Dining Room – before & after

Hello lovely friends!

Firstly, before I show you what we did in the dining room, which really wasn’t much at all, I want to answer a question a few of you asked after my ‘winter room’ reveal. Lots of you were surprised that my sofa is from ikea and that I buy things from Facebook marketplace. I had lots of comments from you guys wondering how I ‘make it look fancy’ and why my house doesn’t look like a flea market when so many of my pieces are second hand or from budget friendly stores.

I definitely believe there are places you can save money and places where you need to spend a little more, but that doesn’t mean that it has to cost a fortune, you’ve just got to be smart and know where to spend and where to splurge.

I have young kids and pets, we don’t have adults only zones and our home is pretty relaxed, I don’t like to spend a lot of money of sofas because I know they are going to get jumped on, have food spilt on them and who knows what else! I look for an affordable option with covers that can be removed and machine washed.


Where do I splurge?
I’m happy to spend money on quality house fixtures like taps, hardware, lighting and custom made window treatments. These are things that you don’t want to get wrong. They form the foundation for all the layers of furniture and home decor. If you get them wrong nothing will flow harmoniously.

Lets talk about window treatments today as that is what has made a huge impact in my dining room make-over.

My dining room has grey tinted glass and lots of it, the grey glass reflects a dark hue throughout the dining room. I wanted to use white sheers to change that to a bright, white light radiating in the room.

There is 2 glass doors and one window in this space, they are all different heights and widths, I’ll tell you more about this later, but their varying sizes made it impossible to get a cohesive look without having them custom made.

This is where you splurge.
When I say splurge it doesn’t actually mean you need to spend a lot of money. There are ways to get custom made, professionally finished curtains, crafted from quality materials at a fraction of the price you would pay an Interior Decorator. It just means you need to measure them and hang them yourself.
I talked about choosing your window treatments here and installing them here.
It really is very easy, promise!


Back to my dining room sheer curtains, you’d think choosing would be pretty easy, right?

I went to Blinds Online to order my sheer curtains and discovered there were quite a few to choose from. I decided to order samples just to make sure I got exactly what I wanted. You can order up to 10 samples free of charge!

I have a little trick that I use to help me choose my sheer curtain fabric. I sticky tape all my samples to the window where the curtains are going and observe them in different lighting. It’s the best way to see how your curtain fabric will look in the room and against the window.


I chose TAHITI VOILE SNOW with a Pinch Pleat head and centre parting panels.

There wasn’t much to do in the dining room. It is in an open living area with the ‘winter room’, the two rooms are separated by one of the bench seats that we did while we were doing that living space. The living space is ‘sunken’, 2 steps lower than the dining room. I love how cosy it feels in there.

The only real change we made to the room was to refresh the paint, add pendant lights and curtains.

We patched all the holes in ceiling and the walls, my husband started out in the building industry as a plasterer, it’s very handy! Then we gave everything a fresh coat of paint.

I chose two oversized rattan pendants, they have a beautiful aged patina and even though I thought they were going to be too big when they arrived, once we got them up they looked perfect.


The real hero in this room is the new curtains, they’ve made a huge impact and they make the room so bright and light. They way they dance in the breeze is dreamy, it’s like something from a beautiful movie. It’s worth putting sheer curtains in your house just to get your movie moment.


 There are three windows/sliding doors in this area, two are in the actual dining room and one is on the adjoining wall. They can all be seen at the same time from multiple views, but they are different heights which is not pleasing to the eye and disrupts the harmony. Both the sliding doors also lead out to a central courtyard area which I am planning on making into a seating area, so I thought it was important to make them feel cohesive.

I decided to hang them all at the height of the highest door which was just under the cornice, and to be honest I probably would have chosen to hang them there regardless because the added height makes the windows feel larger.



It’s important to measure all your windows, don’t just assume they are all the same height. I thought my ceiling to floor measurements was the same throughout this area, but there’s a 15mm difference from one side of the room to the other. This is very common, especially in older homes, so check your measurements.


I chose the same curtain rods I used in the living room, firstly for continuity and secondly because I like being able to pull the curtains completely to one side or the other of the rod without a centre support interrupting them. The rod system is simple and unobtrusive which lets the curtains steal all the attention.


As for the furniture in this space, there’s a mixture of old and new. I’ve had the chairs for about 10 years, they are a classic French Provincial design, they’ve been moved to and from 4 houses, they’ve been tipped over by kids, they’ve been broken and repaired … but I still love them.


I bought the table 3 houses ago, again it’s a timeless design, very simple in a warm timber with a parquetry top. It’s a long table at 270cm, almost impossible to find tablecloths, but I like that I can fit 4 chairs each side. I love a beautiful carver chair at the end of a table, but sometimes I don’t want to block the view down the table to what’s at the other end. This is one of those times …

I bought the huge cabinet especially for this room. I wanted somewhere special to display all my collected and sentimental china and all the shelves and glass doors in this cabinet was perfect. The cabinet gives me the ability to add personality to an otherwise very simple room.


Eventually we will remove the carpet from this room and do either timber or stone floors. I personally don’t like carpet in dining rooms, especially when you have kids, they are feral creatures and spaghetti bolognese doesn’t mix well with wool carpet! The floors are always the last thing we do in a house, we’ve learnt from experience that flooring can get damaged during a renovation and it’s best to leave it till last unless you need to do it due to a change in floor plan.

Thats about it in this space, lets have a quick look at the before and after to see what a huge difference a few small changes can make.

Before we moved in.
During, progress.
Before we moved in and AFTER
Before we moved in.

As always, I’m happy to answer questions, e-mail me or find me on IG anytime.

What do you think?

Happy Decorating!

Hayley x

My Kitchen reveal … finally!

I know, I know, this is the world’s longest kitchen renovation and I have had so many e-mails asking where I bought things, why I chose certain products and how I planned all the details.
Hopefully I can answer all your questions in the next couple of posts.

Firstly, let’s have a look at the kitchen before


Kitchen, I can't wait to re-do the kitchen!

These are the real estate photo’s from when we bought the house, trust me those photographer’s know how to make it look good, It doesn’t look too bad in these photos.
In reality it was very small, so small in fact we couldn’t get our fridge into the kitchen through the opening between the wall and edge of the bench where the (stripper) pole is. The boys had to lift the fridge up and over the bench top to get it in.
The colour was actually quite yellow, especially the bench tops, I’m not sure what type of stone they were but the colour was a light shade of baby poo yellow, ew!
To use the oven I had to open all 6 drawers to the sides of the oven otherwise it would overheat and turn itself off. The microwave turntable would just start turning randomly all by itself. The dishwasher left the dishes dirtier than when we put them in. And the garbage disposal wouldn’t drain so if by accident any water went down that side of the sink we would have to ladle it out.
Yes, that’s what I lived with for a year, so the prospect of a new kitchen had me giddy.

The planning began …

I spent way too many hours on Pinterest pinning pictures of my dream kitchens, looking at every detail from the layout, to the cupboard profile, to the tap style. Unfortunately I could never achieve the layout I wanted in the space I had to work with, so I made sure that I got all the other details right.
When I looked at all the kitchen pictures I pinned I noticed a very consistent style and even though I wanted to be brave and go for something colourful and different, I knew I would be happy for years to come if I stayed true to the style I have loved for ever … white cupboards, Carrara marble and nickel hardware. I also knew I could add pops of colour with my accessories and change it up as my mood changes (often).

That was the easy part, the hardest part of this kitchen was the layout. Renovating is so much harder that building, you have to work within the boundaries that are already set and find ways to make a space feel bigger without actually gaining any floorspace.

We decided to rip out as much of the kitchen as we could before we’d even planned the new one. We knew it would make a big mess and mean we would be without a kitchen for much longer than needed, but we wanted to see how much space we could reclaim and needed to see what was in the ceiling in the way of structural supports.


I had a little bit of extra room available under the stairs, you can see the door to the space above, unfortunately it wasn’t high enough to be opened right up, but I was able to make an opening big enough to push the refrigerator right back in there. I also had a little area that was previously being used as a small desk area, above to the left of the kitchen, while it wasn’t very big, it was the perfect size to squeeze in a small walk-in pantry. By claiming those two small spaces that were previously not part of the kitchen I gained much needed floorspace and made enough room for an island bench which I really wanted.

The walk-in pantry and fridge in the reclaimed space under the stairs.
The walk-in pantry and fridge in the reclaimed space under the stairs.

I knew that the kitchen layout that was originally there didn’t work. It was a U shape with a big useless dance floor of space in the middle. I wanted to open the kitchen to the living area and give it more than one entry point. An island bench made sense. I couldn’t fit one in running parallel to the living area which is how you see most island benches situated, so I decided to run it adjacent to the living space. This decision wasn’t easy, I had more than one person tell me it would look weird, including a couple of cabinet makers. I taped out every layout I could think of on the ground, nothing else worked in this space, so I stuck to my idea.

So, I had my plan, I knew what finishes I wanted, next step was to find a cabinet maker who could see my vision and work with me. If you’ve followed me for a while you will remember we built a dry bar area not long ago, while the cabinet maker there did a good job I felt like he didn’t understand my style. I went through the process of getting quotes from quite a few cabinet makers until I found one (through a recommendation from a builder friend) that just ‘got me’. He wasn’t the absolute cheapest and his lead time was probably one of the longest, but he knew what I wanted and I was confident in his ability to deliver a beautiful kitchen.

The process …

We demolished the kitchen ourselves, it saves money and I’d rather spend the money on pretty things!

We had everything framed up in the new layout, we gained about a metre by pushing the fridge in under the stairs and it was great to finally gets feel for all the new spaces.
We lined the exposed walls and ceiling with VJ board, I love the character they add to a home and since we used them in the dining room I wanted to connect the spaces with a few elements. We added a bulkhead to separate the kitchen from the living area and help define the spaces.

You can see the bulkhead here that separates and defines the kitchen space from the living room.
You can see the bulkhead here that separates and defines the kitchen space from the living room.

Another small thing we did that I think makes a huge difference was add architraves to the kitchen windows, they were previously square set with gyprock and I never liked them. We are re-doing them all as we work through the house.

Then it was pretty much a waiting game until the kitchen cabinetry went in.
I chose a satin finish, shaker profile cabinet in a neutral white, it is timeless and works with many different styles. This profile is nothing new or exciting, it is used often and is probably one of the most popular styles right now, so I wanted to add a couple of custom made pieces to make my kitchen a little bit different.
I had the rangehood made to my specification, and even though the 2 little shelves were actually a communication issue between myself and my cabinet maker and weren’t meant to be there, I actually loved them and told him not to change them. They are the perfect spot to display some pretty things .

Photo 6-5-17-20
The other thing that was a little bit different to most kitchens was the legs on the island bench. I really wanted the island to look like a piece of furniture and I chose to have furniture legs put on the ends. They are not exactly what I had in mind, but they give the desired effect and I am happy with them.

Close up of the island bench legs.
Close up of the island bench legs.

There were a couple of hiccups during the process, but nothing ever goes smoothly when renovating and I’ve learnt to roll with the punches and make changes quickly.
For example; I had intended on tiling the entire wall above my sink, from bench to ceiling and wall to wall. Unfortunately due to some wall issues we weren’t left with enough filler space where the upper cabinetry meets the wall where I wanted to tile. I had to re-think my plan and I just tiled 600mm high behind the sink. That left me with a large area of unused wall space. I didn’t want to put an overhead cabinet there as it would stick out too far and just look weird. I considered a piece of art and various other ideas, in the end I called my cabinet maker and asked if he could make a plate display rack for me to my specifications. I am so happy with it and it looks like it was part of the plan all along.

My accidental plate rack.
My accidental plate rack.

Once all the cabinetry was in the stone comes next. Again, we had a couple of issues but nothing that wasn’t fixed quickly by the fabulous stone masons.
Firstly I had decided on 30mm Super White Quartz for my outer benches and 40mm honed Carrara marble for the island bench. There was only a couple of pieces of Super White Quartz in the country and they were all 20mm and had fissures through them. A fissure is a natural cleft in the stone, it can break easily during the cutting process and the gap can widen over the years. The fissure is usually filled with a resin substance to prevent this. I chose to not take the risk and had to choose a new stone, on the spot, immediately, argh! I decided I love Carrara marble enough to use it all the way throughout my kitchen. I have used it before and I knew what I was getting myself into, but I’m so glad I did, I just adore the look and feel of the marble.
Secondly, the marble cracked during the installation process around the taps. The stone masons were awesome, they determined it as their fault and they replaced it with a new piece within a couple of days.

After the stone was the splash back tiles. I chose a basket weave Carrara marble. I have seen this tile used quite often with the black dot, I found it with the white dot and fell in love. I looks amazing up and I’m so happy with it.

The basket weave marble tile.
The basket weave marble tile.

I used a duck egg blue handmade subway in the pantry, it was a less expensive option and I really loved it and wanted to use it somewhere, in fact I think I will use it in my laundry too.

The pantry tile, a duck egg blue handmade subway.
The pantry tile, a duck egg blue handmade subway.

Lastly, after the floors went down, all the appliances were installed.
I chose Fisher and Paykel for all my new appliances. We installed an upright electric/gas cooker, an integrated range, a combination oven/microwave and a double dish drawer.

The freestanding cooker on the back wall and combination microwave oven in the island bench.
The freestanding cooker on the back wall with the integrated range and combination microwave oven in the island bench.

The dishwasher drawers were a no brainer for me, as a family of five they are the perfect size to pop on after every meal. We never quite managed to fill a full size dishwasher after one meal and I always had dirty dished sitting in there waiting for the next meal to fill it and turn it on. I find we fill a drawer after every meal and turn it straight on, not leaving dirty dishes sitting there for hours. If you do happen to be extra messy or have people over for dinner, there is a second drawer to fill. We alternate between using the two drawers, partly because nobody ever wants to unpack it and partly to give them equal use.
The other thing that I really love is the combination microwave oven. It has 10 different cooking modes and works equally as well as a traditional oven or a microwave. We have already cooked meals, baked cakes and microwaved leftovers in it and it really is the hardest working little appliance in my kitchen. I highly recommend considering this instead of a standard microwave next time you are in the market.

The Jewellery …

I like to think of the cabinetry hardware and taps as pieces of jewellery, they add some bling and have the ability to make or break a kitchen. I think choosing the right pieces here is so important. These things can be really expensive and completely blow out your budget if you’re not careful, but if you hunt around you’ll be surprised at what you can find at affordable prices.

I had my heart set on an amazing tap that was over $4000, unfortunately this was not at all in the budget so I went hunting and found another one that is very similar for under $500. As much as I like to shop locally, sometimes we just don’t have the options in Australia and you need to look overseas. I bought my tap ware in America from Kingston Brass in a satin nickel finish. I love the bridge style and feminine shape.

The bridge style tap with a vegetable sprayer to the right and a soap pump to the left.
The bridge style tap with a vegetable sprayer to the right and a soap pump to the left.

I also decided to use a pot filler tap which has ended up being one of my favourite things in the kitchen. They are not very common in Australia, although they are popping up more and more lately, but are used often in America and Europe. As the name suggests, they are just a tap to fill your pots on the stove without having to carry them back and forth to the sink. As well as being so handy, it looks pretty and is an extra piece of ‘jewellery’ on an otherwise blank wall.

The pot filler in action.
The pot filler in action.

My hardware is all polished nickel and I bought it from Home Depot while I was in Hawaii on holiday. That is dedication to my kitchen right there, do you know how heavy they were, I could have brought home an extra 6 pairs of shoes in my luggage!

Martha Stewart polished nickel hardware.
Martha Stewart polished nickel hardware.

And lastly, my wall sconces, which I absolutely adore!
I couldn’t use a chandelier or pendants in my kitchen because nothing lines up. If I did them over the island bench they would be off centre for the rangehood, and vice versa. So I decided to use wall sconces over the windows and over the pantry door. They are polished nickel in a classic design and they bring a little bit of sparkle to all the hard finishes.

Polished nickel wall sconces.
Polished nickel wall sconces (yes, I need bar stools).

Then FINALLY I had a functional kitchen, yay!

If you want to see more photos of the mess during the process, pop over to Instagram and search the hashtag #thelittlerenovation

In the next post I’ll chat about all the styling and pretty pieces that make my kitchen ‘mine’.

If there is a detail or product that you’d like to know more about, please leave a comment or e-mail me and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Hayley x

***A big thank-you to Ellie from Flowerhaul for sourcing the most perfect pink hyacinths for my photo’s, they are stunning!


Paint Colour for walls and trim  – Dulux Natural White / Inspirations Paint
Cabinetry – Shaker profile, 30% satin finsh, Dulux Natural White / MG Cabinetry
Benchtops – Honed Carrara marble, 20mm on edges, 40mm on island bench / La Rocca Marble and Granite
Kitchen Tiles – Basketweave Carrara marble with white dots / Tile and Stone
Pantry Tiles – Duck Egg Blue handmade subway / Tile and Stone
Freestanding Cooker – Pyrolytic Duel Fire OR90SDBGFPX1 / Fisher and Paykel
Combination Microwave Oven -OM36NDXB1 / Fisher and Paykel
Rangehood -HP90IDCHX2 / Fisher and Paykel
DishDrawers – Integrated double DishDrawer DD60DI7 / Fisher and Paykel
Sink Tap – Heritage satin nickel bridge mount tap, with vegetable sprayer / Kingston Brass 
Pot Filler – Swing arm wall mount pot filler / Kingston Brass
Soap Dispenser – Vintage satin nickel / Kingston Brass 
Cabinetry Hardware – Martha Stewart from Home Depot
Wall Sconces – Mayfair in shiny nickel / Emac & Lawton

Weekend Facelift, part 2

I am convinced, paint has to be the number one best thing to instantly update a space. It can change the mood, freshen it up and make everything look shiny and new. It is relatively quick and easy (especially if you hire a painter like we did for this project), and doesn’t break the budget.

First of all, let me tell you about this house. Although it is 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, plus study, it really is a house for a couple. It was built by a couple as a holiday house where they would come on weekends, and sometimes have their children and grand children come and stay. The layout is perfect for this and that is what we had in mind when we furnished and styled it for resale.

The inside has been re-painted at the ‘Apricot Central’ house. I chose Dulux Natural white for the interiors. Unfortunately the budget and time constraints didn’t stretch to re-paint all the doors and trims, they are not a great colour and I had to work with them, while still lightening and brightening the home as much as possible.

Dulux Whites
Dulux Whites

Here’s a few before and afters of the inside transformation.

I shopped my own home for items that we either can’t fit in the new house, or can temporarily live without while we put this house on the market.

Let’s start with the kitchen. In an ideal world I would have completely re-done the kitchen, but it’s not, so I worked with what I had.

We changed the back splash to something a little more modern, although still fitting within the current design. I chose a matte white hexagon tile with grey grout to really make to shape pop. We also added 2 pendant lights, they are from Bunnings and we had the electrician hang them from existing down lights. Ideally I would have like 3, but I think they look OK and I love the way the filament bulbs look in the glass pendant. 

Kitchen - AFTER - new backsplash matte hexagon tiles.
Kitchen – AFTER – new backsplash matte hexagon tiles.
Brilliant Clear Laurent light | Bunnings
Brilliant Clear Laurent light | Bunnings

I used my beloved rattan bar stools to furnish the space and they instantly update it.

Kitchen - BEFORE & AFTER
Kitchen – BEFORE & AFTER
Kitchen – BEFORE
Kitchen - AFTER
Kitchen – AFTER

Moving on to the dining area. The previous owners had a gigantic cabinet in the dining area which was covering the shutters that go through to the master bedroom. Yes, I know, shutters from the master bedroom to the living area is a bit strange, but I actually like it now that I have spent some time there. I have dressed the dining room very simply, keeping it classic and clean.


In the before picture below you can see that gigantic cabinet, it completely overpowered the entire dining and living area.

Dining and Lounge – BEFORE
Dining and Lounge – AFTER


The lounge area from the previous owners was dark and heavy and didn’t do the space any favours. I put my linen modular there which is a lighter colour and fills the space without taking over the space. I added a rug (probably a bit small) to define the space and some cushions for a little bit of colour. I chose not to put a TV in this space, I don’t think anyone requires 2 in this small space. I’d rather sit with a book and cup of tea and look at the beautiful view.

Lounge and Family - BEFORE
Lounge and Family – BEFORE
Lounge and Family – AFTER


The TV/family area (far right on the ‘before’ pic) is quite small, the previous owners tried to squeeze a 2 seater sofa and 2 recliners into the space and it looked cluttered and messy. I have used two rattan chairs with ottomans and a small side table. It doesn’t over power the space and is perfect for 2 people.

The front entry ‘before’ had a big round table with an apricot ceramic base, oh gosh I wish I’d taken a photo of it! It had a pair of pink ceramic flamingos each side and a huge bunch of faux flowers on top, not the good kind, the plastic layered in dust kind. Not pretty!

Entry from the front door.
Entry from the front door.

I put my big round Madras jute rug from Freedom there, with my eBay round table. I added a big blue and white monkey vase from Botticelli House, I filled it with palm leaves and I think it looks very inviting.

bh881a_monkey_vase_800w-0321   Madras-Round-Floor-Rug-250cm-Natural

Entry, looking towards the front door.

I’m looking forward to showing you the outside, actually I’m looking forward to seeing it myself, it is currently a very tuscan terracotta colour. I am having it painted in Dulux Hog Bristle, with a Dulux Lead Colour trim. I can’t wait to see it.

What do you think?

Hayley x