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Why A Simple Spring Clean Can Change Your Life

Its Finally Spring here in the UK. Yep, I am going to get all cliché on you and give you my best tips and time saving strategies to get the most efficient jobs done in one day – so that you don’t spend your whole weekend cleaning (and exhausted) just to go back to work the next day! Why bother?

Here are some of my reasons to bother with a really good spring clean:

Having a dirty home can affect your health.

Just getting rid of dust, cleaning curtains, linens and carpets means that a year’s worth of dust which has settled in areas you don’t clean too regularly will be removed finally! If you don’t do it now, when will you do it?

Dirt can hide damage to your building envelope and can limit the amount of light entering your home.

Some cracks around the home can be harmless. If you have little patches of plaster on the floor, maybe behind a sofa or cupboard, you could easily miss it if you haven’t cleaned or even looked at that area in a while!

I also love having clean windows, especially in Spring, your really notice how much more light comes in. I never had this problem in Australia, but here in the UK the diesel cars really dirty the window and window sills.

Also, mould can cause real health problems not only to you but to your building!  Read more in my blog post “Lifestyle habits to help you reduce mould in your home”

Dirty and cluttered surroundings can play on your subconscious mind and make you grumpy and negative.

If you are anything like me, when you see that pile of clothes on the floor (that everyone else seems to be able to ignore), or that dust pile in the corner of the bathroom, I think to myself “I need to get around to cleaning that”. Not only does that interrupt your thought process from whatever you were thinking about (which is probably way more important than “I gotta clean that”) you also bring your self down and get negative, especially when the thoughts turn to “someone else has to clean that” or “what a pig”. Wouldn’t it just be better to walk up the stairs and think, wow, what a beautiful day, it smells so fresh and clean up here.

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It’s an opportunity to purge.

Yes I love Kon Mari and those two cleaning ladies Kim and Aggie and I have to admit that Id rather be watching “How clean is your house” rather than actually cleaning mine, but the last time I actually purged my wardrobe, I genuinely recycled and gave to charity more than half of what I had. I had just gotten so busy with moving from the flat to the new house that lots of it was still in boxes, the other derelict, ripped pieces were ”working clothes” that I kept for renovating , which came to an abrupt halt about 8 months ago…

My point is here that it is an opportunity to just finally get rid of that stuff, purging your sanity, home and life, making you that little bit more free.

The mess can waste your time.

So can living in cluttered space. Trying to find things, moving one thing to reach another, not bothering to get something at all because its just too difficult to get to… yep, I am ashamed to say that I have experienced it all (and still do). I also find things that I thought I should keep when I was moving “just in case” and now look at it a year later thinking ”really, why would I keep that – this is junk!” . A personal example is that I still haven’t renovated my kitchen but I find myself storing empty yoghurt pots for when I get a chance to paint again (once the kitchen is complete of course). Neither one of these things is on the horizon in the next 6 months, so I’m sure Il collect enough yogurt pots when the time comes – for now, they are taking up prime location in the little storage I currently have in my 16 year old, tiny kitchen.

This is usually also more critical in small spaces and smaller homes.  If you want to read some lifestyle tips on living in smaller spaces, you can read those here.

It gives you a point in your life to press “reset”

Sometimes you just get to a point and you think, things need to change. Doing a spring clean can be a good precursor to that change. It give you time to think, re-evaluate what your goals are and why you are doing what you are doing in your life. It makes you think, “why am I holding onto these items?” or “I remember that I love to play squash, I should make time for that again.”  Looking around at your surroundings can be a trigger for changing your life.  I wrote about how noticing my surroundings changed mine when I wrote my post “Can your surroundings change your life?

Right, so I have given you some good reasons to do a spring clean, but I will give you a week for this information to sink in and hopefully motivate you. Next Week, I will give you an action plan that you can follow.

Today, set a date – see it as a time for change, a day that things are going to move and shift physically and emotionally.

Space Saving Ideas For Homes

Having lived in shared accommodation for most of my life and having travelled and moved way too many times, I have so many space saving ideas that I have used and also thought about using! Here are some of the ideas that you may be able to implement in your own home to save space and make better use of it too.

Use a narrow dressing table or hall table as a desk.

I spent many a sleepless week wedged between a stool and a (very nice cherry wood) futon whilst living in Perth (some great idea I had once to move to one of the most remote parts of the world). During that semester at university, whilst I worked endlessly on my design projects and competitions, I realised that I not only gave myself RSI, but also ruined my lower back, by staying in a random position working from the floor for literally weeks on end. So, I wouldn’t be doing that anymore, but how do you fit a desk in a room smaller than a tin can? I remember when I found the solution for all of my problems! I was living in a pretty big (2.7 x 3.5m2) room in Reading, and one of my flatmates was moving out, when I noticed his desk was much thinner than mine.. it was a dressing table.  It was beautifully narrow, albeit awfully ugly. When I tactfully swapped my clunker for his narrow commode, I had made enough space not only for a desk, but there was also just enough space to do yoga in front of my desk!  In our Battersea apartment, I bought a wonderfully narrow dressing table and used it as my desk and it worked perfectly and it still does today in my home office. This idea can be transferred to breakfast tables, sofas, hallway tables. Think what piece of furniture in a tight or multi-use space could be a different shape but still function as it needs to, which allows either more space around it or another function (and double bonus if you don’t have to fork out money for it!)

Make your rooms work hard for you.

When space was really tight, I made sure almost every single room had at least 2 functions. For example, my bathroom was also a storage room with a hidden utility, my kitchen was also the dining, guest room and living space and my bedroom was my yoga space, home office, walk-in wardrobe and sleep space. If your rooms are thought out properly, you can make them work harder than just a whole room designed to be an office… that is unless of course, you have the opposite problem where you have too much space and coming up with how to fill the space seems impossible without leaving large patches of emptiness and miniature looking seating arrangements.

Be Tidy.

If you do just one thing – designate a space for certain things. Thats it. You won’t have to think about where something goes ever again and you are more likely to put it where it belongs. I also don’t mean the floor in front of the cupboard (I know people like this). I mean office stuff is always in the top drawer, glasses are always in the cupboard above the sink, bags all belong on the rack and shoes by the front door or in their boxes. Create a system that works for you and makes it easy to put things away. If for example the box for your shoes is the last one behind three others under the bed and you know it takes at least 4 minutes to access it, the likelihood of you putting it away at 1am when you are falling into bed is zero.

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Build Anything you can ‘in’.

Yes, I mean built-in wardrobes, built-in shelving, built-in kitchen cupboards build it in! I can hear the naysayers already, yes ok it saves inches, but … it saves inches. When you live in a small space, you need all the space you can get. Building it in, means that when you undoubtedly start over filling everything, it also has more chance of surviving, that’s because if its built-in, its usually more sturdy and intended to last longer. For example, book shelves. We’ve all had one, over stuffed and more crooked than Pisa. Ive never seen a built-in one fail… and in fact I’ve had to rip a few out on building projects, surprised to see that they were still going strong 50 years from the day they were installed.

Use air space and use solid space.

By air I mean ‘in the air’ and by solid I mean use the space under your existing furniture. Obvious examples are using the space above and below your bed. I designed a storage wall for my apartment because my partner has loads of cds and dvds and these fit perfectly into narrow cupboards, which when mixed with deeper cupboards can look a bit more modern. Yes I struggle with the fact that storing things under my bed is bad Feng Shui and I know most of you will think argh, its so 60’s to build cupboards around my bed, but it ultimately is how you design it. Yes it can look crap, or you can make it work for you and it can look great!

Use practical furniture.

Yes unfortunately the word practical must feature here. Lounges with built in storage that convert to beds (seriously ugly, but man how practical is that?) I decided on a bar table in our dining area and bought two stools without backs, so that when they aren’t being used we can keep them under the table. There are some really ugly practical pieces of furniture, but these days with access to the internet and online designers, there really is no excuse, well, unless its a gift, or a hand-me-down, or an heir loom… but there is usually a solution for those too.

I hope that gave you a few ideas to try.

Bedroom Before & After – With tips & Ideas to create beautiful and functional spaces

We all love a good before and after. Many big transformations can take time and are most often unbelievable or difficult to imagine. What could you imagine when looking at the above picture? What would you have created if you were asked to provide a bedroom with lots of storage, a study/home office space with book shelving and a brighten up a long room? (P.S. A wide angle lens for the after photo helps too).

Many see this room as too small, messy or dark and feel they could never make it perfect. Below are descriptions of what I did to the room to make it brighter and more functional. Keep in mind that pretty much everything inside the room went back in there except I changed the desk for a different desk and hid a lot of it in the storage (the bike got stolen within a day of locking it outside … good old London).

1. Built-in storage concealed behind large sliding doors can make a room feel bigger than it really is and save space as the doors don’t open out. Here the high gloss white doors reflect the light from the window, bouncing light around the room.

2. Framing a room can make it feel smaller, so in small spaces its best to keep open shelves to a minimum if you want to make the area feel neat. Instead I created a vertical line with the book shelving, so the room feels taller and more open, especially as previously this end of the room had a tunnel effect.

3. A designer tip is to match your sheets with one of the base or highlight colours of your room. This will make it all look as though its been thought out.

4. Track lights can be really versatile for rooms with multiple uses as you can direct them in different ways. These were the cheapest we could find and they were from IKEA (but still cost over £200!

5. Thinking ahead is really important if you plan on concealing power cables and positioning switches in convenient locations. We reconfigured the lighting in the room by removing the ill placed pendant at the end of the room and positioned the track lights along one wall. We also added lighting above the artworks which doubled as bedside / reading lights.

6. Try integrating minor colours into adjacent rooms to give a natural sense of flow between spaces.


7. Open bookshelves can look really messy, but if you have a lot of books, try containing it to one area and play with organizing them in interesting ways. The open shelving here was set back to make the darker / heavier area with the bookshelves appear less heavy. Looking back now, I could have styled the books better before I took the photo – but you can see it here, fully loaded and very used!

8. Reflective surfaces close to windows can act like mirrors. Light colours help to reflect and make a room feel larger – (but don’t be fooled – high gloss dark colours can also make a room feel larger – just not brighter).

9. Ensure there is enough room for your spaces to function properly. A room can be beautiful to look at, but success comes from getting it practical as well as beautiful.

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10.  If you aren’t confident with colour but want to use it, keep the base pallet simple and use colour in accents or decorative items.

Just because you want a room to be beautiful AND functional doesn’t mean you have to compromise. As long as you have a clear direction and a good design to work with, your design project will almost certainly be a success. Many people think that a room project must be complete with all of the decorative items in place or else it wont feel “complete”. As long as you hold onto your vision, even if on a budget, you will be able to keep working towards your goal, working on each item at a time.

And just a few not so great photos of the completed room to prove that it is the same room!

I would love to know what you would have done differently.  Everyone’s personality, requirements and tastes are different, so if I designed the space for you, how would it have ended up?  Email me and let me know.

Why These Everyday Household Items are Ruining Your Interior Design

I have heard myself repeating these things a lot lately, so it made me realize that it’s not something many people know about!

If you are choosing items for any space including your kitchen at home – keep in mind that the following items are not “neutral” or clear – they actually have a very strong presence in a room and they have a colour that you need to take into consideration.

GLASS

The thicker glass gets, the more you see the green tinge that it naturally has. On architectural projects, I will always ensure to specify low iron glass which will be more clear rather than green. If you like the green tinge, it can work beautifully on projects, but unless you take it into consideration, it could turn your pink beige bathroom tiles a dirty looking colour when you look through the glass. In architecture and interiors, its always important to know your materials and what you are working with.

ARTIFICIAL LIGHT

Artificial light has colour. This is usually referred to as the temperature of the light. Think back – can you remember that old incandescent lights used to be quite yellow, fluorescents used to appear a bit blue and cheap halogens used to appear a bit pink? The colour of the light fitting you are using in your room, will change the way your paint and all other items in the room look.
You must take into consideration the light temperature when designing your project, it might look perfect in daylight, but if you use a space mainly at night but designed it to feel right during the day you might get some tears.

Light is a huge topic and one of my favourites. If you would like to learn more about artificial light and colors my free interior design course goes more into depth about it. You can learn about it by clicking here

WHITE-GOODS, CABLES & ELECTRICAL ITEMS

As Michael Jackson once said, it doesn’t matter if they are black or white – cables, TV’s Computers, fridges, washing machines – these aren’t invisible. I wouldn’t consider designing my house around their colour unless they were literally an integral part of my scheme – so most of the time I would consider hiding them. This really needs some thought before you buy furniture and especially if you are considering colours for a kitchen or living area which could possibly have loads of electrical items clashing with your scheme.

METALS

I’m talking radiators and their copper pipes, door handles, window latches, sink and bathroom tapware, floor boxes, blind pull-chords, chair and stool legs, cupboard drawer handles, down to the back plates of electrical and light sockets. Usually, a coherent scheme will take all of these into consideration as light reflects off metal and a polished brass tap will look odd when everything else in the room is brushed stainless steel.


FLOORING

Honestly, natural timber is probably the only flooring I would classify as neutral. You can make it work with pretty much any scheme. But any other flooring will have a colour. Stone, cork, tile, concrete and resins will need to be considered as a surface – so they will need to be taken into consideration. To be honest, I think the hardest ones for people to use in a scheme is usually natural stone. This is because the variances in colour and undertones of each type can be so complex that an untrained eye will struggle to make the right colour choices for a scheme. If you are a newbie and you want something that will just work – solid or engineered timber will do the trick (not laminate that looks like timber – these end up in you need to work with the surface colour pot).

All of these things can affect the overall look of a room, so it is critical to take these into consideration if you are aiming for a very specific end result. No one likes surprises – and in design, we control as much as possible so that the surprises are nice ones, not ones that lead to expensive changes and tears.

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Things I Wish I Had Done Before I Bought My First Home

I Actually wrote this post a few years ago, under my old blog.  My friend who is in the process of buying his first home in London asked me where this blog post was as he wanted to read it.  So here it is revived a little and equally as relevant as it was back then!

Since buying my first (and now second) property in London, I realised that there were some things I wish I had done or would have known about before buying my first property. Because I grew up in Australia and had my family and all of their expertise in buying property across the other side of the world, I realised that I was alone in the UK and had no one to turn to when all these side balls hit me. So for anyone thinking of buying your first home, here are the 5 things I wish I had done before buying my first property.

1. I wish I hadn’t moved house so many times.

Unless you can help it and you are indeed planning on buying property, try not to move, or find somewhere to keep a regular address. The banks and anyone else you deal with for proof of identity as well as home insurance etc. will ask you for at least 3 years worth of addresses. I moved 4 times in 3 years and you can bet I didn’t remember every postcode every single time I was asked to provide it, which dragged out the whole process and made it more difficult than it needed to be.

2. I would have started building my credit score.

(I use check-my-file because you see your Experian and Call Credit Ratings instead of just one of them)
I had held a credit card in the UK since 2003 and I had always paid it off on time. I had a pretty average credit score and I didn’t know why it wasn’t better. After a few years of actively trying to better my score, I realised I needed to do certain things in a certain way to actually build my score! Some of these things were making sure that the credit agencies actually kept the right information about me (yes, they were wrong and it takes time to correct the information), I had to ensure I wasn’t getting loads of credit checks (beware getting hits from car insurance comparison sites and the like), I had changed my current bank account to get a better deal as I was preparing to get a mortgage and realised that this affected my credit score as well, because it meant I hadn’t held an account in the UK for longer than a year – which was untrue, but you can see how fickle it got.

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3.  I wish I had started saving regularly for my house deposit.

Now that the regulations have changed, the banks will need to do an affordability test before giving you a decision in principle. They will check basically the last 3 months of your spending and analyse whether THEY think you can afford paying a mortgage in the UK. I was saving for 15 years for my first home, but I was saving in an ad-hoc way, not regularly. I now save a small amount every week and intend on doing this for the rest of my life.  It has become a lifestyle habit that I wish I started earlier.

4.  I wish I had started collecting household items for my first home earlier.

Don’t forget that buying a home is very costly and I really was on the edge of my affordability, but I was so determined to own my home I went without in many ways to make sure I kept it. I wish I had started collecting things for my home earlier. I would have beautiful travel memories from my travels across Europe, Asia and the Middle East and I would have had meaningful items to surround my self with. I have now thrown away or down-cycled almost everything I moved into my first home with. I literally had a pile of junk to move with and it didn’t last the renovations and I didn’t care for it to either. Now after 2 years of living in my home, I wish I had carefully chosen or invested in a few good items that i could have taken with me on my new home journey.  I wouldn’t have wasted money on cheap items and I would be surrounded by a few meaningful things that make my place feel like a home.

5.  I would have started preparing earlier.

The whole process from me deciding to buy my first home and moving into it took 3 months. It was a very stressful three months for me. As a foreigner, many things can cause problems so try and sort these things out beforehand. One of my issues was that I was transferring savings from Australia. They had to do money laundering checks on me and my family and asking family members to hire solicitors can be really stressful and can take a long time if you don’t know someone who can help you from the other side of the world. Also getting all of your documents filed in order and in the right place is really essential. Never underestimate how important it is to be organised when buying a home!

Goodluck and make the most of it, buying a home can be really stressful, so try to prepare as much as possible.  I hope this helped you.

How To Create An Interior Design Mood Board

We went through why you need a mood board a few weeks back when I wrote the post about what you need before buying furniture or choosing paint colours. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it here.

Today, I will help you create a mood board for your next project. For now, just choose a room that you are thinking of redesigning or would love to redesign and work through these steps to create your own interior design mood board. Just a note, there are lots f different ways to do this. My way isn’t any better than anyone else’s its just the way I do it.

1. Imagine – Choose images that you like or that inspire you and don’t limit yourself with practicality or cost – yet.

For this first section, you just need to do a lot of looking and collecting of images, colours, furniture, fabrics anything to help you say yes, I like this and I would like to use this idea or this piece of something for inspiration. Usually, you will end up with lots of pics from magazines, or maybe you already have a collection of things that you have been saving for “one day”. Get it out now and look through the images to see if you still like them. Don’t put limits on this. Just pick everything and anything you like. I would search for at least 10 pictures, items or anything to just put into the “I like it” pile.

2. Get an Idea – Aim to have one strong and clear goal or idea.

Chose one main image that really depicts as well as possible what you are trying to do. Write ten things about that room that you like about it. Do you like the colours? Do you like the way it feels? Why? Do you like the brightness, what about the furniture, textures, patterns, style, mood, decorations, vignettes, flowers, coffee table? Write as many things that you can, the more you write and understand what you like about the room, the easier it will be to edit later on. Now describe your idea in one sentence.

3. Filter – Keep only the best.

Now think about your room or project and look through the images that you have found. Keep to one side the ones that you really love and or you feel would really work for the space. If you chose inspiration items rather than pictures like feathers or materials, keep the items with the ideas that you want to use in this space specifically.

4. Get Creative – Think of everything.

You will need to think about the colours, walls, floor, ceiling, doors, window dressings, furniture, fabrics, décor and even ironmongery. Look at the room you are sitting in now and name all of the things that are in it. Vases, types of flowers, think of everything. You may not use it, but consider everything from the type of stitching on the occasional chair to the type of pull chord on the roller blinds. Try and find an image or a real-life example of the ideas you have. I would always order samples. Go into paint, tile, wallpaper, carpet or a fabric shop and ask for some samples. Even just to get ideas for texture or colours.

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5. Get Realistic – But don’t discard the things you truly wish you could use just yet.

What could you realistically afford to use. If you really like something that is really out of your price range, keep it and see how important it is to the scheme. If it has to be there, search and search until you find something similar within your price range.

6. Edit – Stay focussed on your desired goal from step 2.

Ask yourself what will help achieve the mood or feeling of the room I am hoping to create? This can be really tough and its why many ammeters designs fail! Be strong. Only keep what is the idea for this room. You can always use that idea somewhere else (I used to get this all the time!) Go back now to your idea – does what you see coming together give you that feeling or do you feel like you are reaching your goal? Keep going removing and or adding textures,furniture and items until what you see in front of you with your materials, fabrics, ideas, furniture and inspiration reveals what your space is going to look and feel like and is being expressed in what you have chosen.

 7. Test your ideas – Imagine these things in your physical space.

Items that are to be on the walls, you need to hang on the walls! Items that you are going to purchase in terms of furniture, you need to draw them out on the floor and see if they will fit. Get samples, get as much information as you can about everything you plan on using. Test, test, test.  Pretend the furniture is there and walk around it.  Imagine something on the wall where you want it, how will it fit, what will the light do with it?

8. Make Your Decision – … Stick it Down  

But All of this would have been in vain unless you actually use your board and stick with it.  Look at the work you put into getting to this point.  If you follow this to a tea, you will realise your vision.

That is the strength and power of the interior designer’s mood board (architects use them too!) Now you have a mood board that you can trust will achieve your end goal. Let me know if this helped you?

 

The Biggest Mistake You Are Making With Your Home (and The Easiest Way To Fix It)

So here it is. I see it all the time. The homemakers, designers, professionals – everyone, unless they have a clear vision of the end result and what they want it to look like, they fail in reaching their end goal with their design.

I see this every day, working with architects, designers, clients, builders, artists and whilst giving design advice. It makes sense though, that without having a clear vision of the end result, you are kind of just playing around, which is fine if you have lots of money to spend on buying things that aren’t going to work, testing ideas and have lots of time to make those mistakes. The main reason that drawings, collaging or sketching your ideas is so important in reaching a look you want is because you are filtering while you are doing it and if you actually go one step further to define what it is that you like about a photo then you are really getting closer to understanding what it is that you really want.

So try it! It is January and you have probably already set some goals for health, family, study etc. Why not have a vision for how you would like your house to look by the end of this year? And this should be fun! Here are two exercises you can start right now to ensure your home will look exactly the way you wish it would, down to the pillowcases on the bed and the flowers in the vase.

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Steps to Make Sure Your Home Looks The Way You Want It Too.

  1. Use an online image source. I use Houzz, Pinterest, Polyvore and In the Window.  I find this the fastest (and cheapest way), but you can collage form magazines if you like too!
  2. Create a vision board for your home. If you would like a workbook on how to do this stay tuned and next week I will have one here for you. For now, go get some magazines, sing up to Pinterest or start saving images to a folder on your computer of Houses that inspire you and keep them for later. Next week I will show you the first step to filtering your ideas in order to make a vision board for your home.

The one in today’s image was an idea/vision board for my bedroom/study/dressing room/library in my London apartment.  You can see underneath I started to write what it is about the image that I liked.  Have fun with it, don’t take it too seriously and enjoy the creative process.

Eastern Interior Design and Architecture

On my way back from Australia to the UK, I flew via Abu Dhabi with Etihad airlines. As a designer, I am always obsessed with the interiors of planes, boats, hotels, airports and embarrassingly, even the backdrops of movies that I’m supposed to be watching.

On the plane, while everyone around me stared with suspicious eyes, I watched every recent Hindu, Arabic and Chinese movies that I could, so that I could get as much information about the interiors of these cultures as possible.

I understand that what I see in movies is quite shallow, but having worked on hotel designs, conference centres and airports for projects in Croatia, Egypt, Oman and Abu Dhabi and having never actually set foot in any of those countries (besides in transit), I am still totally obsessed with the interiors of cultures around the world and can’t keep my eyes off them.

One thing I noticed, is that many modern and contemporary interiors from China, Japan, India and the Middle East seem to still reflect Western trends. I am not sure why I expected to see more culturally significant and traditional decorations in the homes I saw, but I was definitely surprised to see the modern, luxury, toned down to an elegant and refined design that exuded cool in a sophisticated way.

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This lead me on a path to research Eastern contemporary architecture and interiors and what did I find? Weaved in between the modern looking interiors are many elegant and beautiful cultural additions.

For example, in Islamic domestic designs, I found that the zoning and layout of spaces is very important, as is the use of Arabesque art and structural arches and domes. The privacy aspect of this culture is so beautifully reflected in their homes and I have to admit, the best interior mood lighting design that I have seen around the world!  Just imagine patterned screens within arches, backlit with strip lighting to provide an even glow… amazing.
In Chinese contemporary design, space is quite the commodity and so innovation with built-in furniture becomes quite prevalent, as is Feng Shui, which also pushes to clear clutter, position furniture in particular ways, add living plants and decorate with the five elements. This creates beautiful, open spaces, usually very well organized with little clutter and the most gorgeous use of timber that I have ever seen.

In India, architecturally, the courtyard style home is still quite prevalent, not only because it is a traditional layout but because it is climatically functional and creates spaces which are totally in tune with nature. These contemporary interiors are light and bright and to me, totally inspiring as architecturally intelligent machines.

I am totally obsessed with Eastern architecture and design! I need more and more and more and this trip has lit a new spark in my fervour for design. I hope I have lit that spark of interest in you too.  Lets see where this goes!

That Healthy Australian Lifestyle

I grew up in Sydney and I dreamed of living in the inner city and having that healthy Australian lifestyle that comes with living so close to the water and trendy inner city areas with bars, great foodie eats and gorgeous shops.

I decided that this visit to Sydney was about time that I had a chance to live that healthy Australian lifestyle and check-in to see whether this was really what I wanted in my life, or whether it was just overhyped of years of distorted memories from living in the UK for so long.

We stayed in the most gorgeous hotel, that was architecturally interesting, in the middle of a trendy area and also surrounded by lots of areas for sightseeing as well as walking and swimming.

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To be honest, the location didn’t disappoint, even though it wasn’t an area of Sydney I had really spent much time in Woolloomooloo, had some cool places to eat (Ms G’s) and also had the botanical gardens for morning runs.

The hotel was a converted wharf, which had been designed beautifully into a lovely hotel, surrounded by water, boats and was surrounded by the sea.

I hope the photos give you a sneak peak into that Sydney lifestyle I always dreamed of, which to me is healthy, fit, fun and trendy.

And the verdict…  my memories were definitely not distorted, although Sydney has definitely changed, that healthy Australian lifestyle definitely lives on in reality as well as my heart.

Can your surroundings change your life?

I grew up in Western Sydney in Australia. We were first-generation Polish immigrants.  It wasn’t until I became a teenager that I realized what money was and that we didn’t have much money. The innocence of a child and the kindness of friends, extended family and usually parents of schoolmates helped guide me in the right direction, showed me generosity and kindness which shaped me into the person I have become today. Why does this matter?

I used to spend my childhood looking at the free flyers that came through the door and dream about living in spaces like the ones in those advertisements.

I laugh now because back then they were free furniture ads like the ones from “Oak Furniture Land”, IKEA or “Target” and they would be just pictures of tables and chairs in different settings.

I remember spending hours, dreaming and imagining myself sitting at a table like that, eating a nice breakfast with my family and looking out at a view of Sydney Harbour or the Blue Mountains in the distance…

I moved to Brisbane to study architecture in the late 90’s. By physically moving away from Sydney my lifestyle changed completely. My surroundings were stunning, surrounded by palm trees, water and nicely dressed people. Living in the inner city changed my life and raised my awareness greatly.  I started to see first hand what beautiful architecture and interiors really were and I was mesmerised and motivated to soak up every space I could, to experience it, feel it and understand what made it feel so beautiful and why it brought people so much joy.

INTERIOR DESIGNER’S BUSINESS SCHOOL

FAST TRACK YOUR CAREER & LEARN EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO START YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN BUSINESS

By the time I left Brisbane and moved to the UK, I had completely changed my perception of life, I had a hunger for learning more about historical buildings, architecture and interior design, I wanted to see more cultural spaces, natural spaces, modern and innovative spaces.  Moving cities forced me to change and evolve, it was the trigger, mixed with excitement and adventure that I needed to grow and become a better version of myself.

Today, I see these same transformations in my clients when they change their immediate surroundings, whether it is a new home, a complete renovation or a new interior. When I meet people for the first time, they tell me their dreams, how they wish to live and the lifestyle that this dream home will bring them. By the time their project is finished I see their lives are different, I see them transitioning into someone they dreamed of becoming.

There is something magical in the design process that I see allows people to grow. When nurtured, this helps someone grow into their new lifestyle, physically transitioning into their new healthier, more romantic or more successful life, when not so successful, it leads to stress and can turn into a complete horror story or worse yet, an underwhelming and expensive experiment.

My favourite words to hear from someone when they look around is “this isn’t me anymore”. I know that that person’s life is about to change in the most beautiful way, and it is such a gift to be able to be a part of that experience.

The imagination I exercised staring at those magazines as a child helped me nurture an endless creativity and empathy for my clients that allow me to see their visions so clearly. I can hear their music, I can see their dreams and every day I feel so grateful to be a part of creating that new life for someone.