Spring Clean

It’s officially spring- hail the gods!!

I am absolutely NOT a winter child. I was made to lie in the summer sun. I would love nothing more than to live somewhere tropical where there is only a wet and dry season- no cold!

In the meantime- I’m celebrating spring. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the most beautiful of all- tiny bright green buds are forming on the perennial trees! So beautiful.

As the weather warms up we find ourselves opening the balcony doors and inviting the outdoors in. Taking a bit of extra care with the plants, firing up the BBQ and just sitting out on the cane setting with a cold G&T in the afternoon. Those beautiful rays of sunshine can also cast a spotlight on all of the dull and dusty items around the home that could do with a good refresh!

In the spirit of the time of year I’ve taken a few little projects around our apartment that are perfect for a spring refresh. Hopefully there is something that will inspire you not to chuck that sad-looking furniture and instead- give it a bit of a scrub, maybe a lick of paint, and have something good as new!

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This beautiful dress-makers model from an antiques store was a birthday present from my husband. It was sold in original condition- meaning it was filthy! I removed the screws, gently pried away the wooden parts from the canvas body and kept note of where every part originally lived!

I then gently sanded back and oiled all of the wooden parts and chucked the canvas body in to the bath to get soaped up and scrubbed down! I used shampoo and a scrubbing brush, rinsed with water and then washed down all over with a light vinegar wash to remove the last of the detergent (did you know that detergent remnants can attract dirt? Just a cup of vinegar in a litre of water will remove any residue).

The dressing table was originally my neighbour’s- covered in green paint and fair stickers, it was a sight! A few years ago I decided to rescue it- sand it all back and paint it with some left over white house paint. It didn’t stand the test of time, and after a few dusting sessions I started to notice marks and discolouration on the top.

So I sanded it back quite vigorously, with various grains to get a smooth finish, removed the handles and re-polished them and recoated the whole thing in interior acrylic shine white paint- just a sample pot was enough to do it!

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Another neighbourhood find was our hard wood dining table. It was discarded and had no sheen. I laboured for days sanding by hand (before my husband gifted me with a orbital sander!) but it was a labour of love. I used about 4 different grits of sandpaper, a stain and lacquer (a few coats- sanding between each) and finished with the same oil I used on the model above.

You wouldn’t need to go to this much effort to get similar results- just two grits of sandpaper, using an orbital sander, and a two-in-one stain and lacquer would do the job. But I must say, running my hands over the table and feeling the smooth rewards of my efforts is pretty fantastic!

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Finally, after a few weeks of watching seasons of Mad Men back-to-back I developed a bit of a penchant for a post-work martini! That started the idea of a bar area.

I purchased an Ikea adjustable bookshelf, washed and shined my glassware, and gave my orange Kitchenaid stand mixer and Breville blender pride of place in the in-set kitchen servery.

I re-furbed a council clean-up chair (the comfiest spot to have a drink!) and later added a French-Polynesian floor lamp (made from fabric from our Tahitian honeymoon) and a 1920’s tray drinks stand for making G&T’s.

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The blender and bar area was perfect for creating these ‘Mexican Night’ frozen margaritas- made from fresh tarragon leaves, chopped, coconut rum (instead of triple sec), tequila and lime juice, blended with ice, served in a salted-rimmed cocktail glass (sticking to the glass thanks to a rub of a lime wedge) with hot, crispy tacos- of course!

The perfect drink to cool down now that the weather is heating up! Hopefully you’ve found some inspiration to give a few things around the home a new lease of life- and let the sun shine proudly on your shiny ‘new’ things!

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Thanks for reading The Nookbook!

Dia de Los Muertos Headpiece

So I started a new job last working with Yahoo!7 It’s all very exciting- I’m working on their TV properties and the location and people are very stylish!

As a welcome to the team for me, a farewell for one team member and another going on holiday- we all went off for a Mexican lunch. Just for a bit of fun there was a bit of a Mexican dress theme as well.

Two of us decided to wear Dia de Los Muertos (day of the dead- Saturday November 2) floral headpieces! I bought a bunch of fake flowers from Lincraft and with just wire cutters, pliers and a headband crafted a very fun and pretty stylish floral headpiece!

You should give it a go for your next theme party. This could also suit a flower-child, 60’s theme- and you could really amp it up with freaky scull-inspired makeup in true Dia de Los Muertos style.

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Cut individual stems off bunch with wire cutters- leave about 5-10cms of wire to wrap around the headband. If you have a hot glue gun you could also pull the individual flowers off their stems and just glue them on- but I actually found the wire made the flowers easy to manipulate and layer.

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Pull all of the extra elements off the stems and put to the side- these might be good for a future project or do as I did and use a couple, layered, at either end for a touch of green.

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Start by wrapping the wire from one flower tightly around the headband, leaving a tiny bit of space so that you can slot another wire through the gap and start to plait them across each other. Finish off by cutting the wire at an angle so that it sits at the top of the headband and is not sharp. Hide ends inside loops were possible to stop from catching in hair. If you wanted to finished properly (I didn’t have time!) you could wrap in florist’s tape to seal.

Hold your ‘posie’ the right way around every now and then as you go to make sure that you are layering florals of different sizes and colours as you go- making sure not to ‘clump’ in a particular area, but also not being too symmetrical.

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I also wrapped with silk ribbon sealing at the end with a hot glue gun- just to make it a bit nicer :)

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Viola!

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Thanks for reading The Nookbook!

Tray Drinks Stand

Recently my husband I took a weekend trip up to sunny Newcastle. It was so magical! Beautiful old buildings, industrial port structures, soft, sandy beaches with rough surf and restaurants, shops and cafes with creative shop fit-outs, live music and delicious food. I can really see myself living there one day!

I looked up a few things that I wanted to check out while we were up there- including The Centenary Antiques Centre at 29 Centenary Road Newcastle (conveniently just back from a bevvy of waterfront cafes and restaurants- perfect for brunch!)

The inside of  The Centenary Antiques Centre was not only really well laid out, it was actually very impressive- boasting a museum with a vintage general store and elaborate horse carriage inside! There was also no lack of inspiration to be found. I found a gorgeous mirrored tray holding drinks (pictured below) and an idea sparked off in my head- what about a delicate table with a gorgeous antique serving tray as the top?

I set out to find a lovely tray top- finding this art deco version from the 1920’s- then I was on my way! See below for the steps I followed.

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The husband was very excited about visiting  The Centenary Antiques Centre (do I detect a bit of sarcasm?!)

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The tray and drinks set up that inspired my idea.

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I also thought this could work with a more industrial feel by using a metal plate with this lovely rusted patina- decided against that for our home though.

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The fabulous general store within The Centenary Antiques Centre- a step in to the past.

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Once I had picked the tray I like I ordered a piece of MDF cut to size from Bunnings- tracing the corners of the tray and hand-sawing them at home.

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I had this simple tray table base already. I hammered the metal bracket in to the right shape using a rubber mallet and an anvil to wrap around the braces for the legs- then screwed holes through the MDF and secured with a screw and nut. I then screwed down through the MDF in to the tops of the legs with short screws just to keep it secure.

You could make these legs quite simply with basic wood cut to size from Bunnings and some dowel glued in to rivets in the tops of the legs- just ask the friendly guys at Bunning for some help getting the right fixtures for the joinery (you don’t want to just screw them together as it might not be a neat finish and might wear too easily over time).

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I then unscrewed the handles, drilled corresponding holes in the MDF (measure twice, cut once) and used longer screws of the same diameter to go through the MDF and secure the tray to the unit. I did this so that in time, if I get tired of the table, I can just unscrew the tray and keep use it as it was originally intended without damaging it. I kept the original screws safe for this reason.

If maintaining the integrity of the piece isn’t an issue, or you can’t screw the piece to the unit, you could always you liquid nails to secure to the base- chances are you can probably chip the tray off with a chisel in time in need be anyway.

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My finished drinks stand! I could not be happier. The way that the light plays off the crystal and the tray top creates beautiful patterns around the room. My drinking corner (aaahhh… I mean reading nook!) is now even better!

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Thanks for reading The Nookbook!

Life Instyle Trends

On the weekend I decided to go down to Melbourne for Life Instyle- Australia’s only boutique trade event showcasing emerging trends, brands and products that are on the cooler side of style and design. I knew I would see some beautiful, inspirational design- add to that the promise of seeing a beloved friend living in Melbourne (who I don’t get to see anywhere near enough)- and I’d booked a ticket!

The offering at Life Instyle this round was phenomenal- lots of really interesting designs, styled beautifully in the gorgeous Royal Exhibition Hall. The event is mostly for makers and designers from around Australia to exhibit their wares to distributors and media in the hopes of being stocked at stores and covered.

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This year there were also fantastic talks from design and media industry professionals on trends, social media and e-retailing- all really interesting to me!

The main themes that I pulled from trends talks is that style is really reflecting a ‘living’ concept. Genty Marshall, from New Black, is an internationally recognized Design Futurist that presented at Life Instyle. I found this take really interesting- that we don’t follow trends- trends follow us. For example, with the overload of information that we have coming at us every day in the digital age- Genty is observing an international trend towards nature and chilling out- getting back to the human, hand-touched and real experience. This combined with our current environmental conscience is creating a powerful force in design!

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How does this then translate? Well I guess that’s up to the designers to interpret and us to adopt. I did notice some key things that fit this trend though so I thought I’d run through them- natural, animals and brights. Have a look at some of the best bits I saw (below) and let me know what you think- do you identify with the need to ‘switch off’ and crave things that reconnect you with real life?

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Thanks for reading The Nookbook!

Life Instyle Trend: Natural

It’s all about luxurious, natural touches- shown best by Caravanserai‘s display of items:

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This rolling pin is a kitchen queen’s dream! Definitely on my wish list.

There were some beautiful, natural displays, such as this by Water Tiger

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Or this part of the daily live styling event by Greenhouse Interiors:

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This clever dome housed Telegram Open House- creating intimacy in a large space. The clever folks at Thinkers & Makers Society created the vision (more about them at the end).

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I desperately wanted this medium size mango wood cheese board- so beautiful! But as it was a sample they wouldn’t sell it to me :( Ah…the one that got away!

The luxury and natural trend may feature in bathroom spaces- but it was definitely flowing through to laundry and cleaning as well! The Cooking Company displayed my favourite of many luxury cleaning ranges- The Laundress. The Funkis stall (not pictured) also had an extensive range of beautifully designed wooden brushes- I wanted all of them!

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I purchased the ingenious sweater comb (for removing pilling) and three gorgeous, fresh laundry-scented candles.

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These ship-motif clouds by Pili Pala Pieces would look perfect in my husband’s den (which doesn’t exist yet… :( so I couldn’t allow myself to buy them)

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Sustainable Stubbies, brainchild of glass sculptor Ruth Allen, up-cycles bottles in to design items- such as these gorgeous pendant lights. Imagine a bar highlighted with a hanging bottle light installation!

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Super-fun and festive, creators Dick & Dora created these over-scale wooden Christmas baubles and bunting as shop displays- but when the enquiries started pouring in they decided to manufacture them for retail sale! How glamorous to feature a string of baubles along the wallway instead of the traditional tinsel or miniature decorations. More from them in the animals section below.

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The Thinkers & Makers Society is a grouping of trade professionals who combine forces to create exceptional installations- such as this ‘Australian Made Stall’ and the dome above. They also do spectacular shop fit-outs.

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These moss balls were so imaginative and ethereal. I love this concept! More of these in the Brights trends report below.

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Thanks for reading The Nookbook!