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How To

Upgrade your Garden to an Extended Living Sanctuary

With the living space moving out into the garden in most modern homes, it makes sense to join the wagon and transform your garden into your own sanctuary.

Ensure Proper Lighting.

If you plan to lounge during the night when its darker and easier to relax after a busy work day then you need to ensure that your garden is lit in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing,creates the right kind of ambiance and is safe.

It is still important to light areas that may be a danger or tripping hazard, such as steps or around a garden pond.

lighted stairs

The amount of light you’ll want in your garden depends very much on how much time you will be spending in it.  If you want to eat and entertain on a regular occurrence it may be a good move to put up some overhead string lights that will illuminate the eating areas and create a party atmosphere.

For a more romantic setting some soft, low voltage lights or lamps strategically placed around the garden will create a warm glow but still allow you to look up at the stars without adding to the light pollution.

Different coloured lights can greatly add to any effect you are trying to create.  Pretty coloured lights that reflect off any water feature you have in your garden will add a magical touch,while spot lights going upwards through the branch work of interesting trees will cast shadows for a more dramatic effect.

If you want to add to the natural glow cast from the stars and moonlight, consider blue-tinted lights. They work well around plants that produce white flowers at night, to create a ‘moon garden’—where the foliage reflects the natural light of the moon. Green lights mingled in with lower level foliage will help to create a soft and delicate ambience

Create an outdoor room.

As comforting as big expansive open spaces filled with flowers and greenery is, It is also a cozy and delightful experience to be in an enclosed intimate space of an urban garden. If you don't get much sunlight or don't have a lot of planting area, create visual interest with texture, hardscaping, fencing, gravel, etc. In the city, where space is often limited, the living space we create outside can add a sense of much more square footage. Use outdoor furniture and accessories as you would decorate a room in your home. Don't be afraid to bring a few throw pillows and a table linen from inside for a special meal when the weather allows.

Outdoor rugs are a great way to define a space and make the outdoors feel more special.

Create an enclosed sanctuary.

There's something so tranquil and peaceful about being surrounding and enveloped in a courtyard garden.

In the city we're often sandwiched tightly between our neighbors. Rather than letting this be a liability, use fencing, plantings, or the walls of the buildings on either side to create an enclosed sanctuary and secret garden feeling.

Employ simplicity and repetition.


Minimalist garden spaces are some of the greatest urban escapes at the tip of your fingers. If your space isn't conducive to growing lots of plants and flowers, go for the simplicity of monochromatic hard surfaces and sculptural furniture, as well as repeating one kind of plant multiple times for structured drama.

Create vignettes and sitting areas.

Regardless of how much space you have, creating small and intimate sitting areas are a must. This, after all, it's all about having an outdoor sanctuary in the city. If you don't have room for a dining table, go with comfy lounge furniture and a coffee table instead.

Rooftop drama.

Rooftop gardens are one of the tougher garden design challenges. It's all about the view and the planters. Try using a structured repetition of the evergreen shrubs and the contrast between the greenery and the city.

For safety, unless your garden lightening is being installed by a professional electrician or lighting technician, always opt for LED lighting which is perfectly suited for outdoor use. Though LED lights are initially more costly than CFL's or Halogen lamps. LED lights gives you up to 20 years of service that is virtually maintenance free. They're normally IP66 rated which tells you that it's impervious to dust and is suitable for high pressure water hosing, and helps you save by lowering down your electricity bills.

Building a New Home? 10 Mistakes to Avoid!

Are you at the planning stage?  Well, once you press the button to get quotes and commence construction you will find that any changes or revisions will trigger the Alterations Clause.  What is that?  you ask.   There always has to be some flexibility for alterations, but it comes at a cost - and sometimes at a surprising cost.  In fact many people complain that simple alterations, or alterations that even reduce the scope of works can seem unreasonably high.

The best way to avoid this issue is to plan well and minimise the chances of expensive alterations.  Do not get rushed into going ahead with plan that are "near enough", as near enough is not good enough when it comes to approaching your build smartly.

Considerations like your future needs (growing family perhaps?) or realisations that you have not utilised natural light well are all avoidable with a bit of planning.  Do not fall into the common trap of commencing construction and then realise you did not plan enough void space for the cooling and heating ducts.

Take some time - and to assist we want to highlight this recent article that highlights the top 10 mistakes to avoid and the corners you should not cut when planning.  Check it out here

[caption id="attachment_1235" align="aligncenter" width="600"]design-home-underused-rooms Are you planning to utilise your space well?[/caption]

How to Fix a Defective Light Switch

You flick the light switch to light a darkened room, and nothing happens. The problem is usually a dead bulb. Replacing this with an LED globe can make this your last trip up there. However if a replacement doesn't do the trick and the circuit breaker isn't tripped, you've probably got a blown switch.

If you're a complete novice when it comes to the electrics, hiring a qualified electrician is the safest way to get your home's spark back without getting shocked.


Before you begin working:

Electrician At Breaker Panel

Turn off the power to the circuit at the fuse box
Take off the cover plate and check the wires with a circuit tester to make sure no power is running through the lines


Any one of the following problems could be causing the issues with your light switch:

Loose connections

Loose wire connections cause most switch problems. Make sure wires are securely attached to the switch. Screws should be tightened enough to keep wires securely in place.

Damaged wire ends

Wires that are frayed, bent or nicked may not provide a decent connection. Trim the wire ends and strip the plastic sheath until one inch of wire is exposed. Reattach the wires.

Bare wires touching the electrical box

Bare wires touching the electrical box will trip the circuit breaker or blow a fuse. If this is the case, check the wires have enough plastic sheathing to protect them.

Cracked light switch

Switches, like other mechanical fixtures, will break. Over time parts will wear out, so the entire switch unit will eventually need replacing.

Remember, a cracked light switch could allow damp to reach the conductors so it will need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Checking electric voltage

Replacing a damaged switch is a matter of connecting the existing mounting box; otherwise you will have to replace both parts of the switch. If you are able to use the box, attach the new face plate with the old machine screws. You can then be guaranteed of having screws that match the threads.


The purpose of this advice blog is to provide homeowners and private landlords with general guidance and useful tips only. It doesn't necessarily deal with every important topic or cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals and might not be relevant or appropriate in all circumstances. It is not designed to provide professional advice or financial advice and should not be relied on as such.

Cutting Costs

Always ruining your budget? Bills getting too high to maintain?

Always hoping to cut costs?

Here's a few facts that might help you cook your own savings.

Australia, as a fact, is the driest inhabited continent the world. Surprisingly though, Australians are the highest per capital users of water in the world using 2.3 times the global average.

cost Just a dripping tap in the kitchen can waste up to 50 litres of water per day.

The kitchen is a major consumer of water in the home. Of total household water , 10% is used for cooking, cleaning, washing or drinking.

If you think that Household water usage has little impact on Australia's total water usage, think again. Households water actually accounts for 11% of the total water use in Australia!

So with this, here are some tips on how to save water in the kitchen

Put a plug in the sink when rinsing vegetables or fruit, rather than using flowing water.
washing dishes

- Soak your pots and pans rather than rinsing under a running tap.
- Collect the cold water from the tap while you’re waiting for it to heat up and use elsewhere later.
- Purchase the most water efficient dishwasher. (Find out more about the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme and it’s five star rating for appliances).
- Make sure the Tapware you purchase and install in your kitchens are WELS Certified - this makes sure your water consumption is efficient
- To reduce the amount of water used in dishwashers you may want to completely fill it up before use and use the economy setting
- Scrape dishes rather than rinsing under the tap
- Look for and fix leaking or dripping kitchen taps

Nearly 17% of all household greenhouse gas emissions in Australia in 2000 were generated by refrigerators and freezers. In Australia the average household has 1.3 refrigerators.

Households that dispose of a second fridge save an average of $190 a year in electricity bills and eight tonnes of greenhouse gases. Keeping refrigerators defrosted and at the right temperature also decreases energy use. The maintenance of appliances is also important. Damaged fridge seals can dramatically increase the electricity required to run them. The choice of cooking method can be important,with how you cook up more savings. With pressure cookers, microwaves and electric fry pans being more energy efficient than ovens, Here's a few notes to consider:

Prepare in the microwave

Microwave cooking is actually beneficial because :

- You will save around 75% of energy used
- Food cooks faster,  retains more vitamins,  cannot burn (except those with high fat or sugar content)
- Your oven (and kitchen) stays cool
- You can defrost quickly and safely
- Combination microwave/convection ovens allow the browning of food

....and a few more for other small kitchen appliances:

Electric Frypans – can cook most things you would cook in an oven or on a stove and they are generally much cheaper to run
Toaster Ovens – can roast, toast and brown small amounts of food quickly and cheaply
Mini Convection Ovens – small versions of fan-forced ovens. They are compact, easy to use and cheap to run.
Electric kettles - boil water much faster and more efficiently than boiling on stove, resulting in good savings if you like your cuppa. Use a kettle which shows the water level and boil only the amount you need.
Slow Cookers – uses low heat to slowly cook without much supervision, so may be left unattended for long periods.
Pressure Cookers – conserve energy and preserve all of the goodness in food. They cook in one third the normal time.

Follow this simple guides and apply these knowledge in the kitchen. The next time you need a little help you'd be surprised that you actually might have some extra savings for that extra expense after all.

10 Clever Interior Design Tricks

As the weather changes and we move into the colder months we find ourselves inside a lot more.  It's a great opportunity to take a look at your rooms and seeing what you can do to freshen them up.  It's amazing what some simple small changes can do to transform your home.  This is your chance to cosy up your space for the colder months - it is your space so make it enjoyable.

This article from Freshome has 10 great ideas - well known to the interior design trade - but now available to you.  Check out the article at this link.

Use these ideas every time you desire a change or want a different theme - your friends will wonder how you do it!


Images and article courtesy of