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 🙂
It’s about time I shared a peek at some of the projects I’ve kicked off 2016 with… I spend so much of my week creating Decor concept boards (also known as mood boards) for clients. I do them for Sydney clients who I meet with in person as well as my Decor clients (for obvious reasons). They are a brilliant way to show a client who’s been struggling to picture the final concept coming together. It’s also a great tool for clients who are on a strict budget and need to do the decorating project in stages. This way they can purchase bits and pieces and use the concept board to keep the project on track.
Below are a few examples of client concept boards I’ve been working on this year. Hopefully I will be able to get in and photograph the homes once the furniture is all purchased and in place so I can share some finished projects.
Lounge Room Decor
This lounge room was designed for a young family in an inner city terrace house. My client wanted a classic, timeless feel for the room with not a lot of colour. I consider navy and light blue to be relatively neutral colours so it’s become a really calm and inviting space for my clients to hang out of an evening. Pretty much all of these pieces have been purchased and placed in the living space so I just need to organise my diary to pop out and photograph it properly. Can’t wait to see how it’s come together.
Lounge Room Decor
My client for the below mood board came to me after putting the buffet and coffee table from on hold for three days. She wasn’t quite sure she’d made the right decisions and wanted some advice and some assistance with finishing off the concept. I could see that the pieces had huge potential and she had a fair idea of her style so bringing this one together was relatively easy. She’s in the process of purchasing all the products once her renovations are completed so stay tuned.
Lounge Room Decor
This one has only just gone out to my client. Her apartment is very modern but her style is more classic with a Hamptons twist. The starting point for this project was the sofa, it needed to be removable and washable due to pets so we are having one custom made to suit. The TV unit is slightly higher than usual because we wanted it to feel like a piece of furniture that could be used to display other trinkets and things rather than making a big black box the feature on top. I’m loving those blue fern prints too! Can’t wait to see how this one unfolds.
Girl’s Bedroom Decor
Then there was this seriously sweet little girls bedroom for a client in rural Victoria. I can’t handle how cute this room is. I do kid’s bedrooms quite a lot and also nurseries and they are often my favourites because usually there are no decorating rules and my inner princess is allowed full indulgence 😉
I’m going to try and share more of my projects this year, I tend to only share snippets on (because I’m lazy) but I’m bringing back the blogging in a big way this year.
If you want to know more about my Decor services jump over to my services page, or shoot me an email to talk about your project. I can work with products you’ve already got as well as starting your rooms from scratch.
It’s safe to say I was more than chuffed when Houzz announced their winners earlier this month and I was one of the lucky winners for the second year in a row!
is a fab website for homeowners looking for inspiration and style guides, I’ve got on the site so jump over to check it out. NB: I cannot be held responsible for hours you waste trawling through all the pretty things on Houzz!
Caution, loads of fun ahead!
I’m thrilled to announce the first floral styling workshop for the year will be hosted by in Roma, QLD. See below for all the fun details and hope to meet some of you there!
Floral Styling Workshop:
- Friday 15th April 6 – 8.30PM OR Saturday 16th April 1.30 – 4PM
- Come along to Gifts at Teacup & view floral styling demonstrations, create your own & enjoy a few delightful treats!
- Cost: $149 (Spaces are limited to 15 / workshop)
- RSVP via phone 0746223993 or email
To all the aspiring decorators and stylists out there, I’m going to let you in on a little secret….. Photographing your work is the key to marketing yourself and your business properly. It’s something I know I need to make time for in my business even though it’s a job I don’t get paid for as it’s purely for my own portfolio.
I’ll often almost finish a project with a client but perhaps their budget won’t allow for us to finish it all at once or they pack up and sell the home before it’s truly complete so photographing every single project I do is pretty impossible. But when a project is completed I always ensure I make time to take photos of it so I can show it off to potential clients to show the variety of styles I’m capable of, get the work featured in a magazine or blog and post it up on social media to share with my followers a peek into all the hard work I’ve put in to design the space.
One job I photographed a few months ago got it’s debut on one of my favourite blogs, in the US. I’m a tiny bit obsessed with US design blogs and websites so when the lovely ladies at IBT approached me asking if I had any projects that hadn’t been seen yet I knew this apartment in Mosman would be right up their alley.
So I guess you can say, making time to photograph that job definitely paid off!
Follow the link to .
Towards the end of last year I had a call from Elicia Murray, journalist for who wanted to know all about e-decorating and how the whole process works. Considering I am designing e-decorating mood boards for clients day in day out, I know the e-decorating world back to front and forget that some people don’t really know what e-decorating means.
Elicia interviewed me and one of my e-decorating clients Colleen. Colleen came to me with her floor plans for a brand new home she was building in Melbourne. She was stumped on the furniture placement and what to buy in advance for her house so that once the builders were finished she’d be able to move right on in with her family. I put together a plan for her and as soon as the builders were finished she was able to move in with very little hassle. It’s always a bit trickier for me to design a house without seeing any photos of what it might look like but once we’d made final furniture decisions and Colleen was able to get access to the house to wander through and imagine the pieces in place and also take measurements so we could ensure the items would fit nicely.
To read more about how I work remotely with clients to help bring their home to life and to hear about Colleen’s experience with Decor jump over to .