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.

 

The downstairs loo

Part of our renovation involved a new toilet downstairs. It will service the pool, the garden and also my studio.

Laundry with downstairs toilet being built

Laundry with downstairs toilet being built

Space was at a premium and there was no room for a vanity but rather a small wash basin. I chose the Parisi Powder Room basin.

I chose a back to wall toilet, as I always do, because I hate the spider trap of toilets that don’t sit flush to the wall.

Now I’ve been busy adding the final touches. The toilet is off the laundry so I’ve adopted the colours of the laundry for the accessories. The toilet itself was too small and dark (with no windows)to use the turquoise paint on the ceiling so it’s just ordinary ceiling white.

Laundry

Laundry

I had been looking everywhere for a yellow framed mirror. Not only did I want yellow, but I wanted it round! Sometimes we get these ideas in our heads and then drive ourselves crazy trying to find them.

I had seen a round mirror at a homewares store. It had a grey distressed frame which could be painted. I waited until the mirror was reduced and then pounced when it hit $10.

Distressed round mirror

Distressed round mirror

I took it home, sanded it back and gave it two coats of yellow paint, which I had from my yellow whiteboard (but that’s another story). After I painted it, I gave it a coat of Feast Watson Glossproof which I had left over from my Re-love Project. It gave the mirror a nice glossy finish, just the look I was after.

Mirror after painting and topcoating

Mirror after painting and topcoating

I had carried around in my wallet a chip of the ceiling paint from the laundry. Eventually I found a hand towel the same colour to complete the room.

Completed Downstairs Toilet

Completed Downstairs Toilet

Now the downstairs loo is fit for any visitors I have to my studio.

If you would like assistance choosing fixtures and fittings for your bathrooms, contact me for an online or in-person consultation.

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.

 

Building a new bathroom

We have been back in our renovated Californian Bungalow now for 4 months. And as we still chip away at our “To Do List”, I am excited to finally reveal the main bathroom.

full size bath set in bay window

We bought our house 10 years ago and inherited a second bathroom with the house. It was a very small tiny bathroom with no room to move. It had a toilet, washbasin and shower.

bathroom before demoliton, built in the 1970's

As it was in the fibro extension that had been added to the house in the ’70’s, (yes that meant asbestos and care and cost to remove it) it was going to be removed completely and a new and improved bathroom would be added.

bathroom built in the 1970's about to be demolished

The new bathroom was built on the same footprint as the old guest bedroom. You have no idea how many times I paced out that room and tried to imagine myself in a bathroom.

Enclosed verandah turned into a guest bedroom

Would it be big enough? The guest bedroom wasn’t that spacious with no built-ins and just enough room to move around the queen bed. It only had one bedside due to space being at a premium. Oh dear, was I doing the right thing or should I make it bigger?

guest bedroom prior to demolition

After many months of demolition, excavation and rebuilding, the bathroom was starting to take shape. We had crimped a bit of extra floor space by building a bay window and sitting the bath in that.

new bathroom being built with bath fram installed

I opted for opaque glass in the windows as although the window looks out to a private garden, it’s still reassuring to know that there is no chance of anyone peering in. Also the bay window was at right angles which makes it very tricky to add window coverings unless it’s shutters. I must admit I was a bit disappointed when they first went in. I was not listening to the advice I give my interior design clients, that is – wait until everything is finished and then you will see that it all works together.

new bathroom with gyprock walls

I had spent months agonising over floor tiles, wall tiles, paint colours and feature tiles. It’s really hard doing your own place when you have been exposed to so much and your head is full of possiblities.

choosing a colour scheme for tiles and paint for the new bathroom

So, once again, I tried to take the advice I dish out. What feeling would you like when you use the room? That was easy, I wanted it to be a bright space with loads of light yet I wanted to feel calm and relaxed when I was there. A touch of luxury and femininity seeing my daughter would be the main occupant and I might sneak in there occasionally for a bath.(Must get around to doing that!) That set me on the right path and I was able to make the selections relatively easily.

new bathroom ready for waterproofing

I’m so happy with the end result.

glass shelves installed around the vanity. mosaic feature tiles behind vanity

The feature tiles add a touch of glamour while the white wall tiles and bay window makes the room very light. And surprise, surprise, when everything was in place the windows look just perfect.

new bathroom complete with marble tiled floor and full sized bath in bay window

If you would like assistance with bathroom design or sourcing fixtures and fittings, 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.

 

What’s been happening?

Heaps!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will know that we’ve been renovating our Californian Bungalow on Sydney’s North Shore.

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Of course once the builders have left and the house is looking fabulous, the gardens need attention.

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When we moved in to the house ten years ago, the front garden was a tree and bark chips.

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We built a sandstone, crazy path through the bark chip and planted a garden.

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Fortunately the builders were not working in the front garden and it has stayed in tact. A couple of weekends of weeding and pruning and it will be as good as new.

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The side garden, however is in a very bad way. There was a paved area adjacent to the pool and plants forming a barrier between the driveway and garden.

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Love this photo! His first ever lawnmower having lived at home, then a unit, then overseas. And look at my little baby!

This area was totally trashed during the building process.

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We needed a path from the driveway to the back door as well as a path to the front door and I wanted visitors to make their way to the front door. I also wanted some screening between the pool and the garden to make the pool more private. There were a few different levels to be considered and it was all too much for me to design. Interiors are my thing, not gardens.

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So I called the landscape designer in The Designer Chicks. Nadia Pomare from Stylish Gardens met with me and listened to my wants and needs. We discussed the types of plants I liked and loathed and a couple of weeks later she came up with a lovely plan.

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Next up was calling in the heavy artillery from Brisbane. My Dad’s a bit of a dab hand at the garden so he came down from Brisbane for a week and it was all hands on deck.

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There’s still heaps to do (I think I’ll be saying that for the next 12 months!) but the back is broken and the garden is starting to take shape.

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So that’s what’s been happening around here. What have you been up to?

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

 

The Hidden Costs of Renovating

Did you know I was married to an Accountant! Thank you for your sympathies. Yes it’s a cross I’ve had to bear for 18 years now. It takes him forever to get over the price of things. Doesn’t matter whether its a kilo of steak or the reupholstery of a chair, it’s always a “that’s ridiculous!”.

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So when we started our renovations I knew it was going to be a long drawn out process. He was adamant that HIS renovation wouldn’t have any variations and every little detail had been accounted for.

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Ha! If you’ve renovated then you know it’s impossible to stay on budget as there are always little things that were overlooked or once you do one thing then it makes sense to do another. And so it was with our renovation.

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But it’s the hidden costs that neither of us counted on. Like grabbing takeaways…….often. We were very hands-on renovators doing lots of painting and sourcing ourselves. So most weekends were spent either out looking at lights, bathroom fittings, tiles, etc or up a ladder painting. Naturally the last thing either of us wanted to do when we got home exhausted was to start cooking. It was easier to grab some takeaways for lunch and dinner and sometimes even breakfast. Mmmm, that wasn’t in the budget.

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And all the little bits you NEED at Bunnings. Before, during and after the renovations there’s always something you need to pick up. Bubble wrap and packing tape when you’re moving. Paint brushes, masking tape and other painting paraphernalia when your renovating and brooms and door mats when you move back in. I swear we were at Bunnings at least once a week, sometimes more. Note to self – get shares in Bunnings.

bunnings

Now that we are back in the house and trying to put things back together, the hidden expense is dry cleaning. I’m gradually taking all the curtains and bed linen and other soft furnishings that we have kept, in to be dry cleaned. Ouch! But as I pointed out to the accountant, it’s cheaper than replacing! I know how to appeal to his better judgement.

Jennifers Dining room

So it’s never just the bottom line when renovating, there’s always extras that haven’t been thought about.

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

The end of the renovations……or is it?

Well it’s now been a month since we moved back in to our renovated home. I’d love to be showing you photos of the beautifully styled rooms but you will have to wait. How long? I have no idea. We still have loads of painting to do both inside and out as well as a few more rooms to sort out.

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The kitchen gradually filling up

It was a very exciting but extremely exhausting time. My brother, his son and their dog along with my mum arrived from Brisbane in mid December. I thought we would be back in the house by then, just. But that didn’t happen. No fault of anyone’s really, just things take a bit longer than planned and it was much better to stay away than move in with all the builders still crawling all over the place.

The unit hall overflowing with three more people's stuff!

The unit hall overflowing with three more people’s stuff!

So we crammed into the two bedroom unit for a couple of weeks. Fortunately my studio was finished so we were able to set up a couple of beds there for the boys and the dog but of course they were woken every morning at 6am when the builders arrived. Anyway, we all survived and still love each other.

My studio ready to be a bedroom

My studio ready to be a bedroom

The builders finally left at 4.30pm on Christmas Eve. We’d moved our storage furniture back into the house on the 16th, the floors were done on the 19th and we moved the unit furniture back on 23rd and slept there for the first time. It was lovely to have the extra hands to move furniture, open boxes and put things in cupboards. Christmas seemed still so far away and not much thought had been given to the event.

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Our containers returned

The kids sensed that we were not going to have time, nor room, to put up the tree as every surface seemed to be covered with boxes! They gathered some sticks and found the boxes of decorations (which I’d left out in great optimism) and set about creating a tree. It was beautiful and brought my focus back to Christmas.

Makeshift Christmas Tree

Makeshift Christmas Tree

So after the builders left and we completed our last dash to the shops for food and presents, I started to turn my thoughts to Christmas lunch. Fortunately, I had remembered to order the turkey and ham and had a fridge full of vegetables. My brother was a Christmas baby and a birthday cake is our usual Christmas dessert. I had ordered an ice cream cake so at least the basics were taken care of.

Birthday cake

Birthday cake

At 2am on Christmas morning I was still unpacking boxes desperately trying to locate my big baking tray for the turkey as well as reading the instruction manual for the new cooktop.

Presents wrapped and under the tree

Presents wrapped and under the tree

Christmas Day was probably the most ill prepared I’d ever had and I had such high hopes of having everything organised with all the family here in my Sydney home on Christmas Day for the first time ever.

The kids made pancakes for breakfast

The kids made pancakes for breakfast

But it all came together in the end, even if we were still surrounded by boxes.

Surrounded by boxes

Surrounded by boxes

There was plenty to eat, plenty of laughs and even a few tears (of joy)!

Christmas lunch

Christmas lunch

And we were surrounded by family being thankful for all that we have. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? At least it will be a Christmas we won’t forget.

Aftermath of unpacking the kitchen

Aftermath of unpacking the kitchen

The unpacking continues but it’s getting there. How did you spend your Christmas Day?

Is the Dining Room Dead?

I don’t believe so! I love a dedicated dining room especially in older homes.

Back in the mid 1980’s I bought my first home in an outer Brisbane suburb. It had a combined dining and lounge room and for a few years I had a pine round table with 4 rattan and metal cantilevered chairs as the dining table. Then one day, one of my colleagues at work asked out loud if anyone was interested in a Rosenstengel dining suite. He had been appointed Executor of a Monseigneur’s Estate and apparently there was a silky oak dining table and 6 chairs to offload. The asking price was $200. With all my income going in to my house repayments I said, “No”. Besides I didn’t want some old table and what was Rosenstengel anyway?

Rosenstengel Dining Suite

I was telling my Mum about it a few days later and she said, “Grab it.” She knew all about Ed Rosenstengel and his furniture making and knew it would be a great buy as well as owning a piece of Queensland history. So I purchased the table and it is still serving me to this day. Although right now it’s in storage as we renovate our home.

When I moved to the Gold Coast in the ’90’s I decided to have the dining suite refurbished. A furniture restorer cleaned down the table and applied a new coat of shellac which gave it a rich glow. I had the chairs reupholstered in a plain pink fabric to co-ordinate with the curtains and sofa.

Dining suite after polishing and upholstery

When I moved back to Brisbane we renovated a little Workers Cottage on the northside and we created a formal dining room in the old sleep-out.

Sleep-out being transformed to the Dining Room

This time the upholstery on the chairs dictated what colour the walls would be.

Pink Dining Room

When we moved to Sydney and bought our Californian Bungalow the dining suite suited the period of the house and the existing curtains.

Inherited Dining Room

However, after a few years, I was ready to ditch the curtains and I replaced them with gold silk and repainted the walls in the warm earthy tones of the time.

New paint, curtains and light fitting

Now we are renovating, I have decided to keep the formal dining room. We’ve closed off two of the three doorways into the room and I’ve decided to be a little bit adventurous in choosing the paint colour.

Latest reincarnation of the dining room

I’m a firm believer that the formal dining room is mainly used at night time so why not make it dramatic? But alas the existing upholstery will not suit the new look room. The question is, will I keep the suite and have it reupholstered, or is it time for a complete new dining suite?

Dramatic dining room

Do you have a formal dining room or a dining suite with provenance?

If you would like assistance choosing colour or furniture for your dining room, contact us for an online or in-person consultation. Or visit my Pinterest board for Dining Room inspiration.

 

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