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Investing In Your Home & Ending Up Lonely

From the day my brother brought home his first Asterix comic, I was absolutely hooked on them. Although I loved the stories and humour, what stopped me in my tracks (every time) and would make me dream for days were the little pictures of everyone’s houses!

A picture like the one above would have me dreaming about how the cottage or home was made, where it was situated, what it would look like inside and how I would have furnished it myself! I would put the book down cover my eyes so it would be dark and dream for hours!

For as long as I can remember my heart sung when I saw cottages, quaint houses, historical buildings and even building sites. I was just fascinated with buildings, towns, villages and also maps of cities.

It hurt, therefore when the other day I was listening to an interview with Danielle La Porte (Facebook Live with Emily Williams) and she slammed “someone she knew” for saving for a timber floor rather than going on a holiday. She went on to say that, that person would end up lonely! I struggled a lot with the morality of my industry and it started long ago when I remember being stranded on a boat on the Hawkesbury River with a grassroots lobbyist telling me how architecture is only for the rich!

To this day, I search for meaning in what I do and I wonder every day how bringing so much joy to the people that I work with could be wrong, especially when my heart sings when I’m in the midst of creation.

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Something popped into my head this week when I was on my way to see a client. I thought to myself how could it be wrong if the spaces I create help other miracles happen or bring even one person joy? Not simply because it is a possession, but because of the idea and the ability to see or appreciate art (even if that art is the sunlight streaming through your favourite window).  Not everyone sees that kind of beauty or appreciates it, that is true, but to poo poo it as though it was not only the wrong thing to do but also it would leave you lonely cut me deep in my heart.

Picasso and many other artists moved to stunning little towns and villages along the French Riviera such as Juan-Les-Pins (you can still find lots of amazing, high quality and well-priced art in these towns) because they found these places inspiring. It was the mix of nature, the cobbled streets, the hills and mountains and the sea which created beautiful colours all year round.

I definitely have come across some shallow and thoughtless people in the art, interiors, architecture and the building industry, but I cannot see how creativity and self-expression, mixed with a sincere desire to create beauty (even if just in your home) can leave you lonely!

If you would like to read my post about a free way of travelling to inspiring places, you can read that post here.

3 Free Ways To Create A Beautiful Home

My husband asked me what I was writing this morning and I bet you thought the same thing when you read the title of today’s blog! “Yeah Right!” But when I told him what the three things were, his eyebrows raised and then he left without saying anything! So here are my 3 free ways to create a beautiful home!

Have A Big Clean

I know this is a running theme through my work but clearing clutter (regularly) and cleaning, dusting, refreshing, soaking things that get used will really get them back to life and is the easiest way to create a beautiful home. For example. I am living with this horrible white plastic kitchen sink that is around 16 years old. For its age, it should look much better than it does, but the whole kitchen is in a sad state, which reminds me what it was like to rent and I couldn’t change things I disliked in the house. Saving for my kitchen renovation really feels like I’m renting again, but nothing makes it spiffy like a serious clean. I try to use natural cleaning products, but I have to admit on the sink I need to pour bleach and let it sit for a few hours. It does come up all sparkly eventually, which really does make a huge difference. If you aren’t loving an area of your home or if you want to make a big change at home, start with a huge clean and clear out. It’s free and you could even make some money by selling some old items you don’t need anymore.

Make A Natural Perfume

The way your home smells can change everything and for me, this creates an emotional trigger and defines a beautiful home for me. I recently made a vanilla natural home perfume spray and I absolutely love it. My mum has a lavender one she made that inspired me and I still remember that beautiful smell in her home (it was different to dried lavender, I could hardly recognise it as lavender, it was so fresh and aromatherapy like!)

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Creating a chosen smell at home could come from picking some of your garden plants and arranging them stylishly in key areas such as the front door, hallway, living room and kitchen. When I lived in a tower block in London, I used to trim the lavender from the communal garden and I would have drying lavender for a week smelling so pretty, that I knew it was coming to Autumn. In spring I love Daffodils, and now that I have my own garden I have them for free! I also found that planting fragrant plants near my window and front door (such as Jasmine) really wafts inside and just makes me feel so good when I smell it!

Create A Fun vignette

A vignette is really just a creative way of displaying a few objects and this extra effort you put into making little areas look nice definitely help create a beautiful home. You can do this on your bookshelf, coffee table, kitchen table/bar, entrance hall, bedside table, kitchen or bathroom window, dining room – you get the picture! You can just choose one place in every room where you can create something fun or special that brings you joy by jogging your memory (photographs) or by motivating you (inspirational quotes) or by creating nice smells (arranging flowers). The whole point with vignettes is that it should make you feel something when you see it. My favourite person to look to for vignette ideas is Kelly Hoppen (I know, I have an obvious lady crush), but hers always refer back to nature somehow, so I feel subconsciously drawn to them.

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!)

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.

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!