Dare I say it…I may be hitting menopause! I’m approaching that dreaded stage in a woman’s life where we start drying up like the Sahara Desert. I have another 260-ish days before I turn the BIG 4-0…
Source: Menopause Mayhem
Dare I say it…I may be hitting menopause! I’m approaching that dreaded stage in a woman’s life where we start drying up like the Sahara Desert. I have another 260-ish days before I turn the BIG 4-0…
Source: Menopause Mayhem
Dare I say it…I may be hitting menopause! I’m approaching that dreaded stage in a woman’s life where we start drying up like the Sahara Desert. I have another 260-ish days before I turn the BIG 4-0, but the signs are there.
It all went downhill when I turned 30. Just when I’d snagged my better half and was finally getting a regular shag, my metabolism decided to slow down to a snail’s pace. Nine years later, I’ve turned into what looks like the feral offspring of the Michelin man. I’ve become a beached whale. My waistline has been missing in action since 2010. My former size-8 frame has obviously gone to a better place. I picture it sunbathing in some exotic location with a mojito in hand. Forget a 6-pack. You can’t even describe my jelly belly as a muffin top …..I’m shaped like a keg!
I’ve let myself go to the extent that nothing in my wardrobe fits me. I know I need to get off my ass and be more active, but the motivation is simply non-existent. I work up a sweat just watching fitness videos via YouTube. Forget sit-ups or downward dogs, the only exercise I do these days is lifting a Krispy Kreme into my mouth. I’m a couch potato…my bum’s fused to the sofa. I have a yoga mat and a treadmill in the lounge, on the off chance I feel inspired to work out, but most days it’s a Mexican standoff. The tension is palpable, it’s a daily confrontation between me and the exercise equipment. The first who blinks loses (me, hands down – every time!).
Then there’s my emotional eating habits. The roller coaster ride of binging on food when I’m happy, on a downer or bored. Even when I’m tired of eating…I still have this strong craving to drown my sorrows in a packet of Oreos. I have a theory that my hormones are all over the place. These days, I’m not just emotional when Aunt Flo comes to visit every month, it seems to be a weekly thing. At its worse, my hormonal outbursts consists of tears and tantrums, with a few glimpses of laughter in between, almost like four seasons in one day. It’s a vicious cycle. My poor better half doesn’t know whether he’s dealing with Jekyll or Hyde. Lucky for me he has a soft spot for both.
But wait, there’s more. The bazoongas have started to sag…one’s heading east and the other is running in the opposite direction. The jugs aren’t so perky these days, they’ve lost that B-B-Bounce. They need a bit more pep, a little pick me up, maybe a tweak or two? It gets worse. I can’t seem to hold my bladder like I use to. There’s nothing worse than coming home after a night of boozy frivolities and you’re busting to pee! As you accelerate up the driveway (pedal to the metal, full throttle style), I’m simultaneously un-buckling the belt and undoing the pants. I often find myself performing the hot shoe shuffle as I stand at the front door, searching for my keys, saying a silent Hail Mary hoping desperately that the No. 1s can hold it in for two more minutes. By the time I reach the throne, a minor tinkling accident has leaked out.
To top it all off, there are the sweats. There could be a blizzard outside, yet all I want to do is wear is a pair of socks (and only a pair of socks – much to the delight of the better half). My partner is as snug as a bug in a rug, tightly cocooned under the sheets, yet I’m lying on top of the doona sweating like I’m on death row. I could be doing the most mundane of tasks, but I’d be showing tell-tale signs of perspiration. Despite the super strength deodorant I wear, I’m so conscious that the body odour follows me around like a bad stench!
I admit, I’m no spring chicken. I’m certainly not getting any younger, skinnier or prettier. My thirty, flirty and thriving days are coming to an end. As I approach the naughty forties, this swan is fast becoming an old goose!
John Lennon was onto something extraordinary when he wrote Imagine, a song with a simple melody backed by a profound message of peace. Everyday we’re bombarded by tragic news headlines centred on t…
John Lennon was onto something extraordinary when he wrote Imagine, a song with a simple melody backed by a profound message of peace.
Everyday we’re bombarded by tragic news headlines centred on terrorist acts, wars, murders and mass shootings. The 24/7 rolling coverage showing violent and horrific crimes headed by the worst of humanity are all aimed to generate anger, create fear and overwhelm us with despair.
These racially charged attacks against innocent lives are further fuelling the simmering hatred and the growing tension between different ethnic groups, doing more to antagonise and divide people based on bigotry and race. Which leads me to the question, why can’t we all just get along?
I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. So, I won’t attempt to explore this subject matter with an in depth analysis. Instead, I’ll take a boofhead friendly approach in assessing this issue. Firstly, I’d like to use our canine companions as an example of tolerance. Dogs are oblivious to factors such as an individual’s gender, sexuality, heritage, religion or even the football team their owners’ follow. The truth is, dogs don’t care whether we’re black, white, rich, poor, young, old or where we stand on the social hierarchy. Instead, dogs look up to us like the sun shines out of our arses, without any form of prejudice.
I’m not suggesting that we all bend down and sniff each other’s nether regions but dogs are unconditionally loyal. They love us just as we are, free of judgement or any preconceived notions based on our social, racial, ethnic or religious status. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see the rest of humanity in a similar light?
Let’s dig a little deeper with this topic. Is racism inherent in people or is racial intolerance a learned behaviour? Visit a crèche for toddlers (preferably in a multicultural setting as an added bonus)…..you’ll notice a childcare centre is like the United Nations, albeit, with a playground. I’m amazed at how young children form budding friendships with other rug rats without any hint of cultural or ethnic bias. These pre-schoolers can barely talk, let alone understand each other, but it doesn’t stop them from having fun and enjoying each other’s company. I truly believe that any form of discrimination is an action or conduct that’s taught or learned from what we see, hear and experience amongst the people we encounter.
If we all took a step back and look into the eyes of our babies, young children or man’s best friend, with Lennon’s Imagine playing in the background (and a cheeky drink in hand), the world might actually learn a lesson or two about peace and love.
Imagine a world without borders, where we didn’t have labels that defined our race, cultural background, religious beliefs, social status, our gender or sexual preferences, lifestyle etc. Instead, it was one planet where we assimilated with each other, did more to understand one another, found means to embrace our differences and accept diversity, and developed greater cohesion or mateships as oppose to attacking our neighbour.
We’d soon recognise that we all have similar needs, desires, hopes and dreams. Regardless of who we are, where we come from or which side of the fence we sit on, we share the same fears, frustration, anger, sadness and despair…but it’s the barriers we build (whether geographical, physical or emotional) that divide us. It’s time to break the barriers and come together, right now, to unite as one.
Like Lennon, I may view the world through rose-coloured glasses, but I’m not the only one.
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world… You…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
Writer(s): John Lennon
Producer(s): John Lennon Yoko Ono Phil Spector
That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion… I’m lost, confused and disillusioned. Nothing makes sense to me about God or religion anymore. These days, I find myself que…
Source: Losing My Religion
That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion…
I’m lost, confused and disillusioned. Nothing makes sense to me about God or religion anymore. These days, I find myself questioning the very values and belief system that was once at the core of my existence.
I’ve reached a crossroad in my life and now I sit on the fence when it comes to my faith. I’m probably more of a doubter than a believer and more agnostic than an atheist. I’m plagued by guilt and fear of going to hell (and my hair can’t stand the heat)! It’s the one principle stopping me from being more definitive about my opinion on whether God exists or not.
I was raised a Catholic, attended church every Sunday, prayed most nights (to be a supermodel – never happened) and was surrounded by a devoutly Christian family. But the world, the people I’ve immersed myself with and personal experiences has taught me more about how to live a loving, positive life than the dogma that dominated my upbringing.
Sadly, religion doesn’t always unite people. In a lot of instances, religious conviction divides families, communities, even nations around the world (more than a soccer game in the UEFA league). We witness every night on television the effects of hatred caused by extremist beliefs. Who’s to say one religion is more ‘right’ or ‘better’ than the other. At the end of the day, whatever floats your boat. But faith could be the biggest bunch of bollocks ever, up there with the Kardashians and Donald Trump.
Every religion has elements of brainwashing or a cult like hold over its members. The moment you lose your right to freedom of choice as a result of religious persuasion is a violation to human rights. Life throws curve balls at you every day, therefore every individual has the right to make rational and logical decisions based on their own circumstance as oppose to the teachings of systematic indoctrination. Let’s face it, “the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some”.
I’ve learned to keep an open mind, not to judge people based on whether they’re Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Scientologists, Pastafarians, Collingwood supporters etc It’s not your beliefs that make you a good person, it’s your actions and behaviour. You can go to church, a mosque, synagogue or temple as often as you like; read the Bible, the Torah or the Quran daily, but it doesn’t mean you’re more righteous or virtuous than a person who attends the footy every weekend. My theory is, how you’ve inspired and encouraged those around you, your integrity, kindness, generosity, patience, understanding and the love you’ve demonstrated will have a huge impact on others, and consequently will be your lasting legacy. Ultimately, it’s how you respect and treat people that matters.
‘Losing My Religion’
Writer(s): Bill Berry Peter Buck Mike Mills Michael Stipe
Producer(s): Scott Litt R.E.M.
Source: The Vibe 101 Gets A Logo!
Wouldn’t it be amazing to travel the world, sample cuisine from the finest restaurants and to write about your adventures from the most exotic cities of the globe? Well, Anthony Bourdain is living …
Source: The Wright Impact
Melbourne is a vibrant, urban metropolis of skyscrapers, giant structures towering upwards to dizzying heights. The heart and soul of the city is a concrete jungle of high-rise commercial and residential buildings constructed in a fusion of architectural styles, which suits Melbourne’s evolving cosmopolitan landscape.
Below are a selection of Melbourne’s most noted skyscrapers:
Standing at a height of 300 metres, Eureka Towers is one of the world’s tallest residential structures, consisting of 576 apartments in addition to office, retail and hospitality facilities.
120 Collins Street
Designed in collaboration with Hassell Architects and Daryl Jackson, this 53-storey landmark echoes characteristics of art deco architecture, including a central mast and setbacks similar to New York’s Empire State Building.
101 Collins Street
Located at the ‘Paris’ end of Melbourne, 101 Collins is a monument epitomising style and class. The building facade is accentuated with glass buttresses, while the focal point within the interior are the travertine columns and…
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Hello. It’s only me. Is there anybody out there? Can anyone hear me? I’m on the flip side of heaven, the other side of hell. I’m existing in no man’s land of purgatory, languishing in limbo, slowly wasting away the days through constant stormy weather. Suffering under dark clouds hovering over me, a downpour of rainy days and relentless winter blues.
Does someone else feel my pain or understand the fear and anxiety that tortures my head on a daily basis? I pray to a God that I barely have faith in, in the faint hope that someone or something out there in the universe hears my cry for help. I simply just wish for my luck to change.
I’m sick of pretending to be in a happy place when in all honesty, I’m breaking down and falling apart on the inside. I’m lost and disillusioned. I’m losing the race and close to giving up. I have no strength to keep fighting this battle.
Life is passing me by at such lightning speed while my own tiny sphere has stalled. I don’t fit in within this ‘dog eat dog’ world. I want to scream, I want to shout, but there’s no one to turn to. I want to cry, but I’ve run out of tears. I’m running on empty and my soul is broken.
I wish things were different. I yearn for my life to finally head in the right direction. I’d love to get back on track, for my hopes to go to plan and for my dreams to come true. I miss that feeling that anything was possible…that I can conquer the world.
I just want to be happy….
Have a little faith, this post is not focused on any religion. Instead, the post is a visual tour of some of Melbourne’s most architecturally acclaimed churches. Praised for their majestic design, these houses of worship will enlighten you with their grandness and history.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Designed by William Wilkinson Wardell, St Patrick’s Cathedral is a prime example of Gothic-Revival design. Located on the edge of the city grid, the structure is laid out in the style of a Latin cross, incorporating a nave with side aisles, transepts flanked by side aisles, a sanctuary including seven chapels positioned in a chevet around it, and sacristies.
A cross six metres in height sits atop of the main spire. The pinnacles of the Cathedral tower upwards, representing heaven above, while the gargoyles perched around the church are trademark features befitting the Gothic aesthetic.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral represents the signature style of ne0-Gothic transitional architecture. Designed by William Butterfield, the cathedral consists of three giant spires, with the…
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Flinders Street Station
I love Melbourne, a city that is defined for its vibrant atmosphere, a passion for sport and a hub for fine food, wine and great coffee, often embraced through its cafe culture.
As a tourist destination and from an architectural perspective, what is quintessentially Melbourne? Nothing else epitomises Melbourne more than the following landmarks, which form the very fabric of this fine city: Flinders Street Station, the Shrine of Remembrance, the Rialto Towers, the GPO, the Arts Centre, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Luna Park and Melbourne Star.
Flinders Street Station
Built in 1910, Flinders Street Station is the heart of a comprehensive railway network in Melbourne. The facade of this iconic structure was a result of a worldwide design competition awarded in 1900 to JW Fawcett and HPC Ashworth.
Shrine of Remembrance
Constructed between 1928-1934, the Shrine of Remembrance was built in honour of the men and women of Victoria who served in the First World War. The structure is…
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Like most cosmopolitan cities around the world, Melbourne is characterised for its concrete jungles, dominated by modern skyscrapers with shimmery glass facades. But scattered amongst these contemporary structures are buildings noted for their classic architecture.
The very fabric of Melbourne consists of heritage listed buildings, recognised for their historical, cultural and architectural significance. This post is a visual exploration of some of Melbourne’s most iconic landmarks including the Royal Exhibition Building, Parliament House, the State Library of Victoria, the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Old Treasury Building, and the Melbourne Town Hall. Each of these structures have a common thread, the very essence of their construction is linked to their traditional charm and majestic designs.
The majority of these landmarks (such as Parliament House, the State Library, Supreme Court and Old Treasury Building) were constructed during the Victorian era, a period that saw a renewed focus towards classical renaissance architecture. The classical aesthetic is characterised for central pediments, a Corinthian style portico, Ionic columns and grand archways.
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Frank Gehry is a trailblazer in contemporary design, often considered as one of the most highly acclaimed architects of the 20th century. An iconic genius in post-modern architecture, Gehry thrives in pushing the boundaries with his complex, avant garde concepts. Gehry’s bold structures rebels against the status quo, shifting away from the paradigm that ‘form follows function’.
As a proponent of the deconstructivsm movement, Gehry’s projects are defined for their striking profiles, mixed with undulating layers of elements, resulting in structural facades that are both complex and bold. His style of producing abstract constructions are combined with his use of malleable metal finishes juxtaposed against more traditional building components like concrete or bricks.
Gehry portfolio of projects are characterised for their use of unconventional materials, incorporating structural elements manipulated to produce rippled forms and irregular shapes. Although Gehry’s creative vision was inspired by the DeCon architectural style, the silhouettes of his spectrum of famous landmarks mixes a new age revival of cubism and futuristic aesthetics.
Below are a snapshot…
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Who said country style was dated? Certainly not the hosts behind the hit lifestyle show Fixer Upper, featuring the husband and wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines. The dynamic duo are the creative minds behind several major renovation overhauls. They turn run down, dilapidated homes into farmhouse chic.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. With Chip’s construction expertise and Joanna’s creative vision, they can upgrade any beat-up rickety old property into a home that exudes southern charm and comfort. The pair are bold enough to take on any property, regardless of its condition, and transform the house with a fresh facelift and an interior makeover. While most buyers would view such dwellings as a money pit and shy away from such projects, Chip and Joanna see nothing but potential.
Joanna’s aesthetic is characterized for its modern, country style chic. Her passion for vintage fixtures, unique flea-market pieces and up-cycled…
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Melbourne’s central business district is renown for its eclectic mix of architectural styles. The cityscape is blanketed with skyscrapers, featuring shimmering façades and rectangular block silhouettes, a trend that dominated the 80s era. These post-modern forms are nestled cohesively together with heritage structures typified by Romanesque and neo-classical designs, linking back to Australia’s federation period.
Since the millennium, a greater movement towards contemporary architecture have eclipsed the city and its surrounds. The following is a small selection of landmarks and commercial buildings that stand out for their edgy, distinct and innovative style.
NAB Building – Docklands
Royal Children’s Hospital
Melbourne Theatre Centre
Swanston Academic Building
The National Gallery of Victoria is currently showcasing a collection of masterpieces from the Hermitage, epitomizing the artistic vision of Catherine The Great. The collection includes an exclusive curation of Italian, French, Flemish and Dutch art and features specific works from Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck and Velazquez. As a backdrop, sections of the gallery has been transformed to recreate the interior of the Hermitage Museum, giving the audience an opportunity to experience the richness and grandeur of Roman and Classical architecture embraced by Catherine herself.
Catherine’s thirty-four year reign as Empress of Russia is often considered the Golden Age of the Russian Empire, a period that cultivated a movement towards the ideals of Enlightenment – a drive towards liberty, progress and tolerance. Catherine’s passion and enthusiasm for the arts, literature, education and culture instigated the foundation of her collection of paintings, sculptures, and priceless treasures and artifacts of silver and precious gems.
At night, I would lie in bed wishing I was anyone but me, praying my life would end to avoid facing the following day. I couldn’t think straight and I felt there wasn’t a way out of my situation. The constant negativity at work mirrored the endless pessimism pounding my head. My spirit had been completely deflated to a point where I just wanted to run and hide from the rest of the world in an effort to numb the agony. The darkness that haunted me was now coupled with severe anxiety. I struggled sleeping, I’d often endure nightmares, waking up in a cold sweat, my chest tightening. Having to deal with work caused panic attacks, making breathing difficult. Yet, I had to hide my fear, meet and greet editors, publishers, graphic designers, copyrighters, photographers and clients with a forced smile on my face, knowing in my mind I was ready to break down and crumble.
The walls were closing in and the burden was increasingly too heavy to shoulder. In the end I quit. But the relief was only short lived when inevitably, I had to confront the reality of finding another job. I could barely function with the day-to-day routine of living. Getting changed, showering, brushing my hair, doing the groceries – simple tasks were all too hard. I avoided going out. I wanted to isolate myself from friends, family and the entire outside world. If I gathered enough courage to venture out, I would stare at the pavement and avoid any eye contact with other people. I didn’t want anyone to see right through me and the shame, embarrassment, or the failure that I felt I was. I internalised my fears, buried them deep within, trying in vain to erase the dark memories of the past in order to move forward.
After several months of being housebound, struggling silently in my own inner demons, I eventually garnered enough strength to return back into the workforce. The process took numerous therapy sessions, supplemented with medication, to manage my thought processes and to minimize the negativity controlling and dominating my mind. I was encouraged to exercise to force myself to step outside the home and practiced meditation in order to relax. After some contemplation, I opted for a simpler role with less responsibilities at an up and coming public relations firm, to help ease myself back into the corporate jungle. Despite the fact that the job doesn’t have the high-flyer status or the glamourous perks of my previous position, I am more content. Go figure!
My saving grace is my current partner. If it wasn’t for him, my life would be empty. He’s supported me throughout this journey. His patience, kindness, generosity and love has carried me through the toughest of times. I take each day one step at a time. Every day is a mountain I climb and conquer. I sometimes have to write a ‘To Do’ list of basic chores which act as motivational steps to soldier on. My condition is still managed with daily medication and I cope with the ‘blues’ with the occasional therapy session. However, I am one of the lucky few. Sadly, there are many out there who suffer depression significantly worse under more severe circumstances than me and my heart goes out to them. The thing is, you’re not alone. One of the initial things to do is to acknowledge something is wrong, but harder still, is having the strength to seek immediate support and to keep moving forward and to battle through the daily demons. On a positive note, there is HELP out there.
** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:
I’ve known Lisa since we were immature, pre-pubescent kids running amok in primary school. On the outside, Lisa is an articulate, bubbly girl who oozes confidence and charm. With her classic good looks and a glamorous job in advertising, she had what seemed to be an envious life that involved overseas trips and socialising and networking with high flyers of the corporate world. But her smile was a façade that hid a painful secret which she only recently revealed. Lisa suffers from depression. This is her journey….
Depression is a dark shadow that stalks my everyday existence. The paralysing feeling of hopelessness is like a sombre mood that constantly lingers over me. From the time I was 16, I had noticed that I didn’t have the strength to cope with the curve balls that life threw my way. However, as the years passed, my inner struggles only worsened as I faced the trials and tribulations of climbing the corporate ladder, pursuing a career in public relations, being hit with financial pressures and the heart ache of rocky relationships. I hit rock bottom in late 2001 and the depth of despair was beyond overwhelming.
Initially, I associated my mood swings with the highs and lows of growing pains during my teens. Unrequited love, peer pressure, the awkwardness of puberty, teenage angst and rebelliousness culminated in a roller coaster ride of emotions which I could usually dismiss and move on from. Yet, by the time I began university, the stress of perfection, exceeding parental expectations, my obsessive desire to succeed academically but never quite reaching my goals caused further strain on my already low self-esteem. It was the point when I first realised I needed professional help. But after two visits to a psychologist, the embarrassment was too much to stomach given the taboo linked with sufferers of mental illness.
Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos
** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:
Her vision is bold, daring and avant-garde. In fact, Zaha Hadid’s work is often considered polarising. You either love it, loathe it or simply don’t get it. However, regardless of the acclaim or criticism, Hadid consistently pushes the boundaries of architecture with her signature space age, futuristic aesthetic.
Hadid is the first female to single-handedly conquer the field of architecture, a domain that is to this day, primarily a male dominated industry. Her edgy, ultra-modern concepts are well ahead of their time in terms of form and structure and has earned her the honour of the highly prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. Yet, despite Hadid’s achievements, she’s also had the misfortune of seeing many of her projects fail to come to fruition. Nevertheless, Hadid continues to be an influential figure and a tenacious force with her unconventional…
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“The mission of an architect is to help people understand how to make life more beautiful, the world a better one for living in, and to give reason, rhyme and meaning to life.” Frank Lloyd Wright
When you think of world renowned architects, one of the most prominent of the modern era is that of Frank Lloyd Wright. As a celebrated icon, Wright challenged the norms of contemporary design, championing the Prairie School of Architecture typified by structures incorporating linear silhouettes with organic forms. A visionary, Wright’s forward thinking creativity steered a design movement towards open plan concepts – where rooms flowed and opened into one another – a practice that was rapidly adopted within residential and commercial developments. This innovative layout inevitably shaped the way we engaged within our immediate surroundings, breaking down physical barriers and increasing human interaction. Wright’s signature aesthetic was inspired by his…
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Over the course, we presented projects which pushed us to express our creativity in a tactile form, bringing concepts to life through layers of fabric, contrasting patterns, colours, materials, accessories, and integrating various elements of negative and positive space, silhouettes and contours. The combination of which aimed to connect with the heart and soul of its intended client. Each concept was backed by a narrative, a source of inspiration, turning a creative vision into reality.
The course challenged my mind. I was forced to think outside the square, to view the world at different angles, to see life through different perspectives. Each project we undertook was designed to engage individuals to see a deeper meaning behind colours, texture, contrast, lines, dots and shapes.
There were many occasions I wanted to quit. I dug deep and I worked my arse off. Slowly, I adjusted to the routine of university life, of lectures, tutorials, homework and assignments. I immersed myself in the world of Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe. I took a trip down the rabbit hole to discover the history behind styles ranging from Art Deco, Gothic, Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Baroque, Victorian, Edwardian, Queen Anne, Arts & Craft movement, Rococo, Neo Classic, Scandinavian genres. I learned that 5 Seconds of Summer was not a new-age, hipster term for a ‘quickie’ horizontal rhumba session. More importantly, world issues centred on Justin Bieber or One Direction according to the tween generation (One who??).
Yep, art and design is not black and white – there’s 50 shades of grey and a rainbow of other hues in between. Even today’s learning environment is a whole new world. Back in the late 90s when I was a pimply faced teenager attending Monash University, e-mail was still in its infancy and Facebook wasn’t even a blip on the radar! We’re talkin’ the days of dial-up, when you stared at the modem as it whirred to connect to the internet. Now I’m faced with terms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler and blogs. Floppy disks have been replaced by USB sticks and who needs a library of books when Google is at your fingertips?
Image Source: http://arcid.uclaextension.edu/miaprogram-2/
However old habits die hard. Despite my age and wisdom, some things just never change. The student lifestyle of two-minute noodles for dinner, leaving assignments to the last minute, staying up till 3am preparing for exams and losing work because your PC crashed – is still a trap for an old goose like myself!
After two years of highs and lows, the course culminated in a class exhibition attended by family, friends, teachers and noted designers and architects within industry. Achieving your dreams was never going to be easy – No guts, no glory. Fortunately the hard work paid off. There were definitely several tantrums, a few meltdowns and a number of sooki la la moments. But I survived. I even surprised myself with the results. I started from scratch with no artistic background, just a pipe dream from my childhood. But you’re never too old to learn something new.
Every journey starts with one step forward. I’ve been on a hiatus from the blogasphere for good reason. I’ve embarked on a new adventure along the road less travelled. But let’s rewind to the point of where my conundrum first began. Have you ever sat at work, staring blankly at your computer screen thinking “there’s gotta be more to life than this?”
I left my last job almost 2.5 years ago. After 7.5 years in a marketing role, I knew I had reached a dead end but I also longed for something different. After a three week trip to Egypt, I came back refreshed with every intention to look for another job. But as I searched and prepared for potential interviews, my heart wasn’t in it…..something felt so wrong. It hit me hard like a tonne of bricks…. I was lost and disillusioned.
I had reached a crossroads and for once in my life, I had no plan to fall back on! I’m a structured, organised person. I never just wing it and go by gut feel. I’ve always been a planner. So much so that when I travel, I bring my entire wardrobe, a range of clothes that could rival the entire Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter collection at David Jones or Bergdorf Goodman – it’s for those ‘just in case’ scenarios. I’ve had goals and ambitions and a deep desire to progress forward in my career. But I fell off the rails with a giant thud! Actually, I bizarrely hopped onto a different track; I took a random ride down an alternative route, with no clear idea where the journey would lead me. The question that loomed was ‘If you could be anything, what would you be?’
For years, I’ve yearned to be a journalist/writer, a fashion designer or an interior decorator. Those ambitions were never encouraged during my high school years. Given my background, you either became a doctor or lawyer, and if you weren’t smart enough, you entered the corporate jungle. God forbid if I wanted to be a hairdresser, my family would have disowned me and kicked me to the curb.
So as I faced one of life’s major crossroads, I had two options: to follow the straight, narrow and predictable path or take a rough, bumpier ride along the road less travelled? My brain was loud and clear, ‘stick with the commercial wilderness!’. It made logical sense as the corporate world offered an abundance of marketing positions with a stable income. But my heart was adamant, ‘take a walk on the wild side!’. Do I follow my artistic ambitions? The idea of biting the bullet and opting for a career change scared the living daylight out of me.
But it was my better half that paved the way and let me see the light. He challenged and encouraged me to chase the impossible….to follow my dreams, take a chance and to pursue what I’m passionate about. It was an epiphany that was met with considerable hesitation…..but what if I fail????
The fact is….I DID FAIL!!!! In the months that followed after quitting my job, at the suggestion of my partner in crime, I did a short course in “writing for children”. I’ve always had this aim to pen my own children’s picture book and someday have it published. I loved it! The course got the creative juices flowing. I created a handful of short stories aimed at 4-8 year old children. I even showed my friends’ kids to gain their feedback…ok…it was a bit hit and miss….but it was part of the learning curve. However, the low point was receiving one rejection letter after another from various publishers. That was a ‘jagged little pill1‘ to swallow. The bubble burst. The whole ‘delusional’ idea of becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Roald Dahl went down the drain faster than a sewer rat. I felt deflated! I lost my artistic mojo!
Again, it was my better half who pushed me to get back up…..to do what you love!
So the adventure continues. I’ve taken the plunge and decided to go back to University to follow my other goal of becoming an interior decorator. I’m completely overwhelmed and not quite treading water!!!! I’m giddy with excitement but nauseous at the same time.
The point is, I don’t want to live life with regrets. I don’t want to look back over the years and have those niggling thoughts at the back of my head…’ if only I did this’….’if only I did that’. I don’t want to sit there pondering and dreaming of what could have been, knowing I didn’t try.
It sounds so cliché but when it comes to achieving ‘the impossible’….if at first you don’t succeed dust yourself off and try again2. I have tried and failed and tried again. I’ve probably bought a little shame to the family and have left my parents feeling somewhat bewildered and mortified. Others may look at me as somewhat of an embarrassment. I know I do!
However, the difference between the ‘negative Nancys’ and the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and the J.K. Rowlings of the world is that they turned a dream into a reality and never gave up! Regardless of the outcome, these people gave it a shot and turned the ‘Impossible’ into a ‘Possibility’!
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all fun and games. I’ve eaten humble pie and it sucks! But over time it becomes an acquired taste (actually, I lie; I still choke on humble pie!). It’s been a tough, hard slog with many setbacks along the way. It’s rough on the self-esteem and this journey has beaten me and smacked me up. There have been many lessons learned over the past 2.5 years. I don’t know if it’s made me stronger and wiser….maybe just a little more thick skinned.
More importantly, I have the love and support of a wonderful partner who has encouraged me throughout the process. I’ve suffered from so much self-doubt. But he’s believed in me more than I believe in myself. Even though I’ve made mistakes, I’ve stumbled and fallen and as I’ve struggled to get back up, he’s never given up or frowned and looked down upon me. And it makes a world of difference!
Aim high and chase that elusive goal. As per the Nike slogan, ‘Just Do It’! Take a risk, take a chance, make a change2 and give it a try. I’m finally turning things around and pursuing my dreams and following my own path….wherever it takes me. I’m bound to get lost along the way but that’s part of the adventure!
As Mother Theresa said: Life is a dream….Realize it!
1. Alanis Morissette, ‘Jagged Little Pill’, Producer: Glen Ballard, Label: Maverick, Reprise
2. Aaliyah, ‘Try Again’, Producer: Timbaland, Label: Blackground, Writers: Stephen Garrett, Timothy Mosley
3. Kelly Clarkson, ‘Breakaway’, Producer: John Shanks, Label: Walt Disney, RCA, Writers: Avril Lavigne, Bridget Benenate,Matthew Gerrard
It’s true. I have a style obsession! I have an instinctive flair for all things fabulously chic, whether it’s fashion, photography, art to architecture. I’m a visual person. Comfort and functionality? Blah, blah, blah – boring! But if it’s eye catching, on trend, with a dash of wow, you’ll have me salivating – and I have no shame!
On the flip side, I’m a space cadet with no artistic talent or skill to create my own masterpiece. This applies to interior decorating. I know what I like, but I struggle at pulling together a look that has panache, you know, what the French call a little ‘je ne sais quoi’. Instead, I’m living my designer dreams through the growing number of home makeover programs that I’m highly fixated with.
Where do I begin? Sarah Richardson (Design Inc, Sarah 101, Sarah’s House, Sarah’s Cottage, Room Service), Candice Olson (Divine Design, Candice Tells All), Samantha Pynn (Summer Home), Genevieve Gorder (Dear Genevieve), Jane Lockhart (Colour Confidential), Robert and Cortney Novogratz (9 By Design, Home By Novogratz). I also have to add Shaynna Blaze (Selling Houses Australia, The Block) into the mix for some home grown Aussie talent. Overall, the list is long but distinguished. These people are all visionaries, who bring their ingenuity to life.
Each of their respective programs gives you in depth look into the world of interior design, including the highs and lows of home renovations. With their extensive knowledge and creative talent, they rescue humble abodes from the depths of design distress to breathe new life into any type of home. Using innovative and contemporary solutions, they combine both function and beauty to reveal a room’s true potential. These designers have produced several awe-inspiring room transformations, converting a home from drab to fab, while incorporating the contrasting styles and requirements of their clients to achieve a balanced, cohesive look. No challenge is too big!
Below is an insight into the signature design aesthetic of the creative minds behind some of the most entertaining home makeover programs as screened on the Lifestyle Home network:
If money grew on trees, I’d love to incorporate their design concepts within my own humble abode. I can only dream to have any of these designers weave their magic and transform my home, with its modest décor, to one of sumptuous class and sophistication. I’d love to colour my world with their infinite ingenuity! It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
Take me back to the sweet times
The hot nights
Everything is gonna be alright
In the summertime
Baby, in the summertime
That is where I’ll be1
Summer is the best season for outdoor entertaining. It’s the best time to host a barbeque with family and friends, sit under the pergola with a good book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, or to dine under the stars….alfresco style!
Over the summer break, we were given an outdoor daybed, ideal for relaxing and kicking back while soaking in the sunshine in the backyard patio. However, the daybed was one of those unique finds off the streets, as part of hard rubbish collection. It’s what professional designers would refer to as ‘vintage’ furniture. But to the everyday wannabe decorator like myself, the daybed was a random piece of trash with the potential to be one’s treasure!
In a nutshell, the daybed required some ‘tszujing up’, a pompous way of saying….a makeover. It’s no secret. I have an appreciation for all things arty farty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with artistic genes and I have very minimal creative talent. But it hasn’t stopped me from trying!
After watching several episodes of Summer Home (see post titled Summer Home – Rustic Glam), hosted by Samantha Pynn and screened on Australia’s Lifestyle Home network, I thought I’d try my hand at applying her simple techniques to updating dated old furnishings. Turning the daybed from drab to fab became my pet project and I was on a mission. I was a do-it-yourselfer (DIY-er) on a budget!
First, buying a mattress was essential and probably the easiest step in the process. The next stage was to add a touch of summer chic. In line with Samantha’s approach, I thought of creating a slip cover for the mattress to inject some visual glam. I chose a black fabric for durability and for $10 a metre, the fabric was a bargain! Black was also a versatile shade that mixes well with other colours. After several days of sketching, developing a pattern and marking it out on material, it was all systems go and I began sewing the slip cover together. Sewing isn’t my forte and it was a process of trial and error, but I eventually made a cover that fit the mattress snugly.
A simple style tip that Samantha uses for greater visual impact is to accessorise with accent pieces. In this instance, I opted for several throw pillows. I managed to purchase six cushions for under $50. Although, each was a combination of different textures and patterns, together they had a cohesive look in terms of the colour palette, shape and size. A unified theme is vital for the overall look to gel together.
Ultimately, it’s possible to update tired, ordinary second hand furniture pieces with a fresh look using practical measures that won’t break the bank. Adding a splash of colour, pattern and texture can provide a touch of understated casual chic.
Now, it’s time to chill out on the daybed and enjoy the sunshine with that glass of wine.
1. “In the Summertime” – Thisty Merc, ‘Thirsty Merc’, Warner Music Australia, Ray Thistlethwayte
Oh dear Genevieve,
My humble abode is trapped in a 1970s time warp and is drowning in mission brown. Help!
There are days when I wish Genevieve Gorder was on speed dial. I can only dream to have her transform my quaint, dated home into a modern, timeless haven. Genevieve is the Fairy Godmother of interior decorating and is the ‘go to’ creative expert who converts drab and boring rooms into inviting, contemporary spaces. She weaves her magic with a fabulous sprinkle of style and pizzazz as the host of the entertaining home makeover program, Dear Genevieve.
Genevieve’s signature design approach is similar to that of the ever prolific Sarah Richardson (of Design Inc, Sarah 101 fame). Both women balance traditional charm with contemporary design concepts when it comes to breathing new life into a room. Like Sarah, Genevieve’s vision rarely incorporates ‘matchy matchy’ furniture schemes. Instead, both designers often integrate an eclectic mix of new fixtures with vintage pieces.
Gorder isn’t afraid to use an array of contrasting elements, such as rustic pieces together with mid century modern furnishings, or geometric patterns against a neutral wall backdrop and allocating vignettes to a room through layers of textures and accessories. These techniques offer eye catching focal points and bold pops of colour, giving a space its own character, charm and identity. Genevieve effortlessly manages to pull together a look that is balanced and cohesive, despite the diverse fusion of design fundamentals.
What makes Dear Genevieve unique is that it’s one of a handful of programs where clients don’t have to relinquish full creative control to the lead designer. Instead, Genevieve plans together with her customers regarding the overall design direction – finding out how home owners currently use the space, how they are stylistically, favourite colour schemes, the flow of traffic, what their objectives are with the room in terms of functionality and the mood they want to create. Gorder then provides a sketch of the structural layout for the space, outlining broad concepts on decor while being open to ideas and suggestions given by the clients.
Genevieve then embarks on a fact finding mission, along with the home owners, visiting various shops and suppliers to investigate options for lighting, flooring, textural elements like curtains, rugs, pillows as well as different accent pieces and accessories. It’s an opportunity for the clients to open their eyes to new ideas and to think ‘outside the square’ in order to bring out a room’s potential. In some cases, particularly in earlier series, the clients even get involved in the renovation process.
In each episode, Genevieve plays different roles from designer therapist, style counsellor to decorator medic. Regardless of how challenging each project is, Genevieve’s vivacious, animated, positive personality is so engaging with viewers, along with her big smile and even infectious laugh! Her charm and ingenuity is reflected in the rooms she has revamped with a little wow factor.
If you’re desperately seeking a touch of style nirvana for your home, just ask Dear Genevieve for some design wisdom. She’s more than capable of rescuing an outdated room from the depths of the twilight zone and tzuj it back into the 21st century.
Image Source: http://www.facebook.com/GenevieveGorder/photos
For my avid readers, you’ll know that I have a penchant for interior decorating programs. To fuel my addiction, Summer Home is the latest series I’ve added to my growing list of favourite home makeover shows. What makes this series unique is its focus on renovating summer homes – or holiday homes as we call them here in Australia. In each episode, host Samantha Pynn, aims to update rundown retreats trapped in a time warp, and transform them from boring to delightful getaways.
The program has a laid back vibe that’s reflected in Samantha’s signature style. I have an affinity for her refreshing approach to decorating; it’s what I define as casual chic. With Samantha, you won’t find ostentatious fixtures, opulent or ornate focal points and quirky decorating concepts. Instead, Samantha’s creations are bright, cosy and inviting. Her designs are based on restrained elegance, understated rustic glam. She combines country with a classic, timeless comfort, yet modern feel.
Samantha provides practical solutions to breathing new life into a home. Where possible, she retains existing furniture to minimise costs but refreshes the pieces with new slip covers or re-upholstering. In addition to custom fixtures, Samantha also favours vintage accessories found in local thrift stores or antique shops to maintain a cottage charm.
As the homes of her clients are often located along rivers, lakes or set amongst wooded areas, her designs are often nature inspired, so as not to divert from the character of the house. To keep the look fresh, she uses pops of colour with visual elements such as pillows, throw blankets, rugs and ornaments with soft colour pallets, floral prints mixed with muted geometric patterns and delicate textures.
In some episodes, Samantha’s major challenge is maximising areas with limited space, creating a room that is both functional and flexible in terms of their layout, purpose and usage. She often achieves this with a splash of paint, new flooring, re-positioning furniture, adding fixtures with sleek minimalist features, dismantling walls or building cabinetry upwards instead of outwards – all to create the illusion of space.
In summary, Samantha manages to combine both function and form, transforming rooms that once lacked any artistic direction, and injecting a dash of glam that is visually eye catching yet comfortable and casually stylish.
I’m addicted to interior decorating shows. I simply can’t get enough of them! Divine Design, Candice Tells All, Colour Confidential, Sarah’s Design Inc…I could go on. They’re all part of my daily diet of renovation programs. But for something more daring and left of centre, you need to get a taste of the distinct Novogratz style.
Home By Novogratz is screened daily on the LifeStyle Home network and is hosted by the husband and wife team, Robert and Cortney Novogratz. It took me a while to jump on board the program. The signature Novogratz aesthetic is an acquired palette comprising of contemporary, ultra modern themes with a retro vibe.
Their design concepts are targeted at the brave, for those seeking a look that is vibrant, innovative and unique. If you’re after interior décor that’s traditional, conservative and on the safe side of the spectrum, run the other way! It’s time to step out of your comfort zone.
The dynamic duo (whose inspirations are drawn from downtown New York) makes their own rules, anything goes, and there is no limit to their infinite creativity. Their process for renovating each space is intuitive, there is very little that is methodical about their vision. The designers allow their ideas to evolve by combining flea-market or vintage finds with high-end focal points; or bringing together an eclectic mix of furniture and accent pieces to create a layered effect with different elements of texture, colour and accessories. Ultimately, a dull boring room is transformed and used as a canvas to showcase their funky design sensibility.
For maximum impact, Robert and Cortney like to mix a fusion of strong contrasting artistic themes and concepts that expresses the home owners’ individuality while delivering a room that’s bold, with a quirky charm and a character that is totally original. The final look of each project can polarise some people and may not necessarily float everyone’s boat, but the ultimate result still has a ‘wow’ factor that’s daring, hip and inspiring.
Photos: Courtesy of HGTV.COM
What do you get when you combine a couple with opposing design aesthetics, a single room in their house in desperate need of a makeover and a colour wheel – you get a vibrant episode of Colour Confidential!
The crux of the program centres on each couple moving away from the standard builder beige and making a giant leap towards adding a splash of colour to what is a boring room. The homeowners then face the tough task of determining three colours that ultimately form the basis of their room’s colour scheme, using everyday objects that inspire them. These objects (which could range from red strawberries or blue earrings to violet flowers) are systematically placed around the show’s secret weapon, the colour wheel. The colour wheel consists of 12 shades covering primary colours through to varying shades of secondary colours (including warmer tones and cooler shades).
Jane Lockhart, who’s the designer and host of Colour Confidential (screened during weekdays on the LifeStyle Home channel), guides each couple during the decision process, after which she is then presented with the difficult challenge of pulling all three colours together, decorating and transforming the room with some va va va voom!
What three colours would you pick? The first colour selected is the dominant shade used on each wall. The second colour chosen is generally painted on a feature wall, ceiling or trims and in some instances, influences the type of flooring installed (including tiles, carpet or timber floorboards). The third colour choice is used as the inspiration behind accent pieces such as area rugs, curtains, pillows, furniture or other focal points.
Like certain couples on the program, I have a slight reluctance to painting a mixture of bright, bold colours (that don’t generally co-ordinate or blend well together) in one room. The formula behind the program could spell a recipe for a renovation disaster. However, Jane provides tips and advice on what colour combination to run with, while often acting as a mediator or designer therapist for the participants involved. It’s interesting to see the dynamics of each couple, as they negotiate between themselves, you witness how far each participant is willing to compromise with their partner, or ultimately, which individual has the domineering personality.
The final result is nothing short of spectacular. Jane manages to exhibit exceptional prowess in bringing together contrasting, or not so complimentary shades, and creating a harmonious theme for a room. Jane has the skill of unifying bold vibrant colours on the opposite ends of the spectrum and surprisingly develops a look that is functional, contemporary and elegantly stylish using textures and layers of accent pieces.
The approach is innovative and unique. It proves that if you’re willing to move away from boring neutral tones towards adopting splashes of colour, you can dramatically transform a room and add some character and personality to a space. Like most people, I just need to make that giant leap and finally step out of my age of beige comfort zone.
Image Source: janelockhart.com
If you’re a devout follower of fashion, there are three key trends being preached by designers and stylists alike this season: Colour Blocking, Peplums and Ruching – these are the hottest looks currently rocking the red carpet and fashion runways, and some of Hollywood’s most glamorous, fashion forward celebrities are a testament to these latest style phenomena.
Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2001222/Fashions-coolest-clash-How-orange-purple-colours-season.html
If you want to stand out and love a splash of colour in your Spring/Summer ensemble, colour blocking is the way to go. According to Paula Joye (fashion and style columnist for The Age), colour blocking is defined as ‘an outfit made up of ‘blocks’ of solid colour’1. This look is for the confident and the brave, not for the faint hearted – it’s ideal for mixing and matching separate pieces (from tops, jackets, skirts or pants) in vibrant, intense shades. The focus is to combine bold colours on the opposite ends of the colour spectrum, for example, orange and purple, or pink and green (traditionally considered to clash when teamed together).
Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1356231/Jennifer-Lopez-shows-tiny-waist-stomach-baring-low-cut-top.html
If you prefer a more subdued, toned down look, ‘use shades within the same family’, that is, colours closer to each other on the colour wheel for example, blue and purple, or black and grey2. However, don’t go overboard and exude some restraint when choosing your wardrobe; avoid mixing contrasting patterns including spots with stripes, or coordinating floral designs with abstract prints. To do so will result in a major fashion faux pas.
Image Source: realstylenetwork.com/fashion-and-style/2012/02/jennifer-aniston-wows-in-tom-ford-at-wanderlust-premiere/
Peplums are back with a vengeance! Peplums haven’t dominated fashion since the 1980s, when Dynasty, shoulder pads and perms were at the height of their popularity. The growing resurgence of the flouncy flirtatious ruffle around the waistline of a jacket, blouse, dress or skirt has been pushed by the world’s leading designers and is a significant trend strutting down fashion runways.
Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2603928/Duchess-Cambridge-wears-chic-scarlet-suit-Prince-William-jet-Queenstown-early-morning-stop-Royal-tour.html
According to Anna Byrne of the Herald Sun, the peplum design is ideal for the hourglass silhouette and with the right fit, it is also flattering for women who embrace their curves, as it helps to minimise the waistline3. To accentuate the look, team up your peplum ensemble with a belt, to cinch up the waist and define your sexy hips even further.
Ruching is a perennial style favourite amongst designers and is a look that comes in waves season after season. However, most fashion collections this year have taken the ruching trend and given it a modern twist with softer gathering of pleats and ruffles on skirts and dresses.
The beauty about the ruching technique is that it helps camouflage our muffin tops and the unwanted flab or flaws around the waistline.
Ultimately, regardless of what style trend is strutting down the catwalk, the key is to understand what works for your particular body shape, accentuate your best physical features and feel confident.
Citations on Request
If you think too much publicity and overexposure on our television screens is a bad marketing strategy, don’t tell Sarah Richardson and her design team. Sarah Richardson is a guru of interior decorating and design and is the host of uber chic renovation programs such as Design Inc, Sarah’s House, Sarah’s Cottage, Room Service and Sarah 101, as seen on the Lifestyle-Home channel. In fact, the Lifestyle-Home channel should be re-positioned as the Sarah Richardson Network!
“Sarah Richardson started her career in lifestyle television 15 years ago as a behind-the-scenes prop stylist and set decorator. Within a year, Sarah found herself in high demand as an on screen personality and quickly realised that she could carve a niche in the emerging world of design TV by sharing her practical, endearing and inspiring approach to interior design with viewers”1.
I’m a one trick pony with my “Matchy Matchy” decorating solutions. On the other hand, balance and symmetry is certainly not Sarah’s trademark design aesthetic. Sarah has the innate talent of putting together an eclectic mix of accessories and pieces, contrasting patterns and vibrant colours, combining contemporary with traditional themes, and making the concept look cohesive. Overall, there is a sense of whimsy that resonates in her signature home transformations, which I define as a fusion of modern sophistication with a French provincial edge.
Richardson has a flair for blending vintage pieces into her interior makeovers and is also renowned for recycling old ‘trash’ and transforming it into one’s treasure, that is, revamping dated, worn out furniture with the pizzazz of re-upholstery, or by touching up with a splash of paint. Sarah’s other passion is incorporating antiques into her designs as they maintain their value long term, which is ideal for clients sourcing investment pieces for their homes.
Sarah, along with her main partner in crime, Tommy Smythe, is not afraid to get her hands dirty and isn’t scared to take control of a power drill or hand tool, especially when installing flat pack cabinetry and other furniture items. Richardson is also an avid do-it-yourselfer (DIYer), giving viewers first hand lessons on a range of DIY projects from floral arrangements, sewing your own pillow covers or valances, to demonstrating innovative ways to revamping table lamps with ribbons or jazzing up walls using China plates or framed shells or buttons as decor!
I’m sometimes sceptical about her ideas of mixing and matching ornate vintage items with contemporary accents. Yet, she manages to prove me wrong with her approach to decorating. The final result of each home makeover she designs is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Sarah never ceases to amaze me with how she executes her unique vision on dated and dreary interiors, transforming them into sophisticated and functional abodes with timeless appeal.
1. http://www.sarahrichardsondesign.com/sarah/about Viewed 29 August 2012
Image Source: hgtv.com
Before the character Carrie Bradshaw and her posse of hip, sexy, vivacious and smart gal pals struck a cord with women around the world, there was Helen Gurley Brown, who embodied the original strong, independent, free spirited woman portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex & The City. Helen was ahead of her time and paved the way for future generations of women to pursue a career and embrace their independence, financial freedom and sexuality.
In 1962, she penned the bestseller Sex and the Single Girl before taking control of Cosmopolitan magazine, where she sat at the helm as editor in chief from 1965 to 1997. She transformed the languishing magazine into the ultimate Bible of female empowerment, with the publication of smart, bold, feisty articles aimed at women and the use of titillating headlines and topics charged with sexual overtones.
In doing so, Helen revolutionised the publishing industry and the face of journalism. She was an outspoken advocate that women could have it all – money, recognition, success, men, prestige, authority, dignity. She was a strong believer that self-sufficiency was a woman’s greatest asset.
Helen was a true pioneer, pivotal in highlighting women’s sexual freedom and bringing the feminist movement to the forefront of modern culture. She gave women a voice, and used the magazine as a vehicle for women to address their hopes, passions and ambitions.
According to Bonnie Fuller of hollywoodlife.com, ‘[Helen] preached the positive power of achieving through career building in the pages of Cosmo. “Cosmo girls” (the readers of her magazine) didn’t have to be born rich, beautiful or hugely talented. [Helen] believed that if you just got up every day and worked hard enough, you could achieve success. [Helen] was a tremendous believer in the power of hard work and common sense.
Helen Gurley Brown died August 13, 2012 aged 90. “Good things will happen if you get up every day and work at it. What you have to do is work with the raw material you have, namely you, and never let up.”
There is a long distinguished list of women who have left an indelible mark on the fashion world with their unique sense of style and sophistication. From a personal perspective, I have narrowed this list down to a small, but acclaimed group of women I refer to as the Fab Five, who were the ultimate ‘It’ girls of their time, but who continue to be admired by future generations. Their signature looks have captivated fashion editors, designers, photographers and stylists alike. Let me introduce to you, in no specific order, The Fab Five:
Grace Kelly was a screen goddess who embodied a regal sophistication. Her magnetism and allure intensified exponentially through her marriage to Prince Ranier of Monaco. Starring in iconic Alfred Hitchcock classics such as Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief, Kelly further established her status as Tinseltown elite with her Oscar winning Best Actress performance in Country Girl1.
Her trademark demure look was characterised by classic and willowy silhouettes. ‘She did not flaunt. Even as a star, she would wear figure-hugging evening frocks but avoided overly revealing clothes. The waists were cinched, the skirts often full, the shoulders either bare or wispy with chiffon’2.
‘The leading costume designers of the time, including Edith Head (To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, and Dial M for Murder) and Helen Rose (High Society), played an integral role in developing the ”Grace Kelly Look” that swept across the globe in the mid-1950s’3.
Image Source: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/09/15/article-2203606-1505280F000005DC-591_470x581.jpg
Audrey Hepburn first captured the world’s attention with her breakout performance in Roman Holiday, which scored her the Best Actress Oscar4. Subsequent roles in Sabrina, Funny Face, My Fair Lady and Breakfast at Tiffany’s further cemented her status as one of Hollywood’s finest5.
Hepburn was gamine and boyishly slender. Her distinct facial structure, including the square jaw line, high cheekbones and immense doe-like brown eyes, epitomised a waif-like glamour and elfin beauty6.
French designer Givenchy (to whom Audrey would become a muse) was influential in defining her professional and personal style7. Like Grace Kelly, Audrey’s trademark identity can be defined as understated, minimalist but elegant.
In fact, the Givenchy gown worn by Audrey’s character Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s has been voted the greatest outfit of all time, based on a survey conducted by Lovefilm8. In addition, the long white dress, hat and parasol costume Hepburn’s character Eliza Doolittle wore in My Fair Lady came in at number six9.
Marilyn Monroe is regarded as one of Hollywood’s ultimate femme fatales. As a star of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, Some Like it Hot and The Seven Year Itch, Monroe oozed sexuality with a heady combination of sensual vulnerability.
Marilyn had a flirtatious smile with her pouty voluptuous lips, hypnotic eyes and a curvaceous body to match. However, behind the seductive, sultry, enigmatic façade, was an insecure individual10. Her public persona as the dumb blonde contrasted her true nature as an articulate, well read woman with a sharp wit, which only adds to her complex mystique11.
From a fashion perspective, Monroe preferred figure hugging attire that accentuated her hour-glass silhouette. ‘Her favourite costume designer was William Travilla, who created the iconic white billowing dress of The Seven Year Itch and the pink gown from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In a time of Peter Pan collars and poodle skirts, Marilyn’s style was considered risqué for her generation. This was exemplified by her tight dresses and suits, which flattered her shapely body and fitted like a glove’12.
Image Source: vogue.com/868959/style-legend-jacqueline-kennedy-onassiss-looks-from-the-white-house-years-and-beyond/#1
Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis was literally the First Lady to bring elegance and sophistication to the White House. From the moment John F. Kennedy was sworn in as President of the United States, the “Jackie Look” swept across America, and subsequently the world13.
Image Source: jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/KBdLKUhpeEuBx9m9_75t-g.aspx
Jackie’s statuesque physique stood out along with her streamlined coats, A-Line dresses, pill box hats, white gloves and trademark bouffant hairdo. ‘Oleg Cassini, a foremost fashion designer of the time, made the First Lady one of the best-dressed women in the world’ as the brains behind the “Jackie look”’14.
Image Source: http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/Media-Gallery.aspx
In Cassini’s own words, ‘I wanted to dress her cleanly, architecturally, in style. I would use the most sumptuous fabrics in the purest interpretations’15. Her charm and intelligence, only added to her iconic persona. According to Cassini, ‘despite Jackie’s shy public presence and her whispery voice, privately she had a strong personality. Jackie’s taste was very simple – she liked only the very best’16.
At the height of her popularity, Diana, Princess of Wales, was the epitome of elegance and a jewel in the crown so to speak. Her impeccable poise, sophisticated regal ensembles, combined with her ability to break down barriers between aristocracy and the common man, set her apart from other royal members with their stand-offish formality.
Diana’s style transformation began during her ‘shy Di’ phase and continually evolved through to the final years of her life when she was crowned ‘the People’s Princess’, which reflected her ever increasing self-assurance and growing independence.
As Diana’s confidence bloomed, she took greater risks and became more experimental, making striking and bold fashion choices19. Diana’s wardrobe in her latter years was more daring, while maintaining a demure gracefulness. Furthermore, the heels got higher, clothes got edgier and skirts got shorter, both streamlined and flattering, while emphasising her figure. To further express her individuality, Diana favoured effortless minimal chic, which resonated in well structured and tailored shift dresses and pencil skirts, while gowns accentuated her slender and statuesque physique.
For fifteen years, designer Catherine Walker played a significant role in developing Diana’s style identity20. Catherine understood that clothes were Diana’s mechanism to communicate the highs and lows of her life21. ‘Catherine found new ways for the Princess to win sympathy and support through her choice of clothes’22. ‘Dress by dress, look by look, phase by phase, Diana illustrated the story of her life’23.
The Fab Five were fashion forward trendsetters, who occasionally broke the rules to create their own signature look that reflected their individuality and own personality. Poise, elegance, glamour, classic and timeless beauty are terms synonymous with each of these women. Each still possess something inspirational to women of today, as the French would say – je ne sais quois. A distinct, intangible quality is the source of their enduring appeal. Their ultimate legacy is one of beauty, grace and charm. Even years after their death, we will continue to be captivated by their elusive mystique.
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One of my daily guilty pleasures is viewing home makeover programs that transform bland passé interiors into contemporary, or traditional but sophisticated, masterpieces. My particular vice is back to back episodes of Divine Design and Candice Tells All, as featured on the Style and LifeStyle Home channels respectively. The creative force behind both programs is host, interior designer and decorator extraordinaire, Candice Olson.
Olson is the Fairy Godmother for home makeovers. Along with her colourful sidekicks of contractors, electricians, builders, painters and stylists, Olson weaves her magic on the most undesirable rooms and ‘delivers awe-inspiring design transformations’. Your home is her canvas, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, living areas, attics or basements; no job is too great or too small, but like most renovations, Olson’s main constraints are time and budget.
In each episode, Candice takes you on a journey in ‘solving her clientele’s interior design and décor dilemmas’. Her aesthetically challenged clients relinquish all artistic control to Olson’s infinite creativity and vision. Each project begins with structural and layout sketches and then proceeds with Olson exploring paint colours; assessing tile, carpet, floor and cabinetry samples; selecting appliances as well as fabric swatches (where patterns and textures are often used as jumping off points for the overall design concept). The following stage generally involves Candice embarking on shopping expeditions for furniture, accent pieces and accessories, at which point I start to salivate.
Throughout the process, Candice manages to entertain her team and viewers alike with her endearing charm, positive energy and self deprecating sense of humour, as you witness the highs and lows of interior renovation. What transpires is a radical home facelift and concludes with before and after shots of the final design transformation. Olson’s signature look is combining functionality with a timeless elegance, mixed with a luxurious, sumptuous theme that reflects the owner’s personality and practical needs. The end result elicits an array of reactions from clients ranging from amazement, elation to ‘occasional tears of joy’.
Behind the scenes, Candice is a savvy business woman. In addition to her uber-popular TV shows, and a widely syndicated newspaper column, Olson also set up her own residential and commercial design practice, Candice Olson Design. Furthermore, she designs a swath of home products under the umbrella of the Candice Olson Collection and is the author of several books in which she shares design secrets and offers up smart tips and practical advice to help readers plan and execute successful room makeovers.
With each new series of Divine Design or Candice Tells All, my home décor ‘to do’ list expands with new terms such as ikat, paisleys, damask, wainscoting, chair rails, cornices, trims, sectionals, focal points etc – enough to make my better half shake his head side to side and roll his eyes in despair at my futile attempts at being anointed the Queen of Renovations. One can only hope and dream of a little Divine Intervention at jazzing up the humble abode from Candice herself, with her unique touch of style and creative magic.