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10 Tips for Choosing Art For Your Home

Posted Saturday, April 19, 2014 in: Obsessed With

Now that our house is getting there bit by bit in terms of our renovations, I’ve finally been letting myself think more about decorating our walls. Because we are still styling our house on a tight budget so we can afford to do our renovations, I have a stack of thrifted picture frames I’ve picked up, and a collection of artworks, prints and pictures we’ve collected over the years. I’m looking forward to doing a lot of serious hanging-up! So I thought I would put together some tips on choosing artwork for your home, whether you’re styling on a budget or have money to invest in a beauty to keep forever.

ABOVE: A David Bromley painting in the 1930s cottage home of Vanessa Fordham and Karl Cramond, the owners of Villa Kula.  

Consider scale.

Scale can make or break your room, so when you buy a piece of art, always consider its size, says Twinkle and Whistle interior designer Nelly Reffet. “You don’t want to put a beautiful but tiny artwork on its own on a big white wall, or a huge artwork that chews up so much visual space that it overtakes everything in the room. If you intend to move the piece around your home or to move house at some stage, you might want to focus on pieces that are of fairly “standard” size, i.e. not too big and not too small. Things with measurements between 30cm and 120cm are pretty easy to accommodate in any house.”

Trust your instinct.

“If you love it, buy it!” advises my artist friend Francesca Gnagnarella. “You will always find a space on your walls for something you love. But if you have really limited space, be prepared and don’t forget to take with you your wall measurements. When I talk to my clients about choosing the right piece for their homes, I always insist on buying a piece they love. Art is such a personal choice and once it’s in your home you will look at it every day, so you have to like it! When we hang a painting it does not just enhance the appearance of the environment, it brings life and dimension to a space. It says something about you and makes the space more interesting for family, friends and guests.”

Follow your heart - it sounds cheesy but it’s good advice, says Nelly (you can follow her Instagram and Facebook for interiors tips). “’Real’” art is an investment and a long term commitment,” she says. “Its essence is to generate emotions in the person who looks at it. If a piece looks beautiful but you don’t feel anything about it, move on. It’s better to stare at a blank wall for a while than watching something that doesn’t make your heart sing!”

ABOVE: A work by Francesca Gnagnarella

Go online to find originals.

If you’re in the market for a beautiful original, Saatchi Art sell a wonderful range of originals that can be shipped all over the globe. My pick – this painting ‘East Village’ by U.S painter Peter Dugovic. I can picture it in our living room!

Find something beautiful in black and white.

Ok I know that sounds weird. But I just think there is something about black and white artwork that means it can work just about anywhere.

Mr Nerd and I are stalker-style obsessed with the work of Sarah McCloskey, who is the younger sister of a friend and an artist and illustrator. And goddammit this lady’s stuff is AWESOME. So talented. She will make you weep jealous tears that you can’t draw like her, but she is so funny and nice you can’t hate her - she has a cult following for a reason! You can see her stuff on Facebook here or stalk her on Instagram.

ABOVE: A work-in-progress by Sarah McCloskey.

ABOVE: Another Sarah McCloskey.

Find out who created your favourite piece of street art.

If you’ve been to Ootong and Lincoln in Fremantle you’d be familiar with the distinctive work of Perth artist and illustrator Anya Brock. Anya’s colourful paintings have become hugely popular and yet her work is still not impossible to get your hands on.

ABOVE LEFT: Anya Brock street art by Ootong & Lincoln in Fremantle. ABOVE RIGHT: 'Love Be Brave' print, $80. BELOW LEFT: 'Leave Me Here' original, $750. BELOW RIGHT: 'You're Alone' original, $890. 

My picks?

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DIY How To: Pressed Tin Bedhead... and WIN a Forty Winks Silent Partner Bed

Posted Thursday, April 17, 2014 in: Dare to DIY Nerd Life

I am SO excited to share not only a DIY project but also a VERY cool House Nerd giveaway today!

You might have recently seen my posts on our bedroom makeover, where one of the things we did was get a new ensemble bed and make a beautiful pressed tin bedhead. Courtesy of the lovely people at Forty Winks, one of you guys can WIN one of these amazing Silent Partner Florence Plush queen size ensemble beds (including a mattress and base) pictured below valued at $3,299. The Silent Partner is the fanciest top-of-the-line ensemble bed in the shop and one can be yours... sweet dreams for years to come!

Ooh and once you win it, you could even make your own customised pressed tin bedhead just like Mr Nerd and I have done! And it's super easy to enter. You can enter at the end of this post.

When we gave our bedroom a makeover, one of the major things Mr Nerd and I knew we had to do was upgrade our old 80s chipboard bed. When my interior designer friend Nelly from Twinkle and Whistle suggested I try making a pressed tin bedhead for our room, I was like, “YES!” punching the air like a tryhard Rocky Balboa.

I had seen the pressed tin bedhead idea before on Pinterest but would never have thought it could work in our little room – until Nelly suggested it. This is why I think it is totally worth it to call in the advice of an interior designer or an interior-savvy friend to help you with a room if you are stuck. They can look at your space with fresh eyes and envision something you might never have imagined could possibly work! I knew that the pressed tin bedhead would not only take up no floor space in our small 3 x 4m bedroom, where every inch of space counts, if tall enough it would visually create the illusion of more height and add a bit of ‘ooooh’ factor to our little room.

Firstly, we needed to replace our bed. Because we wanted something without a bedhead

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Hong Henwood's House

Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2014 in: Home Envy

Hong Henwood is one super-inspiring interior designer – especially for those of us who are decorating our homes on a budget. I came across her work for the first time on Instagram back when she was living in Perth and showing pictures of her former home in Perth, White Picket Cottage, and I was immediately enthralled.

Hong, who runs interior design consultancy Affordable Style Files, is brilliant at styling without spending a lot. She has a knack for finding the best things from places like Kmart, Target, Super A-Mart, Bunnings, Cotton On, IKEA, Freedom and secret secondhand places and tying them all together so they look a million bucks.

ABOVE: Hong's lounge. Her husband David plays the guitar.

STYLISH – WITH KIDS: One thing I admire about Hong’s place is that even though they have two small kids her house always looks tidy. HOW? Hong says she does a lot of picking up! “Charlie and Miya are typical kids and can destroy a house in five seconds flat,” she says. “But they are also pretty good at tidying up too. I’m constantly picking up after them or rearranging their rooms. They are used to me now I think.”

ABOVE: A Maffens basket from IKEA sits by a vintage school desk that the children draw on in their playroom.

ABOVE: Hong's daughter Miya's room. Miya styled her shelving on the left!

ABOVE LEFT: Hong and Miya. Which is an awesome name. CHARLIE’S ROOM: Hong had shelving installed in Charlie’s room. I love the tongue and groove wall paneling. 

ABOVE: Hong's Zebra canvas (and $10 Kmart cushion) in Charlie's room are accented by secondhand lockers.

Hong's relaxed, effortlessly put-together style will make you want to jump out of your chair and immediately run to Kmart or Bunnings to score a gorgeous homewares bargain that probably cost only $20. I am not exaggerating. While I was browsing her Instagram coming up with questions to ask her, I spied a beautiful zebra print from Kmart in her feed that I instantly HAD TO HAVE, sped off to Kmart and $12 and half an hour later it was hanging in our living room.

This woman knows all the inside secrets and she is also so generous about her sources. You know how some people will never reveal where they got something because they don’t want to tell you it was from Kmart or Coles or something? Hong is not like that and I love her all the more for it.

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Our Bedroom Makeover: Before and Afters

Posted Monday, April 14, 2014 in: Before & After Nerd Life

It’s finally time for a full before and after post of our bedroom makeover. Woohoo! Yes, at last. You may have noticed I have been trying to tease you and space out my posts into more easily digestible chunks (I was going to use the word ‘snippets’, but I don’t think my blog will ever have snippets) rather than my usual overly long post style where I’m like, “Here I just wrote you this novel… about my toilet.”

Our tiny main bedroom has gone from being seriously depressing (you remember me crapping on about the ceiling having a bare lightbulb for three years) to a room that Mr Nerd and I both love. Yes, both. After years of not doing anything to our room because we couldn’t agree on what kind of light fitting to get, we have now, with the aid of my interior designer friend Nelly Reffet, not only agreed on a light but moved beyond that to actually furnish the whole room! I know. It still needs a few tiny touches and some pictures hung, but it's done.

Styling Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle. Photo Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

Now the room is so much warmer, cosy and cheerful. After years of ugliness it is SO NICE to walk into a bedroom that is light, nice and makes us feel happy. When you have been living in an unfinished or ugly room for so many years, after a while you can kind of stop realising how much an ugly room actually saps your energy. And then you you give it a proper makeover and you think oh I wish I had just done this earlier. 

It was so worth the fuss and work and expense (and the crocodile tears) Thank you Nelly, for coming up with with ‘the vision’ for our room and the belief that we could take our bedroom from boring and stagnant to lovely. We love it. And thank you Heather Robbins for your interior photos which are gorgeous as always. (Nelly and Heather offer both interior styling and interior photography services). Now, here are some 'before' photos to trigger your memory.

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Our Bedroom Makeover: The Painting Dilemma

Posted Wednesday, April 9, 2014 in: Dare to DIY Nerd Life

If you have been reading along on here the past few weeks, you’ll know that we recently began to give our depressing bedroom a makeover. That included painting it from top to bottom. Now that sounds simple and easy enough, but it wasn't. We had to:

- Paint the walls (twice – more on that later)
- Scrape, patch and repaint the flaking ceilings
- Fix and repaint the flaking cornicing
- Paint the skirting boards and beading
- Spray paint the aluminium window
- Spray paint the air-conditioning vent
- Paint the three doors (entry door, wardrobe and doorframes

And all this painting took a long time.

Oh wait, and when I saw “we” did this work… may I just point out that it was me and my sisters who did all this painting. Not Mr Nerd. In this house, I'm the one who paints, Mr Nerd generally just wanders into the room every so often, munching on the last Tim Tam and pointing out a spot I’d missed.

I have to say this, because so often on here I’m like, “Hey guys! WE gutted the bathroom” or “WE built a limestone wall in the front garden” or “WE climbed on the roof and fixed the holes” or whatever, and really it is just Mr Nerd. So this painting bit – it was all me (and my sisters). A girl has got to take credit where credit is due.

Anyway if you saw my last update on our bedroom makeover plans, you would have seen the moodboard my clever interior designer friend Nelly Reffet from Twinkle and Whistle did for us. Nelly then came up with a styling guide, which outlines the goals and the planned ‘feel’ for a room, and breaks down paint colours, patterns, materials and pieces of furniture that would work and where to source them from. “I picture the feel of your bedroom as bright but soft, with subtle colours overall and an occasional hint of brighter hues, and a well-balanced mix of soft materials and more industrial/masculine ones,” she told me.

Nelly suggested painting the walls a light grey/green in a low sheen or matt finish, such as Dulux Spanish Olive or half-strength Dulux Still. It is the kind of colour, she told me, that goes really well with warm, bright accent colours. And she chose the paint colour so that it would work perfectly with the ONE thing in our bedroom we already had that we actually liked – the Moochie Lou bed linen made for us by Mr Nerd’s sister.

Mr Nerd said the painting of the bedroom was on me so I rounded up my sisters to help me paint. I have two younger sisters, Natasha and Simone (you would have seen some of her photos on this blog). My sisters like to take every chance they can to turn a simple occasion into a small party.

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Busy Nerds: Our Bathroom and Laundry Reno Progress

Posted Wednesday, April 2, 2014 in: Nerd Life Dare to DIY

We have been busy here at the Crap Shack. We finished our bedroom makeover, we’ve been renovating our main bathroom and we’ve just started our laundry renovation too. I have a few blog posts yet to write for the week to come – including a full 'room reveal' of our bedroom and a very exciting chance to win a beautiful Forty Winks bed! More soon.

Right now, the dining table is covered with tools, the laundry and dryer have been shoved into my home office, tradies and suppliers giving us quotes pop in and out of the house, and most days I sit here writing to the background sounds of banging, drilling and spots of swearing.

Our bedroom is finally finished! Full post to come soon. We used pressed tin panels from Heritage Ceilings to make a custom bedhead - a DIY to come. Photo by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

But while I am looking forward to all the work being done, in the meantime, I kind of don't mind the excitement of having renovations going on around me. It makes me happy. Each step of each job in each day feels like it is bringing us one step closer to making our house nicer and more ‘us’.

The smell of plaster dust in the air reminds me of growing up in my mum and dad’s 1950s house while it got extended – once out the back, the other time upwards with the addition of a second storey. My little sisters and I found it all so exciting that our house was growing around us. We may have run around annoying the builders too often. “Can you be a bit more careful, Jim?” my dad said as a tradie walked past with a huge ladder swaying on his shoulder, narrowly missing conking Natasha’s small head. “You’re going to kill one of the children.”
“EH,” said Jim rudely, sauntering off. “You can make some more.”
My dad just laughed, but I was nine years old, I had just learned at school how babies were made and I was HORRIFIED that Jim was so blasé about… well… doing that.

With an older house like ours that has a few older house problems, I’ve gotten used to tradies who tell it like they see it. Do you remember my post about our bathroom renovation progress and how our original plans had to change? I had been a bit disheartened when it turned out that the bathroom renovation was going to mean a whole lot more work than we had originally planned (and a lot more money!)

BEFORE: Our 1970s bathroom before we touched it. Lovely blue floor tile and orange pine we have there.

ABOVE: A couple of the photos we looked at for inspiration for our bathroom renovation. If you are planning a big renovation or a new build, Cordell offer services to help you work out specific building costs including detailed costing details for materials, labour and equipment hire to help you get organised (perhaps something we should have checked out right at the beginning of our renovations!)  

We originally wanted to save on money, mess and time by keeping the original wall tile, vanity, jarrah towel rail and bath. We have since had to gut the whole room to pretty much start again from scratch.

The most recent thing that had to be replaced was the old enamel bath. It was a good size and solid and we wanted to keep it. It had a few patched-up marks that had been there since we moved in, but they didn’t bother me. As we removed the tile, our plumber told us that the drain had rusted so much over the years that the bottom of the bathtub was also rusting away. Argh!

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