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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Friday, September 25, 2009

RENOVATION FIX: how to clean up after a dust storm


The dust storm that swamped most of Australia's east coast in the last few days is apparently due to return around the weekend. Which means there isn't much point in starting your clean up until AFTER thedust has settled. My cleaning guru Gabrielle Simpson, who runs Clean Queens, says the best way to clean your house of all the fine dust is to:

ONE: Wipe all surfaces with a static duster and then a cotton tea towel, starting with the ceiling and working your way down. The word on the street is that ostrich feather dusters are the bees knees when it comes to dusting - simply dust over surfaces and then take the feathers outside for a good shaking before starting all over again.

TWO: Vacuum with a clean and empty vacuum bag and don't add water to mop and clean surfaces until you are sure most of the dust is gone. "You'll end up doing Aboriginal dot paintings if you add water to that dust, it has so much ochre in it," she says.

THREE: Mop and wipe with water last!
The other handy hint is to get down to the hardware store and buy up the draughtproof tapes and draft excluders to prevent the next dump of dust getting into the house.
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Plant ideas


Given that I've had to put my indoor plant outdoors to revive and survive, I'm in search of something green. How's this?

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Pictures: CoteMaison by Eric D'Herouville

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First home grants make me mad: a rant

I am madder than Mad Jack McMad about public money going into private property profits, and I've blogged about it over onDomain.com.au. Surely it makes more sense to spend on hospitals, schools, public transport and better child care than allow people to bank the profits they get selling their over-inflated homes to young suckers, err, first home buyers? Or am I just becoming too cynical in my old age. Go over to Domain and have your say. It will make me feel better.




Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just for fun: Cute alphabet soup message


You can make your own personal soppy soup message here. Love it! OK, I find the murky looking soup a little off-putting, but I love the idea of making my own sign in alphabet soup.

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Q&A How to fix a leaky roof


Q. My roof has a leak but I have no idea where it’s coming from? So how can I repair it?
A. A specialist roof plumber is the guru to call in to guide you on non-specific leaks. Roof leaks can be caused by all manner of things - the angle of roofing joins, flashing, guttering or roofing material that’s fallen into disrepair or poor installation. What’s more, water can travel on the underside of roof sheets or down roofing rafters before dropping off in one or more places far away from the source of the leak. One handy trick to control where the leaking water falls is to tack a piece of string into the stream of water and let it hang into a bucket. The water will tend to follow the string, rather than dripping all over the ceiling. I know I will sound like a Nana, but it’s best to repair leaking roofs straight away. Water damage is worse than a varicose vein – it goes from bad to ugly really quickly. 

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Picture: Skona hem 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Q&A Installing timber floors in an apartment





Q. I live in an apartment and want timber floors but my neighbours won’t let me.
A. New floating floors allow sound-absorbing layers to be placed beneath the floor structure to cut the noise – however plenty of apartments have noise transmission problems that go beyond the click clack sound of echoing timber floors so may still refuse hard floors.Engineered timber floors have been created especially for apartments and townhouses and are a ply of timber veneers glued together and sealed before being laid, so no messy sanding is required. They are a great installation option for apartment owners – but you’ll still need to check if you need strata permission to install them. Engineered floating floors can cost as much as a brand new hardwood floor at more than $100 a square metre. A cheaper option is to purchase the laminated floating floors which look like timber and can start from around $20 a square metre plus installation.

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Pictures: Joanna Henderson

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Celebrity house: will Russell Crowe buy Le Manoir


There's something rather lovely about Sydney's Bellevue Hill, which is high above the harbour with great views and around ten-minutes' drive to Bondi beach or the city. Russell Crowe and his wife Danielle Spencer have been inspecting this property and no doubt want a garden for their two sons to run around in. Rusty currently lives in The Wharf in a massive 400 sqm+ apartment, but no garden. Le Manoir is on an acre of land, surrounded by a three-metre wall -- perfectly private. But any millionaire buyers hoping to snap up Le Manoir have until next Thursday to register to bid at the November 5 auction. Oddly enough, buyers must also  hand over a $50,000 cheque, a resume to show they are of “good character” and a letter agreeing the house is likely to sell for more than $15 million. Raine  and Horne Double Bay's Michael Pallier says the onerous buying conditions are because the home is owned by the French Government, which doesn’t want to embarrass itself by selling to any shady characters.“No, no I don’t think it has anything to do with Michael McGurk – it’s just a French Government process,” Pallier says, referring to the murdered loan shark and associate of various Sydney property developers.“The money goes into a trust account and the buyers will get their $50,000 back if they don’t buy the house at the auction.” You'd hope so! Would you fork out 50 grand just in the hope of going to an auction? Or would you be more worried about being cast out for being a "shady character" ... I wonder what Russell will do?

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Pictures: JustJared and Domain

Oh, another book launch



You've got to admire a girl who will get down on bended knees to fill borer holes in her own floorboards. But that's Kim Traill for you. Back in 1990, when I went backpacking to Europe, Kim set off for a country renowned for its bad food, dreadful weather and surly service: the Soviet Union. You might remember Kim from Race Around The World, SBS’s Dateline or ABC’s Foreign Correspondentwhere she specialised in great stories about the Soviet Union. These days she spends lots of time in Sydney renovating her terrace house. The woman is a renovation machine, making new floors, digging gardens and putting me to great shame ... all while she writes books and single-handedly looks after her son Nik. Tonight is Kim's night of glory. She launches her book, Red Square Blues : A Beginner's Guide To The Decline And Fall Of The Soviet Union. The Sunday Age said the book is part history, part memoir and all fun ... much like Kim herself. I am off to drink a glass of wine in her honour. Actually, maybe I should be drinking vodka?

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Property tip: supply and demand determines prices


 Most people base property values on recent sales prices, but it's a basic economic tenet that when demand for a product is stronger than supply, competition forces up the price. Selecting a property in a location that has restricted supply -- or little or no opportunity for more houses to be built -- can be a wise long term move. Areas that are built out, or where the council restricts further development or the location naturally restricts supply (such as near the beach or a national park) can create good dynamics for long term price growth. As demand for a locality increases, the only way potential property buyers can secure a home is to bid higher prices to satisfy their demand. But it's equally true that if demand for a location

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shhh: new property search


I love Domain.com.au. And not just because I blog for them. I've been addicted to property portals for as long as I can remember. I grew up circling open for inspections in the newspapers for my mum, who had us moving house every year or two. But now it's getting exciting. There's a BIG launch next week, which is a world-first in the way we can search for property on the web. Sheesh, if they'd had it when I was a kid, I wouldn't have spent so much time in the car looking at properties with my mum ....
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Celebrity house: January Jones buys on behalf of Betty Draper


I know that Betty Draper from Mad Men is a fictional character. However, I FEEL her pain. I, too, was married to man I loved who liked to, ahem, share himself around. Anyhoo, the lovely actress January Jones, who plays Betty Draper, has ventured into the real life world of real estate and has bought herself a home in Los Feliz. It's quite cute, isn't it? So much nicer than Betty's Knotty Pine Kitchen on set ...
Here's January Jones at the Emmys - WHAT! She doesn't look like Betty Draper at all ... 
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Frost* Studio's Trio apartment


Designer Vince Frost and his team from Frost* Design have created the Frost*flat for Trio. Frost was given a budget of $30,000 and eight weeks to complete the project. "We created new home wares products such as typographical cushions, limited edition prints, bed spread, beach towels, plates and table runners etc. these products are available for sale through our Frost* studio," said Vince. All those letters and graphics appeal to the writer in me. What about you?
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Pictures: Trio

RENOVATION INSPIRATION: Glenn Murcutt home hits the market


There's something about Australian architect Glenn Murcutt's homes that have to be seen to be believed. Photos do not do them justice, as the shed-like homes take in the surrounding space and really get me talking like some high-falutin' architecture expert. All I can say is that I WANT THIS HOUSE, which was built in 1998 in NSW's Kangaroo Valley -  a very special place.Kangaroo Valley not only where I conceived my gorgeous first-born son, but it's a geographic wonder that fills with mist and has gorgeous waterways rolling through it. Radio star Jackie O has a farm there, too. This house has been listed with hopes of $1.8 million through Drew Lindsay Real Estate (the same bloke that sold Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban their Southern Highland's home), so if anyone wants to buy it for me ... just let me know! 

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Pictures: Domain

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Property tip: better to murder your mortgage


 
Most homebuyers want to upgrade to a bigger and better home as quickly as possible, but staying put in a house and paying more off the mortgage can be a better way to climb the property ladder quickly. Building equity in the home you currently own not only allows you the flexibility of upgrading, but also releasing some of the equity to invest in other assets like stocks. We are in what's called a de-leveraging environment, which means equity will be more useful than extra debt. For more tips on getting rid of the mortgage, head over to my Domain blog!
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Why I love Apartment Therapy


This is the founder of Apartment Therapy, Maxwell Gillingham Ryan in his New York apartment.
It's the grand-daddy of all homes blogs and was the one that literally inspired my obsession for blogging. These days, I find the volume of posts from AT a little overwhelming, but I suppose they do to. I love:
* the homes are fresh, real and new
* the content is original and usually insightful
* there's an emphasis on green (which really needs a new word to better describe it)
* Maxwell's book Apartment Therapy is a great read - he is clearly an innovator.
But really, I love Apartment Therapy because they wrote about me.Click here to see what they said! TOOT TOOT (that's the sound of me blowing my own trumpet).
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Pictures: NewYorkTimes by RubyWashington

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quote of the week


"A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams."

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Pictures: MagnoliaFloral via HelloLucky

That made me feel better


Opening up my inbox to find my Jonathan Adler newsletter bursting with zingy orangeness actually brightened my day. I loved the words:
Orange looks like happiness
Orange looks magical on a hare krishna
Orange looks like sand feels on your feet
Orange looks like Acapulco in the 60's
Orange looks as crisp and refreshing as it tastes.
OK. 
Am coming down from my orange high now I realise how tragic it is to have one's mood improved by what is essentially spam. Sigh.
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Pictures: JonathanAdler

Monday, September 14, 2009

Celebrity house: Aussie designer Marc Newson's new London pad


Marc Newson is an Aussie designer that oozes cool. He's just bought a new London apartment, eschewing the "cool" districts of Clerkenwell for the redevelopment of the Royal Mail Exchange around Victoria. Newson, whose Lockhead lounge chair features in Madonna's Rain video is from Australia but has been based in London since 1997. “For people like me London is always going to be a great place; it’s very convenient and it has the right climate for running a business,” he says. His new apartment is in a quiet street running parallel to Victoria Street, a stone’s throw from Westminster Cathedral and Vincent Square, one of the largest, greenest squares in London. “I haven’t seen any residential space like this in Britain, let alone in central London,” Newson told The Telegraph newspaper. Wonder where he's going to put all his cool stuff?

Q&A Preventing mould in the bathroom



Q: Eek – my bathroom turns into a mould monster.
A: If it’s not your bad housekeeping skills, then it’s likely your bathroom has waterproofing failure. Once a bathroom turns into a black monster that not even harsh bleach can keep at bay, then it’s likely your old bathroom needs some repairs. In old houses and apartments, it’s common that water gets behind the old tiles and wets the wall, creating a mould-tastic breeding ground that cannot be cleaned. There are new waterproofing solutions that involve cleaning out the old mouldy grout, re-grouting and spraying over a clear waterproof coating, sometimes for less than $500. Some in the bathroom industry are dubious that these solutions can last a long time, but it’s cheaper than stripping out all the tiles to renew a waterproof membrane.

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Just for fun: Cute alphabet soup message


Who woulda thunk it?
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Pictures: Racked via UtterlySublime
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