Friday, 20 April 2018

Why a Comfortable Living Space Means More Than Décor!

If you are a regular reader, you’ll know how much I value comfort particularly at home. After a long day, a comfortable living space can make a world of difference. It can de-stress you and your family, make you feel safe, loved, as well as nurtured.

There is nothing better than kicking off your shoes and sinking into a soft and comfy couch. It really is a feeling and emotion in one. Which is why getting your living space exactly right is important to all homeowners. I’ve pulled together a few things which I feel make a big different to my living environment and my life. These things I couldn’t be without, for the reason that they give me so much added comfort.

Natural light
Although many people when they think of comfort they think of being curled up on the couch, rugged up with the curtains closed, there are opportunities to make your home feel comfortable throughout the day by incorporating natural light.

Natural light has been shown to improve your productivity, energy levels and mental health. Therefore, having a home with natural light not only makes your home look and feel bigger but it also helps create a happy and positive environment.

Outdoor space
A great way to make sure you and your family enjoy the benefits of natural light is to use your garden as an extension of your living space even in winter. Gas wall heaters have been a dream in allowing us to spend as much time outside as possible.

As well as the backyard creating additional dining and entertaining space we also found that time spent outside reduced our feelings of stress and made us feel much more relaxed.

Plants
Bringing the outdoor in, is another way to increase your comfort levels at home. Similar to why being outside reduces stress, plants have also been shown to help reduce stress and improve your well-being. There are certain plants which work well indoors because they help to purify the air as well as being easy to maintain.

Investing in greenery will be one of the best things you can do, not only will it make your home look bright, fresh and beautiful but it also creates a stress free environment for you to escape the pressures of the day.

Textures
Now I know texture is technically a component of décor, however, because it is a more tangible aspect, I’ve included it here in my must-have list. This is because textures are a great way to incorporate a forgotten sense into your living space. Comfort and texture go hand in hand, and in my opinion my living room wouldn’t be the same without the feeling of a soft thick blanket on my couch or the plump but welcoming pillows placed strategically next to my favourite spot to relax.

Another way to add texture is through furniture and it is a great way to create a point of interest in any room. By choosing your furniture based on its texture it truly can be a design focal point. Wooden furniture is one of the easiest materials to start playing around with, because of the different grains, patterns and shades of timber. Coffee tables or bedside tables are my favourite way to add visual interest because you can pair them with low level lighting to really showcase the texture in the wood.

If you’re looking for an easy way to start increasing your comfort at home, texture is a really simple way to start experimenting.

Till next time... create a comfortable living space in your home and have a relaxing weekend!

xox
Rani

How To Winterise Your Home and Save Money!

Australia is famed for its hot temperatures, so our houses have been built to keep cool in summer. And it comes as no surprise that the nation is quick to crank up the temperature as winter creeps in – leading to soaring energy bills. Many old Australian homes are poorly designed and lack sufficient insulation on windows, walls and roofing, with heating and cooling together contributing to 40 per cent of energy use in the average Australian home. Fortunately, homeowners can overhaul their energy inefficient houses with the right windows, doors and furnishings. 

And just in case you still needed more convincing to make your house energy efficient, here are some depressing statistics... almost seven per cent of deaths in Australia from 1988 to 2009 were attributable to cold weather, compared to less than one per cent from the heat!
Improve windows and glass
Windows are a major source of significant heat loss in winter. Energy efficient windows can keep heating costs down and create a more ideal temperature in the home. “Windows are one of the most critical elements that contribute to the temperature inside the home, Stegbar’s high performance glazing options can help to increase thermal performance, reducing the amount of heat escaping through the windows in winter,” says Christine Evans, Marketing Director at Stegbar.

“Stegbar’s double glazed windows improve the comfort of your home and ensures that the home remains perfectly comfortable during winter,” says Ms Evans.

“The sealed air (or gas filled) gap between the two panes of glass acts as an added layer of insulation. This extra insulation lessens your reliance on heaters, ultimately reducing your energy bills and improving your home’s energy rating.”

Maximise insulation
Window furnishings, blinds and curtains can enhance performance and be an effective way to overcome problems with existing windows. “Insulation is key to maintaining room temperatures, and a few small changes can help your home be more energy efficient and keep bills down,” says Jenny Brown, National Marketing Manager for Luxaflex Window Fashions.

Luxaflex® Duette® Architella® Ménage Shades are a chic window covering that provides more insulation than any other window covering on the market. The unique design features a patented triple honeycomb cell construction, with six layers of fabric creating five insulating air pockets to trap air for superior energy efficiency – helping you save up to 49 per cent on your home heating costs.

As well as preventing heat from escaping, insulating window coverings can help regulate the warmer temperatures of the day. “During the day, your windows let in more radiant energy than gets out; sunlight can enter through the glass, but the window is opaque to the infrared radiation trying to escape,” continues Brown. “Our award winning PowerView® Motorisation uses clever technology so Aussies can now schedule their blinds to lower immediately after dusk – the optimum time to close them to help prevent heat loss,” she says.

Instead of simply turning on the heat this winter, think about long term gains by making your home more energy efficient. This will help you save significant amounts of money by reducing electricity and gas usage and also be more environmentally friendly! However in the end, if not for anything else, do it for your soaring energy and utility bills! 

Till next time... Save some money and remain cosy throughout winter by acting now!


About Stegbar
Stegbar is recognised by architects, builders and homeowners as a leading Australian manufacturer of quality building products. With over 70 years of experience in producing high crafted windows, doors, shower screens, splashbacks and wardrobes, Stegbar’s reputation is built on its commitment to innovative design, outstanding craftsmanship and excellent customer service. Stegbar is part of JELD-WEN Windows & Doors, who made IBISWorld’s Top 100 Manufacturers list for 2017.

About LUXAFLEX® Window Fashions
Luxaflex® Window Fashions is a market-leading brand, offering the nation’s largest range of quality window coverings for inside and outside the home. The suite of products includes blinds, shutters, soft shades, and awnings – all with a focus on innovation, durability, and style. Luxaflex window coverings provide optimal light control and privacy, are easy to maintain and remain at the cutting edge of design and technology. The brand consistently plays to its unique strengths of superior quality and rich heritage, while constantly innovating to ensure it stays ahead of interior decorating trends.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

House Envy: Dated 1940s Beach House to a Modern Family Home!

Today we're taking a peek into Nikki Yazxhi (creator and editor of lifestyle website bellaMUMMA) and Adam Yazxhi's (creative director at Maxco, a brand strategy and design agency) dream family home. 

After contemplating whether they should sell or renovate, the couple decided to stay put in the house and area they love and renovate their 1940s-weatherboard beach home in Avalon on Sydney’s Northern Beaches to create their ultimate dream home for their family of four- Nikki, Adam and their two young boys.
To achieve the simple and elegant interior, a refined palette of neutrals was chosen, using only natural materials such as European oak flooring, marble, stone and brass. Interior designer, Nina Maya designed a space that maintains the home’s original charm, while maximising the indoor areas with added storage. The original wall separating the living area and the kitchen was removed, and to increase the connection to the outside, full-height glass bi-fold doors were installed on the back deck and skylights were used to boost the amount of natural light.

The kitchen is one of the first rooms the family had outgrown. With Adam’s love of cooking and the couple’s passion for entertaining, the kitchen was remodelled and upgraded with new appliances for a modern contemporary space that performed as amazingly as it looked. The kitchen and the benchtop bar are now the hub of the house.

The new kitchen appliances from ASKO were selected for their aesthetic and functionality, like the the ASKO Duo Fusion gas and induction cooktop, the ASKO Elements Pyrolytic Multi Functional Oven, Elements Combi Microwave Oven and Elements Warming drawer were installed for their attractive and hard-wearing qualities. The clean lines, smooth finish, sleek and minimalist design of the ASKO’s Elements range adds to the modern kitchen design.

So let's have sticky beak and see if like me you too get a case of beach house envy!
Safe to say that Nikki and Adam are beyond delighted with the results of the makeover. After three months of renovating and remodelling, the house is the quintessential contemporary dream beach home! Hope you enjoyed this house envy tour of a dated 1940s weatherboard house into a modern family beach home!

Till next time... have a lovely day!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Top Tips For Getting Your Garden Winter Ready!

In Australia, we’re blessed with a warm climate and experience winters that allow us to enjoy our outdoor area all year round. However, as we prepare for the colder months, we need to take certain steps to ensure our garden will survive and thrive throughout.

Adbri Masonry brand ambassador and landscape expert Jason Hodges says that a little preparation and a few smart purchases can winter-proof your backyard by transforming it from an unused winter space into a cosy feature area that will be a family favourite year round.

Here are Jason’s top tips for getting your garden winter ready.

Build a solid foundation
"To make the most of your yard during winter, the important thing, before we even get to heating, is laying a solid foundation," says Jason. Whether it’s creating appropriate drainage to avoid your backyard turning into a muddy mess after heavy rainfall, or laying a paved entertaining area for cosy dinner parties, there are certain basic steps you can take to prepare your garden for winter enjoyment.

Choose an area near your back door to pave an entertaining patio. If possible, pave a large enough area to fit an outdoor setting and heating unit. Covering the space with an awning or pergola helps to frame the space and makes it feel more like an alfresco room, as well as shelter it from the elements, adding to the liveability of the space.

Plan for rainy days and make drainage a priority. Side paths are especially susceptible to being soggy during the cooler months – with houses built right to the boundary, side paths often receive little sunlight meaning after rain, they can end up as no go zones for fear of walking mud through the house. "I suggest a stepping stone path using Adbri Masonry’s Euro pavers, spaced with decorative pebbles. As opposed to a concrete slab path, stepping stones will allow water to run between the pavers and into the sub base below," says Jason. Choose a dark colour paver as it will show up less dirt.

Lawn Loving
Winter can be a tough time for lawns but there are ways in which you can prevent this through careful preparation. Choose a slow release fertiliser and feed your lawn throughout autumn ensuring it is healthy and in good condition coming into winter. 

The north eastern part of Australia gets less rain than in the stormy summer months so if you live in this area, it’s important to keep your lawn hydrated during what can be cool and dry conditions. In the southern parts of the country where there is more rain during winter, you can switch to watering as needed. You’ll know when grass is thirsty by watching for curling of the leaves or the appearance of dry spots.

Choose your plants wisely
If you are in the process of renovating your yard, it’s a good time to consider plant and flower choices. You can’t go wrong with camellias, which will flower for over six months a year in the right conditions.

If you’ve got potted plants, take the opportunity to consider their position in the yard and if you can, move them to an area in the garden that may be better suited to capturing more sunlight.

Let there be light
With those short winter days, a well-lit garden is ideal if you want to continue entertaining into the colder months. Lighting can completely change the look and feel of an area – opt for a floodlight that can be specifically directed at an area or festoon lighting to add ambience (look for the IP44 rating for indoor and outdoor use in all conditions).

“Outdoor lighting allows us to create an atmosphere for different purposes whether it’s for late night dinners or nights by the fire pit,” says Jason.

Warm it up 
No garden is winter ready without a source of heat. Opt for a mobile heater to provide flexibility, or a stylish yet functional fixed strip heater that is perfect if you have an overhead pergola.

Backyard fire pits are becoming increasingly popular and can add a real wow factor to your outdoor space. Fire pits are the new water features; they are a great feature in any backyard, and require a lot less maintenance than a water feature. A fire pit will transform your backyard into a cosy and inviting space, perfect or those chilly evenings. Concrete blocks, like AB Courtyard, built up around your fire pit will also add an element of safety and ensure your family are always a safe distance away from the fire.

“The ambience a fire pit brings is worth the investment alone, providing an enjoyable feature for the garden and a natural gathering spot for socialising and entertaining. It’s a great focal point, I like to describe it as nature’s TV and people are naturally drawn to the campfire-like atmosphere,” explains Jason. Here's a step by step guide to build your very own fire pit!
I love these easy care tips shared by Jason! As we move into winter, showing your outdoor space a little extra TLC will ensure that it thrives through the cold months and you can enjoy the beautiful outdoors with your friends and family!

Till next time... have a lovely week!
IMAGES BY ADBRI MASONRY (UNLESS SPECIFIED)

About Adbri Masonry
Adbri Masonry is Australia’s leading masonry manufacturer supplying quality concrete bricks, blocks, pavers, retaining walls, erosion control products, architectural masonry solutions and reconstituted stone veneers throughout Australia’s East Coast, South Australia and Tasmania.

About Adbri Ambassador Jason Hodges
Jason Hodges is Australia’s well-loved celebrity landscaper, most notably seen on the Channel Seven lifestyle TV show Better Homes & Gardens. Jason is also a brand ambassador for Australia’s leading masonry manufacturer, Adbri Masonry. Jason is a four-time Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS) Gold medallist.


For more information visit www.adbrimasonry.com.au

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Designing a Room Makeover with Gumtree!

If you’ve been following me on Instagram then you’ve obviously seen sneak peeks of the mini makeover I’ve been sharing of my daughter's room. Needless to say this entire makeover is being designed on a (very) tight budget!
New Colour Palette
The plan for the makeover was to change the feature wall paint colour from the sunny peach that we've had for the past three years (you can see the previous colour here) to a soft shade of grey with a tinge of icy blue that would brighten up the small room and add a beautiful Scandinavian vibe. In the end, I decided to go with Miller Mood from Dulux in a quarter strength, a hue that is pretty, serene and fresh!

I accentuated the soft colour palette with pops of mustard and shades of blush, petrol blue, moss green, charcoal grey, white and deep teal to create interesting accents and cosy corners. The use of natural timber, soft throws and linen blankets, a natural jute round rug and of course art in a similar colour palette completes the look.Furniture
A new wall colour warrants new furniture and décor accessories! My go to website for buying home décor on a budget is Gumtree; a vibrant online community marketplace connecting buyers and sellers in the local community to buy, sell and find just about everything.

As an avid up-cycler and a firm believer in recycling, repurposing and reusing, Gumtree is a truly treasure trove of unique and interesting items both pre-loved or new, available at affordable prices, perfect for people like me who undertake spur of the moment room makeovers!

Did you know that Gumtree is the #1 shopping app in Australia?!!! There are more than 2.5 million listings on Gumtree across hundreds of categories, including Home & Garden, Cars, Jobs, Baby & Children, Sport & Fitness, Clothing and Jewellery, and 85,000 new ads are posted each day and on average, more than 7 million Australians visit Gumtree each month via desktop and mobile sites, as well as iPhone and Android apps! #Mindblown!
To top it all, you never know which piece of history you might find on Gumtree or maybe the perfect run down, fixer-upper, DIYers dream piece! I frequently use Gumtree to sell bits of furniture or shop for eclectic, vintage, truly one-of-a-kind décor pieces and even services like electricians, landscapers, packers and movers, arborists, plumbers, outdoor deck builders etc! It is a handy app to have on your phone since as well as cash you can even pay with Paypal! So convinient!
To keep this online community marketplace safe and relevant, there are a few tips to buy and sell on Gumtree.

Tips for buying on gumtree: 
Do your research: Dedicate time to researching what’s out there, what kind of style you’re looking for as well as the full retail price of similar items (so you can see the savings you can make by buying on Gumtree)
Plan ahead: If you’re overhauling a whole room, or an entire house, make a list of all the key items you need and decide which ones you could save money on. Consider investing more in lounges and dining tables and save on home décor items like plants, throws and cushions
Set your budget: If you’re on a tight budget, research the average price of similar items on Gumtree and set your budget accordingly
Filter by price: If you do need to stick to a budget, Gumtree’s search results allow you to filter by price - so you’re not tempted buy any items out of your price range
Save your searches: If you’re after a specific item or brand, say a Scandinavian style sofa or a certain make of wine fridge, the saved searches tool is ideal. Each time you save a specific keyword and location search, you’ll receive an email update whenever a matching item is listed. You can decide how frequently you want to be informed; either immediately, daily or weekly
Expand your search region: If you can’t find the item you’re looking for in your immediate local area, try expanding your search to include a wider area. Instead of looking just in Newtown, search in Inner Sydney or Sydney region. You may have to travel to pick
up an item, but by expanding your search region you’re sure to find even more gems
Use your imagination: Sometimes it does take a little imagination to see an item’s full potential. There may be some signs of wear and tear on the outside, but with a touch up and a coat of paint, it could become a key piece in your home and you’ll forever be able to tell the tale of how you lovingly restored it
Ask questions: While most sellers will include key information, don’t be afraid to contact the seller to ask questions. It’s always worth asking about the condition of the item, why it’s for sale, the dimensions and if there are any receipts or warranties available. It’s easy to contact a seller via the Gumtree My Messages feature.
Negotiate: Don’t be afraid to negotiate a price you think is fair but don’t go too low - nobody likes an unrealistic offer!
Meet in person: Gumtree encourage face-to-face meetings with the seller so you can inspect the item, with an in-person payment made once the goods have been seen. 
Tips for selling on gumtree: 
Do your research: Dedicate time to researching what’s out there and the average price of similar items to make sure you’re setting a fair price.
Be descriptive: Describe the product you’re selling, including its features, a brief history and reasons for selling the item. The more information you provide, the more likely you are to make a sale at the price you’re looking for.
Upload high quality photos: Upload high quality images to make sure your listing stands out from the rest.
Manage your listing: Ensure you keep on top of messages from potential buyers. Communicate quickly and directly through My Messages and download the Gumtree app on your phone so you can manage your ad on the go. You can even buy an upgrade for your listing, to help your ad stand out from others in that category
Always meet face to face: When buying or selling, it’s important to meet in person to see the item and exchange money. For personal ease and safety, have someone with you. 

I love the fact that it's free to post an ad and you only pay for the upgrades when selling an item.
For Elie's room makeover, I bought a pretty vintage dresser (for literally a song!), a couple of cute wall hooks and a vintage cane basket for cushions and throws from Gumtree! All it takes is a bit of organisation, researching viable options, zeroing in on the one that best fits all your needs and negotiating a good price for it.

I'm still on the hunt for the perfect light pendant and a low maintenance indoor plant for the room (and maybe even a vintage doll's house!). And I think I may have spotted just the thing!
So stay tuned here or on Instagram for the next update on Elie's room makeover since it is still a work-in-progress. However, in the meantime I would love to know if you too use Gumtree to sell or buy? Have you bought something interesting or fabulous recently? Share with us in the comments below.

Till next time... be sure to download the Gumtree app on your phone!

xox
Rani
ALL IMAGES BY RANI ENGINEER, LA MAISON JOLIE 



This post was created in collaboration with Gumtree Australia. As always, all design choices, thoughts and opinions are all mine and genuine and I only ever work with brands that I love and I think you will too.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Window Treatments To Achieve A Laidback Coastal Style Interior!

The laidback coastal style is ideal for Australia’s many harbour and beachside homes, and with simple decorating tricks the look is easily translated. It's a look that is light, bright and airy, a style that is on trend and appeals to almost everybody! So today we're chatting with Jenny Brown, National Marketing Manager, Luxaflex Window Fashions to find out more on what window treatments to use to achieve a light, bright, laidback coastal style interior.

“Natural light is key to this pared-back style and broad shutter window furnishings are ideal for letting the sun shine through.” Jenny Brown, National Marketing Manager, Luxaflex Window Fashions advises, “White or neutral tones echoing the simple coastal colour palette provide the perfect accent to off-set coloured accessories for any room with a view. Luxaflex® PolySatin® Shutters are available in white, pearl or vanilla, and offer the look of painted white timber without the splinters. Their casual yet timeless elegance also mean they can be used in any room, and create a sense of unity throughout a home.”
Blinds with a wide vane size can also achieve this same look with a softness. Three Birds Renovations did exactly this with various Luxaflex products throughout their project, House 6, located in Northbridge NSW, including Pirouette® Shadings in 120mm vane size in the living room.

Alternatively, a sheer blind in a dark colour is a striking feature when matched with nautical details, as used by Three Birds Renovations in House 7, The River Shack using Luxaflex® Duette® Shades, Duo-Lite. This modern twist on a classic look is ideal for areas that get the sun most of the day, helping diffuse the natural light while also offering daytime privacy.

Three Birds Renovations House 6, Northbridge NSW
PolySatin® Shutters. Hinged with SmartView® Operating System, 89mm louvre. Colour: White.

Pirouette® Shadings with PowerView® Motorisation. Fabric Range: Satin. Colour: Magnolia. Opacity: Room Darkening. 120mm vane size.
Dual Roller Blinds. Standard Chain operation. FRONT ROLLER - Fabric Range: Ethos. Colour: Aura. Opacity: Blockout. BACK ROLLER - Fabric Range: Tempus. Colour: Frost. Opacity: Sheer. 
Duette® Shades with LiteRise ® Operation. Fabric Range: Architella® Elan 20mm. Colour: Daisy White. Opacity: Blockout.

Duette® Shades with PowerView® Motorisation. Fabric Range: Architella® Elan 20mm. Colour: Daisy White. Opacity: Translucent.
Roller Blinds with PowerView® Motorisation. Fabric Range: Tempus. Colour: Frost. Opacity: Sheer.
Three Birds Renovations House 7, The River Shack
Duette® Duo-Lite Shades with LiteRise Operation. Fabric Range: Sheer/Elan. Colour: Black/Black Onyx. Opacity: Sheer/Translucent.Blinds and shutters are a great alternate to curtains and they are low-maintenance and provide long lasting style, privacy and protection. Which one is your favourite? Are you a shutters kind of person or do you prefer blinds or maybe a mix of both? 

Till next time... have a lovely week!

xox
Rani
IMAGERY PROVIDED BY LUXAFLEX® WINDOW FASHIONS

About LUXAFLEX® Window Fashions
Luxaflex® Window Fashions is a market-leading brand, offering the nation’s largest range of quality window coverings for inside and outside the home. The suite of products includes blinds, shutters, soft shades, and awnings – all with a focus on innovation, durability, and style.

Luxaflex window coverings provide optimal light control and privacy, are easy to maintain and remain at the cutting edge of design and technology. The brand consistently plays to its unique strengths of superior quality and rich heritage, while constantly innovating to ensure it stays ahead of interior decorating trends.
For further information, visit www.luxaflex.com.au  
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