In replaying the best of 2014, we didn’t want to miss great advice from the clever team at Real Living magazine and their bright and breezy book, published earlier this year. Editor-in-chief Deb Bibby introduces the book, and shares expert decorating tips for every room of the house.

This little book was born out of The School of Real Living, a small project to gather with Real Living readers across Australia and share decor knowledge from industry experts – experts that we don’t always get access to as we can’t all afford an interior designer or decorator. (Trust me, I know – I tried and could only afford two days’ worth of advice before the budget was blown.) Obviously we all want an interior to make everyone go WOW, but here’s the thing – you don’t have to be an “amazing interior decorator” to create a beautiful welcoming interior. You just need some basic principles. a handful of super golden rules to mull over, a bit of trickery, and confidence.


School Tip:  A room that looks like a showroom will feel like one. You want the room to be used.

Designer Secret / Spend on the big things:  “Invest in quality big-ticket items, such as the sofa, first. They are visually prominent, so key to the overall scheme. They also get a lot of use. When it comes to upholstered furniture, buy slipcovers so you can wash them easily or change the look if you wish.” – Jacinta Preston

School Tip:  Choose a round table to maximise sociability and conversation.

Designer Secret / Round table for flow:  “If it’s an open room, but not huge and other rooms lead off it, a round table can work best – it lends itself to a space that also acts as a thoroughfare. No sharp corners and soft edges for flow of traffic.” – Louella Tuckey

School Tip: Echo shapes throughout the space, like these triangular lights and barstools.

Designer Secret / Window treatment: “Where possible, aim to position the kitchen sink where there is a window – you’ll be thankful for the natural light…and the view.” – Mardi Doherty

School Tip: Treat the laundry hamper like a decorative accessory and choose one that suits your style.

Designer Secret / Bathed in light: “Skylights will increase natural light and therefore a sense of spaciousness. over a shower can be exciting, while over a basin can be useful, but care in placement is needed to ensure glare or reflection is not created off mirrors.” – Conrad Lowry

School Tip: Mount a bedside table on the wall to free up floorspace.

Designer Secret / Keeping Mementos: “Toddlers, kids, teenagers – children are messy at all stages of their lives, so consider storage as a priority. Invest in storage boxes as memory boxes to keep all that childhood memorabilia.” – Justine Hugh-Jones

School Tip: Create a place for everyday items: a bowl for keys, a pot for umbrellas and shelves for shoes and sunnies.

Designer Secret / Go up! “Floor-to-ceiling shelving units can be great in entrance halls. They make the most of space, are practical for putting keys and mail on, and can be a home for decorative objects.” – Sarah Ellison

School Tip: If you live near the beach, install an outdoor shower that drains into the garden.

Designer Secret / Potted plants: “Use larger pots where possible to avoid them drying out quickly. Select plans that are hardy and low-water-use to lessen the maintenance. Pots need adequate drainage, and avoid placing them on light-coloured tile surfaces. They are better on old sandstone, secondhand bricks, gravel and decks.” – Will Dangar

Want more? Buy the book online or where you buy Real Living. You can also follow Real Living via FacebookPinterest and Instagram @reallivingmag, or subscribe here.

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We asked international declutter expert Peter Walsh for a lot of advice this year as he worked with Barry Du Bois on Ten’s The Living Room. We’re replaying his top tips for all those planning a big declutter to start the new year. Good luck! 

I want to declutter my whole house but I don’t know where to start. Should I do it room by room, and if so which room should come first?

OK, so if your whole house looks like a cyclone has hit you hard, then my advice is to start in any room that you think will be EASIEST. And, when you start, start easily too by getting rid of any rubbish, anything that is broken, or anything that doesn’t belong in that room. Keep it simple – no hard decisions. Make that your assignment for the first day (and if you want to do more, by all means do). My theory is that sometimes the hardest part of getting organised is just starting. So, anything you think might trip you up or you’re unsure whether to toss it, leave it for the next day. But, here’s the deal – if you do this, then you have to commit to doing this EVERY DAY for at least a couple of weeks. Make a date with yourself. Put it in your diary. And, work room by room. But, get started.

One of Peter and Baz’s challenges on The Living Room.

We have pockets where clutter seems to gather and breed, such as the tray on the coffee table which is meant to be a stylish display but is just filled with junk. How do I keep it as I want it to be?

This may sound odd but the quickest way to avoid clutter accumulating – whether it’s on your stylish coffee table or on the back seat of your car – is to stop using the word “later”.  Clutter is decisions delayed and the moment you procrastinate: “I’ll put that away later” or “I’ll file that later” or “I’ll sit that here and look at it later”, that is moment when stuff starts to collect.  Stop saying “later” and I promise you your coffee table (and much more!) will stay clutter-free.

I have heard the maxim ‘if it isn’t useful or beautiful, throw it out.’ Do you agree with that and do you have any other pieces of advice that are worth sticking on the fridge door?

The only things I think you should have in your home are those items that help you create the life you want.  Start with the vision you have for your life, your home, every room in your home and then ask yourself: Do the items in this room help me create the vision I have for this space?  If so, hold onto them.  If not, what are they doing in your home?

One of Peter and Baz’s challenge on The Living Room.

How do I rid of stuff without upsetting my children? They become very suspicious when I start to tidy up their rooms!

You have to get them involved in the process. If you help them understand that there are lots of kids in the world who are not nearly as fortunate as we are, who could really use their old toys, then you’ll find their generosity will overwhelm you. And, if that doesn’t work, ask them to find just 5 things that they think only kids younger than themselves should play with and agree with them that maybe it’s time to let those go. Also – take them with you to the donation centre and have them talk to the volunteers there so that they come to understand the nature and value of giving to those less fortunate than themselves.

My home is simply not big enough for all my stuff, no matter how organised I am. I’m tempted to get a storage unit for the overflow. Is this a good idea?

I’m not a fan of storage units for this kind of problem. Storage units should be used for temporary re-locations only. Unless you’re prepared to move then you have to come to terms with the fact that you only have the space you have. Once you accept this as fact, you’ll actually experience a freeing feeling. So, what do you do with all of the extra stuff you just can’t part with? You need to ask yourself what is more important, personal happiness or this old rocking chair that’s taking up space? I vote for happiness every time. It’s hard but it’s necessary. Ask anyone who has de-cluttered… they’ll tell you that the process of letting go of some stuff was hard but I’ve never met anyone who has said the outcome wasn’t worth it.

Find out more about Peter at his website, where you can find out more about his booksDVD and app and sign up for regular newsletters. ]

Follow our Get Organised board on Pinterest for more inspiration.

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As part of our Best of 2014 series, we check back in with Melbourne-based creatives Stephanie Stamatis (known on Instagram as Stephanie Somebody) (left) and Tamara Maynes (right), who shared some personal inspiration earlier this year. We hope it sparks something for you in 2015! 

When we saw that two of our favourite creative people were speaking in the Life Instyle Conversation Series in Melbourne on the topic of ‘Making it Personal: The Secret of Crafting a Unique Business’, we thought how good it would be if they each shared some images that were meaningful to them and told us why.

Tamara Maynes is a designer/maker who admires craft and collaborations and taps into her inventive design sensibility in a variety of ways – all of them inspiring. Stephanie Stamatis has a number of  strings to her bow as photographer, stylist and mastermind of events through her business Local Gatherings. Both have a great generosity of spirit and are tuned into the fast-changing world of creative communication. If you like what you see, I suggest you follow them on Instagram @tamaramaynes and @stephanie_somebody @localgatherings


Connection to nature (image by Stephanie Stamatis)

Visiting the forest, ocean and the mountains is my favourite way of finding my center when the city has become too overwhelming. I like to be reminded how small we are in the grand scheme of things.

Moments (image by Stephanie Stamatis)

I am a pretty sentimental person and I am finding more and more that I am drawn to what makes me nostalgic and I have a memory connection to. I think this is why I am so passionate about creating images, from the need to tell a visual story.

Sharing meals (image by Lauren Bamford)

I find so much joy in cooking for people. Gathering for a shared meal is an opportunity for connecting and conversing in the spirit of generosity.

Things I’ve been taught (image by Tara Pearce)

Its very special when someone takes the time to teach you something.This image is from a photo series I created to document the way I have been taught how to  make Turkish coffee by my grandfather and its one of my strongest memories of him.


Tamara Maynes

Shape & colour (styling by Tamara Maynes & photo by Alicia Taylor for Real Living Magazine)

My designer/maker head is constantly switched on and naturally wants to understand the objects around me. This leaves my creativity greatly influenced by elements, with shape and colour inspiring me more than any other.

Ornamental beauty

Ornamental beauty (styling by Tamara Maynes & photo by Anthony Basheer for The Establishment Studios)

I grew up on a sheep and cattle farm in country NSW, but despite the charm of the countryside I found the utilitarian aspect of my surroundings aesthetically harsh. In response I have been drawn to creating purely ornamental displays of beautiful things from a very early age.


Craftsmanship (styling by Tamara Maynes & photo by Anthony Basheer for The Establishment Studios)

Craftsmanship is at the core of my family tree and I feel incredibly connected to what we are capable of making with our skilled hands. I am compelled to use it in every aspect of my work and although it’s sometimes subtle as in this tableware image, it is always present.


Collaboration (styling by Tamara Maynes & photo by Thomasz Machnik for He Made She Made)

Collaboration has always been a wonderful experience for me and I often discover untapped abilities while working together with others on a creative brief. Crafting this mask by fusing together thousands of tiny beads was the first time I had worked in this medium and the process gave me so much satisfaction.

Follow Tamara on Instagram @tamaramaynes and Stephanie @stephanie_somebody and @localgatherings

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Photography – Mikkel Adsbøl. Styling – Bolette Kiær

To round off 2014, we’re having another look at our Find your style series by Verity Magdalino. Here she vibes on boho style.

Have a well-worn suitcase and get dizzy at the thought of a Parisian flea market? Then you, my little bowerbird, are more than likely a savant of Boho style. How to know if you’re a Boho guru:

You’re an obsessive collector

Other people’s trash is your treasure. Your home is a celebration of your colourful free-wheeling spirit and is filled to over-flowing with your unique collections of vintage embroidered kimonos, Moroccan tagines, Victorian glass jars, antique lace and exotic finds from your years of trotting the globe. When it comes to interior style you are a maestro of mix and mis-match.

A Balinese villa via 

Your favourite colours are as soft as icecream

The tones that make your heart sing are inspired by the soft, sugary hues of ice cream. Mint, raspberry, lemon and peach sit ever so charmingly against your favourite mood calming neutrals of vanilla and latte.

Your friends refer to you as the walking travel guide 

For you travelling is as essential as breathing. When you get even as much as a day to yourself, you’re off in search of adventure, whether it’s beachcombing in Byron Bay or trekking the Hill Country in Sri Lanka.

Moroccan rugs collected by Cassie Karinsky of Kulchi.

You don’t mind the crumpled look

Flaking paint on your French antique furniture, crumpled linen sheets, hand-stitched patches on your Chinese silk embroidered bedspread, for you the more casual your chic, the more story it has to tell. But you don’t mind a bit of new either. The art is in the mix.

Your favourite stylist is Sibella Court

A self-styled bowerbird and nomad, Sydney stylist Sibella Court’s interiors store, The Society Inc is an ode to the modern day gypsy. Shell chandeliers, beaded lace curtains, gold-fringed velvet cushions… If you could, you would lock the door, and live there.

Sibella Court’s home recently featured on The Design Files. Image – Sean Fennessy.

You are a master of artfully arranged clutter

Open shelves are your kind of storage as they’re specifically designed to show off your vast assortment of white bowls and drinking vessels, collection of Victorian silverware and that intriguing brass sculpture you found in the souks of Marrakech. Your idea of interior nirvana is a comfy couch festooned with mis-matched cushions, and a ceiling-to-floor open is quite possibly your most favourite website ever.

Image via The Selby.

You know your bergamot from your patchouli

In your highly sensory world, scented candles are the bomb. But not just any old beeswax will do. You may be partial to pre-loved objet when it comes to candles you demand quality. Handmade, all natural and preferably sourced from your favourite concept boutique on the Left Bank. If you could, you’d have every room in your home imbued with the clove and vanilla fragrance of Cire Trudon’s Abd el Kader.

Image via SFGirlbyBay.

Your heart flutters at the site of ikat

You love an ethnic-inspired print, embroidery or hand-woven rug. You know your Javanese batik from your Guatemalan ikat, and your recycled wooden floors are scattered with Turkish kilims, Moroccan Beni Ouarain rugs and the warm sandy tones of Mauritanian mats. You’re also partial to a floor cushion or two, hand embroidered of course, which you bought home from your last visit to the Hmong hill tribes in Northern Thailand.

Your favourite sport is trawling second hand stores and markets

If vintage shopping were an Olympian sport, you’d be three times gold medalist. Your skill is not only the ability to sniff out a bargain at 20 paces but also in re-conditioning old into new. Putting the love back into a neglected piece of furniture with a little DIY is an afternoon well spent.

Image by Julia Hoersch.

You are your own favourite artist

While you love supporting your artist friends by investing in original pieces, you are also highly skilled at creating a feature wall, hung in an ad hoc French style, from any one of your collections of objet trouvé. Right now it’s the golden autumn leaves from your backyard, pinned to a corkboard. But you’re already thinking ahead to next week, and hanging up that collection of framed Peruvian butterflies. What a joy!

Inspired? Visit our Boho Style Pinterest board for these images and more. 

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Based between busy Sydney and laid back Byron Bay, Shannon Fricke is adept at making sure her life is full of contrast and change. The stylist and author created her own range of bed linen with creative layering and mixing in mind. Earlier this year we asked for her advice on mixing things up, and we decided the New Year was a good time to replay her ideas…

When you mix up your life, when you make change happen, sometimes big, sometimes small, it keeps you true to your soulful path.

Mix a collection of shells, stones and nature walk finds in a bowl and display as a reminder to go on an adventure.

Leave sticky notes around the house, on mirrors and the dashboard with positive affirmations for pick-me-ups throughout the day.

Mix and match your pillowcases to keep your bed looking fresh.

Pin up magazine clippings, postcards & pictures onto a board so your ultimate desires & goals are always in sight.

Spend the day going wherever the breeze takes you.

Make your bed smell as good as it looks with your own linen spray: 60ml alcohol, 120ml water and 15 drops of your favourite essential oil combinations.

Act on your inner child impulses and pile all of your blankets, pillows and cushions on the floor and nap in a spacious, cosy nest.

Write a daily journal for 30 days – a lovely way to track your life, thoughts and feelings.

Add some fruit and flowers to your ice cube trays before freezing to dress up your cocktails.

Once a week, go without applying makeup or fussing with your hair and embrace the beauty of you.

Snip flowers and herbs from the garden and use as floral arrangements.

Find these images and more on our Shannon Fricke’s Style Pinterest board.

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Merry Christmas!

25 Dec '14

We hope your celebrations are joyous, your feast is festive, and Santa is very, very kind.

We wish all our members and readers a wonderful break, and we look forward to being part of your decorating projects in 2014.

Karen, Victoria & the T&W team.

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Temple & Webster’s Head of Buying, Vanessa Ross, shares her Christmas style and one excellent entertaining tip…

My Christmas style is: Good quality food but in a relaxed atmosphere and setting.  I love beautiful wrapping and gift tags to show a bit of effort and make it extra special for family and friends.

This year I’ll be buying: Summer fruits! A box of cherries and mangoes to eat over the holidays.

Sour cherry gin & tonic via PBS

My failsafe Christmas styling tip is: Make it special; a simple summer cocktail on arrival will put everyone in a festive mood.

This Christmas I’ll be serving: Something fresh with minimal effort so I can enjoy the day and spend time catching up with everyone.  Fresh seafood is always on the menu as well as homemade Christmas pudding and custard.

Image – Suvi sur le vif via Pinterest

My Christmas playlist includes: The classics… Anything by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin or Nat King Cole brings back great family Christmas memories.

All I want for Christmas is: Red lipstick for me – Ruby Woo by MAC is my new favourite.

My biggest Christmas disaster was: I haven’t had many disasters so far… leaving all the gift buying to the last minute is always stressful though. This year I’m trying to get on top of it all early leaving me plenty of time to fuss over the wrapping.

After Christmas I’m planning to: Swim, relax and enjoy the long sunny days.

Follow us on Pinterest for daily inspiration.

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Even the best laid plans can go awry in the last few days before Christmas. We’re rebooting our handy Christmas checklists to keep you on track for the big day… 

Decorate the table

Do you have enough plates and glasses? A serving dish large enough for the ham? Download the checklist here or click on the list below for a printable version.

Prepare for the party

Have you thought about food (and gifts) for drop-in guests, ordered prawns for the big day and got a loaf of bread for the freezer? Download the checklist here or click on the list below for a printable version.

Follow us on Pinterest for more Christmas inspiration…

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Curtis Stone has a lot to celebrate this year. He has a new baby, Emerson (already named Easy E for his chilled temperament) with his wife actress Lindsay Price, and their first son Hudson has just turned 3. His Beverly Hills restaurant Maude, named after his grandmother. has just won LA Eater’s Restaurant of the Year for 2014 and is one of LA Weekly’s 10 best new restaurants for 2014 and his new book Good Food Good Life is due for release in early 2015. We caught up with Curtis on a whirlwind trip to Australia to promote his Christmas recipes with Coles.

How are you celebrating Christmas?

I’m having Chrisssie with Mum here in Australia. She always cooks roast pork with the best crackling in the world. I can’t get mine as good, even under her instruction. We’ll have mince tarts, and red wine – that’s my job, opening the wine!

Then I’m leaving the next day for LA where I’ll start cooking pretty much straight away. My family Christmas over there will include my Dad and his wife and my wife’s parents, so it’ll be an Aussie/American/Korean mash up.

What are you serving this year?

We’ll start with something light in the morning – maybe some mimosas, some pastries, a slice of quiche, then we’ll have lunch around 3pm.

We’ll definitely have roast pork for lunch. It’s what we always did as a family, so I need to have it to feel like Christmas. My wife likes roast beef so we’ll probably have a standing rib, and we’ll have kimchi. After that probably a cheese platter and a Christmas pudding. I’m hoping my Mum has made me one and I’ll have to smuggle it in to the US.

What’s your favourite Christmas dish?

Definitely the roast pork. In LA it’s Winter so I’ll do it with apple sauce and cranberries. In Australia that doesn’t make sense in summer, so I’d do an avocado, tomato and feta salad – all the colours of Christmas – and maybe add some dried cranberries. I also love my Mum’s mince tarts. I told her I was going to work on the recipe, and I did 10 different versions of it trying to improve it, but ended up nearly exactly where I started – it’s a compliment to her cooking that the recipe couldn’t be improved!

Curtis’s Mum’s Decadent Mince Tarts – click here for the recipe (including a print-friendly version)

What’s on your Christmas playlist?

My wife is a songwriter, so I totally leave it to her. She kind of has this Christmas carol / Frank Sinatra / Norah Jones thing going on. It feels old-world-y and smooth, but still Christmassy.

What’s your tip for home cooks to make Christmas day easier?

You need to write a plan. Literally, write it down on a piece of paper. Start with the time you want to serve Christmas lunch, write that down, and then work backwards from there. If you want to put the turkey in 3 hours before lunch, put that time down. If you have time to do the veggies or salad while the turkey is cooking, write that down too.

Your plan should include the day before too. If there’s anything you’re going to serve that can be made the day before – do it! Make the parfait, decorate the table, put together your playlist, lay out the candles. Don’t forget to slot in time for opening presents, too. I think what happens is you start relaxing into Christmas and you either miss out on presents because you have to go into the kitchen, or you don’t go into the kitchen and you end up eating lunch at 7pm.

The other important thing is to allocate jobs. Ask someone to bring a playlist on an iPhone. Ask someone else to pick up candles or decorations – let them know what colours you want. It’s nice to be given a job and for everyone to feel included.

Have you ever had a Christmas disaster?

Yes, many! When I lived in London, we used to go to the pub every year to listen to the Queen’s speech. One year I got up, put the turkey in the oven, went to the pub and realised I’d locked us out of the flat. And we lived on the third floor…

We had to jump the fence, steal the neighbour’s ladder and climb in the back window. Crisis averted, just.

What’s on your Christmas wish list?

A rest, and time with my family. After Christmas, we’re pulling the pin for 2 weeks – we’re closing the restaurant and we’re headed to Palm Springs where there’s nothing to do except relax. We’ve had a crazy year, as a business and as a couple, so I can’t wait to get away. In the US they don’t really shut down so much for Christmas but I’m definitely hanging on to that part of Australian culture!

Explore Curtis Stone’s Christmas recipes on the Coles website

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Jono Fleming styles a beachside dining scene, and adds a little smoked paprika to fresh seafood for a summer dish with a difference.

We all love seafood in summer, and it’s usual to serve it simply, with perhaps a squeeze of lemon. With this recipe, I’m going for something a little more punchy. Smoked paprika or pimentón is a Spanish spice – it’s made from dried capsicum like normal paprika but the capsicum has been smoked over fire. It’s not particularly spicy, but it does have an intense, smoky aroma that really enhances the delicate scampi or prawn flavour. I styled this dish with a beachside vibe, featuring blue & white china and linen and plenty of natural textures. Give it a try once the Christmas rush is over and you have time to sit back and enjoy it!

Ingredients (Serves 2)

6 scampi, halved and cleaned. If you can’t find scampi, substitute with large tiger prawns
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp smoked paprika
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil


In a bowl, mix the garlic, paprika, lemon, zest and oil together. Dip the scampi in the marinade and coat thoroughly.

There are two ways to cook the marinated scampi. Either place the scampi on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and place under a heated grill  for 3-4 minutes, until the scampi turns white and starts to char just slightly, or cook on a hot griddle pan or the hot plate of the BBQ (no need for oil) for 3 – 4 minutes.

Enjoy all Jono’s recipes via our Dish of the Day Pinterest board

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