Friday, 19 September 2014

An Inviting Invite!

After two broken legs, a major renovation, illness set upon us from all directions of varying degrees of seriousness, the disappointment of cancelling our overseas trip twice and the daily grind of keeping a family afloat and running smoothly while working full-time, there finally, comes some exciting news. 
Our son, living in London, has announced his engagement and so we will be travelling to Europe next March to celebrate. The wedding will be held in the Loire Valley in France and we will be staying in a gorgeous chateau for the wedding. 
By that time, it will have been nearly four years since we will have been united as a family.
Check out the chateau we will be staying in.  I'm just a little excited!!!

Nestled in a small valley on the River Remillion, in Southern Touraine, Chateau De La Celle Guenand offers bed and breakfast,gites and gorgeous reception rooms. The entire chateau will be booked for the wedding! 

If you are taking a trip to the Loire Valley in the near future then this chateau is worth looking at. Reasonably priced, it has a stack of fantastic activities you can partake in within the surrounding area, including excellent cafes,walks,caves to explore and bike riding tours. It also has excellent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Its always lovely to have something to look forward to!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Spring Porches

With the warmer weather finally reaching the Southern Hemisphere, its time to hose off the dust and mildew of Winter and get ready for Springtime entertaining on our decks and indoor/outdoor porches.  
It doesn't take much to transform a cold and lifeless space into a cheery and colourful haven for rest and entertaining. 
Here are some gorgeous porches which may inspire you to make a few simple changes so that you can make way for the sunshine.

Re-staining the deck brings new life to the space.

Fresh flowers or potting annuals are a quick way to add a burst of Springtime colour.

Outdoor rugs are a great way to accentuate and consolidate a space. Outdoor rugs come in a variety of designs and colours.

Spending money on new outdoor furniture might not be in the budget but you can always freshen up your old furniture by sanding back and re-staining your old timber furniture. You can even change the look completely by painting your old furniture.

Changing your pillows are an inexpensive way to redecorate an outdoor space. They always add a fresh and inviting feel. I find my outdoor pillows only last 12 months or so as they fade and are usually spotting with mould from being left out in the night air.

A lounge area, swinging chair or daybed is a luxurious way to add an inviting, comfortable, resting place.

A view always helps create the ambiance!

Hope you are enjoying the warmer weather!

All images from here

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Families, advice and gardens abroad!

I recently received a text from our son who lives in London. He and his fiancĂ©e have been busily renovating their home and now wish to embark on transforming their somewhat, neglected back garden. They do not want to spend a lot of money but need some inspiration that won't cost the earth. 
As usual, I am always drawn towards a creative project that is budget based. I enjoy nothing more than offering my experience and ideas. Below are the only two phone images they have sent me of their existing garden which faces north (our south). At the rear of the garden you can see an old shed which they plan to remove. 

This is the view of the garden from the back of the house. The house has french doors that leads onto a small round timber deck.(see bottom left) At the back of the garden is the old timber shed.
This is the side entrance to the garden and is accessed from the kitchen.

This is my return email outlining some of the ideas of what they could potentially do. 

Hi Andy and Yohana,
I just love your little back yard. Something as small as this has so much potential and can be so much fun to work with and transform.  As you know, our garden is quite big and has some permanent features in it which have been too hard and too expensive to change but this courtyard is really a blank canvas and the ideas are limitless!

I think that the key to any makeover of any description is to have a grand plan and then slowly as money allows, chip away at it. This might sound like I'm suggesting that you should spend lots of money, but, actually I don't. For example, it is hard to see in the photo you've sent me but that little shed at the end of the garden looks quite quirky.I know its essential storage so you could always save money here and accentuate its rustic charm. I found these pictures on Pinterest to show you what I mean.

By the way, these are only suggestions and as I do tend to get carried away with ideas, just keep in mind that any picture I show you is intended only for you to take snippets of ideas away with you. 

I like the idea of keeping the deck, no point in getting rid of something that is functional and in good working order. It might just need a clean and stain or even a paint for a splash of colour. Andrew, you mentioned that the yard is lined in trees and gets little sun, so other than giving them a good trim back they could make a great backdrop/ hedge or screen for planting shade resistant plants underneath. Our yard is in shade most of the year so I can give you lots of suggestions of what to plant. I was thinking that you could have a pathway leading from the deck to the shed. Here are some  more ideas I found that might give you some inspiration.

Don't be alarmed at the pictures, remember we are taking snippets of ideas from these 'grand gardens'!  
I thought a gravel path, minus the expensive rock walls, with a large feature pot and flowering plant, in the centre of the garden that then leads onto the shed could be gorgeous.

Or what about a circular garden in the centre of the garden that has a gravel path around it that leads down to the shed. 
You could also use timber sleepers, which you can source rather inexpensively to make a path. You just lay them down and either plant a ground cover or lay gravel between them. For example...

If the garden does not get a lot of sun, you don't have to plant lawn. We planted Buffalo lawn down in our yard, thinking it would cope with the amount of shade it gets and to some extent, it has, but now its being swallowed up by the ground cover shown below, which started off in our our garden beds! It can be walked on and is very resilient, loves shade and shoots a beautiful small purple flower. Its called Baby Tears. It also grows incredibly fast.

I have two last ideas. What about a pond? You could buy a cheap child's plastic sandpit and bury it in a shallow ditch and put gold fish in it and cover it in water lilies and surround it in some rocks and ground cover. A meandering path leading to the pond could be lovely focal point. Once again ignore the elaborate rock work, you could just plant some plants and ground cover around the pond.

Finally, what about a fire-pit down near the shed? What a great way to entertain friends! Andrew, we just recently went to the Kepreotes home and enjoyed their newly installed fire-pit and had a lovely time chatting and laughing while we drank red wine eating pulled pork on rolls. In England, I could imagine lots of opportunities for fireside entertaining.

I'm not sure about UK prices, but we can pick up a fire pit for about $125 at Bunnings. Or you could dig a shallow pit and line it in some small rocks for the same effect. There are heaps of DIY sites for building fire-pits.  

So there you have it! Some of my immediate thoughts on your back yard! For what they are worth, I hope they give you some inspiration. I wish I could be there for you both to help out. I love being outdoors in the garden. Dad and I love nothing more than a hard day in the yard and then finishing off at sunset by hosing down our handiwork with a beer in our hand admiring the fruits of our labour, even if at times, it's only as simple as mowing, weeding and trimming the hedges. It's what we call teamwork! 

Oh, by the way, I love this image of a floral hedge down the side of a home. I know you have a vege garden down the side entrance to your home but maybe you could incorporate a flower garden featuring the same species of plant. (I love clumping for impact!) It would  be a beautiful way to lead guests down into your garden. Your garden bed appears to be on the opposite side to the home shown here but I'm presuming it gets the most sun, so the choices of flowering plants could be endless. These are hydrangeas, which are one of my favourites.

                                         Image Source

Anyway my lovelies, the garden is always the last part of any renovation and because its outside it should be something that is enjoyable, therapeutic and a work in progress. You should take your time and enjoy the experience. You have already worked so hard with the interior and have achieved great things. 

We have not begun work on our front yard yet, and its been more than 12 months since we started our renovation.  I am itching to get started and can't wait for the warmer weather so I can begin. I keep coming up with new ideas and of course I change my mind over and over again. 
Our back yard will always be a work in progress, it's so big!  But what I want to achieve there is lots of  mass clumping of flowering species, to create impact when they are in bloom. 
Wish me luck!! Time and money!! I keep telling Dad that it is therapy money well spent!  
Lots of love to you both

P.S. I loved the photos of Slovenia 
Giulia. xo

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Vanity Perfection

I think I've mentioned before that my main bathroom vanity is looking a bit worse for wear, therefore I'm constantly on the look out for ideas and inspiration to update the space. Yesterday I found this vanity on Remodelista and my heart stopped. I love love love it!! 

The shell Double Basin is carved from a block of walnut. It has been meticulously finished and integrated into a concrete wash table with a simple towel rail and drawer below.

The sink is also available in a single bowl size. Combined with the copper tap, I'm completely in love with the whole look.

The sink is available from Nina Mair, but they are in Austria, which is inconvenient to say the least! Does anyone know of anything similar here in Australia?

Do you love this look as much as I do?


Monday, 15 September 2014

A Melbourne Townhouse

This townhouse is only a little over 4 metres wide, however this didn't deter the Melbourne Design studio Mim Design
The results are so stunning the home has been featured in Vogue Living

Hand made grey glazed bricks line the staircase wall.

Love this sofa from Jardan.

The marble contrasts beautifully with the black.

How great is this black bordered 3-sided mirror?

The colourful artwork adds some fun to the bedroom.

Do you like this Townhouse?
Tell me which room is your favourite?


*For more images click here
*All images from here

Friday, 12 September 2014

Hand Held Vacuum Cleaners

I have floorboards throughout my home and although beautiful to look at the gaps between each board can be very annoying. Every bit of fluff or crumb seems to drop down the gap and the only way to remove them is to vacuum. I do own a beautiful Dyson Vacuum, which has been fantastic, but I don't always want to drag the whole machine out just for a simple quick whip around. 

Over the years I've owned many hand held vacuums with varying success. I find in the beginning the machines are wonderful, however after a while they become clogged and loose suction and no amount of cleaning seems to bring back that new vacuum clean.

My first venture into the world of hand held vacuums many many years ago was a Swivel Sweeper from Danoz Direct … yes I succumbed to the TV advertisement.
It worked for a quiet a while but eventually died and was beyond repair. It was OK, the suction was good but the brushes constantly needed detangling. I think they have a new model out now which has improved proficiency and for about 60 bucks its pretty good value for money.

My next purchase was the Electrolux Ergorappido Vacuum Cleaner
This one retails for around the $149 mark so I was expecting big things and for quite awhile it delivered. 
It worked well on the floorboards, but not so good on the rugs. This machine I liked and I got a few good years out of it, until recently it suddenly died and no amount of resuscitation could save it.

Once again I was on the look out for the perfect Hand Held Vacuum. This time it was straight to the Internet to see what's available and to read the reviews. I decided to splurge and buy a Dyson because I know my big Dyson is good and all the reviews were pretty positive.
So trusting in the brand I went for DC44 Animal and found the best deal online, which a few weeks ago was $347 from Appliance Central.

It only arrived Monday so I'm still in the honeymoon period, I will have to report back in a few years to see if it lives up to expectations. However, it looks good and stores easily, I've found a little nock in my laundry cupboard to house the recharger, so it hides nicely out of sight when not in use. 

I have my fingers crossed that this time I've found the perfect hand held vacuum, time will tell!

Do you have a favourite Hand Held Vacuum you can recommend?
Have you tried the Dyson 44 Animal?


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Gorgeous White Rooms

I try to resist but I always find myself  drawn to white rooms. The look is clean, simple and for me relaxing. 

I find too much colour in one room over stimulates my brain and my eyes don't know where to rest.
I need rooms to be uncluttered, fresh and organised if I'm to feel relaxed. I prefer to just add a pop of colour to a room, therefore adding interest and personality to a space. Of course texture is important to stop the space looking clinical. These rooms featured in House Beautiful really speak to me…

Do you decorate using a lot of colour?


* All images from here
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