We’ve been so carried away with just getting things done, that this is my first post for the year, and it’s May! I can’t quite believe it. Why haven’t we had time? Well, we’ve been busier than ever with projects, we’ve also embarked on a new website design & re-branding to boot. I have a furniture collection on my drawing board as well as some other ideas. And to add to that I’ll be speaking at Decoration & Design – my talk is “Design From The Heart and the rest will follow” – in July as well. So whilst I felt guilty about not being able to find the time to blog, I decided to hold off until the new & improved blog was ready to go. But alas, there’s still so much happening I can’t wait. So we are starting up again, blogging when we can with a more detailed monthly post from me called ‘On My Mind’. So I’m posting this ‘we’re back’ post today followed up with a press post about the latest issue of Inside Out which we’re in.
I have definitely felt a shift this year with the year of the snake bringing in a time of wisdom, reflection & action. All this has had me thinking about what we’ve learnt over the last few years & how we can do things better & have more fun doing it.
In late March I went to Clare Bowditch’s conference called Big Hearted Business a 2 day workshop teaching creative entrepreneurs about business in ways that make sense. Styled by Lucy Feagins of The Design Files & with talks from Clare & her influential friends it was more suited to start ups but I couldn’t resist going along to support such a cool idea. The conference was nothing short of brilliant, I have taken so many amazing things from that weekend, sometimes just a snippet, sometimes bigger picture concepts, but more importantly it touched on an educational blackspot in this country around how we value the arts & how we help creatives run sustainable businesses. I applaud Clare for having the vision & guts to pull this off. About 5 years ago I read a quaint little book called Spiritual Business all about getting in touch with the things you love, what motivates you & allowing that to inform how you do business with integrity & authenticity. Fantastic concepts that I have tried to build into my business & what Clare’s workshop did for me just on a much larger scale.
I have about 6 books on rotation at the moment. You all know I designed my bedside table to house a mass of books as we all seem to read more than one at once. Here’s what’s on my stack; the latest issue of Dumbo Feather, always interesting, if you haven’t discovered it yet, get a copy. Grace, A Memoir by Grace Coddington the creative director of Vogue Magazine. You may remember her as the unlikely hero of the doco The September Issue, I’ve watched it over & over, fascinating behind the scenes/behind the dark glasses of Anna Wintour’s world. Then there’s two from another fashion editor icon Diana Vreeland who was at the helm of Vogue in the 50s called The Eye Has To Travel as well as her memoir. Then there’s Daring Greatly by Brene Brown a contemporary thinker & researcher who does amazing work on vulnerability. If you haven’t seen her TED talk on the subject, you must (link here: The power of vulnerability). Her other book, I Thought It Was Just Me gives us all permission to talk about the things that we consider weakness & get in the way of having the courage to just get on & do things.
So how does this relate to interiors you ask? Well, interiors is all about constantly pushing at the boundaries, searching for answers, trying new things, taking risks. Its about thinking & acting, learning by doing. We’re always learning, but let’s make sure that what we learn gets us closer to the things that make us happy. And help us to do things that bring us satisfaction & purpose. That has been the plan for me so far in my year of learning & doing.
Here was my first act back in January: sponsoring 5 girls to go to school for a year & providing their families with chickens – a source of food & sustainable income.
And make sure you jump onto the video link here, it’s stirring stuff.
As the working year comes to a close I’d like to extend a very warm thank you to all of our blog readers, twitter followers, wonderful clients & all round CHDC supporters who make all the hard work worthwhile. We’ve done a lot this year launching ourselves on twitter – although I’ve been too busy of late to tweet much, how does anyone manage that? – to starting this blog as a way of providing my insights in all things design, how we work & what we think is beautiful. So a big thanks to Anne-Claire is in order for her tireless work in establishing the look & feel of the blog & making sense of my posts each week. Next year I’ll look at streamlining these posts a bit more (every 2 weeks?) to make them more regular, focusing on behind the scenes content & generally musing on what’s happening. It seems the blog posts that were the most popular were those talking about design from my own perspective so I’ll keep that focus into next year & hopefully give you guys more tips & tricks & Chelsea insights.
It’s been a year in pictures for us. We’ve done more photo shoots this year than ever before. We’ve shot two kitchens for House & Garden, been in the Top 50 bathrooms with our Kyneton project for Home Beautiful, shot our Brunswick house kitchen & bathroom also for Home Beautiful & one of our favourite large projects completed two years back will be featured in an up coming issue of Inside Out. We’ve had international coverage too with Swedish magazine Rum Hemma & a full feature spread in Country Style for our much loved Kyneton house. But one of the highlights has got to be my own house featured in The Design Files in November this year. We shot it for TDF deliberately to get it out to the right audience & it received so many lovely comments & gasps of “oh that paint colour is amazing” that it proved to me time & time again that you need to show people how to be brave with the way we live.
That’s been my mission this year & it will be again next year to keep pushing our interiors to be wonderful spaces that lift the spirits. Stay tuned for pics in the new year of the projects we’re working on at the moment. We’re experimenting a lot with black & white, gold, brass, nickel & copper, loving greys & using lots of soft palette colours for walls. Hardly anything is white!
Here are a few snaps from the year. Enjoy & we’ll see you back here in 2013. Chelsea x
Above are our projects from: 1- Binnie House – 2- Kyneton Country House – 3- Moubray Street – Photo credits: Nik Epifanidis
In case you missed it, I thought I would share our post on kitchen design published recently on Temple & Webster.
What was your brief for the Binnie House kitchen (above)?
The points below are taken from the clients’ actual brief, which demonstrates a well considered approach to what they wanted. It’s a perfect example of how to brief a designer as it outlines the things that are important to them, but provides enough scope for the designer to explore possibilities.
The client’s brief included the following requests for style, colour and materials: Timeless – doesn’t need to reflect current trends; Elegant, refined & sophisticated; Pared back & restrained, yet detailed; Minimising the use of colour and the palette of materials where possible; The interior should offer a reduction in visual noise as complexity as compared to the outside world; Everything should work really well & be robust; Keen to challenge traditional thinking where appropriate; Whilst the interiors will be pared back, they should not be bland & boring; Details will be valued as much as high level concept.
When it came to the kitchen, the client’s brief was fairly specific in the sense that they had to accommodate two existing Gaggenau wall ovens (which we concealed behind sliding doors), and they didn’t want an expensive stainless steel fridge, preferring it to be integrated instead. Double sinks, a decent sized pantry, ample storage, a place for the coffee machine & a family sized bin were all on the wish list. The kitchen had loosely been planned by the architect, so we set about designing the zones with in the kitchen ie breakfast & coffee making in the morning versus cooking in the day & evening. We flipped the sink to the opposite end of the island bench, which brought the related functions of dishwashing & bin access to the middle of the kitchen where it needed to be. We continued the cooking bench around the corner, rather than running it into the wall. This allowed us to create a coffee machine & microwave ‘hutch’ concealed behind a fixed panel & liberating the corner. Mirroring this corner & illuminating it with a wall light also illuminates what would otherwise be a dead space.
In terms of materials & colours, we explored the idea of how to produce an interior that is visually interesting & engaging whilst only using a very limited mix of natural materials. To achieve the clients’ desire for timeless elegance, briefed for minimal colour, we used a pared back palette relying on grand gestures of satin & sandblasted, light & dark finishes, all contrasted for drama.
How do you approach kitchen design?
Usually clients come to me with the kitchen design as one of the first things on their list. It’s the hub of the home in most houses & therefore affects they way we live. As a result I spend a great deal of time in my practice refining my ideas about kitchens. We approach it with a practical lens, asking how it would work best? Once we get the function right, we layer up the detail often to the point of determining where the pots & cutlery are going, finally selecting finishes that will relate it to the rest of the house.
You don’t have to love cooking to appreciate the importance of a kitchen, its more that you understand that most people have spent their lives living in badly laid out kitchens usually with inadequate storage & the design, detail, fitting & finish resolved poorly. As a designer to be able to correct that has a huge affect on how people enjoy everyday life.
What are your top tips when planning a kitchen space?
I always start with the fridge. Is it concealed, slide in, double door, single door? Then I work out where it should sit. This determines the whole plan & I build everything around that. Scale & distance between benches is also a big one for me. You should be able to turn & step between benches within 1m-1.1m. Two steps between & you’re travelling too far.
Don’t worry about what you think you should have. Instead, think about how you want to use your kitchen. For instance, could you get by with one sink to create more bench space? I do. Do you entertain a lot & need two dishwashers? Think about a heavy wash up sink out of the way & a rinsing sink on the island bench. Thinking of your kitchen as furniture is also a nice European concept I try & build into my work.
Are you seeing any particular trends at the moment?
In terms of appliances induction cooking is slowly starting to take off, although it has been a long time coming. Pyrolitic ovens & steam ovens are also common now. Clients are no longer plumbing in the coffee machine, preferring a benchtop model they can take with them. In terms of design, single purpose cupboards or drawers are great. I often design a crockery & glassware tall cupboard so the everyday stuff is all in one place. The kitchen as a modular concept is also something I’m playing with ie dividing it into functional zones: wet zone, cooking zone, dry store zone. I’m influenced by design trends, but the most important thing is to design for the client & the space.
What about your own personal style – what is your own kitchen like?
My own kitchen is tiny so I needed to be really smart about the design & layout. It’s a small L shape with no island bench. Instead I have a round dining table in the middle so we sit down to dinner together every night. As space is tight, I’ve used every nook & cranny. I have a slide out corner unit under bench which stores all my pots & pans, a skinny pull out pantry next to the fridge, slide out bin under the sink, Fisher & Paykel dish drawers to save on bending down and an integrated stainless steel single bowl sink. The finishes are a mix of stainless steel bench which is fabulous, a pietra grigia marble splashback, and gloss 2 pak joinery to match Laminex Chamois. To add a bit of personality I used a stained timber circle handle from Designer Doorware on the pull out pantry. You’ll have to wait for photos of that one, we’ll be shooting my apartment in the next few weeks!
Those close to me know I have a bit of a fixation with gold. Mixed with colour & placed in positions where it reflects the light is just breathtakingly good. So I’ve put together some of my favorite golden things…
From top to bottom: Mr Kitly brass paperweights (photo by Nik Epifanidis)- Jonathan Adler Banana bud vase, Atollo lamp by Oluce, 2097 Suspension by Flos, Habibi gold tray table by e15, Moooi gold clock, B&B Joker vases & bowls in gold and Seletti golden gnomes.
There’s a fine line between the over decorated versus the edited interior. I’m not a fan of the exploded look although this can be pulled off in the odd arty interior, but you do need to have layers in your space to create the visual interest needed to engage our senses. When I first started out, a very well known architect said something to me that I’ve never forgotten. It was interior gold! He said “you don’t want a space to reveal itself in one glance, rather, it should reveal itself more slowly”. I also think the most intriguing people are the same, but that’s another story. The more layers the better but here’s the rub, how to edit?
I thought it might be helpful to talk a little bit about the client side of things for a change, specifically on how to brief a designer. Most clients engage designers once or a handful of times in their lifetime so it makes sense that they would have little experience or may feel unsure. I see it as part of my job to educate clients on how to make those decisions to the extent that I can.
So what’s the process after the initial contact has been made? From the first conversation a good designer should be asking you details about your project to determine if they have the expertise & you are the right fit for the practice both aesthetically & personally. In some cases if I get the sense a client is on the wrong track with their budget I ask them what it is & get in on these discussions early. No point spending time if what the client is after is not achievable. Then if all the early boxes get ticked we make a time to meet at the house.
It starts at the front door. We go for a tour of the house with the client listing everything that is wrong & I work up a shopping list as we talk. Along the way I make suggestions about how something might be tackled as this can expand or refine the brief. Then we sit down at the kitchen table & I discuss how the project could be tackled, any critical timelines & the budget. The aim is to leave with a clear understanding of the scope on which to base a fee.
Now this all very formulaic, & based on a lot of questions & answers. But the most interesting information is often the conversational stuff when we’re sitting down getting to know each other. Which made me think it was post worthy.
First off, there’s the functional brief. The list of things that aren’t practical & need addressing. So why not prepare a brief room by room with your list of requirements ie. you need to seat 10 at the dining table but only have room for 6, there’s nowhere for the kids to study other than the dining room table, the parents need a TV retreat when the kids take over. And let me guess, you’ve don’t have enough storage. Putting it down on paper demonstrates you’ve done some thinking about what you need & you understand there’s a process to design.
Next should come the experiential or emotional brief. Most clients don’t get this far as they’re consumed by their functional brief but it’s just as important. Admittedly this part is commonly left to the designers but the best briefs I’ve received have covered these basic principles & they become a litmus test for the design. So make sure you…
- tell us how you want the house to FEEL
- tell us how you want to live in the house & why you are renovating
- tell us the things that are important to you, what you value
- tell us what you love & the things you don’t
- tell us if you’ve renovated before, if you’ve worked with a designer & what that was like
- tell us what you’re not sure about
- tell us the things you’ve disagreed over & found hard to resolve
- show us some images of ideas or looks you like. We will tell you if you are off track.
An example of an actual brief which captures these things well is below.
The interior should have the following design principles;
- timeless and sophisticated
- reduction in visual noise
- natural materials wherever possible
- details will be valued as much as design
- happy to question conventional thinking ie why are all taps chrome?
This kind of brief is invaluable as it provides an insight into how the client thinks, early. It reduces the getting to know each other part & makes for a better relationship. Rule of thumb is: the more accurate the brief the better the design response. This also helps to build trust (which you must learn to do early) as the designer has a clear understanding of your expectations without having to glean them from other cues.
It’s worth saying, not everything can be briefed. There’s a certain leap of faith on the client’s behalf that their designer will interpret who they are & translate that into an interior that reflects that back to them. That’s why the experiential & emotional brief is so important as it provides the compass.
And one final point, be up front & let the designer know if you are meeting with anyone else to give them an opportunity to decide if they want to competitively tender on the work. Designers are busy & need to have a good chance of getting the work to justify the time spent discussing the project, meeting with you & preparing a fee. There’s a great deal of expertise that gets offered during this pre-job stage and its only fair to the designer that this is not taken for granted.
I’ll leave you with an image from Paola Navone’s apartment as an example of something that could only come from an emotional brief. Imagine saying I want 3 odd chairs all arranged awkwardly? Doesn’t quite sound right does it? But it works because it feels right.
Have a look around you, what excites you about your interior? Not much? It must be time to break out of your comfort zone.
That’s what a handful of my clients engage me to do, but not all of them. It’s interesting, I’ve found the most successful interiors have been the ones where the clients have allowed me to take the most risks. You may not always be sure you’re going to pull it off. But it’s exhilarating, the anticipation. And that’s what you have to do if you want your interior to excite & thrill you & make you happy. Here’s a few hard & fast rules you can try out on your pad. Don’t be too SERIOUS! No really, too much matchy matchy & too much good taste can come off boring. Mix up scale, shape & proportion. And you MUST use colour. Think of creating little vignettes everywhere as focal points to draw the eye. I find having a mix of imperfect or quirky things add that touch of delight that you just can’t get when everything’s a bit too new or restrained. And make sure the scale is right & by that I usually mean large. I have 4m ceilings so I needed to upsize a lot of key elements to make the smaller pieces feel right. For instance I’ve got a 1.5m high vase of branches on my mantel & a large lamp on my kitchen bench. Have fun with colour in key areas. If you do it everywhere it feels a little unedited. I’ve got French glove casts powdercoated bright yellow mounted on my wall for my jewellery & a crimson juju hat over my bed. Multi coloured ikat cushions in purples, green, pink & orange are the bridge between these two. I was never entirely sure it was all going to work as it was a look pulled together over time. But that’s the point, you should feel a bit nervous when you are getting out of your comfort zone. Only then are you creating an interior that’s exciting & full of surprises. It’s invigorating & that’s what our most treasured spaces should be. Anything less is safe & boring.
It has been an exciting few weeks at CHDC with lots of press enquiries & fun things happening. Just in case you missed this week’s post on The Design Files here it is below. Big thanks to Lucy for a great story, Anne-Claire for handling the production behind the scenes & Nik for my new portrait.
“I am often asked to recommend interior designers or interior stylists who can assist with home renovations… which is very tricky, because so many of the amazing and revered design studios we have featured here over the past few years are bigger firms who don’t necessarily take on small residential projects. I’m always thinking I should be on the look out for more ‘approachable’ interior designers, and smaller firms who can take on a great variety of projects, from ground up builds to more modest re-furbs – and excecute every project, no matter how tiny, with the same level of finesse and enthusiasm! That’s why I am super excited to feature Melbourne interior designer Chelsea Hing today!
Having cut her teeth at respected firms Nexus Designs and Bates Smart, Chelsea ‘sort of accidentally’ launched her own practice, Chelsea Hing Design Consultants in 2007. Since then she has relished the opportunity to drive her own projects, and to create a body of work she is proud of.
Chelsea’s passion is residential interiors. Amongst her recent projects, Chelsea was responsible for the renovation of Vanessa Partridge’s Kyneton home, which I know won many hearts when we featured it a few months ago! This particular project is testament to the diversity in Chelsea’s work – it’s so lovely to see a sensitive, understated renovation of a Victorian country home amongst CHDC’s portfolio of contemporary and larger scale projects, such as the award winning Binnie House.
Massive thanks to Chelsea for sharing her beautiful work with us today – one to bookmark for your future dream renovation project!”
Click here to see the full TDF story, images and Chelsea’s interview.
Nothing completes a room like a rug, it seems to bring all the furniture together & make it feel whole somehow. The rule of thumb with rugs is, the larger the better. Clients are always surprised when I suggest really large rugs when we’ve just done new floors, but that’s because the larger the rug, the larger the room will feel. You see when we clock a space we read where things stop & start, our eye very subtly picks up on perimeters. And nothing screams, I didn’t quite get this right like a rug that’s too small. Kind of like a hemline that’s just a bit too short, ruins the whole dress. Anyway, open plan living spaces call for large rugs, sit the furniture mostly on, but just off (see image above, and more of this project here) & go as large as you can.
For a while now I’ve been shopping online more & more, anything from groceries to kids stuff. Whilst it started when I had a little one & couldn’t get out of the house, it has now developed into a fully-fledged habit. So I thought I’d post some of my favourite stores for finishing off the house. After all, our homes needs quite a lot of layers to create interest & excitement after the tradespeople have left!
Mr Kitly: For all the smaller & more obscure arty finds from beautiful ceramics to exquisite Japanese metalware. A must visit. One of the triangular brass paperweights from Masanori Oji + Futagami is currently adorning my mantel.
Safari Living: Ten years on & still going strong thanks to Felicity Rulikowski’s pitch perfect eye. Stable brands include Marimekko, Missoni, Muuto, Donna Wilson & Design House Stockholm amongst others. Practically everything you need to finish off the house.
The Minimalist: To quote from the source: “unique, limited edition and designer made product from around the globe. The Minimalist isn’t about buying less but buying better. “
Third Drawer Down: Full to the brim with everything quirky for the kids & the not quite grown up kid in all of us. Personal favourites are the Worry Beads by Fredericks & Mae and the garlands, pinatas & paper decorations by New York favourites CONFETTISYSTEM
Top 3 by Design: Simply the best (read smartest, most functional & beautiful looking) design pieces for the home you can buy. Instead of trawling through the options, Top 3 has done the editing for you. Essential!
Dunlin Home: A beautiful edited collection of furniture, lighting & pieces for the home that feel rustic but well made which is often rare nowadays. A particular stand out is their lighting from Original BTC, check out the Stanley copper & brass pendants. Amazing!
Etsy: A post on the best online stores can’t leave out Etsy, the worlds best site for buying handmade, vintage, art & crafts & just plain quirky. Be warned though, time limits for surfing should apply. It’s addictive. I have some favorite shops I follow, check out 1001 Vintage for great ceramics & mid century modern, African House for Juju hats & the like and finally Beat Up Creations for altered vintage plates which I love right now.