The Psychology of Colour

I was approached by an Interior Designer a few months ago to create two different sets of 3D visuals for the same space.  You see, two different design schemes were being proposed and the Designer was curious to see how each individual design concept would look in a photo-real 3D visual.

I was also interested to see how the two very different colour palettes were going affect the space, particularly the atmospheric and spatial qualities of the room.

When it comes to interior design, colour, is unquestionably a huge consideration because it can affect so many elements of a design.  Colour can provoke many different emotional responses, from the fiery, dramatic and passionate connotations of red, to the nature inspired and earthy vibes of green and let’s not forget the visibly uplifting, zesty and refreshing allure of yellow.

Remember the 3D visuals I created of the Fifty Shades of Grey ‘Red Room of Pain’?!  What was it I said about red?  Hmmm…

Fifty Shades of Grey 3D Visual 3

Colour can also have a dramatic impact on the perceived spatial qualities of a space, generally speaking darker, richer hues will make a room appear less spacious and more intimate, while incorporating a neutral colour palette in a room will undoubtedly help to open up the space by creating a light and airy aesthetic.

But wait!  Clever use of combining colours, can help to draw attention to statement pieces, structural elements or help to dilute an overpowering hue.  This is where knowledge of that thing called, um, what is it…oh yea, the colour wheel, is handy!

The Colour Wheel

The Colour Wheel (with some added inspirational quotes)

But this isn’t a detailed lesson about the technicalities of colour.  Honestly.  This is about examining the merits (or lack thereof) of two different design schemes based on their respective colour palettes/furnishings and the resulting impact on the space.

*Rolls up sleeves*

*Does a few squats*

Ok, I’m ready.

Final Fireplace Elevation

Final Fireplace Elevation Grey Scheme

Blue/White room: Without a doubt, this scheme opens up the space very well, it highlights the expanse of space and the use of shutters ensures unobstructed views/lots of natural light. But in a room where white is the predominate colour, is it necessary to ensure all available daylight is maximised?  I’m thinking that perhaps the use of so much white is a little counter-productive; combined with cool blue, the overall design atheistic is at risk of appearing a little lacking in warmth, especially with the use of concrete flooring.  But I have to admit that the use of white frames the windows beautifully, allowing the views to take centre stage.  This clean and simple colour palette has obvious nautical connotations and the overall design while modern, wouldn’t be considered contemporary.  The exposed brick helps to add visual interest because of its texture and the distressed wooden plank above the fire does a lot to soften and inject a little character.  The lush texture of the velvet sofas also assist in softening the crisp and minimal aesthetic of this design scheme.  Pattern has been incorporated via the shutters and rug, which helps to lift the design.  The upcycled coffee table is a very welcome distraction to this understated design.

Grey/Green room: This space instantly comes across as contemporary due to the colour palette of grey and green and the use of industrial inspired/vintage design elements.  The height of this space isn’t as obvious due to the darker hue and the views are slightly obstructed because of the chosen window treatment.  However, the atmospheric qualities of this space are difficult to ignore: it’s moody, dramatic and the room in general has presence.  The use of wood adds warmth and richness and its lighter shade against the backdrop of grey has retro connotations.  The use of pattern in the cushions and rug helps to visually lift the overall design, with the entire colour palette being pulled together via modern statement art.  The addition of a chandelier and silk curtains injects a luxurious and glamorous feel to this space.

Here are a few more comparison images.

Final Close-Up Coffee Table

Final Close-Up Grey Scheme Revised

Final Storage Elevation

Final Storage Wall Grey Scheme

I have my preference, which is yours?


Please feel free to add your opinions on these two very different design schemes in the ‘Other’ section of the Poll or in the comments section below!  



Welcome to my Dream Office

If you, like me, work in an office, chances are you spend at least 8 hours a day in the blasted thing.  If you’re unlucky, that means you spend A LOT of time sitting at a cheap, MDF desk, looking at scuffed walls that are in desperate need of a repaint and are forced to look at those very irritating ‘motivational’ posters. which ironically are anything BUT.  Actually, when I see those posters I usually have a strong desire to rip them off the wall, put them through the shredder and use the remnants to fill a parcel/light a fire/push into a pair of shoes that are too big.



So when I was approached by London Offices asking if I’d be interested in entering their competition to design my dream office, how could I resist?

Having the freedom to design your own office comes with many risks; for example I had to fight the urge to install a Nail Bar, Book store and a Subway outlet.  I decided it was safer to just focus on the general design aesthetics.  Therefore, the following office space has been designed if I, (Anita Brown Design Studio), occupied my very own premises.

I can but dream.

I’m officially a 3D Visualiser but I do have a keen interest and a little bit of training in Interior Design, so I would imagine that many Creative industries would have similar objectives as me when it comes to the design of their ideal office.  It’s got be inspirational, a space that encourages creativity but also functions on a practical level.

First and foremost, in my mind, a design studio by its very (creative) nature needs to have a space that fully conveys its ‘vibe’ and ensures that cutting edge design is high on the agenda. I’m a huge fan of industrial inspired design, alongside vintage injections, so it goes without saying that MY office would combine the two.  I also think it’s very important that sustainability is given a mention in the overall design, so I’d ensure that selected pieces were upcycled.  More about that later.

Ok, enough rambling.  Let’s look at my final design!

Urban Chic Office Design 2

You cannot have an industrial inspired space without the obligatory exposed brick wall, it’s impossible.  So my ideal office will have exposed brick, large ‘warehouse’ style windows and a colour palette of pale grey (walls) and limited injections of yellow-green (or as the professionals call it ‘chartreuse’).  I’m not a believer of using vibrant colours on walls in an office based environment.  Yes, you want to inspire and motivate staff but I don’t think a distracting bright pink wall is going to do that.  Plus, I like the understated and streamlined aesthetic of grey. It won’t date too quickly, is easy on the eye and will allow statement pieces/accent colours to shine.

The flooring is a characterful and rustic wooden floor.  Wood is essential in an industrial inspired interior to add warmth and richness.  My preference would be natural, untreated wooden planks.  These could be salvaged and recycled, as a business it should be satisfying to know that you’ve given an old material new life and are also being environmentally aware.

One of the most important purchases for an office are desks and I wanted these to be show-stoppers.  I hunted for inspiration and FINALLY came across these beauties.

Seriously, let’s pause for a moment and take in the charm, individuality and character of these little gems.

Upcycled Desk Houzz

Available from Houzz, they have been crafted using reclaimed wood and pipe legs.  Yes, PIPES!  As a business, you want to make a lasting impression on clients and have conversation pieces.  THIS. IS. IT.  They’re also demonstrative of a business that places importance on sustainability – they are truly a fabulous illustration of what can be achieved by upcycling. AND they’re sooo industrial in design.  Perfect for this space.

To encourage collaborative working/social interaction I have suggested three desks grouped together.  My preference would also be an open plan arrangement, urban styling of this nature always works better as open planned because it has much more impact due to the expanse of space afforded by ‘warehouse’ or ‘loft’ premises.  It also ensures that natural daylight is maximised – and we all know how important natural daylight is for a harmonious, productive and healthy workforce.

This brings me conveniently onto the subject of lighting.  It’s important to have layered lighting, and that goes for all design schemes, not just an office space.  You can’t see them in my 3D visual but trust me, there are ceiling spotlights in this office, acting as the main source of artificial lighting in this space (they also highlight specific areas, for example, the art, company name and whiteboard).  Next up are the sublime vintage Teardrop hanging bulbs (I created 3D visuals of these for Grand Designs Live 2014, read more here).  This form of lighting is purely decorative but my, oh my, they are a fine addition to an industrial and urban inspired space.  They are uncomplicated, raw and understated.  However they STILL demand attention.  They are available at Rocket St. George.

Rocket St George Vintage Bulb

If there was one interiors item that I was fully willing to devote my unwavering adoration to, it’s the Anglepoise lamp.  I have included these desk lamps on EVERY desk (I know, I’d be so popular in the office with this decision), technically they would be considered ‘task’ lighting and in a creative/design oriented office, task lighting would be considered a must.  Design wise, these iconic lamps add a wonderful vintage injection that help to add character and ultimately helps to soften the harder edges of the industrial inspired elements in the space.

What’s not to love?

Anglepoise Lamp

I came across an awesome upcycled piece by Rupert Blanchard.  He is the King of taking the discarded and transforming it into pieces of upcycled art.  I was drawn to this particular item because of the metal sign (great at reinforcing industrial inspired design) and the mismatch of drawer fronts/handles.  On paper it really shouldn’t work but in reality it’s uber cool! This is much more a statement piece than anything else but can obviously be used to store office paraphernalia too.  Again, it illustrates the importance of sustainability in design.  Its use of typography is also HUGELY on trend.  Upcycling and urban design in general has been dominating the interior design scene for quite a few years and it’s important that a Design company illustrates its awareness of forward-thinking, cutting edge design.  I have also suggested an open storage rack that’s much more practical and compliments the overall urban vibe.  Clearly, there needs to be more dedicated storage for staff/client files and suitable filing cabinets could be sourced and located at the wall directly opposite the windows.

Upcycled Cabinet

With regards to zoning the space, I have opted for a dedicated ‘brainstorming’ area, at the rear of the office.  This has been designed using a whiteboard (someone has written my website strapline on it, I’ve no idea how that happened…), with a wall mounted (old) plank of wood underneath and four brightly coloured Tolix stools.  Sometimes it’s refreshing to engage with colleagues away from the desk, where ideas can be openly discussed and explored.  I have intentionally used Tolix stools with bright colours to add an element of fun and to provide relief from the more ‘serious’ industrial design elements in the room (brick, metal, distressed wood etc.).  Whenever the word ‘industrial’ is uttered, Tolix is never far behind.  That’s because the original Tolix chairs were designed circa 1930, they are made of galvanized steel and today they are instantly recognisable as an iconic piece of furniture that encompasses industrial design.  Therefore, Tolix HAD to be incorporated into this design.  End of.

And I have one!  It’s not original (because really, who can afford that?) although it is an authentic Tolix.  Read my blog post for more Tolix related natter.

Tolix Stool

The mighty Tolix

I’m such a fan of vintage/iconic designs in a space , that I’ve created a very atmospheric/retro 3D visual of this space.  Very moody, don’t you think?

Close-up Tolix Office Design Vintage 2

I’ve also included a staff break-out area where the fabulous yellow-green kitchen chair is located.  For the purposes of the 3D visual, I didn’t include more chairs and a side table but they could be easily accommodated in this area.  This would provide staff with the opportunity to take breaks away from their desk, socialise with colleagues or just simply have a cuppa.  Oh, and these chairs are available at Habitat.  Aren’t they cool!  No one would expect to see a few kitchen chairs dotted around an office and I love the element of surprise in an interior.  This is a great colour to pair with grey, the yellow-green helps to counterbalance the more ‘serious’ connotations associated with the grey hue.

Lastly, there are a number of finishing touches/decorative elements that I have incorporated.  The most important being the name of the company!  ‘Anita Brown Design Studio’ has been engraved on wall mounted stone.  In my eyes, this is a very understated but very chic design feature.  The use of stone ties in with the urban theme and the subtle engraving has been designed to only be visible upon closer inspection.  I like this feature.  I like it a lot.

For added drama, statement art has been positioned at either side of the above feature.  I threw these pieces of ‘art’ together very quickly in Photoshop.  They can’t be purchased.  I did this intentionally because I wanted something ‘original’!  The colours used also compliment the colour palette within the room.

Cushions have been dotted around casually on the window ledge, upcycled sideboard and kitchen chair.  I’m really drawn to the idea of having an office space convey a very casual design aesthetic: it isn’t fussy, contrived or unapproachable, plus this design fits so perfectly with the urban style.  More typography has been incorporated with the wooden letter ‘A’ perched up against the window.  These can be purchased at Not on the High Street.  This is high on my ‘must have’ list but enough about me.

So there you have it, my ideal office space incorporating industrial inspired and vintage design elements and not a motivational poster in sight…

I Need YOUR Vote!

Howdy peeps!

Following on from my post about my blog being nominated for the Amara Interior Blog Awards, I’m excited to announce that public voting has now opened.

This means that I NEED, WANT and DESIRE your vote!

My blog has 250 followers and has zillions (10) views per day.  So if all of my cherished, respected and downright fabulous followers/readers voted for my blog to be shortlisted, I’d have a fighting chance!

P.S. I really don’t have 10 views per day.  Just wanted to clear that up!  To date Anita Brown Design Studio has amassed almost 60,000 views since the first blog post was published in 2012.  I consider it a huge compliment that so many people have taken the time to read my mutterings on all things design.

I work hard at keeping the blog up-to-date and ensure that the content has a good mix of humor, advice and is generally inspirational for Design professionals and amateurs alike.  If you agree (and why wouldn’t you??!  Huh?!), please take 2 seconds to vote for my blog – this would mean so much to me.

Click on this badge to vote for Anita Brown Design Studio.


Wish me luck!  And a huge thank you to everyone who has voted!


Homebase Challenge

Firstly, for those of you reading this and wondering what on earth Homebase is; it’s a DIY store based in the UK.

But it would appear that Homebase now offers much more than just sandpaper and dust cloths.  I recently dived into the Homebase website and had to physically lift my chin from my biscuit coloured carpet when I saw the sparkly, edgy and downright fabulous interiors ‘stuff’ that graced my laptop screen.  Admittedly, the many contributions from Habitat (Homebase stocks A LOT of Habitat products these days), was the major contributor to all of the yummy interiors pieces that I greedily peered at.  You gotta love Habitat, right?  They are renowned for being ‘on the pulse’ where interiors are concerned.

If it’s funky, contemporary and chic that you’re after, then you NEED to check out Habitat.

Anyway, I’m digressing.  With all due respect to Homebase, in the past if I was conducting research for a design scheme or was interested in purchasing something for my home, I wouldn’t have factored this retailer into my shopping spree.  Aside from DIY products they did sell homewares but they were usually more on the ‘safe’ and unassuming side of the coin.

Nowadays, that’s no longer the case.  They stock a wide range of interiors goodies and from a variety of suppliers, for example not only can you pick up a Habitat cushion but there’s also art from Kelly Hoppen to choose from.  I’ve got your attention now, right?!

So, to cut a long story short, I decided to set myself a Homebase challenge, where I designed an entire room with nothing but Homebase products.  There’s a teeny, tiny ‘but’ here.  I DID use a little bit of my interior design know-how to inject an eclectic, contemporary vibe.  I wanted this space to be the epitome of ‘urban chic’ inspired design.  I wanted it to be dramatic, urban and sophisticated, with a little bit of glamour.

AND I wanted to shock people, when they realised that this contemporary design was pulled together from products available at Homebase (I want to add that I would NEVER recommend designing a space using products from only one source; this is a design challenge for me to flex my interior design muscles!!).

Enough rambling.  Let’s take a look at the good stuff!


Homebase Urban Design 5

I’m almost certain that you’re going to want to click on the above 3D visual to increase your viewing pleasure!

My starting point for this design scheme was the brick effect wallpaper.  All of the other walls have been painted in a similar shade of grey to reinforce this urban and slightly edgy look.  It also keeps things consistent and allows statement pieces and accent colours to shine.  There are quite a few statement pieces in this room; my favourite design element is without a doubt the Habitat dining chairs.  They’re very similar in design to the more traditional Windsor chair but have been seriously pimped with their various funky hues.  When I saw the green one, I HAD to include it, then I got greedy and added the lush grey one.  If I could, I’d have one for every day of the week.  They are bursting with personality, they add a vintage quality to a contemporary interior and make a serious design statement.  Heck, in this design scheme, they’re almost ‘art’!

I wanted to add storage and decided to use a bookcase that is available from Homebase (it’s called Maine) but I’ve painted it the same grey as the walls (I got this tip from Abigail Ahern).  Painting it grey adds consistency, it gives the bookcase a modern touch and it doesn’t stand out too much and detract from the rest of the room.  I also positioned the shelves more randomly to add a little visual interest.  There’s lots of eye candy in this bookcase to keep greedy eyes satisfied!  Cushions, books, art, a desk lamp, vases, a clock….you name it, it’s in there.  I love the addition of art in a bookcase.  It’s slightly unexpected but demands attention.

To keep the expanse of wall from looking too desolate, I added more art but this time I used a Flock wallpaper (yes, this is available from Homebase).  It adds glamour with its reflective qualities and also softens the more ‘urban’ inspired designs with its delicate floral pattern.  If you are slightly nervous of pattern, this is a great way to incorporate it within a design scheme, especially because it can be easily removed/replaced.  The glamour factor is maximised with the addition of a chandelier – there are many different styles available from Homebase but I kept the design of mine simple and elegant.  I think the placement of this chandelier is absolutely genius.  No one expects to see a chandelier perched near a wall but that’s the whole point.

It’s different.

It helps to illuminate the metallic wallpaper.

It’s a great contrast to the brick wallpaper.

It adds drama.

I could go on, but I won’t!  I’ll post an image of this design scheme at night instead, just to prove my point.

Homebase Urban Design Night Final

The popart canvas of Marilyn lying lazily against the wall, is another interior design trick to reinforce the casual and contemporary design style within this space.  If you look closely you’ll notice that the flock ‘art’, chandelier, grey chair, popart canvas and books are all placed in a group – a little design feature in their own right.  A little cluster to keep the space visually interesting.  These items weren’t placed here by accident, this was very intentional.

Texture has been added via the rug and the Habitat ‘cube’ (I’m not sure what the correct term is for this piece of furniture: ‘cube’ seems a little underwhelming).  Vintage charm has been introduced with the oak coffee table – incorporating wood in this design provides an injection of warmth and its vintage qualities ensures that the overall design is multi-dimensional.  The cushions highlight the grey/green colour palette; all the cushions bar the grey and white floral cushion (on the green chair) are available from Homebase.

The side tables are from Habitat and combine the richness of wood with a simple, modern glossy black top.

What’s NOT to love about this design scheme?!  I hope I’ve proven that with a little thought and a dash of creativity, any space can look good; you don’t need to part with your hard earned cash at a high end designer store.  Homebase (and Habitat), clearly has everything you could possible need to create a contemporary, urban and chic interior.

Those dining chairs are so awesome that they deserve to be put on a stage, under a huge spotlight.  But that’s kinda out of my remit.  So I’ll do the next best thing – I’ll give them centre stage in one of my 3D visualisation animations.

It’s the least I could do.


***The following footage contains flashing images***


My Biggest 3D Modelling Challenge To Date

I recently dipped my toes into foreign territory where my 3D Visualisation services are concerned and had the pleasure of collaborating with the Creative Director of The Events Mill to produce 3D visuals for an impending event in London.  I can’t reveal too many details about the client, nor the event itself due to client confidentiality but I have been given permission to publish the 3D visuals that I created, based on the design concept proposed by The Events Mill.  Sounds serious, right?!  But I guess when you’re an established, respected and professional ‘Event Design and Creative Consultancy’ client confidentiality is paramount.  So, unfortunately there’ll be no gossiping about the juicy details on this occasion.  Sorry!

However, I CAN provide all the juicy details of the challenges I faced when undertaking this particular project.

I’ve never worked with an Event Design company before but after numerous Skype meetings with the Creative Director, I quickly realised that this was a company that took pride in its professional standing, was forward-thinking, visionary and placed ‘exceed client expectations’ at the top of the list.

No pressure, then…

Soon after our initial ‘welcome and introductions’ meeting, my email pinged with my first ‘proper’ commission.

Was I petrified?  Yep.

Nervous?  Oh yes.

Excited?  You betcha’!

I was given a few details about the client, the event and most importantly the venue.  And that’s when the proverbial beads of sweat started to form.  This wasn’t a typical venue.  It wasn’t the usual banqueting hall in a hotel, nor a Country Club.

It was Westminster Abbey.  Or more precisely, the Cloisters at Westminster Abbey.

I instantly wanted to curl up into the foetal position and bury my head under a pillow and pretend that this commission was a figment of my overactive imagination.  But nope, this wasn’t a daydream, this was REAL.  And this commission had a nightmarish deadline.  Four days.  I had four days to produce a set of 3D visuals that accurately conveyed the proposed designs of an event, where the venue was architecturally striking and of great historical significance.


Westminster Abbey

Usually when I’ve been tasked with a new commission, I’m provided with a floor plan that includes those all important dimensions but obviously on this occasion that wasn’t an option.  So, having been given my design brief during a Skype meeting I set about familiarising myself with this commanding space via Google Images and researched a little bit of Gothic architecture at the same time.  Oh and trying to remember those deep breathing exercises I read about in Cosmo was also crucial at this point.

When I was faced with challenges in my previous Interior Design studies (yes, studying Interior Design can have its challenging moments), I always remembered one very important survival tactic: break the ‘challenge’ down into manageable portions.  And I applied the same technique to this slightly daunting 3D modelling challenge.

To create the 3D model of this structure, I broke it down into segments: the general overall shape, the number of windows, the number of columns etc.  I studied the heights of various people/objects in different images of the Cloisters to try and approximate the dimensions of this space and the structural elements contained within it.

As you can imagine, this was a little time consuming.  Once I had the structure in place it was time to focus on the fun bit: bringing the space to life using the designs envisioned by The Events Mill.  I wanted to get this right.  I had to get this right.  This was my first commission, I needed to prove myself and more importantly my illustrations were an essential visual tool that would help The Events Mill communicate their ideas/vision for the space to their client.

Breathe in through the nose…and out through the mouth…in through the nose…out through the mouth…

I worked tirelessly to get the entire 3D model finished within 3 days so that the drafts could be approved for the final illustrations.  I wasn’t entirely sure how my efforts were going to be received but I wasn’t prepared for the feedback I received once the final visuals were forwarded.  The Creative Director used the words ‘speechless’ and ‘blown away’ .  You can’t BUY feedback like that!  And this is why the tears, the one or two (ok, many) expletives and tantrums of 3D modelling are worth it!

It gives me great pleasure to share some of these 3D visuals with my followers and readers.  Enjoy!

Westminster Abbey_Cloister - 3D Visual 1

Event Design Concept Created by The Events Mill

Westminster Abbey_Cloister - 3D Visual 2

Event Design Concept Created by The Events Mill

Westminster Abbey_Cloister - 3D Visual 3

Event Design Concept Created by The Events Mill

Westminster Abbey_Cloister - 3D Visual 4

Event Design Concept Created by The Events Mill

Westminster Abbey_Cloister - Photo-real

Event Design Concept Created by The Events Mill

New Animation! I know!

I can’t help it, ok?  When I’m done creating 3D visuals and I gaze at them all adoringly, I can’t help but feel inspired to create an animation to try and convey the 3D visualisation process combined with my need to do something creative.

It’s in my blood.

It’s at my very core.

It’s ME.

I’m going to talk about these two very different design schemes in a future post.  It has to be done.  Two designs that are are so different, yet equally appealling must be discussed in GREAT detail.  Yes?

I might even do a poll to gauge opinion on which design is preferred and why.  This could be interesting.  If I had a beard I might do this right now.  Minus the slightly menacing stare.

Beard Stroke

So, without further ado here’s my new animation.  It’s supposed to inspire, invigorate and uplift.

Welcome to my 3D world.


It’s 2D but Not As We Know It

I’m always very interested and eager to expand and develop my skill when it comes to Graphic Design/Animation techniques, particularly when the effects are pretty inspiring.

I’ve been playing around with Adobe After Effects and whilst this piece of (astounding) kit has many bells and whistles, it can be extremely daunting for someone self-taught like me to use it and actually produce something interesting and credible.

Until now, that is.

Allow me to introduce you to the ‘Parallax’ technique.  This is where you take a bog standard 2D image and animate it so that it appears to have depth and basically creates a 3D illusion.

It’s a very effective, inspiring and downright awesome effect.

Here’s the technical bit: it involves cutting the foreground from the background (you need to fill the background afterwards…this part is BORING), then import them separately into a video editing application and resize/pan them individually.  Once you combine the two images, it looks as though the ‘camera’ is moving through both images.

Sounds complicated, right?  Well, it did take me an entire weekend to master the intricacies of trying to pull this off but after many (failed) attempts, LOTS of cursing and a few punches aimed at my cushion, I was able to produce a (sort of) convincing animation.

Let’s not forget that the original image I used was computer generated via 3D modelling/rendering, so basically the entire animation is a work of fiction and illusion.  How clever.

This would be a very cool way to present an online  portfolio or submit concept ideas to a client.

Cue deep and mysterious background music…








3D Visual Hall of Fame

When you’re a ‘creative’ type and have started to amass a (sort of) collection of works, it’s nice to take a little bit of time out from your hectic schedule to revisit previous projects and reflect, ponder and bathe in the fuzzy warmth of nostalgia.

Yes, there’s nothing more satisfying than remembering those wonderful days when you were on the verge of ripping out your eyebrows, or putting your laptop in a headlock because you were struggling with the construction of a particular 3D model, or couldn’t get the interior lighting just right.

Or sometimes I just laughed it off.



And usually in a fit of blind rage.


I’ll admit that it sounds quite dramatic to sacrifice your perfectly primped eyebrows just because the fur on the cushion that you’re trying to render isn’t as fluffy and randomly dispersed as you would like but trust me, to a 3D Visualiser this stuff is important.  Actually, it’s more than important.

For a 3D Visualiser, achieving a convincing photo-real scene is all consuming.

So when you finally reach the stage where all the reflections, textures, finishes, lighting, colours and individually modeled components are EXACTLY as you intended.  And you’re content with all of the 357.9 test renders that you’ve conducted AND you’ve commenced FINAL renders, a pat on the back and a well deserved glass of vino is in order.

So, back to the Hall of Fame.  I’ve decided to round up my top 5 3D visuals from I embarked on this journey of self-loathing  discovery.  This little exercise is actually quite cathartic; looking back at my previous work is quite similar to the involuntary associations we can sometimes experience when we hear a specific song.  The melody and/or lyrics of a song can sometimes transport you back to the past; of times in your life when you were young and carefree, or to a time when some a$$hole ripped out your heart and stomped all over it (that has absolutely no reference to me…no sir-ee) or to a cherished event in your life that you remember fondly.

Peeking at previous 3D visuals won’t remind me of good-for-nothing losers or a carefree childhood, you understand but I will be reminded of proud achievements, major breakthroughs and a few Diva moments when I felt nothing but frustration and despair.

5. And So It Began

In The Pink 1

This 3D visual is most definitely NOT my best.  It’s extremely lacking in skill, knowledge and creative flair but it was my very first attempt at rendering and therefore holds a special place in my heart.  We never forget our ‘first’, right?  I can still remember my whoops and cheers that evening (2 years ago) at FINALLY producing a 3D photo-realistic render.  It took many hours of sheer determination to get to that stage and unbeknown to me, I hadn’t even scratched the surface.

4.  Bringing The Outside In

Final Fireplace Elevation

This 3D visual has earned its place in my top 5 because it’s reflective of soooooo much technical ability and it looks damn good!  By the time I produced this 3D visual I had already worked out how to incorporate background scenes into a render (this took me a loooooog time to master) and I had successfully conveyed a velvet texture.  Doesn’t sound overly challenging but in actual fact trying to replicate velvet is pretty tricky.  The overall composition of the scene combined with the impressive architectural structure makes this a 3D visual to be proud of.

3. As Clear As Water

Final Close-Up Coffee Table

Ok, so this is part of the same project as number 4 but this particular 3D visual deserves a mention because of the attention to detail.  And by ‘detail’ I mean the water in the vase.  When your skill, experience and knowledge reaches a certain level (and I’m only too aware that I STILL have lots to learn) you find yourself focusing on the finer details.  When I chose this angle I decided to fine-tune my abilities where water was concerned.   And I’m not lying when I say that I probably spent an entire weekend playing around with various techniques and conducting countless test renders to achieve the above look.  I also examined water in a vase.  Yes, I actually poured water into a vase to see exactly how objects in the background appeared etc.  Hence, my inspiration for the ‘Study your Subject’ blog post.

2. Vintage Charm

Dining Room - Vintage copy

As I’ve become more confident in my ability. I’ve taken more creative risks and this image not only looks incredibly ‘real’ but also visually captivating.  It’s because of its photographic properties that it has sailed into 2nd place.  It’s also reflective of my increased skill where Photoshop is concerned – another steep and painful learning curve!  I’m especially fond of the texture of the bird in this scene and the realism of the cushion.  At this stage in my development I learned that it isn’t necessary to try and squeeze the whole design scheme into the image.  Sometimes glimpses of design elements at intriguing angles is more than enough.

1. The Big Time

Close up Edison Bulb Final - Anita Brown

The number 1 spot HAD to be given to this little beauty and for a number of reasons.  This single image epitimises my ‘breakthrough’ stage.  All of the practicing, the late nights, the incessant research and determination to continually improve and refine my skills and knowledge can be witnessed in this 3D visual.  I’m still extremely proud of this render and feel a tremendous sense of achievement every single time I look at it.

Why?  Because it takes a lot of skill, confidence and courage to render a 3D model THAT closely.  Every little detail is open to scrutiny/criticism.  And when you’ve exposed yourself in this way, you’re also exposing your raw skill and talent.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to perfect the transparency and reflections of the bulb.  I mean, a REALLY long time.  I experienced a whole heap of emotions as I conducted test render, after yet another test render in my quest to achieve an accurate replication of the bulb, brass texture and filament.  But the perseverance paid off, in more ways than one.

Maxwell Render (the rendering software that I use) published this very render on their website and asked me to write a ‘Making of’ case-study.  As a 3D Visualiser, there is no greater honour.  I was delighted, ecstatic and immensely proud.

And let’s not forget that this 3D visual (and 5 others) were eventually showcased at Grand Designs Live in London.  I finally felt that I was becoming a ‘proper’ and credible 3D ‘artist’.  Perhaps you can now see why this 3D visual is my number 1!

I even entered into a long and thoroughly enjoyable discussion with one of my friends (who’s studying a degree in Interior Design) one evening after I uploaded the 3D visual  onto my Facebook.  This is the actual conversation:

Friend: Could look at this light bulb all day, seriously.

Me: Me too.

Friend: Deservedly so.

Me: She’s a beauty. Completely fictional but a beauty nonetheless.

Friend:  It’s what the eye and the brain make of it…to me, she’s very much real.

Me: And she sits so proudly, doesn’t she?!  I’m almost convinced that we could probably sit and observe this bulb and pass casual comment on it all night!

Friend: Absolutely, such as “Look at the right hand edge of the filament”……..half an hour later….”Look at the left hand side of the filament” etc., etc.

Me: That’s exactly what I was imagining!  And maybe, after a cuppa and while munching on a biscuit, you could reflect a little more with ‘look at how the reflection of the filament casts little flame-like shapes though’.

Friend: With a second biscuit you could say “Look at the exquisite teardrop at the base”.

Me: Absolutely. Then you could reply with ‘yea, that teardrop is so emotive’ as you nibble at the same time, with the odd crumb falling into your lap.

Friend: ….and as I brush them away, I could say “Look, that mirrors the gentle movement in the beautifully crafted flex…”.

Me:  I’m seriously laughing out loud!! I think we’re the only people who would appreciate this type of discussion! I could reply with, ‘yea, the flex’ and slowly nod my head in agreement.

Friend: …whilst reaching for a packet of crackers.  Nope, if something moves you, you have to talk about it.

Me: As I eat 6 crackers in one go…I could then comment (with obvious difficulty) on the interesting and subtle tarnished texture of the brass, which provides an effective contrast to the purity of the glass.

Friend: Whilst delicately spraying the room with cracker mush, but I would be so rapt that I wouldn’t notice because I would be agreeing and saying “Yes, the texture of the tarnished brass is so strong beside the beautiful and delicate glass…..pure serendipity.

Me: Resembling the Cookie Monster, with cracker dust all down my front, that you are politely trying to ignore, I could then observe the soft reflections of daylight on the glass.

Friend: ….and in turn…I could perhaps comment on the gentle shimmer created on the wall by said beautiful bulb.

One day later…

Friend: Omg……I have looked at it again, that’s it for the day.

Then my dear friend sent me this photo of her noticeboard.

 3D Visual Inspiration

Having a peer acknowledge and appreciate your work on that level?  It doesn’t get much better than that!

The Seedy World of the 3D Visualiser

I remember a time when I used to browse the internet to keep up-to-date with gossip columns, peek at the latest fashion trends and honour my obsession with Ryan Gosling by undertaking some essential and very thorough research (stalking).  I even put my Photoshop skills to good use by creating a fantasy world where Ryan took me to red carpet events…

Polaroid 1 - Ryan

And laid his protective hands on me to keep me safe…

Art Gallery - Ryan Gossling

But I’ve developed some dubious, questionable and downright filthy internet browsing habits of late.

I have a strong and unrelenting urge to search for clearly defined curves, lots of bumps and grainy images.

The grainier and dirtier the better.

I even have a dedicated folder on my laptop, that is bulging with all sorts of grainy, desaturated filth.

Welcome to the seedy world of the 3D Visualiser.

You see, whilst teaching myself 3D rendering I became aware of the importance of ‘bump maps’ when creating textures for inclusion in my 3D visuals.  This was a hugely important discovery because realism is the name of the game in the 3D Visualisation field and textures play a pivotal role in the creation of a very convincing photo-real scene.

Bump Maps 3d Visualisation

And what’s even more thrilling (I’m sorry but I do find it thrilling…really, I do), is that the same bump map can be used to illustrate many different textured surfaces.

BUT you can also create your own bump maps, if need be.  And that’s where dirt maps come in extremely handy.  Yes, I said D.I.R.T.

Dirt maps provide a texture that is rustic. distressed, worn and brimming with character.

Trust me, I’m a 3D Visualiser.

In order to create a really effective, nasty and obscene dirt map, you need to use an image editing application.

Hello Photoshop.

Then you download a few lurid ‘dirt’ or ‘grunge’ Photoshop brushes (yes, they are actually referred to as ‘dirt’) and then set about creating your dirt map.


Dirt Map 3D Visualisation


My name is Anita and I’m addicted to dirt.  What’s your filthy addiction?



Fifty Shades of Grey – Saucy 3D Visuals

I’ve discovered a HUGE bonus to being a 3D Visualiser: I don’t have to limit myself to professional commissions when it comes to taking a fictional space and making it look real.  I can also indulge in personal projects.

And that’s exactly what I did this week.

What happens when you have a 3D Visualiser, who has a little bit of free time and is also a massive fan of the Fifty Shades of Grey novel?  Who is anxiously awaiting the release of the official Fifty Shades of Grey trailer?  Who jumps on every news article circulating when the words ‘Grey’, ‘Jamie’, ‘red’ and ‘cuffs’ are mentioned in the same sentence?

The answer is simple.

The 3D Visualiser (me), decides to create a 3D model of the infamous ‘playroom’, or as Anastasia referred to it, the ‘red room of pain’.  This was going to be completely different from any other 3D Visual project I had ever undertaken.

Was I up to the job?

Could I satisfy everyone’s interpretations or expectations of how that room was supposed to look?

There was only one way to find out.

I was determined to take the words describing the ‘red room of pain’ off the page and breathe life into them.  How many people have the ability to take a fictional space and make it look very, very real?

I HAD to do this!

Ok, it’s not gonna end up on my professional portfolio and I probably won’t start a discussion with a fellow 3D Visualiser about how frustrating it is to create a 3D model of a flogger, or how I prefer the visual look of studded paddles to plain wooden ones in a 3D Visual but hey, it’s practical experience nonetheless!

I closed my curtains, switched off my phone and dipped my toes into a world that was completely alien to me (well, to a certain extent, we’ve all tried the pink furry handcuff thing…haven’t we?).

Even though this was a personal project, I still needed to follow my usual processes when creating 3D models: I needed a floor plan.

To keep things simple, I used the descriptions from the first Fifty Shades of Grey book, when Anastasia clapped eyes on the ‘red room of pain’ for the very first time.  I should thank EL James because whilst she didn’t write the descriptions knowing that a 3D Visualiser would later use them to create  photo-realistic images of that very room, they were detailed enough to give me a great starting point.

Here’s my floor plan of the ‘red room of pain’.

Rough Floor plan - Red Room of Pain

After I created the floor plan and worked out the furniture arrangement it was time to start the actual construction of the 3D model.

I rolled up my sleeves, did a few stretches and swiftly poured myself a glass of wine when I realised that to ensure accuracy, a little bit of  ‘Googling’ was required.

Tough job, right?

I Googled everything.  Steel cages, floggers, the dimensions of handcuffs,  riding crops, shackles, whips…you name it, I Googled it.

Using ‘Google Images’ was probably a bad idea: I saw all manner of saucy, x-rated and (sometimes) eye-watering imagery when conducting this all important ‘research’.  By the time I concluded this part of the process I resembled a flustered, hot ‘n’ bothered menopausal woman.

As I continued to refer to the descriptions in the book and built my 3D model accordingly, Christian Grey’s ‘playroom’ started to take shape very quickly.

I was excited.  But that was probably down to the heavy combination of wine, reading the Fifty Shades descriptions, creating 3D floggers and the sexy RnB music that was now playing in the background.

I may have gotten slightly carried away.

I definitely didn’t light any candles.  Pur-lease.

Ok, maybe two.

So, I’m guessing that you’d like to see my versions of the red room of pain, right?  Ok, let’s do this!

Fifty Shades of Grey 3D Visual 3

Fifty Shades of Grey 3D Visual 4

Fifty Shades of Grey 3D Visual 2

Fifty Shades of Grey 3D Visual

And finally, here’s a little treat if you’ve been craving a little more visual stimulus now that the official trailer has been released ;)

Is this how you imagined Christian’s playroom?  Don’t be shy, feel free to leave a comment.  Let’s get a conversation going!!

3D Visualisation Service – The Process Explained

I thought it would be interesting to write a post explaining the process of how I create 3D visuals for my clients; from the moment I’m commissioned to undertake a new project, to the creation of the final presentation.  When a new client contacts me, they usually ask two things: how much do I charge and what I need from them in order to create the 3D visuals.

It’s important to note that ALL of my commissions have been initiated via email and all subsequent correspondence is usually conducted via email.  This is predominately because most of my client-base is located in UK Mainland.  If I need to clarify something pretty urgently then I’ll pick up the phone, regardless as to the client’s location.  So there you have it; I’ve only met 1 or 2 of my clients in person and the fact that I may be located in a different country is completely irrelevant.  I’m still able to produce 3D visuals that meet with client expectations and within the time-frame specified.  A testament to the greatness of the digital age!

Before I begin the process of creating 3D visuals, I need to know the time-frame for delivery – I’m going to be honest, the longer I have the better.  No one wants to throw together a ‘rush job’ in 2 days.  Unless it’s a very simple design/space, which is rarely the case.  I usually quote a  time-frame of 10 – 14 days.  This includes the construction of the 3D model, application and/or creation of textures, sending test renders to the Designer for approval, amending the 3D model if necessary and setting up the model to process the final renders.

Ok, so here’s the process.

1. Gimme a floor plan.  I NEED a floor Plan!  Give it to me!

This is the first piece of information that I need and the most important.  The floor plan MUST include dimensions and should incorporate a furniture plan.  It doesn’t need to be to scale or even expertly drawn.  A scribble on a dog-eared piece of paper will suffice, as long as it is legible and includes all the necessary information.  A floor plan contains a wealth of information and I refer to this frequently as I begin the process of constructing the 3D model (walls, windows, location of doors etc.).  The most common omissions?  Ceiling heights, window height/designs and door heights!  But it’s no drama, if the Designer isn’t sure of these various heights then I’ll use standard dimensions.

Don’t forget, I’m constructing the 3D model from the ground up, using real world dimensions and therefore I need as much detailed information as possible.  Why?  The more information I’m given, the more accurate and realistic the overall space will look in the final 3D visual.

Napkin Floor Plan

A dog-eared floor plan will suffice, even one drawn on a napkin.

2. Furniture

The placement of furniture should be included in the floor plan  and can be represented as ‘blocks’.  I don’t expect Designers to spend half a day drawing furniture onto a floor plan that resembles the actual real-life shape.  That’s just silly!  But what I do need is images.  Lots ‘n’ lots of images of the furniture to be used in the design.  The more images the better!  So, if there’s a specific bed, sofa, chair or table that’s going to be included in the design, send me links to websites that showcase these or JPEGS.  Website links are preferable because they usually include dimensions.  Again, I NEED dimensions.  Kinda self-explanatory, right?!

3. Fabric/Wallpaper/Paint/Flooring

Adding textures and materials to a 3D model (including walls, floors and fabrics) is a crucial part of the process – accurate depictions of the various real-world finishes ensures that the final 3D visual is as realistic as possible.  If paint, wallpaper and fabric will be included as part of the design, then I need images or website links to give me an idea of colour, pattern and finish.  I import JPEGS into my 3D model of all the various textures and materials to be used in the design.  If there are no website links available, then I ask the Designer to take a photo (if possible) from sample books.  The photo needs to be taken at ‘plan view’ with no perspective or shadows.  However, if the photo I’m given isn’t suitable or needs to be adjusted to my liking; I can do a little bit of image editing in Photoshop or create the texture from scratch.

4. Lighting

I need to know where all lighting will be located in the space and its design.  For example, if recessed ceiling lighting will be incorporated, then I need to know how many to include.  If lamps or pendant lighting will be used, then yep, you guessed it, I need images or website links of these.

5. Window treatments

Blinds?  Roman or slatted?

Curtains?  Pencil pleat or Eyelet?  Drawn or closed?

I need to know which type of window treatment and its finish/fabric (including the type of curtain pole, if appropriate).

5. Physical Environment

I usually decide on the physical environment lighting (daylight, direction of sun, evening lighting) when I create test renders, to establish which physical environment setting is more complimentary to the scene/angle being rendered.  I provide three different angles of the same space as standard when presenting the final 3D visuals.  I select the best angles within the space that illustrate various design elements effectively but ensure the image is still visually captivating.  My choice of physical environment settings and camera angles are rarely changed by the client.

6. Test Renders

Once I’ve completed the construction of the 3D model, I’m ready to commence test renders.  This is the exciting bit!  I provide the client with a draft presentation that includes three test renders (different angles, remember) and a plan view of the space (to scale).   I decided long ago to present these images on an A3 sized PDF document – I felt they provided more visual impact this way, instead of individual images and I’ve never had any complaints from my clients.  Sometimes at this stage of the process, the Designer may have a change of heart regarding a particular design element, fabric, paint colour or piece of furniture.  It’s at this stage that they need to communicate any changes.

7. Final Presentation

Once I receive final approval from the Designer, I commence the final renders.

Home Stretch

Once the 3D visuals have been fully rendered, I then carry out post-processing via Photoshop to enhance the overall image and then send the final A3 presentation to my very happy client!

It’s seems like a time-consuming and resource intensive process, when it has been listed like this but it really isn’t!  As long as I receive all the necessary information the entire process is actually quite painless!  Plus, nothing beats the sheer delight and positive feedback from my very satisfied clients: it makes my job so worthwhile.  Here are a few final presentations in all their photo-realistic glory.

Grand Designs Live Bedroom 3D Visual

Bedroom Room Set for Grand Designs Live 2014

Grand Designs Live Dining Room 3D Visual

Dining Room Set for Grand Designs Live 2014

Beach House 3D Visual

A fresh, crisp and modern living room design. Where I can (or when I’m allowed), I always try to include an ‘arty’ close-up shot!

Kitchen 3D Visual

A beautifully designed and utterly bespoke kitchen. Every home should have one.

Interview with Greg Magierowski – 3D Artist

I got chatting with a pleasant chap via Twitter a few days ago.  He’s also in the 3D Visualisation industry and because he was so friendly I asked if he would mind taking part in an interview type thing on my blog.  I say ‘type thing’ because whilst I’ve set him a few deep, dark and probing questions, I’m also going to add a little bit of my own commentary alongside his answers (c’mon, you didn’t think that I was going to sit back and say nothing, did you?!).

This is a first for me, how exciting to have a fellow 3D Visualiser contribute to my blog, instead of me rambling on all the time!  It’s also refreshing to get a more experienced viewpoint on the subject of 3D Visualisation.  And I have to admit, he’s extremely accomplished.

Greg Magierowski Photo

So, here goes!

Can you provide a little background on why you decided to enter the world of 3D Visualisation?

I started my 3D journey roughly 10 years ago, when I created my first small scene in 3ds Max and pressed the magic ‘render’ button: I realised how powerful this tool is.

I quickly became aware that 3D software allows you to create anything, whether it is a vehicle, an architectural scene or a fictional character. The only limit is your imagination.

I fell in love straight away with 3D Visualisation but now after 10 years I use this as a professional tool to present my commissions and ideas to the best of my ability.

Ed: Greg uses 3ds Max and I agree that it’s a strong visualisation tool, it’s also got a crazy-ass learning curve.  I remember trying to teach myself 3ds Max a few years ago (the wine probably didn’t help) and was able to produce 1 swinging door in an ENTIRE weekend.  Anyone who can use 3ds Max and produce the images that Greg produces deserves a firm handshake and a pint.  I’m not sure if Greg agrees but I think some people respond better to some software applications better than others and I definitely found SketchUp to be more my cup of tea.

Greg Magierowski 3D Visuals 1

Greg has an impressive portfolio of work, this is just a snippet of some of his professional commissions. Jealous? Me? Please. Ok, maybe just a little.

You mention on your website that you are a self-taught 3D Visualisation Artist.  What was the most challenging aspect of self-teaching and what is the best piece of advice you can offer those thinking of self-teaching 3D modelling/visualisation?

The most difficult aspect of self-teaching 3D Visualisation is switching from being an amateur to a professional within the industry.  If you learn tools and software in isolation without direction or guidance and then you start working as a freelancer, you have no opportunity to see how big 3D Visualisation firms work. They have got their own systems and workflows in place, which usually equates to increased turnaround of creation and presentation of 3D visuals.

I would highly recommend that anyone who is thinking of entering this industry, to apply for internships to see how the industry works on a professional level. It is also great to be part of an in-house team and collaborate with like-minded creative individuals.  Freelancing is not for everyone.

Ed: Greg has made an excellent point here and as a freelancer myself, I never thought about the differences in workflows between the systems I have in place (i.e. me and my laptop, yes I still use a laptop, don’t judge me) in comparison to the hotshot firms.  He also made an interesting point about working as part of a team.  I would love to experience this type of environment – where a bunch of creative people can bounce ideas off each other and be inspired.  It really can help to push your boundaries and creativity.  Great answer, Greg.

Kitchen 3D Visual

The simplistic aesthetic of this design allows the small details to shine through. Notice the subtle reflections of the chairs on the gloss units, the light fitting providing an obscure glimpse of the rest of the space and the warmth of the wood grain on the door in comparison to the cool texture of the wall. It’s all about the detail folks and Greg has certainly succeeded in creating an accurate and visually stimulating 3D Visual.

Which part of the process of creating photo-realistic 3D visuals do you enjoy the least?  And which part do you enjoy the most?

I am not particularly a fan of preparing models. I prefer to focus on all aspects of compositing such as colors, camera positioning, and lighting. In my opinion proper compositing of an image is a crucial part of the whole process.  I love to see how 3D surfaces come alive with proper shaders and lighting.  It is so exciting.

But the most important part of the whole process of creating high-end architectural illustrations is to understand the brief, ideas and client’s thoughts.

It is very important to have an idea how the final project should look but it takes time to understand such things. It’s a good idea to develop a specialism within the design field you want to work for.  There are different approaches between preparing a model for an external architectural visualisation and then an internal model for the retail industry.

Ed: I totally agree with Greg here.  Preparing models isn’t as much fun as the set-up stage in preparation for rendering.  And I gotta be honest, I DETEST creating models of kitchens.  And he’s hit the nail on the head re: different approaches depending on the type of visualisation.  I attempted an external architectural visualisation ONCE and quickly decided that I never wanted to try it again.  Soooooo different.  In all honesty, I think the external ones are more challenging because you’re dealing with terrain and expanses of exterior backgrounds.  It kinda scared me but maybe that’s because I’m not an ‘outdoors’ person anyway… 

Novosibirsh 3D Visual

There are two elements in this 3D Visual that stand out to me, the detail in the architecture and the soft natural lighting that seeps through the entire space. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a captivating image.

What was the most challenging project you have ever undertaken and why?  How did you overcome those challenges?

The most challenging projects are the big ones with tight deadlines.  If I need to prepare an extensive master-plan of a large expanse of field, I need to know which tools to use to speed up the process.

You need to have enough experience with such projects to know how to solve problems with big scenes that have lots of different elements and materials, otherwise you will be extremely stressed with the deadline and you could increase the risk of losing clients.

Ed: I hate deadlines.  That is all.

Reception Area 3D Visual

If all reception areas looked like this, I would never go home. I love the softness of the recessed lighting and the detail in the wood grain of the flooring.

If you could only choose one of your many 3D visual commissions, which one are you most proud of and why?  

There are plenty of them but the one I really enjoyed doing was Eco Fantasy Bedroom which was part of last year’s Coronation Festival in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. I was commissioned to prepare illustrations of the concept. I love surrealistic design projects and I always wanted to do one.

Eco Fantasy Bedroom Greg - 3D Visual

Greg’s use of light in this image is incredibly impressive. It’s soft, inviting and adds a glorious whimsical feel. The lighting undoubtedly adds to the surreal and fantastical properties of this scene.

Are there any 3D Artists within the industry that inspire or influence you? 

I really love Alex Roman’s works. For me, Alex Roman is a true Artist and a great illustration that it’s not just important to have accomplished 3D skills but to have the vision and proper artistic approach to your projects.

Alex Roman 3D Visual

This is one of Alex’s 3D visuals. It is supremely minimalist with strong Modernist connotations. Its attention to detail and composition illustrates that a 3D render can still be inspirational and full of impact, even when it is minimalist in design.

Ed: Gulp.  I’m thinking that perhaps I have much more to learn.  Damn.

I’d like to thank Greg for taking the time to answer my questions and wish him continued success with his 3D Visualisation empire!  If you’d like to see more of Greg’s work, click here!

5 Top Tips to Creating Digital Concept Boards

We all know how much I adore 3D Visualisation and its sheer awesomeness (and accuracy) at conveying a design concept.  But sometimes you just can’t beat a good ‘ol fashioned concept board.  I’m loathed to refer to them as ‘mood’ boards.  I think this reference started via dodgy interior design shows in the 90s; either way these presentation boards are extremely effective at pulling together the colour palette, fabrics, pieces of furniture and inspiration behind a design scheme.

This may look simple but trust me, it can take quite a while to produce a board that is visually stimulating, inspirational, has a good overall composition and accurately conveys the various design elements within your proposed space.

Here are my 5 top tips when creating a digital concept board:

1. Make sure your images are clear and free of pixilation.  Do you really want your client to suffer the unflattering possibility of having to squint at your images?  No, you most certainly do not.

2. Try to place images on the board in accordance to where they are located in reality.  For example, keep images of flooring, sofas and side tables to the lower half of the board and lighting etc. at the top.  Sometimes this isn’t always possible because of the composition of the image.  This isn’t a deal-breaker.  Sometimes you just gotta go with your creative flow and if that means the sofa goes to the top of the board; then so be it.

3. Mix up the proportions of the images to keep the overall board visually interesting.  For example, instead of having an image of a teeny tiny vase stuck in the corner, BIG IT UP!  Increase its size on the board to help draw the eye and add a little depth.

4. Use image editing software to remove unnecessary backgrounds (or crop your images if needs be).  This will ensure all attention is focused on the item in question and you’ll also achieve that glossy interiors magazine look.

5. Be creative!  Include an interesting background to your board that ties in with the overall design.  Or add shadows to some of your images and throw in a few angled or off-set images – this will stop your board from appearing too one dimensional and can help draw attention to showstoppers in your design.

Here are some of my concept boards to help whet the appetite!

Inspiration Board - Module 2

This board includes a sleek reflective background and a funky border to help keep things visually interesting.


Assignment 3 - Contemporary Colour Scheme

A contemporary colour palette of grey, yellow and black makes this board instantly invigorating. Note the inclusion of (an angled) image of moss growing on a rock as inspiration for the colour palette. Cool, huh?


Historical Colour Scheme

A soft and whimsical historical colour scheme is set off beautifully with period detailing (Egg and Dart cornice) and overlapping images to add depth.


Pink and Black Concept Board

This concept board mirrors the overall modern design elements – crisp, clean and minimal.


Guest Bedroom Board

This board includes a grunge background to reflect this ‘urban’ design and incorporates a mix of proportions to keep things tantalizing.


New 3D Visualisation Animation!

I put an exclamation mark at the end of the title of this post because:

1. I wanted to match the uplifting qualities of this new animation, and

2. I’ve had half a glass of wine, which basically means I’m borderline drunk.

I hadn’t intended on creating a new animation.  These feats of creative genius (I use the term ‘genius’ loosely) are actually quite labour intensive.  The fact that the video lasts approx. 1 minute is no reflection of how long it can take to put these things together i.e. it can take 2 hours to sync a flashing image to a catchy beat.  Then a further hour to sync a flashing image to a catchy beat when you’ve decided to add another element to the video.

You with me?

So, I was washing the dishes/shaving my legs/unclogging the sink when I had an idea for an animation.  You see, I always have ‘light bulb’ moments when I’m doing something completely mundane.  Anyone else like this, or is it just me?

I decided that it might be quite cool to have an animation that included a changing colour scheme.  And then maybe add a little vintage vibe portraying old film footage.

This of course, required lots of Photoshop work (love you Photoshop…I’d send Photoshop a tipsy text but I don’t have its number, so a very public declaration of my loyalty will have to do).  But as always, an animation is only as good as the music that accompanies it.

I wanted it to be uplifting and energetic to excite and inspire.  Mission accomplished?

I hope so.

But in among all of this excitement, energy and bopping beats is a message, people!

*Thinks for a second*

 Embrace the power of 3D Visualisation!

P.S. This beautiful design scheme was created by Alchemist’s Interior Design.

Glass Appreciation Society – New Members Welcome

My most recent 3D Visualisation commission, whilst slightly labour intensive highlighted a very important lesson when trying to aim for that all elusive photo-real effect:

Study Your Subject 2

Yes, I created this using Photoshop. Another example of how utterly awesome this software is.

In my previous commissions I’ve managed to get to grips with bulb transparency/reflections, textured brass fittings and using HDR images but this time I had to consider how best to illustrate velvet and water (in a glass vase).

The starting point?  Real life, of course!

I spent a Friday evening Googling various glass vases that contained water to establish how their contents were distorted and then I actually filled a vase of water (yes, really) to examine how objects positioned behind the glass vase (filled with water) appeared.  I suppose if you’re hellbent on trying to make a fictional image appear real, then you gotta put the ‘leg work’ in, right?

It has just occurred to me that I might be taking my 3D visualisation efforts one step too far…

Anyway, it was a very useful exercise and undoubtedly assisted me in trying to capture the look of water in a vase.  What I’m trying to say is that if you are trying to replicate something in a 3D visual, don’t be afraid to study real life environments to further your understanding of how an object reflects, refracts and casts shadows etc. It will surely help you in your quest to produce accurate and convincing photo-realistic images.  I’m not saying that I’ve ‘mastered’ these effects but I think I’m definitely heading in the right direction.

Enough waffling.  Let’s take a look at the good stuff, shall we?

Final Close-Up Coffee Table

Final Fireplace Elevation

Final Storage Elevation


Designer Spotlight – Abigail Ryan Homewares

As a design geek, I’m always on the outlook for new and inspiring designs to feed my unwavering passion for interior design.  I’ve sampled the delights of IKEA (read it here) and BHS (check it out) on my blog and now I’m turning my attention to a design duo that are much closer to home.

Becoming aware of new designs is great but it’s extra special when the talent behind these creations has been ‘home grown’.  Northern Ireland, wouldn’t be considered at the forefront of design when compared to the likes of London and probably never will be.  It pains me that a number of Northern Irish Interior Designers that I’ve spoken to in the past had never heard of Tolix.

TOLIX?  Really?  Yes, really.

For those of you who aren’t aware of what a Tolix chair is, shame on you!  Here’s a snap of my authentic Tolix chair, that takes pride of place in my living room.  Guided tours are available every Tuesday from 8pm-8.24pm.

Tolix and Vintage Inspired Cushion

So, naturally I got excited when I stumbled upon the creatively gifted and Belfast based, Abigail Ryan Homewares.  This husband and wife team use 100% Pure Irish Linen that is manufactured locally (how awesome) and take pride in declaring that all of their products are made in the UK.

Their nature inspired designs are available in the form of  lampshades, wallpaper, fabrics and cushions to name but a few and have a charming vintage aesthetic with both subtle and eye-popping colour-ways.  Abigail and Ryan have made such an impact on the design scene, that they have collaborated with Jo Malone, have been featured in ELLE Decoration and can boast Liberty London, Fenwick’s of Bond Street and Selfridges London as stockists of their unique, hand illustrated designs.

I’m suddenly feeling like quite the under-achiever here.  Anyway, this isn’t about ME, this is about Abigail Ryan Homewares…moving swiftly on.

So I guess you’d like to see some of the designer gems that Abigail Ryan Homewares has produced, right?  Then feast your eyes on this exquisite little illustration that I’ve put together courtesy of Photoshop.

Abigail Ryan

Seriously though, how sublime is the blue/orange colour palette of the cushion (top left) and lampshade (bottom right).  These are without a doubt my favourites.  With the grey/purple combo coming in a close second.

Bravo to Abigail Ryan Homewares for producing such an individual, quirky and charming range of designs that could easily be incorporated into traditional and contemporary design schemes alike.


R is for Recognition

Alright, we all know that a selection of my 3D Visuals were on display at Grand Designs Live 2014 in London.  For those of you who didn’t (seriously, where have you been?), you can get yourself up to speed here.

And here’s my personal favourite from this collection.

Edison Bulb Vintage Edited

I might have to get T-shirts, pillow cases and hoodies printed with this image, to include the caption ‘Neets did this, oh yes she did’.  Maybe not.  I’ll sleep on it.

But it gets better.

A LOT better.

You see the almighty Maxwell Render asked if they could publish my infamous ‘bulb’ 3D Visual on the online gallery of their website.

This is kinda a big deal for a (self titled) 3D Visualiser.  The work that is featured on the Maxwell Render online gallery is pretty top-notch.  It’s probably the ultimate accolade for a 3D Visualiser to have their work showcased by the software (company) they use.  In my early days of getting to grips with Maxwell Render I used to study the 3D Visuals published on this gallery with a mixture of awe, disgust, loathe and respect because whilst I revered this high standard of work, I never felt that I would ever reach this precision and quality.

Apparently I was wrong.

When you get an email from Maxwell Render asking if you’d like to have your work featured on their website, it’s a pretty special occasion.

For a 3D Visualiser, that is.

For millions of normal people around the globe it’s a ‘what’s all the fuss’ scenario.But 3D geeks aren’t normal people, you should have picked up on that about 200 blog posts ago.

I want to say that I was quite blasé about the whole thing, that I was indifferent to this request and that the day my 3D Visual was officially published on the Maxwell Render website my response was a bit like:


Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.

From the day I signed that permission slip, I checked the Maxwell Render website on the hour, every hour.  Even though the lovely peeps at Maxwell Render advised that I’d be informed of the official publication date beforehand.  Actually, because of Operation ‘keep checking the Maxwell Render website on the hour to see if my 3D Visual has been published yet’ I knew when the image had been uploaded before I got the notification email from Maxwell Render.

You don’t need to tell me how weird that is.  I know, ok!  I know!  But seriously, how awesome is this?!

Maxwell Render 3D Visual

Here’s the link to my 3D Visual on the Maxwell Render website just in case you want to have a closer look.

But wait, it gets better!  Maxwell Render then asked if I’d be interested in providing a ‘Making of’ for the Case Studies section of their website.


As you can probably guess, I was just as blasé and indifferent to this request as the previous one.


Say What

So, it was pretty straight forward.  Maxwell Render would send me a list of questions and I would be required to answer them as best I could.  I was later advised by one of the Maxwell Render team that they decided to include everything I’d written in my answers because I was so ‘nice and thorough’.  Shucks.

For those of you who may be interested, here’s the link to my ‘Making of’ for Maxwell Render (still can’t believe I’m typing that!).  For someone who is self-taught in the use of SketchUp and Maxwell Render, this exercise was an absolute honour, delight and pleasure to undertake.

Today is a good day!

3D Visuals With Character?

Yep, you heard right.  I want to make one thing clear – I’m not a fan of ‘perfect’ 3D Visuals.  You know the ones: all rigid, shiny and ‘new’.  But I have no choice but to present them in this way.  My clients expect a ‘perfect’ 3D Visual and that’s exactly what they get.

But in my own time, I like to play around with various effects and see how far I can push my artistic capabilities to try and achieve much more characterful and atmospheric photographs.

I’ve taken 3 of my favourite renders that are currently on display at Grand Designs Live and have added a much needed vintage injection.

Mission accomplished?  You tell me.

Edison Bulb Vintage Edited

Bedroom Vintage

Dining Room - Vintage copy

My Grand Journey Part II

In a previous blog post I talked about an amazing opportunity I had been presented with.  To recap; an Interior Designer who was designing two interior room sets for Grand Designs Live 2014 had asked me if I’d be interested in creating 3D Visuals of her chosen design schemes.  These 3D Visuals would then be displayed in the actual ‘real life’ room sets.

How could I say no?!

So, it gives me great pleasure to show all of my lovely followers and readers the finished 3D Visuals, that were posted in hard copy a few days ago and have been received by their new owner, Karen Price of K P Interiors.

Once I receive photographs of the ‘real’ room sets, I’ll post them on my blog.  This’ll be the first time that I’ll be able to compare my 3D Visuals to the real thing!  I’m both thrilled and petrified at the prospect!!

A huge thank you to Karen for allowing me to showcase my work at such a huge event!

Close up Edison Bulb Final - Anita Brown

Bedroom Current - Final 3rd View II

Bedroom Final View 2nd copy

Dining Room - Final 1

Dining Room - Final 4 II

Dining Room - Final 6 II

The Art of Displaying Your ‘Stuff’

Yes, I said ‘art’.  There’s a simple reason for this.  Because erm, there is an art to it.

If I listed the following: sparkly vase, vintage inspired sign with the letter A, faux wheat stems, a pile of books, a few teeny tiny vases and a handmade bowl.  Would you be able to display these in a visually stimulating manner?

Well, would you???  Answer me, dammit!!

Ok, maybe you would.  Maybe you’d be able to wave your magic wand and whip up a little display worthy of sitting in a John Lewis department store.  A display that would draw gasps and finger pointing aplenty.

But a lot of people wouldn’t be able to.

And this isn’t about naming and shaming.  There are plenty of peeps out there who would clutch a vintage inspired sign with the letter A, and run from one corner of a room to the other, desperately trying to find somewhere to place it.  Somewhere!  ANYWHERE!

Toilet copy

No, definitely not there…

So, let’s take a look at how you should be displaying your worldly goods, shall we?  By following these tips, you would STILL be able to make random purchases from a Charity shop (while blindfolded) look good.

Please don’t dare me to go to a Charity shop to prove the above point.  I’ll ignore your request; and then delete it.  Then I’ll refuse to acknowledge and respond to your 15th email asking me why I didn’t prove my point in my blog post about making random purchases from a Charity shop (while blindfolded) look good.

Here’s the display in all its sparkly, distressed, typographic and faux wheat-y goodness.

The Letter A

And here are my tips to achieving this glorious, ‘oh, I just whipped this together while waiting for my nails to dry but really it took me 2 years to get it just right’ look.

It didn’t take 2 years, it only took 18 months.

You’ll need to click on the below image to increase viewing pleasure!

Displaying Your Accessories

You want another example, don’t you?

Sigh.  All I do is give, give, give around here.  Ok.  Here’s another one.

Tolix Chair

I’m ferociously protective of this Tolix chair.  Aside from the utterly cosmic new jacket I bought from Zara a few weeks ago, this Tolix chair is the BEST, most SUPREME purchase I’ve made.  EVER.  Although, the vintage (genuine) Anglepoise lamp is also pretty awesome.

Actually, I can’t choose.  I can’t.  Don’t make me choose!

You should be able to see a pattern emerging, from my first example.  The colour orange is being punctuated throughout.  Even down to the exquisite Orla Kiely notebook, sitting ever so casually but having been placed and re-positioned 7.45 times.  Wait, you can’t see it?


Imogen Heath

Yes, I like to take ‘arty’ photographs of what you perceive to be inanimate objects.  They aren’t inanimate!  These things are like family!  How can that lamp be perceived as ‘inanimate’??  I’ve never seen a lamp with so much personality in my life!  It’s got more personality than some of my previous dates, for goodness sake.  And I’m not joking.

It’s all there: the pops of colour; the typography; mixing and matching of textures, finishes, styles and drawing the eye UP with the inclusion of wall art.

Although, I did recently replace the cushion.  I freakin’ love the new cushion.

I do.

It’s got bags of style, personality and has the power to completely transform my mood.  It’s basically the equivalent of a  ‘Joey hug’.  You remember those, right?

Joey and Chandler Hug

What an awesome, mood transforming cushion!

Tolix and Vintage Inspired Cushion

And that folks, is how you bring a little bit of life to your ‘stuff’!  If you’ve got downright joyous displays of ‘stuff’ dotted around your pad, then please take a snap and send them to me!  I’d love to do a feature post on all your fabulous ‘stuff’!

Getting Up Close and Personal

The process of producing a realistic 3D visual can be a tedious one.  As a 3D Visualiser, I will openly admit to that.  In order to achieve a convincing photo-realistic image, you have to create a pretty accurate 3D model but it’s imperative that the textures, materials and lighting that you incorporate into the rendering process are also highly accurate and mirror (as closely as possible) ‘real life’.

In the past I’ve avoided getting ‘up close and personal’ i.e. zooming in on detail, because there’s no room for error.  The scene, the lighting, the reflections and the textures must be perfect (or damned close).  In order to reach this level, you need to have a fair amount of experience and I always felt that I didn’t have the necessary skill and knowledge to do this.

Until now, that is.

There’s little point in always remaining in your comfy zone; how can you truly challenge yourself and test your ability if you always play it safe?

With the above in mind I recently attempted a rendered close-up shot of a pretty awesome vintage styled Edison light bulb.  You know the ones; they have an intriguing filament that you could stare at for hours.  Which is extremely useful when you’re attempting to replicate this design via a 3D render.  Because that’s exactly what I ended up doing: I studied, examined and observed these types of bulbs, including their fitting and filament for HOURS.

I had to.  It’s impossible to try and recreate a close-up on a (photo-realistic) 3D visual without studying the composition of the material in reality.  How it reflects light, how it refracts light, its thickness and its surface properties.  It’s also important to understand how it behaves in various lighting conditions (this is crucial when deciding how best to illustrate your chosen rendered model).

This in turn is a very important lesson for anyone embarking on 3D Visualisation: study the real life composition of your subject matter.  This practice will never let you down.  It will ensure that you have a full understanding of its various properties and will assist you greatly when you set about recreating those properties using a rendering application.

Ok, lecture over.  Let’s take a look at the good stuff.

Close up Edison Bulb Final - Anita Brown

This single image required many test renders, much tweaking and a huge dollop of persistence and determination.  Was it worth it?  You betcha!

Tuesday Giveaway – SketchUp Models

This is a first for me, I don’t usually upload my SketchUp models to the 3D Warehouse because I’m ferociously protective of them.  Yes, I do realise how ridiculous that sounds but hey, I am what I am!

Mine All Mine

And if you’re familiar with the process of 3D modelling (wine, you need lots of wine), then you’ll understand why.

However, the SketchUp 3D Warehouse was an absolute lifesaver for me when I first embarked on my 3D Visualisation path of torment discovery.  The ready-made models unquestionably eased me much more gently into the world of 3D modelling (and it continues to be an essential resource for my 3D modelling needs), until I gained enough knowledge, confidence and skill to start creating my own models.

So, I would like to officially declare my undying gratitude and appreciation to all of the lovely SketchUp-ers who have so generously uploaded their many accomplished and impressive 3D models to the 3D Warehouse.  You rock!!

And a huge thank you to the peeps at Google SketchUp for creating the 3D Warehouse; Google SketchUp, in my mind, continues to be the only CAD application today that utilises such an intuitive, user-friendly approach to 3D modelling.  A quick peek at my 3D Visualisation portfolio will tell you all you need to know about the fantastic results that can be achieved using SketchUp (and Maxwell Render).

Thank you

It’s time to give back.

Today I’ve uploaded various SketchUp models/components that I have constructed within the last year or so that have been used in the many 3D visuals I have created (some were created for specific commissions where an elevation drawing was only required).

Check out these little beauties!  I have provided an image and individual links to the 3D Warehouse for each 3D model.  I’ve also included 3D visuals where appropriate.  I hope they come in handy for any 3D modelling projects you may be undertaking.

Traditional Stone Fireplace

Traditional Stone Fireplace

Oak Bookcase and Sideboard

Bookcase and Sideboard

Industrial Inspired Coffee Table

Coffee Table Industrial Inspired

Modern Sideboard

Modern Sideboard

Modern Kitchen and IKEA Bookcase (converted to TV Bench)

Modern Kitchen and IKEA Bookcase

Traditional Bookcase with Routered Detail

Traditional Bookcase

Wardrobe and Dresser

Bedroom Furniture

Art Deco Inspired Sideboard (see below for rendered illustration)

Art Deco Inspired Sideboard

Art Deco Inspired Sideboard II

Art Deco Inspired Sideboard II

Lattice Screen/Room Divider

Lattice Screen

Metal Wall Art

Metal Wall Art

Marks & Spencer Sideboard

Marks & Spencer Sideboard

Bathroom Vanity Unit and Storage Cabinet

Bathroom Furniture


BHS Is Getting Its Freak On!

When did this happen?  WHEN did BHS join the great and the good of the Design world?  I’m thinking that maybe there’s been a huge shake-up in the management structure or something because there’s been some pretty drastic restyling within BHS…and it’s all good!

I would have perceived the interior offerings from BHS as the ‘safe’ and ‘conservative’ choice for the discerning shopper  but it would appear that BHS has cottoned onto the whole distressed, vintage and retro design trends of present.

Even their display windows have had a major overhaul!  They are all much more casually dressed and industrial inspired, with ladders as props and funky lighting arrangements.  Bravo BHS, bravo!

Check out my favourite finds.

BHS Vintage Styling

It would also appear that one of those cushions followed me home today…sneaky.  This cushion had my undivided attention when I first clapped eyes on it.  Whilst it’s been described as taking inspiration from the 1950s, it definitely has a Pop Art feel to it.  Either way, it looks blinkin fantastic with my Tolix chair.  Hurrah!

Tolix and Vintage Inspired Cushion

I’ve just realised how eclectic my little arrangement is, check this out: modern and vintage inspired cushions from B&Q, M&S and BHS; bookcase from IKEA (distressed using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint), original 1970s Anglepoise lamp from Ebay, authentic Tolix chair from Made In Design and modern metal wall art from a local independent retailer (the piece of art resting against the wall was undertaken by my Mum) .  This is a great illustration of how it pays to mix ‘n’ match furnishings and accessories of different styles to prevent a design from looking too polished and one dimensional.  I’m biased but I think it’s looking pretty darned impressive!

‘Drive’ – It’s No Chick Flick But That’s OK

I don’t consider myself a ‘movie buff’ per se but I like nothing more than blowing a few quid of my well earned monthly salary on a few DVDs.

Although my penchant for movies became rapidly diluted when I became aware of the awesomeness that is Sheldon Cooper.  I decided to familiarise myself with this spectacularly pedantic, socially inept and wonderfully endearing character by getting my mitts on 4 seasons of The Big Bang Theory in one single purchase.

My family didn’t see me for a week.  Maybe two.

Now that I’m a fully fledged Big Banger (sounded better in my head), I’m back on track with my routine DVD purchases of movies.

If I like a particular movie, I’ll watch it again within one sitting (hardcore) and possibly (ok, definitely) a couple of times per year.  As a result, I’m also one of those really annoying people who can converse fluently using movie quotes, or can suddenly reference a line from a movie when the need arises, or when the need doesn’t arise.  I have no control over this extremely underrated talent.  For example, when I typed ‘hardcore’, this instantly popped into my head:

School of Rock Hardcore

Incidentally, this GIF does absolutely no justice to this scene from School of Rock, including Jack Black’s electrifying vocals and underwhelming (yet somewhat impressive) dance moves.

Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked.  ‘Drive‘ is a movie.  ‘Drive’ is a movie that I’ve watched three times.  You know what that means, right?

It means that I dig it.

Ok ok, I’ll admit that I was initially drawn to this movie because of a predictable and extremely shallow physical attraction I have towards a certain Mr Gosling.

He’s cute.

I’m a woman.

Kinda makes sense, right?  Ok, let me explain:

Ryan Gosling Crazy Stupid Love

This movie divides opinion among my peers in a very passionate, dramatic and vocally charged manner.  There are no grey areas; it is either regarded as a huge disappointment because of its lack of dialogue from the main character (Gosling) or it is perceived as a triumph in its portrayal of the transformation of Gosling into an unassuming hero.  Ironically, the lack of dialogue, in my opinion, contributed to the movie’s success at depicting a ‘still waters run deep’ leading character.  Furthermore, the violent outbursts from this character wouldn’t have been anywhere near as unexpected and intense if he had adopted a more extroverted and aggressive persona from the outset.  More about that later.

Let’s talk a little about the opening track.  I loved it.  I had never heard the song before but being a child of the 80s, it was quite obvious to me that it took inspiration from that (electronic) era.  Interestingly the Director, Nicolas Refn, explained in an interview that he wanted the songs and score of the movie to have an electronic sound to add feminine undertones to counterbalance the masculinity of the cars and outwardly violent scenes.  The song ‘A Real Hero’ bookends the  movie to great effect, ensuring that the transition of this character from human being to hero (in the name of love) is acutely transparent.  Listen to this song, you won’t regret it.  Do it!  Listen to it!  Are you listening to it?  Are you??!!  Well??!!

To summarise, Gosling plays a dude who works at a Garage by day and is a getaway driver by night.  He also likes to throw part-time stunt car driving into the mix for cheap thrills.

The opening scene of the movie is actually (in my humble opinion) one of the best scenes in the movie.  A very well executed escape route, combined with Gosling’s controlled (and slightly unnerving) silence provides a brief insight into this complex character.

The Director has been quoted as saying that this movie is essentially a love story.  I’m reluctant to completely agree with that.  There’s obvious mutual attraction between Driver (he doesn’t have a name in the movie…nice) and his love interest, Irene (when they met her husband was in prison).  There are stolen glances, sheepish grins, a little hand-holding and a brief snog-fest in an elevator.  That’s it.  Apparently the purity and innocence of ‘love’ was at the forefront in this movie and to ensure this ideal remained sacred, the focus was placed on the complications Driver encountered when he tried to help Irene’s husband repay a few debts after his prison release.

Drive Kissing Scene

The brief snog-fest. Which was filmed in slow motion. Every cloud…

There’s no getting away from it: this movie is at times incredibly violent.  I’m not one to condone unnecessary violence in movies and I’m not great at stomaching the associated graphic scenes.  BUT (and this ‘but’ makes me uncomfortable, paranoid and nervous simultaneously) I still feel sorry for Driver.  I do, I can’t help it.  The guy gets himself into a whole heap of trouble because of his gallant attempts to protect Irene and her kid.  Yes, he’s savage at times and kinda psychotic but he also exhibits flashes of sincerity, charm and innocence.  I’m so confused and I hate this movie!  I’m kidding, I don’t hate it.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hate how Driver has been portrayed as having two very conflicting personas.  And even though he’s clearly a little (ok, extremely) mixed up, he still endears himself to the audience.  Maybe it’s me who’s extremely mixed up…I HATE this movie!

Driver’s vulnerability is demonstrated to great effect in one particular scene when he confesses to Irene that he was involved in a robbery, where her husband was murdered.  Irene clearly doesn’t respond well to this news and slaps him across the face.  At this point Driver hangs his head and whilst still continuing to avoid eye contact he opens up emotionally and makes his feelings for Irene crystal clear.  Of all the evocative scenes in this movie, this one got to me the most.  I’m clearly a big softie, hey ho.

Drive Ryan Gosling 3

A vulnerable and dishevelled ‘Driver’

Either way, boy doesn’t get girl.  Boy has to move out of town with a gashed stomach because he saved girl (and her kid) from the villains.  Is he a hero in the true sense of the word?  I’ll let you decide.

All in all, I highly recommend this movie: the complex character played by Gosling is undoubtedly its driving force (bad pun, couldn’t help it), not forgetting the excellent soundtrack.

As I said, it’s no Chick Flick but that’s ok.


The Day I Set My Creativity Free

Interior Design is a serious business.  We always hear people in the industry talking about effective utilisation of space, or how to make the most of architectural features and how important adequate, layered lighting is within a room.

All valid points, I’m sure you’ll agree.

And I ensure when I’m undertaking a new 3D Visualisation project, that my work is of the highest standard.  That it accurately reflects all of the plans, images and the Designer’s instructions.

My role as a 3D Visualiser is a creative one, albeit limited and sometimes I’d like nothing more than to flex my creative muscles within a less restrictive environment and let them off the proverbial leash, so to speak.

As a creative individual, it’s important for me to allow myself the freedom to experiment, indulge and let my imagination, creativity and humour take a front row seat.

I continue to be fascinated by the power of 3D Visualisation and this week I decided to surrender my SketchUp, Maxwell Render and Photoshop skills to Windows Movie Maker.

Yep, be afraid.  Be very afraid.

This little project was for my own personal enjoyment and relaxation, heck it was almost therapeutic.  It’s not quite logical, it’s a little zany and I loved every minute of it.

Primarily, it’s an illustration of the astounding effects that can be achieved via 3D Visualisation, combined with the power of the imagination.

And the singing birds?  There’s no rational explanation for those.  I tried to resist but I simply wasn’t strong enough to withstand their irritating cuteness.

I just realised that I spelt ‘limits’ incorrectly.  Arrrggghhhh!!!!

Another Day, Another Fabulous Kitchen

When creating a 3D Visualisation, for some strange reason, my least favourite space to construct is a kitchen.

I think I may have placed some sort of dark and mysterious curse on myself because since I mentioned this in a previous post, I have had several commissions to produce 3D visuals of ruddy kitchens.

My aversion to constructing 3D models of kitchens isn’t logical.  A kitchen is probably the easiest 3D model to build.  In its most basic form, it has glorious straight lines that only a 3D Visualiser could love, cherish and adore.

 Straight Line 1

There is rarely an object of furniture within a kitchen that requires hours of brainstorming and deconstructing, in an attempt to work out the most effective way of constructing it within a 3D model.  Curves and organic geometry are usually kept to a minimum and that’s exactly how I like it.


So why do I find the prospect of constructing a kitchen so demotivating?  I think it’s because they are so straightforward.  They also provide less opportunity for the ‘ol creative juices to run wild.  Although, open plan kitchens that include living and dining spaces make the process of creating the 3D model much less painful.

This was definitely the case when I was commissioned to create the below 3D visuals of an open plan kitchen/living/dining space.

I included a HDR background image of a garden in the actual rendering process (the garden wasn’t added via Photoshop during post-processing) and I have to admit, they make a huge difference to the overall aesthetic and realism of the scene.

A HDR image is no ordinary image file.  It’s a superhero image file with amazing superhero powers. 

This type of image file when loaded into a rendering engine can emit light, reflections, refractions and global illumination.  That’s pretty special.

Actually, that’s pretty goddam awesome.

There, I said it.   

When I was asked to create 3D Visuals of this particular kitchen, I was asked to design the living/dining area with regards to a feature wall covering, curtains, blinds, seating and accessories.  I already knew that there was going to be a mauve splash-back in the kitchen, so I continued the mauve colour scheme using subtle punctuations throughout.  The wallpaper is Harlequin and the fabric for the blinds is from Villa Nova.

The use of statement art within a kitchen is probably something that most people wouldn’t ordinarily consider but I think it most definitely helps to add a very modern, clean edge to this space.  Actually, if I’m honest, the use of abstract art within this room is my favourite design element.

Kitchen 1

Kitchen 2

Trial Kitchen - Final Scene 3 Edited 2



I Just Can’t Get Enough

Pushing the Boundaries of 3D Visualisation

Consider this my very first ‘photography’ exhibition.

These spaces and their design elements do not exist.  But they are very real in my mind.

Yes, I’m a little bit of a fraud but you have to admit that because of the impressive  advancements in both CAD and image editing software, I can deceive you into believing they are real?

I love the idea of taking 3D Visualisation to a completely new level, where you can create a photo-realistic space that doesn’t actually exist but you can also create added drama and atmospheric value.

Never underestimate the power of visualisation…

Bulb Black and White

NYC Style Vintage

Georgian Grunge

NYC Style 2

Toile Bedroom

New Photo-Realistic 3D Visuals

A few updated 3D Visuals to whet the appetite!  The 3D models were created using Google SketchUp, photo-realistically rendered via Maxwell Render and then tweaked (post-processing) using Photoshop.


Kitchen Angle 1 Final 030314

Kitchen Angle 2 Final 030314

Kitchen Angle 3 Final 030314

Bathroom Final 1 Edited FB

Bathroom Final 2 FB

Bathroom Final 3 FB

Brushing Up On Photoshop

Becoming newly acquainted with Photoshop can usually be broken down into 3 separate stages of development.  The first stage requires effective utilisation of deep breathing techniques, regular comfort breaks and determining that your general state of anxiety is the result of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Naturally, all of the above will have occurred before you’ve even determined how to type the word ‘HELP’ on a new Photoshop document, or worked out that the magic wand tool has absolutely no connection to acquiring a new dress, sparkly shoes and securing a stable and secure future with Prince Charming.


During the second stage of this blossoming courtship, you find yourself experimenting with the basic techniques of airbrushing.  Having viewed this as a huge leap forward in your development and filled with immense pride, you change your Facebook profile photo, so that the world can share in your joy and sense of achievement.

Anita - Before_After

Then you reach stage 3, where you continue to research the many Photoshop tools at your disposal and soon discover that you’re capable of creating some awesome and inspiring graphics (it’s usually around this stage of development that you also have a drastic rethink of that Facebook photo and promptly delete it).

When you self teach any type of software, you find yourself on a continual journey of discovery.  For example:

Dymo Font Blog However:

Typewriter font

You should have this image in your head right now.


Ok, here’s the technical bit.  Brushes in Photoshop, aren’t just for ‘brushing’ on colour, or airbrushing techniques.  Brushes can also be used to add various graphic effects and in some instances can replace the need to import a JPEG from a different source, for example, a texture image.

Brushes, like fonts, can be downloaded (for free) from many graphic specific sites and are worth their weight in gold.  The background in the Dymo font image was created with multiple ‘dirt’ brushes.  The finger prints, hand print, coffee ring and various smudges in the typewriter font image were also created using brushes.  The tear in the above image was, yep you guessed it, created via a brush.  You get me?

Photoshop BrushesYES!!  This magnificent (piece of Art) was created using Photoshop brushes!

Go forth and experiment with Photoshop brushes!

And don’t forget to report back if you’ve found any good ‘uns!

Oops, I Did It Again…

I like words.  And consequently, I like letters.  So it should come as no surprise that I like incorporating letters into the design of my personal space.

But not just any old letters.  Whilst I don’t want to come across as discriminatory against most of the joyous offerings of the alphabet, I do have a preference for the letter A.

A little predictable?  Absolutely.  However, I think it’s pretty cool to ‘own’ your initial, perhaps on another level, I’m also reinforcing my identity and marking my territory by dotting the letter A around my space.  A bit like a cat, but in a much more socially acceptable manner.

And anyway, would it be that wrong to rub my Tolix chair with my neck, now and again?

Yea ok, it would.  Moving on.

Cat Marking Territory

I don’t like cats but we seem to exhibit similar traits…

My new obsession started with an impulse buy from Abigail Ahern and has steadily gained momentum ever since.  It’s clearly Abigail’s fault and I’m more than happy to point the finger of blame in her direction.

Let’s look at my little collection in all its Photoshopped glory, eh?

The Letter A

I’ve conducted some very casual research and have deduced that Not On The High Street offers a huge and wide-ranging stock of letters, in all sorts of styles.  I’ve compiled my top 5.  Just in case there’s anyone out there with a similar interest/obsession.

I’m secretly hoping and praying that I’m not the only person on the planet that has discovered the greatness of collecting letters… feel free to drop me a line to put my mind at ease.  PLEASE.

Not On The High Street - Letters

Sex and the City Challenge

There are three reasons why I’m a hard core fan of Sex and the City.

1. As a woman, I can relate to A LOT of the storylines (unfortunately);

2. It tackles taboo subjects head on, and

3. It’s funny.

Actually, it’s very funny.

It gets a pretty hard time from our male counterparts because it’s deemed feminist drivel, however whilst they ultimately want to retain their identity and independence within their relationships (and what exactly is wrong with that??!!), these characters most definitely find fulfilment in their interactions with men, to the extent that their weaknesses are often exposed in their (sometimes)fruitless endeavours to meet and keep ‘the one’.

SATC Post-It

No one, NO ONE deserves being dumped via post-it…or text! And I’m not speaking from experience. I’m NOT, ok?!

It’s true that most female viewers identify more with the character of Carrie as they follow her journey of highs and (mostly) lows when it comes to meeting Mr Right.

Yes, even Feminists believe in love.

I’m such a devoted follower of Carrie’s fictional greatness, that I was extremely amused and secretly chuffed when my friends drew comparisons between her life and mine, with the purchase of a desk for my city centre apartment.

Although, this was out of necessity, due to the onset of Repetitive Strain Injury.  Yes, really.


Seriously, how cool is this little vintage, urban and funky corner of my pad? I stop and look at it at least 3.84 times a day.

I found myself with a few hours to spare recently and decided to set myself a challenge.  It’s one thing to build a 3D model and present photo-realistic renders to a brief but what about replicating an interior?

I’m fond of  Carrie’s apartment, (the old one, pre-being jilted at the altar), it has a very comforting ‘lived in’, shabby chic vibe, although parts of it are a little too shabby for my liking.

This little exercise was not only going to put SketchUp and Maxwell Render to the test but also my abilities as a 3D Visualiser.  I rolled up my sleeves, dug out my box set of Sex and the City and got to work.

I should point out that the shell of this room was already available via SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse, but I did transform the interior into the apartment we all know and love.

Frustratingly there weren’t that many clear photographs of the bedroom area, so I used a combination of the two below and referred to some interior shots from the series.

Sex and the City Carrie Apartment

Believe it or not, the most challenging aspect of this project was getting the wall colour right.  It doesn’t help that in both pictures the wall colour is different shades due to the lighting but I used the grey/green shade of the image to the left, just in case you’re squinting at your screen right now and judging my efforts.

Did I meet this challenge?  I’ll let you decide…

Sex and the City - Carrie's Bedroom Final II

And just for the nostalgic factor, I’ve added this little close-up.  Die-hard fans will unquestionably be aware of its significance.

Sex and the City - Carrie Necklace II

I think I’ve illustrated something very important with this blog post: never underestimate the power of photo-realistic rendering.

And just to humour my love of this show a little more, I’ve compiled my top 5 favourite clips.  I had to weed through quite a few on YouTube because many of the clips I actually like are too risqué for insertion on my blog…eek.

‘It’s Preventative’!

Say it, Don’t Post-it

Brace Yourself

A Windy Dilemma

Fashion Roadkill

Industrial Inspired Urban Chic

Industrial inspired design is everywhere you look in the interior design world at the minute.  And it’s not a new craze to have stumbled onto the design scene but it has had tremendous staying power.

What is it about this simplistic, urban and rustic aesthetic that has captured the imagination and inspired legions of Designers and consumers alike, to the extent that it has infiltrated the High Street? 

Industrial Board

Photoshop may have been involved in the creation of this graphic. Ok, more than just a little.

I can’t speak for all Interior Designers but I am sure of one thing: its appeal is in the simplicity of its construction and design.  Of that, I have no doubt.

As an Interior Design student, I’m taught about the importance of combining pattern, texture and colour.  Of being aware of spatial properties and the use of form and light.  But nothing is more refreshing than witnessing an object that has been stripped back, is minimal in appearance and is constructed of raw material.

Are you with me?

But then again, (there’s always a ‘but’), combining industrial inspired designs with items and materials that are perceived as less ‘extreme’ provides a very effective contrast.  Why?  Because this form of design provides depth, visual stimulation and prevents a space from appearing too one dimensional.

Plus, many of the items and furnishings that are considered ‘industrial’ are not only a quirky addition to a space but they can also provide a glimpse into times gone by.

Factory Pendant Light

Industrial inspired design; it’s more than just nuts and bolts

Which brings me (very conveniently) onto the subject of my most recent design scheme.  I uploaded images of 3D visuals in a previous post but I never actually explained the design concept of the industrial inspired guest bedroom in full.

Here goes.

This room had a generous expanse of wall that could easily showcase statement lighting either side of a bed.  That was my starting point.  Initially I had considered the hotel chic inspired look of hanging pendants above bedside tables but I had a swift change of heart.

This was a city centre apartment.  It was situated in the heart of Belfast and in an area that had an industrial and manufacturing history.  In my mind, the interior should reflect the exterior, to a certain extent.  Therefore, I decided to incorporate industrial inspired lighting in the form of suspended bulbs attached to copper cable.


Guest Bedroom

To ensure that this lighting treatment wasn’t going to appear too harsh (something I’m always mindful of when it comes to industrial inspired styling), I decided to hang them in clusters of 3 at varying heights.  This would add a multi-dimensional quality and provide lots of eye candy.

A bit like this.

Guest Bedroom 1 310114

The use of copper would also help to add visual relief from the simplicity of this lighting.  I extended the use of metallic accents to the textured wall covering but to increase the sense of drama, I used a dark pewter shade.  A Wenge floor-to-ceiling headboard was incorporated to help raise the eye and was anchored by  simple Wenge bedside tables.  This dark tone added richness and an overall luxurious quality to this overall design.

Hanging Bulb colour

Always remember to inject added warmth and softness to a space, when industrial elements have been incorporated.  This will ensure that the overall look isn’t too harsh.  In this instance, I included shots of orange.  I’ve always thought that pewter and orange were a match made in heaven, it’s a very rich combination.  To further underpin this hue I have suggested a simple black ceiling pendant with a copper satin inner (which also helps to tie in the copper cables).

And lastly, I included statement Art.  Nothing can reinforce a sense of drama and help to underpin a colour palette better than some inspirational, abstract Art.

Industrial Inspired Bedroom

For a little bit of extra design style, an Andrew Martin retro inspired cushion has been included. A room that has modern, retro AND industrial styling. The secret? Strike the right balance.

I hope I have helped to banish the perception that industrial inspired design elements within an interior are harsh, cold and uninviting!

I. Love. This. Room.

You Call it Stubbornness. I Call it Determination.

I created an online portfolio of my 3D visualisation work last night, in a bid to impress all of the many head hunters that dive into my digital meanderings on a weekly basis.

I’m joking.

So, I spent all evening creating this masterpiece using Photoshop.  I downloaded 100 new Photoshop ‘paint stroke’ brushes and inspected each and every one to select the strokes that were raggedy enough, grungy enough and tapered off at the correct angle…enough.

Then I downloaded 100 ‘paint splat’ brushes.  The varying strands of projectile splat of each brush were robustly inspected to ensure the correct level of randomness, messiness and realism was apparent.

Once I had satisfied myself that all brushes were in order, I switched to creative mode and let my arty side take over.

Having completed this project successfully and to my utter delight and glee, I then ‘embedded’ it into my blog post and hit the ‘publish’ button.  It was at this stage, that my life fell apart as I became infuriatingly aware that embedding Issuu publications into WordPress.COM blogs was a little more tricky than I thought.

Needless to say, after 14 mugs of coffee, 2 bowls of crisps and lots of squinting at HTML code, I’ve managed to embed the little $#!%@*.

At this stage, I no longer care who reads it.

You better read it. 

For those of you viewing this using a mobile device, please click here.

Issuu – Weird Word, Great Concept

I’ve discovered something spectacularly awesome.

I’m guessing that everyone in the blogosphere has already come across this magnificent find but I usually lag behind when it comes to digital gizmos and gadgets.

But I like this one in particular.

A lot.

It’s a great way to showcase my 3D visualisation portfolio and once I’ve fiddled with the overall appearance a little more and have it to my exacting requirements, it’s going to replace the current section of my blog dedicated to 3D visuals.

I used Photoshop to create the templates but if you don’t have Photoshop you can use PowerPoint or Word.

It’s official: Issuu rocks!


Allow me to correct myself.  Issuu: Weird word, great concept…IF IT COULD WORK VIA WORDPRESS!!!  If anyone knows how to embed Issuu publications, without all the mumbo-jumbo that I’ve read online so far, please come forward!

3D Visuals, With Attitude

I love creating 3D visuals.  Nothing gives me the same level of enjoyment and satisfaction than creating photo-realistic 3D visuals and witnessing the looks of disbelief and delight on my client’s face.  It means that I’ve done my job properly.  But sometimes I’d much rather create 3D visuals that are a little more edgy, gritty and creative.

Admittedly, in this serious business of Interior Design, with equally serious clients who expect a certain standard of realism in the presented renders, I have zero opportunity to get a little creative and ‘stoopid’.

I might try to convince the Designer I’m assisting at Grand Designs Live 2014, to consider pushing the proverbial boat out a little.

These are examples of 3D visuals I’ve created and then edited in Photoshop to provide a much more gritty, cinematic and overall edgy appearance.

Me likey.  A lot.

Guest Bedroom Edited 1

Guest Bedroom Edited 2

Guest Bedroom Edited 3

The contrast levels have been exaggerated via the High Pass filter and then I’ve added noise and posterisation to add the grainy and cinematic inspired effect.

And the image below is basically me showing off, demonstrating that I can morph a sketch effect with a photograph.  But it’s still a pretty cool effect to illustrate the design process, but in a more abstract fashion.  No?

Guest Bedroom Morph Sketch

Period Property Photoshop Overhaul

I came across some pretty awesome photographs uploaded by a fellow Designer and when I clapped eyes on them I couldn’t resist doing a little bit of tweaking to exaggerate their vintage and extremely characterful properties.

I saw this particular photo and was instantly attracted to it.  I’ll tell you why, the glamorous chandelier and the distressed, grungy interior made a fantastic contrast.  The glimpses of outside light also helped to make this a spectacular image, if a little haunting.

I loved it.

Period Property Original

But I wanted to make it much more cinematic by adding noise, upping the contrast settings, creating more depth and drawing the eye to the chandelier and surrounding area by adding a Gaussian blur.

This is the resulting image.  Pretty dramatic, eh?

Period Property Edited

Next up was a very endearing image of a sink with old taps, overlooking a garden.  In my eyes, this image was screaming only one thing: vintage.

Period Property Original 2

I set about playing around with the RGB levels, added noise and again a Gaussian blur to create an utterly vintage inspired, whimsical scene.  This is without a doubt my favourite.

Period Property Edited 2

Then we had the curious, long hallway, high ceilings and doors intriguingly left ajar.  Again, slightly haunting in presence but it was brimming with character and I really wanted to emphasise its atmospheric qualities.

Period Property Original 3

It didn’t need much in the way of editing, I just increased the saturation levels, added a few filters and sharpened the overall image to create more drama.

Period Property Edited 3

Oh, have I ever mentioned that I love Photoshop?!

Grand Designs Live 2014…And Me

There are some opportunities that you simply do not pass up.

When you receive an email from a fellow (past) student asking if you’d be interested in providing floor plans, elevations and 3D visuals for her interior room set that will be on display at Grand Designs Live 2014, you do not ignore this email.

You read this email again.  And again.  And then once more to make sure you aren’t the recipient of a nasty practical joke.

It wasn’t a joke.

As of today I’m officially (pending approval of all the necessary paper work) part of the Grand Designs Live 2014 posse.  This means that I’ll be marketed as a contributor and my work will be on display for all the eager visitors and networkers to admire.

This is good.

This is really good.

Grand Designs Live 2014

My new BFF.

This lifeline was thrown to me by Karen at KP Interiors.  I’ve never met this lady in person but from our frequent ping-pong email exchanges she’s clearly a genuine individual and dedicated Designer.  She also knows the true meaning and power of collaboration; she’s got my vote, like yesterday.  Check out her website to get a glimpse of her contemporary and utterly chic design style; which will be on display at Grand Designs Live 2014 in May.

You can also read a little more about the room sets feature here.

I’ve already decided to nip over to London for a few days to network, talk shop and take in the creative sights and sounds when this event takes place.  In my giddiness and utter excitement, I also said something to Karen about helping her arrange the room set – I’m secretly hoping she forgets about that part.

*Mental note, remember to talk incessantly about a weak spine when emailing Karen*

As part of the terms and conditions of the contract, I’m not permitted to disclose any of the 3D visuals that illustrate Karen’s designs.  Darn.

But I CAN after the show.  Hurrah!

I. Can’t. Wait.

I wonder would a blinking neon sign placed near my 3D visuals be a little too much…

Neon Sign Photoshop

Black & White – Embrace It Don’t Fear It

Let’s get something straight.  Monochrome is a term that describes varying shades of ONE colour.  It is not correct to describe a room that has been designed using a colour palette of black and white as Monochrome.  Where this originated, I don’t know but it’s technically wrong, wrong, wrong!

Let’s summarise.

Monochrome Board

I recently designed a bedroom in a city centre apartment using a softer version of the above black and white colour palettes.  I’ll tell you why I softened this very well known look; I find that sometimes it can be a little stark and cold.  But as far as modern styling goes, black and white will always be deemed edgy, seamless and dramatic.  Which is always a winner in my book.

But there is one further element that adds so much more visual stimulation to the black and white colour scheme and that’s the addition of yellow and grey.  I don’t know why this works.  I’ve thought about this quite a lot and I just can’t put my bony finger on it.

It just does.

Black White Yellow Design Schemes

So, with the above in mind, I set about creating a bedroom using this refreshing, clean and modern colour palette.  Here it is in all its (virtual) glory.

Master Bedroom - Final

How did I put this design concept together?  I took inspiration from the architecture of the apartment’s surroundings.  There is a courtyard nearby that is dotted with huge stone columns.  The minute I saw them, I thought ‘classical’ and ‘Georgian’ came to mind.  I wanted a pretty impactful feature wall, so I chose Toile de Jouy – a particular favourite during the Georgian period.  But I chose charcoal grey to keep the design modern.

I was instantly drawn to yellow lampstands to keep things edgy, with simple white shades and then stumbled upon these great prints that were hand printed.  They have an awesome yellow Damask pattern (also strongly associated with the terms ‘classical’ and ‘Georgian’) and include drawings of period, classical furniture.  To underpin this contemporary design scheme, they’ve been framed using black.  A yellow Chevron patterned cushion has been added to further reinforce this contemporary look and to contrast with the traditional wallpaper.  A charcoal grey throw and cushions has been suggested to compliment the grey in the wallpaper and to add a little depth.

There are strong colours in this design concept and there are equally strong patterns but because they have been used sparingly, the overall visual aesthetic is fresh but calming and restful.  A win-win combination.

Master Bedroom Draft - final 4

Master Bedroom Draft - final 5

Sinking One’s Teeth Into ‘Real World’

When studying Interior Design, or any subject for that matter, you are continually shielded from the potential stresses, strains and pitfalls of reality.  You are encased in a little protective bubble, where experimentation of your talents and aspirations are encouraged.  You grow, develop and evolve as you fine-tune, sharpen and steadily gain levels of confidence that were previously non-existent.

You never think about ‘reality’ because, quite frankly, it’s too scary to contemplate.

Until one day, when fate comes a knockin’.

You find yourself faced with a golden opportunity that simultaneously petrifies and excites you beyond all belief.  And even though you feel completely and utterly out of your depth, you push away the niggling self-doubt, take a few deep breaths (possibly assisted with a brown paper bag) and lunge yourself into a world of the unknown because you owe it to yourself.

And that’s exactly what I did.

I was approached a few weeks ago with a request to provide designs for the redesign of an apartment.  And it wasn’t an assignment.  It was an actual property.  With actual walls.  And a real life client.

This was it.  All the studying, research, cramming, late nights, cursing and self-teaching of CAD software was (hopefully) going to be applied FOR REAL.

The client meeting came and went, with buzz words of ‘retro’ and ‘contemporary classic’.  And then I suddenly felt the pressure and burden of expectation as I set about pulling together a few design concepts.

I gleamed inspiration from local surroundings, architecture, wine, industrial design, current trends and my creative instincts.

And I did it.  I actually created 3 design concepts for a client (yes, I’m still trying to get my head around this).  Now all I have to do is hope that tomorrow, the client is as equally enthused, inspired and excited by these as I am.

To be continued…

D Mann Living 1 Edited 150114

D Mann Living 2 Edited 150114

D Mann Living 3 Edited 150114

Guest Bedroom Final 1 Edited 150114

Guest Bedroom Final 2 Edited 150114

Guest Bedroom Final 3 Edited 150114

Master Bedroom - Final

There’s Only One Superman

I’ve been avoiding something for quite a few months now.  When I say ‘something’ I mean a particular movie.  Admittedly it piqued my interest when I first read about it in the showbiz section of my beloved Daily Mail.

You see from a very young age I’ve always been a Superman fan.

A HUGE Superman fan.

The main reason for this was undoubtedly the late Christopher Reeve.  When I first saw his chiselled chin, piercing blue eyes and dominating 6′ 4″ frame he got my vote, like, instantly.

Superman Christopher Reeve copy

Not even a dodgy bright yellow plastic belt and Bridget Jones sized red undies could tame my lustful thoughts and desire for a man so goddam physically attractive.  Although, my x-rated musings are probably heavily intertwined with the appeal of a man who demonstrates raw masculinity in his unwavering desire to protect, AND has no issues when it comes to showing his sensitive side.

Which is more unrealistic; a man who can fly or a man who has all of the above attributes?  Hmmmm…

I’ve alluded to my liking for this fine specimen in a previous post where, thanks to Photoshop, I transformed into Wonder Woman and had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the man himself.

I know.  Awesome, huh?

Superheros Revised

By now you’ll have probably guessed that the movie I’ve been avoiding (up until last night) is Man of Steel.  I was already disgruntled with this movie, before watching it, when I heard the disgusting rumours that the ‘S’ no longer referred to the title Superman and was merely a Kryptonian symbol of hope.


If it ain’t broke, people!  Silly Directors trying to make a cinematic statement by ‘modernising’ and distancing themselves from the original format/ethos should know better than to meddle with this stuff.

Superman Logo

S is for Superman.  End of.

Even before the opening scene of Man of Steel I found myself incredibly disappointed.  There’s a simple reason for this: the lack of an impactful soundtrack.  I distinctly remember watching the original as a child, and in particular the sense of anticipation and excitement as the initial dull rumblings of the Superman score started and then gradually intensified in pace and volume.  The opening scene was accompanied with what now would be considered fairly mediocre graphics but they were splashed across the screen with ‘swish’ and ‘swoosh’ sounds that were successful in creating a dramatic and atmospheric introduction.

Superman Opening Credits

Gotta love the ‘swish’ and ‘swoosh’

Man of Steel had lots of impressive computer generated imagery; rustic distressed metal seemed to be the choice de jour but the soundtrack sounded like something you would hear a choir sing at a funeral service.  Haunting?  Yes.  Punchy and riddled with a sense of anticipation?  No.

I can remember the opening titles and soundtrack of the original Superman movie in an instant, I would bet my entire weeks shopping (that would be Sugar Puffs and Cheetos) that you do too.  It’s been a few years from I watched Superman.

As for Man of Steel?  Wouldn’t have a clue.  And I watched it last night.

Man of Steel opening credits

Yes, I get it, he’s a Man of Steel. And?

There were certain glaringly obvious weaknesses dotted throughout Man of Steel, when comparing it to the original movie and to me, the entire movie lacked the humour and comedic quality of the original.  Yes, the essence of the Superman plot is centred around fighting the forces of evil but isn’t light-hearted humour important when engaging the audience?  Actually, it helps to further expose the individual personalities of the main characters.

Personally, I found that the charismatic, charming and sensitive qualities that Christopher Reeve injected into his interpretation of Superman were completely absent in this revamped version.  Henry Cavill is a good looking dude, there’s no question about that but his physical attributes were not enough to endear me to his character.  Yes, even when he appeared in one scene gloriously bare chested.  Ultimately he portrayed a Superman who lacked depth, personality and charisma.

Actually, that sounds like most of the dudes I meet on a Saturday night out.

Man of Steel Henry Cavill

This one is for the ladies. You’re welcome.

His interactions and dialogue with Lois Lane were also ridiculously lacking.  Where was the sexual chemistry?  The coy flirting?  I’m a woman, I still (stupidly) believe that love and romance will conquer all and when I watch a movie featuring a chunk of hunk, I wanna see some action, ok?

Let’s take a closer look and make a few comparisons:

Superman and Lois Lane

Then we have the very unanimated, frosty and zero sexual chemistry of Superman and Lois in Man of Steel.  My chair leg, quite frankly, has more sexual appeal.

Man of Steel and Lois

Lois Lane in the original movie was a loud, feisty and opinionated chick.  And in Man of Steel she was a very diluted version of this; actually come to think of it the entire contrast and saturation levels of Man of Steel were as dull, wishy-washy and grey as all of the characters portrayed in it.

In Man of Steel, Superman (or the superhero previously known as Superman), spent most of his time bouncing around like the cartoon character Tigger, as opposed to flying.  It was sometimes impossible to actually see him flying.  Where’s the fun in that?  The fighting scenes with General Zod and his motely crew also consisted of ferocious bouncing and catapulting displays.  Not very imaginative, right?

Man of Steel in flight

Here’s the Man of Steel flying. Can you see him? Well, can you?

The special effects guys behind the original movie didn’t have any of the gadgets, gismos and CGI technology of the present day.  They had green screens, rope, cardboard and glue.  However, the scenes that they delivered had the vision, imagination and creativity sorely lacking in the modern day remake.

But there is one thing that I will admit goes in favour of the Man of Steel…and that’s the revamped costume.  It looks damn good.

I like it.

A lot.


It seems that in his quest to create a more edgy and moody portrayal of the legacy of Superman, the Director Zack Snyder, completely lost sight of the simplicity of the original storyline and the importance of the individual quirks of its characters.

His overuse of modern technology and specifically CGI, left the audience with uninspiring and creatively lacking scenes.  I would hazard a guess that he felt the audience would be so impressed at floating, teardrop shaped robots and animated steel storyboards that he would be forgiven for a weak storyline and characters lacking in substance.  He was wrong.

There is only one Superman.

Vintage Vases: They’re Hot, Hot, Hot!

I’ve been doing a little bit of internet trawling in an attempt to gleam whatever inspiration I can for the current design scheme that I’m putting together.

I’m talkin’ decorative accessories, here.

Vases, bowls, trinkets and whatever else falls into the decorative accessory category all have an important part to play in the overall visual impact of a space.  Just like cushions, they help to underpin or reinforce a particular design theme and/or style.  They are clever little buggers at helping to pull together a colour palette and most importantly they can help to inject personality and character.

You want the world to know how funky, edgy and quirky you are?  Do it with a vase…or three.  Yea, definitely three.  We’ve all heard those disgusting tabloid rumours about arranging items in groups of odd numbers, well it’s true.  I’m not sure of the scientific reasoning behind this but odd numbers in an arrangement provide a much more visually pleasing scene.

Newspaper Headline Anita Brown Design Studio Final

If you look very closely, you’ll notice that I even whipped up a teeny-tiny article to go with that headline. Yes, I know.

I think it’s also equally important to highlight the importance of shaking things up a little when it comes to your chosen items.  Yes, there are some very nice modern and contemporary offerings available but adding a vintage quality alongside these will completely transform the overall tone and visual appeal.

Here is a little collage I put together of some mid-century vases I spotted on eBay.  They all originate from West Germany and a few of them are the more well known ‘Jasba’ range.

Not too shabby, right?  They’re unique.  They’re vintage.  And they’re full of character.  I think I’ve made my point.

West German Vases

To illustrate how utterly yummy mixing and matching decorative ornaments can be, check out this little trio that takes centre stage in my living room.Jasba Vases

Here we have two 1970s Jasba vases sitting alongside a modern Rocha John Rocha vase from Debenhams.  A match made in heaven?  Indeed.

Decorative accessories don’t have to begin and end with just vases.  Books, vintage letters, sparkly finishes, glazed and matt are all welcome.  Heck, I use my Anglepoise lamp as a decorative piece more than a practical one.  Every time I glance at that Anglepoise I want to give it a playful nudge; this is what I mean by vintage items having so much character and personality.  Admittedly, forming a friendship with an inanimate object is going to raise a few eyebrows but hey, he’s my mucker and I won’t have anyone bad-mouthing him, got it?  I’m kidding of course…sort of.

Decorative Accessories

The only words of advice that I can offer, is to try and provide as much visual stimulation in your arrangements as possible; this can be achieved by ensuring that varying textures, heights, shapes and design styles are utilised.  But I would suggest that perhaps the colour palette is always linked in some way to provide consistency.

Collection of Vases Final

There are trillions of unique, unloved, vintage delights out there just begging to be given a little stage within your home to shine.  Instead of always hopping to Next, John Lewis or M&S for your decorative accessory ‘fix’, try the various online resources that offer a vintage alternative.

Be different, go vintage! 

It’s Nearly That Time…

AB Xmas copy

Georgian Design Is Like a Chanel Suit…

…it’ll never go out of style.

There’s no doubt that I’m a fan of contemporary design and this includes industrial inspired elements, a minimalistic aesthetic and vintage injections (but not all necessarily within the same room!).  But I also gaze adoringly at the various characteristics of Georgian design.  It’s extremely difficult to not be inspired by its elegant, refined simplicity.  It’s probably the only period of traditional design that will make me sit upright and pay attention.

But what’s even more intriguing about this period of design is its adaptability.  It can withstand injections of the ‘contemporary’ and it could be argued that because of its grand and imposing proportions, it provides an ideal backdrop to showcase contemporary design with a little bit of added drama.

Modern Georgian Interiors

I’ve recently been working on a few SketchUp tutorials that focus on creating an elevation based on a Georgian design concept and I decided to take this one step further by creating a few inspirational 3D visuals.

Here’s the elevation in question  (Sarah, I promise that the tutorials will be uploaded soon!!).  It demonstrates in particular the plasterwork detail (Crown moulding with frieze and picture rail, chair rail and skirting) and the traditional Damask wall covering, that was used in abundance during the Georgian period.

Georgian Elevation - Google SketchUp Final

And here are the 3D visuals.

Georgian Chandelier 3D Visual Final

Some parts of the image may appear out of focus…that’s because they are! I focused on the chandelier in this image when I rendered it, therefore it blurred everything in the background. How clever.


Modern Georgian 3D Visual Final 1

Modern Georgian 3D Visual Final 2

I took inspiration from this Robert Adam ceiling for the colour palette, to be honest I always refer to this ceiling for a little direction when it comes to the Georgian palette because it includes so many different shades.  And let’s be honest, it’s a pretty magnificent piece of art in its own right.

Robert Adams

So, allow me to take you through the finer details of my design concept.  I stayed fairly true to the traditional characteristics of Georgian design with the inclusion of that soft and whimsical powder blue shade, this can also be seen in the Damask patterned wallpaper.  I also included lots of gold guilding; this is evident on the mirror and picture frame, candle holders and curtain poles.

I decided to replicate the shade of blue worn by Miss Elizabeth Ingram (portrait) for the curtains, which retains consistency with the colour palette.  The richness of this shade of blue is also an effective contrast with the softer shades of blue used throughout.  The faux silk material adds to the opulence and elegance of this space.  I further reinforced the whimsical and softness of the general aesthetic of this room by adding white voile to the window treatments.  This fabric was actually quite a challenge to portray in a 3D visual and it’s something I have struggled with in the past but I’ve finally managed to achieve this look.  Hurrah!!

To break up the use of blue and white I’ve added mauve to the colour scheme – it’s also a very eye-catching contrast to this particular shade of blue but still retains accuracy with the colour palette of this period.

To inject a more modern twist and provide relief from the entire room appearing too heavily associated with tradition, I’ve added a multi-stripe rug that incorporates the colours used within the space (it also helps to tie in the use of mauve) and I’ve added two distressed mid-century chairs.  You might remember these chairs – they actually exist!!  I did a little Annie Sloan makeover on these little delights and reupholstered them using vintage fabric.  Again, the delicate floral pattern merely adds to the overall softness and elegance of this space.


Interested in achieving this look?

Georgian Board - Get The Look

Starting clockwise from top left; Harlequin multi-stripe rug, Bluebellgray Eric floral cushion, La Cerise Sur Le Gateau Alice Pois Cushion, Fired Earth ‘National Trust’ paint in Painters Grey, Damask Wallpaperfaux silk taffeta curtains, distressed chairvelvet Bouji chair in Cherry.

I did a lot of cursing when attempting to render this space because of the voile fabric and the droplets of the chandelier – these materials are not straight forward when it comes to rendering, however I’m really pleased with the final result.  The only downfall is that this space exists only in my mind…

SketchUp, Maxwell Render & Photoshop…Oh My!

I’m fairly getting to grips with this rendering stuff, but my aptitude seems to lie in the proficient use of Photoshop these days.  Why, oh why did it take me so long to jump on board the Photoshop train?

The evidence speaks for itself.  Or maybe it doesn’t.  If you can’t see the difference I may as well pack up my all my worldly belongings (which is basically my TV, laptop, Canon camera and 1990s mobile phone) and shut up shop.

I thought I’d take you through my post-processing routine.  I set my sights on contrast settings first.  The enhanced richness of the colours is very obvious.  And when it comes to wood grain, it really helps to tease out the detail.

Then I take a look at specific tones that need to be adjusted further.  For example, the kitchen units in this instance, have been edited.  Sometimes when you apply various lighting environments and material settings when rendering, the original colours and tones that were applied in the 3D model are affected.  Photoshop can help to right this wrong.

Next up is highlights.  All around this room are various highlights where light from either the environment settings (sun), or emitters (internal lighting) are bouncing off walls, furniture and accessories.  I like to emphasise highlights – it helps to exaggerate the overall effect and can add a little drama.  Sometimes I’ll add highlights that didn’t even exist in the original image.  Can you spot them in the image below?!

In the ‘before’ image,  part of the reflection in the mirror is blank because I used a Section Plane in the 3D model when I prepared it for rendering.  When this happens you lose part of the scene (obviously), which is only a major problem when there’s reflections.  I’ve managed to address this by copying the reflection from the mirror in a different rendered image.  How cool.  Yes, I’m very aware of how geeky I sound right now.

Then I’ll inspect patterns on furnishings etc.  Sometimes SketchUp can be a little tetchy when it comes to projected materials that have a pattern, it’s one of its greatest weaknesses (in my opinion).  So if the resulting render has a few problem areas I’ll use the clone tool in Photoshop to ensure a pattern has been repeated correctly.

Pre Anita’s Photoshop Wizardry

kitchen View Final 041213 Anita Brown Design Studio

Post Anita’s Photoshop Wizardry

Kitchen Final View Edited Anita Brown Design Studio

And here’s another example of how useful Photoshop can be.  The flames in the image below are very static and ‘fake’ looking.

Living Area 2 Final 041213

But once I’ve tweaked and fidgeted using Photoshop, they appear much more fluid and realistic.  I would imagine that the client wouldn’t take this level of detail under their notice.  But it’s my thing; I’m a stickler for detail.  It’s soooo difficult being me…

Living Area 2 Final 041213 Edited

I didn’t need to make too many adjustments to the image below.  I played around with the contrast setting and edited the flames.

Living Area Final 041213

Living Area Final 041213 Edited

This is how the visuals were presented to the client.

Amended Design - Final Presentation 3D Visuals

This isn’t my design concept, but there are bits ‘n’ pieces of Anita Brown Design Studio dotted in and around this space ;)

Belfast in December

I think this is the first time that Belfast city centre has had an outdoor ice rink.  I’m biased but I think this is pretty awesome.

I couldn’t resist taking a few shots and adding my creative touch.

Kinda makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, right?

Winter in Belfast 2

Winter in Belfast 3

Winter in Belfast 4

Photoshop is King

There’s no denying it.  Photoshop is probably my most favourite acquisition at the minute.  I, like a lot of people used to fear the word ‘Photoshop’.  I blame Microsoft – we’re so used to the MS interface that when we’re shown something different we’re  instantly intimidated by it.

And when I heard about the term ‘layers’?  What??  You use layers in the winter months to keep warm, right?  You describe yourself as having many ‘layers’ so that you come across as all mysterious and intriguing to the opposite sex, yes?  But ‘layers’ in a software programme?  I was outta there, pronto.

Until YouTube, that is.  There are some amazing tutorials that can basically tell you everything you need to know when it comes to image editing.  It truly is a fantastic resource and I for one would have been lost without it where my studies are concerned.  It has helped me get to grips with Google SketchUp, AutoCAD, Maxwell Render, Photoshop and GIMP.  That’s pretty awesome.  Round of applause for YouTube!

Anyway, I digress.

The following photos have been enhanced to varying degrees via Photoshop in an attempt to make them more visually striking.  Some are a little more dramatic than others but I’m sure you’ll agree that the difference is pretty impressive.

Blue Lightning TV is my ‘go to’ when it comes to interesting Photoshop effects.  This dude is so easy to follow and he takes it nice ‘n’ slow.  I’m sure some of you have experienced those tutorials where you can barely keep up; you know the ones, you have to keep replaying the same segment over and over again because you can’t actually SEE the cursor because the guy is whizzing through each screen.  Or he’s talking so fast that you actually lean closer to the screen to try and pick up that ONE WORD that’s pivotal to the entire tutorial!  The same dudes always have comments from angry viewers with the words ‘SLOW DOWN’ posted on their videos!!  Funny.

It can be as simple as adjusting the contrast, brightness and layers settings:

Distressed Door - Photoshop

I spotted this door as I made my way home from work one day. Can you believe that since I took this photograph that some weirdo has PAINTED it??!! It’s now all one shade of bland, boring and ordinary blue. Disgusting.

Or teasing out those colours and adding a soft Gaussian Blur to an image to help create a soft and slightly whimsical feel:

Blur Photoshop

My personal favourite is the ‘Duo Tone’ function, where you desaturate the image and add numerous coloured filters to completely transform its visual appeal.  A little like this:

Belfast Skyline Edited Photoshop

This is one of the views from my apartment. Honestly.

Or this.

Obel Belfast Edited Photoshop

These are very easy effects to achieve.  All you need is 20 mins, a cuppa and a little bit of determination.  Go forth and worship at the altar of Photoshop!

Oh, and these are all photographs that I have taken in and around my ‘hood’, Belfast.

Welcome to my 3D World

If I’m honest, I would probably admit to preferring the perfect lighting, straight walls and fingerprint-free world of 3D rendering compared to designing a space in reality.  It’s the ultimate form of escapism where Interior Design is concerned.

3D Visual Presentation - 2

It’s where I let my creative juices roam free.  Sometimes the results are astounding and sometimes they’re just plain wacky.  But hey, you gotta let your hair down sometimes, right?

3D rendering provides a realistic glimpse into a world of possibilities and conveys all of your design aspirations in a neat little 2D graphic.  It will accurately depict physical environment lighting, artificial lighting, reflections, shadows and textures to give you an insight into how a space could look in reality.

3D Visual Presentation - 4

What’s not to love?

3D Visual Presentation - 5

All of these renders (bar the first one, that was my design!) were professional commissions.  The 3D model is constructed using Google SketchUp Pro and is built to a scale of 1:1.  The renders are created using Maxwell Render.  All final presentations include 3 different angles and a to scale plan view of the space.

3D Visual Presentation - 6

Talk to me; I can make your design aspirations come to life.

3D Visual Presentation - 7

The Secret Life of the Desk

I recently acquired a new desk.

This was an important purchase for a few reasons:

  • I was starting to suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury, yes, yes very funny but seriously it ain’t a pleasant feeling.  One afternoon, after having spent all day on my laptop (from the comfort of my sofa) the index finger of my right hand had a throbbing (stoppit!), pain and then began to swell like, 3 times its size.  Ok, maybe 2 times its normal size.  Either way, it was sore.  And my finger stayed like that for 3/4 days.
  • I needed some sort of separation of space; so that every time I lounged on my sofa, I wasn’t constantly reminded of my procrastination where my studies and blog was concerned.
  • I liked the idea of having an industrious looking vibe in my apartment, in a Carrie Bradshaw kind of way, minus all the relationship bullshit, although I live in Belfast and not NYC.  I also don’t have Mr Big lusting after me either.  So basically, my Carrie Bradshaw vibe would have absolutely nothing to do with Carrie Bradshaw.
Carrie Bradshaw

The Great Carrie. I’m clearly the essence of her in every way, now that I have a desk in my open-plan apartment too. Clearly.

So the hunt began.

This desk had to be special.  It had to be symbolic of my creative pain, joy, triumph, perceived shortcomings and everything in between.  Yes, on any given day my opinion and mood regarding my creative ability can be that changeable.

It also had to be ridiculously cheap.  Actually, this was the most important factor.  Reality sucks, right?  But it also HAD to offer a little bit of a designer edge.  That’s who I am.  I can’t have ‘ordinary’, or ‘average’.  No, sir.

There’s only one place that can offer cheap, mixed with a little bit of the ‘funky’.

And that’s IKEA.

I’ve rambled previously about the wonder and awe of IKEA.  Check it out here.

I also enjoy building stuff.  There’s nothing better than digging out my ‘single girlie DIY survival pack’ of multifunction screwdriver, cordless drill and loads of other stuff – I would list them but I don’t know what they’re called.  Plugs?  That sounds wrong but I’m almost sure there’s plugs in there, although maybe I’m getting that confused with an entirely different ‘single girlie survival pack’….moving swiftly on.

Anyway, my DIY assembly techniques always involve background music, a glass of wine, with sheer and utter chaos strewn all over my living room floor.  It’s how I like it.

So, without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to my super duper, life enhancing desk.


A blind man on a galloping horse could see that the owner of this desk has her shit together. Even if the owner of said desk, clearly does NOT have her shit together.

I need to talk about design aesthetics here for a second.  So please humour me while I do just that.

This desk appealed to me because of its space saving design.  I HATE spaces that utilise every morsel of space and therein make a room appear smaller and cluttered.  HUGE pet-hate!!

It’s dark brown.  I dig dark brown furniture (I ain’t a pink and frilly type of gal).  I’m attracted to the strong, imposing masculine connotations of dark furniture, especially when its positioned in a neutral backdrop, it’s a very rich combination.  This particular desk also has metal detailing on one side, I felt it complimented the whole industrial vibe I have going on, especially when paired with the Tolix.  Yes, I mentioned Tolix again.  I’m sorry, I can’t help it!

The desk even has a cute little drawer.


Listen, don’t judge me, us creatives have to get our inspiration from somewhere.
Ok, sometimes we need A LOT of inspiration.
Notice how IKEA very kindly supplied 3 extra screw things. How thoughtful.

But I have to be honest, my desk doesn’t always reflect my organised, sensible and very ‘together’ lifestyle and outlook.


I’m intentionally avoiding ALL reference to rubber gloves.
I was so sure that I removed those.

It might be an unwilling participant but my desk is central to all of my creative highs, lows and certain periods of tipsy procrastination.  Actually, it’s the most stable and reliable force in my life at the minute.

I should really polish it more often.

Find Your Arty Side – Andy Warhol Style

This started out as an accidental ‘find’ on YouTube and was fairly light-hearted initially; but the effect was just so awesome and cool that it has now progressed somewhat!!  I appreciate that this is going to come across as pretty self-indulgent but I just had to upload the results onto my blog.

Would it be wrong and incredibly sad to hang these images on my wall, above my sofa?  Yea you’re right, it so would.

Andy Warhol copy

If you have Photoshop you should seriously try this (if you don’t have Photoshop, try GIMP instead; you can download it for free).

If you do attempt this please send me the results so that I can include them on my blog, like a little tribute to the great Andy Warhol!  I wrote a post previously about visiting an exhibition in Belfast dedicated to Mr Warhol, you can read it here.

Virtual Bathroom Design

Creating your dream bathroom has been made a trillion times easier thanks to Virtual Bathroom Designer.  This nifty piece of online software gives you all the tools you need to ‘virtually’ construct and design the bathroom you’ve only ever dreamed of (it even has quick tutorials too).

I decided to give this software a try and was pleasantly surprised with its user-friendly interface.  As a 3D Visualiser I’m used to constructing complex spaces using the industry leading software applications, but trust me when I say that a blind man on a galloping horse could use this software with ease.  EASE!

The components are incorporated into the floor plan using a simple ‘drag and drop’ format.  There are loads of different paint/flooring options, furniture (and not just for the bathroom), accessories and even Art!

Say goodbye to this:

Brown Bathroom Suite

And hellooooo to this:

Virtual Bathrooms Final 1

Virtual Bathrooms Final 2

Virtual Bathrooms Final 3


When it comes to bathrooms, I like a clean, earthy colour palette.  There’s a few different reasons for this: it’s elegant and timeless.  It’s also very easy on the eye and has a very calming atmospheric quality, therefore it’s an ideal palette when relaxing in the tub!  I’ve opted for natural floor tiles (keeps the space airy) and a fab chalky warm grey tone on the walls.  A feature wall has been tiled using a mixture of earthy tones for a little bit of added drama and to act as a contrast to the neutral tones used elsewhere.  In MY dream bathroom I’d have twin wall-mounted basins.  I mean really, who wouldn’t?!  This adds a luxurious quality, helps to retain the feeling of space (because you can still see the floor) and has great visual impact.  It’s also a very effective way of incorporating a streamlined storage solution.  Simple mirrors have been positioned above with wall lighting either side.  Layered lighting, as always is very important and a bathroom is no different.  Especially for areas that may require added illumination.

A modern free-standing bath has been positioned in a little nook with a window above to add a little visual interest.  I’ve also included a pretty spacious shower enclosure and additional storage via a tall chest.


I highly recommend that you experiment with the Virtual Bathrooms design tool to construct your dream bathroom.  The possibilities are endless!



Big Announcement! Big! HUGE!

I found out today that my blog has been nominated for the Amara Interior Blog Awards 2014.  There’s public voting, a panel of judges and even an awards ceremony.

Oooooooooh, posh!!

The nominations for these awards close on 5 September 2014 and then at some stage (not sure when), the public voting commences.  And this is when I’ll be calling upon my followers, readers, family, friends and foes (there aren’t that many, just 1 or 20…foes, I’m talking about foes, not my friends cos I’ve got like loads of those…aye alright, I’ve got 1 or 20 of those too), to make a dash for the website that I’ll eventually provide a link to, so that they can vote for my blog to be shortlisted!!!!

So, without getting on bended knee and grovelling (but I will, if I have to), I would really appreciate if you could all take 2 seconds out of your hectic schedules to vote for my blog so that it can reach the shortlist.

VOTING hasn’t started yet!!  So don’t panic!  This is just a head’s up!

*******Watch This Space for further updates*******


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