Preparing the living room for paint

When renovating the inside of a villa, there are a few things you need to consider. Do you keep it traditional to its character, or modernise so when you’re inside it’s like you’re in a new home. This is particularly important when starting in the living room like us.Traditionally, villas were designed to face the street, leaving little planning as to where the sun will be and what time of the day it will be there. That being said as you enter our house you walk straight into our living area, it sets the tone for the house, the atmosphere for the space so of course should be well considered.

There was little connection between the areas of the house, no flow means enclosed spaces ultimately making the house seem small and not overly entertainment friendly. The living room had also played subject to a DIYer who really didn’t care about what they were doing, bubbles behind painted wallpaper, ripples from earthquake movement that were plastered over and more dodgy botch jobs than a plastic surgery in LA.

Renovating our living room

It’s exciting renovating, but can be extremely overwhelming from the get-go. Where do you start? What will the investment be and is it worth it? What can you do yourself and what should you get a tradie for and of course, how is it all going to pull together at the end?

We learned a few things in the preparation stage that we thought is worth sharing for first time renovators as essentially, that’s what we were!

Stage 1 – Research and Plan

Some people will start with a spreadsheet, others start with a timeline, we start with a mood board. Knowing what you want is far more valuable to the project than knowing how much money you have in the bank. If you start by making a mood board of what a living space in your home will feel like in your eyes, you can start being realistic with your self in terms of what style you actually like and will it actually work in your home.Check out our mood boards for living rooms and Villas, they certainly helped us narrow down the mass of ideas that we had.

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 11.54.36 PM

Useful places to collate information from:

  • Pinterest – Easy to create boards and share them with your partner or family so they can attribute their thoughts.  You can also pin directly from the internet if you stumble upon an image you like.
  • Instagram – Our favourite for getting feedback from people and inspiration from accounts you like to follow.  We often search hashtags like #nzhomes #villarestoration #characterhome
  • Facebook Groups – Ask questions on Groups like NZ Home decor tips tricks and advice, ask for photos from people that have done the same thing, this is great because it’s real life – not staged imagery.
  • Your home and garden magazine – Amazing for New Zealand home renovations and they share content that is relevant and helps.

Now is a good time to start ordering swatches from places like Resene and Dulux to match them to the decor you have or confirm that they are hitting the mood board vibe. Smaller things like getting switches and lights are easy to do while work is being done and gets you out of the house while the paint dries!

Stage 2 – Price and Timeline

If you are making structural changes or working with several professionals, it’s important to take your time to be 100% on everything before you begin so that you are less likely to have regrets when you are finished. Get quotes from at least x3 people and always look for credibility. Websites like www.dontriskit.co.nz are always failsafe for finding the expert tradesman for the job.

The price at this stage is indicative of where you came to with your mood board. We always spreadsheet money we have spent on renovations to keep an eye on not over-capitalising and it also helps us be realistic as to what is a reasonable budget for each room. For our lounge, we were happy to go a little extra higher as it does set the tone for the house and is the room we spend the most time in and leaves the first impression for guests. At this stage, it’s a good opportunity also to find out what you can do to save cost that won’t disturb the professionals.

P1220671

Who we used:

Plastering

For the skim coating, we used Dans Decorating. Dan did my parents house who are long-time renovators and couldn’t recommend him enough. You know you have great tradies when they walk in and make you feel super comfortable, it really shows in the finish of his work how experienced he is!

Electrician

We had to remove all the switches and plugs so Dan and Ryan could do their thing so of course used Todd from Rossiter Electrical. Like Dan, Todd makes everything easy as and is fantastic at providing advice on lighting and switch types etc.

Builder

Our Friend Ryan who is a qualified builder removed a door and a non-structural wall and had that sorted in no time, he’s a pro with his own home reno on the go.

Stage 3 – Prep work and completion

This part probably seems the longest of the lot because by this stage you’re so excited that you’re finally here – but it’s still not done, yet.

P1220649

Do what you can to prepare, it also gives you a sense of involvement too. We stripped all of our wallpaper using a $60 KMART garment steamer – lifesaver. We also applied a pigment sealer after sanding the walls to hide the hideous pink and every other colour under the sun before Dan came in to do his amazing magic like work with the plaster.

We tried to make it as clean as possible in the area for the tradies so when they come in it’s easy to find what they are looking for. Preparation is difficult and you may start wishing you never started. In the grand scheme of things it’s very little work for the amount of satisfaction you’ll get from it – so persevere! It’s funny, you start to understand your house so much more when you take sheets of plaster and GIB off the walls, you see its imperfections and then find some quirk and beauty in it too.

From here, it’s over to the finishing touches to get the room done – stay tuned for more info on our reno!

P1220679P1220691

Advertisements

Vax Blade Pet Pro – Review

Stick Vacuum
New to the shelves of New Zealand, we’ve teamed up with VAX to review the newest member of their family, the Vax Blade Pet Pro SlimVac. What’s better we’re giving one away, see the details at the end of this blog!
I remember as a child my grandmother had a portable lux (i’m not calling it a vacuum – I’ve called it a lux for 27 years haha). I was always intrigued with how convenient the concept was, having a portable lux sure did save her some time. (so she could make more baking…YUM). Fast forward 20 years and we have the Vax Blade Pet Pro, a portable lux with more vacuum power than the traditional concept we’ve always had a love/hate relationship with.
Vacuum Cleaner
Our villa is 98 square metres so not a huge space to get around so we thought we would invest in a stick vac that was on sale for $250. Because of the price I really wanted to love it, it was a bargain! But it really didn’t cut the mustard. Having Frankie has meant that we need to lux more often, and her fine little boxer hair sticks into the carpet so is a bugger to get out.
The Vax pet pro doesn’t just look sharp it really does the trick, it’s designed for homes with pets so gets into every nook and cranny. It has a boost mode (I know) and an optional roller head. Up to 45 minutes of runtime covers a good week of luxing in our house and we can just plug it in to charge it up. The only thing that I’ve noticed is that it makes more sound than the one we currently have because of the power increase and when it’s in boost mode with the head going she’s rearing to go like a good greyhound at the gate.

Accessories

The Blade VX63 comes with a stair tool, pet tool and cleaning wand. This makes it perfect for stairs, pet hair removal and those hard to reach areas whether up high, down low, or in-between. The motorised floor head is great for enhancing pick-up performance on the floor but also perfect to be attached directly to the handheld for stairs, car and upholstery cleaning (any pet owner can relate to this).

P1220287

Where to buy?

How you can win one?

We talked Vax into giving one of our awesome followers their very own Pet Pro so you can make luxing fun (trust me it’s fun with this). Head to our Instagram, follow us and tag a mate to win!

D.I.Y Planter Box

Planter box

There’s no denying that the thought of a lush garden is amazing, but they require a lot of work. For those of us who have small backyards, busy schedules or want to create a garden that is niche to a type of flower, planter boxes are a great solution.

I remember when I was younger making a stylish planter box with my step mum and then replicating it as a gift for my nanas birthday! When we got Frankie (our Boxer puppy) Georgias stepsister Nicole checked in on her for the first week, which we really appreciated so wanted to say thank you. As you will know if you follow our blog, I like to get creative with gifts, be it a repainted bike, upcycled chair or in this case – a planter box, gifts with thought are always the best received!

Nicole bakes amazing cakes (check out her Instagram) so the planter box will help her grow colourful flowers to put on the cakes she makes. Planter boxes are great for things like lilies, tulips, daisies or for mini vegetable gardens. I also got some new Ryobi Powertools from their One+ range that I wanted to take for a test run (very happy).

Handy tip – buying the wood, this can start costing some serious coin, I looked around for the best deal.  This day it was from Musgroves, I managed to pick everything up for $30 NZD. Musgroves sells recycled building materials and timber, so super cool for a look around too, I could easily get lost for hours looking at their range of character pieces.

Watch the step by step video below

A guide to washing your house

There’s something satisfying about a perfectly manicured home, you walk past a house around the corner on your morning stroll, and you wonder how they get it looking so damn perfect! Chances are, they spend endless hours maintaining it so their investment has kerb appeal.
If you want to give your home more kerb appeal, an important place to start is by washing it. Think how good a car looks when you wash it, a house is much the same. I’ve recently got a Ryobi pressure washer so thought where best to try it out than washing our house on a 30 degree summers day. Before I proceeded, I researched if the pressure washer was the right choice for our house (an early 1900’s villa check it out on our Instagram).
Not all surfaces can handle the powerful jet of a pressure washer; plaster and brick can be damaged when using one. Below I’ve outlined tips on how to get the job done right and your house shining for the warmer months.

P1210649

Installing an Espalier kit

Espalier is an ancient practice of controlling woody plant growth for the production of fruit, by pruning and tying branches to a wire support.  A French name which comes from Italian “spalliera” (to support or lean on). 

Espaliered fences are becoming popular in residential areas limited to spaces, community gardens, driveways and the like. We’ve been wanting to cover a fence that is the first thing you see when you enter our front yard, it’s a great way to take the focus off a boring space and let’s face it, they look pretty cool!

We were on the hunt for a smart system that we could use for so long, then we stumbled upon Lock Jaw who was also a local business to New Zealand. When you research espalier there are usually four types that are popular:

  • Horizontal
  • Candelabra
  • Verticle
  • Diamond

We decided to choose diamond as that would cover up most of the fence we wanted to hide when fully trained and looks super slick!

You can watch our video for install instructions here!


The tools you need are:

  1. Power drill (we use Ryobi)
  2. Potriveter
  3. Tek screw drill bit
  4. Measuring tape and pencil
  5. Wire and snips

The install is surprisingly easy if you have a straightforward fence to drill in to. Lock Jaw makes the install super easy with guides on their website. We followed the pattern that they had on the box when threading the wire which took all of 1 minute!Espalier FenceThe only thing you really need to know is to keep the distance between each gap the same when making the diamond kit, that way your diamonds will turn out even!

We went down to Oderings to buy our climbers, Georgia and I were very happy with the selection of climbers they had and the young guy helping us out knew his stuff! We decided that we didn’t want to wait a year or so to start seeing real growth so chose the Potato Vine which in the Nightshade family and they were already really long to begin with.  When planting we gave them lots of compost in the hole and then gently wrapped them around the wires. When finished we soaked them with water to give them a strong start.

We are very excited to see the espalier kit next year after a good 6 months growth! It’s better than we imagined and has added so much to that first glimpse of our front yard. Now for the rest of the yard!

You can buy the Lock Jaw Kit here: 

Lock Jaw website 

King size set

Lock Jaw Diamond King Espalier

A homewares tour of Ponsonby Road

Before travelling to Auckland I had heard so much about this suburb, it’s dining, fashion boutiques and drinking options and of course its housing. On a sunny Friday morning, I biked from the city to Ponsonby to check out what options were available for the home. On the way there up college road, I had to hop off my bike so I could appreciate all the houses, they all looked just like our villa at home and there was so many of them! As you look around you see wisteria covered porches, grand bay windows and skillfully crafted fretting – I was in heaven. After soaking up the views I was eager to see where the people in these homes shopped locally for their homes, so I continued on Ponsoby road on a quest to check out what was available.

Bob & Friends

I was parking my bike from the Grand Mercure outside a charming villa on Ponsonby road and noticed that it was a homewares store also so went in for a look. Walking in I was greeted by the lovely store owner who told me to have a good look around.

P1200019WOW was my first impression, her exorbitant collection of homewares allowed you to browse like you would a museum. Bob & Friends is a store that brings a collection of contemporary British design to Auckland with a range of furniture by leading designers such as Mathew Hilton, Donna Wilson, Kay and Stemmerlee Kirkbridge, Gareth Neal, Terrence Woodgate and Rob Ryan.

I would shop here for the finer things to differentiate my home like modular scandi style shelving and the sustainably designed and developed lighting options by Tala (in love).

I loved how each room had a new feeling, toward the back of the house you could slouch in the chairs and picture the furniture in your own home. Being a villa it was even better for people like us who have a villa with high ceilings and white walls just like theirs!

Ponsonby Homeware store

Indie Home Collective

After stopping in for lunch at Blue Breeze I spotted Indie Home Collective from across the road and recognised the name from Instagram.

Indie Home CollectiveWalking in I knew that Georgia would like this store. A modern interiors store with an organic vibe, not trying to be something it’s not – I like this! Located in the perfect spot for shopping and dining on Ponsonby Road, the boutique historic space had white tongue and groove floors and was styled perfectly to relax when you were inside. The store person also made you feel extremely comfortable as she ran me through how each piece is carefully selected and why. Owned by the hugely talented Claudia Kozub, she has fantastically executed a feeling of comfort and home. I’m always influenced by a store that has a bounty of plants so maybe that’s why…

This store stocks international homeware brands such as The Scent of Home & Wonki Ware (so amazing). These sit alongside exclusive lines including Bedouin Societe & Ay Illuminate.

You often find stores that have a small amount of white washed linen blended with soft monochrome furnishings – but not one that nails this throughout their store – Indie Home Collective does!

 

Indie Home CollectiveIndie Home Collective

Ponsonby Plants

I go to Auckland and I find the best plant store yet – standard me!

Ponsonby Plants was such a great find in the cracks of the hustle and bustle.  I saw this across the road as I was biking to lunch so pencilled it for my way home. This store has been here for longer than I have been alive, so I imagine they’ve seen Ponsonby thrive also.

P1200122Richard DeGrandpre, owner of Ponsonby Plants is to thank for this haven. He grows the bonsai and cacti himself, as well as producing some of the pots with a varied maturity of plants from months old to years old. The price of the plants generally reflects the care and time that gives you a plant like a fiddle leaf fig that is almost as tall as you or a hanging vine that drapes like no other.

I heard locals in the store as they were admiring the bonsai’ saying how this store is the only store that offers the “in” plants when the others struggle to source them.

What’s even cooler about this store is they have worked with brands like Huffer and MTV, when you’re inside you will see why they go to this location for the plants – they have everything!

Get plants for your home people, not only are they healthy – they look so much better than anything else.

Auckland Plant storesBonsai Tree AucklandAuckland Plant stores

 

 

H&M Christchurch opens its doors

New Zealand’s second H&M Store is opening its doors to Christchurch and we were invited, joined by our favourite Christchurch influencers to a guided tour of the new store before the madness unfolded on Saturday morning with people camping out over night to be one of the first in the new store. The Crossing”.

Located in our newest retail precinct “The Crossing”, H&M have graced us with New Zealands first H&M Home department. The new store, wrapped around the corner of High and Cashel in a strikingly designed building both inside and out, caters to all ages and of course their homes too! Refreshingly relevant styles for clothing had Georgia shopping her heart out and the homewares just blew me away as they were all new styles that we haven’t seen yet here in Christchurch.
Home ware

It’s obvious that H&M design their home wares just like clothing: edgy, current and functional. The colours you’ll see in the home section are bound to shake things up. You’ll see antique blues, millennial pink, golds, olives and organic cotton. If it’s linen or velvets you’re after this is the store to shop, they’ve ensured that they are turning up to impress!

We both enjoyed how affordable H&M was store-wide. This global giant puts a lot of effort into carefully designing their lines and it’s so great that Christchurch is now home to H&M.

If you’re a corporate, fitspo, fashionista or a casual dresser – there’s something for you!

Following the walk through we were treated to a celebratory meal and cocktails at the moody Twenty Seven steps.

H&M ChristchurchH&M storeMooch Style Georgia Brian and Shayden WhippsBloggersHome wareLightingStore personChopping boardHOMEVanessa OrtynskyChristchurch BloggersH&M HomewareStore peopleHayley&coChristchurch BloggersTwenty Seven StepswineTwenty Seven Steps

How to style your house with white walls

Having white walls in a house is a controversial choice based on who you are talking to. Growing up we had textured wallpapers, borders and multicoloured wallpapers, all things that you only see today in motels that haven’t seen the bristles of a paint brush in over 20 years.

Here’s how we’ve used our white walls as the base and worked out from there…

Choose a colour pallet

Painted Bookshelf

Because white works with anything, you’ll have to choose a colour pallet that best reflects your style. Pastels, bold hues, vibrant colours – they all work and often together.

With our house, we go bold with black and the rest stays to a natural pallet. The two work really well together as black helps a piece stand out where you want it to and the subtle colours like sky blue and slate greys naturally blend together and don’t compete.

On the other hand, your white walls could look seriously cool with pops of bold colours and plants always look great with the colours too.

Styling white walls
Image sourced via pinterest

Select your material

Scandi bedroom decor, Guest Bedroom

Scandinavia is a great example of people who style well.  Everything in a good Scandi home is complimentary and adds depth without competing.  We take this method and apply it to all of our furnishings and manchester.  Pompom knitted throws, thick cotton woven cushions that match our tribal style died rug, linen bedding and natural wood tones offset with black and white – they all work together as natural styles but also natural colours – which looks great with white!

P1170960

Get your style hat on

The best thing about white walls is that everything soon becomes a focal point (something to be cautious of too). We use it to our advantage as we love to style. Our favourite purchase is our HUGE Chelsea light in our lounge. Always remember that lighting can add so much character to a room, especially if the whole room is white. We love using glass to style, glass reflects light and is so simple and easy to dress up!  Lastly, you should try styling with plants instead of “things” you’ll have a healthier home and they look so damn good! (See how we’ve styled with plants here).

Why we’ve broken up with Kmart

Kmart Home, why we don't buy Kmart furniture

For those of you that follow our blog, you’ll know that this time last year we were die hard Kmart fans. We would find ourselves joining the great race every night for the new “ladder shelf”, matching marble with marble – with marble….

We used to be great friends

Kmart Accessories

Our flat was soon a showroom of Kmart homewares and we were proud of them. When we wanted to redo our lounges aesthetic we could achieve this for a price of a cushion at other homeware stores. But what we soon found is that a good percentage of the stuff failed considerably.  What good is a shelf for plants when you water them and it swells with a drop of water that has come off a leaf?

Our garage was then a holding place for things we purchased 6 months ago. We were lucky enough to have friends and family that would take a few of the items but when we bought our Little Villa we decided that we would save in the long run by buying second-hand vintage furniture giving it some TLC, and it worked. If you’re into modern mixed with some old like us and shop glossy laminates and clean lines, you can achieve this by up-cycling or repainting (very easy – check out this post) .  Introducing some older pieces will give you that quality that Kmart lacks for sometimes less that the cheaper pieces at Kmart so we would recommend going with option (we learned our lesson). And the upside is that you then find after 6 months that you don’t want to rotate your pieces with the trends like you do with Kmart because you’re proud of them and they will last for many years to come.

Just the other day we decided that we would spend half the price on a peg board at Kmart than what I would have to spend making one.  Instantly we regretted it.  The particle boards were mouldy and wet and the pegs were so uneven in thickness, some couldn’t fit. I wish we just went without something that week to afford the materials to make one, we wanted one for all our sewing gear for our handmade bags at Mrs Swan so just decided to just go grab one.

We still talk

We still have some KMART furniture, a guest bedroom is a perfect place for Kmart side tables where they will get very little use so won’t damage fast, up close you can tell they are no DA Lewis, but it’s our first home so we can’t have it all. We have the odd Kmart ornament, the quality difference is very minimal between them and the higher affluent stores. Ornaments are also something that doesn’t get used so it won’t wear. We tend to not shop at Kmart with a basket anymore where you just walk in expecting to walk out with something haha (we used to take a trolley).

Consumers now days are very much in touch with the trends and want to keep their finger on the pulse. There are so many ways you can adhere to these without buying into the Kmart craze. Our blog is all about showing you how, so check out our posts and keep that garage free!

NB: This is our own opinion, as we said we still shop at Kmart and their styles are super trendy. We are all about a good upcycle and want to educate that sometimes (like in this case) for the same price of a cheap piece of furniture – you don’t have to have cheap quality. We were not paid or incentivised to write this post.

Go upcycling!!!