Black Vase – West Elm.

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art direction & photography SHINI PARK in collaboration with YOUR MUM

What I’m doing in this flat is quite possibly in violation of some renters’ law: the comprehensive yet unspoken/unwritten set of rules that is policed by no one but adhered to by everyone who is under a tenancy agreement of sorts. You homeowners can go outside and play, this post does not apply to you… superior humans.
Picture frames all aligned at the same base-line (the floor), make-shift storage space under the stairs/behind the IKEA EKBY, free-standing clothes-hangers that buckle under sale purchases… yeah, you know exactly what I’m talking about. We do not invest in big furniture, and when we do it’s made of cardboard (or breadcrumbs?), comes flat-packed and you probably transported it home in a bus yourself. Built-in storage is literally my wet dream. Maybe not literally.

Also, what is a drill, pray tell?

If it helps to further understand, these laws are accompanied by an Amazon recommended-product list full of sticker-back wall hooks and cheap draught prevention kits BECAUSE YOUR LANDLADY DOESN’T BELIEVE IN CURTAINS, so you spend the balls-cold weekend sealing off the windows with a combination of bargain-store fabric and clear plastic, and hope for the best. Doesn’t hide the fact that now your overpriced London flat looks like a blanket fort that Troy & Abed would approve of.

the bedroom

Ladder-shelf – Dwell. Blowfish – Boulesse. Coral decorative object - West Elm.

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Perfume – Dolce & Gabbana ‘The One’. Watch – Larsson & Jennings. Bracelets – CARAT* London

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Glass vase – Muji. Hourglass – Bitossi via The Conran Shop. Candle holder – Trouva

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So me taking a measuring tape to the walls, is in clear violation of the above. A MEASURING TAPE, you guys. Then proceeding to ordering furniture that perfectly slide into the little indent in the wall next to the fireplace. We’ve even bought a drill, and have plans of making fist-sized holes into the walls come weekend; you know, for fun. My logic is this: Live a little. Why pay such a ridiculous amount to live in a relatively attractive, albeit ill-heated space and then further offend it by not making it a home? Because stupid, that’s what. Rant over. Here are some corners I’ve been refreshing in the last couple of weeks between the bliss that was my horizontal-and-TV adventures.

Marble vase – Dwell. ‘Hello’ sign – West Elm.
the office

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Aroma diffuser – Muji

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Chair – Eames. Desk – IKEA

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Rose-gold sunnies – RayBan

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Work,
breathe,
play.
Repeat.

If you too, growing up, lived under a hand-painted sign that read Work Hard, Play Hard (possibly pinned near a stack of extra-curricular maths problems and a ragged vocabulary pad, contents of which has magically wiped out over the ensuing years after high school graduation and replaced by ‘bae’ or ‘fleek’) then come in for a hug. I feel you. To be fair, for my mother it was more of an ‘advice’, a friendly guidance, what have you, to self-assess whether I have earned the right for that evening at the bowling club at age 15 and accidentally letting eleven missed calls from the house phone happen. That’s when you shit your pants a little and accept the fact that you will forever suck at doing your own taxes, even as an adult. Because the truth is, that equation doesn’t actually cancel out, not to a tiger mum, to whom Play should be with purpose, like a Sims activity that has a blue progress bar on top of your head, like chess (+1 Logic Skill!).

I had started this blog as an escape from my university work load, working hard on my assignments (albeit all last minute), and playing hard on this blog. For years I’d kept it separate, used an alias that helped distinguish ‘real life’ business with ‘blog’ business, and piped on about having no ads. Then from a certain point it became apparent that more and more emails were being addressed to ‘Shini’, and I was being compensated for my efforts. There was undeniably a blue progress bar above my head, and it was filling up. My point is, when you apply enough ‘Hard’ to the equation, Work becomes Play, and vice versa – all you have to remember is to breathe in the middle, because sometimes it does get tricky.

Someday, perhaps I too can become Mayor of Pleasantview and go to work in a helicopter if I continued to play hard.

Created for
Minions, and I dunno, Aladdin.
Brogues – Chanel. Journal & Journal coverShinola. Necklace – JetSet Candy. Lip Balm – Creme de la Mer.

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I like assorting DESK ESSENTIALS (like this Shinola journal cover) where I can see and access them easily. Sometimes I look up and realise I’m working within a setup that resembles an Instagram flat-lay and chortle at the ridiculousness of this to-the-core blogger lifestyle. I then proceed to organizing the pens and pencils in order of height and colour, and realise it’s perhaps a bigger problem.

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As much as I pipe on about pizza and burritos, there’s nothing better to soothe a congested mind than to immerse into PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, or simply taking the time to listen to your own BREATHING. Again, I recommend the 30-day yoga challenge for those chickenshits like me, who can’t commit to a whole year of gym membership.

iPad holder – Shinola. Dermaclear clay mask - Dr Jart. Bracelets – X Jewellery.

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I say ‘Play’ because most of this ends up down the front of my shirt and I end up smearing paint all over my chesticulars and smearing them on a sketchbook and/or canvas. There may also mysteriously be some Jessica Simpson playing in the background and soap bubbles floating around. PLAYTIME.
Animal Egg cup – Liberty. Leather Pouch & Sketchbook – Shinola. Bracelet – X Jewellery. Watch – Shinola.

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Created for
The oompa loompas, who else.

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I am currently in a 10-hour flight as I write this, wedged awkwardly between a man clearly too bulky for his seat (*cough*my other half*cough*) and a makeshift stack of deflated pillows in vain attempt to cushion the plastic wall. One pillow, in particular, looks incredibly disgruntled with very apparent embossing of my rear-end from the first three hours of flight on its face. Still seven hours to go, and these photos depicting downright comfort, tease with gusto.

Bed – Next. Pillow & duvet cover – Yves Delorme. Grey cushion & Bedside table – West Elm.

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Pink towels – Yves Delorme.

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Our new flat came unfurnished, and the old one detained all furniture – so for three weeks in March we retired each night, to an air-mattress on the floor – in a barren room – and contemplated more times than once, moving to the local train station/under the bridge due to ass-coldness. The very day the broadband was hooked up, we searched for affordable bed options, and found this upholstered double bed at Next with a Pocket Sprung Cool Mattress and decided to end this first world problem. Of course, if I had my way the new bed would be equipped with an in-built furnace and a hug-machine, but this grey beauty was the next best thing/ Turns out, the memory-foam mattress is now the source of the ‘Ahhhhh’ at the end of each day. A creamy duvet & pillow covers came next – and the towels. Pink, of course (a la everything else so far in the new flat), from Yves Delorme. And one by one, the flat became a home – one under-bed drawer with leftover pizza, at a time.

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And one by one, the flat became a home – one under-bed drawer with leftover pizza, at a time.

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Candle – Dolce & Gabbana. Perfume – Gucci Bamboo. ‘Hello’ Ornament – West Elm.

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Tackling the space issue
Combining two rooms into one

The two things you will learn about London in the first hour: 1) WALK ON THE LEFT, STAND ON THE RIGHT (this quite literally will be yelled at you in the tube, but you will never have a conversation with a stranger otherwise), and 2) Every space is multi-purpose: Heathrow, for instance, is basically a giant sandwich shop that is also occasionally an airplane parking lot. With nearly 9 million inhabitants trying to divide into cupboard-studios and oddly shaped 2-bedroom flats, walls are no longer used for what it’s made for. (Which reminds me: for the love of God, landlords, stop trying to make cheap IKEA screen-dividers happen, it’s not going to happen.) I, for one, don’t remember the last time I’ve actually been in a ‘living room’ that didn’t have some part of the kitchen and/or bed/closet spilling out into a corner, but perhaps I should stop hanging out with teenagers.

We recently moved out of our duplex studio loft flat in an attempt to grow up, where – if you remember – we had a wall of shoes next to the dining table, sofas next to that, and an open kitchen opposite all that. I think we only barely got away with the bed being above this all on the mezzanine. Our new abode is indeed a proper house, and while I can pride in the fact that our kitchen is actually surrounded by four walls and a door, we still had to find a way to fit the bedroom and living room into the second room for the sake of an office next door.

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A mock-up that the West Elm free Home Stylist service drew up after our appointment
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After having paced the room scratching our heads, noticing one too many echos, calling Ghostbusters and getting put on hold, we decided to consult outside help. I’ve had my eye on West Elm long before we could afford to place yet another thing in the stir-fry of a studio we were living in, and now that we were starting from scratch, decided it was time. I noticed their free Home Stylist service and got all up on it like a crazy Asian lady over spinach sale. Well, now that the room is finished, here’s some handy tips I learnt from Ben, the Home Stylist, on fitting two rooms into one without breaking a sweat.

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Ben’s top 5 tips
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Have a cohesive design scheme
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Don’t overfill with patterns and colors that you might tire of. Pick out a few belongings that are must-haves in the space and use them as starting block for the rest of the room.

I decided on going for a mix of dusty blue, pewter and grey for the warmer seasons. In winter I plan on swapping in with lots of texture and monochrome accessories.

- Shini

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Avoid bulky furniture
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Avoid bulky furniture – you’ll most likely have a lot to fit in to the space so pick out pieces that will help lighten the room not overwhelm it. Light-surfaced furniture like glass or marble are great for this.

We have a basket under the marble side tables for all bedside necessities.

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Ben’s top 5 tips
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Power of Three

Group three decorative items in different heights to allow the eye to follow the triangular shape, brings harmony and focus into the particular area.

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£119.95 – £849.00
Riad wool rug
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Work the floor

Use rugs and flooring to divide the space. That alone works with dual purpose – giving clear definition between the two functionalities whilst adding essential warmth to the room.

this shaggy rug feels like a fluffy cloud at the end of the day…

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Directional patterns
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Use patterns cleverly to bring fluidity in the room.

We opted for this long herringbone-esque pattern on the cushion to direct the eye towards the window and the garden.

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Gold-dipped bowls and ‘hello’ objectWest Elm. Glass Vase – H&M. Black marble vase – Dwell.

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Top – Uniqlo. Dungarees – Alexa Chung for AG Jeans.

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Click below to watch how it all came together ↓

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This is entirely a personal initiative, but as a disclaimer, a discount was kindly given by West Elm.