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Brush up on your Paint Facts

What sets a mood; transforms an environment and expresses a person’s individual creativity? The answer is easy… COLOUR. And more specifically the paint colours we choose to decorate our homes.

They may say ‘it’s only paint’ but get it wrong and it could cost you thousands. On the other hand, choosing and using paint colours successfully is a cost effective strategy for elevating the entire look and feeling of a home, while maximising your investment potential for future resale opportunity.

 

 

Here are the designer tips that will have you painting like a professional and living with the colours you love.

Colour Inspiration

There are no fixed rules when it comes to finding inspiration for your paint colours. Your inspiration may come from visiting a display home, pop up in an Instagram post or even reflect something seen in nature – like bark on a tree or wings on a butterfly. Paint colour is greatly affected by shape, texture, depth of colour, as well as the type and amount of lighting that colour is exposed to. People respond psychologically to colour, so the more you find out about the effect colours have on different environments the better prepared you are to select the colour that suits the mood of the home you want to create. Fresh happy colours remind us of smiling faces, flowers in spring, and sunshine, compare this to a sombre palette of dark colours, or stark whites and the mood is altered dramatically.

 

 

A favourite tile, kitchen cabinetry colour, or just an image in a magazine may be the starting point for your entire colour concept. Examine your own sense of style – your living room or even your closet; this may reveal the answer to the colours you enjoy being surrounded by most. Try building a colour board by placing samples of your carpets, tiles, etc. together. Colours work best relating to their surroundings, so add your paint swatches to the board last and consider that the aim of a successful colour scheme is to create harmonious visual order. To be safe, consider staying with a single colour family. For accents, try using darker or lighter shades instead of using a different colour and remember that further colour can be added later through furnishing and accessories. For the more experienced and adventurous, try introducing stronger colour but remain conscious of maintaining balance and flow – and the very real possibility of growing tired of fad colours, particularly with regards to future resale.

 

 

Your house may be your canvas – but it’s not always blank. If you are repainting an older home consider the features that will not be painted. For example, what colour is your roof? Your paint colour doesn’t need to match exactly, but it should harmonize. When selecting exterior paint colours, remember that how your house presents to the street greatly impacts on the overall value and first impression of the home. To achieve a resolved design concept the external facade should relate to your internal colour scheme, adding a sense of continuity to the overall feel and giving just a taste of what lies beyond the front door. The popularity of rendered brickwork and external cladding compared to face brickwork, means there may be even more external paint areas to consider now than just the gutter and the eaves. Examine how front entry doors, garage doors, window frames and coverings and balustrades will complement the paint colours you intend to use for the main areas of the house.

 

Colour – the big picture

Before you actually buy the paint, as you stand at the paint counter with eight tiny colour swatches of near identical colours in hand, remember this one important piece of advice – paint chips are printed and not painted so they will never be the same as the finished colour on your much larger walls.

The more you understand about a particular paint colour, the more educated you become about whether it enhances your colour scheme or throws the whole look off balance.   Always invest a few dollars buying the test pot first – it can save you thousands of dollars (and tears) not to have to repaint an entire house. Paint at least two coats on the largest board you have available and look at it in natural light, as well as inside (particularly for internal colours as this is near to how you will actually see them in the home and in relation to carpets, tiles, etc). Always wait until the paint has completely dried before making any rash decisions as paint dries darker than it looks when it is wet.

 

 

Purchasing, Priming and Maintaining

When buying paint people are often unsure of the quantity they need to purchase. The general rule of thumb is to allow between 10 and 14 sq. metres per litre. Always ensure that all surfaces are carefully prepped before priming, and select a good quality primer. Taubmans 3 in 1 (primer, sealer and undercoat in 1) and Taubmans Easy Coat Prep not only prepare the surface for paint but also allow more of the paint layers to adhere to the wall surface. The undercoat can also be tinted to further enhance the amount of final coverage achieved.

Paints consist of a tone colour (base) that is tinted with a measured quantity of colourants (tints) to a recipe or formula unique to each paint colour and manufacturer. When choosing a paint colour it pays to know how much tint will be added to the tone. If the amount is too small then the opacity of the paint will be compromised, and may require several additional coats to achieve the amount of coverage necessary. If too much tint is added to the tone it can interfere with the paint’s film forming properties, durability and can increase the risk of future fading. Most paint brands offer a Builder’s Range of colours. These ranges identify specific selections of colours proven to provide coverage without the need for excessive coats above standard application – a great advantage for the novice painter.

Although exterior paint generally last between 7 to 10 years, due to the uniquely harsh Queensland climate, often this can be even less than the manufacturer promotes.   Thankfully the quality of tints has improved greatly in recent years and many now include UV filters so you can enjoy your colour for longer without repainting.

The preferred method of paint application for most painters is a synthetic roller with a thickness of 12mm. The roller needs to be primed regularly with paint to ensure coverage is smooth and even.

 

 

Low VOC – The Healthy Paint Alternative

You might have thought it was just the local fast food chains’ offering healthier alternatives these days, but the paint industry has been called on to clean up their menu as well. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound, a key component in the composition of oil based paint and traditional latex based paints. Exposure to VOC’s in paints, varnishes and solvents can be the trigger for asthmas attacks, eye irritation and respiratory problems, nausea and even dizziness among other symptoms. Most will not experience these symptoms, but for those who do help is at hand. Different types of healthy alternative paint now available and endorsed by Environmental choice Australia include: Low Odour or Low VOC Paint, Zero VOC Paint, Non Toxic or Natural Paint. Although you will pay a little more for these formulas, expectant mothers and those particularly sensitive to chemicals will find it a worthwhile investment in both health and peace of mind.

For a cleaner, fresher, safer home environment Taubmans recommend Pure Performance Interior Prep Primer used in conjunction with Taubmans Endure for internal walls. This combination is superior to standard formula paints as it provides a strong protective barrier with maximum protection against household stains, mould and mildew preventing harmful bacteria and even fungus.

 

 

Whatever paint you select, when the job is done remember to consider the environment when cleaning up. Dispose of leftover tins appropriately, and wash brushes and rollers in buckets to avoid wasting water.

So whether you are bold or beige, feature fearless or a timeless traditional – your new favourite colour may only be a brushstroke away so pick up a paint chart this weekend and get inspired.

Investing in street appeal with style

You’ve found the perfect block of land, an ideal home design and a fabulous builder. You’re thinking you’ve got it all sorted but there is still one big decision that can dramatically impact the appeal and resale value of your family’s home or investment property – the right facade.

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The facade is in effect the face of your home, the street frontage for your biggest life purchase, and ultimately the backdrop for your life. It’s where you greet family and friends as they arrive for BBQs and birthday parties. You stand back full of pride and admire it after mowing the lawn on a Saturday afternoon, and it’s what long to see as you turn into your street coming home at the end of a long day. It will also end up in quite a few family photos.

By building a new home, you make your mark on the streetscape and create your impression of who and what lies behind the exterior. For the secrets to creating street appeal with style, read on for Stylemaster’s top tips for choosing the right facade.

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Architectural Style

Classical or contemporary; provincial or even personalised. The type of facade you select should represent the character and style of the actual home design. It makes sense for so many people building new homes, with their clever space enhancing layouts and modern architectural appeal, to opt one of many stunning contemporary facades available. However, the preference for traditional style facades is on the rise and expected to increase. Relaxed charm of Hamptons and Coastal facades are proving extremely popular, while the refined elegance of Provincial facades are a favourite for those looking to make a sophisticated and affluent statement.

The specific style of your exterior may be reflection of personal taste, but achieving well-designed and beautiful facades in a range of signature styles is the mark of an experienced and versatile builder. Your builder’s range of facades should showcase architectural innovation and incorporate quality materials to achieve a unique and attractive exterior with enduring appeal.

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At Stylemaster Homes our extensive range of facades have been developed to offer a point of difference in the project home market. Our range is continually updated in line with international trends and localised requirements such as covenants and block widths. Evolving construction technologies and the opportunity to incorporate new materials, as well as catering to the specific and varied tastes of our clients are key to the success of our facade range.

 

Facade Investment

Well-designed facades redefine the perceived value of homes. Successful architecture makes narrow homes appear wider and a modest home command grander appeal. Obviously this translates into value on resale. It can be tempting to select cheaper facades believing that this is a cost effective approach to choosing the right one. But investment in your facade should be relative to your project’s overall cost and in keeping with the quality of home exteriors in your chosen building area. It’s about balance.

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Despite falling in love with the most beautiful and expensive facade available, it may not make good financial sense to select this option if you are building in a suburb with modest property values. A proportionate facade with quality materials and a tastefully chosen colour scheme will always retain appeal even without being the most expensive on offer. And depending on what you select, there may be opportunity to upgrade to an architectural cladding material, beautiful feature brickwork, higher windows, or even a statement front door further enhancing your facade. However, when building in certain neighbourhoods, greater resale profitability can be achieved when the facade investment and overall street appeal is specifically addressed to meet the market.

Our new home consultants will guide you on a refined selection of facade types for your particular home design that are well suited the property values and covenant suitability for your building area.

 

Material Selection

At Stylemaster, we know our expert advice makes all the difference for achieving a spectacular façade. Whether clients are guided through the selection process choosing their colours and materials with confidence, or deciding on one of our stunning preselected palettes, we know their colours and materials can be just a beautiful as their favourite display home.

When considering facade materials, it is important to research the current fashions in the building marketplace. Are you ahead of the trends, or so on trend that it could date and jeopardise resale in ten or fifteen years’ time? Innovative new products are an important driving force behind the most successful facade designs right now, and introducing these new materials is increasingly desirable for style savvy clients. In recent times the strong flat surfaces of painted render with the occasional feature colour had been a safe and popular option. But trends like time, move on.

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Cladding has been long used with great success in the commercial industry. And thanks to the contemporary, architectural lines and different surfaces available, it’s now a major player in the hearts and homes of suburbia. Lightweight cladding may carry with it a distant memory of the old weatherboards, but this fibre cement exterior panelling is right on trend with its stunning configurations of lines and patterning. Maintenance is minimal as modern cladding is both durable and rot resistant.

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Timber panelling can be applied to walls as well as ceilings and is popular with those wanting to embrace a natural and sustainable finish. Natural timber is stunning and its’ eco sensitivity is an important consideration. However, maintenance is definitely a factor as the timber protection staining or oiling may needed to maintain its beauty. You may need professional maintenance and scaffolding for those hard to reach places. An alternative option for those without the time to spare for maintenance, are new powder coated timber and synthetic timber look products that replicate the species and grain patterning of natural timber. These products are very realistic, durable and really clever.

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Stone and tile cladding, and feature brickwork are also popular materials to incorporate into your facade to add extra interest and personality. But remember that it is also important to consider the materials you use for your facade in relation to other areas of your property such as fencing, driveway, garden design, feature pots and even garden sculptures so the end result is harmonious. Get the combination right and the result can be breathtaking.

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If you want a home to make people stop and stare for all the right reasons visit a Stylemaster Homes display centre this weekend.

 

 

Pendant Perfection

Stylemaster sheds some light on how to get pendant lighting right in your home

Pendant lighting does more for your home than simply illuminate your space.  Whether you select something oversize and elaborate or sleek and streamlined, pendants can be an instant injection of style, creating a focal point whilst adding perspective and scale to any room.  But with unlimited options available for pendant types and places to put them in your home, don’t be overwhelmed, just read on to learn Stylemaster’s top tips for achieving pendant lighting success.

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Suit your Style

The first point to consider is finding a light that suits your taste and style.  For example, if your space is Industrial then you would be looking to compliment décor that is very different from a Scandinavian, Coastal/Hamptons or Mid-Century Modern home.  Draw on the character of your room and select a pendant that reflects the surrounding materials, colours and finishes.  Visit display homes or search online to find examples of lights that are ideally shown installed in a room so you have a better understanding of the impact they create.

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Size and Scale

Other important factors to consider are the size and scale of the room.  Larger spaces like an entry, stairwell, or dining area can be ideal for showcasing substantial pendants with ‘wow’ factor.  While smaller zones like a study or powder room are likely to call for something more understated.  Clustering pendants together, either closely at differing heights, or lined up and spaced out in multiples is another way to achieve volume and impact with your pendants.  This approach is usually most popular in kitchens where an island bench creates an ideal platform to illuminate.     

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Ambience and Mood

The type of ambience and mood you are trying to create is another consideration when choosing pendants.  It is important to factor whether the purpose of your pendant is to create feature or task lighting.  This will determine the brightness, height and focus of the lighting required or whether a diffuser shade is need to soften the lighting level.  Adding dimmer controls for feature pendants is a great solution for providing balance between task and feature lighting levels.  Pendant switching locations are also important, particularly when using pendants on either side of a bed.  2 way switching with one switch at the entry and another next to the bed eliminates the need to get out of bed to turn off the light at night – as this can be both annoying and dangerous!

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Features and Focal Points

When nominating pendant locations, it can be easy to go overboard.  But how many pendants are too many?  This is a personal preference that is relative to the specifics of your home design.  For example, when a kitchen and dining room are close to one another, having 4 pendants over an island and another 3 over the dining table is likely to look OK on your plans but could possibly be overkill in reality.  Think about where you are trying to create a focal point in the space.  For maximum impact it is best to either select one of these zones to highlight or carefully choose the pendants and reduce in one area.  For example, if you have multiple pendants in the kitchen then keep them subtle and add one larger high impact light over the dining table.  This way both areas are featured yet a focal point is achieved. 

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Positions and Future Provisions

When planning a new build, it is a great idea to make provisions for any feature pendants you may want in the future.  This is particularly important with double storey homes as the ground floor ceiling space will be very difficult to access once the home is completed and this is generally where the main kitchen and dining areas are located.  By adding concealed junction boxes, your electrician will be able to easily locate the electrical provision and add your pendant at a later date if you feel the space needs it.  If you are considering pendants with considerable weight, then you may also want to add additional nogging so that there are no issues when install time comes.  Should you wish to add pendants to wet areas, consider that there are safety restrictions relative to water outlets and these will need to be adhered to.  For pendants over baths, you can select either a 12-volt light or choose a pendant that can be converted to suit.  This will actually rule out some pendant styles completely if they cannot be converted.  Remember that pendant locations throughout the home can also be dictated by beams, etc in the ceiling cavity so there may be limitations on exact install points.

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Hanging Heights

The height to hang pendants can be one that causes a bit of head scratching and confusion, particularly when looking at a plan or when standing in a new and empty home.  Obviously no one wants to hit their heads so this is the top factor to consider but pendant heights can be subjective and are relative to their surroundings and the overall ceiling height of the space.  Installing over islands in kitchens and in ensuites or powder rooms are a little easier as they can be hung relative to cabinetry heights.  For other areas such as dining, living and bedrooms, to achieve the best results, it is ideal to have furniture in place first.  Once someone can hold your pendant in position it is much easier to envision the result and achieve a balance you are happy with.  Depending on the particular pendant, final heights can be adjusted after install but repositioning the pendant may cause issues since it is not ideal to replaster sections of a new ceiling. 

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Aside from the obvious beauty of pendant lighting, one of their appealing traits as a design element is that they are quite easy to update as the years go by and your style evolves.  So enjoy your quest for the perfect pendant light and choose your locations with flair and confidence.  For more lighting inspiration, see some of the world’s best designer pendants in full splendour in a Stylemaster Homes display village near you.

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First steps in choosing the flooring for your home

With so many flooring options available including tiles, slate, timber, concrete, bamboo, vinyl carpet and other decorative finishes you would be forgiven for feeling a little confused. Whether you are designing a new home or simply planning to renovate, at some stage you will have to answer this question: ‘What style of flooring will be best for me, my family… and even my pets?’

There are many factors to consider before making this decision such as the type of ambience you are trying to create, ease of installation, budgetary constraints and most importantly how much time and expense you are realistically prepared to invest in cleaning and maintenance. Although the initial cost is one of the most pressing matters facing new home builders and renovators, how suitable the type of flooring is for the amount of foot traffic it will need to endure over the years and how well it will wear over time are equally important considerations.

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It is recommended that you research the expected longevity and quality of your preferred flooring material, especially where a loan has to be taken into account and factored into the costing.  Calculate the total cost including interest for the flooring with how long you anticipate it will last in good condition and without looking out dated. You may then want to compare it with one of the more expensive options that will wear over time more successfully and with enduring visual appeal for the best long term value.  The best long term value may actually be the more expensive flooring that wears better over time and maintains its visual appeal.

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Here are a few options worth considering:

Tiles

With an option for every taste and budget, types include everything from terracotta to traditional ceramic; glazed, honed or polished porcelain and new large format and slim profile tiles.  One of the main benefits associated with tiled floors is the ease of maintenance. Ceramic and glazed Porcelain floor tiles don’t require special cleaning solutions, are generally stain resistant and are easier to keep clean than most flooring options. Many polished porcelain tiles are now available already sealed, however to make the most of the format and colours, they often look best with coloured or light floor grout. Additional sealing after install is advised to help maintain the grout colour over time. The frequency of follow up professional cleaning is generally determined by the amount of foot traffic. Lighter grout colours will definitely need more attention than neutral tones.

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Tiles are very easily repaired if damaged. You can simply remove the damaged tile and replace. Always ensure you store an additional box of tiles for future repair as tiles are only current for a limited time and can often have substantial differences between batches.

Tiles can also be quieter than floating timber or vinyl floors. They can absorb more noise than other types of flooring that often carry noise from room to room. Tiles also offer the advantage of being waterproof, so in the event you have a dishwasher or washing machine leak they can be easily cleaned without damage.  For a continuous look, you may wish to extend your main floor tiling into your wet areas and use a non slip version to open out to your alfresco zones.  Currently timber look tiles are very popular as an outdoor flooring alternative to stained decking.

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Timber flooring Options

Hardwood – Solid Tongue and Groove

This traditional flooring system has been used since the 17th century and still continues to offer lasting beauty and durability.  This flooring is constructed as a solid piece of wood and is designed to be laid directly on to joists, battens or over concrete. If this flooring is damaged it can be restored by sanding and re finishing. Hardwood floors come in select, natural and standard grades as well as a range of specialty options like reclaimed or colour washed finishes. Solid Tongue and groove flooring is one of the most expensive flooring options, so consideration should be given to the return on your investment.

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Pre-Finished Engineered Flooring

This flooring offers all the benefits of natural timber flooring without the need for sanding and polishing. These boards usually comprise four to five layers of timber fused together into long sections that are prefinished and ready to install.  Pre finished boards can be installed in half the time of traditional tongue and groove flooring.  Although timber species for flooring is generally selected according to colour preference, it is also worth investigating the individual hardness rating as not all species are equally durable.

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Parquetry

Parquetry offers the opportunity to add a stunning feature with your flooring as it is made up of small fingers of timber in tile form and comes in blocks that can be arranged in either mosaic and block patterns.  This can be designed with as much or as little detail as your taste prefers.

Parquetry can be one of the most expensive flooring options due to the amount of craftsmanship usually required for both manufacture and install.  However, even used just in an entrance, a stunning parquetry floor will add a feeling of warmth and quality to any home.  It is worth noting that some companies are now offering prefabricated designs for these wanting to save time on on-site labour costs.

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Laminate Timber

As this technology evolves with time, timber look vinyl flooring is fast becoming a popular alternative to traditional flooring options. The flooring is actually a picture of timber impregnated on a board giving the look and sometimes even the texture of natural timber. It is a much cheaper option than real timber floors and a lot more durable particularly in moisture prone areas unlike hardwood timber.

The laminate usually consists of 4 layers that are heat pressed together in one large sheet, then cut into various sizes. The boards have a specific joining system to ensure the floor is structurally stable.  Easy to maintain, the floor need only be swept to remove dust and wiped over with standard products for cleaning.

Vinyl floors are available in various designs, shades and styles and are generally simple to install in comparison to other flooring like stone, hardwood or tiles.

Bamboo Flooring

Increasingly popular, bamboo is an environmentally friendly flooring resource that is easy to install.  Like hardwood timber, bamboo flooring is also a favourite for allergy and asthma suffers due to its resistance to mould and dust mists.  However make sure you choose one manufactured with low VOCs and installed with low VOC adhesives.

Bamboo flooring comes in many textures and is available in colours of natural or coffee.  It is usual to expect lighter flooring to become darker, and darker flooring to become lighter in the first few months after install as the bamboo settles.  One of the biggest disadvantages of bamboo flooring is that it is more brittle than hardwood. These floors are extremely easy to dent and scratch. Walking on them with high heel shoes will likely leave a dent in them. If you own a dog or cat, you should be aware that the claws can easily leave little scratches.

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Carpet

Carpet is a very popular floor covering particularly for those desirably cosy zones like bedrooms, media zones and family areas.  It offers warmth, versatility, insulation and is available in a variety of colours, finishes and patterns. If you live in a busy home with lots of traffic, you know how loud wood or laminate floors can be. Carpet reduces echoes by absorbing the impact of foot traffic and soaking up room sounds. The most popular carpets on the market today are solution dyed and are highly stain-resistant, meaning clean up is easy. With just a damp cloth or a quick vacuuming, your floors look as good as new.

First and foremost, a carpeted floor is a safe floor. The soft surface and cushioned under-padding not only reduce the impact of a fall, but also the likelihood of it happening in the first place. Carpet is inherently slip-resistant, meaning it’s harder to slip and fall.  For an extra touch of luxury and comfort you may wish to upgrade your underlay for from felt or foam to premium rubber.

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Polished Concrete

Polished concrete is rapidly becoming the ultimate flooring material for business and is slowly gaining acceptance for the residential market. Recent advances in polishing equipment and techniques mean that contractors are now grinding concrete floor surfaces to a high-gloss finish that never needs waxes or coatings.  While Parador flooring is an alternative concrete look flooring product with a stylish aggregate look and durable finish. Consideration should be given to the fact that it is not yet as widely used as other more traditional flooring and this could be a deterrent for resale dependant on the type of property.  Although, if superior durability and long term performance is an important requirement for you, then the benefits of polished concrete should be carefully considered.

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Whatever flooring appeals to you visually, it is worth investing a little time in what will be the best solution for your home.  To walk on some of the latest in flooring fashions visit a Stylemaster Homes display this weekend.

Tips for transforming your walls using textured cladding

Take your feature walls from flat to fantastic by introducing 3D textures, sophisticated natural elements and the tactile allure of vertical cladding in your home.  This bold design statement has the power to instantly add drama and completely transform even the most unassuming of spaces.  For advice on how to master this trend effectively, here are Stylemaster’s top tips for taming textures for your walls.

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Natural stone cladding

Recent trends have favoured this natural look for its rustic textures and neutral yet diverse colour palette. Limestone, sandstone, granite or even manufactured stone surfaces can all inject a gentle earthy feeling to your space.  Stone works well when combined with other natural elements like timber flooring, woven rugs and soft linen upholstery to maintain a feeling of cosiness.  Stone is particularly effective when applied to a fireplace or mantle and makes a stunning impact when used on an entire wall.  However stone cladding can be very expensive and considerations for the weight of this product will need to be made during construction.  On the plus side, when selecting a feature for a bathroom wall, consider that the vanity mirrors will double (or even triple) the impact of the stone you use!

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Timber cladding

Timber cladding offers unique warmth to any space and is available in a stunning range of species. These sophisticated natural timber options bear little resemblance to the tongue and groove or sixties panelling of yesteryear.  They are available in different veneer cuts to highlight the natural grain, can be manufactured in irregular shaped panels and installed with subtle shadow lines to highlight the individual panel placements.  Screen wood is another attractive timber cladding option and can be installed on both walls and ceilings for a clean linear effect.  Natural timber is ideal for low moisture zones such living, dining or bedrooms and thanks to the wide range of species colour options available can be used to create beautifully coordinated and styled interior schemes.  Always note, when nominating any type of cladding it is essential to consider all finishing points to ensure an attractive and seamless installation.

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Tile cladding

In recent years the finishes, colours, shapes and sizes available in tiles has become increasingly impressive.  Slick new rustic surfaces combined with metallic accents, highly polished porcelains in soft sludgy tones, and even tiles that resemble timber boards – in both colour and texture!  New mosaic tiles are shifting shape and can now be found in a huge variety of patterns, colours and even combinations of 2 or more different materials.  Many floor/wall tiles also have matching mosaic patterns so you have the option to retain a singular colour scheme yet introduce interest by using a contrasting shape.  Tile cladding has been incorporated into features for housing facades for many years now and can be difficult to get right.  Less is definitely more in this case and ideally tiles work best alongside the clean finishes like painted render and carefully considered timber detailing.

Textured wallpaper

Wallpaper has endured a struggling comeback over the past 10 years, but has finally proven the designs, finishes and production technology of today are light years away from our childhood memories of Grandma’s house.  Open any home magazine right now and you will undoubtedly find mention of this versatile product.  While the finishes range anywhere between handmade organic and stylised chic, the key word is texture.  The tactile weaves of grass cloths intertwined with metallic and silken threads are a favourite right now and subtly incorporate different colour combinations into the neutral weaves making it easy to find one that ties the elements of your room together.  3D vinyl and surfaces featuring patterns in miniature glass beading, flocking or foil are also very much on trend.  It is recommended to limit wallpapers with delicate finishes for high traffic areas.  For example, glass beading looks incredible but only when the finish is immaculate and no one has been picking off the beads!

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Panel cladding

Whether you prefer the rustic charm of handmade coconut mosaic, or the gentle flowing pattern found in sculpted wall panels there is a 3D wall cladding option to suit your room.  The beauty of a product like the coconut mosaic tiles is that they can be purchased in packs and easily installed at home for an instant transformation.  Sculpted wall panels are custom made in the pattern and size you require out of raw MDF.  These can either be finished by the manufacturer in a vinyl or metal coating or can be primed and painted your desired colour after installation.  Grids of upholstered panels wrapped in fabrics like suede, leather and silk are popular options to give a hotel like feeling to master suites and media rooms.  The fabric panels also enable you to re-introduce the selected fabric in your decorating through custom lampshades or cushions.  And fabric panels also look great when combined with other materials like timber.

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Lighting

The most effective way to show off texture is to illuminate it – so adjust your down lights and install some contemporary track lighting, decorative wall sconces, pendants or up lighting where you need it.  Even bedside lamps and candles can give you the subtle glow necessary for adding interest to your carefully selected surfaces.   A well-chosen lighting scheme is particularly important for enhancing subtle metallic features in wallpaper or tiles, or for creating gentle shadows on a natural stone cladding.

You will know when you have found the right wall texture when it complements the feeling and overall colour concept of your home while enhancing your decor and other personal touches.  But most importantly as with all textural elements, you will feel an overwhelming urge to reach out and touch it.

To experience textured cladding at its best we recommend a visit to our stunning display homes at Rochedale where you can see the spectacular Icona bathroom and entry cladding for yourself.

Where fashion meets function – 5 tips for a fabulous walk in robe

We all want a dream robe where our clothes, shoes and accessories look amazing on display, choosing our outfits for all occasions is simple and stress free, and putting everything away after wearing and washing is a breeze.  Getting your design right means the difference between enjoying the luxury of your own mini boutique or creating complete clothing chaos!  So here are Stylemaster’s secrets for creating your stunning new walk in robe.

1. Conceal or reveal

Consider if you need to conceal or reveal your clothing?  A combination of both can work well depending on the space and your personal preference.  Generally speaking, clothing will vary in shape, style, colour and fabric type and can look a little messy if not grouped accordingly.  For spaces where your robe is designed as a pass through between your master and ensuite it can feel a bit more pulled together to incorporate an element of concealed cabinetry.  The same goes for whether you need to add a door option to your walk in robe entry or if you prefer to keep it a flowing extension of your master suite.

2. Storage design

Design your robe with a practical combination of double and full height hanging.  Think of your partner’s needs if sharing, as robe space is not always divided equally and their requirements may quite be different to your own.  Not everything will hang so ensure that you have enough drawers allocated and consider adding dividers as these are ideal to properly organize everything from socks and underwear to accessories.  Where space permits a bank of drawers in the middle of your robe as a freestanding unit will keep all these items neatly grouped together.  It also acts as a central focal point for the space and can be a perfect positon to add a special pendant light overhead or your favourite style of floral arrangement. And if you are up to the challenge of keeping your drawer contents tidy, adding glass fronts to your drawers adds sophistication and also saves time as it is much easier to find everything.Storage-WIR-web

3. Boutique style

We all love our bags and shoes so why not enjoy them like art?  Allocate a section of shelving and add backlit panels or led strip lighting to really show them off.  Remember overall good lighting in a robe is essential – you need to be able to tell your navy from your black.  Ensure that your shelving is designed to include different height sections to cater for larger items like boots or oversize bags.  You can even house them behind glass doors to protect your investments and keep them dust free.  It helps you see exactly when you own and whether you have space for more!   And speaking of art, a robe is a perfect spot to enjoy some fashion inspired art from your favourite high end boutique or vintage design era.

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4. Mirror, mirror

Mirror front doors, full height or large decorative mirrors are extremely useful in a robe.  Not only do they make your space feel bigger, but they do the all-important task of helping you pull your look together from top to toe.  There are many great options available including those with built in LED lighting.  If there is space at one end of your robe you may wish to include a beauty station.  This is ideal for putting the finishing touches on your look and it is a great spot to keep your jewelry, sunglasses and other smaller accessories neatly stored and secure.

5. Seating space

Seating in a robe can be as basic as a small stool, or as luxurious as a designer chaise lounge.  But whatever you have space for or choose to include in your robe, always remember to position your seating close to your shoe storage as possible.  Built in seating is another popular option, particularly as drawer storage can be built in underneath.  There are some fabulous upholstered ottomans available now and these are also great options for casual soft seating in robes.

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We promised you 5 tips but our bonus is to remember that true luxury is comfort.  That means having all your practical needs considered and catered for in advance.  So design your robe to forward plan for your everyday fashion emergencies.  From the downright essential, ensure items such as multiple thread colour mending kits (containing all those loose buttons that come with so many new clothing items), a good lint brush, scissors for removing tags on new items, and a shoe polish kit (again containing the spare heel covers that often come with a new pair of stilettos) are all within easy reach for those moments you absolutely need them.  If you space and budget allow, then why not add a pull out ironing board to give your garments a last minute press if required?  While considerations for a security safe or even provisions for a panic room are also possibilities for the ultimate designer walk in robes.

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For more robe (envy!) inspiration visit a Stylemaster Homes display this weekend.  And to include everything on your dream robe wish list in your new home, speak with a Stylemaster new home consultant for further information and advice.

Designer secrets for creating a teen retreat

Do you have a teen in your life who loves a little glamour?  A sports fan, environmentalist, music lover, extreme gamer?

Teen years are the time when that burgeoning pre adult personality emerges, and with it very specific likes, dislikes and opinions on many topics.  Bedrooms in particular rate high on that list.  So here are Stylemaster’s tips to save your sanity, design a zone that grows with your teen and create a stylish sanctuary that expresses their newfound individuality.

Gone are the cowboy sheets, the pirate curtains, anything with fairies, flowers or the once loved fluffy animals.  Your young teenagers are ready to claim their space in your home, impress their friends, and with these tips, decorate their bedroom in a style that can evolve through their transitional years and serve them through high school, university and beyond (for those who decide to stay on).

ADD AN ENSUITE OR SHARE BATHROOM

If you are building a new home, there are several options you can consider including for the future that will help your home grow with your family’s needs.  One of these is adding an ensuite or share bathroom access with an adjoining bedroom.  This is becoming a popular trend in home design that allows teens to have their own space and also frees up the main bathroom.

MAXIMISE STORAGE

Another useful piece of advice for designing teen bedrooms is to provide maximum storage.  Where you have space, include a walk in robe and consider additional storage where ever possible such as pull out drawer systems under beds or seating.  We know teens are notorious for creating mess so why not give them the tools to organize it (or a place to hide it!).

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CREATE ZONES

Aside from sleeping, consider zones your teen will need for studying, hobbies and relaxing with friends.  Try to keep your space versatile so you have room to include a good size study desk with shelving and provisions for task lighting and technical requirements such as power, internet, etc.  Ideally try to position this near a window so that they can benefit from natural light and ventilation where possible.  Some comfortable seating for hanging out with friends and an area that caters to your teen’s interests (such as a painting easel or game station) will allow them to enjoy the independence that comes from engaging with their own space.

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FURNITURE INVESTMENTS

Invest in quality furniture items that will last through their teens and possibly be pieces they can take with them to their first home.  Upholstered headboards, sturdy bedside tables, and a desk with an ergonomic desk chair are all key pieces.  Large cork or message boards are a great option to protect walls whilst giving your teen a surface to decorate with posters, notes and personal items.  If it suits your style, chalkboards can be a fun way to create an engaging feature wall for the space.  Another option is a large frame with removable perspex so they can frame their favourite images (boys bands, sporting heroes etc) and change them as the years (weeks) go by.

PERSONAL TOUCH

Although a splash of well-chosen colour will go a long way to inject identity, it is worth noting that teens can be ‘over’ a feature colour before it has even dried or that last piece of wallpaper has been hung.  So it’s a good idea to keep rooms mostly neutral and allow personality, colour and texture to come from linens, decorative cushions, rugs, feature lighting and décor items.  These can be changed out fairly frequently without too much time or expense and your teen will likely enjoy and take pride in carefully selecting these items to suit their style.  Who knows… they might even let you come shopping with them!

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To see more fabulous teen bedroom ideas visit a Stylemaster display village this weekend.

Solar for your new home – the only upgrade that pays for itself

Are you still recovering from the shock of your last electricity bill?

Well you’re not alone and likely to be amongst the many Queensland consumers looking for better ways to save on electricity and gain increased control over your family’s monthly household costs both now and for the future.   Building a new home is the ideal opportunity to build a smart home that’s more economical to run – that’s why you can enjoy the Stylemaster difference with our standard 2.1 kw solar system inclusion as standard. However, with so many different options available, what is an ideal system to implement, how is it best managed to maximise the cost saving benefits, and what do the long term savings really look like?

But before we explore these points let’s review the state of our current electricity market.

Responding to a spike in power charges for east coast consumers, the Federal Government has just announced that they have given the ACCC power to demand information from electricity providers, putting current retail pricing under the microscope. Amongst a host of issues, this in-depth analysis is primarily intended to investigate whether margins and profits of power retailers are in line with costs and risks, and if there is evidence of anti-competitive behaviour or collusion within the industry.

No wonder we can’t pinpoint exactly why our power bills are so high – even the Government is asking the same question!

If you do your homework, you’ll discover there are several cost saving measures you can implement around your home in hope of achieving small accumulative reductions in your power expenses. But switching to energy saving bulbs, running your washing machine on cold in the evenings, and insulating your roof stand little chance on their own against the uncertain cost of keeping the lights on both now and in years to come.

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So living in tropical Queensland where sunlight is in abundance for most of the year, why not produce your own solar energy, reduce the amount of power you need to buy from the grid and make real savings?

When you build a new home with Stylemaster, your home already comes with 8 solar panels (2.1 kw system) with high efficiency and strong warranty support from the manufacturer (that’s included as part of your 7-year builder’s warranty) as standard. These energy systems are all installed by Stoddart Group who have been established in Australia for over 50 years. You also have the option to customise your solar requirements and for under $2K upgrade to receive a total of 20 panels (5.4 kw system). This small investment gives you considerable savings on your bills, notably reduces your carbon footprint and even carries a projection estimate of approximately 2.2 years until your solar upgrade has paid for itself.

But while it’s one thing to harness the power of the sun, how can you be sure how much energy is being generated Vs your household output? If only you could conveniently access this information as it was happening?   Well you can.

Another option for controlling your power cost savings is to implement tracking software. This allows you 24hr monitoring of your real time energy use through your smart phone, tablet or computer. The Enphase software offered by Stylemaster, allows you to see the energy being produced on your roof as well as the energy being used throughout your home, and you can view it in real time as easily as picking up your phone. For those who opt to have home batteries installed you can also monitor their state of charge throughout the day. Another advantage of this software upgrade is that you are ‘battery ready’ for the future.

You don’t even have to be tech-savvy to understand how to monitor your data as support is at hand and included within the $895 tracking software and battery ready package (in addition to the 5.4 kw system upgrade). Once you advise you have the internet connected, a solar technician visits your home to set up the software and show you how to use it.

And finally for those who wish to store and fully utilise the maximum power generated by the solar panels, you can harness that energy in battery form. However, unlike the already established panel and tracking systems, the newer concept of the batteries themselves is being rapidly embraced by household’s world over, leading to improved technology and guaranteed reductions in the costs moving forward. For anyone who wants to add batteries during the build there are a range of options and pricing to consider. But it is recommended that you start small and add more later as you become better aware of your actual energy needs and able to utilise the cost savings as battery prices come down in the future.

For more information about solar systems for your new home speak with your new home consultant today.

*All upgrades are for a limited time only.

Emerging trends for bathroom design in 2017

Once a primarily functional area to simply shower and go, the role of bathrooms in our homes has been redefined in recent times.  The awakening of a pronounced wellness ideology has had a transformative effect on both how we use and view these previously humble spaces. 

With an emphasis on relaxation and rejuvenation, the bathroom’s role is to cleanse in comfort and satisfy the senses in style. People are now spending more time than ever in their bathrooms and placing higher value on it as a place to prepare and recover from the pressures of the outside world – and this lifestyle trend is only set to rise.  So how do you achieve this new level of bathroom Zen?  Here are some of the Stylemaster’s design secrets for creating your own spa-like sanctuary at home.

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Tile choice will make or break your bathroom’s appeal, user enjoyment, long-term durability and overall value.  Always select quality finishes with slip resistant flooring that will stand the test of time in this hardworking space.  Avoid using anything that requires excessive maintenance or simply won’t hold up over time as these will eventually look terrible and can be costly to replace.  A popular trend is to reinforce the substrate and use large format tiles or slabs in heavy materials like Caesarstone for wet areas as less grout equals easier cleaning.  Staggered and more patterned approaches to laying tiles are increasing in vogue and help to achieve a relaxed and less predictable grid format.  How tiles are installed can even alter the perceived shape and size of a space- making a narrow room appear wider or even a low ceiling feel higher.  If you are a fan of smaller tiles like mosaic, octagons, penny round tiles and other detailed features then look for smaller spaces like the vanity to include them where they are not as exposed to constant volumes of water.  As far as colours and textures go, neutral and soothing tones with the ever appealing greys, grieges, blacks and whites are still in demand with warmer hints creeping in. While natural materials like sealed stone, concrete and timber-look tiles add a welcome tactile contrast to the bathrooms’ predominately smooth surfaces.

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Fixtures, fittings, basins and bath shapes, colour and style can go in and out of trend so invest in these with long-term consideration in mind.  And while sharp thin edged basins and baths have been experiencing popularity, in keeping with the new streamlined and holistic approach for bathroom design, there is currently a shift towards simple organic forms with clean lines and tapware that is almost sculptural and beautiful to touch.   Freestanding baths, where space permits, are always the winning option over built in.  While predicted for the next evolution in bathroom design is merging the layout of the bath with the main bedroom.  Formerly regarded as separate spaces, the demand for the escapist luxury hotel look has reintroduced a stunning feature freestanding bath as the must have item for creating the ‘suite’ effect.

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Lighting design is key for achieving optimum practicality and still having the option for creating ambience.  A mixture of good energy efficient lighting along with low voltage lighting on dimmers will give you bright white lighting to prepare at the beginning of the day and warm calming dimmed light to unwind with in the evening.  Flexibility is paramount and everything from feature pendants, to niche lights, mirror mounted and under bench LEDs requires careful planning to successfully work alongside the traditional forms of task lighting.  Also plan your GPOs in accordance with your practical needs and consider concealing these where possible or matching the outlet covers to the surrounding materials.

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Personalise for pleasure and decorate your bathroom with whatever feels like luxury to you.  That may be the addition of natural greenery, a comfortable seating area, or even indulging in some stunning and durable vinyl wallpaper or framed artwork.  Dream big, even a fabulous fireplace is not off limits if that is what it takes to bring a sense of calm to your life and daily routine.  But for those who favour an all-appealing approach with resale in mind, you can still achieve a strong sense of individuality through your use of coloured or patterned towels, storage containers, and your favourite decorative accessories to finish off the space.  A painted feature wall opposite the mirror can also add a personalised colour statement that you can update with ease as often as you please.

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Stylemaster-Piazza30020549-WEBSoak in style, indulge your individually and create a bathroom that invites a sense of tranquillity to your everyday life. 

For more inspiration explore our bathroom galleries or book your tour now to visit Stylemaster’s Skyline Studio.

Top 4 tips for achieving the ultimate butler’s pantry

What’s in your dream butler’s pantry?  Loads of neatly organised storage, home for all those appliances, or just a quiet spot to prep your veggies?  Once a luxury only reserved for those who actually had butlers, but these days a butler’s pantry is almost essential for keeping our highly sociable kitchens stress free.

With everyone gathering around the kitchen as the main entertaining hub of our busy homes, it makes sense that we want to streamline these spaces and have them flow seamlessly with the connecting zones.  Whether your preference is a full service butler’s pantry with a sink or a storage-specific luxury larder, Stylemaster thinks of all the ways these important spaces can enhance your daily life so all you have to do is move in and stock up on delicious goodies to fill those shelves!  Here are our top designer tips for success in your butler’s pantry.

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1. APPLIANCES

One of the primary functions of the butler’s pantry is to provide an out of the way home for those important mid-size appliances like toasters, kettles, coffee machines, microwaves and even the beloved Thermomix.  But storage needs to be both flexible and specific to the needs of the individual.  Consider your lifestyle and plan from the beginning.  Buying in bulk has the potential to save families a lot of money over the course of the year so if you need to house a chest freezer ensure that adequate space is allocated in the design.  For avid entertainers, wine storage or an additional dishwasher can be an absolute lifesaver – and butler’s pantries are a great spot to stash the mess until your guests have left in the evening.  Depending on how much heat and moisture will be generated by your appliances on a regular basis you may also need to install a rangehood to avoid deteriorating cabinetry overtime.

When designing storage to house your appliances you need to carefully measure to ensure a perfect fit. If you replace items often, incorporating adjustable shelving can be advantageous.  It may also pay to weigh larger items to ensure that your shelving is reinforced where required. Smaller appliances can be stored on trays making them easier to slide, store and clean.  And trays can be helpful for keeping all the little attachments together since these are often the reasons our drawers become full of clutter.

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2. STORAGE

A combination of open and concealed storage is a great way to keep frequently used items in full view and everything else neatly organized and out of site.  Invest in adjustable drawer dividers and clever cupboard accessories to ensure you have easy access to those hard to reach areas such as corners and the very back of deeper cupboards.  Allocate areas for knife holders, towel rails and spice drawers along with your specialist utensils so they are within logical reach for the task and on hand when you need them.  Being able to quickly identify stock of pantry items will also assist in reducing waste since it should help you stop repurchasing items you forgot you had.

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3. LIGHTING

If you are using your butler’s pantry for preparation as well as storage then ensure that you have sufficient lighting for the tasks you will need to perform, such as cutting vegetables or reading recipes and food labels.  You may wish to include adjustable track lighting overhead combined with LED strip lights under shelving.

4. MATERIALS

Benchtops and cabinetry should be consistent with what you have chosen for your main kitchen to ensure a seamless flow between the two zones.  They should also be just as durable as the main kitchen particularly where you intend to use your butler’s pantry for food preparation. And if your preparation is not the tidiest you may want to consider translucent glazing or a solid door to your pantry.

For more butler’s pantry inspiration and kitchen design ideas visit our kitchen galleries or book your tour of Stylemaster’s Skyline Design Studio.

How to create an amazing master suite

Is your master suite looking a little tired?  Stylemaster Homes helps you go beyond the boring and say goodnight to uninspired bedrooms forever.  Here are our top designer’s secrets for creating the perfect sanctuary for rest, rejuvenation and romance.

Define your style

The best master bedrooms combine functionality, style and a little touch of glamour with all the comforts of everyday living.  In order to create a harmonious space, you need to establish a definite palette to build on. Identify your must haves or any elements of an existing room that you intend to keep, such as carpet and window treatments and consider all your other selections to best compliment these. Whether your concept is dark and sophisticated or bright and beautiful, create ambience by appealing to the senses – think sumptuous textures, muted colours, soft lighting and subtle aromas.   

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Furniture layout

The right bed and furniture layout is extremely important – your four poster may have looked great in your last house but if it’s not in proportion to the room then it’s time to move it on.  Beds with soft upholstered headboards in either classic neutral tones or the currently on-trend jewel tones are popular options right now replacing the timber bedframes that have dominated in previous years. When selecting headboards consider scale and remember a high one will give your bed a sense of grandeur and act as the focal point.  For smaller masters, keep your mattress height low and opt for an ensemble base with a simple streamlined headboard to give the illusion of spaciousness.  And where you have the room, comfortable seating is always a welcome addition.  It may be a bench at the foot of the bed, a feature chair or even some well-placed outdoor furniture if your room opens to a balcony or courtyard. Ensure that you include adequate storage to keep your overall look clean and streamlined.  Try to avoid furnishing in front of windows and always keep walkways clear and flowing. 

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Linens and layering

Luxurious linens, soft throws and decorative cushions in metallics, leather, faux fur, velvets or silks are definitely an investment in a good night’s sleep, as well as a quick and easy style boost.  When choosing linens try combining neutral colours and tactile textures with some feature cushions rather than purchasing all matching patterned sets.  This creates interest and achieves an individual look that allows you to add colour so you can update your style with the seasons.  Layering is definitely the key word when it comes to dressing your bedroom.  Up the ante by adding a beautiful textured rug under the bed or installing some sheer drapes to soften shutters or blinds.

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Lighting

Good lighting is essential for the creating ambience in your bedroom.  Turn it up for practical tasks and dim down to set the mood.  Don’t be afraid to make a statement with your bedside lighting – taller lamps look striking framing either side of the bed while the addition of pendants or wall sconces can really add some drama to your space.  Crystal, glass or even sculptural metals are popular choices for pendants but your options are almost endless as long as they help to enhance the overall style concept.  If you are designing a lighting for a new bedroom, think about adding dimmers to down lights, and gimbals for highlighting artwork.  Even simple additions like a two-way switch at side of the bed for the main light can make life that little bit more comfortable.  And remember to add a little candlelight where you can.

Walls and artwork

Your walls are the largest space in the room, but what you hang on them is as important as the colour you paint them.  Beautiful bedroom artwork must be soothing, enhancing to the atmosphere, and most importantly something you are happy to wake up to.  Remember to consider textures as well as colours and use your cushions or throw blankets to compliment.  For bedroom paint colours you can select something deeper and richer than you would use for the rest of your home.  Darker colours can be moody and sensual while soft neutral colours are calming and enhance the feeling of spaciousness.  Although colour is always a personal preference, try looking to the tones of your linens for inspiration.  Look beyond the brightest, lightest, or darkest colours for that subtle tone that ties everything in the room together.  Custom paneling, textured wall cladding or decorative wallpapers are also a fabulous way to add layers and interest to feature wall behind the bed or wrap around the entire room if you are feeling bold.

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Finishing touches

With decoration in the bedroom less is definitely more – a few special pieces on a nightstand or a dresser will be far more effective than cluttering every surface.  A special framed photo, a book or two, a little greenery and perhaps a carafe of water are all perfect items for a well-stocked bedside.  And remember that trays are ideal for grouping objects together neatly.  Clear all collections and clutter to create the calm chilled out vibe of your favourite boutique hotel.

So with these basic guidelines in mind, you can begin decorating your master suite to reflect your own taste, mood, likes and dislikes.  Bedrooms aren’t just for sleeping so make sure you enjoy the time you spend there.  Whatever your style, always aim to make your private space cozy, elegant and sophisticated.

For more bedroom inspiration visit one of our award winning display homes this weekend or browse the online galleries.

Creating an outdoor room for all seasons

When building in Queensland, even the best homes are not complete without an exterior relaxation zone.  Creating an outdoor room that extends and merges the interior beyond the boundaries of your house increases the practical living and entertaining areas and allows you to truly experience the outdoors year round.  Somewhere to enjoy a drink in the sunshine, grill a steak with friends and take a dip on a sizzling Summer’s day. It’s not just a backyard, it’s a lifestyle and here are our top tips for creating yours.

Colours, materials and textures

The first step for achieving that seamless flow to the outdoors is to ensure your interior palette is referenced with the choices you make externally. 

Mirror the use of colour and materials between both spaces. For example, if you have a tiled floor and there is a slip resistant version available then continue to extend the flow of your flooring for a continuous look.  Or where you have timber paneling in your kitchen, you may choose to repeat a similar tone of timber on your alfresco ceiling. Even your style of furnishing or décor can be referenced both internally and externally create harmonious flow.  Just ensure that whatever you select is well protected to increase longevity.

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The layering of different textures like timber, stone, concrete and even bamboo cladding all add visual interest to your outdoor space. Metal wall art, screens and feature urns and can be used as design features and are best placed where you can also enjoy them from the indoors. Even the addition of an outdoor rug can soften your outdoor space and help to connect it to your indoor living zone.

Another great tip that is right on trend is to add more indoor plants. This is a great way to connect to the greenery used in your outdoor spaces.  For both indoors and outdoors, low maintenance is the key when selecting plants and planning garden areas. Mass planting will give maximum impact and also works fantastically for vertical gardens where space is premium. Just ensure you water frequently by hand or install an irrigation system on a timer to help keep everything thriving. Outside where space permits soft landscaping like turf (real or maintenance free synthetic) will help breakup hard surfaces and give kids and pets somewhere to run and play safely. 

Outdoor kitchen

Food tastes a whole lot better enjoyed the outdoors and is often a lot more fun for the younger members of the family, as the usual formalities of indoor dining can be relaxed.  Your outdoor kitchen can be as simple as a built in BBQ or fancy as a fully functional kitchen depending on your preference and budget.

Outdoor kitchens must be well designed to maximize your enjoyment, as this will be a considerable investment and you don’t want to get it wrong.  Think about the best position for your outdoor kitchen and how often you will use it. Do you have water and power connections? When building a new home think about the addition of capped off plumbing, gas and electrical points, as this will cost substantially less at construction stage than if you run these services in later.

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You may also want to consider adding a sink, beverage refrigerator, cook top and extractor if near the house and possibly a small dishwashing drawer – great for all those greasy hotplates.  A standalone kitchen means more time can be spent with family and friends, as you will not have to run back and forth inside.

Increasing popularity of wood fired ovens make them another item worth adding to your wish list.  They can provide the versatility of cooking a gourmet pizza to roasts, bread and seafood while adding a chef-quality smokiness to your food that will have all your guests raving!   

The Swimming Pool

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Whether your preference is slick geometric or a softly curved shape, including water spouts can add gentle sound and movement to your space. This creates a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation as well as contributing to the overall ‘resort’ feeling. If the budget permits an outdoor shower and WC will be a practical addition and one you will always be grateful for, especially when entertaining large numbers of family and friends. Always remember a well-designed pool will add value to the home as well as keeping family and friends entertained for hours.

When including a pool, consider using large format textured pavers or tiles to the poolside as this will create a clean sophisticated look and make the area appear more spacious. Enhance this further by including as much frameless glass fencing as possible – this will also create a seamless flow between the entertaining areas and pool. And while continuing similar flooring will generally help to make an area seem larger, don’t be afraid to break it up a little with a smaller curved sun deck by the pool or a raised garden bed with a feature tree for shade.

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Heating

The most important part of planning your outdoor room is being able to use it all year round. Installing an outside fireplace is ideal for when it turns chilly, but the welcoming glow of the fireplace is sure to encourage you to entertain regardless of the weather. You can build this into an existing wall or construct as a freestanding structure, either way it is sure to create a design focal point. Ensure you include some outdoor sofas in front to fully enjoy the experience. There are many options available including wood burning and gas, so visit a display showroom and speak to a professional to help find the right option for your outdoor space.

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Lighting

Lighting is an integral part of the outdoor zone.  Ambience is essential as darkness falls, not only for safety but to create a moody atmosphere for entertaining. It can signify the end of the day and time to relax and unwind, and highlight the dining table and other key features in the garden such as pool, water features or sculptures. If possible, add a dimmer to the lighting over the dining table as this can create a more relaxing mood for entertaining.

Adding a floodlight to the base of a larger plant specimen can be a key design feature and can also cast interesting shapes in the garden. Long life LED lighting is becoming the popular option for garden lighting, as they are eco-friendly and come in sleek and stylish designs. LED’s also give greater flexibility, as they can be installed in almost any surface.

Planning is key for the success of your outdoor space so speak with your consultant to ensure that the provisions for your future needs are included before building begins.  For more exciting outdoor inspiration visit a Stylemaster Homes display village this weekend.

10 Tips to present your home for sale in any climate

Regardless of what state the market is in effectively presenting and marketing your home for sale is essential for achieving optimum price and selling your home faster.  If you are about to list your property for sale, or currently selling a home, ask yourself if you’ve done all you can to highlight the strengths, downplay weaknesses and ultimately appeal to the greatest number of potential purchasers.  Stylemaster shares some of our top tips for selling success.

1. Prepare for profit

If the objective was just to make your home irresistible and money was no object, then there would be no limit for what you could create and how spectacular the outcome would be.  But without careful planning relative to the selling price you expect to achieve, you may be costing yourself time and money.  Determine a realistic budget.  Are you prepared to spend the market average of approximately 1-2% of the value of your home, or only looking to invest the bare minimum for the most vital improvements and make the rest up in elbow grease? Once you know this you can devise a plan to ensure that your total expense is worthwhile and all your hard work pays off.

2. Phone a friend

Put yourself in the shoes of the purchaser.  An objective walk through the property should help you identify where to begin with your key improvements.  If you feel too close to attempt this, an honest friend (or picky relative) should come in handy for identifying areas to address first up.  Look for anything that would be cause for objection from a buyer, these can be unfinished DIY projects, a dodgy step on the way in, peeling paintwork, pet stains on your carpet, all those things you secretly know are there and have good intentions to fix one day.  Well this is the day, and the good news is that most items are easier and cheaper to fix than the buyer would expect to deduct from your asking price. 

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3. Clear your clutter

Practicalities aside, buyers are looking for that indefinable quality that pulls at their heartstrings and tells them your home is the one for them.  What they are not looking for is the dusty collection of mismatched trinkets from your nanna and someone’s half eaten lunch in the kitchen sink.  Impress buyers with at least one surface in every room that is completely free of clutter, with only strategically styled accessories added to make your space chic, comfortable and inviting.  Throw out, donate, sell or give away what is costing you space, as clutter may end up costing you money if it delays your home sale.  Remember the less you have lying around the quicker you can have your home ready for an inspection at short notice and the easier it will be when moving day arrives.   

4. Furnish for function

Pushing all your furniture hard up against the walls won’t always make your rooms feel bigger.  Experiment with moving seating around into comfortable groupings for conversation and always make it obvious where traffic flows.  Anchor spaces with a large neutral rug to introduce texture and define separate zones in your floorplan.  And don’t forget about the lesser frequented spaces in your home.  Whether it’s a little nook under a staircase or an entire room, if the only purpose it serves is gathering junk then repurpose it into an area that will add value to your home.  A comfortable chair, a small desk and a lamp can create a cosy reading area or even a children’s play area.  Give yourself permission to move furniture, artwork and accessories into different rooms and display them in different combinations to achieve your desired look.

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5. Light it up

Great lighting is warm and welcoming so take the time to increase the wattage in your lamps and fixtures where possible.  Darker rooms will benefit from the addition of some well placed floor lamps, while a strategically placed mirror opposite a window will help to bounce the light you have around the room.  Natural light is always the most desirable so open up your drapes and scrub those windows until they gleam!

6. Colour and texture

When it comes to paint colours neutral is definitely the most appealing to buyers.  Where bold colours have the effect of reducing buyer’s offers, tones of warm tans, soft stones and gentle blue greens are easy for most people to imagine living with especially in large spaces.  Painting adjoining rooms in the same colour will make the spaces appear connected and therefore larger.  Another trick to create the illusion of more space is to choose a colour that matches your window coverings to help them blend seamlessly into the room.  To stop a neutral room feeling flat and boring use your styling skills to bring texture back into the room with interesting cushions, unusual accessories or even some textured wall cladding. 

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7. Bring the outdoors in

Of course you will need to have your lawns mowed, weeds pulled and hedges trimmed but what about bringing your garden inside?  Nothing is more beautiful than nature at its best and that’s why it is common to see expensive arrangements of orchids and fresh flowers in most professionally staged homes.  But don’t discount what is in your own backyard, if you have a flowering shrub then you can create a simple but stunning fresh arrangement, and change it every week for nothing.  Even simple greenery or a few budding branches can add a welcome freshness to any space.

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8. Master of serenity

Do not underestimate the importance of creating a sense of luxury and relaxation in the master suite.  Sumptuous bed linen, soothing colours and romantic lighting are all extremely important.  Just adding an upholstered headboard will make a dramatic impact on your room.  If you have space to incorporate seating or your room opens out to a balcony, make the most of it and create an area that invites you to relax.  Bedroom storage is very important and you know your potential buyers will be snooping. Stage your robe half full with only your most fashionable pieces on display as this will help people image having sufficient room for their own needs.

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9. Clean and cost relative renos

Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses so if yours are looking tired but you don’t have the budget for a total renovation then consider the cost of replacing the door and drawer fronts and adding some modern handles.  This is an extremely cost effective option and depending on the size of your kitchen may cost much less than you expect.  A new splashback can also be installed in under a day and a simple glossy tile can be all it takes to give your kitchen back its sparkle.  It is absolutely mandatory that your entire home receive a top to bottom clean before going up for sale, but it is your kitchen and bathroom that require the most attention when it comes to hygiene and general cleanliness.  As far as styling these areas it is best to keep a large amount of workable bench space clear to present a practical and functional space.  In the kitchen, keep everyday appliances like kettles and toasters neatly tucked away or hidden completely.  A bowl of fresh fruit, a few stylish canisters and the odd cook book should suffice for decoration.  In the bathroom, keep your products neatly concealed and have only some select bath oils, rolled up fluffy towels and some candles to create that spa feeling.

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10. Provide a sensory experience

Finally, appeal to all senses.  Make sure your home not only looks great but is well ventilated with an enticing and subtle scent like vanilla or lavender.  Soft music creates ambience, and even though it is the oldest trick in the book – feel free to bake bread or biscuits on the morning of your viewing. 

It might seem like a lot of work but a surprising amount can be achieved over a couple of dedicated weekends.  Always stay focussed on your financial return as the main objective for all your hard word work and think what a bonus it is to rid your home of all that unwanted clutter, and possibly pick up some extra DIY skills before you move on to life in your new home.

Top 5 ways to integrate your kitchen and living spaces


Recently emerging as the ‘new way of living’ for busy modern families, the open kitchen trend is no longer just an optional design aesthetic.  Effectively integrating kitchen and living zones is the ideal solution for families to spend more time together and for best utilizing space to maximize the functionality of your home.

Once just a place to cook and store food, the modern kitchen is all about entertaining, relaxing, dining and even working in.  But the only way we can successfully share the same space for this myriad of functions is through opening up our homes and breaking down the walls that once divided our kitchen, living and dining zones.  So now that kitchens are blurring the lines for where they begin and end its time to incorporate some fresh design ideas for successfully merging these zones.

1. APPLIANCE INTEGRATION AND HIDEAWAY FUNCTIONS 

As time moves on you will notice a shift from the popular stainless steel appliances to appliances that are built in or concealed behind cabinetry where integration is possible.  Currently it is quite common to integrate dishwashers, fridges, wine storage, plate warmers, coffee machines and even luxury items like Zip taps for instant boiling, chilled or sparkling water.  New style concealed sinks and even pop up rangehoods are ideal for keeping your kitchen looking sleek and clean. Integrating technology is also increasing popular with appliances now being made with built-in wifi.  Using your phone, you can now start cooking dinner before you leave work or even have the coffee ready before you get out of bed!

2. MULTI ZONE YOUR SPACE 

A great way to multi zone your kitchen is to include a study nook enabling the gourmet chef to keep track of that recipe on the internet or watch over the kids while they do their homework.  And also consider comfort – adding a lounging zone nearby the kitchen area makes for a great spot to enjoy a glass of wine for cozy pre dinner conversation and still keep a watchful eye on those culinary masterpieces being created.

3. THE FLOATING ISLAND 

The floating kitchen island is taking precedence in the modern kitchen design over the older style U or L shaped kitchens, and defining the central point where the kitchen and living zone intersect.  Fit out your island with a sink or perhaps a cook top with overhead range ducting, so you can easily prepare and cook while socializing.  Provide seating for informal dining or include additional cabinetry for storage at the end of the island. 

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4. THE ESSENTIAL LAYOUT

Remember the most important element in your kitchen must be the layout. Ensure the kitchen is designed with the working triangle in mind. The fridge, sink and oven / cook top must be in the main preparation area and positioned at the three ends of the triangle. You should be able to move freely between these zones so the kitchen is a safe and functional place to cook. Always give special attention to the location of the refrigerator as it will be accessed by family on a regular basis and should not be in the centre of the work space.  And keep your cutlery and serving ware close to the dining table to ensure you can set the table without crossing paths with the chef!

5. THE FURNITURE MERGE

Once you have decided on a style and colour of kitchen cabinetry it may be worth considering where else in the home, such as a media room, study or even outdoor area you might wish to add built in furniture.  It is increasingly popular for achieving a cohesive look within these adjoining spaces and repeating elements of your kitchen will help to create harmony within your design choices.  And it works both ways as incorporating elements of your decorating into kitchen such as upholstered stools, stylish overhead lighting and accessories inspired by your living areas with further unite your overall concept and individual style.

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