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6 Easy home updates to welcome in the New Year

By Natasa Marinkovic

Start 2017 off right with these quick decorating projects

With Christmas and the New Year celebrations rounding up, we look toward the new year and with it summer holidays. Hopefully you’ll be enjoying a well-earned break in the coming weeks, with long days filled with sunshine and good cheer. But if you’re ‘stuck’ at home these holidays, why not tackle a small project you’ve been meaning to get to all year? It will make you feel better, enhance your living space and once you start doing it, you might just discover you’re actually having fun. So usher in the New Year on a note of achievement with these simple DIY ideas.

Paint your front door

They say first impressions matter, and when it comes to where we live first impressions start at the front door. By giving your entry a fresh coat of paint, you can make an impact with a fresh and welcoming colour.

Before you leap into picking a shade, consider the style of your home. If it’s an older house, you could choose something similar to the traditional colour it would have been painted, or deviate completely from the norm. It can be fun to go bold, unless your house is more classical, in which case black or charcoal are always good (safe) options.

Michelle Walker Architects chose a bright and happy hue for this 1915 weatherboard cottage in Sydney’s beachside suburb of Manly. As the house is near the water, aqua was an ideal choice to reflect the surrounding environment.

More info: Need to replace your doors? Speak to a professional in your area

HOW-TO TIPS
1. Give the door a good sanding using an electric hand sander, but ensure you switch to manual sanding for any curvy architectural features.

2. Paint a generous coat of a 3-in-1 sealer/primer/undercoat, such as this one from Taubmans.

3. Finally roll on two coats of your chosen paint colour. Be sure to use an exterior paint, and if you live in a high traffic area (where road and brake dust are an issue), choose a gloss or semi-gloss finish for durability and aesthetics.

Restore an old piece of furniture

We all have a piece of furniture we can’t part with or have promised to restore ‘one day’, so now is your chance. Start with something simple like a bedside table or timber chair and graduate to dining tables or beds once you gain more confidence.

The console table in this hallway had been ‘ditched’ by my client, but after searching for a week for another table with the exact proportions, I decided to repurpose it. The orange-red scratched mango wood received three coats of Black Japan – a semi-transparent black timber stain – and new Art Deco-inspired hardware replaced original teardrop pulls. The owners couldn’t believe it was the same piece.

HOW-TO TIPS
1. Get yourself different grades of sanding paper and start by giving your piece a thorough sanding from rough to fine. Use a palm-sized sanding block for the corners and any curved features.

2. Dust off and wipe down with a soft rag and some methylated spirits, before moving on to staining or painting. Be sure to do a sample test of the colour on the back of one of the legs.

3. If you’re staining your piece, you can apply the stain with a brush or cloth working in circular motion, to ensure the wood grain absorbs the stain. If you’re painting, use a combination of a small roller for the smooth, flat areas and a brush for the trickier parts like the legs, corners and underside.

4. Let the first coat dry and apply another one or two if necessary, then seal it with a satin or gloss varnish to finish it off.

Hang a gallery

Some people like to collect all sorts of mismatched styles and unusual pieces, but as art is in the eye of the beholder, anything goes when it comes to your own collection. The beauty of gallery walls is that the prints don’t have to be expensive or rare or even the same genre, just meaningful and precious to you.

People often like to use photography or illustrations, posters, their children’s art or framed mementoes as part of their own galleries. The most important thing is to have frames or matts in a colour palette that unifies your gallery, but it can be interesting to choose different frames and sizes to mix and match. You may want to stick to black and white and repeat one other colour for consistency and aesthetic union, as David Boyle Architect has done in this eclectic living room in Marrickville.

More info: Find artwork for your home

HOW-TO TIPS
1. Decide on the pictures and frames that are going on your gallery wall. Don’t be afraid to mix in other pieces like mirrors, letters or signage to tell more of your personal story.

2. Measure the available space and mark this up on the floor to know the parameters you’re working with. Start with the largest piece and place the others around it. Work outwards from this and mix small and medium-sized frames together.

3. Using newspaper or butcher’s paper, cut pieces the size of each artwork and replicate the arrangement from the floor onto the wall.

4. Adjust the cut-outs on the wall until your display feels balanced. Then, and only then, start drilling into the wall where the paper cut-outs are placed, and hang your hooks. Replace the paper with the actual pictures and stand back to admire your new gallery wall. (You can also use double velcro tabs for smaller, lighter pictures.)

Create your own cushion covers

I am a huge fan of cushions and the difference they make to a sofa, bed or even a room. Cushions are a brilliant way to add colour to a space with minimal commitment – I know someone who swaps around her cushion covers in line with the seasons! To make your own, all you need is a sewing machine, some imagination and an afternoon at your disposal.

HOW-TO TIPS
1. Invest in some beautiful fabric. You will need approximately one metre (of standard width of 135 centimetres) for two 45 x 45 centimetre cushions.

2. Look at the direction of the pattern or print and decide which way you want this to go before cutting up the fabric.

3. Cut your fabric approximately five centimetres wider than the desired size. For example, for 45 centimetre-square cushions, your cut-outs will need to be about 50 x 50 centimetres. This allows for folding and a hideaway zipper.

4. If you’re unsure how to sew in the zipper, look it up online – there are plenty of DIY sites with detailed step-by-step information with pictures or videos.

5. To give your cushions a luxurious, soft, sink-in feel use feather inserts rather than polyester fillers.

More info: Browse popular contemporary living rooms on Houzz

Put together a pinboard

A pinboard is a neat and wonderful way to get clutter, important notes and sentimental memories off your desk. What’s more, visual ideas stuck on a well-placed pinboard are at eye level, where you can easily see and remember them. Pinboards are also easy to make and, much like a gallery wall, are an opportunity to weave a visual story of yourself. This makes them an ideal form of expression.

HOW-TO TIPS
1. Decide on the size of your pinboard and get a thin piece of MDF in those dimensions.

2. Glue a sheet of cork board to the MDF and cut to size.

3. Cover with fabric, folding the corners neatly and stapling the fabric around the back. Alternatively, you can paint the cork board in an accent colour that’s already in the room.

4. Embellish your board either by putting a frame around it or by pinning thin bands of tape on the diagonal at the crossover point, in a diamond-grid pattern.

Hang a hammock

If you have a deck, patio or a bit of a backyard, why not make the most of summer’s late sunsets and balmy nights by hanging a hammock outdoors? It’s a wonderful way to relax and unwind at the end of a long day, and if you place a stool or bench nearby, you’ll even have somewhere to rest a drink.

Hammocks can be hung from trees, anchored on concrete posts, stands or even from wooden wall and ceiling studs. You can use straps, wall hooks, a hammock stand or a combination of methods. Hanging your hammock is not difficult and comes down to three key steps:

1. Ensure you have sufficient height and hanging distance. You need approximately 3-5 metres of space to stretch out, and the length of the hammock needs to be less than the available distance.

2. Pick the most appropriate location.

3. Choose a hanging method.

In our fast-changing urban landscape, having trees in our backyard from which to hang a hammock can be a luxury. If space is at a premium, swap the hammock for a swing chair, as Jamie Durie has done in this outdoor oasis he created next to a bedroom. Swinging in an egg chair is just as enjoyable, and so much easier to get up from than a traditional hammock. Happy lounging!

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