Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Shopping for a baby

Since finding out I was pregnant I've spent a lot of time perusing different shops looking for baby furniture, linen, clothes etc. I thought I'd share some of the places I have found good quality items at good prices and hopefully it will help someone else out there!

Furniture

I was really fortunate to find the bassinet, cot and change table I admired but thought was completely out of  the question financially at a heavily discounted price for the floor model. I always thought of smaller baby shops as being more expensive than large chains and department stores but the lesson I learned is that perusing all kinds/sizes of shops definitely pays off. I purchased the bassinet, cot, change table, mattresses and canopy as a package for less than the normal retail on the bassinet alone (which is normally converted into a cot with the addition of extra pieces). 
I chose to buy Stokke because I liked the design, I liked that it could convert to toddler bed and the change table to a desk and most importantly I had confidence that the brand represented quality. My husband sat in a Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair as a baby and we still have his chair today (after many more babies sat in it!) which we're happy to pass down to our child. 

To make the Tripp Trapp a bit more safe and comfortable for the baby I purchased a safety harness from a baby shop (approx. $40), plastic back support and fabric cushion from Ebay. I bought these items (which carry insane RRPs) second hand at very low prices and was really happy with them. 

Linen

One APPARENT downside to the Stokke bassinet and cot is that the mattress is the oval shape which means if you want a snug fitting mattress protector or fitted sheet you apparently need to buy Stokke linen. Stokke linen, in my experience here in Brisbane Australia, is outrageously expensive. 

HOWEVER I said earlier that the shape of the mattress was an APPARENT downside because I've found that every regular fitted cot sheet I've purchased has had elastic that was tight enough that a snug fit for the fitted sheet was achieved. So my advice is don't feel you HAVE to buy Stokke linen. 

I have found an Ebay seller who makes mattress protectors and fitted sheets to fit Stokke mattresses and I purchased a cotton mattress protector off her for the bassinet which I'm happy with and I'll most likely purchase a cot mattress protector too. I've also found Stokke brand linen for sale on Ebay second hand which is another more cost effective option if you want the genuine article and you're comfortable with second hand linen. And of course if you're good at sewing it would be easy to make some of your own linen! However I'm time and sewing skills poor and so didn't venture down that path... or yet anyway! 

One thing that did shock me about children's linen was the price many brands were asking for what I thought wasn't particularly good quality and often attractive prints were a polyester cotton blend which I wasn't happy with. In the end I found soft, plain dyed, 100% cotton percale sheets and cotton flannelette sheets at  Target (half price on sale), I bought some discounted printed sets and lovely cotton blankets from David Jones during their sale and Trade Secret and Peters of Kensington were also an economical place to find 100% cotton sheets (including department store brands like Bubba Blue) for half the normal retail. I should add that these places all had inexpensive cotton wraps/swaddling available at reasonable prices. 


In short my advice: Visit Target and if you see anything you like use the price check scanner - I have been pleasantly surprised by unmarked discounts on SO many occasions now! Check out Peters of Kensington because they also have good prices on 100% Cotton Bubba Blue brand linen. 

Clothes

Check out sales! David Jones and Myer frequently have discounts on baby clothes. Trade Secret had some amazing prices on baby clothes (including popular brands like Bonds and Marquise) and Target had great basics in organic cotton for less than I spent on morning tea. My mum bought the classic Bonds 'Wondersuits' for about $5 each from Woolworths supermarket which was a great price that only seemed to be available at her Supermarket - not at my local so be sure to pop down that aisle regularly in case there are discounts.


Beanies, booties, scratching mittens, bibs etc are ALWAYS going cheaply in the baby sections of department stores and chain stores so no need to pay full price!


Bathing 


Now baby baths vary in price dramatically! I've seen everything from a miniature version of our freestanding bath tub for over $100 to novelty shaped bath tubs, tubs on stands, tubs decorated with licensed cartoon characters etc etc. In the end I purchased the simplest, cheapest bath I could find because I felt it was sturdy, easy to clean and good quality. I purchased my bath for $5 from Ikea. The particular bath I purchased was blue but these days Ikea stock the same bath in white for $15. Obviously blue was a discontinued colour. 
At Target I found a set of 3 really soft organic cotton baby washers for only $1.88 and I purchased a few 100% cotton hooded towels from a linen shop in DFO... again heavily discounted. 


Baby Decor... the little extras 


I could have probably called this the 'Ikea' section because a lot of the decoration I've put in the baby's nursery was sourced at Ikea. 


I was given a couple of animal tapestries made by a relative that would be nice to hang to add a bit of colour to the white walls. I framed the tapestries using Ikea Ribba frames in a couple of different sizes. I think these are lovely frames and look very professional at a much cheaper price than professional framing. 



I bought a mosquito net to hang from the ceiling also from Ikea. I loved the bunting detail around the top and again thought it brightened up the room a bit... not to mention I'll be using it as an extra protection against mosquitoes in summer! We'll hang this over the cot but we'll probably remove it when the baby is more mobile so that it can't be tugged on etc. 



I also bought this cute Ikea lamp which is lightweight and gives off just the right amount of light that it won't shock the baby if I need to turn it on in the night. 
Mobile wise I plan to hang this brightly coloured Flensted mobile in the room (not directly over the cot though because it's fairly large)
Image from http://www.flensted-mobiles.com 
And finally our big splurge was this Eames 'Hang it all'. We really hope that this is something our baby can use throughout its entire life and may even come to appreciate the classic design as an adult! 


Image from http://modernfindings.com


Phew that's just about all the shopping I've done. In summary the best places I found for shopping for a baby were:

  • Target (who are actually starting a big baby sale tomorrow)
  • Peters of Kensington
  • Trade Secret
  • Ikea 
  • Myer and David Jones (during sale time) 

Other places worth a look are:

  • Ebay
  • Kmart
  • Big W
  • Best & Less 
  • Woolworths supermarket





Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A blog I just discovered and I'm loving...




Thank you for drawing my attention to these delightful textiles from Finnish company Kauniste

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An update... finally!

It's been a while... Fortunately there has been progress! On my Apartment Therapy 'Spring Cure' list of things to do from months ago (Spring in the USA that is... not Australian spring!) I wanted to update our guest bedroom. By the time we painted the study, hung the vintage destination blind, assembled the Ikea panel curtains and did a bit of a furniture revamp I'd pretty much run out of steam. On top of that something very exciting happened in the meantime that was a very pleasant distraction... I became pregnant! 

So we decided to take things a bit easier and hired a painter to paint the guest room (white... like the rest of our place) and finish off a few bits of painting here and there. It was money well spent with the job being done in a day and a half versus a couple of weekends which it would have taken us since we're just not that efficient with painting.

In the meantime I've been busying myself with getting a nursery ready for my baby which will be born in February. I'll be posting more about the nursery and shopping for baby soon! 

So what else is there to do now to complete the guest room project? We have to pick some new door handles for the bedrooms and a passageway, hang some venetian blinds, reassemble the furniture and I still need to paint those bedside tables! 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Marimekko Kaiku

One of the jobs I aimed to finish during the Apartment Therapy Spring Cure (the deadline for which has long since passed!) was to  make a frame for my large piece of Kaiku fabric and stretch the fabric over the frame. 

Finally just under 2 years since I purchased the fabric we have it on the frame ready to be hung! I can't take much credit for this though. My husband did all of the construction work of the frame and lets face it most of the 'staple gunning' too while I watched. 

I love this fabric so much. It reminds me of the time my husband I spent together in Finland during our honeymoon. It was autumn at the time and the birch leaves were turning from green to lovely shades of gold and beginning to drop. I took lots of photos of them but in an unfortunate turn of events we lost them. It became a priority for me to buy this Marimekko fabric which really did remind me of the beauty of Finland. 

This is how we... well... he... did it :)

A frame was made which he joined using dowels (and wood glue) and reinforced the corners with small pieces of ply.



We covered the frame with cheap calico (about $5 a metre from Spotlight) using a staple gun to attach it to the frame. This was so that the Marimekko fabric wouldn't wear against the sharp edges of the timber and eventually rip and also because the Marimekko fabric was translucent and we didn't want the frame behind to be visible.


Finally we used the trusty staple gun again to stretch the fabric over the 'canvas' we'd made.


I'm very pleased with the results! Here it is waiting to be hung under the skylight in the main thoroughfare of our house (opposite our open-plan kitchen). 

FYI I purcahsed my fabric from Textile Arts in the USA who (at the time) had the best price on this fabric and shipping that I could find. Honfleurhome also stock Marimekko fabric and I have also purchased from them online before. Both companies gave excellent customer service! 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Meetup - Apartment Therapy


Reading Apartment Therapy today I noticed that there were going to be Apartment Therapy meetups all over the place in July. I wondered if Brisbane would have one and headed over to meetups.com not expecting there to be one but lo and behold little ol' Brisbane is having an Apartment Therapy meetup!

See you there?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I would very much like a yard that looks like...

...any of these images.

Lovely stepping stones...


A water feature that doesn't look so complicated that it's unachieveable...


More stepping stones and plenty of places to sit...


I'm really starting to notice a trend for rectangles/squares and places to sit...

I'm fairly sure all images are via Apartment Therapy
If I'm wrong I apologise and I'm happy to give credit where credit's due!




Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring Cure Success

As I said previously I didn't quite get my guest bedroom finished which I was hoping to do in the Apartment Therapy Spring Cure but I am really happy with my study. I've already posted some pictures below but I wanted to post what I'm most happy with - the vintage tram scroll which we have displayed on our wall.

Last year, my Dad who is a rescuer of many interesting things gave me a vintage trolley bus destination roll/blind from Brisbane (my home town) which he had been given years ago and held on to.


I love vintage, nostalgia and typography and I have sentimental interest in many of the destinations listed on the blind (they represent where I live, where I have lived and where many friends and family currently live). So I wanted to display it in my house - the problem was that at just under 4m long at full length it was far too long to display on a wall in one piece. I really didn't want to cut it up into pieces so we scratched our heads about it for a while but we came up with a solution we were happy with.


We bought two Ikea TUPPLUR blinds and attached the blind to either end and fixed it on the wall. We removed the ball chain from the bottom roller but kept it on the top so that we could 'scroll' through the destinations. This solution meant we didn't have to cut the blind and so could display it in one piece. In fact we can change the destinations displayed.

Destination blinds have been given a bit of a bad rap lately with people saying they're becoming a ubiquitous item of decor in peoples' houses (or more specifically in the Apartment Therapy home tours!) but even if it's not your thing this is an idea that could be applied to other long items you want to display - artworks, fabric, banners etc.

Overall it was a simple solution, not horribly expensive and we're very happy with the result :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ikea panel curtains: a cautionary tale!

Today we hung our Ikea panel curtains. You'd think this would be easy - we have already done it once before so the track is there and we know exactly how to attach the top and bottom rails. It's not easy. In fact the first time I assembled these I was planning to do the entire house in panels. I soon changed my mind on that!

I daresay be it the first or four hundredth time you've assembled Ikea panel curtains it is a PAIN. I can honestly say between midday today and 4pm getting these curtains up was the ONLY thing I achieved.

In the day time, curtains closed


At night time, curtains pulled across for open window.

Am I happy with the result? Yes very much so! I really like that they're plain white and the same style rather than a contrast of colour and texture we had previously. I also think they let just the right amount of light in - possibly too much for most people but I really like a naturally bright home. So I guess it was worth it after all!

Some words of advice if you're thinking of installing Ikea panel curtains:
  • You'll need ample floor space for assembling these curtains - vacuum and / or mop first to ensure a dust free surface (especially if you're using white!)
  • You're going to spend a lot of time on the floor doing this so try to have the right stuff handy to avoid getting up and down constantly - teeny tiny allen key, sharp scissors, measuring tape, possibly double sided sticky tape and a little bowl to put the miniscule screws in so they don't get lost!
  • It is a fiddly, arduous taks. Allow plenty of time. You might need regular break times to stop finger cramping
  • Regardless of the style you go for the edges of the curtain are raw so you need to be careful so as to not fray or bend the edges
  • If you're using a thin/meshy style fabric panel you might want to use some double sided tape to hold the fabric to the metal 'whatsy' that slides inside the top or bottom rail (you'll know what I mean if you're about to do this and have read the instructions)
  • BUY THE RODS that you use to pull these curtains. It will really preserve their longevity and protect the unfinished edges from damage. The ones we took down still looked brand new because we used the rods. You can see what damaged edges look like in the Ikea showroom where everyone's had a touch of the curtains.
  • Keep calm. It WILL work out eventually, it WILL look awesome or at the very worst, Ikea WILL exchange if it's still in saleable condition ;)
Before and after photos of the whole room soon!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hooray for long weekends and PROGRESS

Two long weekends back to back. WOW. It's been fantastic. I honestly don't know how I'll cope next week working 5 days rather than 4 though!

We've put the extra time we've had to good use - we've finished painting the study which means we're right on track to finish the Apartment Therapy spring cure. Originally I planned to have 2 rooms done (the study and guest room) but the guest room needs a bit more time and a bit more work so stay tuned for that one.

We painted the study plain white which is what we've done throughout the rest of the house. It's really amazing how much white can brighten up a space. The study was a cream colour and although that's not particularly dark when you compare it to the white you can really see the difference!

Tomorrow I plan on cleaning the louvres, hanging the new panel curtains and swapping the black leather cushion on our Ikea Poang chair for a white fabric cover. While I'm doing this my husband will be working at a solution for hanging our vintage tram scroll using roller blind hardware from some cheap Ikea blinds.

Then will come the last step - moving all the furniture back in and adding the final decorative touches.

In other news my husband has made me a cute graphic for the blog which you can see at the top. It's an illustration of the front of our 'little green haus' and I love it. Thanks!

Also whilst waiting for the paint to dry we visited our favourite antique centre in Brisbane the Woolloongabba antique centre. The visit was successful and I picked up a vintage Arabia 'plum' jam pot. I was really pleased!

Image from Arabia Museum

This is the fourth pot I have in my little Arabia collection.

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's been a little while...

I've been a bit quiet on here lately because in general work has been pretty hectic and very tiring. On a more personal note I've been wrestling with a variety of emotions that stem from a person close to me completely betraying my trust. This completely came out of left field and whilst I know its a reflection on that person and not me it has still been an extremely difficult time for me. I've been very fortunate to have a truly wonderful group of coworkers and friends do everything they can to offer me support and cheer me up. And of course, my husband, who has been so patient, understanding and comforting.

Suffice to say I was extremely glad that this was a long weekend which meant I got the chance to cook some nice meals, catch up with friends and most importantly get some serious rest while I spent quality time in front of the TV at my parents house watching Location Location, Selling Houses and other property and renovation shows of their ilk. I also got to catch up on projects around the house which my husband started while I licked my wounds at my childhood home.

This afternoon we finished painting the walls of our study white. Now all we've got left to do are the trims. By next weekend (another long one thank goodness!) we'll have finished that room and with any luck we'll be well on the way with the guest bedroom. Does this mean I'll be finished the Apartment Therapy Cure on time? I might... if not I'm happy to stretch it out to 9 weeks or even 10 if it means I'm relaxed and happy with the results.

In other news last weekend I finished painting my chest of drawers white and changed the hardware to the simple Ikea drawer pulls I bought. It looks nice. Thanks to the kind reader who suggested I rub the drawer runners with candle wax - it worked a treat. I still had to sand the paint back but the candle wax made a HUGE difference. Photos to come...

I hope everyone else out there doing the Cure is progressing well. I can't wait to check out everyone's before and after photos. I've been terribly lazy with flickr personally.

Monday, April 12, 2010

BEFORE: Furniture revamp

Part of my 'to do' list for this home cure was to revamp some old furniture from my family home. In particular I wanted to keep a wooden chest of drawers that were mine as a little girl. I didn't have bedside tables for our guest room so I snaffled these ones up when my Mum was donating her old bedroom suite to charity. I'm not quite as in love with these but with a coat of paint I think they'll do the job just fine.


Before

I was thinking of painting the side tables a bit more outrageously e.g. bright turquoise paint (I'm on a turquoise kick did I mention?) but colour and I just can't seen to commit so we'll see...


Image from Flickr

On Sunday I started the process by sanding back the chest of drawers and painting the undercoat. It was a damp afternoon today so I decided not to do a gloss coat - I'll save that for another time this week.

W0rd of warning for anyone undertaking a similar project - I decided to paint the sides of the drawers white as well so that they weren't bare wood when they're pulled out. This turned out to be a bad idea - just one coat of undercoat has meant that the drawers no longer slide properly! Who'd have thought these 1970s wooden drawers were so finely engineered! Or maybe I'm just a naive DIY beginner...

Fortunately the electric sander made VERY quick work of preparing the drawers for painting in the first place. I'll use it to sand back the sides again. If you're planning any sort of painting any time soon try and get your paws on one of these!




After painting is complete I'm going to update the hardware on the furniture. I went to a variety of hardware stores, Early Settler which has quite a range of period hardware and trawled through literally hundreds of eBay items. Nothing really took my fancy. Then I received the news I've been waiting a LONG time for...

Anthropologie... shipping... Australia.

As soon as I found out I was at the website as fast as my little fingers could type and promptly filled the shopping cart with beautiful, unique drawer pulls and handles. I started checking out but I was stopped in my tracks when I was stung with a rude $70 shipping fee. Yes, I know you're in utter disbelief. Yes, I did write an email to confirm whether this was in fact accurate. No, there was no mistake unfortunately.

I can't justify that kind of shipping at the moment (or maybe ever for that matter given the relative price of the drawer pulls themselves) so I opted for these extremely modest and most importantly modestly priced Ikea Hedra drawer pulls:
But before we go let's have one last longing gaze and what's so close yet so far...






All images from Anthropologie

I think the turquoise ones are my favourite. Perhaps we'll meet again... when you don't cost so damn much to access! Sigh.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sydney @ Easter!

This Easter I was lucky to escape the Brisbane heat for a few days and had a relaxing jaunt to Sydney to catch up with friends who have made the move down there, see Wicked the musical, do a few obligatory tourist activities and even do a spot of shopping.

There are a couple of must-go shopping destinations for me in Sydney and whenever I visit I'm always chomping at the bit to get to them for a bit of retail therapy. For me the top 3 are: Peters of Kensington for just about ANYTHING you need for the home at a bargain price and Dinosaur Designs for their beautiful organically shaped resin jewellery and homewares in a cheerful array of colours. I'm pleased to add Chee Soon and Fitzgerald to the list for their great Marimekko fabric and homewares range (along with a heap of other delightful things for the home).

The "Top 3"

CBD Destinations

Dinosaur Designs - The Strand Arcade, Sydney CBD



Dinosaur Designs have another store at 339 Oxford Street, Paddington and to my dismay the day after I got back from Sydney I found out about their outlet, YES, OUTLET! It's called Extinct (how adorable!) it's by appointment only and you can find out more here. Spare a thought for me who didn't get to make it on probably my last trip to Sydney for a long time :( I did however spend a gift voucher to get a lovely little turquoise bowl and some earrings.

Funkis Swedish Forms - The Strand Arcade, Sydney CBD

While you're in the Strand another store well worth checking out is Funkis. They sell a range of products from Scandinavia including fabric, ceramics, glass and Swedish brushes. Lots of lovely little objects. Oops forgot to snap a pic!

Kikki- K - Several locations including the Strand and QVB, Sydney CBD

Okay so Kikki-K is everywhere so it's hardly a special destination but I just had to include this picture of the latest fit out - white white white! Lovely!



Peters of Kensington, 57 Anzac Parade, Kensington.



It's a huge pink building full of goodies easily accessible by bus* from the CBD. All sorts of things going cheap! Their website is awesome and I've ordered many times and always been happy. I bought some gifts for my future nephew and a candy thermometer for myself - don't laugh - I've been after one for a while and had no luck in Brisbane!


Surry Hills Destinations

I did a fair bit of exploring around Surry Hills while I was in Sydney. I think Louise of blog 52 Suburbs describes Surry Hills well:

"The beauty for me in Surry Hills - the way its tangled streets and lanes remain true to their history, peppered with handsome beauties that have seen better days but still stand tall. The street art that enlivens otherwise characterless walls. And the mix of residents, from seasoned old timers to fresh faced young hopefuls."

Be sure to check out her blog for beautiful photographs of Surry Hills!

Armed with Google Maps and the Urban Walkabout Guide to Surry Hills on my magical Internet enabled phone (seriously, how cool is technology!?) I found my way around easily and did LOTS of walking and found some gems of shops!

Mao and More, 267-271 Cleveland St, Surry Hills



This place has everything oriental. Even if you don't think it's your thing it's a shop that's worth a look if you're in the area and have the time. I particularly liked the retro-industrial Dulton Japanese furniture.



David Met Nicole, 382 Cleveland St, Surry Hills

This was a little shop we just happened upon on our walk that was interesting to browse through. It had an impressive range of 'curiosities' from a bygone era. Everything from vintage industrial pendant lights, print type, Asian lanterns to old rubber stamps and vintage glass milk bottles from all over the place.




The only drawback to this shop was not being acknowledged at all the entire time I was in the shop in plain sight of the girl behind the computer screen at the counter. But hey, maybe it's not always that way. It's worth a look regardless.

Vampt Vintage Design, 486-490 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills

I'd heard about Vampt before. I passed a small Vampt store that was closed on Cleveland Street *I think*. Later I walked past this huge HUGE Vampt store that was still open. IT WAS AWESOME. If you like mid century / Danish design this is a MUST. The range is enormous - the shop is enormous! I was so busy taking it all in in the shop I didn't take any photos - just one of the outside.


I'm actually fortunate there's no Vampt in Brisbane. I'd be in some serious financial trouble. Go there for yourself, you won't be disappointed.

Chee Soon and Fitzgerald, 387 Crown Street, Surry Hills

I'd read about Chee Soon and Fitzgerald in a magazine once. I'd always thought of visiting and thanks to the Urban Walkabout guide my memory was jogged and I found my way there.

It's no secret that I love Marimekko. This shop has a lovely range of fabrics and carries the new range of homewares which are reasonably priced (well... as far as Marimekko goes!). I made a few purchases: 2 ceramic Marimekko cups and a decorative plate from the Oiva range and a Flensted Elephant mobile.


Marimekko Oiva Range of Dinnerware. More info and image at Apartment Therapy

I could have easily bought more and to be honest probably will in the near future by whatever means possible. I am coveting this Marimekko teapot (the plain white version though):
Image from NY Times

The staff at Chee Soon and Fitzgerald MADE the experience. They were so friendly, helpful and genuine. I was so thrilled with the whole experience I forgot to take photos of the inside or outside of the store. It's only small so be sure not to miss it!

Sydney Antiques Centre, 531 S Dowling Street, Surry Hills

I always like browsing in Antique centres. I went to a lot as a child with my parents who would tell me about things they had as children or their parents or grandparents had. So they hold a special place in my heart. Also, I like old curiosities. The Sydney Antiques Centre was very large, had antiques from many eras (and the obligatory mass produced reproduction stuff that seems to be creeping into antique centres scattered throughout). This antique centre was EXPENSIVE. This was probably the most expensive antique centre I have ever ventured into and I have been in many over the years. Would I go back? Probably yes to browse if I had the time.


There were lots of other places we visited in Surry Hills from design 'giants' Orson and Blake and Great Dane to little boutiques that you'd miss if you blinked. The ones I described above were the ones I found most interesting. Something to note: Shops tend to open later and close later (e.g. 6pm which is pretty late by Brisbane standards) so feel free to have a sleep in if you're planning a shopping day!

*Regarding buses in Sydney - all busses in the CBD are prepaid now apparently so you'll need to buy a ticket from a newsagent, convenience store etc. We were lucky that a kind bus driver pitied us tourists and let us on anyway.

**Urban walkabout guides are great and if you don't have a super-technological phone you can pick up paper copies at the usual touristy locations e.g. the lobby of a hotel or information booth. We also picked up guides for Paddington and the CBD.