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!


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)

This post is sponsored by White Knight.

Kitchen before

Anyone for a brown-on-brown kitchen with orange and olive green accents?

Didn’t think so.

The first step in this makeover (or should I say makeunder?) was to remove the crazy wallpaper. With the help of a wallpaper steamer, some elbow-grease and couple of kind friends, after a (very hot and steamy) day we had uncovered the bare walls.

Our first of many rooms to de-wallpaper – very satisfying!

Kitchen during

I’d had great success using White Knight tile paint before in our first home’s kitchen and bathroom so I knew it would be well worth the effort here too.

This 80s delight called for a more serious approach though, needing not only tile paint but also laminate paint for the cabinets.

Kitchen during

One of the things that attracted us to this home was the beautiful natural light. The kitchen, however, is in the centre of the house and is really dingy with the dark cabinetry and lack of light. The Man and I selected white for the splashback and cabinets to really brighten up the space.


I set about giving everything a thorough clean with Tile & Laminate Cleaner, followed by a coat of Tile & Laminate Primer. I like using a foam roller (and foam brush for the edges) to get a nice smooth finish free of brushstrokes.

Kitchen during

Our cabinets were a cinch to paint but if yours have handles I would remove them first for a neater finish.

And here it is all primed and ready to go:

Kitchen during

Already it looks so much bigger and brighter!

Stay tuned for part 2…

Fridge before

I already knew it had been a while since we’d cleared off the front of the fridge, but when a friend actually commented recently on how old some of the invitations were, I decided it was finally time to do something about it.

Fridge before

(Dreadful photos sorry, I had to do this at night.)

Fridge after

We were given a set of Scrabble magnets as a Christmas present (thanks Sharon if you’re reading!) and thought they should be given pride of place.

A super quick project, but very satisfying nonetheless as it makes the whole room feel brighter and neater. (I am clearly all about the 10-minute projects this week – the temperature is in the 40s again so it’s too hot to do much else.)

Fridge after

Now we can clearly see our meal plan and any upcoming events, like The Man’s brother’s engagement party tomorrow. Yay indeed!



Remember this antique find? After a bit of deliberation, The Man and I decided to use it as a utensil holder.

We removed the lid, cord and element (it’s an early electric kettle). Fret not, we did some research and it’s not particularly valuable, however we did keep the original attachments anyway in case we want to restore and sell it later.




We mainly use non-stick plastic and silicone utensils so the metal and wooden ones you see here aren’t used on a daily basis. So to be honest it’s not really any more convenient than before, although it has freed up some space in the overflowing drawer so it’s not completely without practical benefit.


How about you? Do you keep your utensils within arm’s reach or do you prefer to tuck them out of sight?



If last week’s project of setting up a bar cart wasn’t your thang and you prefer your liquid vices caffeinated, this one’s for you!

It’s such a simple idea but I totally love our little drinks station in the corner of our kitchen (especially now that we’ve got a fancy coffee machine – aww yeah!). Keeping everything within arm’s reach is such a time-saver, plus house guests can easily help themselves without feeling awkward about rummaging through cupboards to find the teabags.

Don’t stop with just the tea/coffee/drinking chocolate, make sure you include everything you need such as sugar, mugs and teaspoons (and biccies too if you have the restraint not to scoff half the tin every time you have a cuppa).

If I had the space I would totally do little themed ‘stations’ all over the place (breakfast making! letter writing! mail sorting!) but this one is definitely a great starting point since we use it daily.

So this weekend, why don’t you set up a tea and coffee station?

Mug favour title

Gosh, Thursday already?! Which means it’s time for another Polka Dot Bride tutorial.

Find out how to design your own illustrated mugs to use as inexpensive wedding favours or gifts.

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This post is sponsored by Fisher & Paykel.

The Man and I are so not ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ type people. We couldn’t care less about media rooms and four-car garages and walk-in double showers.

But there is one thing that we will both sigh wistfully when we spot in someone else’s home. What is it that gets us all green with envy?

A dishwasher.

Yep, it’s one of the more mundane appliances in a home. If you have one (you lucky thing!) you may even take it for granted.

We (and by ‘we’ I mean The Man 90% of the time) spend on average about 30 minutes a day washing the dishes. I hate the dishes being left out to dry (it looks so messy!) but we usually do it anyway because hand drying adds another 20 minutes or so onto the process. We spend another 5 minutes putting dishes away each day.

kitchen sink
What I wished the kitchen sink and counters looked like all the time.

When I still lived at my parents’ it would only take 10 minutes total to load and unload the dishwasher, which we did every couple of days for a household of three.

I worked out that instead of about four hours a week (35 minutes a day) we could cut that to half an hour total (10 minutes three times a week). Oh man, imagine getting an extra 3.5 hours every week?! We could tick off some other jobs instead of letting them pile up and still have more time to spend with each other, with loved ones or enjoying some me-time.

We also covet a clutter-free kitchen which isn’t possible with handwashing and air drying dishes (unless you want to do it 5 times a day – um, no thank you!). I’m aware of how much water we’re using, especially every time we have to drain and refill the sink because the water has gone cold, dirty or greasy. These days, dishwashers actually use less water and energy than handwashing which is a bonus for the wallet as well as the environment.

Now, we love living in a townhouse. Our compact living means we have less cleaning and maintenance to do. We are forced to live simply and clutter-free and are mindful of what we purchase and what we keep. Our modest mortgage means less money stress, I was able to pursue my business dreams and we have more dosh to put towards enjoying life with travel, good food and wine and good times spent with family and friends.

But our small home does mean we have a small kitchen. It has sufficient space for our needs but no more. There’s no way we have room for dishwasher (insert sad face).

…or do we?

We were recently having a sticky-beak at one of our neighbouring townhouses (i.e. same layout) up for sale and noticed they had installed a dishwasher. The cogs were already turning that maybe we could do the same when I spoke to a friend who’d recently had a dishwasher installed and she said it was the best purchase for the house they’d ever made!

I’ve found a Dishdrawer from Fisher & Paykel that takes up half the space of a conventional dishwasher so we can still maximise our storage space – nice! A slimline model is another clever option when you’re short on space.

I love that appliance manufacturers are paying attention to the variety of lifestyles and homes out there. It’s awesome to see some options for small spaces that cater for those of us who enjoy compact living or have downsized.

What appliances do you have or want that would still be essentials no matter how much (or little) space you had?

Nespresso machine

To round out Birthday Month, how about a peek at a very special pressie?!

The Man (whose birthday is 6 days after mine) and I received a coffee machine from his family for our birthdays. Hooray!

My father-in-law was chatting to me quizzing me about coffee makers a few weeks ago. In hindsight clearly doing a bit of sneaky research however I was completely oblivious and thought he was asking for advice to upgrade their machine. How clueless am I?

Regardless, I still managed to convey that in the (to my knowledge, hypothetical) situation of us getting a coffee machine it would need to be a very compact piece to fit in our kitchen. A great hulking appliance was not going to work in our little nook!

I also wanted one that uses pods because coffee grinds can get messy (I used to work in an office that had a regular espresso machine and my coffee was cold by the time I had cleaned up). The bonus of pods is that you can have multiple flavours on hand and they’ll always be kept fresh.

Nespresso machine

My clever in-laws chose the Nespresso U D50 with separate milk frother. Look how slim the profile is – it fits perfectly in our tea/coffee station and the milk frother stores easily in the cupboard below.

We had been thinking of getting a coffee machine one day – perhaps as a 30th present request next year – but we were very surprised by the generous gift.

Working at home it really is a lovely treat every morning to have a proper coffee instead of the regular instant.


Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed celebrating Birthday Month with me! I still can’t believe I’ve been blogging for three years. My longest full-time job was three years and I was hating it by the end and I still love blogging so that’s a good sign!

What did you think of this month’s Book Nook Things I Love by Megan Morton? Share your thoughts over on the review if you’ve read it!

June’s theme is going to be bedrooms, so if you have any questions about closet decluttering/organisation, jewellery/accessory storage, bed linens, bedroom decorating or similar please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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Tea print by Handz

Brr! The temperature is dropping by the day as we head into winter next week. I’m on my third hot drink of the day just to try to warm up a bit.

With tea and coffee on the brain I’ve chosen to round up some of my favourite tea time essentials for you kitchen.

Click over to see all 20 picks over on Houzz.


Tomorrow morning we are picking up a new car (!!) which is a tad exciting. We are planning to drive to the coast tomorrow and the hills on Sunday to take it for a spin.

Do you have any fun adventures planned for the weekend?

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

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