Friday, October 28, 2016

3 top tips to create your own chic décor

Lovely readers of my Facebook page, Gretchen and Gemma recently asked if I’d share my décor tips.  I had a think about them, and here they are; I hope you enjoy!

Ask yourself what the vision for your home is

The wonderful Peter Walsh has a question for his clients that I’ve heard him use over and over in his books and audiobooks, and that is ‘what is your vision for this room?  It really helps to articulate that, and also note down the feelings you want to get from a room.

For the master bedroom my answers would be something like:

Soft textures, serene, boudoir, luxurious, hotel-like, clean and clear (clutter-free), relaxing, soothing, etc

This probably goes for the whole of my house actually, so I choose warm neutral tones to feel soothed and calm, I declutter and tidy on a regular basis so it feels organised and peaceful.

If you tear out magazine pages (or pin on your Pinterest board) bright coloured rooms with a statement neon sign, my style is going to sound so boring to you, but for me I couldn’t do with all that stimulation.  The thoughts in my head which never stop are quite stimulating enough, thank you!  So I choose a tranquil colour palette at home.

Go looking for your style

If you have magazines you can tear pages out of (not library magazines for example), tear out pictures you immediately warm to, even if you think they aren’t your style (‘too modern’, say).  Let them pile up a little, and one day go through them.  You might find certain colours or styles coming through.

When I did this I found I was drawn to warm neutral tones, with smokey glass, deep ochre and gold or bronze metals.  It was quite illuminating and helped me realise why the few shabby chic pieces I had in my home never felt right.  Integrating these elements into my home bit by bit really zazzed up the neutral décor; there wasn’t much cost involved either – a Salvation Army lamp, candle holders, cushion covers, a gold tray on our coffee table and different runners or cloths to dress the tables made from fabric remnants.

Update – don’t stay stuck

One very good reason why I like to keep a streamlined home with not too many possessions, is I can then update my décor on a semi-regular basis without feeling like I’m wasting money.  One lady I know of, has a highly decorated home with a lot going on in each room.  She told me she’d love to declutter for a more modern look, but she’s afraid to let go of the stuff ‘because it all cost so much’.  If you have collections and lots of things and enjoy them, that’s fantastic, but if they are weighing you down, that doesn’t sound like much fun!

It’s the same with clothes for me too.  I like to have just enough, because then I’m happy to update seasonally when required because I’ve worn a few things out.  It’s a far nicer feeling to shop when you need something than if you’re bored and know it won’t even fit into your overstuffed closet.  And having the opportunity to replenish your wardrobe on an as-needed basis means you are always tweaking your look and remaining current.

I love the saying ‘the way you do something is the way you do everything’, so issues you have with your closet (or eating, or money) are likely the exact same issues you have with your home possessions/decluttering, just showing up in a slightly different way.  It’s strange but true!

I know with large items such as sofas, dining suites, you’re likely to have them a long time; I think I’m more talking about smaller items – it’s nice to refresh your overall look.

If you wanted to describe your ideal décor look (and feel) in ten words or less, what would those words be?  Don’t think about them too much, just write down the first words that come to mind (please share in the comments!)

I’ve written a couple of other décor posts too, here and here, if you’re interested.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Why it is important to LOVE your birthday

It’s my birthday today!  There’s only one day a year when I truly feel free to toot my own horn and it’s on my birthday.  It’s the day when I feel like I am Queen of the world.  I don’t even mind that I am 46, in fact I am ecstatic about it!  And even better, (I actually feel really special about this) it is my husband’s birthday too – he is 45.  How small would the odds be that you meet the person who complements you the most… and you find out you were both born on the same day.

So why do I think it’s so important to love your birthday?

As I’ve become older I have become less and less tolerant of birthday-moaners.  ‘Another year older, another year deeper in debt’ is a saying I have heard.  ‘Don’t get old, it’s horrible’ – true quote from an acquaintance.  And then there are those who do not like acknowledging their birthday, do not like celebrating it because they are ‘getting older’.  I actually get really grumpy at this attitude and I have been known to say ‘it’s better than the alternative’, because it is!  If you are complaining about turning another year older, you are effectively saying ‘being dead would be better’.  I know that sounds shocking, but it is the absolute truth!

There will be many, many people who died at a certain age who wished that they could have celebrated an older birthday.  There are people who have a life-threatening disease who pray that they get to their next birthday.

Look at the fact that the age we are is a miracle of nature and good luck that we have not had a fatal accident or been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  Maybe then we might treat our time as precious.  Maybe if we could have known if we were ever seconds away from tragedy, Sliding Doors style, we might live every day with reverence.

So please, I beg you, love the age you are!  Celebrate your birthday with child-like enthusiasm!

Here are all the reasons why it is fantastic to love your birthday:

This one bears repeating: you are Queen for the day.

You may be lucky enough to receive cards and presents from people who care about you.

A nice dinner is probably on the cards.

The whole day feels like you are floating along on pink candyfloss.

You can legitimately buy yourself a gift.

Everyone is nice to you on that day.

You are in a good mood all day and that makes others in a good mood, even if they don’t know it is your birthday.

It is your own personal new year where you have a fresh slate available to you.

And I am sure there are millions of other good reasons to love your birthday.

What if you feel like you are not where you would like to be though?  What if you feel like you are not in the best shape you could be, are broke or single…?

I can tell you that my 30th birthday was not my most stellar.  When I was younger, I thought that when I turned 30 everything would be fabulous.  My 30th fell in the year 2000 which had a magical ring to it – a new century, and I imagined that I would have everything I desired – happily married with kids and a lovely home.

My 30th did not quite look like that.  I ‘celebrated’ in a restaurant in my hometown with my parents, nana, aunty and uncle, newly divorced and with my life only recently turned upside down by that.  You can see now why I put celebrated in inverted commas.

Yes, it was quite a sucky birthday, but guess what?  Things could only improve from there, and they did.  At that time, I went by the mantra ‘living well is the best revenge’ and determined that I would only get better with age.

And I am pleased to say that I am getting better and better with every year.  I am focused on being healthier, having more fun, and definitely being happier.  And each year just compounds the goodness, how excellent is that!

Have I brainwashed you yet?

I’d love you to contribute your favourite reason to love your birthday, why you love your birthday or your favourite way of treating yourself on your birthday.

Birthdays go from something that we look forward to for months and shout from the rooftops when we are younger, to something that we hide away and are ashamed of when we are older.  I want that to change!  Vive le birthday, I say.  Who’s with me?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Adding a pop of colour to neutral outfits

I had reader Gemma email me with her dilemma:

Something I'd like to see more of your opinions on is how to accessorise and use colour. I have the basics in neutrals but I find it hard to incorporate a flash of colour into my outfits. I don't tend to wear statement jewellery, so other than a handbag or scarf I'm not sure how to get that flash of colour (I like teal and blues) into an outfit (& I'm not very good with scarves, they only tend to be worn outside.)
I find a lot of what you say about accepting a quiet life very comforting. I often feel I should be doing more, going further and that people look at me and think I do nothing and go nowhere.

I love this suggestion, because I have been a bit off scarves lately and so I have had to look to other ways to feel pulled together and accessorised.  You can see my spring wardrobe here (it has just come into spring in New Zealand) – you can see that I have a few coloured items, but overall my wardrobe is very neutral.

I find that just wearing the clothes doesn’t feel as polished as when I add a little extra, but scarves for me feel frumpy at the moment.  I even have a few lightweight cotton infinity scarves but I still don’t feel like they are me right now, as much as I love them on others.  Still, I like to go with the flow and not force things.  I’m sure I will come back to scarves later.

In the meantime though, here are some of my favourite ways to add colour into an otherwise neutral outfit:

Coloured nails:  I don’t often paint my fingernails, but when I do I love the pop of colour it provides.  If I paint them, I tend to go for bright or dark, say a crème (no sparkles or shimmer) tangerine or red-orange, or dark burgundy.  I trim/file my nails very short when I do this because to me it looks more modern than long, coloured nails (that’s just my personal preference) plus I find they last longer without chipping because I’m not tapping the edge of my nail when I am typing etc.  I have my nails so short that you can see the edge of my fingertip beyond the nail.  They look so good painted this way!

Coloured shoes:  Aside from my neutral coloured shoes, I seem to always have a pair of red shoes, and I love how these lift up a neutral outfit – jeans and a navy top with red shoes is one of my favourite combos.  There are shoes in any colour you’d care to name now, and if you keep yourself from being scared of ‘a shoe that won’t go with everything’ you might find it is a good way to get a little bit of colour into your outfit.  If you wear mostly neutral clothes anyway, a shoe colour that you love (such as navy or teal) will still go with everything.  I don’t know if this is just a New Zealand thing because I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard in our shoe store ‘I really like that cheery orange, but I’m just going to go with black – it’s far more practical and will go with everything I own’.  Other coloured shoes I have are nude and plum patent ballet flats, which I love to wear as well.

Pretty makeup:  If I do have a totally neutral outfit on and no coloured accessories, I can to add colour with my face.  At the moment I am loving a sheer, blushy spring makeup look where I apply BB cream with my BeautyBlender (I have had it for a few months now and love it! My poor foundation brush has been cast aside) and a light dusting of loose powder.  Then I add a glowy pink blush, sheer pinkish-orange lipstick and gloss and a sweep of bronzer over my eyes and around the edges of my face and just mascara, no eyeliner.  If you like bright lipsticks, that might provide a good amount of colour to your look too, or a coloured eye with nude/low-key lip colour.

Jewellery.  I usually wear my classic, everyday jewellery of a watch, my rings and some studs in my ears (CZ or pearl), but if my outfit is totally neutral I might add a necklace – I have a gold coin and also a few chunkier statement necklaces.  Coloured chunkier pearls are nice too.  Even if the slightly more out-there accessory you wear isn’t a colour, it still provides a finishing touch.  I have some silver oval hoops that are twisted and very shiny.  I love to wear those sometimes because it feels different to my usual studs and with my understated style they provide enough of a kick.

Handbags.   My current handbag is a tan leather Michael Kors, and I know that tan is still a neutral, but I love the way it lifts a black top and dark jeans nicely.  Maybe I’ll go nuts and find a scarf to tie to it handle.

I had a bit of fun with my lovely friend Barbara's poodle Zoey as the image for this post - Zoey is modelling her pop of colour wonderfully.  Barbara, Zoey and I had a long overdue ladies catch-up this week.  I almost managed to 'acquire' Barbara's gorgeous Prada handbag by offering to carry it for her when we were leaving.  She wasn't giving it up though :)

Can you add to this conversation on adding colour in ways other than scarves?  Do you love to wear neutrals and accessorise with colour?  Or is your wardrobe itself a riot of colour?  Please share!

Wishing you a wonderful week,

PS.  If you join my mailing list, you will receive instant downloads of excerpts of my two newest books:  Thirty Chic Days, and Financially Chic.
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