deck the halls with boughs of holly...inspiration

A taste of Scandinavian inspired Christmas style.  Very pared back, very natural, very pretty.

I will be taking a break to spend some time with my family, but check back in January as we kick off a lovely new year together.

Ho ho ho everyone...

Images via: Once Wed | Wreath Sacramento Street | Dwell | Anthropologie Gift wrap |

Simple, fast & pretty christmas wrapping

Wrap your gifts with button and butchers twine this Christmas.  Simple, fast and pretty - perfect! 

You will need: oversize buttons (Lincraft), butchers twine (Koch), white paper.  
Choose any colours you like, I chose pink and red buttons and twine and then mixed up the combinations a bit.

How to wrap your own gifts:
  1. Cut a length of twine, thread through button and wrap around the present (below left)
  2. Cross twine at back so that it wraps up instead of down 
  3. Thread through button again (below right)
  4. Secure under button or at back of parcel.

Am thinking gold stamped white paper would have been pretty too.
This lot are being posted overseas but Miss E has made me promise that I will wrap our gifts the same way too.

10 ways to entertain effortlessly during the festive season

Be the hostess with the mostest this festive season.  I am no Nigella, I can't cook like Jamie, and I never manage to style my food like Donna Hay, but I do love to entertain.  Here are my tips for ensuring that both you and your guests will have a good time, and that's really what its all about.

Hostess with the mostest tips:
  • Plan a menu where at least half of the dishes can be prepared the day before or on the morning of your event.  Cuts down the cooking and clearing up you need to do just before your guests arrive.
  • Create a drinks station.  I always make sure I get my guest their first drink, but after that its hard to make sure everybody has their glass filled all the time.  A drinks station with fresh glasses, iced water, and ice bucket allows guests to get their own drinks during the evening.
  • Decorate with fresh flowers.  Even the simplest bunch of flowers makes your home look loved.
  • Set the table the previous evening or in the morning.  After we have done the first round of food prep I spend a few hours setting the table and doing the flowers (can you tell I like this bit?).  This way you aren't rushed before you need to get into the final food prep, and you get to enjoy a pretty house while you are getting ready.
  • Load this dishwasher in the afternoon and empty it before your guests arrive.  Not only will the kitchen be nice and tidy but you can pack things straight into the dishwasher during the evening and keep it tidy as you go.
  • Team work makes prep easier to do and more fun. 
  • Freshen up your guest bathroom with a few flowers in a small vase or bottle, several fresh hand towels rolled and stacked as a smart restaurant does, and a lovely hand soap.
  • Tidy the house the evening before your event.  It always takes longer than you think and its one less thing to worry about the next day.
  • Create a party play list to set the mood.  Then it's a simple as plugging in your smart phone and enjoying your evening.
Your guests will be more relaxed and enjoy themselves more if you are relaxed too.  So plan ahead, do your prep work early, and remember to enjoy yourself.

Photograph taken by Graeme Myburgh at the Festive Fiesta pop up party I threw here.

    Christmas table...pomegranates and polka dots

    This year we are having a non traditional table that I hope will still feel like Christmas.  Lots of white linen with a gold polka dot twist, and pomegranates instead of holly.  
    See how we made our centrepiece here, I hope it inspires you to make your own.

    I am delighted with how it is looking!  I would love to make a feature to hang over the table, perhaps a piece of driftwood dropping with gold baubles, but we will have to see if time allows.

    The oranges, pinks and gold look so zesty against the black wall and I am loving the gold polka dot tablecloth, so festive!!  

    I used thin slices of reclaimed timber to hide the base of the flower arrangement.  We had these as leftovers from another project but you could buy thin strips of wood at your local hardware and paint them any colour you want.  Simply cut to wood to size and hot glue together at the ends.  

    Flowers by Build House HomeGold polka dot tableclothGold chargers

    What ever you are doing this Christmas I hope its full of love and peace, laughter, friends, family and fun.  Have a wonderful festive season.

    A low center flower arrangement...for a non traditional Christmas table

    We are having a big family Christmas and I want to do some special flowers.   
    I am planning several long low floral arrangements for a long long table, with a loose Amy Osaba inspired style, and I want to incorporate pomegranates, their pink red colour reminds me of Christmas without being to traditional.

    I asked the talented Antonia of Ruby Slipper Floral Design to show me how to go from inspiration to gorgeous arrangement, and boy did she deliver!  So enjoy the gorgeous flowers and skip to the bottom to see how you can make your own.

    What you will need:

    • Several blocks of oasis, or an oasis block like the one we used.
    • 3 large store bought pomegranates
    • One bunch each of green leaves, roses, mini pomegranates, kalmia, lisianthus (see below)
    • Florists wire
    Soaking the oasis:
    • place each block in a bucket or basin of water and let it absorb the water
    • Do not push the oasis down or you may create air bubbles, be patient!
    • The oasis is fully soaked when no dry patches remain.
    • If your oasis doesn't fit in a bucket (like ours) pour water over it carefully until you are sure it is fully soaked.
    Adding your flowers in the correct order:
    • Create initial structure with greenery:  Space it evenly without being to symmetrical (see below). The asparagus fern has been placed in the top, and along the sides creating good depth before even adding the flowers.
    • Create a test corner:  This is where you will get a feel for how the flowers look together and how you are going to group them.  Once you are happy with the test corner, place your feature flowers, then work around the arrangement adding flowers in a similar but not identical pattern.
    • Add the feature flowers:  The pomegranates in this arrangement.  Antonia suggest grouping them loosely in threes.  In our arrangement they are loosely grouped slightly off the center of the oasis block.  (see tips for the pomegranates below)
    • Soften with secondary flowers:   Add your other flowers around the focal elements making sure they are at different heights to create depth and interest.
    • Place flowers at different heights and angles:  Create texture and depth by pushing some flowers deeper into the arrangment and allowing others to trail over the edge.  
    • Work around the arrangement building up the design: Stand back and look at your design from every side.  It is a centrepiece and needs to look good from all angles.
    • Fill in the gaps: Add a final selection of flowers and small pieces of greenery to make sure the underlying structure is hidden and that the arrangement is full all over.  This is a good time to add trailing elements.

    Arranging the pomegranates:
    • Cut several pieces of thick florist wire 10 to 15 cm long.  
    • Push the wire through the skin at the base of the fruit (see below) and push firmly into the fruit.  
    • Twist the wire ends together 
    • Position in oasis as you would a normal flower.  
    • Use the same technique for other fruit, accessories like pine cones, or even succulents.
    • This worked impressively well and the pomegranates were in no danger of being bumped out of place.

    Antonia gathers several roses and a small bit of pomegranate into a mini bunch in her hand (above), then nestles them into the larger arrangement.  A design within a design.

    Work around the arrangement, adding flowers from every side so that it will look good from every side of the table when finished.

    How to choose flowers for your arrangement
    • Select flowers in different tones of the same colour.  This allows you to have a variety of flowers without the arrangement feeling to busy.  In our arrangement the yellow to orange roses toned with the orange mini pomegranates, and the pink lisianthus toned with the softer pink kalmia.
    • Use greenery to create the base of the arrangement.  The greenery sets off the flower colour and is an inexpensive way to bulk out a large arrangement.  It also hides the oasis structure. Some of Antonia's favourites are hydrangea leaves, viburnum, magnolia little gem
    • Keep it simple and limit your colour scheme.  Antonia recommends using only one or two colours in an arrangement.  
    • Use seasonal flowers  This is going to keep your costs down and also ensure the flowers are fresh and will last longer.
    Top tips for arranging flowers like a pro:
    • Create your base structure with greenery
    • Add the feature plants, the pomegranates to the green arrangement, and then soften with secondary flowers.
    • Add flowers at different heights to create depth.  Nestle some deeper into the arrangement, have some trailing onto the table top at the edges.
    • Use three or four blooms to make a mini bunch in your hand.  Add the mini bunch as you would a single flower into the arrangement.
    • Don't be afraid to adjust the position of flowers, but remember to put them in a new place in the oasis.  If you place the stems in the same oasis hole they will lose stability.

    Ready for the table!  We didn't take the flowers all the way down the oasis block because I have made a reclaimed wood frame to hide that bit.  You will just have to wait and see how it looks all complete on the gold polka dot tablecloth.  Next post I promise.  Hope this inspired your and gave you some ideas for creating your own special Christmas day look.  And if you don't have time, let Antonia make one just for you.

    All photos by Eva of Build House Home, flowers selected and arranged by Antonia of Ruby Slipper Floral Design.

    How to get your beauty sleep and create a relaxing bedroom

    The festive season is fun but busy, and we all need our beauty sleep to be at our best.
    Take a moment to create an area of private relaxation in your bedroom, a space where you can unwind from the silly season.

    My essential list for creating a bedroom where you can rest, relax, and revive your energies.

    • A few fresh flowers.  Just a few blooms cut from your garden are lovely, scented if possible.  You would do it for house guests, this season do it for yourself too.  
    • When you have guests staying, or children home during the holidays, let your bedroom be your retreat, a little oasis where you can have a little quiet time.  Make sure you have a few extra pillows so you can sit comfortably, a snuggly throw to cover your feet, and a good book handy to dip into.  
    • Trinket box for festive season bling.  Tis the season for getting dressed up, a handy trinket box on the bedside table will keep your party bling in check.  
    • Make sure you have enough pillows if you are having guests to stay.  Last time we had guests I realised little Miss J had moved into a big girl bed and we were a few pillows short.  Plan ahead so that everybody will be comfortable.
    • Bamboo cotton pillow cases.  Soft, yet silky, the only pillow cases I use at the moment.
    • Keep a notebook in your bedside table, for making notes, doodling, and writing to do and shopping lists.
    • Open your windows and let in the lovely fresh air.  Well I guess this only works if its summer where you are. 
    This post was written in collaboration with Sleepmaker, but as usual all opinions are entirely my own.

    Boxes from FreedomCow hide rug turned headboardChiang Mai Dragon in mocha

    the spirit of giving...what to do with preloved toys

    Its a good time of year to sort out the toys, Christmas is around the corner and our lucky children are sure to be getting presents.  They have been good so it will be presents rather than coal.  

    Its the perfect time to sort through the toys we have:
    • throw away the broken, 
    • regroup the sets that have become scattered, 
    • separate preloved toys for regifting
    This year in addition to their own stockings, my children will have a regifting santa sack where they can put toys that can be passed onto children who need them.  
    It is hard to find places in Australia which will accept quality preloved toys, but I have managed to find a few places who do take them: 
    • Your local police station may accept soft animals that children in a traumatic situation can be given to cuddle, 
    • Family refuge centres (like Ozcare) will also accept toys if they have a family with children of the right age, 
    • Foster care centres will pass age appropriate toys onto children in care
    • Childrens Hospitals
    • Lifeline shops accept games and books.  
    If anybody has any other suggestions please let me know, I do hate the idea that old toys just go to the tip.

    Cute xmas tree decor: Star, gold holly ball, silver bell wreath, fairy wren penguin, gumnut koala  

    my favourite gift ideas 2013

    I always loved the Oprah "favourite things" show, what a great way to choose presents, to give only things that you really like.  So I put together my favourite things from 2013, for me and the girls.  Hope you will get some good gift ideas, or find a few things you would like in your own Christmas stocking.

    Miss E helped me pick these favourites.  They are sure to please any tween and lots are perfect for stocking filler.

    The jelly beans in test tubes from Happy Lab are sure to be a hit, tons of flavours, my fave is pina colada or green apple, Miss E likes candyfloss and sour lemon.  
    Miss E's favourite game and book of the year - we all love Scattergories.
    Cute paper pads, guitar pen ipod and ipad cases from Typo, so many choices I couldn't include them all.
    Sunnies from Rubi

    Miss J loves books so I added her two current favourites.  For the rest its sugar and spice and all things nice.

    Tiger Tribe sticker book and necklace from Seed, they have lots of great stocking fillers for girls and boys of all ages.
    Christmas Matryoshka dolls and Hop-a-Long Rudolph from Urban Baby for a festive feel.
    Zog and Tashi are both gorgeous books with lovely illustrations and easy to read stories.
    These really are my favourite picks this year, it turned out to be quite a masculine looking set.
    If you had to choose just one the, Japanese handsaw should be a staple in any tool box.  Can't remember how we managed without it or the Kreg Jig.
    We read the entire series of Conn Iggulden books about Ghengis Khan and his descendants.  Its a fascinating story which just happens to be true.  Perfect holiday reading for him or her.
    Black Pepper Recharge Body wash from Molton Brown.
    I finally bought this Nespresso machine this year and I love it.

    There is one thing missing from this list, the Toftbo microfibre bath mats from Ikea.  They just don't photograph well but your feet and your wallet are going to thank you.  My sister says they are "like standing on clouds".

    This post is not sponsored, its simply the stuff I really like right now.
    Hope you are all enjoying the start to a wonderful festive season.

    little letters...more kindness, fewer facades

    Sometimes the universe taps you on the shoulder to send you a message.  In the last few weeks my shoulder was tapped a few times.

    First a friend posted this message on facebook.

    Then a dear friend said " are you ok, call me if you need me". It touched my heart because my chin was up and the happy face was on, but really I was having a rough time.  She saw me in a very real way, through all the pretty barriers we create for the world.  She is kindness itself.

    A blogger I follow wrote recently about how people believed she lived a perfect life, I really hope I don't give that impression.  I like the idea of making the world and spaces we live in as beautiful as possible, with the resources we have available, but it's not about perfection.

    This blog is a wonderful escape for me, its not a facade for my real life, its the casual luxe world I would inhabit if time and money were no object.  In reality my life is just like yours, filled with all the normal stresses and pressures, as well as the simple joys and pleasures.
    Blogging is most parts fantasy and dream, many parts inspiration, and as many parts DIY as time permits.  

    Lastly all around us the bush has been burning, the Philippines have been struck by storms, many people have lost their homes, everything except the clothes they were wearing.  As usual I am blown away by the communities that stand together in Australia in tough times, one of the best of Australian attributes.  And I am reminded that all the pretty things in the world do not make a home or a family.

    So yes universe:
    • I will be kinder
    • Family and friends are far more important than finding the perfect corner sofa
    • I will try and live authentically every day, the good ones and the bad

    pop up dinner party at home for the festive season

    I love the concept of pop up parties, but in reality can be a bit hard to do.  Especially with a toddler in tow.
    So I thought how cool would it be to create a pop up space at home -  a little extraordinary in the ordinary, a little bit of fantasy for just one evening.
    I wanted to set the table up in the garden surrounded by fairy lights, but some heavy rain storms meant it had to be plan B, our wide hallway.  I threw down a rug and moved our outdoor table and pillows indoors for the evening.  Then I strung the glass doors with fairy lights and lit candles to create a romantic glow of light.
    Watermelon and lime agua fresca kicked off the evening, followed by a delicious Mexican inspired menu made by my amazing hubby.  Wraps with lamb, pomegranates and honey coriander yoghurt, or deconstructed chorizo with jalapeno green sauce, chunks of pineapple dusted with salt and chilli powder, and a grapefruit granita with a mojito sauce to finish.   Delicious!
    I found gorgeous bunches of natives in yellows and oranges at the flower seller this morning. 
    Wax flowers, pin cushions and kangaroo paw form a zesty base that could be Christmas or fiesta.  I made a low arrangement for the table centre with a few candles, finished with white plates and white napkins.  Fresh, fun and simple.
    Sitting on cushions on the floor with the glow of candlelight and fairy lights, what fun.

    The space was transformed, it didn't look like our house at all.  All the fantasy of a pop up party, with all the comforts of home and a fully equipped kitchen close at hand.  I didn't use anything I didn't already own, I just moved things into unexpected places.
    I hope you are inspired!  Go on, string up some lanterns or fairy lights, and throw a pop up party of your own at home too.  Make sure to tell me what you created!

    All images by Eva Burgess of Build House Home, except 5th image by Graeme Myburgh.

    10 reasons you should visit beechworth on holiday

    Beechworth is my favourite town in Australia!  Beautiful historic town centre, lots to do, great restaurants, fabulous local beer and wine.  So if you are planning a Christmas break makes Beechworth your destination.

    • The information centre is staffed by a magician who did magic tricks and enchanted the children.  Seriously every tourist information centre should be run by magicians.
    • Miles and miles of pristine countryside bike tracks on the rail trail that runs through the village.  Built on the old railway the tracks are not too steep, made for a train remember, and run through the most gorgeous countryside for over 100km.  A must for any cycling enthusiast and suitable for the entire family.  Ride one way and book a shuttle to take you and your bikes home, or stop at a local winery, refresh and recover and then carry on.
    • Stop by the Bridge Road Brewers to enjoy a flight of locally made beers on a Ned Kelly styled tray, and enjoy the best pizza in the district.  Sunday afternoons feature great live music and there is even a small playground for younger kids. 
    • Dine on the degustation menu at Provenance.  The best meal I have had in years, fantastic service and some very interesting matched wines and sake.  If this is the only reason you go to Beechworth its a good one!
    • Visit the court house where Ned Kelly was held after being captured in nearby Glenrowan.  Local story tellers will take you on a tour and tell you all the juicy history.
    • Go panning for gold at Eldorado - we found lots of sand and lovely countryside but sadly no gold.
    • Have your Wanted poster cartoon drawn at Splatoons.  $15 each and it will take 2 very impressive minutes, the kids loved.
    • Visit the ancient Butt Butt tree.  It was fully grown when Ned Kelly and his gang roamed the area and was used as a post tree before the mail service started.  Ask a local to point it out to you.
    • Visit local wineries or do a tasting in the local wine bar.  Award winning Giaconda comes from just around the corner and Pennyweight Winery is a short ride from the town on the rail trail.

    Get a map, look it up, and plan your holiday!

    All photographs by Eva Burgess

    playroom in progress

    More storage for the playroom has been on my to do list all year, finally with Christmas approaching I have made a start.   The original inspiration was for a long low cabinet that the tv could sit on (see the post here), but I realised this was never going to deliver enough storage.  
    The version below has a lot more storage, taller cabinets with a shelf on top creating space for display, books and instruments.   I think it will be far more practical.  We can still add another shelf or narrow cabinet above the shelf if we find we need even more space.
    Next step was to remove the old furniture.  The tv was in a lovely but very deep, impractical oriental cabinet (already gone below), and the old Ikea cabinet as you can see below was literally bursting at the seams.  Note to self, taking apart Ikea cabinets seems to take longer than putting them together.  
    Then it was off to Ikea for a very bulky shop: three Besta cabinets (128cm high) and a Besta tv cabinet with drawers and space for all the technology and cables.  
    An industrious weekend later and we are looking more organised already!
    Of course no DIY is ever accomplished without at least one mistake or set back.  This was the first time I have ever had trouble with Ikea, one of the cabinets was faulty and only went together after a LOT of pushing and pulling and many shavings with my Japanese handsaw.
    When that hurdle was finally over I attached the right hand cabinet to the wall, forgetting that we have a pocket door behind that wall.  Hmmm, the result the two neatly drilled holes in the door you can see below.  It could have been worse, I could have screwed it permanently open.

    So that's how it's looking right now.  Its been a busy week and I haven't managed to do much more.  I will keep you posted on our progress, can't wait to get it all done.

    Project 82

    In the search for a modular sofa I discovered Project 82, a great little store tucked away in Surry Hills packed full of wonderful things.  Try out the most comfortable sofa to date, the Lennon, browse through the Armadillo rug selection, the wall papers designed by Quercus & Co, interesting light fixtures, really good value wood framed modern mirrors, and tons of other little bits and pieces.  I love the styling and the sofa's are good value, and really really comfortable, see more about my modular sofa hunt here and here.
    A glimpse of the showroom with the goodies in store at the moment.  Tapestry wall paper on the back wall, see more examples of this wall paper by Quercus & Co below.

    flower delights by amy osaba

    Sharing some floral candy by Amy Osaba floral design today.  I love the loose arrangements that look as if they have been gathered straight out of the fields.  Their design epitomises the casual luxe aesthetic I am aiming for.

    Love these fresh colours, and ranunculas are always a favourite.  All these flowers are by Amy Osaba via: Style me Pretty (photographed by Rylee Hitchner above) & Amy Osaba (photos by Heidi Geldhauser) below.
     I am looking for Christmas table inspiration, I am planning a rustic wooden trough down the center with lots of greenery and pomegranates.  Very inspired by the amazing centrepiece below (photos by Heidi Geldhauser).  I found a great tutorial from the Amy Osaba team on how to create their look here, worth going to just to look at the pretty pictures. 
    Photo below from the same Parisian wedding, via Style me Pretty photographed by Rylee Hitchner.
    Love the fantasy of this washi tape flower wall, I wonder how long it would last.  Don't think I could really bear to let the gorgeous blooms die.  From a truly amazing shoot featured in Magnolia Rouge (photos by Ali Harper), well worth looking at the whole feature the images are so lovely. 
    Doesn't the day just feel better for looking at such gorgeous colours?  Imagine how lovely they would smell.  If you haven't had quite enough stop by the Amy Osaba website for more.