Friday Favourites: Water + The Beach Photography

greek island window seat

Every day when I walk into my home I see this print of Bondi beach by Aquabumps that hangs in our entrance and I’m instantly calmed and ‘home’.

It’s been a heavy news week again, especially in both Tip and my adopted countries…it’s also hot and summery which means I’m feeling slow and frankly, a little stressed and tired.

I crave rest and calm.

Water and the beach has always calmed and soothed me so to take us into the weekend I’m sharing some of my current favourite images of water and beaches and a few extra links with blessings for a calm, restful, happy and peaceful weekend to us all!

aontoine rose beach photo water6

And some cliffs from Greece and Italy…

water5 water4

PS If you want to make your homes more restful, one way is to add art that evokes rest and calmness for you… another is to design your bedroom it for rest and romance. Learn more about how to design your bedroom here.


Image sources: 1 / 2 / 34 / 5

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Freedom from Overwhelm: Are you a Concealer or Revealer?

“Are you are concealer or are you a revealer?”

Knowing the answer can help free you from overwhelm.
Here’s how and why.
concealer revealer office nook
The last few weeks our Happy House Rules have focused on “Letting go” (read part 1 & 2) and The Psychology of Clutter. These are principles in understanding who you are, in order to truly deal with your stuff and make those changes you seek permanent.To go with this we have a few key questions we ask clients that helps them further understand how they need to design their spaces (and lives). “How minimal are you?” is one. “Are you are concealer or are you a revealer?” is another. This was coined by Nate Berkus and our clients find it really helpful.

I’m a concealer and Tip’s a revealer so we, as a team, understand both ways! And it is understanding what you are (or, more correctly, how you store your stuff) will help you prioritise different systems and solutions for keeping on top of your space, keeping it happy, organised and healthy. How it works:

If you cherish pieces and you want to show everything off, chances are you’re a “revealer.” On the other hand, if you prefer a simpler, Zen-like look, you are probably a “concealer”. Ela Lindsay, Managing the Mess

If it’s not obvious to you which you are, answer these two questions below:

A. “I mostly like my things hidden in storage except for a few key pieces”

B. “I mostly like my things on display”


A. “My mess is mostly hidden, there are rooms and cupboard you can’t open in my house”

B. “My mess is everywhere”

If you answered A, you’re a concealer or B, a revealer.

OK, so now you know, what do you do with it?

Your concealer or revealer tendencies basically translate into different stresses and therefore different tactics and solutions.

A question Tip asked me the other day was, “Is it easier for concealers to deal with their stuff and their mess, is it less stressful?”. In the short term it may seem like it is, because you can close the door or drawer on it, you don’s see it and therefore it’s unlikely to stress out / annoy the other people that you live with. But in the long term, a full attic or basement that is stuffed to the brim but no-one sees still weighs heavily on the (subconscious) mind and can still create stress, overwhlem and fear (of starting, of letting go etc) and all the other things that happen when it. JUST. GETS. TOO. MUCH.

Basically, whichever you are, when it gets too much or too full – hidden or exposed mess, stuff, clutter…is STRESSFUL.

Why do we keep harping on about how important it is to understand where you’re coming from as a way to designing a happier healthy home (and life)? Because when you understand who you are, you can take the appropriate approach to clearing your clutter. And, make the design decisions that suit your needs for your home, especially in terms of storage.

 living room design files and kara rosland

Let’s start with clutter clearing.

For concealers: A quick way to reduce the stress of having an overwhleming room for me as a concealer is choose a drawer or shelf and emptying it into public space – i.e. revealing it. What, you say? Isn’t that counter intuitive? Not at all! If you’re a concealer you’ll know that just because it’s hidden doesn’t mean you don’t think about it. It just means other people don’t know about it. Revealing it … is very freeing. Because I can’t handle much ‘stuff’ in my public space I’m more likely to deal with it…and FAST! So, once you have a pile out in the middle of the room, take 5-20 minutes to deal with it – deciding what stays and goes. Then return what stays to its correct home (Everything in it’s easy place.)

For revealers: A quick way to reduce stress is to clear a corner or pile of stuff into a box. Then, clean the surface and create a lovely vignette or collection of items that you love in place of the area you’ve emptied. This is because for many revealers, empty surfaces are scary and will naturally accumulate even more clutter then before so ensure there’s something appealing in place. Then take 5-20 minutes to deal with the stuff in the box – deciding what stays and goes. Then return what stays to its correct home (Everything in it’s easy place.)

As always, if these tasks feel too overwhelming, it can help to bring in a friend you trust to help or call in a professional to guide you through. (That’s us!)

kitchen open shelving hidden storage

Now let’s move on to storage and organisation. Use concealer or revealer to guide your storage choices. Because we know that when we organise our stuff in a way that makes sense for us, we also feel more organised in our work and lives.

In a kitchen, a revealer would love showing off their goods while a concealer would probably want more closed storage (as the above photo shows – left fits with revealer and right, concealer).

Now, let’s take your desk / home office as an example. A revealer would probably want somewhere for big piles to be easily stored in open space, say with a pretty paper weight, and binders. I would recommend labeling the binders. A concealer would probably also want nicely labeled binders & boxes, a simple in tray, but they would likely also need a closet / drawer to put most of it away by the end of the day.

Finally, a concealer needs a home that prioritises good closed storage with drawers, shelves and containers inside of that to easily organise things. A revealer would probably prefer balancing open shelving and happy vignettes with some closed storage so that they can store things to be rotated for the open shelving, to prevent them from getting too ‘full’.

So, now that you know who you are, we dare you to take a before picture of the mess you’re concealing or revealing … and then take 5 minutes (or half an hour) and make it happier and healthier in a way that honours who you are … and take the after picture. Share it with us via email or by tagging us on Instagram (or however else you’d like to share).
Can’t wait to see and hear about how this changed your space!


Images 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

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Peace, Friday Favourites + Weekend Inspiration

close your eyes let it go poster etsy shop promopocket

Oh our hearts. We send out a message for peace and love and rest to you all.

Whatever you’re up to this weekend (and we hope there’s good food and rest involved) we hope these links and images make you smile, breathe and lighten the mood ever so slightly on this heavy heavy world news day and week:

Fun kids bedroom by Dutch Kinder Kamer Stylist (above) – our most reposted pin the last few days

This poster (the one at the top of this post)

This GENIUS bathroom found by Tip (by Jenny Wolf Interiors)

Watch: Portraits in Creativity – first up the awesome Maira Kalman by Gael Towey (tx SwissMiss)

10 easy tips for personalising a rental

3-ingrediant pastas - fast and yum, yes please!

We’ve started a favourite corners project on Instagram – kicking off with Miss Moss

Would you go on a cooking strike? – Tip did. She shares how to really let go

Swan Soiree toddler bedding

let’s have a holiday at this summer house and this Danish cottage

xxNat & Tip


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Let it go – Part 2 (it’s not just about ‘stuff’)

Last week we talked about some reasons why we keep stuff and also the psychology of clutter but there’s more to this ‘letting go’ business than just dealing with your physical clutter.  Here at apartment diet, we always like to start with the physical as it’s much easier to let go of things (yes, really) than it is to let go of our beliefs, fears and expectations in life. What we have experienced is that physical change can start the process of creating new (better for us) habits and emotional changes too. Having said that, it would be remiss of us to simply say that moving things around the house will equate to happiness – there’s a little bit more to it than that!

So, I wanted to share something that helped me with my overwhelm, as I am a typical type ‘A’ personality with a history of perfectionism, martydom and a delusional belief that I am a superwoman!




You see, it was all going swimmingly until motherhood happened to me.  First my daughter, 7 years ago, then 2 years later my son + several renovations before, during and after both pregnancies + returning to work running my own financial consultancy + sitting on a few boards + coaching + mentoring + studying and … well, there’s the rest of life of being a wife, a friend, a daughter and trying to squeeze in me time (yeah right) + a child that woke 3 or 4 times at night until age two and well, you get the picture. I was stressed, tired, fat and completely overwhelmed with life. Luckily for me, someone magical called Natalie re-appeared in my life to save me from total destruction and together we created apartment diet. We tested all our theories and made mistakes on ourselves (or more correctly, on me!) and came up with our unique approach of dealing with the stress, the tired and the overwhelm by starting with physical actions. Teeny tiny steps that even someone that’s ‘losing the plot’ could imagine taking. Like ‘remove 1 thing’ or starting with a corner etc … since we started, I have slowly but surely dealt with many years of clutter and thrown out more things than I own! I have let go of a lot of things and the reasons for them that I talked about last week but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I decided to let go of more than just stuff.

Perhaps this happened because I did the work on letting go of my clutter and I now have space to deal with the real issues at hand, I’m not sure, but actually that’s not the point.  The point is that I decided to let go of ‘doing or having it all’. Yes, that’s right – I have let go of my superwoman disguise and am now embracing the idea of asking for help.

ask for help quote

I have let go of perfectionism (well mostly) and am settling for ‘good enough’…with that, I have also incorporated my beloved 5 minute rule into all aspects of my life which not only helps me get more things done, whether they’re to do with personal friendships or work emails, but more importantly, help me feel more secure as I still have the feeling of being on top of the gazillion things that come my way on a daily basis.  I think this is particularly relevant these days as most of us have less time and many more things to deal with! But the biggest part of what I am doing is letting go of my expectations of myself – as a wife, a mother, a woman. What started as a joke about 6 months ago has now turned into the way we do things in this house – I {shock horror gasp} decided to go on a cooking strike. Now before you say anything like many folk have (“that would never work in our house” or “but we’d starve if I stopped cooking” etc) let me just tell you what happened.  I told my husband that I could no longer cope with cooking dinner on top of my daily demands and gave him one easy recipe book to use. Then, I simply stopped cooking dinner. It freed me from a breakdown (I’m convinced of it!) but it also planted the seed of the idea that I don’t have to do everything all the time. I’ll be honest here, I still occasionally feel guilty for “not being a good wife” as I watch the hubs cook but with time it’s subsiding – and, if I’m being completely honest, I actually think that we’re eating much more interesting and healthy meals, now that he’s in charge!

The BIG lesson for me here is to let go of control. Give someone else the space to ‘shine’ (in this case, my own masterchef!). The other big lesson is learning how to say ‘No’ (I am notoriously good at saying yes, sure, of course) – and I don’t just mean say no and then feel guilty about it but to actually say no, GUILT FREE. You’ll be suprised how much time you can free up this way, just by saying no like you really really mean it!

Anways, I’ve waffled on enough for now so will leave you with this experiment.

Just say you’re taking a break and stop doing something that someone else could reasonably help with for the next week and see what happens.

You never know who might surprise you!



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The Psychology of Clutter & Letting Go

Many powerful emotions are lurking amid stuff we keep. Whether it’s piles of unread newspapers, clothes that don’t fit, outdated electronics…the things we accumulate reflect some of our deepest thoughts and feelings.

To come to grips with their clutter, clients need to understand [and confront] why they save what they save, or things will inevitably pile up again.”

- The Psychology of Clutter, by Melinda Beck, Wall Street Journal


On Monday Tip wrote a post on letting go, explaining how real letting go can only happen if we first understanding our relationship with stuff.

…and like magic into our inbox popped this video and article on The Psychology of Clutter by Melinda Beck for the Wall Street Journal.

“There’s growing realization amongst professional organizers that the first step towards de-cluttering is when we have to take in our heads coming to grips with why we keep what we keep.”

Remember, stuff only becomes clutter when it goes beyond stuff and causes us to feel a host of unpleasant / negative emotions: stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, paralyzed…and not be able to deal with it.

“Difficulty letting go of your stuff can also go hand in hand with separation anxiety, compulsive shopping, perfectionism, procrastination and body-image issues. And the reluctance to cope can create a vicious cycle of avoidance, anxiety and guilt.”

Avoidance? Anxiety? Guilt?
Yup! Yup! Yup!

To come to grips with their clutter, clients need to understand [and confront] why they save what they save, or things will inevitably pile up again.”

Which brings us back to why we need to understand our relationship with stuff and those ‘piles’ of clutter lying around.

I had a client recently who literally said “I know all the tricks like start with a corner, but I always go between perfectionist tidy and then cluttered piles…how do I know I wont go back there, back to clutter?”…I explained, “that’s because you haven’t confronted and really looked at why you’re doing this in the first place. Let’s deal with that first, and then you’ll see…we’re not going back we’re only going forward to new habits and ways you want to live by. Then next time the first pile starts you have a different way to handle it. But first, let’s have an honest look…”

So we did. Over a Skype call.

Clutter Piles To Do List

The next day she cleaned two piles and found $750 (from rebates she found in one pile and sale of something in another pile) and had already changed the bedroom. Two weeks later all the piles of clutter (17 of them) were gone from her house and while there are still things to tackle – a whole storage room in fact – “it feels different now”… and what’s best is that every time she writes to me she says “I still feel amazing”.

This isn’t magic, although for my client and others like her who deal with why they’re keeping stuff it does feel like it.

At the heart of our process with our clients – one on one coaching or our courses – is first understanding why you keep things and your relationship with stuff…

So that when you remove things you are really letting go.

Not just of the things this time, but of the reasons too.

It really is the only way to create new habits and ways that are happier, healthier, less stressful and overwhelming and well, work for you!

Because really, I know you don’t want to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by stuff.

So go, what are you waiting for? Read Tip’s latest blog post on why we keep stuff and confront why you keep stuff…

and if you are ready for a new way and want some gentle guidance to get you there, contact us and let’s schedule a time to work on it together, once and for all.


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An Invitation to Bring Peace Into Your Home: Peace Pots

What can I do? …We always say ‘start with a corner…

Today I invite you to join me in spreading peace into your own corners,

in the heart of your homes.

peace pots

I had a whole other blog planned for today but then life intervened. I don’t usually get all personal on this blog (Maybe we should? Maybe you’d like us too?) but today at 832am mid getting dressed I found myself was sitting in the stairwell-cum-bomb-shelter with my 9month old son, waiting for a bomb siren to stop whining and the sound of a bomb being imploded over Tel Aviv.

We’re OK, really.

Perspective is always fleeting, at least for me. I live in Tel Aviv and this is the price we occasionally pay. And I never know how to deal with it because I’m some who likes to improve things and find solutions, and I have solutions for dealing with it other than being practical, safe and offer thanks and gratitude for what I have…and ask for Peace

…and then I was taken back to 12/12/12 when the same thing was happening here (sirens, bombs over Tel Aviv)…and the teeny idea I called Peace Pots and long since forgotten came rushing back.

It’s called Peace pots and it’s about inviting peace into a corner of your home – not with a promise, but  with a physical object, a plant, so that you take care of it…in the physical. (Well you know we’re big on doing things in the physical space here ;).

picasso peace dove

I so often wonder, not just what’s happening here but about things that happen in other far off places – “but what can I do?”. There are many other places in the world on fire and like for most of us, unless it’s on your doorstep it’s easy to ignore…I certainly do. How can we grapple with things we can’t help?

…and that’s where the pots come in. Below is what I wrote then, the same applies today. If it resonates with you in any way, I’d love you to join in.

The Story
My friend Marge told me a story about how she was running a workshop on peace with kids and they asked them what they wished for. One boy answered “peace in the classroom”. His teacher said “don’t you mean world peace?” “No,” he said, “I can’t do that. But I can help make peace in my classroom”.

What’s a Peace Pot?
A peace pot is just that. An opportunity to invite peace into your home & your neighbourhood.

How do I make one?

Plant it with rich earth, add something living, pretty & green. Or buy a lovely plant. Label it.

Place them in your homes. Gift them to your friends. Or a stranger. Feed it water and love. Let it grow.
…We might not know how to make world peace, but we can definitely add some to our own little corners of the world, our homes. And maybe, if we fill enough corners. Well, you just never know.


ps the photo above is a pot I literally just bought today and have placed in our home.

I’d love to invite you to do the same.

images: 1 / 2


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Let it go – Part 1 (a.k.a. why we keep stuff)

Just let it go etsy Honeyboo

This is a pretty BIG one on the Happy House Rules scale which is why we often start with it (i.e. let 1 thing go) and then return to it later (let a whole lot more go!) once we ave talked more about stuff and why we keep it, during our courses and consultations. There are many different reasons why we keep things so this post is all about trying to hep you figure out why you’re hanging on to something that seems to be weighing you down in some way.

* Keeping things “just in case” – you know, because you might need it, one day. This is often about a lack of trust in the future & your ability to provide for it. (I used to do this – a LOT. Time to trust it will all be OK.  Because, it will.)

* Identity – sometimes you might feel that your identity is tied up with your belongings. Examples of this could include old concert ticket stubs, old gifts from friends etc. Your things aren’t you – YOU are you.

* Unwanted gifts – As we discussed last week, we’ve all been given things we don’t like but feel obligated to keep. We are giving you permission to get rid of these.

* Status – ‘keeping up with the Jones’ for the reason of boosting self-esteem. But really, who are the Joneses anyway?

* Security – it’s reasonable to have a basic nesting instinct and want to create a home which serves your needs but there is a point at which more things do not make you feel more secure.

* Territorialism – this is all about the ego, which wants to possess and control things. So we buy stuff.

* Inherited “Clutteritis” – learned patterns from our parents/people that raised us. Think about if this might be the case for you … and remember, patterns can be changed.

* A belief that more is better – something the advertising moguls have brainwashed us into believing.

* “Scroogeness” – refusing to let go of things until you’ve gotten your money’s worth out of them…even if they cost you nothing to start with. I totally do this even though it makes no sense whatsoever.  Oops.

* Using clutter to suppress emotions – do you feel uncomfortable with too much empty space around you or too much free time? Ask yourself what you might be avoiding.  (This was also a big one that I had to deal with – I mean imagine if I didn’t have all this stuff to deal with, then what? Scary …)

* Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders – if you’ve reached a stage where you cannot throw anything away, ever. This is a serious level and while clearing your stuff out can help, therapy is also a necessity. This is where you need to find a professional, pronto.

* Spaces of argument – this term, coined by Nat, essentially is a physical representation of an argument you are/aren’t having with your partner or flat mate (or even yourself). Our suggestion – fix it. Do what you have to. Take responsibility for your side of this and just simply end the argument. Let it go and move on. If the “discussion” needs to happen, then address it & resolve it too.


before after spaces of argument

“See that pile of paper that’s been cleared? That was there for months and months (or even a year or two) and it just continued to grow. Hubby helped it grow by picking up my papers around the house and putting them on top of this pile. Anyway, he said, she said … I realised that this wasn’t clutter – this was an argument. A physical representation of the argument we weren’t having about my paper problem. So, my job was to end the argument.” ~ Tip

Take the time to process these and write down anything that came up for you. Did you connect with any? Have any others? We’d love to hear from you.

Poster by Honeyboo on etsy

* Source: Many of these reasons for keeping stuff originate from Karen Kingston. We have expanded on them from our work with our Apartment Diet clients.

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Let Go Of Things That Make You Feel Bad

good vibes

If I asked you right now, do you want good vibes in your home you’d probably say “of course”.

So I’ll ask you this, why are you letting things that give you bad vibes stay in your home?

lifes to short for bad vibes


You could give me a lot of excuses I’m sure.

I say, they’re just excuses. Life is too short to have bad vibes because of an object.


So take those unwanted bad vibe things kicking about your house (for starters) and remove them.

Let them go with a clear conscience, and then clean and clear the space they were hanging out in properly (maybe even light a candle to burn those bad vibes away!).

Not convinced? Keep reading below… otherwise, what are you waiting for? Bad vibes be gone!


never apologize


OK, let’s think a bit deeper on the effect of these bad vibey things, shall we?

At Apartment Diet we talk a lot about feelings, how our spaces / environments make us feel, how our stuff makes us feel. Basically the atmosphere in a space. There is also the interaction between us, our own feelings and moods, and the environment to consider.

This is not just something we’ve made up. It’s covered in thousands of psychology studies showing the power of our environment and it’s cues on our mood and behaviour. An extreme case in point, the Standford Prison Experiment

In short, we frequently forget how our environment affects our mood and behaviour (and vice versa – yes, it’s a bit of a circle you’ll find yourself in if you ignore it!).

So I’d like to put an idea out there for you. Your physical space has an impact on your mood and behaviour. Your home has an impact on your mood and behaviour. Objects in your home have an impact on your mood and behaviour. It may be subtle so you’ll have to actively observe this. (It’s a good exercise to practice in any space that you walk into too, to observe how a space makes you feel and try to figure out why.)

Now, most of us have objects around our house that have energy or feelings attached (i.e. objects we feel strongly about). Some are good feelings, great even. Others neutral, for example, I don’t have many feelings about our cutlery but I like that we can eat happy meals with it.

Then there are those objects that we are DEFINITELY not neutral about. Those little or big things that make us feel bad. We think – oh, they are just things.

Yup. That’s right. They ARE things. Just simple inanimate objects.


So I ask you, why are you keeping some thing, in your personal space, that makes you feel bad?

You can tell me it was a gift - but I don’t believe a person wants you to feel bad about a gift.

It could be a million other reasons but really, why are you keeping some thing that makes you feel bad?

Our happy house rule for the week is to get rid of those bad vibes.

Now this step is important, clean the area once you’ve removed the things and put something healthy and happy there BUT clean clean clean first. Light a candle if you have to, open windows, place some fresh flowers or a green plant there for a while to make it a new fresh space…

At the end of the day life’s too short to let stuff give you anything but good vibes. So, even if someone gave it to you, it’s still just stuff, weighs on your mood, your life and your sub-conscience (yes, unfortunately even if you hide it in a cupboard, your subconscious still remembers).

So go on, let, it, go! And let the good vibes roll.


1 / 2 / 3 / 4

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Swiss Miss: Don’t complain – make things better

Just wanted to share this great talk by Tina aka Swiss Miss

Seriously inspired – with questions like “what’s your superpower?” and comments like don’t complain – make things better, have fun with work and how having kids drove her and how her side projects became her successes…how could you not be?

Apartment diet started out as our side project so it feels extra inspiring. Thanks Tina for sharing so honestly, hope you all enjoy too!


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