Category: Decorating Tips

Which Floor Suits what Style of Kitchen?

As if selecting a new floor for your kitchen isn’t hard enough, you have to keep in mind the size of the tile, width of the floor plank, how it will withstand spills and marks, and the end result or mood you want to achieve.  Today, we’ll touch on the 3 most popular finishes and which style of kitchen would work best with them.

POLISHED CONCRETE

Polished Concrete

Polished concrete is the material of choice for many new homes and gives a contemporary feel to a space.  It’s a great accompaniment to industrial style kitchens, but the grey undertones could easily look too cold and uninviting for the area that’s meant to be the heart of the home.  Luckily, this can be remedied by bringing in rich tones to balance out the cool greys.  Timber cabinetry or even small touches of natural elements such as wooden spoons, cutting boards or timber stools can chase away the sterility of the cold hardness of a concrete floor.  To impart a more industrial edge, try an exposed brick wall to entirely steal the show!  Combine this with black taps and appliances and you have a winner.

TIMBER FLOORING

You’d think that pairing timber flooring with timber cabinets, would have the same cringe worthy effect as denim on denim (and even that’s back in fashion big time!)  The beauty of timber flooring is that you could go as sleek and modern, or as traditional as you like.  Timber flooring has a timeless elegance that would go with anything and can be moulded into any style that takes your fancy.  If you want to combine timber cabinets with your timber floor, make sure that the timber tones don’t clash.  If you prefer darker timber cabinets, use the darkest shade in your timber floor as contrast.  Another way to reach visual panache (sounds fancy, doesn’t it) is to combine your timber floor with white or black cabinets and a marble look benchtop.  This combination would suit the more classic styles like Modern Country, Hamptons or even a Beachy look perfectly.  Add a bowl of fruit and fresh flowers and your design is complete!

CERAMIC TILE

Tiled floors give you freedom in a sense that other flooring finishes could never achieve.  Options in shape, size, colour and patterns are limitless and because of it’s ability to mimic other surfaces such as concrete or timber, the visual effect they can create are endless. You can create any design tile you like.  If you’re all about drama, apply patterned or coloured tiles.  Just take special care with your splashback when you have a screamer of a floor.  Dim the splashback down with neutral or white patterned tiles, rather than adding another colour.  Alternatively, if you’re more of a traditional girl, there’s nothing wrong with the more understated tile varieties, which can also pack a punch if used correctly.

If this stage of your renovation is still doing your head in, you might need a visit to a tile or timber floor specialist with us!  You know where to find us 🙂

Cheerio ’til next time!

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Tips for a successful teenage study nook

Teenagers know everything. Right? Unfortunately they still need to study even though they might think they’re so clever… When they reach Year 11, the amount of school work suddenly increases a lot and just lying on your bed with your laptop will not help them finish those assignments in time. They need more space and a place to actually work, but still feel like they’re having fun. Is that possible? Of course it is!

1.  GET THE BEAT ON

My kids always have music on while they do homework. Mostly with headphones on, but sometimes they even sit at the dining room table with my SONO’s system providing the background music. With the right music, they can be relaxed and still feel connected to “their stuff”. So make sure there are bluetooth or wifi speakers available and that they will be allowed to listen to their music in peace. (Of course they also use the music to make sure they can’t hear you calling them to unpack the dishwasher or take the bins out)

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2. STORAGE

Make sure they have a spot to leave stuff. Books, notepads, files and stationery. We all know teenagers are not the most organised or tidy creatures in the world. Make sure their study nook is not just a desk stuck in a corner. Give them a few shelves or a notice board too.

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3. MAKE IT PERSONAL

You want them to spend some time studying, right? So let them feel like it’s “their” space. They should have a say in how it is decorated. Maybe a mirror, nice art work or photos of friends.

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4. GET A GOOD CHAIR

Their body’s are still growing and they need good support. Don’t give them the leftover chair that doesn’t fit anywhere. Get a proper desk chair with good support. Then they won’t mind spending time sitting there.  My son once picked up an office chair on council pick-up. It did not look great anymore, but it was the most comfortable chair in our home for three years!

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Happy decorating! This is a fun project to do.

Until next time,

eriana bredenhann interior designers hills district sydney

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Quick solutions for tech free zones in your home

I know we blame the new millennium kids for being on their screens constantly, but I am secretly just as guilty as them. Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram is a constant, never-ending flow of information and most of us have FOMO. (Fear of missing out… for those not so tech-savvy!) My son has even recently started an album on his Iphone where he takes photos of us using our phones “unnecessarily” in public places. In today’s busy life we feel like standing in a queue in a shop, or waiting for food at take-away restaurants, even waiting in the car for kids at school or sitting in a waiting room, is a total waste of time and we would rather be on our phones. We never switch off! So here are a few tips or reminders on how to create easy, quick, cheap tech free zones or tech-free hours in your home. Maybe you can just pick one for this weekend, and at least make one change!

 1. CREATE ONE SMALL OUTDOOR SPOT

Let’s be honest, none of us have the time to spend hours in the backyard. It takes me about 3 hours just to get one part of our backyard ready before people come over for a BBQ. So why not create one spot just for yourself? It should not be more than 4 sq meters. Just a chair. One spot you can quickly clean and go sit down with a cup of tea, a glass of wine or a book. NO tech. Just stare at the garden… Think about life and not all the spider webs, leaves and dirt in the rest of the garden.

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2. CLEAR THAT DINING ROOM TABLE

Is yours a dumping site? Yep, we all know the feeling. We have seen the weirdest uses for dining room tables in our job. We might get sued if we publish those photos, so we’d rather not! Unfortunately this means families spend less and less time together having meals. Make it work, even if you have to dump everything in a box just before dinner. Or give everyone 5 minutes to put their stuff somewhere else before you eat. Eventually they will dump it somewhere else (next problem I know!) because they don’t want to clear the table every night before dinner.  Make sure you eat together as a family at least once a day. No technology allowed. Even if it’s just half an hour, you will be amazed how much you learn from each other again! And mum, if the dining room table is full of YOUR paperwork, make sure you set a good example for your kids and make a plan to get more organised.

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3. CENTRALISE YOUR CHARGING STATION

Finding USB cables in our house is always a big fight. So you can solve two problems at once by getting a central charging station. Don’t allow charging any other place in the house. Place the charging station in such an uncomfortable position that no-one can be able to be “plugged in” and be comfortable on a sofa at the same time. Make it a rule that when you charge your phone or tablet, you have to do something else. Yes, teenagers will get used to being in a different room than their phone.

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 4.  GET YOUR “FAMILY TIME” ZONE READY IN AN INSTANT

If having a family games night sounds like too much planning ahead or finding stuff you’re not sure where it is, you must get your act together and get organised! How? Sort out all the board games you have, chuck away the ones everyone hates anyhow, save about four and then also go buy one new exciting game. (It costs less than taking everyone to a movie!)  Store these “ready to use” games in your living room, easy to access. Also get a basket where everyone in your house has to put books or magazines they love or are busy reading. (At least they will now also be able to always know where it is!) When it’s games or family tech free night, grab the basket or board games and you’re ready to roll.  Remember to switch off the TV and  rather put on some music. With Spotify and AppleMusic you have no excuse to have an instant DJ in the house. The living room becomes your tech-free zone for an hour or two.

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As you can see, a little planning and a few small changes can make a big difference. To start is always the hardest. This weekend, pick one of these tips and see if you can make it work for your family.

Until next time,

eriana bredenhann interior designers hills district sydney

 

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How to Create a Cohesive Look in your Home

With all the beautiful furniture and decorating items available today, it’s sometimes hard to stick to just one decorating style or loving just one type of furniture style.  Here’s some good news, YOU DON’T HAVE TO!  Do you want your home to end up looking like a furniture catalogue or display home?  No thank you!  For a style that reflects YOU, incorporating objects from your travels, your childhood or nature, is closer to the new style you’re striving for.  You need to be brave enough to add your personality and create your own unique style by blending your own experiences and display them throughout your home.  Have a look at a previous blog on how to find your decorating direction.

This is what you do:

TAKE STOCK OF WHAT YOU HAVE

Walk through your home and take note of what you currently own.  Are there pieces that stand out, or are there a few you only purchased to fill an empty space?  If you’ve gathered a few things from overseas, did you have a few favourite cities?  Which would you love to return to?  Take note of the textures, colours and style of each item you’ve collected, as this will be the base of your new, unique style.  Remove everyting you don’t have a connection to.

GATHER INFORMATION

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Start a board on Pinterest or Houzz and gather images of your dream rooms.  Tear images out of your favourite magazines and display them on your wall.  A common thread will soon start to appear, whether in the way of architectural details, patterns, or a prominent colour.  You could even realise you’re gravitating towards a more rustic theme, or perhaps something more bohemian?  It’s also quite natural to have a couple of favourite styles and, if they’re true to your personality, they need to be embraced and encouraged!

TIME FOR COLOURING IN

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Now that you have a good idea of a style that you could call your own, you need to choose a colour scheme.  Colour is probably the most powerful decorating tool, as it’s not only very personal, but it creates moods within us that could quite easily be spoiled if done incorrectly.  For a more in depth look on creating mood with colour, click here.  Don’t get side tracked by Pantone’s colour of the year, but rather look at your inspiration boards when selecting your colours:  Are there any prominent colours that call to you?  Those are the ones that will form the base of your new colour scheme.  You’ll need three base colours, to avoid a serious yawn fest out of boredom.  One colour will go on the walls, one for an accent such as an occasional chair or sofa, and a third for accessories such as cushions and vases, etc.  If you only want a single colour, use it in different shades and tones, to make things more interesting.

JAZZ IT UP

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This is where playtime starts!  If your style is leaning towards the rustic side, use rustic timber trays, potted succelents, leather ottomans or side tables with steel legs.  The same goes for a more sophisticated theme:  Add more glamorous touches like a mirrored tray, glitzy vases, pretty flowers and a scented candle.  You get the idea… These combined accessories will enhance and polish your newly created style.

NOW STICK TO IT!

The hardest part is over!  Now that you’ve found the style that reflects your personality, stick to it!  Don’t get side tracked by the new “scandustrial” style that’s all the rage in magazines, if your newly created style is more “rustic/nostalgic”.  Your goal is to have a cohesive look, so don’t fall for what you’ve seen on the latest episode of THE BLOCK if it doesn’t fit your new look.

Well done and good luck,

Cheerio ’til next time!

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Why we don’t do e-decorating

Nowadays everything is online. You can even get online interior designers! You just email a few photos of your room and someone emails you back a list of furniture choices for your space. For busy clients or people living remotely, this is definitely an option. Well, this is not what we do.

 My dad once told me: “Not everybody can be your client. You have to decide who they are, and focus on them.”

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So here’s why we don’t like to be online interior designers:

1.  We like the personal contact with clients

  • We like sharing jokes and chatting about their daily activities. This way we get to know them and can assist them better in creating a personal design.

2.  Photographs alone do not give you a good enough indication of a client’s style and home

  • It’s only by walking through their whole house that you can define their style, see what other items you can also use in the design and understand a bit more about their daily routines and how they utilise all the spaces in their home.

3.  Clients don’t always know what they’re after

  • They could tell you online they want the French Provincial style, but when you visit their home and have time to ask many questions, you might realise they are actually after a French Country style. There are many confusing terminology in design and many facts can get lost in translation by only communicating via email or Skype.

4. We want to help the client make all their rooms work together

  • We might still only work in one room, but we can make suggestions on how to pull the design through to other rooms in their home, by using their existing furniture or add a few accessories. We can even advise the client on how to swop around a few rooms to give a better spatial layout for their home. This won’t be possible if you only work online.

5. We are designers not online shop assistants

  • For clients that are time poor and they are in need of specific furniture, e-decorating might be the answer. Our team doesn’t only help with decorating issues like choosing cushions and furniture etc, but we also focus on how each room works together with all the other rooms in the house. Each project includes a few personal design meetings before any shopping trip kicks off.

Many times clients invite us to do one room, then a few months later another few rooms, and then a few years later a whole new renovation when they move house or get a big fat bonus. For us each interior design client is a potential long term professional relationship. Working with someone’s budget and in their personal space at home, is a privilege and we feel proud to be trusted with their dreams.

So next time when you want to replace your furniture, we can help you with a “real life” shopping trip to our very own suppliers, or we can come to your home and create your dream space.

Until next time,

eriana bredenhann interior designers hills district sydney

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Proportion and Scale: Things we Tend to buy too Small or too Big

Proportion and scale are the most important design principles to achieve great design.  The formula dates to ancient Greece and is called the “golden ration”.  In mathemateical terms, this magic number is 1.618.  This number is achieved by recurring relationship between blah blah yawn… Apologies, but I’ve almost nodded off typing the word maths.  In simpler terms, scale is the size of things and proportion is the relationship between them.  Phew, that could have taken hours (for me to understand!)

This magic number is a ratio that appears in nature, in music, architecture and art.  For some reason, something in our DNA finds this proportion the most comfortable and we instinctively know when things aren’t placed as they’re supposed to.  Something’s ringing a bell, right?  This is what happens when you’ve envisaged your dream room, but after you’ve made all your purchases, the room doesn’t turn out the way you’ve imagined it in your mind.  The reasons could be very simple.  The proportion and scale of a few of your items, could be out of whack!  Here are a few things we tend to buy too small:

ART

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Nothing looks skimpier than a tiny piece of art on a big wall.  I’d go as far as to say that the wall is probably better left completely bare.  Luckily, the size of your art is easy to calculate and has another mathematical equation attached to it (yawn…)  In general, artwork should cover about 3/4 of the wall it’s on.  The magic number for this is .57.  If your wall is about 3m in width, multiply that by .57 to get the area your art should cover (in this case it’s 1.7m).  So, a large print of about 1m x 1.5m should do the trick, but you could also do a gallery wall of smaller prints to cover the same area.

RUGS

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It’s tempting to buy a smaller rug, as the next size up usually costs a few $100 more!  Instead of trying to save a few dollars and go for the smaller size, I’d suggest waiting until you can afford the larger rug.  Your rug should hopefully reach under the front legs of your sofa, as well as under your accent chairs.  It looks pretty bare and unwelcoming when you have a tiny rug that only your coffee table  fit onto.

LIGHTING

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A large pendant is a great opportunity to bring balance and character to a dining table.  Unfortunately, we tend to purchase table and pendant lamps too small and it can ruin the effect we’re trying to create.  The golden rule here is that the lamps should be tall enough that the bottom of the shade is at seated eye level.  A pendant light should be big enough to visually balance the surface below it, but it’s equally important to hang it at the right level.

And finally, here is what you’re buying too big:

SOFAS

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Being from South Africa originally, we tend to steer towards big, chunky leather sofas we can sink into in front of the fire in the evenings.  Nothing wrong with that scenario, but if your room can’t justify a big sofa, don’t buy it!  You should have enough room for movement around the sides to avoid feeling cramped and claustrophobic.  If you’re worried about entertaining a large number of guests, there are other ways to accommodate them without squashing too big furniture pieces into a small room.

Of course, if you suffer from an untrained eye when shopping, you could always take us with you! Read here how you can do this.

Cheerio til next time!

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What happens on a shopping day with the Vanilla Slate girls?

Yes we know we are so lucky that shopping is our job! I find shopping for myself is much more difficult than shopping for someone else. Firstly, I don’t spend my own money (haha!) and secondly I can make good design decisions without being too emotionally involved in the process. So where do we shop as Interior Designers and how can you get your hands on our products? We are lucky, as we have access to many suppliers and showrooms where the general public isn’t allowed to shop. Are you interested in coming along? You can! Let me tell you how. (And why you should do it!)

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If you like a girls day out (yes boys are welcome too of course!) combined with shopping, this will be the perfect day trip for you. We offer two options, a half day and a full day. We meet you in the city and we take you to all our special places where you will be treated like a guest of honour. You will have the benefit of having two interior designers (that’s us!) with you in the shops, guiding you towards solutions for your home. Who can say no to trade discount on top of all that?

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We have a long list of suppliers and will take you to those we think suit your style and home. You don’t have to use us for a full home design, as some of our clients are only looking for a few pieces of furniture to complete their space and don’t need a design package. If you are interested in shopping advice, unique pieces and trade discount, then you will benefit from this “shopping package”. It is also a great birthday gift or “congratulations with your new home” gift to a friend.

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Shopping makes you tired, we know! So we will definitely break for coffee and/or lunch. It gives us time to rest our feet and discuss all the information of the shopping trip.

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We have access to so many products, but usually clients want to see and touch products before buying. This gives you a great opportunity to get your hands on those products without having to order them blindly. Many items can also be custom made according to your choice of colour combinations,  for example the combination of lampshades and lamp bases or even specific patterned or coloured rugs. You don’t normally have those options at your local homeware stores.

To enquire about prices or book a day trip with us, please email us at: info@vanillaslatedesigns.com.au . You can come alone or gather a maximum of three of your friends. The price decreases per person with every friend added to the group. Don’t forget that this is also a great birthday present. An Interior Designer for the day! We only need you to bring along a few photos of your home.

So get some girls together and give us a call!

eriana bredenhann interior designers hills district sydney

 

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Why on Earth do I need a Rug on top of my Carpet?

Carpet has been used as flooring for thousands of years and is installed to provide warmth for cold feet, reduce sound and add colour and decoration to a room.  It helps a room to stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer.  So now I ask you… why does my interior designer want me to put a rug on top of it?

DEFINING YOUR SPACE

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Interior designers consider the principles of design to create a well-rounded room.  No, you don’t need to be good at Maths to figure it out, but most of the time it’s based on feelings and common sense 🙂  Not only do they want to create balance in your room, but they need to think about the atmosphere (we’re not talking about oxygen here), consider the scale in the room and ways to apply textures and colour to get you the desired result.  The first reason for putting a rug on top of your brand new carpet, is to create a zone for a space.  This is especially important in today’s open living style homes  To give an example:  If your living room is next to your dining room or kitchen, a rug placement under your coffee table and sofas will define that space as separate and create a zone for an activity in that area.  Having a rug has the added benefit of grounding your furniture so that it doesn’t appear as if it’s floating.

PATTERN & COLOUR

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Placing a rug on the floor is the perfect opportunity to add patterns and colour.  By adding these, the interest in your room is heightened immediately and the effect can be very appealing.  Always make sure that your rug complements the carpet, so that they look married to each other and not out of place.  It also need to tie in with your colour palette, whether you decide on a neutral or coloured rug.

A LAYER OF TEXTURE

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Textures work in mysterious ways.  It has the tendency to create comfort, dampen noise and give a room visual depth.  Not many people consider textures carefully before making their selections for a space.   The reason for this could be because they don’t realise the potential of adding textures to their design.  Jute, wicker, animal skin or shag rugs can turn a one dimensional space onto a comforting, warm and inviting cocoon, ready for guests to relax and enjoy.

Our next blog will be about how to get rid of guests that enjoy being in your home too much (only kidding!)

Cheerio ’til next time!

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Beaumont Tiles Reveals their Latest Range

Us Vanilla girls are always on the look out for a night out, especially when it has something to do with what we’re passionate about.  Of course, when there are nibblies and wine on the menu and we have a chance to meet others in the industry, we’re more than eager!

Beaumont Tiles Mosaic Vanilla Slate

We were pretty thrilled to be invited to view Beaumont Tiles in Castle Hill’s latest range in tapware, vanities and tiles.   We heard first hand from Beaumont Tiles’ suppliers what all the new trends are for 2017.  If you love the natural look, make sure you investigate their slate mosaics.  They are to die for, especially the chevron pattern!  If you want something a bit brighter, pretty peacock green and bright blue scale patterned mosaics might create that feature wall you’ve been looking for.  If you’re not sure which to make a feature wall, give us a call for an hour consultation.

Gold Mosaics Vanilla Slate

If you think that gold or bling accessories and tiles are best left in the eighties, think again!  Gold plated tapware and hexagon mosaics will lift the level of sophistication in any bathroom.  Combine it with black and white and you have that instant hotel experience while staying at home! Just add room service and you’re good to go.

Although Pieter, Kerene and Jaco from Beaumont Tiles are pretty laid back about it, they’ve won the best performance award last year!  Out of 120 branches nationwide, that’s a great achievement. Being so professional in their field, this doesn’t surprise us at all!  If you’re confused about tiles, remember to give us a call to for a visit to their showroom.  All you need is a couple of hours to sort out your tiling needs for an entire bathroom or kitchen.

Vanilla Slate and Beaumont Tiles

Yes, you can tell we’re all holding our breaths and pulling in our tummies for this shot… it has been holiday after all…

Cheerio ’til next time!

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How Australia plays a small part in the biggest shopping mall in New York

I have just returned from a 6 week whirlwind around the world trip. Except that I probably need two new feet, I am totally broke as well as exhausted. Then again, I haven’t felt this alive, excited and motivated in a long time! Over the next few weeks I will share a few of the things I learned on my trip. As I had two teenagers in tow, there wasn’t much of a “design element” to my trip, but still, being exposed to other countries and cultures you always learn a few new tricks.

Today I want to kick off with my visit to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. Yes, most of us know exactly where we were the day the aeroplanes hit the twin towers. However, being an outsider I could never imagined the impact on New Yorkers and the Manhatten skyline.  This museum has probably touched me more than any other museum I’ve ever been in.  It was extremely well presented. (One day I will tell you how it took 7 years to build this structure, but it fell down in 20min) What I actually want to discuss today is not the museum, but the shopping mall on the memorial site. At the time of the attacks, there was a Westfield shopping mall on the site already. This was damaged and demolished during the clean up operation. As we know, Westfield is an Australian owned shopping mall group. I was blown away by the amazing new mall that Westfield built on the same site. (Imagine the new Castle Towers could look like this!) It only openend in August 2016, so it’s brand new. It is architecturally stunning, with its’ huge white gleaming structures. However, the symbolisation of the fallen towers are breathtaking. At the moment it’s the biggest shopping mall in Manhattan.

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The photo on the left is one of the most well known images the day after the attacks. The image on the right is the inside of the new Westfield centre. It is an amazing and huge structure. It’s supposed to represent the fallen building. I think it was very well done, especially because it is extremely white and bright and feels like a new, fresh beginning for the people of New York. This white structure is called the Oculus. Many people have mixed feelings about it as some people have never set foot on the site again after 2001.

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The shopping mall is mostly underground, except for the top of the huge Oculus that sticks out above the ground. The Oculus is designed so that every year on 9/11 at exactly 10:28 a beam of light will penetrate the opening in the roof of the building, dividing the structure in half.

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With a project so close to so many people’s hearts, one can understand that some love it and others prefer not to shop in a mall that reminds them of the fallen towers. I’m not a New Yorker, but from an emotional and architectural point of view, I really like it. I love that it has a story. So this is why Australia plays a small part in part of the 9/11 memorial site. The mall/Ocuclus hosts a huge subway station and entrances to the Memorial site. The two reflection pools are right outside the exit of the mall.

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What I thought was going to be an hour visit to the World Trade Centre museum, turned out to be a life changing and architecturally inspiring 5 hours . When Americans go big, they go big!

I wish I had more time and space to tell you more!

Until next time,

eriana bredenhann interior designers hills district sydney

 

 

 

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