How to de-clutter your wardrobe

IMMany of us have way more clothes, shoes, and accessories than we can ever wear. Some pieces are still tagged, neglected and never worn. And while it may seem like an insurmountable job, de-cluttering your closet can be a simple process. And the bonus is you might find things you forgot you had, and save on buying new pieces.

1 One by one

Begin by taking each item out of your wardrobe, one by one. Look at it and ask these questions:

  1. Have I worn it in the last year?
  2. Do I love it?
  3. Does it fit properly?
  4. Is it in good condition or does it need to be repaired?
  5. Is it really ‘me’?

Often we own clothes we love, but don’t really fit out personal style. We don’t feel comfortable wearing them out, but have held onto them anyway. It’s time to be honest and ruthless. Why keep something you won’t ever truly appreciate?

2 Separate

Place each item in one of several piles, boxes, or containers labeled:

  1. Keep
  2. Repair
  3. Sell/donate
  4. Bin

Make a decision on the spot, and don’t go back through the piles later looking for items to put back in your wardrobe! Trust

5 reasons to consider a gazebo in your backyard

GAAAThe weather’s warm and you’re ready to enjoy your yard with friends and family. That’s where a gazebo comes in – providing a secure, weatherproof, versatile structure to entertain or chill.

Here are five great reasons to get a gazebo for your place:

1 Gazebos are versatile

Backyard barbie, woodfired pizza fest, quiet reading nook, kids’ play area, family eatery. Your gazebo can be used for whatever you wish, and can be tailored to your family as it grows and your needs change.

Best of all, a gazebo will blend with your existing landscape, and can tie the outdoor space together.

2 A shady spot

Sometimes, summer days are too sizzling to spend long outdoors. Even a few minutes in the sun can cause sunburn. But a gazebo offers a shady spot to relax, play, pray and meditate, or entertain regardless of the weather. So you no longer have to hide indoors on hot days; just head out to the gazebo for hours of fun.

3 Add value to your home

Generally, the more functional features you add

All About Bamboo Flooring

n Oldie with New, Enhanced Performance

09-bamboo-floorWhile bamboo flooring is not exactly new, having been around for two decades, it might as well be. In recent years, advances in manufacturing have enhanced its performance and diversified its appearance. The major change: the introduction of superdense “strand-woven” bamboo, which can be milled into boards that are two and a half times as hard as red oak. They also can be produced in an array of wood-look styles—from the familiar, like maple or walnut, to exotic species, like tigerwood and cumaru—that are quite different from what most people associate with the material. “Strand-woven has changed bamboo’s reputation from an eco product to a major player, delivering the look and durability of Brazilian hardwoods for two-thirds the cost,” says Joel Hirshberg, president of Green Building Supply, which has been selling bamboo floors for 16 years.

Whether you’re simply looking for something a little different from what all your neighbors have or like the idea of remodeling with sustainability in mind—or just love the price—here’s what you need to know about buying and installing today’s bamboo

Home Sweet Home Improvement for Investors

It’s one matter to plunk down a nice chunk of change on a dream house. But for investors, there’s another side of homeownership that’s just as relevant and doesn’t even require a mortgage: buying stocks connected to the recent housing boom.

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price index should provide more comfort than the coziest den. It jumped 5.3 percent in November from a year ago, marking the 43rd consecutive month of positive gains. Leading the way are the hot markets in San Francisco, Denver and Portland, Oregon, which marked increases of 11 percent each.

And where the Case-Shiller goes, so could those stocks associated with the home improvement industry – even as the rest of Wall Street scrambles for sanctuary.

“Despite the volatility we’re seeing in the global markets, the U.S. housing industry is likely to see continued growth in 2016,” says Andrew Wetzel, portfolio manager and senior research analyst with the F.L.Putnam Investment Management Co., based in the Boston area.

Yet one index, healthy as it is, doesn’t mean investors should break ground on a mansion just yet. “While housing prices per the Case-Shiller Index have increased over the past year, this did not necessarily mean that

Living Room Cost Guides

The term “living room” can be used to define many different types of spaces. For some it is where the family gathers to watch movies and listen to music. For others it is a formal space kept only for entertaining guests, once called a parlor room. Renovations made to them include entire makeovers and removing interior walls for more open space. Hiring a general contractor might be a good way to organize your project, as you will likely need to hire more than one person to help create the new living room.

Purpose of the Room

What do you want this new living room to be used for? Deciding exactly what the purpose of your living room will be determines what the next steps will be. If you intend to use it as a space for watching TV with the family, you might consider turning it into a home theater room, installing a surround sound system to enhance the experience. If it’s going to be an entertainment space for parties, you might want to expand the room by knocking down walls to make it bigger or opening up your kitchen space into the area. Research what

Choosing the right driveway materials

We choose our house cladding with care and put a lot of thought into our landscaping, but often don’t give the driveway the thought it deserves. The driveway is more than a utilitarian surface. Once laid, it becomes part of our home design. Choosing the right driveway materials can be the finishing touch your home needs to make it just right. What are your options?

Concrete

Concrete has many advantages. It can be poured over any surface and is very durable. In time, cracks may appear, but the driveway will still be useable. On the downside, plain concrete isn’t very attractive and because concrete is a solid surface, care has to be taken with drainage.

Concrete driveways today don’t need to be grey and unattractive. Concreters use a variety of techniques to make a concrete driveway a stylish addition to your home:

  • Coloured concrete is an inexpensive way to make your driveway match your home’s colour scheme.
  • Stencilled concrete can look like pavers or the stencils can have elaborate designs
  • Stamped concrete gives the driveway depth

Stencilling and stamping cost more than plain or coloured concrete, but the results can be stunning.

Pebblecrete

Pebblecrete is a popular driveway material. As the name implies, it is a mixture of concrete

New year, new home: 5 ideas that you can try today

The new year is a chance to start fresh. To tackle those DIY jobs that you’ve been meaning to get around to; and to give your home a budget-friendly tune up.

You might like to begin with these 5 simple house and garden DIY ideas:

1 New light fittings

Replacing light fittings is a surefire way to spruce up your space on a small budget. And it’s such a simple job, even beginner DIYers can get stuck in (but remember to call an electrician for any electrical work).

Start with the ambient (general) lighting in your home – do any fittings need to be repaired or replaced? Stick to neutral fittings with a soft glow.

Then move on to your atmosphere light fittings – the ones that cast light and shadow to set a mood and create areas in which to relax, read, or highlight a feature in the room.

Lastly, look at the lamps in your home. If any floor or table lamp shades are old, discoloured, broken, or simply no longer complement or lift the décor, consider an upgrade.

2 Paint the ceiling

Painting is one of the steadfast golden rules of DIY and renovation. A fresh coat of paint can transform the look and feel

Ideas for Australia Day entertaining

Australia Day is on the horizon, and it’s your turn to host. And since no self-respecting Aussie would resort to the ‘shrimp on the barbie’ stereotype (what the heck is a shrimp anyway?), you’ll need some fresh ideas for entertaining.

Here are 5 Australia Day entertaining ideas that are good as gold:

1 Have a barbie

Ok so the shrimp are off the menu, but there are few things as fun and traditional as a typical backyard barbie – Aussie style.

Whether you sizzle a marinated lamb shoulder, throw on some chops, grill prawns, or even attempt steak with Vegemite butter (recipe here), your barbecue is sure to be a hit. Add some fresh summer salads and refreshing drinks, and pop a few native flowers in vases for a special touch.

2 Themed affair

Hit the discount shops and supermarkets and you’ll find hoards of Australia Day-themed dinnerware and accessories. Look for flags, napkins, stuffed animals, and other novelty items to dress up your event and add that Aussie flair.

3 Dress ups

Australia Day is all about fun, friends, and family (oh and fireworks). So why not stage a costume competition? Big and little kids will love it, with a prize given to the best dress

Ways to Turn the Side of Your House Into a Calming Garden Space

We pay attention to our front and backyard landscaping, but often overlook the landscaping on the sides of the house. You don’t need a wide side area to transform the side of your house into a calming garden space. Here are seven ways to do it.

One: Pavers

You may only have a narrow space to work with on the side of the house. If you want one side to be a passageway from the front to the back of your house, your choice of pavers can turn a short walk into a tranquil journey. If the ground does not receive light or to reduce maintenance in a tight space, surround your pavers with pebbles and you will only have to remove leaves and debris occasionally.

Two: Plants for Narrow Spaces

If you only have a narrow area to work with, you can still grow plants at the side of your house. Hang plants from the eaves and you can turn the side of your house into a tranquil garden. If you have enough space for a path and plants, choose tall plants that grow straight up rather than spread out. Your local nursery can help you select plants that thrive in shade

Interior design: how to find a balance when you and your partner have different tastes

Compromise is at the core of every relationship. Living harmoniously with our partner is all about give and take. But what do you do when your interior design tastes are poles apart? You like minimalism and she likes shabby chic. Or he wants to hang his signed Jackie Chan poster in your elegant French provincial living room.

While we can’t give you relationship counselling advice, we have rounded up some top tips to hopefully help you and your partner say ‘Yay!’ about your redesigned space and not ‘Arggghhh!’

Consult an interior designer

Ask an interior designer if all they do is design, and they’ll likely laugh. After all, most have also become experts in the art of calming clashing couples.

So if you and your partner can’t agree on how your home should be decorated, hire an interior designer or interior decorator. They can act as mediator, taking on board each of your ideas and expectations, and merging them into a cohesive design. That way, both of you sign off on the new design – without playing the blame game if something doesn’t go to plan.

Set your priorities

Whether you work with a professional, or DIY, your first step should be to write a list

Big ideas for small spaces

Living in a small house doesn’t have to mean sticking to small ideas. If the ‘tiny house’ movement has taught us anything, it’s that big ideas are right at home in the smallest of spaces.

So if you’re struggling to maximise the room in your abode, try these grand ideas:

Think outside the walls

How can you avoid the ‘boxed in’ look that makes small spaces look even tinier? By rethinking your walls. While one big open plan space might seem like a good idea, it isn’t ideal for separating the sleeping nook from the living and eating areas.

A clever trick is to build a freestanding wall. This acts as a solid room divider, providing additional storage behind cabinet doors, without closing off the entire space with a door.

Smart storage

Making a little look like a lot is all about clever storage. The more stuff there is to clutter up a room, the pokier it will appear. So speak with a cabinetmaker or builder about custom cabinetry that hides everything away. For instance, a single flat screen TV mounted on a wall or floor-to-ceiling unit in the living room will create the illusion of space, while a mess of cables and an overflowing DVD

Trend forecasting: the biggest interior trends of 2016

From copper fittings and Scandi inspired furniture to minimalism and tropical motifs, 2015 was a strong year for home interiors. In 2016, these trends show no signs of abating, but we will also see a strong inclination towards new design movements and trends that you can easily incorporate into your home.

Here are the 2016 interior trends that will be impacting retail and design globally:

Bold art and decor

Bold abstract art that was strong in 2015 continues to flow through 2016, and it is becoming increasingly accessible as retailers continue to produce high quality prints for the budget conscious.

Think confident graphic shapes, sweeping patterns and layers of colour and texture. This kind of art can be used in practically any space in your home, but will make the biggest impact on bare walls in larger spaces such as your dining and living rooms, and even in long hallways that are generous in width.

You can also make a statement with bold decor. There are plenty of affordable options out there, and be creative. Purchase coloured indoor planters, bright textural throws, cushions in playful hues, brightly coloured ceramics and even statement wall clocks.

Ethnic and exotic prints

As we wave goodbye to New York lofts and

How much does concrete stencilling cost?

You’ve probably seen dozens of examples of concrete stencilling. You admire the look of the driveway or other surface, but may not have thought about how the effect was achieved. If you have a concrete driveway, patio or other outdoor concrete surface that needs a new lease on life, concrete stencilling is your most cost-effective option. What is Concrete Stencilling?

As the name implies, concrete stencilling is a process that involves laying a stencilled pattern over concrete. It is one of the techniques used by concrete resurfacing experts to give a concrete surface a stylish and distinctive look.

The stencilling process achieves two things. After the stencil is laid over the prepared concrete surface, concrete with a colouring agent is sprayed or spread over the surface. When the stencil is removed, the surface has depth and texture. When done by experts, the surface can look like brick, pavers or natural stone. Many other effects can be achieved, as well. For dozens of examples of what you can achieve with concrete stencilling, have a look at our Driveway Design Ideas and Concrete Resurfacing Ideas pages.

By combining colours and stencils, you can create any look you want. In fact, the possibilities

What can you do with plasterboard?

What can you do with plasterboard? The answer that first comes to mind is, “Clad internal walls.” While it’s true that plasterboard is the most used type of interior cladding, this humble product has many other uses as well.

What is plasterboard? Basically, it’s gypsum sandwiched between to layers of thick paper. Different thicknesses and types of plasterboard are available for different purposes. Some plasterboard has bevelled edges that are skimmed over with plaster to create a smooth surface. Plasterboard can also have a square edge. Most plasterboard is designed for dry areas, but you can also buy water-resistant or soundproofing plasterboard products. You can even buy bendable plasterboard to create curved surfaces.

Plasterboard is brittle and can’t carry a heavy weight, but it can be used for much more than simply cladding walls and ceilings.

What Else Can You do with Plasterboard?

The reason why plasterboard has become so popular is because it is inexpensive and can create a seamless look. As long as it doesn’t have to bear too much weight, it can be used in a number of creative ways:

  • Fix lengths of plasterboard around an exposed beam to modernise a room.
  • Make a plasterboard box around something you want to hide, like

What trades do I need for a complete kitchen renovation?

What is a Complete Kitchen Renovation?

A complete kitchen renovation starts at the design stage. Your kitchen layout needs an update and you may need to knock out a wall to create an open plan kitchen. Each kitchen will be different, but the basics are the same: you want to create a more stylish and functional kitchen.

After you have chosen a layout that works for you, you can start choosing your materials:

  • What type of flooring do you want in your new kitchen?
  • What material will you choose for your cupboard doors and benchtop?
  • Do you want tiles, splashbacks or both?
  • What colour shall you paint the room?
  • What can you do to improve the lighting?

At the same time, you have to keep your budget in mind. Some of the costs you need to think about might include:

  • The costs associated with knocking out a wall and repairing the areas around it
  • Flooring
  • The cost of having your kitchen cabinets built and installed
  • Tiling
  • Electricity and lighting
  • Plumbing
  • Window and/or skylight installation
  • Doors

What Trades Do I Need for a Complete Kitchen Renovation?

A complete kitchen renovation requires the services of a number of trades. You may need to hire:

  • A builder to knock out your wall and make other structural modifications
  • A flooring expert to lay your

Designing your granny flat to look like a home

If you have the space and council approval, a granny flat can provide an additional living space and income source.

But how do you build a granny flat that looks like a modern, cosy home? Here are some ideas to help in the design process:

Complement the main house

Some savvy homeowners set out to build a granny flat that replicates the main house. Even if the flat has been added years after the construction of the family home, they work with an architect and builder to get the colours, materials, and features almost identical. This ensures a seamless, blended design that perfectly complements and doesn’t distract from the main residence – adding value to your property.

Make it self-contained

To keep your older family members or renters happy, your granny flat should be fully self-contained. That means it should have its own living area, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry. Add a separate entrance, and your dwellers can come and go as they please, without having to use facilities in the main residence.

Most councils in Australia stipulate that a granny flat must be self-contained to get the stamp of approval, so

What you can do to storm-proof your home

Australia is subject to some severe weather conditions. Floods, high winds and hail can cause tens of thousands of dollars damage to your home. Much of the damage is preventable. What can you do to storm-proof your home?

How is Your Home Vulnerable in a Storm?

If you live in an older home, it may not be as storm-proof as a newer home might be. Australian building standards were updated to make homes more resistant to damage from storms. Your older home may also have deteriorated over time. According to cyclone researchers, homes that are damaged in times of high winds and cyclones frequently have defects. If the defects had been repaired, the damage may not have occurred. Some of those defects include:

  • Rusted fasteners, connector plates and other metal components
  • Rotting timber
  • Unreinforced masonry walls
  • Poorly installed guttering
  • Leaking roofs
  • Doors and windows with inadequate fixing and locking mechanisms

These defects can be anywhere on your property and still do damage to your home. If roofing flies off your garage or carport during a storm, it can crash into your house or through a window. If your garage guttering fails, runoff can undermine your home’s foundation.

Precautions You Can Take Before a Storm

The best precaution you can take is

Show your home some love this valentine’s day

Home is where the heart is. So this Valentine’s Day, show your home how much you care by giving it a maintenance makeover!

From cleaning and de-cluttering, to sprucing up the garden and getting those odd jobs done, there are plenty of little tasks that will make a big difference to the look, feel, and function of your abode.

Love a well-maintained space

If you’ve been putting off those little maintenance jobs, now is the time to get stuck in. Whether you DIY (excluding electrical and plumbing work of course) or hire a handyman, there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking off tasks on the to-do list. You might even fall in love with your home all over again when it’s working well!

Love a clean space

Clutter, dust, dirt, and grime can create a haven for bad bacteria to flourish – flaring up allergies and making it harder to enjoy your living space.

So why not show pride in your home by giving it a good summer clean! Get rid of anything you no longer want, use, or love (try to donate as many items as possible), and then clean the remaining items in each room. Hire a cleaner or get the family involved in vacuuming,

5 ways to avoid house flipping failures

We’ve all heard house flipping success stories, but people are quieter about their house flipping failures. What do they do wrong when an investment fails? How can you avoid house flipping failures? Here are five suggestions from property flipping experts.

One: Know Your Market

House flipping is not a job for the uninformed. You need to know there is a market for for the house you’ve got your eye on and how much the market is willing to pay. If you find a bargain property, what’s the most you can expect to sell it for? If you find a fixer-upper for $350,000 and similar houses in the area are selling for $500,000, you might be on to a good thing. That much of a buffer should allow you to make the necessary renovations and still realise a healthy profit, but don’t jump in until you’ve gone on to step two and analyzed your expenses.

In any market, first impressions count. Potential buyers will drive past a house. If they like what they see, they will take a closer look. If the yard is untidy, the roof dirty and the front of the house is in

13 Big Ideas for Small Bathrooms

Big Ideas for Small Baths

A few things all old house lovers are familiar with: Drafty windows, less-than-perfect plumbing, squeaky floors—and small bathrooms. While new home baths have nearly doubled in size over the past 30 years, old home bathrooms average about 5- by 8-feet.

Not to worry, though: You can combat the claustrophobia by scaling down to physically save space. (Pedestal sink, anyone?) And, with the right colors and lighting, you can create the illusion of a roomy bath.

Here, we dig into the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Design Competition archives to deliver great ideas from Certified Kitchen Designers that you can use in your next remodel.

Rich, Asian-Inspired Design

This homeowner wanted to bring her home out of the 1980s with contemporary Asian design, so the powder room vanity was inspired by a Japanese kaidantansu (stepped chest), which contributes fluidity of design in the cramped quarters. The use of rich and dark colors makes the walls of the small space recede.

Day at the Beach

These homeowners opened up their space by getting rid of two small closets and adding task and ambient lighting to help create the illusion of a larger room. Little width remained after incorporating the tub and toilet, so