much this affected my wellbeing. It’s not that everything around me has to be beautiful but seeking the beauty in things is an innate need we have as designers and so we not only gravitate towards funky, cool or beautiful spaces, we need them in order to refuel our souls and get inspiration. This means yes, you’ll find us probably in the coolest looking café in the street where we are paying an extra £2 per coffee, but the experience for us is worth it.

That is life for a designer, it’s our life juice and our creative outlet. So while there are those out there that can put up with mediocre surroundings, we are imagining new and amazing places for others who appreciate spaces for self-expression and creative re-fueling.

There is a reason why we are constantly making everything beautiful wherever we go (even if it’s just in our heads). For me (and also for some of my mentees) the definition of insanity is being somewhere else in your mind whilst physically being in a job that is unfulfilling and uses zero creativity.

We yearn for the creative release because it is part of our personalities and soul.  That is why we can’t separate it from our daily lives and that is why design becomes our lifestyle.  We seek it out in everything we do.

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The Composition Rule For Designers

The Golden Ratio What is it and why is it important to a designer?

At the moment I am mentoring my first round of amazing interior designers who are setting up their businesses. I realized when I was writing this section of my program, I needed to go deeper, but it was also an opportunity to give my blog readers a bit of a lesson on proportion and composition.

What my aim is to help us as “non-academics” in architecture to understand something quite fascinating that is actually very relevant to our lives. As many of us seek beauty in either the work we do or the things we create there are a few secrets that the ancient designers knew about that have been forgotten or are unknown to many a modern designer, which could help in creating well-proportioned spaces, designs and buildings.

The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians had knowledge of a mathematical equation which is visible in nature (sunflowers, shells and pineapples to name just a few), and they used this mathematical equation to create perfectly harmonious structures, paintings and art.

If you ever read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code then you would have heard of the Fibonacci sequence (a number sequence which adds the two before it 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13, 21 and on). This is closely related to the Golden Mean although Fibonacci didn’t know it if you divided the numbers that make up the Fibonacci sequence they also oscillate around phi or the Golden Ratio.

For the geeky of you who want to know just a little more, the golden ratio is equal to approximately 1.618 (or the Greek letter phi – not to be confused with pi). So very simply, the golden ration (or golden mean or Golden Section) is a mathematically worked out rule of harmony. But for us as humans, it is easily understood by figuring out what the most harmonious and beautiful rectangle looks like (thanks Jo for totally destroying the mystery).

This is why it is important to designers, photographers and architects or anyone in a creative industry because it gives you a rule of thumb for creating beautiful pages, compositions, designs and in my case, fenestration which is in harmony with the other parts of a building.

So here it is (the purple outline):

The Golden Ratio

You can see it here, this is the perfect rectangle. Great huh? Pleasing to your eyes much?

It isn’t that relevant looking at it on the screen like this so I went for a walk through London and took a few photos of some classically proportioned buildings to demonstrate this example for you.  We will work out how to create it next time, but for now, let’s just see how it is used in these buildings to create pleasing harmony.

Perfectly proportioned rectangle (Golden Ratio)

 

So what are you looking at here?  I just superimposed our perfectly proportioned rectangle (Golden Ratio) onto this lovely London Regency style terrace to see if it had been designed with the golden ration and yep, there it is, sure enough, this designer knew how to create some pretty proportions.

Again perfectly proportioned rectangle (Golden Ratio)

I just played around with the proportions and tested how it could relate to other parts of the buildings.

 

The small parts are related to the whole composition

 

And as you can see the relationships are pretty unmistakable, which means that the proportions of this building were designed around knowing this pretty cool composition rule. Even to those of you who don’t love these terraces (do you exist?) At least you can see that they were thought out in a way that made sense mathematically and subconsciously as they are inextricably linked to nature and our daily lives.

 

As you see nothing has been left to chance

 

In my next blog post, I will show you how to create a perfect rectangle, so that you know how to use it yourself.

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When Should I Hire An Interior Designer?

My clients always ask, when is the right time to hire an interior designer? Funnily enough, pretty much 99% of the time, clients want and need you to start their project ASAP.

Its funny, you can’t imagine how many phone calls and emails I get from prospective clients who say, “we need things to be complete next month when we move in”. To be honest these days my tradie contacts mixed with my online service and the awesome addition of assistants means that I can deliver great results in such a short deadline.

The reality for most interior designer’s however, is that, like a good builder, we are booked up months in advance because we need to be to ensure good cash flow for our businesses. Unfortunately for designers, clients, want you and your attention on their dream home and they want it now, not in a month’s time and DEFINITELY NOT in two (are you crazy!)

So even though I want to write to every client saying, hire your designer as early as possible, that still will never “feel” early enough for the designer, because early enough for our client’s means, you get one week to measure and draw up the house (because you start tomorrow right?)

…and then you have one week to come up with the best designs in the world and then present them to us in the most easily understandable and beautiful way possible that is awe-inspiring and worthy of a gold medal and make any updates and changes we request and reissue right?

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…and then you have one week to order, organize and call, find, agree on a fee for all of the finishes and tradesmen.

…and then your guys (and gals) have a week to lay the floors and paint the walls (at the same time) in a 4 bedroom house and then they’ll be moving in when everything has dried (another day after that right?)

I’m joking, well actually no I’m not.

So, when should I hire an interior designer?

My message to clients:

  • Please give your designer as much time as realistically possible to provide you with the best service that you deserve. Hire them as soon as you find the house or if you trust your designer’s opinion, get them on board when searching for the right house.

My message to designers:

  • Keep yourself 80% booked, not 100% so that you don’t have to say no to a wonderful client that you really want to work with.

 

You Don’t Need Talent To Be An Interior Designer

The idea of natural talent has resurfaced often throughout my career and I think it is an interesting topic. I was having a chat this week with an amazing woman who wanted to know more about my interior designer’s business school (my mentorship program that is starting at the end of February). She was actually already successful in another industry and in my opinion naturally talented, driven, hardworking and really pleasant and personable.

She astounded me when she asked “what if no-one likes my designs or what if I’m just not talented or I don’t have any talent? “

More often than not, I find that really talented individuals are actually afraid that they aren’t very good at design. Ironically, they are usually the ones that are naturally talented but lack the self-esteem or confidence. For those people who don’t know they are naturally talented, a great teacher will help reveal those qualities in you and help you nurture and balance the right skills that will help you succeed.

Yes there are many, many people with natural talent (I would say one of my best friends Matthew Anderson who I studied architecture with in Brisbane Australia – he is totally just a natural – find him at arkitekturkollektivet ) I used to just be in awe of him and I wondered how does he do it?

The truth is, when it comes to design, it IS something that can be learned. I wouldn’t say that I was a natural (no modesty here), but I definitely was creative, passionate and dared to try new things. I worked hard to get good grades at uni or beautiful results for my clients, but so do the naturally talented ones.

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Design is a process, cutting corners doesn’t work. It can be sped up with experience, but that’s it (in my opinion). Talent helps you to see things in a particular way, but you can learn to see things in that way even if you aren’t naturally talented.

The thing is, that natural talent gives you an edge to design in a way that being confident about your style gives you the look of having natural talent.

So as long as you really truly believe in what it is you are doing and find a way to express it so that others understand it, you will start to grow your tribe of followers. The thing with talent is that you can find your own and the thing with design is, that it CAN be learned, yes there are design rules and in my opinion you need to know the rules before you can break them intelligently, but once you grasp those rules, creativity gives you equally as many (if not more possibilities) and answers to solve a problem than natural talent does. So either way, there is a way to success, you just have to find your path.

The Skills You Need To Be A Freelance Interior Designer

A couple of years ago I was invited to a local school to talk to students about their careers. I was astounded at the reasons why people wanted to go into a certain career and I couldn’t believe the misconceptions and preconceptions some had about what skills were required and the ways to qualification for interior designers, building technicians and architecture students.

For clarity, here in the UK you do not need a formal education in interior design to become an interior designer.  There are many skills that are required and lots of experience, but these are not things that should hold you back from pursuing a career if it is something that you want to do.  My advice is to find the right teacher and start getting as much experience as possible.

Across my career, I have mentored and taught interior design, architecture and construction detailing to colleagues, workmates, students and assistants.  In my opinion, the only other important thing required other than a great teacher and experience are the following personality traits:

Problem Solving Skills & Creativity

These are probably the most important skills because they not only relate to every project (there is always a point on a project where you need to be creative and sort out a way to provide a solution to a problem), but creative expression has to be a passion for you, or else it will exhaust you.

Good Design Knowledge & Intelligent Flexibility

Knowing when to give up on an idea but still being able to make something intrinsic to a design work, is a key skill to anyone in a creative field.

Your initial ideas need to withstand physical alterations or value engineering by a builder or client. This is where I see many a designer turn to blaming others for the failure of a “great idea”.

You need to be able to see the opportunity to better your design when something gets in the way, not just give up and blame someone because they inhibited your project from succeeding. Being flexible but also having the skill base to support your decision is really important to success as a freelance interior designer.

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Excellent Communicator & A People Person

This relates to anyone running a business but is even more important in a service based industry where you are translating peoples desires into reality. Your clients will be revealing many of their lifestyle choices to you and you need to be mature and intelligent enough to deal with all situations that arise either with your clients, suppliers and other consultants including builders.

Communicating ideas and speaking clearly about your project are absolutely critical to your success as a freelance interior designer.

Organization and Management Skills

You are your own boss, so it makes sense that you need to run your own business. You will need to organize your invoices, client communication, taxes, furniture and fitting suppliers, builders etc. You will be in contact with lots of people on a daily basis on any one project, so it will be important that your digital and hard filing are completely in order.

Losing information or misplacing things is simply not an option.

Tenacity and Motivation

There is a reason why some interior designers become successful and others don’t and I do believe it has more to do with tenacity and motivation than any other skill. You don’t have to be the best to be the best. You just have to put your hand up and be ready to take an opportunity when it is presented to you and don’t give up when things get hard and don’t be afraid to take on a project that seems a bit of a push. Get help if you need it, don’t give up.

Want to know what it is like to be an interior designer?  You might like my blog post called My Life As An Online Interior Designer

How To Get Your First Client

How to get your first client and specifically How To Get Your First Interior Design Client – Without a portfolio of work and without a long list of contacts.

When I started my business as an online architectural and interior designer, I had been living in the UK for about 10 years. Anyone who moves away from home, even to another city, knows that meeting new people and creating a network isn’t quite so easy.  I had no idea where to start to get my first client.

By my age, people have families and they don’t go out as often as they used to, their sports have taken a back seat and their priority are their children. Most of the women I know who are architects or designers get most of their work at the “school gate”. Its like an abundant place where friendly people speak to you knowing who you are and seem to trust you straight away.

But what if you don’t have kids, family, friends and a great network of supportive, like-minded people who are willing to help you out?  How do you get your first client?

Getting clients doesn’t have to be hard. I slowed my progress to having a successful business because I didn’t do these things to get clients and once I did… they started rolling in (literally).

Tell Them All About It

You can’t be the world’s best-kept secret. You have to talk to literally everyone you know about what you are doing – repeatedly. You have to keep reminding people that you are around and that this is what you do now. It may take some time, but someone you ultimately know or know through someone else will think of you when someone needs you as a designer.

Word of mouth (or even word of social media) is so strong, but you have to remind people ALL THE TIME. No room for being shy or thinking “oh they know”. I didn’t get any clients for years… yes I was trying to start a business for years… and I didn’t tell anyone… because I thought they all knew…

As soon as I announced that I as finally working full time for myself, I got 4 referrals straight away. All of which ended up being my clients.  Job done and I got my first client.

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Share Your Knowledge

I used to believe that without a gorgeous portfolio of projects to show your clients there was no hope of ever getting a client. To me it was like this chicken and egg scenario, but I need a client first before I can get some photos of my work!

I know that isn’t true now… at all. If you check my website, I still don’t have a vast portfolio and I have worked with well over 30 clients this year! (My projects are only just now coming to completion and we will be photographing them soon, so stay tuned), but this isn’t an excuse either.

The way I started to get respect for my expertise is by giving by knowledge freely. I helped people out on any forum I could find. Interior design and architecture historically are not those kinds of professions where people share their knowledge too freely, so getting real help (for free) was my way of getting some street cred.

Speak To Someone New Every Day

This was the hardest for me. When I was low and all poor me about my work and life situation, the last thing I wanted to do was to speak to anyone about my loser life. But I put in my diary that I had to speak to someone new every day. Whether it’s the post man, tell him what you do. If it’s the local shop, put a flyer up and speak to them and tell them what you do. You this on social media too, but don’t just type, set up a meeting or a call, because you cant click with a person as well (in my opinion) with just typing, especially if you feel a bit weird at the beginning just trying to meet people.

Oh and this is a bonus one…

Leave Your Dignity At The Door

Oh man, yyou can’t imagine how many bruised ego’s I had. Again, it took me a super, duper, really long, long time to get that you have to toughen up and be confident about what your skills are and what you can do. People will say no.. that’s ok and sometimes that’s actually a blessing!

Don’t get upset if people ignore you, (because they will), don’t worry if people think you are a freako (because they will), if you are passionate about what you do, even those people who were non believers will come back, so never give up, keep going and every time someone knocks you down, you can find ingenuitive ways to keep getting back up (with some or no class.. your choice).

And if you want to know what its like to be an online freelance designer, you can read my blog post here

My Life As An Online Interior Designer

It took me what felt like forever to finally be able to live this lifestyle as an online interior designer, working from wherever I want, at whatever time I want, wear whatever I want, work in the way that I want, have dream clients who appreciate me and love working with me (and who are so happy to pay me!)

When I think back to all my mates back in Australia, I am definitely a late bloomer. As I was heading towards my thirties, all my friends seemed to be having babies and getting married, whilst I was just finishing up my 7-year architecture degree and heading back over to England to work for a large international hotel design company.

Besides snowboarding, I only have one other passion in my life and that is buildings. Big, small, old, new, inside, outside – doesn’t matter. I am o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d with buildings. When I work, rest, play, travel, eat, doesn’t matter I’m thinking about or looking at buildings.

My secret obsession is perving at houses on Rightmove and Air B&B. I love seeing how people live, I’m totally fascinated by it. One thing that I have noticed over the years is that architects, designers and councils have less input into housing these days and developers and one time landlords (aka non-professional landlords) are the new decision makers in my industry – which has been hugely reflected in the very low standards seen today in the current housing stock.*

I set up an online interior design business about 5 years ago called “designmyroom” where I did the interior designs for individual rooms for a very low cost. That progressed me to start my company in 2016 called Invent Design Create Ltd and I was working as a freelance interior designer on the side whilst I still worked as an architectural designer for an architectural firm during the day.

In March 2017, I finally started working for myself full time! I started with 4 clients in March and by the end of 2017, l have worked with over 30 happy, paying clients and now, I have so many clients, I can’t take them all on. When I started, I didn’t have any previous projects or a beautiful portfolio of work, I had nothing but my passion and personality and I had to figure out a way of getting regular income and making sure I was doing everything legally as well as making sure my clients got everything they needed and I always tried to exceed their expectations.

Now, my life as an online interior designer is pretty amazing! I get to work with the most amazing clients. I am not sure how it happened, but every single one of my clients is totally rad. They are cool, interesting, kind, pleasant and they all treat me with respect. I get to design beautiful spaces for them, I get to surprise them with the most amazing designs that they never knew they could afford or even comprehend were possible. I get to completely transform their homes and show them the potential in the spaces that they hadn’t seen,, I get to see their excitement and their happiness when their dreams come true.

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The majority of the time, I am surrounded by positivity and happiness. It’s not all glam (although it’s not that bad!). The majority of issues I face are with suppliers – online websites that state that they have something in stock and then you get a phone call or email saying “oh – not sure why that is still coming up, we don’t stock that anymore” or delayed deliveries when my client has taken a day off work to collect something that doesn’t show up, or when delivery guys who can’t lift the thing they have been paid to deliver so take it back to the store and try to charge my client for redilivery!

As long as I am organised and have internet access, I can work from anywhere in the world. I have had clients from Australia, England, Egypt, The UAE, Turkey, Norway, New Zealand, Belgium, Finland and sunny California USA.

You do need to know a bit about the climate, local tastes, availability of furniture and a bit about the housing stock in the places you are designing as houses and the way people live really do vary from country to country, although the biggest issues I have come across are simply finding items of furniture that can ship to certain places, especially if we can’t source items locally within my client’s own country (this happens in Egypt, Norway and some rural areas of many large countries).

As an online interior designer, I spend a lot of time shopping for furniture and interior décor items. It is usually my choice what ends up in my client’s house and I am forever grateful that they trust me and are willing to buy things that I tell them they should buy!

It really is my dream job and I am grateful every day for my clients and also to myself for never giving up on my dream, because after what seems like forever, I finally get to do this for a living.

This year I am starting a mentorship program for women who want to follow their dreams of becoming a freelance interior designer.  If you or someone you know, want to fast track your route to becoming a freelance interior designer or just don’t want to follow the usual route of going back to uni or undertaking a low paid internship, get in touch (on m contact page) and I can send you the course breakdown and start dates or my freelance interior designer mentorship program.

*Nothing against developers, I actually worked for some excellent developers (and still do) and have also studied to become a developer myself. But in my opinion this is what happens when there is a lack of building science knowledge or little care for the life of the person having to living in a dwelling which has to meet a certain ROI. It’s just what happens when profit without care drives the standard rather than thought and passion for each project – BUT there is no reason why you can’t have a higher quality result – it just needs thought and creativity (thats what I do!)

5 Ways To Update Your bathroom

Bathrooms can be rooms that get overlooked in a house and they shouldn’t. These spaces are nearly always the first place we go to when we wake up and the last room we leave before we go to sleep, so they should make us feel great.

I’m one of those “bath lovers” so I can really spend hours in my bathroom as its the place I actually go to to try to relax.  Below are a few ways you can update your bathroom to give it a fresh finish.

1. Add plants

There isn’t a single room in your house which won’t benefit from housing a plant. Not only are they so varied and beautiful, they are also proven to help reduce stress and create a sense of well-being. Plants can also help to reduce noise and improve air quality! Ok I’ll stop singing plants’ praises, but now you know, you have no reason not to add some greenery to your bathroom!  This is one of the fastest, most fun and easiest ways to update your bathroom.

Bathrooms aren’t always filled with lots of natural light so choose plants which require low lighting to thrive. Humidity and temperate levels are also important as hot running water and lots of steam can cause these levels to increase, and some plants are not happy about this.

Most bathrooms aren’t huge in size either, so opt for plants which can sit on a shelves and windowsills, trail down walls and hang from the ceiling. My favourites are aloe vera, ivy and the cast iron plant, which lives up to its name. Not even I can kill this one!

Image source http://www.housemixblog.com/2017/03/28/plant-wall-in-the-bathroom/

2. Add art

Art work is another way to update your bathroom. If you think your bathroom or downstairs toilet is too small for art work, it isn’t! Artwork comes in every form and size these days and you may be surprised at what works in this space.

Seascapes and beaches are a great go to for bathroom art work but really anything can work. Nature is another art subject which sits well in a bathroom as it will help to bring the feeling of the outdoors in to your space. If you want a cosmopolitan feel printed typography and graphics are a fun way to freshen up the room.

3. Updating shower curtains and screens

Refreshing your bathroom can be as easy as changing your shower curtain. Long gone are the days of plain white shower curtains which stick to your wet body whenever you try to move!

The High street and lots of online retailers offer various colours patterns and designs which can be suited to any style. I would suggest opting for something fun and patterned or colourful to really add some life to your bathroom. The best thing about shower curtains too is that they can be changed easily and as soon as you think it has had its day. They are also great if you like to change your style from time to time and can be a cheap way to update your bathroom.

Another option is to invest in updating your shower curtain to a glass screen. This option will help to modernise a bathroom space, possibly making it feel lighter and arguably even cleaner.

Image source – https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/shop/saskia-pomeroy-plants-shower-curtain-001?category=A_NEWARRIVALS&cm_mmc=social-_-pin-_-562016-_-plantsshowercurtain

4. Updating Towels

Updating your towels is also a really easy way to freshen up your bathroom. Adding luxurious towels in contrasting or complimentary colours will make the space look nicer, but importantly when you get out of the shower or dry your hands, they will feel nicer on your skin.

There’s nothing better than placing your towel over the radiator before washing and then stepping into a warm fluffy towel!

image source https://www.wayfair.co.uk/textiles-bedding/pdp/behrens-zen-hand-towel-brns1033.html

5. Window furnishings

Updating your window furnishings is another great way to bring your bathroom to life. Blinds don’t have to be extortionate and colourful prints or designs will help to instantly uplift the room. As with choosing art work and shower curtains, you can have lots of fun with choosing patterns and colours for blinds. The designs are endless and there is a design out there to suit everyone.

So I would suggest keeping in mind the other elements of the room. A patterned artwork, blind and shower curtain will probably be too much for one space so choose one element and make it work for you. As for me, I would be heading straight for a safari patterned blind, to give my bathroom a real tropical feel. (I’m still in the middle of my safari craze and am loving it!)

image source http://wadeweissmannarchitecture.com/

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Why You Need A Boot Room

I’m not sure when my obsession with boot rooms started, although it was probably around the same time as when the Plain English kitchens started to get advertised in Elle Decor, House Beautiful and The World Of Interiors!

Not only are these English inventions pretty cool, they are also super practical. Although I only ever saw these make an appearance win mansion houses or country houses, there is no reason why you can’t take this idea and use it in your home too.

Practical reasons (pro arguments) for getting one of these installed or made at either the front or back door to your home.

1. A separate boot room can reduce condensation in your home!

Not sure why, but here in the UK houses don’t get built with “airlocks” or foyers. This for me is an obvious reason for condensation and mould growth in many an English home. Understandably space is an issue over here, but the health benefits in my opinion outlay the need for more and more “space”. What is the point of space if it isn’t practical anyway?

2. Leaving Your shoes at the door is Hygienic.

I’m pretty sure I have written about this before. The ground outside is dirrrrty! People spitting, animals pooing, chemicals from cars and trucks remain on the streets and we step on these with our shoes. You may disagree, but it makes sense to me to take these off when getting home (preferably before trumping through the house in them) and change into something cleaner. Imagine if you have a baby crawling around…

3. A boot room can help keep your household organised.

It isn’t so much in Australia in terms of hanging jackets, scarves, gloves and hats but it can be a very useful place anywhere in the world that helps you organise your shoes in one place (ok depending on size) as well as helps items such as dog leads, umbrellas and gum boots have a permanent place!  Also, many everyday families with children or those that have pets or avid couples who cycle or are very sporty need a place to leave their equipment or sports gear so it is easy to find.  A boot room appropriately situated, could help keep everyone on time and always with their kit.

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4. Possibly adds privacy when working from home.

This may not apply to everyone, but many more couples have started working from home together and sometimes a boot room can be used as a separate one between public and private spaces. For example, one person may receive a lot of deliveries whilst another is teaching a meditation class in another room. This adds an extra layer between in inside, more private areas of the house.

5. It Can save you energy!

This is a spin-off to the airlock in number 1. If you have a staircase opposite your front door (like many traditional English homes) and the air just flows up like a draughty tunnel and escapes into the roof, putting an airlock (aka boot room) can help keep the rest of your home toasty and warm in winter and save you money on your heating bills. I know that some Scandinavians put up a curtain behind their front door – this has the same effect. This also works the other way round, many people in warmer countries air-condition their homes, so a boot room could save you money and energy on cooling…

So you know what I’m working on now.. yep my own one of these.. stay tuned to see the result!

The beautiful, warm, practical and inviting boot room in my blog image today is what inspired me to create my own boot room about a year ago! I’m obsessed with the joinery from this company and love just perving their website…  You can find that image and their work at http://www.thomasfordandsons.com/

Kitchen Waste & Sustainability

As I am a geek who is super passionate about sustainability, waste and energy consumption (yes I won a green grant a few years back to analysis and assess a whole area of Sydney’s waste and energy – nerd alert), I really question anything that claims to be sustainable or green or environmentally friendly! That is why when renovating our kitchen and my husband’s ONLY MUST HAVE item was an insinkerator; I felt I needed to undertake a little research.

When I think of insinkerators, I think of 80’s and 90s houses growing up. It seemed that all of the more well-off family’s seemed to have them. I have memories of brown and orange kitchens with lots of terracotta tiles, in my memory, they were flash (ha ha). I have to admit when we were renovating our kitchen, I never thought I would ever install one! My husband on the other hand, who used to be a site manager on building sites in London had his heart set on one ever since he saw his old boss install them in all his properties. He knew, that one day he would have one…

Not sure what happens to kitchen waste in the USA, but in Australia, Europe, Scandinavia and the UK, kitchen waste goes to the same place as your poo poo. It is considered foul water. Here in the UK, Thames water (who are in charge of my water supply and drainage) do two things with our “bio sludge” aka kitchen, toilet and trapped floor drainage. It gets turned into either biofuel to power the recycling and treatment plants or it gets used as fertiliser on agricultural land.

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So, after much research, I realized that actually, as ashamed as I am to say that I am not much of green thumb and really don’t have the time for composting (ok – in my defence I actually bought a composting book and my flatmates can vouch that I started a compost back in the day, so I have tried), I am aware of how much waste goes to landfill and it really does bother me. As someone who loves to cook and I also cook a lot from scratch being a vegetarian (98% of the time.. ok except when I eat Polish food at relatives houses..) I create A LOT of green waste. Potato peels, veggie waste, fruit cores, you name it!

We got around the wet, rotting bin scenario by always emptying our little bin daily, but with our new kitchen we wanted real bins and my husband insisted on the insinkerator! So environmental consciousness check! Smelly, wet, rotting bin solution Check! Dirty, constantly clogged up sink solution Check! It is slowly becoming one of my favourite pieces of kit in my kitchen…