11 January 2018
Melissa Cowan on Houzz
The weather is seriously heating up, it’s light until 8pm and everyone is in the mood to socialise and drink sangria (rather than stay home and watch movies). Summer usually means an abundance of parties – from Christmas catch-ups to New Year’s celebrations, to “just because” gatherings of family and friends.
If you find yourself hosting a summer party, here are some ideas to have on hand that will make it a soiree to remember.
Photo by Elizabeth Home Decor & Design, Inc
Set up a self-serve drinks trolley
Setting up a drinks trolley to allow your guests to serve themselves will save you a lot of time during the event. Whether you’re planning for your summer party a long time in advance or throwing it together at the last minute, putting together a drinks trolley is an excellent idea. And being on wheels means you can easily cart it outside.
Tip: Pack your trolley full of everything you may possibly need, from liquor to cocktail shakers, straws and citrus. Keep a back-up supply nearby for when anything runs out.
Failing being able to have a drinks trolley, making sangria or punch before the party is delicious and easy. The great thing is that the mixed drinks will only get better as they continue to infuse with the added ingredients (like orange). Just make sure to keep it in the fridge until the guests arrive, and then periodically fill it with ice.
Offer your guests citrus-, mint-, strawberry- or cucumber-infused water to keep them cool on hot days; no one wants to get dehydrated. Also, keep a few ice buckets on hand to fill with ice and hold your water bottles. Try combinations of a few ingredients for variation, like strawberry, lemon and basil, or watermelon and mint.
Tip: Use thin slices and cubes so the flavour can infuse more quickly.
Photo by Dreamy Whites
Use mason jars for … everything
What can’t you do with a mason jar? They make fabulous cocktail containers and beautiful makeshift vases. Plus it’s much quicker to make a big batch of cocktails in the blender and then pour it into the jars, rather than trying to mix them in each jar.
Jars also make for lovely candle holders. Add pebbles or shells at the bottom of the jar to create a beachy vibe (and to help prevent them from tipping over).
Tip: When using jars as vases, make sure they are filled with enough water to weigh them down, and that the flowers or branches put in them aren’t so heavy that they’ll topple over.
Display your garden cuttings
Plant cuttings are a surefire way to add vibrancy to your party. Use mismatched vessels for floating them in with water, and mix up the types of plants you feature. Succulents look particularly beautiful, but flowers are also a great option.
Give the foliage a home among the food to create a rustic and relaxed tone to the party. You could even intersperse herbs in pots for your guests to pick and sprinkle on their food.
String up some fairy lights
Who doesn’t love fairy lights? Lighting is one of the quickest ways to add ambience to a space. Stick to warm light to prevent the lighting from sticking out too much from its surroundings.
Tip: Before starting, measure the area where you want to use the fairy lights – and then add on a few more metres for slack.
Photo by Terri Clark Interiors
Paper lanterns are a great way to add a colour injection into your party. You have the option of having purely decorative lanterns, or ones containing small lamps or lightbulbs. As an added bonus, a “grazing centrepiece” of fruit and vegetables is a stunning and unique way of presenting your offerings.
If you don’t want to go to the effort of stringing up lights, or your party will only be during the day, consider putting up some pretty bunting instead. If your soiree will be continuing into the evening, put out a few light blankets for your guests to drape over themselves. You might be surprised how much the temperature can drop once night falls.
Prep your music situation
In my opinion, music can make or break a party. When choosing your sound system (unless you have a pre-existing one), bluetooth speakers are great because they can be easily moved from room to room. Tailor your music playlist to your guests – are they into the classics or the latest hits? A combination of the two will likely be a crowd pleaser. Try and estimate the amount of time your guests will stay (and take into account that there’s always one or two that stay well into the night!) and then make your playlist long enough. Five or six hours will usually cover it.
Tip: Rather than having one huge, really loud speaker, have a few smaller ones and put them in different spots around your house. Place them above ear level to stop your guests from getting blasted with noise.
Get out the fancy stuff
When people think of summer parties, they usually think of disposable plates and cups and paper serviettes. If you want to break the mould, and trust your friends not to break your teacups, go all out with your special crockery. Don’t worry about them being perfectly matching – mismatched crockery will be totally “boho chic”.
Prepare easy finger food
Light finger food is much easier to handle than a giant meal, especially when the weather is sweltering. Buy your ingredients seasonally to ensure freshness and cost-effectiveness. Dips, crackers and cheese always go down a treat. So that your guests don’t have to line up for their snacks, place a couple of food stations in different locations so they’re more spread out.
Tip: Be sure to include a few vegetarian options if guests have advised they don’t eat meat – or even if you’re not sure of their eating preferences.
Make sure there are shady spots available
Getting burnt and overheated is the quickest way to turn any guest into a sweaty grump. If your guests will be by the pool, put out some outdoor umbrellas. If they’re going to be on the grass, pop up a tent.
Get the pool ready
Having a pool party? As well as the obvious chores like making sure it’s clean and leaf-free, chuck in some inflatable pool toys for your guests to lounge on. Nothing says summer party more than an inflatable flamingo.
Photo by decor8, LLC
Remember that your highest priority for the party is for you and your guests to have fun. If you’re worried about your guests not knowing each other, or if you get a little uncomfortable in social situations, have a few conversation starters on hand. I particularly like “What’s the most annoying thing your mum does?” or the more conservative “What’s your favourite book of all time?” Relax, most guests will be more than happy to pour their own drinks and serve their own food.
04 January 2018
If lavish roof gardens and expansive backyards are only a reality on your Pinterest boards, that doesn’t mean your chance at outdoor living is crushed. If you have a balcony, a front porch, or a little patch of grass to call your own (if only on a “renting” basis), then you’ve got potential.
We’ve rounded up outdoor decor ideas for tiny spaces. From the dual purpose, to the fold-up, to the mini, there’s even something for those balconies that have a one-person-at-a-time limit.
Wheel it out, and wheel it back in.
Yes, it’s instantly an Summer party when you’re drinking from a cherry-printed cup.
Party Drinkware Set ($39.95)
Party Drinkware Set
Stools that are as much seats as tables and completely stackable.
VÄSTERÖN Stool ($14.99)
Fold up the legs and keep it with your ironing board.
Ikea PS 2014 Bench ($75)
Ikea PS 2014 Bench
Load it up with everything you need for dinner under the stars, and then take it all back to the kitchen in one go. Box also charade as a planter, lift, tray and storage unit.
KNAGGLIG Box ($9.99)
Pull it out for max relaxing, then fold it up and hang it on the wall when you need to make space for the washing.
MYSINGSÖ Beach Chair ($39.99)
MYSINGSÖ Beach Chair
The answer to wall gardens for renters, this apparatus is a bench and storage box, and it allows you to keep plants vertically, leaving more floor space.
ÄPPLARÖ Bench Wall Panel and Shelf ($159)
ÄPPLARÖ Bench Wall Panel and Shelf
Opt for lighting that hangs, and requires no power (other than the sun).
Smokey Bulb String Lights ($10)
Smokey Bulb String Lights
The top of this table is a a removable tray. So smart.
Metal Tray Table ($15)
Metal Tray Table
Torres Outdoor Lounge Chair
This bench could be the only piece of furniture you need for lounging, reading with a cup of tea, playing cards with a friend or painting your toe nails.
Woven Bench ($39)
All that bulky BBQ equipment in one multi tool.
BBQ Multi Tool ($49.95)
20 November 2017
Kate Shaw via houzz.com.au
When it comes to dream kitchens, there are two elements that feature highly on Australians’ must-have lists – a generous island bench, and bi-fold windows to connect the kitchen space with a family-friendly outdoor area. Why not take the concept one step further and install a kitchen servery – combining a kitchen island and alfresco dining in one? Take a look at these great spaces and be inspired to add some cafe-style cool to your home. Even better, if you’ve got the window, the benchtop is weekend-DIY friendly.
Milestone Building Pty Ltd
Less is more
How beautiful is this Sydney space? The simple kitchen servery showcases the contemporary painting on the opposite wall, and is set off perfectly by the timeless Charles Ghost stools. It’s the ultimate example of less-is-more.Note: While the grey-painted bricks look gorgeous here, you should think carefully before painting brick. Read more here before you pick up that paintbrush!
This kitchen servery is as cute as a button. Timber stools and benches both inside and out give this Sydney kitchen a warm, beachy feel. And the hat hook is a great touch for when the sun starts beating down.
Open all hours
The beachy vibe continues in this coastal Sydney home, with rustic stools, wood panelling and stunning flooring. The outdoor roofing and side protection ensure the area is an all-weather zone.
This lake house servery is picture perfect. The ultra-comfy stools, cute double casement windows and abundance of wood offer the warmest of welcomes.
Goes both ways
Again, wood is used to great effect in this contemporary Sydney home. And you’re not seeing double – the bar and stools extend inside, for the best of both worlds.
Hill Construction Company
Looking for a clever solution if you don’t have a fully covered area? The window itself opens to become a canopy in this stunning San Diego coastal home. What a beautiful spot to take in the sunset.Tip: Bi-fold, stacking, sliding, casement and canopy-style windows such as the one seen here can all be used for serveries. The space, size and budget you’re working with will determine which style works best for you. If you take the window all the way up to the ceiling, you will gain the advantage of the two spaces feeling like one large room.
Another example of an upward-opening kitchen servery window can be seen in this kitchen extension. This Queenslander has been sympathetically renovated and oozes character, with natural wood accents, traditional weatherboards and vibrant artwork.
Note: Generous kitchen windows such as these not only look great, but are an effective way of increasing airflow between the indoors and out, reducing the need for air conditioning.
Room with a view
This Brisbane drinks bar isn’t quite a kitchen, but with a view like this, I had to include it here. The bar stools look particularly comfy, although personally I’d prefer to be facing in the other direction!
This Seattle kitchen features a generous pass-through window and doesn’t skimp on practicalities. Note the kitchen benches on both sides of the window are at the same level, which aids service, and the generous length of the bench ensures there’s plenty of room when eating. The roofing ensures comfortable all-weather entertaining too.Tip: It’s important to allow enough space for each person when planning your servery. At least 70-75 centimetres per person is a good measure, allowing ample room for elbows and knees. Ensure you leave plenty of room for stacking windows as well.
Penman Brown Interior Design
But wait, there’s more
The kitchen doesn’t stop indoors in this Sydney residence. A small outdoor kitchen area creates additional storage space as well as providing room for a barbecue and outdoor sink…
The Home Improvements Group, Inc.
… as does the patio kitchen seen here. While these are compact spaces, the sky’s the limit when it comes to outdoor kitchens.
The perfect outdoor kitchen includes a servery window, bench space, utensil storage, a sink and two modes of cooking.
Exquisite Gardens Australia Pty Ltd
Talking about dream outdoor kitchens, take a look at this Melbourne beauty.
When it comes to cafe cool, this kitchen servery ticks almost all the boxes. The customised modular design is a prefabricated beauty, with the home consisting of three separate modules clad in corrugated metal. A cafe-style table umbrella could be a useful addition, however, on rainy days.
Neumann Mendro Andrulaitis Architects LLP
Kitchen serveries really come into their own on summer evenings. Set your outdoor table, open your windows and doors and let the festivities begin! Just don’t forget the insect repellent.
13 October 2017
Perth is well known for its sunshine and hot summer months, and while we are in the transitional spring season it’s the perfect opportunity to prepare your home for the warmer weather ahead.
Although the beach becomes a second home for many West Aussies during summer, it’s also a great time of year to spend at home with family and friends enjoying the long summer days. So we have put together five tips to help you prepare your home and make the most of it this summer.
Start with a clean home and head space by decluttering each room of the house.
Get rid of anything you don’t use by giving it to charity, friends and family, or throwing out broken and unusable items. Pack away winter specific items as well, such as blankets and heaters, in vacuum sealed bags or boxes and stow away in the shed.
2. Spring clean
Once you have de-cluttered your home, the next step is to do a thorough spring clean to freshen up your space and ensure it’s ready for your guests and summer BBQs. This can include:
- Washing your walls and windows.
- Thoroughly cleaning carpets, rugs and floors.
- Cleaning out cupboards and throwing away expired food.
- Removing mould, dust and cobwebs.
- Defrosting your freezer (and creating space for your favourite ice cream).
3. Make sure your summer appliances are in working order
Whilst performing your spring clean, it’s also a good idea to ensure your most used appliances during the summer months are in working order, such as:
- Air conditioners and fans – Perth summers pack a lot of heat, so it’s important you have good ventilation to cool your home. Double check the settings work on your fan or air conditioner units, and the blades/vents are clean to ensure you don’t circulate dust and allergens around the room.
- BBQ – an essential part of any summer dinner party is the Aussie BBQ. Now is a good time to deep clean your hotplates, check the gas and ensure the all the fittings are safely working.
- Pool and spa – if you’re lucky enough to have your own private oasis in your backyard, be sure to get your pool and/or spa ready for use during the hotter months. Get out the pool cleaner, check the jets and ensure your safety gate/fences are in tip top condition.
4. Prepare your outdoor area
It’s a safe bet you will be spending many nights and lazy days during December through to March outside on the deck or under the pergola. In this case, don’t forget your outdoor area in your spring clean.
Small but effective measures can be taken to ensure you backyard is summer ready, including:
- Mowing the lawn, cutting back hedges and trees, and removing any weeds.
- Hosing down pavement and/or oiling the deck.
- Cleaning your outdoor furniture to remove any dust and cobwebs.
- Fixing shade sails, purchasing an umbrella or replacing missing roof panels in your outdoor area to ensure you have appropriate shade from the harsh summer sun.
5. Decorate for summer
Just as winter brings out the richly scented candles and heavy fleece linens, in summer you may want to lighten up your décor.
Swap out heavy linens for lighter, cotton blends in the bedroom, and replace your fluffy blankets for a light throw in your living room. You can even introduce some greenery to your kitchen and living areas, such as a low-maintenance succulent plant, to create a more summery ambiance – some plants can even purify the stuffy summer air.