5 Unusual Features of Granite Countertops

If you are currently redecorating your kitchen or planning a kitchen refurbishment, you have probably heard all about granite for your kitchen work surfaces. Granite is a hardwearing and attractive choice for kitchen countertops but did you also know the following things about this popular natural stone? Here are some distinctive granite features that make this stone stand out.


  1. Variety and Diversity of Pattern

Granite is available in a wide variety of different patterns. There is no such thing as a typical granite pattern. Granite can look like marble with swirls and whorls, or it can look like sand, with a rough and fine pattern to it. You will find all different kinds of specks, whirls, swirls, and splotches in granite worktops which really adds to the appeal of this stone. This means that you can choose granite kitchen counters to match all different styles of décor and looks.


  1. Naturally Unique

When you are planning a unique kitchen design you need unique work surfaces, and there is no stone more unique than granite. You will not find two different slabs of granite that are exactly the same. Because this is a natural material these unique variations mean that your kitchen will never be the same as anyone else’s. You get a unique look with granite.


  1. Hundreds of Colour Choices

As well as different patterns, granite comes in many different colours. If you want to go the traditional route you can choose black or grey. But due to the way the crystal forms in the rock, other colour options are available including white, orange, pink, brown, green, and even blue. Depending on your style preferences and the look of the room, granite perfectly complements any décor.

  1. More than One Finish

As well as colour and pattern, you can choose from several different granite finishes, making this a highly versatile stone. With a polished finish you have a surface with a high sheen, ideal for the modern kitchen. Or you can choose a matt finish that looks a little more rustic and country-style. The leathered finish is rougher and more distinctive.


  1. Low Maintenance

For many people, style and look are less important than how easy a material is to care for. Granite is good in this regard. It is low maintenance and when you have sealed the stone it is easy to care for. The seal on the stone prevents liquids seeping into it and discolouring the stone. Once sealed, you can wipe down kitchen surfaces with a cloth and mild detergent in order to keep them clean and sparkling.


When looking for granite works surfaces make sure you explore the full range of options by looking at samples from a reputable supplier. You’ll see a wide range of options available to suit all kinds of homes and kitchens, available in a variety of cost ranges to suit different budgets.


Image courtesy of Paul Sutcliffe / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Five tips for giving your backyard a summer makeover



No matter where you are in the world, the backyard of your home is going to be a place that you go to chill out, to relax and to entertain and enjoy your downtime. For many people their backyard is a place of great joy and is one of the best and most-used areas of their homes. For others though, the backyard can be a place that they’re going to get around to fixing up eventually, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. If you have a backyard that could do with a little bit of tender loving care and you’re in need of some help, then read on! I have created a list of some of the easiest things you can do to give your backyard a makeover just in time for summer in the hopes that you’ll be able to spend more time outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather that the summer months bring.


Install some new pavers

A nice, even and flat space for your backyard can come in the form of a deck, or it can come in the form of some pavers. I have a friend in Western Australia who was scratching his head about whether to get decking or pavers in Perth, but he soon plumped for the pavers when he saw my awesome backyard. Pavers are a low cost solution for many people and you can choose the size and area very easily.


Get a water feature

You might not have the space or the ability to put in a pool, but you can get that soothing watery feeling with the addition of a water feature or a fountain. There’s nothing more lush and lovely than the sound of gently flowing water in the backyard, and if you pair your fountain with a couple of ferns and some nice rocks, you’ll find that the backyard becomes your summer oasis in no time.


Get a new patio set

Still got that crumbly old couch and table set for your backyard? Might be time to replace them don’t you think? You can get a great deal on some furniture from your local hardware store, and if you’re on a budget, you can source something excellent from the trading post. Think about getting something hardwearing and something that’s made well, as it’s going to last longer for you and continue to give you joy long after you purchase it.


Install some mood lighting

As the sun sets, your fairy lights flicker on and your solar mood lighting begins to cast a soft glow on you and your friends all sitting around and enjoying the last moments of soft pink light before night steals in. Sound nice? In order to achieve this kind of hosting excellence, you need the aforementioned lights. Grab some on the cheap from the local hardware shop or from a gardening centre.


Get a fire pit

A good fire pit isn’t a difficult thing to achieve; you can actually construct one safely yourself at home, simply get online and take a look at how you can manage it. You just need to have a bit of space available to you in your backyard, and then you can keep the woodpile stocked and ready for those impromptu barbecues at your house when your friends all descend on your place.


I hope that this little list of things that you can do to revamp your backyard will prove helpful for you, and that you manage to get the backyard of your dreams in time for the hot long summer nights. Happy decorating and revamping!



How to choose a fireplace that complements your lifestyle



Winter time is a time for snuggling around with your family and friends, drinking tasty hot drinks like cocoa, mulled wine and tea, and enjoying the feeling of being cozy and warm inside. There’s nothing better than sitting in your lounge room, watching the chilly wind whipping through the trees outside, knowing that you’re safe and warm inside. It’s even better on a rainy night, don’t you think? The feeling of being toasty warm can be further accentuated with the addition of a fireplace, because after all, there’s not much that can compare to sitting around the crackling flames, watching transfixed, as the orange, yellow and blue fire licks around the smouldering embers of some lovely fragrant pine cones! If you’ve ever thought about installing a fireplace, you should make the move to get it installed now, while it’s summery and hot, so that when the first cool days begin to come a-creeping, you’ll be ready to go with your fireplace! There are a number of different things to consider when you’re looking to buy a fireplace, and I wanted to go over some of them here with you now to ensure that you make the right purchase for your home.


Factor One – What kind of aesthetic are you thinking about for your home?

If you have a modern and sleek looking home, you’re going to need to get a fireplace with fireplace surrounds that suits your decor. There are a number of stunning, slimline fireplaces that are fuelled by gas which allow you to install them into a relatively snug spot, giving you the warmth and appeal of the crackling flames without the mess and fuss of getting fuel and wood for the fire. Think about the existing design of your lounge room (or wherever you’re getting the fireplace installed) and work with the colour scheme and the layout of your home.


Factor Two – What is the purpose of your fireplace?

This might sound like an obvious and silly question, but there are some fireplaces that you can get that are more of a decorative and ambient addition to your home, and that don’t provide a lot of heat per se. If you’re thinking of getting a fireplace primarily to add warmth and heat to your home, then you will need to ensure that it’s strong enough to heat your lounge room or the space in which you’re installing the fireplace.


Factor Three – What kind of fireplace are you going to get?

Some people would never consider getting anything other than a wood-fuelled fireplace, whereas others might have small children or be concerned about the potential for mess with a wooden fireplace, and so plump for a gas burning fireplace. No matter what you get, you need to ensure that you have the capacity to install the fireplace and the required fuel source. If your home doesn’t have gas piped in, you’ll need to consider this.


Factor Four – How much do you want to spend on your fireplace?

If your budget is limited, then you can be innovative with your choice and go for something that works for a space that you have without blowing your budget. Search online and get some prices to compare and get the best deal for you.


Factor Five – Where are you going to install the fireplace?

You can choose to place your fireplace in the corner of a room, the side of a wall and even in the centre of your home. Some houses even have fireplaces that are free hanging from the ceiling, which is a very attractive option, provided that you have the funds and space!


I hope this has been an informative article about fireplaces and that you manage to make the right choice for your home!

How to seamlessly merge interior and exterior design

If you are anything like me, you have most probably been reading or even heard first hand about the benefits of using natural materials and bringing the outside into your interior design. Not only are natural materials more durable, but incorporating nature into your home can also have a calming effect on us. Research has shown that when people are walking through forests and nature versus urban areas, they were more relaxed.

Therefore, we’ve become more in tune to incorporating plants and natural lighting into our homes in order to design a more livable space for ourselves and also our families. I think it is important to combine interior and exterior design where possible, as although it can be dependent on the seasons, it is a benefit to our health and happiness that we spend more time outside. It is absolutely wonderful when we make the most out of being able to celebrate nature and be outside with our loved ones.

These days though, there is also a design revolution developing where people are bringing the interior design outside. Combining both their outdoor spaces with their indoor spaces allows a seamless transition from one room to another. It allows open movement from outdoors to indoors, and means we spend more time outside, as it is now finally being viewed as an extension to our home, or even an additional room.

I recently was approached by a new client in Melbourne who wanted to increase their property’s value by refreshing their interior design prior to putting their property on the market. Therefore, I thought it was the perfect time to utilise my design experience and try to not only bring the outside in, but bring the inside out. My aim was to try to merge these elements seamlessly and make buyers see the outside space as an additional room that isn’t necessarily restricted by the weather.

External Roof Blinds

With the location being in Melbourne, it was important to take into account all seasons, considering the weather unpredictability. The property already had a decking area with an extension from the roof which was made from treated timber, therefore I wanted to try to utilise these natural materials in my exterior design ideas. I took a number of different style inspirations from different areas, Japanese style being the main inspiration, as I find that Japanese style really balances the love for natural beauty but also brings the lifestyle outdoors.

Luckily for us, there was a tree already planted a metre away from the decking area, therefore it was the perfect opportunity to extend the decking area to fit around the tree and make it a feature of the outdoor space. It also looked splendid when we dressed the tree with fairy lights and Japanese-style hanging lanterns.

It is crucial to team these outdoor elements with home comforts, so I used natural tones when I purchased outdoor blinds in Melbourne and these worked well with the interior blinds in the adjacent room and also matched the outdoor cushions I reupholstered in a beige pattern for the outdoor furniture. The help of some mood lighting and an outdoor heater were the icing on the cake when it came to setting the atmosphere on a beautifully clear autumn evening.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the refresh of the interior and the exterior most certainly worked in unison to allow my clients’ prospective buyers to swan around the floor plan with great ease. The neural tones and the greenery worked well to give a calming feeling and a sense of freedom. Within the first hour of the open house, we had three offers; needless to say my clients were truly delighted, and I will definitely be utilising these techniques again in my next project.

Generation X seeks to resolve first world problems with the touch of a button



We are living in an era where technological advancements are growing by leaps and bounds. The ‘Smart’ technology that we have access to through our mobile devices, homes and offices are helping us to become more efficient and productive in our lifestyle. Smart homes are empowering people in their homes as they provide automated support for people’s lifestyle needs. Through smart home technology such as the Z-wave, Insteon and X10, homes can be automated through gadgets and mobile devices to further enhance the convenience and lifestyle of the homeowner. This generation is set to become the most tech-savvy and you will see evidence of it as they implement smart technology into their homes.

What changes can generation X make to enhance their homes?

There are numerous gadgets that you can add to your home that will literally solve almost any first world problem with the touch of a button.

In a journal published in 2012, Smart Homes were identified as one of the most innovative developments for the aging generation X and baby boomer generations. The technologically advanced systems which can automate domestic tasks, ease communication and increase security stand to benefit the aging population. Furthermore, the homes can be geared to accommodate the requirements for those people that have special needs.


When it comes to easing the financial pressure, smart homes have again pioneered the way for homeowners to make savings to their lifestyle. According to a report from the ABC, over 13% of Australians are living under the poverty line. When it comes to managing finances and bills, these homeowners and lodgers struggle feel the financial strain through necessary lifestyle costs. Smart technology not only assists, but can automate the tasks and cost saving initiatives from their home to further reduce their financial challenges. If you would like to know more about the benefits of smart home technology, click the following link to find out what home automation systems can do for you.

Below are a few of the hottest gadgets on the market right now.

Interconnecting locks and alarm systems.

There is a wide range of sensors, digital lock keypads and sirens that can be configured to your central control unit (depending on what technology software you will use) and automate your home’s locks and security through your smart device (such as your smart phone).

E- Clock by Tokyoflash 3

Audio and visual technology

There have been drastic improvements to the smart technology available in audio and visual. Although the televisions are primarily for entertainment purposes, they are becoming more hybrid with computer functionality. Rather than investing in multiple devices, you may find that you can completely operate your web 2.0 properties directly from your television. You can also connect the television to other properties such as storage devices to view videos and photos, as well as connections to Bluetooth devices such as stereo boxes.

Apple TV and Apple products.

Apple is one of the most innovative brands on the market. Their vision is to have their products work synchronously so it is easier for their users to use and engage with. Innovations such as the Apple Watch, the computer devices and the Apple TV can better transfer information between devices.


Climate control functionality is a big motivator for Australians installing smart device systems into the home. During the summertime, Australian homes can reach upwards of 40 degrees. In some places during the Australian winter, it can get as cool as -2 degrees. Australians tend to be sensitive to the different weather conditions. The thought of walking into a cool refreshing home on a sizzling summer’s day is a dream thought for most Australians. This can now be a reality with smart home technology.

Smart cooking systems

The Australian population is becoming busier. Automating things around the home will help improve the lifestyle. Smart devices in the kitchen can lend a helping hand to the already busy Australian worker. Smart cooking devices can be linked to your smart device network and can allow meals to start cooking in your home so that it is ready for when you arrive home. This can also help with the older Australians who have become more dependent on others for meal preparations, the preparation of food is definitely helpful.


The current generation and the generations to come will continue to engage in smart gadgets and devices. They will seek to implement it as much as possible within their homes so that in the future, the management of the home can come down to the action of a single touch.



Trend alert: The industrial decor revolution



Have you been walking down the street lately and spotted a bunch of wooden pallets masquerading a tables and chairs outside that super cool hipster cafe? Well, the good news for environmentalists everywhere is that those pallets aren’t masquerading as chairs and tables, they’re the furniture for that venue. It’s called industrial decor and as the emphasis for many people begins to fall on sustainability and on recycling goods, it’s become more and more common to see upcycled and free-cycled goods being used as furniture. There’s also a bigger push towards having retro furniture and other kinds of vintage furniture instead of new stuff.


This trend isn’t only present in commercial spaces, but is also present in residential spaces too. As a result of this burgeoning trend, I wanted to outline some of the key ways in which you can channel the industrial decor look for your own home – so let’s take a look here.



Plenty of exposed wood is they key for this look to be pulled off successfully – and if you pair it with some softer textures, you’re going to have a beautiful look that you’ll be happy to bunk down in each night. Try sourcing furniture from an industrial design store, or hit the second-hand shops for some great inspiration. You can think about adding some finishing touches to your industrial bedroom like posters, paintings and lamps; channel the vibes of a factory floor and think about the clash of metal with wood for a great look.


Lounge room:

Your lounge room needs to be ultimately liveable first, and then stylish second. You have to be able to relax in here, so it needs to be a comfortable. Think about getting a beautiful couch or rug for the room and the adding the finishing touches through a hanging piece for the ceiling or with lamps that have exposed metal. You can also do industrial with a great coffee table or with the ornaments and curios that you put on display. Perhaps a Meccano set would be a great addition to the lounge room as it is kitsch and also cool.



This is one of the most functional rooms, (if not the most functional room in your home) so you have a bit more room to get some freedom going here. Think about getting a really cool wooden bench top that can double up as a chopping board, and then contrast the wood with a really awesome coffee machine or juice press. The coffee machines by La Marzocco are incredible and the juicers by Alessi are also beautiful and modern with that oh-so-desirable industrial twist.


Entry foyer:

You can go as crazy as you want in the entrance foyer as it’s not a hugely used room – so it can more stylish and less functional. Perhaps you have a piece that you’ve found in an op-shop that you can’t find a spot for, or you have an upcycled metal shoe rack that would be perfect here. If so, excellent – you can place it proudly on show where your guests will first see it upon entering your home.


Final tips for anyone looking to get that chic industrial look in their home:

  • Plenty of exposed wood, steel and metal
  • If you have the option to get polished concrete or stone in your home you should totally go for it, as it adds an extra flourish to your home
  • Channel the spaces like warehouses, factories and other kinds of industrial spaces
  • Hit up the second hand stores, source items online and speak to furniture dealers for more inspiration


Hopefully these tips on hitting the mark when it comes to industrial design have been helpful for your home! Good luck and happy decorating!

Thinking about Installing a Quartz Worktop? Here’s What You Need to Know

Everyone has heard of quartz as a material at one point or another. Quartz has long been used as a valuable addition to jewellery and timepieces, but worktops made from quartz are fast becoming a useful addition to the kitchen or bathroom as well.


If you are thinking of installing a quartz worktop in your home, what should you know about this exceptional material? First and foremost, quartz is also referred to as engineered stone, as it is different from natural stone, although its material (mainly quartz) is still considered natural. What makes quartz worktops different from natural stone worktops is that instead of being cut in a quarry, a quartz worktop is fabricated and made from a combination of quartz crystals (around 93 percent) and 7 percent resins and binders, as well as colouring.


The characteristics of quartz worktops: their advantages and disadvantages


Durability, toughness, and attractiveness all in one package


One of the reasons why quartz worktops are more popular nowadays is the fact that they are durable, tough and attractive. And since they are not natural stone per se and are actually engineered stone, they do not have some weaknesses associated with natural stone. For instance, natural stone is porous, so it can easily absorb dirt and bacteria and needs to be sealed. Quartz worktops, however, are non-porous, and therefore do not need to be sealed. In addition, quartz worktops come in a wider range of colours and patterns than natural stone worktops, and they are more affordable as well. If you purchase a quartz worktop, you can be quite sure that its warranty will last for ten to fifteen years, even more.


Better handling of wear and tear and easier maintenance


The toughness of quartz is a real advantage, especially if you are worried about cracks and chips (this is especially worrisome if you have small children or elderly loved ones in your home). A quartz worktop is less likely to suffer from chips or cracks compared to a natural stone worktop, and it does not require as much maintenance, either. A quartz worktop is much easier to keep clean, and because of its non-porous surface, it is less likely to accumulate bacteria, mould, and dirt.


Furthermore, quartz worktops are less likely to stain as well. Natural stone worktops, if not sealed properly, can be susceptible to stains from wine, oil, and citrus or fruit juices. Quartz worktops, on the other hand, do not easily absorb stains and can stand up to spills and other normal wear and tear quite well.


When it comes to disadvantages, quartz worktops have few. One of these is that since they are made from engineered stone and are fabricated, you cannot expect them to have the same level of natural beauty as natural stone worktops. You may also have seams which are visible with a quartz worktop, but the same is true for a natural stone worktop like granite as well. What’s important is to get a good and professional installer to install your quartz worktop for you so they know exactly what they are doing and can maximise the value of your quartz worktop.


For those who live in London and are looking for reliable, competent, and highly-professional suppliers of quartz worktops in London, look no further than J.R. Stone, which has been a leader in natural and engineered stone worktops for many years.


Image attributed to Gualberto107/FreeDigitalPhotos.net