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!

1 Palm Tree Accents1.PNG

2 Pastel and Wicker2

3 Moody Blue

4 Teal Touches

5 Cherry Pop

6 Cosy and Chic

7 Colourful Eclectic

8 Dark and Dramatic

9 Grey Days

10 Bold Gold

11 Cobalt and Lilac

12 White and Gold Marble

13 Midcentury Music Fans

14 Salvaged Chic

15 Pastel Pink Perfection

16 Upscale Pastels

17 Classic Linen

18 Retro Revival

19 Colourful Crafts

20 Ladder Shelves and Houseplants

21 Statement Furniture

22 Fashionista Greys

23 Pink, White, and Cosy

24 ’60s Orange

25 Blue-Grey and Bold

26 Pastel Sofa and Statement Rug

27 Shades of Beige and Brown

28 Let the Light In

29 Retro Woods and Pops of Colour

30 Greyscale Chic

31 Cosy Cream

32 Pops of Pink

33 Textured Layers

34 Bringing the Outside In

35 Bowie and Velvet

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



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

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


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.


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18 May 2017
By portermathewsblog

Laura Barry via

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

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)
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


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.


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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

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

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.


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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23 March 2017
By portermathewsblog

Image Source: Studio McGee
Congrats! You finally snagged that dream apartment downtown or your first home in that impossibly cute neighbourhood. You have a lot to celebrate, but once the fun begins to die down, you start to slowly come to terms with one significant fact: now you have to decorate this brand-new space! And while some of you may delight in this idea, most of you will probably become slightly unnerved at the thought of beginning an entire room design from scratch. So to save yourself those anxious and overwhelming vibes, we decided to make it easy for you by reaching out to Kara Cox from Kara Cox Interiors for some much-needed interior advice! Read on as we share her key insights on how to tackle a home design from start to finish, starting with one of your most-used spaces: your living room!

Tags: Lifestyle, Tips
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16 March 2017
By portermathewsblog

Tags: Lifestyle, Tips
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09 March 2017
By portermathewsblog


If searching for your keys is a part of your morning ritual, it’s time to break the cycle.

Being organised is more than just a personality trait, it’s a lifestyle decision that’s easier to achieve if you stock your home with the right tools.

These 13 clutter-busting essentials will make your days feel longer and less stressful. Cheers to that!

Key catchall

If you don’t want to hang a key hook, do yourself a favour and get a key catchall. Having a designated spot to place your keys when you walk through the door will save you from the “running late” syndrome. Don’t be that person.

Get it: Making your own leather catchall is easier than you’d think. Follow this tutorial on A Beautiful Mess to DIY your own.

Open homes:

Photo: A Beautiful Mess

Shelf Dividers

You know how it goes… You take the time to meticulously fold sheets and towels, and by the end of week, it looks like a bomb exploded in your linen closet. Here’s where clear shelf dividers come in. They’ll keep your stacks of linens in order without creating an eyesore.

Get it: Stock up on these acrylic shelf dividers to tame your most unruly closet.

Open homes:

Photo: Bahar Yurukoglu for Domino

Glass Jars

Put your pantry on display by keeping dried goods and other treats in lidded glass jars.

Get it: You can get kitchen jars in all shapes and sizes at Ikea.

Open homes:

Photo: A Beautiful Mess


If you’ve seen these used to hang pots and pans, you’ll be happy to know that the idea translates for any room in the house. We love how Sugar + Cloth blogger Ashley Rose used one for above-the-bed storage and decor.

Open homes:

Photo: Sugar & Cloth

Drawer Organisers

If shuffling through a drawer to find a tube of lipstick gives you anxiety, you’ll be amazed by the efficiency that a simple drawer organiser can offer.

Open homes:

Photo: Paul Costello for Domino

A Magnetic Knife Strip

Forget the space-saving allure of forgoing a knife block – we’re crazy about the fact that you can see the shapes and sizes of your most utilised knives while keeping them in reach.

Open homes:

Photo: Lesley Unruh via One Kings Lane

Well-Stocked Trays

It’s amazing how quickly a tray can corral clutter. Bonus points for turning the top of your toilet into an extension of your medicine cabinet (with the addition of a slim bud vase and framed picture, of course).

Open homes:

Photo: Lucas Allen for Domino

Labelled Boxes

Labelled boxes are a great way to organise the things you want out of sight.

Open homes:

Photo: Cahan Eric For Domino

Tension Rod Dividers

Sure, you can use them to hang a curtain, but they work wonders in making the most out of shelves. Follow Martha Stewart’s lead, and use them to organise kitchen items like pot and pan lids, trays and cutting boards.

Open homes:

Photo: Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright © 2015

Wall-Mounted Drawers

Whether you need more storage space for clothes or craft supplies, these wall-mounted mesh drawers allow you to customise your storage and easily see what you’re storing.

Open homes:

Photo: Lesley A. Unruh for Domino

Make-up Brush Cups

Instead of cramming make-up brushes into a messy drawer or make-up bag, keep them within easy reach in a stylish cup.

Open homes:

Photo: Michael Wiltbank for Domino

Spices at the Ready

Whether it’s a drawer filled with neat rows of spices or a creative DIY that frees cabinet space, every organised cook seems to have their spice collection under control.

Get it: A Beautiful Mess has an easy-to-follow tutorial for making these nifty magnetic spice jars.

Open homes:

Photo: A Beautiful Mess

Clever Toilet Paper Storage

Running out when you need it is the worst, but stacking it in plain sight can cramp your bathroom’s style. Kill two birds with one stone by turning a basket into a toilet paper organiser and dispenser.

Open homes:


This story originally appeared on


Tags: Lifestyle, Tips
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02 March 2017
By portermathewsblog


I have moved 11 times in the past 13 years. Of those moves, two were international and one was interstate.

Over the years, my husband and I have refined our approach and now tackle a move with nothing short of military precision. We have, however, made plenty of mistakes along the way.

To lose is to learn, apparently, so in the interests of education, here are some of our more noteworthy blunders.

As far as moving mistakes go, mixing up your dates is one of the worst.As far as moving mistakes go, mixing up your dates is one of the worst. Photo: Raquel Miguel Gueuse

Consider your moving dates carefully

When moving between rental properties in the past, we have always ensured some overlap between leases to allow us time to actually move. Earlier this year, when buying our family home, we had a few months left on our lease so agreed on a 90-day settlement period with the sellers. We then, unexpectedly, found a tenant willing to take over our lease. Gleefully proclaiming that it would “all work out in the end”, we agreed to transfer our lease before receiving confirmation from the sellers that we could move into our new home early. We ended up moving out of our rental property with nowhere to go, still frantically trying to convince the sellers to grant us occupation. The result was two moves instead of one. We moved all our worldly goods into storage, and then from storage into our new home. As far as moving mistakes go, this was a whopper – storage, cattery and accommodation costs add up quickly.

Ensure that your move does not coincide with big family or life events: I would strongly advise against moving during the first or last trimesters of pregnancy. In fact, the middle bit is best avoided too. My husband can confirm that trying to pack up a house around your wife while she is under the influence of powerful nesting instincts comes with its own set of unique challenges. Similarly, we discovered that hosting an offspring’s eighth birthday party while moving between homes is not conducive to healthy levels of stress. In our defence, party invites went out before our move dates were confirmed. Clearly, the sensible course of action would have been to cancel the party, but we opted to go ahead. It turns out that even low-key party catering, when effected from the boot of your car, is immensely stressful.

Do not lose track of your new house keys

During one move, in a fit of efficiency, we dropped off our newly acquired front door key at a local key cutter to have copies made. We were patting ourselves on the back for being ahead of the game right up until we arrived, with packed car and mewling cat, at our new home. The keys, of course, were still in our previous suburb, a good hour away. This particular mistake may have led to some mild marital discord.

Keep track of those keys.
Photo: crafthubs.

Labels, labels, labels 

We have moved so many times that our boxes have numerous content descriptions scrawled down their sides. There are few things more frustrating than triumphantly ripping open the box labelled “kettle” only to find that it contains cricket bats and an old flying jacket. When reusing boxes, either use new stickers or date the content descriptions. If you are numbering your boxes and recording their contents in a list, it is probably wise to keep that list well away from toddlers and textas. Alternatively, embrace technology and take a short video clip of the contents of each box. However, if you use this system and download the clips onto a hard drive, keep the hard drive accessible. Failure to do so could lead to a lack of appreciation for the sheer brilliance of this idea.

Use small boxes for heavy items 

This is a basic rule which hardly seems worth mentioning yet, 11 moves down the line, we still cannot seem to grasp it. Every single move, we manage to fill a big cardboard box with books. The result is either an impossibly heavy box or a box without a bottom. Having a box dump paperbacks all over your feet does little to improve the mood on moving day.

For heavy loads use small boxes or wear foot protection.
Photo: Stocksy.

Return all library books before you move

This is especially important if you are moving internationally or interstate. You will need to make this mistake only once before library borrowing becomes a banned activity.

Try not to stab anything

Opening boxes in your new home should be carried out with extreme caution, particularly if there is any kind of sharp implement involved. Similarly, if you plan to cut handles into the sides of cardboard boxes, do so before you fill them up. Take my word for it – cutting holes into already packed boxes does not end well for teddy bears.

Keep children entertained 

If you are moving children, especially young children, keep the puzzles, DVDs or sticker books on hand until the bitter end. And whatever you do, keep their most treasured belongings accessible. If you have accidentally not only packed up everything they love, but also sent it in a crate to a different country, expect to find yourself buying exactly the same talking Elmo that you were not overly keen on purchasing the first time around.

Last but not least

Never, under any circumstances, light a scented candle made of maroon wax two days before your lease ends. This rule applies even if the carpet in your rental property is not expensive and beige. Just don’t do it.

The stress of a move is epic, irrespective of whether you are moving internationally or just a few doors down. We have learnt to laugh when the wheels fall off and to dole out extra doses of tolerance and kindness in the more challenging moments. And given our impressive and lengthy list of moving mishaps, forgiveness is chief.

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08 February 2017
By portermathewsblog

Author: Bettina Deda

We all want to live in a happy home where we can relax and feel good. However, what makes you happy at home, or in your life, is very subjective, and you have to find your own recipe for happiness. As I mentioned recently, being surrounded by beautiful art does make some people happy. Others might find happiness in using bright colours and energy oils in their home. Or, maybe, being organised and living in a tidy house is your take on happiness. Often, it is the simplest pleasures that make us feel good. To be happier at home does not have to be expensive.

The only thing it requires is for you to take action and change something if you do not feel well. So follow the advice of the British politician and writer Benjamin Disraeli, who said, “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”

Tidy up and declutter
As Marie Kondo explains in her bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a tidy and uncluttered home can make all the difference to your life. Once you get rid of physical clutter, your mind will free up as well. And, as a consequence, you will be able to focus on more meaningful things and eventually improve your lifestyle. Once you have experienced the impact of a tidy home on your wellbeing, you will never want to go back to a cluttered house.

Find out more about Marie Kondo’s philosophy

Write a happiness journal
Find out more of what makes you happy by writing a happiness journal. Writing about joyful experiences will help you stay positive and foster creativity. Each night, capture what made you happy during the day. Explore different areas of your life that affect your happiness. Set monthly objectives to work towards being happier at home and in your life.

Buy fresh flowers
Add a touch of colour and happiness to your entrance hall, dining table or kitchen bench with a bunch of fresh flowers. Use the happy colours yellow and orange to make you feel good. Buy a big bunch from a flower market and divide it to embellish several areas in your home at the same time. Arrange single stems in small glass containers next to each other to create a beautiful display. You could also find quirky containers, such as old teapots, for example, to show off your flower arrangements.

Browse a wide selection of dining tables on Houzz

Photo: Dave Tozer/Bettina Deda colour design

Make your bed
I work a lot from home and can’t be creative or productive if I know that my house is messy. Therefore, I make my bed every day. Making my bed takes only a few minutes, and it has a positive effect on my wellbeing. Start with these little things to experience how a tidy space can increase your happiness level at home.

Relish in the simple pleasure of fresh sheets

Use the power of smell
Aromatherapy can reduce stress and anxiety. According to aromatherapist Julie Nelson, the citrus family of oils – also called energy oils or happy oils – are a great way to enhance your happiness at home. Essential oils can be used as room or body sprays, for baths and foot baths or as oils, substituting conventional perfumes. The most important thing is that you enjoy what you are using. Go with what your nose tells you.

9 smells that’ll boost your health

Photo: Kate Hansen/The Eclectic Creative Studio

Photo: Kate Hansen/The Eclectic Creative Studio

Display your favourite objects
I am a big fan of a tidy home, but I also love buying and collecting beautiful things. As Gretchen Rubin puts it her book, Happier at Home, “buying things is a way to engage with the world.” And if we only buy things that are meaningful to us, they become precious and valuable. You can engage with your belongings by simply using them or just seeing them and being reminded of a precious experience from the past. I love displaying my favourite books with selected pages open. Every time I walk by, I read an inspirational quote or see a beautiful image. Decorating interesting vignettes with objects and colours you love will make you feel happier at home, too. Change your displays as often as you like for some decorating fun.

Introduce feng shui principles
Optimise the energy flow in your home. Research Houzz for feng shui specialists to help you determine which energy you need to add or remove in each of your rooms to optimise the feng shui. In keeping with this harmonising philosophy, you should also repair everything that is broken or discard it.

Feng shui for beginners

Photo: MisuraEmme Interiors UK


Dress for success
Are you wearing the same stuff every day? In busy lives, people can often get stuck with wearing the same old T-shirt, jumper or jeans. It seems to be easier to stick to what is familiar than try something new. But according to psychologist and author Fiona Robards, how we project ourselves to the world has a strong reciprocal relationship with our self-confidence and happiness. If you’re not feeling happy about your wardrobe, and if you don’t know what to wear even if your wardrobe is overflowing, maybe it is time to step out of your comfort zone and engage a personal stylist to help you boost your self-confidence. Choose someone whose style you like and with whom you can connect.

Upgrade your closet space with the help of a storage designer

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