The living room is one of the most important rooms in any home. It is often where families spend most of their down time while at home and is also used to entertain guests. Regardless of the size of your living room, it’s important that it feels spacious and comfortable. Below are a few tips to make your living room seem larger without incurring the major costs associated with renovating:
- Make sure people can move around your living room without having to navigate around clutter. The room will look larger if you limit the amount of furniture you have. Too many pieces or oversized future will take up the entire room, creating the impression that the space is busy and smaller than it actually is. Using L-shaped couches instead of recliners and bulky couches will make the room feel less congested and avoid taking up valuable space.
- An old trick for creating space is introducing a mirror into the room. When well-placed, a mirror will have the effect of making your room look spacious by redirecting light. As a bonus, it will also reflect some of your most beautiful pieces.
- Choosing a unique piece of art or furniture is the ideal way to grab people’s attention and distract them from the size of the room. For the best results, look for a piece that adds some contrast, while still complementing the overall style of your home.
- Add legs to your furniture to raise pieces off the floor. Being able to see the floor continue below a piece of furniture will create a spacious feel and not disrupt the flow of the room. Using a single material such as carpet, wood or tiles will also help to make your space seem bigger and more uniform.
Walls set the boundaries of your room. Although these cannot be altered without great effort (and expense), you can introduce tall furniture or wall length curtains to make the room appear larger by drawing the eye upwards. Painting the walls a light colour will also avoid the feeling of claustrophobia that can come with darker themes.
Unfortunately, household chores are a part of life and each area of your home will need a good clean every now and then. If you take a few minutes out of each day to perform a quick clean, it will save you from frantically cleaning whenever expected (or unexpected) guests come round. Light maintenance can go a long way in reducing the amount of harsh scrubbing you need to do when performing a deeper clean.
Be aware that use of inappropriate and unduly harsh cleaning materials can ruin the surface of many of the materials, fixtures and fittings in your home. You should always take time to read labels on cleaning products and only use them in accordance with instructions. If you need further information, seek advice at your local store or conduct a quick search on the internet – it’s very likely that someone else has had the same questions as you at some stage.
Below are some handy cleaning tips that you can integrate into your weekly routine to save time, costs and effort when cleaning:
Kitchen & Laundry
- Concerned about pesky insects and critters in your pantry? Scatter a handful of bay leaves around the shelves to deter these unwelcome visitors.
- If you want your dishes to come out sparkling clean, mix a bit of vinegar in with your washing detergent – this is an extremely simple and inexpensive addition that makes a world of difference.
- Taps, shower heads and spouts should be cleaned regularly using a non-abrasive cleanser. If leaks are detected around these fittings, a plumber should be engaged to repair them immediately.
- Try to avoid scraping and banging metal utensils in the kitchen sink or laundry trough, as doing so will gradually scratch and dull the surfaces, and make them more susceptible to stains.
- Borax acts as a deodoriser for shoes that may have developed an unpleasant odour over time. Soak your sneakers in a bucket of water with a few tablespoons of borax and then hang them on the line to dry. This is a great idea for regularly warn shoes such as work boots or kids’ sports shoes. Once washed, if your once sparkling white shoes are left with a yellow tinge, wrap the shoe in dampened toilet paper and watch as the yellow is absorbed by the paper, leaving your shoes looking brand new.
- Having trouble getting a pesky ink stain out of your favourite shirt? Try spraying it with hairspray and then wash it as normal. Alternatively, you can spray the hairspray directly onto the ink, wait approximately 30 seconds and wipe the ink away with a damp cloth. The alcohol in the hairspray removes the ink, so ensure you don’t use an alcohol-free product. Try repeating the process with rubbing alcohol if your household hairspray doesn’t do the trick.
- A little-known fact is that green tea is a great dehumidifying agent and deodorant. You can wrap well dried, used green tea leaves in a small piece of old stocking or gauze and place it in your shoe closet. You must ensure the leaves are 100% dry – this can be achieved by placing them in the sun or in the microwave for a few seconds.
- While your old toothbrush probably isn’t in the best condition to clean your teeth anymore, it can come in handy to clean other things, such as bathtub drains or grout.
- Removing soap scum, dirt and limescale can be easier said than done. Try using a mixture of dishwashing liquid, ammonia and vinegar to break down stubborn bacteria. It’s important to ensure that you don’t use this solution on marble, as the vinegar will break down the surface of limestone!
- You can also keep a heavy-duty bathroom soap scum remover in the shower to spray the screen every few days, which will help it stay clean and clear. This will also help to avoid harsh and tiring scrubbing when it comes time to clean your shower.
- Avoid stepping into your bath or shower with shoes on, as grit on shoes will scratch the surfaces.
- Vinegar is also a great tool to use in your toilet. One or two glasses of vinegar go a long way in producing a sparkling clean toilet.
- Ensure that you do not use abrasive cleaning products on baths, basins, toilets etc. as these will damage, dull or stain the surfaces. Instead, use mild household cleaners and plenty of water. Using products that are labelled for use in your bathroom or shower will achieve the best results possible.
Doors, Floors & Windows
- Cleaning the doors in your house may not be a priority and may often go overlooked. However, it’s important that tracks, rollers, glass and frames are cleaned every now and again. Door locks, latches and hinges should also be wiped down regularly. Occasionally, check to see if the screws on your locks and hinges require tightening, particularly if they are subject to heavy use.
- Only use recommended cleansers for cleaning floor and wall tiles. You should not use strong abrasive cleaners.
- To ensure your windows are sparkling clean, incorporate some natural solutions into your cleaning routine. Not only are these items readily available, but you may already have them lying around your home, which will save you money in the long run. For example, vinegar, baking soda and lemons are ideal for use on windows, and you can use an old newspaper to soak up the residue and avoid streaks.
- If you’re having trouble eliminating water spots on the outside of your windows, a couple drops of toilet cleaner designed for rust and lime deposits will work a treat! Make sure you wear gloves and use a wet cloth or rag to wipe the cleaner over the window. Let it sit for a few minutes to work away at the droplets and then rub lightly and rinse.
After months of research and home opens, designing, planning and decorating; it’s time to show off your new house. What better way than by hosting a house warming party to celebrate with friends and family. A successful party does require some planning and preparation, so here are some helpful ideas to get you started.
When to host
There’s no rush to host your house warming party as you will want to make sure that you have everything in order first, a few weeks or even a couple of months after you officially move in is perfectly acceptable. Having empty moving boxes and other clutter around your home will take the sparkle out of displaying your new home, so hold off until you’ve had a chance to settle in and get comfortable with your new surroundings.
Your new neighbours
Starting off on the right foot with neighbours can go a long way in creating a harmonious environment to live in for the foreseeable future. Whether or not you decide to invite them to your house warming, it’s still a good idea to at least warn them that you’ll be hosting a party (especially if you’re going to kick on until late at night). Make up some flyers to drop off in their letterboxes or better yet, use this as an opportunity to introduce yourself.
On the day
First, pick the time of day that you will host your house warming. If you’re planning a lunch then ordering or picking up the food the day before is a good idea as the last thing you want to be doing is rushing around getting things sorted when your guests are starting to arrive. If you’re having an evening affair make sure you organise or pick up your food and decorate early in the morning, you don’t want to be late for your own party! Have plenty of snacks and nibbles for people throughout the night as well, especially if you will be serving alcohol. About an hour before people are due to arrive, run down to the local servo or shops and pick up plenty of ice for the event.
There are plenty of music streaming apps you can use to play your tunes for the party. Spotify is great (the free version does have ads that play between tracks every now and then), if you have a prime video account you can use this to register a free amazon music account as well (plays without ads) and there are also plenty of pre-made free playlists on YouTube. Just pick the one that works for you.
Hopefully these couple of helpful hints will assist you in planning and showing off your new home without too many hiccups.
From setbacks to BAL ratings, navigating through the Australian building jargon can often feel like a never-ending game of scrabble.
We have compiled this list of building lingo to help explain some of the most common building terms.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
- Access – approach or way in.
- Aggregate – the crushed stone or alternative substance contained in concrete, often used in driveways or outdoor entertaining areas.
- Area – the measure of a plane surface within defined boundaries, for example land or buildings are measured in square metres (sqm).
- Architect – a person who is qualified to design buildings.
- Australian Standard – approved standard for material, equipment, technique or procedure as set down by the Standard Association of Australia (SAA).
- Backfill – the action of filling holes in a block of land with earth or other excavated materials to create a flat surface ready for building foundations.
- Baluster/balustrade – A baluster is a small post, often in a series, used to support a handrail. The balustrade is a series of balusters.
- Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) – Indicates the construction requirements for building within a medium threat bushfire-prone area.
- Balcony – a platform, enclosed by railing or balustrade, projecting from the face of either an inside or outside wall of a building.
- Bead – a type of convex moulding, generally of small size, used as a cover an area where two different surfaces meet.
- Bond – the common pattern for laying bricks so that none of the vertical joints between two bricks (the area filled with mortar) are next to each other.
- Brick (Face Brick) – best quality bricks used for face or external work, or for other special work.
- Ceiling height – the overhead internal lining of a room. The height of a room measured from floor surface to ceiling, or, where there is no ceiling, to the underside of the rafters.
- Cladding – material used to cover another building material to improve the appearance of a building or structure.
- Contract documents – working drawings, specifications and details, which form part of the formal contract between the client and the builder.
- Cornice –Ornamental or decorative moulding along the top of a wall, just below the ceiling.
- Course – a single row or layer of bricks.
- Covenant –An agreement that creates an obligation on the owner of a property not to do something. For example, a covenant could state that no more than one dwelling may be built on the land.
- Crossover –The access point from the street to the block; for example, where a driveway is put.
- Curing – treatment of concrete or cement rendering to facilitate hardening.
- Downpipes – The pipe used to take water from the guttering to the drainage system.
- Eaves – The lower part of a roof plane that extends outward from the structure at the same slope as the roof and is generally finished with a fascia board. Sometimes referred to as the roof overhang. The eave on a gable end is sometimes referred to as the gable overhang.
- Easement –A right held by one person to make use of the land of another. For example, land set aside for drainage and sewerage pipes.
- Eaves – the lower part of a roof that overhangs the walls and can be seen from the ground.
- Elevation – A view of a home taken horizontally, looking at a vertical surface in a design.
- Exposed aggregate –A method of finishing concrete which washes the cement/sand mixture of the top layer of the aggregate – usually gravel.
- Fascia – A horizontal board positioned on edge and attached to the ends of the rafters or truss ends where gutters are typically supported. This is called an eave fascia. Fascia placed on the end of a gable roof end is called gable fascia.
- Fittings –Items that can be removed without damaging property, such as garden ornaments, lighting and drapes.
- Fixtures – Items that are attached to the property and cannot be removed without causing damage to the property, such as bathroom suites, built-in wardrobes and kitchen stoves.
- Flashing – a strip of impervious material used to prevent water or seepage from penetrating a building
- Footing – A footing supports foundation or bearing walls carrying the weight of upper floors, roof structures etc. A footing is generally wider than the foundation or bearing wall and constructed on undisturbed soil to achieve the maximum stability possible. Footings run continuously under all bearing and foundation walls.
- Foundation – The ground or surface the building’s footings are built on.
- Gable – the triangular end of a house formed at the end of a pitched roof, from eaves level to the roof apex.
- Gabled roof –Roof consisting of two sloping surfaces.
- Gutters – A channel attached to the fascia board designed to carry away water that runs off the roof surface.
- Handrail – railing which serves as a guard and which is intended to be grasped by the hand to serve as a support.
- Hip –Slanted ridge formed by the intersection of two sloping surfaces at an external corner.
- Joinery – doors, windows and cupboards manufactured in a joiner’s shop.
- Kerb – A stone edging to a pavement or raised path.
- Laminate –Often refers to a cabinetry finish, where a layer of plastic is bonded to the particle-board type cabinet or benchtop. Can also be a material made by bonding several layers of material together, ie laminated glass is several layers of glass).
- Lining – the internal covering to walls of framed construction.
- Lintel – A structural item, such as a steel or timber beam, that carries loads over an opening, ie a timber beam over an opening in a wall that supports the weight of the roof above it.
- Mortar –A composition of lime and/or cement and sand mixed with water, used in the laying of bricks.
- Niche –An alcove or indent in a wall.
- Pelmet –Box-type cover over the top of a window, used to conceal curtain rods and fastenings.
- Pier – often made from concrete, masonry or timber, piers are vertical supports used in a base structure.
- Plasterboard –A rigid insulating board made of plastering material covered on both sides with heavy paper.
- Provisional sum – a sum set aside in the pre-contract quotation or contract to provide for work with a scope that can’t be accurately estimated at contract time
- Rafter – in roof construction, a beam used in timber framing that provides the principal support for the roofing material.
- Reinforced Concrete Slab – Contains steel to increase the strength of the structure. The material that results from the combination of concrete and reinforcing bars is called Reinforced Concrete.
- Reinforcing steel –Steel bars of various sizes and shapes used in concrete construction for giving added strength.
- Render – the covering of a wall surface with one or more coats of plaster to provide a smooth finish or a textured finish, such as an acrylic texture render.
- Retaining wall – a structure that holds or retains soil behind it. There are many types of materials that can be used to create retaining walls like concrete blocks, poured concrete, treated timbers, rocks or boulders.
- Roof Pitch – The angle formed between a sloping roof surface and brickwork.
- Sarking – a covering of waterproof building paper beneath the external roof covering.
- Scaffolding – a temporary structure specifically erected to support access platforms or working platforms.
- Setback –How far from the front boundary a property can be built.
- Skirting – moulding to cover the joint between floor and wall flooring.
- Soil test – A test conducted to determine how a house must be built. Establishes how likely it is that the soil will move, expand and contract with different levels of moisture content. This helps the builder to select the type of footing needed.
- Steel Frame Construction – Building in which the structural members are of steel or dependent on a steel frame for support.
- Stirrups – in reinforced concrete beams, vertical or inclined rods to resist shear stress.
- Tiler – a qualified tradesperson who specialises in laying ceramic tiles on floors and walls.
- Trestle – still or wood ladder structure used to support, planks to form a working platform.
- Wall sheeting – materials used for external and internal linings, including strawboard, fibre cement, fibrous plaster, plaster wall board and compressed wood fibreboard.
- Wall tie – a steel wire tying brickwork to timber frame.
- Waterproof – Materials and construction which will prevent water from passing through walls and joints.
- Weep Holes – Openings sometimes left in the perpend of a brickwork course over flashings, and at the bottom of wall cavities for drainage purposes.
- Y – a ‘Y’ shaped plumbing fitting.
- Zoning – a government process and specification which limits the use of a property. eg. single family use, high rise residential use, industrial use etc.
When choosing flooring for your home, there is a lot to consider. It’s not just about what looks good but also what is practical for the use of the room and of course budget and personal style. For bathrooms and other wet areas, the best option is always tiling which is why new builds will include this as a standard option.
The rest of the house however is fair game, and the options are endless. Even for those on a small budget, you can still achieve any look you want, just do your research. There are many engineered options that require less maintenance but look just like the real thing. Whether you choose carpets, timber or tiles we have compiled a handy list of pros and cons to help you decide what’s right for you.
A few tips for the most common areas of the home:
Theatre: Carpet would work best due to its texture insulation and acoustic properties.
Bedrooms: Carpet would again work best here due to its warmth and soft feel; however, laminate or timber would be better suited for have small children or pets as it is easier to spot clean.
Wet areas: Tiling is always the best option here; however, you can choose timber and laminate but be mindful exposure to water can permanently damage timber or leaking under laminate can cause bacteria to form.
The most common options:
Easy to maintain
Cannot be refurbished
Lacquered layer for protection
Traditional look and feel
More affordable than solid hardwood
Requires regular maintenance for high foot traffic areas
Not suitable for wet areas or kitchens
Easy to maintain
Great for wet areas
Keeps the house cooler in Summer
Cold in winter
Easily damaged by heavy objects
Ongoing grout maintenance especially in high traffic and wet areas
Versatile – Many colours and patterns
Not as durable especially in high traffic areas
Needs continual maintenance including regular vacuuming and annual professionally clean.
Not suitable for kitchens or wet areas
Needs to be replaced periodically
While it may seem like a daunting choice, selecting flooring should be an exciting part of a renovation or build as it will be enjoyed for many years to come so take your time while selecting what’s right for you.
Since the inception of the WA State Government Keystart initiative in 1989, home ownership has become a reality for many who thought it was out of their reach. By reducing the deposit required and waiving Lenders Mortgage Insurance the scheme was a huge success and allowed many West Aussies the financial security they may not have thought was possible.
The main benefits of using Keystart as your home loan lender is you will only need a small deposit with the average being a few thousand dollars. Most banks will require a minimum 5% deposit however with Keystart this could be as little as 2% once eligibility criteria is met. Even if you were unable to qualify for whole ownership then you could also access the Shared Ownership scheme and still achieve your goals.
So how do you know if you are eligible for a Keystart Home Loan?
As of August 2020, the income-based criteria to qualify for a metro build allows for the maximum income for a single applicant to not exceed $105,000 per annum, this then changes to $130,000 per couple and the family income threshold is $155,000. To see if you qualify, Keystart have very helpful online tools and calculators.
Sound to good to be true?
While not a part of Keystart loans, Lenders Mortgage Insurance is typically in the thousands and added to the loan amount. Due to this, Keystart loans tend to have a slightly higher interest rate than the big banks however once you have built enough equity in your home, you can look at refinancing and getting a better deal elsewhere. The initiative is not meant to replace a long term home loan with a bank but will assist in getting you into your first home sooner.
If this sounds like something you might be interested in, please feel free to get in touch and I can answer any other questions you might have.
For more information about Keystart visit their website at https://www.keystart.com.au/why-keystart
What R these things? R Codes and what they mean.
You might hear the term R Codes thrown around when you’re looking to build on new land, subdivide or develop an existing property, but what are they?
The City of Swan explains that the Residential Design Codes, or more commonly called the “R-Codes”, provide a comprehensive basis for local governments to control residential development.
They generally apply to residential zones throughout Western Australia. They also specify the requirements for development control and minimise the need for separate planning policies for residential development.
So how does this effect you?
R Codes are used to help cities, towns and local suburbs control their population growth by regulating the number and types of dwellings that can be built in any one area. Simply put, the code stipulates how may dwellings can go on a 10,000m2 (1-hectare) piece of land. It also works out the minimum and average size of each block on that land.
An example of this would be a R20 block, this means that you can have up to 20 dwellings per hectare of land, meaning the minimum site size would be 350m2 with and average site size of 450m2. These codes are always changing and shifting so it is a good idea to double check when looking at land. Most land developers will have these detail on their website so have a look there too.
The department of Planning, Lands and Heritage have a full list of codes and their meaning on their website if you wanted to find out more. As mentioned before however, these are always changing so make sure you ask the question when looking for land.
In June 2020 the Federal government released the HomeBuilder Scheme granting eligible owner-occupiers (including first home buyers) $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home. On top of that the WA Government released the $20,000 Building Bonus Package for those building on “titled blocks”.
The difference between titled and un-titled blocks:
Titled blocks have a registered certificate detailing who owns the land, meaning you can purchase and start the building process straight away. Most of these blocks you’ll find in new estates for example Brabham Estate and The Glades at Byford. These are titled and ready to build on.
Un-titled blocks are not registered and you won’t be able to build on them until the registration process has been completed. The time it takes to register the land is totally dependent on the land developer. These blocks can be found in later stage releases in new estates but might not be titled for quite some time. It’s always best to find this out before purchasing.
How the Government grants work:
The Federal government grant of $25,000 is only available to people who will be ready to start construction within 3 months, and this is where titled blocks come in handy as you can start building on these straight away. However, the deadline for the WA government grant of $20,000 is 6 months, so this might be an option if you’re not able to secure a titled block at the moment.
Following the announcement of the government grants, titled land has been selling so fast that it is getting harder and harder to find and secure a block. That’s where buying through a builder with a solid relationship with land agents, like the relationship Nik has with agents all over Perth, is such an advantage.
Styling your home can seem like a daunting prospect when you first start exploring ideas. There are so many visually different styles out there as seen on television, in magazines and social media. So how do you make sense of all the different styles and find a look that works for you? Here are 3 easy ways to achieve glamorous looks on a more realistic budget.
Pick a central room feature
When you first walk into a room what do you want to see first? This is your focal point or your central room feature. This might be a feature wall or a oversized vase with summer flowers or a fashionable simple cream wingback seated in a corner with a brightly coloured throw draped over it.
The rule of 60 – 30 – 10
Use this rule with your chosen palette to balance the scheme just right
60 – Choose your main colour. Usually this is a more neutral colour and 60% of this colour should be used in the room. Normally this would be the colour you paint your walls.
30 – Next choose a complementary colour, usually a much bolder shade than your main colour, and use this for your furniture and any large items in the room, this makes up about 30% of the room.
10 – The last 10% is made up of room accessories. These are things like cushions, wall art, throws, floor accents etc. These items bring little pops of colour into the room.
The odd rule
Like planting trees and flowers outside, its always appealing to style inside with the ‘odd rule’. Grouping items like, tables, shelves, candles in odd groups is more visually appealing than even, numbered groups. Another good way to spice things up is to add accessories with different textures, shapes and even heights. Just try to keep the 60, 30, 10 rule in play to ensure a cohesive look.
Looking to decorate your new home and seeking inspiration? Look no further.
Here are some key points to consider when shopping for interior decorative items.
- Shop according to the size, layout and existing décor scheme of a room. Try to be consistent with colours, themes and shapes throughout the room or home.
- A functional space is just as important as looks.
- Always consider size – height and width of the room in comparison to a decorative item is particularly important. For example, a chandelier looks amazing in a wide, tall room, however, in a smaller space it will render the room impracticable.
The choice of style varies from person to person but no matter what style you opt for, there are a few accessories that look amazing with any type of interior styles. Here are some of the most popular items to decorate with:
Cushions allow you to accentuate or develop existing colour schemes and increase comfort levels. Cushions come in a huge variety of shapes, styles, textures and sizes, so you’ll be sure to find what you need.
- To create a consistent look, choose a colour from the room’s palette. If you want to create a visual break on a longer piece of furniture, choose a patterned cushion that features a different colour from your room’s décor scheme.
- Match the size of the cushions to the size of the furniture. A large cushion on a small chaise, for example, will be impractical and look out of place.
- Buy cushions that offer the support you need. Square cushions are the most versatile, rectangular cushions support the lower back and flat, round cushions are great for sitting on.
The right lighting can make all the difference in a room. As well as looking great, table lamps and floors lamps can illuminate darker areas or tailor the atmosphere to suit what you are doing.
- Choose the lamp that helps you achieve your lighting goals. Table lamps are perfect for creating an intimate setting that is perfect for study or reading. Floor lamps can bring light to a darker part of a room to create a feel of space and levity.
- It is important to consider lamp height when shopping for a table lamp. For best results, the bottom of the lampshade should sit at about eye level when seated.
- Choose a floor lamp that can perform the function you want it to. Accent lighting can create an ambience but is best used in tandem with existing light sources; task lighting is a great alternative to your main light source and is ideal for illuminating a particular area.
Wall art can help you break up wall space, add colour to a room and provide a focal point for your guests. Consider the following when choosing prints and paintings for your home:
- Shop for a print or painting that matches the size and layout of the room. A piece that is too large will be overwhelming; one too small will lose its impact. To get an idea of proportion, try marking out the dimensions of the art in newspaper before you make a purchase.
- Brightly coloured artwork needs more breathing space than art produced in softer tones. Be sure that you have enough room to give your art the space it deserves.
- Shop for art that picks up the tones and hues from your existing décor scheme. This will make the artwork look integral to your décor scheme.
Sculptures of various shape and size add depth and warmth to your interior decoration. They are great accessories to personalise your room according to your personality.
- Look for sculptures that match the size of the space you are trying to fill. For example; you can have a small to medium sized sculpture for a bookshelf, however, if your putting a sculpture on the floor then you will want something that makes a statement, otherwise you may find it underwhelming.
- Do not be afraid to use a sculpture to add flashes of bright colour to lighter, more subdued spaces. Plus, you can always move your sculpture around with minimal fuss if you don’t like the location.
- Play around with texture. Sculptures with a texture are a great addition within clean and modern interiors, they can really help add some grit and contrast to your space without making it feel cluttered.
One of the most amazing accessories to uplift your home is a simple blanket. Drape a blanket on your sofa, chairs, ottomans, bed or anything that has a surface that you can sit on. It creates a warm “home” feeling and it feels amazing to cuddle up in your sofa and find a blanket waiting for you already.