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.

Valentine’s Day Giveaway {UPDATE: CLOSED}


Valentine’s Day has given me the perfect excuse to pull together my first giveaway for 2017. As mentioned before, I run the instagram account for Logan Wines and the followers always go nuts for a case of wine prize when they come up (seriously, who wouldn’t). So, this time I have partnered with two more of my favourite brands and it’s safe to say this is the nicest little giveaway I’ve ever organised. A true ‘package to love’ – the lucky winner will enjoy not only a mixed dozen of Logan Wines, but also a stunning range of table linen from Cultiver and a beautiful Red Quartz crystal from Rock & Co.

I’ve been sleeping on Cultiver bedlinen for the past few years (total devotee), and now we can all eat on it! The range of table linen is the same great quality I’ve come to expect, all pre-washed and woven from European Flax. It’s the beautiful colour palette that has me hooked. I’ve got a gorgeous classic linen table cloth in blush, a set of 8 table placemats in smoke grey and 8 table napkins in crisp white to win – the perfect set up for a luxe long lunch with family and friends, or a romantic dinner for two.

The crystal is honestly one of the most beautiful rocks I’ve ever seen. Hand picked by my best mate Rachel from Rock & Co with Valentines Day in mind, it’s a wonderful stone for romantic partners who want to reconnect, as it can help clear emotional blockages and let you feel lighter, more playful and fun. Also known as Strawberry Quartz, it is known to stimulate the mind; enhancing memory, increasing mental clarity and inspiring creative thinking or problem solving. I also think it just looks bloody wonderful on display!

The 12 bottles of delicious wine needs no introduction – the mixed case consisting of Vintage ‘M’ Cuvee, Hannah Rosé and Logan Pinot Noir is the perfect accompaniment to any romantic dinner. Don’t fear if Valentine’s Day ain’t your thing, I can promise you your friends will love you on any day if a bottle of Logan appears at the table. You should try it!

Head over to @logan_wines or @rockandco on Instagram to enter, or feel free to leave a comment here if you’re not on Instagram. Enter as many times as you like – open to Australian residents only, who are 18+. Winner chosen at random in one week. Good luck, lovers!

Briar x

Catching Up


I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year break. I’m pleased to say we made my crazy festive season deadline, and I was using our nearly finished kitchen for dinner with the family on Christmas Eve. 8.5 weeks of blood, sweat and tears. Not really, we had a beyond amazing builder.

We didn’t end up moving in properly until early January, so this Saturday will mark 3 weeks of us being in our new home. It’s been a slow unpack…which is unusual for me to say (my Mum says I’m like a bull at a gate with most things). I’m not going to lie, I think I pretty much reached total burn out by the time Christmas came around. The death of my father in mid December certainly took me to a very dark place and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t just ‘do’ as I like to do. I must say I got a surge of energy the day the house was painted a few days before Christmas, a real feeling of accomplishment washed over me – and I was imagining my Dad’s voice as if he was seeing it for the first time, “Wow, baby – that’s amazing”. Garry loved a lot of things in grey and black, and I know he would have approved of the red brick transformation you see above (thanks to Taubmans ‘Casino’ and awnings from Signature Shutters and Blinds). He’d be also quick to criticise and be recommending some sculptural greenery at the front to break up the dark bricks. Dad, if you’re reading this – don’t worry, that’s happening soon!

On a lighter note, over the coming months – I’ll be sharing lots of photos of our new home. Bathroom, Laundry and Kitchen will be first off – Living, Dining and Bedrooms will follow. I have a fabulous new bedhead from Bednest that I’m really looking forward to showing you, and the Freedom Kitchens cabinetry has been getting lovely reviews from visitors (the amazing Smeg appliances definitely help – wait to you see my oven, I’m in love).

See you back here soon,

Briar x

Garry Raymond Murphie
15.4.1947 – 10.12.2016



As someone who grew up on the other side of town, I never would have believed someone if they’d told me that I would eventually become a ‘Northern Beaches girl’, but here I am – 10 years in and no desire to be living anywhere else. As cliché as it sounds, I’m addicted to the casual vibe, the good restaurants and the ‘beach at your doorstep’ lifestyle –  whilst all being an easy and short ferry ride from the city. The kids have it pretty sweet too, it’s a really magical place to be growing up.

I’ve got to be honest, the one thing that was lacking in the area for me was a high end shopping centre. Well, that’s not a problem anymore. Westfield Warringah Mall has had a major renovation, with over 70 new (fancy) stores. A definite stand out for me is the new Myer. The department store has a beautiful and spacious new fit out and is bursting at the seams with the usual – the cool fashion, homewares, and beauty departments really caught my eye. It truly has become a one stop shop for Christmas shopping, and I couldn’t wait to visit a second time after Myer invited me to have a peruse for some family gift ideas.

I headed straight to the Baby department as I knew Rafferty’s Santa Sack was a little light on gifts compared to Sunday’s. I picked up a cute selection of age appropriate toys, including the very popular ‘Dear Zoo’ building block set. Raff woke up from his morning nap while I was setting these shots up, so I couldn’t resist giving him an early play with the presents. I also dressed him in his new outfit – the adorable lobster get-up, which I found in the very cute Seed Baby department.

Next on my list was adding some items to Sunday’s Christmas haul. I have to be honest, she is an easy kid to shop for. Like all four year olds, she has soooo many interests – including art and craft, reading, swimming and a love for new clothes. As you can imagine, the range at Myer Warringah Mall had everything covered. I can’t wait for her to open the ‘paint your own garden gnome’, the perfect activity for when we move to our new house and garden. She’s going to love her pretty Summer gear too, which consists of a new dress and skirt/top combo, (the girl is happiest if she’s in a skirt). I’m also hoping the sticker book will keep her entertained in the car on Christmas Day, as we are heading to Bowral for lunch.

Not as easy to buy for is Mark. We have been throwing any spare money we have at the house/renovation this year, so his wardrobe situation is a little dire at the moment. I picked him up a cool pair of new board shorts from the Industrie department, and a smart Reserve shirt for his Christmas Day outfit. I added a luxe little stocking filler with a bottle of his favourite, Dior Sauvage Eau de Toilette. Speaking of stocking fillers, there are some great ‘gift idea’ departments that cover everything from the man to the baby in your life, definitely worth checking out!

When I’m shopping these days, this Mumma often comes in last on the list of the priorities, but not this time. I was totally drawn in by the fantastic fashion, homewares and accessory departments. You’ll be happy to know, Myer definitely  has gifts for the modern mother sorted! I bought a new Christmas Day dress from Seed, and a set of Aura hand towels and Murchison Hume products for the new house. I also really went all out and treated myself to a pair of fab Karen Walker sunnies. Hello Summer!

Last but not least, I treated the family to a giant new lie-on float from the fab and fun Sunnylife department. The perfect Summer accessory in our pool for when we move. I’m also picturing lots of lazing under an umbrella once the madness of Christmas is over – one can only hope!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this story I posted:

My shopping spree at Myer Warringah Mall can only be described as a SUCCESS, everywhere I turned I spotted gift ideas. I even managed to stop for a coffee at the cool cafe situated near the homewares department. Shopping and Coffee. Alone. In peace and quiet. Ah! It’s the little things in life.

Briar x



cr3 cr1 cr2I’m sure you’d agree that when you’re a kid, there’s nothing like some old fashioned water play on the grass in the middle of Summer. Cue slices of watermelon and some sausages on the BBQ and you have the perfect day. My mum tells me I would spend hours outside as a child playing with the simple things like a bucket, hose and plastic shell pool with my sisters. Not an electrical device in sight – the good ol’ days.

cr6 cr5Traditional backyard water play was stepped up over the weekend in our house and Sunday thought Christmas had come early when we set up the Dinoland Play Centre from Clark Rubber.

The store really is a one stop shop when it comes to backyard fun this Summer, check out the link to gifts under $20, which is full of perfect little stocking fillers for all ages.

cr7Our Dinoland Play Centre was inflated in minutes with the help of an electric pump, and we simply placed it on a level area of grass in our Apartment garden and then connected the hose. Like magic, a sprinkler system filled up the big play pool. Little squeals of delight that came immediately from baby Rafferty and Sunday in action with her young neighbour friend was all I needed to know that it was a huge hit. I’m thinking we will set it up again for Raff’s 1st birthday party in February, as it’s the perfect entertainment for kids.

cr4The good news is, I also have three of the Dinoland Play Centres to give away on Instagram this week, so keep an eye out for the post – I promise you the kids will love it!

Briar x

Always remember, never leave children unattended when playing near water. Also, check with your local council for pool and spa fencing, safety and water regulations.

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