How to Bring Life Back into Your House – Featuring Tanya Barlow a.k.a Hello Tanya

February 29, 2016

A couple of weeks ago I spent two days with a lovely Tanya Barlow at her house in Mt Eden. Tanya had come to me with a problem. She didn’t feel like her house was projecting her personality at all. Over a year ago Tanya’s ex boyfriend moved out but left her with memories in every nook and cranny. She was tired of it but had no idea how to make it any better. So it was up to me to come in and shake things up a bit.

tanya barlow

Tanya with her beloved Bearded Dragon Skip (Photo by Courteney Peters from Gather and Hunt) 

Tanya is an amazing party thrower but I noticed when I walked around her place, that the house’s flow with all wrong for entertaining. What I mean by flow is the way in which people use the space, how they walk through it and where the focal points and meeting places are found. It is so important to get this right as it can completely change the way in which you and everyone you have over uses the space and how they feel when they are in it. Also, Tanya is make-up and nail artist (check out her website) and due to the fact that most of her clients come to see her at her house, she wanted to make sure it was a place of comfort, style. This was Tanya’s floor plan before we got to work.


This was how the house had been laid out since she moved in over 5 years ago. She found that people avoided the main living area almost completely, instead hanging out in the kitchen and on the deck outside, even though there was plenty of space in the living room. There were two main reasons for this. One was that the couch set up was too closed off. With the couches all knitted in so close together it was actually much too hard to get in and once you were sitting down it felt too intimate and uncomfortable to sit there with other people. Secondly, with the dining table pushed up against the wall, people tended to miss it completely, not even realising it was there. These two factors meant that the focal points of the room were the breakfast bar in the kitchen or the garden outside. I also felt that having Tanya’s nail station where it was meant there was no clear break in the room between work and play which is very important when you are working from home. So we pulled our sleeves up and got to work!


By setting the main living area up in this way, we created a space in which you are able to move around more naturally. Moving the dining table out meant it could now be fully utilized and was easily accessible from the kitchen. We also took away one of her couches and put it in the study. This freed the space up a bit more, opening up the lounge area so it was easier to access and a more welcoming place to sit . Adding a rug anchored the couch and armchair, which would have otherwise become lost in such a large space.

This was us half way through the move.

tanya barlow's house change up

tanya barlow house change up 1

ron blog hello tanya nails

skips tank tanya barlow's house change up

Tanya’s nail area was then moved over to the bottom right corner by the fire place. This area, with it’s small in-step, means the salon now feels much more defined and purposeful. Clients will enter in the front down and immediately know where to move to next as the visual cues are now much stronger.


nail staion

nail station

Artwork by Mel Stringer and cat wall decal by Evie Kemp

(For examples of Hello Tanya Nails check out her Instagram)


hello tanya house styling ron blog


ron blog tanya barlow hello tanya

hello tanya nails house styling ron blog

Some head shots of Tanya’s work as well as an illustration by Lane Worrall  and a cuckoo clock found in Geneva. 

hello tanya house styling

hellow tanya nails ron blog styling

hello tanya nails ron blog house styling

Artwork from left to Right: Postcards found while traveling,  Tim Flower, Toni Gill, Henrietta Harris and Danial Ryan


ron blog house styling hello tanya

Tanya’s sister drew this picture of their childhood pet cats, Smokey and Marmalade.

knick knacks tanyas house

As well as the main living area, Tanya was keen to attack the study to make it a more user friendly space. Here is what the room looked up before I got my hands on it.


tanya barlow house styling

More storage solutions were a must as well as a need to rearrange the room to create a more defined focal point and some visual anchors. Check out what we did!

tanya barlow study room after shot

study room tanya's house

The room went from an uncomfortable place that was never used, to Tanya’s favourite hang out spot. I had so much fun helping Tanya with her place. She had so many interesting artworks and knick knacks to play with. Almost everything we used was already in the house and just needed to be bought into the lime light. With some storage solutions and indoor plants from Bunnings, as well as a couple of rugs from Kmart, we were able to completely transform her house. If you need help bringing out the best in your place, get in touch!




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