Painted feature walls.

Dear Reader,  

Thank you for suggesting I write about the topic “Feature walls, Yay or Nay?”  I was wondering the same thing.  It is with pleasure that I present to you my entirely unqualified opinion on the matter.  

Yours sincerely,

Johanne at House By The Water.

Yay or Nay?

5 rooms that definitely say “Yay”:

The colour adds mood, without drowning the whole room.  Source:  Lonny.

The colour adds mood, without drowning the whole room. Source: Lonny.

Black wall adds depth.  Source:

Black wall adds depth and definition. Source: Home Adore.

Framing a view, creating a division of space.  Source:

Framing a view, creating a division of space. Source:  Home Adore.

Background colour highlights the pendant and fire.    Source:  Cote Maison.

Background colour highlights the pendant and fire. Source: Cote Maison.

Grey wall frames art.  Source: Lux Interior Design.

Grey wall frames art. Source: Lux Interior Design.

When to use a feature wall:

  • to create mood, without intruding on the feeling of space and light.
  • to frame a feature such as a view, painting, fireplace, special piece of furniture, architectural detail.
  • to create depth and interest.

Simple, hey?

Wrong.  I’ll use my dilemma area as an example.  Our fireplace.

Display home version of our fireplace.  By Webb and Brown-Neaves.

Display home version of our fireplace. By Webb and Brown-Neaves.

Firstly, I can’t decide whether or not our fireplace wall should be “a feature”.  Giving it a colour of its own, would highlight the fire and provide a nice back ground to a large pendant light that will hang in the room.  On the other hand, we’ll already have the canal view as a feature (at least in the day time) and I have plans for a big piece of art for the large bare wall, shown on the left side of  the photo above.  Is that too many features?

Secondly, for every beautiful feature wall I’ve seen, there is an equally beautiful room that is elegant in its simplicity.  (Plain in the left column, “feature” walls on the right.)

Photos sources:  1. Zusss.  2. The Style Files. 3.  Remodelista.  4. Plastolux.  5. Zuster. 6. Contemporist.  7. Milk Magazine. 8.  Nixon Tulloch Fortey.

Thirdly, try searching “feature wall” on Google or Pinterest.  You’ll find all kinds of “nay” happening there.  Pulling off a feature wall takes confidence and skill.  A feature wall, well, features in a room, so you’d better love whatever colour you choose.

In the case of our fireplace, I don’t think we can go wrong.  The easy answer is “no feature paint” but I don’t want to miss an opportunity.  With the double height wall, painting it  later would be a saga.  At this point, most people would buy a couple of sample pots and paint a wall to make a decision “on the ground”.  We don’t have this option right now.  The next time I see House By The Water will be for the “Practical Completion Inspection”, when the interior walls will have long since been painted by the builders.

To resolve the issue (again), I turned to my new favourite time-wasting activity, mood board creation.

Open living at House By The Water.

No “feature wall” in our open living area.  Kitchen, living and dining all in one.

So for our fireplace, I’m saying “Nay” to a painted feature wall.   An additional block of colour seems to detract from the rest.

I also considered a painted feature wall for my son’s bedroom.  We are going for an industrial/coastal style there.  (There’s a new combo for you!)  A charcoal colour would go nicely, but there was the question of which wall to paint. In the end I’ve decided it’s all or nothing.   (Another post, another day.)

Of course, there are alternatives to painting a feature wall.  Wallpaper is big right now.  But if you think I have commitment issues with painting a feature wall, I am down-right scared of wallpaper.  I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the time we removed the old wallpaper in our first house.  It was not fun and it went on for days.  Timber panelling, exposed brick, raw concrete and stone are all high-commitment options for feature walls.   Although they usually require thought in the planning stage of a build, I consider some of them to be low risk options.  Rarely do I see a stone or timber wall that I don’t like.

And, for the complete “feature wall” chicken, here are some gorgeous wall hangings that I love:

These are from Restoration Hardware in the United States.  Unfortunately, they don’t ship to Australia.

So, dear reader.  Are you still there?  I’m voting “yay” for feature walls, but not always.

Your turn:

Are you planning a feature wall?

Have you painted a feature wall that you lived to regret?

How about one you love to bits?

Has anyone tested out the new so-called “removable wallpaper”?

 

 

Still bricking.

Housey blogs

Every woman and her dog writes a blog these days.  There are literally thousands of blogs documenting home building, renovation and decoration but with a bit of sifting, you can find a good community of like-minded people sharing tips, referrals, encouragement and inspiration.  A couple of friendly home-building bloggers sent their readers my way and posed me some questions.

Let me introduce:

  • Trixee, half of a motivated duo building a modest but glamorous solar passive home in Perth, from Eco Home Style.
  • Sheilzy, a go-get-em chick who’s building a Metricon home in Sydney, from Our Hudson.
  • Kerrie-Lee, the world’s most patient builder’s wife, who is building a very stylish home in coastal NSW, from eternalicons.

Thanks for the plug, girls!

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started my first blog 4 years ago when we moved to China for the interest of our extended family.  I enjoyed keeping a record of expat life and playing with words.  I caught the blog bug.

The 3 Little Pigs in China.

Photo from my first blog:  The 3 Little Pigs in China.

2. What are your favourite 3 blogs and why?

  • Spacecrush – I only recently discovered interior stylist, Jane Ledger’s blog, and the timing is perfect for me.  Jane, who is Perth based, shares her passion, knack and skills for interiors with unusual generosity.  I’m lapping up her “how to” series of articles such as “How to hang art” and “Choose the right sofa”.
  • House Nerd – You already know I love House Nerd for her rambling stories about interesting homes, DIY projects and local creatives in Western Australia.  Maya always keeps it real and affordable and I’m guaranteed a laugh, often at Maya or Mr. Nerd’s expense.  Maya reminds me that I’m glad that we are over the reno phase of life, but that it was good for us!
  • Third place was tough- so I’m going for a tie between The Design Files, for wholesome Aussie homes with lots of heart and character, and Planet Deco for an endless supply of beautiful homes, mostly from Europe .

3. What’s your favorite post that you’ve written and why?

40 decades of houses because it was such a nice trip down memory lane.

Exposed brick and psychedelic green!

Exposed brick and psychedelic green!  That’s Aunty Kate in the box, and I’m towing.  Check out my art.  I haven’t improved.

4. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

The connections made with readers.  We are helping each other blunder our way through home building.  The banter is fun and the tips are helpful.

5. How do you find things to blog about?

Somehow I always have at least one month’s worth of blog topics up my sleeve.  Ideas come to me naturally as part of the building process, often while I’m doing the dishes!  So far I’ve resisted writing the:  “I can’t wait to have a dishwasher” post.

6. What do you hope to achieve from your blog?

  • Make sense of the building process.
  • Make good decisions by “thinking out loud”.
  • Maximise the enjoyment of the building process, however remote I may be.
  • Keep the builders honest!

7. Describe your favourite meal.

One large salad with beetroot or mushrooms and goat’s cheese, and a cold glass of Margaret River white wine, please.  Served here:

Landscape design for House By The Water by Tim Davies Landscaping.

Landscape design for House By The Water by Tim Davies Landscaping.

8. If you had a day to do anything you want, what would you do?

I would go homewares and furniture shopping in Melbourne with Aunty Kate (my sister).  We would, of course, have an unlimited budget.  We’d meet my Mum and my other sister for lunch at Cumulus Inc to drool over the lamb and the interior design.

We’d visit Mark Tuckey, Jardan, Southwood Home, and Weylandts.

Jardan's Melbourne store.

Jardan’s Melbourne store.

9. What are your current obsessions?

Blue, preferably dark and moody.  Linen.  Australian made furniture.  Oh yeah, and that small thing called building a house.

10. In 5 words describe your interior style.

Relaxed, modern, Australian, earthy, light.

Normal blogging services will resume next week.  

 
Edit:  News just in from Webb and Brown Neaves.  
Second floor brickwork is still not quite complete.  
The roof carpenter is expected to start next week.
Bedroom of the second little pig.   An impressive amount of scaffolding.  I'm quite amazed to see it all.

Bedroom of the second little pig. An impressive amount of scaffolding. I’m quite amazed to see it all.

The scaffold floor will be removed to reveal a void space above the ground floor living area.

The scaffold floor will be removed to reveal a void space above the ground floor living area.  It’s starting to look large.

Vegetable garden

Veggie Patch

All good Easter Bunnies need a vegetable patch, so I thought it was a good time to tackle the topic of growing vegetables.  Well, I bit off more than I could chew,  so consider this Part One.

Let’s start with the easy bit.  Some inspiration.

Wood planters.  Source:  Remodelista.

Wood planters. Source: Remodelista.

Photo by Anna Fasth at  Tradgards Design.

Photo by Anna Fasth at Tradgards Design.

Concrete kitchen garden.  Photo source:  Skarp Agent (unverified).

Concrete kitchen garden. Photo source: Skarp Agent (unverified).

Source:  Style Room

Source: Style Room

(Header photo source:  Victoria Skoglund.)

Good looking, hey?  Looks are important because our vegetable garden is going in our front yard.  I like the simplicity of several black boxes in a row, but I’d also like to soften the look of the front yard so gardens with varying heights and angles appeal to me too.  There are plenty more swish vegetable gardens to see in my Pinterest file.

I’ve grown herbs and a few veggies before but on a very small scale.  The more I read, the more I go round in circles considering aspect, soil, garden bed material, climate, pests and even who’s friends with who in the vegetable world.  So I’ve narrowed my plan of attack down to these three options:

  1. Continue to study up and plan a technically correct vegetable garden.
  2. Bribe my Dad with an airfare, give him a budget and let him loose in my front yard.
  3. Wing it.

I’m currently favouring the last option.  In the mean time, here are a few resources that I’ve found interesting:

  1. Yates – my hard copy of Yates Garden Guide is in storage, so I had to resort to the web.  This site has a lot of Australian based information.  I signed up to trial their virtual garden, but it lacks the detail to be useful.
  2. Garden Angels – How to Grow Your Own Vegetables video series.  These cheerful and short videos start right from the basics of building your own garden bed.
  3. Online Garden Planner.  The trial version is free.  You can map out your garden space, getting an idea of scale.
My veggie plan as drawn on  the Online Planner:  work in progress.

My veggie plan as drawn on the Online Garden Planner: work in progress.

And because I’ve failed dismally so far to put together a “This is how I’m going do it” plan, I am referring you to the talented Steph from Saltbush Avenue.  Not only did Steph do her research and develop a great vegetable garden plan that included the most adorable illustrations, but she’s harvested her first crop and is now teasing me with photos of home grown veggies.

Have a great Easter everyone and don’t forget to leave a carrot out for the rabbit.

 

 

Second storey going up.

Second storey bricks

Our House By The Water has grown.  Three weeks of brickwork has seen the house go from single storey to double.  As photos have landed in my inbox each week, I’ve become increasingly excited.

Week One:

Thank you Mark from Best West Building.

Second story bricks.

Second storey bricks.

Week Two:

Harry, you are the best!Second storey bricks - week 2.

Week Three:

Thanks to new reader and future neighbour, Tracy.

Nearly done.

Nearly done.

Front facade.  The feature column will be bricked to 80 courses.

Front facade. The feature column will be bricked to 80 courses.

Most of the house is 63 courses high, double brick.  That’s a lot of bricks.  Work has come to a temporary halt.  The feature column on our front facade (that will eventually be clad in stack stone) is 80 courses high.  The brickies need an extra “lift” of scaffolding so that they may complete the taller sections of the brickwork.  The scaffolders are booked for next week.

In other news, following on from my “I love Linen” post, I won a little competition!   Ink and Spindle is a Melbourne based company that print gorgeous Australian-inspired prints on 100% linen, cotton and hemp.  You can buy their fabric or ready-made homewares using their existing prints, or you can choose one of their prints and customise it to your own colour way.  They have just introduced some new colours and celebrated with a competition.  My favourite colour combination proved popular and won me some fabric!  One 100% linen Silver Gum doona cover in Bluestone and River Salt on Oatmeal coming up!

My winning entry.

My winning entry.

Of course, then I had to play with mood boards for the master bedroom, to check that my current front runner for linen curtains (Pottery Barn) and the new fabric will work together.

I'm happy with the blues, woods and linen that are starting to form the back bone of my master bedroom grand scheme.

I’m happy with the blues, woods and linen that form the back bone of my master bedroom grand scheme.

I’ve had a heavy week on Polyvore, playing with mood boards.  It started with the question of linen versus leather  for sofas in our living room.  Leather is so practical and has my husband’s vote, but I love so many linen sofas.  This week a leather sofa that really appealed to me crossed my laptop screen, so I plugged it into Polyvore.  These decisions are always multifactorial, so I tested some of my favourite rugs and pieces of aboriginal art too.

Living room 1

Living room 1

Living room 2

Living room 2

Living room 3

Living room 3

Don’t tell, but I spent a whole Friday afternoon doing this!  It was blissful.

My conclusions are:

  • Artwork and floor rug should be considered together.  For example, patterned artwork and patterned rug is a bit too much.  Pick one star, then don’t upstage it.
  • Either leather or linen couch could work, but both together, hmmm..??

Which living room version do you like the best?  Why?  

Should linen couches and children occupy the same space?  

I’d love to find a really nice, Australian-made, linen sofa with removable/washable covers.  

Any tips?

Finally, to some money saving news, for a change!  Tracy alerted me to a potential rebate on stamp duty!  In Western Australia we pay a lot of money in tax/duty when we buy land.  Our “stamp duty” was in excess of $30K!  However, residential land is taxed at a slightly lower rate, so if you commence building within 5 years of land purchase you may be eligible for a rebate.  For us, it could be worth almost $3000.  That’s a sofa nice little bite off our mortgage.  Already I have secured a “Newly Constructed Residential  Exemption” from annual land tax, a separate bill of a couple of hundred dollars, by filling in a form and sending the department of finance proof that we’ve commenced construction.  As always, there is some fine print, but if you haven’t already investigated these potential savings, it could be worth your while.  Now, just to find our original stamp duty document….

sabrina

Stylish Ergonomics

I’m putting on my best serious voice today.  And a different hat.  In fact, for once on this blog, I’m qualified to talk on the subject.  Sometimes, when I’m not dreaming of houses from faraway lands or trying to keep The 3 Little Pigs in order, I’m a physiotherapist.

Let’s talk about being comfortable in the home office and peruse some good looking and clever office furniture.  But first, a little reality/honesty check.  Right now, I’m reclined on the couch, feet up, laptop on my lap.  Cushions are supporting my back.  My only “office” item is a $10 padded board from Office Works that sits between the laptop and my lap to prevent us both from overheating.  Is this OK?  Yes, because I am comfortable and I’m regularly getting up to do other tasks.  Dish washing interspersed with screen time works quite well.

If you tend to sit down for 10 minutes at a time for a quick scan of emails, then chances are that you will be perfectly fine with any chair that tickles your fancy.  But if you work from home, blog for hours, write essays, or spend any greater length of time at a desk, then Eames chairs with those cute legs but concave back rests are not going to cut it.

Office chairs

Unless you happen to be Mr or Ms Average, with your every dimension matching that of the average adult, then the key to selecting a comfortable office chair is adjustability.    Ideally, look for these features:

  • adjustable height
  • adjustable lumbar support
  • tilt for seat pan and back rest
  • dense foam padding on seat

Optional extras:

  • wheels (preferably at least 5)
  • adjustable arm rests (good for those who like to hold up their tablets or phones for prolonged periods)
  • head rest  (for those who like to get lost in deep thought, while still being upright!)

Here are some chairs that have potential for both ergonomics and style:

Under $200

Err.  Wrong answer.  Sorry, stylish + ergonomic don’t exist in this price category.  Cheaper options tend to have low density seat padding and typically don’t last long.  They may be suitable in the short term for lightweight children and adolescents.

Under $500

Ergomedic chair

Ergomedic

1.  Ergomedic.  Only just scrapes into the “stylish” category since you can specify your own fabric or leather.  Bonus points for being Australian made.

Under $1000

 

  1. Think.  Available in 15 fun colours and 3 different frame finishes. (1-3 are all from Steelcase).
  2. Leap.  You can customise the fabric and pair it with a “lounge” (footrest).  Head and foot rests are extra.
  3. Gesture.  Designed for multiple device use.  Available in 11 colours.
  4. Muga 2.  Available in various finishing options from Stylecraft.

Oh, whatever!

(Over $1000)

  1. Liberty by Humanscale.  (Known as “Freedom” in the U.S..) Add a headrest if you wish.  Go all out with leather, or choose a mesh back option and you’ll sneak back into the “under $1000″ range.
  2. Mirra.  Made by Herman Miller, this chair is much cheaper in the U.S.  Fresh finishes.
  3. Embody.  I like the spiny structure on the back rest.  In orange, it makes me think of giraffes.
  4. Norma.  Less imposing than the average office chair.
  5. Acuity by Allsteel, looks sleek and feminine in white leather.
  6. Sabrina.  (Australian price unverified.)  Looks very cool en masse in the feature photo at the top.

NB:  Sensible readers, might say that when it comes to looking after your body, style should be set aside.  My standard recommendation for a chair that fits the adjustability criteria, is long-lasting and suits most adults is the Gregory Inca chair, which retails at $385.  It’s not pretty.

Desk

Most people can be comfortable sitting at a standard desk.  Probably you can take your pick from many of the lovely options on offer.  Shorties might need to increase the height of their chair and use a foot rest to achieve a good sitting position.  Some tall people may need a higher desk. There are plenty of height-adjustable desks on the market these days, or extra-height desks can be ordered from office furniture suppliers.

Look for:

  • Leg clearance.  (Drawers in the centre of the desk can be a problem.)
  • Enough depth to support both a laptop or PC AND a separate keyboard.

Standing tables or sit-to-stand tables have had a recent surge in popularity and work well for people on the move between desk tasks.  They can be used in conjunction with sitting, to add variety and movement to the work day.  How about this for a very cool looking height-adjustable table?

Source:  Dwell.

Laptop/PC stands

My standard trick for raising laptops and PCs, so that the top of the screen is at eye level, is to use the “Yellow Pages”.  Hmmm…  Stylish?  No.   Do they even make Yellow pages these days?  I love this wooden alternative:

PC stand.  Source: Dwell

PC stand. Source: Dwell

And for those that like to use their devices in the kitchen, living room or on the go:

1.  Ikea (U.S.)  2.  GamFratesi 3.  Plunkdesk.

Physiotherapists are great at assessing individual shapes, sizes, postures, work habits and needs.  If you are not comfortable at your work station, ask a physio to give you a personal assessment and advice.  (New business ideas forming as I type…. virtual assessments….)

P.S.  Any furniture makers reading this: Want to collaborate on an Australian-made, stylish and body-friendly office chair for under $500?

P.P.S.  For more Stylish Ergonomics take a look in my Pinterest file.

 

 

I love linen.

Warning:  $$$$ alert.  Read ahead at the risk of your budget.

I have a weakness for linen.  The 100%, made-from-flax kind.  In fact, I’m at risk of dressing like my decor.  Or is it, decorating like I dress?  It’s in my wardrobe, it’s on my bed… table, cushions, oven rail.  I’ve always loved linen, but it was at odds with my dislike for ironing.  But now that the world is embracing the rough look, un-ironed, there is no holding me back.

I have big linen plans:

Sofa

Curtains for the master bedroom

Photos:  1.  Home Beautiful Magazine.  2.  Mark Tuckey.  3.  Eye Swoon.

Possibly for the living area too.

We are talking double height curtains here!

Photos:  1.  Collected Interiors (Perth).  2.  Vosgesparis.   3. Home DIT.  4.  British Properties.

And, for the beds.

Photos:  1.  Nancy Bird.  2.  i gigi.  3.  vtwonen.

Before I get too carried away by gorgeous pictures, let’s talk cost.  Here are some Australian suppliers of 100% linen products and a quick look at what two standard products cost:Cost chart - 100% linen

 

I shall be looking in the green section, but I’m also keeping tabs on the orange section for sale prices.  Andrea and Joen recently had 40-50% off linen bedding.  Of course, if you are not as adverse to sewing as I am, you might make your own.  Linen by the metre starts at about $25 and goes up quickly, especially if you’d like a nice print on it.  If you prefer linen bedding with a pattern, try Moochie Lou or Nancy Bird.  And if your budget doesn’t extend to 100% linen, Aura Home has bedding in linen-cotton blends.  Nearly as good!

Since the Nice Wolf is probably already gagging by the time he’s read this far into this post, I might as well keep going.  In for a penny, in for a pound!  (Or dollars, as the case may be.)

Curtain costs

I love the soft, romantic (see Nice Wolf, linen is in your favour) look of linen curtains in a master bedroom. We have 8 metres of full length windows in our bedroom.  Yep, 8 metres!  Two sets of windows, each about 4 metres wide.  They join at the corner.

Master bedroom plan.

Half the walls are windows!

Given the limited area to draw the curtains to, I’m planning to use light linen curtains (to minimise bulk) for mood and we’ll add blinds for light and temperature control and privacy.  Ready-made 100% curtains seem to be few and far between and really are only made for small windows.  On my last trip to Sydney, Pottery Barn’s linen curtains caught my eye:

Pottery barn curtain.

I’m not sure which colour this is, but I like it!

 According to curtain rules, you need 2 – 2.5 times your window width in material.  That equates to at least 12 of these curtain panels for our bedroom!  $888 not including the curtain hardware.  There is the issue of having to join the panels together but I reckon I could just about cope with that amount of sewing.  I looked at some fabric options for DIY, but I’d be hard pressed to find some that I like for under $1000.

Have I missed your favourite source of linen?  Do tell.

Or are you more of a flannelette kind of person?  Silk?  Cow hide? 

Have you made your own curtains or found some goodies ready to hang?  

Keep an eye out for plain linen curtains for me.  Blue, grey, black, natural and any where in between, are all possibilities.

Reader vote: next week’s post.

The indecisiveness is spreading.  First it was the splash back, then the pendant lights, and now I can’t even decide what to write about next.  Here’s a few ideas that are circling in my head.  Take your pick, or suggest something new.  You have a few days to place your vote.

 Other topics that I have up my sleeve in the “coming soon” file are vegetable gardens, the post-handover plan and interior paints, but I’ve got some more research to do before they go live.

By the way, if you are looking for some good pinning opportunities this weekend, checkout Webb and Brown-Neaves’ latest display home, The Islander.  The interior design is definitely my favourite of all their displays so far.  I love a bit of “beach” without the kitsch.  Pay close attention to the tiles, some may look familiar.