Monday, May 16, 2016

amber interior design...inspirational make overs

A good before and after transformation is my favourite thing, and if they rock your world too you are going to love the project reveals by Amber Interior Design.  Amber's projects ooze a relaxed and inviting California cool style.  I love how she mixes vintage, mid century and modern to create individual spaces for her clients.  And I love the names she gives each client: #client cool as a cucumber #client double thumbs up #client freakin' fabulous

I am really inspired by her transformations.  I have been trying to put my finger on what she does that lifts these rooms to the next level.  

  • Great rugs in each space, and really big ones too, ground each space.
  • Art everywhere: above beds, behind couches and definitely over credenzas.  I love the art she uses, lots of naturescapes and of course the beach and water photos that have been so big the past year or so.
  • Fabulous fabrics on cushions in bedrooms and living spaces.
  • Adventurous bathrooms with great graphic tiles or wallpapers.
  • Interesting lighting over dining tables and kitchen bench tops, great wall mounted lamps in bedrooms, fab sconces in bathrooms.
  • Bench seats in bedrooms and dining areas (I am a fan already, see Currawong Cottage here)

I have a little design crush, can you tell?






I love how these spaces feel, they are so finished and complete, but not over styled.
Head on over to the Amber Interiors page to see more of these fab before and afters, I have spent whole evenings poring over every detail. 
And make sure to check out the Amber Interiors Shoppe, stuffed full of art, textiles and objet, and yes they ship to Australia.  
Sigh... so many pretty things...

Monday, May 9, 2016

three birds renovations...inspiration

I am loving the renovations by the Three Birds Renovations team, and if you are looking for some realistic reno inspiration you should check out all 4 projects.  

Tackling preloved homes and bringing them up to date with style, then selling them for profit is what this team is all about.   Bonnie, Erin & Lana compliment each other with skill sets across design, business and build logistics, and the results have been impressive.  

Four completed projects to date, and you can see the before and afters are really impressive.  These are real renovations done with a tight budget and real time frame.  No reality tv fantasy in this space.
The team also does a great Youtube series which really shows what the inside of a renovation project is (builders cleavage and all).  Very entertaining, I binge watched them all.

Business and build savvy aside, I love their pared back beach house meets Hamptons style, and their styling for sale is sensational.  Enjoy a little eye candy below.  



I asked Lana what the deal breakers are when they team look for investment opportunities:
"It all comes down to maths.  We have a profit calculator that takes into account every cost imaginable when renovating a house i.e - reno costs, stamp duty, legal fees, agency fees, interest, waste removal, portaloos, lawn maintenance - everything. We then enter a purchase price and estimated resale price which will spit out a final profit figure.  If that figure isn't high enough, we will walk away.  It's called price disparity and if it doesn't exist, it's very hard to make money."

Lana also advised these checks before making an offer:
"We like to do a Building & Pest inspection to ensure we know what to expect.  We don't fear termites in fact we often welcome them as they turn off other buyers and most of our renos can address that problem in the general course of the changes we're going to make.  We also like to get our regular builder and plumber to check out the house as they know what we like to do and they can give us great feedback on any challenges they see on the horizon.  This info is also helpful when negotiating with the agent. We also assume there will be a heap of asbestos in each house and account for it's professional removal into our profit calculator."



So what is next for Three Birds Renovations?  Both Lana and Bonnie are renovating their own homes this year, and will be taking us along for the ride.  The team is also looking for House 5.  Can't wait to see what happens next.  This team is setting the real renovation bar.

Monday, May 2, 2016

why pocket doors are genius

Pocket doors are one of my fave design features in our home, definitely one I would plan again.  There is no wasted space, they just slide away into the cavity, totally out of the way, no banging doors and a really stream lined look.

Our architects used pocket doors to create virtual en suites in the secondary bedrooms.  Each bedroom is placed next to a bathroom, and a cleverly designed pocket door closes off the bedroom and bathroom area, effectively creating a private en suite (see plans below).  It is a genius idea because the bathroom is lovely and private by night, but can be accessed by all of the family during the day. 

See how easy?  Totally open to totally private instantly. 

In the plans below the pocket door is green and you can see how it separates the entire bedroom and bathroom area from the play room.  Especially brilliant now that we have a teenager in the house.


Cost wise they are relatively expensive, especially if you plan them before you build.  Retrofitting is always a little more costly.

We also used pocket doors to close the butlers pantry and laundry off from the kitchen.

This is one of my favourite features that our architects included in the design and something I would never have thought of myself.  Working with an architect in the design phase is an absolute must to get this level of detail.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Top ten on trend kitchen 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.