Saturday, February 20, 2010

7 insider tips and tricks to painting

Personally, I find painting a drag. I know it's one of those jobs that DIYers are supposed to love, but professionals do it so much better! And if you've ever spent a week trying to recover from the muscle strain of painting, you will know exactly what I'm talking about. I did a seminar last night at the Home Ideas Centre and chatted to some people about tricks and tips. Here's what I gleaned about painting:
* Try cutting 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 aid coverage.
* I've used anti-mould paints in my bathrooms for the last two renos I've done, and it's worth it. So much easier to clean.
* Keep it clean! Cover odd-shaped bits of the room you want to keep paint splatter-free (the phone, doorknobs, lights) with kitchen 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. The problem is you need GOOD tape, or the paint will bleed in anyway. Oh, and make it low-tack masking tape to avoid damaging the finish when the tape is removed.
* Drips are such a drip. When painting a ceiling, wrap a few thicknesses of an old towel or cloth around the brush and secure with a rubber band. There’ll be no more paint running down the handle.
* Door edges can't be ignored. If you don’t paint the top and bottom edges, they can swell in damp weather. But it’s a drag having to take them off their hinges for painting, right? Well, think laterally. Why not use a scrap of carpet as a paintbrush and slip it under the door?
* For good coverage on textured walls,  roll the paint on in an ‘N’ or ‘W’ pattern, then spread it and work it into the depressions by holding the roller at a 15-30° angle while pushing or pulling in a straight line. You’ll find this action will force the paint into the depressions.
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Pictures: Rice

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Today, I fancy living in a tree. Surrounded by all that living, breathing timber busy locking up carbon so that future generations can live and breathe in the world. It would be perfect - especially for my mood today. Sick of my house. Sick of housework. Imagine how dusty you could let a treehouse get? And only birds and insects could care!

Pictures: Todd Oldham via Design*Sponge

Monday, February 15, 2010

Renovate the smart way: jump to 5 easy budget renovation tips

There was a time, say ten years ago, when you couldn’t go to a dinner party without having to hear somebody’s renovation stories. Tedious discussions about the 27 shades of green they’d been through before finally choosing the ‘Eucalypt Heritage’.  Anecdotes about how the simple wall ‘knock-through’ became an open-plan kitchen/living/dining area after half the house collapsed.
During the property boom, these stories were replaced with endless discussion about the next ‘big’ suburb. People no longer ‘went up’, they simply sold up and moved on.
Well, guess what, renovating is back in fashion!
Rising interest rates, escalating moving costs, kids staying home longer… it all adds up to homeowners staying put and making home sweet home even sweeter.
Of course, some things never change and the idea that no renovation ever comes in on time or on budget is one of them. It will always take twice as long and cost 20 per cent more than you’d anticipated. But there are ways to keep costs down – here are five top tips for renovating to a budget.
While a wall of bi-fold doors really brighten up a room, there are less expensive ways to bring natural light into your home.  Brighten up a windowless hallway or dark bathroom with a solartube skylight (less than $500), which slips between roof rafters and funnels sunshine down below.
When it comes to things like flooring, ask your tradie if he has materials left over from other jobs. It never hurts to ask – you may find that someone in his network is finishing a job and needs flooring/doors/windows removed from a site. It’s a win/win situation.
Even if you have no expertise, you can DIY and save money – provided you choose your tasks wisely. The best places to add sweat equity is either up front, doing your own demolition, or at the back end, by doing some of the finish work yourself.  Most people can try their hand at installing insulation, painting, sanding and rubbish removal.  Also you can slash your material delivery fees by picking up your goods yourself.
Or the toilet, if you can avoid it. Plumbing is one of the largest chunks of your renovation budget, and once you start moving pipes, renovation dollars end up down the drain.
Know what you want in fixtures and appliances – and what they cost – so that you can specify them up front. If you aren’t absolutely specific about the details, you’ll have to rely on your builder’s allowance or quote, and his noting of what is acceptable may be quite different to yours. That glass-tiled splashback you had in mind, for instance, will be quite a different price to the builder’s basic white ceramic tiles.

Of course, the number one tip is all about researching and planning. Visit homes for sale in your area and see what’s working well. If you’re in the inner city, it might be that your best bet is to organise some off-street parking. In a leafy garden suburb, spending extra on quality bi-fold doors and decking could really pay off.
Don’t slavishly follow interiors trends. Instead, make the property work for you – and future buyers.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

RENOVATION INSPIRATION: A natural home office

How cool is this tree office, complete with its own green roof and wondrous water views? I want ...
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Pictures: Peter's FlickR stream - how talented is he?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Driving plants up the walls has been a particular challenge in my home as I have the WORLD'S UGLIEST COLORBOND FENCE in my backyard. The laws of visual decency say this fence must be disguised by vines growing vertically over the ugly metal divider. I love gardening vertically almost as much as getting dirty horizontally - training vines up my fence helps delude myself that I am as interesting as French botanist Patrick Blanc, whose work on vertical gardens is nothing short of breathtaking (see link below). I would love nothing more than one of those sexy vertical gardens to grow on my Colorbond fence. Alas, I am dreaming. Pesky vertical gardens that look super sexy require loads of work and maintenance to get right ... and I have a hard enough time maintaining a weed-free path! I rather like this Parisian vertical garden, which uses these gorgeous glass pods to feed the wall of ferns. It's oh-so-European chic but would no doubt cark it within a day of living under Australian conditions ... but it's nice to fantasise that my Colorbond fence could one day look like that. Sigh.

Pictures: LostInParis

Fun: his storage versus hers

Storage is an issue. Especially with wardrobes. How much space do clothes really need? How neat should it be? And do men really 
needprecious wardrobe space? Then I watched this ad ... giggle giggle ... snort snort. Do men and women have distinctly different storage requirements?

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