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}

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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?

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 a 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, left 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 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 necessarily 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.  Then, 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 emphasize 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!

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

Ask Décor Diva: How Do I Turn My Bathroom Into A Feature?

Michelle recently contacted The Design Tabloid to ask our resident Décor Diva some advice…

Michelle asks:

We have just bought a new house and have a lot of great ideas for decorating (especially from your site!) but the guest bathroom has stumped us! It is huge…with only a toilet and small basin. I would really appreciate your creative ideas! We are open to colour / patterns / anything…it just needs to be budget friendly as we are spending money on other more important aspects of the house! My hubby is a graphic designer and this guest toilet is between the living areas of the house and his design studio and clients /guests will use it.

Décor Diva says:

In essence, this bathroom dilemma has two primary issues that need to be resolved. One – it is a large, sparsely furnished space that needs to be transformed into something visually “smaller” and more intimate. And two – the necessity to change this drab, blank canvas of a room into a showpiece that pops. Both these issues can be resolved by addressing the same key aspects.

The majority of South Africans still think about bathrooms in a very traditional way – a little room, tiled from floor to ceiling, with some nice towels and a couple of collected seashells as decoration. It should be clean and functional – nothing more… How very sad! Bathrooms, especially guest bathrooms, have awesome feature room potential! It is the perfect little space for a dramatic, over-the-top statement that will make your guests and clients go – “Wow!

The truth is – we spend a lot of idle time in bathrooms, so why not give us something interesting to stare at while there…

As your husband is a graphic designer and potential clients will often use the loo, I suggest giving him a little more creative reign than usual. View the bathroom as blank billboard space – an extension of his portfolio. There are a multitude of ways he can incorporate some of his work into the bathroom – framed illustrations maybe, or a collection of funky vintage logos.

The basin wall is an excellent space to create a gallery wall – a collection of framed art, prints, photos or funky graphics. The net is filled with awesome images and tutorials illustrating how to put together an attractive feature wall. I’m also loving the current trend of having multiple mirror in various shapes and size on one wall. Speaking of mirrors – do a little secondhand / craft market shopping and see if you can find a nice big ornate vintage mirror for above the basin. Paint the mirror frame in a bright bold colour to turn it into a gorgeous statement piece.

Now, making a large room look cosy is all about décor and visual tricks you can use to create an illusion of a smaller, more intimate space. Walls can be painted in darker, deeper, and bolder colours as they absorb light and make a room look warmer and smaller. Wallpaper is also a great option for this space – something edgy and different (check out Design Kist or Cara Saven). OR, if your husband is feeling especially industrious, he can design something himself that can easily be converted into wallpaper.

Another aspect to consider is furniture. “Whaaat, furniture in the bathroom?” you may ask. Yup, I guess in today’s smaller, contemporary, integrated homes it is not something that we see often. However, in big older houses it was quite a common thing (think Cape Dutch bigger and older).

An underused shelving unit or glass-front cabinet from a living room or bedroom can find new purpose in a bathroom. Stack folded towels and linen along the shelves and display decorative accessories & books. Another cool piece is one of those tiered ladder shelf units (I know @Home has some: here).Otherwise, you can add a funky chair or a sleek little bench seat to the area next to the basin. Include a round side table between the bench seat and the toilet – stack it with books or comics for some good on-the-loo reads.

Last thing, instead of using the traditional (and oudoos) bathroom mat set – you know, the small mat in front of the toilet and another in front of the basin – buy a gorgeous big rug to ‘ground’, balance and add warmth to your space. Your bathroom is the perfect size to accommodate a bigger rug and since no bathing or showering is involved you won’t have to worry about water damage. The Kilim type rugs are super trendy right know.

Below find some inspirational image I sourced from around the net. They are in various interior styles but the principles are sound – you can just ‘translate’ it into your preferred style…

Hope this put you on the right path to an awesome guest bathroom! Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Love, Rose  x x x

Click on the images below to be redirected to the relevant image sources:

                 

Ask Décor Diva: Living Room Dilemma

I just love it when our readers write us to assist with their interior décor and design dilemmas!  It gives me the opportunity of sharing my experience with them.  So, please friends and readers, if there is a question or a dilemma you have that you know you could do with some professional advise, don’t hesitate to write, no matter how simple you may think it is.  We will all benefit from it – and just to sound real cliché – never fear Décor Diva is near.

Just recently Jaajal wrote in about her living room dilemma. Jaajal writes:

I’m sure this must be a common question perhaps. But in any case here goes.  I have recently just sold an old 4 piece lounge suite, and we kept the sleeper couch (image “1”) we don’t want to rush and purchase another couch, instead we though perhaps getting 2 occasional lounge chairs would be sufficient. We bought about four scatter cushions previously (image “2”). Do you think those cushions will go with these chairs?  (image “?”) and with the sleeper couch we have.

Décor Diva says:

What I really appreciated was that Jaajal has made our response to her query easier by supplying the images.  We could see what we had to work with and where her thoughts were heading.

There are so many ways of skinning this cat, but to answer your question in sequence:

{1}  Two occasional chairs are always easier, since most folk prefer to inhabit a seat of their own, rather than sharing – given the choice.  Two occasional chairs have more flexibility in terms of moving the furniture around.

{2}  The scatter cushions work very well with your existing sofa and what I like about them is that it seems to be a textured stripe. In the future, when purchasing your scatters, try to mix it up a bit more. Instead of all 4 scatters being the same pattern, size and colours, you could mix stripe with floral or geometric patterns, or maybe even a plain fabric. The element that holds it all together would be the colours.  That is where harmonious blending comes into play.

While we are talking accessories – a full bodied textured throw to accompany the scatters on the sofa will add further depth of the décor.

{3}  The style of the occasional chairs- again the object is to find harmony in terms of the fabric finish and the style of the existing sofa. In this case you have a high back sofa, with a shallow buttoned design and 90’s style specific metal feet. The chair that you are inclined towards is quite a departure from your existing sofa, more particularly with the very dark wooden base and feet.

My personal décor style strength has always been eclectic. The fact that eclectic style is currently trending is such a pleasure for me. But there is a real knack to good eclectic styling. Ultimately it must sit comfortably in the eye of the beholder.

In your case, I would suggest a few options to work into your existing sofa and cushions:

[1] Existing Sleeper Couch…. [2] Eames Chair Replica – @Home…. [3] Additional Scatter Cushions – Loads of Living…. [4] Haldane Martin Poof – 5rooms.com

{A}  Let’s start with Mercedes class of chair – the Eames Lounge Chair, or a more affordable replica like Norman Relax Chair with Footstool in white for @Home Furniture. This is a mid-century modern classic that could work with that eclectic style I spoke of. I like it because it has the same features as your sofa – high back, shallow buttoning and metal base. It is pricey though. And if after due consideration you go for it, I would only buy one. It has a footstool that can be used for additional seating. Instead of the 2nd chair, think of adding in big leather textured ottoman like this one from 5Rooms.

{B}  Please don’t be put of by the price of a really good piece of furniture. I have always encouraged folk to have at least one really quality piece. It may mean saving towards it and having to live with delayed gratification, but that piece will be with you for life. It is certainly worth the wait.

{C}  Furthermore, I will leave you with a few images of occasional chairs that I would consider for your living room décor. In terms of the fabrics for these chairs, I would veer towards a plain textured fabric, such as linen, or textured faux leathers.

Intra Armchair from 5rooms.com
Armchair A-728 from Sevens
Retro tub chair in choc brown leather from @Home

The colours for the chairs – working in with your skin coloured suede, it would be best to look at tones of grey. Slate Grey is a nice contrasting colour. Alternatively soft dove grey or medium shade of warm browns, such as milky coffee colour.

Remember that one of the critical factors to consider when purchasing furniture pieces – ensure that it fits the size of your room. Too many times have I encountered friends, family and clients who have bought oversized furniture without taking the time to check out the dimensions and planning beforehand.

Enjoy the journey of working through your décor dilemma towards a suitable solution. I hope that the tools we have furnished here will come in handy.

As always, yours in service of interior design

Love, Rose  x x x

Ask Décor Diva: How Can I Give My Fireplace The WOW Factor?

Elizabeth recently contacted The Design Tabloid to ask our resident Décor Diva some advice…

Elizabeth asks:

I moved into a 1960 home that has a marble fire place. I will never use the fire place and I have cream colored leather furniture with lavender and pink pillows, and shams. The fire place has white marble around it. HELP I WANT IT TO BE A WOW FACTOR WHEN I WALK IN AND I LOVE BOLD COLORS!”

Décor Diva says:

It’s a little difficult to give specific suggestions without knowing exactly what your fireplace looks like or what your personal style and taste is. I will however, mention several possibilities and share a variety of awesome inspirational images I sourced around the web.

A fireplace has such wonderful attention-grabbing potential and turning a fireplace into a room feature can be quite easy with the right inspiration.

It gladdens my heart to hear that you love bold colour as I do too, and the sole act of painting a fireplace in a brave colour can immediately change it from drab to a striking feature. A bold painted wall would be a brilliant contrast to your white marble fireplace. You can also consider a daring wallpaper – geometric, floral or textured (whatever suits your style best). If you are unsatisfied with your fireplace surround and mantle you can always paint that a bold colour and leave the fireplace wall a neutral colour (there is a few nice images illustrating this below).

A fireplace wall is also an excellent space for a “gallery wall” – a grouping of photos, art and framed prints. OR maybe just one big bold statement piece – a gorgeous work of art or a big ornate mirror (if you are a lady who likes glam). I have also recently seen a gorgeous interior where the fireplace wall was hung with a collection of mirrors in various shapes and sizes – it looked seriously cool.

The fireplace mantle can be used to display your treasures – make small groupings of interesting things. Play with the scale of the objects but be careful not to overload your mantle – keep balance in mind.

Since your are not going to be lighting any fires you can use this area for additional features. Fill the space with candles or collectables. This can also be an awesome spot for some potted plants. Another option is to board the opening up – the gap can then be tiled, painted or clad in mirrors. Below is even one or two images of fireplaces converted to house books!

I hope one or more of these ideas or images have piqued your interest and served as inspiration. Take the time to source objects that speak of you and your home. Good luck with process  and have some fun!

Love, Rose  x x x

Click on the images below to be redirected to the relevant image sources: