The Design Souk - An Interiors, Styling & Travel Blog
The Design Souk is mostly a place for inspiration and where I can share my love for home design and decor, but it's also a blog that can show you the best places to shop for stylish items in the Middle East or elsewhere!
Guest Revamp Attempt #1 (above picture) – I had the room painted a gray/blue, and the furniture stayed like this for a very long time until I decided that the space would be much more useful if I could ALSO get a desk in here… Not. Smart. At. All.
Whenever I want to test out a new idea or color palette, I usually try to find a room (or outdoor space) to experiment on. I’ve tried out various new ideas on other parts of my house, but the guest room has always been neglected, and is always in desperate need of attention. It’s gone through some changes, but not really any good ones…
Guest Revamp Attempt #2 (above picture) – I kept the gray/blue paint, but moved the furniture around to accomodate the desk (There’s also an IKEA HEMNES dresser on one of the walls that I never got a picture of, but it’s big, and it’s been there since the day we moved into the house). I eventually realized that the desk was NEVER used and it was a total waste in there. It also looked horrific. So then I had to rethink the purpose of this room, and began to envision what kind of a space I thought I needed in my home…
So when my recent obsession with light, bright, and warm California vibes wasn’t going away, I decided to test it out on my guest bedroom. And for some reason, I also really wanted a room that felt like a comfortable hotel room at a resort. Don’t ask me why, but I just thought it would be kinda cool to have a room like that in my home!
What I really love about this transformation is that very little was actually changed. I added a few pieces, but they were incredibly impactful as you’ll be able to see in the pictures below. And a few tweaks with furniture placement and colors really helped transform this room from a hodge podge of styles, to something a bit more sophisticated…
| BEFORE |
| AFTER |
So I started off by changing the wall color to Benjamin Moore’s Balboa Mist for a warmer tone of gray with little to no hints of blue. I moved the furniture around so that I could fit more on one wall, changed the light fixture to something beautiful and dramatic (there’s a great story behind that), added a couple of inexpensive shelves, a mirror and an incredible chair that I got second-hand. It’s my favorite second-hand purchase after my media unit!
It’s Thursday!! I know, I’ve been pretty MIA on the blog… but I really do think you’ll get a lot more use out of my Instagram stories these days since I post pretty often there. Follow along if you’re not doing so already @thedesignsouk…
So I did want to tell you that some major changes are in the works, and that the blog is probably going to change slightly… It won’t happen until the summer, but I just wanted to warn you. They’re good changes though, so get excited! I also hope to have some good posts coming up soon, including a post on my updated guest room. I just have a couple more things to update in there…
My Favorite House Tour
Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors is just #goals. I am completely and utterly inspired by everything she does. Her houses are always impeccably styled, and yet warm and inviting. She uses the most unique color palettes and eclectic patterns in ways that don’t look overwhelming or over-the-top. She even has her plant selection down to an art! It’s really quite impressive! I have followed her work for years, I listen to her interviews, and take her advice very seriously. I think she is one of the most talented designers out there, so make sure to check out her most recent Client Say No Morrison project with a “California Laid Back vibe.” It’s just so amazing!
I was craving tomato soup the other day and tried out this Homemade Tomato Soup recipe by Pinch of Yum. I made it without any beef bacon, but it was still super yummy and even hubs liked it! Pair it with some garlic bread and you will feel surprisingly satisfied after this meal.
Figuring out how to decorate your garden walls can be so tricky – there are limited options! So when I found these awesome ceramic wall planters from West Elm this winter season, I knew I’d found a gem. Technically, they’re supposed to be indoor planters, but they work so beautifully outside that I had to try it. I used them in my own home, and also in Kristina’s Patio Makeover.
Photo Source: West Elm
My Favorite Instagram/Pinterest Find
Do you follow The Heart and Haven? You should on Instagramat the very least! Her shelfies are major major #shelfiegoals. She even has a post on her shelfies – that’s how good she is!
The next space that I wanted to show you in the #projectking full home transformation is the little patio that Kristina has. I’ll admit, when I first saw it, I was pretty confused as to what I was going to do with it. It’s small and a little awkward…
We had about 180 sq. ft. to work with, which is perfectly fine, except that it was in an odd L-shape. It wasn’t really conducive to anything especially if you wanted to entertain. There were lots of random pipes around the space as well as a utility room off to the side with an annoying door that has to open up into the patio.
Kristina was looking for a different feel from her living room (the one I posted a few months ago). Something modern, something cozy, and something blue. Her living room color scheme was mostly grays, whites with pops of pink – more of a feminine look. This time she wanted blue outside. Totally up my alley! So we added a hint of blue in the accessories, but kept it pretty neutral so that she could change the color scheme whenever she wanted to.
She also wanted to be able to entertain people, so a dining and living area were the perfect solution to her needs. It also helped divide this awkward space and give each part purpose!
The other thing that we really had to think about was the budget for a space like this. Most outdoor furniture gets ruined over time by the extreme weather in this region, and it really hurts to have spent a lot of money on something just to see it get annihilated by the sun or sandstorms. So we needed outdoor furniture to fit a small space, at a reasonable price point, and something you could replace easily… IKEA to the rescue!
The table that was already out there wasn’t meant for the outdoors, and it was a little too big for the space. So we pretty much got rid of everything and brought in new pieces… Check. It. Out.
| BEFORE |
| AFTER |
We actually didn’t use the IKEA seat and back cushions on these chairs. We ordered outdoor fabric in a neutral color from http://www.fabric.com, had it shipped here, and then had them made to the same size as the IKEA cushions.
Kristina loves to cook so this plant ladder is the perfect place to grow fresh herbs! It also helps cover that beautiful pipe behind it…
Photo by Amy Bartlam. Design by Lindsey Brooke Design.
Photo by Amy Bartlam. Design by designstiles.
My Favorite Recipe
We went to Dubai this past weekend and I had the most amazing dessert at a place called Karak House – pistachio milk cake. I am determined to figure out how to make this. I haven’t tried this Pistachio Tres Leches/Milk Cake recipe yet, but it looks pretty good. If you find a good recipe, let me know. ASAP!
So remember my dresser makeover post from a few months ago? Well here’s the big project to go with it! And you’re actually getting a two-for-one deal with this post – a living/dining room and office makeover!
This project was seriously such a blast to work on, and was also such a great learning experience for me. Ceci was always incredibly enthusiastic about the process, but her resourcefulness was something that got me super excited! She can find anything online, figure out how to get it here, and since she’s also a DIY master, can also work her magic on it as well. She ordered anything and everything we could possibly think of for this space. It totally opened up my eyes to the endless possibilities of what you could get delivered to Saudi!
When I first walked into Ceci’s home, I thought the living/dining room was a great space and that the layout that she had picked was just perfect for the flow of the room. Even the furniture worked really well in the space, but it just needed tweaking. Her home style had been like this for 10 years, so I was brought in to implement a major change of scene.
She wanted a space that felt like Hawaii, so that meant we had to change the purple, gray, black and white color scheme. We decided to go in a gray, green, and teal direction instead, with pops of hot pink and yellow. Since she had furniture we could work with, we decided to reupholster, reimagine, and refinish almost all of the existing furnishings in this room to suit our needs. It was practically like getting new furniture!
The spa room, however, had to be completely rethought… We decided that this room would be converted into her home office. The color palette was changed to something that worked with the living room, but still different, and all of the furniture was taken out and replaced with office furniture. Since I love IKEA office furniture, we bought a whole bunch of stuff from there and changed this room in a pretty dramatic way…
I’m kinda obsessing over pretty entryways these days, so here’s one that is affordable AND pretty! The mirror and shoe cabinet are definitely from IKEA, but you can get that rug and the hooks from there as well. The knobs on the shoe cabinet can be ordered from Amazon or AliExpress. And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that stool in Hazzaz and Pottery Barn Kids (pick your budget!). Similar baskets and pots are probably available at Zara Home or H&M Home. You’re welcome! | Photo Source: A Kid Friendly Home from House of Hire (SMP Living)
Eeekk. I got so busy last week that I totally forgot to give you a Thursday Faves post! So here it is – a week late, but better late than never!
My Favorite House Tour
I see so many families struggling to decorate around children here, so House of Hire’s kid friendly home tour on SMP Living will help inspire a lot of you! It’s a beautiful home that functions well for the whole family, and has also been designed around the needs of Lauren’s family. She talks about durable fabric, picking out patterned rugs to hide wear and tear, as well as picking out cute baskets to store things – check it out!
I’m sure all of you have a go-to recipe for a tuna sandwich, but the Oregon Tuna Melt by Food & Wine is easy, quick to make, and next-level good. I’ve been making it A LOT. I changed it a little though as I like mayo in mine (no need to add oil then), and I also add a teaspoon of sweet relish to the mix, instead of pickles at the end, but the other ingredients are critical for amazing flavor! I don’t have a panini press either so I just broil the open-faced sandwich in the oven until the cheese has melted – 2 minutes. It is DELISH.
This floor lamp is big, but oh boy, is it beautiful. I saw it at West Elm this week (on sale!) and was tempted to buy it, but I have no where to put it… So if you have a bigger home, and have a more modern style, this can be a gorgeous addition!
My Favorite Pinterest Find
This concept looks so simple and easy… It looks like you need a few ginger pots that are the same size, some local petunias in white, and candleholders that you could probably get from IKEA, H&M Home or even Hazzaz. Line the pots up – maybe in front of some other greenery, and I think that’s it. I’m totally gonna try this…
By now I’m sure that most of you would have heard about the new Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” If you haven’t, and you’re really struggling with clutter, this show can give you some life-changing principles to live by…
I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” a few months ago, and I have to admit, the show definitely doesn’t cover as much as the book does. Kondo’s book goes into a lot more detail in explaining how the KonMari Lifestyle works and how one should tackle their things. It was, however, fascinating for me to be able to watch her pass absolutely no judgement on the size of her clients’ clutter, handle any kind of personality, and then jump straight into her basic principles to get all kinds of people to think differently about their “stuff.” It was actually a really egalitarian approach, and the beauty of it was that over a month or two you could visibly see positive physical and emotional changes in every single client and their relationships – so beautiful!
What I think stands out the most for me though is her attitude towards “stuff” – the things you use, that you’re done with, and the things that you want to hold on for longer. She makes you think about the value of every single item and why it’s in your home. Kondo wants you to be thankful that you have these things in your life, but if it isn’t working with your future lifestyle and has served its purpose, then thank it and move on.
Anyways, as you can see, I was very impressed by her, so I thought I’d summarize some of my favorite learnings for you guys, just in case you haven’t seen her stuff or don’t quite appreciate it just yet!
Visualize Your Ideal Lifestyle
Kondo’s whole thing is based off whether an item “sparks joy” or not. It sounds strange, but it’s a cool concept in that she wants you to visualize your ideal lifestyle and then decide what needs to be a part of that. What items actually bring you happiness? And don’t keep anything that isn’t going to grow with you!
Organize By Category and Not By Room
I mean I’m definitely organized, but this was the most important and mind-blowing advice that I got. I have been doing it room-by-room for foreverrrrr. It always felt very repetitive and all of my “categories” ended up in different places so that I had to visit several different spots to clean up the mess. So annoying! The KonMari method advocates going through a specific order when decluttering: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items (office, kitchen, kids room, garage, etc.) and then lastly, sentimental items. It’s harder to go through sentimental items, so she wants you to practice her methods on the easy stuff before moving on.
Stack things upright
It is so much easier to see things and access them when they’re upright like this. I have yet to do this, but I think it’s such a good way of managing crazy drawers. And if you’re storing smaller items in large boxes or drawers, group similar items into smaller boxes to compartmentalize, and then store them in the larger container. You can see brilliant examples of this by a KonMari Consultant below…
Tackle Your Own Mess
Your entire family needs to tackle their own stuff. It’s impossible to organize for other people anyway. And since they probably need to learn to value their things, make them throw it away themselves and organize their own space! Easier said than done – I know – but it’s worth a try…
Cleaning Up Takes Time
Decluttering doesn’t take a day or two. In my experience, it takes at least a month! Kondo had some clients decluttering way past the one month mark. I mean, it’s an emotional process and incredibly exhausting so why not give yourself the time to go through it properly…
Declutter First and then You Can Buy Storage Items
I think that this is implied, and not something that she says outright (I can’t really remember actually), but it is a really important tip that I took from her methods. She doesn’t encourage you to buy storage items (she’s OK with a shoe box), but if you need more containers, I think it’s better if you don’t buy them immediately. Honestly, if you do then you’ll want to fill them with crap later especially if you don’t have stuff to put in them… They also take up valuable space! So why not declutter first, and then you’ll know what needs to be stored, what shape they should be, and how many containers you might need.
Some Useful Containers for Your Organizing Needs
So Kondo loves advocating using shoe boxes, but this is where we part ways. I don’t want to use my shoe boxes for these things, so I thought I’d share some cuter options with you…
1. Bin, IKEA, SR 22 | Available in different sizes and colors, SR 19-29 | Useful for food storage to store bottles, jars or packets of food
2. Clear Canister, Home Center, SR 29 | Available in different sizes and shapes, SR 25-39
11. Spice Jars, IKEA, SR 9 for 4 | I LOVE these as spice jars. I keep coming back to them. You can also use these to store little tacks, nails, etc.
12. Storage Box, IKEA, SR 15 | You can use this and its lid to sub-categorize in drawers
13. Clear Bin, IKEA, SR 13 | Available in different sizes | These boxes are everything. I use them to store anything and everything in my house. It’s great to have clear containers so that you can see what’s in the box rather than having to dig through it!
14. Cloth Boxes (set of 6), IKEA, SR 35 | These are great for compartmentalizing things in your drawers
15. Felt box, IKEA, SR 50 | This one is pricey but it’s so pretty that I couldn’t resist…
16. Metal box, H&M Home, SR 59 | I love a good excuse to buy this basket. I use it to store stuff in the kitchen, and for little paper items like extra cards that I have.
18. Felt boxes, IKEA, SR 23 for 3 | This one is pretty, soft, and is inexpensive.
19. Cloth Box, IKEA, SR 39 for 2 | I’ve been using these for years now – to roll up belts, for undies, and random items! The size is great, and they fit perfectly in my non-IKEA dresser.
20. Metal box, H&M Home, SR 85 | If you prefer the metal look, these could be used to roll up smaller items like belts, undies, etc.
Get creative with these storage items and remember that most of them are quite versatile and can be used to store items in any room! Also make sure you measure your drawers and shelves before you get these items, so that they all fit.
Best of luck with your decluttering!
Just a few people to follow for organizing ideas if you’re more of a visual person…
@thehomeedit (Khloe Kardashian’s pantry was organized by these guys! If you haven’t seen it yet, go to their IG NOW), @okonomi_by_lina (A KonMari Consultant! Her blog is in French so her IG is..
I’m back and ready for 2019! I hope you all had a wonderful winter holiday and that you’re excited about all of the awesome posts that I have planned for you this year!!
I thought that an inspirational My Thursday Faves post would be the best way to kick off the new year – enjoy!!
My Favorite House Tour
I LOVE Austin. I spent six years in the city and went to university there (Hook ’em Horns!), so when this beautiful Austin home showed up on SMP Living’s home tours, I was already smitten. I love the sense of minimalism, the neutral colors as well as all of the natural textures. I’m seriously so in love with this home. So make sure to go through the entire tour – it’s totally worth it!
Delish‘s Garlicky Shrimp Alfredo Bake is by no means a healthy recipe. In fact, I think you’ll probably gain a couple of pounds from eating it… BUT. It is SO yum. Try it on a day when you really don’t mind the extra calories!
I’ve recommended the ÄPPLARÖ outdoor seating range from IKEA to so many people with small patios because of how easily it can be configured to fit your space. So when Rock My Style‘s beautifully styled ÄPPLARÖ outdoor sofa showed up on my Pinterest feed, I just had to show you the potential that I always see in this awesome IKEA series…
I knew Kristina and I were going to be an amazing team when she first got in touch with me a few months before she got to Saudi. Her eagerness to start, excitement about the process, and desire for a space that felt like a home away from home is exactly the kind of attitude my creative juices thrive on!
She told me that she was coming to Saudi with nothing except for her suitcases and a cat, so I was going to be responsible for decorating the entire home from scratch… Luckily, I pretty much did this with my own home, so it was a challenge I was totally ready for.
Since Kristina is super organized, she was very sure of the things that her home needed so that it could function well for her busy lifestyle. She wanted a cozy, romantic, and elegant space with a soft color palette. She was also looking for a soothing space to come home to, but stylish enough to entertain a small group of friends on a regular basis. However, this particular compound home can be slightly challenging to work with because of its size. It is one of the smallest layouts here, but that certainly doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty!
We started off this project by having some beautiful faux gray wood flooring laid on top of the existing tile. As this is a rental home it was important to pick materials that not only look pretty, but that can easily be removed or transported to another home.
I wanted the layout of the room to be as conducive to entertaining as possible, so the furniture was positioned to open up to both rooms so that guests could feel like they’re part of the same space no matter where they’re sitting. I know that the area is generally small already, and it seems like mingling would be easy, but furniture placement is important when considering how to control the general flow of a room.
We also wanted to keep this home very local. What I mean by that is that almost every single item (except for the photos and prints) was purchased or made in Saudi. Shopping takes a while because of the availability of stock here, but we were able to get and make every piece that was needed.
Anyways, enough chatter. Here’s the transformed living space…
It’s my favorite time of the year! We’ve had quite a bit of rain, which means that it’s been getting colder, so Saudi winter is almost here. It’s not quite officially cold yet…
So anyways, I’m sure you’ve already started your holiday socializing (or are about to), so I thought I’d put together a gift guide to make the season of gift giving a little easier. Last year’s Holiday Gift Guide had a lot of items that a hostess would be happy to have in their homes or kitchens for entertainment purposes, but this year, I also wanted to include a few “self-care” and “me” items.
I don’t know about you, but I often forget that I might need a little TLC or just a break from the daily grind. So here are some items that I’m sure your friends would really appreciate getting for their much-needed down-time.