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”.
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.
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.
Our best decorating tips will give you lots of new ideas to style and redecorate your home. And the best part… most tips are DIY.
When home lovers start to redecorate their homes, many wish to undertake much of the work themselves. Others don’t have the time or inclination. However, if you’re one that LOVES to roll up your sleeves and lavish your creativity our best decorating tips are for you. Otherwise use an expert interior designer.
Steal Our Best Decorating Tips
– hang ceiling to floor drapes to create drama and provide relief from drafts
– fake a carpet runner up wooden stairs by painting a wide central band with a black border using glossy paint
– use stencils to paint patterns and florals on a wooden floor
– paint one wall in a bold colour and hang a dramatic art work or ornate framed mirror
– wallpaper or paint the wall behind book shelves for instant luxury and dramatic interest
– instead of painting cupboards black, try a dark blue or indigo with gold or rose gold hardware. Fabulous!
– choose an outrageously bold fabric for a single arm chair. You will LOVE the uniqueness this will create
– throw a coloured sheepskin rug on the bed, not the floor
Don’t Be Afraid of Dark Colours
don’t be afraid of dark colours, even black. If a room is dark anyway with little natural light, a dark colour will create cosiness. Add pops of bright or moody colour and ambient lighting
– paint wooden floors in Black Japan paired with bright white walls and ceiling
– if you have a freestanding bath, hang sheer fabric to the floor around the bath. Use a wide ribbon in a generous length to tie back
– organize bar clutter on a retro drinks cart. Place mixed bottles of spirits, fancy glasses, and an ice bucket mixed with a book on making cocktails, swizel sticks and a bowl of lemons
when arranging books, don’t place via size. Instead, arrange those with similarly coloured spines together for an artistic effect
Don’t Be Matchy-Matchy
– instead of having matching bar stools, choose the same chair style and upholster in different colours of the same fabric. This applies to dining chairs too. Alternatively, choose a single colour and upholster chairs in different hues from dark to light. Beautiful upholstery will make a huge difference to the style of your home
– spray paint a concrete garden statue in a bright colour and place inside
MY TOP TIP: Don’t seek perfection. The best homes are those that are perfectly imperfect. Live with what you love… discard what doesn’t make your heart sing
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%, 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.
 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.
When I say ‘faux flowers’ do you immediately think of cheap plastic roses with dust ingrained in them? Take that horrid thought out of your mind.
Because in 2020, faux flowers, and trending floral stems, are better than ever. Follow these simple tips and your fabulous faux flowers will look real… no-one will know (and I won’t tell).
Having fresh flowers in any home
adds beauty, a touch of nature and often fragrance. However, if you can’t pick
them from your garden, it can be expensive to regularly have fresh flowers in
your home. Consequently, the range of faux flowers and floral stems now available
is a great alternative. To ensure your faux flowers look real, use these five
Know What Faux Flowers To Buy
If you know what a flower is
supposed to look like, then you’ll likely spot a faux flower over a real one.
So, it’s a good idea to purchase faux versions of the flowers and branches you
really love. I have three favourite flowers – orchids, peonies and hydrangeas –
and a favourite floral stem – cherry blossom.
However, there is a broad
range including lavender, magnolia, roses, tropical flowers, tulips, mixed
garden flowers and Australian natives. Available also are ‘fantasy florals’
including pod stems, floral stems, cut flowers and blooms. The fantasy florals
add interesting décor elements a variety of pinks, blues, reds, blacks, greys,
silver and gold.
Always Buy Quality
To ensure your blooms and stems look as real as possible, purchase the best quality you can afford. I suggest opting for a smaller bunch of flowers for a coffee table, bathroom counter or bedroom dresser if you have a small flower budget. It’s better to have something smaller but of higher quality than a big display that looks cheap. My go-to is Florabelle. For wholesale pricing, please contact me.
Combine Faux With Real
Trick the eye by combining your faux flowers with real blooms or stems. You can do this in two ways. One is to mix real and faux in the same vase. The other is to place real and faux close together in different vases. This styling tip will help your budget go further and create more opportunity for having blooms in your home. It is also true for faux and real indoor plotted plants such as fiddle leaf trees and mother-in-law’s tongue.
Don’t Be Afraid To Trim
Whilst you may not wish to ‘fiddle’
too much with your newly purchased faux flowers, trimming some of the leaves may
make a display look more real. You may also wish to trim the length of stems to
suit your vase.
Use Beautiful Vases + Vessels
Faux flowers will always look more beautiful, and real, when placed in pretty vessels including ginger jars and the many different vases available. And, because they are faux, you can arrange and rearrange them to suit your mood and change vases and vessels to suit your décor.
A luxury living room will be different for every person. What makes something luxurious for one will not necessarily be shared by another.
So the idea of a luxury living room depends on the perception of the home lover. Additionally, the word ‘luxury’ may be different for each person. Depending on the style of home you want, your idea of luxury could be contemporary, rustic, traditional, futuristic – almost anything.
However, when it comes to designing your own luxury living room, there are key features that are shared by every elegant and luxurious room. Deliciously, you can incorporate these key features to create your own luxury room without the price tag.
The Window Treatments:
Bring a luxurious feel to your living space with heavier drapes that hang above the top of the window and to the floor. Even if the window does not reach the floor, ensure your drapes do. There is nothing more luxurious than stunning drapes that touch the floor.
The Wall Art:
I always encourage my clients to choose wall art to which they are drawn. Pieces of art, including wall art, sculptures or installation art can add a very luxurious feel to a room when well-chosen. Don’t be concerned about buying a ‘name’ artist or whether the piece matches the cushions. Hang or install art and sculptures that you love. Simple.
Create a luxurious focal point in your living space by using a beautiful rug that is the right size and pattern for the space. Rugs anchor and delineate a space when used in front of a fireplace or under the sofa and coffee table. It’s very important to choose a rug that’s the right size. You won’t create a luxurious looking living space when the feature rug is too big or too small. It must be perfect.
Similar to a rug, dramatic lighting such as a chandelier will provide a luxurious focal point of your living space. Not all chandeliers are large and dripping in crystals. The style of your space must be considered. There are now many chandelier options including mid-century modern arm chandeliers that will create a stunning focal point.
Styling centerpieces are now very much part of interior design. Whether you arrange items of varying height on a fireplace mantelpiece or on a tray for the coffee table, display vignettes suggests luxury and thought. Use candles, fresh or faux flowers, succulents, objects and books. Use your creativity and change seasonally.
Create vignettes or table decor by organising objects in a delineated space, such as on a tray or table runner. Mirror bottom trays reflect glass, crystal, flowers and other objects such as a silver animal. I have mirror bottom trays in living rooms, the guest bedroom, bathroom and in my dressing room. I use items specific to those rooms including beautiful room diffusers and highly scented essential oil Tilley soaps in the bathroom.
Another excellent item to add to vignettes, especially if you use flowers, is battery-powered candles. The new candles have a wick that moves simulating real fire-light. They come in a variety of sizes and my guests are always surprised that they are not real candles.
In creating your luxury living room decor, it’s important the the style reflects your tastes and lifestyle. For example, if you have small children running around then choose more child-friendly objects to display on coffee tables.
The final element in creating luxury living room decor is to not have too many social points. Don’t cram all the ideas listed above into one room. Pick a dynamic and single focal point – such as a rug or chandelier – and then par back on the other luxury inducing items.
As with all interior design advice, it’s YOUR home and your lifestyle so stay true to what you love and how you live your life.
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.
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.
Home styling tips don’t require a renovation or hours spent with an interior designer. Whilst interior designers have an expert eye and can save you from making expensive mistakes, with a few styling tips you can personalize any room.
You could say that ‘styling’ is the art of arranging of objects so they are pleasing to the eye. A home should never be ‘perfect’. A home should be relaxed, stylish, surprising, entertaining.
So having items off-centre or injecting a surprising colour is a fun way to showcase your personality. The home styling tips shown here are not exhaustive but they are easy to execute. You may have noticed than many celebrity stylists and interior designers, view home styling as the final process is creating a beautiful home.
Home Styling Tips for Your Living Room:
– if you have different table lamps then keep the side
tables uniform to show cohesion
– inject curves into an angular room with rug patterns, a round ottoman, or a curved arm to a chair