books, DIY, inspiration

Reading for the Weekend / Weekendowe czytanie

During an all-day shopping spree yesterday, where I searched through half of London to get all the stuff needed for my Diploma in Professional Interior Design which is about to start, I bought a book and a magazine which I recommend a lot:

 Small Spaces: Making the Most of the Space You Have - by Rebecca Tanqueray and Chris Everard
Small Spaces: Making the Most of the Space You Have - by Rebecca Tanqueray and Chris Everard

Firstly: Small Spaces: Making the Most of the Space You Have. I really like this book as altough some spaces / floorplans perhaps are not the same as our flats and houses, it is very inspirational, and most importanly – offers a lot of ingenious storage solutions! Focusing on storage and multifunctional furniture, it is a good buy especially for someone who is not afraid of experimenting or DIY (or spending some money on professionals) to turn some of the ideas into reality.

The second buy is the Livingetc October issue:

Livingetc October 2009 issue
Livingetc October 2009 issue

Yes, I admit it – I bought it because of the stunning cover (I just LOVE yellow and grey and patterns!!). Yes, I admit also that this is NOT a magazine for decorating on a budget. But – it’s cutting edge and provides loads of inspiration and GOSH! I don’t remember when was the last time I loved every page of a magazine! It is just stunning… check out especially:

  • the ‘Living With A Flatscreen TV‘ section showing how to blend yout TV into your room using very original solutions,
  • the ‘Modern Romance‘ section (Alex! watch out some of that might inspire your room 🙂 )
  • and the astonishing ‘7 ways we boosted our space’ house presentation with super-smart and pretty DIY solutions for both storage and flexibility (furniture on wheels as an example). And – believe it or not – they downsized the house to make more use of the garden and outside space.


Na wczorajszych calodniowych zakupach, gdy przelecialam z mezem pol Londynu starajac sie znalezc wszystkie materialy potrzebne do mojej nowej szkoly 🙂 (przypominam bom dumna:) – dyplom profesjonalnego projektanta wnetrz) natknelam sie na ksiazke ‘Small spaces‘ (czyli Male wnetrza) oraz pazdziernikowe wydanie magazynu Livingetc – no i oba druki mnie powalily 🙂

Small spaces to naprawde ciekawa ksiazka pokazujaca faktycznie male przestrzenie (w przeciwienstwie do niektorych innych wydawnictw) i jest bardzo inspirujaca, ale co najwazniejsze – skupia sie na wszelkiego rodzaju schowkach i sposobach przechowywania, a takze na wielofunkcyjnych meblach i sprzetach ktore sprawiaja ze mieszkanie na malej przestrzeni moze byc tak komfortowe jak w duzym domu. Swietna ksiazka zwlaszcza dla tych ktorzy nie boja sie projektow ‘zrob to sam’ badz tez moga wydac troche pieniazkow na specjaliste, gdyz wiekszosc rozwiazan jest na wymiar (podstawowa zasada zagospodarowywania malych przestrzeni).

Z kolei Livingetc wydanie pazdziernikowe zaszokowalo mnie tym, ze wszystko mi sie w nim podoba. Nie pamietam kiedy ostatni raz mialam taka gazete w rece. Przyznaje, nie jest to gazeta ‘oszczednosciowa’, ale ile w niej inspiracji! Wystarczy popatrzec na okladke ktora ma boskie polaczenie szarego z zoltym i duzymi wzorami. Mniam 🙂 Proponuje zwlaszcza artykuly o Nowoczesnym Romantyzmie (Ola! zdjecia niedlugo do Ciebie dojda :), sposobach umieszczenia plazmy tak by nie byla glownym elementem wystroju pokoju, oraz prezentacje domu, ktory o dziwo – zostal zmniejszony 🙂 po to by miec wiekszy ogrod i polaczenie z natura. Dom jest rowniez bardzo ciekawy pod wzgledem zabudowy, a takze elastycznosci rozmieszczenia mebli (kanapa na kolkach i tym podobne). POLECAM!

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articles, DIY, furniture, inspiration

Design on a budget

I’ve decided to update my blog tagline (see above) to include part of my motto –

…how to get the designer look on a budget?

(And be quiet, language purists – of course there is always a budget but I mean the common meaning of this phrase!)

Really, I don’t think it’s difficult to create a great space with lots of money (though, surprisingly, I’ve seen LOTS of expensively made, but terribly designed / decorated spaces). To be honest, the tendency to go for the expensive is very irresistible. Why?

Well, it’s really not about squeezing money out of clients. It’s just that we love good design. And good design is, predominantly, very costly. I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone – after all, to create an outstandigly beautiful and high-quality piece of furniture, for example, has to be costly. In time, ideas, effort, resources (including human of course), machinery and materials. Then – advertising or getting it to the market, etc…

But – one is also paying for the brand, and again rightly so, as those brands ‘high up there’ deserve to be special and exclusive for their role in opening new design horizons for us all. However, if one is willing to search and research, and wait a bit longer, and try out things, and visit auctions and sales, and customize, etc, etc… one can really create an amazing space mimicking pretty well the unattainable designer classics. So what can you do?

1) Buy vintage, customized or knock-off versions.

Sounds simple, well, it is and is not. You will have to invest a lot of time in investigating all options, checking out all the outlets, eBay, online boutiques of hand-made items, local auctions, blogs like this, designers’ stores and online shops, discounts and sales at the shops you love (and they are now everywhere, does anyone buy full-price anymore?), charity shops, car-boot sales, and the local suppliers down the road who are happy to create something for you for fraction of the original’s price.

So, time is the main investment. But this option is certainly most cost-efficient. Apart from those ‘real’ designer classic in vintage, which are sometimes more expensive than new (unless someone doesn’t realize their value and yes, it happens a lot).

And it’s fun, too, especially when you find some gorgeous stuff! You don’t have to be skilled, you just need loads of time, good eye, and good luck. 🙂

2) Customize yourself.

This is the most rewarding way, the real crowning of your achievement. But that requires ingenuity, and is certainly not ‘cheap’ in terms of time and effort. It requires skill. And patience. And good eye. And a bit of experience. So – you just have to ask yourself: what is more important to me? Am I willing to save time and spend money for the great stuff? Or am I able to spend time to research and get inspired and build and create?

Both options are rewarding in different ways. And I don’t think I’ll make a call on which one is better – I love them both. And you can also mix’n’match; buy this sleek Eames chair lookalike, but save on very simple coffee table which you can get at your local supplier and which will look just as good as any (let’s hope). Allow yourself for this gorgeous designer wallpaper, but use it sparingly – on one wall only, or buy just one roll and customise an old cupboard with it.

Bear in mind though… the ‘budget’ version does not always mean dirt cheap. Sometimes you will have to invest in high-quality golden paint, or in gorgeous crystal cupboard handles (and you will notice that accessories are often more expensive than the base item you wanted to customize). In fact, in many cases, you would have been able to buy a pretty high-street item for less than all the materials you need for customizing, and for zero effort.

BUT. Whatever you create will still be cheaper than the classics. More importantly, whatever you make yourself, is absolutely unique. Not only will it look outstanding and special, but will also reflect your personality and taste, and make your house a home.

…so where does the interior designer come into this ‘budget’ game?

Well, you may want to consider their services on two levels:

  • Idea. If you do not feel you are up to creating the layout, the style, the idea for the place – this is the first problem designers can help you with. Depending on your budget and plans, this can be anything from online help (you send photos / floor plans, designer sends back his version), through to one-off consultation at home, then creating the mood board (which will gather your colour / style / furniture ideas and give you a feel for the proposed space), up to the visualisation stage, furniture and accessories suggestions, etc.
  • Implementation. If after that you still are unsure you can find those unique items, or really you’re not up to customizing or simly can’t spend time rummaging through second-hand shops and going to auctions, the decorator can act as your buying agent and source everything that is required for your unique place. Even more so, depending on the extent of their services, they can customize objects for you. Perhaps they sell their furniture and accessories already?

And if you go for the interior design services, remember: ALWAYS be open and frank. You remember the previous article? “The more your tastes are communicated, the happier the outcome.  Also, have a specific budget in mind.  Honesty is always the best policy.” Say that you want customised. Or say that you want know-off. Say that you’re not afraid of vintage. Say that you hate the standard. Or that you love The standard, you just can’t afford it. And so on, and so forth…

…so, good luck with designing on a budget, whatever it is :).

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Decorators Are Not Divas

I have found this interesting article by Rene Harmon late last night on the Interior Design Network.  It outlines in very simple terms  why an interior decorator or designer is worth the money and effort, and what the process of working with one might look. While I believe the process can be even more customizable, it is still an easy and informative read.  So – grab a cup of coffee and read on!

Decorators Are Not Divas

by Rene Harmon

Designers are not divas, nor are they dictators, or Snobby Witches who want to decorate your home to their taste with your money. Decorators and Designers want to help you and guide you through a myriad of decisions, ideas and purchases to make your home or room a functional, beautifully appointed space.  While considering all your wants and needs, a Designer is able to incorporate those needs with design elements and principles to create a custom space that is uniquely designed for you and your family and which reflect your personality.

Through the information we now receive through television and the internet, decorating may seem inexpensive and effortless. While some people are naturally gifted in knowing basic design principles,  decorating is a learned art, after all, and it can be overwhelming if you aren’t qualified to make correct design choices.  One could easily blow their entire design budget on one poorly executed decision.

If you realize you may need some help, there is a Decorator out there for every need.  Before you begin your search for a Decorator or a Designer, spend time getting to know your own design style.  Pay attention to  magazines, or decorator books, and mark the things you like.  It can be anything, a color, a photograph, an heirloom, some scraps of fabric, a piece of furniture, a shape, a flower, or a piece of art…whatever it is, your designer will want to see it.  Put the photos and tear sheets in a folder and show them to your prospective designer.  The more your tastes are communicated, the happier the outcome.  Also, have a specific budget in mind.  Honesty is always the best policy. If the sky’s the limit, great, but if you have a Walmart budget, with Bloomindales’ taste, by all means, let your Designer know.  She should have product resources to fit all budgets and should be able to find reproductions and discounts from vendors, that, let’s face it, regular folks just don’t have. Sometimes, no more than changing the color and fluffing things up may be all that’s required.  Maybe you only need furnishings or accessories.

Decorators, whose fees are usually less than Designers, are perfectly capable of successfully navigating you through those decisions.  She will have lists of suppliers  and installers as well as access to various markets which will allow her to purchase items for you.  Interior Designers do everything  Decorators do, plus, Designers are qualified to oversee any structural changes.  Additional hours of study of are devoted to interior planning concepts, knowledge of blue prints and engineering specs, space planning, and traffic patterns utilization.  You most definitely need a Designer if you plan to renovate, as mistakes can be very expensive, not only due to product, but labor charges.  Again, Designers know their installers and trust them to deliver their products and services.


Designers will research the prospective plan by getting quotes and prices and will then design a plan which will be presented to you at a later date. This will be a presentation meeting.   In this meeting, the design plan will be explained to you usually on a board.  A detailed cost analysis, a projected finish date, payment schedule, her design fees and contracts if needed will also be discussed.

After you have done your homework, and after you’ve seen all the  presentations, base your decision on which designer most clearly understands you and is easy to communicate with.  Did you like her?  Did you like her presentation?  Did she answer all of your questions? Was she eager to help you with solutions? Did she stay within budget? Did you fill out any questionnaires or surveys?  What did you learn? Sometimes, a consultation is all that you may need, at which point, you pay for the design board and continue on by yourself. Again, board prices vary.  Hours of research and time go into preparing a design board, and this is not the time to be cheap.  If the board is all you need, then pay for it and thank your designer. But also know that you will have to do all the shopping, locate installers, negotiate prices and schedule installment and delivery dates.  This is THE most UN-diva like aspect of the job.  Be prepared.

via Interior Design Network.

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accessories, kitchen

Cutlery with a twist

Looking for designer additions to your kitchen but don’t want to break the bank? One of my favorite designer discount online shops is Brand Alley. Today, a new Home & gift boutique sale started, where you can get these beautiful sets for a reduced price (to buy, you have to set up a free account).  Hurry, or you’ll miss the chance – sales last only a few days at a time!

Meyer Prestige Circus 16 Piece Cutlery Set
Meyer Prestige Circus 16 Piece Cutlery Set
Meyer Tech 24 Piece Designer Cutlery Set
Meyer Tech 24 Piece Designer Cutlery Set
Meyer Prestige Urban 16 Piece Cutlery set
Meyer Prestige Urban 16 Piece Cutlery set
Meyer Hybrid 24 Piece Designer Cutlery Set
Meyer Hybrid 24 Piece Designer Cutlery Set

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