Organizing Your Garage Like a Pro

Nov 12, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

A messy garage is overwhelming, to say the least. After years of accumulating “stuff” a good purge is necessary, especially if you plan to move.

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Topics: DIY, Advice, Home Ownership, Home Tips

Tips on how to Design a Clean Easy Home

Oct 25, 2018 5:59:39 PM Share this:

In my never-ending quest to find more time to relax, put my feet up and enjoy a glass of wine and a good book, I’m writing today about designing your home in a way that helps to minimize your cleaning time.

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Topics: Home Tips, DIY, Advice, Home Decor & Furnishing

Upcycling your Home

Sep 24, 2018 8:00:00 PM Share this:

With the Winter season comes indoor pursuits. It’s the perfect time to clean up and decorate around the home. Try ‘upcycling’, the popular transformation of discarded or useless items into something new or useful. Here are a few ideas for inspiration.

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Topics: DIY, Winter, PropertyFocus, Home Decor & Furnishing

Adding value to your kitchen when selling your property

Mar 12, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Kitchens are widely touted as a room of a house that can add value when it comes to selling your property. But not all kitchens are created equal. What can you do to yours to catch a potential buyer’s eye and persuade them to make a good offer?

As with any pre-sale renovation or spruce up, keep a tight rein on budget. Talk to your agent about what your asking price should be before and after a kitchen makeover. Then set your budget at a portion of that difference that you’re comfortable with. You don’t want any makeover plan to eat too far into that financial gain or there is no point at all in doing it. Your agent will also be able to give you a good idea of some quick changes to your kitchen that may help. You may find very little financial outlay can make a huge difference; avoiding anything that involves changes to plumbing and electrical wiring is another way to keep costs down.

Here are a few ideas:

Freshen up cabinetry, and walls with a coat of paint and new cupboard or drawer handles. Chat with paint retailers for advice on trending colors. As a rule, if you want to create the illusion of a bright, airy, spacious kitchen opt for light neutrals. You also want to keep the palette fairly neutral so potential buyers feel they can stamp their own personality on it. Don’t get too hung up on decorating to your own personal taste.

Decluttering and cleaning is another cost-effective way to spruce up a kitchen. Keep open shelves, cupboards, and pantries looking orderly and functional instead of crammed full of your own belongings. Make sure all surfaces are clean and unmarked. If benchtops are looking old and marked, consider replacing them if you can afford it. There are a huge range of different options available these days for benches, in a range of prices. You don’t have to choose the most expensive. A new, unmarked cheaper option will still be better than older, stained or chipped surfaces.

The same is true for flooring and wall tiles. If you can, replace or at least repair old, stained, worn flooring or cracked tiles, and make sure tile grouting is looking clean and fresh.
Look up. Don’t forget about ceilings and lighting. Kitchens should be well lit to be at their most functional – but good lighting can also make them seem bigger and brighter. Don’t forget to at least clean the ceilings, or preferably paint them.

Think about flow. Can the way you move around the kitchen be improved by shifting the dishwasher, fridge or oven? Do doors clash? Is the fridge in the wrong place? If there’s something about the way you use your kitchen that has always irritated you, it may well irritate buyers as well. If you can change it within your budget, it is worth doing.

Sinks are not as sexy as some kitchen essentials to replace but can make a big difference. A good size sink makes a big difference to kitchen functionality – particularly if you currently have an older kitchen which often have small sinks. Tapware should also be well-maintained and clean.

Replacing ovens should probably be a last resort, simply because of the cost. A cutting edge new oven in an old, tired kitchen will be far less likely to add value than an older oven in a sleek, tidy, light kitchen.

Before you start make sure you know exactly what you want to do to your kitchen and why, and stick to it. It’s very easy for a kitchen makeover to turn into a personal project – a chance for you to do add all the things you’ve ever wanted in a kitchen and suddenly you find your budget is blown. Thinking about what you’d like in a kitchen is a good place to start, but don’t fall into the trap of making it too personal to you. Thinking about big picture, general improvements such as space, storage, functionality and whether the design matches the rest of the home. Make your plan around achieving these as cost effectively as possible and stick to it.

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Topics: Selling your Home, DIY, Home Renovations, Tips on selling your home

Enjoy the darker side of your rooms

Feb 26, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

It's all too easy to associate dark colours with negative connotations and a general sense of doom, but don't be too hasty!

Shades like black, navy and deep grey are also reminiscient of night skies and crisp winter nights.

Bedrooms are an ideal space for dark walls. Most of the time spent in the bedroom is at night – making it the perfect place to go dark and dramatic. Dark greys and inky blues are especially popular at present.  Think colours like Resene Foundry, Resene Fuscous Grey and Resene Dark Side. To get a velvety rich effect, use Resene SpaceCote Flat instead of low sheen. It absorbs the light more, making the room look richer. 

Using darker shades brings texture and mood, especially to a featureless space. Dark walls with a different shade on the floor or trims, for example, will create lines of difference and interest in the room that wasn't there before. It can also help a cavernous room feel cosier.

Take a test
Before committing to an aesthetic overhaul, test the colours out on a large sheet of cardboard, leaving an unpainted border around the outside. You want to use a piece of card large enough to see how the colour will go with your existing furniture and home's design features.

Once you've compared shades, you'll be able to settle on the exact dark hue you're happy with. Remember, there are plenty of shades to play with - deep shades can have blue, green and brown tones, which can all affect how they look on your wall. Be sure to consider the placement of windows - the shade will look a lot different in a space that receives lots of sunlight, compared to one that doesn't.


Mix it up
Don't be afraid to mix things up between rooms - just be sure that whatever colour you pick within a single room is consistent. If you want to use a dark hue in a shared space, but you've got an expansive open-plan kitchen, dining and living area, pick a single dark shade for a feature wall and paint the remaining walls in a complementary neutral with cool or warm tones depending on whether your feature colour has cool or warm tones.

Create drama
Dark colours are excellent because you can create contrast. Why not make a splash with Resene Tuna? This measured grey looks striking when paired with crisp, white accents and a touch of bright colour - think bright yellow or red cushions or artwork.

Focus closely on key features, such as the ceiling and flooring. Cool grey pairs well with off-white, while a dark yet warm brown looks stunning with thick-pile cream carpet.

You can create a dramatic living space or bedroom by ensuring you offset dark shades with light touches. Follow this tip and you're on the road home!

bathroom,grey white,Resene Half Fuscous Grey+Double Black White,photo Bryce Carleton.jpg

Focus on features
Be sure to play up your home’s best design features. Window frames, crown moulding, built-in storage and archways are examples of features that can be played up with the right paint selection.

You can make these features stand out with dark paint - just ensure that the surrounding area embraces a light shade in order to achieve a wonderful contrast.

Zinzan Biscay living landsc.jpg

Remember the contrasts
Whether you go charcoal, dark green, or deep oxen red, having a contrast on the floors, trims and ceiling helps to delineate the area, preventing it from becoming claustrophobic – instead, it helps to enlarge the space visually. 

As a whole-room solution, team dark neutrals with cream or crisp white trims. This works especially well with older homes where the skirtings, architraves and cornices are likely to be more ornate and will be beautifully highlighted by the contrast with smoky dark walls.

Think beyond your walls, to floors, ceilings and furniture. These can easily be painted a dark colour too.  If you’re living in a villa with a high stud, a dark ceiling can help make the ceiling feel lower and the room feel cosier.

If you’re changing from a light colour scheme to a dark one, make sure you review your lighting at the same time.  You may find you need a little extra lighting or a stronger light bulb to balance the darker walls.

Biscay Hf Dusted Blue hallway.jpg


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Topics: Property Tips, DIY, Agent Life, Home Renovations, family home

Ideas on how to Make the Most of the Space Under the Stairs

Jan 22, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

If you’re looking for extra wiggle room in your home, look under the stairs. Whether in the main part of the house or the basement, this area can have enough room for uses like a mudroom and coat storage, wine cellar or craft station. Here’s how Houzz designers are making the most of this often-wasted space.


Stairs 1: California Closets HQ, original photo on Houzz 

1. Makeshift mudroom. Many of us are not lucky enough to have a dedicated mudroom. But a combination of under-stair space and clever cabinetry can provide plenty of room for a family landing zone. This design incorporates drawers for shoes, gloves and mittens; hooks for coats and bags; and cubbies for sports equipment and hats.


Stairs 2: Shiflet Group Architects, original photo on Houzz

2. Wine cellar.  Several of the most popular wine storage spaces in 2016 were cleverly tucked underneath the stairs. In addition to maximizing the space, it also helps keep the wine out of direct sunlight on an upper floor.


Stairs 3: Porebski Architects, original photo on Houzz

3. Home bar.  For big entertainers, it’s nice to have a spot to pour your friends a drink as they enter the house. This one even has a sink. Another fun thing about this particular under-stair bar is that when the paneled door is closed, it’s concealed in a secret Prohibition-style way.


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Topics: DIY, Home Decor & Furnishing, Property Tips

How to Design an Easy-Clean Home

Jan 15, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

In my never-ending quest to find more time to relax, put my feet up and enjoy a glass of wine and a good book, I’m writing today about designing your home in a way that helps to minimize your cleaning time.

Whether you are contemplating a remodel or designing your dream home as a new construction, your choices in layout, finishes and furnishings will all impact the amount of time you spend cleaning. So sit down, put your feet up and pour yourself a glass of wine. But before you pick up that book, read the tips below and see if some of these will work for your home.


Cornerstone Architects, original photo on Houzz

1. Start with the floor. This is the thing that gets dirty the fastest. My first choice is stained concrete with a protective sealer. Minimal seams and a nonporous seal make it a snap to sweep or mop and pretty much impervious to anything that may spill. Other great flooring options are laminate or luxury vinyl tile in a wood-look plank. Hardwood floors are easy to sweep and mop too. A good dust mop and sponge mop are all you need for all of the above, but with the hardwood, you can’t put off cleaning up any splash or splatter. If you must have wall-to-wall carpet, try limiting that to bedrooms, where you’ll tend to go barefoot.

2. Consider carpet tiles instead of wall-to-wall carpet or large area rugs. They come in a wide variety of textures. Flor has some good options with a softer and deeper pile than what we traditionally think of carpet tiles as having. They are just as easy to vacuum as any other area rug, but here’s the coolest thing: If a tile gets a really bad spill on it, you can take up that one tile and literally wash it in the sink. After it is dry you put it right back down. Easy peasy.

3. Install a central vacuum system with sweep inlets. No more repeated times bending over and trying to sweep the last bit into a dustpan. Your sweeping and vacuuming will go so much faster.


Mary Prince Photography, original photo on Houzz

4. Treat your walls right. Your walls should be easy to clean too, especially if you have children or pets. I will never forget walking into a home to find that the clients' 3-year-old daughter had colored on every wall between her bedroom and the family room. Fortunately that happened before we painted, but it cemented their decision to use Benjamin Moore's Aura paint for its "scrubability." Is that a word? I think it is if you have kids who color on the walls. Bottom line is that if you select excellent-quality paint and the right finish for high-traffic areas, you'll have an easier time cleaning the walls without fear of taking off the paint. This beautiful room is painted in a Benjamin Moore Aura paint from the Affinity Color Collection, Constellation AF-540.

5. Rethink wall coverings. Do you love wall coverings but think they will be hard to clean? Then consider vinyl wall coverings. These have improved so much over the past several years that now you can find options that mimic silk, grass cloth, linen and more. They are easily wiped down, and they are affordable.

6. Choose upholstery fabrics that are durable, stain resistant and easy to clean. Leather upholstery is a favorite for people with children because it is easy to wipe off. I would stay away from white or ivory leather if you’re choosing it for ease of cleaning, because things like red Kool-Aid, red wine and yellow mustard can stain the leather. A better choice would be charcoal gray, black, taupe, brandy or chocolate colors.


Dayna Katlin Interiors, original photo on Houzz

7. Consider upholstery choices beyond leather. These gorgeous and sophisticated dining chairs use faux leather (yes, that is an upscale way of saying vinyl) on their seats. Vinyl upholstery has come a long way from the very plastic-looking white or black we are all used to. Good-quality designer brands have options that really, really look like leather. And if the leather look isn't for you, they have textures that imitate fabric very convincingly.

8. Don't forget fabric. Choose contract-grade fabrics that have been treated to be stain repellant. I'm having some custom-designed dining chairs made and have selected a luscious Kravet textured velvet that is treated with a stain repellent. Water runs right off of it so well that it is almost hard to get it wet. And I've chosen a deep garnet color, so it doesn't show every little smudge. Good-quality fabrics are worth their extra cost.

9. Send in the slipcovers. They’re another good choice for easy-clean upholstery if you make sure they are machine washable. If you’re having custom slipcovers made, be sure to select machine-washable fabric and to have it washed before they are sewn.

10. Put your furniture on the move with casters. This is one way to speed up sweeping, mopping and vacuuming, especially in dining areas. Just roll the table out of the way for a wide-open space to clean. Make sure those casters are the locking kind so the table doesn't roll away while you're trying to have a meal.


S.A.N Design Group Inc, original photo on Houzz

11. Plan your storage carefully. Make use of every nook and cranny. I could do several ideabooks just on the topic of storage alone. But these two basic guidelines will help you plan storage that helps you clean up in a hurry.

○ Put storage near the place where the items to be stored are actually used. This window seat storage is handy for holding extra lap blankets for the sofa. If this is a family room, games or toys might go in here. This would be much closer than a hall closet halfway across the house.

○ Locate your most often used storage where it is easy to reach. Although cabinets or closets that run all the way to the ceiling do make use of space, if you have to drag a step stool out to put things away, it will slow you down. Save those high cabinets for items rarely used.

12. Choose furniture with storage. While built-in storage is wonderful, don’t forget to consider storage when choosing your furnishings. Storage ottomans give you a quick spot for stashing magazines, toys or throw blankets.


Kristi Spouse Interiors, original photo on Houzz

13. Locate your laundry room where it will be most convenient. Placement in a garage or basement is common but generally not very convenient. Where is your ideal laundry spot? Mine would be right next to my master bedroom suite. Since I dress next to my closet, it would be most convenient for me to toss clothes straight into a nearby washer. Pulling clothes out of the dryer and being just a few steps away from putting them back in my closet would be heaven. And it's just me and my husband, so I don't have to carry laundry to other rooms.

But that scenario isn't for everybody. Some people prefer the laundry room to be near — or even within — the kitchen so that they can run loads while doing other chores in the kitchen and keeping an eye on children. Just think about it very carefully. What location would save you time and steps?

14. Make it easy to get the laundry to the laundry room. Laundry chutes are low tech but require careful planning to locate them well. Bathrooms or halls near bedrooms are both great spots, making it easy for everyone in the family to send dirty clothes straight to the laundry room.


Colleen Brett, original photo on Houzz

15. Consider reducing the total size of your home. If you’re planning to build or buy a new home, really think about how much space you need. If you maximize the functionality of your home, you may not need nearly as much space as you think. It’s just simple logistics that the larger your home is, the longer it takes to clean. If you’re not moving to a new home, then just reducing the amount of stuff you have in your home will also help. Wherever it makes sense, declutter, purge and divest yourself of things that take up your time and energy to care for.

Bonus tip: This photo shows my favorite tip to reduce cleanup time. I love this sign reminding everyone to pitch in and help.

Written by By Pangaea, Houzz

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Outfit Your Home With These Savvy Storage Cabinet Solutions

Designer Tips for an Easy-to-Clean Laundry Room

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Topics: DIY, Advice, Home Ownership, Home Decor & Furnishing

Mordernize your bathroom

Aug 28, 2017 8:00:00 AM Share this:
Bathrooms are one of the rooms in your home that can add value for buyers. The team at Resene have some great ideas for bring out the best in your bathroom.

While it’s often one of the smallest rooms in your home, that doesn’t mean bathrooms need to be bland and boring.  Use the right colours together, add the right materials and that poky little bathroom space can easily become an oasis of calm.

Look to nature
Nature has always had a strong influence on choices and never more so than now.  Natural, botanical schemes are trending throughout the home right now, including bathrooms.

“Think crisp whites, creams, forest greens and natural, organic materials,” says Resene colour consultant Rebecca Long. “Earthy greens such as Resene Paddock and Resene Rivergum would look very sophisticated in an earthy bathroom. For a daring look, try a navy such as Resene Coast.”

Open up the space with glass
Back-painted glass splashbacks have become an extremely popular kitchen feature in recent years, and now they’re starting to make an appearance in bathrooms as well, particularly in soft blues and greens.  Try restful pastels such as Resene Half Escape or Resene Breathless teamed with crisp white trims for an instantly soothing palette. This pairs well with the chalky pale mineral blue and green tiles that are a popular pick for their soothing properties.

Embrace technology
Traditionally technology isn’t something that has been associated with bathrooms, but built-in televisions and speakers are the perfect accompaniment for long luxurious soaks in the bath.  New, mirrored flat TV technology can be installed anywhere – on the wall, on the ceiling, behind artwork, or embedded in a bathroom mirror. You need a waterproof version, of course, where the electronic compartments are completely sealed off from any moisture.

Keep it simple
The move towards minimalism and simplicity is becoming more popular and brings with it sophisticated concrete finishes. Walk-in showers are popular.

Banish the clutter by allowing for plenty of storage.  Clean vanity tops and surfaces will make your bathroom seem more spacious.

Add colour
“Paint is such an affordable way to update your space,” says Rebecca Lord, Resene Colour Expert.  You only need a few litres to completely transform the space.

Watery blues and greens are always popular choices for a bathroom as they feel clean and fresh and help to make a small space feel larger.  Recent trends have seen more soft greys and blue greys, such as Resene Silver Chalice and Resene Duck Egg Blue, coming into the bathroom space also teamed with off white.

If you’re stuck with existing tiles that limit your options for decorating but you can’t afford to replace them, consider painting over them.  Many tiles have a glossy surface so use Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer first to give the topcoats something to grip on to.

“While a well-ventilated bathroom has a lower risk of damage, it's still important to use the correct paint,” says Rebecca. “I recommend Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom, which is a waterborne enamel for a hard wearing and washable finish. Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom also has a mould inhibitor, which reduces the risk of mould growth

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Topics: DIY, House of Inspiration, Add Value To Your Property

Home maintenance reacts to economic climate

Aug 10, 2017 8:00:00 AM Share this:

There is no doubt the market is under pressure. Expendable income for consumers seem to be diminishing and the overall economic climate, interest rates and ratings agencies downgrades are filtering through to the man on the street.

Despite the doom and gloom outlook FNB’s latest property barometer on residential maintenance and downgrades explains that there is only a slight weakening levels of home maintenance and downgrades.

The FNB Estate Agent Survey has recorded a very mild weakening in agent perceptions of home maintenance and upgrades in the 2nd quarter of 2017, after a brief prior 2-quarter strengthening.

This is not surprising as recessionary conditions were imminently going to influence this sector of the market. As I’ve explained in the past investing in a home is a long term commitment but home maintenance is an area subject to short term economic fluctuations.

This weakening might reflect less on home investor confidence and more on retail price increases. Home-owners investing in upgrades on their home are to a large extent reliant on affordability. In our experience most home-owners know that upgrading their home will add value to the property and often a very good return on investment decision.

Yet, households are less likely to spend, as budgets are tightening during this economic cycle. What then happens is that any expenses seen as unnecessary over the short to medium term are not a priority, this sort of activity spills over to upgrades and maintenance.

It is difficult to predict what is going to happen over the next two quarters. There are a lot of variables influencing our macro- and micro economic conditions, and whilst consumer confidence continues to remain under pressure this cycles term is uncertain.

Statement by
Richard Gray

Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer

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Topics: Home Maintenance, DIY, climate