It Takes Money to Make Money

We have all heard the old adage ‘It takes money to make money’ and I can speak from experience when I say that it’s true. We for example have a capital intensive business that requires us to invest in many thousands of dollars, worth of furniture just to do business – an investment that is already delivering solid returns in less than 12 months of operating.

The property market is another perfect example of spending money to make money. We calculate that when you choose Design & Diplomacy to style your property for sale you earn yourself on average a premium of between 10 and 20% on the expected sale price – which often translates to tens of thousands – even hundreds of thousands of dollars of cold hard cash.

That being said styling your property is not the only expense you incur when selling your home – you have agent marketing expense, agent commissions, repairs, storage, landscaping, communications etc. etc. – all of which can add up to a whole lot of cash and much of it needs to be shelled out up front.

There are (believe it or not…) still those people that think that styling a property for sale isn’t worth it – those that believe that a couch is just a couch or that – in the case of an empty house or room – people can envision the space full of furniture. Well I am here to tell those people that they are mistaken! I have a business BECAUSE people can’t envision a furnished property from an empty one (especially when they see it for the first time in The Age or on a property sale website) and that a couch DOES matter. Thanks to shows like “The Block” – like them or not – the property market has had to take it up a notch. We count on people going for the ‘emotional buy’ – walking into a beautifully styled property and falling in love. Look, they know that they are not buying the furniture, but if you (we) can paint them a beautiful picture that they can’t get out of their minds – then we may have just have realised that extra ‘emotional’ 20% over reserve. Your welcome.

Some people might even opt out of styling their properties for other reasons – they think their style is great, they have no time or live in a different state, or they simply have to pick between a styling budget or an advertising one. There is even a trend these days to sell properties completely independently. It may save you money up front, but think of the money you could earn if you present your property well and list it with the best agent – you could be throwing money right out the window if you don’t, so make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

All the above being said I thought I might offer you ‘DIY-ers’ on a shoestring budget a couple of simple tips on how to stage your own home for sale if you simply just can’t spring for a stylist.

  1. Declutter – (You knew I was going to say that didn’t you?) You want to clean the cupboards, the closets and the garage. Don’t put it all back in the garage if you can avoid it, the punters want to see clean open spaces. Since you are already packing, make sure to pack away personal photos (don’t forget the fridge pics) and don’t leave out your personal bathroom products either – you don’t want prospective buyers getting quite that personal.
  2. Damage, mould and rot – Clean that s**t up. No one is interested in buying damaged goods at a premium price or buying a house with potential problems.
  3. Furniture Layout – Now this is key. If we are stuck with your old couch and there is nothing we can do about that, then it will at least need to be positioned properly. Make sure there is enough space to walk around and that no doors or window are being blocked – remember if you are lucky there will be tons of people lined up to view your property on open days so you have to make sure you can accommodate them and that the furniture layout has good ‘flow through’. (This goes for all rooms not just the living spaces!)
  4. Scatters and throws – Simple items that make a world of difference. If you consider your sofa, bed, chair, bench etc. as the perfect foundation – your ‘little black dress’ shall we say, then you can easily transform these items with well selected ‘accessories’ – in this case scatters and throws. When in doubt go with solid colours and avoid prints (unless you are very confident in your styling abilities).
  5. Bedroom Bliss – Bedroom presentation can make or break the look of a property. Lucky for you making a bedroom look good is one of the easier styling tasks. Try and have matching pairs of bedsides and lamps in each room – but the most important detail of all is how the bed is dressed. Clean, fresh ironed linen is key! Please no flat ‘smushed’ pillows or wrinkled mismatched linen. Once again, when in doubt go for crisp and white with solid scatters. You might have to invest in new linen but at least you will own in. Kmart and Target have some great bargains.
  6. Lighten up – Make sure all your lights work, that you have no exposed globes, and that all the globes are the same WARM wattage. If you have any dark corners of your property, lamp light can do wonders to brighten things up and create a great ambience.
  7. Plant life – Live green plants are the G.O. If you are living in the property throughout the campaign you should be able to keep them alive. I love natives because they last forever, but nothing is stopping you from harvesting some greenery from your yard (if you have one).
  8. Check out the competiton – Who’s selling in your hood and how are they presenting – Look on-line and go to opens and have a snoop. Listen to what the punters are saying and take some pointers from those punters.

Look, chances are you will have to spend a little to make a lot, but if you follow my basic tips above there is a good chance you will end up on top.

If, however, you want that ‘emotional premium’, give me a call and I will take it to a whole new level.

Keepin’ it Real

Last Friday I once again had the pleasure of teaching a Styling 101 workshop at the Melbourne campus of The International School of Colour and Design (ISCD) – this time it was in conjunction with one of Australia’s most popular interior design rags, Real Living Magazine and was therefore called “The School of Real Living’ – something they run both at the Sydney campus and here in Melbourne.

My 52 students (and I) were lucky enough to have Deborah Bibby – Real Living’s creator and editor – there to introduce me and to hang out throughout the workshop. I was just as thrilled to meet Deb as the students were. I discovered Real Living magazine 4 years ago when I moved to Melbourne and it has always resonated with me. In fact, when I was still finding my feet just months after arriving in Australia, I found Deb’s email address in the magazine and sent her a gutsy email titled ‘NY –Milan Designer now in Melbourne!’. She kindly replied within minutes – expressing great interest in shooting my apartment for the magazine (it has yet to happen but what’s the rush?).

‘Real Living’ – as it is aptly named, is an interiors and decorating magazine that features real – fuss free – creative stylish homes and practacle design advise. It does not feature the mega properties of some of its competitors where everything is shiny, polished and out of reach to most – but the real homes of real people of style. Or as Deb herself puts it “Real Living offers a less intimidating approach to decorating. We help the reader on their decorating journey, giving them confidence. We deconstruct great rooms explaining why they work, making decorating affordable, accessible and fun.”

Real Living is Deb’s love child – she started the magazine 11 years ago and it now has a readership of over 155,000. The magazine is a lot like her personality – friendly, stylish and approachable – which is why I like it so much. Real Living speaks to me because their philosophy is my philosophy – Interior design and decoration need not be fussy or uptight, it doesn’t need to be expensive to be beautiful. It can be relaxed – eclectic – DIY – and Real. It’s all about keepin’ it real.

‘Moving on Up’ By Guest Blogger and D&D Senior Assistant Stylist Lara Dale

When I left the nest to move to the big smoke at the ripe old age of 18, I was fortunate enough to find a room in a share house through a family friend. All I needed to bring was a bed (or in my case, a mattress) and everything else was sorted… easy!!! And so began my love affair with share housing, no lease, no furniture, no need to buy anything other than what would fit in my little room. It was the perfect relationship… 

Fast forward 10 years and I’ve just signed the lease on my first home with my partner Will (a fellow share housing veteran and the Logistics Manager of Design & Diplomacy) only to realize that all those years of floating from room to room left us with a distinct lack of furniture! Luckily for us our job meant finding temporary seating was easy, but starting from scratch to fill a home with furniture and create a house that pleases both of our aesthetic tastes within our (very moderate) budget…. not such an easy task…

Working as a Senior Stylist Assistant at Design & Diplomacy I have seen empty houses become works of art in a matter of hours, so naturally I assumed we would enjoy the same effortless experience in our home. But I was wrong… In the wise words of Morcheeba ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and Filling your home with things that you love is going to take time.

It has been 1 month today since we collected our keys and although we have a long way to go, we’ve managed to achieve quite a lot in such a short amount of time and we’ve done it by doing the following these simple steps.

Write a list of the things you need (not want) in order of their importance and focus on buying them in that order. 

Budget. Choose which items you are happy to spend a little bit more money on and which items you can get away with spending less on. For example, a good couch is a focal point for your home and you’ll likely be spending a lot of time on it, so it’s worth spending the extra money on it.

Create a Pinterest account and collect images of styles that you like. Going shopping for homewares etc can be quite overwhelming if you don’t have a rough idea of the style that you like. 

Shop around, whether it be online, or pounding the pavement. Keep yourself informed on what is out there. I have a horrible habit of saying no because I want to wait till something better comes along. If you have done your research and know what is out there you can buy with confidence when you find the right thing for the right price. 

Know your SALES! If possible, plan to shop around them. There are an abundance of sales throughout the year and great deals to be had, particularly at the moment, just follow the big red EOFY (End of Financial Year) SALE signs right to your next bargain.

OUTLETS! Outlets outlets outlets!!! If I could live in one I would. I decked out my kitchen with items I picked up outlet shopping and it cost me next to nothing! 

If, like me your funds are limited, look into finance options for larger items. A lot of larger retailers offer 12 to 24 months interest free finance, which means you can get all the larger items that you need and pay it off over time. 

Gumtree or EBay are great resources for furniture and appliances. A fridge or washer can be picked up at a very reasonable price as well as other household items like kitchen appliances, TV’s and even hairdryers.  

Don’t have a bedframe? Or have one that’s outdated? You can buy a bed base for under $200, simply add a valance and voila. It’s a simple look that I love and you can easily upgrade down the track with a frame.

Bedding, Linen and Homewares are a plenty at places like Kmart and Target and Ikea. You can find almost everything that you need in these places without breaking the bank. Utilize them but don’t go overboard, like I said there is no need to get everything straight away. Buying all of your homewares from Kmart in one go could have you falling victim to a fad. Choose your items wisely.  

Last but not least. ENJOY! I certainly wont say shopping for a fridge is therapeutic but once you have the necessities what a wonderful creative outlet decorating your home can be. 

‘All Things Fair’ By Guest Blogger and D&D Senior Stylist Rhea Koumi

It’s that time of year again. Summer is over and everyone is pulling out their winter coats (if you are anything like me, you have gloves and a beanie as well), AFL is in full swing and on the design front Melbourne’s premium design fairs have begun their pre-event email send outs.

Design fairs are a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the industry, both as an exhibitor and a consumer. These fairs allow for new designers to emerge and hopefully tantalise the senses of those professionals who pass through. As someone working in the industry I am constantly searching for new outlets and sources to tap into and for me, this is one of those places. Fairs and the like allow professionals and the general public to access a world that is forever growing and adapting, the opportunities are endless. Design moves with the times and the demand, whether it be what’s on-trend or taking a more stand-alone approach and individualising a design, there is something special for everyone.

For each year I have been to my favourite fairs and the usual suspects always catch my eye, however last year I made a conscious effort to address local designers and those I have not worked with before. Often the designer or collaborator will attend the fair, hovering near their works eager to attend to passers-by. I found it delightfully inspiring discussing the designer’s passions with them, from infancy to final product. These fairs allow for a more personal interaction with the creators, a glimpse into the history and inspiration of some of the designs.

If you are going to go take a friend! I recommend attending with a colleague or friend, last year I went along with a friend in a similar industry. It was great to bounce off one another and to be introduced to designers I would not normally have stopped to see. It is not always a terrible thing to be ripped from your comfort zone, you never know when the information you thought to be unimportant may become useful.

Another great opportunity are the seminars and talks readily available from inspirational speakers with local and international experience. These professionals are here to share their wisdom and educate you through workshops. I highly recommend looking into this at AIFF (Australian International Furniture Fair) in particular.

DEN Fair is the latest addition to the design fair trade, and in my opinion it is also the best. It is touted as ‘Australia’s most exclusive trade fair’ and is meticulously curated. It’s second annual fair wrapped up last week and did not disappoint. The highlights for me were In The Sac  for amazing linen bed linen (http://www.inthesac.com.au), Cult Design for fantastic contemporary furniture (http://cultdesign.com.au), Armadillo & Co for beautifully made rugs (https://armadillo-co.com) and One Fine Print for fabulous contemporary photography (http://www.onefineprint.com.au). Great job Den Fair! I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

So, if you are in the design industry or just have a passion for design make sure you get along to one or more of the many events on the Trade Show calendar. It’s a ‘Fair’ bet you will enjoy them as much as I do!

Above is a beauty from One Fine Print.

The Whole Package

Given that I deeply hate waste it may be a bit ironic that I am a total sucker for good packaging. That being said, if I like it enough to buy it – whatever it may be, it is quite likely that I will keep what it came in after the product itself has been removed or used. Call me crazy but I still have a butter tin from my years in Milan (repurposed as my sugar dish), I buy the Spanish paprika because of the 1970s frolicing couple on the packaging which I have repurposed as a toothpick cup and I take empty sake’ cans home from Japanese restraunts and store matchbooks in them etc. etc. I also keep paper shopping bags from good shops which double nicely as lunch bags – I even brought a few to Australia with me from Milan. The leader of the pack was a sturdy little Chanel paper bag that was eventually ‘re-gifted’ to a friend here in Melbourne when I brought a plate of food to a dinner party. *I have never bought anything from Chanel FYI – I acquired the bag from my former business partner in Milan who had a thing for labels. That bag got around.

In a world of excessive waste, good packaging is even more important. If this thing you buy – let’s call it ‘It’ can be reincarnated as something else or simply reused, ‘It’ will be less likely to end up in a land fill the minute you unwrap it.

Waste is a big part of the styling industry. New things come overly packaged and the waste is potentially overwhelming. At D&D we do everything we can to mimimize our impact, starting with reusing all the packing materials we can (we still have not bought any packing materials to date – almost a year on), but my preferred way to minimize the waste of new packaging is to not buy new at all. I find furniture and treasures from auction houses, opp shops, private clients – you name it. Generally I prefer these things too. They may not be the latest, but they are often the greatest. New products these days are not of the quality they once were, so if I can pick up a preloved treasure I am winning on all fronts – affordability – uniqueness – style – quality – and impact on this fair planet.

People are getting more clever when it comes to packaging thankfully. Thoughtful product designers are making products designed to be reused or packaging that is itself a product. I have done a lot of research looking for interesting products/ packages to accompany this blog post. Most of the interesting ones are small items ( see below), but my favorite is a big one that would normally produce a lot of waste – a TV box that converts to an ET, it’s a shame its just a concept…. A lot of these products and packaging I found on a website I just recently rediscovered – www.treehugger.com. I highly reccoment checking it out as it is full of stylishly green products, concepts and artcles. Another great green living site is www.accrossthefence.com.au. It is new to the market but has a lot to offer and is worth a go.

On the back of this post I feel compelled to do more by using less and reusing more. There are people out there who produce zero waste – totally hardcore! I can’t see how we at D&D could be totally waste free, but we can do better and my plege to you and to myself is that we will do just that. 

http://www.sunpack.com/reusable-packaging-the-packaging-is-the-product/

http://www.packagingoftheworld.com/2013/01/eat-concept.html

‘It’s Your Thing’ By Guest Blogger and D&D Director Tim Gauci

In the world of art, design, architecture and visual merchandising everyone seems to have an opinion. Some have the luxury of being published or writing under contract for relevant magazines, blogs, newspaper and other forms of mass media. Unfortunately for most of us we have only our friends, associates and colleagues to bend the ear of when we ‘may’ have an opinion. This is most evident when we take a position on something topical such as daily news stories, political issues, social issues, etc. etc. But… When we have an opinion on ‘Design’, art or something else totally subjective we often try to go with the popular opinion (if you are of the herd mentality as most people are) or the easier path that provides practical support for an argument based usually on the common position or the general view of the masses or ‘it’s easier etc. etc. Well, let me give you the mail – IT’S SUBJECTIVE! Do you like it? Do you want it in your life? If the answer is yes, then it is COOL!! For You.

Here’s my 10c worth. If you have an opinion on a piece of design whether it be art, music, architecture or even the interior style of your own home then you have an equal right to say why you like it or hate it, why it makes you feel good or bad and for that matter why it does or does not make you sick! (as many people with a loud voice and great commend of the English language will revert to…)

My only caveat on the advice above is – If you have a feeling about something then take a few minutes to consider why you like or dislike it, how it makes you feel and why you want to have it in your life and then… collect your thoughts, no logic required, consider how you will explain it and then… HAVE YOUR SAY! It’s not only liberating but also totally valid and what underpins most design trends – like that or not. Yes, you CAN change popular option if you can explain why you like or dislike it and then hunt down the trend setters to deliver your message. Take the Eighties… Taken enough…? most people I know can only pick slivers of eighties design out of the book and say they don’t hate it. Then again I know some people that can take truckloads of eighties design and tell you they love it and then shove it down your throat knowing full well that their well-read opinions will make the majority of the eighties Cool in their opinion… 

Here is the bottom line – good design IS subjective. It has been proven to be case time, time and time again. Do you want a new contemporary interior? Do you like white laminate with timber and leather – that’s cool! For you.  You like colonial style timber and turned wood finishes? That’s cool! For you. You like eighties style? That’s cool. For you. 

Get it? IF YOU LOVE IT AND YOU CAN EXPLAIN WHY THEN… It is good design For You.  

It’s all about how you feel in an interior, a gallery, a car, a room. You just need to remember – how can I explain how it makes me feel – if you’re asked of course. And, if you can communicate why it makes you feel that way and be confident in your explanation then, I think, you rock!

For the record, I love Fed Square because it rocked the foundations and divided Melbourne in opinion, I love shabby Chic because you have to step back and consider whether it is shabby or chic. I also love modernism because it communicates to you in a way that may suit only you. Modernism – I hate it because it is too try hard OR Modernism I love it because no one else gets it!

Ha! It’s my opinion! And to me it is the right one! 

Hotel Motel Saturday Night

I like to consider myself – and think that people consider me a laid back person – I am certainly no stuck up princess. I walk my dog in my PJ’s (sometimes), I go out without makeup on the weekends (often), and I make the best dinners out of last nights leftovers (always). There are just two things I am a self confessed snob about – coffee and hotels.

On the first point – sorry Melbourne don’t shoot me but you lot are the snobbiest of all when it comes to coffee, and I have to tell you, I’m just not that into you. I find that coffee here in Melbourne is almost always bitter – and expensive too! I lived in Milan for 5 years (hence my snobbery) and I never paid more than euro 1.50 for the best coffee in the world – win win!

Enough about coffee – this is a design blog after all – on to the design-y stuff – Hotels. Hotels are my obsession. I love a nice hotel. I love the little soaps and shampoo’s, the crisp sheets – I love the over priced mini bar, the tubs large enough for 2, and especially the hotel slippers (my favorite – I have quite a collection because I always take them with me). My husband’s hotel requirements are a little more basic – AC and WIFI are on the top of his list – that being said last week was his birthday and I decided to treat him to a ‘staycation’ in one of Melbourne’s top rated boutique hotels on Saturday night.

I have always loved hotels and I have stayed in many all over the world from one star dumps to 5 star marvels. Maybe I love hotels so much because I lived for nearly a decade in one of the worlds most famous –or infamous hotels – New York’s Chelsea Hotel – a haven for rogue artists, hippies, rock stars and thrill seekers the world over. It was mostly residential actually – I lived in big one bedroom apartment with a kitchen, bathroom and big living room (fireplace and balcony). The only hotel service offered was in house (rotary phone) for calling between rooms and the front desk. It was like a crazy hippy commune – we all knew our neighbors and we looked out for each other.

I’m not really sure why, but I now have very high hotel standards (that certainly would not be due to the standard of The Chelsea). I think I am just a romantic – I paint pretty pictures of idyllic situations in my head before I arrive. Even when I think I have lowered my standards I am normally still a bit disappointed. Maybe my hotel standards come from my years in Italy (married to my handsome foreign diplomat), where we were well looked after everywhere we went and often upgraded by the star struck hotel staff. (For some reason Italian’s have a disproportionate respect for diplomats – but hey I wasn’t complaining).

When I first left NY for Italy in 2007 it was only suppose to be a 2 month solo holiday – (until I met Tim at language school in Sorrento and fell in love… the rest is history). I had very little money and was traveling by myself, so my routine wherever I traveled was to dress up in one of my nicest outfits and treat myself to a glass of wine (which came with quite a few tasty snacks) at the best hotel in every town. 15 euro well spent every time. Even though now I have more money to spend, I would still do that in every town across Italy because it’s a great way to soak up the lux life, one glass of wine at a time.

Some of my favorite hotel experiences have been The Hermitage in Monte Carlo (http://www.hotelhermitagemontecarlo.com) where I stayed with Tim when he was there on diplomatic duty for the super yacht show – we were given the room after one of his colleagues didn’t show up – so fun! Hotel Due Torri in Verona (http://hotelduetorri.duetorrihotels.com) where I stayed by myself when I first arrived in Italy (I negotiated a price of euro 100 – a super bargain for an exquisite 5 star hotel – especially with breakfast in bed). Hotel De Monaco in Cap d’Ail in the South of France (www.hoteldemonaco.com) – a little boutique hotel in the town just after Monaco that we stumbled upon on a weekend drive (2.5 hours from Milan). The Crown in Melbourne (http://www.crownhotels.com.au) – a friend of Tim’s got us an amazing suite for the price of a discounted double room. It was awesome. And most recently Drift House in Port Fairy (http://drifthouse.com.au), owned by a friend of mine – it was another surprise for Tim, last anniversary – it was 100% up my alley and actually exceeded my expectations.

The hotel we stayed at on Saturday was The Copper Smith in South Melbourne (www.coppersmithhotel.com.au) – a little boutique-y place that I found on Wallpaper.com. It was well designed and the staff were great, but I though the room would be bigger and there were no slippers….

Above is a photo of my old haunt shot by my old neighbor Tony Notarberardino.

‘Tray’ Chic

If you are a fan of décor and decorative ojects, more than likely you have some trays stashed away somewhere. If you are confident enough in your styling skills, you may even have these trays on display with your favourite books and objects neatly (or not so neatly) displayed in them.

Trays are a great way to display your little treasures from books to perfumes to kitchen and bathroom necessities. They can be displayed on desks, coffee tables, counter tops, side tables, dining tabels, ottomans – you name it, and they are the perfect way to organize small objects of personal significance without these objects appearing piddily or out of context.

It may seem easy to style a tray – and in fact t is easy – but sometimes it’s the simple things that stump us the most and throw us off our game. Here are a few pointers for you beginners out there to get you feeling ‘tray’ ready.

1 Know the look you are after – is it romantic, funky, eclectic, glam? – you are the master of your tray so don’t get led astray from the look you are after.

2 Find a tray of any shape you like – oblong, rectangular, square, circular, etc – (rectangular shapes are the easiest to work with for beginners).

3 Break the tray (visually) in half and then in half again (four total quadrants, none equal to another)

4 Reading material (coffee table books, magazines), stack in 1st quadrant. This is important (for a coffee table at least) because it provides a linear form to offer some structure to the other things you put in the tray. It will seem orderly even if the other objects are organic shapes.

5 Natural element (flowers, plants, etc) in the 2nd quadrant. Most successful tray styling has some kind of a plant or live element.

6 Signature element in 3rd quadrant. It can be just about anything – but consider the height when making your selection – you want to make sure your objects still relate to each other. Corals, candles, paperweights, vases – go nuts!

7 Textural or Conversational element in 4th quadrant. The above list works here too – have fun with it.

8 Break any of these rules to suit your creative tastes. I’m all about breaking the rules as that is what rules are for. If you are confident in what you are doing then you don’t need rules!

Curtain Call

They say that history repeats itself – and good or bad it would appear that this is and always has been true.

History repeating itself is not restricted to events of great historical significance but also to smaller things like trends in fashion and design. Some however, could certainly argue that movements and moments in design certainly have influenced and perhaps even changed the world.

This brings me to curtains and drapes. Many people these days find them old fashioned and dated – opting for roller blinds most of the time as they are considered more modern – but like all things, curtains and drapes have come and gone from our ‘interiorscapes’ if you will, many times over and always seem to find their way back in to design relevance and sporting a trendy new look.

Most people don’t know the difference between a curtain and a drape to be honest, and to be honest it’s not that great a difference. Both are designed (mostly) to cover windows, provide privacy, for decoration and to minimize light. The primary difference has to do with the weight and the ability to block out light and cold. While curtains normally serve primarily a more decorative purpose and are made of a light thin material that lets light though, drapes are usually lined and block out light (and cold air) all together. There is more to it than that including how they are hung, but to simplify things lets just leave it at this: curtains = light weight and decorative, blinds = heavy weight and sun blocking.

You don’t see many drapes these days (but mark my words they will be back). What I find I see most often in the many properties I see weekly are a double block out and a sheer roller blind – or – if the home owner is feeling gutsy – a block out roller blind and a sheer curtain. More often than not the result is disastrous and this disastrous result can even have a direct impact on the resale value of the property (which is why many vendors are choosing to go ‘au natural’ and sell their properties devoid of all window treatments all together). Look – it can be scary stepping out of the roller zone and into that of the soft textile, but when it is done well it can be truly magical.

Personally, I’m a sucker for linen curtains. There is something so sexy and ethereal about a textural linen sheer, but if it is done badly (as with any curtain) it can be a sad and sorry sight. Fear not my children, you too can have sheer window bliss – or heavy block-out meters of material bliss if that is more your style – there are ways to do both right (for the sake of the length of this post however I am going to narrow my focus to curtains).

Curtains may seem simple to most. Yes, indeed you can go to IKEA, Target, Spotlight – or any number of DIY emporiums – and you can indeed gather up the bits required to make or hang some really nice curtains – that being said however, it is more then likely you will stuff it up – sorry! When people buy a pre – cut curtain and rod, very often that will just hang that rod right above the window frame and let the curtain arbitrarily fall where it may. Please don’t do that.

There are many ways to hang curtains – rails, tracks, bars, rods, etc. – and none of them are wrong. What is most important is where the hanging mechanism is placed and where the curtain itself falls. Really though, I should reverse that order. The most important thing is where the curtain falls (at least to the floor) – and closely after that is the height in which it is hanging from.

If your curtain is too short it looks like a daggy old man with his pants hiked up to high exposing pasty white ankles or scrunched up socks. Not cool. My favorite curtain length just at floor length (where the curtain is just grazing the floor with no visible gap in between). Alternatively you can take it up a notch and ‘break’ at the floor. ‘Breaking’ at the floor is when the hem of the curtain is just a little longer than the wall (say a couple of cm’s), causing the curtain to crease slightly – or break – at the floor (think men’s trousers ‘breaking’ at the shoe). Hint – this is a good solution if you have uneven floorboards. Finally, you can ‘puddle’ your curtains, which is just as it sounds – you can have up to 15 cm of extra material on each panel, which will just gather and puddle on the floor. It can look really beautiful, but practically speaking puddling curtains are major dust magnets, and unless you have a cleaner on call 24/7 or a serious case of OCD, it could end up looking really messy. That being said, however – all three options are better then Uncle Lou’s short pants!

When it comes to the bar, rail, rod, track or whatever you use to hang your curtains, please don’t follow the window frame but the ceiling line or crown molding. You want to elongate the room, not make it feel smaller (and that’s exactly what you will do if the curtain covers just the window itself). The best way to achieve this is by hanging your curtains floor to ceiling.

My personal favorite is an invisible track or a track hidden by a small pelmet (a narrow trim designed to hide curtain hardware). The look of a sheer wall of floor to celling fabric (linen in my case) that can swish effortlessly from side to side is quite heavenly if you ask me.

DIY is great but not always an option when it comes to pre cut curtains and recessed fittings. Sometimes hiring a pro is the way to go. You can save yourself time and money by doing it right the first time. Check out some ideas on Pinterest until you have found what you love. It is out there I assure you. Take no short cuts (I mean that literally). You won’t be doing yourself any favors.

Golden Eye

Trends, as you know, come and go (otherwise they wouldn’t be trends but timeless classics). The copper trend, for example, was over almost before it even started if you ask me. When trends come at you that hard and fast I say trust your instinct to duck and dodge and seek shelter from the storm.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that copper products are/were completely uncool – it’s just that there was such an aggressive onslaught of copper everything that worked its way from the most exclusive shops to the most mass produced virtually overnight. All the allure of something cool and new was lost faster then you could Pay Pass your copper toilet brush holder at Kmart’s self check out.

All that being said however, some metallic items will never really go out of style (as most people can’t resist shiny things). To avoid being caught in the trend tornado I say stick to the classics – and what could be more classic than gold?

When you think of gold furniture and homewares it is likely that you’re mind immediately conjures up visions of the Palace of Versailles’s or that of some Russian oligarch – these days however, the majestic metal is much more than the likes of a frilly wedding cake (or more accurately in this case – less than the likes of a frilly wedding cake) and has learned that less is often more. When you match what could be perceived as a flashy material with restraint in design, something magical is born.

There are definitely some design throw-backs happening and you will still find gold baroque furniture reproductions – for which I DO (believe it or not) believe there is a time and a place in moderation. You will find plenty of ‘Hollywood glam’ and mid century inspired gold pieces – often by my old friend and design world rock star Jonathan Adler, but what I am really most excited by are the original contemporary designs that exercise both restraint and originality (dipped in gold of course).

Recently at Click On Furniture (www.clickonfurniture.com.au) I discovered the Coaralie coffee table (also available in copper!) for the bargain price of $395! This puppy ticks all the boxes. It is streamline, minimal and modest in design, but offers massive bang for your buck with it’s lux shiny gold finish. (http://www.clickonfurniture.com.au/living-room-furniture/category/coffee-tables/coralie-coffee-table).

Plenty of my favorite shops like Weylandts (weylandts.com.au) and West Elm (westelm.com.au) – even Freedom Furniture (freedomfurniture.com.au) carry some super stylish affordable and understated gold products.

Don’t be afraid the embrace the classics. Classics never go out of style, even when they are given a fresh new look.