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!

Our Local Blogging Community

You know, so many people have so many opinions to give when it comes to social media and our involvement in it.  I am sure that you must often encounter the same conflicting takes from your friends and family members that I do.  Some love it, enjoy the interaction, the connectedness, deriving a great deal of pleasure from portals such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Blogs.  Others just find it far to invasive – probably speaking more about Facebook. Then, there are those of my generation who just simply think that this stuff is gobbledegook – something that was foisted upon us by alien invaders.  Just too out there!!  I must say, just thinking about all the various reactions, cracks a smile on my face.  I mean, why on earth are we still having so many varied reactions to the Social Media.  It is well and truly entrenched into the fibre of our societal interaction.  It should not even be a topic of discussion any more.  Think about it – do we still discuss the pros and cons of a microwave, a computer or any other tech apparatus that has become part and parcel of modern living?

Having said of that – my take is obvious.  I thoroughly enjoy being a part of the social media communities that are out there.  Yes, I am selective in the ones I am actively busy with, but that I feel is how we should manage our social media profiles.  And when I think of the friendship that I have made online with those within our blogging community, I cannot help but smile.

The Design Tabloid was launched properly and actively in 2011.  During the course of the last three years, I have come to know a few regulars via our online presence – connecting with bloggers even one step further via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  Even though we may only have encountered each other once or twice in person, some closely, some in passing at an event –  I know that I have developed a friendship with them.  One that I feel safe in – could be due to the fact that it is from a distance and has a certain safety factor coded into it as such.  But, we have walked along side each other over the years and I have enjoyed watching their lives unfold.  Much like I would enjoy watching the life of a personal friend, or colleague, or network member unfold.  I think they rock as much as their blogs rock.

The  few  local (die-hard) bloggers I am referring to are the likes of Vicki Sleet of “I Want That“; Kim Gray of “Kim Gray Lifestyle“; Lana of “Lanalou Style“; lovely Leila Fanner of “Leila Fanner Studio“; Lelanie Slater with her “Of Beauty and Love” blog and, as of today, the proud owner of Ampersand Social Stationery an online stationary shop (whoop whoop) and Kathryn Rossiter of “Becoming You“.

Then there were some other really lovely people that we encountered in the early stages as well, who for reasons of their own have had to reduce their blogging activity.  Such a pity because they were  awesome people, but family and work commitment did not afford them the opportunity of staying online as bloggers. Gals such as Idonette, Kim Stephens and to a lesser degree Bianca Packam. Miss you gals and hope that once your lives and families have settled a bit, that you will make a comeback into the blogger-sphere.

My question here to other bloggers is this:  have you too developed friendships within your blogging communities?  Have you managed to find friendships via social media online avenues?  Hope so.

Window Treatments 101: Hang ’em High!

I was recently asked the following question by a client of Design Monarchy:

Do you think I should take the curtains right up to the ceiling or will this make it look too formal?

And this was my short and simple reply back to her (we know each other well enough to keep it simple):

Yes – I always like to allow the curtains to drop from under the cornice. The pole or rail is generally installed about 1 cm under the cornice, with the curtains falling from below the pole. Not too formal at all.  It is not the height of the pole that makes it too formal, but rather the fabric and yours is lightweight and informal.

Decor Diva - Window Treatments 101 - Hang Them High (1)
Image via http://yummyscrumptious.blogspot.com/2010/10/good-drapes.html

Hanging your curtains from just below the ceiling or cornice and – if space allows – a good deal wider than the window frame will create the illusion of a loftier, airier space.

Naturally I am aware of the ceiling height of that particular house. I mention this since the ceiling height is naturally a factor to take into consideration.  The average ceiling height can range between 2.3 m to 2.5 m. I was replying with this in mind and even if the ceiling is higher than the average, I still advocate having the curtains drop from just below the cornice.  If you are going to the trouble of buying and installing curtains as your window treatment, then why not make it one of the room décor features, instead of merely functional pieces of fabric that can be dragged open & closed as you need it.

Coming out of my many years of working with window treatments, I have come to appreciate the fact that window treatments are one of the critical décor features in a room.  With the right criteria applied to your curtains, you will be able to create a décor feature that is unique to your room setting/home.

Decor Diva - Window Treatments 101 - Hang Them High (2)
Image via http://www.livecreatingyourself.com/2011/02/mo-pink-please.html

So, if you are ever in doubt just remember – hang them high, hang them wide!

Over the next few weeks, we will take a brief peek into some of these window treatment criteria, since window treatments are attainable to each and every one of us.

Ciao until the next time.