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Quiz: Which interior design style best suits your personality?

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Quiz: Which interior design style best suits your personality?

From glitzy and opulent, to pared-back and sleek, to grungy and lived-in, we all want something different when it comes to the environment we live in and our approach to decorating it.

Everyone wants their home to be comfortable and reflect who they are. If you’re looking to refresh your interiors but unsure which direction to go in style wise, answer these ten questions to find out what look suits your personality best.

1. Which city would you most like to live in?

A. London.

B. Paris.

C. Tuscany.

D. New York.

E. Brazil.

2. For a costume party you would dress up as:

A. A mime.

B. Marilyn Monroe.

C. A cowgirl or cowboy.

D. Where’s Wally.

E. A hippie.

3. What colours are most prominent in your wardrobe?

A. Black, black and more black.

B. Pink and gold - Anything sparkly or girly really!

C. Red and other earthy tones.

D. Black, grey and white.

E. Calming blues and greens.

4. Your artwork of choice for your living room would be:

A. A minimalist print.

B. A super glam self-portrait.

C. A hand-painted landscape.

D. An abstract iron sculpture.

E. A shaggy woven yarn wall hanging.

5. You never leave the house without:

A. Your smartphone.

B. Your hair and makeup done.

C. An umbrella and scarf.

D. Your glasses.

E. Food scraps to pop in the compost bin.

6. On pay day you:

A. Put it towards the new ultra thin smart TV you have your eye on.

B. Head straight to the shops.

C. Save your money for a rainy day.

D. Shout your mates a night at the pub.

E. Buy a hammock.

7. Your dream kitchen benchtop finish is:

A. Engineered stone or stainless steel.

B. Calacatta marble.

C. A warm and solid timber butchers block.

D. Custom designed concrete.

E. Colourful Moroccan style patterned tiles.

8. You want your home to feel:

A. Clean, contemporary and sleek.

B. Impressive, rich and stylish.

C. Welcoming, cosy and lived-in.

D. Cool, edgy and slightly grungy.

E. Effortlessly chic and inviting.

9. Your closest friends would describe you as:

A. Practical, smart and a perfectionist.

B. Beautiful and sassy.

C. Kind-hearted and an old soul.

D. Artistic, witty and quirky.

E. Laid-back, down to earth and fun.

10. The words you live by are:

A. Less is more.

B. Treat yo self.

C. Home is where the heart is.

D. You only live once.

E. C’est la vie.

 

And your interior design style match is...

You chose- mostly A: Modern

You like everything to serve a purpose and to be in its rightful place. Simplicity is key in all aspects of your organised life, so clutter free streamlined surfaces are your goal at home.

Neutral colour palettes are your preference and you love the clean crisp lines of steel, glass and timber. If you do want to add a pop of colour to your modern interior, stick to one or two primary coloured accessories for simplicity's sake.

Other styles you’ll like: Minimalist, Scandinavian and mid-century modern.

You chose- mostly B: Hollywood glam

Dramatic and decadent is your home décor M.O. You enjoy making a statement and wowing people when it comes to your design choices. An outdoor kitchen, butler’s pantry, indoor pool, sauna and Jacuzzi are all on your home luxury upgrade wish list.

The more the merrier when it comes to blingy chandeliers, mirrors, plush textiles (think faux fur and velvet), bold colour palettes and deluxe finishes. Your home is your castle after all, so only the very best will do!

Other styles you’ll like: Hamptons, French provincial, Parisian, Victorian and Art Deco.

You chose- mostly C: Country

A pretty style where comfort and charm are king, country lovers crave a quaint cosy cottage feel at home. Shades of blue, yellow, beige and green lend themselves well to creating a tranquil country feel.

Think plush simple floral print armchairs, chesterfield lounges, antique furniture and dramatic drapery for living areas. Accessorise with classic candle holders, handmade quilts, china and crystal vases of fresh cut flowers.

Other styles you’ll like: Farmhouse, traditional and French country.

You chose- mostly D: Industrial

You love the feel of pared back interiors and materials in their most raw and textural form. You dream of polished concrete floors and exposed brickwork, beams and ductwork in a converted warehouse to call your own.

Achieve an industrial vibe in your décor with oversized metal pendant lights, Edison light bulbs, open shelving, slightly shabby or raw reclaimed timber furnishings, and stripped back metal (i.e. brass, copper and steel) fixtures.

Other styles you’ll like: Retro and rustic.

You chose- mostly E: Boho

Creating a cosy, lived-in and personalised atmosphere is your prerogative when it comes to your homes interior. You don’t shy away from vibrant colours and bold patterns, which is a great way to inject personality into boho inspired rooms.

Get the boho chic look by layering on different textures such as cowhide and sheepskin floor rugs, woolly pom pom cushions, linen upholstery and natural textiles. Other ways to up the boho ante include colourful Moroccan floor cushions, macramé wall hangings or dreamcatchers, lots of greenery, quirky artwork and trinkets, and loads of wicker furniture.

Other styles you’ll like: Shabby-chic, vintage and eclectic.

Happy decorating!

The Homely Team

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Pakenham real estate for sale and properties to rent in Melbourne. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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Moving house: What items are most at risk & how to protect them?

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Moving house: What items are most at risk & how to protect them?

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve moved house 30 times or twice, perfecting the art of it – and yes, there is an art to moving, always seems to be a challenging experience.

Everyone has at least one moving nightmare experience. Usually it’s enough to hire professional removalists to get the job done safely and smoothly.

Whether you’re tackling the job on your own, or hiring someone else to do it, it pays to know what culprits are most likely to get damaged and how you can protect them.

Planning is key to a successful move. Not only does it eliminate a lot of the stress that comes with it, but it gives you time to carefully consider the best way to pack and protect your belongings. No one wants to get settled into their new home by opening up boxes of broken possessions. It’s costly and an outright pain.

Give yourself plenty of time to pack and organise before the big moving day and learn how to keep the items most at risk safe with these tips.

1. Plants.

If you’ve been blessed with a green thumb and invested in inside and outside greenery, moving your plants can be a tricky operation. Plants are difficult to move and expensive to replace, so you want to make sure they make it from the old place to your new home in one piece.

Prepare your plants by cutting off any dead sections. Come moving day, they should be the last items to add to the truck. Get some sturdy boxes with air holes to allow the plants to breathe, and line the boxes with plastic. You can use foam cushioning or bubble wrap between the pot and the box to eliminate the plant shifting during the move too.

Tall plants can be bagged or gently wrapped in plastic to protect them. This is a smart idea if they have fragile branches, or stems and flowers that don’t do well being handled. Utilise cable ties to separate plants for one another and protect branches. Once you’re in the new home, unpack them straight away and give them plenty of water. Avoid moving plants on very hot days, instead opt for early in the morning or overcast days.

2. Glassware.

It should come as little surprise that glassware is a commonly damaged culprit during a move. Despite how fragile they are though; many people underestimate the amount of packing needed to keep them secure.

Pack glassware in a smaller box – you don’t want to exceed 4kg. Each item should be wrapped individually to avoid contact with other breakables in the box or take advantage of glass dividers. Use lots of padding and layering. Bubble wrap is ideal, and anything you can use from around the house, such as cushions, clothes, socks, blankets and towels.

Test boxes before you put them in the truck. If items are moving around and rattling inside, add more padding. If you don’t feel comfortable about dropping the box, they need more protection. Label glassware boxes as fragile so removalists handle them with care.

3. Paintings & artwork.

Prized paintings and artwork are often delicate, valuable and meaningful to their owners. Thus, you don’t to jeopardise these precious items – especially if they’re one of the kind.

Custom containers and materials are available for such items, like travelling frames and slat crates. They ensure pieces are snugly cushioned inside, leaving no room for movement. Use bubble wrap to protect any artwork, canvases, paintings, glass and wooden frames too. Avoid placing canvases next to sharp items as they can easily be teared and punctured.

4. Lamp shades.

Similar to canvas paintings and artwork, lamp shades shouldn’t be packed or placed next to anything sharp which may tear the material. For short moving trips, you can pack the lamp and its base separately. Use a box large enough to comfortably fit the lamp shade, with the bottom of the box lined with padding. Wrap the base of the lamp in bubble wrap and create cushioning in the box. To avoid dints and bends it’s important not to pack anything else with lampshades, unless it’s clothes, towels or linen to act as padding.  

5. Mirrors.

X marks the spot! Utilise masking tape to form an ‘x’ shape across the front of the mirror to prevent it from easily shattering. This also helps to protect the frame and keep it intact. As you would with artwork, special boxes can be used to snugly fit mirrors in. Wrap the mirror with styrofoam or bubble wrap a couple of times around and tape together securely.

Professional removalists will know how to pack the mirror in the truck safely, but if you’re moving it yourself avoid laying it down or putting it on top of anything. Instead, gently wedge it between lounges and larger furniture for support.

6. Crockery.

Plates, cups and other tableware can be wrapped in butcher’s paper or bubble wrap. Avoid using newspaper as the ink can rub off onto the items. Don’t be shy when it comes to using the paper – the more the better.

Separate each item with paper, and use padding in the bottom and top of box to keep it protected. You can pack small stacks of plates into a box, provided paper is placed between each item. Pack larger, heavier plates at the bottom and utilise any leftover butcher’s paper to scrunch up as additional cushioning.

To ace your next move here's what to put in your moving and packing survival kit and week by week moving checklist.

Author bio:

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Adlam Transport – Perth office removals and storage specialists operating WA-wide since 1996. Adlam aim to carefully strategise the move for you and have an experienced team of office removalists on board to help protect your valuables. You can catch her on Google+.

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Melville real estate for sale and properties to rent in Perth. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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5 advantages of the apartment lifestyle

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5 advantages of the apartment lifestyle

Long gone are the days that property buyers wish for a house and settle for an apartment. The young, the old and everyone in between are increasingly opting for a way of living on the more compact side. What does an apartment have that a house doesn’t? The answer is plenty.

Amenities

New developments can have some enviable facilities, like swimming pools, gyms, and saunas, as well as lovely manicured gardens and picture-perfect rooftop spaces with incredible views. Aside from the savings you can make on leisure centre memberships and entrance fees, there is something to be said for the convenience of having desirable commodities literally at your doorstep.

Maintenance

While we’re on the topic of amenities or common property, it’s also worth noting that you don’t personally have to maintain any of these areas. Forget spending weekends cleaning the pool, mowing the nature strip or waiting around for contractors to make repairs – your owners corporation or body corporate will take care of it, and often enlist the help of a strata or owners corporation manager to make sure reputable, certified contractors are hired and everything operates smoothly. Find out what makes a good strata manager here. 

Community

When you live in an apartment, you live in close proximity to your neighbours, allowing you to form close relationships. If it’s not in the hallway, you’re bound to run into each other in the car park, the lift, the gym or at the pool on the weekend. When things go wrong, you also have each other to lean on. You can voice any issues or concerns you have with your committee or speak to your strata manager for advice concerning the property. 

Affordability

Not only are apartments typically cheaper than houses, the smaller footprint means your utilities are less too. Even better, eco features once considered too expensive are now standard in many new apartment complexes, so you reduce your carbon footprint and save on energy consumption in the long term. Also, for all those shiny extras you get in an apartment – the pool, movie room or sauna, for instance – you only have to pay for a portion of the full operating price, with fees split across owners.

Location

Not everyone wants to compromise on location when they buy a property, and with apartments, you don’t always have to. Many new developments are built in thriving suburbs close to life’s simple pleasures: cafes, restaurants, retail and event spaces. Plus, buy higher up and you can enjoy a view your friends and family will admire and envy.

Design

There are more new apartment complexes with slick architectural designs than ever before. These buildings don’t only look good, but typically have greater functionality too, and can boast sustainability features such as solar panels, green walls and roofs. Now consider the cost of hiring an architect, as well as the time and labour involved, for a single household and it feels like a luxury. With an apartment, however, you can have an architecturally designed home without lifting a finger.

If you're still not convinced apartment living is for you check out more pros of apartment living and what you need to know before buying an off the plan apartment.

Author bio:

PICA Group is one of Australia’s leading property services companies. As a market leader, we aim to continuously redefine the experience of owning a property for the better through a range of businesses offering strata management, facilities management, receivables management, and property development services. Follow the PICA Group on Facebook @thepicagroup and LinkedIn.

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Castle Hill real estate for sale and properties to rent in Sydney. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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Wicked wicker: 6 décor ideas

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Wicked wicker: 6 décor ideas

Wicker furniture and home décor is trending right now, and it’s easy to see why. Wicker pieces are remarkably versatile and can beautify any room, indoors or outdoors.

Typically made from organic materials it adds texture, warmth and visual interest, yet creates a chilled-out atmosphere. It feels modern, but gives a cosy, beach home vibe at the same time. It creates a trendy, eclectic look, while being effortlessly simple and fresh.

Here are six wicked ideas for using wicker to decorate your home inside and out.

What is wicker?

Before we get started let’s define what we mean by wicker. Wicker refers to a method of weaving, rather than an actual material. Weaving wicker is one of the oldest methods of making furniture, and may have originated as basket weaving in ancient Egypt.

Wicker can be woven from many different materials, including natural materials such as rattan or cane, and synthetic materials such as PE-rattan. There are many possibilities for this versatile and stylish weaving method- Wicker can craft magnificent pieces of any shape, style or size!

Idea #1- Outdoor setting.

The first idea is to give your garden a luxury resort feel with a wicker outdoor setting. Wicker can be weaved into almost any form, so it is perfect for creating stylish furniture of generous proportions. Round lounges and dining sets look modern and are perfect for socialising on.

PE rattan is a synthetic wicker that is best for the patio or garden furniture. It is a lightweight and durable material that’s made to hold up in extreme sun and rain exposure. Natural wicker will become brittle in the elements, so it’s best kept indoors. For a harmonious look choose wicker colours that blend with the rendering of your house, the material of your decking or the tiling of your pool.

Idea #2- Bedheads.

A wicker bedhead is a chilled-out statement piece for a stress-free resting spot. It can be intricate and ornate, with beautiful peacock or botanical inspired curves, that feel both delicate and simple.

Simple whites, soft pastels, and neutral colours compliment this look, as well as lush pot plants and loads of pillows. This is a lovely idea for a little girl’s bedroom, or a modern bohemian style retreat for adults.

Idea #3- Pendant lights.

Oversized wicker basket pendant lighting gives an Australian holiday home vibe and is a stylish addition to your décor. It softens a room and adds an earthy element, and is particularly fit for a relaxed bedroom or an island kitchen bench. Wicker is the perfect material for basket lighting as it is lightweight at any size, and can hang low without seeming too bulky and heavy.

Idea #4- Swing chairs.

A wicker swing chair is an attention-grabbing piece for your outdoor entertaining area that creates an alluring island getaway feel. Hang out in relaxed elegance with a book or a cup of tea. Combined with a spa and lush greenery you’ll imagine you're escaping to a Fijian resort right in your own backyard.

Idea #5- Side chairs.

Wicker side chairs are stylish accent pieces that can offset a sofa. As we know, wicker can be crafted into almost any extravagant shape. Simple side chairs can create a coastal cottage vibe, and tone down the formality of any room. Large and intricate side chairs can create a feeling of bohemian royalty. Either way, the wicker side chair is the piece that will set a chic and sophisticated mood.

Idea #6- Storage baskets.

The idea that I’m most excited about is the humble wicker storage basket. Having enough storage is always troublesome, yet is the essence of a tidy liveable home. Large wicker baskets are wonderful for neatly and attractively storing blankets, pillows, towels, laundry, or toys.

Small baskets are perfect for storing kitchenware or bathroom items and as an earthy statement piece for the bench top. Your local op shop is a great place to find affordable wicker baskets to beautify your home.

Now that you know the wonders of wicker, you can try it out in your own home. A little wicker goes a long way, and will pop as a simple and fresh statement to complement a modern on-trend décor.

For more interior design inspo take a look at these 5 dashing home decor trends and how to set up a toast-worthy bar cart.

Author bio:

Whitney Swope is the owner of Urbani Furniture, an outdoor furniture store in Perth, Western Australia. Urbani specialises in all-weather rattan and sells luxurious dining settings, settees, and day beds for the best in outdoor living.

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Castle Hill real estate for sale and properties to rent in Sydney. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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Key ingredients for a toast-worthy bar cart

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Key ingredients for a toast-worthy bar cart

Of late, the glam trend of 1960s home entertaining, the humble drinks trolley, has made a major comeback and with good reason. Who doesn’t like the sound of bringing back a cocktail hour at their place, serving up fruity and delicious beverages while socialising with guests and housemates?

This retro trend has been welcomed back with open arms by Aussies, as bar carts are wheeled out with pride at dinner and cocktail parties at homes all over the country. Here are the five essentials you need to create the perfect portable bar trolley.

Image: A Beautiful Mess

Image: A Beautiful Mess

A wheelie good cart

First things first, you’ll need to get your hands on a trolley to set up as your cocktail station. From brassy industrial looks, kitsch retro timber models to sleek contemporary versions, there’s sure to be a material and style of trolley to suit your taste and decor.

Before buying a cart check out its sturdiness, as you don’t want any spills while mixing drinks or anything to tumble off as you manoeuvre it from one room to another. Also, look out for features that make staying organised easier, such as the inbuilt wine and glass racks below.

Image: LMC Interiors

Image: LMC Interiors

If you don't have space for a trolley there’s no reason you can’t convert an existing piece of furniture, such as a tray table, side board or bookshelf, into a functional and attractive cocktail station.

Shake it up

One of the best investments you can make for your bar cart, is a quality steel cocktail set. Most basic sets will include measuring cups, ice tongs, a muddler, a bar spoon, pourers, a strainer and of course a cocktail shaker.

There are all kinds of fabulous cocktail kits on the market. We love this chic copper cocktail kit. Other tools of the trade to consider including are a shiny ice bucket, a bottle opener, a soda syphon, a citrus press, a paring knife and a grater, for those more complicated recipes.

Image: Williams Sonoma

Image: Williams Sonoma

Get in the spirit

Don’t feel as though you must stock your bar cart with every spirit under the sun. Choose the select few liquors you prefer that are key ingredients in your favourite cocktails. A few good basic spirits that are used in a lot of different cocktails to get your bar started are gin, rum, tequila, whiskey and vodka.

Quality liquor can be very costly so if you’re unsure whether you like something buy the tiny travel sized bottles to start off and experiment with. You’ll soon get a taste for the recipes you like and don’t like mixing.

Glitzy glassware

Once you’ve whipped up your favourite cocktail you’ll need something fancy to serve it in. So, you’ll need the appropriate glassware on hand for all your favourite and signature beverages.  

Check out copper mugs, champagne flutes, martini glasses, old school decanters and crystal tumblers to line up at the ready on your cart. Opt for a set of vintage style champagne coups for a glam nod to roaring 30s style.

image: Pottery Barn

image: Pottery Barn

Artfully accessorise

Half the fun of a bar cart is styling it with sparkly and shiny knick-knacks to up the glamour of your space. Adorn your bar cart with stirrers, bottle stoppers, cloth napkins, coasters, a marble chopping board, pretty paper straws and a vase of fresh flowers or citrus fruits.

For an elegant touch, present your liquor bottles and glassware on metallic or mirrored trays. They also come in handy when you need to serve a large group your tasty creations.

Don’t forget to keep a couple of cocktail recipe books handy as points of reference and for guests to peruse.

Image: Sea of Shoes

Image: Sea of Shoes

Hopefully this five step guide to setting up a bar cart makes your next event that little bit more festive and your living room that little bit more sophisticated.

For more retro decor ideas check out these 70s home décor trends making a comeback, 10 reasons to love wallpaper and the dirt on terrariums

Cheers!

The Homely Team

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Pakenham real estate for sale and properties to rent in Melbourne. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

 

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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6 ways to use artificial plants in your home décor & landscaping

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6 ways to use artificial plants in your home décor & landscaping

Flowers and greenery can make a home's interior and exterior feel fresh and lively. Plants are the ideal decorating solution when a living space feels cold, sterile or impersonal. The downside is that real plants can be expensive and challenging for busy households to maintain. They take significant amounts of time to style, water and care for.

Fortunately, there are alternatives. Nowadays, artificial plants look lifelike enough to be appealing to households of every demographic. There are a bunch of reasons to consider decorating and landscaping with artificial plants:

  • Do you live in a drought-prone area where watering plants has been banned or discouraged?
  • Are you too busy to bother with watering dozens of houseplants?
  • Do you live in an area with a too-short growing season or that's too chilly to grow attractive flowers or trees?
  • Is your balcony or backyard too shady for growing real flowers?
  • Are you perplexed by the prospect of landscaping or decorating with real plants?

In all these situations, artificial plants could allow you to enjoy the beauty of flowers or greenery at home without the downsides that accompany living plants. Whether you're decorating your home or landscaping it, artificial plants can be one of the smartest tools in your design scheme.

There are infinite ways to incorporate silk flowers, faux trees, man-made greenery and AstroTurf into your home and garden. Let's look at six of the most popular and attractive ways to incorporate artificial plants in your home décor and landscape.

1. Hang potted faux ferns & place houseplants in spots where real ones wouldn't thrive.

Many residences lack the amount of light necessary to keep real houseplants happy and healthy- but placement doesn't matter if you choose to decorate with their artificial counterparts. Place planters filled with artificial plants on bookcases, in bare corners and bathrooms. Many of these houseplant styling tips work for silk plants as well as real ones.

2. Invest in several seasonal wreaths for a welcoming front door year round.

If you buy wreaths comprised of real flowers and greenery, replacements will enrich your florist but drain your own bank account every season. Instead, turn to artificial wreaths as a long-term investment that's likely to pay for itself over time.

If you purchase a spring and summer-friendly floral wreath, an autumn themed wreath and a winter themed wreath, all comprised of silk plants, you can rotate between the three as the seasons change. That way your front door décor will always be pretty and timely.

3. Add potted faux trees flanking the home’s entrance.

Potted trees can beautify a home’s entrance, lending vitality and charm to the entryway. The faux version is ideal for use in situations where there isn't adequate space for real trees to spread their roots and flourish. It isn't typically ideal for real trees to be growing close enough to a home that the roots would interfere with the building's foundation, plumbing or electrical systems.

4. Place silk flower arrangements in your living spaces.

Flower arrangements are the secret to making your home décor look much more luxurious than it really is. If you can afford to splurge on realistic silk flower arrangements, they'll give your decorating scheme a polished look that's also low-maintenance. If your budget is small, you can get a similar look by buying high-quality faux flowers but arranging them yourself. There are many excellent tutorials online that can help you with this.

Try this stunning faux peony arrangement made from inexpensive craft supplies or this summertime display for the mantelpiece.

Tip: You can combine artificial flowers with real greenery in your floral arrangements and pot plants. This gives you some of the advantages of both real and silk flora.

5. Incorporate an artificial plant wall into your patio or living room.

A plant wall could make the difference between a ho-hum patio garden and one that looks spectacular. This idea works for livening up garden and living spaces of any size. To fill large areas, we suggest using multiple panels of different artificial plants.

6. Use artificial grass in your landscape design.

Using artificial plants is one of many ways to guarantee your landscaping is as low-maintenance as possible. One trendy way to achieve this is to install artificial grass. Some of the advantages of artificial grass are:

  • No mowing is necessary, which saves time and fuel.
  • No worries over whether the lawn is receiving adequate water, thus lowering your water bills and irrigation setup and running costs.
  • No wilting issues, so the lawn will always look green and fresh.

When you're landscaping, and decorating your home, these six ideas will save valuable maintenance time. Not only that, as compared against the exorbitant sums you'd spend on real flowers and greenery, these ideas will help you avoid having to make significant ongoing investments in your décor and landscaping efforts. Considering the advantages, we think it's worth considering the use of artificial plants in your home décor and landscape.

If you do want to brave the natural house plant and landscaping route here are the best hard to kill indoor plants and our guide to starting a veggie patch.

Author bio:

Article provided by BuildMat, an Australian home renovation store providing high quality building materials.

 About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Forest Lake real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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First home buying frenzy! Melbourne homes for under $600k

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First home buying frenzy! Melbourne homes for under $600k

Victorian first time buyers have been eagerly awaiting the start of the new financial year to buy their first home and with good reason.

As of July 1, 2017 first home buyers purchasing a property for under $600,000 are except from paying stamp duty. That’s a massive potential saving of up to $31k! What a great boost to the deposit that’ll be.

The theory is that first home buyers previously locked out of the market will at long last have a competitive edge over cashed-up investors. It is expected around 25,000 Victorian first home buyers will benefit yearly from the reform.

For the first full week since the changes have come into effect a 77% auction clearance rate was recorded for the week ending Sunday July 9 for Victoria, compared to 75% this time last year suggesting first home buyers are getting out there in force.

To put these changes in perspective and help you plan out weekend inspections, here are some of the best homes from around Greater Melbourne currently listed for under $600,000 and how much first home buyers are set to potentially save.

South-east

Bayside beauty, Frankston

Price range: $500-550k

Stamp duty saving: $24,970

This neat three bedroom property has everything a first home buyer could wish for and more. Situated a 10 minute drive from the beach in a quiet court, the home features three bedrooms, timber floors, a study nook, cooling and heating, a large backyard and freshly renovated bathroom. It’s also a great investment for the future, with the potential to subdivide the site for dual occupancy purposes (subject to council approval).

Wonderfully updated weatherboard, Noble Park

Price range: $410-450k

Stamp duty saving: $18,970

One of only two residences on the block, this quaint two bedroom freestanding weatherboard is the low-maintenance move-in ready jewel many first-time buyers have been searching for. The light and bright kitchen, meals and living areas are surprisingly spacious, and buyers will love the opportunity to convert the formal dining room into a third bedroom. The corner spa bath in the bathroom is also a nice bonus!

Nifty new build, Chelsea Heights

Price range: $440-480k

Stamp duty saving: $20,770

This stylish two bedroom near new single level townhouse is the perfect low-maintenance first home. Buyers will love the sleek kitchen finishes, entertainer’s deck, open plan living, ducted heating and proximity to the beach, shops and schools.

South-west

Country town feel, Werribee

Price range: $410-$450k

Stamp duty saving: $18,970

Ideal for first home buyers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city living (but only 35 minutes outside the city). Positioned on a 552sqm grassy block, this cute three-bedroom residence offers its future owners ample space to indulge their green thumbs. Perfectly positioned within 1.7km to Werribee train station, Werribee River, and local schools and shops, the home’s location offers a convenient and affordable lifestyle.

West

Family abode with pool, Kurunjang

Price range: $459k-$479k

Stamp duty saving: $20,710

A quintessential family home in a quiet court, close to schools, parks and shops. The 774sqm property consists of four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pergola, rumpus room, intercom and security system, double car garage and best of all an in-ground swimming pool.

Spacious family luxury, Melton West

Price range: $529-$559k

Stamp duty saving: $28,610

Billed as ‘An entertainer’s dream’ this impressive residence could easily serve as someone’s first and forever home. Featuring four bedrooms, two living areas, stone benchtops, a walk-in pantry, an outdoor entertaining area, double shower in the master ensuite, tinted windows, intercom system, inbuilt speakers, ducted vacuum, ducted heating, NBN and remote controlled garage, clearly no expense was spared on the build.

North

Functional living with huge yard, Wallan

Price range: $489-$519k

Stamp duty saving: $23,110

Set on a massive 873sqm block, this sizeable four bedroom, two bath home, is a luxurious buying opportunity first home buyers don’t come across every day. Situated in one of Wallan’s most sought after estates, the home is perfect for growing families. It includes a two-car garage, walk-in kitchen pantry, ensuited master bedroom with walk-in robe and entertaining deck.

Federation style charmer, Cragieburn

Price range: $500-530k

Stamp duty saving: $23,770

This sweet federation look Hotondo built home has all the creature comforts anyone could need plus a few nice bonuses. With three large bedrooms, a gas log fireplace, a spa bath, ducted heating, evaporative cooling, a shed, double car garage, a massive covered entertaining patio with BBQ, a cubby house, water tanks and golf course views, this home really does have it all!

We hope the new stamp duty concessions successfully put you on the path to getting into your first home sooner. For more tips check out our advice for buying your first homenegotiating as a first time buyer, and how to save for a deposit as efficiently as possible.

Happy house hunting!

The Homely Team

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Pakenham real estate for sale and properties to rent in Melbourne. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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Studio apartment living: Common challenges & solutions

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Studio apartment living: Common challenges & solutions

Let’s face it: living in a studio is awesome but it isn’t always easy. The small open space has all of the comforts of home — and certainly lends itself to a lower price tag — but it can be a shock to downgrade from shared housing or even a one-bedroom apartment to a studio or loft space.

However, many have mastered the challenges of studio living long before you and there is no reason you cannot make the space just as functional and comfortable as any other type of dwelling. Below are four common problems that come along with studio apartments — and the easiest ways to solve them.

Challenge #1: It’s one big room.

Often times, a studio is one extra-large room without much clear separation between dining, living and in some cases sleeping areas.

Solution: Create visual divisions.

You don’t have to build walls or erect partitions to define the spaces in your studio. Instead, use pieces of furniture and décor to divide up areas into different zones. For example, a decorative rug can tie together your living area and cement its dimensions: everything on and around the carpet becomes part of the living room zone. Then, you could try popping a decorative screen next to your bed to show where the bedroom — and a little bit of privacy — begins.

Challenge #2: Buying furniture is difficult.

Even with the measurements of your space in hand, you don’t quite know how an extra-large sofa is going to look in your studio until it gets there.

Solution: Go for slightly smaller pieces

Sometimes, that extra-large couch will make a statement in a small space. But your best bet for a studio is to go slightly smaller with a loveseat or other seating that takes up less room than the average three seater or L-shaped couch. The same goes for the rest of the pieces in your space — scale it all back to suit the size of the overall space. By investing in smaller options you'll play up the vast proportions of your high lofty ceilings and impressive open living space. Plus, it's more likely your smaller pieces will fit easily into your next home when it's time to move on.

Challenge #3: I want to personalise the décor.

You want to bring life, colour and individuality into your stark neutrally decorated loft, but with such a big space you don't know where to begin.

Solution: Small upgrades make a big difference.

If you’re renting your studio, you probably can’t paint or make other big upgrades to the walls, cabinetry, construction, fittings etc. But there are small swaps you can make to give your space a personal decorative look without breaking the terms of your lease.

For one, your kitchen cabinets will get an instant upgrade not with a coat of paint, but rather with a new set of hardware. You can remove the existing knobs (and store them in a bag until you move out and have to put them back as your landlord had them). Try and find a set that’s similar in size to the ones you have so you don’t have to drill new holes to install them; that way, swapping the hardware in and out will be easy.

You can also go dramatic with your accessories to give the space more of a decorative punch. Hanging curtains instead of blinds, for example, will add drama and make the space seem larger, especially if they hang the full length of the wall: it will make the window and space feel taller.

Challenge #4: There’s not enough storage.

Your studio may come with a closet or some built-ins if you’re lucky. But most one bedroom dwellings leave much to be desired in terms of the storage they provide.

Solution(s): Go vertical, get creative & purge your closet.

You’ve probably already used the obvious storage spaces, like the gap beneath your bed. Now, you need more room, and the best place to look for extra storage opportunities is up.

Tall but narrow storage is the best use of your small amount of loft floor space. Do some searching through furniture catalogues and online shops to find dressers that are narrower but taller; you can also add floating shelving with baskets to expand upward if you can’t find the perfect thin piece of furniture. There are also plenty of versatile pieces of furniture that double as storage. Everything from ottomans, to mirrors, to beds with built-in drawers will make your studio life more organised.

And, just to make it easier to find a home for everything, make sure your studio storage is only housing the things you need. Go through and clear out your closet, for example, and remove everything that you no longer wear, everything that’s damaged, etc. Coming into your studio with less will make storage much simpler.

Make it your own

No matter which of the above solutions you plan to use in your own place, the most important thing to do is make your studio a reflection of who you are. That’s the easiest way to make a house feel like home, no matter how big — or small — it is.

Author bio:

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. 

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Forest Lake real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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How to feel settled in your new home ASAP

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How to feel settled in your new home ASAP

If you’re moving into a new home you will most likely have a heap of emotions filling your head, from excitement and anticipation to feeling stressed and anxious. While these feelings are all perfectly natural given the challenges of negotiating a move, it can also take its toll on your sleep both before and after the move.

To help you transition to your new home as seamlessly as possible we’ve put together some tips on helping you to settle in and sleep better after making a move to a new home.

Make your bed

Even though you may be exhausted from the move, taking time to make up your bed could make all the difference. When is the last time you replaced your bedding? New pillows and a doona can make the world of difference to your quality of sleep. Invest in some supportive pillows and a quality seasonal doona to help improve your quality of sleep. There is nothing like laying your head down on your pillow and snuggling up to a new soft doona, feeling your body unwind and letting go of the physical exertion moving home takes.

Create a tranquil environment

Make your new place feel like a relaxed and tranquil place to be by adding a scent to your room - scented candles, incense or air fresheners are an easy way to achieve this. Choose calming aromas like lavender, sandalwood and bergamot to promote rest and relaxation.

Don't shake things up too much

Try to maintain your usual sleep routine. Even though you have a mountain of boxes to unpack and sort, try to keep your bedtime in check. It's important to unwind and clear your mind before sleep so whether it’s reading a book, taking a warm bath, listening to music or meditating, aim to keep it up. This will help you to settle in faster to your new home.

Keep some familiarity

Decorating with familiar and favourite things, like ornaments, fresh flowers, pot plants, books, artwork and photos, will also help create the right vibe and make your new home feel like a familiar and welcoming place.

Play your favourite tunes

Create an upbeat or relaxing atmosphere by playing your favourite tunes in the background. Music is a great way to motivate and inspire you to set up your new abode, and can be a helpful method to unwind at the end of the day.

Plan some nights in

Make a concerted effort to spend time at your new abode in the first few weeks of living there. Take the time to cook some meals in your new kitchen and invite some friends over when you're feeling on top of your unpacking to check out your new home. Planning a house warming party a few weeks after moving is a great way to keep motivated to get organised and set a self imposed deadline to unpack fully.

On the flip side also make time to do some things on your own that you enjoy, like reading in bed propped up on your favourite cushions or watching a movie in your new living room. These things will help your new home feel lived in and like your own special place.

If you do try putting some of these things into practice, without doubt you’ll be waking up well rested with renewed energy to tackle the rest of your unpacking so you can enjoy all that your new home and neighbourhood has on offer.

For more tips to make moving as painless as possible check out these 5 lessons from someone who just moved and our week by week checklist for moving house.

Author bio:

Ana Philly writes for Therapeutic Pillow Australia. Therapeutic Pillow Australia produces the broadest range of quality therapeutic postural comfort products in Australia with over 95% of all our products Australian Made.

Established in 1972 with a single product, 'Tranquillow' - a contour pillow, the company has achieved ongoing growth as new products and services have been developed in response to customer needs. All products have been designed in close consultation with health professionals.

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Forest Lake real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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Your guide to choosing the perfect home heating system

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Your guide to choosing the perfect home heating system

Building a home is no simple task. There are many things to take into consideration, there are a lot of important decisions to make and heating is one of them. The choice of your heating depends on many variables.

Outlined below are the different most popular heating options and how they work. This will help you determine which system fits your needs and offers the best heating solution for your home.

Heating systems for your home

There are various heating solutions to choose from, each with its own perks and disadvantages. If you're going to install your first heating mechanism, you need to do it right. Here are some of the most popular and efficient ways to keep your house warm during winter.

Hydronic panel heating

This is one of the most popular systems on the market to heat up your home. This system is not only efficient, but it’s also easy to install and maintain. It uses hot water to spread heat evenly through every room. It's a clean, silent mechanism that works well for both smaller and larger homes. Although you would need more panels for a larger home, it would still pay off in the long run.

How it works

There are four main elements:

  • Boiler – Connected to a water supply it holds the water and heats it. Boilers usually run on gas or coal, depending on their type. Some boilers are designed to use gas, coal or electricity as an energy source. The type of boiler you choose will depend on the energy source that is available at your home. For example, not all houses have access to gas.
  • Pump – Draws the water from the boiler and pumps it through the tubes. It works on electricity, so if you don't have an alternate energy source, your heating won't work in case of a power loss.
  • Tubes – The tubes distribute hot water through the house. Tubes lead the water into and out of the panels. They are usually made from copper because of its thermophilic properties.
  • Panels – Panels spread the heat that they absorb from the hot water running through them. Each panel has a valve that controls water intake, which reduces or increases the temperature in your room.

Be prepared to drill a few holes in your walls for the tubes to go through and to install your panels. But if you need a heating system that will keep you consistently warm through those harsh chilly winters, then this is the one for you.

Split system heating

This is a great choice if you have moderate winters. It's not a system you want to use if you experience freezing temperatures during the colder months. This heating method runs on electricity and you can use it to heat up one room or all rooms individually. This means that you can set different temperatures in each room.

How it works

There are two main components of this installation:

  • Outdoor unit – Uses heaters and a fan to drive hot air through the tube all the way to the indoor unit.
  • Indoor unit – Works on electricity and heats up the room to the temperature that you choose. The indoor unit could be mounted on the upper side of your wall or the lower side, depending on the model. Some can even be placed on the ceiling.

Some might find this form of heating too loud but there are some very quiet split system solutions. The best part of this method is that it keeps the temperature at the same level and only activates when the temperature drops.

You will need to install an indoor unit in every room you want to heat. This means that you’ll need to find an appropriate place for the unit throughout your home, ensuring that it’s properly positioned to allow for proper heat distributing. You will also need to have a power source nearby.

Ducted heating system

This form of heating demands a lot of structural work. It provides heat through the entire house and doesn't need any panels or special equipment but it does require you to build a network of ducts to direct the heat to each room.

Ducted heating is also known as central heating as it relies on a single heat source for the entire home. Although it requires a lot of work, it is a silent system and an excellent solution for cold winters as it supplies heat throughout the entire house.

Key elements of this system are:

  • Central heating unit – It usually works on gas that heats the air in tubes. A fan then drives the air through the insulated ducts into each room.
  • Insulated ducts – They are spread through the walls of the home, leading the hot air to and through the vents.
  • Vents – Open and close depending on the room temperature. They let the hot air in the room when the thermostat detects a drop in temperature. They are usually placed discretely on the wall, floor or ceiling.
  • Thermostat – Detects the room temperature and sends a signal to vents. 

There are some major disadvantages to ducted systems. Most notably, the system spreads a lot of dust and microbes through the house when it’s running. Some homeowners dislike the dry air these types of systems produce, which has made it a less popular system lately.

All these heat suppliers offer you a chance to keep your entire home warm during the winter. Which one you decide on depends on the climate in your location and the size of your home. There's also the question of money, and how much you're willing to pay. In our opinion, it's better to invest a little more and save money on power bills in the long run. In addition, you need to decide how much time are you’re willing to spend on installation, as some systems require more time commitment than others.

Which heating system do you prefer for your home? Let us know in the comments.

For more tips and decor ideas to warm your home take a look at our guide to achieving a high Green Star rating, 11 cosy living rooms and outdoor living ideas for winter.

Author bio:

Cassie is the Marketing Manager at Optima Heating & Air Conditioning, a full-service HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) and refrigeration company based in Melbourne. Since 1985, Optima has been supplying Victorian homes and businesses with quality systems that maximise comfort.

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Fairfield real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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Desperate house hunters: What Australian buyers are most willing to overlook

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Desperate house hunters: What Australian buyers are most willing to overlook

With research showing first home buyers at record lows and no ‘magic fix’ for the housing affordability crisis on the horizon, it’s only understandable that buyers are willing to compromise on certain attributes just to crack into the market.

These desperate times call for desperate measures, with new research from Finder.com.au showing us just how far buyers are willing to go to get their foot in the door of the property market.

The survey asked 2,019 Australians ‘If you were to buy a property in the current market, what would you put up with to get into the market?’.

A whopping 78% of respondents said they would tolerate not-so desirable property and suburb features just to become a homeowner.

Bessie Hassan Money Expert at Finder.com.au says, ‘things that may be viewed as undesirable are now being viewed in a different light as house prices continue to climb’.

‘Wish-lists are going out the window, as buyers compromise to get their spot in the property ladder. Buyers need to be realistic and realise there’s no such thing as a perfect property,’ Bessie explains.

The top five things buyers were most willing to overlook included:

  • 45% would buy a home with ‘unlucky’ number 13 in the address.
  • 44% would gladly buy in an ‘untrendy’ suburb.
  • 42% were fine with evidence that the previous owners had a pet.
  • 41% would purchase a deceased estate.
  • 39% would buy a home even if it was within 2km of a fast food chain.

Some respondents would even go as far as to live near a noisy bar (20%) or within close proximity to a brothel (25%) to become a homeowner.

However, there are some property features even the most desperate of home buyers won’t compromise on.

The top five things buyers were not as willing to accept included:

  • Only 13% would be accepting of a bad smelling area/property.
  • 15% would overlook asbestos in the home's walls/ceiling.
  • Just 16% would buy in an area with an above average crime rate.
  • 16% would still buy in a street with abandoned cars/trailers/boats.
  • 19% would purchase a home in an industrial area.

Interestingly South Australians were the most eager to enter the property market with 14% willing to put up with all the listed turnoffs. Followed by NSW and WA at 9%, QLD at 8% and VIC at 7%.

Bessie reminds buyers to ‘keep in mind that areas change over time, and gentrification and urban renewal can shift the appeal of a suburb, so you could be looking at the next hot suburb without realising it’.

If you’re unsure whether it’s worth putting in an offer on a home because you have concerns about a potential shortcoming or structural issue be sure to pay your due diligence and get a property survey.

Bessie says, ‘Buyers should get a building and pest inspection to ensure the property is structurally sound, and to decide if any pre-existing faults can be affordably managed. In some cases, the flaw may be well worth the discount’.

For more tips for first home buyers to break into the market here are some tips to save for a house deposit while renting, how your parents can help you get your own home sooner and a guide to negotiating for first home buyers.

What compromises have you made or would you be willing to make to get into the housing market? Please let us know in the comments below.

Happy house hunting!

The Homely Team

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Fairfield real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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How to build a home that oozes luxury but doesn’t break the bank

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How to build a home that oozes luxury but doesn’t break the bank

Luxury and elegance in a home is excellent. It’s a sense of charm every homeowner wants to feel when they walk through their front door. A dose of something unique, magnetic and welcoming.

Every year, more planned communities and developments are popping up all around Australia. With properties being built that look identical to the ones next door, it’s become more desirable to create a home that’s exclusive and offers a perception of affluence. But how do you build a champagne style home on a beer budget?

Building a home is one of the most exciting and stressful times of your life. Throw a strict budget into the mix, and it can be an extra challenging task to build the house you want – and can afford. Hiring a professional luxury home builder, architect and interior designer are all essential parts of the project, but only you can make your new house feel like home.

Want to make sure your home build stays true to your vision without breaking the bank? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Choose elegant fittings and fixtures

You don’t have to opt for the most extravagant pieces with a ridiculous price tag to create that luxurious feel. Elegant fixtures doesn't have to equal the most expensive. One of the biggest home build mistakes is overspending on fittings and fixtures. Instead, be smart when shopping for those shiny pretty things! Be a savvy shopper by looking at renovation auctions, eBay and suppliers for good quality at a great price.

Opt for quality light fittings throughout the house and metal tapware in the kitchen/bathroom. If you want to splurge out a little, get one super fancy lighting fixture as an accent feature in the living room. This way, it’ll draw visual attention and seem well thought out and look expensive.

Tip: You don’t need to buy from expensive showrooms to get those luxurious fittings and fixtures. Still, check out your local kitchen/bathroom stores and showrooms to see what styles they have. Often there’s great sales on previous year models and fittings where you can grab yourself a bargain.

Seek expert interior design advice

Interior design is key in creating a stylish, luxurious home on a budget. Don’t be afraid to spend money on seeking expert advice. They will be able to guide you on design strategy and function, concept phase, and assist in evaluating options with your brief.

You can decide how involved you want the designer to be in the process, from the entire project to working within a reduced scope of a room. Investing in this early on will offer a valuable way to plan the space accordingly. It’ll give you access to good advice on spatial allocation and specifications of finishes, fixtures and fittings too.

Luxurious details

Don’t overlook the little things. The small details make all the difference to the finish of your home and its potential to ooze luxury appeal. Features like subtle hardwood finishes, tile selection, benchtops and window treatments go a long way. Hardwood is a smart material choice because of its durability and cost-effectiveness. Achieve a unique look by checking out smaller hardware stores and antique shops for heavy-duty, expensive-looking kitchen drawer knobs and other finishes at an affordable price.

Window treatments can be a budget friendly way to add elegance to your home too. Dressing the eyes of the property lifts the luxury appeal of your interiors and makes the home look well-designed. Plantation shutters, timber venetian blinds and deluxe drapes create a modern, but cosy style.

In the bathroom, consider tiling full height to the ceiling for an expensive-looking addition. Seeing as tilers usually charge for a full day, this is great value for money. Large gloss wall tiles are fantastic for adding an elegant on-trend detail to your wet areas.

Kitchen benchtops can be where a lot of your money goes down the drain. Granite and stone are stunning – but very expensive. Be willing to look for benchtop alternatives. You can still achieve the same look but for a fraction of the price. Laminate and timber benchtops are cheaper options, where some laminates have a similar look to granite and stone. Timber is a great way to introduce warmth and character to a kitchen.

A heat lamp in the bathroom and a walk-in shower are good luxury inclusions that are kind to the hip pocket. If your budget is tight, consider an off-the-shelf frameless shower screen.

Tip: Luxurious details can still be unpretentious. Simple details do not equate to lesser quality or impact, but instead is a smart way to keep things affordable whilst still having that ‘wow’ factor.

Implement ample lighting

No one likes a dark, dingy home. Ample lighting, both natural and artificial, brighten the home and make it look and feel spacious and inviting. Oyster lights are great for living areas, bedrooms and hallways. Skylights can instantly brighten up a space and are relatively inexpensive to install. The more natural light you can take advantage of too, the more you will save on utility bills.

Tip: Most contractors will install standard lighting fixtures which are mass produced and appear in lots of homes. If you’re after an opulent one-of-a-kind piece for the main living room or bedroom, look at second hand stores for a unique piece for a lot less than the same item would be new. This way, you get the custom high-end look everyone craves, without the high-end price.

Embrace trims and mouldings

Mouldings and impressive ceiling trimmings add a classic, stylish old-world appeal to a home. This visual treat adds detailing to the walls and ceiling to tie the two together. The result? A lavish richness to the space that oozes affluence and charm. For very little money you can add interior trim, picture rails, wall panelling, ceiling roses and/or crown moulding to add a decorative touch.

Traditionally, moulding was made from wood or plaster which was quite pricey. Nowadays, lightweight materials have taken over, like PVC and polyurethane, which are more cost-effective and can be easily moulded into different sizes and shapes. Trims and mouldings allow you to be as elaborate as you dare, making them one of the most interesting ways to add character and sophistication to your ceiling and walls.

Building an upscale home on a budget doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s all about smart shopping, unique pieces and attention to detail. With the right ideas and inspiration, you can have a luxurious home that looks and feels like a million bucks. But doesn’t make the mortgage payments painful to deal with.

 Author bio:

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Lakeshore Group – luxury home builders with over 10 years’ experience, priding themselves on the highest level of customer service and attention to detail. You can catch Jayde on Google+.

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Chapel Hill real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

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Lost in the woods: 9 incredible cabins up for sale

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Lost in the woods: 9 incredible cabins up for sale

Want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city living? Dreaming of a white or woodsy winter hideaway of your very own? Then look no further.

Here are some of the most impressive alpine chalets and woodland cabins currently on the Australian property market.

From soaring timber truss ceilings, incredible mountain views and inviting open fireplaces, these winter getaways have something to please snow bunnies and tree lovers alike.

For sale: Buxton, VIC

For sale: Buxton, VIC

Luxury log home, Buxton, VIC

Only 1.5 hours from Melbourne, this meticulously hand crafted custom built Canadian alpine style log home is the ultimate winter holiday hideout. Featuring three bedrooms (sleeping nine), two bathrooms, valley views and an incredible 100 square metre bluestone deck, this residence was built for entertaining and hosting house guests.

The home not only looks great but is smartly designed to the highest fire protection rating and to self regulate its indoor temperature with double glazing and superior insulation. With this energy efficiency, two open fireplaces and a continuous burning wood heater you're guaranteed to stay warm and cosy all winter long.

For sale: Buxton, VIC

For sale: Buxton, VIC

Stylish Blue Mountains abode- Leura, NSW

Architect designed and aptly named 'Tall Timbers' includes four bedrooms, two bathrooms, spacious open plan living with open fireplace and an incredible wrap-around balcony to admire the bush scenery from. Best of all it's walking distance to Leura village and one of the Blue Mountains most popular walking tracks.

Architectural designed stunner, Bonnet Hill, TAS

Ideally located only 12 minutes drive from Hobart and a six minute walk to the beach, this astonishingly private one acre property is surrounded by native bush and overlooks the Derwent River. The home showcases natural materials throughout, including eucalyptus hardwood, cedar, Tasmanian oak and Canadian oregon timber, just to name a few.

Serene estate, Olinda, VIC

Set on 3.25 acres in the idyllic Dandenong Ranges, this tranquil home is surrounded by century old trees and a 120m flowing creek. The rustic interiors consist of seven bedrooms, rare quarry stone, recycled timbers, curved walls, lofty ceilings and beautiful open fireplaces.

Winter wonderland, Dinner Plain, VIC

Embrace the crisp mountain air in High Country Victoria. Situated in the heart of Dinner Plain Village you'll have snowboarding, cross country skiing and tobogganing all on your doorstep. Containing four massive bedrooms, this home has the capacity to sleep 22 and has a long history of steady rental returns. Cha-ching!

After a long day swooshing around the snowy slopes, unwind and melt away the chill in this luxury spa bath. This cute ski chalet sleeps seven people and has plenty of storage for firewood and snow gear.

Modern cabin charmer, Emerald, VIC

Walking distance to Emerald's cafes, schools and stores, this is a the perfect leafy escape if you don't want to be too far from civilisation. The newly renovated cabin has three bedrooms with stunning pitched roofs, polished timber floors, ducted heating and two decked areas with gorgeous tree outlooks.

Bush retreat 2.0, Upper Sturt, SA

This eye-catching four bedroom home is comfortably nestled into its leafy hillside setting. Highlights include the expansive jarrah deck, the open mezzanine level and huge undercover outdoor entertaining area.

Peaceful mountain refuge, Lower Beechmont, QLD

This seven acre sanctuary features a creek, waterfall and breathtaking Gold Coast skyline, dam and mountain vistas. Relax on the wrap-around verandah, listening to rain fall on the tin roof in bed, picnicking in your own private bush park or in front of the open fire with a bottle of wine from the cellar.

We hope these magnificent alpine residences have inspired you to get lost in the woods and go into hibernation this winter.

For home improvement ideas for this season check out these seven household jobs to tackle in winter and super cool outdoor living ideas for the cooler months.

Happy house hunting!

The Homely Team

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Chapel Hill real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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The bank of mum and dad needs help

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The bank of mum and dad needs help

The bank of mums and dads has been a reliable lender to many first time buyers trying to get that extra bit of assistance to enter the market. But considering strong growth in recent years it’s not uncommon for parents to gift their children tens of thousands of dollars to help build a deposit.

A leading national mortgage brokerage released figures from a February survey which revealed that 19 per cent of first home buyers are gifted an average of $41,000 by their parents to secure their first home. Gifting this amount of money can put mums and dads under significant financial strain, especially as they near retirement.

Any parent would be happy to help their children buy a home and take one of life’s biggest steps, but they need to carefully consider how their money is spent, both for their sake and their children’s.

By definition, first home buyers have no experience buying a home. They are learning about the process each step of the way and are at risk of making serious mistakes, often not realising until it is too late.

Nowhere is the risk of making mistakes greater than when it comes down to submitting an offer or negotiating the sale. This should be a serious concern for mums and dads gifting tens of thousands of dollars to their children to buy a property. Inexperienced buyers being matched against professional selling agents will always come off second best.

Imagine if you were a parent gifting your child $40,000. Would you be confident they know how to get the best result with your money?

Would they know what to do if the property passes in to them at auction? Would they know what questions to ask the Selling Agent in order to formulate an offer?

For example: a first time buyer is pre-approved up to $560,000. They are bidding for a property listed for $500,000 that passes in to them at $470,000. The selling agent tells the buyer they need at least $540,000. What’s the buyer’s first move? Do they know?

Or would first time buyers know how to formulate an offer that’s attractive to the vendor but doesn’t over pay? Or would they know what conditions to put on their offer?

If the answer to any of those questions is a ‘no’ the buyer could be in serious trouble of overpaying for the property.

Buying the right property for the right price gives first home buyers the best chance of building their wealth and setting themselves up in life. It also helps their parents.

A first home is rarely a dream home; it is really a stepping stone. First home buyers will usually buy an apartment or townhouse to live in for a few years, hope that it increases in value and then use the equity to purchase their family home.

This plan relies on buying a good property that has the best chance of achieving strong capital growth over time. There’s a lot riding on that little apartment or townhouse, not just for the buyer but for their parents as well.

In an ideal world, mums and dads could give their children a financial helping hand and then recover the money when the property is sold. If their kids buy a good property that grows in value, the bank of mum and dad might get a nice return. Nearing or in retirement it is a significant decision to gift tens of thousands of dollars, so why not buy something that is going to get that money back?

Again the question should be asked: would you trust someone who’s never bought a home before to know what to look for in a good quality property?

This isn’t to suggest mums and dads shouldn’t give their children financial help. Any parent wants to see their child do well in life. But mums and dads need to think about how their money is spent. They need to make sure their children buy smart.

That’s why they need to engage a Buyer’s Agent.

A Buyer’s Agent will know how to negotiate to secure a property for the lowest price. They will know what to do when the property passes in, or how to formulate an attractive offer.

They will also know what to look for in a quality property, giving buyers the best chance of purchasing something that grows in value.

There is so much at stake when buying a first home. A gift from the bank of mum and dad to help their kids buy only increases the need to get an expert to take care of the process for them.

So why not consider lending that little bit extra to your children and have the peace of mind they have an experienced professional in their corner committed to getting them the best result?

For more tips check out other ways you can help your kids get onto the property ladder and advice for first home buyers.

Author bio:

As Chief Executive Officer, Ashley Koenig brings a wealth of invaluable experience to National Property Buyers, gained from managing teams in numerous disciplines and professions across engineering, finance and real estate.

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Chapel Hill real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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Eye-opening kitchen islands

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Eye-opening kitchen islands

Want to add something extra to your kitchen but don’t know where to start? Try an eye-catching island bench.

When space allows, an island bench is almost always included in a kitchen renovation – and for good reason. As well as extra storage and bench space, an island turns a kitchen from a functional work space into a place to gather for food, conversation and more – islands often double as homework or work stations, or as a spot to spread out the paper over a morning coffee.

Now that islands are de rigueur, designs that sidestep the norm were bound to appear. As these impressive kitchen islands reveal, a standout kitchen island can set the tone not just for the kitchen, but the entire open-plan zone in which it sits. Whether sleek and contemporary, or rustic and tactile, these island benches will have you thinking outside the rectangular box.

In praise of stone

A hand-cut granite island bench in a kitchen designed by Alexandra Kidd Design steals the show in this ultra-modern harbourside home in Sydney. Bold design moves like this contribute to the home’s sophisticated aesthetic, and add interest to its somewhat masculine concrete structure.

The island’s raw finish interrupts the sleek surfaces so prominent in the rest of the home. Texture rather than colour is used to add warmth and personality.

Elegance personified

Granite takes on a dramatically different look in this glamorous kitchen. Serving as a striking centrepiece, the ‘Verde Bamboo’ granite island is an elegant companion for vinyl-wrapped doors and glass shelves offset with a mirrored splashback.

The island has more than just good looks. Deep drawers on both sides create a storage bonanza.

Marble masterpiece

The owners of this Woollahra, Sydney home wanted their new kitchen to have the feel of a Parisian apartment – old-world charm, but with a modern twist. The Calacatta marble island takes the kitchen from traditional to high-end, its fine lines giving the impression the island is cut from a solid block of marble. Keeping the drawers to one side enhances the streamlined look, with a curvaceous stained-oak timber bar top providing an overhang for a pair of kitchen stools.

Statuario marble slab and honed Calacatta: Maximum Australia

When not in use, the panelled cabinetry can be closed up to hide the stove, ovens and fridge, allowing the island to truly shine.

Browse a new sink

Curves in all the right places

Who says islands need to be rectangular? Rounding off the ends takes an island into the realm of exceptional, and is sure to make guests look twice. Timber is used with abandon inside and outside this Geelong home, aptly named ‘The Ark’.

Storage has been seamlessly hidden within the shapely island end.

Shaped to fit

The kitchen in this Federation home’s extension on Sydney’s North Shore opens to the back garden. Instead of long and relatively narrow, as most islands are, this island is as deep as it is wide, creating the opportunity for storage on each of the four sides.

Although there’s already room for a couple of stools, look closely under the island on this side and you’ll notice part of the open shelving is on wheels. This section was designed as a ‘cart’ that can be moved out to create a breakfast nook or reading spot. The island benchtop is thin-edged reconstituted stone by Stone Italiana. When the western sun pours in of an afternoon, the shutters can be closed up to keep the kitchen cool.

Find tableware

Light on its feet

With extra storage one of the outcomes desired by homeowners in a renovated kitchen, islands tend to be blocky to accommodate drawers on one or both sides. When your kitchen has ample storage built in elsewhere, however, the island can take on a different form. This island was designed to look like a piece of furniture, to sit off the floor and complement the extension’s airy feel.

Hotplates were built into the island to encourage conversation during cooking, and raw and painted plywood ties in with the abundance of timber used in the rest of the space. The windows and exposed beams are Tasmanian oak and the floors are blackbutt.

Gravity defying

Homeowners are increasingly doing whatever it takes to get that coveted island even if, as in this case, it means suspending it over a set of stairs. Doing so has given these homeowners the extra bench space they wanted, without having to skimp on island dimensions.

The vertical timber slats underneath the island mirror other timber feature walls inside and out of this beachside home near Sydney.

All aglow

You might recognise this lavish kitchen from an episode of The Block. Contestants Julia and Sasha went all out to impress the judges with a backlit Caesarstone Concetto ‘White Quartz‘ island. Mirrored kickboards beneath the glowing box were chosen to give the island the illusion of floating. The island benchtop is Caesarstone ‘Vanilla Noir‘.

Discover kitchen renovators

Do you have a kitchen island that’s a little different? Share a photo in the comments below.

This article was originally published on the Houzz.com.au. Read the original article here.

Author bio:

Joanna Tovia is a member of the Houzz Australia editorial team. She is a journalist/photographer specialising in design, travel and living well.

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Chapel Hill real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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House detox: Natural ways to keep your home clean

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House detox: Natural ways to keep your home clean

When it comes to cleaning your home, you want to know that the products you’re using are safe and effective. What better way to do this, than to ditch the expensive and toxic chemicals and use all natural cleaners you already have in your pantry? You’re not only doing the environment and yourself a favour, but also utilising a cost-effective alternative. What’s not to love!

Here are our top five pantry items to give your house the natural detox it needs.

Clean your kitchen appliances with lemon

When it comes to scrubbing endlessly inside an oven or microwave at those pesky, baked-on food spots, lemon is just the thing you need to loosen the grime so you can easily wipe it away in a fraction of the time. Here’s how:

How to clean your oven

  1. Cut two lemons in half and squeeze the juices into a baking dish, leave the lemons in the dish as well.
  2. Fill the dish a third of the way with water.
  3. Place in the oven and bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes (a little longer if the layers are really caked on).
  4. Remove the dish and let the oven cool.
  5. Grab a sourer to wipe away the inside of the oven, using lemon water to rinse.
  6. Make sure to towel dry when done.

It is essential that you keep your oven clean because bacteria and germs develop at the slightest incentive in the warm, dark environment. If the trays and grills are not cleaned regularly, it is not going to be good for your oven, your food and your own health. You can use lemon water or other oven cleaning methods for everyday surface cleaning. Regular cleaning can stop residue getting out of control.

How to clean your microwave

  1. In a microwaveable container, squeeze the juice of one lemon into 250ml of water, leave the rind in the bowl.
  2. Microwave for 3 minutes.
  3. Stand for five minutes and let the steam work its magic.
  4. Open the door, remove the bowl and wipe down the ceiling, sides, door and floor of the microwave - in that order.
  5. If you have any food spots that won’t budge, simply use some lemon water and a cloth to wear the stains down.

It’s as easy as that! You’ve got a natural degreaser that disinfects and leaves your kitchen smelling zesty and fresh. You can also use your lemons to polish spotty cutlery, clean wooden cutting boards and deodorise your plastic Tupperware. No nasty chemicals required.

The 5 best baking soda solutions

At a couple of dollars a box, this humble powder has got to be the most cost effective natural cleaner out there. It sucks up odours, grease and cuts through stains as easy as any chemical in a spray bottle can! Here’s a few of the most popular uses:

  • Clean your washing machine. Use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean the detergent tray. Then pour the remaining liquid into the tray and turn the washing machine on for a full wash cycle.
  • Leave an opened box of baking soda in your pantry or fridge for up to 6 months, it will absorb all the food odours and keep your kitchen fresh.
  • Sprinkle some bicarbonate soda over the bottom of that pan you burnt the sauce onto last night, leave it soaking in a little hot water overnight and those stubborn stains will glide right off in the morning!
  • To boost your wash, add half a cup (top loader) or a fourth of a cup (front loader) of baking soda with your regular detergent. This ensures your whites will be dazzling and your colours remain vibrant
  • Clean your tile grout with the aid of some vinegar. Make the solution in small batches so the mixture retains its potency and effectiveness.

Using vinegar - tips & tricks

Got ants in your home? Grab your spray bottle and fill it up with some white vinegar, then spray it along your window sills, door ways and any cracks where ants can get in. This will stop your pesky invaders in their tracks, bonus points if you can find the ant trail and clean it with vinegar.

If you’ve got shower pressure that’s not quite what it used to be, tie a bag of vinegar over your shower head and leave overnight. This will remove the chemical build-up inside so your water can flow freely.

And don’t fret over spills on your carpets, simply remove excess liquid and spray the spot with a solution of half water and half vinegar. Leave it for a couple minutes and you’ll be able to blot the rest away with a paper towel. There’s no need to douse the carpet in chemicals and risk discolouration.

Essential oils for green cleaning

Didn’t think a simple oil could offer a myriad of cleaning possibilities? Think again! From air-fresheners to disinfectant, here’s a few of our favourite uses of essential oils:

  • Tea tree - Add a teaspoon of water to a cup of water in a spray bottle and spray all over mould spots, wipe away after a few minutes. To prevent mould, simply spray as needed. Use the same spray to deter pests naturally, spray the mixture on their usual haunts to get them to leave.
  • Lavender - Mix about six drops of lavender into your vinegar spray to give the mixture a delightful scent when disinfecting surfaces. Or burn a few drops in an oil diffuser for some immediately soothing vibes throughout your home. Keep any moths away from your clothes by putting a few drops on some cotton balls and placing them in your drawers and wardrobes.
  • Peppermint - This handy little antibacterial oil can be used when washing your dishes, just add a few drops into the water with a little of your normal soap mixture. Wipe it over the door knobs, handles and anywhere germs can spread easily to stop them in their tracks.

(As with all essential oils, please pay attention to safety warnings, always keep out of reach of children and avoid when pregnant.)

Banish grease stains with cornstarch

So now for the wildcard, I bet you didn’t expect to see cornstarch on this list! But in actual fact, it’s great for drawing out all kinds of oil and grease stains. Simply wet the area with a bit of water, then pour your cornstarch over any mess on your floors and carpets, let it absorb for 20 minutes and then vacuum up. No more stains! You can also use this method for leather and suede couches if you leave it on overnight.

And if the kids toys are starting to look a bit questionable, pop them in a bag, sprinkle some cornstarch in and shake it all up. After a couple minutes, brush the powder off and they’ll come up as good as new.

No need to shop for chemicals in a bottle when you need to do your spring clean, just crack open the pantry to get started on an all-natural detox for your home. Keeping your house chemical-free can be made easier with the right advice. Speak with a local professional cleaner to get advice on how to keep your home in its best shape.

Author bio:

Adele Taylor is part of the Customer Success Team at Oneflare, Australia’s fastest growing online marketplace connecting customers with professionals within the home improvement and service categories. She is an aspiring content writer who loves writing about and researching whatever she can get her hands on, with a deep passion for finding the perfect solution to every burning question.

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Brookwater real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

 

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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Kitchen design trends 2017: What’s hot & what’s not

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Kitchen design trends 2017: What’s hot & what’s not

When it comes to renovating a kitchen, it’s easy to spend hours agonising over which fixtures, fittings and style to go for.

To help guide you towards making the right design choices we’ve summarised the key findings from the latest annual Houzz Kitchen Trends Survey.

The survey was carried out in late 2016 by 2,380 Houzz users who had completed a kitchen reno in the past 12 months or were in the process of doing one or planning to renovate in the next three months.

Renovating is always a stressful time because it involves significant financial investment (a third of Aussie homeowners surveyed spent over $40k on their kitchen renos!) and you know that it isn’t easy to change if you don’t like the result.

Without further ado, here’s what kitchen materials, appliances, features and lighting are hot right now that renovators strive for.

HOT- Breakfast bars & islands

When it comes to built-in features most renovators chose island benches (44%) and breakfast bars (41%) as their top priority.

Breakfast bars and island benches are the perfect addition to a kitchen if you’re aiming to spend more time with family there, make your kitchen a more social space and have more room and seating for entertaining purposes.

NOT- Walk-in pantries

As far as favourite kitchen features go, walk-in pantries are on the way out. Most renovators (41%) reported they planned to install cabinets to act as the pantry compared to only 24 per cent who desired a walk-in style pantry. So that’s good news if you just didn’t have enough space for that butler’s pantry addition, simple reach-in cupboards and cabinets will do the trick.

HOT- Contemporary & modern style

More than half the renovators favour contemporary (30%) and modern (25%) styles when looking to update their kitchens style. Where traditional (7%), country (6%) and industrial (4%) styles were the least popular looks.

NOT- Dark finishes

When it comes to cabinetry design white is a firm favourite, with a whopping 61 per cent of renovators sticking to the timeless appeal of white for kitchen cabinetry. Only a minority of renovators were into grey (7%) or black (5%) cabinetry.

Engineered quartz came in as the most desired bench top finish (34%) with granite losing favour with renovators (16%). White benchtops were also preferred (31%) over black (12%) and grey (18%) ones.

Sticking to a clean and classic white kitchen colour palette will serve you well for years and years to come. White cabinetry always looks chic and fresh, and can be easily enlivened with accessories and adding a feature splashback.

HOT- Keeping neat

The easiest way to keep a kitchen tidy and always looking good is to have a specially designed spot for everything. Interestingly pull-out waste and recycling cabinets were named as one of the most desirable storage updates by 62 per cent of renovators.

So, don’t forget to add a special spot to tuck your rubbish and recycling cleverly out of the line of sight, like an under sink bin drawer with two sections.

NOT- Black and white appliances

Stainless steel is the appliance finish go-to for most renovators (64%), with white (19%) and black (12%) coming in second and third place respectively.

Also, if you’re replacing your cooktop (the most desirable appliance upgrade 87%), gas cooktops came in as the first preference for respondents (47%). Important features for most homeowners, dishwashers (74%) and rangehoods (77%) are also high on the appliance upgrade wish list.

For that modern look and resale value, you can’t go wrong by upgrading to a sleek stainless-steel stove, dishwasher and rangehood.

HOT- Pendant lights

More than half of the homeowners (54%) selected pendant lighting as their lighting upgrade of choice.

Pendant lights over your kitchen bench not only look great and make a statement but are good practically for getting the task lighting in your work space just right. Now all that’s left to decide is to go with an edgy Edison bulb light cluster fitting or a set of three sleek metallic pendant lights.

HOT- Open concepts

Most renovators wanted to increase the size and openness of their kitchen when renovating. Either by making the kitchen more open to other rooms (58%) or more open to outdoor entertaining (40%), open plans and good flow are still in vogue.

Consider finally taking down that wall to combine your kitchen and living room or embrace the outdoors by adding a wall of glass bi-fold doors onto the side of your kitchen so you step directly into the garden or patio.

We hope these survey findings help you approach your kitchen design decisions with confidence and ease.

For more kitchen renovation ideas check out these practical kitchen must haves, six lessons from a rookie kitchen renovator and our kitchen lighting guide.

Happy renovating!

The Homely Team

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Brookwater real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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3 ways to make money when moving house

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3 ways to make money when moving house

For most people, moving to a new house means discarding what many consider to be ‘junk’. Packing your moving boxes includes some difficult decisions. You must decide which things you're going to keep and what you're going to get rid of.

For the sake of time and efficiency, it's tempting to simply throw away all the stuff you don’t want to take with you to your new place. If you’re downsizing you might need to maximise space in the smaller place so certain knick-knacks just have to go.

In our throw-away society, the usual plan is to hire and park a skip bin out the front and turf all of the clutter. But before you think of spending money on skip hire, consider making a few dollars from the things you don’t want or need any more.

In fact, it’s possible to cover the full cost of moving just from getting rid of what you might consider your ‘junk’ wisely.

Here are three ways you can actually make money when you're moving house.

1. Have a garage sale.

Garage sales are:

  • Easy to set-up.
  • Easy to advertise.
  • An easy way to make a quick sale.

Most of the advertising for a garage sale can be done with hand-written street signs, flyers or online via a local group like on Facebook or Gumtree in their garage sale section.

Garage sale tips: Separate the items which you no longer need or use and plan to offload. Lay them out in your garage or undercover veranda on tables in pricing categories (under $2, $5 and $10+) the day before your garage sale. Also, be sure to visit the bank and get a bag of change.

Remember, you’re pricing things to sell. If you price them right, you’ll get buyers and make some money. Depending on the things you're prepared to get rid of, you could make a few hundred dollars in an afternoon.

Always be open to bargaining as your goal is to sell everything you can. Remember it’s better to make some money than none for something you would have thrown away anyway.

2. Sell unwanted home & garden items online.

The second-hand economy is currently a 4-billion-dollar-a-year economy. Some of the places where the second-hand economy thrives include Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and of course eBay.

For the savvy seller who is prepared to do a little bit of research, the Gumtree Home and Garden category can net you in excess of $3,000 in a single month.

Tips for selling online: Start by setting aside items which you think might sell well. Do a little bit of research to find out the price you’re most likely to get in the online second-hand marketplaces.

There are so many options online and you may be surprised what bargains people are looking to pick up. Popular items include used garden sheds, second hand mobile phones, light fittings, tiles, bricks, fixtures that are lying around in the garage and used furniture.

Be prepared to take some good quality photos of your items. Most buying choices are based on what people see. There are also plenty of guides on online marketplaces with tips to help you sell items efficiently and for the best price.

Make the description of the thing you’re selling detailed, interesting and honest. Be sure to include any defects and curious details about your item. Perhaps a brief history of the item, or the reason that you're selling it.

Be sure to publish it for sale online at a time where you can be available to manage the listing. You need to be able to answer any questions that people might have and arrange postage or a time for pick-up or delivery.

Remember too, that Gumtree is a community site so they encourage you to buy and sell locally and meet face to face. So, before you head off to sell your item make sure that you're comfortable with the person you're selling it to.

Doing this a month or so out from your move can still give you time to pack those things which didn't sell, or find alternative ways to sell or donate them.

3. Head for the local auction house.

If you have the time before your move date, selling things at a local auction house which specialises in home-wares and household items, can be a very enjoyable and profitable experience.

With an auction, it’s a more exclusive process and geared towards a narrower range of household items. Provided the things you want to off load fit the scope of the auction house, you can make some great cash, quickly.

Tips for selling items at auction houses: The first thing to do is decide which auction will suit your items. For fittings and fixtures, old furniture, right down to raw materials, there are auction houses for almost everything.

Fowles Auction Sales, for example, run home renovator auctions in Victoria. They’re a reputable place to consider auctioning unused fittings and fixtures, timber and building materials. If you’re renovating it can also be a great way to happen across a bargain.

You'll also find other auction organisations who specialise in antiques, artwork, collectables and heirlooms.

Before you go to an auction house with your things, consider the following:

Firstly, based on solid research or a professional evaluation, know what each item is worth (also known as an appraisal). Most auction houses will give you an appraisal at no cost to you.

Usually, auction houses will engage an expert in an area to carry out the appraisal. They will make an accurate estimate of the value of your item at auction.

The factors that affect pricing and a sale at auction include; how in-demand or rare the item is, as well as its current condition. Any evaluation takes into consideration current market value for your items.

There may be occasions when it's not possible for you to get an appraisal in person. In those cases, the auction house may allow you to get a photographic appraisal.

Once the appraisal is complete, the auction house will also tell you the best way to sell or auction off your items. From there you'll be able to consider a reserve price.

Bear in mind that auction houses will usually include a commission. Commissions for auction items in Australia typically range from 11 to 25 per cent.

Although there is more preparation involved in selling items via an auction, the added work often brings a greater reward if the item is rare or highly sought after.

Some auction houses may also charge a fixed price entry fee on some items, plus commission. Another consideration before you sign up for the auction option is the conditions of sale document.

Whichever option you choose, the idea of making money (when people are usually moaning about how much a move is costing them) is one you should consider. It may even make the move a little more enjoyable and a little less stressful on the bank balance.

For more tips to get organised before your move check out our guide to cutting down clutter and our week-by-week moving checklist.

Author bio:

David Anthony is the owner of Real Life Homes. Real Life Homes is a Real Estate, Renovations and lifestyle site offering tips, reviews, property investment and Real Estate trends along with plenty of information on how to build, rebuild and renovate your home.

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Brookwater real estate for sale and properties to rent in Brisbane. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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Puppy perks: Home upgrades for your furry friend

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Puppy perks: Home upgrades for your furry friend

All dog owners want their home to be a safe, entertaining and comfortable environment for their pooch to reside.

Some dog owners are taking their puppy love to the next level by spending up big and installing dog-friendly amenities throughout their homes.

Here are five luxury home upgrades to contemplate (and start saving for!), so your best four-legged friend doesn’t have to ruff it.

Image: LDA Architecture & Interiors

Image: LDA Architecture & Interiors

Smart entry

Give your pup the ultimate in freedom to come in and out of your home as they please by installing a smart doggie door.

A microchip-triggered pet door will not only keep Fido happy, but keeps your home secure from unwanted animals and intruders, by only granting access when it reads the unique code on your pet’s unique microchip.

SureFlap microchip pet doors cost about $250 each, which will be well worth it if one of your pet peeves is taking your dog outside to go to the loo early on a cold morning. Hello sleep-ins!

Image: SureFlap

Image: SureFlap

Chic shower

Forget having your pet shiver under a cold garden hose or clogging up your bathtub drain with dog hair. Wash your pooch in the lap of luxury in their own custom-built dedicated dog bath or shower.

If you’re planning on undertaking a laundry reno discuss with your builder and architect the possibility of including a custom-built dog grooming area if space allows.

Don’t forget a hand-held hose fitting for ease of use, a niche to store dog shampoo, wall hooks for towels and collars, shelves for dog treats and brushes for extra pampering. If you have a larger or older dog, add in a step up to the tub to save you from heavy lifting.

Image: Martha O'Hara Interiors

Image: Martha O'Hara Interiors

Puppy palace

Every dog loves to have their own special space to chill out and have a snooze in. Why not consider adding in a built-in doggie day bed or doggie fort inside your home?

Awkward corners, dead space in your kitchen island/cabinetry or under-utilised space under the stairs are all perfect opportunities to look at adding in a dog sized hideaway complete with dog bed, toys and cosy blankets.

You can even get thermo heated pillows, leather dog-sized chesterfield couches, side tables with built in pet beds and custom designed dog bedding, to fit in with the rest of your décor.

Bonus: A special luxurious bed or fort will also help to keep your puppy off of your furniture.

Image: RLH Studio

Image: RLH Studio

Automatic feeder

Have you ever been confronted by a cranky and hungry pup when you get home late and you’ve missed their regular meal time? Avoid this scenario by investing in an automatic pet feeder. This way you can have peace of mind that your dog will have a full belly, even if you’re away from home for a whole day.

Look for an automatic dog feeder where you can program multiple portion controlled meals in a day, to best suit your dog’s size and routine. Better yet, there are some models (like Petnet) that you can control remotely from an iOS smartphone, so your pet will never miss a meal again.

The OxGord programmable dog feeder even has a voice recorder and speaker feature, so if you’re away from the house you can bond with and call out to your pet at dinner time.

Image: Petnet

Image: Petnet

Go fetch

Undoubtedly dogs are full of energy and can just down right wreck your home and garden if they don’t get enough exercise. Enter the automatic fetch machine!

If you’ve had an exhausting day at the office or you’re too busy to take your pup for a walk, set up iFetch inside or outdoors (there are three distance settings) and your dog will be entertained for hours of chasing and fetching. Plus, it'll be good fun training them up to play. iFetch ball launchers start at $89.95.

Image: iFetch

Image: iFetch

We hope these five ideas have inspired you to make your home that bit more homely and interesting for your furry friend. Are there any other ways you like to spoil your pup at home? Please tell us in the comments section.

If you're looking for a good place to live for pet owners, check out the most dog friendly suburbs in Australia.

Happy house hunting!

The homely.com.au Team

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Blacktown real estate for sale and properties to rent in Sydney. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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Save over $5k on your bathroom renovation with these easy steps

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Save over $5k on your bathroom renovation with these easy steps

Want to save thousands of dollars on your next bathroom renovation? Of course, you do! And the solution to saving $5000 or more on your project isn't as hard as you may think. By following this simple guide, you can be your own project manager and cut up to 30% off the cost of a high-quality bathroom renovation.

In Australia, bathroom renovations average around $20,000 – with costs quickly rising if your bathroom is larger or you choose high-end finishes. But how much of that $20,000 is hard costs and how much is your builder's mark-up?

The typical builder adds a 30% mark-up to their costs – meaning that you can save $5,000 or more by being your own project manager. If your budget is tight, being your own project manager might turn your dream bathroom renovation into a reality. If you have extra money to spend, you can apply those savings to higher quality finishes. Either way, managing your own bathroom renovation is a great way to save money!

How to keep your bathroom renovation affordable

Project management isn't for everyone, you need to be willing to work hard and stay on schedule. But if you're not afraid of some hard work, then project managing your renovation could be the way to keep your bathroom from busting the budget.

Before you commit to heading up this type of project, it’s important that you understand what you're getting into. Read through our step-by-step process and see if project management could be a good fit for you and your bathroom reno.

The five key stages to renovating are:

1 – Research

2 – Planning

3 – Pre-construction

4 – Construction

5 – Project completion

Notice how much planning and research is involved? That's the key to successful project management. If you spend the proper amount of time planning and getting ready, then your project should run smoothly. If you rush stages one to three, then you might be in for a rough time.

Stage 1 – Research

This first stage has you gathering information and inspiration for your bathroom renovation. Pinterest.com and Houzz.com.au both offer extensive examples of beautiful bathrooms and should be your go-to place for inspiration (in my opinion). Also, check out homely.com.au's Collections to create and share collections of bathroom inspo.

Collect your research in storyboards, divide them into different categories for each design decision you'll face: tiles, vanities, toilets, colour schemes, shower screens, lighting, etc. Staying organised is key to successful project management, and that organisation begins in the research stage.

Stage 2 – Planning

The planning stage is vital to the success of your project – so make sure you allocate enough time to properly plan your bathroom renovation. This stage consists of the following three steps:

1. Create a job file structure: Everything relating to your project needs to be at your fingertips. Start by creating a clear and orderly place to store everything relating to your project.

2. Draft plans: A set of plans is not optional. You and your contractors need clear instructions for every step of the process – no matter how big or small your project is. There are three options for getting plans drafted:

  • Pay an architect, professional designer, or a draftsperson to create your plans for you. This option, while more expensive, will ensure that your plans are easily understood by contractors and up to industry standards.
  • Use drafting software to create your own plans. There are many options available online, but I recommend EDRAW because it features easy to use drag and drop features.
  • Do it the old-fashioned way and design by hand on paper. This is a great option for those who like to have something physical to reference – just make sure your plans are drawn to scale and show every element of your new design.

3. Shopping: Sourcing products for a bathroom renovation isn't easy. It often requires traveling to multiple sources and searching for and ordering the perfect fittings, fixtures, and accessories. It’s easy to overlook this step, so make sure you factor in enough time for browsing, comparing and purchasing.

Stage 3 – Pre-construction

Pre-construction is the final step before work begins on your bathroom renovation. It’s the time to get every detail worked out so that your project goes smoothly. During this stage, you should have two main goals:

1. Finding contractors: Research quality contractors and begin collecting quotes. Make sure that you stay organised during this stage by tracking each quote in your project files.

You should also take this time to arm yourself with contract and licensing knowledge. Hiring contractors is a big investment and you want to be protected in case anything goes wrong. For more detailed information on contracts and licensing, consult the NSW Fair Trading Website (or with the local governing authority in your state).

2. Estimated timeline for completion: A smooth project relies on a clear timeline. Take the necessary time to create an in-depth schedule. This timeline will help you as you manage the stages of your job and schedule each contractor. Sometimes a simple excel spreadsheet is all it takes to track your progress, don't over complicate things if you don't have to.

Stage 4 – Construction

After completing all your preliminary work in stages one through to three, it’s finally time for the real work to begin! If you have properly researched, planned, and scheduled, this stage should go off without a hitch. Put all your management skills to use and make sure that contractors are sticking to the budget and your timeline.

The essential part of this step is keeping in constant contact with your tradies. By knowing exactly where they are in the process, you can avoid surprises and difficulties later.

You don't want to deal with the headache of a delayed bathroom renovation (especially if you're an owner occupier), so make sure to put all your effort into managing your construction project.

Stage 5 – Project completion

Stage five is the final step in your bathroom renovation. It’s all about finishing strong and ensuring that everything is completed and functioning properly.

When it comes to finalising the process, you should establish a defects liability period with your contractor. This period is a set time when you hold back a portion of the final payment to ensure that everything is working properly. I recommend holding back 5 to 10% of the contract value for a three month period. This gives you time to test your new bathroom and find any defects that aren't immediately obvious to the eye.

A reputable contractor should be fine with a standard defect liability period because they're willing to stand behind the quality of their work. If a defect is discovered, the held back funds ensure that your contractor will return to correct the error at their cost. If the contractor refuses to correct their defects, you can use the funds to hire someone else. Just make sure you keep detailed records of all your interactions with your contractors.

Start saving!

Managing your own project isn't easy. But with careful planning and attention to detail, you can get it right and save $5,000 in the process! Beyond just saving money, you will also learn a lot about renovations and hopefully have a little fun too. Project management isn't for everyone, but it can be a rewarding experience and help you finally get that bathroom of your dreams.

For more bathroom makeover tips take a look at these luxury touches to upgrade your bathroom, affordable ways to upgrade your bathroom and super cool bathroom appliances.

Author bio:

Founder of Renovation Junkies, James Mason is a builder, blogger, YouTuber, power tool expert and all round nice guy. James has been in the building industry for over 21 years and loves being on the tools or online teaching people how to perform all types of DIY jobs and home renovation. 

James set up Renovation Junkies to give renovators inside tips, tricks and guidance to managing the whole renovation process – simply and easily to give you the peace of mind and confidence to create your dream home, yourself.

 

About homely.com.au:

Homely.com.au is a new way to search for Blacktown real estate for sale and properties to rent in Sydney. With over 340K listings and 500K local reviews and insights, homely.com.au is a faster and easier way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia.

Check out our Suburb Reviews and Questions pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Don't forget to download our iPhone app!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at marketing@homely.com.au.

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