We have a great arrangement with our neighbours. When they go on holiday, we look after their dog and have use of their beautiful pool. Our kids usually couldn’t wait for them to go away and when they were little, they would put on their goggles and swimwear, open the blinds in their room for the world to see, and watch the neighbours pack their car for the holiday. Understandably, this became a bit embarrassing at times, so we thought we should consider putting in our own pool, just to give our neighbours a rest 🙂
Of course, putting a pool into a small backyard, isn’t as easy as you might think. Over the next few weeks, I’ll show you a few obstacles we’ve had work around, as well as how the extension of our home has progressed. Have a look at the First Phase, to see a bit of background of the area we live in, the history of our house and what we’ve planned for the entire project. For now, we’ll start with our plans for the backyard and what it looked like before we started…
To see what we’ve done to the interior, follow the links below:
For once, forget your budget or priorities. Today you will learn how to “prepare to shop” for accessories. These small, random little items around your house never get the acknowledgement they should. You can have the best furniture, expensive rugs and beautiful art work, but you need to add stylish accessories to “pull it all together’, or your home might look soulless, empty or lacking in personality.
1. TAKE PHOTOS & MEASURE
Be prepared. We all have smartphones. Open the notebook app. Now walk around every room in the house and make a list of every corner that needs an ornament, candle, book or plant. Don’t think about priorities or your bank balance. Think like a designer! You’re not spending anything yet. Take a photo of each room and store it on your phone. Grab a measuring tape and measure your display shelves, the size of your coffee table, the size of your sofas and tables. Make a quick hand drawing if necessary and scan it into your phone. Now keep a paper made measuring tape in your handbag. Like forever. (Grab one from IKEA or buy one in the needlecraft section at your local shop.) It weighs nothing. Now you’re ready to hit the shops. Most of the time we see what we like when we don’t expect it, but now you can grab your paper measuring tape and notebook app on your phone whenever you spot an accessories you like. This will help you to never buy the wrong size (or colour!) again.
2. SHOP IN YOUR OWN HOME – SOUNDS FUNNY?
Trends change. Your grandmother’s old trinkets stored in the shed, or some childhood toy might suddenly be your latest find. Walk through your house and think what items can be re-used in a different, funky way. Maybe you should move some accessories in your bedroom to your living room for a change. I constantly move ornaments, cushions and rugs from one room to the other. This makes everything feel fresh again. Don’t forget the power of books. Invest in a few decor books for your coffee table or hobby books in your book shelf. Can you reframe old photographs? Maybe paint all the frames black? Can you repaint a vase or candle holder? Pack out cupboards you haven’t opened for a long time and see if there is not maybe a hidden gem. Especially kitchen cupboards. You might find a beautiful glass vase you have forgotten all about. Bring some greenery into your home. Succulents grow easily, so bring the outside inside.
3. DON’T OVERSPEND, BUT SOMETIMES DO!
There are beautiful affordable trinkets available from home ware stores. However, do not only buy small accent pieces. Also invest in at least two to three more expensive focal pieces per room. You need to have a good combination to keep it tasteful. Every room needs at least one conversation piece. It might not be extremely expensive, but should have some character or a history.
Now off you go, start measuring and taking those photos!
A home bar is something every grown up home should have. Grown ups like popping into each others homes’ for a drink, either to wind down after a busy day, but mostly to get away from their children 🙂 Of course, you don’t need the full Monty bar… a bar cart with a few essential items will certainly do the trick! In our case, we chucked our formal lounge during our renovation, not because we love drinking that much, but because we tend to dine informally (and to accommodate our drinking friends 🙂 To follow our bar renovation and inspiration, follow these links: Lyndie’s Bar Inspiration and Formal Dining Room Demolition.
Our vision for our bar is slowly coming into fruition. The height of the glass pendant lights are determined and the back and front counters are installed.
Luckily there’s time for a break after a hard days’ work! The guys are getting very excited about having the first cold one to initiate the new bar!
At last, it’s finished! It was great fun unpacking everything into the shelves. Now we can pretend we’re having a night out on the town every night!
This new area makes entertaining a breeze. We love how the formal lounge flows into the bar and then out to the new entertaining area with fireplace. I see a few social gatherings happening this year!
Let us know if your home needs a make over. A renovation can be very daunting, especially if you haven’t experienced it before. We draw up plans for council approval, assist in layouts, as well as selection of all your finishes. To see the changes we made to other parts of our home, follow these links:
We all have that awkward room that we just have no idea on how to place our furniture. Today I will give you a few tips on how to decorate a living space where you have so many windows and doors, that it makes it very difficult to know where to place your furniture. Too many windows and doors mean that you don’t have enough walls to place your sofas and chairs against. It also makes a room feel very busy and the decision on where to hang your art work, is also tricky.
1. TIP ONE: MOVE FURNITURE TO THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM
Sometimes it’s not only windows and doors, but it could also be a radiator or fireplace. If the room’s size allows it, move all your furniture towards the middle of the room. This will open up the areas around the obstacles and create a cozy conversation space in the middle of the room. This means you can now arrange the furniture as you want, without taking into consideration the placement of the windows and doors.
2. TIP TWO: USE A RUG
A rug will anchor the space in the middle and pull your attention away from the doors and windows. The rug will now define how the furniture will be arranged, and the space will be less awkward. The good thing is that a rug immediately adds coziness and warmth to the room too.
3. TIP 3: PLACE FURNITURE SYMMETRICAL
Use the symmetrical placement of sofas or chairs to counteract the unevenness and chaos of misplaced windows or doors. Symmetry creates order and will draw your attention to the middle of the room, away from the walls, doors and windows.
4. TIP 4: PAINT ALL THE WALLS THE SAME COLOUR
If you have multiple windows and doors, keep all the walls in the room the same colour and lean towards a light, fresh and neutral palette. It will make the centered furniture placement stand out, and make the room feel less busy.
5. TIP 5: KEEP WINDOW TREATMENTS SIMPLE
Stay away form tassels and busy patterns. I think you get the idea by now… Less detail to accentuate the number of windows and doors. More focus on the furniture. Keep the wall areas as neutral and simple as possible.
Let us know if you have any other awkward rooms you want us to address. You’re welcome to email us a photo and we might give you some advice!
When we decided to reconfigure the interior of our home to suit the way we lived, the conversation between my husband and I steered towards every man’s dream, a cellar, or man cave. In my mind’s eye I could already picture the ladies sitting around the dinner table (or most likely doing dishes) and the guys congregating in the underground cellar, getting worked up about rugby, army and politics. Seeing that our formal dining area would become an unused space after building the extension, we decided that this would be the best spot for the new bar, rather than excavating into the ground. This would ensure a great flow from the formal lounge into the bar and then out into the new extension with fireplace (which you will see in the following few weeks).
Hard to believe that this area would soon house a bar, but it’s wonderful to work with such a blank canvas!
As our bar area would have an open doorway from the kitchen, the two rooms needed to “talk” to each other, but we certainly didn’t want the bar to looking like an extension of a kitchen. We used black polyurethane cabinetry in the kitchen and finished it with Caesar stone benchtops, so we needed to repeat these finishes in the bar for cohesion. We also wanted open shelving to display a whiskey collection, a sink and tap for quick rinsing and a cabinet for the storage of wine and glasses. We also designed a bar counter with a cavity at the back, so that bar stools could be stored out of sight when not in use.
We definitely wanted to steer away from the traditional timber bar look with framed rugby jerseys against the wall, as this would not suit the style of our formal lounge room, which is connected to the bar. By using black cabinetry, an immediate sense of drama and old worldliness was created, which was further enhanced by an antique mirror splashback and soft lighting that cast a glow on the whiskey display. We decided to finish the bar counter in black panelling and a timber top, to suit a modern country style and to create an informal atmosphere in the area. Glass pendant lights, which mimicked the shape of a wine glass, were installed above the bar counter. The only thing missing, was a rustic timber slab for the top…
Funnily enough, it was on a search for an ever evasive winery during a recent holiday in Mollymook, South of Sydney, that we came across a timber yard. As luck would have it, they had the most exquisite timber slabs, just perfect for our new bar! It only took a tractor and bent roof racks to get it back to Sydney, but it was well worth the effort!
Next week, I’ll show you the end result…
If you would like to follow the changes we made to other parts of our house, follow these links:
Setting up home is all about learning how you like to live in it. Seeing that we’ve been living in our home for the past 12 years, a few things dawned on us during this time. Firstly, we realised that we’re not ones for formal dining arrangements and secondly, we “needed” (wanted) a home bar. I gently persuaded my husband that an underground cellar would probably not be the way to go, as this would segregate the drinkers from the non-drinkers (who we still need to meet) too much. We decided to ditch the formal dining room, as the new extension would house a large table for dining and social gatherings and we had a small dining table in the new kitchen for family dinners. The former formal dining room would now be opened up with bi-fold doors and connect to the new extension and become our bar. So this is what we did:
Next week, I’ll show you the inspiration behind the bar design and what finishes we selected to make it fit in with the style of the kitchen and formal lounge area.
If you would like to follow our renovation in other parts of our home, follow these links.
If your home bar needs an update or you’re wondering where to install one, give us a call for some instant inspiration 🙂 We could give you a full bar design, selection of finishes, or assist you with a quick update for your bar as well as a cocktail making course (only kidding).
We’ve learnt that clients get frustrated if we answer: “It depends on what finishes you use and the the size of your bathroom.” (Even though it is true!) This is one of the questions we get asked the most!
So today we will give you a better breakdown on how to budget for your bathroom renovation.
We divide it into three categories:
The face-lift ($5,000+)
The standard bathroom replacement ($15,000+)
The luxury bathroom ($25,000+)
1. THE FACE-LIFT ($5,000+)
If you renovate to sell, or you renovate because your bathroom is falling apart but your budget is very low, the face-lift option is for you. This will not be your dream bathroom, but rather a working and less old fashioned bathroom.
To save money, you need to keep the plumbing (positions of taps and toilet included) in the same place. Don’t change the layout of the bathroom at all! Do not buy feature tiles, as they are expensive. Focus on a cheaper tile, but still choose something interesting and on trend. To save costs, do not tile all the way to the ceiling. (We hate to recommend this, but it will save you a lot of money on tiles and labour) Get a quote to resurface your bathroom if possible. Check out Resurfacing Australia’s website for ideas. Shop around on e-bay for vanities, toilets and taps. If you project manage this yourself, you can save a lot of money!
2. STANDARD BATHROOM RENOVATION ($15,000+)
This is the minimum amount we always prepare our clients to budget for a bathroom. If you want to have a bathroom that is on trend, new and will have a WOW factor, you need to budget for more than just a face-lift bathroom. This option is for people who want to enjoy their new bathroom for many years to come.
We don’t do face-lift bathrooms for clients, but we do design and project manage many bathroom installations in the standard bathroom category. Clients must be willing to buy quality taps, a new toilet and a new bath. Old fashioned shower screens are replaced by frame-less screens. Many times we twist the bathroom layout too, so the client is willing to add a few hundred dollars to change the bathroom layout slightly. In a standard bathroom you can still not splurge and buy the top of the range products, but you will be able to create a beautiful new quality modern bathroom that will add value to your home.
3. LUXURY BATHROOM ($25,000+)
It is very important that you do not over capitalise your home. You can not spend $40,000 on a bathroom if your house does not fall in a price category to suit this expense. If you are unsure on how much you should spend, chat to your estate agent or interior designer. If, however, you are lucky enough to build your dream bathroom, you might easily spend between $25,000 to $40,000. The trick is to choose what items you should splurge on. If you save on some items, you can keep the budget affordable. The labour cost does not change much between the standard and luxury bathroom. It is the finishes that break your budget! Good spatial planning, choosing quality finishes and good styling are the keys for the luxury bathroom. If you are planning to spend this amount on a bathroom, it might be good to get an expert’s opinion and design advise. It won’t cost an arm an a leg to pay for an interior designer’s professional help, but at least you know the $30,000 you spend on your bathroom will have a WOW factor and be the envy of your neighbourhood.
THE OBVIOUS SECRET:
Always get more than one quotation. We always get at least two quotations from a bathroom installer, and relevant tradies and tile shops. Planning your bathroom will be the key to saving money. And most important, STICK TO YOUR BUDGET!!!! No, you don’t need the fancy tiles you can’t afford!
Did you know that this is one of the most important rooms in your home?
It is also the most neglected room in most homes and it is a room that all your guests use. Let’s be honest. Your guest is using your tiny powder room for a few minutes. Except for the natural, there are nothing else to do than stare at how your powder room is decorated. Being a small room, be sure everything will be noticed! The tiles, the walls, the basin, the taps, the mirror. So why not make sure you impress them! This is your chance to show cast your style and designer edge. It is a small room, so it won’t cost an arm and leg to renovate and decorate.
WHAT SHOULD YOU FOCUS ON?
Four things, here we go!
1. WALLPAPER AND TILES
Go wild! Choose something that stands out and that you love! Be daring, play with wallpaper patterns and interesting tile layouts. Yes, you get wallpaper that can be used in powder rooms. In a small room a dark wallpaper or tile can work, as it will make it feel cozy. However, I prefer a lighter colour tone for a small powder room. I like to keep it fresh and romantic.
2. TAP WARE
The tap ware in your powder room does not have to match the rest of your home. You can splash and be daring! Make sure it’s eye catching and not just boring taps. Try something new like copper or black. You want to impress your guests, but still be stylish.
A full length mirror will make the room feel even bigger, but rather put it above the basin, as your guests don’t like to look at themselves in the mirror while using the toilet. Instead, why not invest in a loose hanging mirror with an interesting shape (round, diamond, hexagon) and bling frame. If in doubt, read our previous blog about bathroom mirrors.
4. FLOWERS/ PLANTS/ CANDLES
Don’t forget the final touches. This is what makes it romantic! A scented candle, beautiful fresh little flower or even a romantic plant like an orchid. These things don’t cost much, but makes such a difference. Your powder room does not need a lot of storage except for a few toilet rolls, your spare candles or matches. Don’t overpower the small room with a huge vanity.
LAYOUT OPTIONS FOR SMALL POWDER ROOMS
Here are a few layout options for small powder rooms . Get that measuring tape and make sure you create a dazzling, romantic powder room! If you don’t know how, we can help you too!
Click the links below and check out some of the bathrooms we have renovated in our own homes the last few weeks:
I believe an awesome living room should leave people happier than when they first entered the space. It should have an arrangement of furniture that would encourage conversation, reflects your personality and not be cluttered with pieces you no longer love.
In my previous blog about our lounge room renovation, you’ll see what our vision was for this area, as well as where we found inspiration for the decorating style. Our lounge room desperately needed new flooring and an update in accessories. We also wanted to create better flow from the entry and did that by removing the pillars and nib walls. Most of the old furnishings in this room will be used in the new entertainment area extension.
The colour scheme throughout the house was inspired by a painting by Karen Tabak, which we purchased at the Kings Art Show last year. We decided to purchase sofas in a lighter colour, as the room needed a light and fresh palette. There’s a large possibility that these sofas will be covered in plastic sheets before our red wine drinking friends arrive. Some of them (you know who you are), might just be banned from the area entirely… 🙂
No living room is complete without a few decorative items to make it feel homely. I stuck to the colour palette and added a few quirky bits to complete the picture. It was love at first sight when I spotted the slatted accent chair, which works perfectly with the Modern Country/Colonial theme.
The feeling of openness was finally achieved by removing the decorative pillars and low nib walls. The view from the lounge room to the entry is now unobstructed and creates a better flow through this space.
New timber flooring was installed throughout the first level and lends a wonderful warmth to the interior. The pewter side tables were purchased in Berry in the Southern Highlands on a recent holiday and the table lamps we found on another scavenger hunt in a small town a number of years ago.
If you’re struggling to find your style direction or need help putting a room together, book a consultation today! If you’d like to see how we renovated the other rooms in our home, follow the links below:
Our front door opens up into an entry area and the first room to the left, is our formal lounge room. Previously, this room connected to the formal dining area, where we usually hung out during winter when entertaining.
The room started looking a bit dark and dreary with dark leather sofas, dated carpet and accessories that looked a bit tired. The pillars, which we disliked from the moment we moved in, didn’t add to the ambiance. Pillars do have their place in society and fit homes from Georgian to Federal to Greek Revival to Italianate to Romanesque to Classical Revival. They can provide privacy or create an ambiance of openness. In our house, they looked old fashioned and only created obstruction between the entry and formal living room, so they had to go.
The other pillars, between the new bar area (old formal dining area) and formal lounge area, housed supporting beams, so we decided to encase the beams in 1m nib walls on either side of the room. This plan was ideal, as cabinetry for the bar butted up against this new wall, but it also created a definite divide between the bar and formal lounge area.
The pillars and low nib walls were removed and we couldn’t believe what a difference that made to the space. Luckily, our builders knew what they were doing and the ceiling didn’t come tumbling down! Always check with your builder or structural engineer before removing any pillars or supporting walls in your home.
We removed all skirting boards and architraves in the downstairs area and replaced it with a higher profile to suit the new style. The old carpet was removed and solid timber yarrah floorboards installed.
My biggest source of inspiration for this area was a painting we purchased at the Kings Art Show last year. The artist is an ex-South African, Karen Tabac, who’s abstract landscapes focus on nature without human interference (which you’ll see in next week’s room reveal). It fitted the new style of our home, which has Colonial and Modern Country influences, but also provided a fresh aqua and bottle green colour palette to take throughout the house.
If you would like see some of the other changes we’ve made to our home, follow these links below: