Table Decorating


I had the fun job of shopping from the huge ranges of tableware at West Elm, Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma recently, picking my favourite pieces and setting up 5 very different table designs, which were all photographed by the lovely Jacqui Turk.

The first part of the brief was to work with the white range of ‘Cambria’ dinnerware from Pottery Barn, and style it to create three unique tables – basically to prove that the every day entertainer can achieve the same look at home with the one cupboard of plates.

I styled the table pictured above with a Baby or Bridal Shower in mind, or a morning tea for my Grandma’s Birthday. Pretty florals and hints of pink and gold with delicious glasses of Rosé. A roll of wrapping paper proved to be the perfect and inexpensive table runner to sit on top of the fresh linen tablecloth…and when in doubt, always use gold cutlery!

 I had Mark’s Birthday in mind when I pulled the above table together. A more moody look was created with a mix of navy linens, stripes, some good red wine and pops of yellow – all served with something like a hearty Minestrone soup for the cooler months.

The third table I set up with the same white Cambria dinnerware had more of an eclectic vibe with a table runner created from budget friendly brown kraft paper, printed linen napkins and slices or dried orange, with gorgeous hammered cutlery. I imagine this look being perfect for a late Sunday lunch with family in the Winter sun.

The range of dinnerware at West Elm brought together a completely different looking table. The fun and quirky Dapper Animal plates are artworks in a ceramic form that make a big statement . The somewhat mad table was brought together by a small amount of faux palm greenery, brushed gold cutlery and a contemporary grey linen table cloth. I imagined a fun afternoon tea with some good friends – great tunes in the background served alongside some delicious sweets and treats.

I loved pulling the above table together. A more sophisticated look with the stunning range from Williams Sonoma. The range was created in collaboration with Aerin, a lifestyle brand founded by businesswoman and American heiress Aerin Lauder that specialises in refined pieces for the home. So very Hamptons if you ask me! I have such a big crush on that large fish platter.

I hope the above tables have given you some ideas for your own tables when entertaining at home – especially with Summer and the silly season only a few months away (can you believe it?!).

Briar x

DIY Easter Hat


We are pretty proud of our first home made Easter hat. We had a little spray painting/craft session using the amazing White Knight Paints and the easy to follow pattern designed by Bear and Sparrow. You can see the easy to follow instructions/pattern on their blog.

Briar x

Sunday Collector Renovation: Landscaping


Thanks to a very efficient builder and his team, our renovations went completely and utterly smoothly. Being our first home I know how lucky I am to be able to say that, as I hear horror stories all the time. Demolition was completed in a few short days, which was hugely rewarding, as we could immediately see the extra space we were creating in our living and dining area. The new kitchen had it’s final measure up a week later, which meant all the cabinetry when in to manufacturing straight away. Being the first home for our young family, we were really careful not to over-capitalise, so instead of changing the house around too much when it came to the layout, we simply gave the bathrooms and laundry major facelifts. Existing bedrooms stayed put – but with new lighting, flooring, skirting boards and window treatments. The magic of a professional paint job never ceases to amaze me either! As I’ve mentioned, we moved in after Christmas, and the feeling of accomplishment now we are living here is hard to describe, I would never have imagined we’d be in this position 5 years ago, it really does feel like a brand new little home for my family.

One thing I hadn’t anticipated is that by knocking out the back wall of the house made our garden a major feature, you can see it in full from the front door. Patchy and yellowing grass, a spindly (kind of dead) Banskia, a green hills hoist on it’s last legs and some tired looking Camellia’s were definitely not in my final vision for the place. Luckily for me, my Aunt is Michele Shennen, who besides from being one of the greatest people I know, also happens to be a very talented and accomplished Landscaper Designer, and wow – does she have some amazing ideas for our home. Michele is known for designing contemporary yet practical and family friendly outdoor spaces, with your chosen budget in mind. It’s been a fun process working with her to bring the vision to life.

Out the back, we’ve gained a huge deck (made out of gorgeous wide blackbutt timber that will age grey), more grass for the kids, a big working vegetable garden (which is a dream of Mark’s) and last but not least – we will be modernising the surrounds to the 1980’s pool area (this will really transform the space, but I’m seeing this as Stage 2 in the landscaping plan). The front garden is going to be a dedicated cactus and succulent area, a direct nod to my love of mid-century design. Michele has workshopped these ideas, and with that comes obvious extra construction costs.

When renovating a property, it’s important not to leave the landscaping budget at the bottom of your priorities because you really can reap the rewards when selling a house that has good outdoor spaces, particularly if you are targeting the first home owner market who may have young kids…you know, those apartment dwellers who are desperate for that backyard dream (putting my hand up right now). I’ve written about People’s Choice Credit Union before, read here – and they’ve recently been named CANSTAR’s 2016 First Home Buyer Customer Owned Institution of the Year SA. You may be interested to know that to celebrate the win, People’s Choice has a highly competitive three-year Fixed Home Loan Package rate specifically for first home buyers. Winning!

With a comfortable little budget in mind, below are some reference shots I’ve pulled from Pinterest over the past year, which explains my vision – with the deck already up, I’m really starting to envision those backyard parties, with a Basil Bangs Chaplin stripe umbrella on the deck, if I’m going to get fussy.

We will eventually cover the dated pebblecrete that surrounds the pool with some wide timber to match our back decking. Painting the inside of the pool is also on my list of things to do, but not a huge priority at this stage.

This house in Portland that featured in Dwell magazine has all it’s priorities right if you ask me. I love the lush grass, and the flow of decking with options for a comfortable seat.

As a contrast to the family friendly backyard, I want a low maintenance cactus garden at the front. This area gets hit with hot westerly sun, and I love that it will complement the 60’s lines at the front of the home.

Top of my list of ‘wants’ for the house was a breeze brick wall in white, similar to above. We’ve managed to incorporate one along one side of the deck, giving us privacy from our neighbours, and something pretty for me to look at.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated on our landscaping progress, providing you with tips along the way!
Briar x

This post was written in collaboration with People’s Choice Credit Union.

Home Renovation Tips


‘Stressful’ is a word I often hear clients use to describe the renovation process. With this in mind, I’ve sat down and put together some advice and handy tips to consider before a home renovation.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetsmeg3Don’t Rush

Before jumping in to your renovation, have a think about how you’d like to live and what you want to achieve in the space. For example, rather than deciding you need a brand new kitchen, could you simply update the appliances and cabinet doors? Sit down in the area you are wanting to renovate, and list things you want to achieve as you would a supermarket shopping list – looking up, looking down and looking sideways as you write – as you can miss an opportunity if you don’t think things through methodically. Pull together a mood board of your favourite materials, finishes and appliances from magazines and Pinterest. You may not be able to afford all the lovely things but you need a place to start, and it can always become a process of elimination. I’ve taken the approach of listing things that are most important to us as a family for this house i.e. I can live with the dated entrance stairs at the front of the house for now, but being such foodies, we can’t live without the beautiful white Smeg gas and electric cooker that’s been selected for the new kitchen (I can’t wait for that baby to arrive)!

smeg2Break it down

Whether you’re lucky enough to have savings in the bank to start your build, or you’re re-financing your mortgage to fund the project – keeping to budget and always knowing how you’re tracking is really important, so if you’re not sure how much things cost, speak to tradies and get those quotes rolling in. I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet up to date and every invoice and receipt has been filed correctly in my ‘HOME’ folder (I’ve been treating the folder as my Renovation Bible). And remember, it’s safe to say that every renovation project usually comes with an unexpected surprise. From the start, try to factor in a buffer of no lower than 10-15%. This extra cash will be helpful if an unexpected expense comes up and you need to find money to pay for it, fast.

Get Help

The more professionals your budget allows you to employ in the early stages, the better. If using a Draughts person, make sure you have a detailed list of the rooms you’d like, their ideal sizes, finishes and number and position of windows and doors. If this seems too daunting, speaking to a Decorator like myself for advice early on is always handy.

An experienced Architect is a luxury, but definitely a good idea. They will also be able to give you a good estimate of cost so you can decide whether your plans are achievable within your budget before you go to the trouble of applying for planning permission with your local council. Starting a renovation without correct permission could result in a fine or create some issues when it comes to selling your home, which is something you definitely want to avoid.

And remember, you will also need to speak to an Engineer if you are moving walls. A professional will advise you if you find you’re stuck on an aspect, they are also great to let you know where you can save money, e.g. “Don’t take that wall out, as your house will fall down with out it” (which were the exact words spoken to me not that long ago)!

Talk to a few Builders

Before choosing your builder, it’s so important to go off recommendations – speak to your architect, your neighbours, and your friends. Good builders are busier than ever at the moment (have you noticed everyone seems to be renovating?), so gauge their genuine interest by how many questions are asked, whether they want to visit the site quickly and hopefully they’ll then write up a scope of work with a quote soon after receiving the brief. Trust me, there is nothing worse than working with a builder that is too busy to take on the job. If time allows and your budget is tight, consider taking some of the load off your builder by arranging elements of the build yourself i.e. outsourcing with your own electrician and plumber and completing tasks like ordering all the bathroom fittings, and arranging things like floorboard installation and painting. Remember to go off good recommendations for every trade you use – I can’t stress this enough.

Keep Close

As soon as your renovation is under way you need to follow the progress closely to avoid any surprises. It is good to check in with the builder a few times a week so that any issues can be discussed and acted upon quickly. Also, it’s never a bad idea to treat your builder and trades to a coffee or a Friday afternoon beer every now and then – good work should be rewarded, as you know.

Look after yourself

Last but not least, to keep stress at bay – remember how important sleep, eating well and some exercise is. Easier said than done, I know – but it’s something I’ve had to address lately with so much going on. I’ve certainly got a clearer head space for the big decisions with good sleep and a bit of exercise under my belt!

Briar x




Painting the interiors of our house will be one of the last things we complete before moving in, but I definitely see it as one of the most important tasks. It’s no secret that a fresh lick of paint can improve a space immediately, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the transformation away from the old cream walls. The previous owners lived in the house for over 40 years so there is a few layers of messy paint jobs on the original timber windows that need to be fully restored, which is why I’ve decided to go with my ‘professional painter’ contact, rather than my ‘it’s a fast and easy job-painter’. I really want the paint finish to be perfect, so I feel paying that little extra for a premium job will be definitely worth it.

I’m loving working on the fun part first, choosing the colours. One guess who has asked me for a pink bedroom (!!). I’ve decided to use Taubmans throughout the home as I LOVE their colour range (Sunday’s room has been in Taubmans ‘Inverness’ for nearly 5 years now and I’m always getting asked what colour it is). Lucky for Sunday and myself, the range of pinks we can choose from for her room is really pretty gorgeous. I also love the handy tools you’ll find on the Taubmans website, and have been perusing it this week – such as the Paint Planner, Colour Tips and the extensive list of How To articles. Seriously worth checking out!

Happy man Raffy was more than happy to watch me test a variety of colours (I gave him a new paintbrush to inspect and it kept him busy for half an hour)! It got me thinking about some tips I like to take in to consideration when testing paint colours (I like to always do a large patch on the wall I’m working with, although some people like to paint pieces of white cardboard which also great ):

Natural daylight is always going to show your truest colour, never have fluro lighting on and remember that incandescent lighting will always bring out warm tones and yellows. And remember, always make your decisions once the test patch has dried on the wall. It usually looks pretty different from when the wet paint has been first applied.

If you’re choosing colours for the whole home, remember to consider how the hues will flow from room to room to create your whole look.

A single colour can take on a very different look when applied in different finishes. Eg. Wall and window frames can remain the same colour, but consider using an eggshell (a matt and less reflective finish) on the walls with a semi gloss version for trims on windows and skirting boards.

I generally like a bedroom to feel restful and soothing so soft, cool colours and neutrals are always going to work. Same rule applies for kids rooms, it’s important not to overstimulate with really intense colours – some bright colours have been proven to lead to irritability.
I’ll be back here soon to let you know the colour schemes we’re going with, followed by the really big job – the EXTERIOR colour choices. Now that my friends, is when this little red brick house of ours is going to shine!!
Briar x
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