Is There Heart in Your Home?

One of the vloggers I regularly follow starts off a video blog by greeting her audience with this salutation: “Hello all you Shiny Puppies”. I’m thinking – maybe I should also come up with an opening catchphrase for my blog posts. Any suggestions?

I kicked off the year attending a network meeting of note. One of my fellow networkers, Melanie – such a cool gal – was looking at the Home Magazine article of January 2016, in which one of our interior design & decorating projects was featured (this has now become my brag book). Melanie is a Real Estate Consultant and a comment she made is what motivated me to write this article.

Quirky Workspace designed by Design Monarchy
This quirky, creative workspace we designed for our client Mrs Turner was one of our favourite nooks EVER. Many of the elements, including the desk made of an old door and the wall boxes, Design Monarchy designed and had custom made. (As featured in Home Magazine January 2016) Photography: Francois Oberholster | Stylist: Marian van Wyk (for Home Magazine)

Many homes lack “heart”…

She said that what she loved about the interiors of the featured house was the fact that one could see it was full of “heart”.  She went on to tell me that since she deals with many upmarket houses, she has seen many interiors.  What strikes her is the fact that most of the houses have all the interior finishes you can want for, but no heart. Nothing that particularly warms the cockles of one’s heart. Nothing that stands out as being unique to the occupants of the home. By “interior finishes” she meant that the house has the granite kitchen top, the right tiles, the fairly updated kitchen, good furniture etc, but that is where it ends it seems. Pretty much what fellow blogger, Lelanie Slater, once coined as being a “showroom type interior”.

Quirky mismatched dining chairs
To add a creative and playful touch to the dining area we selected a mismatched mix of chairs. We had some chairs painted and sourced gorgeous fabrics from Skinny laMinx and Design Team for the seats. (As featured in Home Magazine January 2016) Photography: Francois Oberholster | Stylist: Marian van Wyk (for Home Magazine)

I so get what she is saying. I too have seen so many houses like that. It remains a house that people occupy but not a home. The interior décor lends no expression – no heart or warmth. Nor does it reflect the personality of the folk who live there. Such a great pity, because that is not what a home is meant to be.  We at the Design Monarchy, fulfil the desire of our own hearts, by helping our clients find expression of who they are in their home, in a heartfelt way. We do this by way of their interior decorations!  It is actually a very powerful process and loads of fun.

Does your personality find expression in your home?

I often wonder why it is that so many people are unable to connect with their home as a heart space. Why it is that this disconnect even exists?  It’s almost unthinkable for me in my world. But it is there and I feel I would like to explore this in a few blog posts to come. Why the superficial interior space? I am going to rope Marica in to share her views as well.

Vintage industrial styled entrance foyer
I spent a good hour or more arranging all the décor items and vintage accessories we sourced to create this perfect table vignette. We also used some of our client’s existing pieces, including the table and art, to style this amazing personality-filled space. (As featured in Home Magazine January 2016) Photography: Francois Oberholster | Stylist: Marian van Wyk (for Home Magazine)

Maybe some feedback from our readers can help me here.  Are you able to suggest why so many folk have a heart disconnect to their home interior space? Is it money? Is it fear of finding expression? Can you help me here?

Cheers all – for now.

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Blogging: Have You Lost That Loving Feeling?

I started out writing this article because the subject matter was bothering me and I wanted to get it onto paper. I sat down, open up a Word Doc and typed the title. Boom – got that right! Now what?

I was experiencing a bit of “Writer’s Block”. It was not that I did not know what to write about, but rather, “how am I going to manage to put this rush of thoughts and feelings onto paper?” How was I going to express myself? There I sat – staring at the title. I turned to Marica and started to do what the both of us love to do, which is to explore a subject. What is happening to blogs these days and how do we feel about blog content over the past few months? Naturally in our case, it is mainly referring to interior & lifestyle blogs.

What was the lead up to these bothering questions?  Well, for me it is real simple. Just the other day, I had become aware that I was thoroughly bored with blogs. Really? – an avid blog lover – bored?  Hell yeah!  I felt like most of the blogs I read on a regular basis just did not do it for me any longer. Notice, I said most and not all. Was I experiencing blog overload, I asked myself?  I asked Marica the same. Are blogs in that place where a complete and utter overload of information has overtaken the voice of the blogger, leaving them to resort to just presenting for the sake of presenting? Are bloggers just going through the motions, posting content that feel uninspired and soulless? Are there too many blogs that are merely billboards for their sponsors and advertisers or prospective sponsors, who in doing so just lost their authenticity? Is it all about the “business of blogging” where big business has managed to worm their way into the bloggershere along with all their PR companies?  The result of which means that we, the readers, have product foisted onto us all the time?

OR a much scarier thought, are blogs dead or dying off? The novelty has worn off and now all we have is quick post that come our way in billboard form?

Lots of rather strong questions, don’t you think?

Sadly, if we had to be truthful, we would have to admit that we too have fallen prey to what could be seen as “soulless” posts. When pressed for time, we often opt to post a quickie (which ultimately is not so quick to prep anyway) just to keep the momentum of the blog ongoing. However, in our defence, we have made it known that Design Monarchy, our “day job”, comes first. There are times when our interior design projects and clients suck up most our time and energy. It leaves us with no alternative but to post a couple of quickies to tide us over until our design work and deadlines have eased up a bit. Believe me, I love writing (you might have noticed by the length of this post) and were I able to earn a juicy living from just blogging, Marica and I would be churning dem juicy posts on a far more regular basis.

So there I sat – this blog title and I – just glaring at each other. Post my discussion with Marica, I decided to jump onto the net to get a broader perspective, do some research. I wanted to see if other bloggers were feeling the same way. Before I hit Google, I checked into my Outlook RSS Feed folder to see if any of the blogs I subscribe to had  anything to offer. One of these blogs were Holly Becker’s Decor8, whom I respect as a seasoned blogger. I had not checked in with Decor8 for a while and missed a vital post. Turns out she was either a really good mind reader, or it was totally serendipitous that the first post I opened was speaking the same thoughts, words and feelings I had been experiencing of late.  My goodness, she spoke it just about word for word what had been running through my system for a while. Phew – that sure made me feel vindicated.

If you also feel this way and have the time and the inclination to read a more in-depth article written straight from the heart, I encourage you to read her article here: link. I could not have said it any better! If you have even more time, be sure to check out the comments which contains the most interesting discussions.

I realise that this topic is completely debatable and like a diamond it has many facets to it, all equally justifiable. I also realise that there are some really cool bloggers who will not agree with me and for their own reasons will present their own cases.  Each blog has its own style, philosophy and culture that drive it.  All good!

I for one am really tired of “Billboard Blogging”. They are just not interesting for me. Informative – certainly.  Interesting – nah!  At this moment I am relieved that we were not able to “monetize” our blog, something I often used to envy other bloggers for.  Yes, our blog is a marketing tool in the Design Monarchy toolbox, we still treasure it as a platform to speak of our work, our knowledge and our minds. Our online business journal!

One thing that I noticed with Decor8, the blog has changed its format, layout and style completely.  No more sponsored advertising going on there. Looks more like a website than a blog. What a change that is! What a breath of fresh air.

Having said all of this, I am not giving up on blogs yet. Not as a blog reader, nor as a blog writer.

Gonna close off now, otherwise you will definitely get bored. Before I do, tell me: What do you think about the blogging world? Are you also bored? Does it still hold the same interest for you? What is your opinion? I would so love to hear. Even if it doesn’t agree with what I had to say? That is where the interest lies.

Cheerio-di lovely peeps.

Can You Do Minimal Interior Living?

One of my favourite design blogs, and has been for about 5 years now, is Design*Sponge. What I appreciate most about D*S is that it is written for the man in the street. The homes and spaces that are featured are not styled to the nth degree before they are photographed, to make them look picture perfect. No – the featured interior décor and design is for everyday living. Just a quick P.S. here – everyday living however, does not amount to ordinary living. You encounter some extra-ordinary & unique interiors.

What makes these interior spaces extra-ordinary and unique? The very fact that they reflect the personalities, values and characters of their owners. Probably the most important element in any home or office space. After all, Home is where the Heart is!!

True Minimalism
A true Minimalist interior – stark linear lines, minimal furniture and décor, neutral colour palette, and a focus on architectural features and hard finishes.

However, one article in particular recently grabbed my attention and got the mind chatter going. Particularly the whole matter of keeping “stuff to a minimum” which it seems is the creed of the owner. De-cluttering is her business, so it was grand to see her apply her values into her own interior space. As I looked at the images of her house, I was struck by the fact that it is so vastly different to what we had come to know as “Minimalist Style” since way back. True Minimalism, where the lines were linear, the furniture more along stark contemporary lines, and the predominant colours were grey and neutrals.

So much of that type of Minimalism is still to be found dominant in European homes. Maybe just a little bit more upbeat than before – furniture and other interior décor elements are kept to an absolute minimum, while the over-arching features are to be found in the interior hard finishes – such a wood cladding etc.

New Minimalism

New Minimalism (2)
The “new” Minimalist home of minimalists Cary and Cam Fortin. Cary has been able to train herself to live with less while still maintaining a truly personal and layered abode.

But, this lady was presenting me with a new kind of Minimalism – a home filled with pattern, plants, retro furniture pieces, loads of colour and textures layered into her home, while still being true to her ideals of living with less.

Which just proved to me – it can be done. You can have minimalism without sacrificing layering and textures. It is being done.

Nip over to the article (here) and challenge yourself by asking yourself the question: Could you let go of all the stuff you don’t need in your life with a view of allowing some really good features to stand proud? As I sit here – I think I could do it. I could do New Minimalism.

Take note of the article’s last paragraph – it’s poignant:

Far too often the expectations for what is considered “minimalism” are set at an unattainable degree. That’s why I find Cary and Cam’s home so refreshing. It ushers in a new way of perceiving the movement by showing what a contemporary and lively family deems “the essentials.” It also doesn’t hurt when that family has impeccable taste, like these two.

New Minimalism (4)

New Minimalism (1)

New Minimalism (3)

{Images: 1, 2-4, 5}

Know Your Bath

Robyn LambrickLast week we chatted to Robyn Lambrick about the wonder of “resurfacing” – a restorative process where old and ugly sanitaryware gets a new lease on life (read post: here). Robyn’s husband owns the resurfacing company Beta Bathrooms and the sanware item they refinish is bathtubs…

Today Robyn is going to tell us all about baths (all of which can be resurfaced btw) – and since my bath is one of my sacred spaces in my home, I am all ears (plus both of our baths need a bit of TLC).

Take it away Robyn…

Q: Should I replace my old cast iron bath while renovating my bathroom?

A: Well, if you ask us – we’ll tell you NO!  Most definitely not! It’s simple, we believe that a cast iron bath is one of the best baths ever made!

Q: Could you open that up for us somewhat:

A: Sure thing.  There are a few reasons:

# Firstly, a cast iron bath is a handy man’s dream – no silicon is required for sealing around this This means – no unsightly mould (a biggie believe me)!

# These baths are solid as a rock – no shifting or moving beneath the user – no matter how heavy you are!  It’s important to note here that the fibreglass bath, a much lighter bath, shifts very easily and has been known to crack and sometimes even produce holes in the bottom or sides – much to their owner’s dismay!

# Cast iron baths retain their heat for way longer than any other bath.  Suddenly that long romantic bubble bath soak becomes appealing doesn’t it?

# Buying a cast iron bath is also not a short term purchase.This bath once installed can last a lifetime. It is an element that will work in favour of your home as an investment.

# Cast iron baths are harder to chip & scratch and most certainly won’t develop any holes – unless you purposefully take a drill to your bath!

# They are, however, a rare and beautiful find – as they are scarce and quite sought after!  So if you happen to lay your hands on one – hold on to it and rather resurface or renovate the surface. As mentioned earlier – it will pay its dues!

# These baths are durable and have a classic look that never seems to date no matter what bathroom trends we face.  Therefore, we highly recommend don’t replace. Rather Resurface. That’s a no-brainer.

Q: Can the same be said for a pressed steel bath?

A: No, unfortunately not.  These baths are made from formed steel and have a porcelain-enamel coating.  They are not as expensive and chip and scratch very easily!  Steel conducts heat, meaning the bath water cools way too quickly – leaving the occupant feeling rather chilly!  Pressed steel are way heavier than their brother – the cast iron bath – back breaking stuff moving this bath – so not the contractor’s favourite friend!  We’d go out on a limb and say – a pressed steel bath is not our favourite type of bath.

Q: What about a plastic bath? 

A: Plastic, either fibreglass or acrylic baths, offer the greatest design flexibility because it can be moulded into many shapes –customer is spoilt for choice in shape, sizes, colour and styles! It insulates very well; is light for transport and carrying purposes. The downside however – it does chip and scratch easily – especially with the abrasive cleaners available on the market.

Bathrooms: Don’t replace. Resurface.

beta bathroomsMany years ago during the sale of our last house, I discovered that there two areas of a house that buyers are always drawn towards like magnets – the kitchen and the bathrooms.  It seems that if your kitchen and your bathroom don’t measure up, it could potentially work against the sale of your house.  Having a lovely lounge, dining room and bedrooms just won’t compensate for bathrooms and kitchens that are seen to be rather sad.

Today we chat with Robyn Lambrick.  Her hubby’s business, Beta Bathrooms, transforms existing bathrooms from drab to fab.

Q: Robyn, what can be done to give one’s bathroom and sanware a facelift?

We so often receive enquiries from homeowners who want to refresh their outdated or worn bathroom but are daunted by what such process might entail. Just think about it – ripping out tiles, sanware and cabinetry – what a mess! Not to mention the high cost of replacing those fittings and finishes.

Bathrooms and kitchens are the most permanent aesthetic fixtures in your home. To refresh any other room in your home can involve as little as a lick of paint and few new cushions. A bathroom or kitchen makeover is far more complex and expensive. Or is it?

The new trend to renovating these days is not to replace, but to resurface.

Q: What is resurfacing?

A: Resurfacing, also called refinishing or re-enamelling, is the process of refreshing the surface of worn, damaged sanitaryware, such as a bathtub, to a like-new condition. This process typically involves repairing any damaged areas and then spraying the surface with a durable enamel coating in-situ.

This bathroom facelift is far less expensive and disruptive, not to mention time-saving – we are in and out in 24 hours!

Q: Any last words of advice from Beta Bathrooms?

A:  Again we say – Don’t replace.  Resurface –  save the planet and your pocket!  Resurfacing is not just restricted to baths – basins, toilets, even tiles and kitchen cabinetry can be resurfaced. Also, don’t stress too much about the state of your bath, we have perfected a coating and procedure that is able to mend all damage to any bath – that includes scratches, stains and cracks.  Beta bathrooms are able to assist sorting that issue for you within a 45 minute period. Please feel free to contact Stephen Lambrick for an onsite consultation and a free quote: here.

Stay tuned for the next “episode” of this series in which Robyn chats about the different types of baths.  Adios Amigos.

A Heart Space at Work

Hello – being the month of LUV, it is probably as good a time as any to take a look around your work / office or desk space – just to check out whether your are feeling connected to it, or disconnected from it.  Are you showing yourself some self-care, self-nurturing and plenty of self-love within the space that you spend many hours working?  Does your work space or office reflect your love and passion for your chosen career or the work that you do?

If your office or work space could speak, what you think it would say to you or anyone that comes into that space for that matter? Would it gripe and groan about being neglected, taken for granted or having no identity of its own?  Or would it speak of having the satisfaction of being in the heart connection with you, your work and being able to hold you within a space that affords you the opportunity finding the expression of your passion? Like “I support, love, inspire & honour my person everyday” of their working life.  I enjoy being part of their business & provide that space for them to be comfortable enough to make plenty money!!

Why is it that we think that the expression of our heart space is only in our home and not in the office as well?  Be it home or formal office – begin to own it. Let’s put some Heart & Luv into our office/ work space.  Make it your own and change its story – if you have to.

I probed Marica to find out what she would do for her workspace. Here are her really cool tips on the outward expression of who she is in her workspace:

1. She likes to be organised. Hence some pretty desk organizing tools – colour, pattern & style of her liking.

2. She digs coloured pen & pencils – these are the writing tools of the artsy fartsy. (I too love different coloured pens – and they tell of my love for writing colourful stories). Check out stationery shops like Ampersand or Typo – you will find all sorts of nifty, playful stationery.

3. She would like plenty of green plants around – nice one this. Plants are not only cool Feng Shui elements, but need attention and nurturing. Which is just what a career or business needs as well.

4. Cool wall art – clipboards are her hot favourite at the moment. Go onto Pinterest and explore your wall art options – both big and small.

5. She is nuts about illustrative art, so it came as no surprise to find she would have fab box-framed illustrations in her zone. Find art that is an expression of your work. Not just any old art will do.

6. She would love floating bookshelves or some form of open storage unit (maybe open fronted wall boxes) – to store and display all her career-relevant books and mags.

You don’t have to break the bank to create a nurturing work environment.  Visit Pinterest and probe the images, even DIY stuff.  Allow you creative juices to start flowing. Start small and let it grow. It’s fun!

P.S. Solopreneur & Entrepreneur – a note for you – your dining table is NOT your workspace! I mean really!