5 low waste Christmas gift ideas for the home

To be honest I was not planning on doing a Christmas gift guide as cleaning and organising products are not something that most people would think to give for Christmas presents. However there are a lot of people out there that are starting to think about their environmental foot print and how they can reduce their waste. So I thought that Christmas time is actually the perfect time to encourage this by giving gifts that may start someone on that reduce waste journey. I have identified 5 kits for the home that you can actually easily make and give as awesome gifts for Christmas.

  • DIY Natural cleaning kit

  • Kitchen Kit

  • Laundry Kit

  • Bathroom Kit

  • Home scent kit

DIY Natural cleaning kit

home made cleaner in glass jar and baking soda in glass jar

I recently took part in our work place night market and had to come up with some gifts to sell for fundraising. I decided to make some DIY Natural cleaning kits, and they were a hit, so I thought that these would make great Christmas presents. In my kit I had;

  • General cleaner

  • Scrubber

  • Cleaning cloth

  • Sample of essential oil

  • Jute bag

They were really easy to make and most items can be found around the home or could be easily purchased from your local supermarket. To make the kit you will need;

  • White vinegar

  • Baking Soda

  • Small jar

  • Spray bottle (glass is preferable)

General Cleaner - mix a 50/50 of white vinegar and water into the spray container and label it "General Cleaner”

Scrubber - fill the small jar with baking soda and for extra special treat put a few drops of an essential oil and mix through. Then just label “Scrubber”.

Don’t forget to provide instructions on how to use and refill so the person can continue to use after the ingredients run out. You can sign up to receive my free guide and recipe printable for the cleaning kits below;

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If you are not confident to make up these kits, however love the idea you can just order these fabulous starter kits from Figgy & Co

Kitchen kit

Handwash and dishwash in glass jar

In this Kitchen Kit I have;

  • Cotton Dishcloth - washable

  • Hand wash dispensers - refillable

  • Dish wash dispensers - refillable

The great thing with the Kitchen kits are that they are not only pretty kitchen accessories, they are also functional and totally reusable.

To make these kits you just need some dispensers and buy or make the cotton dish cloths.

If you want to make the dishcloths and don’t know how to crochet here is a great tutorial that will get you going. For those that don’t have the time and just want to buy some here are my fav’s in NZ;

Don’t forget to check out Etsy which has a great selection of cotton dish cloths.

cotton dish cloths

For the dispensers you could just recycle some empty ones that you have around the home. I do have a preference for glass as they do last a lot longer, are easier to clean and good for recycling. There are a few places that stock refillable glass dispensers. I have recently come across this great online store , Packageless Pad that stocks a great selection of glass containers and these Classic Syrup bottles are perfect for using around the home.

To add a bit of home decor it’s nice to place them on a tray and maybe add in a plant, so you could add these into your kit to jazz it up a bit.

Lastly don’t forget to fill the dispensers with the soap, for the hands and the dishes. Ideally use a product that is chemical free and obtained from a refillery and or a eco-friendly product like Eco Store from the supermarket.

Laundry Kit

For the Laundry kit I just got a selection of jars that you can easily label Laundry powder and Soaker. You could also add in some wooden clothes pegs. Most of these items you can get at a supermarket or find around the home. I sourced my jars at the time from The Warehouse, there is still a good selection. The refillery GoodFor also has a good selection too . Also you could try Figgy & Co as you can get both the jars and laundry product. In fact they have The Laundry Pack which you can purchase.

My laundry set up is below where I have the laundry powder, soaker and I have baking soda and a bottle of vinegar. Hint a wee mix of soda and vinegar in the wash, especially for towels helps fluff them up.

laundry products in jars

Bathroom kit

One of the exciting things that I came across this year was recyclable toothbrushes and organic toothpaste. As well as better options for dental floss and cotton buds. Eco store has introduced a range which is available from most supermarkets or online. Go Bamboo is also worth checking out too as they have the cotton buds.

Something else to think about for the bathroom kit is a sample pack for Hair and Face products that don’t come in plastic bottles. The fabulous products from Ethique would make a wonderful present. Oh and please check out Soaps by Roi a fabulous Kiwi making beautiful products based on Rongoa Maori (Maori medicine).

Once again with the other kits you could put them into storage jars and gift them all set up. Example below is a Bathroom kit.

Bathroom hand wash and soap kit.png

Home scent kit

Who loves walking into those lovely home stores with those gorgeous scents floating around the air, how lovely would it be to give a gift that can make someones home smell like that. All you need is some jute bags, cotton balls and essential oils and scented candles.

The jute/hessian bags or cotton bags, I source from Spotlight of all places and the cotton balls can be sourced from the supermarket. For essential oils I source mine from doTERRA and an awesome place in Akaroa, NZ called Fire and Ice.

Just place a drop of oil on each cotton ball and pop them into the bag and hang them in places around the home. I use mine in the wardrobes, linen closet, kitchen and bedrooms.

Scented candles are the best, but make sure you get quality candles and ones made with Soy. I have been fortunate to have a lovely lady at work who makes the most wonderful soy candles. Also check out Soy Delights Nz as you can purchase from her Etsy store as well.

Home scents kit.png

So there you have it 5 Christmas gift kit ideas, which are easy to put together, budget friendly, reusable and produce very little waste and encourage more people to reduce their environmental foot print.

Have a wonderful Christmas my dears, and enjoy your gift giving.

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How I organise my Kitchen drawers

We all know that the Pantry and the fridge are the king of the kitchen when it comes to storage and organisation and always get the most attention especially when it comes to social media!!! Have you seen some of those Instagram pantry pics….wow!. However we can not over look the other areas of the kitchen that are need to be functional and well organised. So this post shares how I organised those “other” spaces. I love the look of cupboards in the kitchen however do not like using them….they are just not efficient and I much prefer drawers. So in my kitchen I have the best of both - drawers behind the cupboards !!! eh what????

kitchen drawers with glasses and cups

Cutlery and Utensils

Between using teaspoons for my cups of tea and knives for Pete’s after work toast , the cutlery drawer probably gets the most use of any space in the kitchen. We are lucky to have nice wide (actually it was part of the kitchen renovation design) drawers side by side. One is for cutlery and the other for utensils.  These drawers work really well and I have organised them with the help of Blum Orga - Line cutlery and utensil trays. They are adjustable and the each section can be placed in the dishwasher. I did use non slip drawer liners, underneath which works really well to keep the utensils from moving around.

utensil drawer.png
organised kitchen cutlery drawer.png

In the cutlery drawer I have two sets, one for the dinning table for meals and the other for everyday use, not sure about your home, but here we always ran out of cutlery for the table at tea time ..sooo annoying. In the utensil drawers I have got all the other usual items, knives, tongs, openers , etc. The only utensils that I don’t have in this drawer are those that we use while cooking, and these are housed in a jug by the gas hob.

Herbs, Spices and Oils

Using the same organisers range from Blum Orga-line, our herbs and spices are well sorted, and I have the oils below in the pull out drawers. On the bench top by the gas hob I have our oils that we use regularly in cooking at easy reach. The only limitation with this system is that I have run out of space for the herds and spices so have had to use a drawer above which was originally used as a junk drawer. Yes horror of all horrors I have a junk drawer….but it’s a well organised one. To help organise them and enable them to fit in I have used the spice drawer organiser from Madesmart . This is a great organiser and works really well and is excellent value.

herbs and spice organisation in kitchen drawer.png
oil bottles on bench.png

Rubbish and Recycling

Pete and I have been recyclers since like ages ago!! so we have made sure that our kitchen waste system has a recycling, organic and landfill system. The recycling and landfill bins are side by side, and in the drawer below we have our compost bin. I picked up this tin container from a hospice shop about 5 years ago and it has made the perfect compost bin. We also store our reusable bags in the same drawer . Tip: to reduce any odours use a small jute bag with cotton balls and place a few drops of peppermint oil (lemon/Wild orange is also good) on the cotton balls. Just pop the cotton balls into the Jute bag and place it by the bin. Now every time you open the drawer you can spell your favourite essential oils, now that’s better than the usual rubbish odour.

compost bin in kitchen drawer.png

dinner sets and Serving dishes

Under the cutlery and utensil drawers we have the dinner sets and serving dishes cupboards and drawers. Nothing very exciting here with their organisation, just the usual. Use of non-slip drawer liner is a must in these drawers as it stops everything from moving when you open and close the drawers. Our dishwasher opens in front of these cupboards and it makes it so easy to put everything into the drawers….great design really.

Coffee Station

So to be truthful ,this space is more than a just coffee station , it’s a also a cups and glasses space.

The cupboards under the Coffee machine house all things for the coffee station plus cups and glasses. There are three drawers in this cupboard, the top one has the tea and coffee containers which are opened several times a time. I love my tea and Pete loves his coffee. I have a collection of tea tins which I just love and use these to contain the loose leave tea and the teabags.

tea tins in drawer.png

The next drawer down we have the cups and mugs, followed by glasses. My son recently commented how he thought that the glasses should be the top drawer since he uses these a lot. My point to him was that he is only here on the odd weekend and we have the kitchen set up to Pete and my needs not his!!!. So it’s an important point to ensure that you set things up in your kitchen to work best for you and how you use it….and maybe not everyone else who pop in occasionally!

mugs and cups in drawer.png

Hutch

This area is both for “decor” and function. The top shelves are “display shelves” and in the cupboards I have our cookbook collection, table ware and wine glasses. A bit of an odd and sods cupboard, but it’s perfect for things that I don’t reach for daily.

Dining table centrepiece

Lastly, yet not a drawer, is our dining table. I do like to have a nice table centrepiece , normally a plant of some sort and try and change it up with the seasons. So for spring I have got some herbs, coriander and I am also growing some baby house plants. One item that is always there is our condiments basket. In here we have oils and seasoning with napkins and toothpicks, all the things that you need on hand when at the table for dinner. This has always been on the table and when the kids were at home we had the dining cutlery, so there was no need to take things from the kitchen to the table and no fights over who was going to lay the table.

For the herbs and plants, I planted them into terracotta pots with good quality potting mix. I purchased a couple of small coriander plants from the garden centre. You should be able to pick these up at any garden centre for a good price and they should provide you with coriander all through spring and summer. Just ensure that they get lots of light and water and regularly take some leaves, this will help to encourage growth.

Dinning table centre setting with spring plants.png

Before I sign off I thought I just provide the links of the posts that I have already done for our pantry and fridge organisation;

For more inspiration check out my Kitchen and Pantry Organisation board in Pinterest

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Stay Tidy out there !

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How to repot succulents in 3 easy steps

Did you know that Succulents were never really my cup of tea…didn’t really see the beauty in them and kinda thought that they were a plant for “old ladies” garden…Well I must be an old lady coz now I love Succulents and have them added to my collection of indoor plants. The best thing about Succulents are how it’s pretty impossible to kill them as they actually don’t need a lot of maintenance. And I discovered that some produce the most delicate flowers.

succulent in pots in sunroom | Tidying with Tania



I first started growing them only very recently so am now just having to look to repot them. To be honest I did neglect some and they needed my attention. The poor things came second to the renovation work. As I know not everyone is confident in having indoor plants I thought it might be helpful to take you through how I repotted my succulents. I have tried to keep it to simple steps, well actually these are just what I do as I’m a simple person really.

succulent with dead leaves to be repotted | Tidying with Tania



Step 1 - Potting mix and pots

When I say potting mix I do not mean the traditional potting mix. Succulents and Cacti both like alot of drainage and therefore do not cope well with the traditional potting mix. If you are making your own you would be best with a 50/50 potting mix to gravel(small). The easiest solution is to buy potting mix specific for Succulents and Cacti. I actually use this Cacti and Succulent mix from Yates. You should be able to find it at your local garden centre or hardware store. You will not need heaps of it as generally speaking you use small pots for the succulents.

In terms of pots, well you can pretty much plant Succulents in anything. And yeah people do, like gumboots! I have used small white pots for growing a single plant and these look good when on a narrow window sill.

small white pots | shallow clay pots | Tidying with Tania

As I have a number of shoots off one plant, I decided to get a couple of bigger pots but shallow, as Succulents are not deep rooted. I just picked up these simple pots from Bunnings. Don’t forget to get the saucer! As these are shallow they don’t take a lot of potting mix.

Step 2 - Prepare the succulents

The next step is to take out the existing plants from their pots and prepare them for the new pots. As mentioned a number of the plants have grown babies/offsets. Added to this I have had not been removing the old leaves so there was a bit of tidying up to do with each of the plants. To start I just removed, gently, the plants from their pot, then again gently removed the babies. I made sure that I had a clear space to place these babies/offshoots so not to damage them.

Removing the old leaves from under the succulent was a bit more delicate as I didn’t want to damage the plant, I’d suggest that you could use tweezers or your fingers if you are gentle.

So now I had my babies/offshoots and tidied plants all ready to repot.

Succulents ready to repot | Tidying with Tania


Step 3 - plant and place

My last step was to fill up the pots with the Succulent potting mix. I made sure that I filled the pots to a couple of cm’s from the top with the mix. I then simply took each plant and made a small hold with my finger (or pencil) and place the plant in, continuing until I had all plants repotted. Not a hard job really.

Finding the best spot to place the pots wasn’t hard as I had a spot all lined up in the sunroom. A perfect warm and sunny spot. The trick to remember to ensure that I give them appropriate water, and not to over water them. Remember they do not like water sitting around them so it must drain well.

succulents repotted in shallow clay pots | Tidying with Tania

Ta dah!!! love the new pots and love their new pace.

That’s it , just a short and sweet post today. Now my next post will be about my spring table setting with baby house plants and herbs, so make sure you stay tuned for this by signing up to my newsletter, below.

Also make sure that you follow me on social media to see all the other cool pics and goings on in the Tidying with Tania world

Happy potting everyone

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Master Closet Reveal

Our home was built in 1960, and the master bedroom is therefore not very big, however it did have a ‘dressing room’ or what we call now an ensuite. Initially the ‘dressing room’ only had a large wall to wall wardrobe/closet and a sink and mirror. At some stage, probably early 70’s, a shower was put into the ‘dressing room’, however the closet was never removed…eeekkkk !!! So when we purchased the home 5 years ago our only closet for clothes for the master bedroom was literally in the ensuite. Fast forward 5 years and we are finally renovating the house and this “nasty” wardrobe is getting gone…long gone to make way for the beautiful new ensuite…actually to make way for the wall to wall shower. Check out our ensuite reveal post, it’s got lots of before and afters.

master_closet_LS.png

Planning and Building

It was very exciting to think that there was going to be no more wardrobe in the ensuite! However the big question was where to actually install a new one in our master bedroom, remember it’s a small bedroom. The layout of our bedroom, specifically the windows, restricts where you can place our bed (Queen size). Getting the right position for the bed and ensuring space for a wardrobe was a bit tricky. However in the end there was actually only one way it could be done, so it was a easy decision. The wardrobe had to be built along the wall of one side of the room. To maximise the space we ensured that it went floor to ceiling and also agreed that we would need to have a set of 3 sliding doors to enable full access and in glass ti make the space feel more open.

My dream would have been a walk in wardrobe however, that would take busting out walls and extending the house which, well, just was not worth it to house clothes!!! I mean it is a lot cheaper to just reduce the clothes you have to lessen the space you need…I mean you can only wear one outfit at a time right.

Our builder also helped us to work out the best placement and size which really helped in the long run with the overall design. He is well experienced and knows all the important details that you need to think about when renovating.

After the frame up of the wardrobe itself , we engaged Regency Wardrobe Company to make our sliding doors. We actually came upon them at the Auckland home show and was able to access the “home show special” for the doors. They came out to the house to measure and quote. We chose soft closing triple doors in full glass with silver frames. The gave you an option to have them installed or self install. We chose to self install. The doors were made and delivered pretty soon after the measure and quote and delivered on site. The instructions on the self install were very good and easy to follow. Pete installed the doors in less than an hour . I have to say the quality of the doors exceeded my expectations, they are lovely and quiet, weighted well and soft closing, very nice indeed to use.

At this point we had to do some thinking about the internal closet and the best design in terms of storage. The wardrobe is used by both Pete and myself so needs to accommodate 2 sets of clothing. We did get Regency Wardrobe Company to complete a built-in design and quote, however in the end Pete decided that he wanted to make the closet built-in’s himself. He had actually keep the drawers and the metal runners from the old kitchen which were actually great quality. In short he repurposed the drawers, making new frontages for them and then designed the rest of the built-in’s around the drawers.



We also recycled the metal railing from the old wardrobe and the wooden shelf and used them in the closet….such savings, it was going to cost approx $2600 to have built in’s made. In the end it only cost approx $200 (wood) and we used the left over paint from the renovations. Pete actually designed the closet as well, working out the best size and design to maximise the hanging space , as well as ensuring that I have space for my shoes! He is a good man isn’t he :)

master_closet_built_ins.png

I asked Pete about how he went about the design and build and he said that he just measured up longest garments being dressers, also measured up the shirts and jackets and drew out the plans to fit the clothes. He also considered the numbers and types of shoes that had to be stored and created spaces for them as well. He said he just worked out the clothes that we had and what storage was needed for them “the drawers are for jocks and socks” .

He built the storage in sections and put them together in the closet. Once he had all the components together he prep and painted them.

You know what I like about this closet and in true Pete style we equally share the space…..no extra space for me just because I am a women and therefore “have more clothes” in fact having equal space forced me to really think about what clothes I really use. I have found that it’s getting easier as I pare down my clothes …far easier decisions to make about what to wear…it’s very refreshing.

So now Pete has done his awesome job making the closet, it was my turn to “organise “ the clothes in the closet.

closet organisation

Oh this is the fun part….in my world anyway. Just like any other organisation job you always start at the very beginning and take all the items out and declutter. Don’t forget to make signs for recycle, donate, sell, dump. Then go through each item making a decision on where to place the garment in one of the 4 areas. I regularly declutter my clothes so it was not a big job for me , however I was still surprised by how many items I left go.. Pete’s clothes also got the once over and the old holely undies and sox’s got the bin treatment. Thanks to Pete’s grand design the closet has lots of hanging space as well as shelving. My goal was to get in all our clothes and not just “seasonal clothes”. I have to confess that I could not fit all mine in so I have keep a small number of off season items in the spare room closet.

All clothes that could be hung were and I used these thin felt coat hangers. I have used these style of coat hangers for a while now and I love them, you can almost double the amount of clothes that you can hang in a space by using these hangers. As you can see I tend to sort by item type and then by colour. So the trouser, dressers and skirts are in the middle, next to them are shirts and tops and jackets . On Pete’s side it is just trousers and shirts.

We each have three drawers and these house our smalls. I have my t-shirts and tops in these drawers as well . On my side of the closet I have my scarfs at the top, however this is not actually ideal as I reach for these daily and it’s not always easy to find them. I am hunting out a better option, like a coat hanger for scarfs, like these at Storage box. Any other ideas on scarf storage please share!.

jewellery_master_closet.png



The next shelf I have my jewellery and I found the perfect velvet tray to display them on , and guess where I got it from? Yep good old Kmart. Next shelf I have my jeans and shorts, then bulky tops (jersey’s etc) . On the bottom shelf I have got a cube container to hold my gardening and house work clothes.

One of the great design features that Pete put into the closet is a space to place clothes that you may wear the next day, like jeans etc, and my after work clothes. This space is really useful and means that these aren’t hanging around on a chair or on the bed. Under that he has another shelf for my yoga gear which I reach for daily. He really did think of everything!

Gym_gear_shoes_master_closet.png

Pete’s shelves are a bit more spartan than mine because…well…I simply have more clothes. He has his jerseys and tops on the top shelf the work gear , followed by a shelf for jeans and shorts and t-shirts on the bottom.

At bottom Pete designed space for my shoes, even measured them up to make sure they fitted. If you are wondering his are out in the hall cupboard..big stinky man shoes not allowed in the new closet.!

To ensure that we made the most of the space I have used laundry hampers on the top shelf to store bags and other items that get used less often.

hampers_master_closet.png



While I was organising the wardrobe, I attacked my bedside cabinet which has three drawers and was full of clutter…nightstand should not have drawers as they just become dumping zones! As these drawers can be a bit ugly , I wanted to brighten them up. So I got some of my left over wall paper and some unused acrylic containers and used the paper as drawer liners. Now the cabinet only has items that I reach for at night or use in the morning. And every time I open the drawers they look so nice “ohh joy”.

I can’t tell you how much I love my new wardrobe…to the moon and back maybe! It`s amazing what you can make out of an empty space!.

I hope that this has given you some ideas and inspiration for your wardrobe, even if it is to just declutter it!

Stay tidy out there!

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Kitchen Renovation - Before and After

In December 2017 our large renovation project began. It was 5 years in the making and I was beyond excited, at the end of the project the entire upstairs of our home would be completely renovated. We were getting all new bathrooms (ensuite and guest bathroom), all the walls, ceilings, skirtings and windows painted, all new internal doors, painted, new double floor to ceiling wardrobe, new fittings and lighting, new curtains and blinds, new flooring and best of all a new kitchen, not just any kitchen, the kitchen of my dreams!! 

Kitchen- before renovation - December 2017

Kitchen- before renovation - December 2017

kitchen - after renovation - March 2018

kitchen - after renovation - March 2018

In November 17 I shared the renovations plans so it's time now to share the completed renovations. In this post I`ll take you through the kitchen renovations, sharing our journey and there will be lots of befores and afters.! 

The plans

As mentioned above the renovations were 5 years in the making. This is simple because we moved into the house 5 years ago and our goal was to renovate at the 5 year mark. This meant that we had plenty of time to work out what would be the best kitchen, or rather how a kitchen would work better in the existing space. We were fortunate that the existing kitchen and dinning space were all open and there was plenty of space to have a large kitchen.  In fact the exisiting kitchen, albeit being old (as in it was installed in 1986), was actually a well designed kitchen and on the whole worked really well. In the end it was not difficult for Pete and I to come up with a layman's design of our new kitchen. We planned for the sink, fridge, pantry and oven to be in pretty much in the same position as in the old kitchen. The main difference with new layout was that we removed the L shaped bench and installed an island.

Pete and I had also made decisions on the colours of the cabinets, the cabinet style, bench top. Like I said before we had waited 5 years for this, so we knew what we wanted; 

  • Grey/blue colour cabinets
  • Shaker style cabinets
  • White stone bench top  
  • Same flooring throughout the kitchen and dining room

the final plans!  

The Big Decision 

By far in the biggest single cost in the renovation was going to be the Kitchen so we wanted to choose carefully who we were going to part our hard earned readies with. We decided to get quotes from three companies.  We made it clear that we were getting quotes and meeting with each of the companies to help decide who would be the best to work with. It was an interesting experience. One company never returned my call, one pretty much came in and "told" us how we should have the kitchen, ignoring our own plans and thoughts. Which left us with the third company Kitchen Studio North Shore . Our first meeting was with one of their Designers, Natasha Wright. It was not a difficult to make a decision to go with them as Natasha really took the time to listen to us. She looked at our simple non designer plans and simply added to these with that designer touch. The key thing for both of us was that Natasha got to know us first , understand us and what we wanted and in the end we got the Kitchen we wanted. The other great thing with Natasha, she was very realistic with the full cost, in fact her estimate was pretty much on the mark with the final cost. The entire team at Kitchen Studio North Shore were great and delivered on time and on budget with excellent customer service. 

Before you get to have a new kitchen ...you have to destroy the old! 

 

The journey to the New Kitchen

The best and fun way to take you through the journey to the new Kitchen is with pictures. I will put in as many before pictures as I can for you, so you can get a sense of what it was like before and the transformation that has occurred.

First up, the coffee station! This was on the top of the wish list for the new kitchen. Both Pete and I wanted to have this set up for Pete's little hobby or rather addiction!! For me I just wanted a separate sink that meant no more coffee grounds in the main sink and all over the bench top...soooooo sick of that. 

Pete visualising his new coffee station / coffee sink / final details for the plumber! 

And there it is, in all it's shiny coffee machine glory!  Plumbed in, so endless supply of water.

the coffee station set up

Coffee station sink

 

Moving on to the cooking area. Pretty much everything stayed in the same "location". And we got gas !!!! Pete and I love cooking with gas so it's been fabulous getting back on the gas hob!.

1986 state of the art cook top / 2018 gas hob 

I have to say for its age, the cook top and the oven were actually pretty good to use. And I sort of loved the retro look of the splash back. I was thinking of somehow incorporating it into the new kitchen, but the style was not right and it would be really hard to remove the tiles with out breaking them.

 

The pantry design and layout took a bit of working out, but Natasha got it all sorted for us. The new pantry is a bench top and the doors are bi folds which means that you can fully open up the area.  Lovely deep drawers and a massive corner Mondo corner unit.   (all the details about the inside of the cabinets, set ups and organisation will be revealed in my Kitchen Organisation posts, coming up at the end of July and August).

The kitchen area leads into the dining area, and it's all open plan. In the old kitchen, these spaces were separated by carpet and the L of the L-shaped kitchen. We wanted to make the kitchen and dining space feel more open and have ease of movement between the spaces so we now have a island parrellel to the kitchen sink and the same flooring all the way through. It has made a huge difference to how open and big the kitchen feels.

Looking out to the dining room and the french doors from the kitchen

Same view-post renovations - still hunting for new dining chairs!

 

The Costs

To be honest this was never going to be a cheap kitchen, so brace yourself!! the kitchen cost, excluding all appliances, tiling, plumbing and electrical was $45,000(NZ).

  • Cabinets = $19.3k
  • Cabinet and drawer accessories and sinks = $2.1k
  • Benchtop = $10.3K
  • Installation = $2.7

The electrical, plumbing, painting, tiling was all part of the total renovation cost so I could not say what was specific to the kitchen. 

Additional costs were for the floor and wall tiles which ran at approximately $3k and the curtains $500.  An unforeseen cost was the kitchen window which we had to replace as the original one was rotten. It had to be made by a local joinery company, it's not small so there was no change from $3k.  

Then you can`t forget the cost of the appliances. We actually brought the appliances a number of months before we started the renovations. Pete and I made the most of the annual Auckland Home Show and got the dishwasher, oven, hob, and rangehood for $6.4k, from The Jones Family Business, which I thought was pretty good. The fridge on the other hand....I love that fridge soooo much..however it was not the cheapest option...nor the smallest but it's what I wanted. And in this renovation Pete and I were both agreed that for once we would get want we actually wanted (within reason). I did managed to get a good price on it at $3.2k from the 100% Appliance store in Albany, their service was excellent and they delivered it for free.

So yep it was by no means cheap!!! I do find it interesting the costs that get disclosed in the magazines for Kitchen renovations. I am sure that they do not include all the "hidden" costs that occur, especially in an older home.

The products

As much as I can I`ll provide the names and links to all the materials, equipment and appliances that we purchased. 

Appliances;

We have used Smeg appliances before and have always found them great and so far have not had any issues. The fridge is a total joy and having the filtered water is a real treat, never get sick of that. 

pete -slow cooking prep / "cooking with gas"

 

The only change which Pete and I have had to get use to is all the appliances are electronic now, so no more dials....so we have a had to get the instruction books out a few times for setting clocks, timers and working out settings!!! Needing to read instruction books is a frustration in Pete's book!!

Cabinets, benchtop and tiles;

Floor tiles - Foresta Arizona / Cabinet colour - agave supermatt / wall paint colour - resene -avalon

Floor tiles - Foresta Arizona / Cabinet colour - agave supermatt / wall paint colour - resene -avalon

There were some struggles with both the bench top and the cabinet doors. Firstly with regards to the stone benchtop, I had chosen a more marbled looking stone, however the quote come in at $15k. So we had to rethink that option, that was just a bit rich for our blood. Natasha, the designer from Kitchen Studio was great at helping us, or rather me, to find something in our price range but that we would like. I was very nervous about what we chose as it was not what I pictured in my head, however Natasha reassured us that we had made the right choice. I now think that I love it more that my original choice, so am quietly pleased that it was too expensive. 

The other issue was with the cabinets. Both Pete and I wanted the shaker style cabinets and so these only come in Thermalwrap, which means that the colours are more limited and unlike the lacquered finish, can't be painted to our specifications. The challenge was finding the right cabinet colour, it had to be the right shade of bluey grey.  The samples held were all brown grey and this was not going to work.......we could get the specific colour however it could not be in a shaker style cabinet.....dilemma cabinet style vs colour which to choose!!!!  In the end Pete and I decided that we would not compromise on the cabinet style however maybe rethink the colour.  However as luck would have it Natasha and I found a colour on the cabinet makers website, which at first didn't look right but once we got the sample it was the perfect colour. So in the end we got the cabinet fronts and colour we wanted.  

It was our builder that put us onto the tiles for the floor. Neither Pete nor I were sure what we wanted on the kitchen and dining floor. However we did know that it had to be the same all the way through both rooms as it was an open space, and absolutely no carpet near the kitchen and no lino!   Our thoughts were to have a floating floor, laminate flooring like the sunroom, however were not sure about durability in a really high use area, ideally real timber flooring would be best but we are not millionaires so that was out of the question. So we checked out the local Tile Warehouse and they actually had the floor tiles down as display as you walked in and we instantly knew this was the flooring we would get. Perfect colour and perfect style...all thanks to our builders !!!  As a side note at the Home Show, where we got the appliances, we also got a 25% voucher for the Tile Warehouse which we used for when we purchased the tiles. It was a great discount and not only that but we got great service from Kalun at the Tile Warehouse

The day the tiler finished the subway tiles and the tile flooring was one of the best moments in the renovation, I could not believe how much they transformed the kitchen, took it from a construction zone to a completed zone!!!

all done

 

The Experience

Both Pete and I found the kitchen renovation exciting, there were a few challenges along the way however nothing that was major or a game changer, deal breaker. In my previous post about our renovation experience I talk about tips to survive renovations. The number one is great communication. For the kitchen renovation we had to work with our builder and the kitchen company and our builder had to work directly with them as well, especially at the installation stage. Graham, our builder was doing all the electrical and plumbing and "build" part and Kitchen Studio were making the cabinets and bench top and installing. To get this to all come together successfully it was really critical to have great communication across everyone , and make sure you can be on site at the critical times, like the day(s) on installation.

One thing that was very helpful from the Kitchen Studio was the explanation and details that you got on the "process". This meant that you had clarity of each step, who was doing what and by when and it was all documented. Any changes were updated and everyone got this information so there was never any confusion. 

another view from in front of the fridge looking out to the dining room

another view from in front of the fridge looking out to the dining room

Over the next two months, my post will bring you more details on the Kitchen organisation and the set ups of the drawers, shelves and cabinets. If you want to make sure that you get notified about the posts and other helpful tips from yours truly make sure that you sign up below for my newsletter, just have to pop your name and email address below so I can email you the newsletter

I hope you found this interesting and helpful especially if you are renovating. As always I love to hear from you about any of your renovation experiences and tips. 

If you are after inspiration, just check out my Pinterest board where I have keep all my kitchen inspiration and other renovation ideas. Make sure you follow to see all the new pins and inspiration I send your way.

Take care my friends

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3 tips to accessorise your kitchen on a budget

So here is the situation, you just spent a small fortune on getting the kitchen of your dreams and well there is no money left over to decorate/accessorise it. Well that was our reality. The kitchen itself was all finished, however we still needed a buffet/hutch cabinet, finish up the coffee station set up and generally set up the accessories. The hutch was needed as we originally planned for the kitchen company to make a display/buffet cabinet however we had to draw a line on the costs. So I had to get my thinking cap on to figure out how I could achieve the look and function we wanted on a small budget, or rather next to no budget.

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I really needed to resolve the Hutch issue as I had everything still in boxes and I needed to access the items in the boxes on a daily basis. Both Pete and I had an idea of what would look good in the space but we were finding it hard to actually find the "perfect" cabinet. At first we were thinking a long low buffet in white, like this one from Farmers , obviously not in our price range at that point.  Even on special it was too pricy and Pete was not a big fan of it. I also realised that I really want space to display some of my tea sets and other collections. This meant that we were more likely to have to source a hutch/cabinet and that it would probably have to be second hand. 

TIP # 1  - Thrift Shopping

Yip that's the first tip !!! Go hunting in those great secondhand/preloved/hospice shops for what you are looking for.  As some of my followers would know I am a bit of a thrift shopper. I have found some real gems over the years, especially from Hospice shops, and here on the North Shore in Auckland , the North Shore Hospice shops are fantastic. So our plan was to go looking in our favourite ones and also check out  Trade Me , using Watch List to flag and track items that we were interested in. I was planning on getting a hutch/cabinet and repainting using chalk paint. 

Just a bit of advice at this point..... you do need to be patient Thrift shopping , it can take a while to find what you are after. It's good to do some research on what the best shops are for what you want, as some specialise in clothes, others books or furniture. Also you really need to be going into these shops regularly as items come in and out very quickly and they are all one offs, in other words you can't dilly dally round with making your decision, if you see something grab it!. Last bit of advice, be really clear with what you want, function and size most important so know your measurements. This also ensures that you don't distract yourself with other items you see which are like "that's cool but it is not practical and I don't need it" . Case in point is the fabulous "Girl with the Pearl Earring" picture below which I picked up for $2....totally not looking for it ...but what a find...I just love her!

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After a few disheartening trips I thought that we would never find what we needed.  I was happy to repaint, put new hardware on, so open to old stuff that just needed a bit of a jazz up! I decided to check out a store that I always noticed but had never been in, it was a local used furniture store called Glenfield furniture new & used . Initially I didnt really see anything I thought useful, however I then noticed the colour.  There was a large grey wall cabinet, which was placed behind a while lot of other pieces, so I could only see a small part of it. The colour jumped out at me as it was almost exactly the same as the kitchen cabinets. On closer inspection it was actually an office cabinet made by McGreals here in Auckland. My first reaction was, no that's not going to work! However the size and the functionality were actually perfect, not to mention the colour. (bonus no repainting) and it was a great quality cabinet. So I started to think may be it could work as a hutch. It even had silver hardware like the kitchen cabinets. The guy at the shop was a bit surprised that I was thinking of using it in the Kitchen, however once I showed him the space and the kitchen he could see it working. So here in lies a lesson, always be open to ideas and seeing things in different ways, you never know what you might end up with. And best of all it was only $240!. 

Hutch_post.png

 

At the same time as looking for the Hutch I was looking for accessories for the coffee station area. The machines were all in place so we just wanted to get a small floating shelf above the machines and essentially have a coffee themed area.  A bit like the office cabinet discovery, I walked into the local Hospice shop and there they were. A framed pair of pictures of Paris cafes scenes and the colour tones were perfect. Not only that but the pictures were narrow and long which were perfect for where they were to be hung. $15 each... thank you! So my coffee station got a Parisian theme to it...very apt I thought. The floating shelf was actually new, just purchased from the local Bunnings store, not a huge cost thank goodness. 

Coffee_station_post.png

 

The "dressing" of the Hutch and coffee station shelf were the last step in my accessorising and so this takes me to tip # 2

TIP # 2 - Shopping the home

Do not go and buy a whole lot of accessories without checking out what you can use from your home. For my hutch accessories I just used things that I had tucked away but meant a lot as well as things that I use regularly. I am sure that we have all got things like this about the house which you can use. I used my two tea sets, one was Pete`s Mums, given to her by her husband (Pete's Dad). which he got from Japan as he worked in Japan just after the end of WWII to help the rebuild. The other one is the tea set my Mum was given by her employers when she left work to get married. Yip it was only a generation ago that women were expected to finish work when they got married! I also have some of my favourite tea pots that I have been given over the years which I got out. Added to this was my collection of silverware that I had around the place, again bringing them together they make great accessories. 

wedding_tea_set_post.png

 

I did have a cake stand and 2 tiered stand that I was going to donate as the colour was old fashioned. So rather than giving them away, I just spray painted them white and used them to help display my items in the Hutch. I was tickled pink with how they can out. 

tea_pot.jpg

 

Over in the coffee station area on the shelf I just put up my tea cup and saucer and pots that I use regularly as well as some coffee kit. This is what I would refer to as on hand accessories!!

coffee_shelve.png

 

The last thing I did was to create a touch of greenery by just rehousing existing plants that I had in the house.

TIP # 3 - Groupings

This last tip is more of a styling tip and one that is not new by any means. However when you have limitations on accessories and budget this can be a good one to try in order to create "style".   It's just about taking like items and housing them together. So in my case I have grouped by colour and by use. 

  • Hutch - used white and blue colours with silver accents plus grouped like objects being tea pots, tea cups, silverware
  • Coffee Station - grouped by colour and use. All coffee and tea pots together
  • Chopping boards - grouped all wooden chopping boards together and corralled them into a round tray, adding useful items like seasoning grinders and dressings 
  • Oils and Utensils - all oils and vinegars together and all the cooking utensils in a jug by the hob

Overall the accessories in the kitchen are not actually for display only they are actually for daily use but housed in a way that creates a sense of style to the kitchen and is therefore a great way to accessorise.

chopping_boards_post.png

 

There you have it! My 3 tips, which you can pretty well apply to any aspect of your home, if you are wanting to accessorise and style it up a bit. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and maybe got a few ideas on other options for accessories other than buying new. 

The  other important thing to be aware of is the low foot print you create by simply upcycling something or just reusing something that you already have. Just think of the all the packing plastic you have saved by not buying something new which comes covered in way too much packaging. 

Before I go, if you are decorating/accessorising your shelves, here is a great tip...always accessorise in 3's and at different heights.

Happy accessorising and thrift shopping everyone

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P.S Stay tuned for my next post as I will be taking you through the full Kitchen reveal...exciting. To make sure you don't miss it, just sign up to my newsletter , pop your details below, which gives me consent to allow me to email you with all the latest from Tidying with Tania

 

 

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How to clean ceiling fans with Baking soda & Vinegar

So our renovations started in early December 2017 and I naively thought that after all the months of planning we could just sit back and let the builder and tradies do their thing and I could finally relax...well what was I thinking! The list of to do's just keep going and a lot of small things that we just didn't think of, like removing and cleaning the ceiling fans because the ceiling was being skimmed. So this post takes you through how Pete and I set about cleaning these very filthy things. And because we try to avoid chemical cleaners we only used baking soda and vinegar and they came up a treat. 

cleaned_ceiling_fan.png

 

Equipment 

This is just the list of things that we used and I would recommend having if you are going to do the same.

  • Toothbrush 
  • Lid or small bowl
  • Bucket
  • Light dishwashing liquid soap
  • Old rags or cleaning cloths
  • Water and Vinegar spray ( see my general cleaner recipe
  • Ladder
  • Screwdriver
ceiling_fan_cleaners.png

 

Preparation 

This is a bit like stating the obvious, however I do need to point out that you need to take the ceiling fan down from the ceiling!. Make sure that you use a ladder, safely, and turn off the power supply as well. You don't want to chop your head off by accidentally setting off the fan while removing it. 

Most ceiling fans can be disassembled by simply unscrewing the screws. We just removed each fan from the centre mechanism. Pete removed the metal cap that went over the motor so we could clean it easier. In the end we had the ceiling fan broken into six parts;

  • 4 fans
  • Central mechanism
  • Metal cap
ceiling_fan_4_parts.png

 

Then it was just a matter of getting stuck in and cleaning!

Cleaning

Firstly we filled up the bucket with warm soapy water, light dishwash liquid. We use Ecostore dishwashing liquid

Then I mixed up a paste of baking soda and my general cleaner. I just used the baking soda jar lid. You could use a small bowl instead.

I took each piece and sprayed them first with my general cleaner, then took my toothbrush and used it to spread the "paste" around. Using the toothbrush as a scrubber I was able to scrub all the surfaces and the difficult to get to areas. Pete used the bucket with soapy water to clean off after scrubbing and then simply wiped the surfaces down with a dry clean cloth. Some of the surfaces needed a bit of extra elbow grease (a good hard scrub). Pete and I were really pleased with how well they came up! Almost new looking. 

ceiling_fan_cleaning_before_after.png

 

The cleaning did not change the slight yellowing of the paint and surface, that is simply an age issue, however by being sparkling clean they looked so much better.

All we had to do was to ensure they dried off well and reassemble the parts, and Bob's your Uncle! it's all done.

ceiling_fan_cleaning_fly_marks.png

 

A couple of pointers, as the ceiling fans were of an older type, each fan had a centre cane laminate. To clean this I did just as described above, however I made sure that I used a nice soft toothbrush. This meant that there was no damage to the laminate.

So there you have it, a simple and effective, non chemical way to clean your ceiling fans.

If you want to get more ideas and resources on cleaning in the home just check out my Pinterest page and don't forget to follow me so you can see all the latest information that I add.

Well that's it my friends, just short and simply post this time but hopefully of some use and maybe its got you inspired to go clean whatever it is that you have been saying "oh I must clean that sometime" 

Take care and stay safe my friends

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Our renovation journey, update and tips to survive it!

After just three months we are finally coming to the end of our renovation journey. I can't believe that it was back in November 2017 that I posted about our renovation plans. As everything comes together and the initial dream and planning all comes to life, you figure out if you have made the right decisions!!!! That's a bit scary and combined with the hustle and bustle on site to get the renovations over the line it's been a tiny bit stressful.

To be honest over the past week, there were some moments that were kind of crazy, however looking back, individually they were not really big issues, it was more that they all collided at the same time. A lot of last minute decisions and issues to get sorted in order to get the job completed;

  • Bathroom cabinets had faults which caused issues with fitting in and needed to deal with the manufacturer
  • Not enough spray paint to finish the stair way railings
  • Plumbing challenges in the kitchen
  • Grouting colours to decide
  • Bathroom mirror decisions
  • Shifting furniture for the carpet laying

Now these don't seem a lot but when your working full time while trying to deal with suppliers and your builder and your husband is away overseas it gets a bit much...oh yeah and you hear from your husband and daughter that their luggage has been lost between Melbourne and Hong Kong! it can get a tad stressful. And to top it all off having to pay the final instalments to the builder and painter....with the back account growning...eeek

You can see how renovation programmes make good TV....wow I`d be the ultimate drama Queen and everyone would be laughing at me...I'd be like... "I just can't deal with this anymore" followed by tears of course.

So how far have we come in our journey? The end is in sight and there are only a few things in each area that need finishing off, probably a couple of weeks work left.

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Kitchen

Bench top pantry, subway tile splash back and shaker style cabinets

Kitchen to do list

  • Fit in gas cooktop burner and connect the gas
  • Plumb in the fridge
  • Place kick boards
  • Plumb in the coffee machine
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Guest Bathroom

Tiled shower with glass sides

Guest bathroom do list

  • Installation of the glass shower walls
  • Installation of the mirrors and the lights
  • Installation of the glass shower shelves
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Ensuite

Tiled shower, wall hung cabinet and toilet

Ensuite to do list

  • Installation of the glass shower walls
  • Installation of the mirrors and the lights
  • Installation of the glass shower shelves
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Hallway

Linen cupboard and hand rail

Other stuff to do list

  • Hang all the doors
  • Stain the wooden rails on the stairs
  • Installation of the new ceiling fan
  • Fit off the switches in the bedrooms, lounge and hallway
  • Build the internal storage system for the master wardrobe
  • Hang the light shades and wall lights 

While writing this post I reflected on how much the renovation process can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. On the whole I think that Pete and I have managed to survive intact through this big renovation project. So what were our survival tactics! Luck probably...but actually I think good communication was the most important, followed by good budget management by managing the variances and lastly learning to be patient! Yep so these would be my top three tips for survival. 

Communication is King

If you are the Kardashians and can't spell it would be Kommunication is King!  Don't worry I have saved you from that pain. I know that the one thing that has really helped a lot has been great communication with the builder and other tradies that we are working with. Pete and I always made sure that we were accessible so if our builder had any questions, any decisions that need to be made that we could answer them and didn't hold him up. We also checked in daily to go through progress and any issues, always making sure that we delivered on what we promised we would do. There were a couple of times that I just couldn't get something sorted and told my builder and he would manage it for me. It really helped to be open and honest about what you can do and what help you need from them. We always made sure that everyone had the same message so there was no confusion...well we tried to! This was the biggest challenge for us, making sure that Pete and I agreed on the same thing, so if the builder asked me a question then Pete at a different time, that he got the same response. There were a few times where that didn't happen so it did cause some confusion. Like.."what do you want to do with the hand rails?" Pete says paint black...I say stain....painter is confused!!!

Being on site as much as possible really helped, just literally being on call for the builder was a real bonus.

Manage the variances

It's all about the money honey!. As you go into a renovation project you have the contract agreed which states the cost and schedule of payments. Our builder was very specific with what was included in the contract, e.g down to the # of lights switches. So we knew exactly what we were getting for our money.

Any time you change what is being done, material and labour after that contract is signed that's a variance. (if you have no signed contract..then you could get into all sorts of problems!! just warning you). A variance can be expensive so we were always really clear with what that variance would be. Asking ourselves, did we really need to do it? and what it would cost. We did end up with three variances with our builder;

  • Removal of the pelmets in the bedrooms, dining room ceiling plus external plumbing changes 
  • Replacement and installation of all internal doors 
  • Replacement and installation of the wooden hand rail on the stairs

In total these variances cost $6000 however we worked through each issue and decided on the importance and value to the renovation. A good example was the internal doors. We ended up replacing them all as they were all getting painted (part of the contract) however we did not want to paint doors that really were going to have to be replaced in a few years time (the laminate was peeling off a lot of them). Other things like replacing the hardware on the windows we didn't get done because they all worked ok and over time Pete and I can replace them with more modern looking ones. 

Changes occur constantly throughout the renovation, my advice is to just check if that change will actually mean a change to the contract, therefore a variance and what it will cost and agree or not on it. 

Be Patient 

For those of you who know me well, may laugh at this...but yeah you have to be patience... or at least try to be patient. I think it's fair to say most of us, who aren't builders, have unrealistic ideas of how long it takes to get things done and what is actually involved. Seeing the detail of the work that has to be done helped me to understand that to do it right takes time and patience and sometimes rework. We had a situation with the pantry bench top which meant that there was delay and my builder had to reschedule his tradies. At the time I was not happy about it however it ended up being completed only being two days later than the original planned date.....really two days delay is nothing so I had to learn to cool my jets!

My mind is now starting to switch into the excitement of decoration and furnishing.....now this will be a challenge as there is no budget left!!!

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Until next time, take care my friends

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