A modern, Modernist kitchen

This is my favourite part of a renovation: choosing paint colours, testing materials, selecting hardware and tapware. Because Yarra Yarra has heritage overlays and heritage controls on certain rooms, we are a tad limited with what we can do. This is a good thing, because I reckon that creativity thrives with limitations. Having quite a strict framework makes it much easier! We want to basically replicate the existing kitchen, but with contemporary fittings, a breakfast bar and more drawers than cupboards. Past experience (this is the fourth house we've renovated, eek!) has taught me that drawers are better than cupboards, and to try to fit in as much storage as physically possible in the space. Also, put open shelving somewhere to show off your cute shit. #interiordesigninglikeaboss Untitled design (8) Untitled design (6) Untitled design (7)





^^ These are the existing colours in the house: limewashed hardwood lining boards on all the walls, dusky green window trims and polished boards.

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And these are the new colours we are introducing ^^ We are painting the lining boards in the living room Dulux Rhino Grey, and echoing that with the Laminex benchtop in Midnight, a dark royal blue. The drawers and pantry will be plywood with the handmade steel handles from the original kitchen. Half of the benchtop will be stainless steel, to keep with the retro vibe. The overhead cabinets will have sliding plywood doors, in true 60s style.

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^^ The only other rooms we are painting are the boy's rooms, they are pretty tiny so I want to brighten them up with a big, bright colour. Go bold or go home! Archie is keen on yellow so I'm hunting for that real retro mustardy yellow, with a beachy teal for Jed's room.

On that note, I have been slamming Pinterest pretty hard for inspiration, plus my collection of mid-century furniture and design books.

Here are some faves... click through for sources:




Our house is a J-grade celebrity

IMG_7939  Our house was in the Herald Sun a couple of weekends ago (actually the same weekend we moved OUT of the house). You can read more about the photoshoot here, but they only used about a quarter of the photos that they took. The spread looks great, although I sound like a bit of a wanker in some of the interview questions. (How do you chill out? Me: We're always working! #nottrue I didn't want to confess that I chill out by eating snacks in bed at 7.30pm while reading feminist literature). There's some gorgeous photos of the kids, and all the furniture looks ace which was kind of the point.

The teacher at Archie's Gymbaroo class commented on it on Wednesday #awkward so I am feeling like a very, very, very minor celebrity this week.

Have a look!


Fluffing a cactus: what it's like to have your house photographed for the newspaper

DSC_0048 Last Wednesday our house was photographed for the Herald Sun's Home magazine. I don't actually read that newspaper, but I think it will be in their interior design section. We made sure all our handmade furniture was in prime position, and I tried to display all the artworks and books my creative friends have made or written!

The shoot took the better part of a morning, and was pretty fun! I've been on shoots like this before, but never in my own home. Having it on a Wednesday was actually perfect timing as Archie is at creche on Monday and Tuesdays, so I cleaned like a maniac and kept the place relatively tidy.

The photographer Chris Groenhout was lovely and made the boys laugh. When Archie smiles for photos he does a terrifying grimace, so we had to work hard to get some natural shots. Jed ate about seven mandarins as we tried to get a shot of us all looking natural in the kitchen. At one point, I had to pretend to 'fluff' a cactus in a pot while Lee gazed off broodingly into the distance.

A journalist interviewed us about our house, our renovations, our business and all that stuff. It was actually really good to stop and answer those sorts of questions - we don't often have time to sit down and think about the Big Picture stuff, like why we renovate houses, where the business is headed, why we make furniture.

I took the opportunity of having a clean house to take some of my own photos...

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And in the interest of keeping it real, this is what my house usually looks like...

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The story will come out on July 18th. Keep an eye out!


House update: More freaking permits, demolition and kitchen designs

Not a lot has been happening at the townhouse over summer, but there has been plenty happening behind the scenes. Our planning permit should come through any day now, so the next step is the building permit. This involves about 148, 495 separate tasks, including site surveying, soil tests, structural drawings, engineer drawings, neighbour consent forms, drainage plans and all sorts of boring bits of paper. I have done most of it, but jeepers, what a pain.

We had a couple of guys there before Christmas to demolish the back half of the house. They went for broke and took away most of the rear. It now looks less like a building site and more like a demolition site. There is crap everywhere and it looks terrible. I can't wait to bring in Ben's excavator and scoop it all out so we can start pouring the slab!

I have been pinning up a storm and have chosen the final finishes for our kitchen and living area. God, this is SO the funnest part of building a house. The past two renovations we did were a bit haphazard as we had little experience and used the same paint colours, benchtops and spashbacks in both houses, as they were a similar era and style. This baby is hopefully going to be in a higher price range so I'm glad we are being more intentional with the design and finishes.

I'm thinking something like this stone benchtop with continuous splashback for the kitchen in the new Caesarstone Calcutta Carrera range...

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with cabinetry in recycled Vic Ash laid horizontally with integrated handles, like this...


I want black steel-framed industrial windows. Lee is going to handmake them as it is a non-standard size and we want huge doors. Something like this (minus the weird deer statue)...

Hecker Guthrie Carlton Residence

The floor will be polished concrete mixed with pigment to make it whiter, with darker coloured aggregrate. We will seed it (throw random rocks in it as it dries) with river pebbles. Something like this...


The walls for the entire house, front to back and both storeys, will be good ol' Dulux Lexicon half-strength in satin on walls and gloss on doors. It won't really show up onscreen, but here's an attempt...


It's a pure white mixed a tiny drop of black, so more of a grey-white than a cream or off-white. I needed a colour that will work with old timber floors and ornate ceiling details in the original front rooms, and polished concrete, super-high ceilings and steel windows in the extension. It also needs to work with the carpeted upstairs and the tiled bathrooms. Lexicon is where it's at, yo.

You can see more of my inspiration collecting on Pinterest.

What I've Been... Almond butter explosions, Fringe Furniture and new rides

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Eating... Brioche french toast with rhubarb and ricotta. What now? Obviously I didn't make it. Lee and I had a breakfast date to A Boy Named Sue and god knows I can't go past french toast EVER. It was gooooood. They don't have high chairs so I was eating it one handed and wrestling a hyped-up toddler determined to empty the sugar bowl on the floor. It was still totally worth it.

Reading... Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga. He also wrote The White Tiger, which I think won the Booker Prize a while ago. That book was like a punch in the face while eating garlic naan, but in a good way. This one is a bit slower, but it creeps up until you find yourself wanting to go to bed at 7.15 to read it.  And it totally makes me want to go back to India one day. God, that place is crazy.

Cleaning... An entire jar of almond butter out of my handbag. Last Friday we went to playgroup as usual, and after we left I stuck my hand in my handbag and pulled it out covered in sticky brown gunk. My first though was POO! before I realised it didn't stink like Archie's usual baby turds. It was, in fact, a jar of almond butter that had somehow come unscrewed in my bag and emptied over everything. And god knows I have a ridiculous amount of crap in my bag (this morning when I was stuck in traffic I cleaned out three bottles of bubble solution, a harmonica, a toy hammer, four unmatched baby socks, all the usual diary-keys-wallet crap, a mini first aid kit and a very old cheese stick that concerningly still looked edible).

And so obviously, I just cleaned off the important stuff then ignored the situation until I got home six hours later and it had concealed into a solid musty lump of toys, tissues, lip gloss and hairpins stuck together with almond butter. High five, mama.

Visiting... Fringe Furniture. On that same Friday as the above incident, we went to Abbotsford Covent with my mate Sam to visit another friend who was managing the Fringe Furniture exhibition. Lee put a piece in Fringe Furniture a few years ago, and it always has cool stuff made by super-talented peeps. I like that because most of the stuff is not really commercially viable, there is more of a focus on awesome techniques and well-designed pieces.

Archie loved the Play Cube by Little Green Room, a plywood cubby-type-thing which I realised is actually designed and built by one of my old lecturers. Very cool.


I was pretty impressed with the series of gorgeous hand-veneered skateboards by a designer whose card I promptly lost. They would look great up on a wall as an art piece.


Excited about... My brother has bought a new house not far from our new house, which is RAD because we can ride to each other's houses and I can eat pizza with him and his flatmates and he can come to our house and do the gardening. Yippee!

Building... Speaking of new houses, Archie has some new digs and a new ride he would like to show you. Check out the awesome dashboard detailing...



The little red chair that could.

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My mum's best mate Shaz found this stool on hard rubbish. Archie LOVES it and has all his snacks sitting on it. However, it had seen better days and was all grubby and falling apart.


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Because I am lucky enough to share a bed with someone who has a whole woodworking workshop, I got bits of plywood cut out in the same shape as the existing base and seat back. I painted them with three coats of water-based sealant that dries hard and protects the wood from water damage. That is my little driver drill in the photo, how cute is it?

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Lee had a can of red spray paint hanging around the workshop, so I pinched that and sprayed the metal base. I did it outside in the dark so the finish is a bit crap, but hey, I'm all about getting it done and not worrying about perfection.


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Ta da! One awesome, retro kid chair that would cost a million bucks in some schmancy kid's shop. ALL FOR FREE. Arch loves it, and it looks good in my living room, so everyone's a winner.

Art for Archie.

For the little guy's first birthday, we didn't want to get him more toys or clothes or books or STUFF.  He already has a lot of toys and clothes and blocks and books and cute outfits and sheets and stuffed toys and random plastic things and trucks and instruments. So we decided to get him some art. Nothing too fancy, just something that will hang on his wall from now until he moves out at the age of 35, into a granny flat in the backyard because I, ah, have detachment issues. We don't have tons of cash at the moment (hi there, two mortgages!) so I don't want to spend a million buks either. Anyway, I have been scouting my fave local artists and illustrators and nothing eye-popping has jumped out at me, so I checked out the awesome site Signed and Delivered, which sells arts by local artists at relatively affordable prices.

These are on the shortlist:

That Was Radio Clash by Boo

You're the Anchor by Kelly AllenBefriend Your Blues by Eddy Sara

I also love this Ghostpatrol print:

And this one by Matte Stephens at Outre:

The Hotel Project is DONE.

I submitted my final presentation for uni on Tuesday night and now I am DONE. Super duper exciting. The final project was a lot of fun, despite some late nights wrestling with ArchiCAD and Photoshop. The project was a luxury hotel in the middle of Melbourne, with a focus on sustainability. I was inspired by traditional Japanese onsen bathhouses, Turkish hamams, modern Tokyo architecture and waxed timber. For the assignment, we created a full drawing package with a CAD model, complete job folder and presentation boards.

Here are my final presentation boards (ignore the weird sample placeholders - I stuck actual tile samples to the board):

Final Board 2

Final board 1


I learned a lot through the course and am glad I did it, but most of my construction knowledge comes from growing up with a builder as a dad, living in building sites for the first few years of my life and obviously from renovating houses myself.

So onward and upward! The next year or so will be interesting career-wise, as I take more control of the business and work on getting the kind of projects that excite me. And I will have my evenings back instead of tucking Archie into bed and immediately scurrying to my laptop to render and design and source and schedule. Changes ahoy!


Wannabe architect

So I have an epic uni project to do, an almost-done house to finish renovating, a baby to look after and no food in the house, but all I want to do is design the new house. I LOVE that Melbourne thing of maintaining the facade of a tiny townhouse to protect the streetscape, but having a crazy awesome modern extension out the back. Like these...

Source: archilovers.com via Emma on Pinterest

New house!

cb98421e93f511e29c2922000a9e48da_7 We bought a new house! And it wasn't the one we originally meant to buy. It's MUCH BETTER!




On Saturday, we had planned to go to the auction for a house in Coburg that we were pretty keen on. Before we left home, I had a quick look through Realestate.com and found another place in Brunswick that was freaking awesome, but the auction was at 3.30 that afternoon and we hadn't inspected it or anything. So in a nutshell, we bid at the first auction, missed out, went and drove past the other house, LOVED IT, had lunch at the cafe on the corner, walked through it quickly, fell in love, bid at the auction and WON! I got my aggressive bidding face on (crossed arms, pokerface, fast and confident bidding- so far it has worked twice so I'm sticking with that tactic) and went for it. I was literally shaking towards the end as we got higher and higher, and then BANG. Done. Contract signed and it was ours!

It is literally in the best location ever. It is just near Brunswick Town Hall, there is a cafe two minutes walk away, the Brunswick Baths are just down the road, ten minute walk to my best friend's house, super close to trams and Royal Park, but the street is nice and quiet.

The house is a single-fronted terrace. It will definitely be the smallest house I have ever lived in, but there is loads of potential to extend it out the back. There is a wide rear laneway with rear access and a garage, a big fig tree and original windows at the front. I think we will keep the front few rooms, then pull it down and rebuild a new kitchen, bathroom, living space and possible another bedroom.


So the house is all brick walls, except fora weird addition with the kitchen, that weird small back bedroom and the bathroom and laundry. We will pretty much pull down that whole addition and open it all up. The lounge will become another bedroom, then we will extend out a bit further and put in an open living and kitchen area, plus a bathroom and ensuite and maybe another bedroom or study nook.

This will all depend on building permits, obviously, so I don't think we move in there for another year or so at least. But yay! New project!

The Hotel Project #1.

So. My hotel project at uni is underway. I need to come up with two broad concepts with several space-planning options for both. I find this to be the hardest part of the whole process, as I tend to get stuck on one idea and can't see past it. I am stuck on a kaizen, minimalist space but need to come up with an alternative option. Because the imaginary hotel is in Melbourne, I thought that I would take inspiration from the artistic history of the city and base the room around a Mirka Mora mural. The idea is that Mirka would do a massive, amazing mural on the back wall and that is the main hero piece which ties together the rest of the room. I also want to include a teak canopy bed, a gigantic antique cabinet and a chaise longue. It is SO not my usual style, but I like the challenge.

And on with the inspirational images...

Source: flickr.com via Emma on Pinterest

Source: google.com via Emma on Pinterest

Getting in early.


My birthday is on April 10, which is a bit over a month away. In the spirit of 'ask-and-ye-shall-receive' there are a few hot items that would make me a happy lady. Some practical things that I wouldn't get myself, and some things that I just WANT. Also I know that my mum and Lee reads this so... guys, you might want to bookmark this list. Just saying.

Some sort of phone charger/music player thing for the car. I know that these exist, and I actually have one in my car now, but it is way too fiddly for my liking. I am yet to find one that will play through the speakers of my old car (tape deck!) without me needing to tune it in or anything.

Subscriptions. Now that we are a 1 1/4 income family with a mortgage and kid (god that sounds boring) my magazine addiction has come to a grinding halt. But I would love a subscription to Inside Out, Real Living, or Habitus. And Anthology, Vogue Living, Belle, Living Etc, and Donna Hay. (Tangent: I once worked with Donna Hay. She is a tyrant. For the short time that I worked in the magazine office, she made someone cry every.single.day. Powerful lady, yes, but quite the bully.)

Books. Beci Orpin's new book looks rad. And I have my eye on a few cookbooks- Donna Hay's Simple Dinners, Alice Hart's Vegetarian and Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. I am trying to cook more exciting vego dinners (Lee is vego, I am not and Archie is not, although I can definitely foresee a day when Archie will decide that if Daddy ain't eating meat, then he won't either.)

A buttery leather jacket. I have a picture of one in my head, but I am yet to actually find it in real life. Not cropped, maybe with some panelling, not too motorbikey, quite slim fitting and not shiny. How hard can it be?

More time. This is a tricky one. I would love a day where I can sit and sew, crochet, watch Grand Designs, drink tea and actually complete some projects and be creative in a non-rushed way. Maybe in about 16 years?

The Hotel Project #1.

I am waist-deep in the concept stage of my final design project for uni at the moment. It is pretty massive, but we have a huge budget which eases the pressure. We have to design and document a boutique hotel in King St, Melbourne, and to a 3D CAD flythrough video. Gulp. CAD is kind of my weak point, I much prefer hand drawing and rendering than freaking digital modelling. Anyhoo. I am still resolving the final design, but I am thinking of a quite raw, luxurious, light feel with lots of open space, timber and me old fave, the poured concrete benchtop with integrated sink. I have been scrolling through images of Japanese onsens and hotels and now want to live in Japan.

Bathroom inspiration...


While I've been on holidays, I have been going nuts on Pinterest. Lee and I are doing up his mum's bathroom soon so I've been keeping an eye out for bathroom inspiration. I still love concrete benchtops but I'm not sure if they are feasible in her place. Here are some things I have pinned lately.  

Source: wright20.com via Emma on Pinterest

Source: style-files.com via Emma on Pinterest

Source: trendir.com via Emma on Pinterest

Source: style-files.com via Emma on Pinterest

Mood boards

For my Design Principles and Elements subject at design school, I have to create a mood board in the theme of 'vintage revival'. I am taking a mid-century, modern industrial approach, with lots of orange wallpaper and teak.  It is still pretty embryonic, but I will definitely post images when it is done! The mood board, plus a rendering exercise, a design matrix and an annotated interior is due next Friday. Back to it.. Another autumn arrangement for Go Go Berlinette

Via. Kitchen wallpaper 70´s

Via. My small West German Pottery Collection

Via. Cathrineholm 3


Locker room.

So, I found an old bank of lockers ripped out of a school at Lee's warehouse. I'm not posting a photo right now because it is currently in the front yard of my parent's house in Warrandyte, but I have very high hopes for turning it into some sort of  Expedit-industrial-pigeonhole thing. A bit like this...School lockers in our garage/office

Via. vintage lockers, repainted

Via. Josh's Studio


Sandy checks out the lockers


LOVE that teal colour. I think they will make perfect storage for craft supplies, the million different fat quarters I have, linen, wool...

I am Really. Very. Excited. Instead of painting my house and re-puttying windows this weekend, I want to paint my lockers!

Will post pics when it's done.