A Simple Year

Travel

 

A 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 March, the topic covered was titled Travel by Colin Wright from the blog Exhile Lifestyle.

Colin Wright is an author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler. Having been a minimalist for almost 5 years, he ran a successful branding studio in Los Angeles before deciding to change his lifestyle to focus on his passions of writing and travel. Colin now travels full time and moves to a new country every 4 months based on the votes of his readers from his blog.

It was with a curious mind that I undertook the reading for this topic. I love to travel. The experience of new cultures, the smell of the air when you get off the plane and the excitement and anticipation of being somewhere new is something that you can only experience through travelling. But I asked myself how could you go about simplifying the act of travelling?

So, I was pleasantly surprised that the topic for the month was much more in depth than just travelling and packing light. It covered the idea and actions behind pursuing your passion in life. The fundamental question being, are you making use of the time you have  to do what you really want?

The reading motivated me to  take a long hard look at my life and determine what it is that I wanted from it. I want so many things, but fundamentally I want the following: to be present for Little J & Big J, to be creative and to be in a comfortable home that reflects who we are, what we value and is filled with people I love.

One of the homework items for the month was to create a bucket list by writing down the list of things you want to accomplish in the next year, the next five years and ten years. By writing down what you want to accomplish, it helps you to define what you want out of life and gives you a marker to achieving them.

When I was engaged to Big J, one of the best pieces of advice I was given in regards to marriage was from a work colleague. He had been married for 15 years at the time and told me that he and his wife created a bucket list similar to the one above before they got married and they sat down and took the time to review it every year. Upon his advice, Big J & I did this and we review it every year at the same time. We note down the location, and review and re-write the list that includes what we want both individually and together. It helps to open up a conversation that we might never have had and helps us to understand where each of us are mentally at that particular point in time.

So, whether you are in a relationship or not, I highly recommend the exercise of creating a bucket list. It will help you understand what your priorities are in life and might prompt you into the action of working towards it.

Do you have a bucket list?

Till next time. xD

Image Source: Photography by Doris Lee

Out & About: Cherry Blossoms

CherryBlossoms1The weather has been so temperamental of late, sunshine one minute then hailing the next. Whenever I can, I try to take a walk in a natural environment like a park or forest. I find that it calms me and helps me to enjoy the simplicity of being amongst nature.

Yesterday I managed to make it to the forest just before the hailstorm struck. I usually take a similar path but on this day I decided to take a stroll in the opposite direction. This change in direction took me to a quiet street that was lined with Cherry Blossoms. I stood for a moment enjoying the delightfully delicate flowers and smells. Then I decided to take out my phone and take a few pictures which I wanted to share with you today.

cherryblossoms3

cherryblossoms2

cherryblossom5Cherry Blossoms only flower for a limited period of time. I love that when they do, they create a beautiful spectacle that only lasts a couple of weeks a year and then revert back to being a normal tree, like a fleeting moment in time.

So, next time you come across a flowering Cherry Blossom, take a moment to enjoy it, it won’t last long. Till next time. xD

Image Sournce: Photography by Doris Lee

Making the most of your Windows

WindowTitle

My neighbours have decided to do some renovations to their house. The changes they intend to make include a set of bi-fold doors that open up into their garden.  Bi-fold doors are large wall to ceiling panelled doors that go all the way across the length of your house and open accordingly.

I love the idea of this, however I can’t help but think that it’s become the “default” choice. Lots of people in my area have them. They look great and I understand the appeal. All I ask of you if you are going to invest in this type of window is to please also invest in the garden you are planning to look out into. These doors bring the outdoors in. If your outdoor looks shabby, then it will affect your interior also.

This event then prompted me to start thinking about ways to best utilise windows. After some research, I have discovered that you can make windows work harder than just a vessel to allow in natural light. By carefully placing furniture and objects around a window, it has the potential to provide multiple functions. And finally, don’t be afraid to place things in front of a window, or your bi-fold doors. By doing this, you add a level of depth to your scheme that will give perspective to the window itself.

Here are some inspiring ways to make the most of your windows…

Bench

internalwalls

Breakfastbench

WindowDesk

Plantsinfront

How do you utilise your windows? I’d love to know. Till next time. xD

Image Source: Title – Briewilliams.com, 1 – Asfourguzy.com, 2 – Housetohome.co.uk, 3 – Housebeautiful.com, 4 – Archdaily.com, 5 – Grupotragaluz.com

Book Review: Decorate with Flowers by Holly Becker & Leslie Shewring

UK_cover2-700x1024When it comes to buying and arranging flowers, it’s all a bit haphazard for me. I usually go to the guy that has a stall around the corner from my house, and I stand there for ages looking at all the flowers, my intuition kind of takes over, and then I choose a couple of bunches to take home with me to arrange. There is no technique or specialist floral training behind what I do, just a bit of fun.

So when I was reading the introduction of Decorate with Flowers – the 3rd book by the world renowned Interiors blogger Holly Becker from Decor8 and debut book from the talented Product designer Leslie Shewring from  A Creative Mint (published by Jacqui Small), I was pleased to see that they take a similar approach by focusing on creativity rather than technique. By not claiming to be a replacement to books that cover how to produce professional-looking arrangements, they take a more relaxed and fresh approach to the topic. Something I am definately on board with.

The book is packed full of handy tips from how to choose your blooms to how to keep them fresh for longer. I also loved that the tools they use to create their arrangements are things that you can find easily around the house. No fancy instruments required.

The book covers practical step by step projects on how to create various arrangements and then continues to cover 8 chapters worth of themed inspiration: Natural, Pastels & Neons, Market, Happy Brights, Coastal, Neutral Pop, Girly Glam and Black & White.

It’s full to the brim of great idea’s that you can easily try at home and I also like how it gives you advise on how to display your floral arrangement in different rooms within your home. Not to mention that the homes of some of my favourite bloggers such as Emily Henderson & Bri Emery from Design Love fest are used to showcase these examples.

Here are some ideas that I found inspiring from the book:

BottleChandelierLibertyCoveredPotsglitterandsparkles

Of course, I just had to try out something for myself. While reading through the book my eye zero’ed in on a picture of a small branch with bottles of flowers hanging off them which I loved. So while I was walking home from a birthday party with Little J over the weekend I spotted a fallen branch from a tree and decided to drag it home, add some bottles and flowers and the results are below:

HangingOffbranch2

HangingOffbranchPurple

Hangingoffbranch

The book’s official publication date is Friday 21st March – that’s today and you can get it here. If you want some additional floral inspiration, you can it at the books official website DecoratewithFlowers.com.

How do you buy and arrange your flowers? I’d love to know. Till next time. xD

Image Source: All images from http://decor8blog.com/dwf/ except the last 3 images which were photographed by myself (Doris Lee)

How to find your Interior Style

Title

The other day I was asked by a friend what my Interior Design Style was and I found it a question that was difficult to answer. One day I might like a vintage style, the next industrial. After some discussion and thought I managed to determine that my design style is a fusion of rustic, industrial and eclectic all with a contemporary twist.

So I started to wonder, how can you determine your interior style? There are so many different styles out there, and every season, a new “trend” takes over the stores. It can be difficult to differentiate between what you really love and what you are taken with at the time only to return home and realise that it’s not so lovely any more. Has that ever happened to you? So I thought of some of the things that I do that has helped me to understand what style I fundamentally love.

1. When out and about, make a mental note of what you like and don’t like about a space. Different Interior Styles are all around you, in cafes, restaurants, shops and even your friends house. Take pictures of what you might like to help you keep a library of your style.

2. Use Pinterest and pin images of interiors and products that you like. The more you pin, the more you will find that a particular style or styles will emerge.

3. Take a look through my Interior Styles posts (Under the Categories on the right panel). Which style do you identify with the most?

4. Take note of images in Interiors Magazines. Ask yourself what do you like and don’t about a particular image.

5. If all else fails, take an on-line quiz like this one that I found at realsimple.com.

Do you know what your interior style is?  What helps you to determine your style? I’d love to know. Till next time. xD

Image Source: woodnotephotography.net

Breaking it Down…

Cosyoutdoorpatiotitle

With the glorious sunshine gleaming it’s happy face over here in London, I have finally been able to get out into the garden. Last year I made some dramatic changes to it by putting in the pergola’s and replacing the shed which you can read about here.

My plans for the upcoming summer season are to create a small cosy seating area in the paved area right next to my back door. I like the idea of being able to read a good book or magazine with a cup of tea outside in the sun, so I’ve been looking for some inspiration. I came across this lovely patio during my search and just love it so I decided to break it down to understand why it worked so well…

CosyOutdoorPatio

Do you have a little outdoor patio? How have you furnished it? What sort of plants to you have in it?  I’d love to know.

Till next time. xD

Image Source:  Expressen.se

A Simple Year

BusynessA Simple Year is a year long on-line course that covers subjects related to simplifying your life. Last month the topic covered was Clutter which you can read about here. This month, we covered Busyness by Courtney Carver from the blog Be More with Less.

The topic of busyness is an interesting one. Whenever I talk to people in the context of being “busy” it tends to be negative. “Oh I’m so busy I can’t do this” or “Oh I’m so busy, I can’t do that”. It consumes you to the point where your busyness is all you can think of or talk about. It’s like a badge of honour. This is because in today’s society busyness has become the norm and something to be expected.

Mybusynessstory

I have a love hate relationship with busyness. When I was in my early 20s, I was busy living the good life, I was in University and partying more than studying. It was great to be busy, my days were filled with sleep and my nights were filled with booze and nightclubs.

When I got a job and started my career in IT, my busyness changed. My focus and motivation in life during my mid to late 20s was to progress up the corporate ladder. I did this very well, moving up those rungs and I was extremely busy. However, the busyness was to the detriment to other aspects in my life. I missed major milestones like my close friends engagement party because I was in the office working or not being there as a support while my best friend was getting married. These were times when I was busy focussing on the wrong thing and the regret still lingers in my heart to this day.

Towards the end of my 20′s, I started to get the itch to travel, my focus had changed again calling me to visit distant lands and seek exotic destinations. My busyness focus changed from career to working so that I could pay for the next destination. And so the busyness during this period was high but also fulfilling.

Then I had a child and my busyness stopped. I learned to slow down because I had to. I started to appreciate the slowness of my days, picnics in the sun and long walks by the river. Of course, anyone that has a child will tell you it isn’t always like this and there were days when the slowness dragged on for hours, but still it was a nice period to reflect on.

And finally the present where I am starting to get more busyness into my life as I study, blog and build my Interior Design career with growing anticipation. I look back at my busy cycle over the years and realise that busyness is about choice and conditioning. It doesn’t have to be a negative word. Time is yours and yours alone and it’s how you choose to spend it that becomes your life. I now choose to spend more time being busy on the priorities that will give meaning and fulfilment to my life and less time on the things that take up negative energy like worrying or comparing myself to and competing with others.

I look forward to being busy again because I am creating a career that I am passionate about, a life I enjoy and spending time with the important people in my life. I am focused on living a balanced and creative life.

myslowspace

As part of the busyness homework I was asked to create a “Slow Space”. This is a space in the house that should reflect a state of calm and relaxation. It should only have things that have meaning to you.

Slowspace

I chose to create the space in my bedroom because firstly, it’s where I retire to relax at night after a long day and secondly, it has a lot of items that have meaning and importance to me.

  • The rug on the wall and the blue blanket were from our travels to Marrakech and was purchased from a rug store that was essentially an outdoor shed just below the Atlas Mountains.
  • The bedside table was a purchase that I managed to get for a heavily discounted price after haggling with the owner for an hour over a mirror in the grand market in Cairo, Egypt. My lifes dream was to see the Pyramids which I did on this trip.
  • The books I keep for inspiration. Nomad by Sibella Court is my current favourite.

What are your thoughts on busyness? Do you have a place where you can relax that you could call your “slow space”? I’d love to know.

Till next time. xD

Image Source: Photography by Doris Lee

 

 

An alternative to Moroccan Tiles – go Geometric

ModerngraphicTilesTitleIt was a bit of a pinch me moment when I received a phone call from my friend and client a couple of weeks ago asking me whether I’d be willing to take a referral. Her friend is in the process of renovating her entire house and after seeing my friends bathroom while over for dinner (which is now almost finished) asked whether I would be willing to help her out. Of course I said yes!

The job  entails advising on the layout and styling  of an open plan living room. A great opportunity for more experience with interacting with a client while designing in an eclectic style.

During my initial visit, I was shown around the house and provided various opinions and advice. But when I came to the bathroom, they were in the process of choosing a tile for the floor, you can imagine that I jumped for joy when a beautiful moroccan style tile was brought out and my opinion sought.

I really really wanted to say yes, go for it, it’s such a beautiful tile, but I had to provide an objective opinion which was that it wasn’t quite right for their contemporary space as there were no plans to replace the newly tiled walls, just the floor. So I decided to come up with some alternatives for them and found more contemporary geometric and patterned tiles would be a better fit for the space. Here is some inspiration I found during my search…

Moderngraphictile1

Moderngraphictile2

Moderngraphictile3

Moderngraphictile4

 

Do you like geometric tiles? Would you have them in your home? Which style is your favourite?

Till next time. xD

Image Source: Title – PophamDesign, 1 – Mutina.It, 2 –  WallsandFloors, 3 - RUM, 4 – Granadatile

Managing my day to day: Part 2

managingmydaytodayLast year I wrote about my struggle with managing my daily life. I felt like there were many balls that I needed to keep in the air and I wasn’t managing to accomplish any of them well. This lead to frustration and disappointment so when I came across the book “Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)” by Jocelyn K. Glei, I was instantly hooked and wrote a post about it here.

Since then, I’ve been making changes to enhance my daily routine some have worked well, others have failed miserably. I thought it would be nice to provide an update on what I changed and let you know what’s worked and what hasn’t.

DailyTasksManaging my daily tasks was a big hurdle. I was constantly forgetting to do things, meals, appointments you name it! So I wrote down every single thing that I do on a daily basis from making breakfast, putting dishes in the dishwasher to buying groceries. I then allocated blocks of time to do them throughout the day and now keep a task list on my phone that reminds me to do them during their allocated timeslots. The app I use is called Swipes, which is easy and simple to use.

I started to wake up earlier so that I could start my day organised. Little J is a very early riser (6.30 am) and I’ve accepted that there’s not much I can do about it. So rather than trying to change him, I decided to change myself. So I wake up before him, which is 5:45am (trying to get to 5:30am) and sketch for 10 minutes, then plan my day. I have found that by doing this, I’ve been able to start my day both on a positive note and more prepared. I now sleep earlier.BloggingOver Christmas I created an editorial calendar to help me be more organised and hopefully more consistent with my blogging schedule. After a few weeks, I have found that I don’t actually follow my editorial calendar, preferring to write about what inspires me at that particular time. I guess I’m just the type of blogger that needs to be passionate about what I write about and if I run out of idea’s, I don’t blog. I’ve accepted this is the way I am and no longer beat myself up about it. studyingI created a high level plan for when I wanted to finish each module in my Interior Design diploma and then subsequently created a weekly study planner that I then printed out on a piece of A3 card. The planner is divided by grouped time slots relating to when Little J is in nursery, as this is when I get to do the most study (along with weekends). The planner is blank and every week I fill in the blocks of time using post it notes. This means that if I am unable to accomplish a set study task for that day, I can move it to the next available study slot without having to re-write my entire calendar for the week.

I also revisit the plan before I am about to pack up my study session for the day, I spend 5 minutes writing down 3 tasks that I need to do next and then plan when the next study session will be. This means that when I do come back to the work, I can get straight into it without wasting time.

I am still tweaking and the plan is constantly evolving but I am finding that with this framework in place, that I am managing my day to day so much easier. Everyday is different and somedays just aren’t as productive as others (the hazards of having a toddler) but I feel more in control of what I am able to achieve now and that’s a good start.

Do you have any tips or idea’s on how you manage your productivity? I’d love to know.

Till next time. xD

 

Quick ways to decorate a blank wall

fillingblankwallstitle

The other day, whilst visiting a friends house I was asked to provide some ideas on what to do with a blank wall in their open plan living area. The usual ideas of creating a gallery wall or painting a feature wall came to mind and is what I relayed.

When I came home and saw the mood board I had created with washi tape in my office, I realised that there were a lot of different more creative ways that the wall could be filled that didn’t involve, painting, wallpaper or hammering. So I thought I’d share some of the inspirations:

fillingblankwallsfeathers

fillingblankwallstapethread

fillingblankwallsoldpages

Some of these idea’s are so easy that they can be implemented within minutes with a little creativity and confidence. Which idea do you like the best?

Till next time. xD

Image Source: Title – Rim Design Blog, 1 – Hannah Ferrara, 2a – Gaelle Barre via Futuristic Blog,  2b – Karin Weiborg, 3 – Unknown