Thinking Differently – What An Interior Designer Does

Thinking Differently – What An Interior Designer Does

Thinking differently is one of the main reasons why interior designers are engaged. Passionate designers do think differently and can cast a whole new perspective over your renovation or redecorating. Here’s how.

There is nothing more personal than designing a home for someone else. However that doesn’t mean an interior designer imposes their personal likes and dislikes. At least it shouldn’t otherwise choose another designer. Thinking differently is an important skill good interior designers develop early. I mean, who wants ‘same-same’. Individuality is far more exciting to live with than what everyone else has.

When you engage an interior designer, I’m sure you are looking for results you feel you can’t achieve on your own. Maybe you’re not used to thinking differently because you don’t have the time or inclination for interior design. Perhaps you think an interior designer will create a show home where you’ll be too afraid to sit on the beautiful custom furniture.

Your Home, Your Way

The job of an interior designer is to interpret what you want in the best possible way. Your home, your way – with functionality, style, creativity and fun. Yes FUN! In thinking differently a good interior designer will also find ways to surprise and delight. It could be a quirky wallpaper, an unexpected art work, a hero light fitting, or smaller decor items that take the viewer by surprise.

In this article, we will also discuss how you can create a truly authentic home. Because living in a home that’s authentic is important. You don’t want your friends (or yourself) wondering who lives in your home because it DOESN’T reflect you and your loves.

So work with an interior designer who embraces you and your lifestyle. Not someone who wants to strip your home bare. Even when working with a ‘blank canvas’ an interior designer will create a home that reflects YOU not them.

Thinking Differently with Fresh Eyes

An interior designer has the ability to cast fresh eyes on your home. They have different perspectives largely due to being exposed to myriad design challenges and solutions. However, what’s most important to an interior designer is the lives, loves and lifestyles of those who occupy the home they will be re-designing.

Therefore, the questioning from an interior designer should be quite personal. And if they don’t ask you enough questions, then maybe they are not the right interior designer (or building designer or architect) for you.

Questions should revolve around your likes and preferences, who lives in the home, how spaces are used, at what times of the day, what you like and dislike about the home, what attracted you to the home, etc.

Working with an interior designer is a two-way street. How you want to love in your home and how you want to FEEL in your home are vital to the process. Thinking differently will help a designer to understand what you want. However it’s also how designers create exciting and liveable spaces.

Designers See Through Walls

Most often, a space to be renovated is not completely bare. There will be obstacles including built-in furniture, kitchen counter tops, cupboards and walk-in pantries, wardrobes, walls to removed, floor and window coverings, furniture and architectural details. Designers must see through these obstacles and design for what WILL be there.

Interior design can be complex in its simplicity. Interior Designer, Vincente Wolf, described it as “… a bit like a choir, with all the voices singing different parts. Yet when you hear them, they sound like one voice. The separate elements blend in perfect harmony”.

Vincente Wolf

Thus, many modern rooms may look quite simple on the surface. Yet when you investigate further the individual elements you realise that something on its own may appear quite ordinary. Yet when it’s used in conjunction with all the OTHER elements in a space, the result is warm, cohesive and beautiful.

For example, I designed a master suite which was elegant and neutral which looked almost entirely creamy beige. Yet there were 14 different textures and surfaces in that room including silk, linen, velvet, cotton, wallpaper, fabrics, metal, marble, painted wood, and glass. The owners love that room and described it as having the feeling of a six-star hotel. It was deceptively complex and an example of thinking differently.

What Is ‘Timeless Decor’ Really?

I have often heard people say they want something ‘timeless’. However, real timeless décor is authentic. It is a mix of contemporary and period furniture, new and existing pieces. Don’t be afraid to take items away if they don’t work or feel right. Stand back, view the space. Does it still ‘work’ without that piece you just took out? Thinking differently achieves exciting results. Boil it down to its very essence. Allow the room to ‘breathe’ and don’t have furniture clinging to walls. This actually creates a sense of more space, not less.

Choose things you love. See how different patterns, fabrics and textures work in the various rooms of your home. The natural light will be different so the effect will be differ from room to room. Be true to your authentic self and your home will be authentic, timeless, beautiful and warm.

Want More?

Did you know we publish a seasonal digital magazine? Plush Homes is a 100-page guide on renovation and styling for home lovers. Sign-up now and never miss an issue. Plush Homes will teach you how to work with tradies, start DIY projects, be inspired with real renovations, where to shop, designer interviews, new products and more. If you are a renovator, re-decorator or home lover then Plush Homes is for you.

Neale Whitaker Talks New Styling Trends

Neale Whitaker Talks New Styling Trends

Neale Whitaker is a high-profile Australian design expert and television personality. His advice is sought by home lovers across the country so who better to discuss current styling trends.

Whilst I’m not a trend-led designer, it’s always valuable to keep up-to-date with trends that may help clients make informed decisions. Neale Whitaker is a leading voice, and eye, when it comes to interior design. He’s recently visited trade show, Maison et Objet in Paris, one of the premier interior design events in Europe.

He has returned with information on trends shaping the design industry. He says sustainability is big among the primary players along with small-scale living multi-functionality and ‘bricolage’. This is an interesting trend which mixes styles and eras, shapes and textures for truly original interiors. Apart from functionality, above all else, home interiors must be authentic.

Neale Whitaker Throws Away Trends

Funny that we’re talking about trends and Neale’s first piece of advice is throw away the trend book. A man after my own heart. Neale says that one of the first considerations of interior design in your home is your own emotions. I totally agree. One of the first questions I ask my clients is “What drew you to this house?” and I often discuss with them how they ‘feel’ and to trust their instincts.

“People often don’t consider how a space makes them feel,” says Neale. “It’s easy to open a catalogue and simply pick out a theme to replicate, but if your space doesn’t suit that theme, it simply won’t feel right. Your home is yours, so make it your own. Merge trends, and don’t be afraid to mix and match styles within your room.” Neale suggests you go slowly and take confidence in your own taste and style.

What Is Bricolage?

To this end, Neale Whitaker brings back from Europe the trend of bricolage. Whilst sustainability is a macro trend, it’s not going away anytime soon, he says bricolage is a micro trend. Micro trends tend to be about shapes and styles including current themes such as those that are artisan made. These may include using natural fibres including jute, rattan and wicker or global-nomad influences such as Asia and the Middle East.

“Most of the current trends are quite neutral,” suggests Neale. “These can be easily added into existing decor themes, like the inclusion of a rattan-backed chair, or a group of ceramic vessels, similar in shape or colours. My favourite interiors are always the ones that blend different tones, different styles, different colours, different periods.”

Maximise Natural Light + Add Warmth

In addition to the interior design styles you favour, maximising natural light will open up spaces and elevate the mood. I will always find ways to maximise the natural light in a room. However, finishing a room usually requires window treatments. Neale Whitaker is also an Ambassador for Luxaflex® so he knows how impacting window dressings can be.

“The Luxaflex® LumiShade® is a great option in terms of a classic window covering. They combine the versatility of a vertical blind with the elegant appeal of a soft window furnishing. This lets light in whilst balancing style, durability and practicality, he says.”

Another fave for Neale Whitaker is the Luxaflex® Pirouette® Shadings. He says they are perfect when adding warmth and seeking a soft finish. They are seamless blend of blind and sheers allowing a warm light but also privacy. Their shutter-like effect is very on-trend with delicate folds appearing to float above the window allowing light to filter through.

Lamps. of course, are wonderful for softly illuminating spaces. Use rugs and soft furnishings to also create warmth, layer with art you love, personal photographs, books and mementos. Your personal items tell your story, add depth and personalise your home.

Trust Your Instincts

This is important advice from Neale Whitaker and one area of interior design I share with all my clients. It’s YOUR home, YOU live there. Therefore your home, and sanctuary, must reflect you, your loves, your lifestyle, your travels. Imbue your home with spirit, personality, fun and surprises. Mix things up a little. If you love it, then you’ll love living with it.

Designing for the Future

I am often asked for timeless or classic interior design. However, unless you live in a museum nothing is truly timeless. (OK, maybe Hamptons style is, haha). In our modern era, design and technology go hand-in-hand. There is a growing emphasis on sustainability and smart homes. Modern renovations and home building will incorporate smart design and technology that contributes to homes being energy efficient.

“The Luxaflex® Duette® Architella® Shades have an innovative honeycomb design with cell-within-a-cell construction, for example, that helps reduce heat loss in winter and keeps the home cooler in summer. They can reduce your heating costs by up to 43%[1], making them the most energy efficient window coverings on the Australian market,” advises Neale Whitaker.

Trends will come and go, authenticity will remain. What will also remain are genuinely useful, functional and design-worthy elements that enhance your lifestyle.


[1] [1]  Savings are based on the installation of fully-recessed, reveal-mounted Duette Architella Shades with 20mm blockout fabric in an average home in Sydney, compared with the House Energy Rating standard of Holland Blinds from AccuRate, in that home. These calculations have been modelled by an independent third party. Savings will vary based on the window type and installation.

How To Create A Real (or Authentic) Home

How To Create A Real (or Authentic) Home

It may seem odd that I’m writing about having a real or authentic home. I mean, it’s YOUR home so it’s totally authentic, right? So why do homeowners hire an interior designer?

Many people hire a decorator or interior designer for different reasons. Often they have no time to do it themselves, even though they want an authentic home that’s personal to them.

However the most common reason for hiring an interior designer is because most people don’t trust their own instincts and ideas. Of course, I don’t want to do myself out of a job because I LOVE what I do.

You may also like to read the article on ‘Breaking Design Rules‘ on this blog.

However, I also discuss with my clients the importance of having a home THEY love. It’s not my role to tell clients what to do. Moreover, my role is to interpret what a client wants in the most functional and stylish ways. And maybe break a few design rules along the way.

Getting Your Authentic Home

The atmosphere or feeling of a room is very important. In addition, this translates to the style and theme of the whole house.

For example, it would seem a little strange to have a minimalist living space but a kitchen that is rustic country or Hamptons inspired.. Instead, aim for interiors, and exteriors, that convey YOUR loves and lifestyle.

Tapping Into Your Neighbourhood

In order to create a real or authentic home, pay attention to the architecture of your home both inside and outside. Take photos of your home, its garden and your immediate neighbourhood.

Walk around your neighbourhood to take in the ‘flavour’ of where you live. Make notes that describe how you feel about what you are seeing. It’s very likely you purchased the home because of the style it’s style, the land and views, or the neighbourhood.

Can you take some of those exterior concepts indoors? This will create another level of authenticity in your home.

Authentic Homes Live

Don’t be afraid to mix styles. For example, if you live in a heritage home don’t feel you have to be a slave to the period. You can acknowledge the heritage whilst creating your own wonderful juxtaposition of styles.

This not only creates a personality-filled home but it’s also very authentic to your loves and lifestyles. As always, love where you live.