Spring has Sprung

In the southern hemisphere, spring has sprung!

Breathe fresh air and light into your home with the joys of spring…

If the budget allows, go shopping… if not, there are easy ways to refresh and invite the outside in.

Update your cushion covers with bold or dainty floral prints; in colours from Tuscan yellows and pumpkins, to blues, greens, and blossom pinks.

Shake out that sisal rug, and allow your floorboards to shine… a sand and varnish does wonders; or arm yourself with a paint brush and transform your yellow/orange and knotty pine floorboards into a whitewash or stonewash that offers a beach scheme; or minimalist urban feel; as well as reflecting light.

Pack away the faux fur throws and velvets, and opt for Indian cottons…


Pack away the rose gold and turn out your blue and white striped Ralph Lauren style linen lampshades.

Replace the black ceramic vessels and reintroduce your granny’s heirloom blue and white china urns.

Re-arranging furniture always works a treat – trying a new configuration or orientation, will literally ‘feel’ like a new room.

This can be pushed further with buying an artwork, resulting in creating a new focal point...


Invest in new napery, a freshly ironed white cotton tablecloth and napkins, are elegant with the promise of the new.

NOTHING is prettier than a bunch of fresh flowers – gardenias have the most exquisite perfume and look beautiful within any interior…

Another option is to do a spring prune of those ever-green shrubs and place the branches in a tall glass vase…

Introduce maidenhair ferns in the bathroom; and palm fronds in an oversized worn patina clay pot, to breathe oxygen into your home.

Indoor plants calm, improve concentration, clean the toxins in the home; and promote good health.

Like your wardrobe, there’s no need to discard your winter wear, simply pack away your moody blues, and lift your spirits with the colours of spring – the ultimate in a décor spring clean.

For more inspo check out @greenhouseinteriors!

Scale and Proportion

Creating balance and harmony through understanding scale and proportion

Floorplan created using Sketchup Hub

Floorplan created using Sketchup Hub

Elevation created using Sketchup Hub

Elevation created using Sketchup Hub

Scale and proportion lend themselves to all aspects of interior design. Understanding scale and proportion help us create a balanced interior.

By definition, scale is the relationship between two or more objects. Scale refers to how an object relates to the size of the space it sits in – or in relation to you, the human form.

Scale is absolute; and it is important in making a space functional, efficient, and comfortable. This is especially important in task oriented rooms like kitchens.

For example, without the correct height of a kitchen benchtop, a kitchen would not be functional. Having stools too high for children, would not be functional. If you were designing a children’s day-care centre, you would need to take into consideration the average size of a child; and then use that to design the height and depth of the chairs for them to sit on comfortably; the height of their wash basins etc.

Image by #IDIstudent Nikki Astwood @revisededitionstyle

Image by #IDIstudent Nikki Astwood @revisededitionstyle

Render by #IDIstudent Megan Otto

Render by #IDIstudent Megan Otto

Think of 'Goldilocks and the three bears…' or ‘Alice in Wonderland’… when it comes to a lesson in scale.

For that reason, there are standardised sizes and heights of benchtops, cabinets, tables, chairs… these are scaled to fit our body height and size.

Proportion is ‘a part in comparative relation to the whole’ – a table’s height in relation to its length; a chair’s armrest width, in relation to its depth.

Proportion is more relative and comes with training the eye; and the look and feel, the designer would like to portray.  

Designers use scale and proportion interchangeably with pattern, line, shape, texture, size, and colour... it’s how these elements relate to each other, that help us as designers create a certain feel in a room; as well as creating harmony.

Whether we are doing a perspective drawing, a mood board, or floorplans; scale and proportion will help us translate our design concept with the aim of creating an aesthetically pleasing, functional, comfortable, and balanced space.

A floorplan can show the measurements of a dining room; a dining table drawn to scale to illustrate space planning; and then how the proportions of the table relate to the size and shape of the room.

Knowing the size of a space, will help you choose appropriate pieces or finishes.

Floorplan by #IDIstudent Vanessa Walker

Floorplan by #IDIstudent Vanessa Walker

Décor tips

Don’t use:

  •  a regular sized 190x230mm rug in a room that is 4x9m if you want to create a cosy atmosphere.
  •  large low-hanging pendants in a living room if you want to emphasize the outside view.
  •  a 4-seater sofa/couch in a 4x4m room if you want the kids to have space to play.
  •  a standard height kitchen bench if your client who does all the cooking, is 1.95m tall.
  •  a dining table that takes up 85% of the room and won’t allow for at least 1m for movement between the chairs and the wall.

Apart from size, colour and pattern can also affect a room’s visual proportions. By using repetition or contrast, we can create a different feel. A room with a large proportion of the furnishings being dark, and with prints big in scale, will create drama. A room with a large proportion of the furnishings being light, and with prints small in scale, will feel more demure.


  • the scale of one piece of furniture to set the scene for the other pieces around it.
  • taller and larger pieces in a room that has high ceilings.
  • furniture with a low profile – obvious horizontal lines, in a room with a low ceiling.
  • fewer patterns in a small room otherwise it will look too busy.
  • negative space (empty) space if you want to create an airy feel in a room.

Playing with scale and proportion – removing, editing, increasing, decreasing, or re-positioning furniture, lamps, pendants and art – can help alter the feel in a room; and make it more harmonious.

Once you understand scale and proportion; and feel confident, you can break the rules for décor impact.

#IDIstudent work by Stacey Seen @seenandloved

The Art of Art

Art is integral to interior design – whether it’s a sculpture in an entrance; a tapestry, hanging rug; or a painting above a sofa.

Art needn’t be expensive – it can be an etching picked up at your local antiques market; an artwork by your child; old industrial lettering; framed wallpaper; or a piece you have commissioned by an artist whose work you admire.

There’s collectable art by established artists; gallery represented artists; and well as art by emerging or lesser known artists – decorative art has its place as well.

Although I don’t recommend art that is bought to match a rug or occasional chair in colour, from the same furniture showroom; for those who are not comfortable with choosing art, a decorative piece will still create a focal point, and bring your bare walls to life.


“Art can create features within a space; complement your existing art, furniture and decorating scheme; add interest, atmosphere and individual style to your property.  Art can inspire serenity, creativity, or critical and abstract thinking.”


On a practical level, in a decorating environment – whether working on your own room, project; or for a client who doesn’t have any current pieces, and would like to be guided by you, consider the ‘look’ you’re wanting to create – a minimalist look, an eclectic look, whimsical….

However, whatever the look, still consider working with scale, proportion, positioning, and balance.

A salon hanging can be a mix of smaller artworks, from ink drawings, an oil painting, to a photograph you can ‘bring them together’ by framing them in a similar frame colour or mount; and the same distance between the works.

If your client wants a WOW room, then position is prime for the artwork to shine as the focal point. You don’t want too many pieces all vying for attention.

If decorating your own space, hang works that you love – you might have picked them up on your travels; they might tell your story; or they might appeal to a feel you want to create in your bedroom.

What height do I hang my artwork?

Many people hang too high. Hanging at the correct height makes the room feel harmonious; it links the separate pieces in the room; helping them relate to each other.

Galleries recommend hanging at eye level (based on the average eye level height of 58inch/148cm) – that is your eye in the middle of the composition. Even if hanging a salon hanging, consider it as one artwork by using your central artwork and applying the same rule as above. Then hang the rest of the pictures around that one.

If you’re daunted about deciding on a salon hanging design, create paper cut-outs, and arrange them on the floor; or tape them to the wall for a position play. 

For art in a child’s bedroom or playroom, hang the artworks lower, so that they relate to the child’s eye level.

If your works are in a room where most time is spent sitting down, you can hang the works slightly lower; so as to enjoy them while sitting down.

In a corridor, you might hang then slightly higher. To sum up, whatever the room’s purpose, keep the centre of the work at eye level.

How do I hang my artwork?

Measure the distance between the wire at full tension (B) and the top of the frame (A). See image below.

Measure the height of your frame (C) and divide the result in half.

From the floor, measure up the wall to 58"/148cm (average eye-level) and make a pencil mark.

From the mark, measure upward the distance recorded in step 2 and make a second light pencil mark (E).

From this mark, measure downward the distance recorded in step 1 (D).

Place a nail or if a heavier work or mirror, use a screw and a plug.

Read more on art via my article on Houzz.



All unlisted images sourced via Pinterest.

Making A Small Bedroom Feel Larger

Your client’s brief is to make a small bedroom appear larger…


Bring on the challenge with these tips:

Use a cool palette

Warm colours (reds, yellows, browns) make a space feel intimate as the walls advance. Cool colours push the walls back to create a more spacious feel – airy, breezy… take this into soft furnishings as well as rugs to create a harmonious scheme. (Keep in mind that not all whites create an airy feel – whites range from creamy, to stone.)

Let there be light

Apart from taking advantage of natural light, a light palette can also reflect light. You can enhance this further by using mirrors which give the illusion of a larger space.

Think of the horizontal line

Having low furniture will mean your eye can move around the room freely without interruption; opening up the room.

Beware of patterns and tones

Using very bold patterns and too many in a room, means they will all scream for attention and make the room feel busy. You could rather use plain base cloths and then an accent in a pattern. Try to stick to the same tone of timber e.g. all blonde, distressed grey, chocolate… (all cool or all warm tones); this will create repetition and rhythm.

Consider finishes

Glass, mirrored, gloss or transparent finishes will encourage the eye to look through a piece; bounce back a reflection; or enhance artificial and natural light. 

Increase negative space

Keep the corners of a room free of furniture and a small space between the furniture and the walls; and include wall hung bedsides and other furniture on legs, which will allow for air movement, visually expanding the space. 

Consider scale and quantity - smaller pieces and less pieces, will use up less space.

EmphasiZing a focal point

Highlight one feature in a room to catch the eye. It might be a large artwork above a bed (ensure the width of the painting is equal to or less than the width of the bedhead); a chandelier to lift the eyes up; or a bedroom chair in a gorgeous colour.

Avoid too many features in a room - focus on one.

Tricks of wallpaper

Must have that wallpaper? Opt for a horizontal stripe – this will make the walls look longer; and a vertical stripe will make the ceilings look higher.

Hang them high

Floor to ceiling curtains in a plain base cloth (similar colour or tone as the wall); can make a ceiling look higher. 

Storage is key

Edit, edit, edit… keep surfaces free of clutter; floating shelves can lift those books off the floor; under-bed storage drawers can hide those tennis racquets; and built-in furniture maximizes available space.

Colour My Interior

As designers, colour is a powerful tool – helping us define spaces; emphasise and highlight features; and create overall harmony in a room or design project.

Image by #IDIstudent Nikki Astwood from @revisededitionstyle

Image by #IDIstudent Nikki Astwood from @revisededitionstyle

Different colours are associated with different emotions; so understanding the meaning of colour, helps us to create a specific ambience and mood in a room. Before choosing your colour scheme (for wall finishes, tiles, cabinets, lighting; to furnishings); consider what the purpose of the room is; and what ambience the client would like to project in each room.

Also be mindful, that colour can be interpreted differently by various cultures.  

In Western culture we would associate the following primary and secondary colours with the corresponding emotions. (Keep in mind that there are many options of the below primary and secondary colours. The associated emotions and tips generally examine the more muted versions.)


Red in interior design can promote: passion, excitement, boldness, energy, determination - increasing metabolism. 

TIP: Use in small quantities so as not to overwhelm a space – effective in accents; and a red and white stripe for a statement. 


Blue in interior design can promote: classical, airiness, establishment, confidence, trust, intelligence.

TIP: Used with white will create a crisp appearance; and with its complementary of orange, will balance a room. Blue pairs well with gold or silver finishes and accessories, including lighting.


Yellow in interior design can promote: happiness, joyfulness, welcome, comfort; playfulness.

TIP: Yellow pairs well with black for a sophisticated interior; and it marries well with ornaments, pictures and patterned fabrics. Use to highlight specific features.


Green in interior design can promote: nature, serenity, mindfulness; comfort; stability, harmony.

TIP: Combine with timber; and a range of its complementary of reds and pinks. For a darker green, ensure adequate lighting so the room doesn’t appear too dark.


Orange in interior design can promote: warmth, creativity; inviting, light; eye-catching, enthusiasm.  

TIP: The addition of white can create a range of melon and apricot hues which are complex and interesting. 


Purple in interior design: majesty, power, mystery; established; depth; ambition, luxury.

TIP: Using a lighter purple for large wall areas (a soft violet) can provide a tranquil setting; and splashes of it work against neutral tones. A richer shade adds depth and a sense of authority.


For colour palette inspiration, check out Resene Colour!

Moodboards that Inspire...

Moodboards that inspire...

Each designer has their own particular style - you can create a board of the separate products, clearly listed - or you can make up a room; not noting the specific pieces but rather giving an overall feel and mood... Rebecca Farr, one of the students I tutor, has done an amazing job here - she's really given the client a strong visual of her design concepts... Gorgeous work!

Pink, Glorious Pink

I've loved pink all my life - I had pink and white candy wallpaper in my bedroom; and then, for a few years, I was a 'secretive pink lover', I went 'underground' - but then I came out and embraced it - and now I flaunt it.

I think it works in all decor - either as a pretty pop, a soft colour on the wall; or a hit of fuscia in an artwork...

Don't think it doesn't work well in a more masculine or tailored interior - as this little man, Charlie, will attest; pink pairs beautifully with charcoals and warm grey.

From dusky velvet, linen, wallpaper to paint; embrace your 'inner' pink - go on, you know you want to.

 For a full pink story and a few tips on how to introduce it into your home...



Decorating Schemes - Where to Start?

A decorating style is subjective - so, when first visiting your client, I recommend you take along your design books and magazines as references. Sit with your client and go through them together - highlighting with sticky notes any rooms that your client finds appealing - a colour combination, a bedhead, a mirror; or the overall atmosphere in a room.

THEN, armed with those references and OODLES of sticky notes, have a play with some design concepts. You can use Olioboard - it's fun!

Not a moodboard, but just to get a 'feel' for the client's style...

Not a moodboard, but just to get a 'feel' for the client's style...