Tuesday, 29 July 2008

EDITED: when did ceiling fans get funky?

Not sure how effective the odd-sized blades are but how sculpturally cool is this? Def one you want to make a statement with! Sycamore $595

I didn't get this memo. I only discovered this while looking around for new ones for our place. I'm incredibly boring and not very rich so won't be going for any of these funkier options, but thought I'd share them cause who knew ceiling fans could be cool (as well as cooling)? All from Beacon Lighting

If the light fitting wasn't so weird looking, I'd get this clear-bladed one. Zephyr $199

Sail away! Avalon, $699

You really can't not see this one can you? Fijian, $269

Very industrial - reminds me of an aeroplane propellor! Industrie II, $295

On this topic, my hubby wants a Balinese-ish wooden fan with light for our living room but the more modern chrome with light for the other rooms. I don't want ANY really, but know we need them. He had a good point: I'm in winter mode so am forgetting how stifling hot it gets in our house in the warmer months. Still doesn't make me want to rush out and buy them though (except for the fact, we want to get them all installed and done before our builder comes back to rip out another wall).

The one we'll probably go with: Futura Lucci, $199

I'm all for mixing things up, but not convinced a different style fan in the living room that will probably draw attention to itself is something I want to do. Especially when we'll be getting a very modern kitchen and flash open-plan dining space that will open up the entire room with a few sleeker light fittings etc. Am worried a chunky wooden style fan will then look out of place. Any thoughts? Am all ears...

[EDIT] PS: Lovely Cstar from Hydrangea Blue just posted a guide to buying ceiling fans which is hugely helpful if you're looking to upgrade or install for the first time.

PPS: Yes I changed my banner again. Bear with my sad attempts at jazzing it up. Despite the fact I work amongst brilliant (and incredibly busy) designers I have no graphic design experience myself, no proper program at home and no real talent. So Renae if you're reading this, I'm still counting on you to make me look nice! If you ever get a spare second... x

Friday, 25 July 2008

my new old chairs

One of two recliners I nicked from nana

This is one half of my new project: turning my Nana's chairs into something spectacular. Hopefully. My grandparents were given them by their children eons ago as a present and I very rudely asked if I could have them. Well, I did offer to buy them (if she didn't use them and was happy to part with them) but she's too nice to let me so I'll have to think of something nice to do in return.

Side view: they recline - yay!

While visiting with the babies last week I took a quick pic of one of them. They need a fair bit of work - Nana recovered them ages ago herself - the foam might need replacing and the wood will be sanded back and restained. However, I'm all excited about the challenge and can't wait to see them sitting in front of my living room windows/front door. I was going to go a white colour for the cushions cause that's my normal first boring solution to everything. BUT I fell in love with these pics of blue chairs and think they'd look excellent in a turquoise fabric with the wood stained a mid-brown. So, I'm actually going to get a little colourful and not just because Lou has blue chairs (although seeing hers did kick off the idea).

Love this colour. Pic stolen from Danielle's site

Hopefully mine will turn out this well. From DesignSponge

My friend Lou's cool turquoise chairs in the background inspired me to try a colour for once

Now I just need to bribe one of my brothers-in-law or cousin to bring them up to me (they have very handy 4WDs with ute tray thingy-me-bobs. My car is so tiny and full of baby seats you can't even fit a skinny 6-year-old in the back middle seat. We tried.). So the search for the perfect turquoise fabric begins...
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

odd inspiration: charlie and lola

Is it just me? Or is this somehow inspiring to you too?

Is it weird to be inspired by a children's book? Cause I totally am. I was just about to turn off the TV after Playschool the other day (that Zak was watching, not me. Well not just me), but then these little characters with adorable British accents popped onto the screen and I had to see what it was. Turns out it's my new favourite TV show: Charlie and Lola. They're hilarious and cute and I actually made Zak watch it before I got him dressed cause I was a little bit enthralled. It's like Bridget Jones for kids. But while he liked the actual show and characters, I was more interested in the very cool sets. Which is quite bizarre because the show is illustrated (aside from a few paper and fabric swatches incorporated very mixed-media-like). For some reason, the child-like drawings of funky white furniture against colourful, printed backdrops really appeals. And while I'm not exactly going to redecorate with cardboard furniture to get the look myself, I do have some new ideas for the kids' playroom when it's time to decorate. And I actually think parts of this "look" could look quite cool in the right home.

Cool chair, cool wallpaper - what's not to love?

I guess I'm not the only one: Domino once featured the house of one of its contributors, Rita Konig, and I remember the funky cardboard fireplace she had in her living room that her mother had commissioned by a set designer.

Rita Konig's cardboard fireplace as seen in Domino. Pic courtesy The Peak of Chic

I also found on The Peak of Chic's blog (while looking for said fireplace!) the cover of this book, below, that features a faux mirror, table legs, lamp shade and possibly wall mouldings. In fact, they did such a good job, it's hard to tell what's real and what's fake!

What's real, what's not? Pic from The Peak of Chic

And Jen from Made By Girl posted some pics of a house the other day that features a similar vibe: bold white animated wall sconces on a bold wallpapered wall.

Wall sconces in Pamela Bell's home. Pic courtesy of Made By Girl

I think this look would be perfect for store windows and fittings, kids rooms and for a humourous talking point in a living room. And if you're no good at painting or can't find the right piece, there will be a wall decal to help you out! Like this chandelier from Luka or hall stand from Lola et moi. To really give the decal a bit of punch, stick disguised scones on the wall with real candles and hooks for real coats. Cute? Or naff?

Chandelier wall sticker, $34.99, Luka

Hanger wall vinyl, $155, Lola et moi

On the subject of Charlie and Lola, you must, must check out their fab website and that of their creator, Lauren Child. I'm 31 years old and was colouring in, playing the games and watching the clips. But it's also a brilliant site for the kids old enough to navigate a computer (so, what, 2 these days?!). The books are also being sold at Kmart. I've started the collection for Zak - he thinks it's about Layla, not Lola! Ha!

Monday, 21 July 2008

my office

Moodboard close-up. See Layla's birth announcement? You can read about it here

I'm am still alive and well and not buried under a pile of nappies (although, it certainly feels like it sometimes), just been busy! Soo, due to the little bit of craziness that is being home alone with two babies during the day, I'm going to alternate posting days between the two blogs as much as I can - so one day here, one day at mini meez. Hopefully this will work better than nothing on either for days on end!
Anyway... I've posted my office before, but I just had a tidy up the other day and prettified it a little so thought I'd share again. I originally used my pinboard for useful things (like bills and lotto tickets and stamps etc), but I've gone the every-other-office route and just stuck up pretty cards and things cause it's sooo much nicer to look at. And adds a little colour to the place! Now the real challenge is keeping it this tidy. Rather easy while I'm on maternity leave, but once I go back to work I'll probably forget what colour the desk is!

Clean, tidy and colourful. It's a nice place to work. And much lighter in photographs than in real life!

I culled my magazine collection as best I could recently. But not before going through every single one and ripping out pretty pics. Most of them are in a box, but I went through and chose some faves, especially if they featured some hit of turquoise - my favourite colour. I find it so fresh and pretty and it's the one shot of colour you'll find in my mostly brown home!

The side of the cupboard is now a feature rather than blending in.
Apologies for weirdness of photographs - am not sure what's going on with my camera! Have to ask Dad (cause way too complicated to figure out myself!)

Friday, 18 July 2008

quick plug: printdolls

Alice's gorgeous home, as featured in Real Living June 2008 issue

Ever seen these awesome bus-stop signs in cool homes featured in magazines? Been annoyed that they were "vintage eBay finds" and therefore unlikely to be making their way into your house anytime soon? Then here is a link for you: PrintDolls. Started up by a very clever and stylish former colleague of mine - Alice Flynn - and her friend, Marika Jarv, PrintDolls is a design label that creates beautiful screenprinted artworks of old-fashioned bus-destination scrolls in graphic black and white typography. The website just launched this month and has several different destination "All Stops To..." works available featuring Sydney and Melbourne suburbs with more to come. How great does it look in her house? Might have to add one to my "to-buy" list...

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Tag! I'm it!

The lovely Chantal Butcher at Interior Dreaming and Styled Baby tagged me the other day. Sooo, here's a little bit about me...

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was 21, living at home and a newspaper journalist with aspirations to work for TIME magazine (!). In-between all serious and usually depressing police and court reporting, I'd just started dating my now-hubby Steve, spent way too much money on clothes from Portmans and make-up, and even went out occassionally. In high heels.

Five items on your to-do list today?

1. Buy a pressie for my brother-in-law Pete (kind of done - mother-in-law bought on our behalf!)
2. Buy another blind for the bedroom (still uncrossed. Stupid Freedom closed down near me for a few weeks... Grr)
3. Finish weekend project (one part is done!)
4. Sign agency agreement and send off for sale of investment property (well it's signed...)
5. Finish answering Natalie's questions for mini profile and attempt to make myself sound half intelligent. (questions answered, just not sent off. they're coming nat!)
Hmm, not a very successful to-do list was it?!

Snacks you enjoy?
Chocolate, ice cream and cake. I've a sweet tooth. And lots of fillings. And more to come if I ever work up the courage to go back to the dentist who told me five years ago he'd fill the "small hole" when I returned...

What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Oooh, aside from the obvious "looking after family and giving some to charity" I'd...
* Throw money at Anthropologie to open stores here in Oz - cause we need them here. And I think this would count as charity too!
* Buy holiday homes all over the world and play decorator as much as I liked.
* Buy Liverpool FC for Steve so he could play manager as much as he liked - he's already an expert (on his computer game anyway)

Where would you live?
Am I still a billionaire? If so, I'd by an absolute beachfront home outside of the city and a helicopter to chopper me in to work! If I'm my normal poor self, I'm rather happy where I am in my rather sleepy little town on the NSW central coast - for now!

Who will I pass this on to?
Not sure who's done it and who hasn't, but Natalie at Daily Imprint cause with a newborn she has HEAPS of time on her hands, and Georgia at The Musings of a Betty Homemaker cause she's a newbie blogger and was worried noone would visit her site. So go check her out!

weekend project: heart cushion

How great does this look? Wish this was my version! Mine is below... From Design*Sponge

On the subject of ripping people off... I saw this before/after on design*sponge on Friday and had to have it. All of it actually - I think I'll cover my nanna's chairs a blue like this. But in the meantime, I just copied the cushion. As best I could.

My heart cushion - I painted it freehand. Pretty good shape me thinks!

This started out as a stencilled "Amor Vincit Omnia" which is Latin for "Love conquers all" but the so-called fabric paint I used (which turned out to be a dye and not very useful) bled with my very dodgy stencil (a paper print out of the words I cut out with a ruler and razor blade!) and so I just painted the heart over it with acrylic paint. I ended up trying the text again with the acrylic and it turned out beautifully - I just haven't turned it into a cushion yet, so stay tuned...

Thursday, 10 July 2008

eye candy: dream kitchen (and a whole lot of waffle about stealing ideas)

Don't you wish this was your house?

We all steal inspiration from somewhere - magazines, blogs, Flickr. But we do this safe in the knowledge that everyone else has probably seen it too and so it's no big deal. It gets a little trickier when you do it to someone you know. Have you ever visited someone's house and left wanting to steal an idea, a look or heck, the entire house? I do this all the time. Sometimes I do something about it, but most times I just dream about how it'd look at my place and store it in the part of my memory that is house-related for another time. After visiting my editor Deb's house I wanted to completely redo my house in a casual beach style with distressed furniture; everytime I visit my sister Kristie's I want to paint a raspberry feature wall (and steal her tidiness); I looked high and low for the perfect low, long white entertainment unit for my space after seeing one at my friend Pip's; the kids birthday party shoot at stylist Alice's house was the last confirmation I needed to get my cowhide rug (and convinced me I need to change my front door and window combo to a wall of bifolds); I tried to buy the same dining buffet as my friend Emma after playgroup at her house one day but it was sold out; and at my Nana's it's her Hans Wegner-inspired reclining armchairs I want to nick. In fact, I even asked if I could buy them off her and bless her, she's giving them to me for free. If I ever get around to picking them up!

See, I'm a thief! It's not that any of these things are new or original ideas, but seeing them in real life - not in the pages of a magazine or on a website - is usually the clincher. The problem with this - particularly if it is something unique - is that, like ripping off clothing ideas from fashionable friends, we can find ourselves clones of each other, quite possibly leaving the original slightly peeved at no longer being original and risking not ever being invited back! Not me, though. I've been the copied a couple of times and am of the "immitation is the sincerest form of flattery" school.

On Monday I outdid myself: three of us former Cosmo girls played babies at Louise's house (between us, we've had seven babies in four years. Quite the effort really) and I found myself popping her entire home into my "house-inspiration vault". I now want turquoise chairs in the living room, a huge funky chandelier over my dining table, ghost stools and the cool storage boxes on the wall in her son's room. That said, I was slightly thrilled to see a few decorative similarities to my own place: we both have cow hides, the same Ezibuy zebra rug, antlers, wooden letters spelling "love" and dark floors - all coincidences (except the zebra rug which I'm pleased to say I was the copied not the copier of!) - yet she somehow made all of hers look so much better than mine!
But most of all - and finally, to the point of this post - I want her kitchen, which is hands down one of the best I've ever seen. Designed by her architect hubby
Graeme Bell, it's modern, sleek, stylish, clean and packed with storage and cool ideas. Like the open shelving on the other side of the island, the mirror splashback, the hidden fridge, the fantastic industrial-style pendant lights, the integrated Corian sink and the funky commercial-kitchen taps and faucet.

Love the Philippe Starck for Kartell Charles Ghost stools, from $211 for small, Top3ByDesign

Look at that gorgeous - and neverending - Corian benchtop! Heaven! And you can just see the cool turquoise chairs in the background (with cute son Jasper)

Lou promises the actual kitchen itself is pretty standard, just well-designed, but I'm still too scared to ask how much it cost! She does share her must-haves though: "Our main requirement was that we have a spot to eat meals together in the kitchen without resorting to the formal dining room. Also, I LOOOVE to cook, so I wanted plenty storage, plus a practical space to prepare meals for 2-20 people! Oh, and the one thing I was obsessed about was the kitchen sink tap. I love the taps in commercial kitchens with the long swivel-y hose." Wishes granted!

The pendant lights are Lampara by Gineico Interiors. Lou made the pinboard herself

Love the mini library as you walk through the kitchen area to the living room.

Gold stars to Graeme and Lou - it's an amazing space and has inspired me to get cracking on my own kitchen renovation which kind of got forgotten what with all the giving birth and craziness of the last few months!

And back to my thievery: we're meeting up again in a few weeks, this time at Pip's new house. I can't wait to see what she's done to the place... and what ideas I can nick! Now, please tell me I'm not the only house-style stalker?!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

how to... wallpaper a dresser

The wallpapered dresser in Layla's end of our room

I've had a few people ask me how I did this. I originally didn't post as there was a possibility it'd go in the magazine. It still might, but I can give you rough instructions! It wasn't hard - the trickiest part is probably getting the wallpaper samples. I was lucky enough to have access to scraps through work, but I did use my own as well. I was originally going to wallpaper the wall this dresser is against but the hubby didn't like my choices and I couldn't be bothered to look anymore so we painted it! So I put the samples I did have to good use on my dresser. Try wallpaper places for samples - you might have to pay a tiny fee, or if you can't seem to find any, try using pretty paper instead.

Step 1 Take off any handles and remove drawers. My father-in-law taught me a little trick with drawers: if it's an old piece of furniture, it's likely the drawers only fit in one space properly. Instead of trial and error, take out the top drawer and write "1" on the underside, then "2" on the second one etc. Then you'll know where they go when it's time to put them back!

Step 2 Paint or stain the cupboard frame if you wish. I painted mine a glossy white.

Step 3 Arrange the wallpaper samples on the floor in a pattern you'd like to replicate on the drawer front. You might need to cut some up to spread them around, just don't cut to fit just yet - a little overhang of the drawers shape is ideal. A mix of colours and patterns can look good - just don't go too crazy with a rainbow of colours. A palette of three or four main colours and a few accents always looks best.

Step 4 Use a cutting mat or chopping board, stanley knife and ruler to cut one neat edge of the wallpaper. This is the piece that will be joined to another on the drawer. Paint the back of the wallpaper with wallpaper paste (or just a good glue if you're using paper) and stick the piece as far along the drawer as you desire.

Step 5 Firmly press the paper over the drawer, smoothing out any lumps. A word of warning: no matter how well you do this, it might dry a tiny bit warped. Well it did for me anyway - I have a few wrinkles. Let's call them character lines!

A cloce-up: bumps and all!

Step 6 Repeat with the second piece of paper, only this time make the neat line on the other side so they line up nicely on the drawer.

Step 7 Turn the drawer over and place on the cutting mat or board. Use your stanley knife or razor blade to cut off the excess paper - the drawer edge should be a sufficient ruler and ensure you get the paper to fit perfectly.

Step 8 Repeat on all drawers. Replace handles (be careful not to tear the paper when poking through the screw - you might need to use a sharp needle to piece it first and then wiggle the screw through.

Step 9 Done and wait for the compliments! hah

If anyone does this themselves, let me know - would love to see your version!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

lovely new things to buy from Real Shopping

The pretty Real Shopping opener

Real Living's little department store Real Shopping has just started stocking the lovely Nordic Designs. Gorgeous cushions, fabrics and manchester (although I just noticed that only the cushions have been put up on the site so far) from popular Scandinavian brands. Here's a little sample of the range.

My fave: Weed Cushion cover in white/raspberry, $75

Pretty spots: Strossel Cushion cover, $75

Classic black and white: Blomma Cushion Cover, $75

Keep checking back for the too-cute kids linen and fabrics by the metre. And remember: shipping is FREE! Don't you wish all internet shopping offered that?!

Friday, 4 July 2008

sneak peek: real living august issue

Bright and cheery: August 2008 issue - out Monday

I'm quite excited about this issue of Real Living - because it's the first one I haven't had anything to do with as I was on maternity leave when they started it. It's so nice to read the mag as a reader and not an employee. Although the poor office probably hates me for it cause last time I was on maternity leave I actually sent them a way-to-long synopsis of what I thought about it - loves, hates, things I would have done/wouldn't have done/should have done (they were used to my annoying changes as deputy ed!). I'll try not to this time! So I can't really tell you what's in it except the one feature I actually know a little about - the kids party! Only because I was at the shoot - Zak was a party guest. My mother-in-law reminded me of this when she called me excitedly yesterday after receiving her subscriber copy (remember, they get them early - an incentive to sign up for a subscription!). I also made the cut, much to my horror. I was told it was kids only, so didn't exactly make an effort. In fact, I was so late leaving for the shoot, I don't think I washed my face, let alone put make-up on or dressed appropriately. A quick thanks to our lovely retoucher, Bi, who magically made my bra strap disappear!

Other than the kids party, there is a great house feature - of Emma Cassi - which we had to shoot after seeing it around the web. I love, love her bedhead. Make sure you check out the issue and of course, feel free to tell me your loves and hates (I'll pass on to the team!).

Have a great weekend

Thursday, 3 July 2008

eye candy: jennifer delonge's house

Gotta love a house that blends kids style instead of shutting it away behind closed doors or letting it rule. The kids armchair and ottoman on the right are Jennifer's designs - the Ava chair. I want to cover Zak's little green armchair in a funky fabric like this!

It appears I'm a little obsessed with this woman, what with three posts on her today alone (2 over at mini meez). I'm not really, but I do like her work and her style. She designs a line of stylish, grown-up kids furniture in the US that I really, really wish was available here. While looking through her press clippings on her website, I discovered her lovely home which had been featured in InStyle Home magazine and had to share as this week's inspirational eye candy.

A bold, eclectic style fit for a rock star (her hubby is Tom DeLonge of Blink 182 & Angels and Airwaves)

I want this to be my living room. A cosy mix of stylish neutrals and hits of glam

Another great photo wall: I love that it's floor to ceiling and is treated as the wall itself with furniture placed in front of it - not just a feature

So-stylish nursery that'll still suit the bub as it grows. I also love the light fitting above the dining table.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

product review: IKEA Pax wardrobes

IKEA Pax wardrobes: a home for all your pretties

For four and a half years, I had no wardrobe. I actually DIYed one myself out of IKEA bookshelves I had and their Komplement interior rails cause I was so desperate and so over those mobile racks that fell apart if you put more than say three pairs of pants on it. I thought I was so clever. It was rather hideous but did the job. So in our money-spending mode, we figured we'd do it properly and got a quote from our lovely carpenter who did our bathroom, exterior and other odd jobs around the place. The quote? $2600. I actually think this is a good quote, but I still couldn't justify it when I knew IKEA had super-tall versions and lots of cool interior fittings. So I did some measuring, drawing, computer 3D workshopping (they have an online wardrobe planner here) and came up with $1300 - including the $130 it cost to get it all the way up here! In case you were thinking of it yourself, here's a little info...

The good: The price is definitely a positive. The smallest frame-only size will only set you back $79 (50cm wide, 201cm high, 35cm deep). But for the best space for your $$$, go the biggest versions you can - 236cm high, 100cm wide and 58cm deep. Also great: the variety (size, colour, doors, handles), the online planner and the fact there are so many cool interior wardrobe storage devices from pull-out shelves and pants hangers to dividers for smalls and lockable drawers. Everything can have a home! And even better: they're really easy to put together. I promise you! I was 9 months pregnant with an incredibly sore back but I could still put most of the frame together myself. I just needed Steve's help putting the last side in place and then he moved them into position on the wall and attached them to it and to each other so they won't topple over! (And thanks to Mum who helped me put the first one together. And yes, I was careful doing the rest by myself!)

My version: nice and tidy behind closed doors (the cheapest, cause, well, they're doors and I like simple). Also great: I got the handles on sale for just $15 all up!

The really good: The add-on extension hanger. If you don't have the space (or budget) for a huge wall of wardrobes but need maximum hanging room, double the space in one robe with this nifty extension. It simply clips onto the top rail and screws into the cupboard wall. The real genius though is the fact you get to determine how much space you want. Need full-length hanging space plus two rows for shirts and jackets? No probs, just slide across to where you need (as seen in the first pic of this post).

Komplement Add-On Hanger, $15

The bad: Not too much, but I did find the doors incredibly hard to hang. Usually Ikea's non-written instructions and illos are gold for putting things together, but this was one time I felt they needed to be explained as there are two parts to hanging the door: attaching the hinges and adjusting the hinges so the doors are even. But the illos don't tell you what's what so I spent a whole lot of time wondering what the heck the adjustment instructions meant and had to Google it (thank God for Google). But this could just be me!!! Oh, and the extra-high frames might not be the best for short people!! Even Steve struggles to reach the top shelf easily and he's 6 foot 3 (erm, not 5 foot 3 as previously posted)!

The annoying: Having to drill the holes for the handles. Although this comes with a positive in that you get to choose your handles and where you place them, it's a huge annoying drama getting them to line up. As you may have seen from my previous post, I stuffed it big time. But again, this could just be me and you might be awesome at measuring and getting things even - things that are obviously not my strong points! One other silly thing: IKEA don't supply you with the screws to attach the wardrobes to the wall. They give you EVERYTHING else - even little rubber circles so the doors don't damage the frames when they close - but no screws for the wall. And they weren't just missing from the pack - they just don't supply them! So we scavenged around our tool box to find the right ones (they just tell you what you need. How bizarre of them!)

Just a little off the mark!

The cheats: Well, one, really. Ikea have great Komplement boxes for storing bits and pieces in. They're $35 for three small square ones or $50 for three larger ones. But I found pretty much the same thing (and same size as the small version) in Lincraft for just $4 each.

IKEA Komplement box, $35 for three

All up, it was a very cost-effective and space-saving way to store our clothes! Am thrilled with the result (except my stupid extra hole in the door which we have yet to fix properly).