Living through a pandemic has caused many of us to re-evaluate our lifestyles, including our choice of homeware. We speak with Shana Buchanan, founder of home decor brand iDecorate, about how mindfully chosen objects can create a happier, healthier home.
What makes a house a home? Is it where you go to sleep, hang your clothes, eat your meals, watch Netflix? A home can certainly include all those things, but it can also be so much more – as so many of us discovered last year. After the pandemic confined billions of people to their homes for the better part of a year, it prompted us to re-evaluate our surroundings and how they impact our wellbeing.
“What’s interesting for me is that, because of COVID, we’ve seen people suddenly realize that their homes really are their sanctuaries,” says Shana Buchanan, founder and CEO of home decor retailer iDecorate. “We’ve always known that our homes affect our wellbeing, as well as our mental and physical health. In the last year, we just got a stark reminder that how we live within those walls around us is actually really important.”
Buchanan has a penchant for making spaces shine. The Australian mother of three has been involved in design in one way or another for most of her life. As a finance student in university, she helped with her family’s business – a high-end window furnishings and textiles manufacturer in Australia – for over seven years.
“We worked with all the top interior designers and architects in Sydney. And we did lots of celebrity homes, fitting window furnishings for celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Rupert and Wendi Murdoch, and Baz Luhrmann.”
Buchanan launched her own design business, iDecorate, after she moved to Hong Kong in 2011. Originally launched as a customisable online showroom for designing a dream space, her company eventually pivoted to e-commerce, selling bespoke and high-quality homewares online that provided a much-needed alternative to the deluge of mass-market, cheap products found in Hong Kong homeware stores.
“I noticed that there was a gap in Asia for cool, handcrafted products that are a world away from the mass market – something that people could have in their homes that looked stylish but also made them feel happy,” says Buchanan.
Instead of impulse purchases and cheap, yet disposable, products, Buchanan champions quality over quantity. It’s not about accumulating lots of things, none of which mean anything to you; instead, the interior designer insists on investing in quality objects that have the power to “really make your heart sing.”
“With Taobao or IKEA, there’s no story – and when there’s no story, there’s no emotional attachment,” she says. “Things become easier to throw out and replace – and that’s quite sad, especially when we’re trying to consume less and not add to this environmental crisis that we’re in.”
That’s why, with iDecorate, Buchanan sources her products from artists, designers and boutique shops that are passionate about what they do. In turn, she finds that this inspiration, love and personal touch really resonate with her customers.
“So often we find that people connect with something if they love the story or they’ve visited the place it comes from,” she says. “Every time they look at it, there’s that connection there. And that creates both a healthy emotional space and a positive vibe inside your home.”
One of the most important areas of her home are the kitchen and dining room, where she loves to entertain family and friends, always setting a beautiful table for her guests.
“I really love spoiling people with an awesome table setting and awesome food – for me, the way to make a really good first impression while forming new friendships and new relationships,” she says. “And a huge part of that is tableware. My dinner plates, cutlery, serving bowls, pitchers… it all makes me feel really good.”
And that’s all the more important in between lockdowns and restrictions, when many of us have gone months without seeing our nearest and dearest.
“When you can get together, you celebrate. We really appreciate the times where we can have people at home because you might go into lockdown again soon. To be able to have friends and family in your home and break bread together over a beautiful table – I think now it means more than ever.”