Friday, December 11, 2009

Celebrity house: where Obama holidays

This is where the American president holidayed with the kids in Martha's Vineyard (where one of my favourite bad FM radio singers, Carly Simon, also has a home). It's all-so-Hamptons and ra ra, isn't it darling?
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Pictures: ArchitecturalDigest

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Q&A: Squeezing a home office into a small space

Q. I’ve got to get me one of them home offices, but without a spare room it seems impossible.
A. Oh ye of little space, err, faith. A home office should serve domestic technology needs rather than take over precious space. If you only need a computer for emails, internet access and a bit of facebook fun then conjure a workspot from the nook behind a sofa, the corner of a bedroom or a gap in a kitchen bench. All you’ll need is enough space for a 60cm-80cm wide office desk that will store a computer and printer. Officeworks sell a nifty Optima glass desk which is 70cm wide for a measly $59.And have you seen that $99 IKEA PS laptop workstation? It’s a wall cabinet that is only 20cm deep, 70cm wide and 60cm high – even if you lived in a studio apartment you could find some wall space for that little number. Of course, if you plan on running an entire business from home, it’s worth finding a room where you can close the door.  Who wants to make work calls while being distracted by Oprah?
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Pictures: UlrikaEkblom via DesireToInspire

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rug inspiration with Greg Natale

He's known for clashing and vibrant patterns and creating rooms that zing. Now he's doing rugs. Greg Natale has a new series available atDesigner Rugs. Noice, huh?
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Pictures: via DesiretoInspire

Home hint: embrace a room for what it is

While renovators love to think that anything shiny and new MUST be better than old and worn-out, it isn't really true. Old and dated interiors can be cherished as 'vintage' or 'eclectic' or just plain 'unique'. Cos who says we all have to be the same? Repairing and maintaining what's already in a room saves money, but also reduces the embodied energy needed to create something new. Try it.
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Pictures: ModCulture

Friday, December 4, 2009

RENOVATION INSPIRATION: Natural pools, no chlorine needed

These natural swimming pools make me want to dive right in. The Bionova system creates two swimming pools -- one is the natural eco-system that filters the water while the other is the swimming area. These pools are like "swimming in sweet water, not poison water," according to Australian founder Peter Watson. The swimming water is "alive" with healthy microbes that are kept in balance with a patented hydraulic system and a mix of plants and water critters that keep the balance in the water. No chlorine. No bromine. No ozone. And no green hair. These pools don't come cheap, but they look rather enticing. There's also the added benefit of saving loads of money in ongoing maintenance and chemical costs. Love 'em! For more detail on them, read my Sydney Morning Herald piece in Essential next week!
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Pictures: Bionova

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bookshelf inspiration: delving into shelving and storage

1 Einfach modular shelving, found on Hometone
2.Very Parisian, found on Sub-Studio  
3.The Wheel of Knowledge bookshelf designed by Zhdanova Irina
 4.The fabric and wood shelf designed in Portugal, found on DesignBoom
5. An acoustic room divider and bookshelf by Permafrost, found on DesignBlog
6. Eric Guimor designed these Yin Yang shelves, found on DesignBlog 

IKEA's Australian best-seller is the Billy bookshelf (from $89), but for my money, no-one should be able to go past the Expedit at just $139-$219 - it's the best for home offices, dividing up space for files, mags, books and even drawers. But how fancy are the shelves pictures above? Which would you prefer: designed and lovely, or basic and IKEA?

Top, IKEA Expedit via ApartmentTherapy, Bottom, Billy with glass doors ($759) via Corneliar's Flickr

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Celebrity house: Mae West gave good boudoir

She was bold, buxom and brash, but Mae West knew how to deliver a girly boudoir - even in black and white. Her one-liners were the best:
"A hard man is good to find."
"Cultivate your curves - they may be dangerous but they won't be avoided."
"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before. "
"I used to be Snow White but I drifted."
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eco renovation: do you know about earth ship houses?

I rather like the idea of these earth ships, having read the story of the man who "invented" them. Could you live in something like this?
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Home hint: insulation cools and warms the home all at once

Insulation is like a shade umbrella for your house in summer. It will instantly slash home heating bills by up to a quarter and your cooling bills by up to one-third if you install insulation in the ceiling. It won’t make your house look any different but it will be up to seven degrees warmer in winter and five degrees cooler in summer than a similar home without ceiling insulation.

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Pictures: UrbanBalcony

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Are water features on their way out?

Urban Balcony is a lovely little shop for those who love their teensy tiny gardens. Owner Joanna Rogers was telling me that water features are no longer selling like they used to - "I think the maintenance and the hassle of them meant people no longer consider them a must-have" - but gorgeous outdoor art is becoming popular. And why not? Small pieces start at around $55 with larger laser cut steel art heading up to the $1000 mark. They'd look rather lovely all lit up at night, don't you think?
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Pictures: UrbanBalcony

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Christmas is coming

IKEA just emailed me about Christmas. Cripes. It's around the corner. And this year the furniture giant is selling stuffed toys to raise money for Unicef. This oh-so-Swedish goat decoration thingy is $17.99 and is part of the new range for Christmas. It beats a kitschy Santa that dances to a bad Christmas carol.
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Am developing a Lisa Mitchell obsession

I am known for ruining music by playing the saaaaame thing over and over again. Lisa Mitchell is my new favourite. It reminds me of the angst I used to have as a young 'un. Oh, and the chooooons are catchy and make me smile.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Q&A: How to lay timber floors over concrete

Q. Boo hoo. What can you do if you want timber but have concrete floors?
A. A good floor installer can lay a new hardwood floor straight over the top of a level, dry slab. You’ll have to purchase the timber boards, allow them to acclimatise in your home for a week or more before installing it, sanding it and then finishing it with sealant. And it could cost well over $100 a square metre to buy the very best hardwood flooring timbers, which are more likely to remain stable regardless of the moisture and changing temperatures. The cheapest floors are usually a plantation timber like cypress pine, which is a softwood but naturally termite-resistant. Ecospecifier found David Baggs insists Australians should buy Australian-grown hardwoods, as our forestry standards are better regulated than hardwoods brought in fromSouth East Asia or South America.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wallpaper magazine: a design moment

I'm having a Starck love moment now that the designer has come over all eco and is eschewing his "useless" designs and concentrating on things like windmills to harness windpower. How unreal is that? I'd like to get my mitts on the new Wallpaper* magazine guest-edited by Starck and Karl Lagerfeld. There's a 24-hour music stream created by Stark, as well as an ambitious cover, which is supposed to be a visual incarnation of the questions on evolution. The Stark cover has three sheets of tracing paper, over a blank silver cover: the first sheet has an amoeba (drawn by Tobatron), representing life 4 billion years ago, the second a monkey (drawn by HelloVon) which represents today. The third sheet has a diffused question mark (by GBH, who helped facillitate the design of the whole cover with Starck and Wallpaper*) representing the unknown about life 4 billion years from now.

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Pictures: Wallpaper

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lily Allen makes a catchy song

This song kind of reminds me of motherhood ... don't know why.
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Home hint: leave your shoes at the door

Much of the dirty dirt in our house is brought in on the soles of our shoes. Which is why many Asian cultures never wear shoes in the house. Placing a good stiff door mat at the front entrance, along with another rubber-based mat to pick up dirt as you walk in is a great way to trap dirt before it gets inside and leaves your home polluted. Leaving your street shoes at the door is even better.

Pictures: Doormat $49.95 from LatestBuy

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Property tip: renovation doesn't always pay

Renovating a property can be a path to more mortgage misery, particularly if you have to pay interest on the cost of fixing, extending or improving a property that has not had significant capital appreciation. Renovations rarely create immediate capital returns on a property, unless it is in a premium, in-demand location where buyers are prepared to pay more NOT to renovate themselves. A good rule of thumb is not to spend more than 10 per cent of a property’s value on renovations.
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Pictures: Lombok via Decorolog

Friday, October 2, 2009

PROPERTY TIP: Suburb gentrification takes time

Buying in a rundown suburb sounds like a great idea – think how much money you’ll make once the area gentrifies, right? Look at Paddington - from slum to chi chi in a relatively short time. And St Kilda in Melbourne was once the frowned-upon locale of junkies and prostitutes but now all the well-heeled types want their slice of "inner city grunge", and will pay a nice price for the privilege. But it's not as simple as that. Gentrification can take 20 years or more to occur, so can you put up with the crime, less-than-salubrious surrounds and commute to wait for the price gains? The gentrification process can take two or three boom-to-bust property cycles before it takes hold and starts generating capital price growth.

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Pictures: JohannaEkmark

Q&A: Solving noisy fluoro lights

Q. My kitchen has a loud, whirring fluoro light that I want to throw plates at. What can I do?
A. Firstly, you can buy the nice fluoro tubes that cast a warmer, more pleasant light. They aren’t cheap, but they will make you look prettier if you have to sit under it. Buy fluoros and energy-efficient tubes at a specialist lighting shop, rather than the supermarket or hardware store, to see the full array of nicer options out there. The noise from a fluoro is usually due to a faulty or old ballast, and you can buy replacements to quieten things down. If you still hate the fluoro, then embrace your inner craftiness and cover the light fitting with coloured cellophane to change the cast of light. Most fluoros cast a blue or green light, but placing an orange or yellow cellophane over the top will warm it up and make the light more bearable. 

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Pictures: Remodelista 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Warning: never go on holidays and leave the gate open

... when the neighbourhood kids are graffiti artists.
This house is for sale at the bargain price of $379,000 and is on 278 square metres of land, albeit extremely close to the railway line. If you're handy with graffiti remover, you could scrub up the outdoor spa, clean the fishponds and bridges and make it habitable again.

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Pictures: Domain

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

ICK OR SLICK: what about the 10 green bottle lamp?

Most days I curse the lack of Pottery Barn in Australia ... but today I'm kinda feeling OK that we don't have access to all that the American homewares outlet delivers. What do you think of this $US399 wine bottle chandelier? Hmm ...
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Pictures: PotteryBarn

Celebrity house: Billy Joel likes to sell his beach houses

I like humming along to bad FM radio tunes, and no-one seems to appear more than Billy Joel. I really thought his tunes lost their touch once he married Christie Brinkley and sang that cheesepuff song Uptown Girl. Just my opinion, though. I rather like the man's taste in fine properties. The singer is now divorcing his third wife (at least someone is worse than me in the marriage stakes) and is flogging off his fancy beach houses. I'd rather like to buy one ...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quote of the week

"After you leave home, you may find yoruself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up," Lemony Snicket.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Celebrity house: Lenny Kravitz and his New York pad

But I can't help myself. Just like in Jane Austen novels, I find myself falling in love with a man when I see his home, and not before. I am deeply shallow.
I am also a child of the 1990s, who rocked along to Lenny Kravitz and idolised his then-wife Lisa Bonet (how cool was she?). SO how can I not still love Lenny? And he's a mad renovator, so I have to love him even more?
The poor dude has been trying to sell his SOHO duplex for a while now, originally listing it with $US19,500,000 expectations. It has since undergone a transformation AND been reduced to $US14,995,000. What do you think of his before and afters?

 This is Lenny's penthouse BEFOREhe renovated

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Celebrity house: Heather Mills sells up in London

Heather Mills, the ex-wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, is selling her London apartment with hopes of achieving 3.75 million pounds. The amputee who famously divorced the musician in a bitter court battle last year has redecorated the apartment and is selling it fully furnished, yet is hoping to pocket 1.4 million pounds in profit while the rest of London’s property market still suffers price declines. Still, some people get lucky!

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