Bright | Fresh | Affordable - A simple expat living space redecorate

Bec and her family have moved to China, where her husband works as a school principal. They were provided with an apartment as accommodation, but with limited choice on furniture and decor. The beige, beige and more beige was doing Bec’s head in (understandably) so she asked me for some help. Here's what she sent. BEFORE house1

The first things I thought were,

- Those red chairs are actually pretty cool and workable - There needs to be some contrast and colour. - Artwork! - A bit of storage was needed too, because the kids play in this space. - Greenery. Every room needs some plants, even if they're fakeys.

I felt a colourful design vibe coming on, but having Bec all the way over in China, there wasn't a lot I knew about her local homewares stores. This challenge would have been easily overcome, I would have had Bec choose some of her favourite stores with an online presence, and I could easily check out their sites and make selections. Fortunately, Bec wanted to use Ikea. Its affordable, easy, and familiar for her, and lets face it, they have some really great stuff. So I made her a moodboard and list of selections, including a super cool art piece from Etsy. (The bicycle).

Microsoft Word - Becs Lounge.docx

She loved it, went and did some shopping, and set it all up at her place. It's so much brighter and happier for her and the kids, practical and colourful, and a pleasure to be in. She was really tossing up between the LAPPLJUNG RUTA rug, and something a bit more safe in pattern, and kid friendly in colour. But I convinced her otherwise. I love this rug. It adds a modern dynamic to any room and matches almost any decor. It's a classic in my books, and looks great in her lounge. What an amazing difference just a few changes can make, and it helps to have that extra set of professional eyes to help the process.

Jade was so awesome at working out what this room needed. This bold style isn't usually what I'd go for, but I gave it a shot, and I LOVE it. It was so good to have a professional help me with it, I would've just stayed with safe colours and ended up a bit boring. This is so much better. I'd recommend Jade to anyone. Even long distance, she got back to me really fast, and got the work done super quick. Thanks so much Jade!

AFTER After

After2

A real life castle in Brisbane. Wowsers.

Castle Rumble. A mystical abode is hidden within the trees and surrounding homes of … Beenleigh, near Brisbane. It is for sale, and a friend and I couldn’t resist the adventure of visiting on an open house day. As did a bunch of other intrigued punters.

Mr Rumble started out living in a caravan on this block of land, (which is a huge 4 hectares btw) and built an entire castle himself. And then filled it with things that he made, himself.

What amazed me so much was the dedication and time that had so obviously been poured into every element of this place. A man built by hand, his own dream home. This, is impressive. He didn’t conform to conventions, he didn’t use any interior design rules, he probably didn’t even get council approval for most of it, but what he did was whatever he wanted. I admire this. He was on site on the day, and I don’t know what he was thinking or feeling, but he was hidden away. And it must have been strange for him to see all these people coming and being so nosy, and it must be somewhat difficult to be letting this lifetime of work go.

I'll let the pictures show you what is truly an incredible property. Also, this video by the real estate agent is pretty cool.

Property Styling - Norman Park Luxury

I have been working hard with Signature Property Styling over the last few months. This job is a particular stand out one for us, which we did for Paula Pearce at Place Bulimba. In her words we had "an impossible task in an impossible timeframe". Having only 48hrs official notice, we managed to style this 5 bedroom beauty in Norman Park, Brisbane perfectly. We wanted a classic and beautiful finish, with the vibe of a modern family lifestyle. I couldn't even describe to you how much work and sweat was involved in creating these scenes. It looks so effortless, but I can assure you, we only stopped running to sleep a little bit over those few days.

Property Styling - A beach side Queenslander

I had the privilege of working with a designer friend Lindsay Southwell from Signature Property Styling on this project last week. Our very first job, this home is a gorgeous, light, airy Queenslander at Wynnum West, that we staged for sale in Brisbane. Lindsay was partway through the project when I came on board. Starting with a blank canvas, she had selected furniture and some decorative elements, to create a casual and homely beach side style.  I brought in some extra ideas and decorative elements to add detail to this concept , and of course amazing muscle power to build and move furniture ;) I loved this job and am hoping to do more of it. The client was really happy with the outcome, and I hope they sell for a great price! See here for more on the details of sale for this property.

Sideboard love. The mid century influence strikes again.

Sideboard love. Oslo Buffet

I asked my husband if he liked this, he said... "Yeah! I do. Except all the random colours. Why does it only have one blue door, and all that white. The wood would just look better."

I can see his point, the timber is lovely. And it challenged me to look deeper as to why I liked it so much, just as it is.

To me it's fresh, interesting, very mid century and scandinavian, styles that I find myself drawn to. The white and grey makes the timber look even more lovely, because it offers a clean crispness to contrast the warm and textured wood against. There is attention to detail in the rounded edges. It's asymmetrical and imperfect. It's fun, contemporary, but not too serious. It's just cool.

Shanty Town Interiors - Hong Kong

If you've googled 'interiors' lately, you'd know that the images that fill the page are spacious rooms made up of a palette of neutrals and browns, fairly minimal in design, with fancy furniture and clean surfaces. Then google 'slum interiors' and see how vastly different it is. Cluttered and dirty, crowded and small, colourful and well lived in, it presents a very different picture. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy perusing through Houzz as much as anyone, but I am also really intrigued and moved by the way that most of the world actually live, and the reasons why. Generally speaking, here in Australia, we are a fairly privileged society, where there is an economy and legislation that supports the provision of safe and habitable housing for all, although there are a number of people still without that, even here.

Hong Kong has a bit of a different story. There is a large influx of refugees into Hong Kong, mainly from Bangladesh. Many are victims of torture and kidnapping. When they escape their country, they can receive minimal support from the government if they register themselves as a refugee. They are allowed $1200 a month for rent, which although to some may seem generous, it goes directly to landlords. When you see the images of the homes they rent, you will realise this is not generous. (I could be wrong, but it looks to me like landlords are welcoming the government funding, and squashing as many people as they can into unmaintained buildings.) Refugees also get given a bag of food every 10 days, but they are not allowed to work. This has forced people with next to nothing into communities to try and survive together.

The Hong Kong government is not under any obligation to process refugee claims for visa, so people can be living for years, with no money, or ability to work, living in places that are not maintained to a habitable standard. Next time you think your house is too small, remember some of these images. There is no deliberate design here, although I am certain there are some tricks to using space well. They are intriguing and sad and beautiful all at once. Photo reference links are at the bottom of the post.