gas fireplace vs wood fireplace

There is nothing better than sitting by the fire on a cold wintery day or night.
Now I am a fan of the wood fire, I don't particularly like anything faux, but I recently came across the Pure Vision from Real Flame and it got me thinking about a more modern shaped range.  I am thinking that one of these gas fireplaces finished something like the images below could be the answer for my living room.  

Reasons to put in a gas fireplace:
  • Instant gratification, turns on with the flick of a switch
  • No wood, no mess
  • Cheaper to install 
  • You don't need a fire surround and can install over a wooden floor
  • Not allowed to have wood fires in some suburbs
Why I still love a wood fire:
  • That gorgeous smell of wood fire
  • The crackle of wood burning

Style notes:
Both fireplaces are: low to the ground, have a strong textural feature, and the top of the fireplace is low too.  The barnwood fireplace, by Giorgio Possenti, at top is my favourite, I just love how the wood has been set in a modern pattern.
I also like the glass panels at the edges of fire in the second image, very similar to the Pure Vision from Real Flame.  The finish is polished black concrete but would be gorgeous in metal too.

I also like these double fronted fireplaces on the side of the chimney wall, they would work with the Double Vision from Real Flame
Above: amazing loft (photographer unknown)  
Below: plywood fireplace by Paul de Ruiter Architects, photographed by Tim van de Velde,

This may just be the year of the gas fireplace for our home.  This post was sponsored by Real Flame but all comments and opinions are, as usual, my own.

the trouble with vignettes

Spent a very frustrating morning trying to style and photograph vignettes in Miss J's bedroom.  
What looks pretty to the eye doesn't always work on camera I am discovering, I need more practice.  Went out in  huff, but had a lovely reviving visit with my cousins new little baby girl.  How inspiring new life is.  
In the end I liked this one of my coffee table , so I think I will leave it there for the day.

Have a lovely week...
And if you have been having a frustrating day, take a deep breath, go for a walk, and let it all go.

Stag tea light,  Geometric gold,  Lsa International silver,  Platinum tea light,  Marakkech tea light tray        

top read, tween & tiny...with a green thumb twist

I come from a family of gardeners and I love that all of my family are inspired by the beauty of growing things, in our garden and in the world.  So its no surprise that these books hit the right note with all of us.

{Mr Owita's Guide to Gardening - Carol Wall}
I loved this book, an inspiring story of how we can choose how to live our lives, no matter what life throws at us.  We can choose to be kinder, better people, and wouldn't the world be a better place if we all did.  Based on a real story and told with great honesty, moving and memorable.

{The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett}
An oldie but a goodie, a favourite from my childhood.  Another story of a friendship blossoming with a green thumb.  In fact a similar journey discovering the joy of gardening and the secret to having an open heart, just as in Mr Owita's sub title.

{Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne}
Miss J is obsessed with going on woozle hunts and visiting the 100 Acre Wood, so I thought this fit in here too.  Its lovely to see these old stories and characters magically come alive to a new generation.

why the kitchen is the heart of my home... making open plan work

The best thing about designing a new home is you get to make the living spaces suit you exactly.
We always knew the kitchen would be the heart of our home, we love cooking and being able to prepare and eat meals as a family. 

My favourite thing about the design is that from the kitchen bench I can see the pool and garden, across the main living areas and right across the central courtyard to the playroom.  
Whether I am cooking or reading a magazine at the counter, I can keep an eye on the kids, whatever they are up to, which means I can keep going and get things done while they play.

Having such an open plan design comes with challenges too.  You need to be able to do the cooking in the kitchen but hide the storage and washing up.  Want to know how to do it?
Here are my top tips for planning a successful open plan concept that you will love as much as I love mine.
This post is brought to you by Creative Design Kitchens: designing, creating and installing dream kitchens in Sydney for over 18 years, but as usual all opinions are my own.

The butlers pantry:
How is this different from the walk in pantry?  This room contains double sinks, ample counter space for washing up and stacking dirty pots and pans, and the dishwasher.  This is a cleaning utility area rather than a food storage or prep area.
Many people thought it was a crazy waste of space, now they all want one too, and its becoming a must have in any well designed home.  
It totally allows you to enjoy cooking and then shut the washing up away until you want to deal with it.  Out if sight out of mind as the saying goes.  Our space can be shut totally out of sight with space saving pocket doors.

A walk in pantry:
This pantry is for storing food.  Our pantry has two side: fridge, freezer and microwave on one side, open shelves for groceries, and a coffee counter on the other.  
The fridges are close enough to the kitchen for easy access, but hidden from sight.  Not only does it not affect the look of the kitchen, but you are not tied to a specific cabinet spaces for your large appliances, future proofing for unforeseen appliance changes.

A separate coffee prep counter:
Kettles, toasters and coffee machines are a necessity in most kitchens, but they sure do clutter up your surfaces.  All of these items are on a counter in our butlers pantry, out of sight from the living area, but opposite the fridge.  Never having to tidy these appliances away is one of my favourite ways the kitchen works for us.

Extra long and wide counters:
There has to be space for at least two people to cook, and place for people to sit and keep the cooks company.  Our center counter is 3m long and 90cm wide, and if we had the space I would have made it both longer and wider.

A powerful and quiet extractor:
Especially important where the kitchen opens onto your entertaining area.  Extractors come in a multitude of shapes and finishes, but whatever you choose make sure that your fan is not to noisy when it works.  You don't want to drown out conversation.

Prep bowl - don't put it in the center counter:
You don't want to be walking to the butlers pantry every time you need water for a pot or you want to wash your vegetables.  A prep bowl is a must but don't put it in the center counter!   Ignore those spotless show kitchens where its done this way because:  they tend to splash as you rinse which is bad news for kids doing the homework or your guests sitting at the counter,  it detracts from your gorgeous and expensive counter top, you don't want to set up a buffet meal right next to the sink.   Keep your center counter clear!!

Our prep bowl in near the stove on the back counter, handy for filling pots about to go on the stove, or refilling the kettle.  It's absolutely the right place for it.

Storage, storage and more storage:
A place for everything and everything in its place.  Yes to more drawers for everything from pots and pans, to coffee cups and spices, no to open shelves unless you have gorgeous collections to put on display, and are very tidy.  This goes for all kitchens, not just open plan ones.  

I have open shelves in the butlers pantry for storage of platters, baskets, books and vases (see left in both photo's).  I do keep them tidy but can also have pocket doors that shut that area off from the kitchen, just in case we don't want them on display.

For us open plan is fantastic, the kitchen is truly the heart of our home, with space for all of us to be together but doing different things.  We love it.
Let me know if you have a hot tip to add to this list.  

This post was written for Creative Design Kitchens, but all opinions are, as usual, my own.

    Geometry lesson

    Some pretty things...  I am still loving the geometric shapes and colour blocking that's happening in home wares.  Spotted the white version of these candles on The Block the other night, but I really love the gold version.  And the laundry baskets from Ferm are perfection.  

    So pretty, find them below from top left:
    Anthropologie rug,  Chloe Love Perfume,   Country Road Arco candle gold,  Anthropologie Square lamp,  Anthropologie Vase lamp,   Country Road Arco candle black,  Dash and Albert round rug,   Country Road paper weight,  Ferm Living laundry basket (large), Ferm Living laundry basket (small)

    Have a lovely weekend!

    Flower unusual combination

    I was given this gorgeous bunch of flowers for my birthday, it was such an unexpected combination I just had to share.  Who knew that a king protea, eucalyptus and flowering gum would go so beautifully together.  

    The silver and the dark living room wall really sets them off too, and picks up the green and grays in the painting, a very happy coincidence.

    From left: eucalyptus, king protea, red flowering gum.

    black rooster decor... mid century lights and gold accents

    I am always looking for interesting light fixtures, I really believe they lift a room to a new level.  
    So I am very excited to share a new online discovery with you.  Black Rooster Decor is an online decor store with a carefully curated selection of furniture, and their lighting is fantastic.
    Good pricing and international shipping too, put this store on your browsing list!!

    Clockwise from top left: Multi-brass pendant, Gold leather pencil case, Snow Marble table lamp, Crackled Gold Stool, Brass double shade floor lamp,  Gold/Leather rug 

    I am thinking about the semi-flush mount pendant for our entrance way.  A modern interpretation of the Sciolari lights that I obsess about but cannot either find or afford.

    playroom Ikea hack

    This is a long overdue update of the playroom storage that we started last year.  We finally decided on a storage combination of Besta cupboards from Ikea, creating lots of easy to reach storage, a place for the TV, topped with a broad display shelf to use as an easy to change gallery.

    To hide the sides and tops of the Besta carcasses we created a three sided box for the TV area, and ran the top piece right across all the units.  We used a good quality plyboard which has a lovely layered edge detail, with all the cabinets in high gloss white it needed a bit of detail to lift the whole design.  Very pleased with the result, nobody would guess its a mostly Ikea installation.  

    This is what it looked like before and during - a hot mess

    Musical instruments finally have a place off the floor, safe but easy to reach.
    There is plenty of storage, although we do seem to have filled it all already.  

    We may add shelves for books or display, even a few more cabinets, above the display for shelf.
    For now I am loving using it for display.

    To make your own:
    We used Besta 128cm high units and a 120cm wide Besta TV unit as the base.  They are easy to install and reasonable on the pocket, and just the right depth for storage, books and the TV.  All cabinets cost around $700.

    Once they were installed we made the 3 sided plywood box the TV sits in.  The sides were joined using my fabulous Kreg Jig, with the holes on the outside of the uprights.  All joins are neatly hidden from view.

    Attaching the top shelf was trickier because of the weight and length of the piece.  We ended up placing the 3 sided box on the TV unit and pulling it away from the wall.  Then we positioned the top shelf on the box using the cabinets as a support, see below.  You can see the Kreg predrilled holes facing on the outside of the box.
    The sides were then attached to the top with the Kreg, working from the back to the front, and sliding the TV stand back into position as we worked.  I do love my Kreg!

    This is our second Ikea hack, see our entrance cupboard here, such fun to do and so satisfying.
    We will never be afraid to build our own built in furniture again, I highly recommend you have a go too.

    fire pit inspiration

    The nights are getting slightly cooler, we are grateful after a very long and very hot summer.
    Once again I am thinking how lovely a fire pit would be in our courtyard, toasting marshmallows and perhaps watching an outdoor movie.  Love these images...
    Fire pit by Life Space Journey
    Courtyard with fire pit in the home of John Rocha, photographed by Richard Powers, via SnOOp