Monday, June 27, 2016

philips hue...bespoke lighting for your home

Meet Philips Hue!!  Finally a wireless home lighting system that you can retrofit without calling out the sparky.  So excited about this product.   This is what you can do with Hue - smart control from your phone, control lights away from home, set light schedules, create an ambience, paint with light (yes really), synch with music.  Did I mention I was excited about this product?

Looks pretty easy to install, you need to buy a starter kit with a bridge that must be plugged into your wifi, and some smart bulbs.  Then download the Hue app and control the smart bulbs from the app.  The bridge retails at $89 and colour bulbs from $89 each, but if you want a few lights to turn on when you come home you can probably get away with an initial investment for around $300.  Once you have the base set up installed there are some pretty cool options to play with.




The app allows you to set lighting moods, turning on "moments" they call it.  So you can have relaxed moment, a normal bright light moment, a wake up moment, a party moment.  Sounds like fun and watching reviews it reacts really quickly and is easy to set.  The colour globes can be set to any colour, the blues and reds are really effective.  I like the Bloom light ($99.90) which washes the wall in colour and is small enough to sit on a desk top or credenza, and the Hue Go which is similar to the Bloom but cordless and portable.  Again controlled from your phone and really easy to use.  See the cute video below.

No need to wait for the Vivid festival anymore, you can have your own little festival at your house whenever you want.

And with the Hue Party app you can really throw a party (see video below) with the lights syncing to music, strobe function, candle function, scrolling rainbow lights.  I want to have a party...


I would install it just to be able to set the entrance lights on remotely, or when it gets dark, never like coming home to a dark house.  Useful to make it look like somebody's home when you are away too.   You can set the geo-fencing feature which switches the lights off when you reach a set distance away from home, and switches on when it senses you coming home.  Pretty cool.

And how genius for people who are renting!!!  Because I never rented a house that had decent lights.  You can upgrade the lighting and take it all with you when you leave.

Lighting is very under rated in creating the mood of a home.  I know it is an area of design I would love to do better at our house, and this looks like a good first step.  

Would love to install this at my house!!   Check out Philips Hue website for more info and the other cool products like the LED light strips and tap switch.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

currawong updates

Little things around Currawong Cottage...

New wooded cooking utensils and bird topped jar on the kitchen counter.

Fresh picked eucalyptus in my lovely new basket.

Horse shoe coat rack made by Miss E in the white bedroom.

If you are looking for a country retreat, why not visit Currawong Cottage yourself.  The perfect relaxed spot to explore the Mornington Peninsula from.

Monday, June 13, 2016

miss j's bedroom makeover

If I wait until it is really truly finished it will never get posted.  So here is Miss J's bedroom makeover.  Looking pretty and fresh with lots of white and hints of pink and mint.  
See how it looked as Miss E's teen room here.


The bedside table is like a super sized pink dot to match the wall dots.  A really good buy from Kmart, Kmart homeware is just getting better and better.  Yes I know the quality isn't great but brilliant value.  The blue mini dot pillow case is from Pottery Barn Kids, and I made the ikat cushion with fabric from No Chintz.

I have changed the curtain dressing to a plain white and dressed the edges with teeny mint pom-pom trim.  Love how this turned out so much that I added it to the poster edge below.


and more pom-pom trim on the ikat cushion.  I do love a little bit of trim.


The pineapple door stopper is another Kmart find, love a bit of yellow.


Miss J is obsessed with birds, animals and insects, her favourite bed time reading is the animal encyclopedia.  So I made a simple poster frame for these gorgeous wrapping papers.  Was really hard to photograph these in the context of the room.

A little bit of yellow goes a long way to diffuse the girliness of the pink dots.

Not totally thrilled with these photos, I find photographing interiors really quite tricky, but you get the picture.  Still lots of little details to add, but am loving the direction it is heading in.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

in search of pretty things... girls bedroom

I am looking for some decorative finishing touches for Miss J's room, nothing to candy pink or Disney inspired.  Miss J can add all that if her little heart so pleases.

From top left:
Amazing diy wall hanging with cute deer hook
Gorgeous colour block yarn wall hanging from TapestriesbyNadia
Great value pegboard from Kmart - bargain at $29 
Blue ikat wallpaper
Ikat fabrics from No Chintz

Monday, May 30, 2016

Invest in a butlers pantry

A butler's pantry is an opportunity to get your build dollars working hard for you. Why?  Let me convince you.
Kitchens are the heart of modern homes.  They are where we entertain, where we spend time with family daily.  We want them to be functional and look beautiful too. 

A butler's pantry is a secondary kitchen space: 
  • for washing up
  • a work space for appliances that you don't want on display like the coffee machine, juicer and food processor 
  • for additional storage
They allow you to keep the mess and prep of cooking largely out of site, and they allow you to keep your appliances out, ready to use, without cluttering up the primary kitchen visually. 

Creates more storage, keeps your home looking beautiful, makes daily cooking and entertaining easier; this is why butlers pantries are fast becoming an essential part of any luxe home design.  

So why is a butlers pantry a good investment?  
You don't need an enormous butler's pantry to really add to the functionality and wow factor of your home.  
  • A relatively modest investment in space and budget will impress prospective buyers one day.  Yes a big space would be better, but even a small functional space is good.
  • It is becoming a must have item for buyers of modern luxe homes.
  • The cabinetry is out of site and doesn't have to be super expensive.  Save your dollars for the primary kitchen and fill the butlers pantry with good quality but standard fittings.
  • Storage is a primary concern for buyers, any investment in storage will be repaid when you sell.
  • You are going to love living with it now, and reap the financial reward of the investment when you sell.
Planning the space
While it doesn't have to be enormous, I recommend making the space as generous as possible.  
  • Plan lots of bench space next to a double sink, and plenty of storage for platters, decorative objects, and table linen.  
  • I would recommend a mix of closed and open storage.  Open storage for items used often, and closed for glassware and less frequently used items that you don't want to get dusty. 
  • Make sure the shelves are deep enough to hold platters and large appliances.
  • Include above counter plug points so that appliances can be plugged in easily.
  • Try and ensure that any portion of the space that is visible from the primary kitchen ties in with the kitchen design, and can be styled to look good.
  • There are some excellent designs out there for making use of both small and awkward spaces.  Start a pinterest board to keep track of all those good ideas.

Now for the eye candy.  I have scoured the web and pored over plans to try and show you the best of the best layouts out there.  Essentially the pantry space extends off the kitchen, either into an expanded walk in cupboard space, or into a separate room.  It all depends on the space in your home but these are some of my favourites.






See more in the Build 101 series, where I share my experience to make your build dollars work harder, and your build journey that little bit easier.

Photo's from top: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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.