Friday, April 30, 2010

Creating your dream kitchen: Step Three

It's time to think about how you work in the kitchen. Do you cook? Do you wash too many dishes? How often are you opening and closing the fridge or the pantry? It's all about The Work Triangle. Yep, a piece of kitchen geometry that will drive happy functions in the kitchen. A triangle between the cooktop or oven, the sink and refrigerator is vital for efficient cooking and food prep in the kitchen. How does your current kitchen stack up? How far is it between the sink and the oven? The kitchen in the picture above might look slick, but how inefficient would it be to have the fridge left all lonely against that wall? There is only one area of workspace, which can definitely be made effective, but would be more efficient for those who like to cook if there was a small butchers block or island bench. What kind of work triangle do you want?

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Pictures: Finland real estate via DesireToInspire

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Creating your dream kitchen: Step Two

It's not about splashing around a tonne of cash, but thinking about clever ways to deliver the kitchen you want. Details are important in any kitchen, but designers like to start with the big picture—how you use your kitchen—and let details emerge. Even if your budget will inevitably call for compromises (join the club), get your wish list on the table. Make a list of things that bother you about your current kitchen—the mail piled up on the counter, the stockpot you can never reach. Designers say these negative lists are just as helpful at driving the details as having an extensive wish list.

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Creating your dream kitchen: Step One

Pictures: Otthon magazine

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Creating your dream kitchen: Step One

Stop. Look. Plan. Don't even THINK about benchtop materials, appliances or colours until you've nutted out a solid plan for your new kitchen. A kitchen is the sum of many parts and will only come together if layout, proportion, storage, and finishes are well thought through before anything is ordered.
Give yourself at least six weeks just to brainstorm, discuss, plan, refine, and—just as important—compromise on your initial ideas. Use graph paper to plot your best layout ideas, take stock of how much you really need to store in your kitchen and then start thinking about ideas for colours, finishes and inspiration. You'll be glad you took the time before leaping in.

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Pictures: Vitor Penha via DesiretoInspire

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wall of basil. Delicious.

Oh, I like the idea of screening inner city alleyways with walls of basil grown from seed. How good would it smell?

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Pictures: HiddenPizza (a cheesey Yellow Pages concept to make people find a hidden pizza store) via FarOutBrusselSprout

Q&A: The cheapest renovations

Q. I’ve bought my first apartment and I only have about $600 left in my bank account to make it liveable – what should I spend it on?

A. Paint, paint and more paint. If you have .50c leftover, beg a painter to sell you some leftover tins from another job. Painting is the most cost-effective spruce-up a property owner can organise. A fresh coat of interior paint will not only make the entire place look lighter and brighter, but it gives the chance to choose a new colour scheme and really make the place your own. 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. Don’t be tempted to just slap on a new coat of paint! Most professional painters could repaint the interior of a small unit in two days, but that may not fit into your budget with most NSW painters charging anything between $25 and $250 an hour for their work (which usually includes the cost of the paint and preparation).

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Quote of the week

"A house means a family house, a place specially meant for putting children and men in so as to restrict their waywardness and distract them from the longing for adventure and escape they've had since time began."
Marguerite Duras

Pictures: Jean Marc Palisse

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quote of the week

"Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country."
Pictures: LivingETC

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'd rather live here ...

Children are crying and refusing to go to bed. Television cameras caught me in my pajamas while dropping kids to school. If I lived in THIS house, I bet that would never have happened and life would be peachy.

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Pictures: CoteMaison

Monday, April 19, 2010

HINT HINT: Use a bin to store long tools like brooms and rakes

If your garage is anything like mine, there are never enough spaces to stores rakes, brooms, shovels and hoes  ... so we put them all in an old metal garbage bin  and can always find things easily.
Pictures: RealSimple

Saturday, April 17, 2010

PROPERTY TIP: Buy in climate-change proof areas

A federal government investigation warns that up to 62,000 NSW coastal homes could be devastated by flooding if climate change predictions come to fruition.
Homes in the Lake Macquarie, Wyong, Gosford, Wollongong, and Shoalhaven areas, along with the Rockdale council area of Sydney, would be most at risk.
The ‘worst-case scenario’ report envisions a cataclysmic combination of sea levels that have been increased 1.1 metres by rising global temperatures meeting a ‘perfect storm’ – a powerful east coast low-pressure system. In such a case, flood devastation would ensue.
Low-lying areas like the Gold Coast are also at risk, yet the problem is not just related to the sea level the property is on - it's also about coastline and local storm flooding patterns.
It's not an easy thing to factor in, but if you want your property to remain insured for flood and storm damage, it might be best to avoid flood-prone coastal locations.
Insurance companies are already assessing the risks of climate change and several university professors are saying it is likely that insurers will eventually refuse to insure properties in high-risk areas.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Quote of the week

"Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action."

Pictures: Anthropolgie via Shannon Fricke

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Q&A: How to make the cleaning fairy visit

Q: My kitchen looks like a dumping ground for the messiest people that ever lived. I can't get on top of it!
A: The annoying thing about cleaning is that it's like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge - you finish the housework but discover more needs doing. If only vacuum cleaners could turn themselves on, feather dusters worked without human intervention and mops washed floors all by themselves. But in the absence of the Housework Fairy inventing magical cleaning tools, it's worth knowing the implements that make cleaning a little bit easier.
As household mess spreads into uncharted territory, arm your cleaning cupboard with the right weapons to wage war on housekeeping. (The human effort may still be hard to rustle up.)

How to stop the dust bunnies on the floor

The smartest thing any housekeeper can do is buy a great vacuum cleaner. Not just a pretty, well-priced vacuum cleaner but a top-of-the-line, super terrific, unreal, suck-'em-up cleaner that makes floor cleaning easy.
Cheapie vacuum cleaners can create more dust than they suck up while more expensive models will have a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter to trap those nasty particles you suck up from that dirty floor. We love our Dyson vacuum cleaner, which has a HEPA filter. Other brands people rave about include Miele and Nilfisk. Trust us: a good vacuum cleaner is worth the money. It saves having to sweep (which is physically more arduous), reduces the dust mites in carpets and rugs and reduces the need to mop hard surfaces such as polished timber or tiles.

Cleaning the bathroom the easy way

Keep the arduous task of washing down showers and baths to a minimum with daily maintenance.
Wiping shower walls with a squeegee after each shower will prevent moisture-fuelled moulds taking hold, remove soap scum and dirt and keep the bathroom in great shape for a quick once-a-week scrub.
Wiping the shower down after each use with a towel (preferably one that is still scratchy from being air-dried in the sun) will practically eliminate the need for that weekly bathroom clean altogether.
For indoors, a long-handled soft broom with good-quality bristles will pick up the dirt better and last longer than an el cheapo plastic broom.
When it comes to mops, go for quality that will last and sturdy replaceable heads.
A few microfibre cloths are also a great addition to any household. Damp microfibre cloths will remove bacteria from surfaces, especially if you wipe the surface dry afterwards with an old rag.
A sturdy bucket with a strong handle is also vital.
And remember, washing with plant-based detergents and hot water - and drying the surface afterwards - is the way to practise harm-free hygiene without the need for chlorine or phosphate-intensive cleaners.

Recycling for clean purposes (better than being dirty)

Who says the only things you can recycle are bottles and newspapers? Old T-shirts and cotton towels can be cut down to size for a constant supply of absorbent cleaning cloths.
Old socks can be pulled on your hand and used to dust surfaces, while those manky old toothbrushes are the perfect tool to scrub around taps, the sides of sinks and around stove elements.
And don't throw out old spray bottles - re-use them for homemade cleaning solutions
Pictures: LivingETC


My passion for black, white and beige is well known. What can I say - bland is my middle name? This Finnish blog is GORGEOUSLY inspiring, showcasing beautiful things chosen by a mum living in a 48sq m apartment. This monochromatic baby sleeping space makes me come over all clucky. No teddy bears or bad baby motifs in sight anywhere. Bliss.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

5 cheap renovation tricks

Keeping the costs of home renovation down are all about simple ideas like:

1.    Let the light in – without adding doors and windows
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.

2.    Ask your tradie for leftovers
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. 

3.    Put in sweat equity
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.

4.    Don’t move the kitchen sink
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.

5.    Make your decisions early in the game
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.

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Pictures: Living ETC

Monday, April 12, 2010

RENOVATION FIX: stop draughty windows and save

When it's cold outside, the draughts and air leakage under doors and through windows can increase heating costs by 25 per cent. A 2cm gap under a single external door will remove all the heat produced by a single bar electric radiator, which costs 10 – 15 cents an hour to run). But draughtproofing is one of the easiest and cheapest home improvements, with plenty of adhesive products available at the hardware store for less than $10.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

RENOVATION INSPIRATION: rough timber with smooth sleek

I have a kitchen table a bit like this (only mine is more hacked and old) and never imagined it in a sleek, minimal setting like this. Your views. please?
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RENOVATION INSPIRATION: Recycled timber feature wall

Cute, no?
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Pictures: AceHotels via 149SullivanSt

Q&A: Where did all the incandescent bulbs go?

Q. Hot damn, trying to find nice, glowy incandescent bulbs for my dining room light is getting harder – why?
A. Those evil CLIMATE-CHANGE-INDUCING incandescent bulbs have not been imported into Australia since earlier this year, following Malcolm Turnbull’s 2007 ban on the warm pear-shaped bulbs. Those old-fashioned pear-shaped bulbs may give a certain flattering glow, but since they actually produce more heat than light THEY ARE EVIL. They guzzle way too much electricity and don’t last as long as those curly wurly CFLs. You might be lucky enough to find a couple of smaller retail outlets still selling incandescent bulbs, as the retail ban officially starts in November. There have been a few whispers that the government may extend the retail ban until all stocks are sold out. Oh, although you will still be able to buy specialist incandescent bulbs, such as those that go inside refrigerators or ovens. Plenty of people espouse hatred for the curly CFL bulb, but they last up to five times longer than an incandescent and use less power.
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Pictures: Anthropologie

RENOVATION FIX: make a small bathroom appear larger

My bathroom is so small it makes my bank balance look large. There are plenty of designer tricks to make the room appear larger, including:
- mirrors create depth and distribute light throughout the room.
- a colour scheme can create the illusion of space, especially a colour palette of whites, creams or pastels.
- subtle storage provides the best solution for tight places, especially glass and floating timber shelves.

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Pictures: Nuevo Estilo via DelightByDesign


I love mixing old and new, and this three-bedroom apartment which goes up for auction later this month does it beautifully. The grand scale of the old rooms are in tact, but the clever use of wallpaper, light fittings and modern-industrial fittings works well. What do you think?

Pictures: DiJones

Eco idea: bamboo towels

Can you see the bamboo in the pretty picture above? No, it's not the green plant. It's not even the floors. It's those fluffy towels made from a cotton and bamboo fibre mix and apparently it makes them four times more absorbent than plain ol' cotton towel. Bamboo is a more sustainable and renewable resource from which to make towels. (Cotton not only requires intensive spraying, but loads of water.).These Baksana range of towels - which you can get at Adairs stores are priced from$21.95 for the hand towel up to $59.95 for the bath sheet but are oh-so-soft and lovely to touch. Dry me up, Scotty.


Bed is my favourite place. Especially when said bed has clean, Egyptian cotton sheets laid out all over it. So this is my kind of bar. It's in Miami. You book a bed instead of a booth. Hilarious. Wonder if it's because nightclub owners have realised we are all waaaay too tired to stand up and dance?

Pictures: via CoolHunting

Quote of the week

“Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to beuseful and believe to be beautiful,” William Morris

Pictures by Max Kim-Bee via Domino 
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