Book Review: Decorating with Plants by Satoshi Kawamoto

DecoratingwithplantstitleRegular readers will know that I have a longstanding love of plants. The progressive work on  my little London garden has been something that has brought me a lot of joy over the years even though it’s been a long work in progress and still going.

The accumulation of plant life in my interior however has only been a recent development. Late last year, I came across an article in Elle Decoration that showcased an interior based in Brooklyn that was minimal but full of plants. It struck me how wonderful having plants in the home could be. The life the plants brought to the interior helped create a space that was homely, peaceful and tranquil. And so, I decided to try to bring some greenery into my home. I was cautious at first, starting with some easy to care for succulents, and have slowly progressed from there.

So when Jacqui Small asked me to review a book called Decorating with Plants by renowned Japanese Garden Stylist Satoshi Kawamoto, I just couldn’t refuse. The look of the book alone speaks true to Satoshi’s unique and edgy style and the book itself doesn’t disappoint.

Decorating with Plants provides pages of inspiration on how to incorporate a variety of plant life into your home. What I love about this book is that it is uniquely in Satoshi’s style where he prefers to use natural materials such as driftwood, linens and vintage finds to create his displays – totally in line with my aesthetic.

He starts the book by providing examples of how you can create plant displays in your home, using his home on the outskirts of Tokyo to showcase idea’s for every room in the house including the toilet. The book then talks about various ways to style a corner in the home, table settings and then store design.

Though the book is not a weighty tome, it is small but impactful. The images in the book are full of inspiration and I found myself, spending minutes on each page having to dissect the images because there are so many good ideas. Though the book is focused on plants, the images also provide inspiration on how to decorate with your every day items. His bedroom for example uses a variety of hats as display on his walls which I loved.

Would I recommend this book? If I saw this book on the shelf of the bookstore, I would definitely buy it simply because the book speaks to my aesthetic and creativity.

For this post, I decided to show some of Satoshi’s table settings that he has featured in the book. Beautifully created and styled all using the same table.

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Satoshi is also the creative director of Green Fingers, a chain of stores in Tokyo and New York that encourages customers to transform their living environment with greenery, garden accessories and personalised furniture. Further stores are planned for Los Angeles and my home town London. I can’t wait!

Till next time, xD

Image Source: Title Image by Doris Lee, consequent images from the book.

 

Urban Jungle Bloggers – Plant Shelfie

Plantshelfie1Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series hosted by Igor from Happy Interior Blog and Judith from Joelix.com. Every month they (along with other bloggers) share idea’s and inspiration to readers on how to create green urban spaces in the home. Each month a different topic is chosen and participants are free to join in with the fun.

This months topic was “Plant Shelfie”.

We are still in the midst of getting our downstairs space finished. Having started my own design business, I’ve had to prioritise other peoples interiors ahead of my own. This is just fine by me, however I find that my to be studio space is feeling somewhat neglected. So this morning I thought I’d brighten a small alcove space, that is currently waiting on some flooring and skirting with my version of a “Plant Shelfie”.

The lovely bench, is from Bloomingville and will indeed be used as a changeable display shelf so being able to put my concept into practise was a lot of fun! Here are the results…

PlantshelfieLandscape

 

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So what do you think about my attempt at a plant shelfie? I’d love to know.

Till next time, xD

Image Source: Photography by Doris Lee

 

A Simple Year

StayingSimpleA Simple Year is a year long on-line course that I’m participating in that covers subjects related to simplifying your life. For the month of August (I’m playing catchup here), the topic covered was titled Staying Simple, which provided information and tools on how to simplify aspects of your home. The topic teacher was Brooke McAlary who blogs about simplicity on Slow Your Home.

This months topic was filled with very inspiring and motivational information. Brooke started off with providing an introduction of why she started to simplify her life. Being someone who was overwhelmed with trying to have it all, a successful business, a family, house and all the trimmings, she was candid about the phases in her life that lead her to a meltdown and decision to simplify her life.

What I really loved about this topic was that she cut straight to the subject of how to unearth your priorities. The reason being that if you spend time understanding your priorities, your motivation to living a more simpler life becomes easier.

So I thought I’d share with you the 7 questions that she asked for reflection on:

  1. Who are the most important people in my life?
  2. What experiences are most important to me?
  3. Looking back at my life, what do I want to see? What do I want others to see?
  4. Imagine a perfect day. Describe my surroundings, my feelings, my attitude. What is in common with my current life?
  5. What about my current life doesn’t feature at all?
  6. If I had a simpler life, what positive things could I move towards?
  7. What negative things could I move away from?

By answering these questions, it will help you to understand what your priorities are in life. Did you come up with anything interesting or surprising? I’d love to know.

Till next time, xD

Image Source: Photography by Doris Lee

Breaking it Down – Farmhouse Kitchen

FarmhouseKitchenTitle It’s funny when the momentum of life seems to be heading full steam ahead, then something happens to slow you down. Little J is sick and has had to be home from school this week. This has given me the opportunity to browse through Pinterest A LOT. So when I came across this beautiful  farmhouse interior on The Design Files a very popular Australian blog. I just couldn’t resist trying my hand at breaking it down.

FarmhouseKitchenBreakingitdown

If you want to see the rest of this amazing home, you can see it here. I highly recommend you take a look as it’s a beautiful space.

What about this interior appeals to you? I’d love to know.

Till next time, xD

Image Source: The Design Files

Blogging Anniversary – Why do I blog?

2015InspirationYesterday, it was my 2 year blogging anniversary and it literally started with a BANG. At 8am in the morning, the builders arrived to perform their magic on our downstairs reception and my new to be studio. I can’t tell you what a relief it’s been to actually have someone start work on this, and I am really looking forward to having our front 2 rooms ready in time for winter and the Christmas season.

So, it’s been 2 years since I started writing about my journey and transition into a more creative life. It started off with a chance click over to an On-line Blogging Your Way course by the legendary author and blogger Holly Becker of Decor8 and from the first post I wrote, I have loved it and has become an integral part of my life.

When people ask me why I blog, I find at times it is difficult to articulate what it is about blogging that is so wonderful. So I thought I’d try to write down a list of the reasons why I blog in no particular order:

  • It pushes me to do better and take risks. I’m always thinking about the next exciting thing I can blog about which in turn pushes me to go out and find it.
  • I’m part of a fabulous community. My friends and readers who take the time to read my posts, leave a comment, encourage and support me through social media, help me to keep going especially when I’ve had a tough day.
  • Writing helps me to analyse what it is that I want to articulate about a particular topic and share my opinions and thoughts.
  • Writing helps me to practise the words I want to say to clients. Funnily enough, when I am on-site with a client, I am better able to verbalise what I want to say because I have written about it. I’m not sure why.
  • It makes me accountable. I feel a responsibility to do better because I have an audience.
  • It has become not only my diary, but a portfolio of work and a reflection of my true aesthetic that has lead to work on projects that I really enjoy.
  • It has put me in contact with other very talented creatives in the industry that I look up to and never ever thought I’d be able to interact with in real life.
  • I have met and made friends with the most wonderful blogger’s all over the world.

As I look back on the past year, my drive for experience has lead on an unexpected course. On a professional perspective, I’ve managed to complete 2 bathroom renovations, do some professional styling for a talented textile designer and start a Design Studio. I don’t think these things would have happened within such a short time without having a blog.

So for the next year of blogging, I’m going to focus on the continuation of my journey through experience, creating a studio, sharing my learnings & as a special request by my lovely blog friend Monika from Secret Garden Home, I will be sharing some parts of my home with you.

A special thank you to all of my readers and friends on helping me get this far. It’s only because of your comments, encouragement and support that I’ve been able to get this far. I thank you from the bottom on my heart.

Till next time, xD

P.S. A new year, means a new moodboard for the site. What do you think?

Image Source: pinterest

 

Alternative ways to use your Conservatory

ConservatoryTitleI’ve been madly rushing around this week desperately trying to settle into a new phase of my life. My son little J has started primary school which is a big milestone for the entire family. Little J has settled into his school life like a duck to water, and I find myself in an unexpected position.

The intention was always to continue with my studies, get some quiet time to furiously finish the diploma over the next year while I slowly started to get experience by completing little projects around the house. Instead I find myself having to put my studies on hold for a few months (the end of the year) and starting a Design Studio (more on that soon) because I seem to have acquired a number of clients that want to pay me to design and renovate their homes, I have to say that again, someone wants to pay me to do what I love!

Let me put it out there first and foremost, my clients are all aware that I’m still learning and a complete novice, and I’m not gutting a 12 bedroom mansion and starting from scratch. But they are all projects that will give me experience in ways that I know books could never do. I feel busy and yet very blessed to be where I am and it’s kinda scary.

So today, I wanted to talk about one particular client who has acquired a flat which houses a conservatory. I’m in the process of designing a scheme that fits around it and I thought I’d talk about it a bit today.

When it comes to conservatories, they can sometimes stick out like a sore thumb. You know with all that glass and hard tiled flooring it can be a blessing or a curse. So I think that the trick is treat it as an extension either of your garden or of your interior.

The image above showcases how using elements from the outside can create such a wonderful effect. From the gravel on the ground, to using the hanging basket as a replacement for a chandelier, it creates a beautiful setting to sit in inside without having to suffer the elements outside.

The images below showcase ways you can use a conservatory as an extension of your home. Being short of space here in London, we tend to utilise every single indoor area we can find and is what I’ll be designing for for my client. Here is some inspiration…

ConservatoryStudy

 

ConservatoryDining

 

ConservatoryBlackDo you have a conservatory? What do you use it for and how does it integrate into your home? I’d love to know.

Till next time, xD

Image Source: Title: Sfgirlbybay.com, 1 – Femkepastijn.nl, 2 – Unknown, 3 – Unknown

 

A Simple Year

ASimpleYearTitleA Simple Year is a year long on-line course that I’m participating in that covers subjects related to simplifying your life. For the month of July, the topic covered was titled Money, which covered interesting topics such as creating a spending plan and generosity. The topic teacher was  Joshua Becker from the well known simplicity blog called Becoming Minimalist.

I am a big fan of Joshua’s blog and I love how he shares his everyday life in providing examples of how minimalism has improved it for him and his family. It was interesting to read about how money can affect you. Joshua was candid in identifying that there are two main reasons that 71% of us experience money-related stress and anxiety that are 1) we wish we had more and 2) we spend as if we already have more.

After reading this, I really had to think about the financial situation that Big J and I are in and I have to say that I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Looking back, we have made some good choices in our life.

But it wasn’t always this way, we have made a lot of mistakes along the way but we were fortunate enough to have made them we were were young enough to recover from it. It is only now, that I see that those mistakes have taught us valuable lessons that we have managed to hold onto and still value today.

When we were first starting out, we got ourselves into a bit of debt. We were both in good jobs and living the good life, fancy cars and expensive restaurants that amassed large amount of sums onto our credit cards. But we wanted to travel and see the world and so we decided that in order for us to live our dreams, we needed to clean the slate and work towards being debt free. This decision changed our life.

This is what we did:

  1. We made a list of all of our outgoings and grouped them into essential fixed costs like groceries, debt payments etc and non-essentials like going out, new clothes etc
  2. We then determined what our monthly income was and calculated how much we had left over. There wasn’t much, in fact we were negative. So we cut down on our non-essentials and put together a plan to pay off the debt – it would take 10 months.
  3. We focused on paying off the high interest debt first which was credit cards and we stopped using them and used cash instead pulling out cash for the week – the cash was then separated into different envelopes – rent, groceries, bills, entertainment, take aways etc once the money in each pocket ran out, that was it until the next week.
  4. Next we focused on the lower interest debts which was our car loans. Once we managed to pay off these loans, we now only buy cars with cash.
  5. We started to cook more and resolved to only have take aways once a week – it became a Friday treat.
  6. We reduced how much we went out. Instead of going to the cinema, we stayed home and watched TV. Instead of going to a restaurant with friends, we invited people over. We did things that were free, like cycling or going for walks in the park or the beach.
  7. Once the debt was cleared, we developed a “slush” fund which was a pot of money that each of us was able to spend during the year on non-essentials. This helped us to understand where we wanted to spend our money. 

We did this for 12 months and managed to pay off our debt, get married and come to London with some savings. Till this day, we still live with the same principles though we are not so rigid.

We have found that over the years, we only spend money on the priorities in our life. In our 20s it was frivolous, before kids it was travel and now it’s our home. Being able to live within your means takes a lot of effort and conscious thinking. But we made the tough choices early on and are starting to see the rewards now. We now appreciate that money gives us the freedom to live our lives the way we want but try not to be burdened by it. 

What has money taught you? I’d love to know.

Till next time, Doris

Image Source: Photography by Doris Lee

Creating Moody Interiors without using Dark Walls

MoodyTitleAs Autumn approaches, the need to come back inside makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. This is my favourite season and I look forward every year to the changing of the colours in the leaves from green to vibrant red & yellow. I love that I can dust off my wellies and take walks in the forest with the crunching sounds of the leaves under my feet and that slightly diffused daylight that streams through my window in the early evenings as Winter starts to creep it’s way in is just magical.

Of course, the moody interior fits itself so very well during this time of year and I find myself wanting more and more to use darker moodier colours within my home. But painting our walls a dark colour is not for everyone. And I have parts of my home that are still light, so I decided to do some investigation into how it could be possible to have a moody interior even if you have light walls. Here is some inspiration…

MoodyArt

MoodyWhite

MoodyGreen

 

MoodyBlueAre you inspired by moody interiors? Would you prefer dark or light? I’d love to know.

Till next time, xD

Image Source: Title: Dimore Studio, 1 – DomaineHome.com, 2 – Unknown, 3 – Anthropologie.com, 4 - Milk Magazine

 

Book Review: Kitchenalia by Vinny Lee

kitchenalia

When Jacqui Small asked me to review Vinny Lee’s new book called Kitchenalia, I was so intrigued. My kitchen is the opposite of vintage and flea market, being very contemporary and modern. I figured it would help me to better improve the styling of my kitchen if nothing else.

The books underlining title is “Furnishing and Equipping your Kitchen with Flea Market Finds and Period Pieces”. But it provides so much more. Vinny demonstrates how you can take a modern kitchen and add more character to personalise your style.

Vinny starts with a simple modern kitchen and then showcases 4 ways to transform and style the same kitchen giving it a different theme and feel through colours, patterns and accessories. Then the book goes on to talk indepth about different period styles and how to accomplish the look including Retro, Reclaimed, White, Painted, Country & my personal favourite Utilitarian. It then finishes off with showcasing the key elements of a kitchen.

What I really liked about the book was that it gives a historical context to the reason that the themes have emerged. It was when I read the Utilitarian kitchen that I began to realise that the reason that I love the Industrial style so much is because it comes from a time during the post world war II era where scandinavian and mid-century design were popular and  furnishings were pared down and simplified. It was quite a revelation to me, as I now understand that the pieces that draw my eye are from the same era.

The book does go into a lot of detail and is worth a read. But I thought I’d showcase some of the images from the Utilitarian Kitchen and provide some inspiration on how to achieve the look from the book.

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FreestandingKitchenaliaIf you would like to get yourself a copy, it can be purchased from Amazon here.

Please Note: this book was provided by Jacqui Small however the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Image Source: Title – photography by Doris Lee, consequent images from the book.

 

Tips for buying Wood Flooring

FritzHansenImageOver the last couple of weeks I have been helping a client to choose some wood flooring for her converted warehouse apartment. As a result, I have been talking to different experts in the field about this and find that I’ve learnt so much that I wanted to share it with you today. So here are some tips to take into consideration when buying wood flooring which I have found to be helpful and hope you will too.

Beforeyoustart

  • Think about the colour tone you are going for? Do you want grey, brown, yellow?
  • What aesthetic are you going for? Rustic, Contemporary, Industrial, Scandic?
  • Distressed flooring is just a normal floor that’s been beaten up a bit to give it a more aged feel.
  • Do you take off your shoes when at home? If you tend to walk about in bare feet, you should consider a style with less texture.
  • Think about how your furniture will work with the wood. My client has mainly white furniture which she wants to keep, so it was important to not choose a wood that would contrast too much against the floor.
  • Will you be using underfloor heating? If so, Think about the wood that you want to use . A lot of reclaimed wood is made out of Pine. Pine (which tends to be the cheapest) is soft and wont typically work with underfloor heating.
  • Smoked wood makes the grain appear darker.
  • Wider floor panels will make the space appear larger.
  • Labour costs need to be calculated separately and can range between £30 to £50 per square metre.
  • A floating floor is usually cheaper and quicker to install.

AttheShop

  • Always go to the shop and see the wood in large panels, the tiny samples they send to you won’t be enough to get a feel for what the floor will look like.
  • Always take a sample of your narrowed down selection home to view against your furniture and fittings.
  • Engineered wood works best with underfloor heating however what sort you go for is dependant on the type of underfloor heating you have. Some types of flooring will require you to place a layer of plywood between the underfloor heating and the top wood floor layer. Always best to ask about installation requirements and details.
  • Take the panels to the closest window and see them under natural light.
  • Take a floor plan with you or measurements of the space you want to buy for. Most panels are sold in square metres.
  • Always ensure that 10% is added to the total cost of the square meterage you intend to buy for wastage. If the area you are buying for has a lot of tricky area’s to work  around like beams or kitchen islands, then add another 5%.
  • Check with the supplier whether there are provisions for returning any un-used packets of wood. Sometimes you can get a refund.

Do you have any experiences of buying wood flooring? Is there anything else that you would like to add? Anything you thought you would have liked to have known at the time? Please do share, I’d love to know.

Till next time, xD

Image Source: Fritz Hansen