Client Consultation…Sitting Room Design

A little while back I was contacted by Corinne who was in the midst of planning a home renovation. She told me she lived in the country on seven acres (lucky thing!) with her husband and five kids and was keen to refresh her interior. Her goal was to create a more open-plan layout and up-to-date aesthetic. Part of her vision involved the proposed removal of a division wall currently in place between her main entrance and kitchen, though with that boundary wall gone, she was unsure how to make her front room work. She wanted a welcoming first impression for guests, though as the room would be directly off her kitchen, also a cozy gathering place for family and friends. She also needed to incorporate her existing piano. In terms of style, she was after a comfortable yet refined cottage feel with a touch of eclecticism.

Here’s her entrance room before…

Entry Room Makeover Before Entry Room Makeover Before Entry Room Makeover Before Entry Room Makeover Before

Through my renderings, I wanted to give Corinne an accurate ‘feel’ for the space so roughly incorporated her adjoining kitchen and dining room as well as snippets of her adjacent family room (as can be seen in the overhead doll’s house views). I also gave her three configuration options to demonstrate flexibility in terms of furniture layout.

A divisional half wall in the form of a bookcase helps create a sense of intimacy yet maintains an open link with the kitchen and dining space.

Entry Room Virtual Makeover After Entry Room Virtual Makeover AfterDolls House View

A low slung settee, positioned with its back toward the door, creates an entrance walkway of sorts. Open access to the kitchen and dining room is maintained.

Entry Room Virtual Makeover AfterEntry Room Virtual Makeover AfterDolls House View

A sofa table (or cabinet) placed behind a settee between the kitchen/dining space forms a subtle boundary.

Entry Room Virtual Makeover After Entry Room Virtual Makeover AfterDolls House View

Which is your favourite? I think I’m torn between concepts one and two.

If you’re interested in some design help for your own home please feel free to view this page for some further information and don’t hesitate to contact me at any time.

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Filling a Naked Picture Frame

Sorry if my post title lured you here in hopes of some gratuitous nudity :-)

I thought I’d ease back into the décor side of things with this easy project. It’s certainly not rocket science though for anyone scratching their head about an easy way to re-claim their glass-less, back-less picture frames here’s how I recently salvaged one of mine.

Supplies
1. A naked picture frame. I found mine in a charity store for just $15 (which isn’t bad for a large, ornate, gilt frame). Empty, glass-less, second-hand frames can usually be bought for bargain prices.
2. A piece of thin rigid board, cut to fit inside the frames recess. I used a scrap of melamine-backed particle board I found in the shed though you could use anything from thick cardstock to ply. I simply measured mine and cut it down with a jigsaw.
3. A lovely new picture, sized to fit inside the frame and printed onto standard (or high-quality) paper. I found my owl image on-line for free here. I increased the resolution and played with the dimensions a little in Photoshop to ensure it would fit nicely inside my frame (if you don’t have Photoshop you can do this with GIMP, Pixlr or Paint.net which are all free programs). Then, because the image was sized larger than standard paper, I had it printed professionally (by Officeworks) onto 180gsm satin paper for around $5. Taking into account the price of domestic printer ink the cost of professional printing is pretty comparable and the quality is awesome.
4. Spray adhesive. Or any paper-friendly bonding agent, such as Mod Podge etc.
5. Framing tape. Or, if like me you find that too proper, masking tape will do just fine.

How To Fill An Empty Picture Frame

Protect any surrounding surfaces and liberally spray your backing board with adhesive. Wait a few minutes for it to become tacky.

How To Fill An Empty Picture Frame

Position your print in place over the board then smooth it down firmly to ensure even adhesion.

How To Fill An Empty Picture Frame

Place your backed print inside your frame and secure it in place with a border of tape.

Stand back and admire your unique and thrifty new wall bling!

How To Fill An Empty Picture Frame

As mentioned above, I downloaded my owl image here for free from Vintage Printables. If you’re interested in discovering some other great sources for free printables, be sure to check out the Free Printables section in my Resource Directory. Just don’t blame me when you’re still in your pyjamas at mid-day ogling all the beautiful images available.

Oh, and by the way, remember that home office makeover I started back when flares were in fashion – for the first time? Well, the photo above may, or may not, be a little peek of my latest progress. Can’t wait to get the space done and share it already!

OWL PRINTABLE: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

 

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Blogger v WordPress

I am not, nor do I claim to be, any sort of web development/design expert. Even after having spent the better part of a year building this new blog I still consider myself a reasonably clueless amateur equipped with just enough foolhardy stubbornness to avoid defeat. As such, although I did consider writing a detailed post about my experience, unfortunately I feel in no way qualified to offer in-depth advice to anyone on the intricacies of website crafting or blog migration. There are already numerous on-line articles about the subject written by much more competent folk than I. That said, I do feel somewhat obligated to share my acquired knowledge (scarce as it may be) with any of my readers seeking straight-forward information about DIY’ing a WordPress site from someone who has had the experience. So if you do have a specific question please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

So although I may not have an expert opinion to offer on the matter, I do feel reasonably confident expressing a personal one…

When I first mentioned my proposed move from Blogger to WordPress, and since the launch of this new site, the most asked question by far has been “Why WordPress?”. Again, there are already numerous on-line articles about the subject, though if you’re keen to hear some points from the perspective of someone you can perhaps relate to then please read on.

Note that the following views expressed are based solely on my personal experience having used both WordPress self-hosted and Blogger blogs. If you are seriously considering changing or choosing a blog platform I recommend seeking information from various sources first.

:: I initially switched from Blogger to WordPress for cosmetic reasons (no, not the make-up kind). Don’t get me wrong though, I could have created an aesthetically lovely site in Blogger though for whatever reason I had quite a specific design in mind and whilst Blogger is customisable to some extent it just doesn’t offer the flexibility of WordPress. Blogger guards many of its files whereas WordPress grants almost unlimited access. This allows for total freedom in the modification and addition of content. If you’re planing to work with a designer then file access may be reasonably inconsequential to you, if you’re planning to self-design then some knowledge of coding is necessary (HTMLCSS and for WordPress, probably PHP also – note, even if you’re not planning to design your own site I believe some knowledge of HTML and CSS is still beneficial). If you’re not too fussed about a totally customised site then both platforms offer numerous ready-to-use, well-designed templates which can be personalised. There are just more options (in terms of features and functionality) with WordPress.

:: WordPress is supported by a vast community of generous and passionate volunteers who offer amazing free content, services and advice. Most noteably, Plugins. Plugins are software components which can be easily used to extend WordPress to do just about anything. There are thousands of awesome free Plugins though also some powerful paid ones. I use them mainly for cosmetic reasons, such as creating dynamic slideshows or galleries. My little Shop was also created using a fantastic free Plugin.

:: In most cases having a Blogger blog is completely free. Having a self-hosted WordPress site means paying for hosting. This can vary from as little as $10  to as much as $500 per month! Choosing the right host is one of the most crucial steps in establishing a new website – it took me a few weeks to make my decision. The cost involved in hosting is generally reflected by the amount of traffic you receive. Most hosts offer plans based on average daily page hits (for example, if you regularly have around 5,000 daily page hits then monthly hosting might cost you $20/if you’re closer to around 50,000 daily page hits hosting might cost $200). It’s a tricky balance – you don’t want to pay more than necessary though if you choose the wrong host/plan you risk having a slow-loading site and even crashes!

:: WordPress offers unlimited static pages (static pages are stand-alone pages such as that used for About, Contact, etc). When I  first looked into redesigning my blog on Blogger the amount of static pages you could have was limited to 20. For me this was frustrating. I’m not certain whether Blogger has now lifted this cap.

:: Maintaining a WordPress site comes with a greater level of personal responsibility. Blogger handles pretty much everything on your behalf – storage, backups, hosting, security, etc – so all you need do is concentrate on writing awesome posts. Because WordPress sites are self-hosted, you (or your trusted designer) are responsible for ensuring these finer details are properly managed.

:: There is more choice with WordPress though just remember that isn’t necessarily always a good thing! If you’re indecisive by nature or daunted by options WordPress can be overwhelming. In this instance the simplicity of Blogger is its strength.

In summary, the shuffle to WordPress was the right move for me. I’ve really enjoyed both the challenges and avenues it’s presented. Both platforms have their pros and cons. There is nothing definitive which makes one clearly better than the other. The right platform is the one which best suits you. Remember, you can always establish a trial blog to sample a platform before making a final decision. If I had to make recommendations; for casual or hobby bloggers – Blogger, for serious or fastidious bloggers (or those with an interested in web development/design) – WordPress.

I hope this little summary of Blogger v WordPress (in my humble opinion) has been somewhat helpful. Like I mentioned, if you’re seriously considering changing or choosing a platform do some research first. There are loads of really thorough on-line articles about the subject. If you’d like further clarification or information about anything I’ve mentioned please feel free to ask – I’m more than happy to try and help.

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Hello WordPress!

Welcome

I almost can’t believe it!

After what feels like for-ev-er (though was actually more like the better part of a year – yes people, a whole year!) my newly designed blog is finally live!

If Charlotte wasn’t asleep right now I would literally scream…very loudly! Though in the interest of napping infants (and perhaps more importantly; mother ‘alone’ time) instead I’ll simply exhale with added exuberance.

The journey to this finished site did at times seem fraught with more obstacles than a hobbit’s road to Mordor, though, like Frodo, I got there…eventually – and am clearly so elated I’m not adverse to throwing in nerdy Lord of the Rings references.

For those of you who are interested, in the coming days I’ll publish a more thorough post outlining some of my blog’s new features and detailing the development adventure (this might be particularly appealing to fellow crazy bloggers who, like me, feel the need to try and DIY absolutely everything!), though for the purpose of this initial welcome I’ll keep things short and sweet. That said, there are a few things I do gotta say…

THANK YOU for being here! Without visitors this little on-line home of mine would be a lonesome place indeed so I’m truly grateful for every virtual knock on the door. And now that the new site is finally complete I’m looking forward to redirecting all that time into producing awesome fresh content I hope you’ll enjoy.

This blog would not exist without the generous help of our awesome friend Richard who aided with the ‘how-the-heck-do-you-do-that’ techie side of stuff. My husband figures I owe him a kidney.

Please make yourself at home and feel free to have a good peek around! I spent much of my time polishing the basic design and general content to create a pleasing aesthetic and optimise user experience. I’ve included lots of new features (such as a Resource Directory, Project Gallery, Guest Book, Image Archives and even a little Shop) and clean navigation. Also, let me know if you notice anything looking or acting a little strangely. I did some cross-browser and multi-device testing though as I’m only a part-time perfectionist am pretty sure there are probably still a few kinks.

Given the long anticipated launch of this blog, I feel I need to offer some kind of explanation to those of you who may feel underwhelmed by the apparent banality of the site. This blog took so long to complete, not because I was aiming to produce some kind of innovative masterpiece, though because I custom-built it myself and had to self-learn every step of the way. The design is not breathtaking, though to me, at least, it is a breath of fresh air.

Although I did use the words ‘finished’ and ‘complete’, I prefer to think this blog will be in constant evolution. In fact, there are already some changes to be made and new features to be added – and there is always tweaking to be done. So don’t forget to revisit some pages and look for fresh inclusions every now and then.

Got a question? Please feel free to ask when you leave a comment below. I don’t profess to be an expert though will do my best to address as many as possible in my upcoming post.

Oh, and one last thing; if you haven’t already, don’t forget to get connected and stay in touch…

 

 

 

Please note, if you followed my previous Blogger blog solely through Google Friends Connect it’s probably a good idea to subscribe to this new site via a different means to ensure you continue to receive post updates (the truth is, I’m not really certain how Google Friends Connect works to translate feeds from a redirected site though subscribing via an alternate method will cover any possible gaps). There are numerous ways to receive new post updates though I recommend subscribing via RSS or email. I’ll highlight some of the alternatives in my upcoming post.

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Home Office Cabinet Progress

I know I originally said I wasn’t going to refer to my new computer area as a ‘home office’ though it’s just the most self-explanatory title, so home office it is.

You may remember I was in a bit of a pickle over finding some appropriate cabinetry. The restrictive proportions of the space teamed with our hulking great computer (and other paraphernalia) plus the need to store ALL of our books was making my search really tricky.

Though as you may or may not know, I’m not a millionaire, so I couldn’t quite stomach the idea of forking out big bikkies on a bespoke build.

Well….we were at a family birthday recently when a builder friend of ours mentioned, without even a word about my home office dilemma – promise – that he was interested in some extra little ‘backyard’ jobs.
Could his timing have been more perfect?
So I brought up my conundrum and after some discussion we decided it was a great win-win solution.

A few weeks on I now have this….

Granted, it is hard to decipher from that photo, and I’m not trying to be elusive, it’s just the best ‘before’ shot I could muster. Basically it’s a simple free standing modular-type cabinet. There will be a long spanning desk sandwiched between two deep lower cabinets and two tall upper bookcases. It’s a pretty conventional solution, kinda like this (minus the mini guitar and green tractor)….

As much as I covet built-in cabinetry, we have eventual plans to remodel some of our internal rooms so I wasn’t ready to go down that long road yet. Having a free-standing unit gives us the flexibility to reposition it if needed plus there is no installation required.

To keep costs down our friend built the cabinet out of pine ply and, of course, I’m finishing it off myself. In the above ‘before’ shot it is waiting in my parent’s driveway for a nice refreshing white paint shower courtesy of one of these bad boys….

I paint with an air compressor and spray gun quite a bit. It’s especially awesome for large or intricate pieces. There are pros and cons to forgoing the brush, though for a big project like this the spray gun is simply faster and less monotonous – which basically means at the end of the day hopefully I’ll still have some hair left (albeit paint-caked)!

I’m sorry that I don’t yet have an ‘after’ shot to share, though it’s coming….
one day….
soon….
hopefully :-)

 

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