Meet the Interior Design Blogger, Rani Engineer

Rani Engineer
for La Maison Jolie

We talked to Rani Engineer the founder of award winning La Maison Jolie about her passion for interior design and her love of recycling, reusing and refurbishing furniture.

Visit the La Maison Jolie blog for design reviews, inspiration and great features.

About me

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how La Maison Jolie was formed?  
I have always been a creative soul. As a child I was inspired by my mother and I would spend hours watching her paint watercolours and oil on canvas. In school I enjoyed studying commercial art and textile design. Just recently I completed a Cert IV in Colour & Design from ISCD, Sydney and a very interesting Up-cycling Course from My Antique School, UK. My weekend mornings are usually spent drawing and colouring on the playroom chalkboard wall with my almost 2 year old toddler or working on a DIY project for our home.

Interior styling has always been a passion of mine, ever since my grandfather bought me my first doll’s house when I was eight and I stayed up all night sticking craft paper onto the walls and rearranging the tiny furniture.

Nothing’s changed, well except instead of the doll’s house, I now paint walls, rearrange furniture and update accessories in my home.

La Maison Jolie started in 2011 purely as a creative outlet, somewhere to document my day-to-day design and DIY successes and challenges. I didn’t have a plan in mind since I never thought that anyone was even going to read my blog! I just wanted a place to write about interior design and what inspired me. From then to now…it sometimes amazes me how far the blog has come.


My Work

What’s the best thing about what you do, why do you do it?
I like reviewing new design products and accessories, styling and photographing them and have been very fortunate to work with some well known brands. On the blog, I love sharing eclectic DIY design and craft projects and I’m constantly challenging my own design ideas. I also interview unique and upcoming interior designers from all over the world to provide them with a platform to promote their work on my blog and social media via my Design Interview posts.

Why I do it? Because I love it! Great design is like the classic little black dress. It has the power to change how you feel. Walking into a light filled, clutter free, impeccably styled yet lived in comfortable room makes you feel happy and joyful as against walking into a dark, cluttered, impersonal space! And it is a great platform to connect with like-minded people.

La Maison Jolie is a niche interior design blog with I hope a lot to offer in terms of inspiration and creativity and I sincerely hope that readers derive inspiration and enjoyment from what I do and what I write about.

We know you create client design boards, where do you draw your inspiration from for these?
I create a lot of mood boards for clients both local and international. These e-design boards are based on a client brief and budget discussions and also things that I feel will suit and fit the client’s lifestyle. I gather inspiration from everything that is around me – nature, flora, fauna, art, food, textiles, local markets, travel, family and friends. I then create a mood board to put together my ideas to find colours, styles and themes that work cohesively and finally after a lot of editing, I arrive at something I can feel truly happy to present to the client.

How important is a design board when planning a room?
A design board is very important when planning a room. It gives me clarity and helps me move past self doubt. It also acts as an inspiration board and helps both the client and me visualise what the end result will look like. Most importantly it helps to finalise all my design choices.

Style board created by Rani Engineer using Design it Yourself.
My work

Tell us more about your love for recycling, reusing and refurbishing furniture
Through the medium of my blog I share affordable interior styling and DIY tips with my readers. But most importantly I’m a believer in recycling, repurposing and reusing. Taking something old and breathing new life into it and making it useful and unique is a great feeling. I hope through my blog and social media, I can influence people to gather inspiration from things around them and encourage them to upcycle and repurpose rather than become a part of the ‘throwaway’ society.

How would you describe your style?
My style is constantly evolving as I come in contact with various designers, products, trends and styles. Currently I’m drawn to Scandinavian designs and of course the latest wabi-sabi style of design (not to be confused with wasabi!). Wabi-Sabi is a concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics which centres on the appreciation of imperfection, and is based on the principle that beauty is “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete”.

What is your favourite room in your home and why?
Every room in our home has been a labour of love. However my favourite would have to be my bedroom. It’s a tranquil space even though it is always a work in progress. I am drawn to all shades of grey and love a neutral and natural colour palette. My inspiration for the bedroom was a calm and serene Scandinavian coastal colour palette. I’ve added colour through the use of artwork, cushions, throws and accessories. The organic wooden chandelier and the contemporary hanging pendant lights add a touch of luxe. It is a quiet, comfortable and pretty space to unwind and relax in.


A few words about Design it Yourself

What do you think of the Design It Yourself tool that’s now available?
The easy to use Design It Yourself online tool is absolutely fantastic! It is provides you with the tools to express your vision and create the most beautiful, custom and well thought out style boards along with providing instant access to the shopping list and costs. It is a holistic tool to designing and I will definitely be using it often.

Meet the Stylist – Shaynna Blaze

Shaynna Blaze
Interior designer & Author

Shaynna Blaze is a woman of many talents. She’s a stylist, an interior designer, an author, a blogger, a brand ambassador, an artist, a teacher, a commercial artist and a jazz singer – but she’s best known as TV Presenter and Judge from the Channel Nine series ‘The Block’. An award winning qualified interior designer, Shaynna has created stunning interiors in residential and commercial spaces for over twenty years. She is passionate about creating interiors that not only look amazing but bring energy and happiness into the lives of those that live, work and interact in the space. Her tenure as an interior designer has made Shaynna a household name as well as the Brand Ambassador for Taubmans Paints.

My starting point

Where do you start with interior design projects, particularly if it’s updating an existing home?
Starting with a blank canvas can be quite daunting. So my advice is rather than looking at art or a signature piece, look at the style you want to work with, and whether there are any architectural features in the room to use as a starting point or that you want to hide. Then consider the colours that you want to use in the room, for instance, do you want it to have an energy to it, or a place that is calming? Then your colours will follow.

Where do you get your inspiration from when it comes to interior design?
It sounds clichéd, but your lifestyle and the environment around you is the perfect way to first be drawn into things you love, and then focus on the intricacies of the details.


Feature Walls

Feature walls seem to divide people’s opinion – where do you sit in this debate?
If a wall with a bold colour ‘smacks you in the face’ it becomes confronting, rather than a feature. I love using strong colours as part of the room rather than one single feature, you can do that by connecting two walls to extend the length of the space. If you are after dramatic impact go all the way and use the colour on all walls.


Taking Risks

What do you tell people who would love to have more colour in their homes but are too scared to take a risk?
Start with one room and pick three colours you love – use one as the base colour and then slowly add the other two colours over a couple of weeks. If you are loving the look and feeling braver then you can start filtering this to the rest of the house.

What’s your favourite decorating trend for 2017?
The ‘not a trend’ idea!


‘Seasonal colour’ and ‘colour of the year’ are becoming more and more popular – how do you ensure the interior doesn’t date too quickly?
Keeping up with trends is about taking inspiration from yourself and not changing your whole house for a trend. First, look at the base in your furniture and consider the colours that you love and then see which of the latest season trends will slip into your decor. The best way to incorporate a trend is to paint a couple of walls in the house as this is the easiest and most inexpensive way to keep up to date.

What tools/resources do you recommend to people who are unsure of where to start their decorating journey?
Use Taubmans Sample Pots to trial colours on a white A4 card so it can be moved around to test the colour first, before taking the plunge and painting entire spaces; colours will change with different lighting and reflection and so each colour looks different in every house. Testing your paint colour with sample pots allows you to see the colour at different times of the day and see how it looks in your surroundings. This way you can test a couple of colours at one time to work out your best palette.

Paint can be a bit of a chameleon, and even the most seasoned designer or decorator (including myself) cannot be 100% sure of the performance of a colour. Don’t get me wrong – a colour won’t change dramatically from a blue to a red, but the subtleties of a colour will change in a room. For example, a blue might take on a greener tone depending on its surroundings, or what you thought was a very bright white might have a slight yellow to it in your house due to the timbers in the room or the direction it is facing.

A word from Taubmans about Design it Youself:
“We are a nation obsessed with painting and Taubmans loves tools like Design It Yourself that help people make the right colour choice. The team at Taubmans is always looking for ways to make painting and colour choice more fun, especially digital tools that make life easier for their customers, so Design It Yourself is right on trend,” says Taubmans Brand Manager Fiona King.

Meet the Stylist – Sarah Radhanauth

Sarah Radhanauth
for House of Home

Sarah Radhanauth is an interior designer and stylist with an exceptional eye for all things beautiful. Finding inspiration in travel and exploring exotic cultures and landscapes, Sarah’s interior design consultancy Saraloushé is in high demand by clients from around the world, and her infallible sense for aesthetics and her eclectic style have earned her a stellar reputation as an icon of interior styling. She is also a Trends Writer for Grand Designs, Contributing Editor at Home Design Magazine and Writer and Stylist at House of Home.

About me

Were you creative as a child?
Yes I suppose I could say I was. I used to draw and write stories a lot as a child. Art and English were always my two favourite subjects, and let’s just say I did a lot better at those than maths and science! I come from a family of artists, I have a mother, Aunt and Nan who are all extremely talented so I have them to thank!

We know you love to travel, how does this inspire your creative flair?
Travel feeds my soul. I am so inspired by the landscapes, architecture, design and other cultures of the world. Travel stimulates our minds with ideas and images, which I believe has helped me to be able to recognise emerging trends and to create new styles. I feel like a more rounded person because I have been lucky enough to see the world from different perspectives.


What inspires me

Is there a particular designer/stylist/style that you admire, that has helped shape the Interior designer you are today?
There are many designers I look up to. There is a massive pool of talent out there so it’s difficult to narrow down. I do love Kelly Wearstler for never being afraid to go bold with the use of colour and pattern in her designs. Sibella Court is a fabulous stylist and a true talent. The architecture of Zaha Hadid of course never ceases to amaze me, the forms she has been able to create in her architecture defy convention and are a great feat of engineering. I am a big fan of Techne Architects here in Melbourne, they have such a fun portfolio of commercial projects. I absolutely love the signature aesthetic of Hecker Guthrie and the residential projects of David Hicks; they are all exquisite.

Have you noticed vast differences in style across the world?
Yes actually there are a lot of differences. I have worked on projects in Australia, England, Canada, France and Mauritius and style preferences vary quite a lot. Australia has a similar aesthetic to South Africa and these looks are two of my favourites! They both have a very natural, organic feel about them and are teamed with striking architecture that brings the outside in and inside out. I love interior and exterior spaces that borrow from each other to become one big beautiful extension of liveable space! In saying that though, I attended both Maison et Objet in Paris last year and the London Design Festival and I saw some amazing product styles that are definitely filtering into Australia.


My style

What is your favourite room in your home and why?
Well, I wouldn’t like to discriminate, (each room is equally loveable) however, I would have to say nothing beats the comfort and coziness of my bedroom. It’s a place for calm and relaxation and I truly value having a beautiful comfy, warm bed to fall into each night. Not all people in the world are so fortunate and I think it’s important to remind ourselves of this.

My work

What’s the best thing about what you do?
I would have to say that the best thing is being able to be creative in some way every single day.  There’s no one exclusive aspect per se, as long as it’s within the design world, whether that be interior design, writing, styling or visual merchandising, it all brings about the same sense of satisfaction. At the end of the day though it’s the great people that you meet and the people that you work with that make you smile. People in this industry are extremely passionate about what they do and it’s such a great energy to be around!

When styling for House of Home you have 1000’s of products to choose from.  Where do you start?
At the same place anyone else does – page one of that category. 🙂 If I have something particular in mind I will type it to the keyword search bar. I come across a countless amount of products every day so I usually have a few ideas in the back of my mind that will suit the theme or topic I am researching for.

What are you working on for House of Home at the moment?
We have some really interesting article topics that we are going to be covering. They will be filled with lots of great tips / how to’s / buying guides or other really useful information for home makers. There’s a couple of specific shoots in the pipeline but I’m not at liberty to give anything further away. You will have to keep checking on the site or sign up for our newsletter. 🙂

What do you think of House of Home’s collaboration with DIY, would you recommend the tool to people wanting to design a room for themselves?
Yes. The minute I heard about DIY I was dying to find out more. I have been searching for a tool like this for years and it’s amazing to finally be able to create a mood board as you find products of interest! It’s immensely helpful for customers who want to be able to see everything together without having to go to the trouble of using Power Point or design led software such as Indesign.


Trends to look out for

What new trends do you see emerging for this year?
There’s a fair few! A lot are filtering through from last year but are now in much more high demand and as such are much more easily accessible. A new approaching trend is gun metal finishes. We are seeing more and more products utilising this finish such as tapware and sinks, however, brass finishes are going to continue to lead the way for quite some time.

What is your favourite design/decorating trend of 2017?
We are fortunate to have access to so many amazing products these days and with those come varying trends. This gives people an opportunity to become really creative and experimental. I have to say though, I love all the warm metallic finishes out at the moment such as brass, nickel and gun metal. Colour blocking is a big trend which I think works really well as it can be really striking without being over the top. I adore living walls and the big trend of having a plentiful amount of pot plants dotted around the home.

Simply Styling Blog

Three Quirky Christmas Tree Designs

Writer & Stylist, House of Home
This year our Christmas decorating style is about defying convention and creating unique Christmas tree themes with daring décor that will amaze, delight and are totally unexpected.

At House of Home we love little surprises, and not just when it comes to receiving gifts! We got to thinking about how we could create an alternative Christmas tree that could function well in any type of home, from established family homes to apartments and holiday homes. We considered that not all families spend Christmas day the same way. While some host Christmas lunch or dinner, others travel, some dine out and some spend the day hopping from the in-laws to the parents and so on. Not everyone wants or needs a fully-fledged Christmas tree.

Many families and couples tend to go away over the Christmas break and don’t have the time to invest in putting up and taking down a tree. Then there’s the folks who are just like the team at House of Home who love to create something that is unique that no one else has.

With that in mind, we have come up with 3 super simple ways to create an out-of-the ordinary Christmas tree that can be put together in just 10 minutes or less (we timed it) and taken down in just seconds with minimal effort required.

Explore more on

Creating a home with your own style

‘Creating a home with your own style’
Carli Harrison, Founding Director Design it Yourself

When it comes to designing our homes, it’s easy to get caught up in the millions of images of décor inspiration that are available to us and lose sight of what our own sense of style really is.

We live in an online world where there are so many resources to inspire our creative side. Looking through home magazines and browsing online images can assist greatly when determining the foundation of your style.

Creating a folder of images that you like is a great place to start, however keep in mind you don’t need to duplicate something out of a magazine to create a beautiful home – your own style is what will make your home beautiful.

With Design It Yourself you can recreate and redecorate your rooms on screen as many times as you like, saving your favourite items to a shopping list for later.

“Decorating your home is a very intimate and individual process. Home is the place you go to relax and recharge and it should reflect your personality entirely. Your interests, hobbies and particular tastes should weave their way through your space,”

“It doesn’t have to be blatantly obvious that you are crazy about cats or that pink is your favourite colour!  Add some subtle touches that are a reflection of you – there’s always room for things that make you smile.”

So where do you start?  Here are my top tips on how to infuse your home with personality when styling:

Get serious about furniture

“Having a ‘key piece’ of furniture to work with has been fundamental for me when renovating my own homes.  If you find one piece that you are instinctively drawn to then you can build your room around it – it’s surprising how quickly your style can emerge and evolve from that one item.

“I also find furniture without a purpose or function is unnecessary. You should always think about practicality and functionality with your main items.  In contrast to this, styling and soft furnishings don’t always have to have a purpose so you can unleash your creativity!”

Focus on layouts and architecture

“One way to make sure key pieces of chosen furniture are more personalised and stylish is to be realistic about the space you’ve got and where they will fit. That means deciding on the best layout so that the room is functional and the space has effortless flow.

“Make sure you think about how your furniture will match up with your existing space to beautifully contrast and enhance the architecture of the room – it can change quite dramatically!”

Add eye catching art that steals the show

“You might not know much about art and that’s OK! From prints, photography or paintings, first and foremost you have to choose a print or piece of artwork that you love. It’s no good just buying a piece for the sake of having something on the walls. Art is such a personal choice and you’ll have to look at it everyday so the only thing that matters is that you like it!

“Once you’re more comfortable with your own style you might consider investing in ‘real’ art. Just remember that this is much more of a long term commitment, and it’s  about the connection you make with a piece – it should make you feel something.”

Images are all Design it Yourself Style Boards. You can create these great inspirational boards yourself on DIY.
Make small DIY changes

“It might seem crazy to change or alter new or used items you purchase, but if you’re really looking to add your own personal touch to your home, small DIY projects can truly give a zing of personality. From a stripe of colour to dip-dyed legs, there are a lot of DIY options to brighten up pieces you have – and this is when Pinterest can really come to the rescue!”

Overall, Carli believes there is no right or wrong when it comes to your own personal style. “You have to be self-interested – remember it’s YOUR home, trust your instincts. It doesn’t have to be ‘on trend’, if it appeals to you then that’s a good indication that it’s part of your style.

“If you think about it, this is where you are going to spend your time, your personal space, your safe haven where you’ll create life long memories. So do you want it to look fresh out of a glossy magazine with no relation to your own character, or do you want this to be a place that you feel most at home and that is in tune with you and your life?

“Remember, a home’s soul comes from the lives lived within it.”


See you soon,
Carli & the DIY team

In The Media

Carli Harrison – Design It Yourself
06 MAR 2017 By Yvette Braithwaite-Bragg

My style continues to evolve with age, I have moved through various trends and phases to arrive at a level of my own style that truly reflects me as a person. I would call it ‘functional comfort’ it’s all about being comfortable and making my space a ‘home’ that’s functional for me, I want to sink into my sofa at the end of the day and put my feet up with a strategically placed side table for my glass of wine!

Go to Article
Create and shop your own mood board with design it yourself!
28 Nov 2016 By Amy Collins Walker

Design It Yourself is a new website that allows you to experiment and create your own room interiors with the latest products from a host of Australian retailers. “It’s basically a mood board for novices. Consumers can create their own style boards using genuine available products and, best of all, it’s free!” says director Carli Harrison.

Go to Article
Carli connects online consumers with local retailers
22 Nov 2016 By Lauren Ferrone

Adelaide businesswoman Carli Harrison is connecting online consumers with local home ware retailers on her new style board website Design it Yourself.

With South Australian software developer Axios, Carli has created a blank style board where consumers can select from a range of interior products, wall colours and floor coverings to create room designs.

“It’s not an e-commerce site. What we’re doing is promoting retailers – not just in South Australia, but around the country – and sending consumers back to the retailer’s website to purchase products and services,” Carli says.

Go to Article
Adelaide’s Design it Yourself APP!
26 Oct 2016 By Haley Pearson


Remember those cardboard dolls when we were kids? The ones you could dress up with different paper clothes? I bloody loved them! Well, this is like the adult version!

Carli Harrison, an Adelady has revolutionised the way we style our homes!

Design It Yourself is a web based app (mobile version hopefully coming soon) can be used on tablets and pc’s and is really great at encouraging everyday designers to create their own style for their homes, it then gives you easy access to purchase the items you’ve used.

How cool is that? If you’re thinking about re-styling your home or even just a corner of your house, give this a go! I will warn you though, it’s a wee addictive.

Here are Carli’s top 5 points WHY you should download the app!

Go to Article
Tips to create a home that reflects your own style
4 Oct 2016 By Carli Harrison

When it comes to designing our homes, it’s easy to get caught up in the millions of images of décor inspiration that are available to us and lose sight of what our own sense of style really is.

We live in an internet obsessed world where there are so many resources to inspire our creative side. Looking through home magazines and browsing images on Pinterest, Instagram and interior design blogs can assist greatly when inspiring and determining the foundation of your style.

Creating a folder or inspiration board of images that you like is a great place to start, however keep in mind you don’t need to duplicate something out of a magazine or website to create a beautiful home – your own style is what will make your home beautiful.

There are some great online tools out there to inspire you and design rooms that reflect your style. Pinterest for instance is a great staring point for ideas, and with Design It Yourself – a new app for home decorating – you can recreate and redecorate your rooms on screen as many times as you like, saving your favourite items to a shopping list to revisit later.

Go to Article

Simply Styling with Design it Yourself

Welcome to Simply Styling with Design it Yourself

Our blog is designed to provide you with support to gain the most out of your DIY experience and will also give you some useful styling tips along the way.

Our Director Carli Harrison envisaged an easier way to get a coordinated look while cutting images out of home magazines and retailer catalogues and the design it yourself concept was born!

The platform allows you to create a room of your choice with a selection of fabulous products from a hand picked group of retailers we know you will love.

We have all been there right?

We have either picked the wrong wall colour or selected the wrong cushions because they looked great in the store and its surroundings, but when you brought it home it wasn’t quite what you expected.

We all love shopping with convenience and now with DIY this will bring you one step closer to the styled room of your choosing.

Where do I start?

Introducing Taubmans brand ambassador Shaynna Blaze as she shares her tried and true colour suggestions.

Image features Taubmans Snowdrop
Bullet proof colours for a fail proof room maker.

Everyone knows the ease and convenience of a wardrobe essential. The chic ’n’ simple little black dress you always reach for amidst a rack of colour, pattern and print – or the tailored navy suit that somehow never feels wrong. They’re confidence-boosting no-brainers which get the job done. And often the same goes for interiors.

I’m regularly asked if I have any tried-and-tested colour combinations – or “bulletproof” palettes – which I can recommend to people who are time-poor or lacking in particular inspiration (or possibly both!).

While some of us love the creativity of narrowing down the plethora of colour choice from the 5000-plus different shades within the Taubmans family, there are times when taking the guess work out is required. A case in point: if you were updating a property you intend to rent out or sell, you’d want to paint it in a colour scheme with a broad base of appeal, rather than colours which reflect a more personal aesthetic. My list of bulletproof colours largely falls into three distinct camps: the greys, the whites and the neutrals. The biggest decision you need to make is surveying your interior and seeing which of the three best suits your particular needs.

Image features Taubmans Metal Glow
Shades of Grey

My top three greys are Taubmans Endure Windy Beach, Stormy Shadow and Secret Passage. Use any one of these as a starting point and you can’t go wrong.


  • Grey is one of the most versatile colours to work with and makes an interior crisp, edgy and sophisticated. It makes a traditional room feel modern and a minimal contemporary space feel less stark
  • Teamed with a sharp white, e.g. Taubmans Brilliant White, grey creates the perfect backdrop that comes alive even with a limited range of colour in the room
  • Pair your grey with an emerald green colour such as Taubmans Ming Beauty for a jewel-like interior, or soften with a warm linen colour such as Fawn Beige to create a country retreat look and feel
  • And if you’re passionate about purple and love lilac you’ll find that grey is your new best friend, bringing an elegance and restraint to your room. Try Taubmans Lightly Lilac or Purplicious
Image features Taubmans Crisp White
The Right Whites

My top three whites are Taubmans Endure Tahira White, Aspen Snow and Akimbo.


  • The first step is to choose a colour for your trims and doors. Taubmans Tahira White and Aspen Snow are two solid choices that will highlight any features in a space. If you’re after a more traditional pure white option then try Taubmans Snowdrop or Taubmans Crisp White
  • To keep the interior simple you can do your trims and doors in gloss and use the same paint colour in low sheen for the walls to create a very modern and classic interior
  • To make an architectural feature stand out, use a soft green on your wall (Taubmans Seagull) or medium grey (Taubmans Hedgehog) for a modern interior
  • Cotton Ball is a yellow-based white that works well in period homes when you want to work with softer tones in the colour scheme. Team with Taubmans Canyon Trail or Luna Rock for a touch of romance
Image features Taubmans Phoenix Fossil
The Neutrals

My top three neutrals (or naturals) are Taubmans Endure Taupe Stone, Abstract Half and Martini.


  • Neutrals can be used on every part of the house from the exterior, to the ceilings, trims and walls to provide a subtle base for your scheme. Team with a sympathetic white such as Taubmans Crisp White or Akimbo for a neutral interior with a little spark. If you want to keep the scheme subtle, look at quarter strength of the same neutral, but make sure you have a combination low sheen for walls and gloss for trims and doors to give texture
  • Using the one colour on both walls and trims is gaining popularity in contemporary settings and creates a strong, clean look
  • A clever way to create light and space is to use the lightest colour on the largest surface area, such as the walls, and a slightly darker tone on woodwork. A lot of European interiors are starting to play with this idea. The use of a darker colour on skirting boards, that matches the floor colour makes the walls appear lighter in contrast, making the overall feel of the room lighter


Tips and advice

For loads of tips and advice on prepping and painting, check out the range of How-To videos at

See you soon,
Carli & the DIY team