Buffet revamp

As with all reno's there are so many important decisions to be made. Do we knock through this wall? Is that window placement going to guarantee the maximum amount of passive cooling? Do we need to build in more storage space? What size tile do we go with? is that paint a shade too dark? And the list goes on... and on...

One of the most enjoyable decisions for me during our great rolling reno has been deciding on the furniture - what do we buy new, what do we give away, and what do we keep? The buying new is easy (because that's what I do!) and the purging of pieces that are neither functional or joyful is not hard either. However, what do you do when a solid piece has sentimental value, but just doesn't work in with your new interior? Perhaps a mini-make over is worth considering...

Below is a buffet I brought back with me from overseas. It has sentimental value, but the oppressive dark stain looked severely out of place next to our other light wood pieces, and the exposed grilled cabinet below was a dust magnet ensuring nothing really could be stored in there.

 Dark and lacking maximum function, a mini-makeover was due.

Dark and lacking maximum function, a mini-makeover was due.

After careful consideration I decided that my buffet was worth the attempt to save, so I got stuck into the surface with my belt sander, my detail sander, and a fair amount of elbow grease. Stripping back the dark stain, the true hues of the wood were exposed in all their glorious tones. From blonde strips, to mid-tones, to dark ripples - it was like wiping away years of grime and discovering a true gem underneath. 

 By stripping back the dark stain and exposing it's true colours, my buffet has taken on a new lease of life.

By stripping back the dark stain and exposing it's true colours, my buffet has taken on a new lease of life.

After sealing the wood, my lovely partner and I attached lightweight perspex sheets to the inside of the grilled panels to keep the dust at bay, and installed glass shelves on either side of the storage cavities to maximise function; when we finally put it in position, my buffet will proudly display my collection of vintage glassware - I might even look at installing a couple of LED lights to make the glass sparkle.

So, the next time you're faced with the dilemma of keeping a sentimental piece that is totally at odds with the style of your space, try looking beyond the surface. With a bit of creative thinking and hands on effort, you may be able to turn that tarnished lump into a sparkling gem ;)

Painted Stairs

When I was a teenager I damaged the cartilage in both my knees. which basically means I don't think I'll ever be able to live in a house with stairs. This makes me very sad. Very sad....

I actually really like stairs - there's something quite ordered and linear about them, yet they come with an air of excitement... Yep, I know I'm sounding all kinds of crazy, but have you ever made the step by step climb with an anticipation of what the reveal will be like when you reach the top? Sometimes getting a gradual reveal of a space, as you inch your way up the stairs is pretty special.

Stairs should be like a feature wall - there are so many way to be creative and make a lasting impression. One way is to actually focus on either the riser (vertical) or the tread (horizontal) sections of the stairs, transforming the bland into a vibrant hero space with the humble (and relatively inexpensive) paint, wallpaper or feature tile. I've just started a Pinterest board with a few inspiring pics and am now on the search for more - my knees may not be happy, but my creative heart sighs a happy sigh :) 


How to tackle THAT problem room - PART 3

So, how’s the Moodboard looking? Are you getting a clearer idea of what your space will look and feel like? Hopefully you are nodding enthusiastically, and not crying under your doona somewhere… The final post in this 3 part series deals with two super important topics - layout and layering. I use the term super important here because I think you could be stylonista royalty with a kick arse colour palette, but if your layout sucks, then I’m sorry but so will the feel and functionality of your space. Epic fail…

Now, every space you tackle as a designer/decorator is different but here are a couple of straight forward basic tips that can help you nail a fabulous FLOW. Firstly, don’t ever block windows or doorways with furniture. Ever. I get that you love that fabulous french provincial armoire that blocks half of your bedroom’s only window but seriously, love it somewhere else in your home. Not only is it blocking natural light and possibly dominating the space for all the wrong reasons - it’s messing big time with your FLOW. Secondly, think about the scale of what you’re putting in the space. You may love sprawling out on that humungeous puffy monster of a sofa that fills up your entire Lounge Room but if you want to reclaim the FLOW there are comfortable sofa’s and occasional chairs out there that are half the size, will still fit all the family, and will make your room feel twice as big. Thirdly, try to keep your walkways and room entrances free of impeding furniture - if you can, position your larger pieces so they don’t obstruct the FLOW into, and around, the room. For instance, that super long and practical office desk that runs along one wall and encroaches on the doorway entrance, it’s not flow friendly - subconsciously, it doesn’t encourage you to enter the space and that’s a bad aura to take into a work zone... Either shift it to another wall or - if there’s no sentimental value - whack it on ebay or gumtree and put the money you make selling it towards a new space savvy and entrance encouraging version. Now there are heaps of other layout tips depending on what the space is used for (which is another series altogether) but ultimately the best thing to do is to think about how the room is balanced, and you’ll know when a space is balanced - it gives you the warm and fuzzies because it is FUNCTIONAL and it FLOWS.

Ok, so on paper you’re nearly there - your fabulous design style has evolved in leaps and bounds since the first post on Monday, and you have a balanced layout which is functional and FLOWS. Now comes the layering… I tend to think of layering like this - if the furniture is the bones of the room, then the layering is the muscle. Good layering packs a punch! (cheesy much?) By layering I’m referring to the decorator pieces, the homewares, and art work that completes a room. You would be amazed by how one cushion placed on a sofa can pull all the elements of the room together. So, how do you totally nail layering? Well, to start with, refer back to what inspires you from Monday’s post. If you’ve done your homework (which I’m sure you have...) you’ll have certain pieces - photo’s, art pieces, cherished mementos - that will take pride of place in your revamped space. From there you can look at cushions, rugs, art works, window furnishings, lamps, and other decorator items you may want to purchase. Don’t be fazed here - as long as you have (1) your Moodboard that has defined your design style and colour palette, and (2) your room layout, then you’ll have the confidence to go forth and shop or scavenge - or both!

Have a bit of fun when layering - because most items at this stage cost significantly less than your big ticket items, you can probably swap them around or replace them if you feel like it in a couple of seasons, without having to take a second mortgage on the house. Here's a final tip - when you’ve finished your layering efforts then step back and take a good look around, then go make yourself a beverage of choice, then come back into the space with a fresh perspective. The first decorator item that visually jars you and looks out of place, remove it. In other words - Coco Chanel it, peeps…

Good luck with tackling that problem room, and I’d love to hear how your brave venture proceeds. You can drop me a comment on Facebook (Rubykite Interiors) or tag me on Instagram (@rubykiteinteriors), or just leave me a comment below.

Remember, you are a work in progress, and so is your design style. It’s all yours, so embrace it, run with it, and have some fun with it :)

All pics are referenced from my Images I like :) Ideabook on the Houzz website :)

How to tackle THAT problem room - PART 2

So you’ve done your homework and have WRITTEN DOWN why you’re making the changes, what’s positive about the space, and what inspires you. This next step is where you safely get to unleash the creative beast inside - compiling the Moodboard, your blue print for design success. Whether it’s a folder, cork board, or a bunch of images in an electronic file on your computer or mobile device, the function of the mood board is the same. In short, it’s an inspiration portal.

Every Moodboard is unique and there is no right or wrong way to pull it all together, however here are a couple of tips that might help you with the process.

So, what inspires you? This is probably the best place to start - refer back to your homework and reread your list. Family, friends, experiences, places - what pieces, photos, articles do you have that represent these personal inspirations? How can they be incorporated into your space triggering warm memories and positive emotions? You don’t have to go into sensory overload and cram the room full of visual references, just pick a couple that make you shine inside. I found an old vintage chair, buried in a second hand store, that reminds me of one my Nanna used to have in her lounge room. I restored it and reupholstered it and it now sits happily in my lounge room. I love this chair not only because I revived it with my own two hands, but also because it reminds me of her, and this makes me smile. Pick a few select pieces that have a deeper meaning to you. Take some pics of your ‘inspiration pieces’ and ADD THEM TO YOUR MOODBOARD.

“But wait -” I hear you cry, “ - I have a collection of old glass bottles and a beautiful Danish sideboard and gorgeous Kilm rug that I bought on my travels, all of which make me blissfully happy, but I want a black and white minimalist style interior!” Hmmm...do you really? By all means, collect images of styles you like and ADD THEM TO YOUR MOODBOARD, but more specifically, work out what it is about the style you like. I adore Art Deco interiors - I love the feel, the precision, the overt splendor and extravagance of this decorating style - but it’s not an interior style that I would choose to live in. However, my vintage chair has a fabulous deco inspired printed cushion on it that’s a subtle salute to the design style I love - the detailed and intricate pattern works beautifully with the simple lines of the chair and the tonal palette of the room. My advice here is this - before you immerse yourself in a design style that you are totally infatuated with, think about how you would feel if you were surrounded by it every day. Would being immersed in the crisp, clinical lines of the black and white minimalist style make you happy every day? Or after a while would you miss the colours of your Kilm rug, which you lugged out of that bustling market place in that little town with the unreal cliff-top bar where you first met your now loving partner? Take the stylistic elements you like and rework them - if you like the crisp lines of contemporary styling (hence the Danish sideboard) but you are also subconsciously drawn to colour and texture (hence the glass bottle collection and your rug) shake it up a bit. Take what you like about a particular design styles and use them to define your own style.

The next thing to think about is your colour palette... Have you ever stood in front of one of those huge colour blocked paint sample walls at the hardware store and felt like you were drowning in a surreal vortex of rainbow overload? Don’t despair - believe it or not, colour is your friend. So, how do you choose a colour that is right for your space? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say - trust your gut instinct. It’s not a very designer thing to advise but here’s the rough - we all have different reactions to colour. You are far better off choosing a colour which invokes a positive response than just going with the current trend pattern of the season which you are ambivalent about, or even worse, uncomfortable in. Are you drawn to green? Then take the plunge and grab some samples from the scary colour wall and leave them lying on your kitchen bench. Glance at them every now and then over then next couple of days and you’ll eventually whittle down the number to a final few which keep evoking the warm and fuzzies. Then, buy some test pots, paint a few A4 pages and blue tack them to the walls of your problem child room. During the course of the day you’ll see these colours change - sometimes dramatically - and you’ll be drawn to the ones that sit well in the space. This process goes for neutrals and vibrant colours alike… When the epiphany happens (cue the angels singing and beams of light descending from the heavens) grab these colour samples and ADD THEM TO YOUR MOODBOARD.

So, you have your key inspiration pieces, you are on your way to defining your design style, you’ve found the colour palette that makes you warm and fuzzy. From here you can start making informed design choices about additional pieces you may need to purchase, revamp or upcycle. You are SO on your way to reclaiming that happy space!

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up the series by offering some tips about room layouts and layering, but for now - how about starting your very own one stop inspiration portal today. Do you have a key piece, a couple of design styles, or a warm and fuzzy colour palette you’re drawn to? ADD IT TO YOUR MOODBOARD!

All pics are referenced from my what design style are you? Ideabook on the Houzz website :)

How to tackle THAT problem room - PART 1

This week I’m mixing things up a bit - instead of the usual interview, mood board and colour board I’m doing a three part series on how to tackle that problem room. You don’t have to spend the equivalent of a small country’s GDP to get results that you love - it just takes a few deep breaths and a bit of planning...and some homework!

There are three things I think about when redesigning a space and the first of them is, why are you making the changes?  Sound like a no brainer? I can hear you mutter, “Der - because the palette sucks/the room gets no natural light/the layout is all wrong/the space is just not functional" - please insert whatever issues are driving you bonkers about the space. Better still - WRITE THEM DOWN and refer to them periodically throughout the redesign/redecorating process. You’d be surprised at how many people start out with a concern (e.g. the room is small and lacking natural light) and end up getting waylaid when bombarded with choices (e.g. should I go for the black leather modular sofa on sale? Er, no...). Have a clear vision of why you need to make the changes, and when in doubt always consult the bullets points which you WROTE DOWN (because you followed my fabulous advice) at the start of your journey.

Second thing to think about is what are the positives of the space?  You’re possibly already driven to distraction over the negatives, but stop and turn it around for a minute - what is actually good about the room? What works? Is the wood floor a warming feature? Or a bay window framing a gorgeous view of the outside world? Does the room get the afternoon sun? Or maybe the room is big with great mini-zoning potential? It’s a fresh way to look at the space and it actually starts you on the journey to feeling good - like all is not lost. Take a deep breath, shake all the negatives out and look at the room with fresh eyes - or even ask a friend or family member what they think is a positive - and then WRITE THEM DOWN. When it comes time, you can capitalize on these positives during the redesigning process -  and remember, these are positives are already insitu and they're free!

The last thing to think about is what inspires you?  This will ultimately determine the style of  your space. Now, when I say style I don’t only mean the categorized version of style; for instance, whether you are coastal, contemporary, vintage, eclectic, rustic, cottage, eastern inspired,  french provincial, art deco - and the list goes on, and on… What I mean by style here is a very personal thing. It’s a personal journey you make to reach a point where you feel content in your surrounds - when you feel, at home! It’s unique, because you are. The people you know and love, the places you’ve seen and experienced, the events that have shaped your life - all the things that inspire you to think happy, content thoughts - WRITE THEM DOWN. Do you see the pattern here? You’ll draw on these inspirations when time comes to tackle your mood board, but that’s tomorrow’s post...

Ok, so I’ve given you some things to think about - to be specific, three things. Tomorrow I’m going to give you a few pointers on throwing together a mood board but for now, you have some homework! Get a beverage of your choice, pull up a chair in your problem child of a space and write down some bullet points to the above questions. I’d love to hear how you go - you can send me a comment on Facebook, tag me on Instagram, or just leave me a comment below. So until tomorrow - happy home-working!

All pics are referenced from my what design style are you? Ideabook on the Houzz website :)