6 tips for decorating your rental property.

There's an abundance of colour, pattern, texture and layering in my bedroom to make up for what I can't have.

There’s an abundance of colour, pattern, texture and layering.

This past weekend I put the final touches on a little side project of mine.  My own bedroom.  It’s been patiently waiting for an update, which I was avoiding because 1/ I’m my own worst client 2/ I live in an inner city rental so quickly feel defeated by all of the constraints.  What’s an Interior Designer to do without wallpaper, architectural details or custom curtains?  Here’s what I decided on.

1. More of everything (else).

For practical reasons wallpaper, custom curtains, even a lick of colourful paint are out.  This means that stepping up all of our usual elements is in – think more colour, pattern, texture, scale and layering.  Here, I’ve used pops of colour in the soft furnishings and accessories, the patterns are quite bold on the cushions and blanket, I’ve mixed different textures and had an extra tall (145cm) headboard made.

2.  Invest in quality furniture that is transferrable, not temporary.

I’ve been gradually building up a collection of good quality furniture.  I’d like to think I won’t be renting for much longer but the reality is I live in Sydney and have a penchant for pretty inner city suburbs beyond my current reach.  Ikea is just not going to cut it while I wait to win lotto.  Invest wisely and look out for sales on key pieces and really enjoy the home you live in, today.

3. Multitask

I like to look out for furniture that is versatile so that it can be moved around to different rooms and used again in another home.  This antique desk is currently a bedside, was previously a stand for my TV and I’m sure will make a great entrance console one day.

If space is an issue, multi task areas.  I'm loving the trend for bedside tables that also work as desks.

If space is an issue, multi task areas. I’m loving the trend for bedside tables that also work as desks.

4. Hang great artwork

I really think it’s important to hang proper artwork that you love.  Removable velcro strips are a godsend.  I’m lucky enough to have beautiful water colour paintings by my partner’s father.  So much more sophisticated and personal than that new sticky wallpaper, washi tape or decals that scream RENTAL!  Don’t you think?  (I have also found some amazing paintings in Vinnies so no excuses!)

5. Floor rugs

Floor rugs are a great opportunity to bring in that first layer of colour, texture and warmth.  An over scaled rug (so long as it fits in the room!) will make the room appear bigger and more luxurious.  They’re also transferable to your next home so a good excuse to spend a little more on something nice.

6. Accessorise

As with any interior, accessories finish and lift the room.  Try to find accessories that you love and are personal to you in some way, then layer them on top of books and make vignettes.  I find weekend markets a great source for unique accessories.

I pulled the blues and greens used in this scheme from the water colour painting in this pic.

I pulled the blues and greens used in this scheme from the water colour painting in this pic.

How I started an Interior Design business

It’s been a little while (ok, a long while) since my last post, so it seems appropriate to get up an running again with what I’ve been up to these last months.  I resigned from my secure job as an Interior Designer and started my own Interiors business freelancing.  Exciting, isn’t it??  I’ve learned a lot and thought it good karma to share my advice and experience with others thinking of doing the same.

JUST DO IT 

Really, the biggest step is making the decision to just do it.  I decided to make the jump with no photographed portfolio or client base.  I weighed up two questions – am I crazy for taking this risk now? Or am I crazier to work yet another year for someone else and have nothing further to show for it?  I think it’s important to focus on what you do have, which for me is many years industry experience, design and computer skills, extensive industry knowledge and supplier contacts.

It’s so important to have faith and trust in your abilities.  Surround yourself with a cheer team.  For me it’s family, close friends and positive colleagues.  Unfortunately I’ve found there will always be someone who wants to push you down.  I was told once that I would never be a designer as my personality was too flat!  Well guess what, here I am and my clients love my personality.  (In hindsight, Oprah was told early on that she was ‘unfit for TV’, so really it was probably a good omen for my future success 😉 ). Push the negativity out best you can, it’s more about them as a person than you.

THE BASICS

* Register an ABN (in NSW).  It’s so easy – go to the Australian government website abr.gov.au and a few minutes later you’ll have a number.  If you register as a sole trader you don’t even have to think of a business name yet, it’s just your name.

* Open a business banking account at your local branch.

* Set up a business email.  I used gmail.  Done in 5 mins.

* Get some simple business cards printed with your contact details.

* Make sure you have basic equipment like a mobile phone, computer with the programs you will use, printer, basic stationary etc.  Working from home initially will save you $$$ and you can claim a portion of your rent/mortgage on tax.

Are you wondering why you haven’t done this yet?

GET YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW

Experience is so important and the hardest part of working in the design industry.  Do everything you can to get it and watch your ducks start to line up.  Always be observing what the best in the business are doing and make those contacts.

Finance is also a big one.  Everyones circumstance is different but everyone needs a clear plan.  Have at least 6 months pay saved to give yourself a good start.  Financial stress is the LAST thing you need when starting a new venture.  You will also need a good accountant.

PUT THE WORD OUT

Tell your family, your friends and suppliers of your plans.  I was phenomenally lucky and had two big residential clients sign up right at the start.  I couldn’t in my wildest dreams have expected such luck.  It’s amazing what comes back when you put yourself out there.

It’s really important to stay active in the design community so attend any functions you can and visit suppliers regularly. Be visable.  My favourite saying at the moment is ‘opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor‘.

BUSINESS PLAN

This has been my weakest point as I had to hit the ground running much quicker than expected.  You will need to;

* Decide on your design fees and margin.  This has been trial and error for me.  I find a competitive hourly rate + a conservative margin on product sold is a good combination while getting off the ground.  I also pass on discounts to clients where I can as everyone loves a discount and it helps to build trust that they are not being ripped off.  You’ll soon figure out if you’re making enough money.  RUN from people who make issue of paying or bargaining you down from the beginning – you’re already giving them a very fair deal.

* Decide on your branding. Who are you?  What do you do?  What’s your website, social media and profile going to look like?  This will evolve in time so try not to freak yourself out on it too much (like I do).

* Admin.  It’s unavoidable.  Do yourself a favour and get a program like Freshbooks.  I use Freshbooks to create invoices, enter payments and record expenses.  It’s been a life saver and I don’t recommend running a business without it or a program similar.

* Make templates for everything to save time.  This should include a fee letter, a contract, presentation / floor plans, purchase orders and invoices.

* Educate yourself with online information and business books.  They will help you outline a business strategy and set goals.  I like The Big Book of Small Business by Andrew Griffith.

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Mirror, mirror on my walls: which colour is the best of all?

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Image from mackenziehoran.com

Lately I’ve been pondering covering my living room wall entirely in mirror.  Doubling the size of the room and bouncing extra light into every corner, mirror panels are a relatively inexpensive way to create impact and add drama to a space.  Vast expanses of mirror can look harsh, so I will be softening the look by layering furniture, art and accessories in front (as shown above).

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Image from silverwoodinteriors.com

The entry to your home is also a great place for mirror, bringing light to a sometimes small and dark space.  I love attaching wall sconces to mirrored walls, treating a neglected area to even more light and drama.  Just watch the feng shui, you want to be directing those positive vibes the right way!

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Image source unknown.

Mirror comes in a variety of colours and finishes.  Silver is a colour that everyone will be familiar with and is perfect for contemporary spaces.  Grey and bronze are great colour choices to create a moodier effect.  The image above shows how bronze mirror can warm a space and add a touch of glamour.

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Image from thelennox.com

A popular and favourite finish of mine is the antiqued effect.  No two mirrors will be the same because artisans use a variety of interesting techniques to achieve the look.  The mirror can become an artwork in itself.  I find antiqued mirror adds such an interesting element to most interiors, sitting happily in the most glamourous rooms as well as amongst traditional antique furniture.

It’s a big decision, so just like a new paint colour, getting in mirror samples to see how they look in the space first is the best first step.

Guest Post on The Interiors Addict with Liane Rossler

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The most exciting revelation in interior design at the moment is the gaining momentum of sustainable practices. Both designers and consumers are becoming more aware of the consequences of purchasing a mass produced cheap thrill. There is a renewed appreciation for the beauty of handmade objects and their skilled makers. We’re seeing truly innovative recycling projects everywhere, from our neighbours’ DIY to the latest online homewares store. It’s trendy to ‘upcycle’. It’s even trendier to do so whilst retaining good design and style.

With a vast array of projects on the go, Liane Rossler is succeeding at promoting local artisans, contributing to the recycling movement and sharing her knowledge as an advisor to the design industry. A creative pioneer based in Sydney, Liane has a reputation in the industry for her kind and generous spirit which is so apparent in her projects. I was lucky enough to interview Liane to find out what she is up to and to share her thoughts on the future of design.

The broad range of projects you are involved in is nothing short of inspiring. What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been curating ‘Here and Now’ at Carriageworks for 2013 as part of their artistic program. It includes commissioned works by artists and designers for three projects: Useful, Totes and Lucky. 

I’m working with Sarah K on our Supercyclers project, making some Plastic Fantastic pieces for an exhibition in Italy. I’m doing an architecture workshop with my husband Sam for SCAF and their Fugitive Structures exhibition. Then there’s a design advisory day in October with Sydney Living Museums and The Garage Sale Trail (happening 26 October).

I work with a number of organisations and am onThe City of Sydney Retail Advisory Board, Creative Services Advisory at Sydney Living Museums, Editorial Advisory Board at ARTAND Australia, and Advisory Board at &Company. I’m an ambassador for 1 Million Women, for The Garage Sale Trail and am a member of The Voiceless Council. I’m also working on a variety of creative advisory, retail advisory, business and educational projects, as well as other independent design projects.

Your projects are diverse, but all share the common goal of taking action for a better future through creativity, considered living and good design. What are your hopes for the future of design and creative innovation in our society?

I’m excited by all the possibilities that design and creative innovation bring to society, and love discovering new ways of thinking that can make life better for others. I hope that people continue to create innovative and thoughtful ways to address the challenges that we face, and that the new wave of good things overcomes some of the not so good things.

What is your advice for lovers of all things design and interiors? How can we consume responsibly?

We all love to surround ourselves with beautiful things, so I think it is important that when we buy we think about how something was made, what it’s made from, who made it, where did it come from, how long it will last, and where will it go. There should be beauty in how something is made as well as what it looks like

I am a big believer in supporting local artisans and utilising honest, sustainable materials. I’d love to know who your favourite local artisans are and what materials are inspiring you at the moment?

I agree! I love materials innovation and I’m besotted by fungi and all the great things it can do. Other natural materials like algae hold huge potential. Wood and stone are always beautiful. I love seeing natural materials developed and used in unexpected ways.Sunlight is a pretty inspiring material and I love seeing all the developing technologies in solar power.

Local artisans like Dale Hardiman and Henry Wilson do consistently thoughtful and interesting work with sustainable materials, and artist Sarah Goffman does transformative work with everyday materials. I love the Tjanpi weavers, who create magic from local materials.

What’s next?

In 2014 I’m looking forward to more time to develop the design projects I’ve been working on, as well as more Supercyclers projects and a new Happy Talk project. I love working on all the advisory projects and look forward to seeing them continue to develop.

Here and Now: Lucky, by Liane Rossler

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This morning I popped down to the Carriageworks in Eveleigh to visit the latest instalment of Here and Now: Lucky.  Lucky has been curated by Liane Rossler to feature works by Australian and New Zealand creatives.  The concept is to explore the idea of luck and interpret their findings through design and art.

My favourite creation was the hanging bells called ‘let the pure wind release you’ by Tiffany Singh.  A concoction made from fabulous natural materials –  brass, copper, clay,  twine, beeswax, paper, flowers, leaves and natural dyes, these unusual objects really caught my eye!  Made in collaboration with other artists, the aim is to keep the ancient tradition of Kharki (bell making) alive.

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Other fun standouts were bronze knuckles and gold plated chicken wishbones, with wishes attached!  It’s well worth the visit.

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Please have a look at my guest post for The Interiors Addict on Liane Rossler and her latest projects….

http://theinteriorsaddict.com/qa-with-liane-rosler-on-sustainable-design

Styling your dining table: keep it simple.

One thing I know is key to successful dining table styling is to keep it simple.  Unless you are a skilled stylist, too many colours, styles, complex centrepieces and crafty gimmicks found on Pinterest can get all too much.  I’ve found some lovely images (ahem… some on Pinterest) that I think are good examples to learn from.

The settings in the first two images have kept a muted and soft colour palette, introducing interest with layering and textured details.  The centrepiece sets the natural theme for the table and has been left on its own – not too fussy!  Light timber is echoed in the tableware and table itself.

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Height can be cleverly introduced with sparse florals or twigs, like the beautiful magnolias below.  Guests will be able to see each other past this centrepiece.   Again, the colours are kept simple.

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Any excuse to use your collections (as mentioned in my previous post… Styling your collections: the kookier the better!) can be very effective and add a personal touch, such as these vases, brought to life with fresh florals.  I think any setting deserves some sort of living feature, if not florals then fruit or vegetables can add a fresh element.

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Finally, candles will add a warm finishing touch to any setting.  I love candelabras and candle sticks as they are romantic and entrancing as they burn down.  Tea lights are handy in adding a bit more light and sparkle.  There are some great safe candles out there which are battery operated and flicker continuously, a great option if you have flammable decorations nearby.  Just remember to dim the lights and enjoy everyone looking their best in a soft glow…

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Styling your collections: the kookier the better!

I am a firm believer that happiness lies in the simple things.  It’s amazing how much joy a person can find collecting, organising and then just admiring whatever objects their heart desires.  I like to collect teapots, with best intentions to use them though I rarely do.  If you saw my balcony, you might say I collect (and obsessively grow) plants.  It doesn’t matter what you collect so long as it gives you a thrill – and the kookier the better I say!  Collections can be used to great effect in styling your home and showing your personality.

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Imagine the person who owns this collection?  I bet the thought made you smile… even if in a slightly odd way.

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Fornasetti plates look more like artwork here than a collection and is a good example of how a collection can be styled to really add something special to an interior.  The subtle monochrome palette, warmed up with timber, allows the artworks to take centre stage.

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This collection isn’t all the same object, but could be more of a theme like their favourite finds at a flea market.

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A simple and inexpensive display such as this one can be made more interesting with some fresh flowers.

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I’ve been thinking of starting two new collections, pottery and hand held clocks!  What do you collect?