Let your light shine

The renovation of our Californian Bungalow on Sydney’s North Shore is, for all intents and purposes, “finished”.  If you’ve renovated, or loved a house, you will understand that renovating is never really over.

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When designing a renovation, one of the aspects that needs consideration is a lighting plan. This needs to be done fairly early in the piece so wiring can all be in place when it’s time to install the beautiful fittings.

Wiring in place

Wiring in place

A good mix of downlights, pendants and wall lights help in creating atmosphere and functionality for your home. LED lighting has come a long way since we started designing our home five years ago. So much so that we ended up installing LED downlights through the hallways and KiDiLi as well as my office. These lights give a good even light and save on electricity at the same time! Dimmers were installed on all the downlights to adjust the brightness. We opted for warm white bulbs which gives a softer light than the cool white.

LED strip lighting was also installed under the wall cabinets in the kitchen and laundry. I’m amazed at how much light these give and yet they are not harsh on the eye.

LED Strip Lighting under wall cabinets in kitchen

LED Strip Lighting under wall cabinets in kitchen

However when it came to “pretty” lights, there were so many options. Our bedroom already had a chandelier but I needed a light for the dressing room.

Master bedroom chandelier

Master bedroom chandelier

The ceiling in the dressing room was lower than the rest of the house as it was once a verandah. I knew I wanted a luxe feel to the dressing room so opted for a single glass pendant that had chandelier-like crystal droplets inside the cone of glass. It looks great and creates a lovely pattern on my wallpapered ceiling.

Pendant light for dressing room

Pendant light for dressing room

The lounge, dining and entry all had existing lights which took me five years to choose after we moved in.

Front Entry pendant light

Front Entry pendant light

Fortunately, I still liked them and so didn’t have to set about choosing alternatives. I sometimes wonder if my dining room could handle a more dramatic fitting now that I’ve painted it a dark colour, but for the time being it’s fine.

Dining room light

Dining room light

I chose lights for the kitchen and casual dining to complement the cabinetry in the kitchen. The black iron look echoes the black ladder rail and cabinet handles and the shapes of the pendants help create the Hamptons style I wanted.

Kitchen and casual dining glass pendant lights

Kitchen and casual dining glass pendant lights

Each single bedroom needed a pendant light too. They would all have bedside lamps but you still need a larger overhead light for those times you lose something and need some brighter light. My daughter chose her Factory light which possibly wouldn’t have been my choice, but it works well and gives out a good light.

White factory light

White factory light

The main guest bedroom needed something elegant. Along with my daughter’s bedroom it was part of the new build. We replicated the high ceilings and decorative plaster strips so I chose a white wire chandelier. I thought it was good value at $125!

Guest bedroom wire chandelier

Guest bedroom wire chandelier

The other bedroom is in the original part of the house and was once my daughter’s bedroom. I commissioned the girls at Feature Pieces to make me a large conical drum shade in a fabric that co-ordinated with the roman blind fabric.

Conical Fabric Drum Shade

Conical Fabric Drum Shade

Then it was on to the bathrooms. Appropriate facial lighting is key in the bathroom and ideally there should be a light source at face height or above the mirror to provide reflected and direct light on to the face.  In the main bathroom, we installed downlights as well as cute little wall lights with glass shades. Being practical, I chose glass shades rather than fabric as it will wear better with steam and water.

Bathroom glass shade wall lights

Bathroom glass shade wall lights

I had been eyeing off the Verona wall light for a number of years and so it was an easy choice to make for the ensuite. However, the mirrored cabinet could not be recessed into the wall. The wall was original and only single skin brick. The builders were not keen to take out bricks for the cabinet as it would result in weakening the entire wall.

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So the cabinet was face mounted. The lights sit beside the cabinet but I don’t feel they give enough light. I have devised a plan to rectify the situation but it will have to wait.  There’s always something you would do differently next time when you renovate. So you should always do at least two……if you have the energy!

Ensuite Verona Wall Lights

Ensuite Verona Wall Lights

The powder room is my drama room. The gorgeous Catherine Martin Antique Lace wallpaper, gold framed mirror and black vanity help create the scene. I didn’t want to detract from the wallpaper or mirror so chose not to install wall lights. The ceiling has a skylight leaving little room for a pendant light. You may remember last year we had a weekend at the refurbished Sydney Shangri La Hotel and I stole the lighting idea from their spa rooms. The builder and electrician placed a strip of LED lights behind the mirror so a warm glow seems to emanate from the mirror. It adds to the drama without detracting.

Powder Room with LED strip lighting behind the mirror

Powder Room with LED strip lighting behind the mirror

I’m really happy with all the lighting choices I’ve made. They add the finishing touch. Lights are a very personal choice but can add so much personality. I was working with a client about 6 months prior to starting my own renovation and it had never occurred to her to put a different light in every room. I gave her some suggestions and she had a ball at the lighting shop choosing a different light for each area of her home. If you think about light fittings as the jewellery then they will add to the overall finish of your home.

A car load of lights

A car load of lights

If you would like assistance choosing light fittings for your home, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.

 

Kitchen Reveal

One of the biggest investments you make when renovating your house, is in your kitchen. It’s one of the rooms of a house that will help sell your home so a lot of thought, planning and selection needs to be put in to your new kitchen.

The kitchen In inherited with the house

The kitchen In inherited with the house

I’ve helped many clients design their new kitchens and select all the finishes including cabinetry colour, benchtop material, door handles, flooring, white goods (which all seem to be stainless steel these days) splashback material and colours. So when it came to creating my own new kitchen I had some pretty firm ideas.

Another view of my inherited kitchen

Another view of my inherited kitchen

I’ve always loved clean lines in any designs and also like the French Provincial style. However, being a no fuss girl I didn’t want all the corbels and detailed doors which are used in most French Provincial kitchens. I had seen this kitchen in a magazine many years ago and it has been in my inspiration folder ever since.

Kitchen Inspiration

Kitchen Inspiration

It was long before the movie, Something’s Gotta Give was released and when I was studying Interior Design we referred to the style as Sophisticated Beach. We now call the style Hamptons Style – clean lines, light, airy, dressy casual.

The TV room will become the kitchen

The TV room will become the kitchen

Some of the must haves in my kitchen included a Butler’s Pantry, some open shelves for display, a niche for cookbooks and as we have high ceilings, a ladder rail to access the cupboards that were up high.

Architects drawing of my design

Architects drawing of my design

So together our architects and I designed the kitchen. I love cooking (in a previous life I actually gave cooking classes) and I love to entertain, so the addition of a bifold window opening out to the deck sounded like a great idea.

During the renovations we moved the location of the kitchen into what was previously the TV room. That meant we could knock down the wall in between the kitchen and TV room and open up to the new family room giving that all important open plan living for the most used rooms of the house.

Wall between the two rooms has been demolished

Wall between the two rooms has been demolished

After the walls came down, the builders started rebuilding the area before the windows were installed and the cabinetry arrived.

Framework for new kitchen goes up

Framework for new kitchen goes up

Gyprock installed

Gyprock installed

Cabinets arrive

Cabinets arrive

I chose a light grey colour for the cabinetry as I was adamant I didn’t want a white kitchen. The grey is Dulux Putty and has a slight green undertone making it a warm grey. It was topped with Stone Italiana benchtop in KSoul Gloss and I used white subway tiles for the splashback.

Benchtop and subway tiles for splashback

Benchtop and subway tiles for splashback

After the cabinetry, came the light fitting for over the island bench. I chose a black fitting with glass shades, as being practical, I figured glass would be easier to clean than fabric shades.

Light Fitting installed

Light Fitting installed

The black light fitting complements the black basket handles (a nod to the French Provincial style) and finally the black ladder rail and ladder.

Cabinetry handles

Cabinetry handles

Ladder rail

Ladder rail

To work in, the kitchen is fabulous. I’m not a fan of bar stools and prefer to sit at a table so I opted for cabinetry on the front of the island rather than stools. I’ve placed the everyday dinnerware and glassware in these cupboards so whoever sets the table, isn’t interrupting the cook. The island is wide enough to do the cooking on the “inside” and then set up the meal buffet style on the “outside”.

Finished kitchen

Finished kitchen

The Butler’s Pantry is great too as all the heavy small appliances can sit on the bench permanently. I’m finding it easier to use these appliances seeing I don’t have to lift them out of a cupboard and set them up and then put them away afterwards. I’m actually using them…….often!

Butler's Pantry

Butler’s Pantry

And another of my favourite details of this kitchen is the hidden nooks and crannies. I LOVE my spice drawer. It’s so easy to see everything at a glance. And the thin cupboards next to the stove are fabulous to keep all the oils and sauces handy for adding to the cooking.

Spice Drawer and Sauce Cupboard

Spice Drawer and Sauce Cupboard

Even the tea towels are concealed from view in a recessed nook on the way to the pantry.

Tea Towel Nook

Tea Towel Nook

So, when would you like to come over for dinner?

Kitchen with ladder

Kitchen with ladder

If you would like assistance creating your dream kitchen, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.

 

She’s here, she’s here!

Remember earlier in the year I alluded to the fact that Florence Broadhurst patterns would soon be available in a number of home accessories?

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Well I’m pleased to tell you, they are here. I was fortunate enough to attend the launch in April and had a sneak peek at the beautiful cushions (for both inside and out) and placemats.

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They are all so colourful and I’m sure Florence would be very impressed with Rapee‘s application of her patterns.

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At the launch, I was given a Kitchen in a Bag which is a cotton bag printed with one of Florence’s patterns and contains an apron and oven mitts in the same pattern. They would make a fabulous gift for anyone who loves cooking.

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David Jones and Domayne are stocking this range or we can order them for you.

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If you would like assistance adding accessories to your home, contact us for an online or in-person consultation. Don’t forget, most items you see in magazines or online can be sourced through us at our trade prices.

Is there a good time to organise?

We’ve been back in our old, new house for just over 5 months now.

Our house 12 months ago

Our house 12 months ago

The external painting is moving along but the landscaping has ground to a halt. It’s impossible to do everything at the one time so we just do what we can, when we can. (If my husband reads this he will be saying, “That’s the Royal WE!”)

Painting continues

Painting continues

Whilst he’s been busy outside, I’ve been trying to get everything organised inside. Being a Virgo, I can’t stand disorganisation and one thing that was playing heavily on my mind was the state of all the cupboards.

Untidy cupboards

Untidy cupboards

When we moved out of the house 14 months ago, we offloaded alot of things. I’ve fallen into that trap before, putting everything in storage and then wondered what I was thinking when I finally took it all out. Anyway, we culled as much as we could and put what we did want to keep into mobile storage containers. We opted for a self pack deal where the company left us three containers, we packed them, then they came and took them back to a storage facility. Then when we were ready, we had them re-delivered back to the house and we unpacked them again.

Packing the containers

Packing the containers

I must admit I was a nervous wreck as they were being packed. I had visions of everything inside tipping over when the forklift came to collect them. I packed everything to within an inch of it’s life.

Packing the good stuff

Packing the good stuff

My husband was totally frustrated with me wrapping the good crockery and crystal in newspaper, bubble wrap and then newspaper again before putting it in cardboard cartons and stuffing scrunched up paper and packing beads around the edges.

My OTT packing

My OTT packing

So you can imagine my delight when the containers were returned and the contents looked just like it did when they left. Nothing had fallen over and smashed anything!

The container returned

The container returned

During the building process, I had visions of my lovely new wardrobes and cupboards looking like Martha Stewart‘s.

Martha's Closet

Martha’s Closet

One thing I was determined to have in the renovated house was heaps of storage space. With 3.2m ceilings I had wardrobes almost to the ceiling.

Wardrobes

Wardrobes

However, when you have deadlines it’s a bit difficult to sort everything out before it goes into the cupboard.

We had 48 hours to unpack the containers. As the builders were still finishing off, we shoved everything into the two spare bedrooms. Then the builders left on Christmas Eve and our attention turned to celebrating Christmas. So you guessed it, the boxes were either put in cupboards as they were or quickly unpacked and put away for future tidying.

Storing the storage

Storing the storage

It has occurred to me that there is never really a good time to sort through your life’s collections. There is really no time to do it before you move out of your house and there’s not sufficient time to do it when you move in either. I guess it’s just one of those processes that has to mulled over and done when the time and energy permits. After all, it’s not really going to make a huge difference to the way you live your life from day to day, is it? Just chip away at it, one cupboard at a time.

Kitchen cupboards

My Kitchen cupboards

But I must say, there’s something very satisfying about tidy shelves and knowing you can put your hand on things straight away.

Love my spice drawer

Love my spice drawer

If you would like assistance with making your house a home, contact me for an online or in-person consultation.

How to create a plate wall

Back in the early ’90’s I started buying interesting and bread and butter sized plates. Mostly they were blue plates and reminded me of a day trip or a holiday. I always think it’s nice to buy something special when you are away as that piece brings back so many happy memories.

 

So when I renovated my Queensland Workers Cottage in Brisbane I had a Mexican Plate rack made for the kitchen. All my plates were lined up on the rack and it added colour to my all white kitchen.

Brisbane Worker's Cottage

Brisbane Worker’s Cottage

Those plates have been in storage for the last 15 years as we’ve moved around the world and pending our home renovations.

Renovations underway

Renovations underway

A few years ago I stumbled across Lisa Congdon’s kitchen and loved how she displayed her plates on the wall. So for the past 12 months I’ve been scheming as to which wall I could use to display my collection.

Lisa Congdon's Plate Wall

Lisa Congdon’s Plate Wall

To me, the most natural location for a plate wall is in the kitchen. After all that’s where you use plates! There is one skinny wall between the bifold doors and the kitchen sink so I chose that wall.

Wall between the bifolds and kitchen sink

Wall between the bifolds and kitchen sink

I pulled all my plates out and measured the wall. I lay the plates on the kitchen table but it wasn’t wide enough to really work out how it would look. So I made templates of each and every plate. (Fortunately I didn’t have as many as Lisa) Now that I had the sizes I started to blutac the paper templates on to the wall. But I realised I wouldn’t know which was which with all white paper circles. So I drew an image of the plate onto the templates.

Plate Templates

Plate Templates

Now I could stick them up on the wall and for about a week I would move the paper plates around until I was happy with the layout. I wanted a “sweep” layout. You know, as if  someone was standing infront of the wall and throwing the plates up and they would stick. Bang, bang, bang. That’s how I wanted it to look.

Finally I was happy with it all and was ready to hang the actual plates. But wait. I needed to make sure the colours were evenly dispersed and didn’t end up with all the blue and yellow plates being together. So a couple of final tweaks and it was ready.

I used plate wires, which I’d bought at Bunnings, to hang them all. So it was just a matter of measuring where the hook would go in relation to the rim of the plate, banging it into the wall, pulling off the paper template and hanging the plate.

Plate Wires

Plate Wires

Now it’s a great talking point and makes the house look more like a home.

Finished Plate Wall

Finished Plate Wall

If you would like assistance with making your house a home, contact me for an online or in-person consultation.

 

Grout should not be ignored

Renovating a bathroom or kitchen? Chosen all your tiles? What a releif, you can now sit back and let the tiler do his thing. Wrong!

Once you’ve chosen your tiles the next thing you need to choose is the colour of the grout. Don’t leave it to the tiler as you will probably end up with white or grey. The grout needs to support the tiles not detract from them. No-one wants to make a feature of the grout! Unless you’re really making a statement like this image below.

red grout

When we renovated I had definite ideas about how the tiles would look once grouted. The large format tiles in the bathroom were rectified which means they have square edges. I wanted the walls to look seamless and the rectified tiles can be placed close together so choosing a white grout assisted with the overall look.

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In the ensuite, we used natural stone tiles on the walls and floor so I chose a cream grout there to match the filling in the travertine.

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The black marble mosaic splashback in the powder room needed a dark grout as anything lighter would make the space look too busy. I already had a wallpaper above the splashback and that was the main feature of the room. The splashback needed to enhance the wallpaper and save it from water splashes but didn’t need to be a feature in itself.

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The kitchen was tricky. I was using white subway tiles. The kitchen has a nod to French provincial style without the fuss so I wanted the tiles to stand out but I didn’t want the industrial look like the kitchen below.

industrialkitchen

White grout would’ve blended with the tiles and dark grout would give that industrial look, sort of like a butcher’s shop. So I selected a pale grey grout. The cabinetry is grey and the bench top is also a grey – Stone Italiana KSoul. The grey grout sets off the whole kitchen perfectly.

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So don’t think once you’ve chosen your tiles your decisions are over. Think about the overall look you’d like, take some time and choose the colour of your grout wisely. Like everything else, the options are endless but will make a big difference to your finished home.

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All images can be found on my Pinterest boards.

If you would like assistance choosing tiles and grout for your home, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.

 

Odds and Ends

And another week begins!

Last week was a busy one as we move closer to Christmas and start to get to the pointy end of our own home renovation.

Lock Up

I spent the week in the car, or so it seemed. Not doing anything terribly exciting and collecting all the necessary bits that are essential for the home. It’s all those things that seem to just appear but are very important and need to be selected, ordered and installed.

Still building

Like window hardware. The windows were all put in at the house over the last two weeks so then I had to choose latches, fitches and lifts.

Teardrop Window Locks

We have a mixture of double hung and casement windows so I had to make sure I had the right hardware for each window. Not very exciting, but very necessary!

Sash Lifts

Door hardware was selected last week too. But door handles are only a minor part of door hardware.

Door Handles

You also need to consider door stops, whether you need privacy locks and roller latches for french doors.

Door Stops

Thank goodness for the knowledgable staff at Mother of Pearl & Sons who know exactly what you need.

Privacy Sets

I took in my list of doors and what I needed on each door and they carefully went through all the components.

Not very exciting essentials

And, I took delivery of taps and other fittings for the bathroom and laundry.

Washing Machine Tap Set

I love the Smart Tile to use in the floor of the bathrooms. The end result is a streamlined floor.

Floor Grate

One exciting trip I did have, was to collect all my pretty light fittings.

Carload of light fittings

We’re using LED downlights throughout the hallways and family living areas but adding a selection of wall lights and feature pendants.

LED Downlights

I just can’t wait to get them all installed.

Ensuite Wall light

Enjoy your week, and remember, if you need assistance selecting all the odds and ends for your home renovation, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.

 

Foundations

Isn’t it beautiful? Ok, ok, concrete isn’t something I usually go into raptures over but this is MY concrete and it heralds the beginning of a new extension onto our home.

Beautiful Concrete

When you are renovating, it’s all very easy to get excited about the end the result, the look of the kitchen and bathroom and the colour of the walls. These are all very important components and ones that everyone will see and ooh and aah over. But the foundations are even more important, if not glamorous. And they are about 20% of the overall building budget so here’s another look at the gorgeous footings.

Underpining the old house

The sun is still shining here in Sydney so the plumber is onsite today laying pipes for the bathroom and laundry before more concrete arrives later in the week for the laundry floor.

Ready to lay piping before the laundry floor is poured

Alright, enough of all that boring stuff. On a much more exciting note, I’m meeting with my cabinet maker this afternoon to discuss the kitchen. This renovation has been in the wind for 6 years and I’m agonising over all the choices I made back in 2006. There’s the opportunity to change everything and I’ve been having sleepless nights trying to work out if I should.

Bifold Windows in the Kitchen

The other day I pulled out all the images I had collected for MY inspiration folder and have decided that I really do still like them all.

Butler's Pantry

So now I’m back on track, the decisions for finishes will be easier.

Kitchen Inspiration

If you would like assistance with your home renovation, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.

Kitchen Design

I am back in designing mode as we are currently working on designs for two very different kitchens.

One is to have a tilt towards the French Provincial style and the other is to be modern and streamlined.

One thing I always love in a kitchen (and lots of other rooms too, really) is symmetry. I always try to balance things up with the same size cabinetry on each side. Like this image with the fridge on one end and the tall cupboards balancing the look on the other end.

This one is pretty good, but I’m a bit worried by only having three glass doors on one side and four on the other. I will sit for hours looking at this image and try to work out a way to even it up.

And this one, whilst it’s a lovely kitchen and I do love the idea of the kitchen table forming the island bench,  just feels lopsided to me.

What about you, do you desire symmetry in your home to fuel your sense of balance? Or is asymmetrical alright?

All these images, and more can be found on my Pinterest boards.

If you would like assistance with kitchen or bathroom design for your home, contact us to arrange an online or in-person consultation.

 

Masterclass in Masterkitchen

On Wednesday night I had the very delightful pleasure to be invited into Tetsuya’s Masterkitchen for a Masterclass. The evening was hosted by Electrolux. It was a small select group of design bloggers and Electrolux personnel who gathered around the magnificent island bench to watch Tetsuya put the Electrolux induction cooktop through it’s paces.

Tetsuya's Master Kitchen

The kitchen is amazing. Apparently Tetsuya along with Electrolux designers, hand picked the piece of Calacutta marble that covers the island bench. I love this marble with it’s mixture of warm and cool colours.

Another design feature of the kitchen is the tap-less sinks. There are leather knee pads which can be leant on to bring water into the undermount sinks. This all helps in setting the stage. Because this kitchen IS a stage and nothing blocks your view.

Knee pads and tap-less sink

During the masterclass the room was filled with wonderful aromas of lobster, foie gras, garlic, ginger, chilli and sesame oil but we were so disappointed that the custom designed and built, Electrolux overhead exhaust worked so well.

Delightful aromas wafting straight to the exhaust

The nominal smoke and sumptuous fragrance was quickly sucked away. The exhaust is hidden behind smoked glass which hangs above the island bench.

Hidden exhaust above the island bench

Tetsuya talked and cooked his way through five dishes. He has been using Electrolux kitchen appliances for over 20 years and has nothing but high praise for them.

The Maestro at work

He loves the immediacy of induction cooking as well the ability to maintain the same temperature over the entire pan.

Wagu Beef with a touch of Wasabi

He demonstrated this by searing Wagu steak before popping it in the oven at 70C whilst he cooked the other dishes including Chilli Crab, an amazing lobster dish and a colourful chicken dish with couscous.

Chicken and Couscous

We then moved into the working kitchen and sat down to an 11 course degustation menu with accompanying wines.

Tetsuya's kitchen

The food was absolutely delicious and included Tetsuya’s signature dish Confit Petuna Ocean Trout with Konbu, Celery and Apple.

Tetsuya's Signature Dish

In between oohing and aahing over the food, the wine and the busy 7 chefs in the kitchen, we had time to talk amongst ourselves.

I was delighted to be seated next to three lovely fellow bloggers, Jo, Lisa and Camilla. We chatted about all things blogging and it was so much fun to put faces behind names.

Blogfest

The two polite gentlemen from Electrolux, that were seated with us, probably wondered what on earth they had struck. But they regaled us with their knowledge on current kitchen trends and the making of a fridge. Did you know that Electrolux manufactures fridges in New South Wales and Ovens in South Australia? And did you know that an energy efficient fridge uses about the same, if not less, power than a 40 watt bulb?

It was a wonderful night and we left singing the praises of Electrolux and Tetsuya, swinging our sample bags.

Contents of the goodies bag

Thank you Electrolux!

 

 

 

 

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