It’s A Goal!

It was only a few years ago that I discovered that January is the international goal setting month of the year.  Or so it seemed then and still seems this year.  Almost all types of business blogs and others seem to focus on getting your goals for the years sorted, and then chunking it down to smaller bite size pieces.  I even got introduced to the South Africa’s Fairy Godmother”, Donna McCallum, last year when listening to our local talk radio show.  And this year was no exception for the re-appearance of the Fairy Godmother and her magic wand that she waves over you to motivate you into reaching your goals.

South Africa's own Fairy Godmother, Donna McCallum.

So, I am not exactly the Fairy Godmother, but I rather fancy the idea of waving my magic wand in your direction, to inspire you to re-visit your interior spaces, with a view to setting some goals that will usher in some fresh elements to office or home.


Marica and I so often have these awesomely interesting discussions around interiors and I have wished that it could be more public so that many others could draw the benefit of these as well.  One of the topics that we touched on in length last year was the fact that we get so accustomed to living with stuff, that we don’t even begin to notice that the curtains are fading, or that the clutter is growing on the desk, or that our décor is beginning to date, developing a rather stale appearance.

So, let’s join that “IT’S A GOAL” mob and set a few goals re: the interior design and décor of your space right now – it is January after all.

Goals should apparently be SMART: (My response to that is: of course they are smart – they originate from me and that makes them smart).

Seriously though, that acronym looks like this:






Here goes:

1.  The “research” phase: – get into the décor mags and those online décor blogs, just so that you can see what is out there in terms of trends, colour, style and what the retailers have to offer. Remember – the objective is to keep your décor fresh and vibrant.

Décor books, mags and blogs are an excellent source of style inspiration and to point you in the right décor direction. Image via The Paper Pony

2.  Grab hold of a pen and a notebook. Then take a slow stroll through your house or office. Do it room by room – slowly.

3.  Stop and take a long look around the room. Remember to view the room through new and creative “lens” and particularly with a view to bringing in “freshness”.

4.  Note all the things that have bugged you terribly in the past and which have become the things that are put off being done. That then becomes the “priority list” items on the “TO DO LIST“. Then note all the things that would be on your “wish list”.

Organize your inspirational décor images & create a concept board. Image via House Beautiful

5.  Don’t make it an unattainable and unrealistic wish list – rather focus on that which you know could be easy to do and that which would not break the bank to buy.

6.  After you have covered each room, chunk it down even further (this I have discovered is a well worn cliché in the “goal setting” scenario).

As an example:  After having been through my house, I instinctively know that my bedroom is the one room that needs the most refreshing work done in it.

7.  Next step after chunking down do a short list of “TO DO GOALS” – set out a list of no more than four actions that need to be achieved. E.g. – “paint 2 walls a contrasting colour. And – freshen scatters with new fabrics.”

8.  Thereafter; chunk those actions down into the real “stuff to get” list. E.g. – select paint colour, – chunk it down further, asking questions like, WHO (will paint) WHERE (to buy paint) and WHAT (colour paint). In terms of say scatters; WHAT (fabrics & patterns) WHERE (will I buy); etc. STICK WITH THE LISTS – IT HOLDS YOU ACCOUNTABLE AND RE-INFORCES THE ACTIONS.

The mighty "To Do List". This funky printable To-Do list can be downloaded for free from A Pair of Pears. (Image link 7)

9.  Now that you know exactly what it is you need to do and also to buy, SET YOURSELF A BUDGET. Put a figure next to each line item and try to stay within those confines. This alleviates emotional and impulse spending

10.  LASTLY – set yourself a realistic time frame in which to perform and complete this task. I would recommend no longer than three months. Just to circumvent boredom. Long term goals are different animals, but that does not exclude them.

These tips are not foolproof by any means, but I reckon that it is a step in the SMART direction.


Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

The Secret To Selecting A Contractor Or Artisan

The Secret To Selecting A Contractor Or Artisan

There are very few of us who have commissioned or appointed either a contractor or artisan in the building or construction trade, who have not been left feeling disappointed in the standard of the workmanship.

It is so sad to think that there are a great many people out there who think that working with a builder, tiler, painter or whoever offers a home improvement service, is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

Sad, because I am convinced that even though there are those artisans who disappoint us, there are an equal number who set a high standard and deliver superb service and product.

All of this was brought to mind during a recent conversation with a friend who is looking to tackle some improvement projects.  Here are some of the tips I shared with her:

1.  Ask a friend for a recommendation

In the event that you have not managed to establish a good working relationship with a reliable contractor that understands your standard, start by asking your circle of friends if there is someone that they have no qualms in recommending.

2.  Interview the potential contractor

If you have to go out “cold calling” so to speak, once you have the name of the contractor and he has eventually pitched up and managed to give you a speedy quote, spend some time getting to know him – interview him as you would a new employee – after all you are going to entrust something of value into his charge.

3.  Ask for references

Ask for the names and contact details of no less than three clients that you can reference back to.

4. Given references might be biased

Remember than you will only be given the contact details of those satisfied clients. You ain’t gonna get the names of the unhappy clients. But that’s okay, as long as you…

5. It’s okay to ask about unhappy clients

Stop to ask whether there has been occasion for “disgruntled clients”. If so, would he be able to be honest enough to fill you in with some of those details.

6. Come prepared

Prepare a list of questions / queries that you would like to address with the prospective contractor or references. In terms of the references – you will have a clear path to follow while speaking to them. In terms of the contractor – you will be able to glean whether he understands your brief to him and your particular needs.

7. Ask to see “Before & Afters”

Getting before and after images of past work is also a great help during all this “information gathering” time.

8. Price should NOT be your only deciding factor

Remember that going for the lowest quote does not necessarily guarantee quality of service and product. Holding price out as your only yardstick can be a bit on the dangerous side.  There is always a cost to getting value added service. A Merc is not a cheap car and if that is your standard, then cheap ain’t gonna cut it. Should you be able to get a reliable contractor that sets a good standard at a reasonable price – THAT’S FIRST PRIZE!

9. Review, weigh & decide

Once you have done your research, sit down to make that calculated decision.  Discuss it with a friend or your other half.

10. Listen to your gut

Remember that your gut feeling should never be negated! It’s a very good measure to include.

OKAY – so this is going to take a lot more effort on your side and it does mean digging deeper with the homework. Yet I feel sure that the net result can leave you confidently empowered and with greater peace of mind. You have taken control of the situation and that attitude can continue throughout the project process. Before the spade hits the ground, or the cement hits the floor, you would have established a comfortable understanding with your contractor.

What is your opinion on this matter? Have any tips or secrets to share with us about your experience in choosing a contractor? Share the knowledge!

Décor Diva: How To Snuggle Up This Winter

10 Essentials for a lazy winter’s evening…

At the moment in time, we are going through our winter season here in SA.  Having said that, in Cape Town we are experiencing the most gorgeous warm winter days, when it should actually be grey, wet and cold days (much like it was up until about 10 days ago).

BUT – I am not fooled.  Those cold, wet and grey days are going to be back.  And when it does, I hope you have that the 10 Décor/Lifestyle essential below will be found in your living room.

1.   Comfortable sofa to stretch out on. OR that easy chair in antique leather that shouts out “sink into me”. This comfy sofa is from Klooftique.

2.   Ottoman or footstool, onto which to lift up your feet. Ottoman from JVB.

3.   Scatter cushion in warm tones filled with part goose down inners – to further ‘sink’ into. Scatter cushions from Cushion Snob.

4.   Warm winter throw blanket. Beautiful fluffy throw from Loads of Living.

5.   Fireplace with the real thing going OR heater if no fireplace. Image via Pinterest

6.   A side lamp or standing lamp- both for the ambient effect / reading. GORGEOUS brass Lab Light from Anatomy Design.

7.   A good sized TV. Image via Pinterest

8.   Slippers. These funky sheepskin beauties are from Sheepskin Slippers via Etsy. Love the colours!

9.   For the ‘I don’t watch TV’ people – a good book or magazine. Image via Pinterest

10.   A hot toddy or cuppa hot chocoffie. Stunning translucent ceramic mugs from John Newdigate Ceramics.

You now have the essentials for a toasty winter’s evening at home.  Catch up with you again soon.