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.
WHY THESE SPACES WORK – TIPS / SECRETS
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