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.

Best Decorating Tips with Easy Ideas to Steal

Best Decorating Tips with Easy Ideas to Steal

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

Patterned carpet in decorative living room interior with painting above couch. Real photo

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

Want More Best Decorating Tips?

Read our great post on home styling with easy ideas for every room.

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.

Five Architectural Tenets That Come Before Interior Design

Five Architectural Tenets That Come Before Interior Design

Architectural tenets are those areas that support the planning and philosophy of architectural design. These tenets will help you to have a more comfortable and functional home that supports your individual lifestyle. So what are these tenets?

When I was in high school, I studied technical drawing for two years with a view to being an architect. I have computer designed over 300 houses, and love architecture, however interior design was always my true passion. Even now, Plush Design Interiors designs home extensions and undertakes complex renovations. However, architectural practice and tenets are of great interest and do affect my work as an Interior Designer.

Some people may think that an Interior Designer simply chooses wall colours, fiddles with fabric and throws cushions around. Well, many of us do but that’s only one small part of creating beautiful spaces. Interior designers must consider five important architectural tenets BEFORE embarking on a design project.

1. The Space

One room can appear different from another through manipulation of the space. Any room must be a quality space that best functions in relation to YOUR family and lifestyle. How will the space be used and by whom? What activities will take place? What architectural features are part of the space?

I will consider the space and all its dimensions – vertical, horizontal and diagonal – and how the space will ‘work’ before other considerations. For example, does the space need a picture window, a door, a wall removed or a wall put in place. It’s true – form follows function with architectural tenets. My expertise will help you to identify how best to utilize the space and make it work for you.

2. The View

To maximize good views and minimise bad views is a key consideration. No one wants to look out to a brick wall. Other considerations are how much privacy may be required, how secure and protected the room feels, and if you want to see who is approaching but for them not to see you.

Many people miss this important element because they may assume that ‘the view is the view’ and not much can be done about it. However, good views can be maximized for great enjoyment. Similarly, bad views can be disguised and minimized with a variety of good design ideas. Remediation will also enhance your enjoyment of the space… and the view.

3. The Air

Cross-ventilation and the movement of air is very important. Heating and cooling affects your enjoyment of your home, and your budget. Houses that are more narrow and rectangular are easier to cool with fewer ‘dead spots’ of air. Whereas houses that are fatter and squarer are harder to cool with more ‘dead spots’ of air.

The air flow in your home is one of the important architectural tenets with which I can help you. Heating and cooling are one thing. However air extraction – say from a kitchen or bathroom – is important as is the flow of fresh air. Part of any interior design plan should include looking at these aspects.

4. The Light

As an interior designer, I will see how much natural light comes into a room, the arc of the sun and the lighting needs of the room. The positioning of the room in the house and on the block is also highly relevant.

There are three types of lighting – Ambient (sometimes called general lighting), Task and Accent – each of which has a different purpose. A study will require different lighting from a kitchen, a dining room or an open plan living room, for example. Ambient lighting is that used generally. Task lighting, as the name suggests, is for tasks such as reading, studying, cooking etc. And Ambient lighting is mood lighting so may include strip lighting, wall scones, and other soft lighting,

5. The Sound

Often forgotten, sound is an area that really does impact the livability of a home. Is the home next to a railway line? Are there timber floors that clatter and echo? Will children need to sleep while adults entertain friends? Will children playing need to be heard from another room? The acoustic properties of a home can be manipulated and remedied with acoustic panels, fabric, books, rugs, etc.

Plush Design Interiors

To truly live in a home that you love, an interior designer will consider these five architectural tenets before they begin to think about redecorating.

I’d Love To Help You Create A Dream Home

Whether you are building a new home or extensively renovating the home you have, Plush Design Interiors can help. From concept and design to demolition, renovation and handover, I’ll be with you every step of the way.

I work with a high-quality building company that will provide a detailed, fixed-price quote. Your new home or renovation could be closer than you think. Please feel free to contact me for a no-obligation chat. Please see what my clients say in their testimonials. I’d love to help you create a dream home.