I recently had the opportunity to chat to mother and daughter duo from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand who are the creative masterminds behind Essence of Kmart. MC and Kat are both passionate about interior design and styling and decided to start recording their efforts for Instagram and just see how it went. 1300 followers in a few short months later, two things are clear - that people love Kmart home decor and Kat and MC have a real eye for styling and design.
Kat and MC have shared their tips and tricks to achieving amazing styling efforts in your home and on a budget.
"Instagram has given us new inspiration and ideas to create a new canvas as we decorate our home"
What tips would you give someone trying to style their house for the first time?
Styling your home for the first time may seem daunting, but there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to interior design. Interior design is about finding out what works for you in your space.
Our top tip for first timers would be to find out what your style is. Do you like Scandinavian, Industrial, Art Deco, Minimalist, and the list goes on. Search on Instagram for accounts that match your style - look for bloggers, interior designers, or even just interior lovers (like us) that you like and follow them. You will see design ideas that you like, and even if your budgets are different, you will be able to take these ideas to create something that is unique within your budget.
Our second piece of advice would be to start with a plan for your design. Know what key pieces of furniture you want, then build on your space gradually so that you create a space you will love for a long time. Adding to your space gradually will ensure that you don’t over style your room by crowding too much into your space. This also stretches out the fun of shopping for your home. Be adventurous with your styling, as this will create an individual look which will match your personality.
What is the secret to flawless styling?
There are plenty of designers out there who will tell you what the secret to flawless styling are, but we have kept our list to 4 top tips:
1. Consider the placement of your furniture. Getting your furniture placement perfect is an important key to how a room looks and feels. Know the focal point of your room (be it a fireplace or tv etc) and try different furniture placement around that focal point. The obvious placement of furniture may not necessarily be the best look. Move your furniture around until you find a layout that looks right.
2. Layer your space. Putting art work and curtains on your walls will give your room balance by moving the eyes upwards to visually spread out your design. Otherwise your room will appear bottom heavy and less interesting.
3. Put personality into your room with your accessories. Style your room with accessories that have meaning to you, and have a story to tell. Don’t buy everything off the shelf that has no importance to you.
4. Light - natural light will change the look of a room instantly. If you don't have enough natural light in your room, consider how you can add light to your room by adding a mirror to reflect the light you do have. Consider neutral or white paint colours for your walls and ceilings, and the colour of your window treatments.
How do you ensure your home stays unique?
Creating a unique space is about being brave enough to be yourself when styling your space. Make a space your own by styling with accessories that you love, make you happy and have a story. This will turn an average room into a space unique to you. Follow trends if you want, but include timeless pieces that you will love for a long time.
How could you go wrong when styling with Kmart products?
At the moment, Kmart is setting new boundaries with their decor range, so there isn't a lot that can go wrong if you stick to your style. Our personal view is not to overdo too many Kmart accessories in one room. We like to mix and match our accessories from Kmart with items from other stores so that we keep our space original and not looking like a Kmart brochure. This raises the impact of the budget item which someone who doesn’t shop at Kmart would not suspect as a Kmart purchase. Mixing and matching products from more than one store applies to all stores (not just Kmart) so that you can add creativity into your space.
Make sure you have a place for that newly released Kmart item you are lusting over, otherwise it could end up cluttering your room and swiftly altering your styling efforts, or thrown in a storage cupboard never to be seen. As with anything, don’t impulse buy Kmart products and regret it later. Just because everyone else is raving about the latest side table or canister, it may not work in your space. Stick to your design plan!
Another tip is to make sure your Kmart product is in tip top shape. Sometimes the item you love in an IG photo doesn't match up in reality, so check your Kmart product for any flaws/colour variations before leaving the shop. You don't want to buy a chipped marble tray or a cracked wooden chopping board. Kmart products are not expensive, but as the saying goes - you do get what you pay for – so make sure your item is in good condition.
When you're working with a large space, what is the best way to approach styling that won't bankrupt you?
The first and most important tip is to set a budget that you can afford and stick to it. There are cheaper imitations of lots of expensive products out there so do your research, and search for designer items that fit within your budget. You can style a room on any budget; you just need to be more creative if your budget is small.
The quickest, easiest and most affordable option for changing the look of your room is paint. Paint is your friend. Painting your walls a different colour will change your room in an instant. Keep in mind also that if you don't want to be repainting your walls in two years’ time to keep up with the latest colour trends, stick to neutrals or white tones with your paint.
Furniture is also a big expense. Take a serious look at your current furniture. Do you already own a sofa in good condition that could be modernized by re-upholstering the fabric? Can you upcycle an old retro side board for a modern look by painting it. Consider looking on Trade Me or EBay for second hand furniture that you could upcycle to suit your room for a fraction of the cost. If second hand items aren’t your thing, then find a sofa you love, and wait for a sale. If it’s a large chain store, they will have sale on furniture several times a year, and you could save hundreds. When looking at furniture, also consider the size of your space. Small furniture in a large room will look unbalanced and if you were to fill your room with too much small furniture your space will look cluttered, so match the size of your furniture to the proportions of your space.
"We think anyone can style on any budget. Even small budgets can create an amazing canvas. It is about being creative with the budget you have"
Another instant hit is a collection of overstuffed large cushions as this creates a luxurious feel. If you are handy on the sewing machine, or maybe your Grandmother still has hers, make your own cushion covers from any fabric you like and stuff it with a plush cushion inner. This will add personality to your room and keep your budget under control.
Scour second hand shops or garage sales for budget friendly items like light fittings, furniture and accessories that will give your space a unique designer look at a fraction of the price. Pre-loved designer pieces will give your space some individuality. Other budget friendly stores, like Kmart and Target, also have a great range of accessories that will make your budget go further. Shop around, and look for a bargain.
Greenery is big in interiors right now. So bring the outdoors in with pot plants. If you have a large space, then buy a large plant as a small plant will look insignificant. Remember to match the scale of your room. The popular Fiddle Fig is a large leafy plant, so if you can get your hands on one, it will make a great impact statement in your space. Styling your pot with a wire basket, belly basket etc will up-style a boring pot plant container into a stylish feature plant.
Do you have any photography tips for capturing your styling efforts?
Using a good quality camera and good lighting is very important when taking a good photo. We use a Canon camera for all our photos to get the best quality. Also hazy photo's taken in poor light won't do your home/products any justice. If you have a quality camera, play with the settings to improve the light quality of your picture. Shutter speed can improve the light in the image from light to dark, so play with your settings to get the best outcome. Use natural light when taking photos - try not to use lights to lighten your picture as this will give off a yellow glow to the picture. Take lots of photos at different angles, and then put them up on your computer screen and pick the best one. Think of yourself as a Magazine Editor picking the best pic - you are editing your own photos for the best effect.