Useful advice for new homeowners

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Beach-side living on the Mornington Peninsula  ..  It never looked so good !

Where ever you grew up in the world, if it was close to a beach, then the chances are that you have salt water running through your veins.  You may have spent many years since, maybe even a lifetime, living inland .. but your heart will never be far from the sea.

Below, I give some suggestions of how to create your own beachside fantasy (fantasy is described in the thesaurus as “imagination unrestricted by reality”).  I have separated these beachside make-overs into two basic categories:  the first involves renovations which will totally revamp kitchens and bathrooms allowing sea breezes to enter these spaces;  the second category gives more superficial design ideas which can be easily and inexpensively reproduced for any type of home.  By following these simple guidelines, you’ll soon be able to imagine yourself waking to the sound of seagulls, with just the faintest smell of sun-dried seaweed, where ever you live.

A simple way of life at its core, beachside living has a purity and innocence with carefree memories of childhoods spent swimming in the sea and making endless sandcastles, to be jumped on at night and rebuilt the next day.  It is a slower pace of life and includes design ideas which are simple, with flooring which is either raw or polished timber (or carpeted in neutral tones) and the rooms are bright and airy spaces to be filled with the laughter of family and friends.

Kitchens are usually the centre of the household and the beachside home is no exception to this.  Butcher block countertops and Belfast sinks (which are solid white porcelain and rectangular in shape) are typical of this style.  Open plate racks painted off white with blue and white crockery, pots of herbs on window sills, and water jugs filled with fresh flowers placed in the centre of a large solid, washed timber table (with mismatched timber chairs) complete this natural coastal look.

You’ll almost smell the salt in bathrooms with smooth walls painted soft linen from floor to ceiling, or try tongue-and-groove timber slats halfway up the wall painted in duck-egg blue, soft green or biscuit, and painted off-white above the timber.  Antique claw-foot baths are very popular in this style of home along with pedestal washbasins in white, above which can hang a huge mirror in a white-washed timber frame.  Towels and accessories in soft latte, strong smelling soaps bought from local markets and large seashells are all that’s required to imagine the sound of the waves whilst you’re soaking in the tub.

A dining room with the intoxicating mix of summer breezes shows off the best aspects of living close to the sea.  This carefree lifestyle is comfortable and forgiving, which is expressed by well-loved dining furniture, often from a by-gone era, complimented by intricately decorated rugs and cushions.  Driftwood gifts from the sea become treasures which adorn these pieces of distressed and antique furniture, and bold, colourful artwork line the off-white and neutral toned walls.  Window furnishings are best kept simple, with light floaty fabrics which drape the floor, or plantation shutters are practical and perfect for this look.

The lounge room in a home by the sea is a place where families gather in the summer, to relax with a glass of wine under the whirr of the oversized ceiling fan, and in the winter to enjoy a game of monopoly or canasta by the open fire.  Books tumble from expansive bookcases, and the sofas can be covered with loose slipcovers, which are easy to wash and maintain.  Here, the layered effect of soft furnishings in latte and chocolate, mixed with splashes of bright, bold orange and red cushions and throws work beautifully on the backdrop of off-white walls, and give these rooms a feeling of freshness and vitality.

Beach-designed bedrooms evoke a sense of freedom, with crisp white linen bedcovers perfectly balanced with a splash of colourful cushions in turquoise or duck-egg blue.  Wicker baskets can be placed in corners and under dressers, which add to the relaxed feel, and photos in frames of various designs and size make up feature walls above recycled or slightly distressed bed heads and bedside tables.  Pieces of art made from sea-worn glass connect the natural beauty of the beach to the bedrooms in this style of home.

French doors can lead effortlessly to the outdoor area, whether timber decking, brickwork patio or a roof-top terrace, where an old solid timber table can seat an entire family, and the flotsam and jetsam of washed up treasures and outdoor candles provide all the accessories necessary amongst the greenery.  For added romance, drape outdoor lights around the trees to create a canopy of lanterns .. and allow the olives, wine and laughter to continue on into the night.

Not everyone has the luxury of having the beach on their doorstep.  It is, however, very possible for anyone to create this beachside style of home, and return to a simpler way of life.  With some very inexpensive adaptations and accessories, in no time at all you’ll be sensing the warmth of the sun, and feel the gentle breeze flow throughout your light and airy rooms.

Anyone for ice cream?



BIGGER, or the illusion of it, is definitely BETTER when it comes to choosing a home.   However, in today’s rising house prices, it’s not always possible to find the spacious home we desire within budget. 

An important part of interior design is creating spatial illusions, so I list below some clever tricks to make even the smallest rooms appear larger:

·       Start by really looking at your available space with judgemental eyes.

·       Clutter is the enemy of space, so store as much as possible, allowing only things which are absolutely necessary to be in view.

·       Reflective surfaces, such as polished floorboards, glass tables, mirrors and paint colours with a high light reflective value will all bounce light around rooms, making them appear larger.

·       Rooms are often multifunctional spaces which cause aesthetic conflict, so try to streamline these functions.

·       Light has long since been symbolic of luxury and is known to be very good for health.  Remember, light + space = health + wealth, so try to allow as much light as possible into your rooms.

·       Move all furniture slightly away from walls, so that space appears to be unrestricted.

·       Rather than placing a mirror above the fireplace, try hanging 2 mirrors either side of the fireplace, and they will act like windows.

·       Sleek, clean lines allow the eye to take in the whole area, making it appear bigger and permitting a bold piece of art to shout for attention.

·       Extend your view through windows to a pleasant focal point outside, like a garden ornament or mural, which will create the effect of broadening spatial awareness.

SPACE may be the last frontier, but by following these simple tips, you’ll be able to create the illusion of space and maximize your home’s potential, to enjoy for many years to come.

PERSONALITY.. Let your home shout it from the rooftops !

Since no two people share the same personality, then obviously no two people can share the same style either, so before starting to decorate your home, you first need to decide your ‘own personal style’. 

Your style will evolve throughout your lifetime, reflecting fashions, experiences, and the architecture & design of your home can play a wonderful part in inspiring you with ideas.  Our interior design personalities fit into five clearly defined styles:

There’s the friendly, ECLECTIC STYLE which includes soft, cosy fabrics, natural textures, raw timber and deep earthy colours.  These spaces are often filled with creative objects which trigger memories and encourage the occupants to relax and enjoy.

The ORDERLY STYLE is well co-ordinated and uncluttered.  These balanced, spacious and organised areas exude calm.  They are often minimalist and bright, and the occupants of these homes love their simple clean lines.

The OPULENT STYLE is classical and tasteful, and can include rich wall colours and heavy curtains.  This style reflects an indulgent personality with abundant lighting and oversized furniture, which is warm and inviting.

The URBAN STYLE can be cutting edge, and the owners of these homes employ metal, glass and leather fabrics to confidently create an industrial feel, which include bold colour schemes and dramatic artwork.

Lastly, let’s not forget the ROMANTIC STYLE, which is soft, feminine and floral. Lighting effects and mirrors add charm to this style and allow the ‘romantics’ amongst us to blossom.

So, whatever your style, let your creative juices flow ... WHO knows where they’ll lead you?

Light up your home .. and you’ll light up your life !!

Light is a very powerful tool to create the illusion of space in our homes.  New-build homes often have wonderfully large windows, through which floods natural daylight.  However, owners of older homes with small windows need to maximise natural sunlight, and some tricks for this include placing mirrors opposite windows, carefully selecting paint with high ‘light reflective value’ and, where possible, using polished floorboards and gloss surfaces to bounce off light into the room.

Light is very important to our general wellbeing, stimulating our central nervous system and affecting melatonin, the hormone which regulates sleep.  When we’re deprived of light, we can become depressed and lethargic.

Paint colours such as red, orange, black and brown will absorb light, whereas pale green, blue and lilac will bounce light around walls, making rooms appear larger, and a skylight will let in twice as much light as a window of the same size.

Top Interior Designers use three basic layers of lighting:

General Lighting in the centre of the room which can be updated, if necessary, using rods of directional lighting to spotlight certain areas;

Accent Lighting creates mood and atmosphere, whether these be wall lights, table lamps or candles; and

Task lighting, which is used for specific purposes, such as lamps for reading, desk lights for study, and under-cabinet lighting in kitchens.

Although not possible to fully replicate sunlight, downlights provide clean working light close to natural daylight, which is ideal in active areas and distributes an even flow throughout the home.

So whether your lighting challenges are natural or artificial, embrace the challenge and spread some light ... you’ll be glad you did!

Revitalise, Energise and Personalise Your Home

You may have just completed building your home, and you don’t know where to go from here.  Sandra Whelehan’s Colour Magic Interior Design consultancy may be exactly what you need.

By making the most of every inch of space, and working with existing furniture and treasures, a good make-over can reflect the characters and lifestyles of the family within, and bring a home to life.

The secret to a successful renovation is in employing a good designer with the ability to ‘see the home with clean eyes’, having no emotional attachment to any existing furniture or colours.  Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of de-cluttering to bring light and a feeling of space into a room, but on other occasions, character needs to be added.   By enhancing every feature of the home, and allowing each room to have its own identity, it’s possible to make the most of every inch of space and make even the smallest home feel like a palace.

“My aim is to give my clients the opportunity to enjoy their home at its absolute best” says Sandra.  With over 4500 paint colours to choose from, Sandra can tone in with existing carpets, curtains and furniture to create a fresh new look, and inspire you to boldly bring out the personality of your home, creating your own individual design.

So, whether it’s a complete or partial transformation of your home, Colour Magic Interior Design has the passion and expertise to make your renovations a stunning success, without blowing the budget!