Monday, June 28, 2010

How to get rid of clutter in five minutes ...

Oh how I love a strong headline. Take a look at this little story I wrote over on Kidspot to get rid of mess before your head explodes. And did I tell you how cool these lockers look in this FlickR stream I found while perusing Desire To Inspire's latest posts? Imagine what you could put in them! Now, go and read about how to clear clutter - it will make you feel in control.

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Pictures: FlickR via DesiretoInspire

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oh, now that's a clever idea for cooking

How useful is this new Trudeau Pot Clip Spoon Rest? Designed to help avoid those annoying spills, the Pot Clip simply clips to your pots edge and balances your utensils so that spooning, measuring and adding is just right, time after time. How clever is that? The Pot Clip features a stainless steel body, and silicone grips that are fully resistant to high temperatures. It also eliminates the need for using a counter top spoon rest when cooking, which equals no more mess on your counter and stove tops
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Creating your dream kitchen: Step Six

Understanding the sequence of a renovation is the key to saving bucks - knowing when to organise tradies and materials to come on site is all part of keeping costs down. Here is the usual sequence for a kitchen renovation:
1. THE STRIP: Remove cabinets, appliances and fittings, ideally taking what can be salvaged to a yard that can re-sell materials or using a rubbish removal company that recycles.
2. THE REBUILD (if necessary): Relocating windows, walls and doors takes place after the strip.
3. ROUGH IN: Basic plumbing and electrics will be 'roughed in' until everything else is installed and taps can be completed and switches screwed in.
4. FLOORING: Install any new flooring if you want the floor material to be installed underneath new cabinets.
5. INSTALLATION: The cupboard carcasses tend to go in first, then doors and drawers will be installed. Levelling the base cabinets is the most important thing to get right. benchtops need to go in next, followed by splashbacks.
6. ELECTRICS FIT-OUT: Lighting and appliances can now be wired in and finished off.
7. FINAL PLUMBING AND ELECTRICS: Switches can be installed on tiled splashbacks, the dishwasher can be plumbed in and other details finished off.
8. PAINTING AND DECORATING: The last stage is making sure the room has gaps and cracks sealed (with the all-important silicone behind the kitchen sink) and painting.
Make sure you organise trades  in the correct order otherwise there may be revisits, extra work and additional costs. Be clear on what each tradesperson is doing an ideally provide them with plans that have details of the position of existing and new services (plumbing, gas and electrics), details of appliances, sinks and taps. Good luck!

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Pictures: The DesignAnnual

Why hard wood is good

Hard wood is one of nature's best materials - it will last a lifetime, is relatively low maintenance and can usually withstand Australia's harsh outdoor weather. My favourite is old Sydney fences that have gone silver with age, and may look rickety but still have an amazing patina that outshines any hideous new Colourbond fence or brick wall.

Boral timber just sent through these ideas for using hardwood outdoors. I kinda like 'em:

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.

Seating: Timber decking is the natural material choice for creating outdoor seating, either for chairs around a table or as a bench along the outskirts of the garden for a more informal setting.  Timber perfectly complements a variety of outdoor materials, such as Boral’s masonry blocks and pavers. Rich, warm timber provides a striking contrast against neutral, highly textured materials and brings a whole new dimension to the backyard.

Fencing: Hardwood timber decking is 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 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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Friday, June 18, 2010

Q&A: let in the light - skylights and solartubes

Q: Our hallway is darker than a bat cave. My wife wants to install a window but wouldn't a skylight be cheaper?

A: They vary in price, with Solartubes being the cheapest and large-scale, insulated, double-glazed skylights more expensive. A Solartube can often be installed for about $500, provided access is easy and the work takes less than half a day. If your roof and ceiling frames are complex and difficult to cut, then a skylight may not be the answer. Just make make sure you have a professional install them; there's nothing worse than a leaking skylight that becomes a waterfall when it rains.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quote of the week

"A comfortable house is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience."
Sydney Smith
Pictures: Anthropologie

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why clean green?

Q. No way am I using those eco cleaning products! Cleaning is hard enough without making it take more time than necessary.

A. Good point. Cleaning sucks. But using cleaning products that are labeled as green or eco means you are introducing less chemicals into the home. A new book from Canadian researchers called Slow Chemical Death by Rubber Duck reveals that everything in our house from mattresses, frying pans, shampoo bottles and dozens of other household objects contain synthetic chemicals which build up in the human body, slowly crippling our health. Do you really want to add to the indoor chemical cocktail by squirting a few more household chemical cleaners around the house? Triclosan, which is found in products such as cleaners, wet wipes, handwash, shower curtains and even toothpaste has been linked to hormonal abnormalities and a weakening of the immune system. Fresh Green Clean founder Bridget Gardner has been involved with university research that discovered cleaning with warm soapy water can disinfect as effectively as stronger cleaners such as bleach or harsh chemicals. Plenty of people think that green cleaners aren’t as effective as harsh chemicals, but products made by market leaders like method, Ecostore, Seventh Generation and  Ecover are worth trying if you want to give your housekeeping a green makeover.

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Pictures: Designista

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quote of the week

"Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration."
Charles Dickens

Pictures: House and Garden

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The open ensuite: good or bad?

I refuse to believe that weeing in front of your loved one can be good interior design. Your thoughts on ensuites open to the bedroom, please?

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Q&A: Replacing windows

Q: I want to replace the aluminium windows in our terrace with timber but discovered the bill will be more than $5000! What the?

A: Yep, there's nothing like the expense of new timber windows to make you suddenly embrace the ugliness of aluminium frames. From the 1960s to the 1980s, plenty of homeowners replaced rotting windows with no-fuss aluminium, which didn't need painting and was sold as the low-maintenance answer to timber, which would swell and become hard to open on hot days but then rattle and shrink on cold days. In the right kind of building, aluminum frames look just fine but in period houses that were built with timber joinery, they are just wrong. Even worse, those aluminium windows - especially those 20 years old or more - are a thermal nightmare, allowing in too much heat in summer and all the cold in winter. You can attempt to reduce the cost of replacing aluminium windows with nice new timber by checking whether the old timber frame is still in place. If the aluminium frame can be removed and the original timber frame is still in good nick, then you can ask a custom joiner to create a new sash window for the hole.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hot stuff: metal chimineaaaa

I want one. But at $4950, I'm gonna have to save up.
This cast iron fireplace runs on ethanol and would be a little tricky to install if you had a toddler in the house. BUT how good does it look?

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Pictures: Top3
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