This post is a partnership with Quicksales.

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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!

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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?

Earth Hour 2014

I haven’t done a ‘Why don’t you…’ column in a while but when the rep for Earth Hour got in touch to spread the word I thought it would be the perfect reason to do so.

If you’re not aware, Earth Hour is an annual event to encourage us all to switch off our power for just one hour to combat climate change. This year the focus is on saving the Great Barrier Reef. My parents took us when I was 13 and I want to be able to do the same for my kids in future but it won’t be around if action isn’t taken now.

The Man and I have already been going very low-tech recently, with renovations simultaneously rendering our lounge and kitchen  almost unusable. So we enjoyed a candlelit picnic on the floor (and may or may not have polished off a bottle of red on a Monday night).

It felt like such a relaxing treat we’ll be doing it again for Earth Hour this Saturday at 8.30pm.

 

dining-after

Several weeks ago I was gearing up to prep our home to put on the (rental) market. We were thankful to quite quickly arrange a lovely tenant (a former colleague of The Man’s) so we didn’t have to go through that whole process.

Of course, there is a bunch of maintenance we’re doing in preparation – touching up chipped paint, having the oven professionally cleaned, fixing the stove that’s been broken for four years – you know, all the things we’ve never got around to doing for ourselves.

What we haven’t had to do is any staging for listing photos and inspections.

I must admit to being relieved, but then I saw a great post over at Minimalist Mom advising to ‘sell’ your home to yourself.

That is, even if you have no plans to move, act as if you were moving house; get rid of anything that wouldn’t be worth taking with you.

Act as if potential buyers are coming into your home; fix any less-than-appealing features.

It’s a great approach to try to get yourself to see your home through someone else’s eyes: you’ll notice things that you tend to gloss over because you see them every day. Immediately you’ll want to put all your kitchen appliances back in the cupboard, change an awkward furniture layout, pare down the knick knacks and go on a decluttering frenzy.

Treat yourself to some fresh flowers and enjoy your ‘new’ home!

free printable moving house checklists

With help from your brilliant moving house advice, I managed to get a TON of packing done last weekend. The Man (who was attending a seminar the whole weekend) came home to quite a different house!

A recurring suggestion was creating an ‘essentials’ box so I’ve pulled together a bunch of your suggested items into a checklist as a free printable.

I also created an address change checklist to hopefully ease that particular headache.

Download the free printables:

Moving essentials checklist

Address change checklist

You are all such clever cookies, thanks again for your input!

Any requests for any other printables?

new lights dining

A friend said to me recently ‘I can’t believe everything you were able to do in your current house’.

I was quite taken aback. I mean, we’re only two people, we’re not that into gardening and we don’t even have so much as a goldfish as a pet. So surely a two-bedroom one-bathroom townhouse would have been the perfect size?

Nevertheless, I have to admit I was feeling the pinch.

…Guests have to climb over each other to extract themselves from seating for a loo break.

…My office doesn’t have a surface large enough for essentials like a cutting mat or packing area.

…The Man has had to work from the couch since I commandeered our once-shared study for my business four years ago.

…I am over not having a full-size ironing board or Christmas tree.

So there is a whole range of current everyday nuisances (#firstworldproblems) that I’m looking forward to not worrying about in future.

That said, it got me thinking about all the strategies we developed out of necessity living in a small home (relative to our peers, that is). I actually think we will continue with many of the tactics that we’ve established here, even though space won’t be such an issue.

Small space lessons that can apply to any sized home

  • Reduce amount of stuff before organising / adding more storage
  • Choose furniture and storage that is functional as well as beautiful
  • Think creatively (for example, hacking Ikea kitchen cabinets into custom desk)
  • Maximise storage by adding shelves/hooks in ‘dead’ spaces
  • Choose a few items that you love rather than a bunch of okay stuff
  • Go without infrequently used items (you can always borrow or hire them)
  • Know that letting go of sentimental items isn’t letting go of the associated memories
  • Ask for ‘experience’ gifts instead of material ones
  • Take advantage of technology and go digital with media and especially paperwork

Regardless of space, I think it the approach will help us make the most of our home and keep it uncluttered.

Do you have any tips to add to the list? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Moving in day 2008

When The Man and I moved into our townhouse, we were both coming straight from living with our parents. Naturally, apart from our bedroom furniture and personal items, we didn’t have a lot to move.

Six years on, we have accumulated a LOT of stuff. It’s things we need and use, so I’m not talking about clutter (well, mostly!). But we started out with the absolute bare minimum of furniture and household items (seriously, every time we cooked a new meal we discovered we needed some new utensil or dish) and have slowly built a home.

Now, we are faced with our first ‘proper’ move and to be honest I am kind of overwhelmed by the thought.

Where do I start? How long will it take us? And (with no garage or free floor space) where on earth do I put the packed boxes?!

So I’m asking pleading for your packing and moving tips. Leave a comment with your advice and we can get a nice big list happening.

organised toiletries case

I was lucky enough to get a couple of the big things on my birthday wish list earlier in the year (including the lens and adorable handbag) – hooray! I was still really keen on the Apple & Bee toiletries case and decided to splurge and buy it for myself recently.

organised toiletries case

I had a not very feminine camping-store style case before that. I loved how it had a hook so it could be hung somewhere even in the most cramped hotel bathrooms.

What I didn’t love though, was that it didn’t quite fit everything in it. Even with the bare essentials of makeup items, I would struggle to get the zip closed and would have to pack another pouch for larger items such as hairspray.

I thought about it for months because it wasn’t cheap, but in the end I decided to go for it since it was the only case that met all my criteria after a lot of searching.

The Carry-all Traveller lives up to its name and I can fit EVERYTHING in it – including makeup, hairstyling gear and perfume – and has the nifty hook. As you can imagine it is quite a bulky piece, but I now don’t have to have several different pouches floating around in my suitcase and spread out around a hotel room.

organised toiletries case

Here are my tips for packing a travel toiletries case:

  • Pare back your makeup
    When I’m at home I’ll vary up my eyeshadow colours and such but when travelling I’ll usually only take one of each item (although I admit I stash another couple of lippies in my handbag). Choose more streamlined versions of your regular products, for example I use a stick blusher which doesn’t need a brush (I normally take pressed powder for the same reason but I just ran out so on our last trip I had to pack my bulky loose powder and brush). Non-essential items like bronzer and primer don’t make the cut at all.
  • Streamline your routine
    Similarly, simplify your other products to save space. For example, I take a single lotion for both hands and body, only one moisturiser (instead of one for day and another for night) and a razor instead of my usual epilator. Especially if you’re only going for a short time, you won’t miss the full kit & caboodle.
  • Keep a second set of everything 
    Instead of packing my toiletries case from scratch before each trip, I actually keep a second set of almost everything in there so I’m ready to go and won’t forget things. It sounds extravagant, but most essentials such as shampoo, body wash and toothbrushes, are cheap and longlasting. If you’re anything like me, you may already have a stash of gift-with-purchase samples and other spares.
  • Don’t take more than you need
    If you only need a couple of weeks’ worth of supplies, don’t pack a one-litre body lotion or huge hairspray. I prefer buying travel sized products for convenience but decanting into plain bottles will be cheaper.

What are your tips for packing toiletries?

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This post is sponsored by Target

cleaning caddy 1

One of my favourite organising tips is to store items where you use them. I decided to take my own advice and set up a little cleaning box in the bathroom using this cute white storage tin.

cleaning caddy 2

The caddy contains vinegar, bicarb soda, methylated spirits, Ajax, a sponge cloth, a microfibre cloth and an old toothbrush.

cleaning caddy 3

Instead of carting everything up from the laundry (downstairs), all the essentials are now on hand in the bathroom so a quick clean is that much easier to squeeze in on a busy weekend… or, er, five minutes before guests are due to rock up.

vileda-robot-sweeper-1

I was already on a mission to simplify our cleaning routine when I spotted this nifty gadget. 

You guys, a robotic sweeper. I feel like I’m on the Jetsons.

vileda-robot-sweeper-2

You just press a button and off it zooms to every corner of the room (this is what the disposable pad looked like after only a tiny section – ew!).

We will still need to mop any sticky spills in the kitchen, but for everyday cleaning of crumbs, dust and hair it will work great on our downstairs flooring.

vileda-robot-sweeper-3

I had a spare metal crate under the sideboard that is the perfect home for it.

Only thing is, I’ve now made life easier for The Man (cleaning the bathroom and sweeping fall under his side of the chores list) so I need to even it up by finding ways to automate my tasks – ha!

Do you have any of your own tips for simplifying your cleaning routine?

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family-meeting

I recently posted about how we go about organising our household finances. What I didn’t go into was when we actually sit down to update and review our budget.

Every Sunday morning we sit down with a tea or coffee and laptop/iPad and categorise our transactions and see which areas we’re on track with and which we might need to work on.

After we’ve updated the budget, we discuss any issues/projects and plan our schedules and social events. The idea is that when we’re done, our finances, calendars and to-do lists are all up to date.

The whole process usually takes around half an hour, but if we have time we then spend a bit longer working on a ‘current project’ such as holiday planning (fun!) or doing the filing (admittedly not so fun). Sometimes we’ll really get into the swing of it and achieve a lot.

It’s only the two of us but we call it our Family Meeting as we think of ourselves as a little family. Of course there are other things we’d rather be doing with our weekend but it only takes a short time and is well worth it. We’ve been doing it for around six months and we’ve definitely noticed an improvement in organisation and communication. We even schedule it on our calendars so that we stick to it.

Do you have any kind of regular family meeting or budget review?

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

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