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Eight easy ways to redecorate your rented property

I was interviewed earlier in the week by The Sydney Morning Herald on my ideas and recommendations for sprucing up your rental property….

Here’s a snapshot ….” With property prices soaring, more Australians are stuck in rental properties when we would rather own them, but a bit of creativity can help to turn yours into a home. Recent figures from the Bureau of Statistics show 2.6 million people are renting. The situation is particularly severe in NSW which accounts for a third of the national number and, of that, 33 per cent have been renting for more than 10 years.

When it comes to decorating, renters face particular challenges that can be overcome, says expert Anya Haywood of Anya H Interiors. “Renting a property doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun of decorating and putting your own stamp on a place….”

Read more:


Frames are to me what shoes are to most girls…

Yes, sad as that sounds, I love a beautiful picture frame!

I was in New York recently for a client project & coincided the trip to attend the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a condition of being an Anya H Interiors client that you have to send me to New York on buying trips (amazing – for me – as that sounds…!). It was an atypical project where the client had lived in the States for the past 8 or so years and had a house load of furniture and accessories in storage which needed to be assessed and essentially I had to determine which pieces worked with her new place in Sydney and which would have to be sold. During my stay, I picked up a lovely print from a local artist, Pat Christiano, who conveniently locates his ‘outside studio’ in Central Park and I decided I would give it to my client as both a token reminder of her former Manhattan home and also as a feature piece over a new (Thomas O’Brien) desk I’d just chosen for her Sydney office space. Anyway,  I’ve just picked up the print today from my Sydney framer guy. I’d waded through his vast stash of catalogues and samples a few weeks ago and selected a rather ornate frame with rich gold and red hues. Paul, my framer, is one of those genuinely passionate, ‘old school’ type creatives that treats every piece of art that comes through his door with meticulous attention & focus … .a reminder that as with many aspects in interiors, it’s often the detail that can make all the difference….

Here’s my $15 print looking like a million dollars!










(Image via Anya H Interiors)

Frame it! Other clever framing ideas…

(Images via David Jiminez  and The Decorista)

Growing Needs

Newsflash! Just because you have a kid-friendly home, doesn’t mean it can’t be an elegant, well styled one.

When I first started interior designing, I didn’t have kids and I have to confess, I really didn’t appreciate the kid factor. So when one of my very first clients (a family of five) briefed me on their design absolutes ranging from having nothing out on display, no glass whatsoever, all sofa & chair covers to be removable & washable and so on, my instant reaction was “how am I ever going to make this place look even vaguely stylish?!” It turned out to be invaluable experience and fast-track several years I now have 3 little ones of my own and can fully appreciate that designing with kids in mind takes extra careful planning for durability and function whilst not compromising on overall style… and the best news… all that can be achieved without defaulting to bright plastic furniture!


Some tips and advice for decorating stylish kid-friendly spaces:

  • Choosing furniture

For my Anya H Interiors clients with families, I often look to mid century and Scandinavian influences as the starting point for design concepts. Regardless of the end look and feel you’re trying to achieve, the token mid century classic piece – for instance an Ercol sofa or a Danish circular table – has clean, soft lines and an uncluttered vibe that is sophisticated yet practical and family functional. (And as you know, most furniture scores extra cool points with your friends just for being Scandinavian!).

Take one of the most important furniture pieces in the home – the sofa. As you multi-task every other area of your life, insist that your sofa multi-tasks as well and you’ll always be prepared. There are some great multi functioning sofas out there that not only look good but also provide a use for last minute sleepovers. I’m loving this chic armless sofa, which offers easy accessibility for little ones as well as a sofa bed functionality.

  • Reorganising your floor plan

I’m reading a great book at the moment about the French approach to Parenting. In pretty much all aspects of life, French kids are raised with a strict emphasis on boundaries and the Interiors element is no exception.  The living room is regarded as sacred and completely toy and clutter free.  Following the philosophy that children can play happily and independently with fewer things, try restricting all toys and games to a dedicated room, whether it be your child’s bedroom or whether you turn an extra room that is currently underused into a play area. (The general trend I’m finding is that separate dining rooms are rarely used these days so this could be the top of your hit list…?).  Whichever room you choose, make it the kid’s space and even get buy in and excitement by including your kids in the redesign process.

  • Choosing fabrics & finishes

Sisal runners, art silk rugs and brushed suede sofas were the ‘go to’ of Interiors a few years ago, however I doubt they will be making the hall of ‘durable classics’ fame. When it comes to removing stains, in almost all cases, natural is better. For stain hiding, I’m a big fan of Persian style rugs in 100% wool… the pile not only works well for clean ups, but the irregular patterns, kaleidoscope of colours can hide a multitude of sins! Leather is perhaps the most obvious choice as it is stylish, durable, and resilient and looks great as it wears, but more & more I’m recommending good quality velvets to my clients with kids. Velvets comes in so many different colours, kids love the soft texture and because it’s a natural fabric, it also means it is free from nasty synthetic toxins and chemicals…another kid friendly tick!

  • Choosing a colour palette for your family home

I’m sure many of you have read bits & pieces about colour psychology and how colour can effect kids…it’s a question I’m asked almost every day ‘what is the best colour for my daughter / son’s room?’. In summary, what I can say is consider the ‘cooler colours’ for example lighter shades of blue, green and soft yellow as they have a calming effect on the body and can make the room feel spacious and relaxing. At the same time, soften the ‘cooling’ effect with creamy neutrals and include soft, textural finishes. For Princesses in love with the rosy hue, use pink only for certain elements of the room, for instance detail in the curtains, bed linen or a pink rug, but do not let it dominate the room. 


  • The finishing touch… accessorising & displaying

Installing floating shelves to a room lets you place valuables out of reach from curious little hands. Besides being very stylish, floating shelves will add different and interesting dimensions to the room. Place decorative elements such as colourful books, photo frames and glass (yes, even glass..!) vases with flowers. Insider tip: make sure that there is some consistency in your arrangement, whether it be colour, shape or material that is the unifying element.

Last but not least, no kid friendly home can do without…a chalk board. They are the LBD of any family household to help you feel organized and in control of all the ‘stuff’ that’s going on. Perfect for chalking up your weekly schedule, ‘cannot forget’ list and displaying the ongoing stream of kid’s art, school notes, party invites etc.

So this month, focus on freeing up your space from kids chaos and clutter, and with a little bit of furniture rearranging I promise you will create a much more relaxing and less stressful living space. 

(This article was also featured in the latest issue of Born Organized Magazine… if you haven’t subscribed yet, check it out here



Pottery Barn comes to Sydney

With a little hesitation, I accepted an invitation to the preview launch party of Williams-SonomaPottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, and West Elm which took place last night, roughly 12 hours before the stores were officially opened by Barry O’Farrell… hesitant because we have seen a few too many (not naming names…) International retailers that have such fantastic offerings overseas, but then unfortunately at a local level, the concept does not translate quite so well, whether it is the lack of quality or the over inflated prices (what I call the ‘but Australia is sooo far away’ excuse).

So it was particularly refreshing and exciting that this is not the case with the #Williams-SonomaAus group of stores. The stores themselves are fantastic… retail merchandising at its best, transporting you into an uptown San Francisco vibe. Given the focus Anya H Interiors has on designing family homes, my first port of call was Pottery Barn Kids. Super stylish, different from the ‘typical’ high street kids furnishing wares and yes, even ticks the practical and good price point boxes too…

The highlights: the fresh faced rug collection (not a Disney character in sight…), the monogram options in finishes and last but not least, some uber cute little armchairs in fun, furry fabrics!  If you’re in the Sydney area, it’s definitely worth a visit to the new stores on Oxford Street, Bondi Junction. Non Sydneysiders, with everything online and quote unquote ‘we ship everything, everywhere in Australia’ (!), you will not miss out on this new transatlantic shopping experience…



Pendant Lighting for Every Room

As my clients & friends already know about me, I’m not one for convention & following the well trodden path. When it comes to interiors, lighting is a good example… don’t just think of pendant lighting for your dining area. This versatile ceiling fixture can really be used in almost any space… coming in a variety of sizes and styles, consider pendants for your kitchen, bedroom, living room, hallway through to your office.

Choosing the finish…

  • Fabric pendant lights give off a softer glow, because of the diffused light through the fabric shades. Use fabric pendant lights over dining room tables and kitchen islands where you want a softer glow for eating and entertaining.
  • Glass shade pendants utilise glass or acrylic to maximize the light output and emit a concentrated light, for specific tasks, like at a desk or work surface.

Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn have some great styles this season. The exciting news…. no longer will you have to pay exorbitant international delivery fees to access their range – with their new retail space currently being built in Bondi Junction, stylish and affordable furnishings are now on our (or at least for Sydneysiders…) doorstep.

Using pendant lights for specific tasks, effective ambient lighting or even as sculptural artworks, they are an affordable way to transform your space and beautifully light your home.



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Staying organised in style


It really is the case that it’s not how much space you have that determines how efficiently and comfortably you live, but rather how you design and organise that space. I’d love to say I’m a freak of the neat variety, but unfortunately I am far from it, so for me – and what I preach to my clients – ‘A place for everything & everything in its place’ is the ultimate mantra for any busy household or indeed office space. This means having a well-edited space only full of things that you really need and use.

So how do you best go about that…? Well, the good news is that being organised has never been more stylish or more simple than ever before and if you’re prepared to take the time to step back from your living or work space and create an overall plan looking at the function and layout of your furniture, you will enjoy an immediate positive impact on your every day life.

1. Do double duty – What furniture can serve a dual purpose in your home? A bench by the hallway is more useful if it also offers storage for shoes, handbags, umbrellas etc. Use an old trunk with a flip up lid as a stylish alternative to a coffee table and an ideal spot to store magazines, DVDs.

2. Think vertically! Maximise space with vertical storage, for instance, in the kitchen use vertical storage shelving in your pantry, drawer organisers for dry goods and install overhead pot and pan storage to free up space below your counters. Other vertical storage solutions include hanging bicycles from the ceiling, installing bookshelves over doorways and even, hanging extra seating on the wall.

3.In terms of a colour palette, as much as I encourage clients to introduce colour into their home and resist the ‘default to beige’ temptation, a neutral palette in areas where you want to feel organised and in control is advised… you can then let loose and have fun with colourful accents like cushions, throws and art.

4.Only surround yourself with things you love. Give favourite colours, artwork, photos, plants and personal items or collections pride of place, and get rid of (or at least hide away behind closed doors!) anything that annoys you, including those bulky binders of old bills or piles of toys that have barely been touched since Xmas 2012. For an on-trend solution, use rustic rolling storage crates – perfect for wheeling away toys, magazines etc under the bed.

5.Find yourself some fabulous organising accessories. Look out for Lucite (clear acrylic) storage pieces… not only are they chic but they also allow colourful items you put inside to shine. A clear desktop tray for storing pens, pencils & a few personal items will look tidy and will make you feel less chaotic throughout the day. Using accessories doesn’t necessarily mean buying new… you can re-purpose items such as this vintage toaster rack.

6.Chalk boards are nothing new, but for me they are the LBD of any household to help you feel organised and in control of all the ‘stuff’ that’s going on….  It doesn’t have to be black chalk paint – you can paint a section of your wall with whiteboard paint and frame the area by attaching moulding directly to the wall. Perfect for chalking up your weekly schedule, ‘cannot forget’ list and displaying the ongoing stream of kid’s art, school notes etc. The same concept works just as well in the office – visual to do lists, tacked up invites requiring an RSVP or business cards requiring a call back.


Case study: A Home Based Workspace with Inspiring Style

Last year I redesigned a home office space for home business based mum, Louise, in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Louise was looking to create a space where she felt focused, energised and organised (read: ‘in control’!). Many of us these days work from home, yet don’t want our workspaces to overtake our living spaces, particularly with all the messy paperwork, cables, ugly printers etc. It’s so easy to let a home office slide off the bottom of the ‘deco to-do’ list, but the way you arrange and decorate the space can significantly impact your productivity.

Organised elements of Louise’s redesigned office space relevant to all office spaces:

>>Client files and reference books are hidden behind accessible cabinetry and what is needed within reach, for example her work related magazines, were displayed on open shelves.

>>Stylish & inexpensive woven baskets sit on the bottom shelves for quick access storage.

>>Look beyond the desk… avoid clutter pile-ups by placing another work surface near your main desk. In Louise’s case, this provided dedicated space where she can spread out on a specific, ongoing project and also a great area for stepping away from the computer to recharge, brainstorm or even… (sounds indulgent, but it really shouldn’t be…) sit with a cup of tea and reflect!

>>Incorporate elements typically reserved for residential interiors, such as wallpaper and rugs, for comfort and individuality and unexpected twists. For Louise we dedicated one wall to her collection of antique plates – this, says Louise, raises her spirits at the end of a hard day, so don’t just reserve your art for your living room!

Louise’s case is another reminder that designing a practical and functional space does not require sacrificing style!

<This article was first published in the launch issue of Born Organized Magazine – a great read covering Home, Office and Lifestyle topics & advice – and where I, Anya H, write the Interiors column. Read the launch issue of Born Organized here: or follow @BornSmartHQ >.



New year, new looks: happening hues for 2013

To say that I love green is a bit of a stretch… personally I’m more of a Tango Orange girl myself – Tango Orange being Pantone’s 2012 colour and Emerald Green selected for 2013. So, you can relax 2013 clients – I will not be recommending that everyone abandons their greige and rushes out to buy an emerald green sofa… whilst it is always exciting interesting to find out the new colour trends, I don’t think that we should look at them so seriously that we change the way we decorate, but introducing the colour with a cushion, a vase or even better, a lush green plant is a great way to re-energise your living space. Interestingly enough, this colour has been popular before Pantone declared it as such. We’ve been seeing emerald for a while now in our interiors as well as in the showrooms.

Here’s some playful and bold moments of green.

<Images include: Emerald green wallpaper, headboard and accents via Elle Decoration; Emerald Green Drapes via Splendid Sass>

Looking at these, I must admit that I think Green is rubbing off on me…! I actually recalled a casual kitchen/dining concept I developed last year that included repainting the client’s existing table a lovely green….

This was my sole ‘green moment’ of 2012 so looking forward to incorporating a little more green in my 2013 work…

Pantone also select colours for the season and my favourite for 2013 is their Monaco Blue choice for Spring. How rich and playful is this colour…? ‘Monaco’ a very apt choice of name indeed….!

 <Monaco blue walls & furniture via All Things Stylish>

Dress your homes with the same personality that you dress yourself… as I always say to my clients, your home should be a reflection of you – your lifestyle, personality and taste. More too often, people are a little hesitant of using colour in their homes and end up with the ‘beige default’…. Our lives are not beige so why should our homes be beige? …If you like dressing with colour and/or prints, you shouldn’t just be wearing them, try reflecting them in your home décor too. Happy experimenting!

Diamond Ball 2012

It’s always great to know that what you love doing every day, is also helping out others…. In this case, such a great cause – The Children’s Cancer Institute Australia.

So it was an honour to be a sponsor of their Diamond Ball 2012 a few weeks ago… and I’ve just received confirmation that a whopping $ 398,000 was raised at the event. Funds raised will go towards undertaking research into improving the treatment of kids with cancer with a more tailored approach… in the end, to give every child the very best hope of survival. For more information on The Children’s Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research, please see

subtle style

Just loving this new cocoon chair designed by Allegra Hicks. Thanks to the creative team at, this is one little chair with a lot of options.

Allegra Hicks’ subtle style is very much in contrast to her more flamboyant father in law ….David Hicks. Here’s one of my favourite wallpapers at the moment… not the most calming of wall coverings, but all the same, a vibrant, modern take on black and white… ‘Hexagon’ by David Hicks.


Cool new stuff, Anya H Loves

I think, more than any other item in a home, you can tell the most about a person by the art they hang on their walls. No other home item tells more of a story, which is both cool and a little bit stressful. What to buy? How can I find something that reflects my story and me? How can I be original? And yet, walls are all too often an afterthought when designing a space, and purchasing art can be intimidating. So, as I always say, prints are a great way to start a collection.

Regular readers of this column may recall a previous article on the fabulous Natural Curiosities They are an exciting and highly creative team of artisans based in LA who have an enormous collection of old maps, botanical prints, and architectural plans.  From curating specimens into display frames, hand applied gold and silver gilting to hand applied silk screen printing they are a studio devoted to making nature-inspired wall art, much of it directly borrowed from the founder, Christopher Wilcox’s own vintage holdings.

This particular collection has been recently acquired from the playful, colourful 20th-century French textile artist Paule Marrot. The result is for a realistic, affordable price you can obtain some large scale, beautiful pieces of art that completely redefine the idea of buying a print.

If you are interested in any piece from the Natural Curiosities collection, please browse their website and we can help you place your order.



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