How to Prepare your Home Before a Renovation Begins

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Due to sudden illness, I ended up in hospital during my first bathroom renovation at our current home.  Needless to say, I was miserably unprepared and, after two weeks, returned home to find the bathroom completely gutted, with not a single item (not even a toilet) selected or purchased for the new bathroom.  I’ve learnt a few things during this process and will be ready for the major renovation taking place at my home in a few months’ time.  Here are a few tips to help you prepare your home for a smoother transition.

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In my home, I have stuff for in case I go skiing, stuff for in case I receive lots of flowers, stuff for in case VHS players come back into fashion, stuff for in case I have grandkids one day, stuff for in case I want to make fresh pasta (ha ha ha)  and stuff for in case I need to use my home as a wedding venue.  You get the idea, if you haven’t used it in a year, chances are you never will!  Get rid of that ridiculous egg poacher and device for pipping olives and move on!  Hire a storage facility for all your larger items, or move it into the garage if it’s big enough.


Think about what you do every day, especially when you’re running a household with school aged kids.  You will need a place to prepare snacks and school lunches, cook lunch/dinner, a place to put kids in a naughty corner, clean dishes and don’t forget about the endless piles of washing.  Set up an area, whether it’s in the garage, undercover entertainment area or lounge room, where you can go about your daily routines without too much interference.  Pack plastic containers on wheels with all the bare essentials you will need for each activity.   If you are doing a kitchen reno, learn to love your BBQ and you might also want to consider freezing a few meals to save on the take-aways.

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Do you really want extra sports uniforms to wash and coming home after dark and then start cooking dinner?  It might only take 3-6 weeks to complete your kitchen or floors, so missing a few after hour activities will not be the end of the world.


Make use of whatever technology has to offer.  Shop for groceries online, or get that little party dress you’ve had your eye on delivered at your door for the big housewarming party!


A worksite is filled with discarded nails, sharp tools and heavy equipment.  Make sure that your kids understand that it’s not suitable to be playing cowboys and crooks on a work site – a game of doctor and nurse will be more appropriate (of course, if they are over 13 and the neighbour’s kids are around, you might want to reconsider this particular game).


Let all your friends and neighbours know about your renovation plans.  You’ll find they will be very happy to help out if you get stuck picking up the kids, or might even kindly drop a meal at your door.


It’s hard to keep your belongings under wraps during a renovation.  Make sure all your valuables are locked away and alarm systems in place if your home is left unsecure, especially if you’re replacing a roof, doors or windows.


Find out what time your builders will start in the morning.  They might not appreciate the saucy minx coming downstairs in her best flannelette pj’s and cotton weave robe or even accidentally catching you in the shower.  Make sure you have a designated private area where builders will not be allowed to enter (unless they are extremely handsome and you’re not married).


Pets are very susceptible to loud noises and changes in their environment.  Doors will most probably be left open and gates unlocked during the renovation, so best to have doggy go for a play date or safely stay in a kennel.


Living on a building site will push everyone’s patience to the limits.  Make sure that you’ve left some room in the budget to take a break in a cabin somewhere far far away in the woods.

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All problems solved – how about that!  Now that the theoretical part is done, let’s put it to practice.  To find out if you should stay or go during a renovation, visit our renovating tips tab.

Cheerio ’til next time!


Ten things you didn’t know about me – Lyndie

Eriana and I decided to take turns and share a few personal things about our human selves (not internet/email/FB/Instagram and the like) that only our closest friends and family know.  So here goes…

1.  At school, I considered myself as one of the “cool” kids, because my fringe was peroxided, I wore a huge army jacket, mismatched boots at times (not by accident), a feather earring in one ear and “snow washed” jeans I made myself, with bleach.  How little did I know back then…

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2.  I earned my nickname Bles, (“baldy” in English) at school, because of the copious amounts of hair on my head.  My friends, family and even teachers called me by this name.

3.  If I paid more attention in class while studying, I would have been an excellent office administrator today.  Phew, so glad another vocation found me!

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4.  I’ve slept on a bale of hay in Israel, in a treehouse in Oludinez, in the desert in Egypt, on a roof in Kusadasi, in a cave in Cappadocia; and in jail in Stratford upon Avon – but only for one night (long story, and not nearly as sinister as you might think).  Basically, what I’m trying to say is, I like my sleep and can do it anywhere.

5.  While travelling, my swimmers resembled something my Grandmother would be more comfortable in.  Wish I had them today.

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6.  As a young backpacker living in London, I shared a 3 and a half bedroom house with 21 people – it had only one bathroom.  Today, I share a bathroom with one person and it’s already too many (bathroom is very small, I might add…)

7.  I stole my brother’s best friend and married him.  Water under the bridge… We are talking again.

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8.  I’ve fallen off a moped, a horse, a camel and been chased by an ostrich while riding a motorbike.  I was dead sober on all occasions.

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9.  Before I had kids, I fearlessly bungee jumped off Victoria Falls, white water rafted down the Zambezi and hitch hiked through Zimbabwe.  Today, heights petrify me and I can’t ski because I’m scared of going too fast.  That’s also my excuse for not taking up running as a sport.

10. Even though I’ve seen a bit of the world and had wonderful experiences, I consider my most precious moments, the ones I spend with my family and close friends.

Cheerio ’til next time!


Minion Yellow – Now an official Pantone Colour!

I was a little bit surprised, but love this name for a colour! Pantone has developed and named a colour after a movie character! Say welcome to Minion Yellow, from the movie ” Despicable Me”.

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Let me first clarify: “What is this Pantone-thing we talk of some times?”

It is an International standardised system for matching colours, mostly used in specifying printing inks. This way you can specify a specific colour for a project and everyone world-wide will know what code to use to generate the exact same colour. Recently we wrote a blog about this year’s Pantone colour of the year: Masala. (A colour we don’t particularly like…)

However, I am sure there will now be many new children’s rooms with Minion Yellow as an accent colour. The wall in this room is just amazing:

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So if you want to make sure you have the same exciting yellow throughout your home, give Minion Yellow a go!

Happy painting & decorating,

eriana bredenhann


Renovation Dilemma: Do I move out or stay put?

I have gone through three full-on home renovations over the last 10 years. All 3 times I stayed in my house while chaos unfolded around me. Was it a wise decision? Okay, I must admit, we could hardly afford the renovations and therefore, we could not move out to stay somewhere else. I always thought that I would rather spend that extra money on better finishes than renting another space for a few months! Was it really worth it though?

Stay put or move out? Are you ready for the mess?

There are so many factors that will influence your decision, but today I will give you a few tips to help you decide. Before you make any decision, remember, like the most things in life, MONEY is always the biggest issue. If you have plenty, move out! If you have an extremely tight budget, stay put. As easy as pie! There you have it, you don’t even have to read the rest of the post! For those of you that fall in the middle…. read on! I am not going to bore you with lengthy discussions of pro’s and cons. Here is my list of issues. Short & sweet!

Renovation tips should I move out

Remember to think about the time of year you do your renovation. It is much easier to stay put during the summer, as your kids can run outside and you all have more freedom to roam around. During the winter it is not fun to be squashed into a small room with your family.

If you can not afford to move into a hotel or rental home for a few weeks, it is a good idea to at least budget for one week away from the construction site. Just to be surrounded by clean bedding and a dust free sofa. Plan this week to overlap with your kitchen renovation or when you replace your flooring.

Good luck!

eriana bredenhann


8 Ways to display your art – no tools required!

Our first ever rental property had generous, thick double brick walls and double sided tape stuck to it like chewing gum to a park bench.  To remove it again, was just a question of pulling the picture off the wall and removing the sticky bits with warm soapy water.  Little did we know, when moving into our next rental property, that plasterboard and double sided tape were best avoided!  My first attempt at removing my pictures, left me with half the wall still stuck to my picture!  Needless to say, we didn’t succeed in getting our entire bond back…

So, to save you some money when renting, I’ve put together a few ideas on how to display your arty bits without damaging the walls.

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Large pieces of art layered on the floor create a stunning visual effect.  Even ceramic floor tiles can be pulled into the mix for extra texture!

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Washi tape is available in a range of colours and patterns and can  create a playfully artistic effect against a wall.  Use it around your pictures as a pretty border – the sky is the limit, as  it’s very easy to remove!

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Display colourful art pieces on a mantel piece or bookshelf with a few ornaments for visual impact.

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The humble peg board will offer you a bounty of options to play with!  Use it in the study as a visual display for daily inspiration, or as a way to brighten up your entry way.

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A few black and white prints on hangers will be the talking point for guests.  All you need is a few removable wall hooks, wire hangers and bulldog clips, how easy!

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A low shelf with a display of colourful art prints will brighten up your grumpy teenager’s bedroom.

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To get some cheer into an all white kitchen, try utilising the splashback as your art gallery.  A bowl of colourful fruit and some potted colour will complete the homely atmosphere.

Now you don’t have any excuse for a drab looking rental property!

Cheerio ’til next time!


We visit Azul Home in Castle Hill

We decided that, every month, we would like to share some of our discoveries with you, whether it’s a tucked away home ware store, or a cosy coffee shop we happened to find by chance.  This week, I found Azul home and can’t wait to share it with you.

It’s funny how we always tend to hit the shopping centres when trying to find that something special for a corner in our homes to make it more interesting or welcoming.  Sometimes we forget about the smaller retailers, because we find them difficult to park at or think that they are out of the way.

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I’ve driven past Azul Home many times and always promised myself to pop in to see what they have to offer.   Parking was easy, it’s just outside the Piazza at Castle Towers in Old Northern Rd, Castle Hill. If you park at the shopping centre’s cinema parking, you will be close enough.


I walk in and discover a shop smelling of sandalwood and vanilla and décor placed in a way to entice passers-by to enter and delight in its interior.  Each item is thoughtfully displayed to create a warm atmosphere, colours combined to create a lovely unity.

B & W Tree Prints

Angela, who is a local mum from the Kenthurst area, has been here for the past 18 months and won best new small business award last year.  I can understand why!


This is the perfect place to hunt for a special birthday gift for a loved one, or just to browse around in endlessly.  Luckily the shop is open 7 days a week, so pop in any time during office hours.

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Light fitting

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Angela can’t wait for you to come browse, so visit Azul home at 270a Old Northern Road, Castle Hill when you have a chance.   Phone them at 02-96592400 or email at  Make sure to have a look at their Facebook page for updates on the arrival of new stock.

Phew, shopping is hard work – might just go for a quick coffee while I’m here 🙂

Cheerio ’til next time!



How to use inexpensive plywood as a decor item

With a very limited budget, common plywood can become a designer item within minutes! Grab your nail gun and saw and you will transform your room like a pro. Today you will be surprised and inspired! We also have a lot of tips for tenants too.

Yes, it’s actually a waste product, but very trendy at the moment. It is super strong, but easy to work with. Plywood is made by glueing many thin layers of wood together. You get different grades and the price may differ. The more layers, the sturdier.


This is the normal the size of a plywood board, but you can cut it smaller of course. Just lean it against the wall for a perfect background to display images of your children’s art work. You can even paint it a funky colour. Great for tenants! If you may, you can hang it fixed on the wall too.

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Cut it in any shape you want, and use it as a headboard. Cover with fabric or just a lick of paint. It will take you less than half an hour. That’s if you have the right saw! (more…)

Pantone Marsala: The misrepresentation of red wine

I love wine. In a glass. Not on my couch or on my floor.

Every year Pantone announces a new “colour of the year ” and this year it was Marsala. Suddenly, you will see the colour everywhere. I was super excited when someone told me the new Marsala colour represents red wine.  To be honest, to me it is just the plain old maroon. This is what it looks like:



It is supposed to be appealing to both men and women, flattering against most skin tones and both dramatic and sophisticated at the same time.

So I browsed around on the internet to find some images of homes where this colour has been used successfully. To be honest, I found that this colour could work well as a focal point. Unfortunately only as a focal point… So if you have contemporary taste and just “have to use” the latest Pantone colour, invest in a piece that you can replace again. I will not recommend spending your money on big ticketed items with a Marsala tone! Except if it is a box of red wine you need to store in your pantry.

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HOME DESIGN Magazine features a profile of Vanilla Slate Designs!

Who would have thought that two friends, with their heads filled with a 1000 ideas, can see their dreams come true! Yes, even though it’s 9am, we are drinking champagne and enjoying our 5 minutes of fame. Truth is, that’s what it is. In today’s busy digital life where everyone is reaching and stretching to be seen… you have to enjoy the few seconds that you get in the sun.  So here it is: A profile on us in this month’s HOME DESIGN magazine! Now available in your local News Agency.


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Thank you HOME DESIGN Magazine for making us look as if we know what we are doing!

Most of the images in the Magazine Article were taken by the lovely Yvette from Martinette Photography. Thanks Yvette!

Eriana & Lyndie

6 Decor Secrets to Create a Cosy Home

No home should look exactly like a magazine. They are styled for photo shoots and most of the time not at all cozy and inviting for your friends to grab a glass of wine or kick off their shoes.  Today, I will show you a few ways to cosy up your home with just a little bit of effort and with the furniture and décor items you already possess.


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If you are lucky enough to be living in a home with character such as French windows, high ceilings or beautiful architraves, your job is half way done!  These details add instant charm to any home, as long as you don’t make the mistake of covering it up with heavy curtains or blinds.  It’s best to use sheer curtains or go without entirely, unless you have a peeping Tom problem in the neighbourhood.