Tuesday 27 March 2018

Beautiful, Intricate and Unique Floral Art - Hanakami by Michael Lai

I have long being fascinated by the tactile art form of Origami, the art of paper folding to create intricate designs. The end result is always so effortlessly beautiful! However, even if a design looks deceptively 'simple', believe you me... it takes a lengthy series of complex folds and a ton of patience and dexterity to create that intricate form. 

A few weeks ago, I came across a series of innovative zen art pieces created by artist & Origamist Michael Lai. His craft is a variation of the traditional Japanese art form of Origami. Instead of using traditional origami paper, Michael creates his intricate handmade designs from pressed flower petals!

Michael is the first artist to use pressed flowers for this age old art form and after discussions with the origami association in Japan, he coined the term "Hanakami" meaning "Flower paper" in Japanese to separate his craft work from others using the term Florigami or Floral origami. 

Like Origami, Hanakami also has great relevance towards improving mental health and mindfulness through meditation, focus and contemplation. 

After research, it has been established that Michael created the world's smallest "handmade" origami crane! Yes, smaller models do exist however they have been made using tools and microscopes while Michael only uses his dexterous finger tips and senses he has trained through mindfulness and mediation.

After the success of his first exhibit, “Hanakami (花紙) cranes and micro-terrariums”, which was an exploration of intricate patterns, delicate textures and vibrant colours, Michael and Alick Lau (Manager for a Indiegogo crowdfunding project) created their first crowdfunding campaign and also established Studio Hanakami, an art studio to create more of these amazing zen art works. 

I had the opportunity to interview Michael to find out more about his fascinating craft- the art of Hanakami and his journey from scientist to artist and the way forward.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was trained as a scientist and have been working in IT consulting for the last few years. Origami is something of a hobby for me but in the last couple of years I have developed an interest in applying the skills and technique to help people improve their mental fitness, in a similar way to how you might train your physical fitness. I do think that mental and physical fitness are so closely linked that you have to work on both things at the same time to get the maximum benefit.

Can you share with us your creative journey to where you are now?

To cut a long story short, I went from making origami cranes to miniature origami cranes to using novel materials to make miniature origami cranes and now I want to see how the process of making miniature origami cranes using novel materials might help solve other problems people might have.
What has been the inspiration behind Hanakami and your work?

While searching for the perfect material for making miniature origami cranes I stumbled on the idea of using flower petals. This has never been done before to my knowledge, so it was just a matter of talking to people who work with flowers and a lot of trial and error to figure out how to do this. I am inspired by people who use nature as the inspiration and raw material for their work, because there is a beauty within nature that doesn't need any embellishment.What are the mental health benefits of your work?

It is a little bit different for everyone, but like physical exercise the process of producing the origami models is not unlike a series of mental exercise that can help you to improve mental fitness by increasing concentration, focus and mindfulness. And like physical fitness you don't obtain the results overnight, since it requires you to continually spend time and effort in order to improve.

Do you have a favourite design?

Every finished model is unique in its form and pattern because of the material used, and while I mostly only make the traditional origami crane model it is also my favourite to fold.What is a typical workday like for you?

I hope there isn't such a thing as a typical workday for me.

Can you describe the design process?

It's a week or two to dry and press the flower petals and at least an hour to fold the origami model. In between there is also some preparation involved to select the flower petals and work out where to make the cuts for the 'paper'. That's assuming every petal ends up being suitable for the preparation stage and that every piece of 'paper' ends up being a perfectly folded crane (which it doesn't, and the success rate varies considerably depending on lots of different factors).What are you working on at the moment?

Adapting some of the techniques and ideas used in the workshops for other demographics, in particular for younger children and the elderly because I think there are different areas that need to be targeted when it comes to mental fitness for these two age groups.

What according to you is the next big thing in interior design?

This is not something that I know very much about, but with apartment living becoming the norm in the cities a lot of people will be looking for new ways to add a personal touch to spaces that are not designed to allow a lot of personalization so it will be interesting to see some creative ideas especially with 3D printing becoming more accessible and popular.

What 3 words describe your work?

Purpose, perspective and perception.
Can you share 3 things people don’t know about you?

I haven't worn a pair of jeans since primary school; I have a terrible sense of direction but don't mind getting lost (probably because I am used to it); I have only drank coffee twice in the last twenty year and both times by accident (a story for another time)

Which is your favourite room in your home and why?

When I have lived in places with one, the sun room because it is just a lovely place to do anything when you have good lighting and a clear view of everything around you. There was a place I lived, quite close to the beach and it had a small sun room but it looked out to the ocean and on a clear night you could watch the stars, listen to the waves and smell the sea breeze.
What's your favourite inspirational quote?

At the moment it is: “A life without cause is a life without effect.” ~ Paulo Coelho
If you've ever folded a paper crane or would like to learn how to, Michael runs classes and workshops on origami to introduce the mental health benefits of this traditional form of art. You can contact him through here for more information on workshop details. In current times, when life is so uncertain, fast and disruptive, it is truly an art to seek serenity and be mindful.

A series of framed photographic prints and artworks from his 2017 ‘Hanakami Cranes and Micro-Terrariums’ exhibition is currently available from Studio Hanakami

Till next time... be sure to peek into this beautiful, intricate and unique world of Hanakami by Michael Lai!


Friday 23 March 2018

6 Top Tips to Keep Your Upholstery Looking Fabulous!

Taking home that brand new couch is something most get excited about. The thought of lounging and sitting on your new sofa while entertaining friends and family becomes something to look forward to. And truth be told, it is very easy to get emotionally attached to your couch because it is after all one of the important focal points in your home.

Depending on the kind of sofa you purchase, price varies considerably. You get what you pay for in this regard and if you have shelled out the big bucks to buy your dream couch then naturally you want it to last. Now that you have your couch, be sure to decorate your home like a pro!

Proper maintenance is key to making a good couch last a long time. Just like anything else the more you take care of it the better it will withstand the test of time. Today we're chatting with guest blogger Guy Keenan for his insight into tried and tested methods to maintain a sofa in prime condition for as long as you own it.

Keep it clean
Cleaning the couch at least once a week will help to maintain and preserve its condition. It is a methodical, step by step by step process to ensure every inch of your couch is kept clean. The first thing you need to do is find out what kind of material your sofa is made of.

Look for the care label of your couch. All the information that you need to know before you start cleaning is on that label. Care labels are usually found on the base of the sitting area. Once you remove the seating cushions, you should be able to see the tag easily.

When you find the care label, it will indicate a specific letter along with cleaning instructions on how to clean the sofa. Each letter corresponds to a particular cleaning method. It is imperative you use the correct cleaning solution for your type of couch

S means dry cleaning only

W stands for water-based cleaner only

WS stands for either water-based cleaner or a dry cleaning

O says that the material is organic and needs to be washed using cold water

X means to vacuum and brush only

Thoroughly vacuum your couch using appropriate attachments. The upholstery attachment with the bristle brush works well to dislodge any dust or debris on the surface making it easier to vacuum clean. The crevice tool works great to clean the corners and deep sides of the sofa.

Tackling stains
Spot clean stains as they happen. It is safe to use an all-purpose cleaner or fabric cleaner for the surface of your couch. Carefully read the directions and follow accordingly. Spray the cleaner then scrub with a brush until the stain has been removed.

Once you're done cleaning; it is vital to dry the surface with a towel or clean microfiber washcloth. If the washcloth shows it's still dirty then repeat the process.

Again it is of utmost importance to dry the surface of the couch after cleaning or else it will leave a very unsightly stain that is even bigger than the one you were trying to get out. Alternatively, you can also use a steam cleaner to naturally clean every inch of your sofa.

Fluff it up
I have an old aunt who has owned the same couch for more than thirty years. Her secret is that every time she gets up from her couch, she fluffs up the back cushions. When I say fluff, it is the simple act of picking up the cushion, giving it a good squeeze or two and putting it back in place.

Poking, prodding and yes even spanking the cushions reform the stuffing materials back to its original shape. This practice of fluffing the cushions will prevent the internal materials from clumping and hardening in a particular position over time.

This is often overlooked by some because they don't deem it necessary and end up with deformed cushions with permanent imprints from repeated use. Again the simple act of fluffing your back and seating cushions will keep your couch looking like new.

You don’t have to fluff your sofa every after use like my old aunt does but do so at least once a day maybe before you go to bed. Doing that will make all the difference in keeping your couch looking like new!

Stain protect
Nothing could be worse than dealing with a massive stain on your favourite couch. Sure you can deal with the stain as it happens, or you can take safety measures to protect the couch from accidents.

There are several precautions one can take to prevent stains from ruining your couch. You can apply a stain protector such as Scotchgard fabric & upholstery protector. Read the directions and apply the protector to the entire surface of your sofa.

Utilising a slipcover for your couch when you have a lot of guests over can help avoid any stress about possible accidents on your beloved couch. You can purchase slipcovers of various designs and materials for variety.

Flip it good
Don't you just hate it when you see oddly shaped contours on your once perfect couch? You can prevent depressions from permanently forming by of course fluffing the cushions and by flipping them as well.

Make sure to flip the cushions on your sofa at least every two weeks. This ensures your couch cushions are not worn down on one side while the other remains untouched. Doing this practice will prevent your couch from looking old and worn down.

Watch where you sit
Do not sit on the armrests of your couch. Sure, you can if you want to but that would risk the structural integrity of the handrests of your couch. The handrests were not made or designed for sitting.

Putting your whole weight on something designed to handle an arm cannot be a good idea. Doing so will cause some damage to your couch over time.

It is common for us to have a favourite spot on the couch but sometimes only sitting on one end of the sofa will cause that particular cushion to get worn down faster than the rest of the sofa. Try to alternate where you sit throughout the whole length of the couch.

Practising the different cleaning and maintenance tasks listed above will ensure your sofa lasts you a very long time. Don't wait until your couch is bent out of shape from lack of attention and excessive use before you do anything about it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Do you practise any of these tips shared by Guy or do you have one that works a treat? Do share with all of us in the comments below or on Instagram.

Till next time... don't forget to fluff those cushions!

About the Author
Guy Keenan is the writer behind Guy About Home, a gardening and home improvements blog with lots of information on home improvement, maintenance, smart technology for your home, eco-friendly advice and cleaning tips.

Tuesday 20 March 2018

How To Create Gardens Inspired By Exotic Holiday Destinations!

It's no secret that Australians love to travel to warm, exotic and beautiful locations such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Fiji, Hawaii, USA etc. And while magazines and TV lifestyle programs are the obvious starting points, it is undeniable that many design trends are strongly influenced by the experiences we have while travelling abroad. The stunning tropical beauty of stunning beach locales or serene, meditative spaces of Japanese gardens or the glamorous pool side vibes of the Hamptons provide inspiration and design for many of our home and garden improvement projects.

According to the 2018 Adbri Masonry Great Australian Backyard Survey, the top backyard designs proven to be the most inspiring are all from popular holiday destinations - Bali, Japan and the Hamptons.

“Aussies love to holiday abroad. In the past, photos and souvenirs were enough, but more than ever we’re bringing back inspiration and styling ideas for the home,” says landscaping expert and Adbri Masonry Brand Ambassador Jason Hodges. “It can be surprisingly cost effective to recreate your favourite holiday destination in your yard to enjoy all year round.”

Read on and see how you can recreate these exotic and popular looks in your very own backyard with our step by step guide below!
What The Great Australian Backyard Survey Revealed
The third annual Great Australian Backyard Survey from Adbri Masonry sought feedback from over 1,000 homeowners about the status, desires and uses of our backyards. In 2018, over 75 per cent of those surveyed had confirmed plans to improve or undertake a new project in their backyard.

With so many Aussies committed to investing in their backyards, finding inspiration and new ideas to get started has proved important, and according to the Great Australian Backyard Survey, we’re drawing inspiration from garden styles in some of the most popular destinations for Aussie travellers.
Japanese Zen Garden – a tranquil retreat
Australian’s tend to live busy lifestyles that can be stressful and the number of stressed Aussies has jumped by about a third to 4.9 million during the past decade, research by health fund Medibank reveals[i]. Having a place to disconnect and unwind can be all the more valuable for both your home and mental health.

The Zen garden creates a private retreat in your yard using a low maintenance design that encourages natural escapism and disconnect. Experience a full transition when you step outside and move from an environment of artificial light, screens and gadgets to a relaxing area that provides both hands off and hands on opportunities for meditation including practicing samon, the ancient Japanese art of raking gravel to aide concentration.

Creating your own haven that will become a place of reflection, peace and stillness is achievable in most backyards regardless of size.

Here’s how you can create your own Zen garden
Taking inspiration from Japanese culture, the Zen garden offers a stylised landscape and combines many elements of landscape design including ambient water features, deep greenery and low maintenance plants, gravels, stepping-stones and feature rocks.

Keep your design simple and opt for a coloured stone as a base component, it is cost-efficient and requires minimal maintenance.

Decorative gravel is also commonly featured throughout Japanese gardens.

Placing rocks of various shapes and sizes around the garden is symbolic in Japanese culture and represents mountains and natural water elements – rocks will add depth and different layers to the scene.

Try incorporating plants that exude a rich colour palette of green and a pond or water feature for ultimate tranquillity. Avoid rocks placed in a straight line or symmetrical patterns.

Stepping-stones are a good choice for a pathway through the garden, though follow the general guideline and stagger these too. “Consider Euro Stone in the Zurich colour to bring in a gentle grey tone which is understated in its aesthetic but complimentary to the environment which adds to the tranquillity. They have an exposed aggregate texture, which shows the stones within the paver. In the right light, these inner aggregates will sparkle adding subtle movement to the garden,” advised Jason. 
Balinese Villa Garden – the ultimate tropical indulgence
Australian’s have had a long love affair with the Island of the Gods and easy access with low cost airlines makes it more accessible than ever. Bali is renowned for its colourful culture and beautiful landscapes. The demand for quality private villas in popular holiday areas like Seminyak and Uluwatu has resulted in the construction of many new luxury villas. Think landscaped gardens with lush tropical natives, private plunge pools and paved communal areas for relaxation and dining.

Here’s how you can create your own Balinese garden
Turn your backyard into a tropical Bali inspired private oasis with a variety of elements – from tropical plantation, water features, pools, ornaments and a Bali hut.

Greenery plays a major role in the Bali garden, so foliage and plenty of leafy plants are essential. An Aussie alternative to tropical Balinese natives include agave plants that add a bold and rich look, whilst plants such as cordylines, crotons and frangipanis help to bring the tropical picture to life.

If you require new garden walls or planter boxes, consider the Natural Impressions Duostone wall blocks from Adbri Masonry. The faces are pressed with a modern rock finish designed to replicate the appeal of natural stone.

Incorporate “bamboo screens, trellis or brushwood as great options for adding texture to the backyard and double as a privacy screen until all plants have fully grown.”

Black lava is traditionally used in villas due to being readily available, bold and robust. For an authentic look, try using Adbri Masonry’s Euro Stone in Prague for the outdoor cooking or dining space.

Finish the look with a water feature or for an Aussie alternative with no running costs, opt for a feature fire pit instead.

Hamptons Inspired Backyard – relaxed coastal vibe
With the growing trend of outdoor living and alfresco entertaining, it’s no surprise that the Hamptons style is one of the biggest trends in 2018. With land sizes shrinking, acres of manicured lawns that we typically associate with Hamptons may not be possible, but its possible to re-create this look with a laidback Australian twist to suit every outdoor space.

Here’s how you can create your own Hamptons style garden
The Hamptons look is all about structured details and layers, so whether it is a small courtyard, pool area or an alfresco room, add life and colour with greenery. “For lush green turf invest in some new Sir Walter or if you’ve already got the lawn, create a beautiful leafy outlook with sculpted hedges. Buxus balls are great and will allow you to create different heights and levels in your garden and for classic flowers- think hydrangeas, orchids and gardenias.

A borderline of hedges will provide a grand boundary as well as offer privacy.

If a pool is part of your Hamptons design, don’t forgot the styling which can be simple cushions and a smart use of colours, or a rewarding splurge on a statement outdoor furniture piece.

The perfect place to admire your lawn, appreciate your Hamptons garden and enjoy refreshing iced tea is from a modern coastal courtyard with a touch of Hamptons. To get the look, try Adbri Masonry’s Euro Classic pavers in a light colour that will complement your floral selections. “These pavers look great and because they are slip resistant, they’re perfect for pool surrounds and wet areas too,” explained Jason.So which one's your favourite garden- Zen, Balinese or Hamptons? I love them all since all of these looks are fairly easy to recreate using the steps mentioned. If you're looking for a weekend project, creating a slice of your favourite holiday destination in your very own backyard maybe the perfect solution!

Till next time... have a lovely week!

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. For more information visit www.adbrimasonry.com.au.

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.

Wednesday 14 March 2018

How To Blend Styles Without Bickering!

Moving in together always comes with a unique set of challenges in a couple’s relationship. You learn about different habits and expectations you were previously unaware of, both in the other person and yourself. The experience may result in a drastic shift in the dynamic you were used to living in, especially if you previously lived by yourself.

A common issue that often arises is a differing style preference when it comes to home décor  While some people don’t care what adorns their walls, others can be quite opinionated. Rightfully so, considering your home is meant to be your private refuge.

So what happens if you and your significant other have vastly different design tastes? Here are some important tips to help you blend your styles without bickering.
Discuss Your Likes and Dislikes in Advance
If you are moving into a place together in which you have open options for decorating, you need to discuss what you like and dislike in advance. This can be a tough conversation since it might feel like an insult when someone dislikes your personal style. Be honest, calm, and use soft language. For example, “I hate your taste in ugly floral curtains” might start an argument. Rewording that to something like, “I am not a fan of floral patterns, but I really like when you incorporate stripes.” expresses your feelings without being aggressive or insulting.

Should it Stay or Go?
Have a talk in advance about what furniture, décor items, and treasures you will each be keeping and disposing of when you move in together. You might have an old battered couch that you love, but it probably makes more sense to keep your partner’s leather sectional that they purchased last year. Be selective on what aspects of your current home must be carried over.

Determine Who Will Be Working
If one person will be handling the majority of the decorating process and cost, it is fair to say that they should have greater influence over what décor elements are used. You may find that there is no black and white area and that each person might be doing more in different aspects of the décor process. Determine who is handling what, then allow them to be a majority shareholder in what happens for that décor aspect.

Have a Tiebreaker
If the work and budget are evenly split, or the shareholder approach doesn’t work for your relationship, create a tiebreaker. A silly game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, or a coin toss can end an argument and determine a path forward. Be sure to set up the rules of the tiebreaker in advance, and agree to adhere to whatever the tiebreaker determines.
Give Veto Power
Give each other the power to veto three things when decorating. Doing so will allow each partner to have some input on décor  without giving them absolute power over what happens in a space. Your partner might not like the curtains and paint you have chosen, but absolutely can’t live with your infamous pineapple chandelier. That décor element may get vetoed while your other preferences remain. The person using a veto will have to think carefully, as they only have a limited amount available.

Let’s be frank: if you’re mature enough to move in with a significant other, you should be mature enough to act like an adult. Compromise and work together. Your love of traditional rustic and your partner’s love of modern urban can come together in an eclectic fusion that appeals to both of you. Find elements from your diverse styles that complement each other, and create a room that is an unique depiction of your relationship.

Assign Rooms
It may be easiest to assign rooms that each can be in charge of decorating. You may end up with a modern, minimalist kitchen and dining room and a Victorian gothic living room and bathroom, but at least everyone is getting their say. Just remember to pull elements from each style into the different rooms to add some flow and cohesion throughout the house.

Research New Styles Together
Use this as an opportunity to explore new things together. Flip through magazines, scour Pinterest, surf the web, and visit home shows together and discuss what things you like and what you don’t. You may find that you do have some shared tastes after all. Even finding something as simple as a unique light fixture that you both love can be the foundation on which you build a room. If you’re getting married, research new styles of wedding dresses together like these, or add décor pieces you both love to your wedding registry or add them to your housewarming wish list. Identify and remember pieces you love so that if you don’t receive them as gifts, you can go back and buy them later.

But most importantly, remember not to sweat the small stuff. This is just one of the many challenges you will face upon moving in together and getting through it well will help set you up for future success as a couple.

Till next time... happy moving-in day!


Wednesday 7 March 2018

House Envy: The Beauty Chef's Beautiful Home!

Today, we're taking a peek inside Carla Oates's gorgeous home. Better known as the founder of The Beauty Chef, Carla's home is light, bright and has an inherent happy bohemian vibe in a contemporary setting.

Generous layers of textures and use of natural materials add depth in every room and pretty accessories take pride of place in every display setting. Light wooden floors and light walls add to the bright and airy feel, Scattered stools around the home work as side tables, extra seating or just as resting places for pretty things. Plush throws and tactile cushions, earthy rugs and beautiful artwork create a luxe, calm and nurturing environment. 

So come with me as we take a wander and see if you too turn green with a healthy dose of house envy!If you're wondering where you can get your hands on all this gorgeousness, well here's a shopping list for you:

Dining Area:
Dining table - Ikea
Solar Sleeping Sun - Hannah Nowlan artwork
Assortment of vases and ceramics - Atolyia, Country Road, Smithmade, Dinosaur Designs and Kimberly Cruz 

Living Room: 
The Lennon lounge - Staple & Co
Coffee table - Isamu Noguchi
Bamboo stool - Orson & Blake 
Rug - West Elm

Quilt cover - InBed
Alarm clock - InBed
Linen throw - Adairs 
Wool-embroidered cushion cover - Città. 
Side table - Clickon Furniture
Tasmanian seascape art above bed by Karla's friend Justine Kerrigan

Stool - Mark Tuckey
Runner/Rug - Cadrys

Hope you enjoyed this house envy tour! I'm in awe of the beautiful artwork in Carla's home and how pretty are all the vignettes on the display cabinets? But most of all I love Carla's light filled kitchen. That Carrara marble splashback and benchtop is DIVINE! What do you think?

Till next time... check out The Beauty Chef!
async defer data-pin-hover="true" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-round="true" data-pin-save="false" src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js">