Friday, 24 April 2015

Another nomination - yes!

I am so honored to again be shortlisted for the Australian Interior Design Awards.  It is a huge thrill just to be mentioned amongst the best in the business, proper firms with office managers and they probably have fully stocked stationary cupboards and everything!

This project is a new terrace in Albert Park, I was lucky again to work with a wonderful client and we are all very pleased with the outcome.  I couldn't thank Andy at Studio Moore enough for the styling, as you can tell it's pretty amazing and takes the interiors to the next level.  Combined with the talents of Eve Wilson Photography, I was thrilled with the images.  Isn't the artwork from Otomys incredible!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Before and After Armchair

Who doesn't love a before and after?  Tell me, who? 

My client had these cool vintage armchairs and I instantly wanted to make sure we could use them in the concept, they were really cool.  I love the shape and the mid century vibe.  However they weren't in the best condition, and although the leather was ok, I knew they could use a bit of love and attention.  So we reupholstered them in a beautiful silver blue linen and stained the legs and ta-da... amazing!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


Sometimes I think that entry spaces are easily overlooked because they aren't a room as such and we don't really spend any time there.  But I think they are really important.  A good entry can set the style and vibe of the whole house.  So you want an entry that is organised and also looks cool.

You want somewhere that your keys belong, so you never loose them again.  Somewhere neat for shoes to be stored away.  A perch for your bag and the mail.  And also the scarf, umbrella and coat.  How about a mirror to just check yourself on the way out.  That's actually a lot of stuff to take care of.
I've been looking for some products to do all of these things in my small entry at home - it's hard! So here is a round-up of some inspiration and products.  Now which one to go for...?

Monday, 31 March 2014

Moving House and Getting Organized

This week is our last week in our little rental apartment and we are just busting to move house!  We have loved living here in South Yarra (an inner city Melbourne suburb) in fact, we've been here for over 10 years.  Time flies when you hate moving!

We love the area with EVERYTHING at our doorsteps, the cafes, shopping, Prahran Market, beautiful parks and gardens and of course all of our wonderful friends.  But the time has come to move to something slightly larger for our growing family.  We're moving only 25 mins away close to the beach, so its a sea change I suppose.  And I definitely won't miss the traffic.

After all these years of renting you can't imagine how exciting it's been to be able to renovate a place of our own.  It's nothing fancy or large, but it felt like home the moment we stepped inside.  I'll show you the before and afters when we get to the 'after' stage but for now we're in packing mode.  I just want to start fresh.  I don't want those hand-me-down furniture items you just kind of end up with.  I want everything in that house to be something I have chosen and love.  And it's time to get seriously organised.  I want to throw out that plastic laundry basket and start fresh with some clever and lovely storage and cleaning stuff.  That's the theory anyway, the bank balance might be a totally different situation!  ps. that ironing board below is over $200- not gonna happen!

Sunday, 16 March 2014


Ok, so I'm going to boast a bit here so apologies first.  But this is really exciting news for Sisalla Interior Design, I got shortlisted for the Australian Interior Design Awards in the Residential Decoration category.  I kept this under the radar even from some of my closest friends because I really didn't think I would get in, but I just secretly hoped.  Just to have my name amongst many of the practices I admire  is a bit of thrill.  I'm up there with MIM Design, Bates Smart, Arent&Pyke and SJB, proper established design practices with staff.  And then there's me.

This project has been a joy to work on from start to finish, and that is because of my wonderful client, so thank you! (you know who you are).  For me it was a dream brief, pretty much a beautiful empty house filled with nothing but a couple of mid-century style armchairs and gorgeous artwork.  I hit the ground running.  Although being shortlisted is wonderful, the ultimate job satisfaction is when the client just loves the finished outcome.  I'll post the photos soon but for now you can check them out on the Australian Interior Design Awards website.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Light It Up

I'm meeting with my electrician tomorrow to go through the lighting for our place and I'm going to practice what I preach!  But I admit that I've changed my mind about a million times and searched high and low for the 'right light fitting'.  So here is a round up of some cool light fittings I've found along the way.  Some of them I'm totally dreaming of course!
I can't help but rant on about lighting so here goes - I feel so strongly about it!  The key to creating a beautiful space that we want to spend time in is to create a textured lighting effect.  We need various different types of lighting; general, task, ambient and decorative lighting.  So here is a brief guide to how I go about it...

General lighting can be in the form of downlights but we shouldn't stop there! 
I can't stand downlights.  There, I said it.  Here's why; they cast a shadow over the face and aren't flattering at all, they light the floor (why?) whilst the ceiling is kept dark which creates a low ceiling effect.  Often I see houses where there are a flood of downlights on the ceiling in any old arrangement that the electrician felt like on the day.  I've been to some pretty amazing houses with nothing but downlights everywhere.  What is the point of creating great architecture and interiors when they are not lit and we can't see the spaces in all their glory?  It seems like the lighting is a mere afterthought, I think it's one of the most important elements.  So be sure to put them on dimmers. and then add other lighting.

We need task lighting to see what we are doing, such as lighting in the kitchen for food preparation or in the bathroom or even just floor/table lamps for reading.  Think about how to light the surfaces you will work on in the kitchen.   Concealed LED strip lights to the underside of overhead cupboards are practical and can also be ambient light when the other lights are dimmed.

Decorative lighting gives the room personality and can be in the form of wall lights or pendant lights.  They instantly indicate the style of the interior.  So selecting just the right one can be a challenge.  Plus there are just so many out there.

We need to think about what it is we want to light first and work back from there.  The layout of the lighting is as important as selecting the right fitting.  I always discuss the lighting with the lighting sales person as they are often qualified lighting designers and their advice is so valuable.

Ambient lighting is that all important final layer that lights up an area of the room creating interesting light and shadow and can be floor or table lamps and guess what, you don't need an electrician to do it!  You don't need to spend a fortune either, check out Ikea, Freedom, Exbibit, Mondo Luce and try online store onefortythree.  I haven't bought online as yet as the wiring would need changing but Urban Outfitters have some great lamps at really good prices.  So go out and load up your space with lighting!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Kitchen Trends Right Now!

Apparently this is a common dilemma for interior designers.  When it comes to our own place we're totally stumped of what to do.  All day we design for clients and look at beautiful products but when it comes to our own place, all of the options are a little overwhelming.  I just love it all.  So it took a little while to get the design started, I think it was a designers version of stage fright or writers block.

A few of my friends that are designers have suffered the exact same thing.  So to start, you just have to start, you know?  So I trawled through all of my Elle Decorations (dating back to 1999) and flipped through pintrest.  I had a stack of images, material samples, floor plan layouts and a design began to develop.

What started to evolve was three main concepts, the classic white kitchen, a dark timber kitchen and a green/ grey kitchen.  That's right, green.  Before you think that sounds gross, check out the images below - I love it.
So we got the keys to our first little place on Friday and I'm super excited tinged with a tiny bit of fear.  There's just so much to do until we can move in.  We're renovating the kitchen and bathroom which includes taking down and moving walls all within an eight week timeline.  I'm thinking we'll go with a beautiful pastel green - why not hey?  Let the fun begin!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Bring it on!

I'm still feeling slightly chuffed and a little warm and fuzzy after I met for tea with a wonderful client yesterday.  She is just so thankful and still so in love with her new living and dining room I designed for her, it is really such a great feeling!  I'm thinking it was a wonderful start to 2014, I hope more of that is to come.  Although it wasn't my dream project creatively, the fact that she loves it really is the point isn't it?  Changing lives one living room at a time!
The CAE Summer Course Guide also arrived yesterday and let's just say I've got a busy few months ahead.  Since I started teaching at CAE two years ago, I have developed a stack of new courses born out of feedback from students.  The walking tours have been a huge hit and so much fun!  I get to meet a lot of wonderful people and also see some familiar faces again which is always great.  All whilst sharing my favourite interior design showrooms and amazing spaces.  I also developed a 'How to Create an Eclectic Interior Course' which has been popular too.  And man, I could talk about eclectic interiors all day long, so that's what I pretty much do.

So I'm pretty optimistic that 2014 is going to be a pretty amazing year.  Happy New Year to you too!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

A New Perspective

When I hear the terms 'child-proof' or 'kid-friendly' with 'interior design' I am not feeling inspired.  At all.  I imagine those plastic corner things on tables, wooden barriers and it's all just terribly ugly to be honest!

Image Captions: 1. Stokke Tripp Trapp High Chair - Highly recommended, we bought ours from Gumtree and pink was all they had, honest!).  2. Pom Pom scarf from Seed used as curtain tie-backs.  3. HAY Colour Block Red Junior Bedlinen - How hilarious that our baby has HAY bedlinen too  4. Wall colour Dulux ‘Femininity’ - I think a calming colour is the way to go for babies rooms instead of active primary colours and she loves her room.  5. Stokke Xplori - After the initial heart attack when we saw the price tag we don't regret this purchase one bit, such an awesome versatile pram.  6. I can't believe our baby has over 10 pairs of shoes and not one pair was bought by us, all given as gifts and now she has a shoe fetish already!

So now with a one year old housemate living in our apartment, I am beginning to come to terms with making everything child-proof. I don't want our apartment to look like a playpen (not yet if I can help it) so it means that everything must go back in it's place.  We've had to rethink our living area which means including a dining table, new armchair and a new ottoman with storage instead of a coffee table.  This is an interior design blog, not a mummy blog however I admit that I found it difficult to find advice on what we might need with a baby in a small apartment, so here is what I've got so far*

1. Get down to their level, literally.  We're often on the floor with her and as she's crawling we notice all of the things that could be potentially dangerous, top-heavy lamps and electrical cords, etc so we've moved those things away to other rooms.

2. Watch out for sharp corners.  I cant bear the thought of those horrible plastic corners on things, so tacky!**  Our coffee table was one of the first things to go, it took up too much space and had sharp edges.  We also brought a new armchair and it is fully upholstered like it has been wrapped in a soft duvet so no protective thingys needed.

3.  Storage, storage and did I mention storage?  We already had a large Danish bookshelf which housed the tv and other stuff but I have gone through it and thrown out a lot.  Feels very cleansing!  Now we also have a little space for fairy tales and Mr. Men books.  We have also added a shoe storage unit from Ikea for the entry.  So now instead of shoes piling up near the door, they are put away out of reach from curious hands.  We've added more storage to the bathroom too.  In fact I think there won't be a wall around here that isn't covered in some sort of storage solution!

4.  Multi-functional furniture.  We replaced our coffee table with a large upholstered ottoman with a lift-off lid for storage.  So it doubles as a coffee table and also a place to put-away toys.  I searched for one I could buy with no luck, so I had one made.

Image Captions: 7. Ottoman - Custom made in Dwell 'Landsmeer' Fabric from Redelman (I'm taking orders at the moment) 8. Arflex 'Pecorelle' armchair from Poliform - I'll admit that it's probably unusual to shop for 'baby-proof' furniture at Poliform however, hear me out.  This is an investment piece that I intend to keep forever, not only it is super cool but all of the edges are totally soft.  It's also very comfortable and feels like being wrapped in a doona. 9.  Toadstool from Turner and Lane - Yet another beautiful gift from a friend so now Indie can perch herself on here like an elf.  10.  'Casper' extendable table from Freedom - easy to clean and extends, it's been perfect.
11.'Stall' shoe storage from Ikea - Such a useful piece of furniture.  We keep ours in the entry so it's prefect to pop the keys and bag on so we can always find them.

5.  Although we live in a pretty small apartment, we like to have friends over for dinner.  So we might have up to eight of us around our extended table.  I love it.  So I don't want our living room to be a playpen.  I believe that we shouldn't totally take away everything decorative, instead she will learn to be careful when looking at the special instruments passed down from the family.  There are some things that need to be treated with respect.  I guess that's the way I was brought up surrounded by antiques and I honestly can't remember breaking anything.***

6.  De-clutter.  By nature I'm a collector.  I have stuff that I have held onto since I was 4 years old.  I'm not joking.  But these are only my very special things and I've had to get rid of a lot of stuff.  In a small apartment you have to be ruthless and only keep the things you truly love.  Sometimes it means donating things to charity that people have given you but we simply don't have the space.  It's a constant battle.

7.  Toys and things.  We simply don't have the space to keep large toys so we love borrowing from the toy library, plus Indigo has grown so fast that there are already toys that she has moved on from (She's very advanced!)  We try to keep Indigo's room free from our stuff so that it's her special place.  The toy library saves landfill and is a good thing.

8.  A different attitude.  I have to relax a bit.  So what if there is a stack of dishes, and crumbs on the floor and last weeks paper sitting there that I know I'll never get around to reading.  Breathe.

*This whole thing is a big learning curve.  I'm sure I'll look back in a few years time and realise that I knew nothing!)
** I'm sure I'll change my tune after the first time she hits her head
*** My Mum might have a totally different recollection.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Blue is Trending

Another colour trend I'm noticing at the moment is blue.  Do you love it?  I never thought I'd love it as I never really been a huge fan of blue.  It has to be an intense deep blue, none of that wishy-washy cornflower blue.  Not too electric either, somewhere in between. 
 Blue leaning towards teal is also on trend at the moment, would you agree?
Recently a book was released: Indigo: The Colour That Changed The World.  I must go out and find a copy for myself as it has some beautiful images.  Coincidentally Indigo is the name of my baby girl.  Love it.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Hashtag Trending

 The other week I had a student ask me what the next trend in colour is.  Good question!  I tell my students that when it comes to colour it's subjective and go with what you love instead of following the trends.  Anyway, it's still interesting to see what is trending in the world on interiors so here is my take on answering his question...

If there is a colour that you hate at the moment, in a year or so you will love it.  Take grey walls.  If you asked me five years ago what I thought of grey walls, I would have said depressing, had 80s flashbacks and thought of grey offices filled with grey computers.  Ask me now and I'm loving grey walls.  Hypocrite. 

Grey walls are a huge trend especially with a pop of yellow.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Living in Small Spaces

We love our little apartment tucked away on the top floor of a '70s apartment block in South Yarra and if someone had of told me ten years ago that we'd still be here with a baby I would have laughed in their faces.  But here we are.  And we love it.  We love our neighbourhood, our neighbours, the many parks and gardens and the shopping nearby on Chapel Street and Malvern Road.  After all these years I think I've had to get pretty clever on how to best use the small space we have, but believe me, I've had my '' moments.

Our place is always evolving and changing, every inch counts.  I thought I'd share some tips I've learned along the way:

1. Trying to make the space feel bigger shouldn't be a priority.  If it's a small space, it will always be a small space and will never look spacious so embrace the smallness!  If your landlord is cool with it, instead of painting everything white (and bland and boring) to make it look bigger why not consider something darker and moodier.  It will give the space atmosphere and make it feel so warm and intimate.
This room in the Parisian apartment of Diane Von Furstenberg is on the verge of being a little crazy, but give me a little crazy over bland any day of the week.  It definitely makes you want to grab a stack of magazines, a coffee and snug in for the afternoon.  What a cool small space.  When I think of people in Paris living in small apartments, I feel a little better!
This apartment is painted in a dark colour and it has a load of atmosphere and a great feel.

2. Having a small space does not mean small furniture.  You would think that if we select small furniture pieces for a small room we will have more space and the room will feel bigger when in fact I've found the opposite is true.  Small furniture pieces accentuate how small the room is so try to go with the largest size practicable in the space.  For instance a tiny two seater sofa when a three seater will fit if the better way to go.  A two seater with space around it will only accentuate how small the room is however a three seater will make the room seem bigger.  Same with tables, a larger table creates a large plane in the space and not only is it more useful it makes the room seem bigger. Better still use an extendable table.  You want to create a harmonious space and lots of small pieces of furniture will chop the room up and look out of proportion.

A small rug floating around on the living room floor will make the room feel smaller (my absolute pet hate) try the largest rug you can afford and make sure it goes under the furniture.
Just because this is a small living area, doesn't mean everything inside it has to be small.  This large artwork makes a lot of impact and gives the space depth.  A sofa without arms can give you more seating too.
Actually bringing your furniture in from the walls can give the space more interest.  Having all the furniture pushed up against the walls can feel like a doctors waiting room.  Just by placing a narrow sofa table or console behind the sofa not only is a great space for lamps and to put your drinks, it creates another interesting layer to the space.

3. Create different zones.  Think about creating different zones in the space.  Different zones (created out of necessity) such as a dining area, lounge area or study area can actually make the space and make it more interesting.  When you walk in you don't just take one glance and sum the room up straight away instead there are a few different pockets of interest to see.  It's makes a much more intriguing this way.
Check out all of the different zones going on here.  Sofas for conversation, a study table, a sewing area and play space for kids.   From The Design Files
The New York apartment of Marcus Hay is small but has a lot of interesting areas.
So it's a work in progress but hopefully we can make it work...

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Pop & Pastel

Have you also noticed that pastels are trending big-time at the moment?  If not, seriously where have you been!  What started this love affair with pastels started with the discovery of Hay a few years ago.  Vogue Living ran a tiny image of their bedlinen and that was it, I was in love and had to get me some ( if you were wondering).  What makes this pastel palette work is a pop of bright to make it a little more sophisticated and less baby.  I had fun entering an instagram competition this week for Country Road and as I looked around I already had a few pieces from their latest home range.  I recently bought this dining table and of course needed new tableware, the new Country Road home range is absolutely delicious and the new store at Highpoint was so enticing, I think I was hypnotized to buy!
So here is a little snapshot of my new dining area with a few other pieces thrown in that are on the wishlist.  

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Blues

If you had of told me a few years ago that blue would be one of my favorite colours and that I would be considering painting a wall in my apartment blue, I would have definitely thought you were lying.  I've never really been a blue person, but now I love it.  Someone once told me that people that like blue have no taste, and at the time I totally agreed, ha ha.  Isn't it strange how our tastes change.  I also hated peach as my bedroom in the 80's was peach, now I love it too and see it pop up in Hay Furniture campaigns and Danish magazine spreads.  So never say never hey!  (At the moment I HATE chocolate brown, orange/red timbers, like jarrah, so lets wait and see)

Anyway, now that I love blue, I'm totally loving this new Browns Boutique store interior by Studio Toogood, especially the basement level which is dark and blue.  I always love to see the designers concept work and these totally capture the mood of the built project.  Love it.
The basement counter is a blue blob, I love the shinyness against the raw concrete, beautiful contrasts.  The basement sells evening wear and has the moody atmosphere of a club at 3am and uses rubber, mirror and blue tinted glass.  I love the basement level so much that the ground floor level, with it's bright white minimalist interior, is like popping up from the club and ducking into a 7-Eleven.  It's so glaringly bright and doesn't capture as much atmosphere than the basement.  Don't get me wrong, I love the jarring contrast between levels and whilst I still love the ground level but it's the basement where I'd want to hang out. 
Found on Dezeen and Studio Toogood


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