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}

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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.

Buying Cheap vs Buying Value

The other day while walking my dog on the local cricket field I got chatting to one of the other “dog club” members. He was a man who had been round the block a few times with regards to running and owning businesses. The talk was around his proposed new business venture, which was importing inexpensive furniture from South East Asia.

His take was that he would import inexpensive furniture in volume and sells it off to wholesalers. The price bracket that he was speaking of made me realise that the furniture could not be the best and the possibility of a very short lifespan was strong. Which just means that the home owner would have to delve into his pocket again in about two year’s time to replace the headboard or bed.

I realise that we can still expect this economic downturn to run for a good while yet and as such we are all turning our pennies over twice before spending it. Naturally we are also out to look for bargains – the less strain on our already tight purse strings the better.

However, when it comes to interiors items such as furniture, art and rugs, I cannot buy into the concept of buying cheap just for the sake of buying something you need. Truth be known it is much better to delay gratification, save the money, spend a bit extra and buy a well constructed, good quality item of furniture. The reason is obvious – it will last you longer, in fact you could pass it onto your children. A sofa that has a well constructed frame and good fabric will definitely outlast any mass produced sofa. It will possibly require re-upholstery after a few years, but that would cost you a whole lot less than a replacement sofa.

Think about it – in generations past, most furniture was solid wooden items or sofas that had spring systems. Those pieces outlasted their owners, becoming the very pieces of furniture that are now sold not as “secondhand” but as trendy “vintage” and ‘retro’ items.

The same can be said for art and rugs. Not many of us can afford to fill our homes with original pieces, but please consider buying either one splendid rug or one stunning piece of original art, to create an attractive feature in your home. It will mean that you will have to save and hence wait, but that gives you time to source exactly what you desire and visualise for that spot.

Trendsetters have actually noted that during the economic downturn, if the public are going to spend their money on luxury items, they want to buy quality that will last.

Long may it last!!!

{Image Source – read this related article}

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}

Coffee Tables: A Contemporary Take

Over the course of the past year, we have been lucky enough to be working on interior projects that have given us the opportunity of applying some trendy new industrial/rustic living décor and design elements. I have to admit that trying to source the industrial furniture elements has not always been that easy here in Cape Town. In fact, I would go so far as to say, that it is a great pity that the retail furniture outlets in town that cater for that type of style are so limited.

Thank heavens for Weylandts. Man oh man – they are a forward thinking décor company. We spent hours and hours during the course of these projects trawling their showrooms. During this time I was introduced to the concept of having multiple “side tables” (for want of a better description) of varying shapes and textured being put to use as “centre coffee tables”. Something like a round metal table mixed with a tribal wood stump table as well another smaller and taller side table. A cluster of tables so to speak.

The most appealing aspect of this styling method is the fact that it presents a less bulky and fixed look than the coffee table. And of course it is far more entertaining and playful for the eye of the beholder. Plus – the other added benefit is that these tables are more mobile – you can shift them around in that space to where they are most suited and functional.

I would encourage you to explore this concept of cluster tabling for your next coffee table purchase.  It will cost slightly more, but then it is not every day one steps out to purchase a coffee table. So make it good and make it work. Save a little longer and buy wisely. Far too often have I encountered oversized and bulky coffee tables that do nothing for the space and leave very little or no space for traffic flow around them. Far too often very little creative thought is given to this facet of home decorating – coffee tables frequently appear to be nothing more than an afterthought! And it need not be so. Using a collection of different tables gives you the opportunity to be expressive and creative. Just a by the way – although I have spoken of it in the context of the industrial and rustic styled house, this type of cluster tables is not limited to those styles and can be applied into any style.

I challenge you to get out there the next time you want to do coffee or side tabling and dare to be different. Explore the net and the retail showrooms. Research and spend some time thinking outta the box. It can really be very exciting.

Bedroom Makeover Without Breaking The Bank

Just recently I was asked for advice on how to give a bedroom a make-over without spending a fortune.

I thought to share these tips on the process with you.  Please notice that I did call it a process, because that is what design/décor is all about.  It can be a really fun and fulfilling process:

1GET THE PICTURE:  Let’s start by saying that you need to formulate a picture or image of what you want to achieve right from the start.  Spend a bit of time paging through décor mags, blogs and shops.  Let your imagination just run wild, because coming out of this first step, you will eventually get the colours, patterns and styles that settle well with you. If you are up for even more fun, then take all the images; put them together to make a mood board.  Even more fun is finding ribbons, buttons, bits and bobs that tell the story of your colours.  Mix them in with the images to give your mood board life.

2COLOUR:   Try to keep your basic colour palette of the room neutral – you will have plenty of time to throw in great big dollops of colour with the accessories. By the way- did you know that the trendsetters have indicated that WHITE IS THE NEW BLACK!!  “What!” you say – yes I have noticed it as well.  A big move to white walls and white furniture, but what makes it more appealing than before, is that into the white schemes, strong colour and texture is added.  The white is your blank canvas so to speak.

3ACCESSORIES:  Make sure that you have at least two items /accessories that are strong in texture and colour, such as scatters, wooden furniture –maybe a headboard, or wood framed easy chair, with a funky patterned scatter on it. Preferably a geometric pattern.

4BED: The Bed – needs layers of scatter cushions at the top and layers of bed throws at the foot. The mix of scatters should include different sizes; different fabrics /textures and different patterns.  It is the blend of colours that will tie them together. The Headboard – Check out the retails outlets that sell inexpensive buttoned headboards – they are still very much out there.

5GLAM:   A luxurious full length mirror or print with an ornate frame adds that decadent detail.  Definitely can have at least one seriously glam or decadent item, just for that hint of Hollywood.

6

MONEY:   Make sure that you have set yourself a budget and stick with it. This is one of the first things you should do as a budget will give you a guideline as to what you can and can’t afford. Remember to be realistic.

7GO SHOP:  Ok, now for the best part – you have the picture of what your room is going to look like, it is time to step out to source and select your wares, paint, wallpaper, fabrics etc. Take the time to shop around for the best buy – don’t settle for the first thing you see! More Fun!!

 ALWAYS HAVE FUN DOING YOUR DÉCOR.  CHEERS