January 29, 2015

The home office makeover - part 2

Do you remember the 'before' shot of our home office? It really was horrible. And by horrible, I mean impractical, poorly organised, and not an inspirational place for my husband and I to work from at any time of day.

Now that I have the flexibility of working from home, the shared home office needed to be so much more than it was. I trawled Pinterest (find me someone considering a room makeover who hasn't), I flipped through IKEA catalogues, and we both talked for ages about what we wanted and needed this space to be.

I knew I wanted the desks to be white, and I wanted to get two side by side, instead of one too big to move; and they needed file storage. The large desk and return we had been using was ridiculously useless, way too deep and offered very little in the way of storage. In the end, the result was simply that neither BB or I used the home office. I knew I wanted desks that had at least one other matching piece (ideally a storage piece) or something that would be incredibly easy to match office furniture to in the future. After some searching, BB and I found two very simple white laminate desks and a matching console from Empire Office Furniture, and decided that they would be perfect. The best part? For a small fee on top of delivery, they would put the furniture together in our home and move them into position right where we wanted them!

The horrendous 'before' photo. I honestly don't know how BB perched all his office gear on the end of that return, while my jumbo desktop computer took up all the corner space. And yes, we have two printers!

Once we had the desks and console in the room, I set about getting organised and decluttering both my space and my head space. I was so fortunate enough to have been offered a Home Secret gift voucher for helping with this, and oh my, how it helped!

My desk can usually look quite cluttered when I have a lot going on – there are notes scribbled on multiple notepads, piles of paper I'm referencing regularly, unfiled receipts (my husband's pet hate!) and a general mess.

Welcome to my new and improved functional office!

Now I have files for all my receipts and paperwork, a stack of notebooks that I’ll use one at a time to write everything in – no more scraps of paper, and just one small jar of pens. Did you notice the big tub I was using to store pens (and everything else) before? It just confirms to me that the more space you have the more you accumulate. I didn’t need all those pens, scissors, nail polish (?), and empty spectacle cases on my desk.. Best of all it looks like the workspace of a someone who enjoys spending time there.. . being organised doesn’t have to mean working around a boring aesthetic.

The top of my desk may have been a mess, but it’s the shallow drawer under my desk that became the dumping ground for anything and everything. I’m too embarrassed to show you the junk drawer before… but I’m excited to show you the ‘after’ shot. This excellent tray with compartments holds all the bits and pieces and now the drawer is an organisational dream!

The drawer tidy makes a world of difference (so does cleaning out the random scraps of rubbish apparently!), and I love the little flat tin with all my green clips. It started out as a lovely notecard tin from Home Secret, but found new life in my drawer keeping the dreaded paperclip monster from breeding!

I used to stick things randomly on the wall next to my desk, now I'm shopping  for a much more practical magnetic whiteboard - I want to use it for important notes, as a moodboard and for inspiration. The green Aladdin carafe (with a cup for a lid!) is another addition to my workspace that I love because I've found that I am hydrating a lot more now that I have water close at hand.

Clockwise from top left: a very functional and fun water carafe with a matching cup/lid; bulldog clips can be my best friend; a divinely-scented Florence Broadhurst for Circa Home jar candle (I've seen these for well over double what I paid at Home Secret!); and the very groovy soda bottle crate - propped on one end, it makes a really unusual shadow box!

Washi tape is the best office labelling tape ever, it's almost an addiction.

The top of the printer houses a stack of A4 wallets that I’ve labeled with washi tape for fast and easy filing of everything that lands on my desk. I have no excuse now to go back to piles of paper, and the little notepad is perfect for a quick visual of things to do first thing in the morning. One of the other useful things I've done is stock up on supplies like Sharpies, notepads, paperclips, staples, and bulldog clips. I’m usually scrambling to find something right when I really need it, and that's such an inefficient way to work.

These shelves are going to a be work in progress, and I'll often play around with the smaller details. I love keeping thoughtful items and gifts from lovely friends on them. The hand bookends were one of my favourite finds at Home Secret - so kooky!

Seriously, how great are these hand bookends (and less than $20 too), I've seen them at other homewares stores for $49, so that was a huge budget win!

Important note: Thank you BB - your supremely level shelf-hanging skills are appreciated.

Home Secret pride themselves on their excellent motto - big brand homewares without the designer price tag. I can certainly vouch for that! I managed to pick up gorgeous styling and organisation pieces from Jonathan Adler, Filofax, Yankee Candle, and Florence Broadhurst for Circa Home for a fraction of what I'd have paid in other stores*! And it's not just home decor, the kitchenware section is to DIE for.

I can't imagine a home office without photos of my favourite day, so I was thrilled to find this white photo frame at Home Secret - perfect for three small wedding photos.

I’m inspired now that I have our home office well-organised. We have good filing systems and storage solutions. It’s wonderful to have a fresh start to keep me sorting, filing and organising on a daily basis and not let things get out of hand again, and I love having an empty white desktop to work on. I achieved all of this decor and organisation on a budget of less than $300 at Home Secret, and I'm thrilled with the result.

It wasn't just the desk that received a makeover, this palm-embroidered cushion is both comfy and cute. 

Remember the white console I mentioned? It's doing a fantastic job as the 'stationery cupboard' of the room, everything is really accessible, and there's extra space on top if either of us decide to spread out our paperwork. The funky owl is actually a tealight holder that BB chose from Home Secret, and it fits perfectly into this room with all the fresh and fun touches we added!

Now, that's not all... stay tuned for a future post to see how I beautified BB's side of the room with some more Home Secret finds!

Doesn't it just look so much better now? (And a scented tealight in my favourite candle votive, a gift from the sweetest colleague I've ever worked with makes it just perfect!)

If you work from home at all, is your space beautiful and inspiring, or have you let it get out of hand a little? 

For more great home office inspiration, especially if you like a little vintage style... head over to Trainee Mama to check out how she turned an old-school ironing board into a desk. Seriously.

*Because Home Secret have such high turnover in their beautiful stock, there's no guarantee that when you visit, the same brands will be available. Saying that, I've recently spotted Esprit, Country Road, Sheridan, Vera Wang (seriously!), Le Creuset, RACO, Cuisinart and Jamie Oliver stuff at less than half the price of Myer and David Jones!

**This post is in collaboration with my all-time favourite homewares store, Home Secret. As always, I only partner with brands that are a good fit with my blog and my lifestyle.

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January 19, 2015

My Favourites - Furbish

Ok – I have a confession to make…I think I am officially an adult.

No, I can't yet remember what day the bins go out, or that yes, I need to actually buy milk regularly to have milk regularly in the fridge. But... I'm into houses. I no longer pick up the latest celeb mag at the checkout, I pick up Real Living

I am also mad about home and design blogs, in fact I think I might have a little design crush on Furbish Studio. They have got it going ON over there. Owner Jamie Meare’s blog I Suwanee is one of my daily reads, and her posts of clients homes that she's worked on are simply beyond!

They are some kind of genius when it comes to mixing bold patterns and bright colors. Ikats, animal prints, chinoiserie, waspy florals, tribal kilims – you name it they got it! I love that they have fun with their designs and aren’t afraid to add a brilliant punch of humour, with kitsch accessories and super-cheap finds from discount department stores. (Because if my house says anything, I want it to say 'I'm funny'.)

Take a look at some Furbish-ness in all its glory:

images via: I Suwanee, Lonny, and Furbish Studio

Do you have favourite online homewares stores I just MUST check out? How often do you switch up a room with new accessories?

January 10, 2015

Instagram Inspiration: Folk to follow

Hip hooray - the first work week of the year is done, and we've all earned our weekend, I'm sure!

Needing a little extra fabulous in your Instagram feed? Here are four that I love to follow, I hope you love their pics as much as I do.

Clockwise from top left: hilaryhrhodajessicadimmock, memoryweavergdax

Following rising supermodel Hilary Rhoda (@hilaryhrhoda) on Instagram is truly a double edged sword. On one hand, she's one of the most gorgeous women on Earth and always doing pretty interesting things. On the other, it is a constant reminder that I'm not Hilary Rhoda. Ah well.

Very simply, I love @jessicadimmock. She will add the beauty to your feed. An awesome photographer with a gorgeous eye and many a beautiful place to introduce you to.

Nothing compares to a good Instagram still life, right? And @memoryweaver delivers just that. Marcus Rodriguez is a web developer with a passion for photography, although he only joined Instagram last year. By the way, what's so excellent about Marcus is that he includes a detailed post with each series that contains handy tips and suggestions for fellow photographers. In a competitive world, it's great to find someone who has not only mastered photography but is also willing to share his tricks with the public.

You won't believe me, but @gdax is one tech-savvy monk. Gedun Wangchuk, a Buddhist monk living in Tibet, has such a tranquil Instagram account. Simply looking at his photos will put you in a state of peaceful reflection.

Who are your fave Instagrammers? Anyone amazing I should be following?

January 08, 2015

The home office makeover - part 1

Part of our plan for getting organised for 2015 was to organise the home office, and for me to sort out my walk-in wardrobe (which I fear will always be a work in progress). When the stuff around me is in chaos, it's usually a reflection of the state of my brain! Fortunately, I have an incredibly well-organised husband, who keeps his end of the deal - everything he touches is tidy and in its proper place.

Both BB and I work from home a bit (me more so with my new and super-exciting job!), so it's going to be important that the home office we share is functional and organised. Until recently, we shared an awkwardly large corner desk in our home office, and there was a lot of empty space in the room that we just couldn't use. Also, even though my husband needed just as much space as me (if not more), the poor guy was squished onto the round end of the desk return, and neither of us felt very good about this layout.

The home office as it was. A ridiculously big corner desk, tonnes of unused space, and the placement of my desktop monitor and his printer meant that we couldn't even open the windows!

After searching online and at a few stores, we found our solution at Empire Office Furniture - two white desks to go side by side, with rolling drawers and filing space on each side, and a long console to fit under the window. Fortunately, this room was once a small bedroom, so it has a big wardrobe full of shelves where we're keeping archive boxes of filing and household paperwork.

The next step will be to make it more 'us', with some white shelves above my side of the room, and some small in-trays or storage baskets, etc to keep the clutter from building up. Then the fun stuff... prints, artwork, photos, candles, all the fancy things that I am looking forward to being inspired by as I sit here and write and write and write.

As we get this room sorted, I'll share more of it, because it really will become my most-used part of our home.

Do you have a home office? If so, how do you keep it both practical and pretty - I would love to know!

January 06, 2015

Staying on track in 2015

I really do not like making resolutions. Everyone does it and they are broken within two seconds of eating a bacon and egg roll for breakfast on New Year's Day.

They also sound more like rules and are a bit limiting. Lest I sound like a Grinch, what I would like to do this year is make some goals and a plan for those goals. It's going to be my theme this year, I think... staying on track. I often have the very best intentions, then I lose sight of them and then forget about it. I confess, I can have the attention span of a flea, so I really do need lists in my life. I have plans for quite a few things in my life right now, and am finding that breaking them down into lists helps me incredibly.

At the moment, these lists are broken down into areas of my life (health and wellness, work, blogging, home), but as I start to get into the habit of checking these, I'm hoping that they will look less like children's chore charts, and more like friendly reminders. This may sound like a very basic system but for me, these are things I want to work on and having them specifically categorised helps me keep my focus and not lose sight. Hopefully I can get things off to a good start this week and stick to it.

I'd really love to know, how do you stay focused?

January 04, 2015

Taking the big leap (or the story of my time at Lorna Jane)

A long and rambling blog post during the first week of January NOT about resolutions... how different and novel.

Instead, I'll be wrapping up quite the chunky chapter of my life, my time working at Lorna Jane.

I honestly never expected it to be what it was for me. It was stressful, overwhelming, commercial and demotivating. It was also inspiring, positive, ridiculously entertaining, and a huge jump-off point for me for the future.

I started working at Lorna Jane in Noosa in early 2013, as a casual retail assistant (although my official job title was Sales Gun and Active Stylist - ergh). I had previously been employed by Lorna Jane as a Store Manager when I lived in Brisbane in 2010/11, but left just as I started due to bad timing and other opportunities. When I commenced in 2013, I didn't want a full-time role, I just wanted to have a little fun, earn a little money (and try not to spend it on work clothes) and spend time thinking about what I *really* want to do, particularly with the blog. (Since my level of blog posting has dropped since working at LJ, we can conclude that it wasn't the best idea.)

I was employed by a dynamic and inspiring woman, and really enjoyed spending time with my Store Manager. The wonderful 2IC Carmel was (and continues to be) one of my dearest friends, mainly because she's got a heart of gold, and is the best listener I've ever met. I enjoyed my work, I grizzled about the drive (50 minutes each way), and loved the location. Noosa's Main Beach really is a stunning spot, and being able to connect with visitors from all over the world was the best part of my days. Not too long after I commenced at Lorna Jane, my Store Manager (a woman with fantastic entrepreneurial business interests outside her day job) resigned, and both Carmel and I were temporarily promoted, to Store Manager and 2IC respectively. I remember thinking at the time, is this really what I want? But to retain control of my hours, and continue working at a boutique-style store I loved (instead of being shunted around as a casual to icky shopping centre stores), I rolled with it. I spent hours encouraging the store's social media following, and helped to really grow the store's mainly tourist trade into a strong local market.

Spending time snapping pics for social media really was the easiest part of my job, with stunning views like this. (Pic from @livinglovingnoosa Instagram page.)

After a busy 2013/14 Summer, Carmel and I switched roles, and I became the Store Manager of Lorna Jane Noosa with a brilliant team around me, which made everything easier and cruisier. I drove to work 5 days a week to spend long and sunny days with girls who were funny, enthusiastic, and supportive.

My store enjoyed a visit from blogging royalty with The Remarkables came to Noosa.
From left: Nikki of  Styling You, Chantelle of Fat Mum Slim and bub Luella (who I'd steal if left unattended), Mrs Woog of Woogsworld (hates activewear; and due to my supreme bullying skills, now wears huffy-puffy pants with pride), me (grinning like a Cheshire Cat), and Beth of BabyMac.

As always, circumstances change, and when the great casuals moved on to uni, babies, and other exciting things, Carmel and I were left wondering what was next. As fortuitous fate and excellent circumstance would have it, we worked close to the Witchery store on Hastings St in Noosa, where our lovely friend Bev had worked. (You may know her as the very stylish blogger Iris May Style.) Bev had recently left Witchery to take up a position at a large Country Road store much closer to home (she, like Carmel and I, had been doing a fairly long commute north to Noosa every day), and she offered us the opportunity to apply for roles at her store. While Carmel took her up on this, and is now loving her much healthier work-life balance at Country Road, the timing wasn't great for me, and I didn't think that leaving Lorna Jane to stay in retail was really where my heart was directing me.

Work selfies with Lorna looking over my shoulder.
More awkward than you'd expect.

The middle of 2014 was a fairly crappy time for me. I was given a 2IC who was neither supportive nor hard-working, and under-performing casual staff were moved to my store for me to 'straighten out', which only had the effect of depressing me and driving loyal customers right out the door.

With the resignation of the 2IC who really didn't want to be there, sunshine and bloody rainbows turned up with my new Assistant Manager, Nikki. A local girl who'd been away in a mining town and wanted to come home to Noosa, Nikki arrived with a smile on her face and a willingness to work, and OHMYGAWD that's exactly I needed. The news that I'd be getting another store on Hastings St (not moving stores, mind you... getting another store) was mildly scary and quite exciting at the same time. For those not in the activewear scene, Lorna Jane also designs a smaller high-end range called Uniquely Lorna Jane, which is a fairly exclusive sports-luxe collection. This range is only available online and in a handful of stores across the country, and I was to be getting one of these stores. For at least 6 months, I'd no longer be a Store Manager, I'd be a Cluster Manager. Excellent.

Nikki and I celebrating our gorgeous new store,
just one moment before we opened for business! 

Nikki and I were surrounded for the most part by exceptional and adorable casuals, ranging in age from 17 to 50, and I was enjoying every part of the craziness that was the preparation and opening of the new store, while trying not to let the existing store become a big ol' mess. (I kinda failed. The stockroom = organisational disaster). Seeing me running down Hastings Street, a stack of LJ thrown over my shoulder, while I dragged a huge rail of stock between the two stores became quite a common Noosa sight.

I always knew that another Christmas in retail would be beyond shitty for me. My husband often travels for his business, and knowing that he would definitely be enjoying time off at home over Christmas while I worked every damn day would drive me mental. (As well as giving him the grumps too... with me coming home exhausted and demanding dinner every night.) Carmel was loving working with Bev, and I was occasionally talking about doing something a little more, well... me.

You see, I'm not a regular ol' Lorna Jane girl. Unlike my best friend Peta, I can't bear the gym. I don't love to sweat, and I'll take the snooze button over a workout every damn time. The problem was, I was feeling beyond crap at even having this mindset, because I was surrounded by the bounciest, most energetic souls I've ever met. And I can't even blame them - I was the one who found and hired them!

So, and yes, I really should cut this long story shorter... I resigned. I resigned to take a big chance, and step away from a regular (although obviously crappy because RETAIL) wage, and bounce out into the world doing stuff I love.

Strangely, it was Bev of Iris May Style (who stole my Carmel) who kickstarted my new venture and moved me on from Lorna Jane. (Let's not let Lorna Jane know, they may ban her from ever speaking to another LJ employee!) Bev got me talking to a wonderfully influential woman in the health and wellness field, and I am moving forward in a role with her, looking after her sales, social media and admin requirements... and I'M THRILLED! I'm actually working for myself instead of as an employee, and the lack of job security is terrifying (yes, I'm a sooky Cancerian, what of it) but exhilarating at the same time.

I've counselled with my wonderfully-supportive husband, and also a few friends (including Peta, Bev and Carmel), and everyone was telling me to just do it. Take a chance, try something new, learn on the run, make mistakes, and have fun. It was time to take that big leap.

Bikinis, coffee & good company.
This is seriously how Team Vitality celebrated our Christmas and end-of-year signoff - a dip in the surf, then coffee delivered to the tidal lagoon at Marcoola.
(Pic from @nfogdenmoore Instagram page.)

I'm still not really able to verbalise what it is that I'll be doing, there are so many possible projects flying up in the air at the moment, but if you head over to The Vitality Coach and have a wee squiz around, you'll be as excited as I am! (And if you have time, check out some of her podcasts... PERFECT for getting your head around your New Year resolutions, and preparing an excellent mindset for 2015.)

There you have it. I guess it does all come back to a New Year situation, anyway. 2015 really will be incredible, not just for me, but for everyone who's taking some chances and trying new things.

What has been the biggest leap of your life so far?

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