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'High-Low’ Home Styling Done Right, With Lauren Li

Interiors

We all swoon over fancy homes filled with designer furniture, art and collectibles… but let’s be real – it’s not always possible to furnish your space entirely with designer pieces.

‘High Low’ styling is about bringing together a realistic mix of higher end investment pieces, alongside more cost effective, versatile pieces, in a way that feels cohesive and makes the most of your space!

Today, in partnership with Koala Furniture, our resident interiors columnist Lauren Li shows us how it’s done.

4th June, 2020

Interior Designer Lauren Li of Sisalla in her South Yarra studio. Lamp from West Elm, Koala ‘Tall & Wide’ Timber Bookshelf, Agra Knot rug from Armadillo & Co, Bollo armchair by Fogia from Fred International. On shelves – ceramics by Ella Reweti, Kirsten Perry and Simone Karras sourced from Pepite. Sonos speaker and additional ceramics by Asobimasu Clay. Photo – Caitlin Mills, Styling – Lucy Feagins + Lauren Li.

Stunning details in ‘The Apartment by Sisalla‘ showroom in South Yarra. Turning Table from Apartment by Sisalla, Agra Knot rug from Armadillo & Co, trinket dish from Hay, black ceramic vase from  Asobimasu Clay. Photo – Caitlin Mills, Styling – Lucy Feagins + Lauren Li.

Koala ‘Tall & Wide’ Timber Bookshelf. On shelves – ceramics by Ella Reweti, Kirsten Perry and Simone Karras sourced from Pepite. Agra Knot rug from Armadillo & Co, Photo – Caitlin Mills, Styling – Lucy Feagins + Lauren Li.

Lauren Li
Thursday 4th June 2020

Creating a home takes time, but it doesn’t need to be expensive. Bringing together a mix of different furniture at various pricepoints is not only more economical, it’s also a way to inject personality into the space… because no one wants to live in an impersonal ‘showroom’ looking space. By sourcing contrasting pieces from various stores, as well as incorporating vintage finds, handcrafted details and one-off items, your space becomes truly unique!

The key is knowing what items are best to invest in, and where you can really save… and how to tie it all together!

Start with a plan

It sound obvious, but starting with a plan really is what sets considered interior decoration apart from, well, just filling a room with random stuff.

Start with some references. If you’ve been saving favourite spaces on Pinterest or Instagram, take a moment to review those photographs. What is it that appeals to you about these spaces? Try to identify recurring colours, shapes or materials that you are drawn to, and use this as a starting point for your own space.

Next, decide on a colour and materials palette. In this space we have cool green walls, and mainly neutral textiles with blond timber furniture, and some black and white accents. Having a cohesive base palette like this ties together pieces from a range of different price points and styles.

Where to splurge, and where to save

Our wishlist of things to ‘invest’ in seems to get ever longer; the sofa, artwork, rug and of course lighting. But what about the items where we can afford to save? They are REALLY worth knowing!

I tend to think it’s worth investing a little more in pieces that get more physical wear, like upholstered furniture than you actually sit or sleep on, whilst seeking out more cost effective options for shelving, tables and side tables, which tend to be more robust and hard wearing.

A coffee table can be any flat surface for your coffee, and a few magazines! This is a piece of furniture that doesn’t need over-thinking, it’s a great piece to save on.

Shelving is one of the largest pieces in the room and therefore can be very impactful. However, shelves are chameleons, they change their look depending on what is displayed. A simple, versatile shelving unit like the Koala Timber bookshelf is easy to dress up with favourite objects, ceramics, glassware and other treasures. Shelving like this forms a neutral backdrop that allows these interesting, conversational pieces to be the focal point.

The Sisalla ‘Apartment’ showroom in South Yarra. Maroon  Afteroom Armchair from Apartment by Sisalla, Togo couch from Domo, Bollo armchair by Fogia from Fred International, ‘Duo’ two tiered side table and ‘Turning Table’ coffee table from Apartment by Sisalla, Cork stool from Vitra, Koala ‘Tall & Wide’ Timber Bookshelf, Agra Knot rug from Armadillo & Co. ‘Formakami’ pendant light by Jaime Hayon from &Tradition. Photo – Caitlin Mills, Styling – Lucy Feagins + Lauren Li.

Choose a statement piece – and build around it

Choose one piece that has lots of personality and really elevates the space, and balance this ‘hero’ piece with more simple, versatile pieces.

For instance, in this space our sofa is our investment piece – its bold sculptural shape adds WOW factor to this room, but that drama is balanced by the sleek, minimal Koala shelving.

Your hero piece could be any distinctive piece of furniture or lighting (or even a rug) – the key is, to make this piece your focal point, and then build more understated pieces around it. These reliable pieces are like the back-up singers in your show (!), they’re functional and versatile, and make the whole room actually work!

Koala ‘Short & Wide’ Timber Bookshelf, Cestita lamp on shelving unit from Ajar ceramics, various ceramics by Kirsten Perry sourced from Pepite, mountain vase by Tantri Mustika, pink vase from Lightly, Lampe de Marseille from Lights Lights Lights , Large artwork – Loviisa framed art print by Reeta Ek, small artwork – ‘Perfect Imperfections’ by Silas Studio, from Apartment by Sisalla. Agra Knot rug from Armadillo & Co. Photo – Caitlin Mills, Styling – Lucy Feagins + Lauren Li.

A restrained palette of soft mint green walls, black fireplace and white accents set the tone for space. Conehome Stick wall mounted lamp from LAAL. Photo – Caitlin Mills, Styling – Lucy Feagins + Lauren Li.

The Koala ‘Tall & Wide’ Timber Bookshelf, styled with favourite objects, ceramics, glassware and other treasures, including ceramics by Ella Reweti, Kirsten Perry and Simone Karras sourced from Pepite, Carrie Lamp from Apartment by Sisalla, Sonos speaker and additional ceramics by Asobimasu Clay. Photo – Caitlin Mills, Styling – Lucy Feagins + Lauren Li.

Embrace the blanks

When decorating any room, it can be tempting to think you need stuff in every corner, and on every shelf. In fact, it’s important to give key furniture pieces, artwork and treasured objects some breathing space, to really let them shine.

When decorating surfaces or filling bookshelves, group similar objects together in small clusters, and leave some spaces in-between. Use books both vertically and horizontally in small stacks, to seperate objects and to display items at different heights.

Most importantly – remember, you don’t need everything all at once! A home is a work in progress. It’s ok to start out with a few empty spots, whilst you slowly build your furniture, artwork and homewares collection. The space should be a reflection of you – layered with pieces collected over time.

The new Timber Bookshelf range from Koala is a contemporary, versatile shelving system designed to complement a variety of spaces, and can be assembled with no tools in under 10 minutes! View the range here.

The Koala ‘Tall & Narrow’ Timber Bookshelf in the kitchen! Ceramics by Oh hey Grace and Claudia Lau. Glassware Lauren / Lucy’s own. Photo – Caitlin Mills, Styling – Lucy Feagins + Lauren Li.

The Koala ‘Tall & Narrow’ Timber Bookshelf is a sleek and contemporary storage solution for this tiny kitchen! Ceramics by Oh hey Grace and Claudia Lau. Glassware Lauren / Lucy’s own. Hat Pendant light from Lumil. Photo – Caitlin Mills, Styling – Lucy Feagins + Lauren Li.

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