This post is sponsored by Masters.

Now that we’ve finished our bathroom makeover, there’s only one part of our home that has managed to escape our renovating attention. Is it some unused corner? A garage? A room that no guest would ever see?

Um, nope. Sadly not.

It’s our front yard.

contemporary yard & porch makeover before

Not exactly welcoming, is it? In fact our lovely neighbours there (to the right of the picture) are putting us to shame with their potted garden.

Being in a block of units, there’s a bunch we can’t change (flaking blue trim paint, I’m looking at you). But it’s well and truly time we tackled what we can of our sad little patch… especially since it’s spring!

The main issues we have are (ranging from would-be-nice to shudder-worthy):

  • the complete and utter lack of anything living (apart from the lawn);
  • disguising the ugly concrete;
  • the rusting original 70s porch light and house number; and of course…
  • the path that leads right into the verandah post!

We also want to add a small tree for privacy and shade (the afternoon sun streams into our living room) and some storage would be a huge bonus.

contemporary spring porch makeover inspiration

With that in mind, I jumped onto the Masters website and started browsing their outdoor living section.

I began looking at the furniture since they would be the biggest items. They had some great colourful chairs and tables but alas we don’t have the space for that. I did, however, find the perfect storage bench! It is not weathertight or secure, so it will be ideal for non-valuable things like the carwashing gear, buckets, hoses and watering cans.

Flanking the bench underneath the window will be two of the grey pots with some evergreen shrubs. Further potted greenery and colour will be in a hanging basket and pots beside the front door.

We will leave the lawn as-is except for the addition of some stepping stones to the porch. I considered edging plants too but I think it would make it look too formal.

In the centre I’m picturing a dwarf tree to shade the front window. I’m still tossing up whether to go deciduous (since it would let the winter sun in) or whether the dropped leaves would be more maintenance than we’d like.

contemporary yard & porch makeover before

(Would you believe me if I said the cobwebs above were just Halloween decorations? No, didn’t think so.)

Finally, a much-needed upgrade to some shiny new house numbers and porch light will modernise the facade.

I’m really happy with how it’s all looking on paper. I’m now ready to get clicking and buy all of the goodies on the Masters website to make it a reality! Best of all, they deliver (music to my ears).

I can’t wait for it all to arrive so I can start getting my hands dirty!

Shopping voucher provided by Masters Home Improvement. Opinions are my own.

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installing venetian blinds

This is definitely not a spectacular before & after. It’s more one of those projects that no one will even notice is done but us since it falls under ‘repair’ rather than ‘redecorate’.

The ‘before’ scene was rather embarrassing when guests came over and we’d have to battle with the venetian blinds in the living room and at best they would look like this:

installing venetian blinds

installing venetian blinds

Some of the strings had come loose so we could neither open nor close them properly. The aluminium blinds had definitely seen better days.

I spotted some timber-look venetians $100 off at Spotlight and immediately raced home with them (by which I mean, staggered to the car juggling the ridiculously heavy blinds and a recent Target spree, trying not to swipe the late-night shoppers slapstick-style – oh, and did I mention the lifts were out of order?).

installing venetian blinds

Once we got them home, we realised that because the slats are a lot wider (50mm instead of 25mm) the top bracket wasn’t going to fit nicely in the window frame recess, so we made the decision to rip out the quarter-round so it would sit flush.

installing venetian blinds

Of course, that left us with gaping holes where the quarter-round was, not to mention all the little nail holes and a big chunk out of the plasterwork from trying to jimmy out the timber.

After the initial sanding it looked like this, complete with the previous owner’s blue paint peeking through:

installing venetian blinds

There was then copious amounts of puttying, sanding and painting. During the process, I was thinking ‘sheesh, didn’t I just do this a couple of years ago, I can’t believe I’m painting this again’. Then I realised that we had been here for five years. So yes, the entire window frame was treated to a freshen up.

I was concerned about the puttied-up corners between the wall and the timber forming cracks over time, so we finished off the join with caulking to give it a bit of flex.

We also caulked around all the window edges, because whenever it rains we have to do this:

installing venetian blinds

Yup, water would just run right in the leaky windows. Ideally, our strata would actually take care of the exterior woodwork like they’re supposed to. But failing that, we did what we could inside and did our own interior sealing.

If you’re doing this yourself, make sure you get a paintable caulk (I used white since we had some awful gaps to cover where the perished seal was but if you have a neater finish you can opt for clear since you don’t have to be so neat). There’s some regular silicone in our kitchen and it’s impossible to paint over so the finish is all patchy.

installing venetian blinds

I told you it wasn’t dramatic. But in person the timber blinds look so much nicer than the el cheapo aluminium ones. The square finish looks much neater and more contemporary than the quarter-round, plus a fresh coat of paint always helps. I also took the opportunity to wash the sheer curtains (the bottoms were filthy from dragging along the ground). They shrunk a bit which is actually great because they now perfectly skim the floor.

installing venetian blinds

I’m mainly just glad that they’re replaced so that the neighbours don’t have their nightly viewing of The Ryan & Alicia Show through our naked windows.

installing venetian blinds

It looked like a really simple project, but as usual our perfectionist tendencies made it take a lot longer than expected.

Have you ever had a seemingly simple task turn into a time-consuming project?

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I’ve already shown you my newly-organised underwear drawer so why not keep on with the intimate drawer trend?

The top drawer of my bedside table had become a bit of a catch-all. Over the years it had attracted enough hand lotion for a (well-groomed) army, two unused alarm clocks, notebooks, pens, batteries, half a dozen sets of earplugs, miscellaneous medications and other paraphernalia.

Five minutes later I had cleaned out the junk and was left with only what should be there. Namely: my epilator, phone charger, sleeping mask, earplugs, morning tablets, a single bottle of hand lotion, chapstick, aircon remote and body lotion. You will also notice I wasn’t kidding in this post when I referred to my lifetime supply of perfume.

You can’t beat a quick and easy drawer makeover for some organising instant gratification.

Which drawer in your house has you cringing at the clutter whenever you open it?

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This post was sponsored by Target.

Target organising essentials

Yikes. My ‘system’ of storing accessories consisted of shoving them in tote bags and piling them in the corner of my closet. Finding the one belt/scarf/hat that I was looking for meant dumping the bags on the bed and rummaging through to locate the one elusive item.

It also meant I wasn’t taking good care of my things: belt buckles and knitted scarves do not mix well.

Enough was enough!

Target organising essentials

I dumped everything out for one last time and sorted them into piles of like-with-like and then got to organising them with some nifty storage picked up at the Target stocktake sale.

Target organising essentials

First I tackled the belts. I hardly even wore belts, not because I don’t like to but because it was just too inconvenient to get them out of the closet.

Target organising essentials

No longer! This $3 belt rack will have me accessorising like a star.

Target organising essentials

I then moved on to the hats.

Target organising essentials

I installed this fun arrow hook and hung two bags from it: one for summer hats and the other for winter hats and beanies. Too easy.

Target organising essentials

Finally, I needed to do something about my scarves. I installed this sweet bird rack on the back of our bedroom door – perfect!

Target organising essentials

Aaaah. Sanity restored for less than 20 bucks.

What’s the biggest storage problem in your bedroom?

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Nursery before

Pastel palettes in nurseries can look sweet, but babies love bright colours and bold patterns. That’s why this nursery makeover by Summer Bellessa is so great. Not only does bub have plenty of stimulation, the bolder scheme means he won’t grow out of it so soon.

Nursery after

Read about the inspiration of the safari-goes-modern theme and see the rest of the photos over on Design*Sponge.

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Cloth-covered box files materials

I’d had these pink box files for some years and they’re really handy, but the colour had faded a lot in the sun and was looking a little drab. Besides, it was the only remnant of pink in the now yellow, grey and aqua office.

They were perfectly functional so I didn’t want to ditch them, instead I covered them with grey fabric for a neutral, classy look.

Cloth-covered box files during

I used this technique for turning thin cotton fabric into sturdy cloth stuitable for gluing. Getting the flaps to stay put is the only tricky bit but with help from some pegs and rubber bands you’ll be fine. It would work better on a cardboard rather than plastic surface like this, but since I use these files for seldom-accessed items they didn’t need to be super durable.

Cloth-covered box files after

Cutting out the finger-pulls was going to be a real headache, so I simply stuck on some metal rim tags in the same shape and size. I actually threw out the previous contents of the files and haven’t decided what will go back in them hence the blank tags.

I had the tags, as well as the rest of the materials, already on hand so it was a lovely zero dollar project – and you gotta love that.

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I mentioned recently that my new printer doesn’t fit neatly inside my desk drawers like the old printer did. Sigh.

With no printer to accommodate, there was now a huge amount of wasted space in the drawer unit. I went to Ikea to find extra drawers but you can’t buy extras in this size (you can only buy the whole set with the door front like we originally purchased). I do need pull-out drawers for some items like the scanner, but I figured shelves would suffice for most things (bonus: at 20 bucks it was waaay cheaper than drawers).

Before & After:
Desk drawers before Desk drawers after

I picked up a pack of two shelves and they were installed within minutes. Add another couple of minutes to neaten things up and hey presto I have a much more efficient space to organise my paper reams.

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White frame before

This framed art came free with my issue of Real Living a couple of months ago, but I was immediately told in no uncertain terms that such a girly item would never see the light of day in our home. I figured the frame and the print would pass The Man’s test if used invidually but it was the combination of both that was unacceptable.

White frame after

I removed the sweet print and gave the wooden backing a few coats of blackboard paint that I already had on hand. Now I have a cute mini message board that cost me a grand total of zero dollars.

Does anyone else have to pass the man test when bringing home new decor?

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We recently ticked off a project that’s been on our to-do list for the last four years. Namely, the closet in the study.

closet before 1 closet before 1

From looking at this photo, you could be forgiven for thinking that the problem was with the interior fit-out but that the doors could be kept, but it was actually the other way around. Those doors look innocent enough: neutral and perhaps even nice and modern. In reality, it had a huge pelmet meaning the top 40cm was unusable, the temporary paint job that we applied during the office makeover to cover up the shoddy doors was easily chipped, each door was two-thirds of the width of the closet making the centre third inaccessible and the doors had dropped so that every attempt to open them required a fair amount of upper body strength and was accompanied by a high-pitched ‘SCCRRRRRWWWWWWOOOOOOAAAAAAR’ noise.

closet during 1

closet during 2 closet during 3

Time to get rid of the chipboard shelving, contact paper and scuffed walls.

Tip of the day: Demolition is always a good way to get your fella interested in helping you with a home renovation project.

closet during 4

Here you can see the cream paint that originally featured in the rest of this room, as well as the same light blue that was in the kitchen and laundry when we moved in.

closet during 6

The back of the pelmet was a tad overengineered…

closet during 7

…or perhaps not.

closet during 8

The new robe didn’t require the panels of wood either side so out they came. Unfortunately half the wall came with it and it was right back to the brick so that, plus all the holes and removing the corner round, meant we went through a serious amount of putty.

closet during 9

Ah, what a difference a bit of a tidy up and a fresh coat of paint can do.

The new interior fit-out and doors are done, but I have done zero organising so far, so I’ll be back with part 2 next time!

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lounge ceiling light

Light fittings are often overlooked but they really can take a good room and make it look a lot more resolved. We have been sloooooowwwwly replacing these shoddy light fittings in our joint. We’ve just done the lounge and dining and here’s what it looks like now:

new lights dining

Cool huh? I love the texture and warmth they add.

new lights dining 2 new lights dining 2

I love low-hanging lights but because of our low ceilings, this is actually as low as we could hang the pendant in the lounge area without The Man’s head banging into it. But if we hung the one in the dining area at the same height it would sit awkwardly between the laundry door the ceiling beam. I wanted to hang it low and centred over the table, but it wasn’t worth the expense of moving the socket, so we looped the cords and hung it from the beam instead.

new lights attach

We were wracking our brains for weeks trying to figure out a way to loop it through so that it would stay there. The guy at the hardware store suggested adhesive cord managers but that was complete fail. I don’t know why it took me so long but I finally I worked out that we could use fishing line to attach the pendant’s inner metal frame to the cup hook in the beam. Success!

Here are the before and afters, starting with the dining area:

dining area

new lights dining 3

And the lounge…

lounge Sept 2010 1

new light lounge

I’d had my eye on these babies for the longest time but never quite had the budget for them, then I spotted them for like 60% off at Beacon so I quickly snapped them up. You’ve gotta love a project like that!


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