Singapore – if there’s anywhere in the world that gets me thinking of apartment living, this place has to be it. Every time I go there the city is alive with cranes, drills, towering metal frameworks and little trucks full of builders. It feels like a whole city’s worth of apartment blocks are built and re-built there, every day. I actually love the excitement of it and how ordered it still manages to be.
Last time I visited I noticed for the first time those quiet little spaces that people have created for themselves in the middle of this BIG, noisy city.
The following photos are all very different but the feeling these places evoked was the same, of reflection, of peace and calm, of a little oasis. From the colourful opulent space for prayer, to the smooth carving of the statue, to the bright little flowers in a quiet patch outside a busy market place, these areas created a big change in pace and feeling.
It’s easy to do this in your little space too, by choosing beautiful pieces of furniture and decoration, as opulent or as simple as you like, that evoke a reaction of calm when you see it. And the outcome, as you can see below, is a really special and personalised space…
Every apartment needs a good, oversized, comfy chair. Somewhere to read, think, write, blog, or sit oracle-like while you offer your friends advice over a glass of wine. Especially on rainy Tuesday nights like tonight. This chair has a good … Continue reading →
Decorating with unexpected objects can be a brilliant talking piece as well as show BIG personality in a small space. I found this little ledge in a cafe close to me over the weekend with my family. The singer sewing machine brought up fantastic memories of a similar one my Nan used to sew with. Over the course of a very yummy brunch, we talked about birds, native flowers (my Nan was also a florist), sewing, and of course new decorating ideas for the home – all while surrounded by beautiful objects that provided a quirky and quite familiar environment.
Up-cycling can as simple as an old family object (here a sewing machine and old jars) or using something from nature (branches hung on a plain wall with a bird as a feature). The story of where the object was found or how it was used can be just as special as the piece itself.
Note the textured walls which provide a brilliantly simple and effective backdrop for the hero of the story, which is the display.
Essentials should be beautiful as well as functional in any home. In fact it’s even more important to make them part of the charm when space is at a premium and there isn’t much room for superfluous objects.
Therefore, a beautiful teapot is one of my apartment essentials – for decoration, for entertaining, and to give myself a little bit of luxury every day.
I recently visited friends in Holywell, UK and I was lucky enough to be served a cup of tea and the paper every morning. It was made even more special by the fact that it was in a Jack Russell cup, which really said everything about the couple I stayed with and how much their pets Jessie, Dulcie, Jamaica and Jack Russell Spottie are part of the family. That cup of tea was one of the most special parts of the day when I took 10 minutes to relax and contemplate.
Here are some of my favourite tea time experiences that I’ve come across (both mine and others):
A tea set from the Silk Market in Beijing, China – part of the fun is the tiny tea cups to share and re-fill often over conversations with friends
A beautiful green and herbal tea floral arrangement at High Tea, Hotel Windsor Melbourne
Gen Y does DIY!!! This is a really simple fix it job that I did in a few hours over my weekend…
I found this old pine cupboard, which was actually a really good size for a very little bathroom. Then I found a cool vintage tin poster which I inserted into the middle like this:
It still wasn’t quite right for my place, so I embarked on my very first (mini) DIY project:
Get a Screwdriver – Unfortunately not the cocktail variety, these little things come in very handy for taking doors off cupboards. Pick one up from your Dad, brother, mate, partner, or a local hardware shop!
Parts and pieces – Now that everything is in parts and pieces, sand them back (pretty roughly). It doesn’t need to be perfect, just a bit roughed up so the paint will stick (and look smooth).
Undercoating – I love painting, especially things this small as you see a result so quickly. The undercoat needs to be painted with the grain which means the way the wood would stand if it were still a tree. Don’t make it too thick as it can get uneven, but don’t worry, you can always sand them back once the paint is dry.
Topcoats – I let my undercoat dry overnight, however with topcoats you don’t need to get bored watching paint dry! I did three, and with only an hour needed between coats of paint (check with your local handyman how long to leave yours), I knocked this over in a day. Antique white was the right colour for me, but these days there are more paints than imaginable that have all sorts of textures and effects. So it’s very easy to give BIG personality to reflect your style.
Putting the pieces together – it’s a bit like a puzzle but much easier! Use that screwdriver again to put back in the screws, find a new handle that you like (I went with a simple black one), and there you have it, a new storage cupboard for your little space!
I’ll be completing my weekend DIY in tomorrow’s post on putting it up!
Some people say London is a bit grey. But I think Londoners just get it. They put colour wherever they can and they live a BIG life in little spaces. I recently stayed with a lovely friend in her place in Notting Hill above a pizza shop. I entered through a tiny little door and up a teeny stairwell and found my way up to a gorgeous BIG loftspace, beautifully decked out with couches, flowers in vases, and bookshelves with favourite books and collectibles. Who would have thought I’d have found something so beautiful in such an obscure location?
Above are some of the flowers I found outside a London apartment window. See the pictures for more colour inspiration in the form of flowers and bunting in and around London, which could be used inside or outside. Also check out my previous post on bringing outside, inside!
I’ve always been told that when you do something, do it well. And that definitely applies when displaying your things in small apartments. Space comes at a premium so it’s important that each area tells a story, and tells it beautifully.
So fill your space with things you love! This is a poster I found in an antique market in Beijing, playing charades to overcome language barriers, bargain and swap stories with a shop assistant in the middle of a Chinese market place. It travelled all the way around China in a cardboard tube before taking up residence in said cardboard tube at the bottom of my wardrobe back in Melbourne.
Although it cost me very little, this poster has shared BIG adventures with me so it was destined for much greater things than being stashed away in the dark.
It’s not hard to bang a nail into a wall and hang up a picture, but theres a big difference when it’s done well, so here are my top tips:
Measure up your wall. Pick a space where there is enough room to stand back and appreciate your artwork, but not so much space that your picture will get lost. Smaller pictures can work in a larger spaces if you group them together.
Understand your colour scheme. What are the colours and features you want to draw out? Picking out a backing colour that drew out the beading in this Shanghai lady’s clutch bag, as well as highlighting her dress and some of the Chinese characters helped to bring this poster to life.
Pick the right frame. The frame needs to suit the picture and your apartment. I picked French provincial to go with the very French colonial feel of my picture.
Get help. This is a feature in my apartment so it needed to be done well and it was important to get advice. There are fantastic framing shops who can help you pick out the right colours to make your picture stand out. It’s worth every cent!
Keep your area simple. When your picture or a painting is a feature, keep the area around it simple. In a little space, too much clutter is sometimes your enemy!
In Bali, life is surrounded by water and it definitely seems more serene. The sound of water always reminds me of life, whether it’s the waves crashing at my favourite beach, a beautiful waterfall, or a pretty little winter creek. Here in Australia we are lucky to be surrounded by water, however living in the city means it’s not always immediately accessible.
I was inspired by this water feature I found in a tiny Balinese garden, and now that the nights are getting longer I want to enjoy being on my balcony as often as possible. So here’s my view tonight of my own little water feature, and I’m feeling very calm indeed and ready for a brand new week! Happy Sunday!
Be creative when decorating your little space for some BIG personality. Check out my new retro storage pots, straight from the “throw out” pile at Mum and Dad’s house. They look great, they’re useful, and my little space is filled … Continue reading →