Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More bath talk (clean me up, someone)

Oh, now I think this bathroom is ALSO like the men I adore ... white, clean and easy to dive into. This is the new Toulouse bath tub, available in Australia from 1 November through local distribution partners Plumbing Concepts and Designs and GRO Agencies. The AUD RPP is $5,500. You like?
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Black is back in bathrooms

I like my bathrooms like my men. Black, dark and swarthy. Unfortunately my bathroom is white and clinical. Oh, and so is my man. One day ... one day.

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Pictures: About.com

Monday, October 18, 2010

The most expensive home in the world ... or so they say

Houses are a bit like modern art - there's always a bigger, a better and more outrageous thing around the corner. And now India's richest man is proving it. He's built a 173-metre tall mansion in Mumbai for an estimated billion dollars. The house has  three helipads, its own air traffic control, a six-floor car park, a staff of 600, a four-storey hanging garden and a cinema. It's been named Antilia, after a mythical island in the Atlantic Ocean, and has just been completed after seven years of construction. Hmm, not sure it's my thing. Read more here.

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Pictures: Jay Hariani via WikiCommons

Don't know about you

But I find it a bugger when I lose my pants in the kitchen ... especially when frying the bacon. Victoria Beckham doesn't mind, though. This is her in the new Marie Claire.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Would you paint a wooden floor?

It always looks great in magazines, but whenever I walk into a real house with real painted wooden floorboards, it looks a little - how shall I say? - real average. Painted floorboards tend to chip and look hokey. Personally, I think it's like rag-rolling your walls - it will look good for a month, but then will start to look like you've done something as silly as try to paint your own car (or fridge, or iPod, or insert-professionally-finished-item-that-would-look-crap-if-you-painted-it). A painting expert has just had a chat with Elle Decor about the best way to paint wooden floors, and this method does sound like it has merit. I, of course, will never test it out for fear of having a bad floor. Here's what apparently works:
• scarify the surface with 150-grit sandpaper
• wash the floor with a powdered detergent cleaner to remove all dust and deposits
• allow floor to dry completely (this may take a couple of days)
• apply a primer suitable for your paint type
• allow primer to dry overnight
• lightly sand primer with 220-grit sandpaper
• wipe floor clean with mineral spirits, using tack cloth or a rag
• apply the first, thin coat of paint with a natural-bristle brush (which creates a smooth finish, rather than with a roller, which creates a stippled finish)
• allow paint to dry 24 hours
• apply two more thin coasts, allowing 24 hours between each

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Pictures: ElleDecor

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Carolyn Boyd's top 10 renovation mistakes - up, up and away

Carolyn Boyd is a lovely property writer who took over one of my favourite alltime gigs, blogging for Domain.com.au. She wrote a story a few weekends ago about the Top 10 renovating mistakes, and her advice was pretty good. You can read the full story here, but the summary of her tips include:

Ten ways to devalue your property

1. Worry about the Joneses — loss $40,000
A renovation that gives you the best house in the street could leave you out of pocket. The streetscape and
neighbours’ houses influence resale value and sensible renovations should take this into consideration.
2. Ugly little brother — loss $28,000
Don’t add an extension without thinking carefully about the exterior. Renovations should be sympathetic to the original building.
3. Spending too much — loss $25,000
Going over the top on expensive fittings such as imported cooktops, taps, door handles and tiles can burn a hole in your pocket. Purchasers often don’t like the previous owner’s choices and won’t be prepared to pay extra for them.
4. No playground, no barbecue — loss $18,000
The trend is for outdoor living, so try to create a usable outside space.
5. Suburban desert — loss $20,000
Removing trees can cause more damage to a property than if you left them in place. A large, attractive tree can add $10,000 to $15,000 to the value in some areas.
6. Illegal building — loss $30,000
In some suburbs, one-quarter of all houses have an illegal extension. It can cost $30,000 or more to make
it comply with regulations.
7. Faulty structure — loss $25,000
When installing new kitchens and  bathrooms, check that the subfloor structure is sound. Some new kitchens are destroyed in the first four years by subsidence.
8. Do it yourself — loss $18,000
Installing your own wiring and plumbing is illegal and can be dangerous.
9. Expensive rip-offs — $8000
Archicentre warns that underpinning to remedy brick cracking may not be the best option. In many cases, low-cost watering systems and tree pruning do the job and underpinning will cause more cracks in other parts of the house.
10. The house that Jerry built — $12,000
Joining the renovation on to the existing building in an  unsatisfactory way can result in major cracks appearing because of incompatible structural systems.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Laundry now legal

Fancy that. NSW apartment dwellers can now legally dry their washing on their balcony without falling foul of strata by-laws that prohibit drying laundry on their balcony. The new by-laws will allow apartment residents to dry their washing on balconies, provided it is not visible from the street. Most apartment dwellers rely on clothes dryers, which cost around 70 cents to dry each load of washing. Clothes dryers can create more than 800 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

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Pictures: Rice

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tasmanian Style - it's the service that's slow


Am staying in Tasmania where the weather is wild but the service is even, ahem, wilder. Have literally battled 80km/h winds, hail and quick glimmers of sunshine to arrive in the town of Stanley, which is simply gorgeous. We're staying at a half-finished "suite" on the hill overlooking the beach. But I rather like what the owners have done with their reno - old hardwoods in a sleek charcoal bathroom, full curtains, gorgeous lights .... tis noice.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quote of the week

Ajeanmarcpalisse

"An empty house is like a stray dog or a body from which life has departed."
Samuel Butler

Pictures: Jean Marc Palisse for Cote Maison

Monday, September 20, 2010

HOME HINT: stuff plastic bags into tissue boxes

To keep plastic grocery bag clutter under control, stuff your bags into an empty tissue box. At least the clutter turns into box-shaped cubes rather than rustly little explosions that keep cupboards, drawers and bags from closing. 

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Angelina's about to start reading me, for sure

Angelina and Brad have just bought a $40 million mansion in the hills of Valpolicella in northern Italy. It's a renovators delight. And given that it's the couple's third home, joining their LA pad and a $3.5 million New Orleans house, they need to start reading my book and this blog to get the job done. Their European holiday house has its own vineyard, stables, a movie theatre, a gym, two swimming pools, all with 15 bedrooms and seven bathrooms. The couple, who have six children, plan to restore the mansion. She loves having paint in her hair and dust in her eyes, that Angelina.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Knitted light shades: Warm enough to leave the light off

If braving the cold is too much for you, make your home feel so cosy you won’t want to venture out, with the Casamania Granny knitted pendant lamp shade. It looks like that itchy jumper your mum made you wear as a child, but looks sooooo warm and welcoming that you could leave the lights off and simply snuggle in the dark. Hey, it's even made of fire retardant wool. Ummm, isn't all wool a natural fire retardant?



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Pictures: Espacio via DailyCandy

QUOTE OF THE WEEK



‎"I catnap now and then, but I think while I nap, so it's not a waste of time,"- Martha Stewart

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Pictures: CoteMaison 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

IKEA herds cats, I herd children. Same same.

 

Anyone who knows me knows I love IKEA. Like, love IKEA. There's something about an allen key that gets me going. But how cool is this new London ad for IKEA, which made no use of CGI and had a hundred cats let loose in an English IKEA store.  It features a song called Pianni and comes supported with a short making-of film called 'Herding Cats', showing the production team wrangling the animals and meeting their owners. The law of 'cats + internet = success' has again been proven correct, as the behind-the-scenes film has already notched up over 1.7m views on YouTube in the four days since it was uploaded.





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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Q&A: Cheap ways to make bad carpet come good

Q. Our carpet has rainbow-coloured swirls and a black chewing gum stain in the middle of the hallway. We rent so don't want to spend a tonne of money - help!

A. 
Rugs. They are your best friend. There are cheap and cheerful Chinese-made options around that don't have to break the bank. A good steam-clean works wonders on a carpet and most managing agents will ensure carpet is clean (if stained) when tenants move on. If your carpets don't look as though they have been done, put in a request. Patterned carpets tend to make a room look busy and overwhelmed, so a big, bold rug or runner in one block of colour might be the best option. Cheap woven cotton rugs often don't stay in place, so you may need a grip or underlay to keep it down. Some people resort to double-sided tape. That might be what you think is the gum stain. Have you tried rubbing ice over it to harden the gum and brushing it out with a stiff brush? Eucalyptus oil can also work wonders on gummy stains.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

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Q&A: Why is it so hard to grow lettuce

Q. Why can't I grow lettuce? I planted salad greens but most of them died while two plants grew into steroid-pumped tall shrubs with flowers.

A. Lettuce remember there is a reason we don't ALL grow our own food in gardens and try to subsist from grow-your-own greens. Unlike its good friend the tomato, lettuce is much easier to buy at the supermarket than grow in our own garden or courtyard. While it is true lettuce will grow in pots, a humid Sydney summer is rarely kind to leafy green delicates.
Lettuce has a shallow root system so reacts quickly to heat, humidity or water stress. Cool-weather-loving lettuce varieties tend to bolt to seed when planted during a warm Sydney summer. And most lettuce can't stand being blown about in the wind. It's best grown by those who can offer tender loving care and understand the growing conditions needed.
There are some easy varieties to grow, like cos or rocket, which have tougher leaves and can withstand Sydney heat but it's important to select the right plant for your soil, weather conditions and patience.


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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

cotemaisblackbathrooms-prix-salle-de-bains

"There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see."
- Leonardo da Vinci

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

POST OFF What makes a house a home?

There are so many platitudes and cliches about homes, houses and properties:
"It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home"
"A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams."
"A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body."
Is this all a load of codswallop?
I interviewed the Australian Psychological Society about this, as they had studied why we choose to live where we do, and they found that function and convenience had more to do with why we choose our homes.
But with houses and property costing us an ever-increasing portion of our incomes, what features, factors and ideals make a house a home?
Is it budget?
Is it location? Most of us need to be close to work or schools or uni.
Is it being a part of a community or village of other people who understand and like you?
I really don't know the answer, except to say that it is something that you feel inside. 
Demographer Bernard Salt says our property ideals are related to our lifestyles - or the lifestyle we aspire to.
He says more of us want to live in places where we can be surrounded by people "like us" rather than being too worried about whether we have the fourth bedroom or the triple garage.
I suspect that every person has different ideals of home, different lifestyle needs and wildly varying ideas of decent accommodation. Which is why it's always so hard to find the perfect "home".
Since most Australians buy established homes (that's the fancy word for "second-hand"), a property is usually tapered to someone else's ideals rather than your own.
When I bought my current home, I had to remove the carpet that smells like four truckers rubbed their armpits on it and scrub the kitchen clean. Oh, and put in a bathroom that didn't look like a kitty litter tray.
"Home" isn't just something that's three bedrooms or is in a particular suburb - it has to have all those other quirks, tweaks and little things that determine whether a property will suit you and your lifestyle, don'tcha think? What makes your home "home"?

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

RENOVATION COST-SPIRATION: Paint, the cheap option

What's the cheapest renovation? 
Paint, paint and more paint. Painting is the most cost-effective spruce-up a property owner can organise. For $600, you will get more bang for your buck by doing the job yourself - but you need to dedicate plenty of time to the job. A good rule of thumb for a DIY painter is to spend as much time preparing your surfaces (cleaning with sugar soap, filling cracks and sanding smooth) as painting them.
There are so many paint colours on those charts that I feel dazzled - how on earth are you supposed to select the right paint colour without remorse?
Most paint manufacturers now have websites dedicated to helping you. Dulux has a great site and inspirationspaint.com.au also offers good colour advice. The real key to choosing is to buy a test pot (which usually costs less than $10) in your desired shade and paint it on the wall next to other shades you are considering. The light in the room will determine whether the colour works. Light from various directions is quite different so it is worth considering the direction the windows of a room face. Fluorescent lights can cast a bluish-green light while halogens offer a yellow-white cast. The number of coats of paint, and whether you are choosing an easy-to-clean acrylic or dense, colour-rich enamel, will also determine the final outcome of how a colour will look in a room.

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Pictures: Brownstoner

Monday, September 6, 2010

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

cotemaisoninteriorfredericvasseur

"Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves."
- Julia Morgan

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Pictures: Frederic Vasseur for CoteMaison

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cleaning for crawling babies: how to keep floors clean

Q I have a baby that’s just started crawling – his clothes are so dirty at the end of the day that I have realized I need to improve my cleaning, but don’t want to use harsh products.

A. American writer Dierdre Imus, who founded the Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology and wrote Greening Your Cleaning, says the floor is often the most dangerous place in a house for babies and pets. Imus insists that the gasses given off by cleaning products and our furniture, paint or curtains often hover down at floor level, ready for the most vulnerable household members to breathe in. Ick. Carpets should be vacuumed at least once a week – probably more if you have an allergy sufferer in the house – and ideally with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner that won’t recirculate all the dust and dirt.  Hard floors such as timber, tiles or vinyl are easier to keep clean by daily sweeping. One of the best ways to keep floors clean is to make like the Chinese and insist shoes stay off inside the house – that way dirt stays on the bottom of people’s shoes instead of being tracked in to your floors. You can also put small rugs and door mats at the entrance to capture as much dirt as possible.


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Clean your house the easy way
A slacker's guide to cleaning the house
5 home repairs that add value

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Q&A: Painting tips for tired renovators

Q. Painting is the worst job I have ever done. My arms ache, the cat walked through the paint tray and now everything's a mess. How can it be easier?
A. 
Here are some painting tips I've learnt over the years:
 
  • Cut down the number of coats by tinting the primer or undercoat. Make your first priming coat half the colour density of the final shade to get better coverage.

  • Cover odd-shaped bits of the room you want to keep paint- free with plastic wrap.
- Painters seem divided over whether to use masking tape to protect carpets and skirtings. Most pros have such a steady hand they don't need it but DIYers need all the help they can get. You will need good, low-tack masking tape.
-
  • When painting a ceiling, wrap an old towel or cloth around the brush and secure with a rubber band. There'll be no more paint running down the handle.

  • If you don't paint the top and bottom door edges, timber doors can swell in damp weather. Instead of taking them off their hinges, use a scrap of carpet as a paintbrush instead and slip it under the door.
Go to the gym in advance and prep all those arm muscles. Buy Deep Heat. Find someone to massage you the next day. You'll be grateful that you listened.

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Pictures: Photo by Sam McAdams, Inside Out magazine

Monday, August 30, 2010

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"An architect's most useful tools are an eraser at the drafting board and a wrecking bar at the site."
- Frank Lloyd Wright

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Pictures: KAA Design Group

Sunday, August 29, 2010

HINT HINT: Keep your bathroom mirror fog free

My own special way of de-fogging my bathroom mirror after my steamy shower is to blast the mirror with my hairdryer until I can see my face well enough to apply mascara without poking my eye out. But I do believe there are a virtual flotilla of hints out there to ensure a bathroom mirror remains de-fogged even in the steamiest of bathrooms.
Apparently you can spray your man's shaving cream on the mirror, wipe it around until it's disappeared and give the foam new life as a de-fogger. It must work a bit like spitting in your own scuba mask to stop the fog.
A thin (and spare) layer of WD-40 is said to do the same thing! Hey, grease up, baby. An ABC forum says rubbing half a potato on the mirror can also work, but that sounds like a food crime. Have you tried to find a de-fogger that works for you?

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Pictures: Domino

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Could your house be killing you?

Has anyone else become paranoid about mould in their home following the news that actress Brittany Murphy and her husband died from pneumonia possibly caused by the fungus and mould growing in their LA home?

If the walls of your home could talk, they would say: "you have gas", "you have mould" and "you are a dead man walking".

Gasses are going off in our homes, creating indoor air pollution that can be more damaging than the air we breathe outdoors. The World Health Organisation believes indoor air pollution is one of the top 10 risks for the global disease.

There could be radioactive radon leaching out of your granite kitchen benchtops. There may be cancer-causing formaldehyde or benzene oozing out of MDF, particle board and laminate furniture. And let's not forget the paint on those walls - most hard-wearing acrylic paints off-gas VOCs (that's Volatile Organic Compounds) which can irritate asthma sufferers.

Who asked gas to start partying in our homes? Not me. Those gasses, and their good friends particulant, pollutant and chemical, just walked on in uninvited. There we were, minding our own business and hiding out in nice homes, only to discover that it's not smells, stinks or sanitation we need to worry about -- it's the materials we bring in to our homes that pollute!

CSIRO consultant Steve Brown says many homes are now built with minimal ventilation to keep out the outdoor air, which is wrongly perceived as polluted and bad. He says stale indoor air combined with off-gassing materials creates health risks.

"In America, some homes are so closed up that if someone farts, they say everyone in the house suffers for days," he says.

What's that noise? Oh, it must be the sound of my gasping.

I heat my home with an unflued gas heater which not only pollutes my house with carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide and formaldehyde but also creates moisture which turns into mould spores that I breathe in and ...

... pardon me ...

... must. get. fresh. air...

Apparently natural ventilation is one of the best solutions to indoor air pollution. Leaving a window open to air your home - like Grandma did in the good ol' days - is something Ecospecifier founder David Baggs recommends as part of a regular housekeeping routine.

Other ways to beat your home's noxious gas party are:
* clean with plant-based cleaning chemicals rather than synthetic products;
* check the radon count on any granite or natural stone products, even the New York Times has reported increased problems with kitchen counters.
* grow indoor plants, which are nature's air filters;
* avoid buying furnishings, curtains, kitchen cabinets, floor coverings and paint finishes that contain indoor air pollutants.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Hardwoods in the garden: Jamie Durie's top tips

Once upon a time when my children were still tiny, I had the privilege of working in Jamie Durie's landscape studios to help him with a magazine project he was working on. The man wowed me with his outdoor design genius. I seriously underestimated Jamie Durie's awesomeness until meeting him in the flesh and seeing him work.
When I got this press release from Boral about Jamie's tips for adding style to a garden, I went "gotta publish it". So here it is: Jamie Durie's tips with timbers:

Why timber?
Whether it’s about laying decking boards in an unusual pattern or creating an impressive structure for entertaining, timber adds style and character to an outside space. 

Screening 
Enclose or partition sections of the backyard to create separate spaces for different activities, such as an entertaining area for eating with guests and another where the kids can play. Decking timber framed around an entertaining area makes a stunning backdrop, while placed around a pool it is an excellent way to provide privacy.

Fencing
Hardwood timber decking is also ideal for fencing, offering year-round protection against the elements and providing a smart, natural finish for the front and back of the home.

Edging
Decking can be a decorative feature that lends itself to borders and edging. Use timber boards either horizontally or vertically to add texture and colour around plants, trees or herb beds.

Structural applications
A strong and durable material, hardwood timber decking can be used to build structural items for the garden. Pergolas or gazebos are a beautiful feature, helping to provide some shade during the hot summer days. For the kids, timber can be used to construct a cubby house in which to play.


Statement pieces
Create an arresting timber centrepiece as a focal point around which the rest of the backyard design can flow. With a variety of species to choose from, a timber statement piece will bring warmth and texture to the backyard for years to come.


Outdoor room
Timber decking can form a continuation of the indoor living area, carrying the look and feel through to the outdoors for a harmonious, flowing aesthetic.  Matching the timber species to indoor flooring will produce a seamless space and can be further accentuated with potted plants boxed in the same timber.

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Pictures: David Matheson for Jamie Durie's Outdoor Room book

 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Q&A: How to find places to store kids toys

Q. Finding enough room to store my kids' toys is making me want to turn into a little green martian. How do people manage this?

A. All parents learn something called toy tolerance. It's a special skill required of people that may have once wanted their home to look picture-perfect but decided to have children instead. All parents must find innovative storage solutions for toys. The real art of toy storage is not the myriad of solutions at places like Howards Storage World, Freedom, IKEA and even the Go-Lo or Reject Shop - it's more about creating storage your kids will actually use. It's no use buying a beautiful toy box if your child simply refuses to play with any of the toys at the bottom where they can't reach. Toy storage must be extremely functional - kids need to see which toys are where and be able to access them (and put them back) easily. See-through crates are perfect and you can pick them up for less than $10 at the Kmarts and discount shops of this world.

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Pictures: LivingETC

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Way to go with wallpaper

Once upon a time in an age where I wore silly platform heels popular in the early 1990s, I worked in the same magazine office as a stylish woman called Shannon Fricke. Shannon has a wonderful eye and created the quirky little wallpapered cupboard for Australian Women's Weekly. She's tres clever, no? I would have neither the time nor the patience for such things ...

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Pictures: ShannonFricke

Monday, August 23, 2010

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Tree-House-by-KAA-Design-Group-10
"An architect is the drawer of dreams."
- Grace McGarvie

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mondrian retaining wall: better than the old

Retaining walls tend to need detaining for visual crimes against gardens. Most retaining walls are ugly, obvious and just plain obtrusive. This is a new retaining wall product from Boral called the Mondrian (as are many new products - for some reason, that painter is inspiring a tonne of renovation products in his name). The great thing about the Mondrian is that it costs under $100 per m2 and has a smooth top so doesn't need those hideous looking capping units, or separate corner units. With 72 blocks in every pallet, 12 blocks in each pallet can be used as either corner blocks, half blocks or base course blocks. As a result the wall can be designed during installation without the builder having to worry about being short of corners or caps. There are six different patterned blocks to create a unique wall design each time. The drystack wall system is designed so that blocks are fitted together when the back lip locks down over the top of the course below to form a flush face wall. There is no cutting required to form a corner or for half units as the corner units bond in with the standard blocks and the corners can also be turned to use as half units. Hey, I sound so proficient at this retaining world business that I could possibly lay it all myself. Oh wait ...

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Pictures: Boral

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Q&A: Do eco homes have higher property values?

Q. I heard that going green is all the rage and can add value to my house - how much more money can I expect to get if it has all the right eco bells and whistles?

A. How long is a piece of recycled string? Answering questions about property value is complex. While prospective buyers could be willing to pay more for a property that uses energy wisely, just how much more depends on price range, location and features. After all, that harbour view could add a few million dollars but installing one energy efficient light bulb may not add one cent. A report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics studied sale prices and eco star ratings in the Australian Capital Territory - it found that for a house worth $365,000, increasing the rating by half a star would add, on average, nearly $4500 to its price. With electricity prices in NSW expected to increase by a whopping 64 per cent over the next three years, improving your property value is just one more motivation to take up eco renovating. Everything from shower roses to solar panels can alter a property's carbon footprint, so it's worth starting somewhere.
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Pictures: CoteMaison

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cool chicken coops

I don't care that roosters crow at dawn. I don't care that chickens get creepy little mites or destroy your garden with their wretched scratching that is said to improve the quality of the earth - I STILL WANT MY OWN CHICKENS. My mum has some down in Tassie and they provide endless entertainment as they bawk bawk bawk around the yard. OK, I would require someone else to shovel out the chicken poo, but all those eggs would make it worth it, wouldn't it? And then there's the totally cute chicken coop I'd have to keep them in. I rather like this swanky one made in the US ... how about you? Are chickens one of your secret fantasies?


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Pictures: Main picture by Anthony Willis
 Chickencribs via Shelterrific




Monday, August 16, 2010

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

williamwaldrondecorating-with-white-main

"God, to me, it seems, is a verb, not a noun, proper or improper."
- Richard Buckminster Fuller

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Flameless candles! What next - chocalate free Mars Bars?

I have been emailed about the wonders of these flameless candles, but can't help wondering what's next ... milk-free milk cartons, meat-free Big Macs or alcohol-free wine? Oh that's right, all those things already exist. Anyway, these candles are for those who don't want to deal with fire risks or replacement costs of a wick candle."Fixed with quality LED lights powered by household batteries the candles flicker and cast dancing shadows just like a real flame!Made from 100% paraffin wax this stunning collection includes a selection of pillars, tea lights and votives," promises the press release. I still prefer a real candle, or am I just missing the point?

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Q&A: Cheap makeovers for bad kitchens

Q. My kitchen looks like it threw up all over itself - there are tiles from the 1970s on the splashbacks, '60s timber cabinets and a laminate benchtop circa 1992. Help!
A. 
Long-term rental properties are notorious for containing bitsy, piecey renovations - perhaps due to landlords being able to deduct the improvements as "repairs" rather than capitalise renovation costs? Whatever, tenants either have to shut their eyes or do something to make it bearable. You don't want to spend a lot of money but there's plenty you can do. Shiny new accessories can brighten a bad room instantly - a new dish drainer, tool storage and tea towels in the kitchen; or try getting creative with the overhead cabinets. If they are timber, unscrew the doors and openly display your nice things to draw the eye away from the rest of the kitchen. The backs of the cupboards may be unfinished timber or plywood, so buy cheap, sturdy paper or decorative card to tape over the top of the cupboard backs. Hanging a pot rack or pegboard is usually within renters' rights and will give you more storage. You'll need to keep the doors (and screws) somewhere safe to reattach when you move out.


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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Laminex: more eco than you think

Well blow me down with some melamine, Laminex has become the first Australian company to achieve Chain of Custody certification from the oh-so-eco Forest Stewardship Council. Essentially, that means the wood fibres in those white panel doors pictured above are legally sourced and traded. The Forest Stewardship Council is a super strict independent body which offers certifications to encourage responsible management of the world’s forests. Its trademark provides international recognition to organisations that support responsible forest management. The low  pressure melamine board is available in 15 decorator colours and can even have a FSC-certified timber veneer over the top if required.

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