Thursday, 31 October 2013

My littlest has a birthday party... off topic I know!

My youngest son turned four on the weekend; cause for celebration as he is growing into this little person that makes me beam with pride as I watch his traits such as determination, consideration, humor and creativity develop.

As he has an interest in "things that  move" I decided to put together a Car party (not the Disney type, the homemade type!).   I also decided to be a bit creative and crafty so we had a good old fashioned party in the backyard!
Number Four cake with chocolate cars

Here's a break down of some fun ideas that you may want to try for your next party.

  • As an ice breaker I invited each of the children to decorate their own steering wheel made from a sturdy paper plate.
  • I painted a big picture of a car that was missing a wheel and the kids played "pin the spare wheel on the car"

    Pin the wheel on the car
  • We borrowed some old tyres from our local dealership (Beaurepaires) and the kids played a version of "rob the nest". I made a up story that each team of kids had a car with missing parts and they had to race each other to fix their cars by filling the tyres.  I used our Jumbo Lego (bigger than Duplo) for this game, which was chaotic but fun.
  • I had collected a couple of large cardboard boxes that
    my children and I made into "cars" for the kids to drive.  We painted them red (as red goes faster!) and used patty pan liners for headlights/tail lights and paper plates for wheels. I used jute webbing (usually for upholstery) for seat belts/shoulder straps
  • We played a version of "Giants treasure" where we put another jumbo Lego block in a tyre and I made up another story that the block was actually a replacement battery to keep in with the car theme.
  • After games, the kids sat down for party food and birthday cake (I made traffic light biscuits, wheel spoke fruit sticks, round chocolate biscuits as wheels etc.).

All the children had a wonderful time, and it was lovely to be out in the sunshine playing together.  I hope I've inspired you to get creative for your next kids party.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Six tips to a successful kitchen layout

  • Work triangle.  This concept isn’t new, and I mention it first as it is still a relevant design element; the work triangle points are made up between the refrigerator, stove and kitchen sink as each of these stations is frequently used in the kitchen.  It makes sense that a lot of thought is put into these being practically placed for easy access.   This goes for all kitchen shapes which are generally known as; straight, galley, L-shape and U-shaped kitchens.

  • Distance travelled between work areas and appliances; it
    follows on from the work triangle that you give consideration to how far apart the key elements on your kitchen area.
      If you have a lovely big kitchen, but you have to hike around a big island bench or kitchen table each time you would to go from sink to fridge and back, you may quickly find you have to travel some distance to prepare a simple meal and that your attractive kitchen isn’t particularly functional.

  • Rules and regulations.  Kitchen need to be practical spaces, but not only that there are some regulations when it comes to things such as safe set down areas beside cook tops as well as the size of your range hood and distance the range hood is from the cook top. There are also the type of materials used as your splashback, distance of electrical outlets from water sinks to consider etc.  As you can see, it’s important to seek professional advice when it comes to your design.

  • It goes without saying that items, implements and foods that are used frequently are placed in convenient and prime locations and making allowance for this during the design faze should not be overlooked.   For example, you might have your spices and condiments in drawers directly beside the stove so they are accessible while you are in the thick of cooking!

  • When it comes to the traffic of other people through the kitchen, it is most likely they are going to be travelling to the fridge or pantry, so they are best placed near the entry to the workspace rather than through it.  As delightful it is to have an enormous pantry, if you are having family stampede through your kitchen in search of a snack, the kitchen may not be all you dreamed it could be.

  • Finally from a practical view, when you are putting together your kitchen layout you need to consider whether you can open drawers, doors and appliances without bumping them into each other.  Also consider if the existing or new doors, windows and window furnishings will function correctly within the kitchen.

Now it’s time to start considering material and finishes selection.  This comes down to your taste and design aesthetic, budget and how you want the selections to last and wear as well as whether you require your kitchen for specialty cooking.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Expert tips for deciding between Leather or Fabric sofa?

I’ve been invited to write my thoughts as an interior designer on weighing the options between leather and fabric sofas, so here are some things to consider before making a decision.

With an almost inexhaustible range of fabrics to select from, allowing you to express your personality through fibre (linen, cotton, silk, polyester, viscose etc.), texture, weave, pattern/print and so on; selecting fabric for an upholstered sofa can be intimidating, but also extremely effective in creating a feeling or mood to a room.

As technologies improve expanding ranges of fabrics are chemically treated to make them resistant to spills and stains.  This is done early in the process by the fibres being chemically treated prior to the thread and cloth being created, rather than the fabric being treated following manufacture. 

I think it’s fair to say as a good guide fabric will not be as long wearing as leather; it can fade, threads can pull, it can simply wear through and oils from your skin can discolour the upholstery. Of course, you can have your fabric sofa cleaned and regular vacuuming is recommended by all fabric suppliers.   Choosing the correct fabric for the application can result in a happy outcome for many, many years; for example a velvet sofa is extremely durable and has an elegant lustre and is called a classic for a reason!
When making your fabric selection, think through the results the fabric has from rub tests such as Martindale (I would consider a rating of 12,000 a bare minimum for light upholstery, 20-25,000 for general domestic, and 40,000+ for commercial/heavy wearing) or alternatively Wyzenbeek  (30,000 double rubs for heavy wearing).  

You may also want to enquire about the fabrics score in light fastness (rating 1 - 8; 8 being no fading and 1 resulting in extensive fading).  Reputable fabric supplies will have technical information readily available on their sampling.
On the other hand leather is a durable hard wearing choice and an excellent option for allergy sufferers as dust doesn’t attract dust fibres as easily as it can for fabric. Also being a natural product, leather is breathable.

There is more than one type of leather out there and not all leather is of the same quality, in fact “Calendared Leather” is not leather at all (it is a PVC)! With a range of terms like Corrected (buffed), Aniline (natural with no colour treatment), Pigmented (coated with colour), Semi-Aniline (dyed) it can be difficult to choose the leather that is right for you and your household.  Some leathers age gracefully with natural patinas deepening over time (but are likely to scuff, stain from spills or oils from your skin), while others are very resistant to scratches, spills and keep a consistent look for many years.

Really the choice between leather and fabric comes down to what you need your sofa to live up to; where is it positioned in the room… full sunlight? Who is using it… are they rough and tumble or careful? How frequently is it used? How long do I want this sofa for?

Now you can start sitting in sofas and see which shape fits you and figure out your budget (topics for another day).  Good luck!