Friday, July 25, 2014

Our first European design and install

A lovely long-term client has just sent us a few photos of the apartment we were working in for her last year in Nice, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France.

We are so pleased with the result and to finally see it open to the public for short-term rental. It is what I would call a typical French pied-à-terre apartment (a small temporary home away from home).

The client brief was to totally refurbish a small 19th century studio apartment in Nice via long distance, selecting all building finishes, designing all built-in cabinetry for the kitchen, laundry, storage, and new bathroom.

The small open plan living space had to accommodate the following: built in kitchen with under bench fridge, dishwasher, oven, cooktop, and a concealed laundry (including washing machine and dryer). Storage for kitchen tableware, linen press, a cleaning cupboard, and a pantry also had to be included in the small space. Fitting all these elements into a small space without making it look crowded was a huge task.  

The tiny bathroom had to be gutted and refitted in a space no wider than 90cm. I must say this was a challenge to plan the space and source just the right items that would logistically work, fit French building codes, suit the client's taste, and suit the potential future short-term holiday rental market.

The apartment also needed painting, new timber floors throughout, and new cornices and architectural detailing to match the style of the building. The client had English and French builders on the the ground in Nice for us to work with via phone, email, Skype, and text. The biggest challenge however was meeting local building codes and selecting French appliances and European finishes from Australia.

We had to source several pieces for the apartment including a dining table and four chairs to fit the small space, a three seat sofa the client had spotted in a local Nice boutique, a coffee table, side tables, and overhead and side table lighting.

Another challenge was fitting a queen size bed and storage into the small pied-à-terre. We made a bedroom nook by adding a dividing wall between the kitchen and new bathroom.

We rose to the challenge and it is truly amazing what you can do in the world today from a distance if you do your research and communicate well with people. Nothing is impossible. I must admit that google translate came in very handy when reading French language websites and the build and install went very very smoothly with limited hurdles. We are thrilled with the result and so is the client. Feedback from customers renting the apartment has also been positive with many promising to rebook for future holidays.

I'm looking forward to doing more offshore work with all the exciting and rewarding challenges that it brings,

warm regards,

Friday, July 11, 2014

An India Hicks inspired room in classic Black & White

I'm constantly inspired by people and places around me. A project or room I'm working on could be influenced by anything from a palm tree on a trip to Bali to reclaimed industrial timber topped stools from France. To be inspired you just have to keep your eyes and your mind open.

In this week's post I am showing you one of the story boards I am doing for a current client. The client's house is very contemporary and most of the rooms we have worked on, or are in the process of doing, are in a contemporary Scandinavian style. For two of the guest bedrooms rooms I wanted to do something different and decided to make these two spaces more of a traditional/modern mix in style and a slight escape in style from the rest of the house without feeling alien. They wanted the rooms to have their own 'handwriting', and to be a place guests could feel was their own. 

The room below was inspired by travel to South East Asia, design diva India Hicks, and a modern version of colonial tropical style - a style I feel works so well in Brisbane.

A quick overview of the space not shown in images:
  • Walls painted in crisp white with 10% hint of dove grey: the ceiling and all trims painted crisp white as a subtle contrast.
  • Floors carpeted in mid-tone grey graphic square pattern loop and cut plush pile (existing)
  • A series of twelve 19th century English black and white lithograph prints of wild animals from Africa and the Orient. All double mounted and in simple square white frames. These I will cluster on one wall to read as a whole story of images.
  • A velvet cotton upholstered bed head with two larger prints in a similar style above it.
  • A large white basket weave rattan and timber mirror placed on the wall above the commode/ chest of drawers.
  • A black bamboo corner chair upholstered in canary yellow cotton canvas with white piping.
  • All bed dressing finished in white with black contrasting black cross grain trim to the pillow slips and two 50x 50cm cushions in the same yellow as the bamboo accent chair however the piping will be black.
I hope my client and their future guests love the final result and their time staying in this room.

Have a great weekend,
Warm regards 


Friday, July 4, 2014

What makes a living room work for Winter

We all love an inviting living room: a place to relax, entertain, read, or even sometimes take a nap. So what makes a living room work, especially in the cooler months when we are inside and really want to enjoy our living spaces?

Here are my 5 rules on making a living room really sing and be the centre of true living in your home.

1. A focal or axis point.
This centres the room and gives you a place to furnish around, and then to live and entertain from. Fire places or bookcases are prime examples of focal points in rooms, as you can see in the photos below. They really centre the space and give it life. Another option if you don't have or can't build a fireplace or book case would be to use a console unit or sideboard with a very large mirror, selection of art, or a single art piece above. This would be centred on the wall and act as the focal point of the room.

2. Rugs on timber or tiled floors (sometimes also on carpet). 
Make them large as in the photos above and below. There is nothing worse than what I call a "bath mat" size rug in a room. A large even inexpensive sisal rug pulls furniture together in a space and anchors furniture to the floor in a group. They give the room warmth and help centre the space. Also in large rooms rugs help to divide the space into different zones.

3. Lighting.
Lighting is one of the single most important design decisions in a room and so under used. Firstly, use good subtle overhead lighting, even better if it is recessed or hidden. This MUST be on a dimmer to use for different tasks like reading or as soft back ground light for entertaining. Accent lighting (e.g. spot lights, table lamps, standing lamps or even wall sconces) give a room its mood and stop it from looking flat and like an operating room. These also focus light for reading and other activities. 

My number one light no go is using overhead fluorescent lighting unless it is in an office. Again it makes the room feel like a operating theatre or at worst a morgue. 

4. Collected objects, art, and decent sized coffee tables.
Collected objects give a room personality even in the most minimalist room. These items are your personal history and a story of your life and they make a room your own. But remember to edit your collections otherwise it can just look like clutter. Art in a living room is so important, a room without art is like a library without books. It gives the room life, and adds layers of softness and personality. 

Remember not to be afraid to use one or two really big pieces in a room and if using smaller pieces try to group them together in organised clusters. Nothing looks more uninviting than a small print, photo, or painting on a huge wall (it's like a pimple on your arse, no one wants to look at it).

Lastly choose the largest coffee table your room can take, using the general guide of leaving 50 to 60cm all around the table near sofas for traffic flow. 

5. Mix up your furniture styles. 
There is nothing more boring than furniture suites that all match. Mix antique and modern, but take care when choosing the scale as too many different styles and scales can make a room look disconnected and busy, the exact opposite of what you want in a relaxing living room. Even two different sofas in a room together can look amazing. The only rule is they must be in the same scale to work and be cohesive. 

Using different styles of furniture can be fun and not as intimidating as you think. Another key trick is to have different style chairs or sofas and copy the same or similar tone fabric in both so there is a link between the two. See the photo above where this is done so well. Though one chair or sofa should be the hero and be the dominant strong colour or pattern as the leather chair in the photo above.

Plan your living room with these things in mind and I promise you it will be a room you love for a lifetime and one you want to spend more time in, on more than just the cold days in winter.

Have a great week,
Warm regards,

Photos via 
Natalie Hager, 
Bunny Williams, 
Garrison Hullinger, 
Thomas O'Brien,
Victoria Hagen,

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back to Blogging

It's been a long time between posts over here on the blog. It's so easy to get distracted by instagram and other less wordy social media platforms, but it's time to get back to regular blogging as well. This blog is such a great place to talk about interior trends and inspiration, and share more photos of my own design work that I'm going to make a more concerted effort to post here regularly.

Looking forward to sharing more with you all here,