The word 'Art' is most commonly associated with pieces of work in a gallery or museum, whether it’s a painting from the Renaissance or a modern sculpture. However, there is so much more to art than what you see displayed in galleries.

The truth is, without being aware of it, we are surrounded by art and use it on a continual basis. Most people don’t realize how much of a role art plays in our lives and just how much we rely on art in all of its forms in our everyday lives.

The Joy of Art

You may be wondering why all of these things are so important to our daily lives and that you could probably survive just fine with essential items that were non-artistic. That is just the reason why art is so valuable! While art may not be vital to fulfill our basic needs, it does make life joyful. When you look at a painting or poster you’ve chosen to hang on your living room wall, you feel happy. The sculpture or figurines on the kitchen windowsill create a sense of joy. These varieties of art forms that we are surrounded by all come together to create the atmosphere that we want to live in.

Art and Music

The importance of art in our daily lives is very similar to that of music. Just like art, music can make life extremely joyful and can have a huge effect on our mood. In the workplace in particular, music is something that can help people set the mood for what they are about to do. If you have something hard or difficult to work on or are feeling tired, an energetic song will likely wake you up and add some enthusiasm to the situation. Similarly, when stress is high, many people find that relaxing to calming music is something that eases the mind.

Inspirational Art

Inspirational art, such as posters are often found in work spaces to encourage employees to continue being productive. There is now an increasing amount of companies using art in their offices, as well as playing background music, as it is proven to actually work in making end results far better quality. There may be a piece of art that you own that you personally find motivational. Perhaps a print with a positive affirmation or quote beautifully scrolled on it or a painting of a picturesque scene of where you aim to travel to one day.

SOME REASONS WHY ORIGINAL ART IN THE HOME IS AS IMPORTANT AS A BED

1. Creates Mood
2. Adds Personal Character to the Home
3. Makes Memories
4. Provides a Colour Palette
5. Makes a Room Feel Finished
6. Inspires and Fosters Creativity
7. Conversation Starter
8. Supports Artists
9. It is an Investment
10. Creates a Livable Environment
11. Keeps the Brain Active
12. Relaxation
13. Curating Your Own Gallery is Fun!

images/sampledata/pic1.jpg

What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time?

This is what I would tell my 24-year-old self. First don’t idly wax your eyebrows while reading a magazine. Focus, you silly twit. You will wax half your right eyebrow clean off, leaving you with an intriguing, puzzled expression for the next six weeks. You’ll then ugly-cry and cut yourself a fresh new side fringe in a blind panic exactly two minutes later to hide your half-brow (despite having no prior hairdressing experience, and this will be evident). Horrible times. Thank you, Alison Jade, you gorgeous girl and my savior. I’ve never been game enough to wax my own brows since.

Our dual sunscreen and blockout roller blinds from ABC Blinds. Photography by Sam Passante.

Secondly, think VERY carefully about what you do decorating-wise to your own house, because mistakes mean money. And one of the mistakes you will make, at the tender, eyebrowless age of 24, will be wasting your money on lots of really crap window treatments, before you finally find decent ones. We only just this year FINALLY got nice dual roller blinds on our house's 'problem windows' (kitchen window and dining room sliding door, which you...

The renovating bug is a sneaky thing, isn’t it? Once you’ve been bitten by it (or the home building bug, which I hear is as equally infectious) it’s never long after you throw down your paintbrush one day and swear, “That’s it! I’m done! I’m not doing any more renovations,” that bug raises its little head again.

About a year and a half ago, Mr Nerd and I decided we were done with renovating this place (or so we thought). We’d just had a baby (our first), we’d renovated through the pregnancy, survived the newborn stage, and now, with a little man in tow, we were still wrapping up some cosmetic renos to the Crap Shack (the last bits to the windows, the new floors, repainting the inside, etc).

We both got to a point where we were like, “Ok, once we do the floors, we’re done. No more renovating.” We mutually agreed not to do anything more. We had a baby, we were tired. The house felt good, or good enough. We were done.

But renovating is such a bug, isn’t it? Are you ever TRULY finished? I don’t think so. And it wasn’t long before Mr Nerd and I started to get some of our pre-baby energy back.

I don’t know what it’s like for most first-time mums, but I find that it’s taken me almost...

So I’m going to make a bold call here, but I have to call it - I think I’ve found my favourite Iwan Iwanoff house yet. (At least my fave of all the ones I’ve visited so far!) It’s this quietly shy beauty – the Frank House in Menora.

The house is owned by Michael and Carmen Forde, who own Mary Street Bakery and MAKERism and who live with their gorgeous one-year-old daughter Wylie and their very funny German shorthaired pointer Ferdinand.

The Frank House was built in 1961 and is perhaps one of the lesser-known Iwanoffs, but is no less special than its more publicly lauded counterparts. Unlike more iconic Iwanoffs such as Paganin House, Kessel House or Marsala House that have been the subject of much media attention, The Frank House has always flown a little under the radar.

The Frank House wraps in a U-shape around a courtyard. Twilight photos by Meghan Plowman. 



Renovators and home owners Michael and Carmen Forde at home with baby Wylie. Twilight photos by Meghan Plowman. 

It’s not entirely surprising. It sits on a whisper quiet cul-de-sac in tucked-away Menora, a quiet garden suburb that I once featured in a story for Domain on Perth’s best-kept secret neighbourhoods. I...

Well, this is it, guys - hands-down one of the coolest houses I’ve had the honour of featuring on House Nerd!

This is Nature Inspired Eco House. Designed for a tiny 200sqm infill block in the city, this two-storey, solar passive new home is eco-friendly and runs on renewable energy (with no air-con).

Built from a mix of eco-friendly materials and quirky recycled elements (including a wall built from salvaged 1960s and 70s windows and a front door that came from Alan Bond’s demolished Dalkeith mansion), the house has external walls that were made from rammed earth and recycled concrete rubble - waste products that would ordinarily have wound up in landfill. Other walls were built from recycled 1960s bricks. And there are more recycled elements throughout it - from the green bathtub to the 100-year-old Baltic pine floorboards.

COURTYARD GARDEN: The mature tree in the courtyard (a Gleditsia triacanthos) from Ellenby Tree Farm had to be brought in and transplanted before work even began on the house. Photos by Heather Robbins. 

THE TEAM: Home owners Tanya and Peter, with Carla from Etica Studio and Terry from Satoa Homes. Photos by Heather Robbins. 


Designed for a tight, subdivided...

Arrrgh… I’ve been a bad blogger. Seriously I have been meaning to do this blog post for ages, I’ve had it mostly written up and I mostly just kept forgetting. (Sorry to those of you asked for it).

I am disturbingly absent-minded. I don’t know how I retain stupid information, like that there are four to six harmless mites living on the base of each of your eyelashes (and they love mascara) but then sometimes I blank on my PIN number when I’m at the Woolies checkout. Clearly I have the memory of a gnat. Or an eyelash mite.

Anyway a while ago I wrote about how we gave our old 1970s kitchen an IKEA kitchen renovation, completing it (kind of!) just in time for our baby's arrival (these pics above were taken by the lovely Alanna of Earthbound Images when he was nearly four months) and I also shared our IKEA kitchen renovation diary.

In a nutshell? Yes, I would totally recommend doing an IKEA kitchen if you are thinking about putting one in, especially if you want to keep things to a tight budget.

But because you all know I LOVE to talk (and talk!) here’s my breakdown of the pros and cons.

Read on House Nerd

Hi guys. It has been a little while in-between posts, hasn’t it? We have been busy. We went away on a really nice holiday over east, visiting my sister-in-law and her family in Berry, Kiama and Gerringong. You may have seen some of my excitable ramblings on Instagram about how freaking beautiful it is over there.

And how pretty is my sister-in-law's house? Every time we stay with them I come back to my own house feeling refreshed and energised to get my DIY on and make our house prettier.

We stayed here while we were away... no it's not some cute AirbnB, it's my sister-in-law's house by the beach! You can follow her (I love her style) on Instagram @livderoche.

A sneak of my sister-in-law's cute powder room. That painted brick and mirror!


We have really beautiful beaches in WA too, but man the NSW coast is also stunning. I went swimming every day that I could. There is something about a dip in saltwater that makes you feel like a new person. 

Oh hey Gerringong rock pool! And random floating dude.


I’ve been talking with my web people about doing a big House Nerd redesign and migrating over to Wordpress, which is a lot of work, but so exciting and will mean some fun improvements to the...

Well, this is a little embarrassing. We finished renovating our 1970s main bathroom AGES ago... during which time we went on our honeymoon, I got pregnant, had a baby, we've renovated our kitchen, laundry, floors and windows... and yet I’ve never actually got around to doing a full before and after story of our bathroom reno on here.

I think this is partly because photographing this makeover story meant I would have to actually thoroughly clean this bathroom, a concept that unsettled me so deeply I put it off for like a year. 

But I think I also procrastinated on featuring this room because we had a couple of issues with this bathroom and man, nothing ticks me off like something that I have tried to do that I haven’t quite nailed. With some things (obviously not cleaning) I am a horrible perfectionist. If something isn’t how I imagined it would be, I fixate on it with growing resentment until eventually, I realise that in the grand scheme of life, I am getting worked up over something that is trivial and I cover it up with a pretty pot plant and I move on.

So let’s talk about our family bathroom makeover!

We had renovated our ensuite before this bathroom (you can see that before...

A little while ago, I wrote a story on the home of Etica Studio designer Carla Karsakis who downsized to a one-bedroom ‘apartment’ on a 200sqm inner-city infill block.

These days a lot of Perth people are downsizing and building on blocks that are smaller than they ever traditionally were. But we are definitely still seeing the opposite - people wanting to escape the traffic and noise of suburbia to build on a big country block, wanting loads of space, a big garden and the peace and privacy that a big block can bring. And with our population getting older and studies showing adult children are now living in the family home for longer, many families are designing their new home to cater comfortably for older relatives or adult children.

Just like the couple I am featuring on here today. Hock Lim Tan and his wife Wendy Lam have been living in Willetton when they decided a tree change was in order. They bought a big country block (2.6 hectares) of cleared bushland in Jandakot and started looking for a builder to build their dream house for them and their two young adult sons, Jian Wen Tan, 21, and Jian Hao Tan, 18.

Hock and Wendy wanted a house that would be a nod to their...

I have never fallen into the “clean freak” category. But now that I am a working mum and we have a baby (still sounds strange even to me… deep down I am still 14 and have a crush on Mr Nerd who is giggling through his braces at the back of my Social Studies class) our house gets dirty eight times faster than it did before.

Not only has Little Nerd discovered a love of throwing food on the floor to Nala - our big, hairy, shedding dog (who he seems to believe we are starving to death), Mr Nerd and I also love to cook, we have a big, muddy garden that seems to get tracked into the house, and, if I’m truly honest, when we do have spare time, we would rather binge-watch Stranger Things than clean the house. We are getting new flooring soon, and I can't wait, but presently our 1970s "rental-grade white tile" floors are old and marked... often it feels like they never look clean even right after you've cleaned them. Most of my house cleaning for the week is done in the frantic 15 minutes before my in-laws come over.

I’ve never been a natural clean freak. I wish I was. My friend Tanya told me she actually enjoys cleaning as she finds it cathartic. I think I looked at her like she had...

Ugh, what a frustrating month July turned out to be! We recently started Little Nerd in day care for two days a week so I could have more structure and time to work. It’s been both good and bad.

While he loves day care – the women are lovely, the centre is brilliant and we love seeing all the new things he’s been learning – he’s been there five weeks now and I have realised that the biggest fear I always had about putting my kid in day care was true. The kids DO get sick all the time.

Interviewing the lovely building designer Carla Karsakis of Etica Studio in the warehouse-style, upper floor apartment of her new Mt Lawley home. Photos by Red Images Fine Photography. 

It’s a quandary. You put your kid in day care so you have time to work, or just to get things done without a small shouty person throwing toy cars at your kneecaps. But your kid catches things from day care. So they get sick, they can’t go to day care and you take time off from work to look after them until they’re better – during which time you catch what they’ve got, and possibly pass it on to other family members too. So everyone is sick, your baby is clingy and grumpy, no-one is sleeping well, you’re not feeling...

There is no doubt about it; the Bali we all know and love to visit today is hugely different from the Bali we knew 20 years ago. The somewhat daggy country I first visited when I was 12 years old has evolved.

Hands up if you are one of the many Australians who adore Bali? I have a small confession to make. Everyone’s been crazy about Bali for ages, especially in Perth with it being such a short flight away, but for a long time I didn’t like Bali much. I didn’t understand the hype. It didn’t pull me like other tropical destinations did. Well, that has changed. 



It started to change a few years ago when a friend had her wedding there and I saw how magical it could be. It changed even more when I kept seeing all these incredible photos of Balinese destinations. These days Bali is renowned worldwide for being one of the hottest destinations when it comes to incredible interior and garden design, the chicest resorts and villas, the coolest cafes and fantastic homewares and furniture shopping. My kind of holiday destination –a beautiful, inspiring, friendly and interesting place to be. (nd I am constantly impressed by the awesome - and often very affordable) homewares friends and...

The words ‘minimalist’, ‘modern home’, and ‘crawling baby’ are probably not words that many people would think belong in the same sentence when it comes to homes. Since we had Little Nerd, I have discovered that there is nothing that manages to compromise the way your house looks and functions than the destructive force of a little baby and all the ugly stuff they seem to bring. Unless you are a styling queen (which I am not) whose house always looks Instagram-worthy, a baby means your house is always going to look messier, more chaotic, for a while at least. Right?

Wrong! As I have now learned, having a baby actually doesn’t have to mean you can’t have an ultra-stylish, modern, minimalist home – and the new-build house I’m sharing today is most definitely proof.

Built by Weststyle Design and Development, this incredible place in Cottesloe is home to Weststyle architect and general manager Gavin Hestelow, his wife Donnelle, a lawyer and yoga teacher, and their baby boy Ashton, 9 months.

LOVELY LIVING: The open-plan living area is nothing short of spectacular. An abundance of natural light, sea breezes and a view through the louvered windows across the treetops of Norfolk...

If you already follow our home renovations and my rantings about our dog nearly breaking my nose on Instagram, you might have already seen how VERY excited I was recently when we redid our floors.

If you know me in person, you will probably vouch for the fact that 80% of what I have ever talked about in real life over the past five years has been our floors – specifically how much I always hated them. Seriously I am like that friend you have who is always whinging about her annoying, boring boyfriend that you know she will never break up with, only I am the friend who is always complaining about her ugly flooring.


I’ve been like this pretty much since we bought our house nearly six years ago, so that’s a long time. People would come over and be like, “Wow, the new kitchen is really nice!” and I would sigh and say, “Yeah, but I can’t wait to do the floors. They suck.” So I think all my friends are secretly like, “Just renovate your stupid floors already. I’m sick of hearing you talk about them.” DONE. My floors and I have officially broken up. 

We’ve been living with our new floors for about a month now and oh my God, I love them. I loved them as soon as I saw them. And I’ve had...

Recently I shared with you guys our new vinyl plank floors – and some ‘before’ photos of the floors we used to have. There was a reason we nicknamed this house the Crap Shack when we got it! Our 1970s house had a mishmash of some not-very-pretty flooring. You can see all the before pictures here and our before and after reveal of our new floors here!

After looking at different options on the market – timber, tile, laminate and bamboo – we finally chose vinyl planks (from Karndean Designflooring) and we could not be happier with them.

I’ve been getting so many questions about vinyl flooring through Insta, Facebook and on the blog so I thought I’d put them all together in one post and try to answer them all here! If you have anything else you might like to know, please feel free to leave a question in the comments.

Photo: Heather Robbins.


Do you like the vinyl planks?

Yes! No doubts and no regrets on what we went with.

How did you pick a colour?

It wasn't easy! My first thought was that we do an oak colour. This pic below is Karndean Birch; what we eventually went with. But then Mr Nerd suggested we do black and that totally threw me.

Read on House...

Good morning nerds! Today is a happy day, because today I am bringing you some ‘after’ photos - our recent floor renovation, where we had Karndean Designflooring vinyl plank floors laid over our existing old tiled floors.

My God, I love looking at before and after shots. You know how on Facebook it now brings up old photos that were taken like, two, four years ago, on this date? (It is a feature I have been really enjoying. Well most of the time. Note for future self: No you cannot pull off the blunt fringe. No matter how much you thought you would look like Rory in season 7 of Gilmore Girls. (Which was such a crap season to end the show, wasn’t it? Rory’s hair was probably the season highlight. How I rejoiced when I learned they were doing a season 8. Team Jess, people).

Rambling on... for the same sentimental 'walk through memory lane' reasons I love Facebook as a bit of a diary, I love looking at Before photos of my house (and other people's houses). I always tell people who are going to renovate to take TONS of before photos, because you would be surprised at how easy it is to forget to do so, or to forget how bad a space used to look if you don’t have a pictorial...

The other day I shared that we were going to be in a TV segment on home renovating on Channel 7's Today Tonight. It aired last night and it’s online already for those who missed it!

Like a lot of people, I do find it a little discomfiting to watch myself back on video but it was very funny seeing our house on our TV. Even the toilet I wallpapered in my first trimester got some screen time!



And we had a laugh while we were being all serious while Little Nerd was just cramming his face with cookie. My parents were horrified that their grandson’s TV debut was basically him stuffing his face with confectionary, but trust me it was the only way we could keep him quiet during the interview and prevent him from shouting BALL BALL BALL over us the whole time. Bring on that refined sugar.

Check out the segment below.

I like the bit where the guy says there are a lot of 70s-built houses that are now ripe for a bit of renovating and profiting. Go 70s houses, you fine things.

Thank you Chantelle Toohey for featuring us and I also have to say a big thank you to Mr Nerd for putting up with all the random delightful bloggy things I come home and spring on him, like “a TV crew is going to come...

Make sure you turn on your telly soon if you want to catch a little glimpse of me, Nala, Mr Nerd and Little Nerd – and our house - in a segment on home renovating!

It will air Monday 14th November at 6.30pm on Channel 7's Today Tonight with the lovely Chantelle Toohey presenting. 

You might remember two years ago when Chantelle interviewed me for another segment on beautiful Perth houses, where I did a stellar job on camera of flipping importantly through a ginormous architectural book I had never read and pretending in a very non-creepy, not-at-all Single White Female way that my friend Carla Karsakis’s cute home office was actually my own, despite the big “Etica Studio” sign in the background that I didn’t notice 'til later.

Chantelle and I in my little kitchen. 


But TV shooting has time constraints, people. If a TV deadline is looming and your own home office is nowhere in sight, take your friend’s. Tell no-one.

Bringing my A-game to the book-flipping component. 

MUCH SERIOUS. FOCUSED JOURNALIST FACE etc.

This time however, the segment is actually partially shot in my REAL house (and garden. Don't look at the weeds, look at the baby!) And this time, I managed to coerce my husband...

Amy and Andrew Palmer-Millin stumbled upon their new home by accident. They were house-hunting in seaside Scarborough and were on their way to a different home open when they chanced upon the place that was to become their next home. “We accidentally went to see the house, it wasn't on our list to view at all,” says Amy. “We drove past and saw the sign and thought, ‘Oh we are early, let's just go see it.’”

Dated and daggy, with a horrendously overgrown garden, the 1980s house had been overlooked many times as it sat on the market for two whole years. But beneath the daggy features and tired paint scheme, Amy and Andrew saw the home’s potential immediately. “It had great bones,” says Amy.

DINING ROOM: On the wall hangs a large photo Amy and Andrew took while on holiday in Sardinia (a part of Italy I have always wanted to travel to – for the food!) “The food was incredible,” sighs Amy. The copper and wood pendant lights were from Angove Street Collective. Photos by Heather Robbins.

FLEA MARKET FINDS: “The copper pots were found in Paris and returned to Perth in my parents’ luggage,” reveals Amy. “Lucky for us they travel light, not sure they have got over it though! I also love the...

Hands up if you’ve started your Christmas present shopping? Hands up if you are stuck? Every year I make a list in the Notes section of my phone for the people we have to get presents for; and I jot down ideas as they come. Every year I get a little stuck when it comes to present ideas for at least one particular person or another.

As I have gotten older, I find that I’m much more careful in the way that I shop for gifts now than the over-excited, ‘take all my money!’ way I shopped when I was a teen and in my early 20s. I’m over the stocking fillers now; the silly bits of merchandise that get used once or twice and discarded or forgotten. 

BEFORE: I had fun looking up old Christmas photos for this post - this was our house the year we moved in, with our first Christmas tree - a 1980s hand-me-down from my parents! I remember thinking it was the biggest, most impressive tree when I was a little kid. 

We then moved to this one, complete with wonky star (pic of our old floors!)

The Christmas tree we have today (from Balsam Hill). 

We’ve now decluttered our house so many times and given away so many things that are just taking up space that I find real pleasure in giving (and receiving...

Coming up to Christmas and the end of the year, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has been reading and therefore supporting House Nerd the past year – I appreciate it so much. Perhaps more so this year than any other year.

2016 hasn’t been the easiest year for a lot of journalists in Perth, or across Australia for that matter. The golden era of print journalism and the romantic image of the journalist I grew up with in movies like Almost Famous and Sleepless in Seattle has long gone. The media today is an industry that is rapidly evolving, shoving paper aside for the net.

MAKING ME HAPPY RIGHT NOW: We got a new Balsam Hill Christmas tree this year, delivered to our door. I have bought and carried, single-handedly, a giant Christmas tree from a shopping centre before (in Christmas shopping season no less) and I never want to repeat that experience. Plus it was a display model, and it shed faux snow all over me and the interior of my car, then literally fell apart years later. Anyway, I felt like sharing our new one on here because I love it so much. They are not cheap-cheap, but they are gorgeous and I absolutely love ours. You can get them so they come with the lights...

Perth, I’m pretty proud of you. Even though we’ve always had our share of talented artists and makers, ten, fifteen years ago, we weren’t exactly known for having the most vibrant or connected creative scene. And I couldn't stand that awful term ‘Dullsville’ was so often bandied around by people smugly moving to Melbourne!

That’s definitely changed. Now Perth is pumping out these fantastic, talented artists and creatives, makers and designers of all backgrounds and all industries. Maybe, in a way, being the most geographically isolated city in the world is actually beneficial for us. We now have a thriving, growing community that encompasses local creatives of all kinds, whether your creative outlet is your full-time career or a passion project you do in your spare time.

I feel like people are tapping into their creative sides in whatever way that is – art, photography, writing, floristry, ceramics, textiles, graphic design, candle-making, whatever. On top of that, the surge in social media has seen Instagram and Facebook connect so many people. Yes, yes, I know some people hate social media… but I think it’s such a fantastic outlet for people to showcase their work to people...

Would you be brave enough to buy a house without your partner seeing it? Business owner and real estate agent Matthew Travia was and he did.

With the aid of building designer Janik Dalecki, Matthew and his partner Cora have turned this basic, very small former State Housing Commission home built in the 1960s into a simple and modest, yet very well-loved and restful first family home for themselves, their two dogs and their new baby daughter Aria.

BEFORE

AFTER. Photo by Dion Robeson.

A MINIMALIST HOME: Home owners Matthew and Cora with their baby Aria. Photo by Heather Robbins.

KEEPING THE ORIGINAL FOOTPRINT: Janik happily complied with Matthew and Cora’s request to keep the original footprint of the home and to redesign what was within the existing external walls. “With a push towards more sustainable building methods this is a great start - rather than knocking down and wasting a perfectly good house that has solid bones and just needs an updo,” says Janik. “This was a challenge as we also couldn’t go around bashing down every single internal wall to create a more spacious better flowing layout as this would defeat the purpose of keeping the existing house. To me it just seems...

Okay, honesty time. If I didn’t have a blog, I don’t think I would do a QUARTER of the stuff around our home that we do, and especially not in the time frames that we do it. I am just too lazy, people. I think one of the main reasons I became a journalist was because subconsciously I knew that I always need a looming deadline to move my reluctant butt into gear.

I’m the same way when it comes to creating blog content and renovating our house. In fact, I am pretty certain that if I did not blog I would just live in squalor, with the curtains always closed (or maybe there would just be newspaper on the windows) and whenever there was a knock on the door I would scuttle nervously between piles of renovation rubble with a hunted expression on my face.

Ok ok that’s probably not entirely true. We did do home improvement projects long before I started blogging. But it IS true that writing a blog is one of the best motivators to get my butt moving on a DIY project.


Other excellent motivators for getting stuff done around the house:

- having a baby (something I am not particularly keen on doing again anytime soon, thank you; I complained dolorously wrote a post about what being pregnant...

In my job I continually meet people who say they have always thought about extending their home – but for some reason or other they hesitate to take the first step. Often they find it daunting because a) they presume that getting a quote for such a big project will be a nightmare in itself and/or b) they presume it will be out of their budget anyway. Or c) they’ve heard an extending horror story from friends and now they’re having reservations.

With close friends of mine now wanting to jump on the home extension train, I thought it would be timely to do an informative post on what you need to know about extending a home – and to get the lowdown from a reputable builder who’s done it many a time.

BEFORE

AFTER: A Floreat character home Exactus renovated. 

I asked husband-and-wife team Ralph and Sandra Brewer of Exactus Homes if they would do this with me and they were more than happy to oblige. Ralph is the owner and director; Sandra is their marketing manager. I met these guys years ago while I was writing stories on houses for the paper and have always admired their high standards and their lovely houses.

So let’s bust some common myths about extending a house.

1. Don’t be put...

Would you buy a house you hated? Could you make an offer on a home with an interior you didn't like at all - a home that was actually a particularly ugly example of the era it was built?

Home owners Craig and Emma Croxford did – buying a 1970s Willetton house that was so depressing and needed so much work that it actually brought Emma to tears on various occasions!

But with many weekends of work and a vast quantity of DIY, Craig and Emma have managed to turn this diamond in the rough into a friendly, comfortable family abode that is now a perfect family home for them and their two young daughters. The house (and their renovation story) actually reminds me SO much of our house and our journey (the houses were built in the same year, too).

BACKYARD DECK: “The last major essential thing that we did to the house was the deck, which we did in October 2013,” says Emma. “It was essential because without it we had no way of containing our toddler in the backyard – she would have fallen to her death before she could get to the pool, though.” Photos by Heather Robbins.

HOME OWNERS: Brave renovators Craig and Emma Coxford. Photos by Heather Robbins.

I met Emma through my close friend...

Hi House Nerd,

I live in an old home in Fremantle that I am renovating and would love some tips on how to reduce road noise in my house. Being close to the street and constructed of weatherboard I hear every car that passes and it is getting quite frustrating especially when trying to sleep. Have you written any blogs on this problem and methods to solve it?

Many thanks,
Alexia

I adore this beautiful inner-city home from Homes to Love. Photo by Maree Homer.

Maybe there is something in our drinking water but this past month I’ve received not just one but three emails from different readers asking if I can do a story on how to minimise external noise in a suburban home and make their home quieter, because living in a noisy locale is slowly driving them nuts.

Well, when I get three separate requests about writing about one topic, I try to do it. Guys, I aim to please. Your wish is my command; email and I shall blog (usually. Don't get too kinky on me).

So back to reducing noise in a home. Firstly, I know some of you guys are probably quite surprised that I feel so enthused about writing on this topic, because, as many of my close friends will attest, I am as deaf as our doorstopper...

So today I finally have a before and after to share with you - our kitchen renovation! (Finally!)

I had putting off doing this Before and After story for ages because I was waiting til we could renovate one of the biggest elements (the floors).

But now it's done and I couldn't be happier, even though we didn't exactly achieve our goal of finishing the kitchen reno before we had our baby arrived (oops. But that's ok!)

BEFORE (or in-progress) Photo by Heather Robbins.

AFTER. Nala is clearly put out that she doesn't get to sit on my lap! Photo by Heather Robbins.

First here’s a little step back in time to refresh your memory.

Here is our 1970s kitchen when we bought the house. Charming!


It had a timber benchtop, jarrah cabinets made from old floorboards and a splashback with these brown tiles with little pictures of food and vegetable baskets on them. It was ok, definitely nowhere near as bad as our ensuite or our sunroom or our laundry. We actually really liked the cabinets, but all that dark brick and wood made the kitchen feel small and closed-in and kind of depressing. So we gave it a mini budget makeover (which you can read about in this blog post).

When we moved in, rendering...

“You need a hobby.” Mr Nerd didn’t just say this, he pretty much shouted it. “You don’t have a hobby and you need one.”

We were in the middle of one of our lovely shouting matches that make me feel bad for our neighbours, yet at the same time I am not going to be the first one to pipe down because piping down signifies weakness, people. I can’t even really remember what we were fighting about. It probably stemmed from something small, like I asked him how the chicken was, and he said it needed more salt, and I called him an ungrateful turd, etc. So basically normal marriage stuff. But for whatever reason, and however we came to it, there he was, yelling that I needed a hobby.

A pop of indigo in this sweet guest bedroom makeover by the talented Emily Henderson. Shibori looks fantastic with cane and other warm brown tones. 

At the risk of revealing the total space cadet that I am (is there such a thing as toddler brain? Because I have it) I don’t even remember the context of that argument. All I remember was replying, confused and incredulous, “What do you mean I need a hobby? Writing is my hobby,” and he was like, “That’s your work,” and I was like, “Yeah it’s work AND my hobby....

When Penny and Mat bought a dark, dated and daggy 1970s home in City Beach, they thought it might be a knockdown job – and their friends presumed they would bulldoze it and build anew, too.

But when Penny and Mat decided that instead they were going to renovate and extend to make it a home for them and their four kids under 12 – while living in the house during renovations - a lot of their friends told them straight-out they thought they were crazy.

No-one could call Penny and Mat nuts now (I don’t think!) With the help of local builder Exactus Homes, Penny and Mat have turned a house once destined for demolition into a wonderful, warm family home that combines a light, contemporary refresh with its original character and charm.

Some simple changes completely changed the look of the home's streetscape. Photos by Meghan Plowman.

BEFORE

SITE CHALLENGE: The park behind the house is beautiful, but Ralph says it meant there was limited access to the rear of the of the block, where all the extensions and renovations were done. “Our tradespeople had to cart all materials manually to the rear of the block,” he says. “Penny struck up great friendships with the Exactus trades, sharing a...

When you were growing up, you probably dreamt of the day you’d have your own place. I was way too dorky to get invited to house parties and do normal teenager things like hook up with boys, so daydreaming about my future house was pretty much my hobby. One of my first (and quite possibly strangest) blog posts was about how I even kept a glory box.

Fast forward to actually having my adult home and the reality has been so different to what I had imagined! The quaint English-style cottage with a rose garden I envisioned buying when I was a teenager somehow became a 3x2 brick and tile, fixer-upper 70s house in the ’burbs.

A bit of planning turned this rental house into a lovely home. You can see the home tour here. Photo by Heather Robbins. 

Sure, I liked the house when I first saw it at the home open. It made me smile. That lion’s head door knocker! Shagpile carpet! A 1970s bar! Orange glass windows! We threw a 70s-style housewarming in celebration and took Polaroids. And we got a dog. 

Nala then and now! I got Nala a few weeks after I moved in. She is now a permanent fixture on our bed. (I'm only half-kidding, she sleeps here every night, head on the pillow, body under the doona,...

How to Arrange Art

  • "People have a tendency to hang art too high," says Linda Crisolo, Art.com director of merchandising. "The center of the image should be at eye level." In living rooms, people are usually sitting, so artwork should be lower. A good way to ensure you're placing artwork at the right height is to hang it one hand width above the sofa.
  • A common problem when hanging artwork above a sofa or sideboard is that it's not in scale. Having pieces that are too small or too large will make the whole arrangement look strange. "Make sure artwork is at least two-thirds the size of the sofa or sideboard," Crisolo says. "For example, a 9-foot-long sofa should have a 6-foot-wide expanse of art above it."
  • In the bedroom, choose personal art, such as family photographs or your own photography. If you're arranging the pieces in groupings, Crisolo recommends sticking with one color theme, either all black-and-white or all color photographs.
  • "Above a mantel or fireplace is the perfect place to layer pieces," Crisolo says. "A house looks like a home when you can see layers of artwork and accessories."
  • In the kitchen, hang art in a place where it won't get damaged by water or heat. Consider placing art above an office space, near the dining table, or above open counter space. Crisolo also recommends avoiding kitchen art in the kitchen. "I tend to shy away from pictures of asparagus in the kitchen," she says. "Vintage art with traditional frames works in a traditional kitchen. In a modern kitchen, try bright colors with stainless-steel frames."
  • A symmetrical arrangement creates a striking and simple focal point. All-white frames and mats unify this grouping. "I like to use the same frames to create homogeny," says Crisolo.
  • When deciding where to hang images in your home, consider the wall space available and the arrangement of the room. "Use small pieces between windows and doors," Crisolo says. "If small items are in a space too large, the pieces look lost. With larger pieces, allow room for people to step back and admire the work."
  • Artwork collaborates with other accessories and decor to create a visual story. Make sure images, moldings, and shelves all work together. "Hang artwork in front of a bookcase, on the face of the shelf," Crisolo says. "The shelves and ledges become part of a decorating story."
  • Make sure your arrangement matches your decorating style. "Symmetrical arrangements are more traditional or formal. Asymmetrical is modern," Crisolo says. "Also look at the image and style of the frame. For cottage-style rooms, stick with vintage images or botanicals. In modern rooms, choose large and abstract pieces."