Thursday, 28 February 2008


... Our lovely stylist, Clair Wayman, who styled and is photographed in the magazine-clipping wallpaper shot in the below post has just started a blog. Clair is our Melbourne-based stylist and has brought many a gorgeous room setting and creative idea to life in the pages of our mag. Check out her site and her work - she's promised to post pics - on her blog Styling With Friends

virtual moodboard

A bit late in the month, but just thought I'd share a few of my fave pics from this month's issue (be quick if you haven't bought already - the next one is on sale Monday). Excuse the dodgy quality, but am sure you get the idea...

This has been around the Net a lot and you can see why - so simple but so effective. It's the cheapest kind of wallpaper for magazine addicts. For more wallpaper alternatives, check this out

Love the old-painted concrete wall showing through in this home. Sometimes we should just let old be and not try to modernise it at all. Brings some real character and there's no need for expensive art!

Cute cheap artwork made with cardboard. Could also work painting a few mini canvases with some sample pots of metallic or pearl paint. Is there anything you can't do with those canvases?

I really wanted this tree in Zak's room but just aren't clever enough to recreate it or rich enough to afford the artist!

If the wood panel that swathed all our walls looked like this, I'd have considered keeping it. But it didn't... You can find out how to gild your own frames here
Want more pretty pics? Have you checked out our free, downloadable 2008 calendar yet? There's an inspiring picture for each month plus the all-important on-sale date of the mag. You can download it here, print it out and throw it up on your moodboard, pinboard, wall for a stylish way to keep track of your life.

2008 real living calendar - it's FREE!
All images above from the March 08 issue of real living magazine and website

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The nursery makeover

Oh look! There's the zebra rug again. I particularly love animal print in a kid's room - very modern safarish!

It seems babies have taken over this blog, so apologies, but that seems to be my life at the moment! I'm starting to make over Zak's room in preparation for his sibling who is due early June, so I thought I'd share a bit of what I've done so far. Unfort it's quite dark, despite his room being so light - go figure! I originally started the feature wall for the real living website about the stimulating effects of black and white on newborn babies (check it out on Monday, March 3 for more on that as well as other projects, recipes and a peek inside another real living staffer's home), but I liked it so much I figured I'd keep it for now and just de-black and white it a little with more colour personal pics when I get the urge. I debated about what to put in the centre - his name, a quote, a picture - but decided being the book worm he is, this is perfect. I just painted it on the wall (several times in fact - it's really hard to get it straight!) and Steve did the shadow for me. Then I just popped a range of black and white graphic things around it - including the very cute and free-to-download-and-print-out prints from fellow blogger Kal Barteski at LoveLife. So simple really.

A chalkboard painted toybox. Am still searching for funky fabric to make a cushion for the top - any suggestions?

I love chalkboards in a kids room, but hardly think they're a wise choice if you have carpet, which we will be getting one day soon! Think of the dust! But I saw a similar pic of a chalkboard-painted window seat with the child's name over it and thought it a cute alternative. I went with ABCs and will be sewing a cushion for the top which Zak can remove and attack with chalk whenever he feels the urge. I might need to review this one once the carpet goes in, but for now, all good - aside from my wonky writing...

It's quite fun redesigning a baby's room - seeing as he's moving into more of a little boy, I'm banishing the change table, baby wardrobe and rocker and replacing with a little table and chairs, bean bags and floor cushions and a few more "bigger kid" things. Besides, I need them all for the baby's room, which, due to space, will be a portion of our massive bedroom for the first few months.

And on the subject of the nursery - after way too much time browsing the Etsy site, I made my first purchase yesterday. I spotted this inspiring print the other day in a beautifully serene nursery Anna from Absolutely Beautiful Things designed and went in desperate search of it.

"Break the Routine" print $18, Studio Mela

"Night Night", $20, by Studio Mela
I finally found it and snapped it up for Zak's room along with another cute little character for the baby's room. Aren't they adorable? They're by a clever cookie called Shelli and she has some beautiful work - check her Etsy shop Studio Mela for more. Just be sure you're willing to part with a few $$$...

Monday, 25 February 2008

mini chair makeover


Told you it was mini! I found this in a second-hand shop near my home for about $15. It was sold as "shabby chic kids chair" but personally I think it was "street chic" and found on the side of the road, aged appropriately.


Still, it was sweet and even though I didn't mind its distressed state, the paint was starting to splinter which isn't great for baby bottoms. So i gave it a bit of a sand and painted it in this very vibrant blue shade of British Paints Ocean Grove. Cute. And NOT white (my usual first choice).

is giraffe print the next big thing?

In case you haven't noticed, zebra print is having a moment. From rugs to cushions to fashion, the famous, fabulous print has, is or will adorn almost anything. But just like the new black - what hasn't been the new black? - zebra must hang up its King of the Homewares crown eventually. It was handed it by the leopard a few years ago, so what's next? My guess is giraffe. Well I'm hoping so anyway, cause it's my newest crush and I've already made a few purchases, with a few more on my wishlist. The one common theme here is that they're all baby-related. Hmm, maybe it's the children's version of zebra and leopard? Or maybe it's our way of getting our kids into decor trends and fashion while they're young - after all, giraffes roam freely in great numbers in children's rooms and toyboxes, so it's a good one to start on!

GOT IT! I bought a few yards of this to make a bean bag out of for Zak's room. $US7.95/yard,

GOT IT! Ok, it's not a print, but how cute is this cushion? It's actually really big too - 50cm high. Dwell Baby giraffe cushion, $59.95, Bebe

WANT IT: I already have a baby bag - I did get it as a gift, so I could almost justify getting another one... Love this one: Giraffe Print Messenger Bag, $169, Oi Oi

WANT IT: Baby legwarmers to keep little legs warm in winter, socks on and nappy changetime less of a wrestling match. Babylegs, $17.95, Babys Got Style

So, what do you think will take zebra-print's place as "print of the moment"?

Saturday, 23 February 2008

house exterior - getting there!

The deck is looking a little more welcoming - the chair I got for Chrissy has had a few lashings of white paint. I think one more is in order though... i missed a few spots!

We're almost done! Well the front anyway... our builder started on the rest of the house the other day and it's a fairly big job so the backs and sides will be a while still. But the front is getting there - yippee! Just need to fix up the windows, gutter it (and cover that nasty maroon in the process) and then stain the deck. Much nicer to look at when you come through the gate now! For those who care: the wall colour is Dulux Smokey Gum, the dark brown on the posts - and also our living room feature wall - is Dulux Cafe Noir, and the white is just untinted white for the brightest of bright whites!

The two colours are a lot closer than I thought they would be, but that's fine. I still like them!

The doors will be chocolate brown (and the lovely messy interior edges cleaned up)

Have a few more projects in the works, so will keep you posted in comings days on Zak's room and a mini chair makeover (literally).
Have a good weekend

Friday, 22 February 2008

another great store window

How much fun is blogging? You get to visit the world's of all different people with the click of a button. One blogger from Florida, Annechovie, left me a message, I popped onto her site and guess what I saw? Another wonderful store window - this time from Hermes - and a peek into her creative life.

Hermes store window in Boston, by Annechovie

How bright and resourceful is this: A lamp and mini dresser made entirely out of the famous Hermes boxes. Knowing how many people these boxes appeal to (I'm sure there are people who buy the cheapest Hermes thing just so they score one - like Tiffany's!), it's a surefire way to grab passers-by attention. Or if the actual recycling genius donesn't stop them, the brightness of the orange certainly will!
And back to Annechovie for a sec: I love her prints - available here at etsy - such as this pretty Louis chair. They're good way to get a little Louis into your life even if you can't afford the real thing and would look superb propped on top of a shelf or on the wall.

Ikat chair print, $US20, Anne Harwell at Etsy

I'm just discovering the wonderful world of Etsy (I'm a bit slow cottoning onto trends) but I'm starting to find it's my first visit if I'm looking for something nowadays. I wonder if eBay is feeling the competition?!


Thursday, 21 February 2008

inspirational store windows

I have one word for this Anthropologie store window in the States: stunning. From Platinum Blonde Life

Window displays seem a forgotten art nowadays. Aside from DJs and occasionally Myer in the city, how often do you get the urge to stop and stare into a window and wish you could transport it all back to your place - or wardrobe? I found this gorgeous image of US store Anthropologie's window display on my Net travels and thought it so clever, I wondered what their other store windows were like. Turns out, they're all brilliant. And they have a huge fanbase (yes, of window displays as well as the actual store) in the cyber world that people often post them on blogs or Flickr as great sources of inspiration. And I can see why. Here are a few of the best - there are ideas aplenty to steal for your own home.

All craft rooms should look this good. I love how the pieces of plywood or tiles the pictures are tacked too is piecey in itself. Makes a feature of the actual board, let alone once it's turned into a moodboard! From Flickr

How gorgeous do these ribbons look hanging from the ceiling? Would be a beautiful option in front of a window you want to screen for privacy but not block the light. From Platinum Blonde Life

Not so practical (a floating sofa! Maybe once we start to lose gravity...) but pretty nonetheless. From Craving Anthropologie

Too-cute birdhouses on hanging branches. I can see this in a cool kid's room. From La Vie En Rose

A new party decoration: strung-together patty cases. From Happy Mundane

I'd love to meet the person who came up with these ideas. In fact, I wish I could steal some of their creative brain - they make you look whether you love them or hate them and that's what the store is after I guess. I say it's time to bring back beautiful window displays here too. Does anyone know of any brilliant Aussie store window displays they can't pass without stopping to look at? Jigsaw has got me a couple of times and I always press my nose against DJs at Christmas with the million other people doing so, but unfortunately, that's about it!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

steal their style: storage step-up stool

Can't you just see little Apple and Moses standing here practising their scowls for the paparazzi?

Still on the celeb obsession: I fell in love with this cute little step-up stool in Gwyneth Paltrow's bathroom (above) and daughter Apple's room (below) from her Hampton's home.

Apple needs a little help into her huge bed.

I hadn't seen quite so stylish in Australia that not only was void of any kid's show character, but made of wood and with storage, until today! I was all set to buy and then paint the Ikea step stool for my rapidly growing baby boy who has started to brush his teeth beautifully but can't see the mirror, but then the Ezibuy catalogue arrived in my mailbox and I found this while flicking through it.

Kids Step-up Stool, $39.95, Ezibuy
Too cute - the top step is hinged and has a secret storage compartment underneath and the handles make it easy to move from room to room. And because it's painted MDF, you could also repaint it a colour of your choice.

Ahh, star style for less than $40 - gotta love that! Get it here.
And if anyone has ever seen anything like the mirror in Gwynnie's bathroom on Australian shores (or that actually ships to Australia), please let me know! I'm afraid we have a shortage of cool mirrors and rugs here - two things I'm forever searching for...

Sunday, 17 February 2008

celeb homes

I sometimes wish real living showed off celebrity homes, but apparently our readers aren't interested, so I have to get my hit elsewhere! Now I can understand they want real homes (hence the title of the mag and all) but I also love the fact I can get inspiring ideas from people who can afford famous interior decorators to do their work for them for whatever the cost. Or just have a perve at their decor, ooh over some great find or laugh at their excess (such as Mariah Carey). What's even better is seeing something you own yourself - or similar - like Sarah Jessica Parker who has pretty much Ikea-ised her entire Hamptons holiday home.

The good: Jennifer Aniston's gorg rented Malibu beachhouse.

The not so good: Mariah Carey's New York home. A little OTT for my taste. From TFS

The "she's just like us": Sarah Jessica Parker's Hampton's home - straight from the shelves of Ikea! From TFS

The covetable: Kate Hudson's bathroom. It's bigger than most people's living rooms! From TFS

If you've wondered where to go to peek inside their private worlds or keep up with their real estate portfolios, here are a few places to go...
The fashion spot - yes it's all about celeb style, but also their home style. Enter Madonna, Brad Pitt, Cindy Crawford or Mariah's homes to name just a few.
Realestalker - a blog of celebrity real estate: who's selling/buying, where and why. Also usually features pics and floorplans of the homes on the market. - a photo agency that gives visitors a sample of their celeb interiors. At the moment, popular interior designer Kelly Wearstler's place is featured but check back regularly as they change them.
Big Time Listings - another real estate blog with pics and prices!
Casa Sugar - Usually just a recap from other sites, but occasionally new info, plus great home decor inspiration.

Anyone know of any other great celeb home sites?


Friday, 15 February 2008

cheat's version of plantation shutters

I looooooove plantation shutters and wish I was a millionaire so I could furnish all 13 windows and doors in my house with them (maybe a slight exaggeration on the millionaire front, but they are expensive). But I'm not one and probably never will be, so I have to cheat.
We did have good old Roman blinds in this room until my husband tripped over the rug and crashed through the window - very dramatic, scary two seconds until I heard the baby laugh (!) and Steve say "I'm ok".
So after the blind was ripped to shreads by the shattered glass, I took advantage of the situation and figured I'd find something a little nicer to replace it with. Enter Freedom's Eco Shutter Blinds - a white eco-friendly fake wood venetian blind that's a little wider than normal to give a better blockout and that plantation shutter look.

The Freedom Eco Shutters in Zak's room - from $49.95

You can hardly tell from the outside they're not the real thing and they dress up the room. Seeing as they were on special at the time we bought them, we stocked up for most of our windows and I'm thrilled with the result. Just thought I'd share - they're also a bit of a nicer option if you're after normal venetians - the thicker "wood" slats just give it a bit more of a quality look over the usual aluminium!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

3 cool ideas

Sincerest apologies for lack of posts - I have excuses: was visiting parents in Canberra last week, have two sick boys at home (one big, one small), have a whole heap of work to do, and no camera. Still. Which timewarps me back a couple of years when good old fashioned cameras had film and you had to wait days to see whether your shot was in focus, people's eyes were open and that you didn't look like a total spaz!

So in the meantime, while I get my act together, enjoy these three cool ideas I found in my travels.

Pretty paper pom poms
Such a nice change from balloons and Chinese lanterns. These are made from tissue paper and are sooo simple. Smaller ones look a little like hydraengeas. I made smaller, half-sphere versions of these and stuck them on the wall next to a "happy birthday" sign made of small wooden craft letters for my husband's birthday party dinner decoration on Monday. I would show you but.... no camera.... You can find out how to make them here

Three cheers for Martha's genius!

Super-duper Scrabble
I can't remember where I found this pic - I just copied into my "moodboard" file, so if anyone recognises it, let me know! Apparently, you can buy these cool wooden super-sized scrabble pieces like this, but I think you could also make your own with small canvases from two-dollar shops. Simply paint or stencil a letter onto each one and make your own crossword or scrabble with inspiring words or get all descriptive: if it's a child's room, think of say five words that best describe your child and try and make a crossword out of them. Too cute, really!

Super scrabble!

Simple storage
Again, not sure where this is from - I think it's Martha Stewart. It seems very Martha doesn't it? But if you can't bear to part with any of your child's artworks and have no idea what to do with them all, simply roll them up and put them in poster packs with labels on the outside. It sure beats yet another shoe box...

A new use for poster packs

And finally, check out these too-cute aprons fellow blogger Danielle has created out of simple tea towels. Make great gifts for any kiddy who loves to help mummy in the kitchen (by helping I mean licking the bowl!). You can buy them here for just $14.95.

Messy by Mezza Fudge Brownies handmade apron, $14.95, eBay


Saturday, 2 February 2008

Plan your life - without leaving your computer

While researching my kitchen renovation, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Ikea's kitchen planner had gone all high tech. Maybe it's been this way forever, but I just assumed it was just a floorplan. But no. It's soo much better: it includes a 3D version so you can give the program the measurements of your room, choose your cabinetry and watch as it magically creates your kitchen for you - complete with benchtops, appliances and, if you like, handles. If something doesn't fit in the space, it just won't put it there, making it so easy to build your room from scratch and suit your needs. Then you can virtually walk through it looking at it from all different angles to ensure it's what you want. If you're happy with it, you click on the list icon and the bill is itemised with the total. SAve it to IKEA and you can open it up when you get to the store to show the sales people what you're thinking. It's just so clever and simple - everything should be that easy. And it pretty much can be.
I won't go too into this now cause I will be writing an article on it for real living soon, but there is so much online stuff out there now you can literally plan your bathroom or kitchen renovation, build your dream home, create a garden oasis and check out what colours would suit a room or your house's exterior just by sitting in front of your computer. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. But it's quite addictive nonetheless. Here are a few cool sites to add to your renovation favourites list.

Ikea Here's to hoping one day the program will magically build your real-life kitchen when you hit save!

Kind of what my kitchen will look like. Open shelving will fill in around the window.

Reece A cool bathroom floorplan planner where you can add their products to see sizings and placement. Great to visit for sizing estimates for loos and baths etc.

Find out the best bathroom floorplan for you.
Dulux Mycolour Choose a room or exterior closest to your own and get painting - virtually, of course. Not only gives you a great range of rooms with modern and traditional furniture otpions, you can choose no furniture, night/day, different angles and your floor covering (tiles, carpet, floorboards).

You can find inspiration everywhere - some of Dulux's virtual rooms are quite cool!

Plan 3D As a kid, my idea of fun was to draw floorplans of dream homes - ballrooms, libraries and indoor pools included. Sadly, I still do this - what I'd love my place to be, what I hope to build on a waterfront block one day... I was also quite handy at the construction side - you should have seen the homes my sisters and I would build our Barbie dolls out of books and blocks! That was the real fun - the actual dolls didn't get much love, but they had awesome homes for the weekend. So this incredibly cool program seems like my idea of heaven: a create-your-own-home from a floorplan that then makes it 3D AND lets you furnish and decorate it. You have to pay, but I could spend way too much time playing with this!

Just imagine this room furnished and decorated to your taste...

The Net has certainly come a long way from virtual pets!

Friday, 1 February 2008

calling all mums of two (or more)

Zak hugs and kisses the "baby in mummy's tummy" like in this pic, but surely he has no idea what's going on?? Very, very cute though! Pic from Getty Images

I'm writing an article for Cosmo Pregnancy on how to prepare for baby #2 and would love to include some real-life tips and tricks (as well as steal some advice for my own preparations - only 4 more months!!). So, for anyone who's been through it, how did you prepare your first child for the fact s/he was going to be an older brother or sister? Obviously you wouldn't tell a 14-month-old the same way you'd tell a three-year-old who'd actually understand what you're talking about, so how did you do it? And did it work? Also, is there any other advice you'd like to share on how the delivery/parenting was different the second time around? How did you handle suddenly having two (or more) tiny humans vying for your attention - and no doubt a partner, family, friends...
Would love to hear your thoughts.