Last week I had the privilege of a private tour of the hangar at Melbourne airport to learn more about the amazing service the Royal Flying Doctors do. I also had a peek inside one of the non-emergency aircrafts (pictured above) that is fully equipped to transport patients across our big wide land.
It was a very humbling experience to hear from various members of the RFDS about the services they provide to those in need in rural and regional areas across Australia. They not only have a fleet of 71 aircraft, they also have 124 healthcare vehicles that allow them to travel to some of the most remote parts of our country to provide much needed services such as dental care and mental health checks.
I was blown away to find that the RFDS relies solely on donations from people like us to keep them in the air. The government does not provide on-going, consistent financial support. Some of the planes in their fleet cost as much as $13 million and cost $300,000 to keep them flying each year.
Listening to the flight nurse’s stories about some of the people they’ve helped was absolutely incredible, from helping transport stroke patients back to their home towns through to helping mum’s of premie babies get medical attention in capital cities and more. It goes to show how much we take medical care in the city for granted and just how difficult it can be for someone in a remote part of our big brown land to get proper medical assistance. Not to mention the much needed mental health support the RFDS provides to our farmers in times of hardship like the recent drought.
This week is the campaign, an annual fundraiser aimed at getting people to donate $20 to the RFDS. (Fun fact: John Flynn, founder of RFDS is commemorated on our $20 note.).
If you can spare a $20 this week, why not head to to donate and help buy medical equipment, replace nose wheels on a plane or provide dental screening for someone in need.
When I wrote HOME I dedicated the book to clients, past and present. When it came time to write the dedication (above) for Keeping House, there was no questions that it would be for my mum. She’s been a big part of how and why I ended up in interiors and even though she’s a nurse by trade she’s got a serious knack for decorating and crafted many beautiful homes for us during my childhood. We lived in Asia for a few years in primary school and high school and both of the houses we lived in in Tokyo and Hong Kong were carefully thought out and beautifully decorated.
This Mother’s Day also happens to be my Dad’s birthday so it’s going to be a busy weekend showing the parents with lots of love and attention!
If you haven’t sorted a present for Mum for Mother’s Day just yet, jump over here and grab a copy of Keeping House for Mum. It comes gift wrapped and with a little card so all you have to do is write in the card and give it to Mum! Easy!
We’ve sold through the first print run of Keeping House so I actually only have a very limited number of books so be quick because I do expect to sell out of them this week. Yikes!
P.S. You can also head to your local Kmart, Target, Myer or Dymocks to grab a copy too.
I threw a little party for friends and family to celebrate the launch of Keeping House in March but I wanted to do a public event for it too. So I’m THRILLED to announce the Keeping House Book Night at Caroma on Collins in Alexandria on Thursday 9th May. The Caroma Showroom is one of the most gorgeous showrooms in the country so I’m pretty chuffed they’ve opened the doors and let me take over for the night!
Join me for a live Q&A on stage answering all your burning decorating questions and renovation queries. PLUS every one gets to take home a signed copy of Keeping House. Just in time for Mother’s Day too! What a win!
Kicking off at 6pm we invite you to stroll through the and mingle with guests before sitting down to hear from 4freebies.info about her journey to becoming an interior decorator, her favourite projects, and insights into how her second book Keeping House came about.
We invite all audience members to ask any decorating questions they may be pondering. The more engagement the better! You don’t want to listen to me chatter to myself the whole night now do you?!
*All ticket prices include a copy of Keeping House. Additional copies will be available for purchase on the night too.
DATE: Thursday 9th May
TIME: 6pm – 8pm
LOCATION: 39 Collins Street, Alexandria
(Parking available at the Alexandria Homemaker Centre on O’Riordan Street.
Looking forward to meeting you there!
If you’ve ever spent any time looking at my Instagram feed you’ll know I’m a huge sucker for a floral display at home. There’s something about fresh flowers in the home that make you smile and I usually have a bunch or ten around the house at all times. A few years ago I came across the girls at who run a floral delivery service for Sydney and Melbourne. Basically, every week you can have a box of flowers delivered to your house and you can style them up however which way you like. It’s a genius concept and this week I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with them to make my very own Bloombox!! You can order your own box of EB approved blooms .
I asked head flower lady Philomena at Bloombox to answer a few questions so you can get to know them a bit better!
- What does ‘home’ mean to you?
To me, home is an extension of myself (and my partner!). Years of life and adventure have meant we’ve collected lots of things that we love, and the memories that go with them. Art, trinkets, sentimental bits and bobs. Home is where I feel the most myself, and like a full human being – surrounded by things that make me feel creative, comforted and inspired.
- What are the key elements to putting a floral bouquet together? Is there a formula?
I don’t believe in rules when it comes to flowers. But there is a tried and tested formula that works well as a guide:
- Have a great base of greenery that would look just as good on its own. It’s the foundation on which you can build everything else.
- Include some sort of “heroine” flower. Big, showy or bright. It’s something your eye is drawn right to!
- Secondary flowers add all the personality, creating layers and textures and introducing new shades of colour
- Flair – usually the best bit. It will be the unexpected grasses, quirky stem or trailing piece of amaranthus that will make your arrangement really special.
- How do the seasons affect what Bloombox does?
The seasons drive everything we do at Bloombox Co for a few reasons. Firstly, having “in season” flowers in your home means you’ll be enjoying flowers that are literally at their best (just like enjoying late summer mangoes). Secondly it means you’re not causing flowers to be shipped out of season from the other side of the world with an enormous carbon footprint, just because you want a rose or a peony in Winter.
Finally, being in tune with the seasons keeps things fresh and exciting! Having particular blooms available only at certain times of the year means you really look forward to them. From Spring’s blossoming branches, to Winter’s paperwhites.
- What is your favourite floral season?
Like most people in the flower industry, nothing beats Spring in full swing. You know that saying “the Earth laughs in flowers”? Well she’s having a good belly clutching laughing fit in Spring, because the market is usually heaving with flowers and you’re almost guaranteed to see things you’ve not seen before.
- Which areas of your home do you always have floral arrangements?
Bit of an unusual one – the bathroom! It’s where you’re most likely to stop and have a moment just for yourself, whether you’re getting ready for the day, or just having a pit stop and getting a quick hit of beauty. It’s a lovely touch for when you have guests too.
- If you were a flower which one would you be?
Phylica, one of my favourite native flowers. While I can’t say I’m that perfect shade of chartreuse, I am certainly big haired and fluffy and happy to back up other blooms, while having my own thing going on.
- Explain the concept of Bloombox further? What exactly is it?
Bloombox Co is a flower subscription service. Similar to how you might get a magazine subscription, you receive regular deliveries of in-season flowers at your door. With each delivery you receive a selection of loose and unarranged blooms to brighten up your home, as well as a video styling suggestion each week, if you need inspiration.
It’s an easy way to add life and colour to your home with gorgeous fresh flowers that are new every time! And because we’re passionate about sustainability, we work to a zero waste model and deliver only amazing Australian grown blooms – it’s something we care about a lot.
- It’s coming into the cooler months, can you still have pretty flowers in your home in Winter time?!
Believe it or not, Winter is one of our favourite times for flowers! It’s actually when Australian native flowers are at their best. So we wholeheartedly embrace the other worldly shapes, textures and tones that Aussie natives have on show at this time of the year. Not to mention their amazing fragrance.
The lack of softer petalled blooms means that it’s the ideal time to embrace other exciting botanicals, like showcasing dramatic foliage or the dried stems that are so on trend right now.
Order your Bloombox !
May madness is my motto this month! It’s kicking off with EIGHT, I repeat, EIGHT events in the first week of May which I am bursting with excitement about. Some of them are corporate events but most are available to the public so I’ve listed the details below because I’d LOVE for you to attend and come and say hello!
ISCD Connect Day
Tuesday 7th May 3-7pm
The International School of Colour & Design are hosting a for students and alumni to provide opportunity to establish relationships with key industry partners and brands. With an industry that is reliant upon building connections, this event will provide a series of inspirational design talks, live panel Q&A with leading interior designers and product displays. Held at the beautiful Caroma Showroom on Collins Street in Alexandria.
This event is a great opportunity to gain expert knowledge from “those in the know” providing attendees with the latest design forecasts, career advice, product knowledge and more. I’m speaking about DEISGN TRENDS for 2019 and then joining a careers panel discussion with my friend James Treble later in the day where we will be discussing all the nitty gritty about starting out in the interiors industry.
Tickets cost $45. Buy yours .
Share The Dignity Panel Talk
Wednesday 8th May 6.30-8.30pm
Join me at the HQ in Randwick where I’ll be sitting on a fabulous panel of business women all in the name of charity. We’ll be discussing a huge range of topics with plenty of Q&A time.
Delicious grazing plates, champagne & wine are included in your tickets too! There will be photo walls, donuts and so many chances to meet some new women who are in the same boat as you just wanting to get out more and make new friends.
Proceeds go to a wonderful charity for homeless women called so it’s mingling with a great social conscious. Buy your ticket .
KEEPING HOUSE BOOK NIGHT
Thursday 9th May – 6pm
Join me for a live Q&A answering all your burning decorating questions, renovation queries AND you get your own signed copy of Keeping House to take home at the end.
Kicking off at 6pm we invite you to stroll through the in Alexandria (yes, I’ll be there twice in one week!) and mingle with guests before sitting down to hear from about my journey to becoming an interior decorator, my favourite projects, and insights into how my second book Keeping House came about. We invite all audience members to ask any decorating questions they may be pondering or chat with me after the event!
Tickets cost $30 and include a signed copy of Keeping House (RRP $30). Purchase your ticket . Caroma Showroom, 39 Collins Street, Alexandria.
Business Chicks 9 To Thrive
Friday 10th May – 8-5pm
Business Chicks is hosting their annual flagship event ‘9 to Thrive Summit’ at ICC in Sydney this May. The 9 to Thrive summit is a day full of international speakers, networking opportunities, and provides access to experts from successful companies you want to learn and draw inspiration from.
The 9 to Thrive Summit is not only for those that own their own business, but also for those who are keen to expand their networks and equip themselves with the knowledge and empowerment to take charge of their career destiny. I am exhibiting and selling copies of Keeping House & Home in time for Mother’s Day. Come along and listen to some AMAZING speakers and grab some goodies for mum (or yourself!).
With international speakers such as Miranda Kerr, Ita Buttrose and Emma Issacs information stalls with fellow business chicks such as myself, it is an event that you won’t want to miss… did I mention that there is free coffee ALL day?
Buy your ticket .
I’m working on the details of some other events throughout May so keep checking this page for event updates.
if you have any questions about any of the events listed above shoot me an email – [email protected]
Can’t wait to meet you!
Over the past few months I’ve been working quietly behind the scenes on a little charity makeover with my lovely friends at
Afsoon from Rug Culture and I were first introduced to the Child Protection Unit (CPU) at the Children’s Hospital in Randwick in September last year. I naively never really knew that such a place even existed. I now know that it is a vital care facility providing 24-hour crisis counselling and medical services for children and young people who have experienced sexual assault, physical abuse, or emotional abuse and neglect.
The existing furniture was tired, old and stained from years of use and the overall feeling in the unit was a little glum because of it. So we opened up our s book and reached out to some friends and acquaintances to call in favours and makeover the space. We know that ultimately this makeover doesn’t change anything about the circumstances in which the children find themselves in but our hope is that the CPU is a safe, comfortable and secure space for them to meet with their counsellors and help them in their journey through.
With the help of some very generous donations we were able to replace the sofa, add rugs to each room, update the cushions on the sofas, add some nice diffusers to each of the rooms, replace the side tables and coffee tables and add some beautiful quotes to the wall and an amazing world map. I think it came up looking a treat!
While we were installing we had a number of the social workers pop their heads in and rave about how much better it looked. When we had finished for the day one of the social workers came in and burst into tears because she couldn’t believe how much difference we had made. We have since heard that one of the adolescents who came in later that night for a consultation said that the room felt much more comfortable and nice and bright now. So I think it’s safe to say, mission accomplished.
We would like to thank the following businesses for their kind support:
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Keeping House has exploded its way onto bookshelves across the country! It’s now available in the following stores:
KEEPING HOUSE IN THE MEDIA
I’ve also had a number of interviews and features pop up in the media since the launch. Take a look below!
My lovely friend Jen from published this review of Keeping House last week where I share a bit more about why I wrote the book. Click to read.
The team from came to my house to film a couple of videos. The first released is a look at how to hang artwork in a rental home without ruining your chances of getting your bond back. Take a peek inside my home .
And for my secret tips on pulling a lounge room look together check out the blog.
You can purchase a signed copy of Keeping House here.
Today I’m interviewing one of the lovely students who participated in my 2018 mentor program. I think the biggest thing a lot of my students take away from the program is the accountability factor, so many of us work alone and can easily waste time thinking no one is going to check up on us if we don’t do the work. The mentor program is an opportunity to actually devote time to working ON the business not IN the business. When you’re starting out it’s the perfect time to get all your admin ducks in a row so that when the clients come knocking you’re 100% prepared behind the scenes to start working with them and not worry about your website or service offering letting you down.
Sharon Flynn from took part in the mentor program last year so I asked her a few questions about her experience….
When did you start your business and what do you specialise in?
I am only just starting now and in the process of having my website done. I want to specialise in whole house design projects or room by room. I would prefer long term projects but will take on any clients and their needs to get started. I have had a lot of experience in window and soft furnishings and can easily apply that to my new projects.
What were the top three things you struggled with the most when you started the business?
- Actually taking the plunge and organising my website.
- Telling everyone what I am doing.
- Pricing but have learnt to do this now.
Being a solo business owner did you find it difficult not having someone to turn to to work things out?
I think having the Facebook group is helping a lot with having people to bounce ideas off.
You participated in my mentor program in 2018, what were some of the best takeaways from the program for you?
Learning the process of creating a real business as well as the ongoing support with the group and the possibly of future workshops to meet other designers and network in person with like minded people.
Why would you recommend the mentor program to other designers?
I think most people would just muddle through and think they can do it themselves. I think it also makes you take action instead of sitting back and just thinking about it because you have someone to be accountable to and can’t make up excuses for not doing the work.
Why do you believe in investing in furthering your education?
We always need to keep learning and growing. Just because we have done a course, degree or certificate doesn’t make us experienced designers. The design world is ever changing and we need to keep up with current and upcoming trends as well as creating our own special niche.
What’s on the horizon for your business this year?
My website, setting up my home office and earning an income from my new business.
Do you think the mentor program helped prep you to go out and achieve some of the goals you’ve set for 2019?
Absolutely. At first it was a little daunting but after a couple of weeks I could see things starting to happen. The ongoing support is very important and being accountable to the process.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I see myself having a great time in my business and actually doing something I truly love and enjoy. Oh and making lots of money would be nice.
If you have any questions about how the mentor program can help grow your business in the right direction email me on [email protected] and we can line up a 10 min obligation free chat.
You can enrol in the mentor program here, enrolments close off 6th March.
I grew up in a home that was carefully and lovingly created by my mum (and occasionally Dad had a few ideas that weren’t half bad either)… We travelled internationally a bit with Dad’s work when my two younger brothers and I were in school which meant we watched our parents set up multiple houses from absolute scratch in each country. It was pretty tedious being dragged through a Japanese Ikea aged 10 for hours on end while Mum and Dad bought pretty much the entire store (we literally moved with just clothes, toys and some essentials so we needed everything from saucepans and cutlery through to coat hangers and doormats…) It mustn’t have done too much damage though since I’ve now crafted a career out of setting people’s houses up from scratch every day of the week.
At the time I definitely didn’t appreciate the effort and love mum put into making the houses inviting and welcoming spaces. Mum has a knack for finding pretty trinkets that when grouped together (on coffee tables, console tables etc) end up telling a nice little story. Each time we moved back to Sydney Mum would incorporate all the things we’d collected on our travels that meant something to us at home.
Somewhere during my career, I realised how our homes are such a reflection of who we are and what we want out of life but so many people make excuses about why they can’t have a nice place to retreat to every day. I get that what I do for a living is not saving lives or curing cancer but I like to think that on some level, what I’m doing helps make people’s spaces more meaningful to them and gives them a sense of belonging. lists “shelter, safety and security” on the pyramid of basic human needs so why can’t our shelter’s be pretty?!
Many of us see homemaking as something we will do “one day”, when we stop renting, when we move in with a significant other, when we move out of our parent’s place, when we win the lotto or when the kids stop flinging food around the lounge room. Keeping House is here to challenge that, I wrote the book to show you how to start making the most of what you’ve got right now. I share tips on how to style and maintain every room in the house to achieve a meaningful home and how to decorate and connect with your guests while hosting beautiful events. And no, you don’t need a million dollar budget to achieve it. It’s about finding creative ways to inject some love into your home!
Just like it says on the back…. Keeping House is your guide to creating the life you want in the space that you have, no matter where that may be.
The feedback I’ve received on the book so far has been nothing short of amazing. I did wonder if anyone would care to read ANOTHER 208 pages about decorating but apparently I’ve done a great job and created a helpful resource to create a space for sanctuary and celebration. (See what I did there, worked in the books subtitle…. Clever, I know ;))
You can pre-order your copy of Keeping House here for $29.99.
I’m THRILLED to announce that pre-orders for Keeping House are officially open!
We filmed this cute little video to show you more about what the book is about. For a little peek inside the book, watch the video below! It was such fun to create!
from on .
If you’d like to get your hands on one of the very first copies of Keeping House jump on over to this page to lock in your order. All copies purchased will come signed and if you’d like a personal note added to yours just pop it in at the checkout.
Last time we sold out within two weeks and had to wait 6 weeks for more stock to arrive so if you want one I’d suggest you run, don’t walk!
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks, you are all aware that the harassment to start purchasing my second book Keeping House is upon us. I started writing Keeping House just over a year ago, and now we’re weeks away from seeing it on bookshelves across the country (then a few months later, across the world!).
When my publisher asked me to come up with a concept for book number two, I thought I had a clear idea of what I wanted to write. I sat down one afternoon and wrote out a brief synopsis and had a crack at writing a rough table of contents. After a few hours of playing around with the concept I looked down at what I’d been scribbling out and realised I didn’t love it, I didn’t feel passionate about writing what I’d been brainstorming. Writing most books takes a significant amount of time and patience so you really do have to be passionate about what you’re writing because if you’re not, you’ll hate the entire process. I knew looking at what I’d written, it would be a tough five months to write something I wasn’t in love with.
Whenever I’m not totally feeling it, I change my scenery, go for a walk or talk out my ideas. This happens every now and then when I’m coming up with a new scheme or concept for a residential decorating client project and sometimes the ideas just don’t come that easily as others. I put my runners on and headed out the door. I rang my mum and told her I wasn’t loving the concept I’d come up with and could she listen to me talk through my ideas and give me some feedback. I spent the next 45 minutes walking around the Sydney harbour foreshore on the phone to mum and by the time I got back home I’d completely changed the direction of the book. What was funny was, a few weeks after Home came out in 2016 I actually sat down and hand wrote about 8 pages of notes and had forgotten that I’d written those notes out. When I got back home from my walk I dug the notes out and realised that was exactly the book I needed to write – a meaningful, resource guide for the younger generation to set up their first home from scratch, showing them what makes a house a home and with a focus on entertaining at home without annoying the neighbours (and getting your bond back!).
As soon as I’d worked out the concept, I got the table of contents down and then over the course of the next five months, I dropped content into each section until it felt like it was finished. I’m never given a word count, I’m free to write as much as I like until I feel like I have completely exhausted the topic.. I wrote just over 30,000 words which ended up as 208 pages of pretty content that all you lovely humans will get to pour over in a few weeks.
I have a lot of people ask why it takes so long to produce a book. It’s not a process that can be rushed, once I write the manuscript it then goes to an editor to read and make any suggestions in terms of content placement and tweaking and changing certain areas of the book. Once that process is finalised the illustrations need to be drawn. There’s a fair bit of back and forth on that process to ensure the content works with the illustrations on each page. This time around we used illustrator Juliet Sulejamni of to draw all the cute pics inside the book. Juliet is known for illustrating a very cute character called “Girl” which features across her Instagram feed heavily and the Hardie Grant team came up with the idea of having Juliet draw me and my dog Alfie to show someone really using the spaces I’d been writing about. Do you think I did a mega happy dance when reading that I’d become a cartoon character. You betcha!
After the illustrations are finalised, the cover gets designed (and changed a couple of times before it’s signed off on by everyone). I’m so lucky that the teams I had for both books just totally “got” what I was trying to achieve with both books and knew what the book needed to look like. Every time I got an email from the Hardie Grant team I’d pretty much squeal with excitement at the illustrations or cover mock ups I’d been sent.
Then it goes to print and we make a marketing plan of attack behind the scenes before it’s rolled out officially through bookstores across Australia.
My hopes for Keeping House is for it to be a book every young person is given upon moving out and they take it with them through their lives helping them set up a home and plan all sorts of celebrations and parties in their happy spaces. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients to make their houses feel like homes and seeing how much difference a thoughtfully decorated space makes to that person’s life (without having to spend a fortune) is the reason I do what I do. Writing a book about what that looks and feels like allows me to share more of what I’ve learnt in my career and while setting up my own homes, on a larger scale.
Now, pretty please go and buy a copy so I can spread my love of creating a cosy home all over the world! I do a happy dance every time one gets sold (true story).
Pricing your passion can be scary, whether you’re just starting out or re-working your current pricing structure. It’s something every designer will struggle with at many stages during their career. You start to feel comfortable with one price level and then realise you need to shift into the next gear when your workload is unmanageable or you just aren’t paying the bills. You’re not alone but it can be lonely trying to work it out. Which is why I have created a list of the four biggest pricing mistakes I see made too often.
Mistake #1 Failing to Communicate Your Value
Your client wants to know what makes you unique. What can you offer them that other designers can’t? By focusing on the skills that you do have, you will be able to communicate your value to the client more effectively. This understanding makes it a whole lot easier to outline your pricing as you have already established the value your services offer. A few ways you might be able to add value is through giving your clients access to exclusive trade prices or your black book of trusted trades.
Mistake #2 Lacking Confidence
Interior design may be your passion but are you confident in your pricing? Many designers are unsure about pricing their ability, and it shows! When communicating with client’s your confidence levels are noticeable. If you’re confident in your services and pricing your client will share the same sense of security. Practice saying your prices out loud in front of the mirror or at the dinner table with your partner or family. Eventually it’ll become second nature and won’t be such a trigger for you.
Mistake #3 Understanding The Industry
Just like you have your finger on the pulse for the latest design trends, it’s important that you regularly research your industry. Gain perspective on your pricing by research what your competitors charge for their services and see where you’re comfortable sitting in the market.
Mistake #4 Not Being Mindful of Time
Time is a sneaky thing and when you’re working with clients you’ll be surprised how many hours you’ll spend driving to consults, in meetings and sourcing the best possible items for your clients. It’s essential that you cover your costs and be mindful of the time you’re spending.