The thrill of the find!

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure … I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am constantly amazed at what some people are selling and often at crazy prices!

As much as I love to wander around an antique shop looking for vintage treasures, when you are after a specific piece nothing beats searching an online marketplace for exactly what you want. You can search for the specific model number, colour, size, quantity or any other detail you require. Then you can narrow your search to find one near you, or in your price range, etc…
It couldn’t be easier to find what you want these days.

My favourite place to find myself a bargain is Gumtree. I have the app on my phone and am guilty of lying in bed and scrolling for hours looking for that elusive piece of Spode or perfect piece of rattan furniture.
Those of you that have followed me for a while might remember my amazing Xavier Cayman drawers that I nabbed a few years ago, or my cane outdoor swing that I picked up for a song more recently.

When Gumtree contacted me and offered to help me with the purchase of something for our home renovations I jumped at the chance.

I desperately needed new counter stools for my kitchen breakfast bar. My problem was due to the design of the island bench I had very specific dimensions to work with. The kitchen bench has an ‘apron’ running around the perimeter that hangs down 10cm from the 4cm marble bench top. Ultimately this ‘apron’ is limiting the leg space under the bench. A standard counter stool is about 65cm high, which only gave me 11cm to squeeze your legs underneath, unless your really skinny, this is just not enough.
So, I looked high and low and even though I found a few that might have worked they were all over $500 per stool and I needed 4. That was not in my budget!

I decided to hunt for some on Gumtree. There are over 2.5 million listings on Gumtree, I thought surely somebody had what I needed!
I wanted something that, if needed, could be cut down to the right height, so the design had to allow for that. I also wanted something that was made from wood because I love the warmth of timber, but also wanted to be able to paint them in the same white as the kitchen, or another colour if I changed my mind (which I often do). I also preferred something that was upholstered and could be slip covered because I have 3 kids and need to be able to wash them.
Oh, and lastly, I didn’t want to spend a fortune.
I know, big ask!

What I found after a couple of weeks hunting was 4 Ikea stools. I had considered buying these from Ikea when I started hunting, but they have a lighter wood finish than I would have liked, and they are currently only available with a white slipcover, really … white? In a kitchen with 3 grubby kids, I swear I would have to wash them everyday!

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But … for $60 per stool on Gumtree, I decided to get them, paint the legs and have new slipcovers made. They were in pretty good condition, but a couple of the slipcovers were stained and yukky, which was really unfortunate because they had a gorgeous blue and white ticking cover originally. I chucked them out and bought a new set from Ikea to get me by until I got a new set made.

I am completely chuffed with them, they fit my brief exactly and after a quick makeover they will give me a  completely customised look for an absolutely incredible price.

Here they are with the white covers, literally 2 days after I put them on they had tomato sauce and milo on them.

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I dyed them in my washing machine with a cheap and effective home dye kit, and for now the green is much more practical.

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I am planning a full makeover of these including pretty new blue covers and a new leg colour, I’m not sure whether I will paint them white or sand them back and stain them darker. Stay tuned and I’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime ….

I have been pretty successful with my Gumtree finds, I often get people telling me they never find anything and I’m so lucky. While I do think luck has a little bit to do with luck, there are also some tips that Gumtree suggests to help you find your perfect piece. I thought y’all might be interested in these and you know I’m a sharer, so here you go …

  1. Do your research: Dedicate time to researching what’s out there, what kind of style you’re looking for as well as the full retail price of similar items (so you can see the savings you can make by buying on Gumtree)
  2. Plan ahead: If you’re overhauling a whole room, or an entire house, make a list of all the key items you need and decide which ones you could save money on. Consider investing more in lounges and dining tables and save on home décor items like plants, throws and cushions
  3. Set your budget: If you’re on a tight budget, research the average price of similar items on Gumtree and set your budget accordingly
  4. Filter by price: If you do need to stick to a budget, Gumtree’s search results allow you to filter by price – so you’re not tempted buy any items out of your price range
  5. Save your searches: If you’re after a specific item or brand, say a Scandinavian style sofa or a certain make of wine fridge, the saved searches tool is ideal. Each time you save a specific keyword and location search, you’ll receive an email update whenever a matching item is listed. You can decide how frequently you want to be informed; either immediately, daily or weekly
  6. Expand your search region: If you can’t find the item you’re looking for in your immediate local area, try expanding your search to include a wider area. Instead of looking just in Newtown, search in Inner Sydney or Sydney region. You may have to travel to pick up an item, but by expanding your search region you’re sure to find even more gems
  7. Use your imagination: Sometimes it does take a little imagination to see an item’s full potential. There may be some signs of wear and tear on the outside, but with a touch up and a coat of paint, it could become a key piece in your home and you’ll forever be able to tell the tale of how you lovingly restored it
  8. Ask questions: While most sellers will include key information, don’t be afraid to contact the seller to ask questions. It’s always worth asking about the condition of the item, why it’s for sale, the dimensions and if there are any receipts or warranties available. It’s easy to contact a seller via the Gumtree My Messages feature.
  9. Negotiate: Don’t be afraid to negotiate a price you think is fair but don’t go too low – nobody likes an unrealistic offer!
  10. Meet in person: We always encourage you to meet face-to-face with the seller so you can inspect the item, with an in-person payment made once the goods have been seen. We have some lovely Gumtree sellers who have plenty of stories to tell you about the item you’re buying. You never know which piece of history you might find on Gumtree.

Ok, now you’re armed with all the tips and tricks, go and find yourself a bargain and don’t forget to tag me on FB or IG so I can marvel at your find!
You can shop here or download the app here for Apple or here for Google Play.

Happy Shopping!

Hayley x

My bedside tables makeover.

I had a dirty little secret in my bedroom … a set of stained bedside tables that I tried to crop out of nearly every photo I took.  Don’t get me wrong, I love timber pieces of furniture, but these were those indonesian style ones, with the orange/red dark stain. While they might work if you have that kind of decor, it was not the look I was going for. The thing is, they were the perfect size for my bedroom, which was quite a mission considering I have this strange nib wall that only allows me 75cm each side for the bedsides, and I also have a really high bed, so I need something rather high. I found them on Gumtree when we first moved in and had intended on painting them, then life happened and I never got there.

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Then, I got absolutely sick of looking at them and thought I’d try the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I see this paint popping up everywhere, everyone raves about it and I’ve seen so many amazing transformation photos.
So, I thought it was my turn for an amazing transformation.

Firstly, I am no stranger to painting furniture, I have painted heaps of things over the years, some of you might remember the huge 4 posted bed I painted pale blue a few years ago, but I had never used the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
Let me tell you, now I understand what all the fuss is about.

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You don’t need to sand or undercoat first, actually there really isn’t any prep work, just a quick dust off and wipe down. Then you can get straight into the fun part. The paint goes on smooth with great coverage. I only needed 2 coats to cover this horrid red stain! It dries super fast which allows you to complete your project in one day. You can achieve a range of different finishes such as a rustic ‘chippy’ look, a two colour distressed finish, a vintage look or a modern, smooth finish. I went with the simple vintage look.

I applied the Annie Sloan Soft Wax over the top to protect it, which was easily applied with a clean cloth.

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I chose white because let’s be honest, I wasn’t brave enough to do a colour, but trust me, this won’t be the last piece getting the Chalk Paint treatment in my house. Next time I’m going to be a little braver and use a fun colour.

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Secondly, take my advice, if you have been waiting to paint something in your home and keep putting it off because it all sounds too hard … don’t! Grab yourself some Chalk Paint and do it, you’ll be so pleased with yourself.

You can find your nearest Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stockist here.

Happy Painting!

Hayley x

* In the interests of full disclosure, I’d like to inform you that Annie Sloan gifted me my paint supplies to complete this project. I was not paid for this blog post, and all opinions are my own.

Karen Andersen – Art that makes you smile.

When a piece of art literally makes you smile every time you look at it you know you’re onto a good thing.

I have been searching high and low for beautiful art to fill my house recently, my wish list is big but unfortunately my budget is not. Even spending a few hundred dollars on a piece of art can be a big decision, but it can also be an investment. Choosing to buy an original painting from an up and coming local artist can be a very smart move, and definitely a choice I wish I had made many times over. I have wanted to buy pieces from artists at the beginning of their career in the past, I have taken far too long to actually buy it and then their prices double, triple and quadruple due to their high demand.

Moral of my story, If you see a pice of art that makes you smile and it’s within your reach, grab it!

Which brings me to the gorgeous new painting hanging in my home. It is from a local abstract artist who is fairly new to painting and is starting to be recognised by her peers as somebody to watch. She recently won second place with her ‘Coral Sea Garden’ painting in the Hidden Wonders Art Exhibition at the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery.

Karen working in her studio on the Fraser Coast.
Karen working in her studio on the Fraser Coast.

You know I’m a big sharer, ok, maybe an over sharer, but I thought you might appreciate learning a little bit more about Karen and her art.

 Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a fine artist, working with acrylic paint and pastels to create lively, brightly-coloured abstract paintings. I am 41 years old and I live with my partner David and two teenage children (my son is 15 and my daughter is 13) on the Fraser Coast in southeast Queensland, 3 hours north of Brisbane. We own a 1960’s era four bedroom Queenslander that we are in the process of renovating (HUGE job!) and I love to fill it with vividly coloured homewares and art. I feel very lucky to have my art studio in our home too – it really is my happy place, filled with light, art and glorious colour, where I can create until my heart’s content whenever inspiration strikes.

What age did you start painting?

I have always painted and drawn. Art-making was an integral part of my childhood and was my most favourite activity (apart from playing with my Barbies and going to the beach). It wasn’t until high school though, around the age of 12 or 13, that I became absolutely and totally besotted with art. I loved the work of Ken Done, Picasso, Matisse, the Post-Impressionists, and the artists of the Fauvist Period for their use of colour. I would spend hours studying their styles and composing my own (mainly abstract) paintings at home. Creating abstract art was never encouraged at high school by the time I progressed into Year 11 and 12, and though I loved to draw in realism, I could never shake the discontent I felt at having to paint objects and scenes for assessments that were completely uninspiring to me.

Disillusioned at the thought of spending 3 years at university doing the same if I was to go on to do a degree in Fine Art, and choosing to focus on a less risky career option (in biological science), I pushed any thought of having a career as an artist to the furthest reaches of my mind. I busied myself with life and put my art on the back-burner, drawing and painting here and there throughout adulthood, but depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem saw that I never let myself entertain the thought that I could be a professional artist. It wasn’t until October 2016, at the age of 40, that I finally allowed myself to chase my artistic dreams. I began painting every day and the rest, as they say, is history.

Out of the Darkness | Karen M Andersen
Out of the Darkness, Into the Light | Karen M Andersen

Were you surrounded by art growing up? Does anybody in your family paint?

No one else in my family painted when I was growing up, but I was instead surrounded by very creative family members. My maternal grandmother was an extremely talented dressmaker by trade while my paternal grandmother was a champion cake decorator, baker and farmer who loved crafting with fabric and yarn. My dad is a carpenter and builder, very perfectionistic in his work. My mum has been crafting since before I was born – she sews clothing, quilts, accessories for her home and soft toys; she also crochets, knits, and enjoys scrapbooking and card-making. Mum has dabbled in many other crafts over the last 40 years and recently she has taken up art journaling and painting. She and I tend to heavily influence each other’s creativity and enjoy crafting together as adults, so I am not surprised that she has developed a fondness for art of late.

Anyway, I digress. I spent an inordinate amount of time watching my grandmothers, my mum, and my dad creating as I grew up. Everything about the process each of them followed in order to make something with their own hands was absolutely fascinating to me. I was encouraged to join in too and would often complete little projects with them. There is no doubt in my mind that growing up in such a creative family has been pivotal to me developing such a passion for creating too, and I dabble in a few different crafts myself as an adult, but I do believe that my overwhelming passion for art has arisen primarily as a result of my lifelong obsession with colour.

What inspires you to paint?

The great Impressionist painter Claude Monet is quoted as saying, “Colour is my day-long obsession, joy, and torment”. That is precisely how I feel about colour too. As a child, even when I was as young as 2 or 3 years old, I remember feeling obsessed with the colours in my books, on TV, in the environment around me. One of my most favourite things to do was to lay all of my pencils or crayons out in rainbow order. I adored rainbows – seeing them, creating them, and wearing rainbow-coloured clothes. There was something about looking at groupings of bright colours, observing the way that they played against each other, that always made me feel happy and alive. I still feel exactly the same about colour today. It features heavily in my art, my home, and my wardrobe. I live colour, I dream it. It is such a source of happiness for me. Colour is also a torment however as I can never get enough of it – I am always looking for that ideal new colour combination to use in my paintings, that perfect way to lay colours next to each other on a canvas. Colour is certainly the primary inspiration behind my work and the search for new ways of representing it in my art will forever push me to create fresh paintings.

I am also heavily inspired by living in Queensland…our climate, our lifestyle, and our seemingly endless Summers. Being at the beach, watching the sea, walking in the waves as they lap the shore…it feels like home to me. I feel blessed to have the picturesque beaches of Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, Rainbow Beach, and Noosa North Shore so close to home and I visit all often with my family. I have always loved to be either on or in the water, so our coastal waterways and river systems are very inspiring to me too. Our natural environment is a huge influence on my work – our eucalypt bushlands, rainforests, coastal and marine ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef, and all of their inhabitants – encouraged by conversations with my Dad (a nature lover) and university studies in biological science. It is my feelings about all of these elements that I endeavour to express my through my abstract paintings, through the use of colour and mark-making.

Whitsundays
Whitsundays | Karen M Andersen

Your love of colour is evident in your art. Do you start a painting with a colour palette in mind or do you see where the art takes you?

Yes, colour most definitely informs the decisions behind how I start my paintings. I always begin each painting by choosing a colour palette that represents either the inspiration in general or how I feel about it. For example, recently I painted a piece about how I feel about being on Seventy-Five Mile Beach on Fraser Island, about what it feels like to stand and watch the waves splash and tumble, so I chose a palette heavy in blue, aqua, and turquoise, accompanied by drips and splashes of white. I also recently made a painting about my love of the Great Barrier Reef which features a palette of rich vibrant colours, bathed in an ultramarine background. My favourite technique is to use bold colours against more sorbet or pastel tones for maximum contrast and impact. Colour is always the element which is foremost in my mind when I am planning and constructing a painting and is essential in conveying my feelings about the painting’s inspiration.

Your paintings make me smile. It must feel great to know your art has such a positive effect on people’s emotions?

Awww, thank you so much Hayley – it’s lovely to hear that my work has such a wonderful effect on you! That is what I aim for in creating my paintings – for people to feel happy when they look at them. Knowing people love what I create certainly forms part of the reason why feel so compelled to do what I do. My work always comes from a place of absolute joy and from a deep passion for art-making, for colour, and for the things which inspire me. I endeavour to communicate those feelings through my work, so when someone tells me that they love my paintings or that they make them smile or feel happy, I always feel unbelieveably excited, proud and content.

Estuary
Estuary | Karen M Andersen

Do you have a favourite artist?

Oh yes! Iconic Australian artist Ken Done is my absolute favourite artist. I first saw his work at the World Exhibition (Expo88) in Brisbane in 1988 at the age of 12. I remember standing in front of those huge letters that he painted that spelled the word “AUSTRALIA” feeling in absolute awe of such a marvellous creation. I couldn’t believe that I had found someone else who very obviously felt the same way about colour and pattern as I did! I’ve followed his work ever since, with my favourite pieces of his being his beach and reef-themed works. In October 2016 I had the opportunity to see his work in person, to meet him, to seek some advice fom him, and to take an art class with him as part of his exhibition of reef paintings at the Rockhampton Art Gallery. The collective experiences around the Ken Done exhibition last year became a turning point in my life and formed the catalyst behind my decision to finally chase the dream I had held deep inside since I was a teenager – to be a professional artist.

Where would you like your art to take you?

I have so many artistic goals I want to fulfil! I would dearly love to have a solo exhibition of my work one day. I can just imagine how it would feel to walk into a gallery and see all of my work hanging on the walls! I would also like to use my art somehow to increase public awareness and decrease the stigma that exists around mental illness. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, and I know many other people and artists who suffer mental illness, so this is a cause that is very important to me. Like many other artists, ultimately I would love to be able to make a good living from my art eventually. In the short term though, my goals are to keep exploring and experimenting with art-making, to keep producing new work, and to continue sharing it in exhibitions and online. I’m very excited to see what lies ahead for my art!

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I think when you get to know the person behind the painting you can understand where the colours, passion and mood comes from. I feel connected in a way that I wouldn’t if I didn’t know anything about the artist.
This is my painting titled ‘Coastal” in it’s new home, on the wall between my dining room and bar. I hung it where it will be seen everyday and make me smile.

Coastal in my home.
Coastal in my home.

Pop over to Karen’s website HERE and see if her paintings make you smile too.
If they do, grab one for yourself, you won’t regret it!

Oooooohhhh and just because you’re all so fabulous and Karen and I want to spread the smiles …
Karen is offering all my readers 10% off until the 25th May with the code MUMLITTLE10.
Be quick, they are all original pieces and once they are gone they are GONE!

Happy Shopping!

Hayley x

How to Outlet Shop Like a Pro

It’s no secret … I LOVE SHOPPING!
I can’t tell you how many times people ask me where I bought things, tell me I find ‘the best things’ and then nearly fall over when I tell them how much I paid for it. It’s often followed by nudges from husbands saying ‘you have to go shopping with her‘ and gasps from the girls saying ‘I have to come shopping with you!‘.

So, I thought I’d let you in on a little secret – I have an Outlet Mall 15 mins from my house, I shop there far more than I am willing to admit to my husband, but I really do get some great buys.
There are some tricks to outlet shopping though and I thought I’d share this great article with you to give you all the pro tips. I found it really useful and I hope you do too, because you know all I’m about sharing the good stuff!

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Harbour Town … just down the road 🙂

How to Outlet Shop like a Pro

Do you ever wonder how some women manage to look amazing, stay on trend, but not break the bank? Well, their secret is out as we unveil the tricks of the trade to become a seasoned Outlet shopper!

With trends changing every season, Outlet shopping lets you indulge your inner-fashionista without spending a fortune. Outlet hubs like Australia’s largest Outlet Shopping Centre, Harbour Town on the Gold Coast, offer up to 70% off the recommended retail price, attracting shoppers of all styles with their unique mix of popular international and iconic Australian brands at unbeatable prices every day.

The changing face of retail has seen a host of big-name brands join the Outlet revolution sweeping the country including the likes of Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Furla, Victoria’s Secret, Calvin Klein, Coach and more.

There has never been a better time to update your wardrobe while still keeping your hip pocket happy. Harbour Town’s Marketing Manager, Rebecca Stevenson, gives us her top five tips to shop like an Outlet pro:

  1. Think Ahead, But Don’t Make A List!

Some days, your shopping stars align and you find exactly what you are looking for at an incredible Outlet price. Other days, you may not find the items on your list, but if you’re shopping with an open mind you could find something even better! When you hit the Outlet malls be prepared to comprise and be “fashion-forward” in your thinking. You may not need that beautiful dress on sale at 60% off today, but wedding season is just a few months away and Harbour Town’s Outlet prices make it worth investing in the piece now! If you come with a strict list, you may walk away empty-handed…but if you embrace the thrill of the Outlet find your wardrobe and wallet will come out ahead!

  1. Invest (Guilt-Free) In A Statement Handbag

In most cases of fashion and life, a statement handbag is all you need to lift your spirits and your outfit. Conveniently, the key to a statement handbag often lies in the quality and you don’t have to break the bank when you can buy premium brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, Kate Spade, Furla, Oroton and Mimco at Outlet prices. Most of these brands specialise in a specific style handbag, and while the colours may change ever so slightly each season, you can still buy a classically designed purse, tote, pouch, clutch or shoulder bag at a fraction of the price. It may cost you a little more than other brands, but if you’re wise in your selection you’ll find yourself taking your investment with you everywhere you go, and the extra dollars spent on quality craftsmanship will have been worth it.

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  1. Take A Friend A Make A Day Of It

Even back in the caveman days, the hunters and gatherers worked better in tribes…the same could be said for Outlet shopping. Two sets of eyes and two sets of hands will come in handy as you’re trawling through the racks for discounted delights. Also, a second opinion from an honest friend can really make or break a purchase, so take a friend who can offer a third-party view of your Outfit finds from every angle. You don’t want to miss out on anything either and shopping with a friend makes it easier to go the distance as you are more likely to enjoy a full day of strolling the malls when it’s a social affair. You can always schedule stops to refuel with lunch and coffee breaks throughout the day too!

  1. Try On Everything

Every Outlet pro knows the golden rule of all shopping is to try it all on – EVERYTHING! Particularly in an Outlet setting where you may be overwhelmed and a little frazzled by the countless options available and all of the enticing prices! This is the time to take a deep breath, check the fit closely, make sure the colour suits you and that you feel comfortable in the item. The Outlet prices usually help seal the deal!

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  1. Shop Weekdays

If you really want to get serious, schedule some time to go shopping on a weekday. You will avoid the crowds, there will be less competition and the queue for a coffee will be shorter. Remember, new stock is delivered to stores every week, so if you are really committed, a number of trips will help you find the Outlet buy of your dreams.

With these five tips on how to shop Outlet like a pro, you will find yourself looking your best and feeling even better because you managed to save a few bucks too. There’s no need to pay retail when Outlet centres such as Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre on the Gold Coast are on sale every day – because full price is so last season!

So, what have I nabbed lately?
Completely random purchase by me, but I saw this sweet little dress for my fur baby and just had to have it, doesn’t she look sweet!

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Other things that I recently bought from the outlets are Calvin Klein underwear for my girls, apparently they #NEED Calvin Klein. They are lucky it was 40% off or their #need would have become a #want and #neverhappening !!!

OK, So now you are armed with all the best tips I want to see your shopping purchases, make sure you leave a message, e-mail me or tag me on social media!

Happy Shopping!

Hayley x

  • Article written by Connor Wallace and published with permission.