Imagine….

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John Lennon was onto something extraordinary when he wrote Imagine, a song with a simple melody backed by a profound message of peace.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Imagine

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

LENNONS 25TH

References

Imagine
Writer(s): John Lennon
Producer(s): John Lennon Yoko Ono Phil Spector

 

Losing My Religion

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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References

‘Losing My Religion’

Writer(s): Bill Berry Peter Buck Mike Mills Michael Stipe
Producer(s): Scott Litt R.E.M.

Spiritual Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

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

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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.

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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

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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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Iconic Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

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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Heritage Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

5efbb110-cee7-4119-b4b6-9f634af95ffc-2060x1236Like 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.

state_library_of_victoria_-_right_sideThe 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. 

The Royal…

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Deconstructing Gehry

The Design Statement

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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If It’s Broke – Fixer Upper

The Design Statement

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.

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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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The Dark Stalker – Part III

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.

Image Source: facebook.com ruok photos

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!

Image Source: facebook.com/ruokday/photos

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:

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.sane.org

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.ruok.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

The Dark Stalker – Part I

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….

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

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.

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

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

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.sane.org

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.ruok.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

Zaha Ha-Did It Her Way

The Design Statement

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.

Guangzhou Opera House Image Source: archdaily.com/115949/guangzhou-opera-house-zaha-hadid-architects

Guangzhou Opera House Image Source: archdaily.com/115949/guangzhou-opera-house-zaha-hadid-architects

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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Top Deck-orators – The Designer All Stars

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!

Sarah Richardson – Sarah’s House – Image Source: hgtv.com

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.

Candice Olson – Contemporary Kitchen – Candice Tells All Image Source: hgtv.com

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.

Cortney & Bob Novogratz – Image Source: hgtv.com

 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!

Candice Olson – Candice Tells All – Transitional Living Rooms – Image Source: hgtv.com

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:

  • Candice Olson (Divine Design, Candice Tells All) – combines classic structural designs with modern furnishings and bold focal points to create a timeless and sophisticated look. She takes on a minimalist approach with a focus on understated glamour. Of all the designers, she uses symmetry the most in her renovations to add balance to a room. Her easy going personality and comedic sense of humour makes for light hearted viewing. She is by far my all time favourite designer.

Candice Olson – Candice Tells All – Eclectic Living Rooms – Image Source: hgtv.com

  • Sarah Richardson (Design Inc, Sarah 101, Sarah’s House, Sarah’s Cottage, Room Service) – of all the designers selected, she is the most prolific of interior decorators, dominating the TV screen with several home makeover series. Her vision balances traditional and contemporary design concepts with a touch of whimsy. She is environmentally conscious in her design approach, incorporating eco friendly materials, vintage pieces and where possible, giving existing furniture a new lease on life through the magic of re-upholstery.

Sarah Richardson – Sarah’s House – Image Source: sarahrichardsondesign.com

  • Robert & Cortney Novogratz – this design duo create dynamic looks that are ahead of their time. Their concepts are inspired by urban New York and are reflected in their innovative, dramatic, edgy room transformations. They’ve produced renovations that are far from conventional while integrating an eclectic mix of bold, dramatic accessories. They make their own rules and take an avant-garde approach to their home makeovers, often resulting with a mod chic feel.

Cortney & Bob Novogratz – Eclectic Kids Rooms – Image Source: hgtv.com

  • Samantha Pynn (Summer Home) – her designs are nature inspired, ideal for a casual, rustic glam look. Her ideas have a soulful, earthy vibe which comes from the heart. She loves the use of contemporary geometric patterns on various textural accessories including curtains, rugs, pillows or seat covers to add vibrancy to a room. She incorporates affordable accent pieces found in thrift shops or craft stores. Of all the designers, Samantha’s creations are easy to replicate and is ideal for the avid decorator DIYer.

Image Source: facebook.com/SamanthaPynn/photos

  • Jane Lockhart (Colour Confidential) – produces looks that balance both form and functionality. Her room transformations have a vibe that is comfortable and inviting, similar to that of Candice Olson. However, Jane is not afraid to incorporate bold, contrasting colour schemes into her practical designs. Pops of colour is evident, from the walls, ceiling, flooring to textural elements such as curtains, floor rugs, pillows, furnishings and accent pieces.

Image Source: janelockhart.com/portfolio/images/KYLEMORE_2012_022.jpg

  • Genevieve Gorder (Dear Genevieve) – doesn’t endorse ‘matchy matchy’ design schemes and is certainly not a fan of furniture pieces that come in a set. Like Sarah Richardson, Genevieve has the ability of combining a fusion of contrasting styles, particularly mixing old with new. Her designs have whimsical elements for the touch of the unexpected. She loves to layer through accessories and textural accents to add focal points and character to a space.

Image Source: genevievegorder.com/genevieves-renovation/

  • Shaynna Blaze (Selling Houses Australia, The Block) – she can give a room a complete facelift on a budget! She incorporates practical solutions to any interior makeover but she never sacrifices on aesthetics. For Shaynna, vibrancy is paramount to any room transformation. Her creations are fresh and modern and have a cohesive, yet balanced look.

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.

Sarah Richardson – Sarah 101 – Image Source: sarahrichardsondesign.com

Summer Chic – Trash ‘N’ Treasure

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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Citations

1. “In the Summertime” – Thisty Merc, ‘Thirsty Merc’, Warner Music Australia, Ray Thistlethwayte

Dear Genevieve – Hugs & Kisses, From the Stylishly Challenged!

Image Source: genevievegorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GG-SITE-IKEA-KITCHEN-5.jpg

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.

Image Source: .genevievegorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GG-SITE-IKEA-KITCHEN-3.jpg

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.

Image Source: genevievegorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GG-SITE-LITTLE-LUXE-2.jpg

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.

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 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.

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Image Source: http://www.facebook.com/GenevieveGorder/photos

Oliver’s Twist on Fabulous Food

I have a soft spot for Jamie Oliver. His enthusiasm and passion for cooking is so infectious! The acclaimed British chef, with an affable, easy going charm, has a laid back attitude that’s reflected in his down to earth approach to everyday cooking.

Image Source: facebook.com/jamieoliver/photos

In an earlier post titled “Domestic Goddess Sizzles in the Kitchen”, I pointed out that cooking had never been my speciality. In fact, cooking and I go together like chalk ‘n’ cheese, we just don’t gel. Eating on the other hand is my forte. I love food. But, it’s more than comical that I have a tendency of scorching, nuking and spoiling the most simple of meals like scrambled eggs or even the humble toast. I’ve experienced more misses than hits when preparing food that’s fit for human consumption. Consequently, I have a ‘can’t cook, won’t cook’ mind-set to whipping up a gastronomic smorgasbord.

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 Often cooking programs focus on complicated feasts, and not surprisingly, I find such recipes way too challenging to even attempt given my limited culinary skills. What’s worse is that you need a myriad of gadgets which I don’t own, just to slice, dice, chop, julienne, mix, mash or boil the ingredients. Otherwise, the recipe consists of exotic components you’ve never heard of, or elements you’d rarely use in other meals and your local store doesn’t carry in any case. To top it off, I don’t have the time, not only to prepare the dish, but to clean up the mess afterwards. It’s all too hard and puts me off from bringing my A-Game to the kitchen.

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On the other hand, Jamie’s signature style to preparing a meal makes cooking accessible to the masses, boofhead friendly and idiot proof! He’s recognised that cooking fabulous food isn’t just for elite professionals or experienced cooks. Let’s face it, we don’t always need to prepare Michelin awarded meals for everyday cooking. Jamie’s recipes aren’t pompous or pretentious. When it comes to casual dining, precision isn’t paramount and presentation doesn’t always require the perfection that’s demanded in 5-star restaurants. Instead, Jamie’s twist on a delectable dish centres on simplicity and big bursts of flavour, colour and texture. His meals have a rustic, organic quality, using fresh, seasonal and/or everyday ingredients commonly found in your pantry. Convenience and ease is the key, but taste isn’t sacrificed.

Image Source: facebook.com/jamieoliver/photos

 Best of all, Jamie Oliver is a chef with a heart of gold and a conscience for social issues. He takes on causes and challenges close to his heart. Jamie’s highlighted the rising levels of obesity amongst young children and has campaigned tirelessly for healthier menus in school canteens. He opened Fifteen, a not-for-profit training restaurant that empowers young adults from underprivileged backgrounds with an opportunity for a better future1. The initiative offers disenfranchised youths with an apprenticeship and first hand experience in hospitality2.  He promotes a healthy lifestyle through the magic of food, with recipes emphasising the importance of affordable, well balanced meals. Through his cook books and various television programs, he has inspired families to get back to basics with home cooking, to source and use locally produced goods and to opt for freshly prepared meals rather than the fast food alternative.

Image Source: facebook.com/jamieoliver/photos

 What’s refreshing about each of Jamie’s television cooking series is that they don’t rely on his experience and celebrity profile to humiliate and break down aspiring chefs or avid cooks like a drill sergeant, a la Gordon Ramsay. Mainstream television is flooded by reality based competitions, where amateur cooks and professional chefs are under pressure cooker conditions and consequently ridiculed for their errors or critiqued on trivial criteria as a form of entertainment.

 Instead, Jamie’s shows have a casual, light hearted vibe that centres on what cooking programs should focus on – creating practical, well balanced, hearty culinary delights; comforting meals made with enthusiasm and love.

Sources: http://www.jamieoliver.com/  Viewed February 19, 2013

Citations: http://www.jamieoliver.com/  Viewed February 19, 2013

Summer Home – Rustic Glam

Image Source: facebook.com/SamanthaPynn/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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The MOD Squad – Novogratz Style

The Novogratz

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photos: Courtesy of HGTV.COM

The Age of Beige is Over!

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!

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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).

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Jane Lockhart

Image Source: janelockhart.com

Domestic Goddess Sizzles in the Kitchen

According to the Daily Mail UK, Nigella Lawson has been dubbed “the queen of food porn”, a comment attributed to her flirtatious manner in presenting her popular cooking programs1. To her credit, Lawson has proven to be more than just a pretty face with a sensual charm and wit. Nigella is a critically acclaimed writer of several bestselling cook books, achieving over 1.5million in global sales and was voted author of the year at the British Book Awards in 20012. With a dedicated and growing audience worldwide, Lawson has also gained international recognition as a television personality and host of Nigella Express, Nigella Feasts and Nigella Kitchen3.

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In addition, Lawson has earned a ‘degree in Medieval and Modern Languages from Oxford, then went on to pursue a successful career in journalism, becoming Deputy Literary Editor of The Sunday Times. This was followed by a successful freelance career writing for a range of publications, from The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times Magazine in the UK to Gourmet and Bon Appetit in the USA’4.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson

Cooking has never been my forte. I have managed to burn boiling water, make glue from preparing steamed rice (even with the use of a rice cooker!), churned out a batch of rubbery pancakes and turned steak into slate tiles  When I first moved out of home, 2-minute noodles (accompanied by a cheeky glass of chardonnay) was the extent of my cooking repertoire.  What I lack in skill and talent, I make up for in appetite and a passion for eating!

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This is where Nigella serves up some sweet inspiration. Lawson is neither a trained chef nor cook, which gives me a glimmer of hope that one day, I too can become a domestic goddess who sizzles in the kitchen while whipping up a feast as delectable as she can (it won’t happen over night, but it will happen!). Despite the absence of professional qualifications or training5, it’s evident in her programs that Nigella has a love and natural flair for cooking, with a broad knowledge of recipes including international cuisines, an in depth understanding of flavour combinations and ultimately, plating up with a little razzle dazzle.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

I have an affinity for her laid back, fuss free approach to cooking, empowering viewers with the confidence that you don’t need to be Michelin star chefs to prepare mouth watering dishes. ‘Nigella’s kitchen mantra is “minimum effort with maximum effect”’6; it’s a back to basics style to food preparation and entertaining. Simplicity is the key, without compromising on taste or wow factor, a common theme Lawson applies to everyday meals to late suppers, picnics, special celebrations or even afternoon snacks.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

Lawson delivers her message with her signature articulate, engaging charm and flirtatious smile. Nigella’s programs have an intimate vibe, that is, it’s almost conversational as she opens up about tips and ideas on time saving solutions to preparing meals7. The principle centres around uncomplicated, stress-less cooking and entertaining. You don’t need exotic ingredients to whip up a great dish, take advantage of what’s inside your pantry! Lawson even confesses to using ready-made salad packets and sauces bought off the counter – let’s face it, today’s modern family (with their busy schedules and lifestyle) needs convenient short cuts to save time.

As someone who’s better at scorching, nuking, scalding and spoiling meals, but has an insatiable appetite for scrumptious food, for me, Nigella makes cooking look effortless while bringing sexy back into the kitchen!

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

Sources

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2071324/Nigella-Lawson-Erotic-Ms-Lawson-furiously-denies-dishes-food-porn.html  Viewed Sep 2, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/chefs/nigellalawson/  Viewed Sept 1, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/shows/nigella-express/ Viewed Sept 1, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/shows/nigella-feasts/ Viewed Sept 1, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/shows/nigella-kitchen/ Viewed Sept 1, 2012

Citations on Request

Design Inc – Sarah Richardson 101

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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!

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Sarah Richardson

Citation

1. http://www.sarahrichardsondesign.com/sarah/about  Viewed 29 August 2012

Image Source: hgtv.com

Divine Intervention

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.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.