01.04.17 Autumn styling - treat ewe self!

As the weeks go by it's time to make some Autumnal interior styling moves that complement the change of climate, landscape and the lives we live.

The trends in interiors include muted colour shades with jewel tone accents (think emeralds, rubies and amethysts) balanced with natural textures and man-made materials. Both restful and easy on the eye this combination with tactile, organic pieces is not just beautiful to look at but also therapeutic in our busy world often occupied by glossy and streamlined technology.Below are some ideas of subtle decorative changes you can make this season by trying a range of textiles, greenery, raw materials and a few test pots that will provide both visual interest and a tonic for our over-stimulated senses:

  •  Soft warm grey (Resene Double black white), blush pink (Resene Paper Doll for a soft coral tone, or Resene Thatch with a hint more brown) and light biscuit brown (Resene Sazerac) each have soothing tones that work well together and really come to life punctuated with plants and foliage. If you want to introduce this combination into your home try a small space with a couple of test pots - colour an area with open shelving and look for the complementary colours in the work of NZ artisans who create beautiful ceramics to see you and a hot cuppa through the season. Alternatively hunt out some NZ crafted stoneware in op-shops and build your own mismatched collection

(Resene wall colours shown in photos: Kaitoke Green and Paper Doll)

•  Purchasing nice accessories for your home is all well and good (nearly always good!) but it's the positioning and placement that allows them to give back a little luxury or indulgence especially when considering organic materials. Give sheepskins a wash and treat them to the glorious finish from a metal-prong brush. Fluffed up soft sheepskins ready in anticipation of backs, feet or bottoms that need warm and cozy are just the thing. Be it a native creamy run-of-the-mill skin or a more fancy-pants crimped and fluffy Icelandic one (there’s those soft tones again) make sure you use at least one in your home positioned where you'll benefit it the most. Hang one over a wooden bench, the side of a sofa or where you sit and lean back to read with the kids, just be sure to get the most from your textured décor   #treateweself

•  Backdrops to your rooms are important too so don't be afraid to let a season prompt what you wake or fall asleep to. The beach scene art that puts a spring in my step for part of the year, not surprisingly doesn't gel in the house during chillier months - just as a snowy scene print seems out of place during summer. Make it easy on yourself with some inexpensive simple frames in which you can change up a scene easily and store any out-of-season prints at the back of the frame so they're ready for the next equinox. Vintage puzzles often have quintessential seasonal scenes and can be quite the thrifty find and once completed, framed and displayed offer a unique personal touch

•  Along with art, for home-decor and textiles it's not just the images but the colour, texture and feeling they bring. Heavy dark velvet invokes cozy fire-lit moments (as well as a tipple of Baileys and Lorde on vinyl) so don't be afraid when it comes to your home-style to say ‘sorry darling but this just isn't this season’, reach for the plush luxurious materials and play around with what textiles you use where

• Today’s interiors certainly aren’t about over-styled, ‘perfect’ spaces so bringing organic rustic pieces such as baskets, timber, minerals, coral and natural-weave into your rooms is a great way to add texture and life without costing the earth

•  Christmas decorations should be well and truly out of sight and mind but I do have this thing with lights - blamed on a northern hemisphere upbringing and its festive associations. Whenever the temperature threatens to get to single digits there should be a box of fairy-lights within reach as there's always a time and a place for star-like infused spaces and places – for the light linen and muslin possibly freed up with your seasonal interior styling moves, consider hanging a drop of material along a wall or in a corner with LED seed-lights hung behind for a gorgeous visual effect

•  One place that autumn will keep you coming back for more is at the fireplace. Typically filled with fire-ready materials, if you've got an insulated, double-glazed, eco-warrior gem of a home then a) I'm jealous but b) excited for the styling space you get to play with. If you’ve a day where you don’t need the extra warm crackle, use the framed hollow space to be stylishly inventive. I’ve never forgotten the image of a fireplace laid with vintage glass tiles filled with mirror disco balls of different sizes decorated with seed-lights… positively dreamy!

•  Thinking ahead, just like with art, if heavy textiles are out-of-season consider creative styling when we're back to Spring/Summer. Heavy-duty rugs, particularly those made of natural fibres such as seagrass or jute look incredible hung on a wall and make quite an impact offset by a bolder, darker wall colour such as a deep blue Resene Wishing Well or a deep Resene Palm Green. Display them proudly as art – they’ll add great texture to plain walls and sliding them up off the floor lightens and frees up the floor again for sandy summery feet that want to tread the house lightly

Happy Autumn

Love the home you live in, live in the home you love xx

01.12.16 Festive décor – it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Beautiful and interesting spaces can resonate joy and character and I’m always drawn to looks that aren’t obviously themed that display joyous finds (expensive, flea-market or somewhere in between). Joy is never more supreme than when you’re Christmas decorating! Somehow Christmas gives permission to be extra creative and I’m not talking about bombarding your tree with zillions of decorations – I’m more for general permission to play with areas throughout your entire home.If you have a colour scheme or theme in mind I’m envious of your preparedness but my biggest recommendation would be to not over think it. For readers with kids that add their own unique ’je ne sais quoi’ to the home already, their being and what comes with them is naturally going to add to your festive décor ideas so you may as well give your house up (or a portion of it) to a whole lot of fun, colour and joy.

If the last sentence is getting your heart racing or you have to sit on your hands whilst the kids let their festive loose, I whole heartedly suggest your own second tree or simple twigs up high in a glam vase to hold harmoniously balanced precious pieces that bring Christmas sparkle and oohs and aahs. Your Christmas happy space, which only you style. Then permit the kids a designated tree or space that they can decorate wholly themselves without adult supervision or rearrangement – this is known in our house as ‘viral-decorating’. Think multiple mediums (plastic + wood + paper + tin + glass + wool) completely unbalanced. Sooooo bad it is almost so good. Showroom understands this phenomena well and has a competition around this very thing in the week leading up to Christmas – reality festive styling! 

Whether you’re the person who hits the stores early each year, decorating and theming from scratch or like us, undertaking in the annual last-minute festive-box-loft-search to get the old incomplete collections out, it’s fun to have alternative ideas to change-up your décor and below are some tips and suggestions that you might find festively inspiring:

• Get your hands on some interesting and fun festive wrapping paper –pop it behind a simple frame, lean against a wall and it immediately tells your guests and family that you’ve got Christmas covered AND you’re excited about it. Who wants Christmas to be a thing that races the heart beat or causes involuntary groans – it’s about JOY! (I warned you, it’s a recurrent theme…!)

•  It must be my Englishness but the sharing of Christmas cards has always been an important part of the build up to Christmas - it’s the time of the year that you can indulge in some quality pen to paper moments. But for me receiving IS as important as the giving! Each year I keep the ones that are easy on the eye and for the following Christmas they’re the very first thing that get strung from a window frame or stuck to the fridge to tell your home that the décor has just stepped up a festive notch or two

• Replace picture frames with the most fav festive cards – either fun sayings or pretty scenes, whatever suits your home and mood (the family portraits can cope with being out of sight for a few weeks)

• Use what you’ve got to hand – I’m a bit of a scrooge when it comes to spends on festive decor as Christmas is expensive on lots of levels but the kids are allowed one new decoration each so I try to be inventive with what’s around (Pohutukawa blooms are festive, floral and free) and what I’ve saved from years before

• Paper-chain factories: use old comics, papers and dressmaking paper for a range of chains - it occupies the kids for a least a couple of hours and whether they’re hung across a wall or loosely bundled around firefly lights in a glass dome, these scream that Christmas is coming

• Cleaning up the blackboard and designating an area to the countdown, festive phrases or some pretty bauble sketches can be just the thing to get you humming a carol or two

• Baubles don’t just belong on trees! Hang groups of baubles (you can be matchy matchy or mix up old and new) from coat hooks, vintage clothes hangers, chair backs or from framed pictures already hanging. Use different coloured ribbons to hang them in bundles at different heights and play with what works

• If words are your thing swap instructive phrases to festive jargon (think ‘ho ho ho’ or ‘tis the season’). Cut up your own letters, thread with ribbon and hang. It’s Christmas - you can do what you want - what would Bublé do?

• Don’t be afraid to get festive-slogan happy with a whiteboard marker, adding something cheesy, clever or just downright joyful on the glass of framed prints. Graffiti the loved ones in your lives or sketch Santa in a landscape. It’s great for kids to see parents let their style guard down and have a bit of fun

• Glass domes – there’s really almost nothing you can’t or shouldn’t pop under one of these. Star anise decorated oranges, vintage baubles or create a version of a nativity scene that your family might appreciate. Sprinkle a dash of glitter over Barbie, Lego or jungle animal extras and protect from play-fingers with the glass dome. Lots of fun! Not sure what my Catholic Maltese ancestry would make of this though…

• Get the Christmas books out (who am I kidding – the Santa stories haven’t left my 4 year old’s bedside since last year) and pile them high

• Use what’s around you and style nooks and spaces away from your typical festive arrangements - walk around your home and spy the places that you can have some festive fun with additional vignettes and displays (or as my husband likes to call it ‘vomiting xmas all over the house’)

• Try and make your own family tradition, sending the kids out on Christmas eve to forage for what’ll be on the Christmas morning table. Make this the ceremony they’re involved in each xmas eve to pretty up breakfast. But fear not, you can re-zhoosh and pretty it up further when they’ve gone to bed!

• And if all else fails, I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – if in doubt, add fairy lights. Instant sparkle and glitz to a space

• BUT before you start, it’s all in the preparation. To make it easy on yourself, walk around the house and pack away some of your general décor and knick-knacks. It’ll make it easier for you to then add your festive flair and unpack your Christmas decor but also when you pack those decorative festive items away (sob!) you’ll be able to put out again what you loved before so your home-style won’t seem so empty or bereft

And remember, it’s all about loving the home you live in and living in the home you love - just make it festive!

Happy Christmas xx

01.09.16 Spelling out home decor

There’s something captivating about artwork and images that include lettering and numbers. I’m pretty certain it’s not a subconscious yearning for math or languages that underlies attraction to words and their font but more about how they add instant interest, depth and drama to a medium or display.

Lettering (which includes digital and standard typography) can’t be avoided. Whether you’re a bookworm or a magazine reader think of how in just the digital world we’re now exposed to gazillions (as I said, no personal mathematical yearning) of typefaces through the Internet and our smart-phones etc.

Due to the amount of time we can spend looking at electronic media, the justification for gorgeous typography or lettering in other spaces is even more warranted. Three fundamental aspects of real-life typography are legibility, readability and esthetics and I’d suggest that’s no different in the world of home-décor. We want to recognise it, understand it and love it too.

In a family home there's additional value in teaching growing brains to recognize letters and spell. “We’re off to the moon” was a phrase ‘read’ by my young girls every time they sat in the kitchen catching sight of a vintage poster on display - exposure to words and phrases in the décor surrounding them can’t be a bad for a little person’s hungry mind. Kids love finding their letters in the world around them as they learn how to spell their name too.

However, the text-lust doesn’t mean that we have to keep doing bus-blind after bus-blind or instructive words forever in our homes. Vintage bus blinds still have a place in my heart but without wishing to offend (sorry!), I don’t think I’m the only person who sees ‘E-A-T’ spelt out in a kitchen and instantly wants to reach out for more letters to spell out ‘D-U-H’ along side it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so apologies if that's you're kind of beauty, but here are some additional ideas for how to be more creative with the text around us:

Cartography gives us text of the world! Different fonts captured on maps and globes have their own appeal and worlds away from the Google version, can be recognised as something quite beautiful and creative. Atlases printed in the 50s & 60s incorporate incredible colour and propped open as background to a shelf display add a whole lot of colour, detail and place names to entertain, educate and intrigue.

Vintage wooden hangers hung from a simple wall hook can display a range of items and their decorative branding can be eye catching against a plain wall. Whether you source them second-hand or at the back of a wardrobe the inked wood tell its own story and is interesting to look at. Hang a posh frock for the weekend ahead (or a night you don't want to forget), your kid’s funkiest T-Shirt to brighten up a small space or dangle decorative garlands from them. 

 • Advertising from decades ago offer pops of colour, original decor and often cheeky statements or phrases. Be it food tins, newspapers or magazines, look for the gems in op-shops and garage sales. Place a glass jar within a tin container and fill with foliage or flowers - old gasoline containers look quite the party piece with fresh blooms and garden finds, adding extra charm and originality in your home. Old advertising papers (there are some great steals on Trade Me) are fragile to handle but the interesting fonts and bold colours looks amazing placed in a contemporary white box frame - instant, economical art.

Light-boxes old and new - so much fun to be had with these word frames whether you come across decommissioned hospital X-Ray boxes or the modern repros. Make creative statements, remind kids to mind their p's & q's, or funk up the family rules. Just hold back on the whimsical - the world now knows your love goes to and around and around that mighty popular moon (and back again!) so instead have a little fun and get the kids involved to get your words lit up and pretty.

Stamps - embrace your inner nerd as although you don't need to get caught collecting them, pulling together these teeny beautiful illustrations and captions of a country creates unique art for your home: pick a colour way, a theme or go all out and make a political or historical statement that you want to express. Art around the world in mini.

Say it with Washi and accentuate a wall or door, spelling it out in strips of different coloured and patterned tape - colourful punctuations of text your way.

Books used as decor adds varying texture - titles and publishing houses can be beautifully detailed on the spine in an array of font, sometimes in ornate metallic finishes. Whether your fact-hungry kid will pick up the book is debatable but creating opportunities for kids to leaf through something new will only occur if they're tempted by reading material and catchy titles within easy reach around the home.

DIY but make it look pro - think of a phrase you want to stand out in your home and create two pages of a Word document with the phrase split between the pages. Play with how the words are positioned so that when framed, their broken up state creates extra impact. Think 'what' 'ever' or Kiwiana gold, 'yeah' 'nah'. It's easy to do but gives lots of creative opportunities playing with different fonts and text size. Have them printed cheaply as A2 or A3 and display in frames side by side to say what you want to say.

Bored? Board games often incorporate fun words or phrases either on cards that create the game of on their box packaging. A vintage box of 'Life - it's a family game' looked incredible framed for a client’s gorgeously eclectic home.

Since the first time I spelt ‘hello’ on a calculator (sigh, if you’re not that generation, you just won’t understand) I’ve remained word-hungry and there are heaps of creative ways to include letters and typography within your home, beyond the fridge alphabet set.

Don’t be afraid to mix and not match and play with ideas within your home, as it’s all about loving the home you live in and living in the home you love.

15.06.16 Vignettes and styling

Making your house your home is as much choosing the colours that you surround yourself with as the furniture you place but it’s well complimented by the accessorizing of your home. Just as you might add a touch of flair to what you wear with jewellery, a scarf or a spritz of scent, your home does well with additional accents.

Stylists often talk about ‘vignettes’ and they’re the fancy way of referring to a type of in-home display or collection. A vignette within literature means a ‘short, impressionistic scene that gives a particular insight into a character, idea or setting’. So the vignettes in your home can give that same insight, sharing your character and the additional accents you bring to your space.

Here’s some hints of what have worked well at Showrooms where the stylist, with just an hour to style a space, creates vignettes that work well within a home – not necessarily led by current trends but the person’s home and personality:

  • It’s all in the grouping: when you’ve got a few pieces that you want displayed make sure you mix up the height and / or textures – or keep that aspect the same but vary the colour. This will draw the eye to the display. Too much same-same might make an area look cold, flat and uninteresting so if you’ve got bright or shiny, try adding in something that’s dull and dented. Vintage items can offer varied texture and there’s nothing like a bit of tarnish or rust to soften collections of new, shiny and sleek. 
  • Add fire-fly lights: it’s hard to define what it is about the fire-fly or seed lights that is so darn attractive but the teeny cosy lights can be displayed pretty much anywhere to create extra ambience and luxe – especially useful in dark or tricky nooks that are otherwise tricky to style. Fill jars or vintage bottles, wrap around glass-less frames (or antlers if they’re your thing) or hide within foliage and wintery blooms for a pretty effect.
  • Don’t exclude the miscellaneous: postcards, flyers, kids toys, stones – such items can have a fun role to play in areas of your home. Op-shops and builders reclaimers are great places to pick up unusual items and when something only cost a dollar, you can be more imaginative with what you include and it means you can change around a display more frequently without smashing up the piggy bank.
  • Odd numbers are in: not sure I will ever fully understand why this is so, BUT grouping odd numbered items together just works! Every now and then I like to shake the world up a bit with a display of 2s or 4s but most of the time 3s and 5s just work better. They just do.
  • Framing: specific framing of an item can help heighten the wow factor – either formally within a glass dome (matched with a concrete base it’s modern-day display heaven) or more creatively with clipboards. Clipboards have so many uses – to display images, painted up as mini-chalkboards or to frame particular pages of a book clipping them open creating interest at the back of a shelf or space.
  • Be the bookworm: even if you’re just attracted to the title, font, or colour, books used within displays are a clever way to create height stacked at the back of a shelf or space. Pick up large coffee-table books at op-shops or library sales and as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. Peak underneath – often scrappy and damaged, if removed the hard cover of a book as published will be as good as new and great as display or to add texture and colour to a room.

In conclusion, the best thing to do for a vignette? Try it! Choose the items that you just love in your home, add in some additional interest from the hints above - move things around, and then consider taking an item away and re-look at it before you get too carried away with complex collections and eclectic displays. Coco Chanel’s suggestion for when leaving the house (glance at the mirror and remove one item) could be applied to home décor and perhaps if you get too carried away with the accessorizing of you home, the same recommendation should be made!

Sometimes it’s fair to say that the vignettes we create are a little less stylized than what we see in magazines but the truth be told, we all know that behind the lens of any styling shoot (person or home), there’s probably a sense of crazy. In my world this is never truer than when the house looks magazine-shoot ready when girlfriends are over for a glass of wine but God forbid anyone who opens the drawers or cupboards!

Love the home you live in, live in the home you love.

21.05.16 Creating a home with hygge

Moving into autumn, the light is changing and with it a sense that the mood of our homes is evolving. We're gravitating to more comfortable chairs, feeling up velvet cushions and lingering over soft throws and blankets we see in the stores.

New or old, rented or owned, whether your home has an influence of Scandi, the Orient, or even ‘Les Enfants’ (French for busy-little-mess-makers!) this is the time to touch more luxe, feel more warmth and surround yourself with ‘hygge’.

Hygge (pronounced hierga) is best translated from Danish as coziness but it’s not just comfy furnishings: think of the smells, textures, sounds, tastes and the people that make up those warm nostalgic moments and that’s hygge.

So how to give your home more hygge in the coming months? Think of a cozy space that you like to linger in. If it's a corner with magazine stacks close-by ensure that they are truly within reach: take five minutes to move the chair or find ways to have those books and good reads a smidgen closer. At the very least make sure you have a place to rest your well-deserved beverage.

Do you need more or less lighting for the chilling-out task in hand? An abundance of candles will certainly feature within hygge but if you need to lighten your reading nook don’t underdo the space with a small lamp. An oversized angle-poise could be just the thing or if vintage is your love, then why not paint a traditional tall wooden floor lamp to personalize your space.

Position a rug under the chair legs to help anchor the space whilst keeping your toes cozy and consider a silky soft sheepskin on the seat or a draped warm woolen throw to keep you snuggled there for longer.

Most of us don’t have an extra stash of beautiful new rugs, throws or lamps to play stylist within our own space but a pop-up Showroom in your home enables just this. Helpful too, as you can try out looks that you might not normally consider. It’s easy to get stuck with a particular aesthetic, and what’s been most enjoyable for those that have hosted a Showroom is having the opportunity to experiment with different décor and discover new furnishings with their friends.

No matter what someone's home feels or looks like, in less than an hour it becomes a styled space, not necessarily led by current trends but in tune with the person’s own home and individual personality. A sip of wine, good chat and new ideas from the Showroom stylists fuel the imagination and unexpected décor lusting. Here are some tips that will contribute to hygge styling: 

 • If you love it - use it! Just because it's pricey or sentimental don't be afraid to make it utilitarian. A Crown Lynn swan is perfect for flowers or general display but gorgeous too as a useful don't-know-where-to-put-it pot by your entrance. Use your imagination - a 50s vintage card storage box with the Queen's portrait contains our family First Aid - it's hard not to love my 3-year-old asking for the Queen to make her better!

Have courage in moving furniture and pictures around where you wouldn't have placed them before - just because you've not tried it, doesn't meant it won't work - ask a friend to give you a hand and another perspective as it can help give a home an unexpected uplift, refreshing your home for free.

Personalize your space and display what you LOVE. Whether it's cropped pages from a magazine, book covers, a puzzle, heartfelt notes, vinyl, maps or cloth, displays become the profile of you, your home and your whānau: your real-life Pinterest! A simply framed image of a stag-head cut from an orange coloured box from a well-known drinks company was perfect for one client so don't be afraid to play with what's freely available.

Frame with washi-tape, wood or light: tape images to walls or doors, stick them to mirrors or for extra impact let the light shine through with a light-box. Go for gallery-style impact and for extra definition group smaller items closer together but don’t over-think their organization.

Get CReATivE - yes wooden bottle crates have done the rounds but they keep on coming, as they are hard utilitarian workers! Paint them, line then, screw them, wheel them, stack them or sit on them. They are invaluable to Showroom stylists to ferry goods to and from hosts' homes and are an easy way to create height and interest to vignettes.

If in doubt, bring in the green. If a space hints a little sadness or seems a little stale, leafy foliage and even pretty weeds bring life and fresh air to a room. Need a dose of warmth? A loose knot of firefly lights in a bottle or scattered along a space add instant coziness and with the advent of autumn we'll all be appreciating what’s warm, pretty and snug.

No doubt, the change of seasons can make some of us feel nostalgic but before the power bills darken your mood, take a moment to make room on the hooks for the big coats and layers, prepare a space for extra boots and muddy sports shoes and take the comfort up a notch around your home. Pull out the tea-lights, stock-up on matches, call on good company and prepare for some seriously cozy hygge coming your way.

Love the home you live in, live in the home you love.