In Australia we are blessed with abundant natural light, wide open spaces and a close connection with the sea, all of which are great sources of inspiration when decorating a home
We’ve already stressed the importance of geography and climate in helping you determine your style. In a land where so many of us live near the coastline, or perhaps within a comfortable drive to the sea, it makes perfect sense to consider the influence of the ocean on how we decorate our homes.
For some of us this might mean beach house style, where the blues of the sea and sky are combined with crisp whites, polished timbers and lots of open windows that take in vistas of sandy beaches and rippling waves. Such a style is certainly a concession to location and by its very nature dictates a casual, laid-back lifestyle and approach to one’s abode. The cost of creating such a dècor can also be far less than pursuing a more ornate, traditional style.
In places such as Queensland and the coastal reaches of the southern states, a passion for Mediterranean style — with whitewashed walls, terracotta-tiled floors, rich blues and yellows used for upholstery, and sheer white muslin at the windows — is another way to create a light, airy mood within the home. Here, the emphasis is on space and casual comfort rather than opulent finishes and formal living. The contemporary approach to design also embraces a love of light, which can be seen in large windows and skylights, open-plan living spaces and indoor outdoor entertaining areas which draw the inside out, and vice versa. Today, Australians are much more environmentally aware and issues of sustainability — such as maximising natural light — are considered when designing, renovating or decorating homes.
Given the crisp, clear light of Australia and our many wide open spaces, it is not surprising many decorators aim to capture these elements inside the home — in both the cities and the suburbs — by way of the skilful use of colours and the artful juxtaposition of furnishings and accessories. Lots of pale colours and off-whites for walls, ceilings and furnishings provide the background foil for the addition of simple accessories to hint at something exotic.
Place a few animal-print cushions and a couple of tribal artefacts into just such a room and you can suggest an African style just as simply as a collection of floral
cushions can be used to conjure up the look of an English country cottage. This is contemporary decorating style at its very best, where the combination of a few eclectic pieces within a setting that is otherwise neutral denotes simplicity, elegance and even causal, relaxed living. The combination of old and new is also the hallmark of contemporary style, where things vaguely antique and things vaguely new are effortlessly combined and seem to merge with each other in a comfortable mix. Such a look is typical of many of the new homes and apartments of Australian cities, where, once again, the elements of light and space are paid due consideration.