Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bathroom renovation idea



Don't mind if I do ... designed by Chin Chia Lim. Could be a great water-saving idea for those surviving on tank water and needing to bath dirty children at the end of the day. Simply top up with a bit of hot water for a nice, waterwise bath recycled from the basin water. (OK, that could be yick if daddy has shaved in the basin or granny has brushed her false teeth.)



Pictures via YankoDesign

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why Brad Pitt is a great renovator




Oh yes. Brad Pitt also gives great decore. This is his house in the Hollywood Hills. Why Brad doesn't want me living with him, I just don't know? 




Pictures by Ricky Ridicos via Graft Architects.

Domino magazine closes


RIP
Tell me it isn't so! Shelterrific (which is one of the most terrific shelter blogs around) has reported that Domino magazine has folded. WHAT!!! The Huffington Post has more about the closure and proceeded to depress me even further by speculating that Details - my next favourite magazine in the whole wide world - could also close. It's not fair. Don't they know some people NEED those magazines? It's a tough old world out there. And magazines have always been a tough ball game (says a former magazine staffer who was retrenched three times before the age of 30). I hope this isn't an indication ofwhat might happen to great Aussie homes mags, which rely on a much lower advertising and circulation base? Sigh. 

RIP

From the Domino armoire gallery. Sniff sniff.


A stripey Hollywood guesthouse. Green doesn't seem so restful anymore.

Pictures: All via Domino

Quote of the week

"Plans are nothing; planning is everything," Dwight Eisenhower 

Pictures: 
CoteMaison

Meet Martyr: the energy fundamentalist

If anything's worth getting all hot under the collar and religious-like, it's saving energy. Oh it makes me sound about as dull as a housewife on the Jenny Craig program, but SAVING ENERGY WILL SAVE THE WORLD. Ahem. That's why I love this cute little lamp designed by The Play Coalition (and proudly brought to my attention by Far Out Brussel Sprout). The quirky little Martyr not only provides us with light, but his awkward unplugging stance reminds us that we should turn him off, too. Anything that makes saving energy sound more exciting than low-fat powdered scrambled egg is a good thing.

Pictures : By Dane WHitehurst, 
ThePlayCoalition via FarOutBrusselSprout

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Go go kitchen on the go

It's mini. It's mobile. And once it's connected to power, a garden hose and a drain, it can be used just like a regular fixed kitchen. It includes a double cooking plate, a fridge, microwave, hotwater and a sink. Perfect to use if you fancy an outdoor kitchen. They cost $5,285, plus delivery. Even better, you can hire them for $620 for 10 days if you want a temporary kitchen during renovations from Mobile Furniture in Sydney.
Pictures: MobileFurniture

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A modern medieval kitchen


If you're ever in western NSW, visit the oh-so-kooky Gulgong Pioneer Museum, where you can see hilariously kitsch displays of "pioneer kitchens", complete with intricately cut-out shelf liners made of newspaper. I must say I rather admired the old kitchens for their less is more approach, relying on freestanding furniture for storage. All they contained were a few table and chairs, a dresser for plates and cutlery, a kitchen table that doubled as a work bench and maybe a pot stand or two. So simple. No need to work out how to fit in a dishwasher or fridge, because there weren't any! When I hit upon the fancy pants Baulthaup kitchen website, my kitchen ogling inched up a notch or two. And then I realised how similar they were to the old pioneer kitchens - simple storage and a separate work space. Apparently, the wall cupboard is inspired by Europe's old medieval kitchens, which kept storage against one wall. I think they are decidedly covetable. Not only that, but creating kitchens from sustainable and re-usable materials such as timber (which can be stripped, sanded and re-done as your styles and tastes change) is the perfect way to make sure your kitchen lasts longer than any of your design fads. But you can't get these Baulthaup kitchens in Oz just yet. Wonder what the Aussie pioneers would say about 'em?

Pictures: Bulthaup

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Best holiday homes for renovation junkies

Oh please Lord, the school holidays are finished so surely it's time for Mummy to have a lovely little escape somewhere with a cellulite-reducing spa or enough access to UV rays to add 10 years to my age? My own mother is going on a cruise to Tasmania and I feel oddly JEALOUS of her eight nights with all meals prepared and a lovely view out her window. Then I was told about this website calledUltimate Hides. At first I thought the site must be about furs and skins but it's actually a directory to all designer places that are wonderful to stay in. I WANT WANT WANT a holiday in one of these swanky abodes .... ah well, maybe after the NEXT school holidays.


Pictures: UltimateHides

Stair flair: will these catch on?

Lighting stairs is one of those tricky things - you need to be mindful of safety but don't want to create a ghastly hospital-like lighting regime. Enter these LED stair lights available online from America for $US135. They can be retro-fitted to a carpeted or hardwood staircase and have battery back-up. Perhaps they're a decidedly good idea for home with elderly or sight-impaired people ... but are they right for the modern home?
Pictures: FirstStreet

Monday, January 26, 2009

Collette Dinnigan's new Paddington house




Ain't it cute? Today's Sun Herald reported the fashion designer just bought this sandstone terrace in swanky Paddington ... but I bet she has a makeover in mind. The two-storey house has a swimming pool out the back for daughter Estella. Hmm, wonder if Estella's dad Richard Wilkins will be invited to the house warming party?


Pictures: DiJones Real Estate

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Renovating gold - how to make it pay!



Renovating is no easy task. Renovating AND making a profit is even harder, especially when the property market ain't delivering astounding returns. Here are some hints to ensure grand renovation plans don't dud you into overcapitalising:


 1. Focus the budget


Renovations that recoup their costs are difficult in a property market where house prices are stagnant or falling. That means you must make your renovation dollar work hard. Guard your reno budget closely - a dollar saved is a dollar earned! Work out the exact scope you can spend on a house without eroding any equity if the market fell by, say, 5 per cent. This makes your budget necessarily tight, but extremely focussed on achieving a value-add. 


2. Add value


Unfortunately the fancy fripperies of renovating fly out the daggy aluminium window when residential property markets are in a lull. The best way to spend without frittering away the equity in your house is to invest in: more floorspace, better layout or landscaping,extra off-street carparking PS: This is all theoretical. Only solid research into your local area' s property market will reveal whether your renovation plans will return you money in resale price. So plan, plan, plan before you spend, spend, spend! 


3. Attend to profit 


For a renovation to be profitable you must cover purchase and sale costs, interest, loan establishment fees and your own time. It ain't easy to make the figures stack up. But if you are renovating to a bottom line, you have no choice but to think carefully about how much you spend and how much you want to get back. A beautiful home or apartment is all about perception and emotion. And renovating to add value is all about creating perceived value in excess of the actual cost. As property prices shift and change, so too will perceptions of "value" - homes on busy roads or less-than-great streets tend to be discounted harder. A renovator with a slightly sub-par home needs to create even stronger perceptions with their work than someone that already owns a well-located home.
Picture: Marcel Lam via New York Times

Friday, January 23, 2009

Christian Lacroix's Paris pad

Christian Lacroix has his swanky Parisian pad on the market for a cool two million euros. That's around $4million of those Aussie dollars. Read more on my favourite celebrity real estate spot, RealEstalker.


Pictures: RealEstalker

Thursday, January 22, 2009

IKEA's planner to help the president


Would it work in the Oval Office? Poor Obama has barely had those long legs of his beneath the desk and they're already planning for him to make world-changing decisions on melamine and chipboard??? Is this good or bad? Please discuss.

Pictures: EmbraceChange via Shelterrific

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quote of the week


"If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they haveplanned for you? Not much," Jim Rohn 

Pictures: 
TineK
 via StyleFiles

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ikea rug hack - make a staircase look great




Speaking of colour trends, maybe this cute mixy matchy staircase is an example of that Vintage Riviera thing that MPDclick were talking about (see previous post) ... the caption on the photo in this month'sLivingEtc says the owner of this gorgeous retro house made the stair runner from IKEA rugs. What a great IKEA hack!
Pictures: Paul Massey via LivingEtc

Colour trends courtesy of Karen Walker

From across the sea where the air is pure and the sheep are white comes fashion designer Karen Walker's view on colour - and her take is muted, understated and quite lovely. Her colour schemes are eggshell blues and muted greens and inspired by the Bauhaus school of design, who "believed in grouping colours according to emotion instead of technical specifications." The gorgeous range is available through Resene, a none-too-shabby paint company that's doing innovative things not only with colour but paint, too. Check out the lovely little ad brochure here. And then read Shopping Sherpa's piece about the sleek little houses in the pics.


Pictures: Styled by Katie Lockhart, sculptures Gidon Bing, Photos Matthew Williams

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Interior colour predictions for 2009

I ain't one of those kooky obsessives that swoons over new colours like a salivating hyena, however I do appreciate a lovely hue. And these colours are said to be the key season shades for winter 2009/2010, according to MPDclick, a trends agency. Trend forecasting is one of those industries that's exploded faster than the mess on my desk. I quite like the free MPDclick newsletter, which has already told me the mod-skinhead aesthetic is on its way back, black shine fabrics are happening and there's this whole Vintage Riviera thing going on with girly fashion. It'll be interesting to see which trends make it into our homes ...
Pictures: FlickR via MPDclick

Friday, January 16, 2009

Laundry inspiration: scrub a dub cupboard

Laundries are a room often relegated to nothing more than a cupboard. They don't attract the same passion as a kitchen. And aren't as sanctuary-like as a bathroom. Poor laundries. Sigh. I'm washing out for you.

Pictures: Simon Bevan for Easy Living

An inner city vegie patch to make you smile

Darlinghurst in Sydney is not a place where you can be easily shocked. There's something about the cross-dressing street life that makes everything else seem ho-hum. Until you spy sweet corn growing in the street. And a rock melon. Oh, and some rhubarb, all sprouting amidst inner city grime, prostitutes, street kids and all-night partying that goes on in the streets around Garden Life, a divine little store celebrating the outdoors. It's all part of the trend towards growing our own groceries. And Garden Life owner Richard Unsworth shares his top tips on how to do it: Read more


Pictures: Garden Life

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quote of the week


"Reduce your plan to writing. The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire," Napoleon Hill

Related stories


Pictures: StudioIlse

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Light up: an inspirational renovation idea

There's something to be said for choosing the right lighting. It can make you look better than any amount of Botox. And if you don't mind overhead lighting, why not try an idea similar to this one from French artist Arnold Goron? If you had a cavernous open plan space you could try recreating this yourself - all you'd need is a good electrician and a series of pendant fittings. And those pendant fittings are a more energy-efficient alternative than traditional halogen downlights - so easy to use with CFLs (the curly wurly light bulbs). Cute, no?


Pictures: ArnoldGrocon via DesignBoom

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NEWS FLASH: Renovations that add value

In a slowly tanking property market, renovations can be a costly exercise. American magazine Remodelling has just launched its Cost vs Value Report for 2009 to explain which renos add value and recoup their costs. The numbers, unsurprisingly, are sickening, with virtually all renovations costing more than the value they add to the property. So will this mean the end of renovation as we know it? Or are there ways around the gloomy property and renovation news? Read more ...


Loving a low impact home

If only our houses could turn into planet-saving hippies while we enjoy the good life? Oh wait up ... they can! It's positively simple to turn your home into an eco paragon of virtue. Oh I know I sound like a righteous old bore when I start espousing the joy of a low impact home, but it's worth it. Here in Australia, our household energy use relies mainly on coal (unless you live in Tassie), which is a climate change killer (no matter how much denial you're in). But here's some simple demand reduction tips: READ MORE ...

Pictures: blueandbrown

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bloody dinner parties


It's all very well to create killer conversation at your next dinner party, but what do you think of these Amy Lau designed chairs from her Dexter collection? Would your guests be impressed at your next big bash if you sat them down in these? Mind you, they could stimulate a more-than-interesting game of Cluedo.

Related stories:
Easy Dinner Party Ideas
A Guide To Great Entertaining
Pictures from Amy Lau via e-sushi (translation here)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wondrous water-saving sink idea


You've gotta love Aussie ingenuity. This sink insert has been designed to help capture excess water before letting it go down the drain. While the water-conscious amongst us have been using a wash basin in the sink for years, it's been too hard for the elderly or water-challenged to bother with. Enter the Hughie grey water sink, which makes it easy to do the right thing. And at just $25 plus $5 postage, it's a planet-saving bargain. Phew! My vegie patch is crying out for more fluids.

Related stories


Pictures: Hughie

Sunday, January 4, 2009

GOOP: Gwyneth's newsletter and her renovation style





The internet is a strange place, full of spam, Nigerian money scams and actors telling the world: Take-Me-Seriously-I'm-Not-A-Sham. Yes folks, Gwyneth Paltrow has her own lifestyle website. Seriously.
Take a look here and you too can sign up for her weekly newsletter, which is sometimes good ... I don't mind the recipes ... but occasionally ludicrous. "I am interested in spiritual disciplines within different religions and schools of thought. I thought it would be inspiring to periodically ask a question to a group of thinkers from various traditions on the subjects that often confound me," she writes.
One thing I did discover through Goop is that Gwynnie and I not only have a similar propensity to tearful outbursts at inappropriate moments, but share a love ofAnouska Hempel's hotel designs, pictured above. While Gwynnie no doubt loves London's Blakes Hotels for it's reputation of shooing away the pesky paparazzi, I like it for it's quietly tasteful white rooms, which are a den of peace. What you say? Spending $1134 a night in a fancy hotel like Blakes could nourish my inner spirit in a way that Gwyneth's website probably can't.

Pictures: Gwyneth from US House & Garden via Apartment Therapy, White rooms from Blakes Hotels

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