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

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

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.

Guest Bedroom - bulb

Simplicity at its best

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.

The NDA Unofficial Field Trip – London 2013

My day started at 04:45 on Saturday morning; I dragged my sorry a$$ out of bed repeating to myself that the early start was worth it.  Because on Saturday I ventured to London to meet a dozen individuals that I had only ever corresponded with via an online forum.  Just to clarify: an online student forum.  Not one of those dodgy chat-rooms or equally dubious Dating sites.  No, this was all very above board and completely in the interests of furthering our Interior Design studies.  Honestly.

All of the eager attendees made their way from various corners of the UK, for some it was a hop, skip and a jump, for a few poor sods it involved a lengthy train ride and in my case, an aeroplane ride.

Before I knew it slightly awkward introductions mixed with tentative hugs and air kisses ensued as we met each other at our designated meeting point (The Regency Hotel, South Kensington) and put faces to names.  At this early stage in the proceedings there was an abundance of hands-in-pocket’s, whilst desperately looking for a few stones to kick and a few rushed, mediocre one-liners (namely by yours truly) in an attempt to break the ice.

Kicking Stones 1

However, with the clear London sky smiling down at us the leisurely dander to the Victoria & Albert Museum provided an excellent opportunity for small-talk, chit-chat and girly-gossip that most definitely eased the previous desire to stare at the ground.  The early signs were there: we were going to get on fabulously and without a hitch.  Thank God.  Cos let’s be honest being stuck in London with 12 possible fruit-loops is not one’s idea of the perfect weekend, although to be fair I was probably placed in the ‘possible fruit-loop’ category and I have no problem with that whatsoever!

The V&A is a mighty impressive building – both its exterior and interior.  The various exhibition pieces inside encouraged many topics of conversation and also the odd delay to proceedings with the ‘usual suspects’ wandering off now and again – you know who you are!!!  It also provided me with a new experience: Gluten free almond cake.

I have decided with no hesitation that I don’t care for Gluten free almond cake.

Or should I say Gluten free FAUX almond cake because I’m telling you now, I could not taste almonds at all.  NOTHING.  I could taste NOTHING.  However, the impressive lighting and the highly decorated ceiling in the café area was the distraction I needed from the challenge of trying to finish the highly unpleasant cake that had the texture of a sponge sitting in front of me.

V&A Cafe

There were 3 of these bad boys in the café – they were huge and extremely sparkly. I want one for my living room; I wouldn’t be able to get one of these through my front door but I want one nonetheless.

A brief collage sort of thing to round up a view items that interested me at the V&A Furniture exhibit (I’m going to do a little bit of name dropping here but some of the pieces below were designed by Charles Eames, Thomas Chippendale, Eileen Gray and Marcel Breuer):


The ‘NDA Crew’ posing for a photo in the V&A (taken by a stupid bloke who cut off some of their feet and he had the audacity to take this photo 3/4 times….sheesh).  One other student who isn’t in this photo did actually meet us later for dinner – so apologies that her presence on the day hasn’t been captured.


Another photo opportunity beckoned when we decided to take a break and enjoy the glorious weather in the courtyard.  Don’t be fooled by those smiling eyes and cheery dispositions, in reality we were all quickly detesting the sight of each other and were cursing the fact that we had willingly agreed to spend the weekend together.  I’m kidding, of course.  Sort of.

Test 1 (2)

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering in and out of various furniture shops with The Conran Shop being the most highly anticipated.  And frankly I’m astounded that its exterior is so unattractive and uninspiring.  Seriously, this is an ugly building.  And what is the significance of Michelin??  Weird.  I have formally declared this building the ‘uncooked prawn ring’ shop because those awful grey bands at the top of this building are the same hue as an uncooked prawn (and the yellow tyres actually resemble little wedges of lemon that would compliment the prawns beautifully).  As we were making our way to The Conran Shop I slagged off this building for a full 5 minutes before realising that this WAS The Conran Shop.

The Conran Shop

We all know that I have a strange obsession with Tolix chairs (which I still don’t fully understand myself) so the biggest highlight once inside the uncooked prawn ring building was the sight of 8 Tolix chairs (that incidentally have a combined value of £1,680).  Result!!  What a wonderful way to enjoy an afternoon….being SURROUNDED by 8 Tolix chairs!!  Awesome.

Tolix Chairs

I wanted to get much more intimate with all of these chairs but common decency prevented me from doing so.  So I did what any normal person would do whilst visiting the highly regarded Conran Shop in London; I put my feet up (literally).  I should note that I absolutely love the shade of these chairs – they are quite literally the colour of vanilla ice-cream and as such have seriously strong retro vibes.  Love, love, love.

Obsession with Tolix

Oh, how I love thee, let me count the ways…

We made our way from one Interiors/Furniture shop to another and generally bitched about the ridiculous prices and criticised the high-end designs (whilst being continually surveyed by staff who thought they were in the SAS, especially when one of our ‘party’ tended to clumsily lift the flippin heaviest objects she could find…love you!!).  The polished, muted and minimal designs in a lot of these stores (you know the ones; Cassina, B&B Italia etc.) kinda morphed into one another because they were so similar but one shop instantly caught our attention.  The contents of this shop were simply a feast for the eyes.  We decided that the elaborate form of the furniture coupled with their  kaleidoscope of colours and patterns, would have made them perfect selections for Willy Wonka’s office.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out:

Willy Wonka

‘Come with meeeeee and you’ll beeeeee, in a world of pure imagination…’

On a much more serious note (God, I loved Willy Wonka…how many of you have been suddenly transported back to your childhood??!!), I appreciated the quirkiness of these designs and their sense of presence but my only criticism is that none of them were pieces of upcycled furniture, nor was the fabric upcycled.  Which is a shame really.

Quirky Furniture

By the end of the evening we were very much looking forward to a few glasses of wine and a decent plate of grub; so we made our way to Cote Bistro in Kensington.  Everything was fine until ‘roasted red pepper-gate’; where one of our ‘party’ was supposed to have received roasted peppers in her Goat’s Cheese salad and well, quite simply didn’t.  TWICE.  She very politely informed the waitress of this traumatic discovery and when her new salad bowl arrived, it was STILL missing those all elusive roasted peppers.  The injustice!!!  The only way to explain why she was so upset at not having received roasted peppers in her salad is that earlier in the day our friend had been daydreaming about these succulent little fellas.  A bit like this:

Roasted Red Pepper Craving

Ho, ho ,ho!!!  I’m only kidding, chum!!  You had every right to demand those roasted peppers!!

Laughs were aplenty that night until the next morning when I awoke and attempted to get out of bed.  My back, legs, feet and even my eyelashes hurt.  This wasn’t good.  Not good at all.  After a few coffees and a sampling of absolutely divine tray bakes the ‘last girls standing’ headed to Harrods (at this stage a lot of goodbyes and much less tentative hugs had been exchanged as each of our party went their separate ways).

Harrods was, um, ok I guess.  Nothing to get too excited about.  It was the buskers outside Harrods that really grabbed my attention.  They were amazing!  I mean, a three piece band for goodness sake!!  And the sound was really impressive, so much so that a crowd had gathered.


Busking, London style.

As our last day dwindled to our last 30 minutes we decided to rest our burning feet and grab a coffee at Starbucks.  This should have been a run-of-the-mill experience but the very pleasant guy who served me decided to turn this into a very out-of-the-ordinary experience.  No sooner had I given him my money IStarbucks was being told how ‘attractive’ I was in front of my new friends and whatever queue there was behind me.  How random!  And as we made our way out of Starbucks he faced me with his arms outstretched; so I duly obliged and gave him a hug much to the amusement of his colleagues behind the counter who decided that such an event deserved a round of applause!!  I kid you not!  Ok, ok I’ll admit that I loved every minute of it.  Ok?  Happy now??!

All in all, this little field trip turned out to be one of the best weekends I’ve had in quite a while and what unquestionably made it so much more enjoyable and special was meeting people in person that I had known previously via an online student forum for at least a year (in some cases two years).  We have provided support, encouragement and the proverbial shoulder to cry on at various times throughout our studies, so it was a thrill to be finally in their company and share some great laughs.  A big thank you to everyone who attended and helped to make our field trip such a great success.

Here’s hoping for Part II.

For The Modernist Lovers

I’ve previously alluded to my dislike of the Modernist era where architecture and interior design is concerned.  I think the main reason why I’m not a fan is because of its quite stark and bleak presence.  But I AM a fan of modern design.  I like crisp straight lines.  I appreciate industrial design elements and  I’m a fan of streamlined and no-fuss interiors but the extreme variations that were produced during the early Modernist ‘movement’ do not appeal to me.  Although, I can understand why the pioneers of Modernism experimented in such a fashion – it was all about expressionism and experimentation after all.  New materials and a new mind-set = new design.

And if it wasn’t for their ‘outside the box’ attitude; where they fought against tradition and historic influences we wouldn’t have the modern designs and architecture that we have today.

So, as a nod to the Modernist lovers I’ve uploaded the assignment that I was required to produce as part of my Degree studies.  Of all the work I submitted for this module; the Modernist report achieved the highest mark.  Go figure.

If there is anything that particularly inspires you about this period, please feel free to leave a comment!

Modernism 1

Modernism 2

Modernism 3

Modernism 4

Modernism 5

Modernism 6

Modernism 7

Modernism 8

Modernism 9

Modernism 10

Modernism 11

Modernism 12

Embrace the Cushion!

My personal life this week has been a little challenging to say the least so when I became the owner of a new cushion that I had won in a competition courtesy of Sarah Myall at Design29 Interiors, it was a very welcome treat.  Sarah has a thriving interior design business with an ever-growing samples library of scrumptious designer delights that are sure to impress.  Check out her website here.

It’s always nice to acquire something new.  And it’s even better when you had to spend diddly-squat in order to possess it.  I deemed the arrival of said cushion as very exciting.  You’re wondering why a cushion can be exciting, right?

Allow me to explain.

Cushions are the secret weapon of interior design.  They are little pockets of greatness that can inject colour, pattern, texture and individuality.  They help to co-ordinate or contrast and can visually lift an entire design scheme.  Seriously, that’s pretty impressive.

AND it also means that my shrine to all things vintage/industrial inspired is finally complete.  How awesome.

Imogen Heath Cushion 1

Imogen Heath’s cushions are all handmade and utterly bespoke.  So, if you fancy injecting some cheerful geometrics or abstract florals into your room, this is the perfect way to do it.  You can find out more about Imogen via her website here.

So, my shrine to all things vintage/industrial inspired is now complete.  And you’ll be pleased to know that this will be my last post on the subject of my little overhaul!  It’s an eclectic mix of modern meets vintage and I personally think it’s a breath of fresh air to my room that was previously designed in a very modern and one dimensional style.

If you’d like to face the fear and inject a little bit of individuality and quirkiness into your space then check out my tips on achieving this look.

Eclectic - Get the Look

Aspiring Designer In the Spotlight – A Victorian Overhaul

This ‘aspiring designer’ has taken her Victorian home and dragged it kicking and screaming into the 21st century.  Maybe the property didn’t kick and scream at all; maybe it whooped and cheered at the thought of being overhauled because the results are astounding and a testament to the commitment, hard work, design skills and vision of its very talented owners.

Victorian Facade

Number 28 is the property in question. A modest Victorian facade that conceals a period interior that has successfully merged traditional with contemporary.

Before Pics

A few ‘before’ shots to tantalise the taste buds!! As you can see the interior was far from shabby before the renovation commenced. Whilst it was decorated in a muted and tasteful manner – the colour choices and furnishings were definitely very understated and ‘safe’.

Renovation Pics

Exposed brick, crumbling plaster, stripped floor boards and lots of dust: this can only mean one thing.  RENO!!!  Click on the image below to increase viewing pleasure.  Trust me, you won’t regret it!


Contemporary Colour Palette

The image below illustrates a space that is successful in acknowledging period detailing but also incorporates a contemporary twist.

There is nothing more refreshing than witnessing traditional and contemporary standing side-by-side.  There’s a simple reason for this: they compensate for what the other is lacking.  Contemporary colours and form rejuvenate and refresh the more traditional (and possibly more ‘serious’) aspects of the space; whereas the traditional elements assist in adding individuality, character and a sense of grounding to the more ‘frivolous’ contemporary aspects.

The original moulding and fireplace (I’m told that this property dates back to approx. 1891) are the true featues in this room – there’s no doubt about that but my immediate reaction to the yellow-green backgrounds of the storage units?  FABULOUS!!!  What a great way to introduce colour!!  The rustic flooring, tactile rug and comfy corner sofa all ensure that this space doesn’t get too big for its Victorian boots by being all aloof and full of self importance.  You want to admire its period features but at the same time you wouldn’t have any problems curling up on the sofa with 50 Shades of a decent book.    

Living Room 1

This is my kind of bathroom: it’s spacious (beyond belief…bathroom envy anyone?), it has depth and richness due to the use of dark wood and the clever incorporation of Victorian inspired tiles is a subtle reminder of the property’s historical value.


I’d like to thank the designer of this breathtaking interior, Suzie Brown (and her husband!) for providing me with such fantastic images and for allowing me to publish them via my blog.

To Meddle, Or Not To Meddle

So, I was minding my own business when my new, shiny companion (mobile phone) buzzed at me.  Well, I’m not quite sure if it buzzed.  It might have dinged, chimed or wolf-whistled.  There’s about 57 different ringtone alerts for every ‘push notification’ that I receive and I haven’t quite worked out which one corresponds to which notification yet.

But I’m almost sure it wolf-whistled.

Anyway, the point is I received an email from a prospective client with a query regarding my interior design services.

Yes folks, I’m now designing interiors, for like, real.  Scary thought, right?

I can’t really divulge too much about this particular project due to confidentiality but once it’s complete I’ll seek the necessary permission and upload photos of the finished result.

I. Can’t. Wait. 

All of the rooms will be designed with a contemporary, classical style (leaning more towards contemporary) to pay homage to the surroundings (this will all make sense once I’ve uploaded the photos) and to reinforce these classical elements I’ve decided to include a statement chair in the bedroom.  It’s an antique French Balloon Back chair.  I instantly recognised its awesomeness…can you use the word ‘awesomeness’ to describe such an elegant, refined and historical piece?

Yes, yes I believe you can.

There’s only one reason why I immediately recognised this chair’s characteristics.  And that’s because of my interior design studies.  I had to complete a module entitled ‘Design in Historical Context’ and to be honest, as soon as I clapped eyes on that title I felt my shoulders slump.

The whole module sounded, well, boring.  So, I studied the history of Modernism and also a local property that had an element of historical significance.  And I have to admit that whilst the learning curve was quite steep, I did actually enjoy certain aspects of my research.

Bear with me, I’ll be getting to the point soon.  Honest.

I was also required to design a room within the local property that honoured the characteristics of design during that period.

I hated every minute of this particular assignment, I’m just not a ‘traditional’ type and I found it extremely challenging to design a space reflective of the Victorian period.  Ugh.  This was the board I put together for the design of said space.

Victorian Board

I’m not a fan of the Victorian period (I’m allllllll about the Georgian), but I quite liked this shape of chair.  I trawled and trawled and then trawled the internet some more, to find a chair I liked.  Which is why I’m now very familiar with this ‘Balloon Back’ style.

So, it’s quite nice to meet one in the flesh.  And when I say ‘one’, I mean an original French one from the early 1900s.  Actually, it’s not nice.  It’s downright thrilling.

Where are my manners?  Allow me to introduce you.

 Antique French Balloon Back Chair

No sooner had I clapped eyes on it, I started inspecting it like a soldier in a line-up.  Its wood grain, how it felt to the touch, the carving and its fabric all came under close scrutiny.  It was even flipped upside down in the most undignified manner so that I could get a closer look underneath.  Once I had become fully acquainted with its characterful charm, I decided that it most definitely belonged in my design scheme.

But I would have preferred it to be a little more ‘aged’.  A few scuffs and some little knocks and bumps to its finish would have injected much more character.  But then, how much more character does it need?  It’s antique for goodness sake!  From France!  It’s already steeped in history, right?!

So, my question is this: should I distress it even more or leave it untouched?  Should I reupholster it in a modern fabric to give it a little quirky edge?  C’mon, don’t let me down, let’s start a little debate on the pros and cons of meddling with historical pieces of furniture.

The floor is yours.

The Miracle of Post Processing

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  If you want to master 3D rendering, it’s not just the rendering software that you need to familiarise yourself with: you need to include post processing techniques as well.

It’s also important to use the correct file type, particularly when rendered images are being viewed digitally.  I’ve found that the PNG file format provides a much clearer overall image.

I’ll let the images below do the talking.  It’s worth pointing out that the changes in the images below involved more than just fiddling with contrast settings!  The beauty of incorporating post processing, is that not only will the image be greatly enhanced but little mistakes can be addressed pretty swiftly.

Georgian Space  1 - Final 2

Georgian Chandelier 3D Visual Final


Georgian Space  1 - selection

Modern Georgian 3D Visual Final 1


Georgian Space  1 - Final Chairs

Modern Georgian 3D Visual Final 2


New Feature – Tutorials

I’m giddy beyond all belief.

I’ve discovered an amazing FREE screen capture application that allows you to video stuff from your very desktop.  Seriously, I’m like a kid at Christmas here.

If you’ve ever wanted to hear my dulcet tones (yes, I’m joking), then you’ve come to the right place!  I’m dipping my little pinkies into the world of online tutorials, starting with the ravishing, Google SketchUp.


I’m not sure if my teaching methods are up to scratch but I’ve watched enough online tutorials to know that they are a vital resource if you are self-teaching.  It can be daunting, challenging and extremely frustrating to attempt teaching yourself CAD software; I know this only too well.  So I hope that my tutorials ease you gently into the world of Google SketchUp without too many tears or tantrums.

That’s assuming you can decipher my thick Northern Irish accent.  Maybe I should include subtitles…hmmmm.

If there are any specific areas of this 3D modelling application that you’d like included, please let me know and I’ll do my best to provide a quick and painless tutorial.

The first tutorial is extremely basic – just a few pointers on how to construct a very simple house design.  Like, REALLY simple.  But you gotta start somewhere, right?

You’ll find my Google SketchUp tutorials at the top of my homepage, just hover your cursor over the word ‘tutorials’ and a cute little submenu will appear.  Or, for those of you who are too lazy, just click here.

I’m so geeked!

My ‘Professional’ Crush

The Professionals

I have a vague recollection of watching the iconic British TV show ‘The Professionals’ growing up as a child in the 80s.  But being a hardcore ‘girly’ girl I was pretty dismissive and uninterested in the various car chases, forward lunges and fist fights of its leading characters.  My Brother however, adored it and I remember that with much more clarity.

It wasn’t until I decided to venture home from work one day during my lunch break that my eyes were well and truly opened to the visual appeal, cheeky-chappy charm and downright irresistible pout of the one and only Bodie aka Lewis Collins.

I randomly tuned into ITV4 (a digital channel in the UK), where they continually show reruns of pre-historic ‘golden oldie’ British TV shows.  The Professionals was one of them.  Instead of opting for a crumby chat show, I decided to give The Professionals an opportunity to impress me, while I munched on my uninspiring ham sandwich.

And to my surprise, it did.  I was glued to it.  The cheesy one-liners, the schoolboy humour and the onscreen chemistry between the two leading characters (Bodie and Doyle), had me hooked.  Ok, I’ll admit that Lewis Collins was a huge contributor to my new appreciation of The Professionals.  And the storylines were so compelling, yes, utterly compelling.  I’m lying, I wouldn’t be able to relay any of the storylines.

No wait, I can!  The first episode of the first season was pretty darn good.  Watch it from 2:55, Bodie’s (questionable) chivalrous manner will have you forever endeared to his many charms.

Let’s talk a little more about this captivating chap, shall we?  His character was portrayed as a ‘man’s man’, a bit of a lad, who liked to woo the ladies.  He was also a bit gruff and more than willing to get his hands dirty in the name of justice.  If I met someone like him in reality, he wouldn’t stand a chance but this was Lewis Collins.  And he was HOT.

I was so captivated by this luscious specimen of a man that I even dedicated my Facebook Cover Page to him for a while.  In a very sophisticated and subtle manner, of course.

Neets and Bodie 4ever

C’mon now, how many men do you know can pull off brooding masculinity in a Polo Neck?
Don’t even get me started on his pout.

Actually he was a man of many talents.

Lewis Collins - The Professionals - Anita Brown Design Studio

How had I spent most of my life in complete and utter ignorance of this man??  I had to Google ‘The Professionals’ because I didn’t even know this actor’s name.  There was only one thing for it: I had to buy the box set.  It cost me £60, which kinda stuck in my throat for 8 seconds but I got over it.  Intriguingly, I also find that the opposite sex are usually quite impressed when I mention that I have The Professionals box set, ya know?


I letched over, I mean watched every episode in a week.

So it was extremely saddening to learn today that Lewis Collins passed away yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 67.  And even though he was out of the spotlight for quite some time, I received a number of texts from friends who were also saddened by this news.

His portrayal of Bodie in The Professionals is historic, boys growing up in the 70s and 80s wanted to be him and during this time he awoke the loins of trillions of female fans on a global scale and last year his antics on The Professionals roused my attention.  He may have been a 1970s and 80s stud but an intriguing onscreen presence, overtly masculine sex appeal and good old fashioned charm will never date.

RIP Lewis Collins.

The Highs and Lows of an Interior Design Journey

I started studying Interior Design in 2011.  Although, I had started to think about studying this subject a good 6 years before that.  But certain commitments and conflicting priorities at that time prevented me from doing so.

All those years ago I remember browsing through countless websites and college prospectus’ on a regular basis.  I desperately wanted to study design and I couldn’t resist the temptation of leafing through the colourful, glossy pages of a world that seemed so far out of my reach.  Even though I had achieved moderate success, I was growing increasingly frustrated and dissatisfied with my career of choice (office based) and felt that as a ‘creative’ my true calling lay in Interior Design.

My home became symbolic of my growing interest in this field.  It felt completely natural for me to approach home improvements with a meticulous, design focused eye.  I researched, pondered and thoroughly investigated each renovation project and loved every minute of it.  Perhaps it was a convenient escape from the realities and challenges of life at that time but either way I fully embraced this creative outlet and it in turn, provided me with a great sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.

I even realised a personal goal of having my home featured in a Design magazine.  Before I knew it, a journalist and a photographer were sitting in my living room asking me questions about my personal style, sources of inspiration and useful tips that I could impart to the reader.  I stood awkwardly in the background as they unloaded a car with props and set about making my home more ‘reader friendly’; fresh flowers, a cheese board, fine china and countless other accessories were dotted around my kitchen, as I prepared myself for the obligatory ‘reader’s home’ photo.

I felt sheer and utter excitement, satisfaction and perhaps a little smug at having a Design magazine validate my ability where interior design was concerned.  At that time in my design endeavours this was a huge milestone, even though in reality, I knew so little about interior design.  Yes, looking back, I can definitely see that I knew very little about design!  *Cringes*

My life has changed a lot from that article was published (5 years ago), that house and the life I lived at that time is firmly in the past.

But seriously, what a beautiful fireplace.

I’ve also shed quite a few pounds since then.  Those hips don’t lie!

Your Home Article - Anita Brown Design Studio 1

Your Home Article - Anita Brown Design Studio 2

I grabbed this new chapter of my life with gusto.  I left a life in the country and took up residence in a city centre pad.  For the first time in quite a few years I was hopeful and optimistic about the future.  In my new found zest for life, I even abseiled down my apartment building (it’s 279 ft in height) and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Well, I didn’t enjoy the part where I slammed into the side of the building as I went over the edge but you know, on the whole it was an uplifting experience!  Those bruises on my knees took ages to disappear.


For a few added giggles (and for your viewing pleasure), I’ve also included a video that was taken (unbeknown to me) prior to this momentous occasion.  The voices belong to my Mum, Dad and Sister.  And yes, for some strange reason my Mother mentioned my posterior….still not entirely sure why.  Check out that awesome Belfast accent, don’t you just love it (*sarcasm)?!

And then I did it.  I enrolled on an Interior Design course.  I had a renewed sense of purpose.  I was going to finally quench my thirst for more knowledge when it came to applying the principles of interior design.

I was beyond giddy.

I attained my Diploma in 2012 and now I’m studying a Foundation Degree in Interior Design.  I’ve demonstrated a range of skill sets that I never knew I had.  I’ve taught myself some of the most challenging software applications on the design market today and I’m always being told that I’m ‘inspiring’; that I’m talented and have a great future in design.

So why am I suddenly wavering?  At what stage do you lose sight of your original goals and become disillusioned, restless or demotivated?  And how do you get yourself back on track?  Admittedly, the daily pressures and challenges of life will always have an impact on your ability to remain focused and driven.  And that’s where I find myself at the minute.  The challenges and pressures are overshadowing my desire to succeed and the only thing that’s keeping me from throwing in the proverbial towel, is the fact that I would be doing myself a terrible disservice by not honouring the natural ability and talent for interior design that I seem to have.

Setting personal goals is easy, demonstrating the commitment and determination  to achieve them is the difficult part.


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