5 steps for creating a fabulous home office

Morning, I’ve spoken before about the importance of creating a home office to die for, that’s cosy, tantalising and that inspires productivity, creativity and anything else you so wish.  I’ve broken it down into steps to make it easier so you can dip into or out of as you wish. The steps aren’t rules (there are no rules when it comes to design) so tweak and improvise as much as you wish.

So in no particular order:

Step number one is a practical point, I am so not a practical designer but this is pretty fundamental. Move your home office into an area away from noise, kitchen noise, and more importantly TV noise. You don’t need to dedicate a whole room to a home office in NYC I’ve seen some beautiful home offices in hallways, passageways even alcoves. I’ve seen bedside tables that double duty as home offices, hell I’ve even seen home offices crafted from an impromptu table sitting on a landing. The important factor is not to have a load of distracting noise going on or at least as little as possible.

Step two, ramp up you’re lighting, you might think you have enough but believe me you haven’t. Now you’ve all seen my studio a thousand times I am sure but I’ve recently created another desk space in the adjoining room and upped the anty with the lighting. An angle poise gives me perfect task lighting for typing, reading etc. and a super sized table lamp adds a decorative note. Go round the room and you will find seven other lights (yikes)!

Step three; add flowers or plants they immediately soften the space give it personality and break up the corporate feel. I’ve got white faux blossom on my new desk, take it away and it just doesn’t have the same impact. I’ve also got a posy of fresh flowers from Columbia Road on the desk this week purple and pink hydrangeas, next week who knows, herbs, eucalptus some lovely scented foliage it really doesn’t matter.

Step four, move away if you can from buying office furniture particularly the desk since it takes up the most room and sets the tone. I’ve got an old zinc thing from Petersham which I adore, you don’t have to go vintage you just ideally need to source something that doesn’t look too corporate. If you have a corporate looking desk then acessorize the bejesus out of it.

Step five, accessorize. Prop pictures and paintings against the desk, skim the floor with a rug, heap a pile of books on the table, add a scented candle. Easy no?

My new space below, (don’t look at the wiring we haven’t wired it all up yet, its me being impatient and wanting all lights on asap so extension leads, tons of wire all sorted by my DIY guru this weekend). So the trouble I now have with with creating this second zone is the internal battle each and every day -  which desk to sit at, it’s a conundrum!

Oh I forgot one more step making it 6 – ditch the beige haze paint colour, go dark, cross over to the dark side its way, promise way more fun this side and pretty darn life changing!


Retail classes launching this Friday

The interesting thing about writing courses is that they throw up all sorts of questions. For example the retail course that we’re launching this Friday (which I should say I am terribly excited about) throws up about a zillion questions. Why do all our high streets look the same, why does everyone buy from the same shows, why do so many retailers play it safe with product selection, how come when I want to list a handful of truly amazing stores (talking interiors here) around the world no more than a handful pop up? As a retailer isn’t it our job to push boundaries a tad to make customers think wow I never thought of doing that – something as simple as putting a mirror that is too big on a wall that is too small. Something as simple as papering a wall to enliven it and then plonking a super sized zebra on it, or lighting some candles when the light drops or accessorising a table or mantle like you would at home, rather than in a clinical boring fashion.

I didn’t go to retail school, I learnt the hard way from experience and yes I’ve made mistakes some huge mistakes but I am a true believer you have to make mistakes in order to succeed, and I know the economy sucks and its tough out there so I totally get the lets play it safe theory rather than lets take a punt theory. My problem and its either a problem or an advantage is that nothing goes in that store of mine that I wouldn’t have at home no matter how commercial it may appear. Nothing makes it thru the door unless I can envisage it at home on a shelf, a table, wherever. Obviously that isn’t the golden rule for everyone in retail but it works for me, more importantly it works for our customers and I think it creates a point of difference from all the other hum drum stuff out there.

The point I here you ask, Ok the point don’t buy things that you don’t love, say you need a pick me up on a weekend so I don’t know maybe some cushion which is mediocre takes your fancy and does the trick for a second, except a few months later it doesn’t so don’t buy it. If I need a pick me up I go to Aesop or buy flowers, or books but when it comes to filling my home with stuff I never say just buy a lamp because I need a lamp and I think sod it will replace in a year. Nope no light for me until I find the exact thing – which is perhaps a little bonkers and yes I probably need therapy but when you buy what you love  you will never want to get rid of anything. Anyways I’m rambling and I should go for a run except I am trying to stay here in the warm rambling way to you guys.

Retail classes launch this Friday if you’re thinking about setting up a business in retail, on line or bricks and mortar and want to know the pitfalls and how to succeed is all in the class. Our advice doesn’t come from books it comes from experience, we failed many times but we’ve succeeded more than we’ve failed and as odd as this sounds when other businesses are going bust left right and center we have never had such a strong year. The reasons, well its all in the class, happy Tuesday



Stylistic tricks

Morning, big huge thank you to everyone who attended my weekend class, both Friday and Saturday were fabulous days with so many passionate, inspiring funny people, I loved it. Today we’re putting more classes online for next year as well as creating a gift voucher for the classes since we’re getting emails in by the sack full asking about them for Christmas, fear not all online later today.

In the classes I talk about layers and the importance of them (here she goes again I here you cry), stay with me, as this idea is as simple as anything. If you’re room is feeling a little bland and needs a tad more personality start introducing books into your space. I’m talking about plonking them on consoles, mantles, chairs, shelves even the floor. Pile them up into little groups, plonk a posy of blooms on top, a scented candle, a decanter of whisky, a plant and wham bam you’ve suddenly given your room a little soul. They don’t by the way have to be posh arty tomes, catalogues, magazines, novels all do the trick. Infact just yesterday in from spending most of the afternoon in the garden I felt I needed to ramp up the height of one of my lights, a  couple of books later they elevated it to a new status (and height).

Below a lovely collection of images showing you just how books can transform a space, I cannot take any credit for the compilation, all images from, http://mirrormirror.typepad.com

Hats off

Morning, its Design School weekend kicking off today as well as tomorrow which is fabulous fun and I must say one of the coolest parts of my job. We have a full, actually more than a full house so it might be a bit of a squeeze but it will be fun. Maud and Mung’s after a terrible night (foxes) have promised not to put a foot wrong otherwise boarding school!

There are a handful of designers out there that inspire me, not many I hate to say but the few that do totally and utterly knock the pants off the others. NYC design firm Roman and Williams (founded by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch) is one of them.. They used to be set designers infact the few designers that I admire all started out doing something else, myself included and its funny but those of us who have gotten into interiors via a different route tend to have a style that is alot looser a little more laid back.

Roman and Williamss interiors tell a story, it’s all about the experience the journey the minute you walk through the door you are  transported into a sensory visionary world where history is respected and where story telling is central.

I adore the lobby in the Ace Hotel in NYC (these guys designed the hotel)you walk in you feel immediately at home, even though its large (its dark, yikes) its comfortable and its inclusive. No rules, no boundaries just a belief that other people will love what they design as much as they do. Hats off I say, a few of their interiors below:

Have a lovely weekend x