Tuesday 27 June 2017

6 Signs That Your Home Is Under Attack From Termites!

A few days ago, my daughter and I were walking in the park when I came across a beautiful piece of old, gnarly wood. I picked it up and brought it home. I left it in the garage intending to clean it later and use it for my styling shoots. I had completely forgotten all about it until on the weekend my husband picked it up and exclaimed where did you get this? He explained while rolling his eyes that the holes in the wood were not architectural but due to termites and he got rid of it before I could even exclaim what! Lesson learnt! Never again am I going to pick up bark or wood from the park and bring it home. But it got me thinking about how would one know if their home is infested or under attack from termites?

Few problems in life can be as threatening to your home as termites. They are a pest that can quite literally eat you out of house and home. There are several ways to prevent termites from getting to your home, but how do you know if they have already gotten to it?

Use these 6 signs to check if your house is infested or under attack from termites.

Damaged Timber
One sign that your house might be infested with termites is damaged timber. Now if you know how the timber was damaged then there is probably no need to worry. But if you come across weak or damaged timber that has no clear explanation this may be a sign of termite infestation, and it may be time to consider getting rid of termites quickly and efficiently.

Check if the damaged timber is hollowed out, a simple knock test will tell you if the timber has been hollowed. Hollow timber that is damaged is a simple sign that termites have arrived.

Termite Leads
Termites are not particularly high on the food chain in the insect world. In fact, they are quite vulnerable to predators. Travelling for termites as a result can be very dangerous. If an underground or timber route isn’t available then termites will create small tunnels made of dirt and cellulose. These tracks are known as termite leads

When checking your house for possible infestations, these leads can be a definitive sign of termites. If you are having trouble identifying these leads, they are similar size and shape to straws.

Alates aka “Flying ants”
When termites reproduce and are ready to seek new areas to nest they will send out their young. Termite young are technically referred to as Alates. They are small in size and resemble flying ants. When ready, swarms, sometimes in excess of hundreds will leave the nest in search of warm and humid areas to nest.

Generally speaking these swarms will travel in the warmer months between October to March. During these months if you notice a large population or increase in flying ants in your house or around your property, this can be a sign of termites potentially nesting. It is only a matter of time before this nesting becomes a full infestation.

Softer than usual fixtures
Termites can often be very good at covering their tracks. If they eat through any internal skirting or flooring, they will cover the hole again with mud. Those cheeky buggers! This can make it quite difficult to check or notice signs of termites. One sign which could point to termite infestations is softer than usual fixtures.

For example, if the skirting boards are damaged, they'll have holes or when touched will create holes. If part of your flooring feels ‘softer’ than the rest of your home, these are potential signs of a termite infestation that has been well hidden by the termites themselves.

Evidence of droppings
With different species of termites there are different calling cards or signs to watch out for. If you have any drywood within your property then these termites leave a very specific sign behind. Drywood termites don’t use their dropping to form part of their leads or nests. Instead they push their droppings through the holes they create.

To the human eye this will look like very small black grains, or black dust. If you see signs of this build up around door frames or skirting boards, this can be a sign of termite infestation.

Windows or doors sticking
Similar to the effects of extreme weather, or of steam damage in a bathroom, as termites move through door or window frames they can cause warping. It is important to keep an eye on any windows or doors which suddenly start sticking.

If the weather cannot reasonably be expected to cause this sticking then it may be a sign of termite infestation. If you do experience windows or doors sticking and aren’t quite sure why, it could be best to organise an inspection to err on the side of caution.

Termites are not a fun problem. It can be expensive to treat but most importantly it can be a problem that goes undetected for a long time. The key to lowering your risk is vigilance in inspecting your home regularly. Remember these six signs whenever you are inspecting and if there is evidence of any then call a termite specialist immediately.

Till next time... remember to conduct a quick termite check this weekend!

Saturday 24 June 2017

Colour Psychology - How Colour Palette Choices Affect Our Mood!

Whether or not we’re conscious of it, colours have an instantaneous, almost primitive effect on our mental well-being. Colour psychology has been used to great effect in many industries for a very long time; from restaurants to insurance brokers, savvy businesses all understand that in order to get inside the mind of a customer, they have to try to make the customer inherently feel something.

Our homes are not immune to this colour psychology either. Colour can help you to tell a story and invoke a sense of place and purpose.

The way a room is painted, decorated and lit plays a huge part in how we experience that space, and how it makes us feel. Certain colours make us feel positive, negative, optimistic and happy, sad, protected, agitated or peaceful. Therefore, whether you’re redecorating or starting from scratch, it’s a good idea to try and learn a little about colour theory, and about how colours can work best for you.

Neutral Bases
Like coffee beans in a department store perfume department, grey is the ultimate palette neutraliser. Choosing grey and other neutral tones and colours (beige, camel, ivory, charcoal) as the base for your home is smart not only because they are easily combined with flourishes of colour, but also because they’re non-aggressive palette choices which imbue your home and surroundings with a coherent, fuss free base.

When selecting your neutrally coloured design features, it’s important to think about where and what in the room you wish to highlight and what you wish to blend in. If you’re looking to highlight a piece of feature furniture or art, selecting soft furnishings and décor in neutral colours (such as grey curtains) are great ways to bring the focus and attention to the statement piece.

Bright Ideas
Certain periods of history are associated with differing points of the colour spectrum.

The late 1960s are remembered through the use of vivid, psychedelic colours, where the 1970s reverted to more natural brown and green hues. In the 1980s, neon and dayglo became fashionable again, while in the 1990s, black was back with a vengeance.

What this teaches us is that colours are not only able to change our moods individually, but that they are also able to capture a larger image of a time and place. This is important to remember when redecorating or redesigning your home. If you intend on creating a home with longevity in mind, choosing colours which are not a ‘flavour of the month’ (ie; Pantone colour of the year) or are not ubiquitous (lime green kitchen splashbacks circa 2015) will carry your home (and your feelings about your home) through to the next era.

Hot & Cold
Colour also has a way of giving temperature to a space, both through the use of decoration and lighting. Imagine a room with pure white walls and fluorescent lighting. Does it seem comfortable to you, or are you envisioning the inside of a hospital?

The way that our colour choices and any lighting interacts with each other is important.

If you’re trying to create an environment which feels warm, inviting and natural, play with warm lighting and natural textures. Resist the urge to over-decorate with saturated reds as well as warm lighting - since come summertime, you may start to feel like you're living inside a furnace!

Conversely, cool-toned colours such as blues and bright whites can help cool down a room in summer, and give off a distinct beach-house vibe when used well.

Calm & Collected
White tones are often associated with calmness, cleanliness and minimalism - which may be important to you if you’re in the process of change or upheaval. By imbuing your walls and surrounds with white, you’re allowing your surrounds to act as an oasis of calm, soaking up any excess worry or dread, while also creating an illusion of open space.

Professional interior designers rely on the well-known effect of whitewashed walls in order to create the depth and breeziness of a larger space in a small room. White has a strange ability to blunt our ability to gauge depth and space - which means it becomes a useful tool in opening up otherwise claustrophobic or tiny spaces.

When trying to come to terms with the colour choices available when designing or redesigning your home décor, it’s important to take the time to consider how you want the space to make you feel. Through the judicious use and placement of colour, you can help your home interiors to tell the story you want them to tell. 

How do the colours in your home affect your mood? Share with us in the comments below.

Till next time... what's your favourite colour to decorate with?

Thursday 22 June 2017

7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Small Apartment!

If you've ever seen a home makeover show or flicked through the immaculate pages of a home magazine, then you have witnessed fabulous home storage potential in large spacious homes. Meanwhile, those of us in small apartments have to do our best to cram and crash everything into tiny cupboards. If you are tired of the constant cramming, then try these seven tips for getting the most out of a small apartment.

Storage can be done anywhere
Traditional storage is usually a pantry, a cupboard, or a spare room if you’re lucky. Instead of looking towards traditional storage, why not consider some unique storage solutions? Look around your apartment for storage potential. For example, if you have an island bench, could it be converted to include storage underneath? Try installing some simple floating hooks to hang those pots and pans. Not only does it look great but it will free up some much needed drawer space. 

Use every nook and cranny
When you have a small living space, every little square metre counts! Think outside the box for creating alternate living spaces out of built-in wardrobes and large cupboards. For example, this clever little space works wonderfully as a nursery and storage of little items for the baby in what was previously a built-in cupboard with doors. Remove the doors, freshen up the space with wallpaper or paint and you have a smart alternate living space! You could even create a little foldaway study nook in this area.

Lighting options
Floor lamps are not necessarily the first thing you think of belongings which take up space. But in the grand scheme of things in a small apartment, they can take up valuable floor space which could be used for other items. Instead of loading up your apartment with cute floor lamps try installing down lights or flexible and versatile wall lights. Not only will this save space but will add a touch of contemporary elegance to your décor.

Multi-tasking décor 
Stylish decor is a process and not one that can be achieved flawlessly in your first go. Now that we have a much stronger grasp on the principle, décor is an excellent way to get more out a small space. Furnishings can be bulky and take up space. Opt for space saving items like a fold away ironing board or a breakfast bench. Look at bed frames which offer drawer storage underneath. Don’t accept your furnishings as just single functioning objects; they are a great way to get more out of a space.

Avoid the bulky draws 
A tallboy or a duchess is a great storage item in a house. But in your apartment it may just be a big old waste of space. Instead of opting for bulky storage furniture in your bedroom use unique options like hanging draws in your wardrobe. Not only will this save a large amount of space outside your wardrobe but it will also streamline the look and feel of the interior of your wardrobe. Hanging draws are a great solution and also come relatively cheap. 

Multi-use doors 
Saving space in a small apartment is all about making space where traditionally there never was. Sounds harder than it actually is unless you are a storage wizard. Instead of looking at your doors as simply a way of closing off one room from another, look at your doors as a chance to save space.

Try hanging door storage solutions such as bathroom organisers, jewellery organisers for the bedroom doors or an over the door shoe organiser. A door hanger will take away the clutter and free up the floors, benches or wardrobes for more important storage requirements. 

Vacuum your clothes 
Before you think to yourself 'has this person lost the plot', hear me out. Vacuum storage is a great way to store clothes you aren’t necessarily using and will save a tonne of space in your wardrobe. Avoid buying that additional clothes rack or those storage boxes to store winter woolies or old clothes, instead vacuum seal your clothes and pack them away.

For example when the summer months roll around, those fur coats are a huge space waster. Try vacuum packing those clothes you don’t need and store them instead. This will save you space and avoid unnecessary purchases for additional wardrobe space.

Storage solutions exist so they you can fit more of what you want into your life. It can be difficult to look around and see what space you may have available in a small apartment or unit. But utilising these super handy seven tips can assist in taking control of your limited space and making the most of it.

Design Tip: Before you start thinking about alternate storage solutions, it is a good idea to first de-clutter your current space.

Till next time... become a storage survivalist and get the most out of a small apartment!

Wednesday 21 June 2017

House Envy: At the Beach with Boost Juice founder Janine Allis!

Just a warning....this house tour is beyond amazing! So hold onto that cup of tea real tight as we take a wander through the exquisite beach house belonging to Janine Allis, Founder and Managing Director of Boost Juice Bars and Shark Tank star.

Before renovations, this 1970s Australian beach house, set in a gorgeous sand dune landscape at Fairhaven Beach, actually featured in the original Mad Max movie! Today, after a cool $2 million plus update, this modern family beach house has definitely upped the ante on modern sophistication!

So without much further ado, let's walk through and see if like me, you too, get a serious case of house envy!
What don't I love about this beach house? NOTHING! From the open plan living, smattering of architectural elements, use of marble and that stunning view with heaps of gorgeous natural light....this exquisitely renovated home is a surefire winner!

Till next time... Ensure that you follow La Maison Jolie on Instagram for a VIP Homewares Sale end of June!

Friday 16 June 2017

CHILDISH by Loe Russell- Showcasing BIG ART by Little Artists!

CHILDISH is an art project with a difference. Here the makers are not well known adults but pint sized artists whose creativity is pure joy to behold!

With an ongoing fundraising platform for arts programs and projects for children, Childish is an unique marketplace that showcases and sells beautiful art created by young talents. The founder of Childish is Loe Russell, a well-travelled, multidisciplinary creative, currently based in Berlin.

Loe has spent the last 12 years living between Canada and Dubai, where she worked commercially as an art director, with a focus on digital design, photography and integrated brand campaigns.

Loe's ability to find interesting details in the most basic of circumstances demonstrates her immense curiosity for life and all that it holds. And it comes as no surprise that Loe's new project that she is completely passionate about is 'Childish'. Underpinned by a strong philosophy that believes in the ideology that creativity transcends culture and can be healing, inspiring, and enriching, for any community it reaches, Loe is undoubtedly building a platform that celebrates creativity & helps develop and provides access to creative opportunities for children.

The Childish online store has just launched with a beautiful selection of exciting and unique images in their first collection. And believe me, some of the artwork that I saw on the website is good enough to rival those of many grown-up artists! These young talents are definitely a force to be reckoned with!
I had the opportunity to chat with Loe about the philosophy, inspiration, design process and future plans for Childish. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a Canadian Art Director, born in urban Montreal, and raised in rural Prince Edward Island. I have travelled and lived in a many places, including Dubai, Canada, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Europe, and have in the process been exposed to a diverse range of cultures and perspectives.What has been the inspiration behind Childish?

The direct inspiration for Childish was a small drawing my youngest sister drew many years ago on a post-it note, which I was completely charmed by. Over the following years, I continuously found myself drawn to childrens’ artwork that I would see hung on fridges, left on restaurant napkins, or made with chalk on the street. I loved the rawness and the complete lack of pretension in these pieces of art.What is the philosophy behind Childish?

Childish is a celebration of the dynamic creativity of children. It showcases young artists & sells artwork created by children. Funds raised by sales of art come full circle to help more children to access creative resources & opportunities.Can you describe the design process?

In terms of selecting the featured works, I intuitively put together pieces of work, that I can see being striking on their own, and also fit well within the group collection. The goal is to have a range of styles and personalities, from abstract to mixed media and to have children represented from a variety of locations.

Our first collection includes 9 countries. Each image is documented and post-processed in order to be enlarged and reproduced. The artworks are produced by hand with silkscreen, or as an archival Giclée. All of the pieces are currently printed on quality Hahnemühle paper.
What is a typical workday like for you?

Every day, from month to month, is a bit different, which is something I really appreciate about my work. Commercially, I work with many different types of brands, so I get to play detective with many different hats: luxury fashion boutiques, swimming pool builders, photography centres, salons, accountants, etc.

​For​ Childish, as I am doing much of the development myself, I have had to wear many hats for this endeavor as well; from branding, photography, product fulfillment to financials.

A typical day is 8am -Yoga. 10am - Delivery/errands. 11am - Working from co-working space. 6pm -  Free time to explore Berlin. 8pm - Social Media updates.
What are you working on at the moment?

The first collection was launched in May, so I am doing a lot of promotional work for that and fine-tuning the website. I’m looking for independent arts organisations to partner with and also planning for the second collection and new products.
Do you have a favourite print?

I love them all in different ways ;)
What according to you is the next big thing in interior design?

Modular spaces that are flexible and can be easily adapted.
What advice can you give children seeking a career in art?

Advice for children who want to be artists: Play. Make a mess. Don’t be too serious. Draw the things you find interesting. Try as many things as you can. Don’t worry about it being ‘the best’. Colour outside the lines.
What 3 words describe Childish?

Playful. Vibrant. Compassionate.
Can you share 3 things people don’t know about you?

- I live my life intuitively, and make decisions small and large primarily from that place
- I love cities, but long for treehouses, lakes and canoes
- I’ve lived in over 50 different apartments
Which is your favourite room in your home and why?

I have a studio in Berlin, so my favourite room is actually my main living space - which is tiny and charming, and just big enough to cook, work and do yoga.
Where do you see Childish in five years time?

I can imagine collaborations of all kinds with different organisations in different parts of the world,  developing community art projects and providing opportunities for children. A park installation of glow-in-the-dark kids sculptures in Berlin or perhaps a community center in Brazil, decorated by kids from the community. There are so many possibilities. But also, I would like to keep an open mind, and see where the wind takes it.
What's your favourite inspirational quote?

Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. ~ George Carlin
Children are true artists, drawing and painting with joyful abandonment and Childish is the perfect platform to showcase this art. Every art print on the website is as unique as it's maker and each one beautiful and ingenious in it's own right.

Childish features art from different ages, cultures, regions across developed and developing countries and Loe is always on the lookout for new talent. If you know any talented young artists (ages 3-13), you can submit their art on the website and Childish will handpick a series each month to showcase. More details on submissions can be found on the link here.

You can buy these quality screen printed art prints directly from the website. In collaboration with local and international arts organisations, profits raised through sales of artworks will go back to the community, in the form of supplies, scholarships, program development and community projects.

I will definitely be following Loe's journey of creating an artistic, inspiring and unique social business that gives back as much as it gets. You can follow Childish on Instagram here, and check out the entire art collection on their website here.

A huge thank you to Loe for taking time out of her busy schedule for this interview.

Till next time... as Pablo Picasso said, 'Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up'!

Wednesday 14 June 2017

How To Reduce Electricity Bills and Make Money Using Solar Energy

Not only is solar energy environmentally friendly because it comes from a renewable resource, but it can actually help homeowners reduce their power bills and increase their savings in the long run. Out of growing concern for the environment, more and more households are switching to solar energy, and with the cost of solar panels gradually going down, almost everyone can afford this green technology.

Today we're chatting with Derek Lotts, the advisory editor at Smooth Decorator about the advantages of harnessing solar energy and also make money along the way!

Reducing your electricity bills
Apart from reducing your ecological footprint, solar energy is a long-term investment that will help you cut your electricity bill significantly. Some of the main advantages of generating your electricity from solar energy are predictability and stability. You can always figure out how much energy your solar panels will produce and the amount of money you’ll need. On the other hand, you can never predict the expenses related to the regular electricity because there are frequent fluctuations in prices. No matter how small the difference in bills is at first, eventually it will build up and come to a larger amount.

How much will you save?
How much money you’ll save by having solar panels installed depends on a variety of factors. First of all, your geographic location plays an important role. For example, an average cost of the solar panel installation in Hawaii is less than $20,000, while the estimated 20-year savings amount to $60,000.

Another important factor that can affect the amount of your savings on electricity bills is the size of the installation. Since solar energy is based on modular technology, you can install as many solar panels as you want. However, the larger the installation is, the bigger your savings will be. Even a single kilowatt of installed solar capacity can make a difference.

Demand charges
Even if you switch to solar energy and generate your own electricity, your system can be still connected to the traditional power grid and draw energy when there’s no sunlight, which is why your utility company may bill you demand charges. Demand charge refers to the maximum average amount of energy used over 15-minute intervals and even a single spike can lead to a higher charge.

However, if you generate enough electricity with solar panels, you will be able to reduce the amount of electricity you draw from the grid. You can further reduce your bills by regulating your energy usage and ensuring that your panels generate enough electricity during the periods of peak demands.

Making a profit
Not only can you save money with solar energy, but you can also earn money for producing it. Some states offer incentives for renewable energy in order to encourage homeowners to switch to solar power. You can easily find out whether there are such incentives in your area and then, if you meet all the necessary requirements, the local utility company will pay you for the production of clean energy. Thus, not only will you reduce your bills, but you’ll actually start turning profit.

Solar payback
Once you’ve installed solar panels, you’ll basically generate your electricity for free, which will result in a solar payback. This means that the system you’ve installed will eventually pay for itself. Thus, if you’ve taken out a loan for the installation of solar panels, you’ll be able to pay it off from the money you’ve saved. Of course, it all depends on how much money you’ll save, which is determined by a variety of factors, as already mentioned. In addition, if you generate more electricity than you actually need, there are companies willing to buy the excess energy from you, which is another source of income.

How much energy will you produce?
The amount of energy your solar panels will generate depends on a variety of factors, including your location, electricity consumption and the size and efficiency of the system. When it comes to the size of your system, larger systems have more solar cells and, thus, generate more energy. There are different systems available, so you can easily find the one that works for you. A reliable solution for a household with an average electricity demand is a 3kW solar system. On the other hand, 5kW solar systems are more suitable for households with larger electricity demands.

Installing solar panels and switching to clean, solar energy is a long-term investment that will definitely benefit the environment and increase your savings. The amount of money and energy you can save depends on a wide variety of factors, but even the smallest change in your electricity bill can make a big difference.

Do you have any experience with solar panels? We don’t yet have them in our home, however I'm hoping one day soon we can install them. Especially with panel designs becoming more seamless and sleek, they look more attractive from a design standpoint than the previously bulky panels and are definitely more affordable as well.

Till next time... make the switch to green and clean solar energy to save money and also the planet!


About the Author
Derek Lotts is the Advisory Editor at Smooth Decorator, a DIY enthusiast and specialist in various topics related to home improvement (such as décor, gardening, recycling, ecology etc.)

Sunday 11 June 2017

Glamming My Bedroom With A Coveted Alan Walsh Print!

Like paint, art has the power to change the overall look, mood and feel of any room. And that's what art has done to my bedroom. But not just any art... a highly coveted Alan Walsh print! You may have read our design interview with the Yorkshire born Sydney based artist last month. If you haven't yet, click here to read it. Alan's passion for art deco meets pop art is evident in every one of his prints and each one is a joy to look at which makes it very difficult to pick a favourite!

However, anyone who knows me, knows how much I love art that is versatile. Pieces that seamlessly fit into any room complementing their overall décor, design and style. The beautiful prints from Alan Walsh are definitely versatile and offer that muted yet pop of colour that lends a playful vibe to any space. From his vast collection, my favourite print has to be the Tribute To Chanel and I am beyond excited to give it pride of place in my bedroom.Printed on thick Hahnemuhle art paper, the open edition print comes in an A1 size which makes it a great size for the bedroom, living, dining, entryway or study! I chose a beautiful natural oak frame to complement the colourful print while maintaining the overall modern Scandinavian style of our bedroom.Though the print is obviously of a beautiful female form, it really does not feel overly feminine in the bedroom and so far has not created any waves with the other occupant. Phew!

In fact the print adds a pop of much needed colour and visual interest to the grey feature wall. It's the perfect addition to this room and I bet it would look equally beautiful in the living or dining space. But for the time being...I'm happy that the gorgeous Tribute To Chanel a.k.a TTC as I fondly call it , is providing a splash of colour and heaps of prettiness to this space.The beautiful print has definitely lifted the colour palette of my bedroom and added a glamorous vibe. And as one of my favourite quote goes... "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous", the Tribute To Chanel print is definitely en pointe!

Visit the Alan Walsh website and have a look at all his exquisite art prints to see which one suits your home. I can promise you will be spoilt for choice!

Till next time... the only question is which one will you get?


Thank you Alan Walsh for the beautiful Tribute to Chanel art print. As always, all design choices, words, thoughts and opinions are all mine and genuine and I only ever work with brands that I love and I think you will too. 

And a huge thank you to all of you for supporting the brands that support this blog.
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