How to make your home more beautiful
Table Tonic's Lou Bell in her store in Avalon.
Former magazine Creative Director Louise Bell is the creator of Table Tonic, a gorgeous online homewares boutique (and store in Avalon, NSW) that sources creative, quirky and unusual pieces from around the world with an emphasis on affordability
What influences your home style? How often do you change things?
Our house was built in the late 1950's, so staying true to the modernist era (coupled with the fact that I married an architect) plays a huge part in the overall style of our home. We also live near the beach, so a summer "vibe" is something I wanted to maintain. Natural materials, bright pops of colour and an abundance of light feature heavily. Oh, and like most people, I change things around ALL THE TIME! Even if it's as simple as switching blankets or bedspreads on a bed or moving cushions from the bedroom to the sofa.
Inside the table Tonic store in Avalon.
People can often be daunted by home design, do you have some basic rules that all would-be-decorators should live by?
1. Consider proportion: If your space is small, cross over-sized furniture off the list – it will only result in a cramped and cluttered space. The same applies to large spaces - always keep room size in mind when shopping for or arranging furniture.
2. When choosing wall colors, keep in mind that darker colours will make a room feel smaller while lighter walls will make a room feel larger. If you’re hell bent on dark colours, consider painting a feature wall.
3. Invest in furniture that will withstand the test of time - basic shapes and colours serve as decorating “cornerstones”. Design icons like a Saarinen dining table, a modern sofa, bubble lamps, and an acrylic coffee table can happily balance out colourful, eclectic accessories.
Orange Moroccan leather pouffe at the Table Tonic store in Avalon.
4. Think of every surface as an opportunity to tell a story or create a mood. Collections of childhood trinkets and vintage finds blend beautifully with modern prints or ceramic pieces and make eclectic, eye catching displays.
5. Always hang pictures at eye level (put that ladder away!).
What are some of the key homeware and interior design trends that we will be seeing this Summer that are easy to include in the average home?
Yellow isn’t going anywhere. Ditto pattern, which will become more inspired by Folklore - african, bulgarian, mexican…. animals, culture and crafts will all come in to play. Embroidery, knitting and hand craft are still around. Fabrics and finishes will all be touchable/textural with warmth and depth.
Glass hobnail candles at the Table Tonic store in Avalon.
What is the biggest selling item in your shop/online store right now and why do you think it’s getting so much love?
Online it’s the Moroccan Leather Pouffes (from $199) and in the shop, it’s the large, stripey Jute bowls ($55). They are both incredibly versatile pieces and look fantastic in any room/space.
The weather is getting warm and we’ll be spending more time outdoors. Outdoor spaces can be tricky to overhaul. Do you have any advice for freshening up an outdoor space?
As Martha Stewart points out “an umbrella is to a patio what a rug is to a living room: a key piece that unifies the space's palette”. Go for a graphic print that echoes/complements the existing furnishings. Also consider painting your front door a bright, glossy orange, yellow, blue, red, even pink!
Many of us will be doing a lot of entertaining outdoors over the Summer months – do you have any tips to temporarily style up a space and make it party-ready?
Turn the backyard into your Summer dining room with an extra surface for drinks and dishes. Create a “bar” using a basic shelf and brackets. When it's not in use, it can be folded down so it doesn't get in the way. Mexican Oil Cloth is also great for dressing up a tired outdoor table and wipes down a treat (you can often buy it by the metre). Hurricane lamps are also still around and a very practical way to enjoy candlelight. Garlands and things like tissue paper pompoms are all still very on-trend and look oh-so-pretty hanging from trees, fences or outdoor structures like pergolas/cubby houses.
What home magazines and blogs do you love most and why?
I honestly buy or borrow (thankfully, my mum is a mag junkie too!) ALL the home mags! As for my favourite blogs, I regularly do a blog post on the Table Tonic blog called “Bookmark-worthy sites I only discovered last week”. I’ve unearthed some real winners over the years!
What’s your favourite room in your own home and why?
The dining area which runs along the front of our house is North facing and always bathed in sun!
If Daily Life readers were going to buy a loved-one homewares for Christmas this year – what kind of pieces would you recommend?
LUXE: I would recommend they splash out on colour! A Moroccan Leather Pouffe (from $199) or a Mexican Suzani bedspread (from $449) from Table Tonic! They both come in every colour of the rainbow!
LESS: I would recommend a set of TT Tunisian cotton towels ($65 each) to use after bathing or beach-ing! They look so modern in a bathroom and are super light to carry to/from the beach. Or one of our huge Glass Hobnail candles ($55) which make a beautiful vase once the candle is finished.
The Table Tonic store is located at Shop 6, 20 Avalon Parade, Avalon NSW or visit their online boutique here.