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.


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.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Painted bottles as decor... your thoughts?

Lately I've been spotting a DIY idea over and over again in blogs and magazines: bottles being painted (either inside or out) with oil paint for use as vases/decoration.

Here are a few examples:

Bold and bright

Shades of one colour

Complimentary pastels

I really like the idea of making everyday items beautiful and useful rather than spending lots of money buying new mass-produced things that come at a cost to the environment. I'm far from perfect but I am trying to make a conscious effort to buy quality and buy once, and not get sucked into too many trends when it comes to clothes and homewares.

I own quite a old fashioned glass milk and cream bottles (many different shapes from several eras)... how I came to acquire them and why I kept them is a bit of a story. Currently they don't serve a purpose but I thought this is something I could do to make them more beautiful and display them around the traps.

What do you think about this DIY 'trend'?