Author Archives: Madame Squee

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.

Renting in a stupidly expensive city.

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There’s no doubt about it, renting sucks when you’re a hardcore nester. Even if you’re blessed with a landlord who lets you go crazy with the paint and hammer shiz into the walls, investing your own sweat and cash into someone elses’s property is depressing.

I’m a long term renter. Even though rental prices in Perth are ludicrously inflated, property prices are worse and home ownership is pretty much an unattainable goal for single income Gen-Y’ers that don’t have loads of business acumen or methamphetamine to sell. And unless you’re willing to fork out in excess of $500 a week, the chances of securing a well-maintained property with basics like security screens, air-conditioning and neutral décor are slim. So I’ve had to settle.

When it comes to older rental houses in Perth, there’s the good kind (think polished floorboards, ornamental fireplaces and cottage gardens) and the bad kind. I’ve lived in more places with rusted fittings, cracked linoleum and burnt orange tiles than I care to recall. So, if you ever find yourself in my situation, here are my top three methods of making your dodgy dwelling a more pleasant place to reside.

1)      Hide the worst bits.

Carpet is unhygienic and ugly as feck. Forget the “warmth” factor,  I’d choose bare concrete over carpet because at least you can hose it off. Unfortunately, the relative cheapness of carpet makes it the floor covering of choice in most rentals. If you can’t rip it up and burn it,  cover those blood and urine stains with a large area rug. If you want to be stylish and screw with your visitors’ heads, try a design that looks like timber flooring.

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Pack away heavy, dingy curtains (double bag those suckers to stop the dust and ugly leaking out) and replace them with a bright new set. Bonus points if you can make them yourself or bribe your mum to do it. Ditto with dated or broken light fixtures; replace these with $6 ikea paper lanterns and put the old ones back up when you leave.

2)      If you can’t hang prints, improvise.

If your landlord won’t even let you install temporary command-strips, any surface will do; desks, sideboards, chests, slow-moving pets, even the floors can showcase your art just as effectively. Grouping prints with sculptures will make you appear especially inventive and avoid the whole “too lazy to hang the pictures” vibe.

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3)      If all else fails, go with the flow.

My current kitchen is so dated that any attempt to modernise it would just look tragic, so I’ve chosen to embrace the vibe and accessorise with era-appropriate décor. These inexpensive orange accessories almost make those ugly 1970’s tiles appear a deliberate choice.

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Photos by Madame Squee

Welcome to the House of Squee.

Hi! My name’s Rachael and I’m an ex-fashion blogger from Perth, Western Australia who discovered that decorating my home is far more satisfying than decorating my body.

For those unfamiliar with the word “squee”, the Urban Dictionary defines it as “a random ecstatic exclamation” primarily made by over-excited fangirls. However, I believe the act of squeeing should be free from age or gender restrictions. Forget about scoring a photo with a lusty celeb; in my experience nothing invokes a feeling of unadulterated joy quite like finding the right cushions to match a new rug.

While I still enjoy dressing up, recreating my living spaces with objects I’ve bought, made or refurbished allows me to share my personal style in more accessible ways with those around me. For example, “No, friend of friend, you may not fondle my material or wear my shoes; Yes! Feel free to relax on my repainted ikea outdoor chairs and drink coffee from this enormous mug covered in dachshunds”. Plus, blogging home décor has an additional advantage over blogging fashion; I know my living room will still look mega hot if I gain a couple of centimetres around my hips.

Rest assured, the site won’t merely be a showcase for my amateur ikea-hacks and dog-themed accessories; interweb inspiration abounds and I intend to share as many squee-inducing items and trends that I can.

I hope you enjoy.

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