Uber-quick post today as incredibly busy attempting to write a gazillion things for the real living site for Monday. And have serious baby brain which is not helping! But, the whole reason I've had to rush this month's website upload is because I had to look after the magazine's new baby: real shopping. Have you visited yet? It's like a mini online department store with homewares, accessories like bags and jewellery, kids clothing and Christmassy stuff you can shop at 24/7 and have delivered FREE to your home. It's still in its early days - we will keep adding cool stuff as soon as we find it - but I've already spent waaay too much time on there (ok, part of the reason was because I had to write the product descriptions, proof the site and this meant re-reading every page at least three times. Not saying there are NO mistakes, but hopefully the damage if minimal!) and have a little list of things I want to buy. Here are my faves and if you haven't had a look yet, jump on - it's great for Chrissy shopping. An added bonus is you won't get blisters on your feet from walking around the shops ALL DAY!
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Saturday, 27 October 2007
BEFORE: The chair's third look since moving into the Graham household
Thursday, 25 October 2007
I know I'll be printing out my own and framing them for my son's room - not just cause they're so cool, but because I actually have to make it newborn-baby-friendly again as am pregnant with my second child! Maybe I should rename this blog renovate, decorate and procreate?
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
When we first moved in, my husband, Steve, spent a whole week covered in dust removing spray-on concrete-like stuff from the ceiling in our living and kitchen area. This landed - not surprisingly - on the floor (and all over him!), so rather than vacuuming it up and waiting to do the floors, we figured we'd rip up the carpet, dust and all, and live with bare floorboards for a few weeks until we found the time to give them a polish. Unfortunately, the carpet was kitchen carpet which was rubber-backed and GLUED all over the floor. So while the carpet came up, the rubber did not and no amount of elbow grease, industrial solvents or machines would get the black out - huge parts of it had moulded into the wood, making it look rotten. It was so much hard work, we just gave up and concentrated on other parts of the house. For three and a half years. I figured we'd come back to it when we found something dark enough to cover it...
BEFORE: A lovely close up to show how it really looks!
Then I discovered Feast Watson Black Japan while editing an article in real living. It's a really dark stain - practically black - and would be perfect to cover the patchy floor. It goes on like a dream - gliding over the sanded floor with one of those sheepskin applicators and dried surprisingly quickly. We followed with the top coat and said good riddance to the hideous floor beneath it and hello to dark, shiny floorboards.
Pros: Obviously dark enough to cover our bad floor, it's a great colour for all interior styles and easy to apply.
Cons: Unfortunately because it is like a paint, it wears away easily and high traffic areas will need to be redone more often than normal. It's made more obvious as well because it's so dark, so the contrast between the new stain and what was underneath stands out more. That said, it's entirely possible this is just our stupid floor or our application! And it didn't help that the workmen from the bathroom renovation scuffed it up a bit with all their heavy materials and shoes...
Overall: It's an incredible improvement on what we had before and we love it.
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Friday, 19 October 2007
The original and best - Emma Jeffs Otto Adhesive Window Film.
Then I was in Lincraft one day and found some plastic table runners that I thought would do the job nicely! For a couple of bucks a metre, I simply cut it to fit, then stuck it on the window with one of those spay-on adhesives. (I haven't taken it off yet, so not sure how ruined the actual glass is by the adhesive!?) Considering I got change from $5, I think it looks a bit of alright!
Thursday, 18 October 2007
Tip: Look for the posh areas of major cities - anything in Sydney, Eastern suburbs and Northern Beaches; London's Notting Hill, Hampstead or Belgravia and New York's Greenwich Village, Tribeca and The Hamptons. I want a house in the Hamptons. More specifically, I want Gwyneth Paltrow's house in the Hamptons. Quite surprisingly, given how she's always on about her privacy, she opened the doors of her summer home to American House & Garden. And it's perfect - there are a heap of style pointers to steal. And to my delight I noticed a few tiny similarities to my own style: the lamp in the bedroom (my version is the Freedom Bolero), use of graphic black and white fabric on an occasional chair and an ottoman in a Signature Prints fabric I had put on my list-of-must-buys after seeing it in the November issue of real living! Stretching the comparisons, I know, but I did feel a little smug at my "Gwynethness"! You can check all the images at House & Garden's site. Or for a heap of brilliant behind the scenes pics and a bit of gossip, check out the very cool Habitually Chic. Wish I had those contacts!
The bright and breezy living room
I want everything in this room. (except the shoes - have a pair already!)
PS: real living is launching an online department store in just a few more sleeps. You can buy great gifts for your friends and family, your kids, yourself and your home from October 23. The address is realshopping.com.au, but you can read all about it at our website. I already have a list of things to buy once it goes live (shh, don't tell my husband!)
I made a frantic call to Jeff - who was also completely horrified - and in a few hours he had organised someone to have a look the next morning. He can't do it, but his mate can - on Thursday. So I'm a few days behind yet again, but Colin is my hero, turns up, asks what I want done and not only says "no problem, whatever you want", but also says "oh that'd look great"!!! whoo hoo - no more grumpy tiler. Three days later I have a beautifully tiled bathroom. Then the plumber and electrician pop back in, put in the fittings and the final touches and it's DONE!
I love it. It's a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be, and bizarely, seems bigger than it did when there was nothing in it! Go figure! Anyway, it's all done and I'm just thrilled. Just needs a cost of paint now (and, the showerscreen hadn't been put in when these pics were taken). And I didn't really go over budget. All up, the bathroom cost under $9000. Awesome!
Well, our lovely plasterer sealed up all the cracks and crevices beautifully, but then the tiler popped around to see what had to be done and I began to think my good luck with tradespeople had run out. First of all, he grumbled about the size of the room, told me he charged more for the floor tiles and mosaic feature tiles, then proceeded to tell me how difficult it would be to do my feature tiles. Um, are you or are you not, a TILER? Seriously, all I want is for a few mosaics to be placed between the top of the vanity and the bottom of the mirror. Now, you'd think this was a common thing, but obviously not. He didn't get it "you want the tiles as a border around the room?" NO "You want the tiles as a border around the mirror?" NO! Gosh, I had to find a picture from a catalogue of something similar and then he told me "well, that's going to be a real pain and will just have to fit in with my rows." Hmmm, I think he was the real pain...
My builder and I rolled eyes after he left - he hadn't worked with this guy before and apologised, saying he hoped he wasn't going to be a problem. He couldn't believe his attitude and said I should be able to get what I want. I agree. The most annoying thing about all this was I spent the whole weekend attempting to work out how I could possibly make the feature work around "his rows" and even did the one thing I hate most in the world - maths - to try and make it as easy as possible for him.
So, Grumpy turns up on Monday morning and proceeds to waterproof the bathroom. He doesn't make eye contact with my husband, Steve, refuses to even look at Zak who is doing everything in his power to get his attention, and finished off saying if he doesn't turn up on Wednesday, he's dead (he was having minor surgery on the Tuesday). After he's gone, Steve mentions he doesn't trust him and I nod. I think Zak has good sense of character too, because the whole day he was whingy! Quite a contrast to everyone else who's worked on our bathroom - most of them have even scored extra work out of us. I spoke to electrician about a couple of things, the plumber is going to fix my leaky kitchen taps and the plasterer smoothed out a few other walls we messed up when moving windows around. So to have Grumpy so, grumpy, is quite the change...
Friday, 12 October 2007
My family in silhouette form. Zak looks like Casper!
After seeing this in a mag months ago, I finally got around to making my own little silhouette family! Only now, what I thought was rather unique is HUGE! Silhouettes are everywhere - check out this month's real living mag, there are silhouettes in several features. Anyhow, I still think it's rather cool having my family displayed in some way other than the usual photographs. And, it's so easy, I thought I'd share with you how to do it.
1. Take a photo of your subject's profile (from the side).
2. Print out on normal paper (don't want to waste precious photo paper!)
3. Using tracing paper, tissue paper or even baking paper, trace around profile with a pencil.
4. Turn the traced outline face down onto a piece of cardboard.
5. Retrace the outline with a pencil, or gently rub over the pencil, and the profile will imprint into the cardboard.
6. Cut around the cardboard outline, turn over (so any pesky pencil marks are turned over) and stick onto constrasting cardboard.
7. Frame and display.
Also check out there gorgeous Pini aprons - a few Christmas' ago, I bought my nana and I matching ones in Olive Branch Chocolate ($29.95). She was baking on Christmas morning and forgot to take it off when she went to dinner at my cousin's place. She only realised when my aunty commented on how pretty her dress was - and it was actually the apron. How funny!
Thursday, 11 October 2007
The great thing about this chair is it grows with your child - the grooves run the length of the legs, which means you can adjust the seat and foot rest to fit your baby/child - even you, as the Tripp Trapp can hold up to 100kgs. I've even heard a rumour that this is the chair all staff at Stokke have at work, which is good to hear they believe in their product! It's made of really smooth, stained wood which is so easy to wipe down, is very stylish and comes in a huge range of colours from bright orange and turquoise to white and various stains of wood - I chose the walnut.
The good news is, Babies Galore is having a huge storewide sale, starting today (Saturday, July 21) and the Tripp Trapp and its accessories are all on sale - for 10% off! There are also a heap of other bargains between 10 and 30% off, so if you're pregnant or a mum, hit the shops now some bargains or shop online at http://www.babiesgalore.com.au/
New pipes for the shower/bath
Lots more banging and mess today as Jeff ripped out the door and walls and left a huge big gaping hole - which then proceeded to let in ALL the freezing cold air into our warm lounge room. But I can handle a few cold draughts for a new bathroom. He jackhammered the tiles up which made a fair bit of noise at 8am and made sleeping in a bit difficult, but again, I'm not complaining, just reporting! It's hard to imagine the finished product when the room looks like this - I hope my vision comes off in reality...
Once everything was bought and delivered, Jeff, our builder, came to the rescue and ripped out the bathroom’s insides - bye bye tiles, walls, ceiling, floor. Bye-bye showers also - we’re living here during the renovation without a shower which isn’t great, but has to be done. Luckily, the in-laws are not far away… Banging, crashing, dust everywhere - it’s not the quietest place to live, but Zak doesn’t seem to mind. He finds it all hilarious and spends a lot of his day craning his neck from his floor mat, trying to check out the progress. By the end of the day, we have an empty shell with a gaping hole in the wall (barely covered with a piece of plywood). I’m a little nervous about the wind picking up again (it’s a whole two days after the major June storms), but the plywood sticks through the night and rain stays away. Phew.
The PC items (I don’t actually know what PC stands for, but that’s your loo, vanity, shower etc) are just a vanity and a shower. A linen cupboard takes up a huge chunk of the room, so whoever designed it didn’t make the most of the space. There’s no toilet. That’s in the old garage which was converted into a bedroom and is on the other side of the house. And no bath. I LOVE baths and was devastated to leave my old claw-foot bath in our other house when we moved.
I made up several plans and was actually surprised when the builder said it was doable - we’re going to fit a bath, shower, toilet and vanity in the tiny 1.8m by 2.2m space. Ok, so the shower and bath are combined, but still…
Tip: If you’re clueless about where to start a renovation, call your local hardware store or trade centre (like a plumbing place) and ask them for recommendations.
SHOP TIL I DROP Before any building can be done, I’ve got to organise my PC items so I shop, shop and shop some more for tiles, towel rails, a toilet, bath, vanity, taps… Don’t feel you need to head immediately to the nearest bathroom renovation centre. Hardware stores sell a lot of the PC items (Bunnings rocks), BIG W sells taps and mirrors; and Howard’s Storage World has great towel rails and bits and bobs. I was happy to spend on the vanity and taps, but for everything else, I was happy to buy the cheapest piece to fit the space. In the end, I spent up big at Bunnings on the wall tiles, taps, toilet, bath, exhaust fan and vanity. I bought some feature mosaics for $10 each at Amber Tiles (on sale - bargain) and the floor tiles from CTM. I also ordered a window and frameless mirror.
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Luckily, the room that was to be the baby’s (who was born in November and is named Zak) was the best of a bad bunch so with a little help from my father-in-law, Cliff, we had the ancient carpet ripped up and walls prepped, primed and painted in a few days. Of course, as is Murphy’s Law - the one area of the house we wanted to re-carpet had beautiful boards; the space we wanted to sand and polish was a disaster, but that’s another story…
I didn’t want to go too crazy with baby colours - we didn’t know what the sex was going to be and I’m not into majorly decorated kids rooms anyway, so earthy and airy was what I was after. We went for Dulux Whisper White for three walls and the ceiling and painted the only full wall a neutral feature colour - Porter’s Paints Donkey Grey.
I was lucky enough to score a relatively new cot for free, my sister’s boyfriend lent me his own baby wardrobe and my mum’s rocking chair would come in handy nursing and rocking baby to sleep. All I bought was a chest of drawers for the change mat and some cheapie bookshelves for $20 each from The Reject Shop (of all places!) which I painted white - several times. That laminate stuff really soaks up paint! I really wanted the IKEA Lack cubed bookshelf but I’d already bought one for the living room and another $269 was better off spent elsewhere. Like on my pram, which was really the only expensive thing I bought. I splurged on the Bugaboo Cameleon and yes, it’s ridiculously expensive at $1499, but I personally think it’s worth it. And I got it on sale. That’s the trick to buying baby stuff. You’re pregnant for so long, you get to take advantage of at least one major sale throughout the year. And most department stores have huge annual baby sales or expos which is a great opportunity to grab everything on your list at a reduced price. Also, if you buy a whole heap of nursery gear from the same store, ask if they’ll give you a discount - it works sometimes!
On the shopping-for-baby topic, I wrote a Bringing Home Baby article for the June issue of real living and some of the extra info is online at the website. So check out my essentials list at http://realliving.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=263139
Back to Zak’s room. Now that he’s here I’ve rearranged the room and am in the process of jazzing it up a little - pictures, decorative touches and personalising his space a little more - stay tuned.
I also have a tip: by placing the cot up against one (or two) interior walls, rather than an exterior wall, it’ll keep baby warmer in winter and cooler in summer. You really feel the cold/heat through a wall (especially if it’s not insulated like old houses often aren’t) and this helps a tiny bit.
And another: a shelf above the change table isn’t the most genius of ideas as I discovered when a little bottle of baby shampoo fell off and landed on Zak’s head. We both cried. He got over it, but I still kick myself.
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
When my husband Steve suggested we buy our house I thought it was time to have him to committed. I figured he’d gone insane. “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” I asked him. “Yep - look at all the potential,” he replied excitedly. Ahh potential. I’m all for it - see it in a lot of things. But in this case all I saw was hard work. And I’m not adverse to a little hard work. But this was going to be a LOT of hard work. We’d planned all along to get a house that we could make minor changes to to make our own. We wanted something near the water, with a big yard and near transport - seeing as we were going to be living 80km away from our jobs in the city, we needed it to be close to the train line. And he wanted to live here. With my nose turned up at the granny décor, neglected yard and shabby exterior, I exited stage left, figuring we’d continue our search. But then Steve started describing what we could do: move this door here, add a window there, put a deck on here, add a floor there for water views… and soon enough I too saw its potential and added my own suggestions: oooh we could paint it all white and add a deck and convert the cabin into a guest room and add French doors off the bedroom… Sold!
But like many renovators, our enthusiasm to strip, build, paint and polish started to slow and soon we found ourselves living with bare walls, unsanded floors and a mess that a dumpster manager would be proud of. Then we met a builder and got him to do some construction work and then fell pregnant and it was time to turn the spare junk room (we have a few junk rooms!) into a liveable space for a baby. So the reno began again. And it’s still going… I’ve been documenting what we’ve done and for some odd reason am sharing it with the world! But that’s kind of a good thing. For one thing, for those feeling down that their own renovation isn’t going to plan, it’s proof that creating a home take time, money and effort - and not everyone can dedicate their whole lives to doing it all in one hit. And not everyone can afford an interior designer to help either. So in case you thought the people behind magazines lived in fabulous homes with designer furniture or follow trends to the letter, this may come as a delight or disappointment, but we don’t. Not all anyway. And certainly not me. I AM the real living reader. I’ve a young family, have to balance work and home time, I need inspiration for my home, I have too many ideas and not enough time to put them into practice… Sound familiar? So, we’re in the same boat. Hopefully my own trial and error will somehow help you with your own. And please, feel free to share your stories.
Welcome to my blog! It’s only 18 months late. I’m very good at procrastinating, as I’m sure you’ll discover… I’m also good at changing my mind. I thought blogs were just another sad internet craze worsening our ability to get outside and do things and communicate effectively, but then I discovered some good ones in my internet travels and got a little inspired to set up my own. I might even help someone somewhere, somehow! Basically, I’ll share any tips and tricks I learn during my own home renovation and from my experience working at real living magazine. My colleagues are a bunch of interior design, shopping and decorating gurus whose wisdom on such matters should be shared with those of us setting up home or simply wanting to improve the look and feel of a space. So think of this as your stop for renovation tips, great stores and product reviews, sales, projects and other great sources of inspiration related to turning your own home into a cosy haven - easily, stylishly and as cheaply as possible! And, because I’m a recent addition to the motherhood club, I’ve become all baby obsessed and might talk about that for a bit too - bear with me, please, I’ll make sure that’s somehow interesting to you too, by sharing cool websites or baby-related shopping sites. I’ll also be posting behind the scenes stuff from real living and asking for your input and thoughts on the mag, so get ready to comment. But please, be kind…