Mum and Dad on the Nullarbor.

The big move(s).

Orchestrating the construction of a house from overseas has been relatively easy.  When you hire a volume builder, part of what you pay for is the project management.  10-15 years ago it would have been a different story.  Most items can be viewed online these days and most people can be contacted by email.  Our requirement to “be there” really only involved one visit for “pre-start selections” – checking out the tile, lighting and internal fittings in person before making selections.  This end of the process, as we are nearing house completion (and I use the term “nearing” loosely), is a bit awkward.  The non-binery date for completion makes the logistics of returning back to Australia kind of tricky.  I won’t harp on the issue of short-term accommodation again, but I do want to mention local storage.  Our furniture will be packed up this week, some of it destined for a plane ride to Western Australia but most of it will go on a long, slow trip on a ship.  And for once, the incomprehensibly long process of exporting and importing our goods may actually be in our favour, saving us storage fees in Australia.

But this post is inspired by another aspect of our move.  It’s a kind of ode to my parents, and all parents in Australia who have strapped beds, tables, refrigerators, sofas, etc., onto a trailer and driven hundreds of kilometres to “help the kids move”.  My parents have been doing this for over 20 years.  With my sisters located in Sydney and Melbourne, they know the Hume Highway like the back of their hands.  When we unexpectedly moved overseas 4 years ago, we’d just recently bought a new camper trailer and we didn’t want to sell it.  Similarly, we needed to buy a car in Australia 2 years ago to tow the van for a couple of months.  Buying and selling cars all the time is irritating, so we decided to keep that too.   My parents have kindly kept our van and car for us in their garage all this time.

So as we plan our intercontinental move (5 flights, 48 hours, 3 kids, oh, the pleasure!) my Mum and Dad are planning a cross-continental move.  They’ll drive our car and van across the Nullarbor (5 days?  48 driving hours?  No kids, phew.)  If that’s not dedication enough, my Mum has also packed all the things we’ve left or had delivered to their house over the last few years.  Travel souvenirs, gifts intended for the new house, kids Christmas presents that didn’t fit in suitcases, material won as a prize and a few purchased items for the house that I couldn’t resist buying early when they were on sale.

Map of Australia

Google maps version of the route from my parent’s house to House By The Water.  In reality, my parents will take the more scenic route.

Flight path.

Our trip: São Luis, Brazil to House By The Water in Mandurah.

To all the Mums and Dads around the world, and especially mine,

thanks for adding “removalists” to your already long-list of occupations.

Advertisements

The Best Places to shop in Western Australia

This post is to make my husband’s life easier.  With a birthday coming up and an I.O.U. or two in my favour, not to mention that “C” word that I dare not think about yet,  I’m certain he’ll appreciate this list of the best places to shop for me in Western Australia.

It has been 10 years since we lived in Western Australia, so I asked my favourite local Instagrammers and Home Bloggers to help me out.

1.

Jane is an Interior Stylist at Spacecrush and has impeccable taste.  I really connect with her style and hang on her every published word.  She has the knack for Instagram vignettes that regularly have me drooling at the colours and textures.   Jane said that asking her to recommend just one place to shop was like asking her to pick a favourite child!  (Sorry Jane, I only allowed you one.  I don’t want to confuse The Nice Wolf.)  Jane recommends:

Design farm

Design Farm show room.

Design Farm showroom in Perth.  Source: @ledgelovespace on Instagram.

“For the best in Australian and European design, I can’t go past Design Farm. I love how all-Australian designed and manufactured ranges such as Adam Goodrum, Coco-Flip, Tait furniture and our home-grown WA favourite, Nathan Day Design, blend seamlessly with Danish icons such as Hans Wegner, Hay and Gubi. I love every visit to this beautiful showroom.”

2.

Trixee is building a solar-passive house and blogs at Ecohome Style.  Trixee has the auspicious title of top commenter on House By The Water so I think she “gets me” by now.  Trixee is equally stylish and practical.  But, like me, she just can’t resist an occasional splurge on something that’s just beautiful.  Trixee recommends:

Baker and Shuhandler

Baker and Shuhandler is my eye candy for the soul. If you want luxe furniture, this is the place for that one-off piece. They also have a good selection of homewares.”

3.

Deb is currently “living the dream” with her beautiful new house finished, the garden in and the pool running!   Deb blogs at Deb’s Dream Home.  Amongst other things, we share taste in indigenous art and garden landscaping.  Deb has kindly passed on a lot of home building information to me – curtains, landscaping, nurseries, art.  Deb’s latest Perth homewares discovery is:

The Furniture Gallery.

“I found The Furniture Gallery that I think will be right up your alley  – I was tempted!”

A quick look at some of their lounge and bed options on their website and I think Deb might be right.

4.

Lady Jo runs The Little Farmhouse Pantry in addition to a hectic family life on the farm including renovations.  She’s a savvy lady whose sense of humour and humility I adore.  Check out her quotes on Instagram and beautiful photos of good country food.  Some people dream of fancy cars, others, fancy houses.  Lady Jo dreams of a kitchen with an Aga.  She is definitely a gal who appreciates beautiful things with a history and suggested:

Matilda’s Antiques

Antique sewing machine.

Source: Matilda’s Antiques in North Fremantle.

5.

Sarah is building a home right in front of the ocean (sigh).  We play snap with our Pinterest collection.  I pin, she repins.  She pins, I repin.  That girl has awesome taste!  You can catch a glimpse of Sarah’s build in progress at All About Sarah on Instagram.  Sarah likes:

Empire Homewares

“So Empire would have to be number one – it has been around forever but is constantly keeping up with beautiful coastal trends without being “too cool” – plus they stock the entire Armadillo and Co. range!”

6.

Gino and Marie are owner-builders and are definitely up to the exciting part of a build, the interior fittings.  They blog at Brick By Brick, but I suspect they’ve been a little busy of late – so you’ll find their latest progress updates on their Brick By Brick facebook page.  Timber floors, void spaces, a fire place, interesting tiles – their new house is already beautiful!   Gino is also the General Manager at Home Base, so I suspect he knows a thing or two when it comes to local suppliers.  One of Gino and Marie’s favourites is:

Orno Interiors

“Rose and Gabrielle are delightful and we love their collection of beautiful homewares, especially their custom designed furniture pieces. We’ve bought a few things there for our home, but our most important house purchase to date has been an exquisite, hand-crafted jarrah table with aged brass inlays. At 3.4 metres long and 1 metre wide, it’s been created by the duo’s Husband and Dad, using 100 plus year old jarrah wood – and is one of our home’s feature pieces.”

7.

Dee has a beautiful, modern Australian home and an eye for gorgeous homewares that I’ve been stalking on Instagram for quite some time.  She’s generously answered my questions about her floors, paint and plants.  Well next time I have a question, I’m going to pop right into her brand new shop  “Frisky Deer Interiors + Cafe” in Mandurah and ask her myself, over a cup of tea.  I decided not to put Dee in the awkward position of choosing a favourite shop.  I felt sure it would be her very own homewares shop:

Frisky Deer Interiors + Cafe

Frisky Deer Interiors

Source: Frisky Deer Interiors + Cafe

How easy is this one, The Nice Wolf?  You don’t even need to leave town to get me a little something here. Might even be good for some birthday cake??

8.

Latisha is the brains and talent behind Little Petals Floral Design.  Normally I wouldn’t linger over photos of flowers for too long, but Latisha has me completely sucked in.  Latisha suggested a local homewares store, but added the proviso that she still “lives at home” so wasn’t really homewares savvy.  So I’ve taken the liberty of making a recommendation on Latisha’s behalf:

Gilberts

Latisha sells her stunning flowers at Gilbert’s Fresh Markets  in Mandurah (and now at Frisky Deer too) for prices the average Jo can afford.

9.

Maya, a.k.a. House Nerd, needs no introduction on this blog.  She’s got all Perth and Fremantle’s little homewares secrets covered.  But Maya can’t resist telling a good story, so it’s only a matter of time before the “secrets” are shared.  I knew I could rely on her for a shopping tip or two.  Maya loves:

Shedwallah

“Shedwallah in Fremantle is a beautiful warehouse filled with exotic and colourful offerings like beautiful Indian bedlinens, vintage gates, furniture and old Indian cooking pots (perfect for fire pits – I gave Mr Nerd one as a birthday gift). It’s the perfect place for adding a bit of texture or pattern to an interior design scheme.” 

10.

Tonia has her finger in many Margaret River pies.  Styling, events, branding, wine!  You can take a sneak peek of her work and her unique home at Foraging By the Sea on Instagram.  I particularly like Tonia’s style for its homeliness and realism.  She doesn’t fall for the latest trends.  One of Tonia’s favourite little shops to browse is:

Remedy

Remedy is one of those understated shops that is an institution whilst always inspiring with bright and beautiful window displays, local artisan products, fair trade items and a selection of special things from wooden crafted toys for the wee ones to stunning made-to-order Armadillo & Co. rugs!  The ethos of the store is created by the warm and funny Melanie Clark and her partner Joe Ottone. Everything they do, like them, is genuine and authentic.  With stores in both Leederville & Fremantle you will be surrounded by village strip shopping with easy parking and brilliant coffee, my idea of an outing!”

Nice Wolf, no need to thank me.  xxx

 

Real rooms.

I quite like the minimalist look but the Nice Wolf and the Three Little Pigs just didn’t get the memo.  You know all those gorgeous pictures of perfect houses that I’ve been posting?  Well, that’s not going to happen.  Okay, it might happen once or twice, but if you knock on my door on any random day, you won’t see it.  Keeping my house tidy is an ongoing, half-hearted battle.  I know the motivation will increase tenfold once we move into House By The Water, but still, I’d rather be in the garden, on the deck or in the kitchen cooking up a storm.

Living room with Lego.

Our (rental) living room at this very moment – currently the most photogenic corner of our home. Where’s the Lego in the magazine photos?

Of course, I’ve tried to train the Pigs (now aged 10, 8 and 5).  They are rewarded for cleaning their rooms and for helping with chores.  I trialled Hong Henwood’s “black bag strategy“, where, after fair warning, any kid’s items left lying out of place in the living areas are collected in a bag.  In our case, the “black bagged” items could be earned back, donated to charity, thrown out or regifted at birthday or Christmas times.  Well, the two oldest pigs formed a union and I received a formal complaint:

Black bag complaint.

An elaborate bag-stealing heist followed, foiled only by the littlest Pig being a goody-two-shoes.  On day two of “black bag” I asked the Third Little Pig to put away his skate board.  He replied that he was leaving it out for me to put in the black bag because he’d like to receive it again for Christmas!

I’m hoping that in a double story house, the ground floor will be tidy-ish most of the time.  Two of the pigs will have their sties upstairs and perhaps as they get older their mess may be constrained within their own four walls, but for now at least, they like to be where I am.  They bring toys out to play on the lounge room floor and their homework is done at the dining table despite having their own desks.

So my challenge is to create spaces that can handle a bit of real, 3-kids, no-hired-help, living.  Part of that will be allocating drawers, hooks and cupboards in the living areas for quick clearance.  (One of my friends suggested a kitchen drawer for the mobile phones, pens, mail, etc.  Yep, all the stuff that’s currently sitting on my kitchen bench.)  Part of it will be sticking with fresh, tidy habits.  Wish me luck.  And part of it will be embracing the lived-in, homely look.  On this final point I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for inspiration.

Beautiful rooms that look inhabited:

I'd rather have a cuppa and read a magazine than get the vacuum out.  Source:  Ngoc Minh Ngo Interiors.

I’d rather have a cuppa and read a magazine than get the vacuum out. Source: Ngoc Minh Ngo Interiors.

Clutter is chic en Paris!  Source:  Inside Closet

Clutter is chic en Paris! Source: Inside Closet.

Too much cleaning may crush my creativity??  Source:  Airbnb

Too much cleaning may crush my creativity?? Source: Airbnb.

Queen of collected treasures, Sibella Court's home.  Source:  The Design Files.

Queen of collected treasures, Sibella Court’s home. Source: The Design Files.

Kid and Coe specialise in stylish holiday rental homes around the world that welcome kids.  This one is in Barcelona.

Kid and Coe specialise in stylish holiday rental homes around the world that welcome kids. This one is in Barcelona.

The House Nerd blog is full of real rooms with real people (and often animals too).  Sure the floor has been cleaned and the bench wiped, but the kids' art is still on the fridge.  Photo by Heather Robbins at Red Images,  Thanks to House Nerd.

The House Nerd blog is full of real rooms with real people (and often real animals too). Sure the floor has been cleaned and the bench wiped, but the kids’ art is still on the fridge. Photo by Heather Robbins at Red Images, Thanks to House Nerd.

I notice from this collection of photos that the signs of life, be it personal items, clutter or disorder, add to the character of the room.  Unique windows, interesting artefacts, layered soft furnishings, mismatching and multicolours provide enough interest that the kid’s toys and pile of books on the floor look perfectly suited to the space.

So matchy- matchy?  Out!  Monochrome?  Out!  Minimal?  Never a consideration!  Sleek, shiny, see-through?  Probably not.

Greenery?  In.  Favourite bits and pieces?  Definitely.  Anything with storage potential?  Yes!

Have you mastered the combination of kids/husband and tidy house without feeling like your life revolves around housework?  If so, I need tips.  

 

Exit planning.

It has started.  Those late night mental lists.  And, a count down of sorts.  I’m finally allowing myself to think of packing up and moving back to Australia.  10 weeks from now, I’ll be on a plane heading for home.

There’s the usual cull to be done.  Outgrown clothes and toys, items that cannot be shipped and, fingers-crossed, maybe an old sofa.  Everything else must fall into one of three categories:

-Plane luggage

-Air shipment (A limited amount of stuff that should reach Australia in one to four weeks).

-Sea shipment (Stuff that will take 2-6 months to arrive in Australia).

I consider myself to be a pro at this.  We’re serial intercontinental movers.  The catch, this time, is that I don’t know what to expect at the other end.  Theoretically, House By The Water will be ready for handover in October, but I really can’t fathom how that can be achieved at this point.  We are still some time away from the “lock up” stage.  Then I need to get the timber floors installed.  The installers are on standby, but I’ll be lucky if they are available immediately once we have the keys, given the uncertainty of a date.

So I’ve brainstormed a couple of short term solutions:

Option A:

Camp on site.

Camp on site.

Positives:  Our van is stored in Australia, already kitted out, ready for action.

Negatives:  Bathing in the canal could be a little awkward.

Option B:

Move into one of Webb and Brown Neaves' display homes.

Move into one of Webb and Brown Neaves’ display homes.  Source:  WB Homes.

Positives:  Completed house, fully furnished, currently vacant, room for visitors, the public can see the functionality of these homes for family life.

Negatives:  The school commute could be a tad long.  (To this point, I’m willing to take The Toorak in Applecross, even though The Islander is my current favourite.)

I think you can guess which way I’m leaning.

Which display home would you like most to live in?

What did you do to bridge the gap between anticipated home building completion and actual completion?

or

Was your builder on time?

Vote “Yes” below if you think Webb and Brown-Neaves should offer us beds in one of their display homes until our house is ready for handover.

 

 

Worldly walls.

Exterior render and paint

Thanks for the pic, Harry.

It’s a light news week.  The internal render has started on our house, but I have no photos to show.  The exterior render started too.  It took us a while before the penny dropped and we thought it was a bit odd that the feature column at the front of our house was being rendered when this column is to be clad in stacked-stone.  Oops.  I bet render is not fun to remove.  Aaah!  I feel another week slip away.

Anyway, it’s holiday time here, so here’s a post I prepared earlier.

I have wallpapyrophobia.  The fear of wall paper.  It’s a bit of a shame, because there are currently some lovely wall papers available.  Still, I’ve enjoyed collecting these well-walled interiors with one thing in common. Can you guess what it is?

New York, apparently.  Source:

Paris. Source:  Pixers.


New York Subway

New York Subway.  Source:  Olive Juice Designs via Houzz.


Kyoto

Bamboo Forrest, Kyoto.  Source:  Pixers (unverified).


The Great Wall of China.  Source:

The Great Wall of China.  Source:  Pixers via Freshome.

The Return of the Milk Crate

Once upon at time, in the funky streets of Fitzroy, lived 4 poor university students.  A bag of clothes and a mattress each, a large pot for cooking and a coffee making contraption was the sum total of their worldly possessions.  With their small income earmarked for the food kitty and beer, not a cent was to be found for furniture.

Staggering past the local supermarket in the wee hours of one morning, what should they see, but a large pile of empty milk crates.  The perfect structure for a bed base.  Several weeks later, not only did each of the students have a “bed”, but also a wardrobe, a desk and a couple of stools.

The milk crates were ideal tools for moving home and migrated from share-house to share-house for several years.  Until, one day, the students woke up to find that they were no longer students.  A wave of responsibility and respectability washed over them, and sadly the milk crates were returned to where they were found.

End of story.

Side Table.

Side table. Source: Poppy Talk.

Milk crate seats.

Seats. Source: Apartment Therapy.

Pendant lights.  Source:  Arch Daily.

Pendant lights. Source: Arch Daily.

Garden Tower.  Source:  Made by Tait.

Garden Tower. Source: Made by Tait.

Side table

Marble on milk crate. Source: Design Sponge.

Vintage milk crate.

Vintage milk crate. Source: Etsy.

Feel free to share your uni-days story about “resourcefulness” in the comments.  

 Real names not required.

 

 

Home trends 2015

I’m going for longevity with my material and decorating choices in House By The Water.  However, despite my best efforts to stay true to this, I am not immune to trends.  My preoccupation with beautiful homes on Pinterest and tempting homewares on Instagram and my penchant for watching the likes of “The Block” and “Reno Rumble”, means that I can be a sucker for trends.  Sometimes I get sensible and reign myself in, but sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between fad and enduring style.    Take for example, the style of these sofas that I’m coveting.

They are definitely on trend.  I guess they could be described as Scandinavian style, but I think they look good in Australian “earthy” homes.  I’m seeing them everywhere.  I like them for their height off the floor, allowing the floor space to look larger, and for their simplicity.  But have I been brainwashed?  Am I better off with a more solid design, that is more conducive to slouchy, feet-up moments?

Anyway, I digress.  So far on this blog, I’ve tried not to offend too many readers.  It is with some trepidation that I introduce this topic, but after a recent conversation with one of my readers about an “unnamed material” being used for pendant lighting and the possibility that such “unnamed material” may be a passing fad, I couldn’t resist.  You have all been so lovely, commenting when you see something you like on this blog, but I think you are a little shy when it comes to saying “yuck”.  (Aunty Kate, you may be the exception!)  But readers, I feel I know you well enough now, that you can hit me with the truth.  Tell me what decorating trends you love, those you hate, and especially those beautiful things that you think stand the test of time.

I’ve got some pictures to show you of some current top trends.  Some I like, some I don’t.  Then there is a survey I prepared.  It’s just for fun.  It’s anonymous.  I’ll collate the results later and let you know how much we are like sheep!

  1. Copper

    Sources:  Kitchen, Pots.

  2. Plywood

    Sources:  Book shelves, kitchen.

  3. Human skulls

    Sources:  Bedding, wall art, planters.

  4. Shibori prints

    Sources:  Tea towels, cushions, bed cover.

  5. Animal heads

    Sources: 1.  Country Living, 2.  Domino,  3.  Fran Parente.

  6. Geometric patterns

    Sources:  Black vases, Armadillo Rug, Kitchen.

  7. Chunky knits

    Sources:  Bed cover, Throws, Jacqui Fink art.

  8. Marsala

    Sources:  Sofa (unverified), wall paint.

  9. Fiddle leaf figs

    Vogue Living

    Photo:  Eve Wilson for Vogue Living

  10. Pineapple decor

    Sources:  Clock, Print, Wall Sconce, Chair.

Click “HERE” to access the survey.

Got a home decor trend that you love to hate?  Feel free to get it off your chest by leaving a comment!  I promise not to be offended.  Homes would be boring if we all liked the same things!

What about a trend that you just can’t resist even though you know it’ll soon be “so last year”?

(Feature photo by Eve Wilson for The Design Files.)