Design Project Miri, Malaysia

What a fun project to be a part of at the Piasau Boat Club in Miri, Malaysia!  A regular hangout for locals and expats, the Boat Club is a unique place on the Miri landscape.  Its beautiful sunset views, great outdoor children’s play area, water access and water sports facilities are all part of its draw.  While all these things are enjoyable, the restaurant and bar were badly in need of an update.

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The Club called out for an interior that reflected its landscape – something bright and beachy.  Fantastic contractor Simon Clarke-Ward put the  bar together, including the facing with reclaimed wood, which adds great texture to the space.

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The space was previously dark and felt heavy. It was definitely outdated with all the dark wooden furnishings and orange floor tiles.

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After Photo by Patrycja Ryba

The space wanted to feel more open and cohesive, to be welcoming.  With a coat of warm white paint and new floor tile, the bar and dining room are now visually linked.  The white-washed tables add a hint of the beach, while the wide blue stripes are a nod to the nautical.  Above, I included a member’s gallery wall containing photos from parties and events held over the years, which can be regularly rotated to showcase new pictures.

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A gloomy and dated children’s play area was located in a prime piece of real estate in the club.

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After Photo by Patrycja Ryba

Now this is an inviting social spot in which a group can enjoy a meal and a few drinks with friends and family.

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The beautiful mosaic above was created by Joyce Redpath, one of the Club’s members.

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Now a much brighter and open space, this is an inviting part of the restaurant overlooking the water.

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The Piasau Boat Club is now a cheerful and welcoming place.  Its unique position at the Miri seaside is enhanced by its warm and inviting interior.  It’s a special place in which to enjoy a meal, a few drinks and one of the many beautiful sunsets.

 

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Sophisticated Office Style

I spend a lot of time in my home office.  I love my little lair where rarely anyone treads aside from me and the cat.  I like it to look pretty and to be comfortable.  Pretty much how I would like my office attire to look (if I was going to an office), but there are always times when you need to dress for a meeting or work even if you aren’t going to a conventional workplace everyday.  Below some inspiration for our home offices as well as our work (or meeting) clothes.

I love this combo of classic grey dress with an edgy leather jacket and oversized pearls.  The pop of colour with the clutch is fun too.

Grey dress with leather jacket

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This is a great simple black on black work look worn by Victoria Beckham.

 Victoria Beckham

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This mix of navy dress with neutral accessories of brown boots and grey handbag modernizes a tried and true work look.

Navy dress with brown boots office look

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This classic black & white outfit is updated with a graphic print on the top and the beaded collar worn with an oversized bag.

Black & white office outfit

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This is a great look if your office allows for a smart casual dress code. Super simple, but professional.

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This home office is a real space for the girls!  There are lots of feminine shapes here, but the black accents keep the scheme grounded and adds drama to the room.

black, white and pink home office

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This white on white office is very chic.  Lots of interest added with the constantly changing mood board. Having it in a frame makes it more special and contains the visual busyness of it.

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This is great use of a corner space for a home office. The navy, grey and white colour pallet is really sophisticated with a pop of yellow.

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If you read my blog regularly, you will probably know that I love the look of natural wood mixed with black accessories.  Add a hit of grey, as below, and you have a magic combination. The huge pendant lights are a cool play on scale.

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This is also a good solution for a home office if you are short on space. The metallics reflect light around the room, which helps with the feeling of space.  And the mix of black and metallics and that gorgeous black and white picture against the textured grey wall is just gorgeous!

black and metal office nook

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What is your favourite office look?  Do you have room for a home office?  Is it a corner or do you have space for a dedicated room?

Add Character with Vintage

It’s no secret that vintage is back.  It’s been back for a while, which is making it particularly difficult to find authentic vintage pieces in stores or online, so lots of replicas and copycat designs are cropping up all over the place.  I’ve always loved the look of mixing old with new to create a completely modern and unique style – what woman doesn’t love having something no one else has?  Here are some great vintage-inspired looks both for the home and the closet.

Rachel Zoe dons retro from her hat to her shoes.

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This is such a flirty 50’s look.  So pretty.

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Katy Perry is queen of vintage style. She has that sexy, pinup look down to a fine science.

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Love these vintage-style stripes!

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In interior design, it’s always great to have something vintage in your space as it adds a sense of history and tells a story about you and your world.  Vintage pieces, particularly mid-century modern pieces, are classics and will never go out of style.

I love Emily Henderson’s cooky style.  She mixes odd & interesting vintage pieces with such flare and her rooms are so alive because of it.

Emily Henderson's retro house

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This room has a lot of vintage and classic elements happening.  The neutral colour palette allows them all to work well together.

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This is a classic retro Scandinavian look – teak cabinet, Saarinan Tulip table, teak and leather chair.  You can’t go wrong with wood and black and white. Clean and timeless.

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This room is filled with lots of found treasures. It looks comfortable, casual and welcoming.

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So what’s your take on the vintage vibe?  Are you up for adding a little retro to your home or wardrobe?

Creature Comforts – Animal Prints

Well, it’s been a while, but I’ve recently been inspired to renew my blog and what better time to start than in the New Year? And what better thing to start it off with than one of my favourites – animal print.  It’s sexy and a little bit daring and if used properly at home and in an outfit it can be classy too.

Adriana Gastelum makes leopard print casual with cut offs and a safari style shirt.

Adriana Gastélum in leopard print top

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These skinny snake print pants are gorgeous with heels and a fitted jacket.

snake skin print pants

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Gwen Stefani, always the style icon, adds a little leopard print with a fedora

Gwen Stefani in leopard print hat

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Sarah Rae Vargas is rocking this leopard print dress!  Beautiful with a pop of red in that clutch.

Ravings by Rae leopard print

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This zebra print coat is gorgeous with those orange heels!

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I love to see a little dash of animal prints in interiors.  It reminds me a bit of the 5 years we lived in South Africa.  My personal belief is that a little goes a long way in a room.  It can easily look cheap, so you have to be careful how you apply it, but I think the following are great examples of the successful use of animal prints.

This subtle zebra print wallpaper adds nice interest to the space without being aggressive or overwhelming.  The cowhide reinforces the subtle theme.

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It’s unusual to see a dalmation-like print, but this really works.  The gold book case and simple pallette add class to this vignette.

dalmation print wallpaper

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I like this hit of Zebra print on the ottomans in the room below.  It works well with the other black and white elements in the room and the bright green print keeps it fresh and modern.

Zebra print ottomans

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I’ve had a hard time finding a picture of leopard print used in home decor that doesn’t look a bit cheap, but this ottoman works.  I think it’s because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s been made to look a bit more casual with the piping and surrounding decor elements.

leopard print ottoman

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So, are you bold enough to try animal print in your closet or interior? How will you pair it with your wardrobe or design?

Interior Designers’ personal style vs. fashion sense

I’ve always been fascinated by what Interior Designers wear; if their wardrobe reflects their design style, if it’s trendy or classic, colourful or monochromatic, etc. (even more fascinating to me are those in the design world who don’t seem to have the ability to dress well, yet are able to create the most gorgeous spaces.  But I’ll leave that for another post).  So today I bring you a comparison between some well known interior designers and the way they style themselves…

First up, girl-next-door Sarah Richardson:

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Sarah tends to wear casual, classic items with a bit of a funky touch to them, which definitely reflects her love of vintage inspiration and the use of second-hand finds in her interior design style, though I think her interiors generally tend to be more formal than the way she usually dresses (this picture being from her relaxed cottage interior and therefore the counterpart to her usual jeans attire).

The beautiful and talented Kelly Hoppen:

Kelly Hoppen style

Kelly Hoppen interior

I think Kelly’s slinky, retro outfit perfectly reflects the sexy, vintage style of her living room design.  That hit of yellow in the space mirrors the vibrancy of her dress. And that gorgeous hanging chair is the living room’s chandelier earrings like those peeking out of her wild curls.  Kelly definitely likes to add an element of surprise to her often monochromatic interiors and appears to replicate that in her clothing as well.

Fellow Canadian Candice Olsen:

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Candace Olsen Kitchen design

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Candice has a way of making a room really captivating, adding layers and using pieces that will see you through years of enjoyment without requiring an update.  She dresses similarly, always adding an interesting element and mixing her timeless pieces with something that pops, in this case her top.

The super smily Nate Berkus:

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Nate Berkus hallway design

Nate’s personal style preference appears to be a smart-casual look – sports jacket or shirt and tie – quite tailored and classic, yet comfortable.  His interiors definitely have a masculine touch with tailored elements and there is often something that makes you smile about them too, so that reflects his personality.

What do you think?  Is the interior style of these designers comparable to their taste in clothing?  Tell me what you think in the comments section below.

LWD – The Little White Dress (& the little white room)

Almost all of us have that go-to LBD in our closet.  And if we don’t, we should.  There’s no denying it’s a wardrobe staple and can make the best companion to even the most last-minute invitation.  But recently, the LWD has been appearing at events and on red carpets. It’s so fresh and sophisticated that its got to last. And there’s no better dress for the summer.  Below some great LWD options.

Little White Dress

Victoria’s Secret aptly names this the Date Dress.  Perfect for date night, with a bit of sexy and a lot of classic.  This could easily be dressed up with silver or gold accessories and heels, or dressed down with flats and leather accessories.

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Angelina Jolie works the little white dress above.  Again, it’s sophisticated and classic.  Add a blazer and take this dress to the office.

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I love how this LWD is punched up with vibrant orange jacket, belt and scarf.  The neutral bag and shoes keep it from feeling too matchy-matchy.

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This is such a flirty crocheted lace LWD.  I like that it has long sleeves with the short skirt, so it highlights those leggy assets!

The LWD accessorised

I thought I’d share my virgin run on polyvore (above) of my set for the LWD and accessories.  Of course I incorporated one of Earth, Wind and Style’s gorgeous handbags too!  What do you think?
Of course, fashion can be translated into interiors and I’ve long been a fan of white interiors.  There’s something so serene and relaxed about them.  

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The Barcelona Chair (pictured above) reminds me of a well made suit.  It’s timeless and uncomplicated, yet paired with the right accessories, like this zebra print carpet and the bold black and white artwork, it becomes sophisticated and chic just as a suit you wear to the office would benefit from good accessorising.

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Isn’t this throw and lace pillows reminiscent of the lace LWD posted earlier?  This is a great example of how to bring your own personal style into your interior.  Looking for items for your home that correlate to those in your wardrobe (or vice versa) is an easy way to try to extrapolate your style from one to the other.

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Creating an engaging space centred around one colour can be challenging.  There must be elements of interest, which allow the eye to rest rather than continually seek the space for something to take its attention.  With a single colour in the room, texture and lighting become even more important than usual.  Texture can be brought in through contrasting finishes, such as ceramics and roughly finished furnishings, furs (or faux furs), wool, leather, reclaimed wood, etc.  The room above is successful because of the contrast between the rustic headboard, the glamourous chandelier and the fine cotton bedding, which in combination are a surprise to the eye.

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Again in the above living area, the contrast between tailored furnishings and textured finishes add interest and depth to the space.

So, if you haven’t already will you invest in an LWD?  What about living with an all white interior?  Is it something you would do?

Safari Style

It is entirely true what they say about Africa getting under your skin and getting into your blood.

I was lucky enough while living in South Africa for 5 years to be able to explore some of the southern part of the continent and enjoy a number of safaris during that time.  Each was an amazing experience and on the return from a few of these trips, my husband and I said to each other, ‘ok, I think we’ve checked the safari box now’.  But a couple of months later we would be talking about our next plan to get ‘back to the bush,’ as the locals call it. We could never get enough!

There is something magical about going on safari.  The whole experience from watching those incredible animals – most often up close – in their own environment to the beautifully comfortable tented-camp accommodation to the outdoor lantern-lit evening meals served fireside in the boma that makes it such a romantic adventure.  And a very civilized G&T at sundown out of the back of a landrover could convince any sceptic that this is living!

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So given my love for the bush, I suppose it’s not surprising that I have a soft spot for safari-inspired style both in interiors and fashion.  It seems to have such staying power with its classic prints, neutral hues and casual sophistication. Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Michael Kors, Nicole Miller and others have all come out with hits of safari in their catwalks over the last several years.  Below are some examples of how to incorporate this look into either your wardrobe or your home.

Animal print is a definitive safari style print, which can be added to an outfit through accessories or worn from head to toe as your personality allows. Pair it with strappy sandals or boots and a chunky piece of jewellery and you have the look.

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These khaki pants combined with a menswear-inspired shirt, leather accessories and beaded jewellery screams safari.

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Blending into the environment is key when on safari so as not to arouse attention from hungry carnivorous animals, hence the use of many neutral hues reminiscent of the African Savannah.

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The khaki clothing above paired with a hat, sunglasses and a sizeable bag all come together to create a good safari look.

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Belted dresses and clothing with lots of pockets and accessorised with gold jewellery is also quintessential safari.

Earth, Wind & Style has a collection of game skin handbags that will coordinate beautifully with safari style (in fact one of our handbags is almost identical to the one that appeared in Michael Kors’ safari-inspired spring/summer 2012 collection!).

Safari lodge interiors, like fashion, tend towards utilising neutrals as a basis for their design.  Most lodges are inclined to blend into the environment in which they are located. With the use of natural elements, such as rattan, wood and sisal it is easy to bring a sophisticated bush influence into the home.  Layer in textures like cow hide rugs or ottomans, woven hemp or raffia fabrics such as bakuba, and baskets to up the African element.  A bowl of ostrich eggs, a grouping of porcupine quills or some oversized seed pods will also add authenticity to your scheme if you can get your hands on them.

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Lanterns are used generously at safari lodges, which definitely adds to the drama and romance of these venues.

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The carved tables above, zebra ottoman and cowrie shell basket all lean toward this style.

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If you have used a lot of wood in your design, you can soften the look by bringing in throw rugs and mosquito netting, which is almost always found around beds in the bush and definitely adds a touch of romance.  But what could be more romantic than sleeping under the stars as above?

I think I feel another safari plan coming on…

What do you think about safari style?  Do you already wear some of these elements or do you have some incorporated into your home?  What are your favourite pieces?