Plain and simple. It's a phrase that has taken on a new meaning of late.
No longer shunned for the flashy and fleeting, it's an approach that we're beginning to appreciate again in all aspects of our lives. No more so than in our homes and day-to-day living.
A keen advocate of natural, pared back living is Jess Paget, curator and founder of The Storekeeper & Co, an online store offering a collection of homewares focusing on living simply and sustainably.
Sourcing her wares from mainly Australian and Japanese designers, she launched the store at the end of 2018 after years spent screen printing, sewing, creating and teaching at the Hunter Design School. Multiple trips to Japan also proved influential, with its focus on minimalism.
"The store has been a build up, a culmination of all of that," Jess says.
"I wanted The Storekeeper to extend it all further and to have a focus on things that had a sense of timelessness.
"Things that if you bought them now, they won't be out of fashion or have dated by the end of the year. My range is slowly growing over time."
With classic items that will suit any home, she leans towards wood, glass and linen.
"I like wood because of its individuality, every piece is different. I'm drawn to linen as well; while the patterns and colours may be the same, the texture is always unique with its flaws, which aren't flaws at all."
We meet at her brother and sister-in-law's home in Mayfield West so she can demonstrate how a few basic pieces can create beauty, while still being practical.
"The design aesthetic I aim for is plain and simple. Timeless, using natural fibres. There is also definitely an eco-feel to it and there must be a sense of usefulness," she says.
"Purchase products that are beautiful and simple, but at the same time, practical. Glasses must pour properly.
"We don't want to fill our homes with beautiful things that are just pointless."
We begin with the dining table - with many homes these days having open-plan living and dining areas, it has become a centrepiece and can have a big impact with minimal output.
"Start with a tablecloth, patterns are good, but then stick to plain napkins. Create variety with your plates, but they also don't have to match. Either does the cutlery."
A bit of greenery on the table - whether in a vase or tied with string on each plate - can tie-in with the seasons or the menu. Snipping a few leaves from a plant out in your garden or using an element of what you're cooking with really connects the senses.
"A tablecloth can quickly change the look of a room. It can be on the table, thrown on the lounge or on the floor. I look for the versatility in things and think about what else you could use something for."
Multi-purposing what you have also saves on costs and clutter.
"Steer clear from the use once, throwaway mentality," Jess says.
"It's nice to find things to use again and again. A plate could be used for cake, as a dinner plate, for grazing platters, picnics, or for bits and pieces. A jug can be used for utensils, as well as salad dressing or milk, not just for your cup of tea."
We all have those weird spaces in the home that we don't know what to do with. Tops of bookshelves, corners, side tables. They usually end up hosting items we're not sure where to put anywhere else. However, you can turn a little nook into something fun that enhances the aesthetic of your home.
Jess puts together a shelf with five objects: two books, an ornament, a vase and incense. On top of a storage cupboard she places a scented candle, a plant and vintage binoculars. It's a clean approach, yet adds some character to otherwise overlooked spots.
She suggests to start small, let it evolve and remember the rule of numbers.
"Stick to odd numbers of objects - three, five, seven - it will look more balanced," she says.
These little touches go a long way. Just because you see renovated rooms on shows and social media, doesn't mean you have to overhaul your entire house in one go.
"Your approach to updating or changing your home decor should grow over time. It really is a curation. Making a few adjustments to a table can change a whole room and you don't have to spend a lot.
"If you don't know where to start, begin with a new tea towel."
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