Lighting: Just Add Light

simplicity minimal light bedroom

“Simplify, then add lightness” ~ Colin Chapman

I saw this quote earlier in the week and thought that the concept of ADDING lightness was a bit strange. I totally get it, but if you think about it, it is an oxymoron.  That said, I love the quote as it describes a lot of what Nat & I do here. We help people “add lightness” – in their homes and their lives. And we discovered it along the way by adding it ourselves.


How do you let the light in?

I used to carry the weight of our entire household on my shoulders.

ALL of it. Trying to be the best mother possible to my two kids (one at the time was still waking 4x per night & would not take a bottle), delivering as required in my high stress finance position, trying to grow my own coaching business, participating in boards and other groups as a volunteer, studying for my diploma in interior design, being responsible for our finances at home and all the household administration as well as renovations, all the while trying to stay looking good, be a great partner to my husband and keep up friendships across the globe.

I tried to have it all and do it all – by myself.

The weight of it almost crushed me. At the end of 2010, I got sick. I lay in my bed unable to function for two whole weeks which gave me a lot of time to think (in between sleeping). I was in so much pain that I vowed to NEVER go back to that kind of stressful way of living again, to let some things go and to ask for help.

I realised that I wasn’t superhuman after all.

I took a year off work to regroup and focus on what I wanted to do. Fast foward 4 years and a LOT of self work in between (also with Nat) and I have learned to let the light in. We started the same way that we start with clients – with physical action to literally shift the weight. A process of simplifying (my home and then my head) and decluttering – letting go of the to-do list, of unfinished projects, of one-sided / unhealthy relationships, of expectations (of keeping up or of what/who I should be) and then adding lightness.


I changed the colours in my home from fiery reds and yellows with dark browns to the lighter hues of light blues, sea greens, greys and pinks with white as a basis. The furniture got lighter too – out with the heavy wooden tables and solid sofas and in with lighter alternatives. I even started to dress lighter (and definitely wear a lot less black these days).

With hindsight I also realise that I brought more light in by literally bringing more lighting into the house (the sparkly shimmery kind) and there are now also mirrors in almost every room, to reflect as much light around this dark Dutch terrace house as possible. Many of our floors are white and I have recently been pondering going for white floors in the living area too.

The more light in here, the happier I am!

Tips house taken by Binti Home

With the physical shifting of my house came much more though. As I have let go of the importance of things, they now actually feel less heavy.  I still have a family home full of stuff but I am not longer attached.  It is just stuff that is useful or makes me smile – I am still a huge fan of art and beautiful design and always will be. I am, however, worrying less about what other people think, what’s cool or trendy right now and focusing more on following my own inner light. I still occasionally fall into the trap of trying to keep up but soon realise that a purchase isn’t really me, and usually end up letting it go.

Nowadays, it’s the things that I love that have staying power (but I’m also OK when what I love changes too – life doesn’t stagnate, so why should our homes?). My work isn’t done, as there is still some weight now and then, but I am definitely living lighter (and happier).

alll white muuto stacked shelving apartmentdiet

So to bring my story back on point:

How could you add lightness? How could you let the light in?

Nat and I tell our clients to “just start with a corner” and that advice holds here too.  Pick a particularly dark one or one that bothers you perhaps, and think about how you could make it lighter – with actual lighting, lighter colours (or add bright art), mirrors, a lighter style of furniture, burning a candle etc.

Once you’ve done that, go spend some time there and contemplate the next corner that you’re going to let some light into. And while you’re contemplating, is there a corner of your life that you could add lightness to? A one-sided friendship you need to let go of, a project you need to finish (screw perfection) or simply let go of an expectation of how something should be? Start there. And repeat.

If you need help to get you living a lighter life of ease and grace, you know where we are.  Just hit contact and let’s start together.

With love and light,

Tipxo (& Nat)


Images: 1 / 2 / 3+4 Tip’s place by Binti Home56

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Friday Faves: Some Light, Bright & Fun For The Weekend

Hey lovelies,

Somehow a second week of September has flown by and we’re celebrating! Tip’s well into her #sugarfreeseptemer – and lost weight, too! Nat had a curious thing happen. She went to ride her bike to the café, but realised she was actually more excited to ride her bike than about the café! She’s doing a little happy dance that finally her new habit has become automatic (and even fun!)…Yup, Nat’s a gal who’s started to like riding a bike! (She’s still in a little bit of shock about it too.) What new habit do you want to create that will make you feel happier and lighter?


We’re on the hunt for a new name

Shocked? Yes, we were too, but hey, we do practice what we preach…you notice you’re at a turning point…you can ignore or it or you can say OK, let’s turn, let’s ask for help, let’s do this with ease and grace if we can! It’s been coming for a while now…we realised we have outgrown what we started out doing. And while “Apartment Diet” will likely be the name of what we hope to be a very profitable ecourse / decluttering / downsizing / get lighter type services, what we do and who we are for our clients is now bigger than that. Two things that keep coming up are that we help people move (move on, move homes literally, change careers/exit planning) and lighten the load (the literal and subconscious weight that comes with things hanging over our heads and in our homes and bodies). We’ve been asking past clients and the universe and are also happy for you to weigh in. Drop us a comment or email us.

This week’s inspiration is designed to give you a visual and mental break from the images of fashion week, Maison & Object (bucket list: we’re there next year!), Kate Middleton or whatever else you’ve been bombarded with…and share some lovely gems from the internets.

Have a light, bright ans FUN weekend,

xo Tip + Nat

nectarandstone melbourne

DIY honeycomb table runner

top pins of the week:

polka dot wallpaper

…zebra hug to you all

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Rugs, Rugs, Rugs: A Visual Feast

rugs on wallsTip spoke about rugs in our homes as this week’s #happyhouserule on Monday.

Today we’re trying something different – sharing a visual feast to illustrate this rug rule and inspire you in adding a rug/s to your home.

bedroom rug

layered aztec rugs

cowhide rug emily henderson

textured rug


bright round rug


The Animal Print Shop by Sharon Montrose

ikea rug kidsroom cool wallpaper

kitchen runner rug

cowhide rugs

So, …does this make you think about having a rug?

images: featured / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 /5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 /10

rug trends: overdyed persian rugs; layering rugs; cowhides and skins; hanging rugs on walls – part of a lovely larger weaving/loom/textile trend we are seeing going on like here

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Are rugs an “absolute necessity”?


“A rug is 100% hands down … an absolute necessity in most rooms”

I saw this quote recently by Lucy Fenton and it triggered a strange response as I wondered if rugs were an “absolute necessity” in most rooms – it seemed like quite a bold statement to make.

Then I started thinking about my own home and quickly realised that I have a rug or mat in every single space except the WCs (’cause that’s just, eeew – I have a 5 yo old boy – say no more!).

So in practice, it’s something I do but hadn’t even realised that I do.

Why I do it is to add some texture, interest, colour or coziness to our wooden floors (particularly in the winter where they also add a layer of insulation). I love the feeling of stepping out of bed onto a rug, so it’s an absolute must in the bedroom for me.

I also suffer from a dust(mite) allergy so I need to have a rug in the bedroom to catch all the dust that is floating around our 100+ year old home.

Most people think rugs or carpet are bad for allergy sufferers but in my experience, so long as you clean regularly, they actually help keep a lot of dust grounded rather than floating about in the air making me sneeze.

I know that rugs are hard – they can be expensive and it’s difficult to find the exact right one … this is why I do have a love-hate relationship with rugs sometimes BUT what I have now shifted to is the idea of layering rugs.

Using a few small ones to add a bit of interest over a larger plain area rug, for example. Abigail Ahern recently wrote about this so I suggest you take a look at her post if you want to get the lowdown on layering rugs. A great example that still comes to mind is Jenna Lyons living room (below).  Prrrrr.


Just think of the floor as your fifth wall and spend as much time thinking about it as you might about the wall paint and art.

So, after some consideration, I would agree that rugs are necessity in most rooms.  They’re an easy way of transforming a space, especially if you are unable to paint or hang anything on the walls (like in a rental, for example).

I’m curious – do you use rugs and if so, would you say that they’re “absolutely essential”?

Join the conversation and also keep an eye out for a visual feast of rugs later in the week!



Image 1 / 2

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Friday Favs: Change, New Seasons + RIP Joan

truth quote

Hey lovely folks,

It was a fast week for us with #backtoschool for our kids and Tip (lecturing at university)…and we’re also starting September with a more focused and excited front on Apartment Diet, the business.

The seasons are shifting and this week Nat reflected on our happy house rule: accepting “change is the only constant”. She adds, “I realised after writing it that I have a lot of work to do around letting go of control”.

We all have our own work to do on our homes, bodies, work and lives. And we practice what we preach, because we DO ask for help. We don’t do it alone. (Yes, of course it’s possible to do it alone, but that’s usually how we get stuck and slow ourselves down. “Ask for help” is also a big happy house rule for us.) …so when is a good time do this type of work? Well, RIGHT NOW is one of the perfect moments – as the seasons change so do we (naturally with the things we choose to do, our homes, our wardrobe etc BUT it’s also a great time to change some other things while we’re at it).

So Nat’s working on letting go of control a bit more and Tip has started her #sugarfreeseptember but what we really want to get back to is YOU:

If you’ve been in denial / are avoiding, or simply running on full in some spheres (like work, stress, exhaustion) and empty in others (creativity, inspiration, rest) and want to address this, we have 6 one-on-one coaching spots left for September and 6 for October. Alternatively, why not can pre-enrol in our eCourse end do the process yourself, in your own time, online.

Working with women (of course we also work with men, just less often it would appear), to create homes and lives they love, is what we do! We know how to guide you to make those shifts. And there is never a better time to start than now!

While everyone comes into our sessions with different goals, examples of the challenges we have helped resolve are:

  • all the responsibility (home and / or breadwinning) is all on you (no work-life balance)
  • home is too full and you don’t know where to start
  • moving / down-sizing
  • never felt at home and don’t ever invite guests around
  • merging of things: moving in with a new boyfriend/partner OR separating from a partner and letting go to start afresh
  • renovating and struggling with decisions
  • styling your space to sell / rent

For one-on-one coaching: Each package is 5 sessions over 5 weeks and costs $349. Like when you go to a personal trainer, the first session is powerful but usually we need regular guidance to make it stick, to get your home and life into the shape, so 5 weeks is the key to making new habits stick.

If committing to 5 sessions feels like too much, no problem. We offer a ‘dip your toe in’ $99 session where we help you find a corner of relief. And if you choose to continue, you pay $249 for the remaining other 4 sessions. Or you can pre-pay $97 and one of the first to join our tried-and-tested eCourse that will be going fully online, for you to follow our 5 weeks to creating a happy house process in your own time:

Work with us to create a home and life you love.

And now…enjoy these lovely links to take you into what we hope is a wonderful weekend,

xoTip + Nat

“Listen, I wish I could tell you it gets better, but it doesn’t get better. You get better. ” –  Joan Rivers
RIP Joan rivers – thanks for reminding us to say it like it is (though Tip would add “be honest but make it come from a place of love”)
scandinavian apartment love

the proper way to set a table – visualized

kids room rope ladder

every kids room needs a rope ladder (or any room really)

diy safari gift tags (below)

diy safari gift tags

some genius invented “brookies” (brownie – cookies)

smashed potatoes

amazing textile wall hanging
Trend alert (well it’s been going on for a little while now but we still love it, especially if it’s Jacqui Fink’s knitting!): rugs on walls: above + here
This home improvement ad (video) – aaawww. Even though it’s an ad, it’s definitely an example of how changing your space can change your life

Happy weekend!

PS If you are still intrigued by our coaching offer for you email us and our VA Elizabeth will answer your questions and schedule you in.

If you know someone who you think would love our services, we’d love you to pass on our details, too. And yes, you can always gift us to someone!

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Seasons Change: On Accepting Change Is The Only Constant


Change is the only constant.- Heraclitus

Seasons change and so do we.

We change our clothes seasonally. We age. We may even decorate our homes differently. But for most of us, somehow we don’t seem to dance with the idea of change…we seem to fear it…and work hard at rejecting it.

So this week’s happy house rule is “accepting change is the only constant”… and inviting change into our homes. This time of year, the change in seasons, is a great time to do it.

 reflections marta-dyks-for-amica-magazine

I have a long rambling post to share with you. Then I got scared because I didn’t think I was making a point. Then I realised this is my own process – I start, I get stuck / scared and get upset that it’s not perfect, and so, rathre than stopping myself and deleting this blogpost, I have instead decided to take my own advice (our advice) and adopt a new habit … this week it’s to accept…and work with the seasons.

This shift of seasons is a great time to make our shifts.

We can change at any time, but changing at the same time as the world makes it even more powerful. Because we’re all doing it in sync…

It’s Autumn/Fall time here for me and it’s a time to let go of leaves. To “let go” of all the knowledge that Tip and I have been growing and to share it, however imperfect it may feel. Does nature ever say “that leaf wasn’t perfect”? Who knows, but she lets them fall all the same…and those leaves become the fodder from where she grows, and keep her warm over winter. So…here is my post. All of it.

flowers by luisa brimble

It’s a new month. The seasons are changing. Nature certainly knows this and adapts accordingly. She gives us fruits that cool in summer, and roots that nourish and sustain in winter. And now we’ve moved into those in-between seasons. Autumn / Spring.

Perhaps you too are feeling an in-between phase in your life.

And in case this is too philosophical, bear with me, it’ll get practical too. I’ll also be talking about bringing the seasons into our homes: wardrobes, living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and workspaces too. But first…allow me to share some stuff on change.


I was wondering today, do we really fear change? I mean, hands up who doesn’t change their underwear?

So why do we fear it so much when we think about ‘changing’ certain things? Why do we reject or sabotage the changes we want to make?

Why does changing our mind feel so big? Why does changing our habits feel so challenging and scary (and don’t think for a second I don’t feel it. It does feel big and scary to me too!)? Why do we seemingly sabotage good habits? We talked about this a lot last week when we covered habits.

We all change anyway. If I’ve learned anything from my first (almost) year of being a mum it’s this:

Change happens anyway.

So I tell myself, “hey you, change happens anyway, you may as well accept it.” Of course I’m human and have old ingrained patterns so sometimes I do it kicking and screaming. (Like yesterday).

But even then, I’m (very slowly) learning to accept this as part of my current process. So I tried to cut it out mid-melt down. I apologised immediately WHILE saying the wrong things. And I slowed down and tried to understand why I was suddenly so stressed to begin with and break it into bite sized little steps. And I asked for help.

But still, another part of me is grasping for something bigger.

Beautiful Aurora Borealis #EarthPix Photo by @ExtremeNature

Accepting that change is the only constant for me is both liberating but so mind blowing…I’m only beginning to accept and understand it.

It means, literally, in every moment, things are in flux. It means in every moment we can shift. We can think and act differently. It means nothing, ever, is the same. At any one point. I mean it looks the same. And our brains are lazy enough to pretend it’s the same. But it isn’t.


We don’t see the change in seasons until the leaves change or the temperature drops. (This is also a good reason to be patient with yourself and others while they are going through changes.)

But if you were a farmer, or a surfer, you’d see the tide changing slightly, the sun rising at a slightly different time…if you stop to look closer, you’d notice it too.

We create boundaries so that we can deal with everything and it’s great. I don’t work very well unbounded, without any structure. But sometimes I grow out of my own structures. My boundaries and ways no longer serve me and if anything, hinder me. And instead of accepting a cycle has ended and allowing another to unfold………….I try to keep things as they are.

(I’ve done this frequently with my Bebe’s napping schedule even after he is showing me it’s not working anymore…)

anythings possible

Some shifts are choices and others are made for us (kicking and screaming or otherwise). But the principles are the same. In every moment, we can act differently.

Every moment.

Here’s one. Here’s another. Here’s another.

That diet you wanted to start? DON’T DO IT. Maybe instead, just try accept you’re changing. And create little new habits. Make better eating choices. Buy better food. Have good food on hand. Eat enough and regularly. Sleep enough and regularly. Exercise more.

Easy for me to say. Yes. But think of how much energy we put into NOT doing it. And beating ourselves up about it when the diet fails (followed by the bucket of ice cream to drown our sorrows in).

Some changes are harder and longer to shift, and take more energy – like when you turn a car round or take a long windy road back home. Others are quick and almost painless. The point is…

That change really is the only constant. We trap ourselves into thinking it isn’t, that it’s all fine. It works for a while. Until it doesn’t. Perhaps accept that change is THE constant makes going on with our lives easier somehow. Lighter somehow…?

grey autumn bedroom via stillinspiration

I’m a thinking person and because of that, I find it easier to change my actions first. Change my home or life a bit, and let my brain catch up.

Now of course, some times are easier than others to make these changes, and this change of season, the months of September / October are a great time.

Naturally they represent the between times – times before big shifts in seasons – heat of summer when things slow down or the cold of winter when we hibernate. And for a lot of us they represent the calm before the storm of the silly holiday season.

 So rather than getting too caught up in your head, maybe start with some simple actions. Bring the seasons in.

Southern Hemisphere. Bring in those flowers. Northern, cozy up your spaces with textiles like blankets on couches, quilts and linens.

Bring in those new habits you wanted to commit to.

Practical Changes Like:

  • Wardrobe edits. Let go of things that no longer work (If you haven’t worn it in a 1-2years…it goes – unless it’s for special occasions)
  • Pantry edits. Want to diet? Look to what’s in your kitchen and add things that are fresh and seasonal and easy to grab / prepare.
  • Add fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits
  • Add fresh seasonal flowers and shoots
  • If it’s Autumn, add blankets and quilts and linens to your bedrooms and corners of your couch.
  • Or, if it’s Spring coming in, change up your bedding and textiles to brighter and lighter
  • Invite friends round for meals
  • Create new rituals

So whether it’s Spring or Autumn/Fall for you, join us and commit to some new actions…

sept coaching

“September and October represent the “calm before the storm.” They are the absolute perfect months to clear out clutter and sort through the stacks [and more] before the holidays arrive in November and December. Just imagine a more peaceful, happy home during the year’s busiest season.” – Organized Audrey

Tip is going sugar free this month, I’m riding my bike more, and also meditating more…and we’re both also consciously adding the habit of letting people know what we do at Apartment Diet, being more clear and putting out there for the work and profit to make this business thrive. Even as we realise we have outgrown the current structures we have in place, our name and our offerings. Some things are still true. We are great coaches and ideas people (so we’re told), experienced at guiding people in person and virtually via Skype and email to make changes…and we love it.

Which brings us back to you:

Perhaps things have piled up on you. Perhaps you are feeling stuck at work or in your life. Perhaps you just know something’s go to give. Or you want to style your home to rent or sell. Or refresh your home. Or move on from a loved one or loss. Or…

The process is this: change your space <-> change your life. And guiding you along in these changes is what we do.

If you want to work with us to make some changes, even ones you can’t articulate yet, more concrete, structured and lasting…we have 8 6 coaching spots open for September, and 8 7 left for October.

It’s 5 sessions over 5 weeks and costs $349. 5 weeks is deliberate as in our experience, is the time needed to make those shifts last and those habits begin to stick. Or you prefer to go at your own pace and learn online, you can pre-book into our ecourse for $97 and be one of the first in when it launches Sept 29th.

To take advantage of either of these offers or go on the waiting list for coaching later in the year, contact us and our VA Elizabeth will schedule you in.

x nat

Images:  1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

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Friday Faves: Happy, Habits + Mmmmm

hitch-ride-shooting-star-marc johns

It’s been a big week focusing on habits. It’s so big we wrote three blog posts on it!

We shared our secret to breaking bad habits – and how to create + stick with new ones. You can do it in one swift move or in teeny baby steps or piggy-backing it to another habit. It doesn’t matter. The point is not that you’re committing to something new. It’s that you’re doing it!

September is around the corner and Tip’s doing sugarfreeseptember and Nat’ll be riding her bike more.

We’re also focused on apartment diet the business and one habit we are clear on putting out there to do more of the work we want to do and make this into a hugely profitable business – in all senses of the word profit! Think speaking, workshops, beautiful useful products, ecourse platforms and transforming homes, offices and lives around the world. And stuff we haven’t even thought of yet. We’ll be writing a bucket list when we kick our business gear up a notch next week (September 1st here we come!).

While we love working one-on-one we committed to growing this full time and that means sharing the magic that our processes generate more widely. So we are limiting our proven one-on-one Change your Space Change your Life process to just 8 clients per month til the end of the year. Each process costs $349 and includes 5 sessions over 5 weeks in person or online via email and Skype. This timing of 5 weeks is optimum because it’s roughly the time you need to make those big changes in your home or life, and make those new habits stick. If you want in early contact us and our lovely VA Elizabeth will schedule you in.

And now for a few weekend inspiring yummies to tide you over til next week,

xo Tip + Nat

bookshelf porn contemporist com

Bookshelf porn – Gotta love a 17m bookshelf (tx Ad!)

Hitch a ride on a shooting star (first image by Marc Johns)

herringbone bathroom tiles homelife

Herringbone-tiled bathroom!

There’s a new 7 vignettes to play over on Interiors Addict


Studio-DIY tour (above)

(Video) Don’t feed hungry hippo cortisol – the biology of change

panda sandwich

Toast-stamp Panda (one of those things you never knew existed and now can’t live without)

Crispy asian brussel sprouts

purty cheese table women and whiskies sfgirlbybay

Women + Whiskies – so they didn’t invite us, but we can still borrow from the event prettinesss!

The Indian #ricebucketchallenge

Happy Weekend!

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On Starting A New Habit That Replaces The Old: My #SugarFreeSeptember

Tips house taken by Binti Home

Start a new habit that naturally replaces or phases out the old one.

If you’ve been reading this week you know we’ll we are talking about habits and the secret we’ve discovered: The secret + easiest way to break a habit is to start a new one.

Nat spoke about unplugging her bedroom and bike riding this week. Today I’m inviting you into my home and life (that’s my kitchen), and sharing my new habit, and how I use another trick to make it even easier: start a new habit that naturally replaces or phases out the old one.

I have decided to take the Live it. Do it. #sugarfreeseptember challenge as I need to start a new habit to replace my go to habit: to reach for sweet things when times “get tough”.

If I was focusing on simply breaking the habit I would approach it by simply trying to NOT reach for sweet things when times “get tough” (i.e. wrong time of the month hormones, too busy, too stressed, too tired etc). It’s been my habit for years to reach for sweets – they are my comfort food, the things my parents (bless them as they didn’t know better) used to make me feel better when I was crying as a child. It’s a common thing to do and an easy out for parents as it usually stops the tears, but I digress: this is about me trying to undo this habit that I have had along for the ride for the last 43 years! And something about the 10 kilos I have put on since Christmas (ahem!).

So instead of going about it by what I should NOT do, I’m focusing on starting a new habit. On what I WANT TO DO instead.

small beginnings

Step 1: “Know thyself”

A few years ago when I left the banking industry and took some time out for my own health and family reasons, I started to pay much more attention to the foods that were going into my mouth AND also when I reached for the types of things that I know don’t serve me. So, I know my own patterns, which really is the first step.

Even before you embark on anything like changing or replacing a habit, it’s important to understand when you do that habit. So, take some time to observe, without judgement.

out with the old in with the new

Step 2: Choose a new habit that naturally phases out the old one. Or, piggy back it.

So I now know that I am, like my son, one of those people whose moods is heavily affected by whether or not they need food. And when I need food, I NEED. IT. NOW! So, I will generally reach for anything that I can put in my mouth straight away.  Because I’m hungry. I actually don’t discriminate on these occasions BUT often it’s the unhealthy foods that are instant/fast enough – chips, chocolate, cookies etc.

One solution was to ensure easy healthy foods were on hand (for example nuts – which are good to eat regularly anyway) and voila, a healthier Tip emerged.

brushetta bar

Another thing I know is that my self control is almost non-existent, especially in the wee hours of the evening (apparently we all get a daily dose of self control which gets used up by days end – interesting study somewhere about this), so:

My other tactic is to NOT have any unhealthy foods in the house…

OR, at the very least the types of things I am not actually interested in eating (like tea biscuits, which keep the kids satisfied when it comes to a treat but I can’t even be bothered eating!).

If there’s nothing unhealthy in front of me when my self-control is low then well, there’s no problem. So the new habit is keep my trigger foods away from the house.

If this all feels too hard for your habit, one of the easiest new habit tips I have is to “piggy-back” your new habit onto another existing habit.

For example, want to drink more water? Then the new habit could be that for every cup of coffee/juice/soda you have that you drink a glass of water first.  Not replacing the coffee/juice/soda habit per se, but adding a glass of water to the habit.  It’s a much simpler approach because what will actually happen is that you will both drink more water AND drink less of the other stuff (yes really).

So, if replacing a habit sounds too big a step then just try this method first. This also works great with kids – I always say to mine when they’re “soooo thirsty (for juice)” that water is the best thirst quencher so they can have their juice AFTER a glass of water. Totally works – they get more water in and they definitely drink less juice.  Win – win!

screw perfection

Step 3: “Screw Perfection” 

Quite possibly THE most important part of all this is to remember with a new habit, diet etc – none of us is perfect. We all fail sometimes. This is true for all habits. You are learning something new. It takes time. Accept that it’s part of the process and just keep going with the new habit.

I learned to tell myself:

“Oops, I fell off the wagon just then…but that’s OK – I am going to eat less tonight/tomorrow to make up for it and get back on the wagon.”

That is the best way to approach our bad habits and changing them.

It does not have to be all or nothing – it’s OK to slip up. Just make up for it and get right back on track. No self loathing required.

Moreover, sometimes when we fail it’s an opportunity to learn. Perhaps I’ll discover that I eat the most sugar when I’m at work. Well, then I need to adjust my new habit to make it easier to do it at work instead. Because we are all human. I know that I will probably slip up in September with the no sugar thing (there’s a wedding involved too!) but if, in the end, it means that I eat less sugar through the month and that I am on my way to starting a better new habit then it’s still a good thing.

start before youre ready marie foleo

Step 4: “Just Start”

Nat and I always say this because a lot of the time, the hardest thing is to start.

Most folk say, I will start my diet on Monday or maybe once I …

I challenge you all to just start – RIGHT NOW.  Whatever it is, wherever you are – just start.

Even if you’re just at the observation stage, just take one little step towards it.  For me, I am planning my sugar free September.  I am thinking about my meals and actually what I do need in the house for Monday (or out of the house, as the case may be). This weekend, I’m going to the store.  Come Monday, I will be ready.

Will you join me in starting a new habit in September? Would love to hear more in the comments.



images: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4


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Sleep Habits + My Habit: Unplugging the Bedroom

This week is all about creating happy healthy habits. On Monday we shared the secret to breaking bad habits: create new ones (+ practice them).

It really is that simple.

Today I’d like to get even more personal and talk about our bedrooms, sleep and invite you into my own bedroom.

nat bedroom apartmentdiet

Yup. My bedroom…

Those of you who’ve been following us for a while may remember our happy house rule around bedrooms: design your bedroom for rest + romance. Welcome all of you who are new to here.

This rule came directly out of our work with clients. That is, starting with the bedroom is a great corner to start.

Like the old adage “clear your desk for good work”, a clear, uncluttered room provides a lovely path into good sleep.

When there is literally less to stress you out in your bedroom, chances are you can get on with sleeping more easily – something your body so badly needs. After all, humans are not machines. We need rest. It’s where growth happens. Literally.

Sleep and stress are also related. I’m much happier when I’ve slept well, and am also much better equipped to making better decisions. On the contrary, I really don’t think very clearly when I haven’t slept well, and I tend to be a bit of a cranky asshole.

So one habit we often discuss with clients is to start with the bedrooms, and adding habits that lead to getting a good night sleep.

This means, but is not limited to taking 5minutes to:

  • Clean those piles next to your bed
  • Put away clothes
  • Move laundry hamper into the bathroom
  • Put on clean fresh sheets
  • Make the bed
  • Go to bed a bit earlier, even once a week
  • Invest in a good mattress
  • Unplug your bedroom – remove all screens, chargers…

…ah the last one. I snuck it in there on you.

calm bedroom grey linen sheets

For many of you, you’re probably reading this while caressing your phone / ipad gently and letting it know how much you love to watch / read / play with it before bed. Or how you love to work on it in bed.

You’re telling me “that’s fine for you but really, I couldn’t possibly.”

All fine, valid and reasonable. Except this.

Technology doesn’t really lead us to sleep all that great. In fact, screens seem to do the opposite of help us sleep.

There’s science to back me up. (See here and here for example).

“Researchers are warning that the blueish light their screens emit can stop users getting a good night’s sleep.

That is because this type of light mimics daylight, convincing the brain that it is still daytime.”

That’s why I add removing chargers as well. Because you can see the faint light even when your phone is upside down and under a pillow. (I’ve tried it ;)

So, maybe I’ve convinced you with the science.

I can bet I know what 9/10 of you are going to tell me next as an excuse. Ready…Scroll down past the pretty bedroom picture.

desgnlovefest bedroom by sfgirlbybay

“But I use my phone as an alarm clock”

Was I right?

I’m not a mind reader. The reason I know you were going to tell me this is that this is exactly what happened in my house. Unplugging our bedroom was the only happy house rule my Mr has ever blocked me on, and it took me a few weeks to get to the heart of the matter and understand why.

I had explained all the reasons about sleep and he seemed to agree, but for some reason had this annoying habit of having to bring his phone into our room to charge. I got annoyed and kept waiting for him to join in my new habit until I understood that this was now a space of argument* and my job was to end it. So instead of nagging “Why do you need your phone in the room, I’ve asked you a billion times” (which I probably had done the first two weeks) I said “Mr. It’s important for me that I sleep without technology in the bedroom. Is there a way for you to not have it in the bedroom?” to which he answered “But you always get up after me and I have to get out of bed to turn off the alarm”.

Hah! And that day I went and bought us an old fashioned but no light or sound emitting battery operated alarm clock. Argument over. We now sleep in peace. (Though I must admit these days we don’t need the alarm clock because our little one usually beats us too it ;).

fun calm bedroom

So that’s my story.

If there is one habit you start from reading us, I’d love knowing it was the gift of getting a better nights sleep. And I’d love you to consider unplugging your bedroom – removing phones  and screens, and thus reducing screen time before bed, too – as a way to do it. Don’t let some simple solution like an alarm clock be the reason you aren’t doing something.

This brings me back to a pattern I see with other habits, too. Often we block starting or continuing new habits because we go to extremes. We think it has to be all or nothing. It doesn’t. For instance, you don’t need to go cold turkey forever. Try it for a week. Try it for a few nights. We say 30 days / 5 weeks because usually that gives you enough time to practice. But well, if that feels too big. Try one night once a week. And build up. And so forth. You want to drink less soda or coffee but you aren’t ready to go cold turkey? No problem, commit to drinking a glass of water every time you drink soda/coffee. Baby steps is a perfectly reasonable way to add a habit too. It takes a bit longer but then, what’s the rush?

…So, what do you think – would you unplug your bedroom? Would love to hear your thoughts. And if you’re trying it, how it goes!

PS I have a beautiful and useful alarm clock design I want to produce. I’m thinking Normann Copenhagen or some company like that would be a great partner. And because I believe in putting out there to the universe what we would like I’m letting you all now, in case you are Normann Copenhagen or perhaps, you are the right partner for me.

Image sources: 1 – nat’s bedroom photographed by Asaf Kliger / 2 / 3 / 4

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The Secret To Breaking Habits Is Easier Than You Think

happiness design

“The secret to breaking habits is this: Create + Practice a new one. Starting Now”

It’s Monday so that means a new Happy House Rules is beckoning you to play.

And this week, it’s about that sometimes pesky, sometimes scary, sometimes awesome “Habits”. And while I’m at, I’ll add another word that seems to be equally awesome, scary, pesky and awesome: Change.

For many of us, the words change and habits, when applied directly to us and the things that we need to be doing (as opposed to telling other people what to do), scare the living begeezus out of us, or cause us to bury our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not there. Or ignore it. Or find excuses…

Too hard, too big, too…too new, too different, too…unknown!

Most of us seem to choose the “better the devil we know, than the devil we don’t”. Even though we may hate something, the thought of gulp, having to change it, feels much much worse.

out with the old in with the new

Well, what if I told you that it could be better. It will be better. But first, there’s a trick. It requires two things.

1. A New Habit –  perhaps like me you prefer the word “practice” ie A New Practice

2. Time – time to start, time to pass through the inevitable slump…move over the usual hump…time until it sticks.

Taken together, they are “Practicing a new habit”

Yup. That’s really all there is too it.

Of course there is a lot of other stuff going on in our heads and bodies to explain it, which I’ll come back to that in another blog post for later this week. There’s also some other stuff about how we fight the new habit. But really, when it comes down to it you just need to practice a new habit over time.

So, let’s allow me a little bit of time to tell you a little story and help this secret sink in a bit.

Let’s call it me and my bike.

Once upon a time, a guy gave a girl a bike. And the bike sat outside their house.

The End.


Kinda obscure story for a blogpost around habits in our homes and lives. Well, maybe. Give me a chance.

…The electric red bike was a gift from my Mr. It’s a great gift.

Those who know me well will know I have TALKED a lot about bike riding for years, but done very little of actually riding a bike. To date I have lived in 5 bike cities, yet until the Mr. gifted aforementioned bike never owned one. In fact, I never rode one much either. Maybe 5 times in 13 years. I should add, I am also an expert at sitting on the backs of other people’s bikes. And walking, everywhere. Or driving. Or hailing a cab. Or using public transport…

So let’s get to the heart of the matter. It’s not a money issue. I can and have always been able to afford to buy a bike. It’s not quite a skills issue either: that is, I can technically ride a bike. It’s just…I stopped when I was like 6 years old. Maybe 7. Probably just after my training wheels were removed. It’s not a trauma issue: I haven’t ever had an accident or anything. So it’s not like there is some bike-related-memory lurking in my past that I have to overcome. It’s not a time issue either. I mean, I’m sure I could find a few minutes a day to focus on myself and riding a bike.

Yet it IS a Fear issue. I’ll come right out and say it. Bike riding scares me. I’m afraid of riding a bike. Of the speed. Perhaps also of what might happen….it’s also probably a confidence issue. I’m not very good at it, so I don’t do it, so I’m not very good at it. Nice cycle I have going on there.

After a month of having the bike, the Mr confronted me and asked me “Why are you not riding your bike?” and countered all my responses with “You just need to ride it more”.

Now those of you who live with Mr./ Mrs  (or know anyone who loves you enough to know how to be really annoying) will know these type of questions and comments, however innocent their intention, have inherent in their design a large dose of a chemical drink called “how to piss you off” (Aussie slang for “make you really mad”).

Huge buckets of this “pissed off” drink will now flood your body and you will get defensive, angry or at best, quietly, perhaps even silently, defiantly defensive and walk off in a huff. You will explain, either to him or yourself, how you are trying. How it’s hard. How he doesn’t understand. How it’s scary.

There is however, a teeny other voice that we shan’t tell him about. The teeny whispering one that says, “Maybe he’s right?” “Why aren’t I riding this bike?”.

I guess I could have spent ages and tons of money on a psychologist and delve deeply into this. Or I could do what led Tip and I into starting Apartment Diet in the first place. Bypass my own head and do something PHYSICAL about it.

I was going about this the wrong way. I wasn’t applying what I know. Which is a secret that a lot of people before me and smarter than me know.

Don’t try and break a habit. Start a new one.

So I started a new habit.

My new story goes like this.

Once upon a time a guy gave a girl a bike. She rode it 3 times a week for 5minutes. She rode it to her favourite cafe once a week. And then soon, she rode it everywhere.

Story continues.

That is it. I started actually riding my bike.

I started with baby steps. Like, really baby steps. For the last month I have ridden the bike to yoga class around the corner. We’re talking a 10minute walk so a two minute bike ride. Which means 5minutes for me.

The first time I was sweating more than any exercise class would lead me to sweat. But the week later, I rode my bike to yoga again. Because one of my new habits for bike riding is riding my bike to this yoga class. And then the week after, just as it was going well, I chickened out. No problem. The old story is that. Old. I haven’t failed. All I have to do is continue on my NEW HABIT. Ride my bike again.

So I rode my bike again for 5minutes somewhere else. And reminded myself of why I like it.

celebrate every victory

I love that riding my bike means I don’t have to carry my heavy laptop. Or my yoga clothes. It means I get places quicker. It means I’m getting better at riding a bike.

Which brings us back to you…and habits.

This week is all about NEW HABITS. What new habits do you want to add to your life? Start today. Start now, with a corner. With 5minutes. With something physical.

start today

Now it’s your turn. What new habit do you want to create? Start now.

Know there WILL be a time in the middle or even the beginning when your old habit will want to win over the new habit. Accept it and move on. Celebrate every little teeny weeny success that goes with this new habit. And allow time to do the work.

So off you go. Some ideas to get you started:

Use our 5min rule and commit to: – taking 5minutes to put your clothes away before bed / wash the dishes before bed / turn off devices earlier or whatever else can be done in 5minutes every day. If you miss one day, oh well, you have a whole other day filled with opportunities to take 5minutes to continue on your new habit path.

Use our live with plants rule and buy a plant and learn how to look after it. Practice the habit of watering it for 10seconds a week. (We have a list of our top 7 unkillable plants here). And if the plant is less than thriving, don’t use it as an excuses. Water it. Move it to a better position in your home. Call where you bought it and ask for instructions. Whatever.

And don’t forget our other rule #screwperfection.

Find a new habit and practice it.

Fail better

One final comment while you’re thinking of habits. Tip and I test out everything on ourselves (and with a select few clients who agree to be guinea pigs).

We also know we fear change because we want to be excellent, immediately

Guess what. You won’t be. You may actually suck. That’s how we learn.

But then, a few weeks later you’ll suck a lot less. And a few weeks after that, you’ll be pretty good. And after that…well, you’ll forget this was a new habit because it will be your regular habit.

Now of course some habits take longer to take hold than others. In our experience, it’s one calender month. That’s 5 weeks. That’s why our coaching sessions run for 5weeks. And our courses. 5 weeks shouldn’t shouldn’t scare you, it should inspire you! You’re committing to something new and it really only takes a month for it to kick in. And if you keep practicing, to last! Make the process as fun and rewarding as possibly.

So… once more, just in case it hasn’t sunk in yet:

“The secret to breaking habits  Create a new one…

…and then keep practising the new one. Celebrate your successes. No matter how small. And let time do the work.”


PSST I’ll let you in on another secret: from September 1st Tip and I are taking this business up a notch. We had a huge insight into just how big changing your space is. It changes lives. That’s what we do. We create happy healthy homes as a way to change people’s lives. As a result, we are being very careful with our time. For the months of September – December we will be taking ONLY 5 clients per calendar month each. That’s it. That’s guiding 5 lucky clients globally each every monthto make the big changes they seek, to creating a happy healthy home + life. It costs $350.

Contact us if you want to get in early.

Image sources

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