A kitchen renovation

22.06.20

The kitchen is often the heart of the home, and it certainly was in our last house. At the end of last year, we downsized houses (goodbye big backyard) to be able to afford a (smaller) home in the suburb we love that’s closer to the beach.

However, on the plus side – it has become apparent that the general layout and internal cupboards are actually in great condition, so we decided to try and find a way to overhaul the space on a budget, whilst still making an impact. I originally started to explore the budget direction of painting the cabinets and benchtops…I knew that would only be a short-term solution though. It was fate that I drove past the Granite Transformations showroom in Brookvale the following day. I originally assumed they were just another kitchen manufacturer, but was then taken through the process of what the company is also able to do with existing kitchens and I immediately felt optimistic with the concept of a cost-effective make-over – while avoiding a big demolition that would disrupt our home life too much. I was immediately sold. 

The first stage of the process involved a no-obligation quote that took place in our home the next week with the lovely designer, Vicki. I was thrilled when she confirmed our kitchen was in great condition for new granite benchtops and replacement cabinet fronts. During the site meeting, Vicki also came up with a great idea that I didn’t think would be possible – she suggested we knock out  the servery counter and extend the bench to the one level, which will create a little breakfast bench – perfect for feeding time at the zoo! 

Once the quote was approved, next, came the fun part – finalising the new finishes and colours. I’ve said this before, but I often find it so much harder to make selections for my own projects compared to when I’m working for a client. I blame it on being around so many choices all the time. I headed back into the showroom to see more options in real life and was really impressed with the extensive on-trend colour range available and jumped from choosing different bench surfaces. I loved the Carrara marble finish (this can be used to re-surface bathroom walls and floors too and it looks fantastic – check it out in the showroom), but then also found the Polar Ice to be a nice bright white, before finally settling on the bolder direction of a terrazzo look with ‘Terra Chiara’. See the full colour range here.

I love the apricot, brown and black flecks in Terra Chiara, which will add lovely warmth to the space. I then considered the different door profiles available and settled on a polyurethane classic shaker door, that I have ordered in Dulux Lexicon Quarter (the same white we have already painted the walls of our home). I have been really conscious of choosing a fairly neutral door profile and colour, as I know I’m going to have fun with the bench, splashback tile and door hardware. 

After going back and forth with a range of tile selections, I have ordered a soft sage green handmade subway, which will create a coastal and eclectic vibe. 

As we had the luxury of time to ‘live’ with the kitchen in the original state, I made sure to pull together a list of updates that have become our ultimate wish list, which includes:

  • Pull out drawer bin/s (I can’t wait to get rid of the smelly bin that I bang into every time I enter the kitchen)
  • New sink (that takes up less bench space than the existing one) and mixer tap 
  • Wall installed microwave, positioned above a new 60cm oven
  • New gas burner stove 
  • New pot drawers (soft closing will be a major plus)!

So, it’s all systems go for installation! I can’t wait for the day. It’s all locked and loaded for the end of the month and I’ve been informed it will be around 5 days of work with the one installer. The benchtops are being cut to size in the workshop at the moment and they will be simply fitted into place and bonded directly on to our old benchtops. There’s no need to remove the old surface – which is what makes Granite Transformations so unique!

Let the old cemented-on tile excavation begin. Exciting time for us, and the kids! At the end of the day, it’s still going to be a smallish kitchen – but I’m completely confident that with contemporary new surfaces, and the contemporary additions such as the bin and pot drawers – it’s going to be one transformed and very sweet space.  I can’t wait to take you through the whole process. 

See you back here soon, 

Briar   

Bula!

12.06.19

We have recently returned from one of those family holidays I know the kids will remember forever. It’s the first time Mark and I have both come back from a break and said ‘let’s try and make that holiday a yearly tradition’. The magic of Shangri -La in Fiji will do that to you. We met people who were visiting for their second, third, even fifteenth year in a row. Nestled on the private Yanuca Island, Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort offers the essence of an exclusive island hideaway yet is conveniently connected to the mainland by a bridge. It has been recently revamped and one of the highlights for me was the quality of the dining experiences.  I’ve got to be honest, Fiji hasn’t really been known for it’s cuisine (in my opinion anyway, I’ve been five times to various resorts over the years), but I can honestly say the food we had at The Shangrila-La was on completely new level. 

Room service was a fun novelty for the kids so we had dinner in our room for a few of the evenings (I highly recommend the chicken curry), but we also dined out a handful of times at the ‘special restaurants’, including the Golden Cowrie Coastal Italian Restaurant (delicious and traditional italian food with a great cocktail menu). We also feasted on Modern Asian twice at the gorgeous Takali Terrace (make sure to check out the extensive Gin menu, it’s epic). We frequented the breakfast buffet at Takali in the mornings, as the ambience/interiors of the restaurant is so stunning, and it was  also positioned right next to our favourite pool. Tip: Catch the ocean tide from the tiny beach outside Takali right around to the main pool, it’s magic!

We spent a lot of time poolside with a book while the kids swam (simple holiday heaven for the kids), and it was handy that kids could eat free from The Beach Bar & Grill, which was also a favourite spot for yummy and casual lunches. The kids visited the free Kids Club a few times too, when they wanted a break from all the swimming. Sunday’s favourite activity was definitely the Water Park which is a big inflatable floating park positioned close to shore. We also snorkelled and canoed around this area – the fish spotting was amazing! Mark also had a morning on the 9 hole golf course, while I had a gorgeous massage at the stunning Spa, CHI. We had an afternoon at the Put Put golf course (which Sunday loved) and that night was great – it was spent at the Polynesian show they hold at the village site. We witnessed fire walking by local villagers and feasted on a traditional Fijian banquet feast that I will never forget.

Below are photos from our trip that summarises the essence of our truly blissful 7 nights away:

Tiny brown feet on the sand after finding coral one morning on an empty beach. We made swimming at this beach a daily habit as it was such a quiet area of the resort. I can’t believe how lucky we were the weather while we there. An average of 30 degrees every day!

Sunday living her best life – the water really is that clear all along the coral coast of Fiji!


Sunsets were enjoyed almost every night outside our 2 bedroom Lagoon Bure, where we would enjoy drinks at the iconic Bilo Bar (pictured above) while the kids played in the sand.

Mr Curly Locks was treated like a Prince by the beautiful Fijians the whole week. Rafferty quickly developed his own daily habits which included an outdoor shower after swimming all day, and daily collections of Hermit Crabs in his champagne bucket.


Weddings are (obviously) popular on the island. Sunday and I went exploring one morning and walked around the beautiful chapel which looks over the ocean. She is wearing her new Coco and Ginger dress, which was perfect ‘resort wear’ for my little fashionista.

A definite highlight of the holiday was early one morning the four of us met Moses from the sustainability team on a small beach, and we spent time collecting washed up shells and coral to build our own ‘fish house’.  A few days later, we paddled out to the regenerated coral reef that Moses has created, and our (numbered) house joined 400+ other fish houses. The idea being, when and if the family who built a fish house return on holidays, you can go snorkeling and spot your little build in all it’s glory with its new and continued coral growth. Such a nice experience for all of us. (this regeneration activity only happens via word of mouth, so if you’re ever visiting Shargri-La, go and see Moses at the Marine Centre).


These two images encapsulate my holiday week the best. A lot of time in the water, and many delicious cocktails. Doing a whole lot of nothing but recharging and taking in the beauty of Fiji.

My only complaint was 7 nights wasn’t long enough. Argh! Take me back!

Briar x

Adiós Nits

29.01.19

The thought of head lice in the kids hair makes my skin crawl. I remember getting them as a kid followed by what seemed like hours of combing and re-washing my knotty/curly hair by my patient Mum. If you’ve never encountered them before…Head lice are very small wingless insects about the size of a sesame seed. The eggs are a little smaller and cling firmly to strands of hair. They live and breed in the hair of humans. Head lice feed on blood by biting the scalp, but aren’t dangerous. They cause itching and, sometimes, can cause skin irritation. Eeeew! That little description makes me never want to to encounter the little suckers. This is definitely one time that sharing shouldn’t be encouraged between kids.  Head lice can spread by sharing personal items such as brushes and combs.

Touch wood, we haven’t experienced nasty nits in our household yet, and I’m equipped this year for back to school time (tomorrow). I’ve recently been introduced to Moov Head Lice Defence Spray. It’s proven to protect against head lice for 8 hours, you simply follow these steps:

  1. Apply a minimum of 6 sprays to dry hair, including the name of the nape of the neck and behind the ears
  2. Brush hair to ensure even coverage
  3. Style hair (I always braid Sunny’s hair for school, which is said to be good for preventing head lice too – the nits can’t find it harder to get on to the scalp).

Simple as that, no rinsing. It’s advised to use it every day which I’ll definitely be doing when I receive an email from the school that head lice is kicking around (which feels like every second week). I’ll also be defending Raff’s curly locks for his days at daycare – a plus with this product is that it detangles too, which is great for his wild curls!

Briar x

Getting organised for 2019

18.01.19

We’ve had a quiet start to 2019, work is always a little slow for me during the month of January, and with no holidays planned – we’ve been hanging at home, heading to the beach and using the pool on repeat (with a blip in the middle with a trip to emergency for our very brave Sunny who had a bad fall at a restaurant which resulted in plastic surgery to her forehead).  Argh! Things can only get better for 2019, here’s hoping, anyway.

The weather we have been experiencing in Sydney has been amazing – pretty much too hot some days to stay outside for too long, so I’ve been heading indoors to get more organised at home. There is something so therapeutic about ‘culling your crap’ (yes, I’m one of those annoying people who love a big tidy). An organised home and workspace to me has always meant a clearer headspace, and the past week has been amazing for that. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some beautiful new pieces from Pottery Barn, and the photos below are a summary of what I’ve been up to – feeling more than ready and organised to smash the year of 2019!


Good quality storage baskets that you are happy to have out of the cupboard and on display when needed are really lovely to have around the home. Buying quality storage is going to guarantee you have them for years, and I was drawn to the chunky weave in the Aubrey Woven Basket, (lid not pictured) which reminded me of the clothes basket I grew up with throughout the 80’s (and yes, that lasted for years, too). I’m using one for all my cleaning products that I can lift out of the cupboard and take with me from room to room. I really like having a little organised caddy that stocks only the essential items I need – all in one durable carry basket. Also pictured above is the white marble ice bucket (used with no lid as a planter for the happy little Monstera).

I’m such a fan of the baskets I’ve incorporated one in to my tiny but mighty laundry. I don’t like having ugly washing  products on display, so one of these is the perfect solution. Also pictured is a Cotton Tencel Organic Hand Towel in grey mist.

Speaking of tiny spaces, our bathroom has been given a lift with the gorgeous nickel and glass etagere. I was desperate for extra storage in here, and  I’m finding it really handy to only have the essentials I use every day at arms reach so close to the sink  (while it all still looks pretty). The shiny nickel finish matches our towel rails and tapware perfectly too. Also pictured above are the handy glass canisters (it’s great getting rid of the ugly packaging of my much needed magnesium salts for soaks in the bath). I’ve also stored our toothbrushes in the small canister, and pictured on the shelf below is the lovely hand soap and moisturiser, also from Pottery Barn (I’m such a sucker for nice packaging)! On the floor are the comfiest little slippers I’ve ever owned – the Teddy Bear Faux Fur slippers.

An organised workspace is so important, and working from home means I get ‘little hands’ (ie. Sunny) rifling at my desk quite a bit. I figure if I keep it neat and free of clutter, it’s going to be easier to find things. The Brokers Wood and Galvanized Home Office Collection is the perfect desk companion to keep everything in order. It’s also great to have all my USB’s in one little drawer, and I’ve been keeping al my envelopes together too – I don’t know about you, but I can never find an envelope when I need one!


Definitely a feel good achievement – I’ve filed work paperwork in to three categories and it’s all sitting in this compact paper cabinet that fits on my desk. It felt so good sending that huge pile of papers to the recycling bin – there really was a build up over the course of 2018. Definitely head clearing stuff! Also pictured is the cute Pocket watch clock.

It’s safe to say most homes develop a bit of a dumping ground at the front door. Bag, hats, shoes, umbrellas etc tend to end up here – so it’s been so great to have that area all neatly organised in my home with the quality Cast-Iron row of hooks in Antique Bronze. With two rows of hooks, this hardworking piece does double duty. The hooks would also be handy in a bathroom or on a back porch for towels and other gear. Also pictured is the  oversized Beachcomber Rectangular Handled Basket. Handwoven from sustainable natural fibres, it’s a sturdy basket that now houses all our hats and bags.

Hope you like what I’ve done with the place! Wishing you a healthy, happy and organised 2019!

Briar x

Gift Guide

22.12.18

There is officially two and half more days for Christmas shopping left, so it’s not too late to pick up some last minute gifts from three of my favourite stores – West Elm, Pottery Barn and for the little people in your life, Pottery Barn Kids. I checked out all three stores recently with gifting in mind and these are the things that I loved. Here are images of the selection in my home – I hope you feel inspired!

Our always growing book collection is seen here getting a little support from the  Colour Pop Crystal Bookends (Set of 2). Also pictured is the very cute but cool marble box in black and white. Perfect for jewellery or other treasures.

Sunday has recently discovered the yumminess of a delicious waffle for breakfast – definitely a ‘sometimes treat’ that deserves the cute place setting seen above, all from Pottery Barn Kids. Cambria Plate and  Placemats in Rugby Grey, quality Riveted cutlery in white are complimented by the fun Mason Jars with straws. Perfect for a milkshake!

Sunday’s desk from Pottery Barn Kids is still used by her every day, years since she got it – she loves to display her art on the cork board hutch. Also pictured here is the handy pencil caddy/lazy susan.

I’m always inspired by the tabletop range at Pottery Barn, and fell in love with the gingham cork placemats (which come in red to0). Brushed gold flatware is still on trend this year (I love pairing it with the navy), and the elegant white Fleur dinnerware range from Monique Lhuillier is so stunning in the full set. Also pictured are the beautiful indigo napkins that are perfect for Christmas with the festive napkin rings.

The deco range at West Elm seems to get better and better every year. The copper and cane tray would be perfect when entertaining for that touch of glam, and I’ve been loving filling the house with the gorgeous scent of the Apocethary incense (fresh balsam fir, citrusy grapefruit and warm + cosy musk).  Also pictured are handy stocking stuffers – the cute range of notebooks, also from West Elm.


Finally, I have  an organised way to store my jewels. I’m obsessed with this West Elm  Jewellery Box. The proportions are so generous, I can keep everything in the one place on my bedside table.


I’ve positioned the Apothecary Incense by the kitchen sink, I feel it goes so well with our gold mixer tap!

Lastly, a hint of what I’ll be drinking this silly season. All sitting pretty in the kitchen is the  Bleecker Bar ice bucket and Martini jug. Glassware also pictured is called the Library Hand-Cut Double Old-Fashioned Glass.

And, incase you were wondering – a recipe for the perfect Aperol Spritz:

  1. Fill the glasses generously with ice cubes.
  2. First pour three parts of Prosecco (75ml) over the ice.
  3. Then, pour three parts Aperol (50ml) into each glass in a circular movement.
  4. Finish with a dash of soda (25ml)
  5. Garnish with a slice of orange.

    Enjoy! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas x

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