The Complete Picture

.........helping with the design ideas to get you started

Christina Narayanan of The Complete Picture is an interior designer, colour consultant and kitchen designer.  Contact Christina if you need someone to answer questions or help you to navigate through your next renovation, new built or interior project.

Breathing New Life Into Old

 This old set of oak drawers was pretty beaten up

This old set of oak drawers was pretty beaten up

 .....the same drawers but with a new lease on life

.....the same drawers but with a new lease on life

In a world that is becoming very much a throw-away society there is something to be said for taking an old piece of furniture and breathing new life into it.  I managed to save this old oak chest of drawers from a friends skip and wanted to see if I could bring a more contemporary edge to it.  This piece had good bones and I loved the retro styled handles on this piece.

The process was pretty straight forward and started with removing the handles and gently sanding the entire piece with 100 grit sandpaper and then following this up with 150 grit sandpaper.  This took probably a couple of hours maximum.  The handles where rubbed down with good old fashioned steel wool and came up a treat.

I managed to find this chandelier decal online from a company called Grafix Wall Art and put it directly onto the drawers to act as a reverse stencil.  I ran the back of a small spoon over the edges of the decal to try an prevent paint from seeping under the edges and once this was done I applied a base coat of Resene Sureseal, and then two coats of a Resene water based acrylic paint. 

After 24 hours I gently pealed back the stencil to reveal the oak beneath.  As you can see the paint did manage to seep through slightly in parts so I tidied this up with a small piece of sand paper and then applied a wood wax to bring out the natural beauty of the wood.

With the handles back on, this piece now balances the old with the new.  This is definitely an achievable DIY project, so have a look around your home and see if you have any pieces of furniture that with a bit of time and effort, may benefit from a little TLC.

Bath Versus Shower...What Would You Do?

Space.  Sometimes there is just not enough of it, so when it comes to deciding on the design of your new bathroom you may need to take a step back and think about what is going to work for you and your space.  I helped a family of five to design this bathroom.  They live in an older, character home and this is the only bathroom in their home.  They therefore needed something that was going to work for a busy family with older children.

The space was small and narrow and had a shower over a bath combo,  acrylic apricot vanity, and very little redeeming features.  It did however have beautiful high ceilings that were typical for the era of the home.

The biggest decision the family needed to make was whether they wanted to incorporate a bath into the design.  Because they intended on staying in this home and their children were older, they decided to omit the bath and opt for a large shower instead.  This meant they could incorporate a large double basin vanity and move the toilet, hiding it behind the vanity.  This immediately created more space.  Other tricks that were used to create the illusion of more space included:

  • Adding good artificial lighting to the space
  • Using a lighter colour palette in a semi-gloss finish, allowing the light to be reflected within the space
  • Using an over-sized ornate mirror to reflect light within the space
  • Incorporating a dado rail with a warm beige below and warm white above to accentuate the height of the ceilings
  • Recessing the toilet cistern, towel rail (see the gallery below) and storage behind the mirror to streamline the space
  • Using large rectangular tiles that continue through into the shower space

The family chose to add character to this space by incorporating a traditional vanity, taps and mirror, decorative tiles and decorative moldings.   They even designed and made the stained glass window which is in keeping with the rest of the home.

Even though they have lost a bath, they have gained a more practical, spacious and beautiful bathroom that suits the needs of their family.   So....what would you do?

Turning Bland into Beautiful

I recently went to a friends place and she was faced with the dilemma of how to add some of her personality and style to the rental home that she lived in. She had some great key pieces of furniture, but the space was dull.  She on the other hand was anything but and had a fantastic, bubbly personality.  The problem was, how could we change the space to reflect this?  The answer was simple......colour.

We could not paint the walls, or change the flooring, so we needed to look at ways of adding colour to the other elements in the space.  Accessories such as artwork, rugs and cushions are a great way of doing this, but she had some really interesting pieces of wooden furniture and was not afraid of trying something a little different. Her first foray into colour was the chest of drawers above.  We didn't want to lose the look of the wood altogether, but by using a simple layering of similar colours on the drawer fronts, she turned this chest of drawers into a real statement piece.  Once she had started with the paint brush there was no stopping her.

The next step was tying this colour into other objects in the space, so the plain black legs on this chair disappeared to be replaced by theses quirky teal legs.  She was wrapped with the result.  Not only was she gaining pleasure from her DIY projects, the space was slowly but surely starting to become the home that she wanted it to be.

And how to finish a space like this?  That was easy.  She loved Mrs Potato Head so took some quirky pictures which she had printed onto canvas to hang in her main living area.  The end result was a space that made her happy, and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, it was hers.

So my message to you; don't be afraid to go out on a limb and try something new.  Have a look around at what you already have and see if there is something you can do to turn your house into a home that reflects you.

How to Design a Truly Beautiful Baby Nursery

 - Designing a great nursery space is about creating a space that you love spending time in

- Designing a great nursery space is about creating a space that you love spending time in


Creating a baby's nursery should be one of the most exciting times during your pregnancy, but for some parents this can be an overwhelming experience with so many different things to consider and so many options available.

Plan Ahead:

My advice.....start planning ahead of time.  Pregnancy can be very exhausting and preparing your nursery space early on, means that later in the pregnancy when you become more tired, you can sit back and enjoy the experience rather than running from shop to shop in a last minute dash.

What Do you Need:

The list of items needed to for a baby nursery may feel endless; there is the cot, the bedding, the change table, the chair, the curtains, the storage, the lighting and the accessories-and that's only for the room, don't forget all the things you need for the baby.  It's no wonder this task can feel daunting. But this does not mean you need to spend the next few months in baby stores spending an absolute fortune.  Have a look at you existing furniture, do you have pieces of furniture that you can customize or re-purpose by simply painting, or changing some knobs? Don't feel restricted to buying items from specific baby stores either. A nursing chair is a great example.  You may find a beautiful chair from a furniture store that would work perfectly, for a fraction of the cost.

Colours and Accessories:

Probably the biggest thing that people get stuck on when preparing a baby nursery is how to decorate it.  My advice is simple; stick to a neutral colour palette on the walls. If you want to add colour, introduce a feature wall of colour, or wallpaper. Bedding, rugs, accessories and artwork are also a great way to add colour to the space. This means your child can grow with the space and you won't need to redecorate the entire room in a few years time, when they are no longer a fan of the giant animal mural you painted around the entire room.  A neutral wall colour also means that the room becomes gender neutral and can be easily altered if you plan on having more children.

Creating a Feel:

Your final decisions on what you put in the space will depend on how you want the space to feel. Do you want to create a bright, cheerful space; a calm, relaxing space; or maybe a slightly more whimsical space? Choose items that you really love, because you also will spend a lot of time in this space.

A great baby nursery is not about how much you spend, but about creating a beautiful space that you enjoy being in.

My last piece of advice..... it doesn't matter how beautiful the room is, if it doesn't function well as a space. Nobody enjoys spending time in a space that just doesn't work.   Make sure that everything you need is easily accessible and easy to use, as rule number one of parenthood is: you will never have enough hands when it comes to raising a baby.




We Are We Going With Wallpaper

  A great contemporary styled floral paper

 A great contemporary styled floral paper

 A more subtle, achromatic, floral wallpaper

A more subtle, achromatic, floral wallpaper

 The old vinyl, floral wallpaper of days gone by

The old vinyl, floral wallpaper of days gone by


So many people have a phobia when it comes to wallpaper.  If this is you, then it probably has something to do with the hideous vinyl, floral wallpapers that you grew up with.  I still remember the floral blue wallpaper in my bedroom as a child.  But my advice to you would be to face your fear and have a look at what is on offer today.  Gone are the hideous patterns and colours. 

Today the range of coloured, patterned and textured wallpaper is amazing, and covers everything from very subtle colour palettes, to vibrant in your face, colours and patterns. But what really surprises me is the textures used in these papers. Often, when I go shopping for clothes, I find myself touching and feeling the fabrics.  The same happens with these wallpapers.  The textures used in creating these papers mean that they are very tactile and I often can not restrain the urge to touch these papers.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying you need to wrap your entire home in wallpaper, but when added to the right places in your home, they can really add impact to a space.  So my my advice to you, is don't rule out the possibility of wallpaper until you have taken a fresh look at what is available.  You might just surprise yourself.....

One Of The Easiest Ways To Decorate

 The right rug can turn a space from bland into beautiful

The right rug can turn a space from bland into beautiful


People often ask me about how to decorate or add some pizazz to their space without spending a fortune.  Paint and wallpaper are not always an option if you have to pay for the materials and the labour.  If you live in a rental property, your options are even more limited as you may not be able to put holes all over the walls, to hang pictures.

So what's the answer.....a rug.  Think about it.  You don't have to install it, there are no holes in walls involved and you can simply roll it up and take it with you, if you decide to move in the future.  Rugs are so versatile. They can add colour, pattern and texture to a space.  They can help define a space, especially when you are working with an open plan space, and they can pull a space inwards to give a more intimate feel.  Have a think. Would a rug be a great addition to my space?

Making Your Mark With Art

 Artwork by international artist, Michele Courage                                                               

Artwork by international artist, Michele Courage                                                              


Have you ever wished you could pick up a paint brush and paint something amazing, but struggle even drawing stick figures?  What if you could get someone else to do it for you?

I recently spent time with Michele Courage, a Wellington based, international artist who can commission artwork just for you. This is a fantastic idea, you get a unique piece of art, in your choice of colours, style and size, to suit you and your home. Michele explained, that getting the clients involved in the process is a fun and enjoyable way of creating an art piece.

But won't this cost a fortune..................?

Art is an investment.  The great thing about working directly with the artist, rather than buying something off the shelf is that they can work around your budget. So move over websites that mass produce artwork, and consider working with an artist to create your own piece of art.

Designing........Where to Start

teacup lights.jpg

Inspiration can sometimes be hard to find.  When you are looking at designing a space, find something that you truly love and use this as you starting point.  It might be a piece of artwork, a great piece of furniture or a fabric you really love.  It might even be something as quirky as these teacup pendant lights that I spotted in a shopping mall in Auckland.  While they wouldn't work in my own home, they could look fantastic in a home of someone with a quirky sense of humour.  What a great focal point and talking piece.

Pretty vs Practical....A Drivers Guide to Creating a Kitchen


Many customers that I have dealt with come to me wanting a particular style or look for their kitchen. Seldom does someone come to me and the first words they say are that they want their kitchen to function in a certain way.  I am not saying that it is not important how the kitchen looks, but as a very task orientated space, addressing the function of the space is a priority. Layout is really important, as is balancing the amount of bench space and storage space. It needs to be a practical, usable space.  A kitchen can look fantastic, but if the practicality of the space is not addressed then it is a complete waste of time.  You wouldn't buy a Lamborghini only to find out it drives like Ford Focus......? Why do this in your kitchen?

So when your time comes to renovate or build a new kitchen space, have a think about how you would use the space.  Then, and only then you can start thinking about how to make it look like a Lamborghini, or a BMW, or a Subaru Legacy, or even a Ford Focus.

A helping hand with colour combinations

I was out walking my dogs today and spotted this hydrangea.  As a general rule I don't really like hydrangeas, but the colours of this particular hydrangea were quite beautiful.  The dark green of the foliage combined with the chartreuse buds and the violet and pink colours of the opened flowers somehow just seemed to work.

In my latest course with Debbie Abercrombie, we did a lot of work with the colour wheel.  If you get a chance, have a look at the Resene website, as this has some great information about how a colour wheel works and how to combine colours in a colour scheme.  Sure enough, if you check out the colour wheel you will find that the green and chartreuse colours are exactly opposite on the colour wheel to the violet and pink colours, giving us a complementary colour scheme.......just a coincidence, or does nature somehow have an uncanny knack of getting it right!


flower picture.JPG                                  © The Complete Picture Ltd 2014-all rights reserved