This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Does It Spark Joy? Inspired Storage Ideas From Five Great Australian Designers

Interiors

Thanks to the wonders of Netflix, Marie Kondo is having a real moment. The Japanese guru of tidying has everyone assessing if their old sports tee-shirts spark joy, following a new folding regime, and de-cluttering their lives with joyful abandon.

We’re not entirely on board with the purist Kondo approach though. Aside from the deluge of clothes hitting Australian op-shops, it all just feels a little, well… extreme.

So, in the spirit of tidying up without purging your entire wardrobe, we have asked five of our favourite Australian designers for their best storage solutions! Minimal living shouldn’t be about discarding things, but rather about careful purchasing, and functional home storage. And these excellent ideas from Lauren Li, Mim Design, Louella Boitel-Gill, David Flack and Carole Whiting are sure to spark joy!

7th February, 2019

In this project by Sisällä, the in-built cabinetry slides open on both sides, to reveal a hidden TV behind the bookshelves, and a door though to the guest room beyond! Photo – Tess Kelly.

Interior by Lauren Li of Sisalla. Lauren highlights, ‘My number one storage tip is to start with the entry. When everything has its place where the family enters, the whole house runs smoothly.’ Photo – Tess Kelly.

Lauren recommends storage that has a mix of open and closed compartments incorporated in the design, such as the String System from Great Dane, as seen in Derek Swalwell’s house, captured by Eve Wilson.

‘Built-in storage in kids spaces is so valuable. It can be customized to fit specific school bags, sports bags and library bags. Shoes are stored, ipads charged and notices are noticed’ says Lauren. Photo – Tess Kelly.

Where built-in isn’t an option, a few key pieces can serve a function and still look great. A bench seat, hooks, mirror and a console for keys and to store mail means that the space works and you’ll never lose the keys again. Photo – Tatjana Plitt.

Miriam McGarry
Thursday 7th February 2019

‘For me, the most depressing thing about ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ is that an absolutely bare room is celebrated.’ – Lauren Li.

Lauren Li of interior design and decoration firm Sisällä guides us through her strategies for keeping and displaying sentimental items, and using beloved objects as forms of decoration.

Hey Lauren! What is your take on the Marie Kondo craze?

My take away after delving into the Konmari method is, don’t be too hard on yourself or you may live to regret it! Hold onto sentimental things that hold special memories, and instead of throwing them out, move them to a new spot in the house. Those pieces that ‘sparked joy’ when you first laid eyes on them may look a bit tired now, but just store them and bring them out in six months. You’ll feel that spark again and be so thankful you still have it.

Don’t go too extreme. For me, the most depressing thing about ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ is that an absolutely bare room is celebrated. No-one should live in a house so minimal that the rooms have absolutely no furniture or artwork (what is the purpose of an empty room?). In the process of throwing everything out, the soul of the space is thrown out too.

What’s your advice on storage solutions?

When storing sentimental pieces, keep a combination of closed and open storage. Pieces like vases, candles, ceramics and décor objects can be shown on display on open shelving and occasionally refreshed and swapped out with other pieces stored in cupboards.

Where built-in isn’t an option, a few key pieces can serve a function and still look great. A bench seat, hooks, mirror and a console for keys and to store mail means that the space works and you’ll never lose the keys again. Shelving that has closed storage incorporated in the design is perfect, such as the String System from Great Dane.

MLB residence by Mim Design, with storage under the stairs and concealed cocktail cabinet. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

Exemplary cellar storage in Mim Design‘s NNH Residence. Photo – Peter Clarke.

Walk in robe designed by Mim Design. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

MLB residence by Mim Design, with storage behind fireplace for TV, games and technology. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

Award-winning Melbourne-based interiors practice Mim Design offers direct and succinct storage advice – very Marie Kondo!

What are your top tips on culling?

My top tips are only; keep what you love, and, if you haven’t worn or used an item in the last 12 months, it’s time to cull.

What favourite storage solutions do you turn to time and time again?

There are so many great storage solutions suited for different purposes: I use Blum storage for kitchen cupboards and joinery, Howards storage for make-up and jewellery and Metro storage systems for the garage and store rooms.

 

Details of the Bilgola House by Louella Boitel-Gill.

Storage design in the Bilgola House by Louella Boitel-Gill.

‘My trick is to rotate things and to group things clearly. I block things into groups of colour and texture.’ – Louella Boitel-Gill.

Louella Boitel-Gill (formerly Louella Tuckey) is a brilliant interior designer and stylist whose stunning Bilgola House renovation caught our eye recently on instagram!  She offers some solutions for keeping items you love, while avoiding clutter.

Hey Louella! What is your take on the Marie Kondo craze?

A tidy house is an easy house to read, and when you can read a space easily it has a calming effect on you. Marie Kondo is spot on! In saying that, I’m a magpie and I struggle with letting go of things!

My trick is to rotate things and to group things clearly. I block things into groups of colour and texture. I have shelves with groups of bits and bobs in whites, wood, orange for example. If I group them together it simplifies what you’re reading when you scan the space. It’s easier on the eye, and the brain.

When I worked in London for Terence Conran I remember his wise words, which were that if you want to organise a space, take everything out, and only put back what you really want/need.

What’s your advice on choosing storage solutions?

I love a good set of pigeon holes – they create order and structure. You can store and display things at the same time with a calm sense of order.

I also love the Spencer 2 Drawer cabinets from Officeworks in white. You can line them up along a shelf from easy filing!

This inspired shelving display at Flack Studio’s Fitzroy HQ is designed to keep the team inspired!  It showcases a constantly rotating edit of favourite magazines, imagery, materials and textures inspiring the studio’s current projects.

As with every Flack studio project, The Malvern House project features distinctive bespoke cabinetry, with a mix of open and closed shelving for storage and display. Photography – Sharyn Cairns, Styling – Marsha Golemac.

Bespoke cabinetry in The Malvern House project by Flack Studio. Photography – Sharyn Cairns, Styling – Marsha Golemac.

Bendigo home by Flack Studio, utilising the sleek USM from Anibou storage unit. Photo – Brooke Holm, Styling – Styling – Marsha Golemac.

‘Rather than thinking ‘will it bring me joy?’ – I ask clients to think about whether they will still love it in years to come.’ – David Flack

Melbourne’s Flack studio are not known for their minimalist aesthetic, self identifying as ‘equal parts Gio Ponti and Vincent Van Duysen with a dash of Dame Edna…’! So it is refreshing to hear how a maximalist vibe can respond to the minimalist trend!

Hey David, what is your take on the Marie Kondo craze?

Firstly it’s important to remember it’s a craze. I’m a maximalist at heart – but I agree with the sentiment of only purchasing things of joy. The common mistake I witness when people are either setting up new homes or renovating – they want it to be perfect straight away, we always recommend layering a home slowly and through consideration.

Rather than thinking ‘will it bring me joy?’ – I ask clients to think about whether they will still love it in years to come – this will prevent costly mistakes and landfill.

Can you recommend a favourite storage product?

We love designing custom joinery – however when we specify furniture we can’t go past USM from Anibou or Vitsoe shelving units.

 

Sleek cabinetry  brings a contemporary edge to this heritage designed by Carole Whiting. Photo – Jack Shelton.

Carole Whiting explains. ‘I often conceal joinery – or give it a double use – for example a dividing wall that doubles as a pantry. The door handles are also hooks which help conceal the fact that it is essentially a cupboard.’ Photo – Jack Shelton.

Clever storage solutions abound in the compact O’Grady House by Whiting Architects and Carole Whiting Interior Design. Photo – Sharyn Cairns. Styling – Carole Whiting.

Storage solutions in the O’Grady House by Whiting Architects and Carole Whiting Interior Design. Photo – Sharyn Cairns. Styling – Carole Whiting.

‘If you have the correct space for things, its much easier to be tidy. There needs to be a space specifically for each item.’ – Carole Whiting.

Carole Whiting Interiors and Design is a Melbourne based multi-disciplinary firm, with a particular knack for designing beautiful custom cabinetry, and squeezing the most out of a small space (remember this exquisite house?). Carole takes us through her strategies for keeping clutter to a minimum.

What are your top tips on culling?

It’s great to have a cull every year or two. But even better to stop buying things that you don’t need.
 Don’t buy ugly!  By that I mean, think about what you’re purchasing. If you are buying something – anything from a dress to a pair of scissors – think carefully first. If you have beautiful things, you are more likely to look after them, and love them for longer.

Can you offer advice on storage solutions?

Think about your storage needs. If you have the correct space for things, its much easier to be tidy. There needs to be a space specifically for each item. Give yourself some hanging space in your laundry for underwear or shirts to hang on a rainy day. 
Design it so you either don’t see it or it adds to the aesthetic of the space.

On the flip side – I usually give my clients a cupboard or drawer for the ‘I don’t know what to do with this’ things. We all have them – string, old keys, pens etc. BUT clean it out regularly. It’s a space for shoving things when
 you need a quick tidy up, but don’t let it get out of hand.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Interiors

This Revamped Edwardian Home Has A Different Mood For Every Room

Interior Designer Georgina Jeffries delivers a classic yet contemporary makeover of a heritage home.

Interiors

An Adventurous Apartment Interior For Avid Art Collectors

YSG turn a dark and dated 90s apartment into an inspiring, character-filled home.

Interiors

An Eye-Popping Resort Style Homestead In Outer Sydney

House Thirteen by Three Birds Renovations is an epic semi-rural residence designed to take you on holiday!

This Week

Creative People

Andalusian-Inspired Lampshades, Handwoven In Sydney

Lana Launay makes her textured light covers from natural materials such as coffee-stained raffia, coconut shell rope and bamboo yarn.

In Print

A Rustic Shed Accommodation On The Victorian Surfcoast Hinterland

Lose yourself in the classic Lynda Gardener aesthetic with her new book 'Curate: Inspiration for an Individual Home' published by Hachette A...
Ali Heath

Art

The Secret Mystical Paintings of International Art Sensation, Hilma af Klint

The visionary Swedish artist’s enormous colourful artworks were hidden from the world for decades. Now, they are on show at Art Gallery of...

Stays

A Quaint + Charming Holiday Cottage That Feels Like Home

Lotte's Hjem is a 150-year-old weatherboard nestled in the heart of Pambula on the Sapphire Coast.

Interiors

This Revamped Edwardian Home Has A Different Mood For Every Room

Interior Designer Georgina Jeffries delivers a classic yet contemporary makeover of a heritage home – where moments of delight are everywh...

Creative People

A Truly Magical Tapestry Collaboration Between Local Artists + Weavers

Works by Eugenia Lim, Atong Atem, Troy Emery and Hayley Millar Baker were recrafted as tapestries by weavers at the Australian Tapestry Work...

Food

Julia's Miso Salmon Bowl With Udon Noodles And Crunchy Greens

The onset of winter and lockdown in Victoria means we're back in comfort food mode – and this warm miso salmon bowl with crunchy greens h...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life of ‘Hamilton’ Star, Chloé Zuel

We go behind the scenes of the Australian production of the most famous musical in the world - with Eliza Hamilton herself!

Architecture

A Malaysian-Inspired Adaptable House In Brisbane

'Three House' by architect John Ellway sees three pavilions brought together as one breathable, flexible home in Paddington.

Architecture

An Architect’s Reworking Of Sir Roy Grounds’ Former Balmain Home

A heritage 1970s house in Balmain once owned by Sir Roy Grounds has been its re-engineered by its present owner, architect Conrad Johnston o...

Gardens

A Grandmother's Accessible, Flower-Filled Dream Garden!

Outdoor Establishments have turned a barren acreage in outer Sydney into an elderly client's dream garden featuring Eco Outdoor products.

Homes

A Modern Family’s Treetop Rental Property

The heartwarming North Warrandyte rental of Tilly Barber, her six-year-old son Mars, and friends Albee Barton and Justyn Burrow.

Studio Visit

The Amazing Art-Making Of Thea Anamara Perkins

The Arrernte and Kalkadoon artist is renowned for her vivid, personal portraits of prominent First Nations figures. We talked to the accompl...

Architecture

A Dessert-Inspired ‘60s Home Makeover!

From banana Paddle Pop yellow, to chocolatey timber, this 1960s home makeover by Wowowa brings colour and personality to this mid century ho...

Shopping

The Aboriginal-Owned Homewares Brand Bringing First Nations Art To Homes + Classrooms Across Australia!

Bundjalung/Minjungbal woman Emma Rolls of Emro Designs shares her collection of rugs, cushions and soon-to-be-released picnic mats featuring...

Similar Stories

Interiors

This Revamped Edwardian Home Has A Different Mood For Every Room

Interior Designer Georgina Jeffries delivers a classic yet contemporary makeover of a heritage home.

Interiors

An Adventurous Apartment Interior For Avid Art Collectors

YSG turn a dark and dated 90s apartment into an inspiring, character-filled home.

Interiors

An Eye-Popping Resort Style Homestead In Outer Sydney

House Thirteen by Three Birds Renovations is an epic semi-rural residence designed to take you on holiday!

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.