Category Archives: Ask Décor Diva

Ask Décor Diva: Where Can I Buy Retro Cushions?

One of our readers recently contacted The Design Tabloid to ask our resident Décor Diva some advice…

She asks:

“I have a dark brown suede L shape couch and want retro, bright scatter cushions but not sure where and how to get them…

Décor Diva says:

This is actually a tricky question, without a particularly straight forward answer.  The reason being that the term “retro style” could mean one thing to me and another to you, coming out of our individual perceptions of “retro”.

In décor & interior design “retro” basically speaks of a trend or style that is reminiscent of those styles of the 50’s and 60’s.  However, the definition of “retro” is in actuality anything that is older than 20 years.  To some retro means “vintage” or “mid-century modern” or the pop culture styles prominent in the 60’s and early 70’s.  In recent times even those fashion and décor items and styles appropriated in the 80’s is gaining momentum.

This all then begs the question: what is your perception of retro patterns and styles?

But in an attempt to assist you with your scatter cushion décor dilemma, I think it best that I just simply point you in the direction of some of the local suppliers of fabrics & cushions that we would regard as retro – in a more universal sense. You take your pick from these and hopefully it will help you to move forward. If you struggle to find ready-made scatter cushions in the shops, there is a good few fabric houses that sell awesome retro-inspired fabrics that can be made into scatters. In the event that you are not needle and tread capable, approach a local curtain manufacturer to make up the scatter cushions for you.

Here is the suggested suppliers of retro patterned fabrics:

Unfortunately most fabric houses do not sell directly to the public BUT luckily if you see a fabric you like you can contact us and we will order it for you!

  • Local Cape Town designer Skinny laMinx (not necessarily bright, but certainly retro)!
  • Hertex has a handful of quirky fabrics with retro comic strip motifs on it.
  • Then there is a fabulous range of fabrics and patterns to be found from Design Team, especially their Young at Heart and Baha ranges. Their website has a full and comprehensive range of fabrics to be viewed. If want you could spend some time looking through their range, you may strike it lucky.

Love, Rose  x x x

{Below find some awesome local retro-inspired scatter cushions. Please click on images to enlarge}

Ask Décor Diva: From Bare & Cold To Coastal Cosy?

One of our readers recently contacted The Design Tabloid to ask our resident Décor Diva some advice. She sent us an image of her living room along with the following queries…

She asks:

My house is at the coast and I am battling to get this big (lounge) space cosy and inviting. I changed the coffee table to a square and ordered a jute rug. Also, how do you arrange scatter cushions on a U-shaped couch? Do you think I should change the bird cushion as it is not really part of the coastal theme? I ordered 3 striped cushions as well as 3 duck egg blue cushions…”

Ask Decor Diva - The Design Tabloid

Décor Diva says:

Because you are at the coast, I actually think that you should play on that coastal / nautical theme a lot more. The colours would then be more along the sand, stone, tones of blue, white and even a bit of nautical red can be thrown in there. And for that reason only would I go along with the suggestion of tossing out the bird cushion. I have to admit that I do find the dark script cushions a bit on the heavy side. There is such a variety to be found in nautical designed cushions which you could mix in with a lighter script, typo designs and even a nice blue geo pattern. Stripes are very prominent with the coastal themes.

Right now your space seems to be a work in progress and as such I guess that you are gradually introducing more colour. And accessories are the best way to go here. With your rug being along neutral colour tones as well, you may even consider creating one wall as a feature wall, by painting it a coastal ivory or sandy colour. That effect can immediately eliminate that sense of ‘vastness’ that an open plan area often presents. It ‘pulls the room in’ for want of a better explanation.

You also enquired about the ‘positioning’ or layout of the scatters on the actual sofa.  I think that you have two options open to you:

1)  The way you have it set out on the sofa in the image… that is in each corner is fine – but I would definitely make sure that you include a rectangular or organically shaped cushion.

2)  Move away from the corners of the arms of the sofa – instead position the scatter in the middle of each section, plus the corner where the two sections meet. At least three cushions in the same format as above.

One generally displays the scatters in layers, starting with the bigger ones at the back and working down. The mix of sizes and shapes: the larger sizes at the back should be something like 60 x 60cm, then a slightly smaller one of 50cm x 50cm. In front of that you can either have a long rectangular cushion of about 35cm x 60cm or even a more organic looking cushion like bolster. I like to keep the cushion inners as a feather mix – they are much easier to sit into and less likely to be tossed onto the floor as a nuisance factor.

The best is to fiddle or play with each setting until you reach one that sits well with you. After all – despite all the guidelines around, ultimately it is all about you and how things work for you.

Love, Rose  x x x

{Below find some lovely Coastal décor inspiration and local accessories. Please click on images to enlarge}

Ask Décor Diva: Where Do I Start With My Interior Project?

Chris writes:

“I am wanting to remodel my flat and I have all these ideas floating in my head about what I want but cant string it all together. Help! How do I know if I am doing the right thing with the space? I’m going for the whole exposed brick and concrete, wood and modern look but I don’t know were to start… can you suggest some tips?”

Décor Diva says:

Firstly – thank you for writing in and giving me the opportunity of being able to give you some input into your flat remodelling project. I am grateful for your expression of trust in us.

It sounds like you are feeling very overwhelmed right now. You are not alone, Chris. Boy do I know that feeling well! Been there, done that and got the T-shirt. You are probably feeling like you have an huge elephant standing in front of you right now. You know you have to eat it, but where to begin? Ear, trunk, tail, right leg, lefty leg? While this elephant is standing there, casting this look at you that makes you feel more of a fool, waiting for you to get going, all you want to do is take your knife and fork and go back to doing what you do best.

Whilst I was going through one such a spell, a wise lady told me that I have to stop and discover exactly what this elephant of mine looked like! Did it in fact have three legs or four? Did it have a rough or wrinkled skin? It took me a while to realise what she was saying – listen, stop the panic and just define what you have in front of you. When I began to do that, I actually discovered that what I perceived to be this huge elephant, was in fact a completely manageable baby elephant. One that I could embrace and enjoy.

In your case, I assume that a large part of your dilemma is that you have this jumble of images in your head. Your very first step in defining your remodelled flat would be to take those images out of your head and put them in front of you. You can do this by creating a moodboard. This means that you have to take the time to “do the laps.” Put a bit of time and work into crystallising your dream flat.

In brief the recipe for the moodboard is this:

I love this moodboard by Decor8’s Holly Becker. It’s illustrates how uncomplicated and fun creating a moodboard can be. {image: thorsten becker}

Define and own your style.  In your case it sounds like modern industrial style, or Manhattan loft style living.

Collect images. Grab as many magazines as you can that will reflect this style you want to embrace. Tear out all the images that APPEAL to you. This should include images of wall finishes, floor finishes, kitchen finishes, window treatments, furniture styles, light fittings, art, rugs, accessories, paint colours, general colours, bathroom finishes and layouts.

Browse the net. Include into your research images that which you can pull from the internet. Sites like Tumblr, Pinterest, and interior blogs like Freshome, Contemporist, and other blogs are excellent sources for valuable images and content. Once again when you do your research, be specific in each category. Take it one category at a time. Be specific and relative in the wording of your search. Try not to get distracted.  Stay focused on your specific requirement.

Once you are done, pop these pictures that you collected into a scrapbook, plastic sleeves, or boxes that are marked per category. Be specific. When you feel that you have enough images to work with, it might do to begin that process of elimination. Spend time with your collection of categorized images and just remove those that have lost their appeal. Focus on the images that speak to you intuitively and those that correlate with your research material.

Remember that this is all ABOUT YOU AND YOUR STYLE. You need not necessary be a total purist to the style.  If you see something that really tugs at your intuition and it is not necessarily in accordance with the style genre, then include that.

Budget. While you are going about the business of doing this research and development, you should be tackling the matter of your budget at the same time. This is not a step that you want to miss. It forms the scope you can operate within. Again, I would suggest you break it down into categories and make a list of the various items you will need to spend money on.  The next to each item, put a do-able monetary figure.

In doing it you will be able to set your priorities and map out which tasks to tackle, over what period of time.

Moodboard. Thereafter, it is time to get down and dirty so to speak. Haul out a big board, some scissors and some glue. You can include things like buttons, ribbons, shells, bits ‘n bobs, drift wood, cement bits, decorative paper or such resource material to add depth and texture to enhance the mood of the board. Let your imagination run riot. Then begin the fun bit of placing all these materials, so as to form an overall picture /vision of where you would like to go. Once you are okay with what is in front of you, you can firm up and glue down.

A lovely moodboard Holly Becker of Decor8 put together for Anthropologie. {image: will / bright bazaar}

Measure, measure, measure. I cannot emphasizes enough how important it is to measure. It is imperative to know how much space is available to work with – I have had many a friend and client stuff oversized furniture into a too small a room because they did not space plan. Measure your room – draw a little plan with the basic dimensions on it. Then, when you go out to shop for furniture be sure to jot down the size of each furniture piece. Go home and see how the proposed items will fit into your room plan. Do this BEFORE you buy anything!

{image: nullplus via istock}

Source. Now that you have a more defined vision of the finishes and mood you want to create, it is time to set out and source the items. You may not get the exact stuff or finish, but go for something similar. Visit your local hardware store for paint swatches; your local retail décor outlet; your local tiling outlet, a fabric house or two or whatever finishes you need to pull in. Always remember to refer back to your budget.

And action! Then when you have all your ducks in a row, go out and DO IT!

I know that this sounds like a tedious and lengthy process, but I can assure you that it is well worth it. Plus it is so exciting!!  If you are like the Hare in The Hare and The Tortoise tale, (like I am) then you will be keen to move on out of the starters blocks as quickly as you can. But like the Tortoise, I can assure you that slowly-but-surely is the way to get there.    Otherwise, I can almost assure you that your dilemma will continue to reel around in your mind. And that Big Ole Elephant will become a permanent resident.

BE FOCUSED, BE SPECIFIC AND ENJOY THE JOURNEY, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT IT IS.

Yours in service of interiors,

Love, Rose  x x x

%d bloggers like this: