lounge moodboard

As promised, here is the visual take on the lounge floorplan that I shared last week.

We’ve gone for Dulux ‘White Duck ‘ for the walls, a lovely soft warm grey that will complement the feature stone wall. It’s the same colour we used in our former office but this time we’ll be using it at full- instead of quarter-strength.

I love our existing Freedom sofa (so big and comfy!) but I suspect it may look a little lost against the similarly-toned stone wall. Still, I’m finding myself craving calming interiors so perhaps I’ll end up loving the neutral look? Failing that, both of us are smitten with the teal sofa (also Freedom).

More critical is the entertainment unit. I really dislike the el-cheapo flatpack beast of a thing we currently have. The Man and I have agreed to get rid of the vast majority of our CDs and DVDs (we’ve already gone digital but haven’t dealt with the physical copies yet) so this will give us much more flexibility in terms of finding a more compact and attractive unit.

To be honest I haven’t given much thought to the colours in this room, let alone the accessories. Once we’ve finished all surfaces (walls, trim, floors) we’ll set up our existing furniture and feature artwork and let the room evolve from there.

Moodboard: Shelving unit | Reading chair | Pendant light | Sofa | Media unit | Armchair | Coffee table | Rug

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Lounge floor plan

We’re going to be painting the lounge this weekend (yay?) so I’ve been thinking about how the finished room is going to work. (Here is what it looked like before and in progress.)

As you can seen in the floorplan, it’s a very big, long room with doors through to the dining room, living room and front yard. There are so many options with a versatile space like this, but it still posed a few challenges.

Lounge floor plan

We’ve decided to divide it into three zones: lounge/TV zone at one end, games zone at the other and a mini library zone in between.

I initially wanted our huge painting to hang above the pool table so it could be a striking feature visible from the dining room and entryway, but in truth it’s such a bold and colourful piece it’s actually really hard to decorate around. Instead, we’ve decided to give it its own wall across from the library area.

The other dilemma was the arrangement of the lounge area. In such a big room, you would think we’d have no trouble arranging the furniture in any number of successful layouts. But we were dealing with a beautiful stone wall that we didn’t want to put any holes in to mount the TV, another entire wall being a glass sliding door and owning a very large sofa and entertainment unit. Couple that with my desire to maximise the seating (we entertain a lot) and have it work for both conversation and TV watching and it was surprisingly tricky.

The solution? A new, smaller entertainment unit (eventually), a swivelling TV wall mount and slimline armchairs.

Most of the furniture you see in the layout we don’t actually own, but it helps to have a grand plan to work towards.

So that’s the practical side of things, I’ll bring the pretty next week with a visual look at the plans for this room!

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Office makeover

Besides the kitchen, the upstairs office was the first room I tackled after we moved in two months ago (has it really been that long?).

As I showed in this post, I painted, painted and then painted some more to cover up all the wood panelling and light brown walls. I also ripped up the carpets to reveal the (pine?)  floorboards.

Office makeover

They were not in great condition so they were the perfect candidate for my plan: to paint them.

Office makeover

To prep the surface I puttied up the holes from where the carpet tacking was nailed in. I also filled in any major knot holes – I still very much wanted to retain the texture of timber so I only filled in holes that met my (very technical) criteria of ‘would I catch my socks on this?’.

Office makeover

We’ll definitely hire a special upright floor sander when we (eventually) do the floorboards downstairs. But for this smallish room where imperfections were being covered with paint I made do with a handheld sheet sander.

I gave it a thorough vacuum and mop to ensure the surface was completely dust-free.

Office makeover

I used Feast Watson’s Floor Paint which is specifically designed for that purpose so it’s hardwearing and scuff-resistant. It’s water-based so the cleanup couldn’t have been easier.

Office makeover

I poured the paint into a rolling tray and used the broom-like applicator with wool ‘sock’. The thick paint makes it feel like it’s dragging a little but once you get used to that it was really easy.

Office makeover

To achieve a seamless finish I tried to keep a wet edge… except where doing so would literally paint me into a corner. So I did the right of the room, then the left, then the centre, backing towards the door.

Office makeover

The coverage was excellent (the shots above are after just one coat) but I was after a totally opaque look so ended up doing a total of four coats. Each coat only took around 15 minutes though so it was no drama.

I finished off with a brush to do the cutting in and to paint any depressions that the applicator missed.

Office makeover

And here it is now!

Office makeover

Sadly it doesn’t show up in the photos (especially because my good lens is in for repairs so I’m using my old kit lens) but in real life you can see the planks and the timber texture.

Office makeover

Just LOOK at that sunlight streaming in! I always knew this room was going to have fab natural light but it needed some brighter surfaces to make the most of it.

Office makeover

I haven’t bought a single new item for this room. You’ll recognise the furniture from my old office, the Urban Outfitters rug was used for Akimbo‘s market stalls and the ladder-style shelf was in our former bathroom.

Office makeover

Meanwhile our old bar cart becomes a nifty craft cart.

Office makeover

I’m so excited to have an office again after months of working from the dining table, let alone one with a view!

Office makeover Office makeover

Some art waiting to be hung, amongst other finishing touches required.

Office before & after

Just a slight difference from eight weeks ago.

Product was generously supplied by Feast Watson. Opinions are my own.

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This post is sponsored by White Knight.  

White Knight laminate primer in kitchen

When we left off the kitchen looked something like the above. With the brown-on-brown-on-brown scheme a fading bad memory, it was time to apply all the new finishes.

White Knight kitchen makeover

Kitchen makeover

We chose a grey-tinged white for the walls to make the white-white cabinetry pop. A soothing neutral is a definite treat for the eyes after the previous patterned wallpaper. Unfortunately the nicotine-stained ceiling took five coats of paint, including one of stain-blocking primer – ew!

White Knight kitchen makeover

We ummed and ahhed about the benchtops but ultimately opted to try out hand at concreting (which is a post unto itself). I love the textural and earthy aspect to complement the other sleek, white surfaces.

White Knight kitchen makeover

Having painted tiles in our old home’s kitchen, bathroom and laundry I was pretty confident and it turned out just as well as expected. I did the whole thing with a brush, because being oil-based it is somewhat self-levelling (although it’s important to use one with very fine bristles to avoid brush strokes). The paint is super thick so unlike the ceiling (along with everything.else.in.the.entire.house.so.far) two coats were sufficient as promised.

White Knight tile & laminate paint

Next up were the cabinets. I painted them in situ and used the same fine-bristled brush, which meant I could do the cutting in as I went along (gotta love saving an extra step). I thought I might have to switch to a roller but the first coat turned out nice and smooth so I stuck with it. I did two rounds (inside and outside) each with two coats.

White Knight tile & laminate paint

The difference after the tile and laminate paint was like night and day. The tiles are a high gloss while the laminate is a satin so together they reflect so much light; a godsend in such a dim room.

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Remember what it looked like before?

White Knight kitchen makeover

What a difference! We are still planning a few finishing touches (lighting, primarily) but I’m happy to say we added three decades just with a few tins of paint and a bag of concrete!

New house ideas

No surprises that I’ve been pinning like mad since December when we signed the contract for our new home.

Like the announcement, I wanted to keep everything hush-hush until it was all 100% sorted. But I just realised my epic pinboard was still set to ‘private’ – oops!

Well and truly time to remedy that so you can peek inside my brain to see how my ideas for the new house are forming. Make yourself a coffee and go over and browse my inspiration so far on Pinterest. Go on, I’ll wait.

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Back? Good! Tell me, what did you think?

In some ways it’s quite a departure from my normal design tendencies. There is a lot of white and other light wall colours (mostly very pale grey) instead of being drawn to my usual bold palette.

Certainly it’s partly due to age – we were in our early twenties when we bought our first home so it was a fun, colourful house for a young couple, whereas I feel like this is our ‘grown up’ house.

I think also at the time I had a boring job and wanted a stimulating environment at home. Six years on, I have more than enough stimulation in my day so I now find myself craving calmness and simplicity. (Self-diagnosing psychology through Pinterest – who would have thought!)

Some things definitely haven’t changed though. Overall my style is still a mix of old meets new, with a heavy mid-century influence, graphic patterns, industrial touches and pops of colour.

Either way, you can definitely see clear themes emerging, which is what’s so great about the process of creating moodboards.

My goal with this house is to have it all flow and work together, instead of the dog’s breakfast of a colour palette we had in the townhouse. Consistent flooring and a whole house colour palette is at the top of the list.

That said, I do have the irrepressible urge to paint a couple of the rooms in really bold shades, but I’m leaning towards neutrals rather than brights (greys or even black). I still want it to be playful and colourful (couldn’t live without that!) but more as accents rather than competing everywhere for attention.

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I do have a very clear vision for our home, but I am going to take my time and let it evolve bit-by-bit.

This is the first time I’ve planned a whole house scheme at once. Have you ever done this or do you take more of a take-each-room-as-it-comes approach?

And how has your style or approach evolved over the years?

working bee in progress

This is what our living room currently looks like.

It’s acting as HQ for all of our renovating gear so we don’t have to run out to the garage every ten minutes for tools and supplies.

working bee in progress

We’re making good progress on the kitchen and office and have made a start on the lounge. I took the photo of our master lists earlier in the week so I’ve since had the satisfaction of crossing off a bunch more tasks.

The Man is off at a work thing all this weekend so I’ll be cranking up some tunes (we figured out how to use the house’s built-in speakers which is pretty sweet!) to help me get through more painting.

It’s utter chaos but I’m loving every minute.

before-and-after-porch-1

Since I may be without internet for some time (eek!) I’ve scheduled for you a roundup of before and afters of our first home.

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before-and-after-lounge-2

before-and-after-dining-1

before-and-after-dining-2

before-and-after-kitchen-5

before-and-after-kitchen-1

before-and-after-kitchen-2

before-and-after-laundry-1

before-and-after-laundry-2

before-and-after-bedroom-1

before-and-after-office-1

before-and-after-office-2

before-and-after-bathroom-2 before-and-after-bathroom-1

before-and-after-courtyard-2

before-and-after-courtyard-1

You can also see the progress shots over on the house tour, but it’s fun to see the side-by-sides from 2008 compared to 2014. Basically, nothing has been left untouched except the floors. We are so excited to take on an even bigger challenge with the new house!

My blogging will be patchy over the next couple of weeks as we wait patiently impatiently for our internet connection and while I find the time to put down the wallpaper stripper long enough to edit some photos.

I will be posting updates and photos over on Twitter and Instagram so follow along to get the latest.

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Before I started packing, I went around the house for a final photo shoot. I don’t really believe that a home is ever ‘finished’, but since we’re moving out this is the most finished it will ever be.

Get your scrolling finger ready because it’s a long one.

Lounge & dining

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour           Atypical Type A final townhouse tour Atypical Type A final townhouse tour Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Kitchen

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Laundry

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Stairwell & landing

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Bedroom

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour   Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

(I had already taken down some art in here to patch the holes before we move; the walls are not normally this bare.)

Office

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Bathroom

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

Atypical Type A final townhouse tour      Atypical Type A final townhouse tour

It’s definitely still a modest house but we are so happy with how far it’s come. Even as we move on to bigger and better things it will always hold a special place as our first home. *Sniff sniff* …damn onions.

Ahem, so make sure you check out the progress photos to see how it evolved to this stage.

By the time you read this I’ll hopefully be heading off to collect the keys to the new house! I say hopefully though because it hasn’t quite been smooth sailing with settlement.

I’ll be posting latest updates on Twitter and Instagram so I’ll see you over there!

house before

I’ve had this post waiting in the wings for a while.

I took some photos at the new house when we met the agent there to sign some paperwork a few weeks ago. I didn’t want to publish anything until finance and whatnot was 100% sorted, which it now is.

I would not have posted them at all if the home was still occupied, but it’s a deceased estate which has been vacant for some time. The furniture is still there but it has been largely cleared of personal effects.

Exterior

house before

The house is late 50s and is very typical of the area. However it does have a few surprises compared to the majority of seemingly similar homes, because it was built for the builder’s own family as their dream home.

It has only had the one owner for over five decades and, despite the dated decor, has clearly been a well-loved family home. We can’t wait to give it some TLC of our own!

house before

It’s only five minutes from our current home but it feels a world away as it’s tucked in a quiet suburban street instead of being in a big unit block on a semi-industrial main road.

Entry & hall

house before

The entrance is quite generously proportioned and I’m actually quite fond of the chandelier. The view from the front door looks straight into the laundry which is a bit awkward so we may block off that doorway and create more of a focal point.

house before

The three bedrooms are all off a single hallway. It’s not wide enough for any furniture but I’m picturing a gallery wall.

Bedroom 1

house before

The master bedroom I’d say has roughly the same proportions as our current bedroom, which we’ve found to be a good size for us.

house before

It doesn’t have any built-ins though (none of the bedrooms do), so that’s on the to-do list.

Bedroom 2

house before

The second and third bedrooms are decent (certainly bigger than our current second bedroom) but not big. They both have lovely big windows and natural light. Just imagine how light and bright they are going to feel without all the wallpaper!

This room will be a study for The Man, including storage for his work supplies and books as well as his guitar. We have actually arranged to buy some furniture from the vendor, including this desk and dresser.

Bedroom 3

house before

The third bedroom, which overlooks the garden, will act as a guest room.

Main bathroom

house before

If you weren’t already impressed with the variety of the wallpaper in the first four rooms, check out the bathroom.

Yep, it’s ladies’ faces. Watching you in the shower.

house before

…and the toilet.

Laundry

house before

The laundry, like the rest of the house, needs a freshen up but this will be low on our priority list. There is a full-size linen closet on the other side of the room which will be very handy as there is no hall cupboard.

Kitchen

house before

One of the main things that sold us on this house was the floorplan, which has the kitchen ideally (for us) situated between the two living areas. The very long-term plan is to install a brand new kitchen, knocking out the wall on the left to make it open-plan with the living room.

house before

In the meantime I’m planning to paint the tiles and laminate (and remove the wallpaper of course) to modernise and brighten the room. And generally just bask in having triple the storage space of our current kitchen.

Dining room

house before

Off the kitchen, at the front of the house, is a formal dining room. For the time being it will be our only dining area as we only have one table.

There are those glorious big windows again.

Lounge

house before

Through the brick archway is the formal lounge. It’s actually a double room so there are loads of possibilities. It definitely won’t be set up with two seating areas though.

house before

This is the room we will be tackling first since, unlike the rest of the house which has neutral flooring, this has carpet that really needs to go. We believe the sub-floor is timber floorboards so if that’s correct we plan to polish those.

Living room

house before

Adjacent to that is another living space. We actually have not a single piece of furniture to put in this room currently. At some stage I will paint the brick and panelling to create a bright casual meals/living area but it’s something that will evolve slowly.

house before

This house would have been quite the party place back in the day, featuring a built-in bar and speaker system. Much to the dismay of The Man’s friends, this will not be staying… at least not until after our 30th party this autumn. 

Powder room

house before

This photo is proof of not much except that I need a wider angle lens.

The toilet & basin is nicely located off the living room, near the patio, so it will be handy for guests.

Attic

house before

Next to that is a stairwell leading up to my favourite feature of the house…

house before

The attic!

house before

These two rooms will form my dream studio, with oodles of space for my business as well as crafting and other projects.

The Man is actually just as excited about this room as I am… because it means all my ‘stuff’ will be contained instead of spread out all over the house.

Cellar

house before

I mentioned that this house had a few surprises, well here is another one. North American readers may find this quite underwhelming as basements appear to be commonplace, but here anything beyond one floor is a bit la-di-da.

Especially when it involves a wine cellar big enough to host a dinner party.

house before

Oh and here is the reason why I don’t feel the slightest wifely guilt at ripping out the bar upstairs. Because there is still another one.

Backyard

house before

The patio is really spacious and the pergola is structurally is good nick. We’ll remove the green shadecloth and paint the timber but this is a while off.

house before

As much as I love a blank slate indoors, the opposite is true for the outdoors. I have improved a bit over the last six years of home ownership but I am still very much a novice gardener, so established = good / decisions = bad.

No doubt we will do a bit of landscaping in future but for the time being we will just try not to kill the previous owner’s clearly beloved lawn and fruit trees.

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Phew! Well that’s our new home, what do you think? I hope you enjoyed the tour.

 

There is clearly A LOT to do. As in, no wall, floor or fixture will be safe from a makeover. But everything is in good condition and it’s totally liveable so there’s no rush.

Okay, maybe not, because I have SO MANY IDEAS I’m itching to do. 

Either way, we can’t wait to get in there and start making it ours.

If you have any questions about the layout or our renovation plans, feel free to ask in the comments!

High/low design

It started with a Facebook conversation I started the other day about a potential sponsor offering me a $165 cushion. I had declined it on the basis that it was not a good fit for this blog since I am all about affordable decorating.

A quick straw poll revealed that most of you would typically spend about the same as I would on a cushion, but industry pros Jen and Fiona raised the big question of quality, conditions and craftsmanship.

I don’t usually get too ‘deep’ here but for some reason I feel like I want to dive into this particular can of worms (now there’s a mental image for you).

I want to make one thing clear from the outset: this is not about how businesses choose to price their products. I have no doubt that the manufacturer in question priced their goods appropriately given the quality of material and labour involved. I am a producer of high-end goods myself through my invitation business and – even though it’s sometimes uncomfortable – I know my prices are exactly where they need to be.

Design-wise, we can’t compare these kinds of handcrafted items with their mass-produced counterparts. Yet for us as consumers, they need to be compared because they are both competing for our dollars. We all have finite resources so of course we are weighing up the product that costs the same as a takeaway baguette with the one that costs more than my entire weekly grocery budget.

I would love to buy proper designer furniture to compensate its creator. I would love to know I’m putting food on the table of an independent designer. I would love to know my money is supporting sustainable and ethical business practices.

And then there’s the reality. I can’t afford to drop a month’s mortgage payment on an armchair. The pesky budget has me bypass the handmade for the machine made. A higher price is no guarantee of ethical production (and vice versa).

High/low design
Mid-century chair (roadside find), hand-me-down Kartell side tables, Freedom sofa, Etsy cushions, Target lantern and faux flowers, handblown Eamonn Vereker glass bowl. In background: antique oak table with replica Eames chairs.

So what’s a design-loving, budget-conscious (possibly over-thinking) girl to do?

Buy handmade/independent

It’s harder to do this on a budget but it can be done. Keep an eye out for newer designers or those who produce goods that are not so labour-intensive or that use simpler materials (not that that is the sole factor in price, but it’s a good starting point). And of course there’s Etsy, which caters for every price range.

Buy second-hand designer

If you love designer furniture but feel squeamish about knock-offs, consider second-hand. I’m lucky enough to have inherited my parents’ original Kartell tables and Planet lamp, but eagle eyes can find affordable originals (or at least authentic smaller brand names) on Gumtree or Craigslist.

Buy vintage

Most of our furniture is vintage (or even antique), partly for aesthetic reasons but also because the craftsmanship is far superior to the majority of comparably-priced modern buys. We have picked up some beautifully made pieces for a fraction of the cost of quality new furniture.

Invest in the right pieces

You will need to invest in some quality pieces even – or perhaps especially - if you are on a budget. I say especially because it will be even more important to ensure your purchases last so you don’t have to constantly replace them. These are the items that need to be kind to your body (mattresses, couches, desk chairs) or make an impact in a room (area rug, entertainment unit, feature artwork). Look for quality items that give you the most bang for your buck and will stand the test of time.

Buy what you love

Go easy on the impulse purchases – yes, I’m talking about the all those innocent $20 purchases, they add up. Instead, give yourself a 30 day delay on purchases; if you still keep coming back to it, go ahead and buy it. It’s not about deprivation, it’s about quality vs quantity and making sure your hard earned cash goes to something worthwhile that you will enjoy for years to come.

Do a trade

I have a jeweller friend who regularly trades her pieces with other designers in her community. You don’t have to be a professional – perhaps you have a crafty friend who would sew you a set of curtains or knit you one of her beautiful scarves in exchange for some lawnmowing or babysitting.

High/low design

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I admit, I am equal parts lazy and naive when it comes to ethical production (I know, I know), so I won’t comment too much on that complex topic. Mine is not an extreme standpoint, rather an uneasy balance between cost vs quality, ethical vs unknown.

It’s a continual challenge but the above approach is what helps me strike as good a balance as I can for me right now.

There is no easy answer (and it will be different for every person) but first we need to be aware of the questions.

How about you: Do you largely buy independent/ethical/designer or is budget a more crucial criteria for you? If, like me, you find yourself in the middle, how do you find a balance?

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

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