It’s the Little Things

No matter how organized one might be it’s the little things that tend to pile up and make an otherwise tidy person seem like a pack rat.

I too had this problem when it came to my jewelry – I am quite the collector of vintage finds like chunky bangles and statement necklaces, but pushed in the back of a drawer or in a box somewhere, these treasures had a tendency to get broken or lost or just plain forgotten about. Well no more! I have found simple inexpensive problem solvers for not just necklaces and bracelets, but those pesky little earrings too.

Well friends, it is IKEA to the rescue for the bracelets and necklaces. I was looking for ages for a solution to all my bracelets – one that both displayed them and allowed for tidy, easy access. I found that in an IKEA Christmas ornament holder – I kid you not! Check out the pic above to see how simple and effective a solution it is.

For necklaces, I returned once again to my trusty friend IKEA and purchased a Bygel pot rail and S hooks. This is designed, as the name suggests, for your pots and pans, but it is a really simple and easy way to organize and display your necklaces, belts and even all those pesky scarves.

For earrings, I covered a corkboard in vintage fabric, pinned two thin chains from side to side, hooked my earrings through the chains, and presto! Earring problem solved.

Let there be LIFE!

As we say goodbye to summer and face the reality that the cold winter months are fast approaching, it is only natural to crave a bit of tropical paradise – so why not create your own oasis at home? It is time to let the life in and welcome some fresh plants into your world.

For those of you who’s thumbs are less then green, try a Zamioculcas Zamiifolia (available at Bunning’s and most plant shops). The ZZ can survive in just about any setting, and need little water and light. They grow like crazy, and can survive at home on their own for stretches of time (just fill a bottle with water and stick it into the soil, and your ZZ will feed itself!). Another easy customer – despite the name – is a Mother in Law’s Tongue. You hardly have to lift a finger around her – she thrives on neglect and virtually nothing can keep her down – she just keeps on growing!

Melbournian’s have embraced the wondrous mini-world of the terrarium, and I too am in love with these tiny wonders! I have yet to try and make one myself, but there are many ‘’How To’’ sites and they seem simple enough – or you can go out and buy one just about anywhere. They are like itty-bitty little self-contained green houses in a variety of super cool glass vessels, and apparently they are even easier to maintain then my friends the ZZ and the Mother in Laws Tongue.

For a charming little kitchen bench top herb garden, get creative and recycle your old coffee tins and tomato cans for quick and easy planters. I like Annalisa brand cans for a little old world Italian kitsch. Just poke a few holes in the bottom of the cans, pot the plants, water, and Ta-Da!

If you really have no patience for live plants, treat yourself with fresh cut flowers. I often keep a bunch of Aussie natives in a vase on my desk. They are so hearty and robust and they last forever. There is nothing like a fresh bunch of your favorite buds to put a smile on your face!

Art Attack!

I am in the midst of an art attack – I seem to be in the centre of a tornado of beautiful things that seem to be spinning all around me these days. Art is everywhere if you are open to seeing it – from the obvious to the subtle. Art is all around you.

Last week in particular was an art filled week for me. I went to the framer a number of times for several clients, each of whom had some beautiful artworks in need of a new look – the frames were old and daggy – mostly from the 1970s. I had the works contemporized with some chunky minimal frames and wide mats, resulting in a new life and a new look for each of the pieces – and boy what a difference it made! Framing is an art in and of itself and can completely transform the nature and tone of the artwork.

Also, in my art filled week, I was interviewed for the Kay and Burton Real Estate web series “Design File”. This particular segment was on the importance styling a property to increase the sale price, and the use of art in creating an impressive space. Whether styling a property for sale or for private clients, art plays a crucial role in tying a space together, and can often be the hero of the space itself – as was the case in the property we shot in where I chose bold graphic art to create a statement that tied into the custom furniture.

Art is of course very subjective. When I go to a gallery or museum I don’t start at the beginning and work my way around the room in a linear fashion – I tend to walk to the centre of the room and do a little spin – I stop at the piece that ‘speaks’ to me most and work my way around the room from that point.

I fancy myself as a bit of a photographer these days. I am inspired by the beauty that is all around me in my day-to-day life: a shadow on the footpath – old peeling posters on city walls – flowers growing in unexpected places. Armed with my iPhone 6, I am creating beautiful art of my own.

Above is one of my favorites – a shot of a basketball court that I took at the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne. I love the brightness of the colours and the bold graphic nature of the lines and curves. I take great pleasure in using my viewfinder to slice off a piece of something ordinary – like a basketball court – to create something new and unexpected and maybe even extraordinary from the things that surround us every day.

Print on Print

On my last trip to LA for my best friends wedding, I got a lot of compliments on the outfit I wore to the rehearsal dinner – “ I love your print on print!” the ladies said to me over and over. I was indeed wearing ‘print on print’, but I had not realised there was a term for my concoction. I had paired Zara pants – navy with a white and orange diamond print, with a top I bought in Milan that was orange with a little blue and white diamond print. They were not the same print, but there were enough similarities in the colours and patterns to match them. It was a little bit of an ‘outside of the box’ outfit, but it clearly worked. When I wear that combo in Australia I get the same reaction.

There is a fine line between clashing and complimenting, so if you are going to try some ‘print on print’, make sure not to just throw together whatever you grab off the floor. For the trend to work there needs to be something that ties the prints together like the tone of the print and/or the pattern itself. I like stripes with stripes for example, however when combining these prints I would focus on having just one bold stripe, and the other (or others if you are combining more than 2 prints) a subtle stripe. This way the strong stripe pops and the subtle stripe retreats, reading more as a solid than a competing print.

Print on print translates really well to interiors as well, especially when it comes to a bed or a sofa when you can layer different prints, textures and patterns. It also works nicely if you are bold enough to use wallpaper. The same rules apply to your home or your outfit. Give it a shot!

A RE-Purpose Driven Life

I recently saw a Jerry Seinfeld on the Tonight Show doing a stand up sketch about THINGS – how many ‘things’ we have and how all these ‘things’ move through the value chain from when we first get something new that we love and adore and display, to its ultimate demotion to the garage with all the other ‘things’ you once loved but have now permanently banished, never to be seen again.

As he was doing his act, which was of course hilarious (who doesn’t love Seinfeld?), I was just visualizing this mass of accumulated crap in every house across the Western world. As I was picturing all this ‘stuff’, I was also picturing the manufacturing of it – all the water and electricity used, the trees cut down – the deforestation, the mining for the minerals in the old cell phones and appliances, the oil the plastic these things are made out of – and then all that stuff going into a landfill somewhere for future generations to worry about. It’s a bit of an overwhelming thought to say the least.

Look – I am not going to claim to be some tree hugging environmentalist – I like to shop and I like things – but the things I like the best are the things I can give a second life to. I’m not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t like waste, I don’t like excess, I don’t like stuff for the sake of stuff, and I don’t like hoarding.

I live a RE-purpose driven life.

My love affair with great vintage design and flea market treasures is all about second chances – maybe third or forth chances – maybe more. I’m not into this disposable world we live in. It shits me even. My re-purposing filters through all that I do – the objects I display in my house, how I dress, what I eat. I’m a great cook, but the best meals I make are always the ones made from yesterday’s leftovers reinvented. I love fashion, and I am always the most excited about my outfit when I can find something in the back of my closet that I haven’t worn for years and I fall in love with it again because I find a different way to wear it, making it new again (it’s like shopping in my own closet!). If I still don’t like that thing I found in the back of my closet, I find the right friend to give it to. This is not about being cheap – it’s about being aware.

Although I don’t claim to be an environmentalist, I do care about this planet and the impact of our obsession to possess new ‘things’ has upon it. There is so much stuff already filling up our garages – they say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so let’s consider our impact and start uncovering and sharing and re-purposing those treasures. It is still new if it’s new to you!

Check out this link to Jerry Seinfeld’s sketch on the Tonight Show.

Love connection

When buying a new home, people are buying a dream – and that dream is emotional.

As a property stylist I want to hook the buyer emotionally – I want them to walk into that property and feel amazing. I want them to feel excited as they walk from room to room discovering the property and envisioning themselves there. I want to eliminate the feeling of confusion or discomfort or even disgust and go right to the core of their emotion – to their heart.

As a stylist, I am essentially helping the property to ‘put its best foot forward’. I’m dressing it up and covering it’s blemishes and wrinkles. If they are hooked when they walk through that front door and wowed by the way the property is presented, then they are likely to notice the properties flaws second, by which time they are already drawn in.

When we are in love we do not see the flaws – and if we do, we forgive them because we are in love.

My job as a property stylist is to make love connections. I am a matchmaker. I create love stories.

They say money can’t buy love – but when it comes to a buying a home, it can.

The Imperfectionist

Perfection is for suckers. I have always been more interested in the less than perfect – I like a slightly crooked nose, laugh lines and even a little scar above an eyebrow or just under a chin – these things intrigue me. How did he get that scar? What made her laugh so much throughout her life that the smile lines linger after the smile has gone?

Perfection is boring. It’s just so obvious and leaves nothing to the imagination.

I feel the same about art and design. I love a painting or a drawing with an accidental coffee stain or thumb print – the smudge of a palm or a pin prick in the corner of the paper. These things are signs of life, and we all know that life isn’t perfect – and that’s what makes it so beautiful. In this computer generated age of digital everything and photoshoped everyone, I value a little imperfection.

High / Low

I have a confession – a guilty pleasure you may say… I love Fashion Police (RIP Joan Rivers).

Every week until Joan’s untimely death, I would curl up on the sofa and enjoy the good – the bad – and the ugly of the past weeks red carpets and what not – peppered with Joan’s unique insults and hilariously inappropriate jokes.

It was on Fashion Police where I first heard about the ‘High / Low trend’. The High / Low trend is the mixing of an inexpensive piece of clothing from H&M, Top Shop, or Zara for example – with something high-end and designer. Not to long ago – for example, Beyonce rocked a $100 Top Shop ensemble with a $2,000 Gucci bag.

I love that Hollywood is embracing this trend – something I have been doing for years now has a name of it’s own. I love it because it just goes to show that with some creative mixing and a good eye – you don’t have to spend a boat-load of money to look good. Like the LBD – If you are wearing a little black dress from Zara with a pair of Prada shoes, no one will know that the dress is from Zara. It is all about clever pairing and clever shopping.

The same is true for your home – clever shopping – clever mixing – clever pairing.

Don’t shoot me, but I like IKEA. I also like Freedom furniture – however, both in moderation of course. The key is to use pieces that are not obviously recognizable, and to mix them in discretely. Honestly, is there anyone – in any income bracket – that doesn’t own at least one thing from IKEA? I think not.

It’s called being smart and spending your hard earned cash wisely. We all want our homes to look a million bucks, but you don’t have to shell out a million to get the look.

Above is a shot from an apartment I designed in Milan. The coffee table designed by Paolo Piva in the 1980’s for B&B Italia, and the rug I purchased at IKEA for 10 Euro.

Check out this link for some savvy A – Listeners working the High / Low trend.

LBD (Little Black Dress)

When it comes to Interior design and styling, I often find myself referencing the LBD (Little Black Dress) – a wardrobe staple for women throughout the ages. ‘How does a dress relate to an interior?’ you may be asking – well I’ll tell you….

A little black dress can be styled and accessorized in countless ways. A clever gal could wear the same LBD for a week and make it look different every time though some well planned accessorizing. A great pair of shoes, some funky jewelry – a scarf – a hat – a bag etc. (and the list goes on) – can transform that simple LBD into many different looks.

A sofa or a bed, for example, are like an LBD – you can dress them a hundred different ways and give them a new look and feel every time. Soft furnishings and small homewares are your friend!

Not every tired interior needs a total overhaul – sometimes it’s just some clever and cost effective styling and accessorizing that’s in order, ‘a la’ our good and faithful friend the LBD.

Here is a picture of me and a friend at the Melbourne Cup – both rocking LBD’s two different ways. Her with a brightly coloured handbag, and me with a Frida Kahlo inspired headpiece made from two-dollar shop flowers.

Lost and Found

One of the great things about being a stylist and interior designer is the visual feast that presents itself when visiting a property for the first time.

There are countless reasons people sell their properties or call on the services of a designer – and often the properties are a museum of memories trapped in time.

It is a pleasure to share the experience of rediscovering the lost objects that were once so familiar to the client – and breathing new life and meaning into them – like this 1950’s child’s chair that was nearly swallowed up by the garage of a property I recently visited.

What once was lost…..