16 March 2018
By portermathewsblog


In a world of flat-packed and mass-produced, how do you know if your new furniture is made from the real deal?

Before navigating a market flooded with fake wood and faux fabrics, consider the following expert tips and buy with confidence.

How to recognise real timber

“As makers we have the opportunity to use a variety of beautiful hardwoods,” says designer Nathan Day. “Australian timbers like jarrah and blackwood, and North American species like oak and walnut are classics. People love them because they machine beautifully, are stable, and age gracefully.”

"As makers we have the opportunity to use a variety of beautiful hardwoods," says designer Nathan Day.“As makers we have the opportunity to use a variety of beautiful hardwoods,” says designer Nathan Day. Photo: Nathan Day Design

Designer Karl Young from Saltwood Designs uses solid timbers that are sustainably sourced and recycled. “There is demand for furniture made from existing pieces of the house. I’ve made vanities and tables from old roof timbers!”

While 100 per cent timbers are readily available in various guises, Day has noted an increase in man-made versions. “Reconstituted timber products, plastics and other materials are creeping into the market. They are processed to look like wood with stains, which is meant to make them look expensive.”

Despite the inferiority of laminates and particle boards, Young maintains that they do serve a purpose. “The substrate may not be a sustainable one, but in using veneers you are cutting down less trees, and if done right they will still last and look beautiful.”

Walnut and oak bedside tables.Walnut and oak bedside tables. Photo: Saltwood Designs


Check the material’s origin and buy from someone who represents trusted design brands. “Ask them to point out differences in quality in material, construction and finish,” says Day, “and avoid replicas. They are nothing more than a cheap imitations.”

Designer Karl Young from Saltwood Designs uses solid timbers that are sustainably sourced and recycled.Designer Karl Young from Saltwood Designs uses solid timbers that are sustainably sourced and recycled. Photo: Saltwood Designs

Meet the maker

“Find out their values,” says Young. “They should understand your needs and as the client, be involved from the very beginning – from design through to finished product.”

Weight and firmness

Consider the product’s weight and press your nail into its surface to gauge denseness, before comparing your findings with authentic wood species.

Grain colour 

If the colour of the wood isn’t natural or stained, it may not be 100 per cent genuine.


“You get what you pay for,” says Day. “Quality generally costs more.”


Check for surface colour. Most woods turn a shade of gray, darken, become redder or lose colour, if exposed to the elements.

Grain lines

Grain lines should run consistently over the edge of the table. If they don’t, it could be veneer imitating timber.

End grain

Check for growth rings formed by the yearly growth of a tree. They are difficult to properly replicate.

How to recognise natural fabrics

When it comes to soft furnishings, plant-based fabrics like cotton and linen, and animal fibres like silk and wool are the most coveted. They look expensive, offer breathability, natural temperature regulation and superior durability.

“Fabric choice comes down to its end purpose – colour, pattern, texture and budget,” says Sarah Elshaug from Maitland Interiors. “By starting with the end-in-mind we ensure the fabric is fit for purpose and durable.”

Polyester blends masquerading as linen are the most common misrepresented fabric says Elshaug. “Using a synthetic means you are sacrificing on comfort and that luxurious feel of a natural fabric.”

Elshaug says while inferior, cheaper blends do have their place. “They offer stain resistance and colour fastness, so in a family home, opting for a sofa covered in polyester blend fabric will ensure longevity. To the untrained eye it can be hard to tell which fabric is what when looking at it,” says Elshaug.

Need-to-knows when purchasing natural fabrics:

The burn test

“Find a safe spot outside or in your laundry trough where you can burn a section of fabric,” she says. “When you burn a fabric and it turns to powder, it’s natural. If it melts and beads up like plastic with a sweet odour, then it’s synthetic.”

Feel and weight

“Gauge weight, quality and content,” she says. “I pay attention to how a fabric feels in my hand or moves when I give it a shake. Not only does it help determine its authenticity, it also tells me how it will behave.”

Australian standards

“Fabrics sourced from a reputable show room will have a data sheet specifying its composition and testing that has been done to meet Australian standards,” she says. “Sight this documentation and if you’re not satisfied, move on. With a global economy, we are spoilt for choice and can source beautifully made fabrics from around the world.”

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12 March 2018
By portermathewsblog


Perth’s vacancy rate has dropped to 5.3 per cent – the lowest since July 2015.

REIWA President Hayden Groves said Perth’s latest vacancy rate for January 2018 had improved significantly since June 2017.

“It’s quite remarkable to see it this low considering seven months earlier Perth’s vacancy rate soared to 7.3 per cent – the highest we have ever experienced, and now it’s back at levels last seen in 2015.

“The vacancy rate is a good indicator for how the entire rental market is tracking, with data for February showing stable rent prices and declining listing levels. Leasing activity did drop off in February, however levels are still healthy and trending above long term averages,” Mr Groves said.

The vacancy rate is compiled using data obtained from a monthly survey of REIWA members. The survey details how many rental properties members manage and how many of those are vacant.

Mr Groves said there were a number of factors that had contributed to lowering the vacancy rate, such as an increase in population growth and a reduction in average tenure time.

“Population growth in WA has started to improve. Rental markets always feel the effects of population trends, with new entrants into the state the first to soak up rental stock.

“Tenants are also moving more frequently. In 2014 for example, the average tenure time was 45 months, fast forward to 2017 and it’s now 34 months, which is almost a full year less. This has led to an increase in leasing activity which has driven demand for rentals and had a positive effect on the vacancy rate.

“Another contributing factor is the reduction in the number of new dwelling commencements across the Perth Metro area. This has played an important role in lowering the vacancy rate. With less new dwellings coming onto the market, existing rental stock is now being soaked up, which is why rental listings have declined 19 per cent over the last year.

“After a challenging few years for landlords and investors, it’s pleasing to see some parity return to the rental market, with tenants and landlords seeing benefits simultaneously,” Mr Groves said.

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09 March 2018
By portermathewsblog


Image Sources: Laura Metzler and Homepolish

The way Shannon Smith transforms a bare apartment into a cosy home might cause you to confuse her for a magician, or an interior design fairy godmother at the very least. The Homepolish interior designer can do wonders to a space no matter how tight the budget or small the square footage.

The secret to creating a stunning home, she says, is to focus on three things when decorating. “I am a firm believer that you don’t need a lot of stuff to make your space feel finished. If you consider these three things — texture, colour, and scale — you can make any space feel cosy.”

Keep reading to hear what Shannon has to say about approaching each.

  1. Texture: The More The Merrier

    Image Sources: Laura Metzler and Homepolish

    “Add texture with area rugs, drapery, vintage pieces, or natural fibers,” Shannon advises.

  2. Colour: Layer Three

    Image Sources: Laura Metzler and Homepolish

    “Layer colour in your space to add depth, even if it’s neutral,” she says. “I always try to choose three colours — a light colour, a dark colour, and something in between — and scatter them throughout the space.”

  3. Scale: Go Big, or Go Home

Image Sources: Laura Metzler and Homepolish

“Large art pieces, leaning floor mirrors, and big area rugs accentuate the height of the ceilings or the width of a room,” explains Shannon. “If you are worried about living in a small space, focus particularly on this tip as it will usually make your space feel larger.”





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