The Bigger Picture

When designing a new project, an interior designer will always plan through to completion.  We see the bigger picture and all of our design decisions are based on the end look.  Unfortunately, something that I see quite often is clients stopping short of following through with accessories because either they have spent all their money, or else they have run out of steam with the project The result is a design that is 98% there, but just not quite – which can be disappointing for both the designer and the client.

YSL saying it best!
YSL saying it best!

Getting the right paint colour for your walls is really important, but without artwork, the walls can be left looking a bit bare…The type of flooring you use and way it is laid is really important in defining spaces and the flow of the room, but without a great rug the seating arrangement just isn’t grounded and the room lacks colour, personality and spatial definition.   (I do believe rugs are deal breakers – read more about it here).   Having furniture adds functionality and style to a space, but without beautiful objet’ on top of it, or table lamps providing balance (and some mood lighting) it is just an item in a space that looks hanging…..

an accessorized interior
an accessorized interior

Accessories cannot be overlooked or ignored.  These are the things that will make or break the design – the final details.   It is a shame to spend a lot of money on the architectural elements of the project and never finish the job…

What is really important to remember, is that we don’t just accessorize for the sake of adding elements.  The art of accessorizing is a well thought out process where the room is not cluttered with “stuff”, but is decorated for interest, texture, balance and function.  This is often the part of the project where a client’s personality is brought through.

Art tick,vases tick. rug tick
Art tick,vases tick. rug tick

The best way to ensure that this part of the project gets done is to plan on it from the beginning and set aside the budget for it.  Sometimes there are special family items to take into consideration or memorable items collected on travels. It doesn’t all need to be new, and most times the best accessories are those ones that have a story.  When there are special décor items that you have and would like to use in a new space, the sooner you tell your designer or decorator about them the better as then they will be planned with the whole ‘bigger’ picture.

Even the most minimalist of interiors are designed with accessorizing in mind as instead of adorning walls or surfaces with ‘things’, visual interest is made up of special details like interesting ceiling details, the lighting layout or the materials have interest.   So again, it is crucial to plan with the end goal in mind right from the get go.

In a Minimalist interior, walls are often unadorned BUT there is other visual interest
In a Minimalist interior, walls are often unadorned BUT there is other visual interest

So just as a great pair of shoes or beautiful necklace can complete an outfit, remember that accessories play a very important role in completing and finishing off the design.  


The Book got a New Cover

2 weeks ago I attended the PG Bison Road Show where they unveiled new products and colours for 2018. I must say, I was blown away by the colours, textures and quality of the products.   A new world of possibilities has opened up for me using Melawood (PG Bison’s Melamine product) and I can’t wait to share it with you.

I  will be the first to admit that I have often overlooked using Melawood in projects I have worked on, mostly because the product didn’t appear to look ‘’authentic” or “exclusive” enough.   The colour range was limited and there was just so much more I could do with staining timber veneers.    Well PG Bison has had a complete style overhaul and the colours and textures which they are now offering are right on trend and suitable for a style-savvy market and consumer.   And did I mention it is very budget friendly?! High fives all ’round!


Here are the 4 new ‘ranges’ of colours and textures:

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So to get back to basics, what is Melawood? And how does it differ from veneer?

Melamine and veneer are both made of a thin layer that is applied to a core panel such as Supawood (MDF) or chipboard.

The difference between both products actually lies in that thin layer that is applied to the core panel. Melawood is a man-made product where  a decor paper is bonded to the board’s surfaces under heat and pressure.  The décor paper is printed with a pattern or  colour, thus every melamine board has a consistent colouring and grain pattern.  Melawood is moisture and stain resistant and very easy to clean.

Wood veneers on the other hand, are made from cutting a very fine layer of timber which is then applied to a core panel. Just as each tree is unique, so are the colours and grain structures of each piece of veneer. Because this material is natural, it can change due to environmental conditions and with age.


In terms of application, Melawood can be used in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and offices in both residential and commercial interiors.  Some things that I will be looking at using Melawood for include bulkheads, wall paneling (fabulous cost effective alternative) and furniture items….headboards, tables, even nightstands.

Here are some images from PG Bison showing the versatility of their product.  I really encourage you not to look past it next time you are wanting something made, as I certainty wont.





PG Bison has a great Facebook Page and Pinterest Page with some inspirations pics.  Their website is also very informative and has a nifty kitchen visualizer for you to play around with


Also take a look at my Instagram page where I have shared some photos I took at the Roadshow, along with my favourite colours.

White on Rice

The other day myself and Carina were drooling over a bathroom interior that had 3 different shades of charcoal in it.  Dark on dark on dark!

Layering the same shade in an interior has been earmarked as a big trend for 2018 (I wrote about it here).  Basically one colour is used in various tones and materials.    The result is a tone-on-tone look that creates a very calming, harmonious and sophisticated interior.



The trick to make a tonal scheme interesting  when you are using one colour is to use different textures and pattern, otherwise you could run the risk of creating something a bit boring and bland.   So to achieve the interest you could do the following:  the curtains might be sheer or linen, the rug textured or patterned, the floor marbled or timber, the cushions might have a self-pattern, the accessories might have lustre and the artworks. even tho monochromatic will have a pattern.



You can create an interesting twist on a tonal scheme by using what are called ‘related’ colours. This is easier to understand when you’re talking about bolder colours, for example, red is close to rust is close to terracotta. But it can work well with neutral colours too. So instead of strictly using all variants of one colour, you might take a step sideways into one that’s close by but slightly different…..   The below image shows an interior with various aquamarine tones and some additions of green, which is a related colour.


A tonal interior is definitely Minimalist in approach, so not for everyone.   As someone who used to love a pop of contrasting colour and pattern in an interior, I must confess that I am loving this look and the calming feeling it creates. (Maybe I am craving calm as my home studio is like a circus most days! ;))


Here are some more pics:










LEARN THE LINGO – Modern vs Contemporary Design

What’s the big difference between modern and contemporary design? Aren’t they just  different words that basically mean the same thing…?

You can be forgiven for thinking so as these two styles both describe the sleek look of today, BUT they actually have their own distinct traits.   So to help us all out I am going to attempt to explain the difference, however grey it may seem…

“Modern design” refers to the specific time period between the early to mid-twentieth century. (In Interior Design we also refer to this as Mid-Century Modern)

I don’t want to give you a whole history lesson here but this period of time is very iconic in Art, Architecture and Design.     Briefly, this was the peak of art and design informed by “ Scandi and German Bauhaus” design, creating a distinct style focused on simple form and function.   It is also the era where the iconic furniture which we call the “Modern Classics” (Barcelona Chair, Eames chair, Panton chair) were born.   We see replicas of these all the time in contemporary design.

Molded plywood and plastic is very popular in modern furniture , as well as polished metal. Furniture is very open and raised off the floor allowing for an airy feeling. Walls are often white adding to the expansive feeling. Modern interiors generally have bare floors and if area rugs are used, they are typically wool, and neutral in colour. We sometimes refer to modern interiors as retro these days…



“Contemporary design” doesn’t refer to a specific period of time – it’s constantly changing to reflect the popular styles of present day design. “Current” we could say…

It borrows qualities from modernism  (the reason why this is all very grey), minimalism, and other global styles (right now Boho, Scandi etc), without hyper-focusing on any one in particular.     I would say open plan spaces, large amounts of glazing (windows, stacker doors etc) double volume areas and clean lines are all hallmarks of contemporary design.    Comfort and sustainability are key values that are important in a contemporary home.



“Less is more” could easily be the motto for both contemporary and modern design. Each style of space is typically simple and uncluttered, opting for smooth lines – you can forget about seeing anything heavy or ornate in either. Both styles are calming and neutral with a focus on textures. Think reflective surfaces, exposed woods, metals, and glass.

So the main differences between modern and contemporary design?

Contemporary is by definition what’s going on in design at this very moment in time, which makes it more fluid and hard to pin down.    In ten years from now, something else will be considered “contemporary”.

Modern design, on the other hand, has a very distinguishable aesthetic that emphasizes crisp lines, warm neutrals, warm timbers.

I think part of the confusion is that right now, many elements of mid-century modern design (Like the light fittings –  which I just L-O-V-E!) are very popular and are being incorporated into contemporary designs.





SHOWCASE: Michelle Guzinski’s Expo Stand

One of my goals for this year is to make my blog a bit more personal and really share what goes on in my day-to-day business life.   So part of that is of course sharing the journey of my projects with you.  I hope to bring you along on the ride and share how I go about transforming spaces.

Last week I finished up a little project which was just so much fun to be part of.  Shortly after I re-launched Styleast and had started working again, I was approached by a local East London photographer called Michelle Guzinski.  She had signed up for the East London Bridal Expo and wanted some advice and assistance in putting her expo stand together.   When she handed me her business card (Gold and Chevron) I was sold!

Michelle is a Lifestyle and Wedding photographer (you can visit her website here) who explains  her brand as been natural and glam.   There is a distant Chevron pattern in all her branding so that was something I really wanted to enforce in the design.  The brief from  Michelle was to bring wood, Gold (Yaaaas!) Grey, and some plants onto her stand.   She needed a seating area and table top space, and most important of all, we had to showcase her beautiful photographs.

Here are some snaps of the finished stand.


We got gorgeous reclaimed timber screens (which are available to hire) from the Juniper Event and Styling Co.   Michelle wanted a seating area so she could discuss her packages with the brides-to-be so I did a small sofa and 2 side tables – note the scissor legs again highlighting the Chevron pattern.  The scatter cushions where an obvious choice!  And it was all finished off with a Chevron patterned rug just to pull the space together,  make it look more intimate, and again brand re-enforcement!




Another feature that we highlighted on the stand were some suspended Himmeli.   The Himmeli were inspired by the chevron pattern, but translated in a geometric 3D form. (Originating from the Swedish word for sky or heaven, Himmeli are a traditional Finnish ornament.   They are traditionally ornate and suspended above a dinner table over the Christmas period.)


I must say I am loving these shapes and have been Pinteresting them like crazy!   I really think this is a wedding trend to watch out for – they are versatile as they can be used on table tops or suspended.  They also work with a variety of flowers in them.   Just can’t get enough of them!  We chose to showcase Airplants and Old  Man’s Beard as something unique and to complement the ‘Natural’ look Michelle wanted.   Again, loooove these plants and thinking this is another up and coming trend to watch out for.

Himmeli wedding  trend
Himmeli wedding trend

What a fun little project to start the year off!


Here is the Little Black Book of suppliers: (clink on the  suppliers name for a direct link to their page)

Reclaimed timber screens: Juniper Event and Styling Co.

Grey “Love seat” sofa : Styleast

Scissor Leg side tables: Styleast

Chevron Scatter cushions: Superbalist

Chevron Rug: Superbalist

Hemilli: Michelle made these – how cool! But you can also get them from Mr Price Home


And here is a fun Q&A with Michelle:

1. What is your favourite time of day to photograph?

In a photographer’s world there are two perfect times of day to photograph. It’s what’s known as Golden Hour. The hour of sunrise and the hour before sunset. This is when the sun’s light is its most flattering.   I’ve been playing around with other times when the sun is higher and I think I like it!

I also love it when its overcast – the light is awesome then too!

2. Do you have a favourite location to shoot at?

No, not really. It all depends on the light, mood and the people. Although, I definitely wouldn’t mind using places with amazing architecture and mountainous landscapes!

 3. Favourite colour?

I am an absolute sucker for that Khaki/Olive green. And that pairs so nicely with Greys and White for me. So I guess I have three favourite colours.

4. What is your design style?

I prefer simple, cosy, natural designs with a bit of minimalism. I tend to go for purpose and function rather than just display.

5. Favourite interior ever?

Too me the most amazing interiors are Vintage Scandinavian designs. It’s that perfect balance between simple, natural, minimal and cosy. Plants are a must!


You can contact Michelle as follows:

M: +27 83 582 8048








Purple Rain

Pantone announced the new Colour of the Year a few weeks ago and it really has raised some eyebrows in the design world.   The colour is called Ultra Violet, and it is Purple folks, a very bright Purple – think Barney vibes!

I am still wrapping my head around how to use “Greenery” – last year’s colour of the year! (read all about that here)


The Pantone  colour institute says the following about their choice: “A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.”  Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the institute, said: “We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to Pantone 18-3838 ultra violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level.”

Purple Rain Purple Rain

Purple Rain Purple Rain

The meaning of purple most often refers to nobility, abundance, and dignity and is very often used in more opulent and regal interiors where more traditional decor is favoured. Think deep buttoned velvet sofa…    That is all well and good but how can this colour sit comfortably in a contemporary space which is not a tween’s bedroom?!

I would start off by advising that this colour be used with a less-is-more approach and rather on small pieces of furniture, art or décor accessories.  Maybe as a colour brought into a rug.   I would stay clear of wall treatments.

Use on smaller pieces of furniture as a pop colour.  The purple sits really well in this contemporary space
Use on smaller pieces of furniture as a pop colour. The purple sits really well in this contemporary space

To use purple effectively in a contemporary interior, I would pair it with materials such as concrete, timber, glass and shades of grey.   This will all neutralize the saturation of the colour and make it more contemporary and stylish, and less brazen.

Looking good mixed with  greys and timber
Looking good mixed with greys and timber
A winning combination with concrete Can we also have a moment for the light!
A winning combination with concrete
Can we also have a moment for the light!

It will be interesting to see how this colour fares this year across all the design disciplines.  I am not so sure it is going to take off in interiors, perhaps a muted Lilac or Mauve shade will to compliment “Millenial Pink” that is still so popular?

I do see this colour as a passing trend (read more about Trends for this year here) and wouldn’t encourage too much investment in it.

What are your thoughts on the colour and can you see yourself using it in your home?



Happy New Year!

It’s the start of a brand new year and with that comes a whole lot of trend predictions – what will be hot in the design world in 2018?

While we may want our homes to feel timeless and our décor to last forever, there’s no denying that trends play a large role in the decorating process. Just like any great outfit is influenced by a mix of trendy accents and personal style, the best interiors reflect personality while showcasing a few pieces that make it feel current…and that’s where trends come in.

The trick to decorating with trends is twofold. First, use them sparingly, and focus on the ones you see yourself adopting for a long time. Second, look ahead to the trends that are on their way up, as opposed to the ones that are fading—that way your décor will feel fresh for longer.

I have put together a little list of some trends that I am tired off, and what I am excited to see more of in 2018


  1. Metal – copper vs bronze

I am over copper.   Especially the “very shiny-looks-like-it-was-made-in-China-kind.”   I think this year we will see a move towards more burnished metals where the material is more authentic and brushed.  Bronze and blacker metals are predicted to be more popular this year.

Bye bye orangey Copper
Bye bye orangey Copper



Reclaimed timber – DIY vs authentic

There is a lot of reclaimed timber out there that has just been done wrong!   I still like the idea of reclaimed timber – I have used it countless time in various interiors – but I think it needs to be used sensitively and appropriately, not just as a cost effective DIY material.   Natural more authentic materials including timber is going to be a big trend.


When reclaimed actually suits the style....
When reclaimed actually suits the style….


  1. Decorative details – Macrame’ vs embelishments

I think Macrame’ has its place in a Boho styled interior, and maybe in a nursery adding some interest, but that’s about it.   For me this trend  is up there with flamingos, pineapples and unicorns – which don’t get me wrong I love – but I think are rapidly approaching a sell by date in 2018.   Pom poms, embellishments, fringing  and traditional details are predicted to dominate furniture and décor accessories this year.

Love a bit of ombre' fringe!
Love a bit of ombre’ fringe!
Embellishment and decorative accents to decor items will still be hot this  year
Embellishment and decorative accents to decor items will still be hot this year
  1. Lighting – Edison bulbs vs mid century light fittings

These  have  dominated interiors for the last few years but I do think they have now had their time to shine.    I am personally loving the nod to Mid-Century inspired light fittings which I think will expand in the year to come.   There seems to be a definite nod towards more vintage light fittings in 2018.

It's time to say cheers!
It’s time to say cheers!
More like this beauty from Weylandts
More like this beauty from Weylandts
More of this!
More of this!


  1. Pop colours vs tonal colours

I think the drama of a ‘pop’ or contrast colour in an interior  is been phased out and replaced with a more tonal colour approach this year  What that means is that spaces are designed entirely in the same colour family.  This creates a very minimalistic harmonious and peaceful space. I love this trend and definitely want to adopt this into some of the projects I am going to be working on.


Too much contrast and drama for 2018!
Too much contrast and drama for 2018!
This year is all about tonal schemes where multiple shades of the same colour a
This year is all about tonal schemes where multiple shades of the same colour are used
The 'tonal' approach
The ‘tonal’ approach

I will be keeping you posted as the year goes on to see how these trends progress….


5 Design tips for Bathrooms

I am busy with a design of a main ensuite bathroom for a client.   Because this is my current focus and I have had  bathrooms on my mind  all week long, I thought I’d share with you some design details that I like to use in a bathroom to really up the ante in the design stakes


  1. Add texture
    I think key to achieving an interesting and inviting bathroom space is to think beyond just plain polished porcelain tiles.  Introducing texture to the bathroom via other interesting wall or floor finishes such as natural stone whether polished or honed, wallpaper, fabrics, and furniture really will take your bathroom from average to amazing!



Shower recess

I love to add a recess in the shower or above a bath if construction allows us too (you need to be able to have a 230 wall to cut into, or else the space to add another skin of brickwork on) Not only is a recess very practical as it stores all your bath products neatly, but it also opens the up the opportunity to add detail, by breaking an expanse of tile or maybe even introducing another finish in the actual recess itself.

 2 3 Picture1

  1. Lighting

What really makes quite a statement is to use pendant lights or wall lights in your bathroom space. I have written lots about feature lighting in the past (read here) and how it completely transforms an interior, not just as a wow factor but an alternative light quality too.  Just watch what the light fitting is made from as you wouldn’t want to use anything that would be compromised from steam or difficult to wipe down.




  1. Bathroom rugs

Why stick to the standard bathroom mats that all the home-retailers sell?   I have spoken time and time again (read here) about what rugs can do to a space and I honestly think a bathroom is no different.  An interesting rug really can introduce texture, pattern and personality to an otherwise utalitarian space.  I am particularly loving the new bathroom rugs that a Haus by Hertex have just launched (see here)


  1. Maximize on your Storage

It doesn’t matter if your bathroom is big or small, I think it always important to think about WHAT and HOW you are going to store items in your bathroom.  Often things like where the laundry will go are afterthoughts and a random basket gets purchased with no space for it as it wasn’t thought through.   With proper planning everything can be accommodated for.   If space allows, I love doing shallow wall units for hiding tons of beauty products and medication, as well as an integrated laundry basket- those are the best!





Black is back

It’s no secret that I love a little bit of black in an interior.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record; Black is bold, beautiful, iconic and a classic addition to any interior.


I have shared some ideas before on how to embrace the colour en masse , (Read about it here) but certainly that dramatic  look is not for everybody. One of the ways Black is appearing in design now is in fixtures and hardware. It can stand out in a bright space and ground another. With hardware and fixtures tending to come in just a handful of finishes and colors, this emergence of black is a welcomed option, which I believe will not just be a fleeting trend, but just like the LBD: forever timeless.


  1. Window and door frames

A black window and door frame can really frame the view outside and turn it into something special.   It also adds drama and style to a space which I just love.  The dark against the light outside just pops! Black frames do favour a more contemporary aesthetic, but this look can also look quite at home in a more classic styled interior too.


  1. Bathroom tapware and accessories

I am totally crushing on this look and cannot wait to do a bathroom with black taps for a client! (Any takers out there?!)  I think this look is so chic, and really adds something so special to a very utilitarian and naturally ‘stark’ room.

I love how the taps become the main feature in a very minimalist bathroom, and what a beautiful contrasting detail they provide in a more textural layered bathroom.

Matte black fixtures will compliment any colour scheme or material. Pairing textured timber with smooth black tapware helps to bring out the wood’s beautiful natural grain.   It works a treat with go-to bathroom materials like marble and granite and tiles.  Black tapware is very versatile and looks great in contemporary, classic or rustic styled bathrooms.


  1. Cabinet handles

Cabinet hardware is the little detail that can have a big impact on the overlook look and feel of your kitchen or bathroom.     I recently specified black handles for my beach house kitchen.  I had used a combination of white and grey-smoked timber for the cabinets and felt that stainless steel would just look too stark for the look I was after, and just a little too predictable.   The black handles give the kitchen a more bespoke feel, and authenticity which enhances the relaxed contemporary aesthetic I was after.   I just love the way they turned out and will not hesitate to use blank handles in an appropriate interior again.



Black tapware is available in South Africa from the following suppliers:

A few more inspiration pics   **ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF PINTEREST**


Picture perfect – How to build a Gallery Wall

If there’s one design element that has been having a major moment lately, it has to be gallery walls. Whether it’s big, small or somewhere in between, creating a gallery with your favourite prints and art pieces can instantly elevate the style of any space.


I recently moved my toddler from her cot into a bed. This called for a little room makeover, so this weekend (Flu and all!) I decided to do a little gallery wall in Mackenzie’s room and would like to share with you some tips on how to do one yourself.

I had been collecting prints and pieces for Mackenzie’s room for quite some time, and some of the pieces had been in her room since she was born. (I really like rooms that are “age neutral’ – but more about that another time)   I think the most successful gallery walls are ones that combine a variety of art mediums and frame styles. If you’re looking for a foolproof way to make sure your art works together, choose pieces that have a common thread—a certain color for example. But you don’t have to limit yourself. The most important thing is for your wall to represent you—your tastes, your history, and the art you love most. In this case, Mackenzie’s room is a colour palette of gold, peach and pinks, so the prints and pieces all have that in common. I used a variety of frames, and different shaped pieces too which I think is key to achieving the right look.

When it comes to gallery walls, size does matter! More important than focusing on the art type or scheme, it’s often the combination of sizes that makes or breaks a gallery wall. The key is making sure you start with a couple of larger pieces to anchor the wall. In my case I had a big round mirror that had to stay where it was (Hiding an awful TV plug and cords!) So I had to build my gallery wall around that. If you don’t have one large piece, group two together for the illusion of a larger work. Once you’ve placed the largest piece, build off of that from the centre outwards. Groupings look most cohesive when frames are spaced tightly, however if there is an extra large piece in the mix, give it a little extra room to breathe. With regard to height, I recommend limiting the height of your gallery wall to two to three works, top to bottom. This generally keeps your art at eye-level. Of course ceiling to floor gallery walls are super dramatic too! So if you have the room to handle it, that will look fabulous!


While the final look appears casual and uncalculated, there is actually a method to the madness. Creating a wall gallery is no easy feat. That’s why I’ve put together some tips below to teach you how to hang a wall collage with finesse. In retrospect I wish I had made a video tutorial to show you this, but hope my not-so-professional Iphone pics will suffice!


1.  I took each artwork and traced it onto card which I cut out, to make templates.


2. I then used Prestick to stick the templates onto the wall and try out different layout options. This is key, and despite been a tedious and time consuming process with all the cutting and sticking etc. (Especially when you have a toddler trying to ‘help!’) I really recommend you do this with all your art prior to hanging it.   Big tip: Multiple frames look best when based around the following shapes: rectangle, diamond or square. Straight set rows are nice too. If you opt for straight, use a piece of string stretched between two pushpins as a guide along with a level to make sure it’s straight.


3. Once you have your layout, you then need to do all the measuring to hang it onto the wall. I was quite lazy and used ‘No More Nails’ to stick some of the lighter pieces up. My husband drilled some holes for the heavier pieces (It was a really family affair) and I used my new favorite DIY tool: the Hilti picture hanger, and did some myself!

And there you have it- a gorgeous gallery wall!



PS. How cute is the House  bed!


Here is some inspiration of other gallery walls for you to swoon over: