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
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