A Fresh Start.

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Greetings from my new abode, a tiny apartment in delightfully drizzling Melbourne! A couple of months ago the bf and I decided we’d endured all the wallet-raping and scorching sunshine of the west coast we could handle, so we resigned from our jobs, boxed up our possessions, and drove to Victoria.

I’ve moved suburbs several times over the past couple of years, but moving states is a radically different experience. The number one cost we needed to consider was the transportation of our stuff. The bf is a minimalist by nature and all he needed to send over were his motorbike and a box of tools, but I had a full house of belongings to relocate. I chose to have everything sent by truck, and as I was going to be charged per cubic metre, I had to be ruthless in deciding what to keep and what to toss.

I think pretty much everyone except hard-core minimalists have a “BLOODY HELL… HOW ON EARTH DID I ACCUMULATE THIS MUCH CRAP?” type epiphany when they prepare for a move. I experienced mine when I unearthed a 30 piece cocktail set and several Sylvanian Families jigsaw puzzles intended for 5-10 year olds. In spite of my regular culling efforts, I had to admit it – I was still hoarding.

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Cute as hell but ultimately pointless for me to own.

There’s nothing like the prospect of forking out cash to cart unwanted clutter across the country to make you look at your possessions with fresh eyes. Adopting the minimalist mantra of keeping nothing that is either useful or beautiful, I started the cull of a lifetime. Starting with the items that were the most obviously impractical to send over, I sold the couch, dining set and entertainment unit. My fridge, washing machine and mattress are all new, and as the shipping cost was lower than the replacement cost, I kept them. I also kept my vintage furniture; a mid-century teak coffee table I scored for $100 on Gumtree and two antique Chinese side tables.

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The foam and plastic-wrapped extent of my mistrust of removalists.

Moving onto the smaller items, I sold a few pieces on eBay (the vintage puzzles actually netted me a neat little sum), gifted a whole heap to family and friends, and donated the rest. What remained was about roughly half, enough to fit comfortably into twenty medium plastic crates.

Everything went into storage as soon as it arrived in Melbourne, and as we’re currently looking for work and renting our own rooms on a fortnightly basis, I’m not sure when we’ll be able to bail it out. But that’s ok, because right now I have everything I need; an air mattress to sleep on, a suitcase full of clothes and makeup, and access to a fully equipped kitchen. No doubt my nesting instinct will kick in soon, but in the meantime it’s been pretty awesome to discover I can do without so many of my things.

The psychological effects of ill-chosen flooring.

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It’s been six weeks since we moved in and I’ve finally unpacked enough decor to fill my Expedit. In light of my current state of tile-induced depression, I feel like this is a mammoth achievement worthy of an uploaded pic.

Honestly, though. White tiles are ridiculous. They showcase every speck of dust and hair, every footprint, pawprint and every crumb of dropped food.

And the grout! When we first inspected the property the floor hadn’t been cleaned, so we assumed the grout would look completely different once we’d moved in. It looked exactly the same; stained and patchy and just generally disgusting.

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And there’s just so much of it. The tiles are in every room in the house except the bedrooms. I can’t even put down my rugs because Hans is still prone to random indoor piss-attacks (he’s been informed that he’s the reason we can’t have nice things). I’ve scrubbed with various products and bleaches but it hasn’t made the slightest difference. I also know there are paint products you can buy that transform grout but I’m just not prepared to spend my own money and time restoring a squillion square metres of somebody else’s neglected flooring.

Hence the depression; I feel that when the floors look grotty, the rest of the house looks grotty also. And because I don’t feel like displaying my lovely porn in a grotty house, the place just doesn’t look or feel homely.

Thoughts or advice, anyone? Take a spoonful of cement and get over your white girl middle-class first-world problems, perhaps?

 

The allure of minimalism.

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The bf and I moved house over the weekend. No matter how organised you are, moving is always horrific and this time around we weren’t organised at all. Because it was a break lease, we needed to hold off getting another place until new tenants were found. As I’ve previously mentioned, the unit is a shizhole so it took weeks to find someone in a desperate enough situation to put in an application. They wanted to move in within the week, so we only had a few days to secure a new rental and vacate. We were able to find a place at the last minute, but on Monday morning my ex-property manager informed me that the applicant had pulled out an hour before they were due to sign the lease. So in spite of our best efforts, we’ll be paying two rents until another applicant is found.

The icing on the cake? I’ve now got the flu and am pretty much bedridden. But I’m staying positive. The bf is bringing all my meals to me, and I’ve effortlessly acquired a delightful set of dreadlocks I may decide to keep. Plus, the new house is light and bright and modern and has loads more storage. It’s also bare, as I just don’t have the energy to unpack all my lovely house porn. So in-keeping with the clutter-free state of my home, I’ve pulled together a few shots of modern minimalist spaces that tempt me to forgoe unpacking altogether and attempt the single-childless-petless-scandinavian-textile-designer vibe for a while. Just don’t ask me where I’ll keep my keys.

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The joy of the spherical.

As you may have deduced from the blog’s banner, I’m not averse to a nice decorative ball. While my own collection runs to the conservative, I’m always inspired by artists who have the balls (ahem) to think beyond the typical mediums of wood, glass and ceramic. Inspired in part by last weekend’s viewing of 1998’s delightful thriller “Sphere”, I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite edgy ornaments.

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The recycled rustic trend is still popular, and a barbed wire ball makes a great talking point at dinner parties. If your next gathering becomes dull, forget the Scrabble; wake up your guests with a quick game of catch.

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Renter’s tip: Don’t be in such a rush to hand the keys back after vacating a property. Claim they fell into a drain and you may eventually have enough for a pretty memoir of your rental history.

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Turn that spare set of pool balls into a warming reminder of your pre-mortgage and children glory days.

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I’m not a fan of Halloween, but these decorated pumpkins are more fashionable than festive. Just remember the golden rule of organic art; it doesn’t matter how pretty it is, ditch it once it starts to stink.

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While I’m neither a teenage girl or a drag queen, I would proudly display this lampshade in my boudair.

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For those who like it rough but can’t afford to sport bruises at tomorrow’s stockholder meeting.

Hans, Destroyer of Worlds.

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 Swap out the joint with an Asahi and this will be me in six months.

Last year I was in the market for a new couch. Because I’m fussy, tall and prone to spontaneous naps, I have very particular requirements vis-à-vis style, length and seat depth. After a lengthy search fraught with unspeakable horrors, I found a couch that ticked all the boxes. I absolutely loved it, and the way it handled two sets of sweaty deliverymen and a destructive housemate without incurring a single blemish showed it loved me right back. Behold its unmolested glory:

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Photo by Duvall Davis

Unfortunately, it was no match for a four month old puppy with needle-sharp teeth and a fabric fetish. Earlier in the week, I recklessly left Hans unsupervised in the living room for one minute while I made my morning coffee. I returned to a scene of unparalleled carnage.

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Ok, so this probably isn’t my actual couch. But the sight of a soggy, flayed mess of non-removeable cushion felt just as devastating. Once I’d stopped screaming and eased myself out of the foetal position, the threads were cut away to reveal the extent of the damage.

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Not the worst bald patch I’ve ever seen, but unsightly nonetheless.

It’s not like Hans is short of toys and bones to chew on; he just prefers fabric. He’s ruined shirts, towels, blankets and now, my perfect couch. I used to laugh at old women that covered their “good” furniture in plastic; now I fear I’m destined to join their ranks.

As for Hans, he’s just lucky he’s so darn cute.

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Photo by Duvall Davis

Sourced images courtesy of Your Modern Style Home and Jennifer Michie.

The green house effect.

I love wearing green because it’s fresh and crisp and suits the cool, neutral (alright then, pasty) tones of my skin. It’s also incredibly soothing, so if you have a fiery temper like me you’d benefit from adopting it as a colour scheme in your home. Just looking at my green decor helps calms me down when I’m worked up; its like psychological aloe vera. As a renter I’m limited to green furniture and accessories, but if I owned I’d be going crazy with the paint roller to rip off these awesome looks.

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I’m in two minds about this last room. While I do like the effect, I’m not convinced the bog is the right showcase for a vintage print collection. At least glass is easy to clean, right?

Dogs and guns.

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Learning how to fire a gun (safely) is one of the most awesome things I’ve done. I haven’t been to the range in over a year because it’s also one of the most expensive things I’ve done, and I very much enjoy the freedoms associated with the purchase of luxury items like toilet paper and toothpaste. But there is just something about this print that makes me want to abandon my preoccupation with personal hygiene and get my damn license already, the same way owning this set of bookends and this print inspired me to get an actual dachshund.

Ikea minihack #1.

I bought the TÄRNÖ as a temporary balcony filler at my last rental, intending to replace it with a more durable setting at a later date. I’ll be moving again soon, so the new setting is on hold. While I’ve yet to attempt a “real” Ikea hack, I decided to use the green paint left over from my dining table project to give the TÄRNÖ a new look.

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The setting is made from unfinished acacia wood, so I didn’t need to do much preparation. I sanded each piece lightly and taped up the steel sections before applying two coats of green (I didn’t bother with primer or an undercoat this time). Although I like the lightly distressed look of the dining chairs, I amped up the sanding on these to create a more weathered effect.  I brushed on a couple of coats of varnish to finish.

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I’m sure I’ll get tired of the distressed look eventually, but right now it’s a good match for my fledgling skills.

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Photos by Madame Squee

The delightful centrepiece is Hans, my three month old dachshund and the reason behind the move. Although I love the unit’s easy-care gardens, the lack of lawn is an issue. Every time I pass the depressing mountain of boxes in my living room I remind myself how much he’ll enjoy having a proper yard to play in, and how much I’ll enjoy him peeing outside in the sunshine rather than in my shoes.

Use a coaster or I’ll punch you in the throat.

My first DIY refinishing project was a dining table and chairs.  I’d seen my first French Provincial/Farmhouse dining table a week earlier and immediately squeed myself. “Rustic” seemed like a pretty hard effect to screw up, so I decided to buy a cheap dining set and attempt it myself. This is what I was aiming for:

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My first port of call was Gumtree, where I spotted a pine table and chairs advertised for $100. According to the ad, the set was in good condition and the owner was only selling because she wanted a square dining table. What a steal, I thought. She’s practically giving it away! I called her and once she’d assured me that both the table and chairs were structurally sound, the bf and I hired a trailer and drove over.

The set had clearly been in her shed for some time. It was grimy, dinged up and rather curiously, speckled with glitter paint. Never mind, I thought – I’ll be stripping it anyway, and the knocks and bumps will add character. It wasn’t until we’d loaded up the trailer and were halfway home that I noticed one of the table legs shaking like a chihuahua on Red Bull. Turns out it had a substantial chunk missing at the base and had been “fixed” with a metal bracket. Structurally sound, my ass. What a rip, I thought. She should have paid me to cart away her trash! Lesson learned: inspect second hand items thoroughly before buying, and don’t be afraid to walk away if you’re not satisfied. In this case, I decided to keep the set, use the chairs as planned and convert the table into an outdoor workbench.

I hit Gumtree again and found another table advertised for $60. The seller had already stripped the top and base for his own aborted project (score!), so all I had to do was pick out a wood stain, some white paint and sandpaper and get cracking. I really had no idea what I was doing, but I figured if I stuffed up too badly I could just sand it back and start again. I didn’t take a before pic, so here it is as it appeared on Gumtree.

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I painted the base with a coat of flat charcoal, then a flat white. I experimented with various grades of sandpaper until I found one that stripped the white back to the charcoal without exposing the wood. I concentrated on the corners, where the table would naturally experience the most wear. When I was happy with the effect, I sealed it with a few coats of spray varnish.

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 I used Cabot’s Interior Stain in Walnut for the top. It took three coats to achieve the look I wanted.

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The chairs proved a more difficult undertaking. Even with my mum’s electric sander, stripping them was a right bitch. I suffer from weak wrists (shut up, it’s a thing) so I had to spread out the task over several weekends. Rather than paint the chairs to match the table, I decided to transform them with a bold green. This was my inspiration:

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Bunnings didn’t have the right shade of green in enamel, so I brought in a green decorative box lid for them to sample. I primed the chairs in white, gave them two coats of charcoal, and finished with two coats of green.

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I didn’t go as crazy with the sandpaper this time, as I wanted a more subtle distressed effect. Hint: unless you’re a sadist, don’t use a white primer under a dark top coat, because white flecks totally ruin the effect. Either mix a darker paint into the primer so it matches the undercoat, or skip priming altogether.

I finished up with a couple of coats of spray varnish. Even though I had bought a tin of varnish specifically for the chairs, I was completely over brush application by this stage.

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My dining room is so freaking small that I couldn’t get the entire set in the frame, but you get the overall effect. Total cost including paint and varnish was around $250.

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In pursuit of P.V.C.

I buy vintage for several reasons; it’s cheaper than buying new, pieces are typically better quality than their modern counterparts, and it’s good for the planet. I also enjoy the thrill of the hunt; stalking second hand stores and garage sales is more satisfying than picking something out of a showroom line-up.

I especially love the clean lines and tapered legs that characterise Danish mid-century modern furniture, and a teak sideboard is number one on my vintage hit list. As if the functionality wasn’t enough (they’re a sturdy shelf, cupboard, chest of drawers, display cabinet and minibar in one), sideboards can be accesorised to create a dramatic focal point in any room of the house. And did I mention they make a great minibar?

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Unfortunately, my love of mid-century is at odds with my passion for perfection. Of course I’m aware that unless pieces have been vigilantly kept from the reaches of damp, pets, children and the excessively clumsy, they’re going to be battle-scarred. Scratches, discolouration, peculiar smells and missing parts are to be expected. But that hasn’t discouraged my pursuit of pre-loved nirvana; the elusive state of pristine vintage condition (P.V.C.).

Pickings are slim here in Perth. Maybe it’s the geographic isolation, maybe it’s all that darn sunshine making us live longer, but P.V.C. mid-century sideboards are so rare that the few that do hit the market are either snapped up immediately or priced well out of my range. So until I become a furniture restoration expert (it can’t be that great a leap from mastering sandpaper and spray varnish, surely?) I’ll continue hawking the classifieds, hoping the sideboard of my dreams slips past the vintage dealers and cashed up hipsters.