How to create a patio that is useable the whole year around

0a35b9fac02a08df001ec35394074c6c (1)

If you can get your outdoor space right, it adds a whole extra living area to your home, not to mention boosting your property’s value. But how exactly can you make the most of the space and somewhere that you can enjoy in all seasons?

Build a deck cover

What better way to protect your outdoor space from the elements by enclosing it – whether through timber slats, automised louvres that can move depending on the time of day for optimum shade or sunlight, or a skylight system. Australian company Altec offers a huge, huge range of options!

Invest in quality flooring

I love nothing more than a polished concrete floor or recycled timber deck. Consider the overall aesthetic you’d like to create in your outdoor ‘room’, whether ‘beachy’, ‘tropical’, ‘sophisticated’ and so on, then match the flooring accordingly.

Pick comfortable furniture

Whatever you do, do not settle for cheap, plastic outdoor furniture. You’re better off investing in timber, metal or cane alternatives (padded in beautiful cushions of course!) that are more durable, not to mention nicer on the eye! You can have fun pushing the boundaries between indoor and outdoor furniture – here really are no rules and the comfier, the better!

Add a fireplace or fit pit

How special is it to sit around an outdoor fireplace or firepit in the cooler months? They add major ambience and a focal point to outdoor spaces and cut through the cold to create a winter-proof space.

Create a mini bar or kitchen

Finally, stop the trips to and from the kitchen by creating your very own mini kitchen outside. Whether that is a BBQ with bench-space or a ‘pop up’ bar, having this functionality will help create a space to entertain your friends all year around.
53aeaed85d4286211bce4308e4e32310
12eeefe90b4705b2648f3b5d8e11c50c 544666fd7c8d322a63319d98284e57bc b1f9bf95d7854204f1776613f2260099 dab3fa0376b7eeeb5f84b88581b5001d f33060ad7bdb9ec89680e6a4d029b634 fd7170e109aca63709249b1f22cdda82

Images from our Pinterest board ‘Outdoor Spaces’.

The debut collection by a French-born Sydneysider

11222236_1484101871897221_825599408599170574_n

After 20 years of marketing, two sons and a stop at ISCD to study colour and design, French-born Valérie Moreno dived head first into a new career path: home decoration.

Bastille and Sons is her debut collection of contemporary designer brands and lifestyle accessories hand-picked in France. Every single original product is the combination of talented creative designers and the savoir-faire of highly skilled craftsmen.

Born in Toulouse, followed by 15 ‘amazing’ years in Paris before moving to Sydney with her family, Valérie returns to France regularly to seek out new products made in the pure artisanal tradition. She even features many young talented designers and their highly skilled craftsmen on her blog.

“Every brand has its own story – a designer, a region, an authentic savoir-faire. It was time to share my passion for unique contemporary French artisan homeware brands with fellow interior design lovers in Australia, through Bastille and Sons. We want to open a window on the French bubbly contemporary design scene: share the understated French chic without French Provincial clichés.”

My personal favourite piece? The gorgeous ‘Croisette’ armchair in pink velvet. Take a look…

Croisette_velvet_camel croisette_velvet_green_1024x1024 croisette_velvet_Green_profile_9aaaef00-2f3d-4d9e-ab11-8ec8a3c11880_1024x1024 Croisette pale green profile Croisette velvet pink Croisette yellow profil day bed ETI_0087 ETI_0261 ETI_0343 ETI_0533 ETI_0849 IMG_5733 Out &about Belle valerie thierry008 valerie thierry024 vintage crochetprintemps WTT_5863 WTT_5974 WTT_6001_square You can follow Bastille and Sons on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Melbourne’s lady of letterpress opens classes for 2016!

1239582_10151577066726394_628965064_n
Saint Gertrude is marmalade-haired, machine-wrangling artist and teacher Amy Constable – one of Australia’s original new letterpress printers. Just a girl, and a printing press. Or five. From her light-filled space in Little Gold Studios in Brunswick, Melbourne, Amy has swiftly become the go-to person for top-notch printing.
Saint Gertrude offers artisanal letterpress printing, modern letterpress classes and an open-access studio program for letterpress enthusiasts. She regularly prints for a wide range of clients around Australia and has worked with brands such as Jardan, St. George and The School of Life and collaborated with artists such as Laura Blythman, Megan McKean, Gemma Patford and Georgia Perry. In 2015, Saint Gertrude was added to the illustrious line-up of teachers at Megan Morton’s The School.
In 2008, Amy rescued her first printing press from a chicken shed in Moe and lovingly restored it back to working order. Seven years and five presses later, Amy has a studio full of printing beasts and a vast letterpress offering.
“When I stumbled across the lost art of letterpress it hit me like a freight train. This. This is it. It struck me as just the most beautiful thing I’d seen in print and I had to do it. I was driven from there on, I couldn’t do anything else and I haven’t been able to do anything else,” says Amy.
“Long before I was born, letterpress printing was already becoming redundant. But when digital printing began to lose relevance to make way for email and Internet communication, a really specialty process like letterpress suddenly leap-frogged back into relevance because it’s beautiful and because it’s done by hand.”
Amy is one-half of the collaborative Ladies of Letters project with her studio mate, letterer Carla Hackett. Ladies of Letters creates hand-lettered, letterpress work and donate 10% of all sales to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. Ladies of Letters also holds the annual LOL Workshop where you can learn to letter and letterpress.
Clients and collaborators come to Saint Gertrude for fine printing, but they stay for Amy’s openness, enthusiasm and irreverence. And she always – always – has ink or grease on her somewhere. Usually on her face.
Fancy trying the art of letterpress yourself? Saint Gertrude’s 2016 program of classes have now opened. Check ’em here.
unnamed (2) unnamed (3) unnamed (4) unnamed (5) unnamed (6) unnamed (7) unnamed (1) unnamed
Follow Saint Gertrude on Facebook and Instagram!

5 Things to Consider When Renovating Your Home

f6d7afe7c5dbf98428a816818e7e05f6 2

Renovations can be stressful and time consuming, regardless of the scale, but the key to a positive experience is forethought and planning. Whether you need to accommodate a growing family or want to update the style of your home, we’ve covered the key considerations to keep in mind when doing your renovation research!

1. What is your budget?

As much as we would all like to have an unlimited budget, it is not a reality for most people. Before selecting materials or planning new designs, work out how much you can afford to spend. If you don’t have the money saved, work out what you can borrow and determine if it is wise to invest that money back into the home. This is particularly important if you are updating the home before selling.

2. Will you use a contractor or DIY?

Depending on the scale of your renovations, it might be possible to undertake some of the work yourself. Keep in mind, some work will need to be performed by licensed tradespeople – particularly electrical and plumbing work. Try asking friends or neighbours if they can recommend a reliable contractor but make sure to get multiple quotes from different companies before make your decision. When considering different options, think about factors such as cost, experience, and availability.

3. What about the exterior?

The exterior of your home is often forgotten during renovations. If you are renovating with the intention to sell, subtle changes can make a big difference to the overall appearance of your home. Street appeal can be enhanced with elements like a custom garage door that matches the style of the home – heritage designs or aluminium grille doors are popular options and you can get them from companies such as Steel-line. Consider incorporating decking or pergolas as well as these can make a big difference to your home.

4. Where can you cut costs?

Don’t spend money for the sake of spending. Renovations can be expensive and in cases, that money won’t be recouped when you sell the home so save where you can. For example, can you remove the floor coverings and utilise the floorboards? Can you use click-together laminate over the top of those old tiles? This could be done instead of removing old materials and laying new flooring, consequently reducing labour costs.

5. Can you live-In while the renovations are going on?

This is something many homeowners forget to factor into their budget. When renovations are happening in the kitchen or bathroom, these spaces may be out of action for several days. Over this time, you may be forced to buy dinners and lunches. If undergoing major renovations, you may even have to live elsewhere (like a hotel) for a while. Knowing about these inconveniences is important before you begin so the extra expenses can be worked into your budget.

Choosing to renovate your home is a big and stressful decision, but you can have a successful renovation if you consider these key factors. Have you renovated recently and got some recommendations? Tell us in the comments below!

Image from here.

BEFORE AND AFTER RENOVATION: Fibro bungalow transformed into family home

7

We all love a before and after shoot so it’s with delight I present this mega-renovation by Michelle Walker, Director of Michelle Walker Architects.

Michelle recently took on the challenge of transforming her very own Manly Vale post-war fibro bungalow into a modern five bedroom family home. In her practice, Michelle works on contemporary architectural projects for her Sydney clients, particularly in heritage conservation areas, with projects including the Butterfly House in Paddington which was a finalist in the 2013 Dulux Colour Awards and a winner in the 2013 Best of Houzz awards and The Roseville Pavilion.

Michelle says it was exciting to transform her own home for a change, having the final say on every element of the design.

Backing onto bushland, the newly renovated home is inspired by the materials of Australian rural buildings and its natural setting, with a focus on outdoor spaces for the family to enjoy. 

The property has a northern aspect along its full length, filling it with natural light and sunshine. Michelle extended the already open and bright home by designing a new covered outdoor room spanning 25 square metres, complete with operable sliding and bifold aluminium louvred panels to block the western sun. Spotted gum decking flows from the outdoor room to the edge of the refurbished pool area which is separated by frameless glass pool fencing.

The external works also included a pool renovation and a new poolside entertaining area, paved in almond granite, with a covered outdoor barbeque space and 12 square metres of outdoor storage for surfboards, bikes, bins and pool toys and accessories.

Michelle updated the front of the house, with a new driveway and connected carport, providing undercover sheltered access to the house. A new front door and front porch, with a similar roof design to the outdoor room, completed the overhaul of the home.

Michelle has combined traditional and contemporary elements in the renovation, introducing a bold new external colour scheme. Colourbond’s ‘Monument’ was used as the main new house colour, contrasted with splashes of bright white and feature orange to mark the front door and chimney. The colours of the house highlight the palette of natural building materials including recycled sandstone, almond granite, natural timber, painted steel, corrugated Colourbond roofing and weatherboards.

This theme has been applied consistently throughout the entire house, inside and out, with Michelle using colour placement and composition to emphasise architectural character on all of her projects.

Consideration of bush fire zoning and harsh environmental conditions played an important role in Michelle’s decision to use particular materials. All external materials are non-flammable, including expressed Australian hardwoods (mostly spotted gum), fibre cement weatherboards and lining boards, sandstone blocks and pavers, almond granite and textured washed back concrete with blue metal aggregate. A new roof with the edge of the material exposed has also replaced the existing older tiled roof.

Internal renovations included a new kitchen, an additional children’s bedroom and a living room makeover including a new Jetmaster fireplace and surround, and new bookshelves. New large new sliding doors were also installed to create better connections with the garden, pool, views to the bush and the outdoor areas.

The kitchen was relocated to a new position within the house, replacing the existing family room. It now connects directly with the outdoor room and pool area, and provides views overlooking the pool, back yard and bush. The kitchen has a large, open plan that is functional and can accommodate a large family as well as guests. The space is designed as a single-line galley kitchen, furnished with two white aluminium tables from Australian company, Aero Designs. The tables interconnect and can be extended to seat eight, with one at bench height and the other at dining table height.

Materials and colours used externally have been continued throughout the kitchen with the addition of a new mirrored splashback behind the benchtop to open up the space and reflect the outdoor greenery and pool.

Now for the fun part – let’s take a look!

BEFORE

Before1 Before2

AFTER

1 2 4 5 8 9 10

Images supplied by Michelle Walker Architects.

West Elm collaborates with local designers

12294770_1248522735164164_5402694991044325809_n

The brilliant collaboration between global furnishings company West Elm and local Australian makers is back for 2016! I discovered some fab antipodean producers from the opening of Melbourne’s West Elm wayyy back in 2013 (check out my post!) like Vice and Velvet . 

Focused on building a sense of community in all of its stores, the Brooklyn-based home furnishings brand is all about shining the light on and supporting artisan makers and small-scale designers of home goods and accessories.

Each of West Elm’s six Australian stores are tasked with finding the very best of these creatives each month to showcase and sell their wares via a “shop-in-shop” pop-up stall in their local West Elm stores. Because, who doesn’t love a pop up?!

Take a look at this month’s makers, who will each feature in their respective local stores from Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 January:

Lyndon Findlay (Bondi Junction) is a self-taught carpenter and designer who fashions unique furniture pieces using reclaimed timber. By using reclaimed materials, such as abandoned furniture or quality hardwood floorboards from Victorian era homes, Findlay masterfully brings existing furniture back to life as part of his reuse ethos.

Erin Lightfoot (Brisbane) is an Australian print designer who uses colour and pattern to enhance objects and spaces. Her primary medium is porcelain which she uses to create functional canvasses for her print designs. She crafts handmade pieces which are sold in boutiques throughout Australia and the USA.

Twin Creative (Chadstone) is a Victoria-based jewellery and homewares label founded by digital designers Sue Croke and Kate Faulkner. Stepping away from the screen to create something tactile, Croke and Faulkner hand make their pieces in their Hawthorn studio.

Murphy Made Jewellery (Chapel St) is helmed by Kelly Ogden, who creates unique and distinctive pieces by hand, ensuring that no two items are the same. Nothing is mass produced, with each piece of jewellery designed with care and precision.

Hoarderculture (Chatswood) hand make concrete planters for “little green friends.”

K Gets Organised (Perth): is headed by Kelsie White, a graphic designer who creates paper goods and stationery. K Gets Organised is a system where stationery products can be used individually or interchangeably with other products to suit individual needs.

1017165_700584756709531_1430261147501812739_n 10561657_448600638637838_8794048419790748082_n 11076246_441049182726317_7635477112501568587_n 11659447_486010978230137_452953839215803528_n 12190907_683781771723163_5637449642069612746_n 12274647_690033974431276_2183694684815035973_n 12342829_691904167577590_1252087966469775665_n 12373446_698681240233216_3479616183420123248_n 12376720_1025386714151299_2109993919206723700_n 12376812_697017867066220_2572484929088830978_n 12509763_705114516256555_4729829773258672281_n

10369727_842482182506814_8308122997190409503_n 10403491_830409597047406_6811986621165698923_n 11755231_856793471075685_151076213129512903_n 11960157_874707089284323_4488109278795171130_n

Images from the brilliant makers’ Facebook pages.

Top 10 Christmas baking recipes!

christmas-candy-cane-cake-donuts-recipe-5

Let’s not beat around the bush: one of the BEST things about Christmas is the FOOD! I’ve tracked down some new takes on old classics along with some quirky and delicious recipes so you can enjoy your Christmas feasting even more this year! Take a look…

Snowy Chocolate Pinecones – RECIPE HERE!41e116831a445225902f0f336177ab33

Oreo Peppermint Bark – RECIPE HERE!Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 5.33.55 pm

Christmas Tree Brownies – RECIPE HERE!Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 5.35.12 pm

Snowflake Macarons – RECIPE HERE!IMG_9606-final

Baked Gingerbread Mini Donuts – RECIPE HERE!gingerbread-donuts-4

Candy Cane Mini Donuts – RECIPE HERE!christmas-candy-cane-cake-donuts-recipe-3

Egg Nog Popsicles – RECIPE HERE!egg-nog-pospsicle-recipe

Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Layer Cake – RECIPE HERE!11217340773_b35fdba46c_c

Nougat with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries – RECIPE HERE!IMG_4089-2

Soft Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Sugared Cranberries – RECIPE HERE!11045238273_2eeb957f5a_b

See MORE delicious food inspiration on our Christmas Pinterest board!

Your guide to selling your home

0f81152adbe903de9735765086ae8b8e

Selling a home can be an incredibly daunting process. Few home owners truly know what they are getting themselves into when they list their property on the market and many look back on the process, wishing they had a few tips to help them along the way.

We’ve included some of our top tips below to navigate the process of listing your home for sale. There are plenty of other things to consider however the below are all great things to consider before you even consider starting the process.

1. Valuation

Obtaining a valuation is critical to set your expectations around a potential sale price. A valuation provides a comprehensive report on your properties value based on location, condition and proximity to essential services such as public transport etc. An estate agent will provide you with a valuation as part of their service, however, consulting a third party for a second opinion provides many with piece of mind.

2. Preparing your home for sale

Make sure that your home is in top condition before selling it. Would be vendors will review your property from top to bottom so it’s essential that everything is in working order and a well-maintained condition. Homes that are ready for buyers to live in are incredibly appealing as they can simply move in and enjoy their new property without the hassles of renovations.

3. What time to sell

It’s really important that you consider when you should list your home on the market. Timing can be affected by weather, school schedules as well as holidays plus many other factors. If you’re selling a family home, it might not be best to list your home at the start of the school year when families are typically dealing with busy schedules. Consider your prospective buyers before listing to ensure the timing doesn’t hinder your chances of serious interest.

4. Interior styling advice

Styling your home can help you make a big impression when would be buyers walk through the door for the first time. Many estate agencies include interior styling advice as part of their service however consulting a professional to walk through your home for tips can really give your home an edge over others in the market. Stylists help people do up their homes every day so don’t be afraid to consult them for professional advice.

5. Choosing the right estate agent

Finding the right estate agent to sell your home is incredibly important. Agents may sell homes for a living however not all agents are equal when it comes to selling your home. Check out RateMyAgent to review agents currently selling homes in your area. The site was designed to help vendors find the right agent and is amassing 2000+ reviews each week from genuine vendors who rate their experiences with agents. All reviews are linked to the sold property listings so it’s incredibly easy to determine which agent is selling homes similar to your place and nearby.

When selling your property, it is incredibly important to be well researched so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. There are plenty of resources out there to help you along the way though the above are some critical things to consider before picking up the phone to your estate agent.

Stylish ways to prepare your home for the summer

fb6537518f29f2a743aae624e64e5f3b

Now that summer has finally arrived, dealing with extreme heat at home can be a challenge. While you can simply open the windows and let the fresh air in, there are lots of other ways to beat the heat and keep your home stylishly cool during warmer months. Here are a few suggestions you might want to consider.

Put up window awnings

Enhance your home’s exterior the practical way. Window awnings not only look great, they also prevent the sun’s rays from entering your home. They are available in countless colours and styles and can easily be designed around your home for a custom fit.

Add indoor plants

Bring the outdoors inside. Indoor plants do much more than just adding a splash of colour inside. Plants naturally cleanse the air and are perfect for increasing the oxygen purity in your home. Some plants are better suited to the low light conditions of interiors so be sure to consult a professional at your local garden centre for tips.

Opt for evaporative coolers

Invest in an efficient cooling system. Consider replacing your old system with a modern system from Brivis. Systems such as the Brivis Iceberg are incredibly efficient to run throughout the summer months and are built for the demanding conditions of the Australian summer. Efficient cooling systems can use up to half the energy of older systems and are perfect for both new and existing homes.

Brighten your home with colours

Inject some fun into your home by accessorising it with colourful pieces. There are endless ways to turn your home into a quick summer getaway. Liven up your sofa with beach-themed pillows and decorate your space with ocean-inspired accessories. You may also paint your walls with cooler accents such as blues and greens. These colours are said to trick your brain into thinking your home is cooler than it really is.

With these simple tips, you’re sure to keep your home cool and breezy this summer!

Image from here.

Choosing the right garage door for your home

5eff1b75537447d68cd86b8b422712ca

Interior design is all the rage, but when it comes to home aesthetics many skim past the overall feel that exterior design can contribute. The majority of home improvement projects focus on the interior detailing which means that sometimes, the outside your home doesn’t get enough attention. But every detail, whether big or small can have an affect on the aesthetics of your home. Here are some tips in choosing the right garage door for your home.

Choose the right material for your home

It’s very important to choose the perfect material that will suit where your home’s location. Remember to keep in mind the environment and the neighbourhood of your house, (eg. is it hot? Does it rain a lot? Do you get a lot of tornados and earthquakes?). You also need to keep in mind other factors like durability, maintenance, design and cost. Different options for materials include wood, aluminium, steel and fibreglass or PVC overlay.

Choose the perfect style for your home

It’s also important to determine what kind of design compliments your home. The style of your door can make or break the aesthetics of your house. There are different styles you can choose from. These include:

● Gregorian

● Arts & Crafts

● Edwardian

● 50’s Ranch Style

● Contemporary Modern

Choose the right colour and finishing details that will suit your home

Picking the right colour is essential, because it needs to complement the entire look of your home. Consider matching the garage door to your home’s window trim rather than to the front door. Alternatively, you could go for a colour that blends in with your siding or brick. For example, for less contrast with red brick, choose a beige or tan that matches the mortar in the brick, instead of a white.

For the finish, choose a style that will match the personality of your home. Options include but are not limited to Panelling, Decorative Hardware, Decorative Strapping, and Windows.

Consider the other details

Apart from the aesthetics of your door, there are several things to consider, like the convenience of installation, the availability of the materials in your location, as well as practical things like safety and Taking these things into consideration will reap great benefits for your home in the long run. Make sure to only trust reliable dealers like Personality Garage Doors when it comes to handling your doors, to ensure safe, fast and convenient output.

Image from here.

How the expertise of an architect can help you build your dream home

wolfarchitects_image01

Building your dream home is probably on most people’s bucket list, and most of us strive to make it happen in this lifetime. So it is important to make the most out of the experience the moment you make the dream a reality. It can be a tricky and expensive business, but it’s important not to take short cuts in order to save a few bucks when constructing, as these cutbacks will inevitably come out more costly long term.

The one thing you can’t skip is hiring an architect to oversee the project. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, looking at the bigger picture, it’s easy to see that there are a lot of benefits from hiring one.

Leverage your space

Planning the project without consulting an expert can lead to a huge waste of time, especially if you have no idea how to maximize the space that you already have. Architects can help you see the project from a different perspective, and can give you options on how to use your space more practically.

Capitalise on your time

Given that you won’t be the one overseeing the project on a micro level, you’ll have plenty of time on your hands without having to compromise the quality and aesthetics of the project. Just make sure you hire an architect that you trust, or have a trusted person recommend one for you! This means that you can use your spare time focusing on other aspects of the project, like furniture shopping.

Make your budget reach further 

Architects have many suppliers in their roster, so you’re sure to be covered no matter what budget you have. They will also be the ones in charge of coordinating with the suppliers so you can save yourself of the headache of going back and forth with hundreds of different people.

Reduce the heavy lifting

This goes both literally and figuratively. In order to ensure that you can make the most out of your home building experience, save yourself from the headache and the heavy lifting by entrusting all the paperwork and other administrative duties to the professionals. After all, that’s what your architect is there for. Given the years of experience their practice has brought, maneuvering through the paperwork your construction requires will be a breeze.

There are many advantages in hiring an architect to oversee your project. Just be sure to approach reliable firms built on experience like Wolf Architects to avoid hiccups along the way. It may cost you more initially, but you will surely appreciate the convenience it will bring to your life.

wolfarchitects_image04 wolfarchitects_image05 wolfarchitects_image03 wolfarchitects_image02

Your guide to using home inspection apps for interior design projects

interior design lifestyle blog

Small details are what make for good interior design, and they can make or break a look if they aren’t addressed. But having to check all the nuts and bolts is not always easy, and it adds to the list of elements to think about when you’re already busy designing a space.

Even worse, there is the horrible thought of actually forgetting something! Just thinking about undesirable scenarios like this can be nerve-racking. No need to fret though, as I have found a fantastic tool that addresses just these issues.

Technology has already made circumstances favourable for designers, and with the creation of the home inspection mobile application it has paved the way for an even more detailed and convenient designing process. This application helps designers all the way from start to finish. All you do is record the data in your mobile phone and you’re good to go, which means there’s no need any more to bring out piles and piles of paper just to check the specifics.

Home inspection applications are also very handy in other ways, as they can be accessed anywhere to find out information about a property. The recorded details can be referred to when checking a place and thinking about which designs would suit and which ones wouldn’t, making it a convenient and helpful tool for people who are on the go.

Home inspection applications can actually help you save money through some of the cost reducing features. Firstly, there are no extra charges or additional costs because everything is there! In fact, home inspection applications can also help you save time and effort since it can be accessed whenever you need it. This is helpful for checking information when out and about, for example, when you’re at the store unsure about which furniture and materials to buy.

Finally, there is a home inspection application like Inspection Manager. Used and trusted by real estate professionals and industry experts alike, you are guaranteed that the information there is true and accurate so you know it’s reliable. Using a home inspection application also gives a more detailed view of the property, which means no more missing details.

So how do home inspection applications work? Simply type in the details of the property, input the conditions, then just add your comments and photos and you’re all set! It really doesn’t get any better than that. Try it now for a convenient and easy interior designing tool.

Image from here!

The prettiest Christmas party you ever did see

FireCremeSwedishXmas_147

I’ve just found the most incredibly styled Christmas party – and one that’s kid-friendly too! I don’t know if it’s the teepees, reindeer cups, glitter pinecones or the beautiful home peeking out of the background that I love the most.

Hosted by 100 Layer Cakelet, the festive kids party was set up by LA’s Fire and Creme Kids. So much inspiration for Christmas get-togethers, winter birthdays or kiddy parties!

FireCremeSwedishXmas_794

FireCremeSwedishXmas_009 FireCremeSwedishXmas_017 FireCremeSwedishXmas_021 FireCremeSwedishXmas_050 FireCremeSwedishXmas_053 FireCremeSwedishXmas_063 FireCremeSwedishXmas_094 FireCremeSwedishXmas_107 FireCremeSwedishXmas_109 FireCremeSwedishXmas_113 FireCremeSwedishXmas_135 FireCremeSwedishXmas_147 FireCremeSwedishXmas_266 FireCremeSwedishXmas_287 FireCremeSwedishXmas_314 FireCremeSwedishXmas_366 FireCremeSwedishXmas_432 FireCremeSwedishXmas_536 FireCremeSwedishXmas_713

Images from 100 Layer Cakelet!

Getting started in property investment

cf71cd081aa130ef29329f24ed75cec6

There’s a fair chance that one day you plan to buy a property and rent it out as an investment. This is a super popular way here in Australia to add an extra income stream to your all-important bank account.

The Australian property market has experienced a boom over the past decade and there is no sign of it slowing down. Seasoned investors and professionals alike have taken full advantage of these market conditions, buying up properties ripe for the next generation of renters that have all but been priced out of the market.

For all those that succeed at investing, there are many who have failed in the face of rising interest rates and poor financial planning. So before you enter the property market, make sure that you do your research so you can be prepared for the complex world of investment properties.

Here are five things for you to consider before investing in property:

1. Finance options

Is it feasible for you to invest in property? Can you afford to have your money tied up in mortgages in the short term? Many property investors get caught out by stamp duty fees that far and exceed capital growth when investing in the short term so it’s incredibly important to consider your financial position before you purchase a property.

2. Set goals

How many properties are you hoping to purchase and when do you want to make the purchase? A defined strategy can help you plan your finances around future purchases and ensure you have the capital required for multiple mortgages and the associated fees.

3. Get familiar with the market

After committing to an investment strategy, where to buy in the market is your next major decision. Where are the areas of the greatest capital growth and do these suburbs offer the greatest rental returns? Speak to an agent to get their thoughts and watch properties prices in suburbs of interest to uncover trends and buyer behaviours.

4. Use property investment calculators

Take to the web and use investment calculators! Homesales.com.au has a dedicated investment property search tool which can help you find investment properties based on your goals. Such tools are incredibly useful when you’re looking into the feasibility of suburbs or if you’re unsure about the different investment approaches and whether to invest with a positive or negative cash flow.

5. Seek professional advice

Speaking to a professional with local market knowledge can be a huge help once you’ve decided on your approach. Agents deal in property every day and will help you finalise your purchase once you’ve decided on which property to buy. Schedule inspections with agents and review all available options in person before you take the plunge. Investing for the first time can be a stressful experience if you haven’t done your research.

SO! Make sure you review all of your options before you make that decision to purchase so that you can be sure that your investment delivers sold returns for years to come.

Top image from here.

Lighting tips for every room in your home

3bf2ebbb243cfb35e2a407b389ffa6eb

Although lighting plays a crucial part in both interior and exterior spaces, we tend to pay far less attention to it than we should. We often give most of our time to looking for the perfect furniture and accessories without realising that they only really look there best when there is proper lighting. Lighting also creates the mood and ambience of a room, making it a crucial element of homes that feel good to be in.

If you don’t know where to start, here are some simple tricks and ideas to consider when choosing the lighting needs for each room in your house.

Living Room

Layout 1

Griffin Semi Flush from Urban Lighting

Since living rooms are where family and friends usually gather for long periods of time, you need lighting fixtures that can make your home more welcoming. Opt to use a combination of floor lamps and table lamps to create an inviting and relaxed vibe. Aside from setting a mood, floor lamps can actually illuminate your favourite pieces in the room; while table lamps highlight the things you love to see. Add downlights or a classic ceiling light for an overall glow to your living room.

Kitchen

2 - Cage Pendant Light

Cage Pendant Light from Urban Lighting

The kitchen, being the busiest place in the house may require different types of light fixtures. So in order to save on lighting costs, it’s important to pick out a product that’s multi-functional. Overhead lights such as pendant light fixtures provide necessary task lighting to table and kitchen islands, which has the benefit of separating your cooking and dining areas in a very stylish way. Another benefit to this is that it brings the light closer to the areas where you need good visibility, while providing a pleasant look to your kitchen.

Bedroom

3 - Acantas Pendant

Acantas Pendant from Urban Lighting

Free up your bedside table and give your bedroom a more modern look by introducing pendant lights. Although they are more commonly used in kitchens, pendants also look pretty in bedrooms. It’s a practical way of adding a character to your room, and instantly refreshes your space.

Bathroom

4 - Soho Curved Wall Sconce

Soho Curved Wall Sconce from Urban Lighting

Create a relaxing atmosphere in your bathroom using wall lights and ceiling mounted light fixtures. However, when going with this approach it’s essential to remember that each has a specific application. Since ceiling lights throw light over a wide area, they work extremely well over a toilet and a shower. Wall lights on the other hand, are used to provide direct radiance on bathroom mirrors. For better illumination, make sure that wall lights are mounted at eye level on both sides of the mirror.

Need more inspiration? Discover what looks and works best for your home now. Make sure to visit Urban Lighting for impressive home lighting fixtures to brighten up your space.

Top image from here.

Five unbelievable items to give this Christmas

3800029ca49e1ed87aed8e7d320eb5d4 (1)

In those precious few days before Christmas, shopping centres will be slammed with people busy trying to avoid Christmas rush, and people competing to score the best deals. And of course, there’s the task of finding the perfect gift. You would think that with such a long list you would have figured out what to get your loved ones already. But then you may find yourself looking at the list, still unsure what presents to get them. But don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.

Pitchi is our new favourite place; an online shopping site that features some of the best gifts from sellers around the world. They have a range of useful items with everything from eco products to sports items. After browsing their site, you will wonder how people lived without these goodies. Here’s a round-up list of some of our favourite products Pitchi offers.

The Abacus Pod Rack is perfect for people on-the-go. It is the ideal gift for those who want a kitchen accessory that is able to dispense 36 coffee capsules in one time. Practical? Check. Sleek? Check.

The Interlocking Wine Rack is fun, hip and useful, the gift to give any wine lovers. With a little creativity, it allows anyone to shape the rack according to their style and needs.

Interlocking Wine Rack

Giving a present to someone eco-loving? The Aquafarm Herb Garden is the perfect gift for them. It’s a fun and decorative self-sustaining ecosystem that allows you to grow herbs anywhere you like.

For family and friends who love their rest, this is the gift for them. The Hibermate Sleep Mask will help put them to sleep instantly and helps give them a great and revitalising sleep.

Hibermate Sleep Mask

The Steadyrack Classic Bike Rack is the go-to gift for biking enthusiasts. It is space saving, convenient and just looks plain awesome. Just put it in your bag and you’re good to go.

Steadyrack Classic Bike Rack

There’s nothing better than giving gifts that are practical, useful and look good. Pitchi is a great avenue to help get all of these for you, and will make your Christmas shopping easy as pie. Just the thought of not having to look around the shopping centre already sells you, doesn’t it? Browse through the site and use #pitchigifts to find more gifts for your loved ones.

Banner image from getinmyhome’s Pinterest page! 

Three things a building inspection could tell you

87129e90543833101f0d4ee42717ff26

Just as you would naturally take a car for a test drive before deciding whether to buy it, before purchasing a property you would not give a second thought to getting an independent building inspection, right? Given that buying a home, investment or business property is a huge financial outlay and commitment, it’s surprising that some people don’t use an independent building inspector who has no ties to the vendor or agent.

Using inspectors recommended by vendors and agents raises the risk of conflicts of interest and arguments over the veracity of reports. If you are borrowing funds to buy the property, the bank will need a building inspection to assess risk to their investment, so it’s best to hand them a report you trust.

Even when considering to sell your property, you can organise an inspection to warn you of any issues that might reduce your property’s value or make it hard to sell. Here are some key things that the inspection can tell you:

1. Structural Integrity

Unless you intend to demolish the building and start afresh, it almost goes without saying that structural integrity is paramount in any domestic or residential building. Ensure your building inspector thoroughly checks and reports all support structures for deformities and damage caused by the elements, ground movement, mould and pest infestation. As a seller, you will find out what (if anything) you need to do to increase the value or saleability of your property. Or, as a potential buyer, the structural integrity assessment will help you to avoid any nasty surprises.

2. Robust Pipes And Drains

Pipes and drains carry the lifeblood of a building, circulating fuel and essential fluids while quietly removing waste. Often, a problem can lurk undetected for a long time and only become apparent at the most inconvenient of times. As a seller, a detailed building inspection should uncover problems with your pipes and drains, allowing you to make repairs before it’s too late. As a prospective buyer, on the other hand, you will be forewarned and forearmed, helping to inform your buying decision.

Repairing blocked or leaky water pipes and drains doesn’t necessarily mean excavation or destruction. Drain and pipe repair professionals such as Nuflow Technologies use non-destructive methods to clear blockages and repair cracks and leaks while protecting against further damage and preserving the value of your property.

3. Pest Nests

Pests such as termites, rodents, cockroaches and possums are not only unsightly and sometimes noisy; they can also damage a building’s structure or create serious electrical hazards. Termites, also known as white ants, can slowly chew away at timber frames and supports. And repairs can be frightfully expensive. Rodents, meanwhile, have a well-earned reputation for gnawing through the insulation surrounding electrical wires. Although they usually come off second best upon reaching the copper, sometimes they satisfy their appetite for PVC and avoid a shock, leaving exposed wires behind and creating the risk of fire. A thorough building inspection should identify damage initiated by pests, enabling you to make decisions on further action.

The best way to be sure is not to risk it!

Image from here.

Six ways to bring summer fun to your home

dab3fa0376b7eeeb5f84b88581b5001d

The long, hot days of summer provide the perfect opportunity to throw open the doors of your home and welcome visitors for a season of sharing and entertaining. It’s also a chance to embrace the great outdoors and bring that relaxed, tropical lifestyle to your home. If you’re looking to make the most of the long days of summer, here are five additions to make your home a perfect summer oasis.

Patio

Patios have become hugely popular in recent years, with patio designers and builders such as Altec specialising in designing outdoor areas perfectly suited to the home. Patios provide an outdoor area that is shaded from the sun and protected from the rain. Useable all year-round!

Deck

Nothing says summer quite like an outdoor barbecue with friends, and nothing sets the scene quite like a deck. Decking is a great addition to any home, adding a resort feel and extra living space. While decking is a good go-to option for multi-level homes, it’s not confined to raised properties and can even be incorporated as a garden feature when used as a separate stand-alone destination in the yard.

Gazebo

A gazebo positioned strategically in the garden can add a great focal point for your backyard, and also provide a fabulous destination for entertaining or relaxing. By adding a gazebo to your pool area, you can create a resort feel, perfect for afternoon drinks by the poolside.

Landscaping

Careful landscaping can transform any backyard into a beckoning oasis. By planting a mix of shade trees and creating regions in your backyard, you can turn your backyard from a standard suburban block into an inviting retreat from day-to-day life. The best landscaping is based on creating points of interest in the yard, such as a series of small rooms.

Pool

When it comes to ultimate ways to beat the heat, the good old-fashioned swimming pool is the quintessential big ticket addition to your property. Should you have the budget, the climate and the space, a pool can add solid lifestyle and monetary value to your property. Even in small backyards, a plunge pool can provide a great place to cool off and dip your toes as you enjoy a hot summer’s afternoon.

Water Feature

If a pool is a little beyond your means but you crave the tranquillity of water, then a simple water feature can add life to your home as well as a touch of Feng Shui. The sound of running water or the calm reflection of a small pond provides a cool allure so often sought after in the heat of summer.

Summer is the perfect season to enjoy all that your home has to offer, both inside and out, and to share that enjoyment with family and friends. With a few simple additions you can create a resort feel that will have you clamouring to head home, kick off your shoes and simply sit back and relax in the comfort of your own space!

Image from our Pinterest page here!

My tour of The Block 2015!

UNIT 5 DEAN&SHAY 148

How fortunate was I to be invited for a personal tour of the 2015 The Block ‘Blocktagon’ and meet the couples of the show themselves?! And they were exactly how they come across our TV screens – funny, playful and normal people (surprise, surprise!).

I was there to check out the newly renovated kitchens but I couldn’t help but eye off the rest of their apartments! More on that soon!

With only four points dividing the winners and fifth place, all the kitchens scored extremely well in the much-anticipated (and dreaded?!) ‘Kitchen Week’. Kitchen design specialists from The Good Guys Kitchens worked closely with the couples to create five completely different looks.

“We had to work with the couples to ensure the look and feel of the kitchen was a reflection of their overall vision for their apartment, and this required close consultation and creative planning to make the most of the building’s unusual spaces,” said Julie Hanover, kitchen design expert at The Good Guys Kitchens.

“The results really speak for themselves, and the amount of fantastic storage solutions, soft close inclusions throughout and top of the line appliances from The Good Guys, these are some of the best kitchens we’ve ever seen on The Block!”

Kingi and Caro took out the coveted title of Kitchen Week winners, with their Good Guys Kitchen scoring a huge 29/30. Judge, Neale Whitaker, scored the couple a perfect 10, describing their urban style kitchen as “the hero of the apartment”.

Their colour scheme is bold yet timeless, matching their overall apartment look. It featured contrasting cabinetry colours of Matt Black and Serene, which Neale Whitaker referenced:

“It was not that long ago when the judges all thought a black kitchen was a big risk, but today this feels totally appropriate”.

The benchtops in Silestone Zeus together with Kingi’s rendered island added depth and texture while the graffiti-style artwork on the island bar introduces the couple’s signature artistic element to the space.

UNIT 1 CARO&KINGI 002 UNIT 1 CARO&KINGI 006

Coming in a very close second by half a point with a score of 28.5/30, Dean and Shay created a contemporary entertainer’s kitchen in their penthouse with an on-trend colour palette of black, white and timber grain with brass and copper accents. By moving their kitchen to the other side of the building to the other couples, it has a different feel altogether and importantly, it has a butler’s pantry! Their mirrored splashback and vertical garden bring the outdoors in, with their long bench under the window capitalising on the north-facing space and city views.

UNIT 5 DEAN&SHAY 124 UNIT 5 DEAN&SHAY 129 UNIT 5 DEAN&SHAY 137 UNIT 5 DEAN&SHAY 148 UNIT 5 DEAN&SHAY 152

UNIT 5 DEAN&SHAY 162

Next was Ebony and Luke who scored 27/30 for their contemporary classic kitchen. They blended classic and contemporary just like in the rest of the apartment by pairing classic white Shaker-style profile doors with contrasting shadow line details. In fact, they had black timber and copper handles imported from Europe to be the star of their space. The Silestone island benchtop in Ariel was cleverly angled to complement the irregular shape of the room and by removing a wall, Ebony and Luke opened up their room, making it more spacious and inviting.

UNIT 4 EBONY & LUKE 500 UNIT 4 EBONY & LUKE 519 UNIT 4 EBONY & LUKE 621 UNIT 4 EBONY & LUKE 774

In fourth place scoring 25.5/30 was Whitney and Andy with their Scandinavian-inspired kitchen. My favourite element was their huge black Seg freestanding oven, which added serious industrial edge to the space. Their palette of white, grey and timber grain was fresh and for the first time on The Block they used an inverted sharknose profile benchtop by Silestone in White Storm, which contrasts with the marble-inspired island benchtop in Lyra. Their herb garden cut into their island was a fun touch too!

UNIT 2 ANDY&WHITNEY 703 UNIT 2 ANDY&WHITNEY 710 UNIT 2 ANDY&WHITNEY 769 UNIT 2 ANDY&WHITNEY 789

Finally, Suzi and Vonni’s kitchen, which scored 25/30, was sleek and moody, just like the rest of the ladies’ apartment. It featured all the bells and whistles, including a large island with built-in Bosch induction cooktop and expansive prep space. Matt black dominates throughout with the Silestone benchtops providing contrast and adding a sense of luxury. Particularly noteworthy is the thin 12mm top in Carbono with its metallic effect, integrated sink and metallic effect, befitting this show-stopping kitchen.

UNIT 3 SUZI & VONNI 059 UNIT 3 SUZI & VONNI 063

For more information on The Good Guys kitchens and for expert advice please visit kitchens.thegoodguys.com.au.

The divine Circa Home (and its new limited edition Christmas collection!)

10926403_805181716183733_7180192713020381134_n

I need a stronger word than ‘love’! The Circa Home candles are seriously heavenly.

The Australian brand says it is ‘reminiscent of a bygone era, a special time, a captivating memory’, which is fitting of course as fragrances are a key way to evoke memories of people and places from the past.

Circa Home sets itself apart from many other candle brands, with its products being made from non-toxic soy wax, using lead-free cotton wicks and containing natural ingredients, while their jars are reusable and recyclable. I love their timber lids too!

And now, Circa Home has brought out its Christmas collection. Oh my! Think mulled wine, apples, berries and rhubarb, and you’ll start to get a feel for the limited edition fragrances.

I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on the DIVINE ‘Red Spiced Pear’ candle. It’s so festive and reminds me of my childhood Christmases in England where we’d circulate the neighbours’ homes after morning church for minced pies!

Here are some of Circa Home’s gorgeous Instagram (and re-gram) images (follow Circa Home here!)…

11219679_925464607488776_5200248181045127153_n 12191524_938413436193893_6114826273075562868_n

13111_825535964148308_6641168034901601999_n 1962686_821144961254075_9032120300329546434_n 10407988_831169440251627_2127674655590589499_n 10629810_872980702737167_8151198647878034375_n 10995303_846147998753771_8176481331492060126_n 11053929_848855511816353_4999748074161384848_n 11128756_837920519576519_6299080080708172027_n 11149537_846152542086650_2824126759616098747_n 11227916_876489645719606_713558824094174782_n 11237213_858751704160067_5183588970717726967_n 11329972_858463967522174_8018685088232036425_n