ROOM MAKEOVER: WEE AVA’S ROOM

With no rules or constraints, children’s rooms are easily the most fun to design. I’ve loved the process of changing our youngest girl’s nursery into a ‘big girl’ room. The room was already a stunning space with a gabled ceiling and sweet chandeliers, all we did was paint over the bright pink walls with my go-to Resene Black White and the window was replaced with double glazed joinery. When I was heavily pregnant with Ava, my version of nesting was creating art. Strangely I actually was pretty damn good at it, a fleeting talent that disappeared as quickly as Ava arrived. One of the pieces of art I made was a painting of a elephant that I’d seen on the wall of Auckland store Madder and Rouge. Not gonna lie, I’m kinda impressed at how well I did! Like the rest of our home, Ava’s room is white, white, white – so I used the colours from the painting to inspire the rest of the interior in her room.
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DIY GOODNESS
As well as the art, we actually made a lot of what is in this space. The bed is the top half of an old wooden bunk set my husband painted, the side rails are super handy as it keeps our wriggly two year old in bed as opposed to on the ground. The wee tent design I found online, I desperately wanted to get it but with a price tag of $260 AUS + shipping, we decided to have a go ourselves. Big high fives between me and my husband! TWO JANES AVAS ROOM 10

CHEAP THRILLS
So many things I wanted for this room were just too expensive, but after ALOT of searching/stalking I found some really great budget friendly versions of what I loved. The floating book shelves were just $25 from Bunnings. The little ply houses were a third of what I’d seen elsewhere at just $15 from Cotton On Kids. I decorated them with mini garlands I made out of free paint charts. The rag rug was a total steal at $9 from Bed, Bath and Beyond – I kid you not I spent well over half an hour in that store laying everyone of the large stack of mats on the ground to make sure I got the best. The women working in the store didn’t share my enthusiasm. I used several cute greeting cards and framed them for inexpensive art, several were from Paperplane my fav interiors store in the Mount (hot tip:this store is really amazing, with a great online store to match, definitely worth checking out).
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FAVOURITE DETAIL
Definitely the most special to me is the framed collage of photos of Ava and her Papa. He works overseas most of the year so she likes giving him a kiss each night before bed. Above that is a little angel gifted to us by my aunty Helen. She herself is as close to an angel on earth as you get, having spent over a decade working in South Africa, much of those working with those worst affected by HIV, including running an orphanage for small children and babies with HIV and Aids. She picked up this angel in Italy, while on a trip to Rome. She is a Catholic nun so it is a very special place for her, and to have an angel from there from her, is so special.
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LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
If you like the look of Ava’s Room, I have done a wee round up of a few key pieces from the space…

Avas Room Get the look 1. Citta Design Cushion from Paper Plane   2. Bashful Bunny from Pumpkin Patch   3. Rabbit Print from Paper Plane   4. Cabinet from Behome   5. Felt Ball Garland from Collected   6. Bloomingville Ply Houses from Perch   7. Framed card of Kuini by Ema Frost

SAVING FOR…
Something I would love to get is a marque letter light for above her bed, the best I’ve found are from Fromage La Rue for $149 AUS, they do deliver to NZ for an additional $35. Another cheaper option at $69 AUS, but without the vintage handmade look that I prefer is available from Little Letter Lights Co.

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TRENDING: IS UGLY THE NEW COOL?

What are your first thoughts when you see these….

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The good old Birkenstock, they were awful the first time round when I wore them 20 years ago, but I put it down to one of those dumb adolescent mistakes we all make. Well if you didn’t already know, these are now at the very height of fashion ‘cool’, appearing on the feet of the worlds most fabulous and even the pages of Vogue.

Sorry to any hipster that this offends, but I just can’t get with the Birkenstock craze. To me they should have died back in the 90s along with hair scrunchies and Justin Timberlake with corn rows. It’s like the worlds top fashion editors, bloggers and ‘it girls’ all got together to play a huge joke on the rest of us.

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Whoa Mary-Kate and Ashley take it next level pairing theirs with socks.B9

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Will you resist the peer pressure from the cool kids, or be picking up your own pair soon? Now obviously if you love them, go rock your self some Birkenstocks! My point is, if you don’t, then don’t buy into a trend just because it’s the ‘in’ thing. Remember our french lesson earlier in the week – dress to feel good, dress for yourself, no one else.

If you do decide to join the Birkenstock brigade, please for the love of God, at least don’t pair them with socks like Mary Kate and Ashley. They really should have known better.

FASHION: HOW TO FAKE BEING A FRENCH GIRL

French women are renowned for being the worlds most stylish, perfecting effortless chic, always with an air of confidence. I’ve had a long love affair with all things French, I even named my 14-year-old daughter after the capital!

French actresses like Lou Dillon, Clémence Poésy and Paris Vogue Editor Emmanuelle Alt’s style is often used as a template for trendy women around the globe wanting to achieve the elusive effortless chic the French of synonymous for. Personally I am a little obsessed with Emmanuelle Alt, I pretty much want to be her when I grow up.

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The confidence that exudes from French women is no mistake, it comes because they dress to feel good, they dress for themselves, and no one else. They don’t follow trends, instead they develop their own style, filled with classic pieces they love. A common French phrase is ‘I threw on these clothes because I had no time to think about my look this morning’, but don’t be fooled by this supposed non-chalant attitude, French women work hard to achieve their envious style.

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Clothing – the key is having perfectly tailored clothes that suit you, because you have to feel great and comfortable to have confidence. French women tend not to bare too much skin, preferring to show shoulders or a bare back. Buy the very best quality you can afford, yes this will mean you will have less in your wardrobe, but your clothes will look stunning and last so much longer. Keep to a minimal palette of black, white, blue, red and neutrals, allowing items to be mixed and matched.

Shoes – never too high, if you can’t walk confidently in your sky-highs then don’t wear them, flats are often favoured.

Makeup – minimal and fresh. There is a strong focus on caring for your skin, allowing natural beauty to shine rather than covering it with a lot of makeup. A bold red lip is often all that is needed for night time glam.

Hair – tousled, even messy hair is common, and considered extremely sexy.

Accessories – keep it simple, less is definitely more.

french lesson 4From top left: Country Road wrap shirt | Superette rails shirt | Moochi fringe bag | Sass & Bide hulsey strutter jean | Kathryn Wilson courtney heel | Meadowlark crystal chain earring

French Lesson 3From top left: Twenty Seven Names breton tee | Senso Shoes robyn heel | Juliette Hogan blake short | MAC Cosmetics lady danger lipstick

French Lesson 2From top left: Twenty Seven Names chessie daisy dress | Juliette Hogan johnny cardi | Meadowlark protea ring | Karen Walker bag | Country Road nora derby flats

If a wardrobe update is out of reach at the moment, just follow these five easy steps for an instant French girl makeover…

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how to be a parisianAnd for those of you who are ready for a master class, I was excited to find there is a new book called ‘How to Be Parisian Wherever you are’, which explores all facets of a Parisian woman’s world; style, beauty, culture, attitude and men. The four women behind this must have read are long term friends Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas and Anne Berest, who decided to debunk the myths of the ‘effortless chic’ Parisienne. I love that there is an entire chapter devoted to not apologising for bad habits, I am starting to think I may actually be secretly French.

RENOVATION: KITCHEN

As I write this post, I am sitting at my kitchen island with a coffee, the large doors out to the deck and garden beyond open wide and sun is streaming in, I can even hear the ocean! This was my dream for what I wanted in our new kitchen. Although I had definite thoughts on the atheistic, the way it felt to ‘live’ in the space was even more important.
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My favourite part of our kitchen is definitely the large island bench. It’s 3m long and 1.2m wide and I love every inch. Being able to have the kids sitting around it, chatting with me while I cook dinner, or having my girlfriends over for coffee and all be able to fit around the island easily is just magic. I guess that’s the way I consider it best to think when building or renovating, think about how you live, how you want to use a space that best suits your family’s life and then design around that.

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I would have loved a concrete island bench with a waterfall end, but it was a lot more expensive that I expected, stone was also out of our reach. I was really worried about the options available, but ended up finding a great acrylic product that looks like stone, is even more hard wearing and was in budget. Major high fives all round after that discovery!

With our house being quite small it was really important to blend the kitchen into the open plan space as seamlessly as possible, so the cabinetry has no handles and is matched to the same colour as the walls (Resene Black/White, not all whites are created equal and this is the BEST). We also tried to blur the lines of indoors and out by having large sliders going out to the deck, that can be pushed completely out of view. Beyond the kitchen we have a covered deck, that eventually (i.e. in our dreams) will house an outdoor kitchen, we’re hoping to continue the same cabinetry outside to create more illusion of space.
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I found so many amazing tile options and literally every single one I had my heart on were crazy expensive, like I’m talking a couple of grand crazy. We ended up going with a square subway tile with contrasting dark grout, all up less than $200!

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Although I love the minimal, white, scandi feel we have achieved, I was worried about the space looking too stark. If I have one regret its that we didn’t use timber for the floating shelf, just to add a bit of warmth. In fact I may see if that can be altered at some stage (at this point my husband will be rolling his eyes reading this, as I haven’t mentioned that to him!). I am kind of obsessed with plants right now, and already have several in the kitchen, and would be happy to fill it up even more. It was hard finding cool pots for them, so I did a little DIY and painted cheap $2 terracotta pots with teals, blues and yellow. So easy and the little pops of colour they add was just what the space needed. Other accessories like the art and bluetooth retro looking stereo have been picked up from Paperplane, my favourite design store in the Mount.

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We have industrial white pendants over the dining area, so I wanted quite a different look in the kitchen. The David Trubridge lights I chose give a warmth to the space and an interesting design focus. They also look amazing when lit up at night, bouncing light and shapes off the walls.

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I had been coveting basically everything from Icotraders for so long, and one magic day they had a 50% off sale for 24 hours. I totally did a happy dance in front of my laptop! I chose the Lyttelton Stools in black, I just love them and they are so surprisingly comfortable.

Overall I couldn’t want for more, the new kitchen has really turned into the soul of our home and actually makes me WANT to cook – how good is that!

THE LITTLE THINGS: MUST SEE TV

We all have those little things that put a smile on our face right – a new issue of your favourite magazine, getting a pedicure, eating your third piece of chocolate mud cake, an awesome old-school beat surprising you on the car radio (90s hip hop is my jam)….this is a celebration of those small moments that can brighten your day, here’s my first hot little tip for you to add to your get happy arsenal.

TV SHOWS

For me Mondays are often a day of household admin, catching up after the weekend. Magically this wee gem will help pass the most tedious parts of the necessary evils of housework, I call it the distraction method. I’ve found access to some amazing, hot off the satellite tv shows. Some are emmy award winning series, others serve my guilty obsession with reality tv. I just pop my laptop within view while doing the dishes, washing, cleaning up etc, and I’m so engrossed in what I’m watching I almost forget I’ve just folded my third load of washing. Gotta love that! Yes it’s technically illegal, but I have yet to receive even one letter from Mr Key and I know I get three before I’m in any real trouble. Yes I’m an outlaw. Thankfully this blog currently has approximately three readers so I’ll take my chances with this confession.

Scandal – Just started season 3, an American political thriller, it follows the uber sassy Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), makes you want to drink ridiculously expensive red wine and ALWAYS wear white head to toe.

Homeland – Just started season 4, a political drama/thriller, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is brilliantly intense and still celebrates the ugly cry just like in Romeo and Juliet, you know the one.

Orange Is The New Black – A comedy/drama based in an American women’s prison, so damn good I binge-watched both series in three days!

The Bachelor – Aussie, US and Canada, all versions are equally as addictive, more comedy than reality and worth every second you waste on it.

Project Runway – In the current series a Kiwi designer in the final four, he’s got a real shot at taking the title.

The Block Australia – Just wrapped up the latest series, big budgets, bigger dramas, even bigger design WOWS, whats not to love.

The most consistent sites I’ve found to watch these shows are videobull and watchseries.

Judge me now, but you will thank me later!

TRENDING: CHECK

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Check shirts are kinda everywhere, and while I’m not into wearing head to toe seasonal trends, I’m still not going to miss out on something I love just because many others are wearing something similar (exactly the same theory I’ve applied to stripes, yes they are every where, no I don’t care, I love them, I feel chic and magically, instantly a little French).

I love finding something that will fit with everything in my existing wardrobe, so much easier to justify the purchase when you can create multiple outfits with just one new item.

These check shirts from LA label Rails are probably my favourite, there are countless celebs and supermodels who agree from Cara Delevingne to Olivia Palermo.

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Although there was a loud, persistent voice in my head telling me to snap up a couple online from Superette immediately…I stood strong, and stepped away from the keyboard…then laid in wait until one appeared on Trademe less than a couple of weeks later! Oh how I love that there are still ladies out there that buy on a whim, wear it once and then they’re onto the latest must have. Meanwhile I snap up their barely worn designer threads at a fraction of the original price.

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Rails Hunter Shirt in Cadet Blue originally from Superette for $219, but worn once and only $100 on Trademe. Happy budgeting mama!

If you want a cheaper option, I also found some great prints on ASOS, the quality has been surprisingly high and then you don’t run the risk of a dozen other people wearing the same thing which is likely when shopping in local chain stores. I chose the ASOS River Island Check Shirt for under $60 with free delivery.

How I style mine….(please note: I really hate getting my photo taken, a little bit of an achilles heel for someone wanting to blog about fashion/shopping/style, so bear with me, one day I may even actually show my face!)

check3 Cheap Monday Jeans (trade me steal) | Rails Shirt (trade me steal) | Chaos & Harmony Boots (hid the receipt from my husband) | Deadly Ponies Bag (7 years old and still rocking it)

check4 ASOS Jeans (cheap as chips) | Bassike Tee (Superette, worth paying for a good basic) | Rails Shirt (trade me steal) | Loeffler Randall Sandals (saw them on Tash Sefton of TheyAllHateUs fashion blog, found on sale online were $280 down to $65, god that felt good)

check7 Top Images – ASOS shirt | Storm tee | Cheap Monday Jeans | Converse One Stars / Chaos & Harmony Boots, Bottom Image – Bassike Tee | Rails Shirt | ASOS Jeans | Converse One Stars,
all looks styled with my everyday jewellery – Lindi Kingi Bracelets | Kirsten Ash Fine Rings and Charm Necklace

(Images other than of me, are from my pinterest page where original sources can be found.)

RENOVATION: KITCHEN INSPIRATION

I have been waiting for my dream kitchen for so many years – ripped out countless pages from interior magazines and stayed up late into the night getting happily lost in pinterest. Although we are renovating our entire home, the only extension to the space is for our new kitchen. Excited is a massive understatement!

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I am so inspired by scandi kitchens and they fit the aesthetic of our home so well, with its white wooden raked beams, white walls and black joinery. I want to keep to a pallet of white, white, white – with touches of timber and concrete. I am drawn towards very minimal looking cabinetry, no handles and clean lines.

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I want to blur the lines between indoors and out, creating a space perfect for the long, mild summers we enjoy in the Bay of Plenty. Our home is quite small so maximising indoor/outdoor flow will help give a feeling of spaciousness.

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I have always loved open shelving in kitchens, filling them with eclectic finds, adding texture and interest. This should also help prevent an all white, minimal kitchen from feeling stark and clinical.

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So typical of me, all the kitchens I have featured here are probably several times the budget I have at my fingertips. A big challenge for me is to recreate the feel of these spaces for a lot less. Wish me luck!

(All images from my pinterest page, where original sources can be found)

TRENDING: TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

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I admit it, I am a little scared of animal print.

I actually bought some really stunning animal print pants from epic local store Sisters & Co last year and have NEVER worn them. Can’t get up the guts. I’m not sure if I’m quite ‘cool’ enough, you know what I mean?! I do love animal print on others though, it’s turning up so much in many fashion blogs I follow.

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So I’m going to take it slowly and just dip my toes in the trendy waters. Look how good Tash Sefton from They All Hate Us looks rocking her leopard flats, I am unashamedly copy catting (leopard cat that is…sorry couldn’t help myself).

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Check out these bad little babies I bought! I LOVE them. I found them at online at The Iconic and at just over $100AUS i can actually be honest with my husband about my latest purchase.

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Are you brave enough to take the plunge and wear animal print on a large scale like a dress or jacket, if so check out some great options at Moochi here. If you’re a little scarred like me and let your accessories do the talking Superette has you covered, or for budget friendly options asos.com has plenty.

(Images from my pinterest page where original sources can be found.)