purple easter table

I hope you are enjoying a lovely Easter long weekend with family. I know I am!

I’ll see you back here next week with the big kitchen reveal – woot!

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Oh joyous day printable sparkler tags

No doubt I’m currently snorkelling with turtles by the time you read this (yes, totally rubbing it in).

Meanwhile, here is a cute free printable to make your 50c packet of sparklers befit your special celebration. It’s over on Polka Dot Bride for you today.

See you when I get back!

Alicia Parsons - Designer Insights

Happy Monday! Did you have a good weekend? We went to a gorgeous beachside wedding (complete with a burst of lovely autumn sunshine) and – in less glamorous fashion – worked on the office floorboards and kitchen benchtops.

I’ve been interviewed over on the blog of Terry’s Blinds, sharing some of my design process and product picks. Pop over and check it out!

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This post is a partnership with Quicksales.

 Buy online with Quicksales

I love second hand shopping. When we need a new piece of furniture the first play in my game plan is generally to look for something pre-loved. You can find some great bargains – certainly a big plus when you’re on a decorating budget – but what I really love is layering our home’s interior with pieces with character and history.

While I sometimes visit local second hand shops in person, you can’t beat browsing Quicksales from the comfort of your couch in your trackies, glass of wine in hand, amiright? My idea of a good Friday night.

Our first home was dotted with pre-loved furniture that have now become favourites. The only reason we didn’t have more is that we literally ran out of room for more! Happily, I can now indulge my vintage shopping desire again as we furnish our new (much bigger) home. Yippee!

As I compile my furniture shopping list (mid-century entertainment unit… extra seating for the lounge… oo and how ‘bout a cute console for the entry?) here is my approach for finding the perfect pre-owned pieces for your home.

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Know what you want

Going into shopping blind is a recipe for ending up with something that doesn’t work for your home, taste or lifestyle. Decide exactly where in your home this piece will live, consider what will fit with the overall style of the room and measure, measure, measure!

…But have an open mind

Wait, isn’t that contradicting the previous tip? Nope, what I mean is that while the right size and practicality of the piece are non-negotiables, if you have an open mind in terms of the style you could end up with a piece that is a surprising feature for your room. If you only searched for chairs for your dining table, you might never have discovered the incredible antique church pew that would work perfectly instead.

Imagine if

Similarly, have a second glance at items you may have passed over due to condition or colour. That worn armchair would look fab with new upholstery and that timber dresser just needs a good sand and refinish. It’s amazing what a little TLC can do!

Buy online with Quicksales

Cut some slack

Remember the sellers are just your average person down the street, so don’t be expecting catalogue-quality photography. But by all means, if the photo is out of focus or has inaccurate colouring, just politely ask for a better photo or go and take a look at it in person.

Ask questions

If a seller hasn’t listed an important detail such as the dimensions, simply get in touch with them to clarify. There’s no sense in schlepping across town only to find the entertainment unit will obstruct your doorway.

Potay-to, potah-to

Before you’ve given up hope of finding that retro dresser (zero search results, what?) try a few synonyms. Think: mid-century buffet, 60s sideboard… you get the idea.

Check seller profile

Have a look at the user reviews before meeting anyone in person so you can buy with confidence. Also check out their other items, as chances are they’re selling more than one item. You could buy a few things at once to save some driving… and maybe even negotiate a better deal.

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There’s something so rewarding about giving a new home to an unwanted item, particularly if you restore it to its former glory or put your own twist on it. It’s an environmentally- and budget-friendly way of creating a home that’s uniquely yours.

I’ve shown some of our favourite pre-loved furniture throughout the post. Now, tell me what are your most treasured second hand pieces?

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Renovating progress

I can’t believe we’ve been in the new house for a whole month! 

Let’s turn around the previous post about renovating disaster stories (add yours if you haven’t already!) and talk survival tactics.

I confess this is a completely selfish callout for pointers. Right now I have visions of sipping drinks from coconuts on a beach to get me through yet another microwave dinner, but I know once we get back from Hawaii it’s going to be a looong year of living and working amidst the chaos of renovations.

Seasoned renovators: what are your best sanity-saving tips?

kitchen-makeover-11

Don’t worry, we haven’t had any major disasters. (My epically clumsy oil-based paint spill was relatively painless to clean up, thanks to the ugly but practical lino floor.)

But we have had a couple of mishaps, such as picking the wrong colour for the kitchen benchtops, the hot water heater busting and subsequent installation causing a minor flood. It got me thinking, I’m sure many of you have some cracker stories about DIY disasters that you’d like to vent or laugh about.

Leave your best ‘EEEEEK!’ moments in the comments.

kitchen benchtop dilemma

While we have made a lot of progress on the house, the last week we’ve gone one step forward and two steps back. I am totally cool with putting in the time for a good result but when all that effort is for nada, it’s frustrating to say the least.

Here’s how it happened:

I prepped the kitchen, including priming the entire cabinetry for painting. I painted the tiles – beautiful! I painted the cabinets – beautiful! I painted the benchtop – uh… not so hot.

The Man was nervous about saying anything because I’d spent so much time on it. But as soon as he said that he didn’t think the benchtops were working with the rest of the kitchen, I admitted I was thinking the same thing. No qualms with the product itself (in white it has made the faux wood cabinets look amaze) but the colour? Well, we just weren’t feeling it.

We did consider trying a different colour paint but thought we’d look at other options while we were about it.

I remembered my friend Mary saying something about her plans to concrete her benchtops so I hit her up for some details. I also went online and saw a couple of examples, which boosted our enthusiasm.

I was all gung-ho to get straight into it but The Man wanted to be thorough and make sure we’d considered all the options. So we started looking at getting new benchtops. Of course, we couldn’t have new counters with a cruddy old sink, could we? And we couldn’t have a shiny new sink with decades-old plastic taps, could we?

Even with a cheap Ikea number (Lagan, if you’re  wondering) it was still going to be nearly $600 for the benchtops alone. We had car keys and measurements to head to Ikea when we both just looked at each other. Are we sure about this?

The timber counters would have looked beautiful in the kitchen against the white cabinets, true. But this is only a cheap cosmetic makeover to tide us over until we do a full-on renovation in a few years. We never intended to drop several hundred dollars on new fixtures.

Ugh. So, a whole Saturday afternoon wasted and it was back to Plan B: concrete.

I’ve applied one coat and so far so good! I will do another post on the full process once I’ve finished. Wish me luck – it seems I need it!

Secret message egg

In the spirit of the season, here’s my latest tutorial up on Polka Dot Bride. Again, it’s wedding-oriented but of course you can put any kind of message inside.

Do you have any plans for the Easter long weekend? We’ll be in Hawaii so this will be the extent of my Easter crafts this year. You can find more fun ideas over on my Easter Pinterest board.

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gas hot water unit

I didn’t think too much of it about a week after moving in when The Man mentioned that his shower ran out of cold water. I apologised, figuring I’d just been in there too long scrubbing wallpaper scraps from my arms.

Unfortunately, it was a much bigger problem than my indulgent showers.

Yep, the hot water system was busted. Great.

(This also happened right after we moved into the townhouse which makes us wonder what we ever did to the hot water gods.)

Instead of simply replacing the old electric unit, we opted to get gas instead (it was available in the street but was not connected to our property). It was a total nightmare for The Man to coordinate the various parties (the person who installs the inlet is a different person to the one who installs the meter who is a different person to the one who installs the new unit, then of course there’s the energy company themselves whose call centre is simply delightful to deal with).

Oh and did I mention that when the gasfitter was emptying the old unit outside, the water started flooding in the back door?! Needless to say, I grabbed a bunch of towels, not the camera.

We did manage to get a temporary system (above) for a few days’ respite from the freezing showers (hooray!)… but then they took it away again to install the permanent unit which wasn’t hooked up for another three days (nooo!). So it was back to my parents’ place, towels in hand.

gas hot water unit

All up, it cost A LOT. Way more than it would have been to just replace it with another electric unit. But switching to gas will not only be more economical to run, it will also allow us to have a gas cooktop in future (we hate cooking on electric), to plumb in the barbecue and to replace the non-functioning oil heaters with gas if we want to.

Sorry, no eye candy for you today. Keepin’ it real with the boring and ugly realities of home ownership!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to wash my hair.

How do you power your home? Electric, gas, solar or a combination?

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kitchen stools roundup

To help me get through the monotony of working on the kitchen renovation day after day, I’m dreaming about the fun things like shopping for bar stools. No seriously, I had an actual dream about bar stools last night. 

Here is a visual representation of what was floating around in my unconscious.

I dig colourful stools but we have a some small appliances and accessories that are red – I don’t want to reinforce the red (not loving it anymore) nor do I want to introduce a colour into the palette. So neutral it is.

I was thinking something industrial but worried it would be too cold since we’re already having stark white cabinetry and concrete counters. Timber would be the natural choice to add in some texture and warmth but the only timber stool I loved (#4) is going to blow the budget.

The Man is super keen on the Tolix (in fact even suggested without my input!) and I found a ridiculously black and timber replica (#6) that ticks our boxes. They’re so everywhere though which has me second-guessing the choice.

Perhaps the right choice will come to me in my dreams?

1. Bosse stool ($49, Ikea)  |  2. Dalfred stool ($69, Ikea)   |  3. Industrial factory stool ($129, Milan Direct)  |  4. Tractor stool ($169, Freedom)  |  5. Replica US Navy stool ($159, Click On Furniture)  |  6. Replica Tolix ($60, Super Amart)

A collection of pretty meets practical ideas to inspire a happier home

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