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18 August 2017
By portermathewsblog


How to Decorate a Designer-Worthy Nursery on a Budget
 Image Source: Sara Boulter Photography

Welcoming a new baby into your home is one of the most exciting, joyous, and expensive life milestones, and nursery preparation is proof. So when we stumbled upon interior designer Autumn Clemons’s chic, budget-friendly nursery, we knew we had to share. Filled with thoughtful details and brilliant design hacks, this space proves that you don’t have to overspend to create the nursery of your dreams!
To leverage the room's plush carpeting, Autumn chose to envelope the space in soothing neutrals. For the walls, she chose Benjamin Moore's Grey Mist. By laying a smaller rug with soft textures at a diagonal, Autumn was able to create a strong focal point.

Image Source: Sara Boulter Photography

To leverage the room’s plush carpeting, Autumn chose to envelope the space in soothing neutrals. For the walls, she chose Benjamin Moore’s Grey Mist. By laying a smaller rug with soft textures at a diagonal, Autumn was able to create a strong focal point.

The crib (an Ikea score!) is accessorised with an adorable owl pillow. How cute is the little animal hook that works perfectly for displaying a special outfit?
Image Source: Sara Boulter Photography

The crib (an Ikea score!) is accessorised with an adorable owl pillow. How cute is the little animal hook that works perfectly for displaying a special outfit?

Instead of taking up space with a clunky bookshelf, Autumn chose to hang floating shelves to keep books handy while also displaying the covers.
Image Source: Sara Boulter Photography

Instead of taking up space with a clunky bookshelf, Autumn chose to hang floating shelves to keep books handy while also displaying the covers.

For the curtains, Autumn picked up an Urban Outfitters tapestry, cut it in half, and added blackout lining.
Image Source: Sara Boulter Photography

For the curtains, Autumn picked up an Urban Outfitters tapestry, cut it in half, and added blackout lining.

For the pendant, she added a DIY touch to this inexpensive light from Home Depot. What looks like wood planks on the ceiling is actually wallpaper from eBay.
Image Source: Sara Boulter Photography

For the pendant, she added a DIY touch to this inexpensive light from Home Depot. What looks like wood planks on the ceiling is actually wallpaper from eBay.

A low, vintage dresser becomes the ideal changing table with the addition of painted drawers and new hardware. Also, can we talk about this cute changing pad cover?
Image Source: Sara Boulter Photography

A low, vintage dresser becomes the ideal changing table with the addition of painted drawers and new hardware. Also, can we talk about this cute changing pad cover?

Floating acrylic shelves make switching up art and accessories a breeze.
Image Source: Sara Boulter Photography

Floating acrylic shelves make switching up art and accessories a breeze.

Cushioned rockers don't come cheap, so Autumn decided to add rocking chair legs to an Ikea chair to create her own affordable version.
Image Source: Sara Boulter Photography

Cushioned rockers don’t come cheap, so Autumn decided to add rocking chair legs to an Ikea chair to create her own affordable version.

What looks like a spendy sconce is actually another crafty DIY project.
Check out the full tour with links to all the DIYs on her blog!
Image Source: Sara Boulter Photography

What looks like a spendy sconce is actually another crafty DIY project.

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10 August 2017
By portermathewsblog


Liz Durnan via domain.com.au

We all know those super-organised people, don’t we? They’re up at the crack of dawn baking muffins for the school fundraiser, work nine-to-five in a high-powered job, have numerous well-turned out children and, on top of it all, their house is always perfectly clean and organised – without any paid help. Do they make you sick, or do you secretly envy them? Don’t waste your energy. Instead, watch how they do it and see what you can learn.

Our homes shouldn’t be driving us mad; they should be our sanctuary. As much as I wish I could pay one of those personal organisers to come into my house and turn it upside down, I don’t have the spare budget (sigh). So I’ve learned from my clean-freak friends and I’m forever reading up about what I can do to take control of my home. Here’s what I’ve found helpful:

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Photo by Juliette Byrne – More living room ideas

Regular clean-ups

Like many people, I’m more of a regular procrastinator than a regular cleaner, often preferring the motto “Why do it it today, if I can do it tomorrow?” However, since having kids and a home to look after, I’ve learnt the hard way that this motto isn’t really doing that much for me.

I’ve often watched friends with tidy homes and wondered what their secret is. Now I know; they simply clean up as they go rather than wait for the magic fairy to come in and do it.

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Photo by Juliette Byrne – More living room ideas

 

They never wake up to a kitchen full of dirty dishes.

By doing a little bit each day in bite-sized chunks – and getting other members of the household to do the same – things don’t pile up and become overwhelming. Create a roster so that everyone knows what they have to do and when.

A place for everything
I know Marie Kondo didn’t invent this idea, but if there’s one thing I’ve taken from her much talked-about book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it’s the idea of having a place for everything and putting everything back there.

Apply this rule to all areas of the house – from the kitchen and the laundry to the linen cupboard. Take stock of every single item you own and ensure there’s a place for each one.

Best of all? Your mornings will be transformed. No more running around the house first thing in the morning looking for your keys, your coat or the other shoe – you’ll know exactly where to find everything, and fast.

Use storage wisely
However, good storage with a place for everything only works if you’re managing it. Have you ever blamed your messiness on your lack of storage? I used to, but recently I finally got the new fitted wardrobes and mudroom of my dreams installed, only to find we were still messy – alas, the storage doesn’t magically tidy up for you. Of course it helps, but you still have to do the work of keeping it organised. The other members of the household need to be schooled in the simple ways of putting their things away too.

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Photo by Schmidt Kitchens Palmers Green – Search kitchen design ideas

Declutter sprees
One of the ways our houses can drive us mad is by having too much stuff. Are you forever unable to find things – your wallet, the potato masher, your favourite pan? This is often because we can’t see the stuff we’re looking for among the chaos. If you have a family and new things regularly coming into the home, it’s important to get rid of stuff often too. Regularly – even as often as monthly – go through kitchen drawers, pantries and wardrobes and take stock of what you have, getting rid of what you’re not using.

Tags: Home, Lifestyle, Tips
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27 July 2017
By portermathewsblog


15 Easy Ways to Make an Old Home Look Like New
Image Source: Inspired by Charm

This past weekend, my husband and I moved from the 94-year-old home we’ve been renting in the Berkeley Hills to a 58-year-old home around the corner. I have always had a soft spot for old homes — the architecture, the charm, the doorknobs! — but they definitely come with their quirks. Love ’em or hate ’em — if you’re living in an old house, you know there are some issues to contend with. Read on to find a list of 15 (relatively) quick fixes to make your old home feel new again.
Paint the Cabinets

Paint the Cabinets
Image Source: A Beautiful Mess

This is a big project, I won’t lie. I painted my cabinets once despite being spectacularly DIY averse. But that monotonous oak was killing me, so I persevered. And it is so worth it! A few cans of paint (and many hours of your life) will completely transform your kitchen — in fact, your whole home.

Paint a Tile Backsplash

Paint a Tile Backsplash

Image Source: One Kings Lane

Boring white tile backsplash? No matter — geometric patterns are hot this year, and you can make your own in a weekend!

Give Your Pantry a Makeover
Give Your Pantry a Makeover
Image Source: Polished Habitat

What with layers of paint and warping wood, old house pantries can definitely be lacking, so give yours a makeover! Make it the happiest place in the house.

Paint a Brick Fireplace

Paint a Brick Fireplace

Image Source: Inspired by Charm

If your brick surround is an eyesore, not to worry — just paint it.

Cover a Popcorn Ceiling With Wood Planks

Cover a Popcorn Ceiling With Wood PlanksImage Source: Domino

Is this a major project? Yes. But then everything related to the ubiquitous popcorn ceiling seems to be. This is a doable DIY if you plan ahead. And the outcome is gorgeous!

Replace Ugly Doorknobs With Vintage Versions

Replace Ugly Doorknobs With Vintage Versions
Image Source: House Tweaking

This is an easy fix, but buying reproduction doorknobs can get pricey fast. To keep the budget down, shop local salvage yards or source an eclectic collection on Etsy.

 

Paint Kitchen and Bath Hardware
Paint Kitchen and Bath Hardware
Image Source: Brittany Makes

Old kitchen and bath hardware can look pretty tired, and it’s no wonder, what with all the heavy lifting they do for us every day. But with a little sanding, primer, and paint, you can give them a new life. Check out this tutorial on how to spray-paint hardware for some inspiration!

Paint the Floor

Paint the Floor
Image Source: Little Green Notebook

Check out this great tutorial on how to paint a tile floor. Let your creativity run free with multiple colours and a repeating pattern.

Paint a Wood Fireplace
Paint a Wood Fireplace
Image Source: The Makerista

Does your old house have a room (or rooms) full of wood siding? Can there be too much of a good thing? Sometimes a focal point is all that’s needed to draw the eye.

Dress Up a Cinder Block Wall With Chalk Paint

Dress Up a Cinder Block Wall With Chalk Paint
Image Source: Sarah Hearts

Are you cursed with a dated cinder block patio wall? Do this now! Cutest solution ever, although definitely opt for paint over chalk to make sure your hard work lasts and lasts.

 

Paint Your Trim

Paint Your TrimImage Source: The Makerista

Old homes often have intricate architectural details — show them off by painting them a dramatic contrasting colour.

Container Garden in Place of Landscaping

Container Garden in Place of LandscapingImage Source: A Beautiful Mess

If your landscaping looks as old as your house but new landscaping is not in the budget, try a container garden instead. Add a few at a time (just remember to water them from time to time), and soon your garden will be looking cheerful.

Spray-Paint ’80s Brass Light Fixtures

Spray-Paint '80s Brass Light FixturesImage Source: Brittany Ambridge for Domino

Sometimes a can of spray paint and an afternoon is all it takes to update an old light fixture.

 

Tile Over Your Countertop

Tile Over Your CountertopImage Source: A Beautiful Mess

Dated tile? Yucky grout? Tile over it! Click here for the DIY.

 

Paint Your Stone Patio Tiles With Pops of Colour

Paint Your Stone Patio Tiles With Pops of ColourImage Source: A Beautiful Mess

Leave it to the bloggers at A Beautiful Mess to make even an ugly concrete patio look adorable.

 

Tags: Home, Lifestyle
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21 July 2017
By portermathewsblog


How to Have the Most Unique Nursery on the BlockImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

There are many steps on the road to preparing for baby, but one of the most fun – and certainly most creative – steps is decorating the nursery. For my baby boy, I set out to transform my home office into a welcoming nursery that was at once personal, sophisticated, and wonderfully whimsical; more than just looking beautiful, however, it had to accommodate the essential nursery functions – and all without breaking the bank. I had my work cut out for me!

For some professional guidance, I turned to the experts at Laurel & Wolf, an online interior design marketplace that, for a reasonable, one-time flat fee, guided me to a top-notch designer with whom I created a custom room plan. Laurel & Wolf allowed me to try out the service at no charge for this project.

The design process was simple; after creating a detailed room profile, multiple designers submitted initial project proposals. I fell in love with the eclectic style of Pamela R McIntyre of The Curated Life. I selected her as my designer, and we got to work, exchanging design ideas and products over Laurel & Wolf’s online platform. The final design she gave me included a style board, detailed floor plan, and shopping list.

Check out pictures of the resulting nursery below, and read my 13 tips for creating a truly unique space for your little one.

Hang Personal Art

Hang Personal ArtImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

Decorating with art and decor that are meaningful to you and your partner is a simple way to infuse your family’s personality into the nursery. I’ve long collected silk scarves, and I wanted to share their style and beauty with my son. I found a circus print by one of my favourite designers and had it framed to hang above his changing station.

Add Simple DIYs

Add Simple DIYsImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

When I couldn’t find the lighting I wanted within my budget, I began to think of ways to create it myself. Not wanting to get into electrical nitty gritty, I layered two super affordable Ikea hanging lighting fixtures — a paper lantern to softly diffuse light covered with a natural wood pendant. To make it extra unique, I wove a vintage French ribbon through the wood slats. Sometimes the simplest style is not only easier and cheaper, but it looks better too.

 

Blend Children’s and Adults’ Decor

Blend Children's and Adults' DecorImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

I tried to balance whimsical and sophisticated touches to create a nursery where both my child and I would enjoy spending time. Decorating with a mix of children’s and adults’ decor was an easy way to achieve this look; for example, a felted wool elephant head is framed by succulents in contemporary CB2 vases above the mantel.

 

Scavenge for One-of-a-Kind Pieces

 

Scavenge for One-of-a-Kind PiecesImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

While I love to browse through the beautiful nurseries in catalogs, I wanted my nursery to have a more unique and eclectic look, so I shopped for a mix of new, store-bought items, like the crib, and distinctive decor, like the blue Moroccan Kilim rug my Laurel & Wolf designer found from a Tunisian rug dealer on Etsy. It was the first piece I purchased for the room, and it set the whimsical tone for everything that came after.

Thoughtfully Lay Out the Room

Thoughtfully Lay Out the RoomImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

Every space presents its own challenge, and my home’s was its outdated Victorian floor plan; fortunately, Pamela, my Laurel & Wolf designer, evaluated my needs and came up with a creative layout that allows the room to function as both a nursery and playroom. Using the measurements of the space and essential furniture pieces, she created a layout to scale on Laurel & Wolf’s platform, allowing her to play around with configurations. You can draw your own or check out one of the many websites and apps that allow you to do it on your computer or tablet.

Shop Second-Hand Finds

Shop Second-Hand FindsImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

I knew I wanted a high-quality glider, but every style I liked gave me a serious case of sticker shock. While the glider is an important piece of the nursery, it’s not one with versatility or longevity, so I didn’t want to splurge on it. Instead, I set up a Craigslist alert and pounced immediately when the high-end glider I loved popped up for sale in mint condition at nearly a third of the new price.

 

Splurge Where It Makes Sense

Splurge Where It Makes SenseImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

As the nursery design process progressed, I fell hard for the timeless yet exotic look of campaign dressers.The initial plan was to purchase an affordable vintage set or DIY my way to the style, but ultimately I decided to splurge on Pottery Barn Kids’s Gemma dressers. Their aesthetic was perfect not only for a baby boy’s nursery, but could also fit seamlessly into a girl’s room, or our own bedroom down the road. The furniture pieces could eventually even be converted into a bar cart or sideboard. The quality, versatility, and storage potential of the campaign dressers made them a worthy splurge.

 

Get Family and Friends Involved

Get Family and Friends InvolvedImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

Rooms decorated with love and care really do feel warmer and more welcoming. To bring all the love the baby’s family has for him into the space, his cousins filled the bookshelf with their favourite childhood reads. They even inscribed the inside cover of each book with a special message to the baby.

Seek Help For Design Dilemmas

Seek Help For Design DilemmasImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia
Not sure how to solve that diaper storage problem or where to put the crib? Get help! Working with Laurel & Wolf gave me the pro insight I needed to really polish and refine my design concept. Whether a professional interior design service or a best friend with a great eye, it’s never a bad idea to get a fresh take on your space.
Turn Cute Baby Items Into Decor
Turn Cute Baby Items Into DecorImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia
If you’ve ever heard the ooing and ahhing that happens at baby showers, then you already know how adorable baby clothes and accessories are. Instead of hiding them in a drawer, I decoratively displayed a few of my favorite pieces, like these knitted booties grandma bought in Ireland, around the room.

Keep It Interesting by Mixing High and Low

Keep It Interesting by Mixing High and LowImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia
Avoid a stale, straight-out-of-the-showroom look by mixing retailers, styles, and price points. From eBay to Land of Nod, I shopped a variety of sources to give the nursery rich, eclectic style and added flair through small, affordable items, like these playfully striped Ikea seagrass baskets and the fluffy faux fur accent rug.
Get Creative With Storage
Get Creative With StorageImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia
The room we transformed into a nursery had no closet, but instead of dragging a heavy armoire into the space to store hanging clothes, I mounted a rod into the wall. It not only gave me a place to put all of baby’s hanging clothes, it also put some of his most adorable ensembles on display.

Take Your Time

Take Your TimeImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

Don’t rush to fill in every gap in the nursery at once. It’s OK if the bookshelf isn’t full or there’s a blank spot on the wall. Great design takes time, and there will be plenty of opportunity to fill the space with meaningful mementos after the baby is born. Trust me, you’ll be glad you waited and did it right the first time.

 

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13 July 2017
By portermathewsblog


via domain.com.au

Any painter knows good groundwork and the right equipment are the secret to successful paint jobs. After filling, sanding and cleaning, pause before flipping open a fresh can of paint and loading up a brush or roller. What you use to apply that gorgeous new colour makes the difference between a first-rate finish and one that screams bad DIY.

Take these tips for brushing up on your painting know-how.

Start squeaky clean

Using brushes with stiff, shaggy-dog bristles clogged with remnants of a previous colour, rather than buying a new tool for the job, is a false economy. Clean them up before you start, or invest in new brushes.

Resurrect synthetic brushes caked with water-based paint by soaking in very hot water with a little detergent. Rinse well, reshape by hand, wrap bristles in kitchen paper and hang to dry. Follow clean-up directions for brushes previously used with oil-based paints. Brush combs for removing paint residue and realigning bristles are sold at paint stores.

Photo by Paint & Brush - Search home design design ideas
Photo by Paint & Brush – Search nightstands


Size up the job

Are you tackling a bedroom wall, a narrow trim, an entire room, or just touching up a shabby cabinet? Let the area to be painted guide you to the best brush width.

  • Narrow frames and mouldings: 25-38 millimetres
  • Doors, railings, cabinets, gutters, eaves: 50-63 millimetres
  • Floorboards, skirtings, fascias: 75 millimetres
  • Large, flat areas such as walls: 100+ millimetres, usually called “wall” brushes.

Tip: If you’re new to painting or have small hands, an 88-100 millimetre brush on a large wall may tire your wrist and arm. Go for a brush around 75 millimetres.

Pick a bristle

DIYers often ask whether natural or synthetic bristles work best:

Natural bristle brushes, mostly hog, ox or badger, are typically more expensive than synthetic ones and are used for oil-based paints, varnishes and shellacs. Don’t use for water-based (latex) paints, as they absorb water from the paint, softening and changing shape. This also affects the composition of the paint and may cause “tramlines”.

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14 June 2017
By portermathewsblog


You’ve got your bedroom looking cosy and the kitchen has been overhauled. Now it’s time to turn your attention to the living room. Luckily, the lounge is one of the easiest rooms in the house to redecorate: a lick of paint, a new sofa (or cover) and some cleverly chosen ornaments, throws, and cushions are often all you need. The following rooms cover all styles, from minimal Scandinavian-inspired design to upcycled boho, and will inspire your next living room revamp. It’s time to start hoarding paint samples!

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2 Pastel and Wicker2

3 Moody Blue
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4 Teal Touches
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5 Cherry Pop
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6 Cosy and Chic
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7 Colourful Eclectic
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8 Dark and Dramatic
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9 Grey Days
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10 Bold Gold
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11 Cobalt and Lilac
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12 White and Gold Marble
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13 Midcentury Music Fans
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14 Salvaged Chic
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15 Pastel Pink Perfection
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16 Upscale Pastels
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17 Classic Linen
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18 Retro Revival
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19 Colourful Crafts
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20 Ladder Shelves and Houseplants
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21 Statement Furniture
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22 Fashionista Greys
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23 Pink, White, and Cosy
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24 ’60s Orange
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25 Blue-Grey and Bold
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26 Pastel Sofa and Statement Rug
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27 Shades of Beige and Brown
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28 Let the Light In
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29 Retro Woods and Pops of Colour
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30 Greyscale Chic
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31 Cosy Cream
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32 Pops of Pink
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33 Textured Layers
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34 Bringing the Outside In
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35 Bowie and Velvet
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36 Grey and Copper (and Cats!)
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14 June 2017
By portermathewsblog


Ugly window treatments are the thorn in almost every renter’s rear. Plastic mini blinds — or worse, vertical blinds — are automatic aesthetic killers, but they can be remedied for a shockingly small amount of money. The key to making dirt-cheap window treatments look like a million dollars is as easy as knowing where to shop and mastering the designer tricks for hanging them properly. This foolproof formula will instantly elevate the look of any room — we promise!

Start With the Classics: White Linen Curtains + Black Curtain Rods

You cannot go wrong with white linen curtains and black rods with simple finials. Think of it as the tuxedo for interiors, only a tux that plays well with any style, from formal traditional to California casual. This pared-down colour palette also grants you permission to go bananas with colours and prints in other places in the room and you won’t get sick of your choice halfway through your lease.

Find Affordable Versions of the Classics

Absurdly cheap price point aside, these Ikea Lenda curtains ($29.99 for a pair) are actually beautiful in person and well-loved by design bloggers. You can add Ikea’s black-out liner to create a thicker, heavier drape, which can make them look even more formal, or leave them as is if you want them to filter (not block) light while adding privacy. They also come with heading tape along the top back of the curtains, which makes it easy to create pleats with hooks and curtain rings.

Use Curtain Rings:

Using curtain rings makes opening and closing curtains a cinch, but designers also prefer their polished aesthetic. Adding rings creates neatly pinched pleats that keep curtains looking beautiful, open or closed.

Know How to Hang Your Curtains:

Create the optical illusion of sky-high ceilings by hanging your curtains as close to the ceiling as possible. You’ll be amazed by how drastically this shifts the look and feel of a room.

  • Extend drapery rods out about four to six inches (not including the finial). This will make your window appear wider and allow you to enjoy the full spans of your window when the curtains are open.
  • Hang curtains so that the bottoms barely touch the the floor or have one or two inches of fabric on the floor. If your curtains are longer, you can have them hemmed by measuring and pinning them to the desired length once you’ve hung them. If they aren’t long enough, you can add more fabric for a cool colourblock look, no sewing needed!
Image Source: Studio McGee
Tags: Hacks, Home, Lifestyle
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14 June 2017
By portermathewsblog


Winter’s chill brings cosy decor and lazy afternoons spent sipping hot chocolate in front of the heater, but it can also bring major electrical bills. If heating your home is seriously expensive, then you’re going to want to read these 12 cost-effective ways to stay warm this Winter.

    • Get the Right Window Coverings

If you’ve ever stood next to a drafty window, then you can attest that they’re major culprits of heat loss. Investing in thick, lined curtains or adding liners to your existing curtains (Ikea have them for $29.99 a pair) will keep the cold air out. Keeping them closed during Winter you can cut your energy bill down by up to 20 percent.

    • Add a Storm Door

Create an extra layer of padding between the elements and your house by adding a storm door. While it’s a little bit pricier up front, you can reduce energy loss up to 50 percent by purchasing a storm door made with low-emissivity glass or coating.

    • Install a Programmable Thermostat

Instead of keeping your heat on full blast all day, use a programmable thermostat to set the temperature to turn it down while you’re out in the middle of the day and turn it back up right before you come home in the evening. Turning the temperature back at least 10 degrees for eight hours a day can save you up to 15 percent a year on your heating bill.

    • Fill in Insulation Gaps

Invisible cracks and gaps around the house allow valuable heat to seep out. Taking a little time in Summer or Autumn to caulk or weather strip these leaks around the house will save you big money on your energy bill come Winter. Common areas in need of insulation include the space between the baseboard and the floorboard, behind electrical outlets, and around windows and attack hatches.

    • Reverse the Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans usually have a switch you can flip to change the direction the fan blades are rotating in. By simply switching it to clockwise rotation in Winter, you’ll push hot air that has risen to the ceiling back down into the room. Doesn’t get easier than that.

    • Put Layers on Yourself

It’s a lot cheaper to throw on a sweater and some fuzzy slippers than to crank up the heat every time you get chilly, so keep warm layers close at hand and the temperature at a reasonable setting.

    • Improvise Wall Insulation

If tearing down the drywall to add insulation isn’t an option, then it’s time to get clever. You can line chilly external walls with cold-absorbing materials like a tall shelf filled with books, use decorative screens as cold air blockers, and even line baseboards with cardboard.

    • Position Furniture Around Heat Sources

For a free and temporary fix, give your living spaces a Winter makeover by rearranging furniture away from cold external walls and around heat sources, like the fireplace. It will make those frigid nights more enjoyable.

    • Swap Your Globes LED

As the nights get longer, our lights stay on for — longer but it doesn’t have to cost more. LED bulbs use 85 percent less energy compared to traditional globes and have a lifespan of 25,000 hours.

    • Add a Rug

Wooden or tiled floors can be really cold under foot in Winter. Laying a thick rug that feels soft under-foot will help keep your home cosy.

    • Winter-Proof Your Bed

Swapping your quilt for a thicker one or adding an extra blanket (between the sheet and quilt) will keep you warm at night without using a heater.

    • Make the Most of the Sun

Getting your washing dry can be hazardous when the weather is bad, but making the most of any sunny moments will save you on dryer costs. Pick up a portable dryer that you can quickly bring in if the weather gets bad or keep inside by a window.

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14 June 2017
By portermathewsblog


via domain.com.au

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The search is over – you’ve settled on your new address. The movers are booked, the boxes are packed, now what? It’s time to make that place feel like home. It’s easy to get carried away with all the big changes and costly renovations you’d like to make, but they are not always possible, at least not right away. In the meantime, here’s your six-step go-to guide to turning any space into a place you’ll love calling home.

1. Clean and scrub

Okay it might seem obvious, and an easy one to palm off to a professional, but even if you do spring for an expert to help with the heavy lifting, there’s much to be said for getting down and dirty yourself. It helps you bond with your home and get to know its structure and its unique quirks. You can’t beat a sense of intimacy with your space for making it feel like a home.

Photo: Pottery Barn

2. Respect those who came before you

Whether it’s the architect who designed your apartment or the decades of homeowners before you, take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. Can’t bear those old slate floors at first sight? Hang in there. Embrace your home’s idiosyncrasies, including the questionable style choices of past owners, and try not to be arrogant. Maybe the house has a point. Wait to see what it might be before diving into an expensive new fitout.

3. Make a floor plan for the way you actually live

This includes choosing furniture that will service the way you use your home. For instance, there’s no point taking up precious space with a large formal living room if you only ever eat at the kitchen bench. Maybe a few new barstools are all that’s required for an eat-in kitchen, leaving you a whole spare room to turn into a much-needed study. Alternatively, replacing your pair of bulky, two-seater sofas with a single sectional sofa might help de-formalise and open the layout of your new living area.

Photo: west elm

4. Run for covers

The easiest, most affordable reno-free makeover you can give any space is paint and textiles – in that order. If paint is a priority to freshen up a tired or grubby place, then you can’t go wrong with basic white (and it’s easy to go over later). Textile-wise, start with rugs and curtains, choosing designs that reflect your style and complement the period of your home. Finally, finish with cushion covers – you’d be amazed at the way they will transform any tired sofa or uninspired corner.

5. Allocate a place for everything you own and everything you use

A little planning at the start will help curb the clutter and keep your home tidy and more manageable over time. For example, if a vast book collection is your pride and joy, then a wall dedicated to open shelving may be a better use of space than a pretty sideboard and mirror. Or if you’re keen cyclists in a tiny apartment, a wall-mounted bike rack might be just the wall decor for you.

6. Tell your story

Displaying photos, personal collections and travel mementos are well worn ways of reflecting and celebrating the people who live in a home, but there are other subtle solutions, too. Introduce a favourite, memory-inducing fragrance via a vase of fresh flowers or a scented candle. Or add a glass cloche or display box with a favourite childhood object or holiday souvenir to instantly bring that personal touch home.

Photo: Pottery Barn

 

Tags: Home, Lifestyle, Tips
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06 June 2017
By portermathewsblog


Has your place been looking a little . . . clogged up lately? Well, it may be time to do a little cleaning up! However, if you’ve been following these rules below, you wouldn’t need a decluttering session as your home is guaranteed to be clutter-free.

1. Get rid of duplicates

If you have duplicates lying around, get rid of them if they are not necessary. Keep the better duplicate and trash or donate the other.

2. Get rid of things you haven’t used in a year

So you keep telling yourself that you’ll use it eventually, but if you haven’t touched it in a year, chances are that you’re not going to in the near future. Do your home a favour and get rid of the items that aren’t getting any use.

3. Digitise nostalgic items

Do you have too many nostalgic items that you can’t seem to get yourself to give away? Take photos of them and then get rid of them — you’ll be able to keep them around forever without cluttering up your space.

4. Don’t keep items out of guilt

I’m sure you have a thing or two around the house that you keep out of guilt. Perhaps it’s a sweater sweet Aunt Betty knitted for you for Christmas that you never wear or that fancy dress you splurged way too much on. Time to be brutal and get rid of them all.

5. Put things back where they belong

It’s easy to just leave things lying around, but that’s how clutter builds up. After you’re done using something, immediately put it back where it belongs so you won’t procrastinate.

6. And find a home for them

Make sure every item in your home has a place, whether it be a plastic container or an under-the-bed organiser. And remember: a pile of items is not a true place for your things.

7. Sell, give away, donate, upcycle, or throw away

When assessing things you want to get rid of, start by seeing if you can make some of your money back by selling it. Here are some avenues for selling different types of clutter.

If you don’t think it’s worth the effort to sell, give it away to people you know who will use it. Perhaps to your family and friends, or even your Facebook network. You can also choose to donate it to get a tax write off.

8. Don’t keep items you wouldn’t buy now

Are there some items you have that you would never buy now? Perhaps you should take a good hard look at them and figure out why you need them now and if you can do without them.

9. Opt for covered furniture

If you have a clutter problem, choose furniture that is covered, such as a closet with a sliding door instead of open shelves. This will help your place look cleaner and more organised.

10. Don’t forget storage under your bed

There’s a lot of real estate in your home that’s not being put to good use; one that people often forget about is under-the-bed storage.

11. Think tall

Use up all the space in your home to make the most of it, including the vertical space. The more space you have for your stuff, the less likely it’s going to get cluttered up.

12. Evaluate your spending

If you’re buying things you don’t need, take a hard look at your spending. Perhaps you need to take part in our 30-day spending hiatus to motivate yourself.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography
Tags: Home, Lifestyle, Tips
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30 May 2017
By portermathewsblog


Modiefied via houzz.com.au

Embrace the new season by making your home a cosy and comforting retreat you won’t want to leave.

There are plenty of things to love about winter – soft, woolly blankets, hearty vegie soup and cosy, candlelit nights in, just to name a few. Consider these simple ways to prepare your home for the cooler months ahead and you will love it even more.
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25 May 2017
By portermathewsblog


via domain.com.au

The bathroom is one of the most expensive rooms to remodel. So if you’re on a budget, a bathroom renovation might be out of reach. The good news is you don’t have to live with the ugly – all you need is a little DIY elbow grease.

Try these easy projects to give your bathroom an upgrade, and the best part is, you can do any of these in one weekend.

Update the vanity

Transform the vanity with new paint and hardware.Transform the vanity with new paint and hardware. Photo: Jason Frank Rothenberg / Domino

Painting the vanity is one of the cheapest ways to upgrade your bathroom and still make a big impact. Sand your existing vanity, and patch any imperfections with wood putty. Then, start with a good oil-based bonding primer before applying the final coats of paint. Finish the look with new hardware

Upgrade the toilet lever

Open homes:

Photo: The Makerista

Something as small as the flusher handle can make a big difference. Upgrade the white plastic version for something in shiny chrome. Don’t be intimidated by the plumbing aspect of this project; it’s actually super easy.

Replace the towel bar with hooks

Open homes:

Photo: House Tweaking

Using hooks in place of a towel bar is not only more stylish but also easier to use. You don’t have to worry about perfectly folded towels hung evenly on a bar.

Add a bold accent wall

Open homes:

Photo: Jessica Antola for Domino

Another way to add a wow factor to your bathroom is to go bold with paint. Choose one wall and go wild with a colour you might be scared to use anywhere else.

Paint your own wallpaper

Open homes:

Photo: May Richer Fuller Be

Wallpaper can be pricey, so why not paint your own pattern? You don’t have to be an artist to get beautiful results. Use a stencil, or go freehand like this project from May Richer Fuller Be. She created a stunning basket-weave pattern with simple brushstrokes.

Change the light fixture

Photo: A Beautiful MessPhoto: A Beautiful Mess

Changing the light fixture in your bathroom can actually be easier and more affordable than you think. Use an inexpensive LED light, then amp up the style by using a decorative ceiling medallion.

Line the medicine cabinet with decorative paper

Open homes:

Photo: Sarah Hearts

The medicine cabinet can be a neglected space, full of dusty shelves and expired products. Sprucing it up is the perfect weekend project. Get it organised, and then add a bit of flair with decorative contact paper. It’s a nice little surprise every time you reach for the toothpaste.

Add art work with a photo collage

Open homes:

Photo: Little Green Notebook

Every room needs art work, and the bathroom is no exception. Make a collage with your favourite photos by mounting them on fabric-covered cardboard and plopping it in a frame.

– popsugar.com.au

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18 May 2017
By portermathewsblog


Laura Barry via houzz.com.au

With its rich, velvety, jewel-toned look, the new-traditional style trend arrives just in time for the cooler weather

The new-traditional look is a bold one. Characterised by the use of velvet, jewel tones, and rounded, tufted furniture, it goes a long way towards cosying up our homes for autumn and the onset of winter. But truth be told, it can be a difficult one to incorporate into an existing interior scheme. Here, we give you some tried and tested tips for adding these little luxurious touches to your home… without going to the length of redesigning your decor.

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11 May 2017
By portermathewsblog


Author: Jen Dalley via domain.com.au

Photo: Kanner Architects

The next time you hear the rhythm of rain as it drums overhead, grab your boots and venture outside to follow the rainwater’s journey. After it hits your roof, where does it go to next?

If your home is like most, the water probably travels down gutters, through downspouts and onto an asphalt driveway, picking up traces of pollutants such as petroleum and pesticides along the way. Down a street gutter it goes, eventually finding its way into a storm drain. This may be as far as you can visibly follow the journey, but it certainly doesn’t stop there. Much stormwater runoff finds its way into nearby rivers and lakes.

Photo by Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp - Discover farmhouse exterior home design ideas
Photo by Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp 

Redirecting stormwater into the ground is a much greener option. Microorganisms in the soil are able to digest the pollutants, purifying the water on its path back into the aquifer. Allowing the water to seep into the ground also helps prevent the erosion of nearby waterways caused by runoff.

By replacing your impervious asphalt or concrete driveway with a permeable surface, you’ll be supporting groundwater recharge while also visually softening your property.

The first step in installing a permeable driveway (sometimes referred to as a sustainable drainage system, or SuDS) is deciding which design will work best for you.

Open-cell pavers are simply concrete pavers with holes that can be filled with a pervious material. Filling the cells with vegetation can soften the entire look and add a bit of green to your site.

The open-cell pavers shown here provide the minimum surface area a car would need to navigate the path.

What’s underneath the pavers is what really counts. A solid base is key to minimizing heaving and cracking. You will need a 15cm subbase of 3.8cm clean rock topped with a 10.1cm base of 1.9cm clean rock, to make the driveway stable enough for cars to pass over it. The paver system goes on top of that. A polyurethane liner should be used near any foundation walls or concrete that needs to be protected from water flow-back.

Photo by Shouldice Media - Search contemporary exterior home pictures
Photo by Shouldice Media

Pervious pavers commonly have joints filled with aggregate to allow water to penetrate between the pavers. Tabs are formed into each paver, providing the correct joint width and making installation easier. As with open-cell pavers, a sturdy base is required.

Some ceramic pavers are actually porous themselves, allowing the water to pass through the surface directly, instead of through the gaps between. This means the gap can be narrower and doesn’t have to be refilled with aggregate as often — a common chore with other pervious paver systems.

Due to the small size of the pavers, cracking or heaving is not an issue in cold climates.

Gravel is another surface to consider.  It will also need a base underlayment to maximise its pervious nature. Usually this is a plastic mat made up of circular or honeycomb cells structured to provide load-bearing support. These cells are filled with gravel and help keep rainwater in the soil and out of sewers.

By Jen Dalley |||||||||||||| Salt Lake City - See more Home Design Photos
By Jen Dalley | Salt Lake City

A combination of systems can be used, too. Pavers and concrete strips together give this driveway visual interest.

When you have decided on a system and are ready to install it, look to redirect as much of the water as possible from your patio, roofline and downspouts to the new permeable area, so you’re capturing as much runoff water as possible.

Systems like this open cell with vegetation allow water to pass through as much as 40 per cent of the surface area.

Most jurisdictions enforce land-use codes that limit the buildable area on a lot. Many also include a maximum amount of impervious surface area allowed on a parcel. The driveway is a great place to include more permeable area, especially if the lot is small.

Photo by PLACE architect ltd. - Browse contemporary exterior home ideas
Photo by PLACE architect ltd. – Browse for a landscape designer

Interested in adding a permeable driveway? Here’s more info:

Who to hire: You’ll need an excavator to dig a trench for the system and a landscape crew to put in the paver system — especially if you use concrete and don’t want to mix and place the concrete yourself.

Considerations: Find out what type of soil you have. It could range from sand (fast drainage time) to clay (longer drainage time).

Permit: Check with your local council.

Best time to do this project: Late spring or summer, when the weather will cooperate. Construction during winter in colder climates is not recommended due to frost-depth issues.

Project length: One to two weeks.

Cost: Many permeable pavers within Australia allow you to request a sample size of the paver before purchasing, although the final cost will be affected by the type of paver, your location, the size of the project and the amount of site work required.

By installing a permeable driveway, you’ll be directly protecting the integrity of our natural resources, supporting groundwater recharge and adding green space to help balance carbon dioxide levels.

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04 May 2017
By portermathewsblog


With an increasing number of lifestyle movements like hygge advocating the joys of a cosier, more laid-back way of life, we’re spending more and more time in the comfort of our homes. Staying in is made all the sweeter however, when you’ve got creature comforts to indulge in, one of which is a reading nook.

Every bibliophile knows there’s no greater joy than a calm, quiet space where they can fully escape with a book in hand. And the good news is, you don’t need to have oodles of in-house space to make it a reading nook a reality. We spoke to Chris Carroll, editor and interior stylist of The Life Creative, to get the (very easy) how-to.

1. Make the Most of Your Living Room
Picture 1

 

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio

You don’t always need to have a dedicated corner in the house or home office to make a reading nook work. According to Chris, the living room is a growing increasingly popular as the space of choice. “Especially if you’ve got one of those L-shaped sofas, putting an armchair diagonally across from that L-shape will make the room feel quite resolved,” he says. “A living room like that is a really good example where it’ll not only function well because you can sit and get cosy, but visually, it makes the room make more sense because it’s quite balanced in terms of the furniture in the space.”

2. Grab a Chair (a Very Comfy Chair)
Picture2
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio

For reading nooks, the best kinds of chairs are literally, the kind you would never want to leave. Ones with nice upholstery work best, and avoid hard woods or leathers. “Look for chairs that have a high back — a wing back is a really good example of a particular type of armchair you’d want to cosy up in,” says Chris. “There are a lot chairs on the market that don’t have arms on them, I’d avoid those — you want something that’s going to hug and hold onto you, and that you can sink into as well.”

3. Opt For a Small Side Table
Picture3Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio

“I always recommend going for a round side table — something to put a drink on, or your books or glasses. If you have it on tripod legs or similar , it gives the illusion of more legs and air flows through, so it makes it feel a little bit fresher,” says Chris.

4. Pick the Right Lighting

Picture4Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio

Nothing’s worse than getting to the end of a thrilling chapter and realising you’ve been squinting your through it, so having the right lighting is key. “To nicely light up the space, I’d gravitate towards floor lamps that have a directional head of them you can point toward you.,” says Chris. “Avoid things like lamp shades because they don’t actually cast enough light down onto the nook itself.”

5. Layer, Layer, Layer!
Picture5.jpgImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio

This is all about amping up the cosiness factor. “Putting on some throws, chunky knits, faux furs — adding some different textures and softness to the armchair,” Chris says.

 

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27 April 2017
By portermathewsblog


25 Gifts For Mums Who Live For Food . . . And Wine

Amco Meat Marinator and Tenderiser, $15

Amco Meat Marinator and Tenderiser, $15For the mum who likes to hold “meatings”.

Stockists: Peter’s of Kensington

Williams-Sonoma Glass Domed Cake Plate, $70

Williams-Sonoma Glass Domed Cake Plate, $70The perfect display setting for mum’s bunt.

Stockists: Williams-Sonoma

Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé, $30.40
Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé, $30.40Rosé-lovers rejoiced when it was confirmed that Brad and Ange’s split did not mean the end of Miraval Rosé, and so will your mum.

Stockists: Dan Murphy’s

Le Creuset Egg Cup Chiffon Pink, $9.06

Le Creuset Egg Cup Chiffon Pink, $9.06Less than $10 and probably the cutest thing you could ever put in a kitchen.

Stockists: David Jones
Zara Home Washed Linen Tablecloth, $199Zara Home Washed Linen Tablecloth, $199You know you’ll be invited around for dinner more often if she has a new table cloth to show off.

Stockists: Zara Home

Williams-Sonoma Bottle Top Wine Aerator, $35

Williams-Sonoma Bottle Top Wine Aerator, $35Exposing wine to air means you get as much as twice the flavour and aroma from your wine, which is why people decant their red, but this little gadget cuts out the middle man so you get max flavour straight from the bottle.

Stockists: Williams-Sonoma

 

Avanti Stainless Steel Rotary Herb Mill, $24
Avanti Stainless Steel Rotary Herb Mill, $24The fact that this looks like a miniature lawn mulcher is just part of the appeal.

Stockists: Peter’s of Kensington

 

Cotton On Home Laurel Mug, $9.95

Cotton On Home Laurel Mug, $9.95Is mum fussy about mugs? Lip can’t be too thick, it has to feel nice to hold and be big enough for a decent cup of tea? Wait until she sees these.

Stockists: Cotton On Home

Academy Home Goods Eliot Mortar and Pestle, $50

Academy Home Goods Eliot Mortar and Pestle, $50She’s been complaining about not having one, so get her one that’s real nice.

Stockists: Peter’s of Kensington

 

Accura Neptune Black Mechanical Kitchen Scale, $43

Accura Neptune Black Mechanical Kitchen Scale, $43

Old-school scales with new-school accuracy.

Stockists: Peter’s of Kensington

Vinomofo Collaboration Case 15.0, $109

Vinomofo Collaboration Case 15.0, $109Introduce her to Vinomofo and she’ll love you forever.

Stockists: Vinomofo

 

Williams-Sonoma Hammered Ice Bucket, $50

Williams-Sonoma Hammered Ice Bucket, $50This is one classy ice bucket.

Stockists: Williams-Sonoma

 

Le Creuser Professional Large Spatula Cerise, $34.95

Le Creuser Professional Large Spatula Cerise, $34.95A professional spatula worthy of the next Masterchef winner.

Stockists: David Jones

 

Williams-Sonoma Scalloped White Marble Cheese Board, $35.20

Williams-Sonoma Scalloped White Marble Cheese Board, $35.20Probably the prettiest cheese board we’ve ever seen. If shabby chic’s her thing, she’ll fall head over heels for this marble creation.

Stockists: Williams-Sonoma

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20 April 2017
By portermathewsblog


via domain.com.au

So you’ve bought your first house. And now you’ve got to furnish it. Money’s tight all over, especially for young adults and first-home buyers, but odds are the cheap-and-nasty stuff you had when you were share housing has done its dash.

When to comes to big furniture purchases, look at getting classic pieces that are built to last, says Triana Odone of King Living. “If you’re on a budget, don’t purchase based on trends that won’t be chic in a year’s time. Stick to buying a quality-made piece that’s built to last.”

“Take the time to do some research and really think about what style of decor you prefer,” says Odone. “Do you like quite simple, contemporary designs without big cushions? Do you like sofas and chairs that you can really curl up in?” Once you’ve got an understanding of your style, think about how you’re going to use your living room – where you’re better off spending a bit extra on quality construction, and where you can save money, too.

When you're setting up your new home, invest in good quality When you’re setting up your new home, invest in good quality “weight-bearing” pieces, like sofas and beds. Photo: Jane Ussher

“It’s pretty simple,” says Odone. “If it’s a weight-bearing piece of furniture, it will need to be well-made if you want it to last and to remain comfortable over time.”

When it comes to buying a sofa, make sure you get one that really suits the way you live – in other words, do you sit up straight, curl up in the corner with your feet tucked underneath you, or do you stretch right out on the sofa?

There’s no wrong answer to the question, but whatever you do in your living room, you should do in the showroom, Odone says. There’s no judgment.

When you've got a well-made piece of furniture, it can last for decades.When you’ve got a well-made piece of furniture, it can last for decades. Photo: Jane Ussher

If most evenings you’re horizontal with the remote in your hand, what’s the point of perching on the edge of the sofa, or just leaning back for 30 seconds? That’s not going to tell you what you really need to know.

Get your shoes off, stretch out – is it wide enough? Long enough? Are the armrests at the right height? Will you need a couple of toss cushions to really get yourself sorted for an evening of chilling out?

If you love to entertain, and your sofa can expect to have three good-sized blokes parked on it during most televised footy games, you’re going to want to get a sofa with steel frame construction.

In a small home or apartment, flexibility is important, too.In a small home or apartment, flexibility is important, too. Photo: King Living

Yes, it costs more than one that’s made with a lesser-quality frame, but it’s not going to collapse unexpectedly in the middle of the game, and you won’t need to buy a new one every two years.

On the other hand, you can save money on smaller decorative pieces such as coffee tables, side tables, cushions, lamps and rugs.

“Those are the non-weight bearing and decorative items that don’t need to be durable in the long-term. When you’re just starting out, a flat-pack end table will work just as well for you. Later on, when you’ve got more money, you may decide to upgrade,” says Odone.

Smaller pieces will give your room personality.Smaller pieces will give your room personality. Photo: Jane Ussher

When buying staple pieces, keep your style of living in mind. If you’ve bought a small apartment, you might want to consider furniture that doubles as storage. If you’ve bought a large family home, keep the flexibility and fabric of the furniture in mind. Many sofas, beds and ottomans do double-duty as storage solutions.

Once you’ve found a sofa that fits you in terms of structure, you’ll want to consider how hard-wearing you need the fabric to be.

Removable covers are a great idea, says Odone.

In a small home or apartment, consider furniture that does double-duty.In a small home or apartment, consider furniture that does double-duty. Photo: King Living

“With high-quality construction, there’s no reason a sofa can’t last for decades. You may need to reupholster it after several years, and the foam or batting in the seat cushions may need to be restored or replaced, but that’s still less money than buying a new sofa,” she says.

– Stuff.co.nz

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13 April 2017
By portermathewsblog


When knocking down walls just isn’t an option, mirrors can be a transformative solution for visually expanding a small space — no contractor required. The trick? Placing large mirrors in strategic spots so that they reflect maximum light and space. Check out our favourite mirror decorating methods for working magic in a cramped layout!

Layered With a Console
Layered With a Console
Image Source: Studio McGee

If you have room for a console, you have room for a tall mirror. Make the most out of it by layering a wall-busting mirror behind your console.

Tucked Behind a Sofa

Tucked Behind a Sofa
Image Source: Victoria Pearson via House Beautiful

The area above a sofa often feels like dead space. If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of finding and hanging the right mix of art, try this trick instead.

Displayed Window Style

Displayed Window Style
Image Source: Bonnie Sen for Domino

Mirrors shaped like windows trick the eye into thinking that the space is lighter and larger than it really is. Look for options with beautiful details, like this arched and paned pair!

As a Headboard

As a Headboard
Image Source: Domino

Instead of something traditional, experiment with alternative headboard ideas, like this large antique-style mirror.

Door Panelling

Door Panelling
Image Source: Domino

Panelled doors can be the perfect excuse to add mirrors. Just visit your local glass shop to have them cut to fit the dimensions of your doors.

Installed in Wall Panelling

Installed in Wall Panelling
Image Source: Domino

Or go big by taking that idea to your walls. In a light-filled bathroom, it feels more zen than disco.

 

From the Window to the Wall
Image Source: Domino

Try leaning a large mirror on the opposite side of your largest window.

In the Dining Room

In the Dining Room
Image Source: Domino

Instead of art, consider hanging a floor-length mirror horizontally to open up the space.

On an Armoire

On an Armoire

Image Source: Domino

Looking for an armoire? Consider buying one that has a mirrored front to serve double duty.

Tags: Lifestyle, Tips
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06 April 2017
By portermathewsblog


Author: Catherine Smith via domain.com.au

With summer now over, your verdant vegetable patch can become more than just a hard-working utility area. Bring out a table and chairs, find a shady tree, add an umbrella or pergola and spend long lazy afternoons eating what you’ve grown. Copy one of the hottest restaurant trends, and you’ll be dining garden-to-table in minutes.

  1. Shape up
    Add architecture to the garden to tie it to the rest of the house. Here chunky pergolas make ideal climbing frames for beans and tomatoes. (A strong enough post can even carry heavier courgettes or gourds into the autumn.) Pick your lettuces straight onto the plate.

Photo by Christine Darnell Gardens

  1. Shed rescue
    Soften the back of an ugly shed or garage with battens, or disguise it with a dark paint colour that makes the building recede and the greenery pop. Espalier a fruit tree against the wall, trail strawberries over the edges of the bed and you can pick dessert too.

    Tip: Colour coordinate your veggies to match the paint work: comb the seed catalogues or garden centre and you’ll be amazed at how much you can eat that’s not green!

  1. Terrace dining
    Layer an eat-in garden on the tiniest deck or courtyard: espalier fruit trees against the walls (look for varieties with dwarf or ballerina in the name), stretch wires or yachting rigging to grow climbing vegetables, and tuck the year-round lettuces and herbs in front. The back of the raised bed supports bench seating so you can seat a crowd, while an umbrella provides midday shade.

  1. Rock solid
    For a soothing palette, limit the materials you use so that your finest veggies stand out. Stacked stone planting beds are the same creamy tones as the limestone table, as are the painted walls and gravel walks in this garden. For a more modern twist, use concrete edging, square pavers and a slick contemporary concrete table.

Easy Lighting Fixes for Your Outdoor Area

  1. At the bottom of the garden
    The barbecue doesn’t always have to live next to the house. Move it down to the back of the garden, so that you have a pretty amble between the veggie beds to pick what you’re going to eat. Portable barbecues can be ugly, so dress up the space with a proper outdoor bench, add a tile splashback and a living roof to make a great focal point.

    If you already have a garden tap, it is not much more to rig plumbing to this area too for a kitchen sink. (Hunt demolition yards for super-cheap vintage, and look for old brass taps that will weather prettily outdoors.) Then you can really get away from it all.

  1. Shady business
    If your yard has no big trees, create shade with architecture. Crisp posts and beams balance the geometry of the raised bed. Vary the look with the shade materials: use solid canvas shade sails for deep shade, mesh gardening shade cloth for more dappled light, or operable louvres so you can alter the light or for weather protection.

    Tip: For a cool south-of-France look, use striped canvas in classic blue and white or black and white.

  1. Climb the walls
    Not enough room for a horizontal garden? Vertical veggies can still feed a crowd, and create a gorgeous focal point. Buy ready-made pockets and fill them with good quality potting mix. It is best to plant densely so there are no ugly gaps (and it slows drying out). Check the manufacturer’s info for irrigation instructions, as a vertical plant wall will need frequent watering.

    Tip: Plants look most effective in mass groupings. Mix and match coloured lettuces and herbs, and tuck in swathes of bright flowers – marigolds (Calendula officinalis) to keep away bugs, blue flowers to attract bees. Feed regularly for lush foliage and replace plants as soon as they start to get leggy.

  1. Classical
    If you prefer formality in your garden or terrace – veggies can look shaggy by mid-summer – stick to sharp shapes. Train fruit trees (or grapevines) along horizontal wires, and keep them clipped to reveal structure. The bare branches create lovely winter lines too.

    Tip: Plant small citrus trees in classical pots and clip into balls for year-round structure and bright winter colour.

Photo by Giannetti Home - More home design photos

  1.  Living room
    Don’t just eat out, turn the veggie garden into the living room all autumn: bring out deckchairs or basket chairs for a spot of post-meal lounging. When the dining table is not in use, decorate it with rows of vintage plant pots, glass hurricane lanterns for candles or pots of herbs for snipping to add to salads.
  1. One on the side
    Don’t waste the side of the house – it can be more than the dumping spot for rubbish bins or gardening gear. Even if light is limited, you can slide a raised bed right by the back door for veggies such as lettuces that bolt to seed in full summer sun. Add hard paving and hardy ground-cover herbs, and tuck in a folding table and chairs for your morning coffee spot.
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30 March 2017
By portermathewsblog


Fabian Capomolla via realestate.com.au

As a gardener, I often meet people who claim to have black thumbs. 

All sorts open up to me about the plants they’ve killed over the years – rattling off leafy victims like a list of their prior convictions.

But I’ve also noticed that so-called black thumbs share at least one thing in common: They genuinely want to change their plant-killing ways.

I have more than one story to share of a tragic plant loss. But does that make me a black thumb?

Personally, I don’t believe there are black thumbs, just lazy gardeners, and I mean that in the nicest possible sense.

The modern ‘garden’

No matter your lifestyle, or the amount of time you have available for gardening, there’s a perfectly matched plant for you.

Plants do make a great addition to any home. A healthy garden can improve the value of your property and also make it a nicer place to live.

Now, when I say ‘garden’ I mean something more than the typically Australian concept of sprawling front and backyards.

Gardening

With increasing numbers of people living in apartments and smaller homes, I’ve noticed a real shift in the way we approach gardens. We’re starting to bring them indoors.

Indoor plants are great for cleaning the air of toxins, using up carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. They’re also great for cooling a space.

Overall, keeping company with plants is said to improve your mental health and make you feel good.

If you’re on Instagram, you might have come across the hashtag #plantsmakepeoplehappy, which sums it up in one, rather long word.

Green thumb vs black thumb

So, there’s proof that plants make people happy. But what about people making plants happy?

I truly believe that everyone has a green thumb and the ability to keep plants thriving. It just comes down to finding the right plant for you and your lifestyle.

Indoor plants coffee table

In my experience, the difference between a green thumb (a good gardener) and a black thumb (a lazy gardener) is simply the process of observation, followed by informed action.

In most cases, people skip over the first step, and just do.

This might mean watering without checking to see if the soil is dry, or placing a plant that needs lots of light in a dark corner of the house.

Sometimes, people just forget, and plants die of neglect.

If you think you’re a bit of a lazy gardener, there are plants out there that can cope with some degree of neglect.

The reality is that there’s no such thing as “no maintenance plants”, just those that are naturally robust and require minimal maintenance.

So, I’ve suggested a few shortcuts to make the most of your low-key approach to gardening, together with a handful of plants that require little effort for maximum rewards.

Lazy gardening shortcuts

1. Choose low-key plants

If you’re a low-key gardener, choose plants to match. You’ll have the best chance of success with plants that don’t demand much attention, like mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) or potted cactus.

garden green space succulents

2. Start slowly

Thriving indoor jungles look great, but require constant upkeep. My advice is to start small and gain confidence in your gardening first. Pick two or three plants and learn to look after them before investing in more.

3. Soil matters

Most plants set their roots down in soil. So, it’s important to pot your plants using a mix suited to their needs. Succulents, for instance, do better in a well-draining soil. Most other low-maintenance plants will be happy with good-quality potting mix.

4. The right light

Light is essential for plant growth, but some plants need less than others. To ensure your plants thrive, choose the right spot for them. As a rule, put succulents and rosemary in bright, sunny positions. Plants like mother-in-law’s tongue and Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) will be able to survive (and even thrive!) in medium and low light conditions.

5. Get a moisture meter

Over-watering and under-watering are two of the main causes of plant death. If you’re not sure when to water your plants, help is at hand! Soil moisture meters are a cheap and easy way to gauge when to get the watering can out. Stick the meter in the soil and let it do the work for you.

Or, rather than a machine, use your hands! Stick your finger on to the top of the soil, and if the soil sticks to your finger – it’s damp. If it doesn’t, it’s time to give the plant a good water.

6. Observe your plants

Observation is the first step towards becoming a better gardener. Instead of just walking past your plants, stop and say hi. Admire them and listen to what they have to say. Floppy leaves? The plant might need more light or water. Brown patches? The plant might be sunburnt, overwatered or diseased.

gardener green space

Observe your plants and then act on the messages they’re sending you. Like I say, I don’t talk to my plants, but they do talk to me.

7. Treat your plants (every so often)

Everyone needs a bit of TLC sometimes and that includes plants. You can treat your plants by fertilising them during their growth period, shifting them to a brighter spot now and then, and splashing them down in the shower after a long period indoors, to remove dust from leaves.

However, the number one killer of plants tends to be kindness. As for other relationships in your life, a little freedom goes a long way.

8. Get a plant-sitter for holidays

Remember to care for your plants even if you’re off on holidays. Recruit a friend to pop in and plant-sit, or give all your plants a good water before heading off on a short getaway.

9. Don’t worry

Gardening is all about learning. It’s OK to kill one or two plants along the way if you learn from missteps and mistakes. Keep things fun, keep learning and the plants in your home will be all the happier.

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