Succulent styling

I have a photoshoot lined up next month for one of my recently completed projects.  I’m excited: it’s the first time I’ve had the pros in as opposed to doing it myself, and I can’t wait to see them work their magic.

The project’s pretty much good to go, it just needs a little tropical botanical/floral pep, and I’m thinking that succulents and cacti are the way forward.

succulent cactus interior design styling www.ellymacdonalddesign.com0

It’s no secret around these parts that I like a bit of gardening, in fact my internal fifty year old self was out in force last weekend on my roof terrace whipping things into shape.  There’s something about having my hands in the earth that makes me calm and quiet, maybe it’s the long long line of Viking-y farmers that I apparently descend from, who knows.  Not me, not a sausage.

Anyway here’s a nice pic:

succulent cactus interior design styling www.ellymacdonalddesign.com1

My botanicals guys did a fantastic succulent/cactus terrarium for another project I recently shot, with arty-farty sand layers and a large sprinkling of detail, but this time I think I’m just going to shove a load of these beautiful chubby-leaved suckers in nice pots and call it a day.  Maybe just strew them around all over the place willy-nilly.  We shall see.

But in the meantime here’s some inspiration…

succulent cactus interior design styling www.ellymacdonalddesign2

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Errr also can we please take a moment over this best staircase in the world…?  This needs to happen in my life at some point:

succulent cactus interior design styling www.ellymacdonalddesign3


Have a happy weekend loves!  And do tell, are you on the succulent/cactus bandwagon or is not your cup of tea?

E-Design Services

I’ve received quite a few enquiries over the last couple of months about the interior e-design services I offer, here at Elly MacDonald Design, to clients in Singapore, the US and the UK.

So I thought I’d save my sausage-fingers from some avoidable typing, and do a little blog summary of the ins and outs of this service.

penn farmhouse plan ground floor - Elly MacDonald Design - Singapore interior designer

It’s essentially a more affordable version of a traditional interior design project.  In an e-design project, the client does all the non-design-y bits and pieces: the measuring up of the space, the purchasing and installing of all furniture, textiles and accessories, the sourcing and managing of contractors (where used), the dealing with any and all install bloopers {there’s always one!}, the styling, etc etc.

The designer focuses on all the design-y bits and pieces: the technical floor plans and elevations, colour and textural palettes, pulling together the design schemes, managing budgets, factoring in lead times, and processing client feedback on the various design drafts issued.

Unlike, ahem, some other firms {that shall remain nameless}, it’s very important to me that these projects are still as personal and non-generic as they would be if they were a full concept interior design service.  I make a huge effort to ensure that the designs are very specific to the client, their personal story, their interests and their family.

e-design graphic www.ellymacdonalddesign.com3

So how does it actually work, I hear you ask?

The client provides me with images of all four walls of each room to be designed, the dimensions of the space, images of any existing items of furniture/artwork/textiles to be incorporated, a link to their Pinterest board and lastly my e-design questionnaire.

A little like this, which was the input from a lovely {and extremely design-savvy} client in Pennsylvania, USA, she of testimonial-fame above:

e-design graphic www.ellymacdonalddesign.com2

{credit: Elly MacDonald Design}

I then go away and do my thang, rustling up for each room a floor plan, scheme board, and shopping list.  The fee I charge includes three drafts, so that we make sure we get the design really spot on.  This is quite different to a lot of other e-design services out there, which often just offer one draft.  The more feedback clients can give me on each draft, the better I can tailor the subsequent ones to them.  I usually find it’s pretty spot on at draft 2, and then the third one is more for final tweaks.

e-design graphic

{credit: Elly MacDonald Design}

The best thing about it is that the service is totally customisable too, I can help out with whatever additional services are needed.  So for instance, subsequent to the standard e-design package being delivered, previous clients have then tagged on advice on things such as gallery wall arrangements, technical lighting plans, specific elevations they need, help finding a recommended upholsterer in their area etc etc.  I can help with it all!

Fee-wise, for this e-design service I charge on a per room basis, with bulk discounts available for four rooms and above, and I then subsequently charge an hourly fee for additional services.

So please get in touch if you are interested!  elly@ellymacdonalddesign | dot | com

Outstanding Oushaks

I seem to have a nine year old’s skills in titling blogposts…there’s nothing like a spot of alliteration.  Err random start.  SO today I thought we should talk oushak rugs, ladies and gents.

I have had a soft spot in my heart for these for a long long time now – adding the perfect exotic/ethnic vibe underfoot but without the more saturated and vibrant palettes you so often get with Persian rugs, they complement a really wide array of different interiors styles.

oushak rug round up www.ellymacdonalddesign.com8

Named after the city of Uşak in Turkey {please excuse the weird bold ‘s’}, these rugs have traditionally always been amongst the finest produced in the whole country – indeed a study of the rugs found in Istanbul’s largest mosques found that they were almost exclusively these intricate, high end specimens, with their star, medallion and floral motifs.

oushak rug round up www.ellymacdonalddesign.com1

Typical palettes include gold, soft blues and greens, greys, blush pink, ivory, terracotta and cinnamon; lots of gorgeous, soft, naturally-occurring dyes.  And the wool used is of a very high calibre, super silky and light-reflective, which adds even further to the visual appeal of the colours.

All of these factors add up to one rather large blow to the bank balance – these puppies do not come cheap but blimey O’Reilly are they beautiful:

oushak rug round up www.ellymacdonalddesign2

Fave inspo shots below – this first one on the RHS has been in my brain for a long long time now:

oushak rug round up www.ellymacdonalddesign3

Loving them paired with statement chandies in these next two:

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They’re fantastic for adding visual interest to fairly neutral spaces:

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Or to offset darker floor and wall finishes:

oushak rug round up www.ellymacdonalddesign6

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YUM.  I am all over these like a pigeon on a chip.  Wait, I don’t live in London anymore…like a monkey on a can of 100plus.  For more Turkish/Moroccan rug-gy goodness also check out these posts on delectable beni ouarains and overdyed rugs.

And here’s a little round up of a few options if you would like to add one of these beauts to your life.  Some of these are real deal authentic vintage pieces (with price points to match) and some are more contemporary versions.  All are bananas beautiful.

oushak rug round up elly macdonald design

{ from top left: indigo / sky blue / distressed blush / grey / distressed grey / mid-blue / taupe / blush / faded blue / taupe / aqua + coral / peach }

{I do know you can’t really sell both your kidneys}

So tell me loves, what say you…?  Need a little oushak on your floor?

We’re in business!

Yikes loves, I’ve been awol for some time.  Well there’s been some changes around here at Caribbean Living HQ.

Where to start…well firstly I guess Caribbean Living HQ actually has a new name now: Elly MacDonald Design – Interiors + Urban Landscapes.  Yeehaw, we are in business.  And by ‘we’ I in actual fact mean ‘I’, for the time being anyway – I’m doing the designing, the project execution, the admin, the marketing, the website design, the graphic design, the photography, the business side of things aaaaand flipping instagram.  I’m a busy busy bee these days, so please forgive my errr year-long absence?  I’ve been sitting exactly in this spot working my bot off:

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{credit: Elly MacDonald Design}

Offering full concept interior design services to residential clients here in Singapore, and e-design services to clients in the States and UK, I’ve had projects coming out my ears since launching last year, which is a pretty fab problem to have, I guess.

joo chiat duplex singapore elly macdonald design - dining1

{credit: Elly MacDonald Design}

Teaser teaser, more to follow soon!

I’ve had a couple of veeeeery stylish e-design clients in the States, and I’ve just taken on an e-design project back in Blighty too.  More info on these in the next few weeks…

penn farmhouse ART FAMILY - Elly MacDonald Design - Singapore interior designer

{credit: Elly MacDonald Design}

Things are going swimmingly over at Anserai, and we’ve just added a few new items to our Indonesia collection!  The indigo ikat throw and indigo framed ikat have been swiped already but the rest of these authentic artisanal goodies are still available, see here for more info and purchases:

anserai collection2

{credit: Anserai}

In other more personal {and pretty terrible} news, I’ve been getting some ‘conscious uncoupling’ done {thanks for the concept, Gwynnie}.  Things have not been very happy around here in the love department, but I’m obviously not going to discuss on, you know, the interwebs.  Alistair and I are very sadly no longer married, but we remain close and care about each other a great deal.  I’ve actually been designing his new place here in Singapore – it’s quite nice having a client who pays double the amount stated on all your invoices, who you can nag to not get their cushions grubby and who can be guilt-tripped into any contentious furniture purchases, hahaha.  I should marry all my clients.  Not really future clients, just kidding.  Ahem.

I’ve never written about much personal stuff on le blog, I tend to stick to errr upholstery, Eames and ikat chat…but Alistair supported and encouraged me while I turned from tax accountant to interior designer, across multiple countries and continents, and I will always be very grateful for that.  Anyhoo just thought I would explain the sudden change from ‘we’ and ‘our’ references to ‘I’ and ‘my’ ones.

joo chiat duplex singapore elly macdonald design - master5 (1)

{credit: Elly MacDonald Design}

So yep it’s been a sad time, a crazy busy time and now quite an exciting time: things are on the up up up and I have high hopes for the rest of 2016.  How are you loves?  I’ve been missing you!  Do tell your news please!

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

I don’t usually write about serious stuff on here but I wanted to pay my respects today.

The founding father of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, sadly passed away yesterday.  He was an incredible man who built an incredible country, and he has this ang mo’s deep respect.  It’s a very sad time for Singapore, please take a moment to send some good wishes over here.

remembering lee kuan yew


Anserai giveaway

Roll up roll up loves, I have an exciting giveaway for you today!

To celebrate the launch of Anserai, we’re giving away one of our signature Framed Papuan Tribal Shell Necklaces.  Open to anyone over 18 years old and with a US postal address, to enter simply head on over to our website, subscribe to our mailing list, check out our Collection #1: Indonesia // Uluwatu to Ubud, and connect with us on social media letting us know the name of your fave piece from the collection!

We’re on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and would love to hear from you!

anserai giveaway graphic free papuan tribal shell necklace www.anserai.com_600px

All entrants also receive free shipping and a whopping 20% discount on all items from the first collection (while stocks last).  I recommend you get your skates on indeed…

Have a happy weekend!

Chalet cravings

The temps are creeping up here in Singapore.  January was delectably, wonderfully, enchantingly cool here but the sun is BACK with a vengeance.  Sounds like I’m bragging but trust me I am not – I have northern English genes and they do not do well in the tropics, ha.

Anyhoo so I’ve been having a bit of a hankering for some cooler weather and {as ermm always} Euro vibes – some deliciously designed ski chalets fit the bill nicely!

I looked at the work of Nicky Dobree a long long time ago now {when I seemingly did not own Photoshop…} {and also I don’t know why the hell all my old posts are now in all caps?!  Looks like I used to be really really angry about everything…I digress}.  Her portfolio has only gone and got even better I am happy to report.  Full of gorgeous horn light fixtures, cheeky plaids, luxe velvets, fur, exposed brickwork and slate wall treatments, rustic beamwork, leather and linens galore, and more fireplaces than you can shake a stick {err…log?) at.  YUM.  Feast your peepers.

nicky dobree interior design www.caribbeanlivingblog.com1

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Errr yes please:

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nicky dobree interior design www.caribbeanlivingblog.com9

{credits: Nicky Dobree}

Announcing Anserai

So I promised an update on what I’m up to these days, ermm about a month ago.  Better late than never, hey?

Anserai is a new online home decor boutique that I’m launching with my good friend Sarah, based out of San Francisco.  We feature collections of textiles, artwork and objets sourced from different countries around the world – Bali, Kenya and Thailand are our first few stops – as well as bringing a little taste of the cultures and stories behind our products.



I have literally hand-picked every item for our first collection from Bali and wider Indonesia, and absolutely LOVED it.  I’ve been learning about the traditional crafts and gorgeous array of products over there for the last two years, as well as creating a network of sourcing contacts, and it’s fantastic to now get to work with them.


Wherever possible we source directly from the artisans themselves, in order to help them grow their businesses and preserve the traditional techniques they use in a world of mass production and machine-made products.

We are also ploughing back a percentage of our profits into charities that operate in the countries we source from, more info on this soon!


We are so excited about the launch (which we are hoping will be early December) and are working like a pair of crazy mofos to get everything wrapped up and live in time!

Pulling consistently 70 hour weeks is making me wish I were back in Bali on the back of this motorbike!!  All good fun though, all good fun (and I, unlike Sarah, do not have a very small baby and full time job, so I’m not sure why I’m complaining exactly).


See here for a little more about our inspiration for the boutique, here for behind the scenes biz-ness, and here for some gratuitous antique Balinese door goodness.  Because when you have your own business you can spend as much time talking about antique Balinese door goodness as you like, mahahaha.  At least until your business partner yells at you.  [Which she hasn’t just to be clear, I seemingly still have some door capital to use up].  Anyhoo, I digress, here’s a pretty picture from Ubud:


Come on over and check out our blog Demand Authenticity, for a little sneak peek of the collection and some behind the scenes in San Francisco and Singapore.

It’s been such a ruddy enormous learning curve for us both but we’re loving it – current projects are the graphic design and website construction, which are coming along swimmingly but taking up rather a large amount of brainpower, which is the reason for my slightly haphazard blog posts lately loves.

anserai blog

Please sign up for our news and updates on the Anserai website and connect with us on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and [err our currently totally unpopulated] Instagram!

More updates to follow soon when we’re live!


{all credits: Anserai}

Events trending: table garlands

I’ve been noticing for a while now more and more event design incorporating absolutely stunning foliage table garlands.  Here’s my round up of my fave inspo shots, ranging from rustic elaborate affairs to more contemporary and sleek shindigs (check out the Louis Ghosts!).

tablescape with foliage garland event design www.caribbeanlivingblog.com1

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And here are a few ingredients that would make a picture perfect soirée!

garland tablescape design by elly macdonald design

{clockwise from top left: antique gold lanterns, olive branches, eucalyptus, white peonies, wood-effect flatware, gold-rimmed charger, white dinner plate, black orchid salad plate, rustic dining chair, burlap tablecloth, calligraphy place card, amber glass goblet, amber water glass, white napkins, brass candlesticks, teak serving bowl

Be sure to let me know what you think, and have a happy weekend loves!

Review: Maya Ubud

Time for the next dose of Ubud-goodness today loves!  On my last trip over to Bali I was lucky enough to be invited to spend the morning at Maya Ubud Resort & Spa, a stunning hotel set just outside of central Ubud along the Petanu River valley.

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We stayed here for a couple of nights on our honeymoon in 2012 (see here), and were blown away by the decor and incredible service.  Things have not changed very much in the last two years (in a very good way!).

The design is pretty fabulous: lots of gorgeous textures from hammered copper to deeply veined marble to rustic thatched alang alang.  And although its a larger hotel than we would usually stay at, each villa has its own detached footprint and is very private.

These images are from a deluxe pool villa, but there are a bunch of other types also.

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Another outdoor shower and a gorgeous sunny plunge pool – divine!

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We’d had a little motorbike crashette just before arriving last time so I couldn’t explore the grounds at all on my crutches.  I made up for it on this trip however, gallivanting around the jungle-filled river valley and multiple gorgeous pools.

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It was just after dawn when I arrived and the sun was starting to peek through the canopy – the best time of the day I think.

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maya ubud bali review photos

{credits: Elly MacDonald Design}

Check it out if you’re after somewhere to stay in Ubud!  It’s a drive from the centre of town but so peaceful and quiet as a result, and comes highly recommended!!