It’s been a while since I’ve written a long newsy blog post but it’s been for good reason, I’ve been busy writing something else… My very first decorating book!
We are a little while off pre-selling this bad boy (official release date is 1st March!) but I wanted to share the story of how this whole book came about before I start pressuring you all to buy it 😉
This is hands down the longest, largest project I’ve ever worked on. It has been full of highs as well as some significant and trying lows. This all started back in 2014 but I hardly told a soul… Looking back now I realise that’s because the first book publishing opportunity ended on a bad note and clearly I had some sort of gut instinct telling me this or I would have been shouting it from the rooftops…
Never in a million years did I expect to be the author of a decorating book by the age of 30. In fact, when I first spoke to a publisher about writing a book I even said “I always dreamed of writing a book one day” and literally meant 10 years from now! I guess the universe had other plans for me and brought that goal forward significantly. I won’t bore you with the details of the first year of the book journey because it was a long and difficult process that resulted in exiting from the contract and starting from scratch with a new publisher. Everything happens for a reason though and thanks to a number of lovely people in the industry I landed a publishing deal with in February 2016.
How Did This Come About?
My vision for the book was for it to be a timeless classic full of decorating advice that follows a formula anyone can follow and something you could refer to for years and still be inspired by. This meant I wasn’t going to use photography. I’m an avid reader and have the largest collection of decorating books you could ever come across but one thing that bothers me is that some of my favourite books while the content is relevant and useful, the imagery is dated and uninspiring after a couple of years. So if I wasn’t using photography, how would I still have an engaging and useful interiors book…?
Illustrations tell such a different story to photography. They are evocative, expressive and not to mention, gorgeous to look at. My aim for the book is to spark creativity for the reader and inspire them to start a decorating project and watch their style evolve. I was worried that photography would mean readers would get caught up looking at the images and trying to find the exact same lamp/sofa/cushion for their own homes rather than using it as an opportunity to develop their skills. Illustrations allow for interpretation and they are also a timeless visual. Umm hello look at the cover, it’s beeeeautiful! (Biased much?!)
I had already started working on the book without giving much thought to who would actually illustrate the book… Luckily during a decorating workshop I was running in Roma QLD I got chatting to , who was helping out in the store during the workshop. I mentioned my book project to her and she casually mentioned she can illustrate. One thing led to another and before we knew it we were mapping out every single illustration in the book against my content plan. Maddison is based in Queensland so we worked a lot via email and hours and hours of phone calls pus a couple of flights up to see her work in the flesh to get the illustrations just right. Maddison took my vision and ran with it. Very rarely did we have to make any changes.
What’s Inside The Book?
The whole framework for the book was based around the 5 elements of decorating I teach at the decorating workshops I’ve been running for a number of years now. It was relatively easy to come up with the table of contents based on the workshops and then I expanded on each topic from there. The book starts off detailing the 5 elements of decorating and then moves room by room through the home showing you exactly how to apply the elements to each room yourself.
I will be sharing some photos of the inside of the book in the weeks leading up to the launch on March 1st so check back soon for a behind the scenes sneak peek.
Was it difficult writing a book?
I never thought I was much of a writer. I wrote countless essays at university but always left it to the last minute and took full advantage of the +/- 10% word count rule (hint, I was always in the minus 10%!). Yet writing the content for this book was not a difficult task. I certainly had moments of procrastinating but overall I quite enjoyed writing all 30,000 words. I think when you’re writing about a topic you are passionate about it comes easily. I will admit proof reading my work was a real struggle. I much preferred writing than re-reading so I enlisted the help of my very patient and clever mother who read the manuscript at least three times in full marking up her changes and advice as she read before I submitted it to the publishers. (Don’t worry, I thanked her in the book so she knows how grateful I am!)
Yes the book has my name on it but it took more than just me to get this book on shelves! Obviously the book wouldn’t be anything without the help of Maddison Rogers and her illustrative skills. There were a number of other special people who helped keep me focused and motivated to get it written and I have thanked them profusely in person and in the book.
Having now gone through the publishing process with two different publishers I can’t speak highly enough of the team at Hardie Grant. It’s a difficult thing handing over your manuscript and illustrations and entrusting your vision to come to life with a team you hardly know but the team I worked with understood what I wanted the book to be and brought it to life 100 times better than I could ever have envisaged. So many of my friends who have seen the front cover can’t believe how much it epitomises my entire being: my design aesthetic, my portfolio of work, my personal style and every photo I post on .
You’ve probably lost interest in the story now so I’ll wrap it up for now. A lot of people find the book publishing process fascinating (I certainly did) so I will share more soon.. I’ve been busy working on a super cute video to show you more of the book as well as a range of products with and . I won’t spoil the surprise yet but they are looking very very lovely so stay tuned!
If you’ve scrolled straight to the bottom, the book is released to all good book stores on 1st March. It will be available for pre-sale via this link very soon. You can enter your email address to be notified the second we are pre-selling!
Freelance Interior Stylist at 4freebies.info – Sydney
We’re looking to expand our team with the upcoming release of Emma’s first decorating book due to hit shelves in March 2017. Emma will be shifting her focus to the book launch for the first half of 2017 so we are in need of an interior stylist to meet face to face with our clients and work directly with them to deliver above and beyond their expectations. You will work directly with Emma as well as our Assistant Stylist. Emma will oversee all decorating work and Holly will manage all client orders and invoicing so you can focus on the fun part – decorating!
This is a very rare opportunity and a great role for an experience interior stylist looking to pick up some additional hours each week.
Interior Stylist Job Description
Our ideal candidate will have at least 2 years experience in the industry, a solid understanding of the wholesale interior design supplier s, run their own business or a freelance stylist/decorator with own ABN. You will be independent, organised and ambitious as you will be running all projects from start to finish from initial consultations with clients, choosing furniture and decor and overseeing client relations throughout the decorating project.
You will have:
- Own ABN + Professional Indemnity Insurance – essential
- Own car + valid drivers licence – essential
- Modern, fresh and family focused eye for decorating
- Ideally qualified in interior decorating/styling/staging or similar – ideal but not necessary
- Reliable, well presented and personable with clients
- Independent and confident working on their own
- Intermediate computer literacy – specifically Microsoft Office programs + Photoshop (desired)
- Experience in the industry and proof of previous work is absolutely essential.
- Approximately 10-15 hours per week – will fluctuate throughout the year.
- Can work your own hours during the week so would suit someone part-time employed or looking for additional hours per week.
- Must be flexible with time and availability
- Job start – early-mid Feb
- Must be located in Sydney – ideally within 20km radius of Sydney CBD. Majority of work will be North Shore, Northern Beaches and Inner West.
Shortlisted candidates will be ed for a phone interview.
Please submit resume along with any portfolio images to .
A year after launching online eCourses, I’m excited to announce we are bringing the school to life at the beautiful showroom in Moorabbin, Melbourne on Friday 18th November.
Look your home is an exciting yet often daunting task. Simply moving into a new home is stressful enough, let alone thinking about how to decorate a brand new space. Whatever your decorating concerns the workshop will be beneficial for all stages of the decorating process. I’ve been teaching decorating workshops across Australia for a number of years now but haven’t made it to Melbourne yet so come and join me for a fun filled two hours to learn exactly how to turn your house into a home.
I will show you how to effortlessly put a look together, how to identify your style, teach you some general decorating 101 tips and tricks. You’ll walk away from the workshop with a mood board specifically created for a room in your home that you’d love to spruce up. And a head full of inspiration and ideas that can be put into action. All materials for the workshop are provided. Please feel free to bring along any photos of your home or floor plans to discuss your specific decorating concerns with me. PLACES ARE LIMITED (so that I am able to spend as much one-on-one time with each of you as possible).
Tickets cost $99 and include a welcome drink and yummy canapés as well as a $50 in-store voucher to use on the day (hello early Christmas present to yourself!)
Friday the 18th November
Location: 253 Wickham Rd, Moorabbin, VIC
I’m just back from a whirlwind trip to Melbourne where I styled up a storm at the brand spanking new showroom which officially opens to the public on Monday 18th July. United Interiors (formerly United Artworks) hasn’t had a physical presence until now so if you’ve been lusting after a piece of their gorgeous hand painted canvases you can pop into their Moorabin store and check it out in the flesh for yourself. I’ve got my eye on quite a few pieces now I’ve spent a day playing with them.
As well as artworks, you’ll also find some beautiful rugs from my lovely friend , a framed print range from The Block stars and a stunning range of homewares from . All of these collaborations worked so well together as I wandered around picking and choosing my props for each photo.
Photographer: Ren Pidgeon
I’m getting set to pack my bags and head on up to in for some brand new workshops – just outside of Lismore for those who aren’t familiar with the area. Don’t worry, I’m not packing my bags to hit up the pokies at Star City Casino 😉
I’ll be there for a few days (Thursday 23-Saturday 25th June) running various workshops from Look 101 classes to Vignette Styling Workshops where I’ll spill the secrets on how I set up cute little displays for photoshoots and how you can replicate them in your own home with your own pieces (like the one pictured above). I strongly encourage you to bring along a couple of your favourite pieces from home too so I can help you arrange them together beautifully.
I’ll also be in store for one-on-one consultations where we can plan your space, write up a to-do list to get your home reno or decorating plans back on track or we can walk the Oaten’s store and pick out some pieces to refresh your decor. If you’d prefer I come to you that’s fine too, I’m booking a couple of in-home consultations too.
Vignette Styling Workshop
Thursday 26th May
Friday 27th May
Class costs $39 per person.
Look 101 Workshop
Saturday 28th May
Class costs $149
Includes tea and treats.
As a solo business owner, I rely on a handful of other people and businesses to help me create beautiful homes for my clients. (Did I just shatter the perception that I CAN do it ALL?!). In my line of work there is never really such a thing as a decorating emergency because you can usually find a temporary solution to fix a problem (eg. using camping chairs as a sofa until the sofa arrives…) but I don’t possess every skill necessary to run a decorating business and that’s when I whip out my phone and scroll through my speed dials in order to find the right person to help me out. Often it might be a last minute request to style a catalogue or style a house for photoshoot and find a photographer – I might only have 2 or 3 days to call in products (or sometimes I will have less than 24 hours…!) So as you can see I need to have a number of people on speed dial to call up and ask for favours!
So, who do I have on speed dial to help me out?
- – I seem to have a knack for forgetting to get flyers printed up before I jet off to my decorating workshops, thankfully Cassie’s always at the ready to save the day and get something designed and sent to me in time.
- – 99% of the photos in my portfolio have been shot by Lisa. She’s one of the best in the business and she’s hilarious to hang out with too.
- – If I’m ever in need of some rugs (um, hello ) art for a photoshoot these guys are my first port of call and somehow wave their magic wands super fast to get me my art requests on time.
- – When a client’s home is finally finished off I send a little bunch of flowers to make the room that tiny bit sweeter! These guys deliver a gorgeous little posy of flowers to a huge range of suburbs across Sydney for just $30.
- – These literally are the perfect gift for the person who has everything (and a hint to anyone reading this who thinks I’m hard to buy for, I would very happily accept one of these!).
- – My go to fabric house, Warwick have great sofa fabric options and some really cool patterned fabrics for custom cushions and curtains. They send out up to 6 samples too so I’m always
harassingemailing them to send my clients fabric samples.
- – When I’m hunting for beautiful cushions to adorn a client’s sofa this is where I head first. The Sparkk cushions are excellent quality, and come with the option to buy feather or poly inserts (always go feather!!). Oh and if you want custom wallpaper, these are the guys for you too.
I’m a book junkie. If you let me loose in a book store I’ll walk out basically needing a trolley to cope with the purchases I make.
I’m a firm believer that education doesn’t end at school (or University) and that we should all continue to read as many books to educate ourselves as possible. I usually jump between reading business books to decorating books. Recently, during the last round of ‘s Plan-Decorate-Live eCourse some of the students asked me for some decorating book suggestions. So here’s my list of favourites!
My Favourite Books
- – this book is not only gorgeous to look at (the cover is so pretty!) but the content is also fab. It’s top of my list for a reason.
- – if you’re into reupholstering furniture or you want to invest in something you can one day hand down to a family member this book covers all the great pieces we should own in a lifetime.
- – another one from Deborah Needleman, she used to run Domino magazine in the US, this lady knows her stuff about decorating.
- – Anna, a brisbane based decorator is one of my favourite decorators, her work is all about mixing patterns and colours and this is just a giant book full of inspiration.
- – I’ve followed Erin’s blog for years so when she wrote a decorating book I was ordering it online asap. Erin’s based in Canada so it’s always interesting to see how decorators around the world approach the decorating process. She’s also super hilarious.
- – Lauren’s a decorator based in Virginia and her whole philosophy is bringing the outdoors in. Her botanical fabric range springs up in all of her work, the book is an extension of her blog and full of drool worthy rooms.
- – another blogger turned author, Emily’s DIY projects, decorating advice and receipes all make for one super stylish little book.
- – girl crush alert, I LOVE Emily Henderson. Her style is a little more eclectic than mine but I just love her look and her approach to decorating. Highly recommend this one if you enjoy creating styled vignettes around your home.
What are you reading and loving right now? I’m always on the look out for new reading material!
Towards the end of last year (where I work part-time as a buyer and stylist) set out to find the ugliest bedroom in this country and give it the makeover of a lifetime. As part of the judging panel, I got to see them all and let me tell you, it shocks me to know how many hideous bedrooms there are in Australia!! But not everyone could win and we settled on this charming little number (hello floral explosion!! Ahh my eyes!)
After we’d picked the winner (not a title I’d be wanting…!), I set about picking new carpet, ridding the walls of the hideous wallpaper and painting the walls a nice warm grey to work with the new carpet.
Makeover Furniture + Decor
From there I started selecting all new furniture, soft furnishings and decor from The Home . It was quite a large room so we needed a fair bit to fill up the space. I ended up going with a nice tall bed head rather than trying to hang art above the bed. The funny angles of the ceiling meant I was limited with my choices for hanging art so the bed head is the feature here instead. I also opted for a gorgeous navy quilt cover by Florence Broadhurst, such a classic design and you can never go wrong with navy can you! I opted for silver bedside lamps with some aqua tones through them, the bird on the lamps compliments the rug. Yes, there’s a lot of pattern happening in this room but if you look more closely you’ll see that the reason it works is because I have used a mix of small prints (bed) with larger prints (rug). If I’d chosen a smaller print on the rug, there would be waaaay too much happening in the room.
Judith, the winner was SO pleased with the final result. I was on site all day with The Home team and we managed to make sure she didn’t get a peek at what we were up to so when it came time to reveal the final look, seeing her face beam with excitement was such a great feeling!
One of the biggest lessons I took away from this makeover was just how many people struggle with their bedrooms but in reality they are actually one of the easiest rooms in the house to decorate as you only really need a couple of items to complete the room. The biggest challenges are choosing colours and patterns to go together. If you start with choosing a colour palette like I did in navy, turquoise and sandy beige, you just need to layer different items together until you’re happy with the final result. In this case the bed head was chosen early on as was the doona cover. The scatter cushions and lamps were chosen last once the biggest most dominant items had been picked.
If you had a fairy godmother stylist come into your home, which room would you want her help with first?
All supplier details listed below.
Paint: Twisted Rope –
Carpet: Premier Soft in Sugar Cookie –
All furniture and homewares:
The world of interior decorating has this air of mystery about it. Think about American movies and their portrayal of a decorator, usually it’s a huge mansion and a disgustingly wealthy family hiring a decorator to transform their entire home… Well, I’m going to shatter that reality by telling you that hiring a decorator is actually a very different experience to how you see it in the movies. The whole reason I started this business was to make interior decorating more accessible to everyday homeowners and renters across Australia. I don’t swan in with a team of people (a la ), it’s just me and we walk through your house and chat about all things decorating. Some of my clients have even turned into friends, and that’s always a lovely bonus for me!
So what should you be paying to hire a decorator?
Well, you’ll need to start off with an initial consultation where you each get to know each other and decipher your style and tastes. Plus your decorator will need to see each room of the house you want help with (and some of the other rooms too, to give them a better idea of how you live and what you do and don’t like). Typically you should expect to pay anywhere between $200-$300 for the initial consultation (My initial consults are $245). If your decorator is offering free initial consultations, I’d be pretty wary of this, they need to be valuing their time in order for you to feel like you are getting great, quality service and advice.
Once you’ve had the initial consultation, you will usually receive a scope of work from your decorator outlining how many hours are required to complete the design concepts (aka, pretty furniture to make your house happy). Decorators bill for their design work a bit differently to the initial consultations, some bill you by square meterage for the area they are working on, others have a flat rate fee, but most (me included) will bill hourly. I always quote up front so my client’s never receive any nasty surprises and we’re both on the same page. If you’re worried about how many hours your project is going to take, most decorators can give you a rough price outline to help you budget. Expect to pay between $100-$200 per hour for this. If you have existing furniture in your rooms and only need a few bits and pieces here and there then your decorator will only need a couple of hours to complete this. If you need an entire home from scratch, you’ll probably be looking at about 20+ hours.
The design concepts your decorator provides you with should include a mood board (design concept board), a floor plan layout and a design action plan to show you how the whole process is going to be executed. You’re paying for the decorators time to create these magical documents for you. The decorator has spent countless hours crafting and honing their skills in order to do this for you in the time that they are charging so you’re getting all that expertise rolled into one price.
After some back and forth on the initial concepts, you and your decorator can get to work purchasing and delivering products. I can’t speak for all decorators, but I will always pass on a trade discount on products where I can to all my clients. So you can expect to pay about 30% less than recommended retail price. So that means your decorator’s fees are negated if you’re saving huge chunks of money on products.
Bringing It All Together
Once your products have started to arrive and your home is looking a lot happier, you can hire your decorator to come back and do a stylist once over. When I do this for clients, I swan in with my team (jokes….), I come in with my photographer and get to work pulling furniture around the room, hanging art and arranging the bits and pieces to coordinate and bring it all together. I also use this as an opportunity to take photos of the project for my portfolio. And I always leave your home looking spotless! The stylist once over should cost you around $75-$100 per hour and should only take 2-3 hours depending on how big your house is. Oh and I ALWAYS bring fresh flowers to add that lovely fresh finishing touch.
Hiring A Decorator…….
- Saves you time…..and money – outsourcing to someone who already knows where to shop and what the products look like means you don’t have to spend countless weekends at the Supa Centa trying to figure out what lamp shade works with your lounge rom.
- Saves your marriage/relationship….. – don’t tell me you’ve never fought with your partner about sofa fabric choices, paint colours or how many cushions should be allowed on the bed. Having a professional guide you with your decorating choices can save a lot of deliberation time (code for arguing about kitchen tiles).
- Gives you access to quality trades – decorators usually have a whole list of trades they can recommend for jobs you don’t have time to research and hire for.
- Gives you access to quality products – that you wouldn’t ordinarily have access too as decorators work with a lot of furniture wholesalers who won’t deal with the general public.
- Gives you a finished product you’ll absolutely love – my job at the end of the day is to create a beautiful, real and functional home for you and your family so that walking in the door each day makes you smile.
If you’d like to chat about my decorating services shoot me an email with your decorating problems!
It’s been a hectic week of styling, prop sourcing, buying flowers, creating beautiful bouquets and sitting in hours of crappy traffic (thanks Sydney) so I’m ready for the weekend well and truly! Here’s a little wrap up of some of the things I got up to this week..
Flower Market Visit
I usually try to visit the flower markets the day before a big styling event, trying to do it the morning of an event is just way too stressful! I always love a visit to the , it’s an early start (we’re talking pre-dawn) but always so worth it when you look around and you’re surrounded by the most stunning blooms. Here’s a guide I wrote a while ago about visiting the flower markets.
This visit I collected a few hundred dollars worth of flowers and set off on my merry way to start creating some gorgeous things for Wednesday’s wedding styling.
Intimate Wedding Table
This gorgeous wedding was only big enough for one table but that didn’t mean we needed to skimp on the styling of the Private Dining Room at . My trusty flower buddy Dorina and I worked til late Tuesday night to create these beautiful bouquets of flowers. The photos don’t do them justice! Apparently the bride burst into tears as soon as she walked into room because she loved the flowers so much (or at least that’s why I’m hoping there were tears!).
Decor Mood Board
The other task I’ve been working on this week is this gorgeous Decor mood board for a client’s yet to be born baby girl. I’m so in love with this concept board, I think I could just change the cot to a Queen size bed and move right on into this scheme! Styling nurseries and kid’s rooms are some of my favourites!
If you’d like help creating a design concept for a nursery or kid’s room flick me an email to see how I can help you source some beautiful goodies like these.
How Does This Whole Look Business Work?!
Usually when I start working with a new client, they haven’t ever worked with a decorator before. It’s not really a service you need all the time so it’s understandable that you wouldn’t really know exactly what to expect. It can be a lengthy process if you have a lot of rooms that need to be fully furnished, or it can be a quick job to find you some new artworks.. I thought it might help to break down the process here on the blog to give you a better idea of how involved the actual process is. The process works very similarly for Decor too but we just skip the initial consultation and final styling and do this via email or Skype.
Step 1: 1 Hour Consultation
Step 2: Design Plan
After meeting with you, I write up a quote for how long I think the process will take to source products and any other services we discussed in the initial meeting. Once I have full sign off from you I get to work sourcing furniture, homewares, art, textiles, wallpapers etc. we discussed to finish off your room and present this to you in the form of a PDF document with a design brief telling you exactly how the process will be implemented.
Step 3: Design Process
Once you’ve approved which pieces you’d like to go ahead with, I start ordering the furniture and decor and arrange delivery so your rooms can start taking shape! If some of the products are available from retailers then you can go out and purchase those pieces in your own time and start collating all the goodies!
Step 4: Styling
I style the room with the new furniture and decor pieces and add the finishing touches to complete the room(s).
Of course, each project is tailored to you and your home so we don’t always follow this process exactly but it gives you a good understanding of how it all comes together and what you can expect from our first meeting.
if you’d like to book in for a consult they are obligation free so if you decide not to go ahead that’s totally fine, the process isn’t one you get locked into so you can opt for as much or as little as you like.
It’s confession time, I’m not perfect. (Gasp!). There, I’ve said it.
When I was first starting out as a decorator/stylist I made plenty of decorating mistakes on install day and they’ve all been lessons to serve me well in the long run. I was lucky early in my career as a property stylist as we had a warehouse full of furniture and decor to choose from so if I got to a job and realised I’d selected a sofa that was too big to fit down the hallway to the lounge room it wasn’t the end of the world as we could get another one sent over from the warehouse. However, as a decorator it’s a bit more complicated if a sofa doesn’t fit into a client’s house and they’ve already paid for it then it’s an expensive problem to solve (or we just chop the sofa in half…kidding!). Let these mistakes be a lesson to those of you attempting a decorating project!
Common decorating mistakes
- Furniture measurements – when I first started in the decorating industry (fresh out of Uni with zero experience), I had no idea about scale and size. A little trick I use often is marking out the furniture I’m considering for a client’s home in masking tape or newspaper to give my client’s a sense of how much space the furniture is actually going to take up. How we picture it in our minds can be very different to how it looks in real life, you don’t want to be dodging a massive sofa in your living room forever.
- Hanging art too high – don’t make the same decorating mistakes I did with hanging art….The average eye level is 150cm from the ground up, this is where you should be centring your artwork on your walls. Before I knew this trick, I’d go around blindly hanging art where I thought worked but sometimes my eye was off and it wasn’t quite right.
- Pancake flat scatter cushions – invest in good quality feather inserts for your scatter cushions. Polyester filled inserts will flatten down within a couple of weeks of stuffing your new cushion covers they aren’t anywhere near as comfy to snuggle into. Feather inserts make your cushions look better and are mould to your body when you lean back into them after a long day at work!
- Lighting – I find my client’s also overlook this element too sometimes but when I was starting out I would be visiting the house during the day so thinking about lighting at night wasn’t something that registered with me. Now I know to ask client’s how they use the room at different hours of the day to ensure the lighting is sufficient.
- Paint colours are never the same on the wall – ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS paint a sample of the wall colours you’re considering on the wall before committing. They are never the same as the paint colour card and you’ll be disappointed with the result if you haven’t seen test patches in various areas of the room.
I hope you take away the lessons I’ve learnt over the years and avoid making any expensive decorating mistakes of your own!
If you keep making decorating mistakes and can’t handle the thought of making any more, shoot me an email to see how I can help you 🙂