Monday, April 25, 2016

Top ten kitchen design must haves

Budget and space considerations aside, these are my top ten kitchen must haves.

1 - Built in range hood - no more steel extractors
The tide has turned on stainless steel and feature range hoods.  Save your cash for a better extractor mechanism and build it into some attractive cabinetry.  I love these ones below where the shelves extend right across the extractor cover. (top, bottom)

These white on white versions are just gorgeous too. (left, right)

2 - Butler's pantry
A butler's pantry is a secondary storage space for washing up, storage, and appliances you don't want on display.  This is where you should keep all those appliances that you use daily which normally clutter up the kitchen counters: kettle, toaster, coffee machine and juicer at my house.  A good butlers pantry deserves a whole post on it own (coming soon).  Little snippets of great ones below.

    3 - Drawers instead of cupboards - so much easier to access
    Make the lower draws deep and wide for pots and pans, the top ones just deep enough to store spices, cutlery and linen.  A soft close mechanism is a must.  You will never want cupboards again.
    4 - Wine fridge - not essential but oh so desirable
    I like them tucked into the end of the island bench and filled with champagne.
    5 - Under counter dish washer drawer  
    Next house I will have a single dish washer draw in the island bench as well as a full dishwasher in the butlers pantry.  All the coffee cups and glasses can go straight in the draw, ready to be used again quickly, especially useful when you have extra people visiting.
    6 - Flush mount stove and sinks
    Shop around to find the sink and stove top with the slimmest profile.  The Barazza stove tops and Abey sinks have a very slim line look, a gorgeous luxe detail for a minimal extra cost.
    7 - Expensive back splash and inexpensive bench tops
    Save your cash for an expensive back splash and use something hard wearing and less costly on the bench tops.  There is usually way more bench top than back splash, so this is going to save you some build dollars.  Also a good way of introducing a less hardy material, like marble or encaustic tiles, into your design, the look without the maintenance issues. 

    8 - Custom cutlery and spice drawers 
    So lovely to open an organised drawer and find what you need at a glance.  
    I am looking to add an in-drawer knife block to mine, taking the knife block off the kitchen counter.
    Condiments and spices are also best stored in a shallow draw close to the stove.  Include space for storing bottles on their side, as well as a few boxes for stacking resealable spice packets.  
    9 - Handy plug points
    Make sure there are enough plug points so that you can use your blender, or your iron, anywhere in the kitchen.  At a minimum you should have: one close to the cook top so that you can use your stick blender without moving the pot off the range; at least two in the side of the kitchen bench for plugging in the toasted sandwich machine, blender or food processor.
    10 - Hidden USB ports 
    If your place is anything like mine your kitchen counter constantly has a multitude of devices on it recharging.  Next time I am putting at least two USB ports into a drawer, or in a custom designed shelf.  My goal is to keep those kitchen counters clear.

    At the end of the day the kitchen needs to be practical.  The finishes are the icing on the cake but planning and investing in great storage will deliver a kitchen that looks beautiful and works seamlessly every time you use it.

    Monday, April 18, 2016

    crushing on...

    Some pretty pretty things if I had a windfall....

    Clockwise from top left:

    And who doesn't love a hexagon right now...

    Monday, April 11, 2016

    how moving rooms around can be a good thing

    We are in the middle of a mini move, not a proper house move, but a really big bedroom reshuffle.  Miss E is moving into Mr B's study, Miss J is moving downstairs (see below) into Miss E's old bedroom, and Mr B is moving the study upstairs so the top floor is finally a proper parents retreat.   Let me tell you that moving three entire rooms is not a small job!!  We are all slightly cranky, Miss E cannot find her school shoes, and everybody's clothes are in the wrong room.  But it has been a good thing because it has made us go through all the stuff with a discerning eye, as in "do I really have to carry this upstairs".

    I am not a huge hoarder, and we have moved continent twice, interstate twice, and house twice in the last ten years and decluttered every time, but I was still amazed at the stuff we have managed to accumulate in the three years since we moved into this home.  
    Not that you want to throw everything out, I believe in hanging onto special objects from the past, but I was amazed at:
    • Cables, how many cables can one house have?  It seems everything has a cable these days and somehow in three years, and multiple devices later, there are two boxes full of them.  Most of them turned out to be for out of date phones and cameras, a good cathartic toss in the bin.
    • Warranties and instruction manuals - again amazing just how many there are, and how few of them relate to things we still have and use.  Goodbye
    • How much paper we were storing in the study.  I had files and files of pages torn out magazines - pre Pinterest.  Another good thing to flick through and flip in the recycling.
    • How many stuffed animals there were in Miss E's cupboard.  Actually this even surprised Miss E.  We need to find somewhere that we can re-gift these pre-loved toys.

    It has been a little exhausting, but everybody is enjoying settling into their new spaces.  Miss E is flexing her teenage design skills and doing a lovely job of making her room really pretty.  Miss J has issued instructions that the dots on her wall must now be all pink, and only pink mummy (see a sneak preview above) and is enjoying being in a more grown up room.
    And Mr B and I finally have a parent retreat all to ourselves.  I am looking forward to getting some art on the walls, Mr B is looking forward to be having a view out the window as he works.

    The move has made me think about the other areas that have had things stored in them for the past three years.  Next on the list is the playroom cupboards, but I may need a break before I tackle those.  I will be sharing some tips on how to get your kids to declutter their toys when I do.  Meanwhile I will be posting some updates of the room changes soon, so watch this space.

    Monday, April 4, 2016

    wishing I was at this table...

    Came across the gorgeous work of Lovelyfest and could not stop scrolling through their portfolio.  This styled shoot titled Marbled by the Sea was my fave.  The location, the flowers, the giant chunks of rose quartz, the tassel wedding altar backdrop.  Worth visiting Lovelyfest to see the rest of the gorgeousness. 

    I want these guys to throw a party for me...

    Monday, March 28, 2016

    barn inspiration

    So if you follow me on Pinterest you will have seen that I am pinning a lot of barns.  In fact I am slightly obsessed with barns.  Thought I should explain.  Currawong Cottage is on a farm that we want to develop.  It has been unloved for decades and the land and dams need a lot of tlc.  We have big plans, vineyard, olive groves, veggies, a home one day, but all plans have to start somewhere and ours start with a barn.  

    We need a barn to store all the farm equipment that we are accumulating, and also to create a permanent workshop so we don't have to cart our tools interstate every time we visit.  Last time we visited I found a glorious position, close to the existing entrance and power lines and with glorious views down the middle paddock where we one day plan to have vines.  It is a beautiful location and practical too.

    So now to the barn, or barns we would like to build.  We would like to build two if we can.  Barns are big!  When I started looking at dimensions I was surprised just how big because when you see them in the country landscape they don't look huge.  But then farm equipment is big and we need to future proof the barn for all the equipment we would one day like to own, like a tractor.

    I want our barn to be practical, but pretty too, and for the workshop area, where we plan to spend a lot of time, to have access not only to good light, but the gorgeous country views.
    I am heavily influenced by the Cape Dutch architecture from my other home city of Cape Town.  I don't want to recreate it exactly in Australia, but I do want the scale and enormous beauty of these farms.  They were brilliantly laid out with the buildings flanked by wide avenues, work yard, and kitchen gardens.  But at the same time I love the Australian style of corrugated iron and weathered wood.  I would love to use some of the enormous old fallen trees to mill our own timber for cladding.

    At the moment it is just the stuff of dreams, but then dreams are always the beginning.

    Images from top: top left, top right
    Rams Gate winery by Howard Backen, stone base Dutch barn
    Elk valley tractor shed, Gotland summer house
    detail of barn doors by James Gorst architects, detail of Wolveride Architect house
    Meerlust cellar, Babylonstoren barns

    Monday, March 21, 2016

    diy geometric embroidery update

    Embroidery made modern!  Make your own art with this simple diy, inspired by geometric designs and some pretty colour.

    I actually created this embroidery several years ago, and it was featured on Apartment Therapy at the time.  When Miss J moved room recently I decided to mount it on a canvas to update the look for her little big girl room.  A good opportunity to share how to make this simple project with you again.

    It is an achievable project for any level of sewing ability.  I completed mine while I was watching tv in the evenings and it only took me about a week to complete.

    You will need:
    • tapestry canvas with a fairly large weave
    • tapestry wool in at least 10 colours (I used DCM wools)
    • yarn needle (with an eye big enough to thread your yarn through)

    The design is very simple, all you need to create is a square shape from two triangles placed point to point, repeated to build up the pattern.  
    This shape can be any size you choose, mine has a side about 3.5cm long.

    Step 1 - Create a triangle to be repeated across the pattern.  
    To ensure the point of the triangle is pointy you must ensure the long side covers an even number of holes in the canvas.  In stitches the thread comes up in hole no.1, and goes back under in hole no.22 (as in my project) or any other even number.
    Alternatively, start with the point, thread up in hole no.1 and down in hole no.2, and expand each row by one step to create the triangle.
    It is hard to explain but easy to do, once you have done one triangle repeating the pattern is easy.

    Step 2 - place triangles end to end
    Once the first triangle is complete, start the next one from the point of the completed triangle.

    Step 3 - starting a new square
    Each square is made up of 4 quarters, two embroidered and two left blank.
    The quarters of each square are offset so that the embroidered section always backs onto a blank section.  Harder to explain that it is to do.  Just copy the pattern and you will be fine.

    Step 4 - repeat in random colours until you have built up a pleasing design.

    Stitching technique
    To save wool only embroider the top of the canvas.  You can see below I have turned my needle diagonally so that the first stitch of the new row is one step shorter than the end of the last row.  Scroll down to see how the triangle builds up row by row.

    Keep the back neat
    Make sure your threads are neatly threaded through the edges of the finished shapes at the back.
    Threads must not lie across the blank spaces or you will see them from the front.  I know from experience and doing a lot of unpicking!
    The back of your canvas should look neat when you are done.

    When you are finished cut down the canvas leaving a neat edge all around your work. (See above)  I originally had this work in a standard picture frame, but decided to mount it on an inexpensive canvas for an updated look.  To do this yourself simply tack the embroidery edge neatly along its edges to the canvas.

    I still love this project.  The mix of colours is fresh and varied enough to match many decor and toy combinations.  One of my favourite diy's to date, and definitely the most pinned.

    Monday, March 14, 2016

    crushing on diy ideas

    These gorgeous images are making me itch to get into the workshop!!

    The mirror is something I would love to try and make myself, it is part of a totally gorgeous studio apartment by CM Studio.  I think it is pretty achievable.
    I love the yarn wall hangings (see full tutorial here), like the hint of brass and the fact it could be any colour at all.
    And how clever is the key hanging rack (tutorial by Lilaliv), I think my 3M hook solution is in definite need of an upgrade.
    And these faceted gold handles, well they would look so cute on Miss J's cupboards.

    So many projects to try...

    Monday, March 7, 2016

    little big girl & pink

    Miss J recently moved into a new bedroom and I am trying to give it a little bit of personality, to go with her big one.  The room below (by Lay Baby Lay) is my fave shared room right now, so pretty and feminine without being too sweet, so I am starting right here: mint, hint of pink, vintage but clean.

    The bones are definately going to be white, the walls, bed linen, and curtain, adding a little colour with the decor.  I am planning to do a polka dot decal wall again, but Miss J insists it must be pink this time.  Love the mint pom pom trim, thinking of edging the curtains with that.  And I adore the bird wrapping paper from Cavallini, Miss J is fascinated by the egg and bird section of her animal encyclopedia so this should go down a treat.  Just that little bit of vintage feel, nothing to cutesy.

    I will let Miss J choose some extra bits and bobs to add colour, hard for me not to control the whole design but I must learn to let go!  It is her room after all.  I love the mini tiles and ceramic crosses from Ahoy Trader (left and right above) and how cute is the tic tac toe set from K-Mart (a steal at just $9).

    I think it is going to be really cute, just like Miss J.

    Monday, February 29, 2016

    crushing on

    If I had a little windfall...

    ...things that would find their way into my home.

    Clockwise from top left:
    Aldalora throw from Anthropologie - has the look of a Morrocan wedding blanket without the rough texture.  I adore this, top of the list
    Mother daughter stacking rings - so pretty, I love the way the quartz has been faceted
    Brumby print - because I have never outgrown my love of horses
    Acrylic and metal photo frames - I have loved these for months, I think at least one must be mine
    Metal frame chair from West Elm - reminds me of these beauties in my trend board that I know were super expensive from 1st Dibs