Friday 30 July 2021

Smarter home spaces – How to organise and use your space intelligently

Apartment Living Chronicles Part 2

To optimise space in our apartment, we need to first create order out of what can range from organised chaos to utter mayhem! We need to seek ways to use our space in the most intelligent manner possible as this will translate into a greater sense of space and home harmony. And there is no time like the present – thanks to covid and our current enforced homebound state when we are spending almost every hour of our life in our own home.

The less stuff you have, the bigger your space will feel. The greatest way towards a well-ordered and above all beautiful home is to start with a pre-spring clean. Keep an eye out for things we rarely use that are simply just taking up space. A good rule of thumb for the exercise of culling our excess, is if you haven’t used it in a year, toss it out. To make the task less daunting, start by going through a couple or drawers, a cupboard or a wardrobe each day. Set the intention to be realistic – will you really ever wear that bridesmaid’s dress again? Do you really need eight vases and two sets of cutlery? You will be surprised at how you hardly use or wear, and anything that is in good order can usually be donated to your local church, St Vinnies or Smith Family. 

Once you have removed the excess (and I know how hard this can be as sentimental value can have great power over us), we need to find space saving and storage solutions to allow our homes to shine in all their clutter-free glory. A smart place to start is when looking at furniture, opt for dual purpose or adaptable size pieces. When looking for an ottoman or even a bed, if you are short on storage then get one with storage drawers underneath. Need side tables – try nesting tables as you can pull them out as needed. A daybed can be a chillout couch for you or a bed for guests. 

If you like to entertain, extendable dining tables are the way to go as they don’t take up as much space for the everyday but come to the party when you need them. And beware of oversized pieces of furniture as they will dwarf your space, however where you cannot go wide you can go high. A tall armoire looks gorgeous, has a small floorplate and holds a lot. If you are in a studio, a Murphy bed is the way to go. It slots up in its cupboard against the wall by day, giving you loads more room to move, and pulls down by night.

Final tips for organising your space, create spaces to put things away once they have been used. If your memory is not the best, write an alphabetical list outlining where you have stored things, such as Medical files: Second shelf in the armoire; Winter tights: Bottom drawer of the guest bedroom; Wrapping paper: Top shelf of linen cupboard. As the seasons change, review you wardrobe and pass on anything you no longer wish to keep, then swap out winter clothes for summer by putting heavy clothing in the spare bedroom wardrobe. Swap winter tights out for bikinis/speedos. Remember that a clean house is a happier, lighter, far more pleasant place to live so keep on top of housework and you will find even your mind feels less cluttered. And most importantly, only buy things you absolutely love and always think quality over quantity.

If you need some more inspiration and information on organising your home, get one of The Home Edit’s fantastic books 

Friday 23 July 2021

Beat the blues with green and surround yourself with plants

Apartment Living Chronicles Part 1

If you are feeling a bit blue this winter, with the short days and covid wreaking havoc in our lives, then you are certainly not alone. Never before has our home environment been so critical to our mental health, so here are some sure-fire ways to beat the blues with nature’s most healing and regenerative organism - plants.

Constantly seeing and being around plants has been proven in a multitude of studies to help people feel calmer and more relaxed, thus decreasing levels of anxiety. Having plants in our lives also helps improve memory and attention span by 20 percent and can increase concentration. Other benefits include reducing depression and increasing creativity, self-esteem and overall quality of life, so there is every reason to invest in some plants for your home. And on top of this that they produce oxygen and remove carbon dioxide, which is all the more important in winter and lockdown when we are spending so much time indoors.

Specifically, researchers have found that people who surround themselves with plant life and other forms of natural beauty, both indoors and out, experience emotional and mental health benefits that have a positive impact on their social, psychological, physical, cognitive, environmental, and spiritual well-being.
Balconies are the more obvious places to introduce plants into our apartment, but don’t neglect to have them indoors also. There are so many varieties that thrive inside and many that are far easier to keep happy than even the least green thumbed of us might think. Mother-in-law’s Tongue and Devil’s Ivy are great plants to start with, as are Zanzibar Gem, Dragon Tree, Maidenhair Fern, Zebra Plant, Lucky Bamboo, Boston Fern, Long-leaf Fig and indoor varieties of Succulent.

Gorgeous indoor flowering plants include Orchid, Cyclamen, Flamingo Lily, African Violet and Peace Lily. Larger plants can serve as dramatic sculptural statements. Banana trees, Fiddle-leaf Fig, Rubber Plant, Lady Palm, Monstera Deliciosa, Olive Tree, Chinese Fan Palm, Cornstalk Dracaena, Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Date Palm and Weeping Fig are all striking varieties to have inside our homes.

And simply buying yourself fresh flowers – not just for family and friends - brings seasonal joy and colour into your home and supports your local florist.  Many bunches of flowers will last for a week, so ask your florist which varieties will last the longest and spoil yourself. If the florist doesn’t provide a little sachet of flower food, you can easily make your own by adding a good squeeze of lemon juice, a teaspoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of bleach to the water in your vase. 

But don’t just limit your plant interactions when only at home, find your nearest park and set up a walking regime there and back each day, whenever possible. Not only will this help clear your head and give you a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sunlight, being around trees boosts our wellbeing, encourages socialisation and even makes us kinder! And exciting new research suggests that trees can boost our immunity due to the oxygen and aromatic compounds they release. So don’t delay, lift your mood and improve your health and wellbeing by making plants and trees your new best friends.

Friday 16 July 2021

BREAKING NEWS: Federal government releases 30,000 new grants for First Home Buyers

If you’ve been dreaming of buying your first home, the latest Australian Federal Government incentives may be the help you need to make it a reality. As of the 1st of July, 2021, the government has introduced 30,000 new places for its First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, New Home Guarantee and Family Home Guarantee. 

Some 10,000 additional places have been released under the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme for the 2021-2022 financial year. The scheme supports eligible first home buyers purchase an established home or a new home sooner with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent. The price cap for Sydney properties eligible for this scheme is now $800,000, up from last financial year’s cap of $700,000. 

The Family Home Guarantee is a new grant announced in the 2021-2022 Federal Budget to support eligible single parents with at least one dependent child. There will be 10,000 Family Home Guarantees made available over four financial years from 1 July 2021 to buy a new or existing home with a deposit of as little as 2 per cent. The Sydney price cap for this grant is $800,000.

The New Home Guarantee, announced in October 2020, is specifically for eligible first home buyers building or buying a new home with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent. This scheme has been extended under the 2021-2022 Federal Budget with 10,000 new places available from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022. The price cap for the New Home Guarantee is $950,000. 

Applications for the three schemes can be made through participating lenders or mortgage providers so speak to your bank to see if you are eligible and start to make your first home dream a reality.