New Habit Monday: Loving My Finances

love your finances happyhouserules

Ahh, it’s Monday again. And instead of getting annoyed that it’s not the weekend I have decided to use Mondays to create a new habit. (As we say, it’s easier to create a new habit then break an old one…preferably with a new habit that makes it hard (or even impossible) to do the one you’re trying to break.)

This month the big habit that I’ve committed to (hopefully for life) is a happy house rules I’m calling #lovingyourfinances or perhaps it’s #respectyourfinances (feel free to weigh in) – although it could be also called ‘stay on top of your finances’ or ‘be balanced’.

In my case this specifically translates into setting aside a very small amount of time every week to do my accounting.

I used to have a very special relationship with accounting. (I’m deliberately talking in past tense, for a new habit to come alive it helps that you disassociate with your old story).

It worked like this:

I avoided.
I got stressed.
A few days before the deadline I panic.
On the deadline (thankfully I have a clever accountant who gives me a deadline before the taxation deadline) I get an email from the accountant. Then my accountant calls.

Then I do my accounting. Only after procrastinating from it all day.

I realised last week I was totally and utterly over this process.

So I created a new habit. I have decided to LOVE my accounting.

Here’s the reality. It is unlikely that I will love the thrill of accounting itself.

If you read this blog regularly you know we like work outside-in – so while it may be a mental leap for me to suddenly love finance admin (I’ve tried, it didn’t seem to work ;) it most certainly is not hard to start doing something differently about it. Money is physical. So why not do something physical about it.

I DO like feeling organised. I do love NOT having my accounting hang over my head. I do love NOT being stressed about accounting or money.

I LOVE not being stressed. I LOVE making a great income because it lets me do things I LOVE like travel and eat in great restaurants (and as my grandfather used to say, paying tax means you’ve made a great income…). I LOVE the time I’m not spending on my accounting.

At the end of the day I know myself. Like exercise, accounting may itself not bring me joy. My accounting being done with ease, freeing me up for fun is what brings me joy.

So I put all these loves together. And allocated a part of my Monday to something I call “Balance Day”.

I’ve also committed to asking my accountant questions. Like, they’re here to help us. Why not just ASK?


So, Balance day for me means:

I spend 20 minutes meditating (another new habit from this year), 20 minutes on accounting (invoices, emails, receipts, email accountant etc) and then I have an activity I call FUN. This can take 1 hour. It could be coffee with a friend. Drawing. Whatever.

My new habit is balancing my accounting which has been draining to me with EASE and FUN.

I’m balancing my books with balancing me.

And who knows, maybe in the process I’ll love finance. In the meantime, I’m sure loving knowing about my financial situation rather than hiding from it.


Do you ignore your finances and accounting? How’s that working for you? Perhaps it’s time for a new habit/s?

And while you are thinking about that, here are two simple habits anyone can do to keep their accounting more easily organized.

1. 12 Envelopes:

Have 12 envelopes. Label them January 2014, Feb….

Have them next to your door / in an easy space. Every day empty your business related receipts into the envelope. Sometime every month, even in front of the tv, put the amounts into a spreadsheet.

Add a stamp and send to your accountant, or file in a safe place.

2. Digital: 12 Folders

Create an acconuting folder. Create 12 subfolders January, Feb…., drag anything into there…

When you sit in front of the tv…print and add to envelope….

That’s your accounting – DONE


Would love to know your thoughts and what new habit this inspired in you!


Weekend Sparks & Clean Your Refridgerator Day


Did you know it’s Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day on Saturday?

Well, now you do!

I often laugh that there seems to be a billion different “days” every year. I also laughed when I realised that unless there’s a sexy smeg you will almost NEVER see a fridge in a kitchen pic in a glossy magazine or pinterest. (Yet another reason to enjoy the inspiration but love where you are). But this weekend I realised there was “Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day” and I’m getting on the bandwagon. I’m even ignoring that it may have been started by some fridge co.

So folks, one of our first ever happy house rules was start with a corner – this weekend I challenge you to start with a particular corner – your fridge. Give it a loving clean out, wipe it down with some baking soda and water, and fill it up with some things that make you smile inside and out. Commit to adding things that make you smile and keep your body healthy. Heck, maybe go one step further and invite a friend round for something that’s in the fridge.

Challenge over, off you toddle to start!

And now for some prettiness to keep you inspired ’til next week (and lest you feel bad about your own spaces, remember most spaces below usually don’t like this, it’s only when stylists swoop in, stuff is removed and photographers do some nice cropping),

Natalie (+ Tip)

Fig-House-emily henderson

Happy Fridge Day – Happy Weekend!

PS If you take up our challenge, let us know! In fact, show us too: take a before and after and tag us on instagram @apartmentdiet

Lara’s Kitchen Refresh: Before and After

We love a good before and after…so here’s a cool mid-week boost!

lara hotz before after kitchen transformation diy apartmentdiet

We’ve loved Lara Hotz‘s work as a photographer for years now but what’s happening in her home is equally inspiring and we’re excited that we get to share it today.

Sometimes we want to make so many huge changes we get overwhelmed. But a lot can be achieved with small changes: a simple change of materials (or fixtures or colours) can make all the difference.

Lara Hotz’s gorgeous kitchen refresh is one fabulous example.

– full instructions below. What do you think?


Lara Hotz kitchen before


  • Step 1: Measure your kitchen cabinets and have doors cut to size (or cut them yourself)
  • Step 2: Remove old doors (get out that drill or bring a friend over who’s handy with one to come help out) and everything in the cabinets
  • Step 3: Replace with new wooden doors
  • Step 4: Accessorize: Add shelf and new accessories and…

Voila! What a difference 3 wooden doors and a wooden shelf make!


Lara Hotz kitchen after

We’re proud to feature Lara’s handy work. Her DIY is impressive and we hope it inspires you to refresh your space with a few small changes.

And if you don’t know where to start or decide – connect and we’ll kick start your project and get you refreshing your space in one session. Yes, really.


Happy October, Happy Home & Our Happy LAUNCH!

1.OG: Treppenhaus

Aahhhhhh it’s October!

This week brought a new month and it also had us working crazy hard to launch something exciting!!!!!! (Yes, really this is how many exclaimation marks of excitement we feel!)

Happy Home – The eCourse is now LIVE

An interactive online course that shows you how to create a home that has your personality stamped all over it. With ease.

You’ve asked us and we’ve listened. Some people don’t want one-on-one sessions, or even a course over a set time.

So, as part of our mission to help you change, shed, purge, restart and reinvent, we’ve rolled up our sleeves and created the first of a series of fully-online, go at your own pace, fabulous eCourses: 5 Weeks To A Happy Home.

And, we’re asking all those in our community (that’s you dear lovely readers) to share this course with your nearest and dearest.

Read ALL about it here.


More Happy.
And because it’s Friday we can’t let you down on the inspiration + smile side. So here’s some things from the internets that made us happy this week! Hope they make you happy too!

 xo Nat + Tip


A Love Letter

While Nat takes a well deserved break for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) I would like to share with you one of my all time favourite Happy House Rules. It’s a bit like my “attitude of gratitude” that I use to help me deal with my depression – a way of changing your perspective on things but maybe it’s even more than that.  Anyway, here goes:

I would like to challenge you to write a love letter to your home.

(Yes, you can still do this while you’re resting.)

Cropped love letter with shadow border

Yup. That’s mine. I wrote it a few years ago and it is still there, in the mirror in our living room. We saw this idea via the genius that is Grace Bonney (a.k.a. Design Sponge) who usually gets folk to include them in her sneak peeks of their spaces and decided to try it out.  I have to say, that the effect it had on me was significant – so much so that I have fought to ensure that it stays as one of our key Happy House Rules.

Instead of focusing on all of the negatives and stuff I still had to fix in the this old home, I started focusing instead on the positives and appreciating what she gave me.  There’s a lot still to do here but I now love my home rather than feel weighed down by all the not so nice bits that I still have to deal with.  Of course, this lightness also has to do with a lot of the other Happy House Rules I’ve implemented across the years but this one is simple and easy to do (and it works!). Mine is a quick scribble (which is all that it needs to be) but here are a couple more for you to look at to get some ideas going.



There’s not much more to say beyond this as it’s pretty straight forward.  It’s quite a personal thing but if you’d like to share then we would love love love to see yours.  So, will you join me this week and

Write a love letter to your home?

In love and lightness,



Images 1 My home by BintiHome / 2 / 3

Scheduled Maintenance: I Invite You To Join Me In A Little Rest

Sometimes, we are all flowing and other times we’re exhausted.

We can keep pushing up-against it. Or we can prioritize ourselves.

One minute Tip and I are releasing one of our happy house rules every week, on Monday. I’m pumped and focused on our work. Explaining our work. Learning about our new work. And suddenly, yesterday, Monday, I couldn’t.

I wrote several drafts. But my head was too full. My body too tired.

So, I took a break. I did a yoga class. I tried again. Still too tired. So I went to bed early.

I let Tip know. And I’m letting you know. I have some commitments to clients I finished this morning. But otherwise,

I’m off for the rest of the week.

solo by max wanger

I know there are going to be some of you who explain how you can’t, how ‘it’s OK for you’ and all that.

Perhaps you’re right.

But who exactly is telling you you can’t. Is it really true? Or is it a rule you assume. Are you aiming for martyrdom? By all means, I won’t stop you.

But that’s not me. Certainly not where I’m at. And for those who like a bit of science to go by with my ‘crazy’ ideas.

Rest is an essential law of nature – growth happens after rest.

First rest, then growth.

What’s the one line everyone in tech support asks you when something isn’t working

did you turn it off and restart it?

First rest, then a lot of things start working again.

morning dip by max wanger

So next time it feels too much, I invite you to try it.

Well before the breakdown. When you see the early signs. Take a seat. Carve out a pocket of time for yourself. Go for walk. Leave the office. Don’t even explain. Go to bed early. Ask you partner to wake up with the kids.

Whatever it is, rest.

Even if it means you have to schedule it in. Even if it means you have to ask someone for help or feel vulnerable. Needing rest is not a failure.

float by max wanger


Happy Equinox, Happy Jewish New Year, …Happy joyous floating rest,


PS If you take some time this week or weekend, would love to know how it went in the comments. I’ll let you know about mine next week.

image source

On Living Lighter

light curtains pella hedeby

How can you add lightness?

How can you let the light into your homes, bodies and lives?

We’ve been exploring living lighter this week, so today I’m ruminating on light, lighting and lightness.

As I tend to live in my head, I’m currently playing with sharing visuals and simpler words.

Below are some of my answers. Perhaps they resonate with some of yours, too.


bathroom mirror via anna gillar se

round kitchen table light

copper pendant living room

dark interior great lighting

go to the beach water

neon lighting art

moonlight art

salad nicoisse

conservatory greenhouse

string lighting hammock

white scandinavian store


floating light wood stairs

magical table setting

sacred empty space

How can we add light and be lighter in our homes and lives?

Some possible answers in words:

  • lighter materials; see-through materials, lighter colours and textiles.
  • reflective surfaces: mirrors, high gloss paint, glass
  • lighting: different warmth light-bulbs, change out light fixtures. Use up lights, down lights, ceiling lights, pendant lights, floor lamps, side lamps, string lighting.
  • light candles; light a fire.
  • lighter furniture
  • empty spaces
  • meditation
  • taking breaks
  • open and add windows, knock through walls, add skylights, add a conservatory or greenhouse
  • eat food that make us feel good, make happy memories in our homes
  • invite happy people over or people who make us laugh
  • add objects or art that make us laugh
  • filling our homes, bodies and lives with people and things + empty spaces that let us breathe and shine


there's a crack in everything quote leonard cohen



1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5/ 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 1011 / 12 / 13 / 14

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 no 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

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

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