Budget Bathroom Reno Ideas for Under $10,000

Can I update my bathroom for $10,000?… yes, you can!

Without structural changes, and by retro-fitting your plumbing, you can make your bathroom more functional, and give it pizzazz.

Consider one, or a few of the below, to come in on budget.


Nothing breathes life into a bathroom more than indoor plants; and some species thrive in a humid environment.

Visit your local hardware to enquire about a starter kit. If you have a handy friend, have them attach a sealed timber grid to the wall (think pallets).


For a cottage or cabin look, install PVC panelling.

It’s perfect for wet zones; and repels mould and mildew.

It’s great for insulation; and is low maintenance.


Feature tiles that don’t break the bank.

Fibre-reinforced concrete tiles are light yet durable; and available in a variety of shapes and sizes – think Moroccan or a classical feature.

Choose a textured finish for a non-slip floor.


Embrace a range of colours, and styles. The options are endless for this affordable finish.

Use on cabinets, as benchtops; and on the floor; where there are now boards that eliminate rot and insulate sound more effectively than the older ‘laminate’ cousins.


It’s the depth, not length, that is the treat here - great for meditating and feeling the joy of a true soak.

These aren’t cheap – but if you were just to have this in your revamped bathroom, it would be the feature; and you’d be grateful for many baths to come…


Make your bathroom look larger with a carefully considered vanity or basin.

Source a wall-hung vanity or pedestal that is 360mm deep; or have a carpenter build a stand-alone shelf with a free-standing rectangular or oval vessel, with wall taps or a mixer for minimalist appeal.


Ditch the caravan site-esque cubicle and extend the same floor tile into your recess for a seamless look…

You can purchase ready-made semi frameless glass; or have one custom made. Update your mixer and showerhead for that tropical waterfall splash.

Look for a high WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme) rating.


Hide the limp hanging curtain; and if privacy is required, include a louvred PVC plantation timber-look shutter (sliding, hinged or bi-fold).

These are flame retardant, need no maintenance, and have a 20-year warranty.


Move on from the 70s oyster light; and replace it with a pendant – shopping for a pendant is like shopping for sweets; such a delicious assortment.

Feature, and then dim it so that you can relax in your new Japanese bath.


From walls, above vanities, to the back of doors, (and only for the brave, ceilings…) – these throw around the light; make a room look larger, and who doesn’t love a touch of glam…

Frameless, rimless, gold, or timber framed – a mirror is the easiest way to transform a room.

You don’t have to drill holes; some double-sided adhesive strips can do all the work.

Email me your updated bathroom for under $10,000 – or share some of your handy revamp bathroom tips…

Selecting The Right Finishes

Finishes are the permanent but non-structural aspects of a home – from kitchen benchtops, to bathroom basins. 

Finishes should be harmonious with your chosen decorating/design style – be guided by whether you want a contemporary, classical, country, transitional, industrial or minimalist look.

Remain cohesive with your colour scheme; consider matt, gloss or textural; consider the edge of your benchtops; their thickness; the style of your cabinet doors; if you want handles or touch release…. and of course, durability is key – how will your finishes perform?

Consider the function of the space, household members, and their lifestyle.

There are many options; many decisions – here’s a quick checklist of some of the finishes to consider to kick off your research. 


Material - from natural stone including marble, granite, engineered stone, laminate, concrete, timber, bamboo, acrylic based, to stainless steel. 

Sinks / Basins

Material – from stone, acrylic, ceramic, porcelain, stainless steel, cast iron, glass, to copper. 
Style – from above-counter/vessel; pedestal, console, self-rimming, under-mount, to integrated.

Taps / Mixers (sinks, basins, showers, baths)

Material – from zinc, stainless steel, brass, chrome plated, to copper.
Finish – from matt, brushed, antique to gloss.
Style – crosshead, lever, pull-out, wall mounted, to pillar.

Cabinets / Vanities

Material – from melamine, timber veneer, solid timber, vinyl wrapped, 2-pack, to laminate.
Finish: matt, gloss, satin, distressed, to textural.
Door style – from shaker, louvered, flat, in-set, bead board, glass, sliding, tongue and groove, to heritage.


Material – from pressed metal, glass, stone, stainless steel, concrete, to tiles. 

TIPS for tiles:

 Choose rectified (mechanically cut) if you want a seamless look and narrow grout.
Match grout to tile colour, or emphasise with a contrasting colour. 
Decide on the laying pattern: from stacked, brick, herringbone, English bond, windmill, diagonal, to basket weave.

 Ask questions, get samples, place them next to each other, place them in situ (if possible) – and once confirmed, write down every detail so that the schedule becomes a shopping list:
room, item, supplier, colour, material, finish, code, size, profile.

Get cracking – these finishes need to be decided on early in the design process so that you don’t leave your tradespeople in the lurch… time is money….

What finishes I’m loving right now

Mixing it up with the raw, the organic, and the polished. 
Concrete benches and splashback.
American oak cabinets with touch-release mechanism.
Above-counter rectangular basins.
Wall-mounted copper taps.
Oval American oak narrow-rimmed mirrors.


One Statement Piece

Give a room the designer look with just ONE piece that would suit a contemporary, vintage, industrial, or classical space!


Perspex or glass coffee, occasional or side table

It will make your room look larger allowing the light to pass through it.


A large rug with a geometric or specific Art Deco design

The space will feel more intimate and a rug will anchor the room.


Natural weave basket for organic texture

Use as magazine storage, for extra throws, or a flat one as a decorative artisan tray.

Screenshot 2018-06-12 10.25.53.png


Low profile plush velvet sofa in soft pink and emerald green

An injection of retro glamour and luxe.


Bounce light around the room, make the room look larger.


Metallic occasional or side table

Brass and gold tones for the luxury lover.


Wishbone dining chair

Variety of stains, a timeless and stylish design.


Large-scale prints on an upholstery piece

Think bugs, birds and florals on a black background.


Over a dining table, kitchen bench, seating or bed

From timber, glass, brass to linen.


From a large print behind glass, to a canvas

A focal point behind a sofa, above a buffet, or bed.

Interior Trends

TRENDS - it’s in and it’s out – it’s bold and it’s bright – but is it YOU?

Trends are a lot like economics – there’s a buzz when it is launched, everyone who’s anyone, desires it – some of us purchase it – supply and demand.

It becomes mass produced and too available – Ikea has it; the ‘furniture package retailers’ follow suit; and then it’s suddenly OUT. But not really, because you’re stuck with it. 


Nordic/Scandi Style

A certain style/look can be interpreted differently from one year to the next – just like ‘that girl with the dyed blonde hair with regrowth’ compared to ‘the girl with the stylish ombre look’ – same ‘look’ – different time = different interpretation. 

Colours, metals, shapes, fabrics, materials, do come and go – and there’s no reason why you can’t buy one or a few pieces that will make you feel part of the club (from a throw, a velvet cushion, to a brass lamp), but going the whole hog will make your home look like everybody else’s and clear out the purse – as it will be deju vu.

If you don’t like Scandi style; and don’t want a ‘smart home’ that will end up making you feel ‘not so smart’, that’s okay. 

If you’re tired of palm fronds, pineapples and the flaming flamingo, which not only grace cushions and wallpapers, but also phone covers, notepads and plastic swimming pool cup holders… that’s okay.

Good design is timeless, think Noguchi, Nelson, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Klint, Juhl, Jacobsen, Eames, and Breuer, whose Model No B33, has been around since 1927 – but not all of us can afford an original. 

THANKFULLY, there’s one trend that need not be a trend but rather a way of life – a style that won’t need updating; a style that you can embrace as your own.

That style is Wabi-Sabi.

‘In traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".’

You can keep and collect items that are made of natural materials and fibres; that are organic and carry an imperfect edge or finish – your interior can be humble, minimalist in pieces and modest in mind – this is not just a style but a way of life – it’s a style that truly does embrace the sustainable. 


Wabi-sabi is a style that is perfect for the imperfect – it reflects who you are and gives you the courage and confidence to decorate your home how you’d like to.   

If you’ve always loved pink, and it makes you feel feminine and happy, then so be it. If green makes you feel serene and looks elegant, so be it. If plants inject nature into your study, so be it… and if your wonky pottery vase you made at school, gives you fond memories, then so be it.

 Wabi-sabi, a style you don’t have to go out and purchase. Your imperfect pieces are probably right where you last left them!

Wabi-sabi anyone? – and sushi to go… 

More reading....

Harmony In Your Home

Harmony is created when all your elements and principles of design are working together 'in harmony'. 

Some of the elements and principles of design include emphasis (focal point), line, shape, colour, pattern, texture, balance, space, proportion, scale etc.

You don't need to use 'all' of these in one room at the same time as it depends on the style you want to create. 


Creating harmony doesn't mean going shopping to recreate 'that' coveted living room as presented in your favourite design blog, magazine or showroom.

Use or update/rework the pieces you do have, that you love - and then fill the gaps with some new finds on online auctions; or at garage sales and stocktake sales. 

As a starting point, consider the following:

Choose a focal point
Create contrast in textures
Offer repetition and rhythm in colour
Ensure patterns don't clash
Offer even distribution of artificial light. 


You would like a Scandi understated elegant and cosy living room. 
(A look you can also inject into a rental property). 

Go with all-white walls - matt finish if you don't have kids or pets - your white is your blank canvas. 

You found a large oval gold mirror at an auction - it has potential - sand it back and repaint it in a matt chalky white. It can now be the focal point of your room. 

What's the first wall you look at on entrance; or where do your eyes land when you're spending time in the room… that wall will be its home. Hang it with your eye at the centre of it. 

You have an old sofa but it's so comfortable - head to your closest fabric remnant shop and purchase a piece of fabric large enough to cover your sofa - no need to re-upholster - have a sewing friend hem the edges and give your sofa the layered look. 

Purchase the same fabric in a light taupe or stone colour, plain or a thin stripe; and have that same (well-loved) sewing friend make some cushion covers. Then add further texture with some faux fur cushions (that stocktake sale); and a taupe knitted throw.

With white sheepskins on the floor, you've now covered texture; but also repeated the layered look of whites and soft taupes to offer rhythm to the room.

If you do love a gentle kiss of blush pink, include a squat glass vase or worn silver jug (heirloom or garage sale) with a bunch of loosely arranged short-stem pink roses… repeat that pink in some accessories, coffee table books, or perhaps just 2 blush pink linen floor cushions or rope knotted ottomans/footstools.

Too many patterns in a room can feel overwhelming and not a place to relax in - a simple stripe will work here - repeated in the cushion, a hand-knotted rug or kilim under a coffee table; and even in Roman blinds dressing your windows… most windows are of a standard size so retail will accommodate that. 
(Ready-bought curtains will be more affordable than custom made). 


No space is complete without ambient light - do not rely on overhead lighting… include some occasional lamps and candles sitting on a tray on your coffee table… this could be your dad's old suitcase that you've whitewashed; or a piece of wood sitting on two piles of old design magazines (a pile each side so there's no see-saw effect); and finally, walk that closest beach or forest for some driftwood, or forest finds - natural accessories and sculptures… 

Throw in some baskets and pile high with extra throws and magazines.

Sit back, put your feet on those ottomans, crack open that wine - ensure it's white and not RED!

Lighten Up Or You'll Be Left In The Dark…

Natural light is optimal, but not all spaces are offered this luxury - so do your homework.

How often have you walked into a restaurant where you want to relax, chat with friends… but the light overhead makes you feel like you're in the dentist chair?

You walk straight out and don't recommend it to friends, no matter how delicious the food is. 

Light is associated with happiness, joy, hope… it's also crucial in interior design. 

Your lighting plan is an integral part of the design project. It's important to ask yourself at the start of the project - what is the intended use of the space; what atmosphere do I want to inject; what look am I wanting to achieve; do I need to make the space look larger and longer; more intimate; do I want to highlight a specific feature?

In answering these questions, create a lighting plan that encompasses general, ambient, task, decorative and accent lighting. 

Consider a mix of lighting for a layered effect to create even light distribution, and a balanced aesthetic - most importantly, our aim is to create a functional and comfortable place to be.
…recessed, strips, pendants, chandeliers, lamps, tracks, spot, plinth, wall…

Aim for hidden sources - this doesn't mean hiding the light fixture - wash the walls with light, reflect the light, allow the light to glow, to pool, to cast shadows… playing with light is an art form. 

Let's be practical

In creating the lighting plan, check the correct light fixtures are specified, the correct switches noted, as well as their positions. Is there a switch at the top and bottom of the stairs to control that one central fixture?

Are the switches placed in a practical position on opening the door (not behind the door); and are they at the right height?

Have you got a dimmer switch for your dining table pendant?

Have you considered the colours of the walls - light colours reflect light, and dark colours absorb light.

Don't forget to consider the position of outlets for standing, occasional and desk lamps (decorative, ambient and task lighting.) 

Check position and quantity: You don't want a gloomy room or hot spots, where you feel like you're under interrogation.

Have you considered wall lights either side of your bathroom vanity mirror to reduce shadows over your face?

Is the scale of the fixture going to interrupt the beautiful view? Is the fixture hung too high so that the room feels unbalanced? 

Insert a strip light under your floating vanity to make the small bathroom look larger.

Recess your lighting in the floor of your corridor to make the space look longer, and to show direction.

Use your track lighting for general and directional lighting - highlight an artwork or your kitchen benchtops.

Consider LEDS as recessed - halogens get hot in the ceiling cavity (LEDs are more sustainable).

Use sensors, motion detectors or timers on your stairs and in rooms used less often i.e. garages, pantries, storerooms, outside lighting.


Did you know?

Fluorescent lighting emits UV rays and infrared radiation (not a good idea in a kitchen or pantry.)

A LED downlight can last for up to 25 times longer than a halogen.

It might seem obvious to some, but dimming your lights, cuts your electrical costs. 

The brightness of a lamp is measured in lumens. 

For more lighting tips, view my post on Houzz.


Embrace 2018


Some of us begin a new year with resolutions to begin yoga classes; to eat kale; to be more motivated at work; or to visit in-laws regularly…. (all of which are recommended)

But a great way of starting the new year – that won’t see you slip into old ways and feel you’ve let yourself down, is to declutter; or simply, refresh.

My mother’s decluttering rule: If you don’t love it; it doesn’t evoke special memories; you haven’t used it in a year; and it’s not beautiful – prepare to part with it… 

Remember, it’s not always about ‘throwing away’ – recycle, upcycle, or gift it.

Ask yourself some of the following – and remember, be honest with yourself:

•    Do I really need to keep a collection of every crime paperback book I’ve ever read?

•    Do I really need to display every candle I burnt over the festive season that still has 2 minutes of burning time? 

•    Is that cushion comfortable, gorgeous, or hand stitched by my granny?

•    Do I wear or feel sentimental about all the necklaces hanging around my mannequin's neck?

•    When last did I use my rice cooker?

•    Will I ever read that pile of Christmas cards from 2015?

•   Why is that retro chair taking up all my storage?

THEN, once answered:

1.    Roll up your sleeves

2.    Shrug off 2017

3.    Plump those cushions you do still love

4.    Vacuum your curtains (don’t forget the special nozzle)

5.    Vacuum under your sisal carpet for that accumulated 2016 and 2017 dust

6.    Responsibly discard medicines that have expired

7.    Drop off read books, (classics you might want to keep), at your local library

8.    Rummage through your IT draw for ancient laptops, phones, and video cameras, and drop them off at dedicated collection centres

9.    Spoil yourself with some new high threadcount cotton bed linen

10.    Re-pot your house plants or buy new ones (cacti thrive on neglect)

11.    Buy new candles and pop some gorgeous lavender or French pear soaps into your ‘smalls’ drawer

12.    Head into a designer store or check out those online for post-Xmas sales… purchase new bedside lamps, a throw for the bed; and a new coffee table design book (anything by Sibella Court)

13. Re-cover old lampshades (google fabric remnant shops); or apply for a community college weekend upholstery workshop - and get that retro chair out of storage and into your living area

THEN: replace your recently discarded cushions with new ones, and place them in the small of your back while you recover from your decluttering and refreshing.

PS No need to buy a new crime paperback – you already have the Netflix remote in hand…

Happy 2018!

Space Planning

You don’t need to make structural changes for space planning – appropriate placement of furnishings can make a space more functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing…

Image via  New Darlings .

Image via New Darlings.

The brief to space plan an open plan living and dining area:

  • square space with clear demarcation of living and dining
  • living and dining to have equal emphasis
  • living to be informal yet intimate for socialising and ambient at night
  • clear flow of traffic between the areas
  • dining to be flexible for family meals for 4, or entertaining for 8.


  • Asymmetrical placement of seating offers an informal feel and makes conversation easier. Choose seating at right angles. 
  • A sofa table behind a sofa or occasional chairs can further help to separate the zones.
  • Even an informal living area benefits from a focal point – orient your furniture to highlight it – a view, a painting, or a fireplace.
  • Rugs link the separate pieces of furniture and anchor the space, adding to intimacy.
  • Include a rug under your seating – have the seating positioned consistently on the rug – either all the legs on the rug, the rug half under each piece; or just the front legs of each piece on the rug.
  • Include occasional tables and lamps for function and ambience – you don’t want to have to stand up to put your coffee cup down – surfaces should be in easy reach of your seat.
  • Create a clear path between the living and dining – you don’t want to be navigating an obstacle course.
  • In a narrow dining space – consider a flexible arrangement – an extendable table. Allow at least 90cm between the back of the dining chairs and other furniture or walls for ease of movement.
  • Consider an oval table for a narrow space as they also encourage conversation (no one wants to be the 7th member of the table and sitting at the end….)
  • A low hanging pendant over the table with a dimmer creates intimacy and ambience – turning that pasta dish into four courses…

Then, stand back and observe - does the room feel balanced – is the scale of the pieces consistent and appropriate for the size of the room.

You don’t want all the pieces around the perimeter walls with a corridor down the middle; nor do you want all big pieces on one side, and small dainty pieces on the other - aim for a space that is of equal visual weight on the left and right.

So, whether working to a client’s brief, or wanting a change in your own home; spatial planning effects how you feel in the room… it is comfortable, functional, and pleasing to your eye.

#IDIstudent Feature w/ @ninteen85&co

One of my lovely students at The Interior Design Institute has been submitting some fantastic assignments, while also creating some beautiful interiors. Today, I wanted to share some of her work; and to learn what has inspired her along the way...

What inspired you to become an Interior Designer?

"I’ve always had creative interests and a love for colour. Interior design and the way in which a space works, has always interested me. It wasn't until my husband and I bought our first home, that I really started thinking more about it.

"I enjoyed selecting items to make our house a home, but the one thing it was lacking, was colour!

"When our first baby was on its way, I picked up a paint brush for the first time - turning a spare room into a woodlands-theme nursery. From there I had the bug. I transformed 3 more bedrooms and the laundry to a more practical space. When we moved into a new home in 2016, I decided it was time to start thinking about my future and what I wanted to do. Interior design is something that kept crossing my mind; as I was once again adding my own personal touches to our new home. So after 6 months of research, and a bit of encouragement from my husband and a close friend, I signed up; and here I am today, a student with IDI."


Why did you choose to study with IDI?

"After investigating my options online I came across IDI. I needed something to work around family life, being a busy mum of 2 girls under the age of 5; and still being able to fit in time for hobbies, fitness and a social life.

"Being able to study online; and having a support network and tutor via IDI, was just what I was looking for. Flexibility was going to be the key; and has since worked!"

What has been your favourite part of the course?

"It's hard to pick just one part! Absolutely loved Module Six: colour, learning in-depth the science behind colour and the psychology effect it can have. People have always commented that I have an eye for colour, so I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about it.

"I also found Module Two: The History of Style, Decoration & Architecture very interesting. Before becoming a mother, I worked in Christchurch’s CBD surrounded by some beautiful architecture. So when we were assigned the assignment of selecting 5 different types of architecture from 3 different centuries, I made it my point to make sure all 5 of mine were from this city. We have lost so many interesting buildings to the earthquakes; and I looked at this assignment as a chance to learn about the heritage of Christchurch."

Find out more about Sarah's journey with the IDI course via her IG @nineteen85&co.

Bedroom Styling

Your personal sanctuary… your bedroom!


The starting point for styling your bedroom, (or one for a client), is to decide on the overall mood you’d like to convey. This doesn’t necessarily mean ‘the style’; but rather how you want the room to affect your mood.

You might relate to a minimalist room with an all-white palette that breathes light and air into the room – you might relate to glamour and glitz that makes you feel pampered and indulged; or you might want intimacy, to feel snugly and safe.

Whatever the feel, your bedroom is the special room in the home that will affect your well-being.


Be guided by your emotional response to a certain feel you’d like in your bedroom; and decide on your starting point.

This might be a well-loved heirloom, a large black and white photograph that you took on your last trip; or a dusky pink velvet chair that you simply, ‘just had to have’…

Your bed is the focal point, and should not only be comfortable, but suit the mood – as well as be the correct scale for the size of the bedroom.

Start with a moodboard; with inspirations from printed or online sources – from Apartment Therapy; Pinterest, or Houzz.

Play with how you can pull the pieces together to create a harmonious and balanced cohesive room.

Recommendations for creating a calm, relaxed and natural bedroom


·       Layer natural fibres and materials; from throws on the end of the bed; to over a bedroom chair. Think cottons, linens, wools.

·       Use a soft achromatic scheme, or a muted monochromatic neutral scheme. Think charcoals, greys, stone whites OR beiges, taupes, and antique white.

·       Consider window treatments – curtains or roman blinds. Use a base cloth (pattern free); and allow the fabrics to drape. Think cotton sheers or a light weight linen.

·       Make the most of natural light; and for artificial, include light achromatic or neutral coloured lampshades. Think using the same fabric as the window treatment for repetition and rhythm.

·       Timber flooring is a winner here. Think a natural worn patina or white washed for a Scandi or beach mood.

·       Consider some empty space for movement and self-reflection. Think a low bed.

·       Include a small pop of gentle colour. Think a tin jug or glass bowl of short stemmed flowers.

·       Don’t be shy to mix and match furniture styles. Think tin trunk as one bedside; and a pile of books as the other.

·       Don’t forget comfort under foot. Think sheepskins either side of the bed; or an oversized Moroccan rug.  

·       Stay clear of glass finishes, glossy paints, saturated colours, polished metals, and bold patterns. Think old leather, woven wools, ceramic vessels, mohair, and chalk or matt paints.

At the end of a long day, you must relate to your room – this is where you retire to.


And for some sleep hygiene: don’t include TVs, phones or laptops at bedtime; but read a book by the light of an ambient lamp; or do a few yoga stretches to crease out those computer arms and shoulders.

Good sleep = good health.

Good night.

Creating A Little Garden

Who doesn’t love a little garden…

Have you read the book “My Secret Garden”? It’s all about the joy of discovery.

A garden can be a feast for the eyes; perfume; a garnish, that missing ingredient – OR, a discovery; something in ourselves that finds sowing a seed, and watching it grow, meditational.


You don’t need a plot of land, or a flowerbed - you can create your own little secret garden by recycling those items you might usually discard – from an old jam jar, wooden palette, tins; to those used up candle ceramic vessels.

Plant a herb, a flower, or a spicy chilli, and watch the ‘good things grow’.

A balcony can be formal with urns and topiary; or pots of mini orange citrus and lavender… to bring the scent indoors…

A little garden brings a smile onto your face…

A few garden homes that you might not have thought of:

Egg or coconut shell

Biscuit tin or tea caddy

A tin watering can

And who doesn’t love a terrarium?

How to care for your garden:

Set up a compost tin for your vegetable scraps; or for those more ‘adventurous’, a worm farm.

Buy good potting soil and water twice a week. Avoid wetting the leaves, as this can cause them to rot.

For those who don’t have a balcony, some little green numbers can live on a sunny windowsill – some plants don’t even need the sun, for example African violets and money plants.

If you don’t have a green thumb, cacti and air plants thrive on neglect…

At the end of the day, you might just want to plant mint…


Cocktails anyone?

Do you have any creative garden homes for your plants? Share yours in the comments below!

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...