Posts tagged inspiration
Beautifying and highlighting imperfections in the home
gold leaf kintsugi 1.jpg

If you've read my waffle for the past 9 and a half years (seriously, that is how long I've been blogging. That is scary.) you'll know how I'm not big on perfection. Perfect spaces, perfect people, perfect things - they are not real to me. Add a little wonkiness to a house, some mess to the waves of someone's hair or a few tell-tale signs of age on items and they become more interesting to me. And usually more beautiful. Recently I read about Kintsugi - a Japanese art form that sees damaged items repaired with gold (or silver). Rather than throw away broken crockery or smooth over cracks in rendered walls, the imperfections are highlighted with gold leaf and sealed with lacquer, creating an interesting feature of a home or allowing a favourite plate to continue dishing out your meals - with a little bling on the side. The method humanises things - giving them some attention, patching them up and letting them continue on their merry way rather than just giving up on them at the first sign of a breakdown. It's giving even the most ho-hum items a history, a story and a chance to shine. It's such a sweet sentiment in this throwaway world, and because I love gold leaf - and maybe because Marie Kondo and her whole "socks have feelings too" craziness has rubbed off on me more than I thought - I had to try it out on some damaged things I had around the house. 

First up: the small wooden bowl Steve found in the water on one of our walks a few years ago. It was green and gooey on one side and stunk like goodness knows what, but we thought it might clean up ok. So we soaked it and scrubbed it and it did clean up beautifully - but it was cracked in several places. So in went the size, and in went the gold leaf. It's certainly not the neatest follow-the-line I've ever done, but that's the whole point about this method: imperfections can be beautiful, and the wonkiness just gives it even more character. I love the glimmer on the rustic wood - I could never tire of that combo! 

Next, I hit up the kitchen cabinet where my Nana's dishes were. The pink floral plate was part of a few sets my grandparents bought many decades ago for my mum's wedding. I had a full set once - complete with tea cups and saucers - and accidentally threw the wrong box on the charity pile (and managed to keep a whole bunch of unwanted crap on the keep pile instead! Eek!) so I only have a few pieces left. I knew there was a big chip out of one of the side plates, so a few minutes later that chip looked a whole lot chipper (sorry) with its new gold coat - especially since the plate is gold-rimmed. I also blinged up a few op-shop pieces - several chips in a little star candlestick and the tiniest crack in a milk-glass bowl.

I actually thought that was all I had when a few nights later I decided to try my hand at making a wooden spoon out of a piece of driftwood and a lino-carving tool. Obviously, neither of these things are going to work as well as, say, proper wood and a real wood-carving knife. But I wanted to see what it was like to do before I invested in a proper knife and so had a play. It was strangely addictive - I drew a shape, cut and carved with the rounded lino tool (and yes, cut myself several times) and in an hour or so had a pretty cool shaped spoon. Except a knot was right where the rounded end of the spoon was and soon became a hole! And then, while wondering when I should quit it on the handle -  SNAP! I wondered too long so the whole thing broke. I originally threw it on the compost, but decided to keep my very first attempt at spoon carving because I really enjoyed doing it - even if it was never going to be able to be used as a spoon, was not even close to smooth and had a hole in a crucial part of it. Steve glued it together for me and I gave it the gold treatment. Now, rather than just being a weird unfinished, holey, broken wooden spoon, it's got a story, a history and a little bit of prettiness about it. I love that!

It's kind of an addictive idea - I can't help look around the house and see other imperfections I'd love to highlight somehow: holes in the floorboards from old knots, cracks in the concrete driveway... I'm completely in love with both of these ideas, above, from the

original article

I read about kintsugi. The art form is not just about gold leaf, but also patching things with similar materials but in different shapes, colours or patterns - such as adding the odd patterned tile in a bathroom wall of solid colour tiles. It really is giving the less-than-perfect aspects of a home some time in the spotlight to shine. And who doesn't like that occasionally?

{Top 3 images by Belinda Graham for The Happy Home. Concrete and gold leaf image is an part of an installation called Seam by Catherine Bertolt via

Workplace Gallery

; Patchwork timber floorboard via

Material Valley


DIY rustic floating shelves from repurposed tap parts and a table top

After cleaning up after the big, messy bathroom renovation, I came across some tap parts that I thought looked kind of cool. I squirrelled them away thinking I might come up with some use for them and promptly forgot about them. Then about six months ago (I know. I am so slow with everything these days) Steve and I decided to turn an old tabletop we found into some floating shelves for the open part of our hallway that faces the kitchen. Our front door opens straight into the living room - and will do so even when we renovate the front - so we have no entryway as such for bags/keys/sunglasses etc. So the hallway had sort of become it - but all we had was a small table (actually Steve's grandmother's old vintage sewing machine table) and it looked a bit sad all lonesome. Some shelves were in order. But we didn't want anything too modern and we didn't want them to disappear into the wall. We thought we could make a feature out of the shelves by using some reclaimed timber and placing them off centre to each other on the wall. So we made these! I found a tutorial online from Vintage Revivals for floating shelves and showed Steve who took one brief look, ignored it and winged it. A couple of attempts later, he had built some shadow box shelves. Here they are just missing their tops. 

I compared our shelves to Mandi's and realised they were close enough (high five Steve!) and that's when I noticed the bolt features at the ends of her shelves. I remembered our tap parts and suggested we drill a hole in each end and just fill it with silicone before slipping them in. They were the perfect finishing touch - has timber and brass ever been a bad combination? Here is the unstained shelf with our tap parts, below. The tap handles screw onto the long skinny part (I think).

I'd have happily have left them the raw grey colour of the tabletop, but because we had to cut up the panels, we had new-looking timber and old, so we stained to get a more even colour. I used a walnut stain - I painted it on, left for about half a minute then rubbed off with newspaper. 

I was happy with the colour and happy with the shelves themselves. We ended up nailing them with gigantic nails into the studs and they seem to be doing ok (screws would most likely be best, but I can't remember why we didn't use them). I don't have a tutorial for you - go forth and adapt Mandi's if you like. Or wing it like we did, but here is the end result! 

The wall is open to the kitchen (to the left a little hallway takes you to the bathroom and a bedroom; to the right is a longer hallway and the other two bedrooms) so there is plenty of room to walk around and luckily no heads have hit them because of this! We hung our fishbowl there and placed a few fave pieces on the shelves themselves including vintage books my Mum handed down to me that were hers as a child, Steve's cricket trophy mug from his time playing in Wales, a bowl of nature finds, a vintage clock that belonged to Steve's grandparents and a Garfish skull the kids found a few weeks ago in a tree! The table houses my daily essentials and underneath is home to the market basket I take everywhere and a hat basket. 

I'd like to create some kind of proper entryway area with room for hats, bags, umbrellas etc once our home is extended and renovated, but for our tiny space now, this seems to work. And I do love the look of them. Especially when filled with some fave things...
freedom has me excited about autumn and winter...
This is not an easy thing for me. I don't do winter well. And I don't even live in a cold area -  I would not survive a European winter (or a US polar vortexy one). But, walking into what I thought was a run-down dilapidated terrace house* in Woollhara on Tuesday for the Freedom launch had me thinking it just might not be so bad on those curl-up-on-the-couch-it's-so-cold days. I guess that's what makes a good homewares collection - the ability to see yourself in your space with THEIR things. And that's exactly what the new Autumn/Winter collection does for me - makes me want to buy everything and totally make my home a coppery, inky-blue and prettily-patterned space. Except, of course, that this all costs money. But if money were not a slight stumbling block? I'd totally do this using these fave new pieces from Freedom...

Couch: Copenhagen 3-seat sofa in Lido Teal, $1499
Rugs l-r: Rajasthan floor rug (limited edition), from $999; Moroccan Boxes rug, from $349
Side tables l-r: Mr Johnson side table in antique copper, $229 (introductory price - it will be $279 from March 15); Palisade side table in natural, $199;  The Professor Square side table in copper, $289 (introductory price - it will be $349 from March 15)
Cushions l-r: Tulia Allover cushion in ink, $34.95; Quest cushion in almond, $49.95; Tulia cushion in ink, $29.95; Avi cushion in natural, $34.95
Accessories l-r: Hathor Deco Bowl in metallic copper, $54.95; Acclimate Vessel in squid ink, $34.95; Fete 2 handle basket in white, from $49.95; Magnium Hourglass in charcoal, $29.95; Tre table lamp (limited edition, $179

But with tens of thousands of dollars poured into my renovation recently (oh and no, we're still not finished the kitchen - there are windows but no walls. Plasterer coming on Tuesday. Apparently.), I only have a small furniture and homewares budget so have to be careful. So no gorgeous teal couch for me. BUT on my definites list is the hourglass timer above (it reminds me of my diamond light bulb), a copper table lamp (my fave hasn't been shot yet, but it's the Metro Table Lamp and is $149) and at least two of the above cushions. I'd love a copper side table, but there is a rule I have for trends and that's not to buy them big or bulky or expensive - little doses is more me and I can always spraypaint a lamp (it wouldn't be the first time. Or third). 

Saying that, my absolute favourite pieces in the new Freedom collection were the trend ones - the gorgeous copper everything (there is a BED!), the limited edition overdyed rug and the shibori textiles. Next, the limited edition timeless heroes - a teal button-backed sofa, a leather butterfly chair, a spectacularly patterned round rug... But a quick way to add some warmth, colour, pattern and style to a space and make it cosier and Pinterest-worthy is the littler things - really beautifully patterned vessels and bowls, tall glass hourglasses, touch-me cushions and throws, a glam copper lamp with huge round Eddison bulb. And a new rug, below. These rugs are beautiful - neutral enough to last the test of time, but so on-trend now - two-birds people. And this is the last time I am mentioning the word trend... 

Small and not-forevers they may be (save the rugs), these pieces ARE worthy investments because they're little bits of happy that instantly update a space when you might not be able to spend over a grand on a couch. And double-duty items are the best kind - all of these are not limited to one room like, say, a bed! Cushions and throws work in the living room, on a bed, outside in the teepee for picnics, on a bench seat at the dining table - heck, on a cold metal chair at the dining table or desk; throws are for rugging up in on couch, for dressing up a bed or an occasional chair and for CREATING teepees in the backyard for picnics (just ask my kids - anything bigger than a face washer gets dragged outside for impromptu cubbies. Even in the rain.) Vases and bowls can be moved into any room for a fresh new vignette - as can lamps. See? And just like when you break down the cost of a piece of clothing by how many times you wear it, the same can be done for homewares! 

So to rave just a little more, I'm very impressed with Freedom's autumn/winter  - well done buyers! I did mention to them I've noticed a slight change in their most recent ranges - I believe they've upped their game significantly since West Elm and Pottery Barn opened up in Australia. In fact, I believe a fair few of Australia's homewares stores have gone out of their way to make their latest ranges fresh, current and more competitive. And good on them - many people would prefer to support local rather than global giants. 

To finish, here is a sneak peek at the launch through the lens of my very, very cracked iPhone and Instagram - where stylist Jason Grant put all the pretties together to come up with this... 

See anything you like?
PS: you can follow me on Instagram here or at @belindagraham

*The house was actually NOT dilapidated, but very cooly refurbished and decorated with the most amazing chandelier made from crystal decanters. It's called Bite Club House and is available to hire for events or can be booked for a very awesome dinner party. Check out the website and the before and after pics here.

Image credits: 1. Collage by Belinda Graham for The Happy Home; 2. and 3. courtesy Freedom; 4. collage by Belinda Graham for The Happy Home using Instagram and phone images.
gallery wall inspiration + hanging tips
Image by Domino magazine

Despite ripping out 5 walls recently and replacing with either a kitchen bench or a wall of glass doors, we still have one decently long wall in our dining space I think our gigantic Parker sideboard will fit on. Since I found this sideboard on the side of the road, it's been in my bedroom and used as clothing storage. Now it's time to get it into the dining room and fill it with all the plates, vases, decorative things I have stashed in a box next to my bed (all rooms were equally filled with kitchen/living/dining/laundry/playroom crap when these works started). Steve was looking at the large non-painted surface the other day and suggested a gallery wall. Now his idea of a gallery wall and my idea of a gallery wall are very, very different. He wanted to do a vertical line of photographs hanging from a string (or something). I was thinking something a little more modern - gold, white, timber frames of different sizes and styles combined with a few homemade artworks and some 3D items like feathers or a mirror - all against a black wall (Dulux Domino, like in my old bedroom). And underneath it would be my sideboard styled with pretties on top.  Kind of like this, below. And OBVIOUSLY my sideboard would not sit on top of the benchtop or squash bananas and the frames would actually be parallel to the wall's lines!

Every time I've ever done a gallery wall of some kind, I always make sure there is more than just artwork included. I like hanging jewellery from a frame. Or sticking up some nature (driftwood/shells/antlers). Or adding something meaningful like a wooden love spoon we bought in Wales to celebrate our upcoming wedding (which turned out to still be 3 years away when we got back! ha!) That's why I was drawn to these images - especially the Domino one (top) which has pretty much been in my inspiration folder since before Pinterest. As in I actually colour photocopied it when I was working at Real Living magazine - because that's what we did in the old days. To give you an idea of how I envision it looking, here are some of my recent fave gallery walls - funnily enough in the same palette of black, white, timber and gold!

Image from Smitten Studio 

Image by Made By Girl

Aren't they all so pretty? Hopefully I can manage to get something relatively decent looking myself. I have no idea which artwork yet - I don't really have anything worthwhile aside from Steve's HSC Art Xpress Sydney drawings and a couple of gold-leaf art ideas. So I'm on the hunt if you know of anything good? 

The day after we agreed to this gallery wall idea, I spotted the Country Road video sneak peek on Instagram on How to hang a frame wall. I didn't think I'd need any help in that department and yet there was a great tip in there on how to easily measure the hook and how to transfer that to your wall as well as the best eye-approved spacings. So I will be referring to this when the time comes.

And because it was Country Road, I of course had to check out their goodies and found three things I can totally see on top of my sideboard, below. And also? At Christmas time I scored a pair of garden snips for just $9.95 - if you've ever seen a half-decent floral vignette on Instagram you will know this is an essential prop :) Actually, I bought it on behalf of Steve to give to me at Christmas time - we don't really give each other presents (seeing as we just spend tens of thousands of dollars on our house renovations!), but I did buy us one small thing to give to each other. And by small, I mean small - I managed to get him a hat that didn't fit. Oops.

 1. Tinto Platter, $49.95 It's 100% marble which should be enough to want it, but I can imagine it looking oh-so-pretty underneath my glass cloche. Not sure what will go inside the cloche, but I can work that out later.

2. Mio Brass Paperweight, $24.95 Shiny and gold geo-cool paperweight that'll look tops on a pile of books.

3. Tio Timer, $14.95 I predicted a couple of years ago that these hourglasses would be an interiors trend. The shape is simple and sleek and the colour will pop against the black backdrop.

Add to this a Freedom lamp I spotted from their upcoming Autumn/Winter range and some other bits and pieces and I think I'll be happy with that space - there is nothing really styled in my home at all yet, so I'm looking forward to having at least one good-looking vignette in the living area!

If you have some suggestions for great affordable art prints you think might be my style, please leave a link in the comments! x

how did i not know this? ships to australia!

Seriously, I thought I was kind of in the know about these kinds of things, but clearly I am not. I guess my ability to know helpful things ahead of the pack vanished with my organisational skills, patience and "me time". Anyway, while ignoring my half-painted bedroom the other day and instead looking at the #livedinerest hashtag (a Country Road and Great Dane Furniture competition), I stumbled upon a lovely faux Moroccan Beni Ourain rug in someone's living room that looked just like the Rugs USA one, above in Bri Emery's living room, and below, in Jen Pinkston's family room. 

Rugs USA don't ship to Australia - I know this because I've checked several times in the past year or so because I was very keen on that particular rug. Instead I had my heart set on the West Elm Souk Wool Rug with the tassles (below, in Emily Henderson's living room) until Steve vetoed it with a rather impressive list of things he didn't like about it - most of which involved the fact he thought it looked like a child had scribbled on it. Oh. How DARE husbands have a say in these things....

Anyway, in my earnest attempts at winning him over with Pinterest searches of real Beni Ourain rugs and "this is the look I'm going for"statements, he pointed to one of them in the classic diamond shape (below, via Danielle Oakey Interiors - I am assuming that is the real deal) and said he didn't mind that. "Don't mind it" can be kind of twisted into "I love it just as much as you, babe". So I will take that and run with it - back to my original rug plan. And back to my hastag procrastination - I asked the instagrammer where she bought her rug and she answered At first I assumed she was in the states, but then I realised not so - she was Australian too and so unless she'd smuggled it back in a suitcase on a recent trip, then Overstock shipped to Australia. A few clicks later and I discovered that not only did they ship here, the shipping is VERY nicely priced. Twenty-five-ish bucks for a rug to be delivered to my door in a week from another country? Nice. (Slight side note: the cost of mail in this country is appalling. I once sent 4 magazines overseas. It cost me $40 in postage. And I hate websites with a flat-rate of $12.95 and all you want to buy is a giant balloon that would fit in an envelope.)

So anyhoo, many hours later browsing the site and ooohing at all the cool patterned rugs I now have access to, I still kept going back to that diamond shape one, aka Handmade Moroccan Trellis Wool Shag Rug. And I wish this story had a happy ending, but it doesn't (yet). I've been told I'm not allowed to get pretty things yet until we have actually done some hard work. Gah. How dare he be so sensible sometimes... So, in my twisted little mind I've devised a plan - I want that rug in my living room. BUT. The bedroom is actually going somewhere soooo, if when the bedroom is complete I can say "ta-da! It's finished but we just need a rug in here" and BOOM. Hopefully it'll be sold. To me. And not sold out, which it may well be after I share this (most likely old) news on here, now. I'm trusting you all to leave me one though ok? And then, you know, there is nothing stopping me from maybe rearranging rooms here and there in the near future, right?! 

In the interest of those who are also out of the loop, here are some funky, affordable rug options for you. That overdyed turquoise one is coming a close second to my beni-alike. And don't think is just about rugs. Oh no. That is all I was really obsessed with at the time as I find affordable rugs hard to find here. And I certainly couldn't bring myself to put something worth thousands of dollars on the ground for my (almost four!!!!!!) children to go trampling all over. I can't do precious in this house. So I haven't had even had a chance to have a proper look through the site yet (though I am assuming there are going to be big bulky items that won't be able to be shipped internationally), but I do know you can get pretty much anything on there - furniture, homewares, electrical (not really recommended for international buyers as we have different plugs), clothing, health and beauty, jewellery... There is also a handmade section called Worldstock Fair Trade selling beautiful items and benefitting various artisans from around the world. So if shopping for the pretty things isn't incentive to get working harder and faster, then I don't know what is :)

Did you know Overstock shipped to Australia? Have you bought from them before? What do you think of the selection above - anything tickle your fancy?