Zoning and why you need it in your home

It is strange, I have had a few clients recently with the same home/usage /functionality challenges, which makes living life in their current home feel either temporary or just makes them use a lot of energy to live.

The problem is public and private zoning within the home. It is something I remember learning at uni and I really loved the idea of diagramming a home to understand how it functions. By searching out the facts of where people spend time to undertake certain tasks, you can figure out how efficiently spaces are being used… or you could equally just ask the person living in the home and they will tell you…

However, it’s not until most people get a chance to stop and really focus or analyze the way they are living in a space that helps them see it isn’t really working or it is prohibiting them from living in the way they want to be living.

For example, how many people do you know that don’t invite visitors around because there isn’t a place for everyone to sit or they never have events at their house because it doesn’t function well with more than just them in the house?

The amount of effort that goes into hiding or moving personal items that haven’t got a place to live is so wasteful.

So what are zones in the home and why do we need them? There are in my mind an unlimited number of zones we could have in a home! But to make this actually useful for my wonderful readers I will narrow these down to two very important ones that will make a difference in your home life: public and private zoning


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Zones set up a set of boundaries that allow you to undertake a certain amount of activities. They are loose boundaries but they are there to give you peace of mind that if a visitor comes into your home you don’t have to run and hide the book you were just reading, or take down the notes you pinned up on the wall as reminders. Your public zone should pretty much be ready to receive visitors at any time (in a relaxed and ‘you’ kind of way) and your private zones in your home are just that, private, so you don’t have to stress when you have visitors that someone will question your religious or spiritual beliefs or see a bra hanging on the door handle.

What happens when you don’t have zones for public /private? To help you realize that you may be living this way, here are a couple of things that might be going on for you if you haven’t got some real zoning going on:

  1. Visitors see your daily stuff, even if you don’t want them to.
  2. You don’t have a place to relax because other activities or other family members are using the space for another activity that is contrary to the one you want to do at the same time (reading quietly or watching a really distracting TV show).
  3. Members of the house end up on top of each other and don’t have privacy.
  4. You end up avoiding having guests over because you feel embarrassed about your home.
  5. You waste energy clearing up, moving things around or changing things around for another activity to take place.

What is the solution? You’ll have to wait for next week’s blog to find out!

The Best Instigator For An All-Out House Clean

Yes, the start or end of a season will do it to me and so will an event like Christmas or Easter, but there’s nothing like having my mum and in-laws over to stay for a week that has gotten my husband and me to transform our home across the last fortnight and put in the hours required for an all-out house clean.

In the past week, we moved our bedroom, relocated and re-built my husbands studio, cleaned the garage, cleared the gardens and removed lots of rubbish that had accumulated around the house (I didn’t think I was the person who would live with a 1970s dishwasher in my backyard for a year – but supposedly I’m that guy after all).

We did this whilst still working full time and whilst still attending meetings (with just a little more dust on my shoes that I’d like to admit). But, I tell ya, there is nothing like a functioning home and a good ol’ house clean. Those light switches with missing screws (they just happened to have the perfect screw that fit my husband’s amplifier) are now back to normal.  We thought about and decided (within milliseconds) about a new location for a studio and Ta-Dah, I have a dining room for the first time in my life! Now my guests can sit together during their visit AND can actually enjoy a meal whilst sitting down (bonus).

This whole whirlwind fortnight made me think about how much we need an “instigator” to get our butts into gear. My husband has been working from our dining room for over a year and a half now. It was never the best idea and it never worked well for either of us, so why have we waited this long to make a decision to change it?

In one way we were forced to change our living conditions before our visitors arrived as they were slightly embarrassing. Two entrepreneurs working from home that was bought as a renovation project that never really kicked off… Nothing like some overseas visitors to kick us into action.

Fast forward two weeks and I have a dining room. OK, it still has sound deadening, black carpet tiles on one wall and the other wall has black cheap Lino tiles, but apart from the black curtains and goth look (against my peach,16 year old, cheap, developer, falling apart kitchen in the background with the broken door), its practical, layout heaven. It works.


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Yesterday, for the first time, I sat in my dining room at my outdoor dining table (baby steps) and enjoyed a new view from my home that I have lived in for well over a year now.  Why didn’t we do this earlier?  The results are so worth it, but we couldn’t find the time.

And guess what? Now it totally makes sense to go ahead and start our kitchen renovation, which I have been pining for, for like every second since we moved in (and also every second since I can remember as I have never actually had a nice kitchen) and that is a sore spot for me because I associate kitchens with health! The moral of this story? If you just can’t stand living in a certain way and just can’t find the time to make those changes around the house that you really genuinely want to make, why not try the visitor technique and force change in your surroundings for the better!

So, watch this space! My interiors blog might just have a kitchen reveal coming soon! (OMG another girl squeal – I think that’s two weeks in a row!)

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.

How To Lift Your Mood When Working On Your Own

I thought it would be a dream working home from home on my own, but then I realised that I got lonely and it was a little difficult to motivate myself sometimes.  At the time not many of my friends worked from hoe and their time zones weren’t very compatible to Skype for company while working (but that works too).  

Having a quick morning chat with a friend, mastermind or a work colleague can really lift your mood when working on your own and if that doesn’t work, try some of the things off my list and let me know if any of these worked for you too!

1. Get something completed off your list early

I know that doesn’t sound mood lifting yet, but imagine if you had already been to the gym, had a yoga session or read a book for 45 minutes before starting work? The activity can be enjoyable too. I am reallllllly lazy in the mornings, so in order to get myself awake (which can be quite a disaster) is to get excited and schedule to do something I really enjoy first thing in the morning.

2. Clean your office.

Yes having every drawer sorted and file up to date would be ideal too, but what about just having a good old clean? If you are like me and cleaning is your go-to procrastination technique, perhaps hire someone else to do the main bit (or enlist a family member) so that you aren’t wasting your time feeling great cleaning all day and not actually getting any work done.

3. Go for a swift walk somewhere close by that you enjoy.

I am lucky enough to live by a river and a very large park, which means all year round I love going outside. But even on a busy city street, I find I get quite a vibe (and really enjoy coming back indoors afterwards and appreciate working from home, much more!

4. Get some sun.

As an Aussie, I really take the sun for granted.  Now living in the UK I keep getting told by my doctors to go and get some sun.  I can’t believe how little sun I get these days, so it really is important for your mood and health to get some good old fashioned vitamin D (of course unless you have been advised against it!)

5. Eat something healthy.

Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries always make me feel amazing and recently some really expensive green powder called Spirulina. I used to love smoothies whilst in Australia, but here in the UK I prefer something warm, so I add these to a small glass of warm oats as a snack and it definitely boosts my mood and energy! I always get a real sugar low when eating lollies and sweets, so as a self-proclaimed lover of chuppa chupps definitely go for the berry options.

6. Listen to a feel-good ebook or music while you work.

I can get through a book a day like this.  Sometimes when I’m drawing I just zone out and can pump through my workload and learn something at the same time.  Singing loudly makes me really happy too although I can get distracted by wanting to dance. It makes the time fly and I love every second.

7. Buy some flowers or pick some and put them near your desk.

If you have a plant, does it need some food or a bit of a dust, give it some love and care.  My desk is slowly being overtaken by flowers and plants.  If you don’t have green fingers, maybe update your screensaver or desktop background to something that inspires or lifts your mood right now. An inspirational holiday place or quote could work too.


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8. Organise your drawers or shelves.

I am really bad at this, I usually believe that putting it in the drawer IS putting it away, but it is so rewarding and mood lifting when it is so pretty and you can find everything for the first 10 minutes until you need to find something at the bottom of your pencil case (if you still have one like me…)

9. Put an oil burner on or light a nice smelling candle that has a citrus scent or something uplifting.

Uplifting natural oils are: Bergamot, Lavender, Mandarin, Lemon and Lemon Grass are ones I use regularly. Recently Lemon zest is my favourite. It’s so pretty!

10. Redecorate or upgrade some furniture.

Have you been sitting in an old dining chair trying to work like a pro?  Do you know how bad this is for your back, posture, breath,  your hands and arms if working on a computer.  Think about getting yourself a nice beautiful desk with a chair that will welcome you.  If you have that, are the walls due for a lift or is there something missing in the room such as proper storage or new piece of equipment that you have been thinking of but haven’t actually gotten to buying yet?

11. Open the blinds and windows.

While you’re at it, schedule a time to clean your windows.  Light not only brings good energy with it but reduces energy costs (when not glaring) and naturally wakes us up. It is also a much more inspiring way to work when it is bright and warm and clean. Now get to work!

How to Create a Sophisticated but inviting Living Room

Have you spent ages designing your living room, meticulously choosing pieces, mulling over colours, styles, Pinterest and Houzz photos, then stood back and instead of an “ahhhh” got a “hmmm”?

There is nothing more frustrating when you have an image in your mind when creating your dream space, for it to turn out different to the way it was in your mind. If this has happened to you, you are not alone. The hardest task for any home decorating project is finishing it to a point where you can sit down and enjoy it whilst in the space, rather than looking around and thinking, “something just isn’t right”.

If your brain won’t rest whilst in your space, here is a checklist of things to try which I hope will help you achieve your “ahhhh”.

Have your End Goal In Mind

Whether this is a style, feeling or theme, the first key is to keep every decision in line with your end goal. In the living room example here, my reader had set out to achieve an industrial look but ended up with something quite different. She has now decided on “sophisticated but inviting”. (Which I just fell in love with as a description!)

Be Confident With Your Story

Using this room as an example, you can see that all the pieces are telling a story individually, but they aren’t really communicating together to create one story.

So if we then take the brown leather Chesterfield sofa and the modern light grey sofa and use these as the main pieces to tell our story (I chose these because they are likely to be the most expensive investment pieces here) then they are definitely (in my opinion) speaking the same language of sophisticated. So what is missing?

Create A Focal Point

At the moment there isn’t a main focal point, it could be the artwork, or it could be the Chesterfield, or the gorgeous window, or it could be the fireplace. Ask yourself “where do I want my eyes to rest”? Because the sofas are already achieving my end goal, I would, in this instance for a cost-effective and quick fix, make the sitting space the focal point.

Balance The Colour

The colours already used in the main pieces that tell our story are brown leather, light grey, white and tan. So why did I introduce taupe? Taupe can be used as a neutral and here I used it as a backdrop to the focal point, which creates warmth and hopefully creates something inviting.

Taupe is also a very sophisticated colour, especially the regal undertone of purple, gives it a little bit of a luxurious feeling too. I also know that a “cold” taupe, will play off the existing grey, brown and tan and so I used the white and taupe as the backdrop (not the feature – the sofas and sitting space are the feature).


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Balance The Materials

I used the dimples of the Chesterfield to bring in a new item of furniture to replace the wicker chair. The leather in the Chesterfield has a reflective quality and the grey sofa is soft and light which means they are quite contrasting, even if they are telling the same story.

The imaginary piece of furniture I put in to replace the wicker chair was my idea for a piece that would tie these two pieces of furniture together whilst balancing the materials in the room. The dimples play off the Chesterfield, and the colour ties the grey and brown together (it’s a “cold” red undertone). I tried to stay consistent with the language of the style so it is still sophisticated and inviting.

I also added the metallic sisal rug for texture underfoot and the reflective high gloss table to bounce the light around the room. I also added sheer “cold” brown curtains for softness.

Balance The Furniture

The hardest thing to do, in my opinion, is to balance the furniture and house décor to tie it all together. I replaced the coffee table as it was still part of the urban industrial phase and brought in an inviting but sophisticated table instead. The finish as described above helped bounce the light and the white colour was to balance the white backdrop and bring its elements into the focal point.

I also added artwork with the same tones now in the room (cold purples, browns and reds), a white mother of pearl mirror and the Kelly Hoppen house jewellery on the coffee table to bounce the colours around.

What do you think? What would you have done differently? Do you think it is now sophisticated and inviting? Let’s wait and see what my reader will do (hopefully we will get an update soon!)

Greige Rage

The thing that every designer is talking about right now might feel a little underwhelming, although what I like about it, is its complexity.  (Geek alert).

The most used word I am hearing all over the trade shows is grey. Warm grey, cold grey, greige and even my clients want grey!

So I put together a little go to grey checklist for you. To be honest, grey is a trend, but it is here to stay for at least a few more years, so if you are thinking of tiling with shades of grey don’t freak out just yet.

  1. The first thing I would ensure I know when thinking about using grey at home is whether the grey I am using is warm or cold. The colour consultant at the counter of any paint shop should be able to tell you this if you can’t figure it out yourself, don’t feel to afraid to try it!
  2. Next understand what undertone the grey is. For example. Kelly Hoppen is famous for using taupe. Taupe typically has a purple or cool red undertone. This is technically a neutral although to an untrained eye it will look grey. Your grey will have an red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple undertone. You can always ask someone to help you at a paint counter (so don’t freak out just yet).
  3. Now consider are you using the grey as a feature, backdrop or a neutral so that some other colour in the room can steal the show? This is important because if it is anything but a neutral, I would always repeat the colour in the room at least twice.
  4. Test the colour in your own home. Buy a tester pot and paint at least an A4 sized piece of card with your grey. I always paint the wall behind in brilliant bright white to give me a better understanding of the colour. You can always just place your piece of painted card onto a larger sheet of white paper, this means the current wall colour wont reflect onto your paint choice to discolour it. This is important because depending on whether your room faces north, south east or west, the colour of light will be different during the day. You always want to test your colour in the space and in the same plane that it will be used.
  5. Know your base colour and keep it with you when choosing fabrics and furniture. This will make sure that the room makes sense together at least in terms of colour. You will be surprised how dirty a beige sofa can look with a blue grey wall if you haven’t gotten your colours right.


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This should give you the confidence to start using grey in your home, especially if you love the new styles coming out and those gorgeous understated images of calm living rooms and bedrooms. Decorating is more complex than most people think! I wasn’t taught how to decorate in architecture school. I learned from many years of experience and working on hundreds of properties, so don’t feel down if you aren’t a natural at working out your greys just yet. Practice and have fun!

Don’t take your interior so seriously. If you need some help, send me a message or give me a call.

Home Office Interior Design – Step 7


I hope you are starting to really get a picture of your space and your room is coming together.

Step 6 was about your personality and giving soul to your space.

Step 7 is the last step of this course and I’m going to give away my decorating secrets that help you put everything together and also, get it right… every time!

The first thing to remember about any design project is to imagine the larger whole and then focus on the details but ALWAYS ensure the decisions you make refer to the larger idea.

This might sound a little outrageous (or not), but simply put, if I wanted a clean, minimal, bright and contemporary space – I would chose colours that inspired me, but probably wouldn’t purchase open shelving to display my crystal collection (well not unless it looked like a piece of art…

  1. The easiest way to tie your room together as a whole is to unify something… anything… just unify 1 thing and make it obvious. For Example, you might have lots of bright colours that show off your eclectic and arty style, but you have one colour that is repeated constantly that ties it all together and makes it look whole.
  2. Now without too many Big Lebowski Quotes coming up the main things interior designers use to tie a room together are: colour, a rug, a central painting, collectables and fabrics. If in doubt, just test your ideas, swap one item at a time and take a photograph so that you can see your room as though someone else is looking at it.
  3. You might of heard about layering. This is the main way interior designers tie a room together to tell a story. You can tell a story about you and how far you have come, you can tell a story about the season, a point A to B. Just think about any really great story, there is also a bit of drama. Ask yourself what is the story in this room and ask someone else what they see as the story too.
  4. And Finally, how to Feng Shui your office for success. You might be wondering why I put this last in the challenge? Well It comes down to what you believe… If you believe that you must put your desk in the north Eastern corner to gain success then that is what you must do. If you believe that having a lucky crimson bird in the South is the anchor you need to know you are on a path to success, then that will work too. It comes down to whether you believe you are attracting success or not. I don’t hinder myself with superstition, but I do believe that anchoring in certain things helps remind you each day what you are working towards. I also like to use Feng Shui for “styling”. I like the practical aspects such as using mirrors to deflect unwanted flows of energy, but that is for another challenge!

I believe Feng Shui is a practical tool as well as a fantastic way to anchor in your desires. “It always seems impossible until its done”  Nelson Mandella.


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Home Office Interior Design – Step 6

Step 6 – Show-off Your Personality & Style

Step 5 was about defining a theme and mood because these give you a tool to filter out the items you don’t need to buy, show or even include in your home office space.

This is where we are going to talk about you!

Domestic interior design wouldn’t exist if there were no people willing to express their personality and style. What do you like or what are drawn to and what sets you apart from others?

Are you drawn to beautiful photographs?  Do you like hot pink or are you a sucker for gorgeous sculptural plants?

Whatever floats your boat, embrace it, because the only person who needs to enjoy this space is you.

Here are my tips on how to personalise your home office and give it some heart:

  1. Stand back and ask yourself, what in this room is missing a bit of me? Is the wall colour too murky or could the curtains have more zig zag?  This is where you accept that you love tribal art or that actually you need way more black than white.  What colours light you up, inspire you and bring you joy and why haven’t you included them?  There is no point in creating a gorgeous minimalist grey and white interior, when you have a colourful personality that is energized by colour.  Accept who you are and don’t be afraid to include your personality into your design, this is what makes it real.
  2. Now that you have thought about the overall room, what about the smaller items?  Do you like to collect quotes?  How about displaying them in a way that is very you?  If you aren’t confident with expressing too much of your own personality yet, start with smaller items, such as picture frames, rugs, pot plants, crystals or cushions.
  3. This is my favourite!  Use what you already have… Instinctively we collect items that we like, a piece of paper that you picked up from your travels, a gift that means so much to you, a photo of someone you love.  These things define you, so don’t be afraid to use them.  If the photo needs to be reprinted, however, because it’s faded or needs a new way of being displayed, then now is the time to do it.  Look around at the things you have collected, make them special again and use them to be inspired and show off your personality.

Did you realise how important you are in this process?  Make sure you write down at least 5 things that define your personality or style.


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Home Office Interior Design – Step 5


I always feel like I am up-levelling my life and business by anchoring in my success every time I do something to my home office.

Step 4 is about choosing furniture that makes you want to use it and items you love that are incorporated as investments rather than just another flippant purchase.

Step 5 is about digging a little bit deeper into the hidden secrets of decorating.

One of the questions I get asked by people as an architectural designer is “how do I know what items to buy?”

The first main step to decorating, now that you understand your space, limitations, budget and have a vision, you need to have a….wait for it…


What? Like for a party, play or movie? Yep!  The key to success with decorating is to have a theme and until you understand the key elements of the existing themes in design, interiors and decor, I would usually stick with one of the existing ones before getting so outlandish that you create a theme that no-one understands or appreciates. You might be at the stage where you are confident with themes, but may need some guidance on what they are and how to achieve them more confidently.

A theme is also a style. So choosing your “theme” is also confirming and making a decision on what style you are going to design this room in.

Because you now have a lot of information about your room, its boundaries, limitations and opportunities, you are ready to decide on your own style.


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So here are my decorating secrets:

  1. Decide on your theme (style) for your home office. To start off with, list whether you are drawn to any of the following styles: Rustic, country, modern, colonial, industrial, mid century modern, British Colonial, minimalist, contemporary, traditional, art deco, south western, Shabby chic, Asian, Hamptons, Moroccan, Spanish, French, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts, Tuscan, Shaker, Scandinavian, Classical, Italian, Rococo, Baroque, European Traditional, eclectic, transitional… you get my point? Search images and collect ones that inspire you. Try to figure out which theme they are, then decide on the style you want to decorate your room.
  2. Once you have a collection of images that represent your style, try to see which elements in those images will work with the space you have for your home office. For example, lets say your style is Country and you have found a few different images that all have some kind of country feel. (Don’t get hung up on whether you are french country , country cottage, Scottish country, or alpine country just yet). Write down what makes it look or feel “country” to you. Is it the curtain material, the exposed beams, colours or the patterns and items associated with the country in the pictures (or is it just the view out the window?)
  3. Now this next part won’t be so difficult that you have a guide, because with a list of crucial elements you can work on bringing your theme into your home office. Start collecting materials and colour samples, timber finishes, fabrics, and relate them back to your theme as well as to each other. The only final element you need to really consider here is the overall mood you want to create, because you can have a cosy country feel or a bright country feel or even a fresh and healthy country feel. So whilst putting together your theme, think of the mood you want to create and create a “mood” board to help you to purchase the right items and use this to make decisions when purchasing items.

To be honest in almost 20 years working with design, art and architecture, I know of a million different ways to start designing a room and for most, this technique I just shared with you, is usually the best way to get a great end result, even without any design knowledge or talent.

Designers are always referencing the past and being inspired by nature, culture, travel, art… The best way to develop this skill within yourself is to start by looking at what others have already done and learning from their success.

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