Old home, new look

STYLE guru Caroline Roessler has spent most of her adult life looking at, and experimenting with, decorating trends.

She believes mixing your styles regularly can bring about new energy in the home and give living spaces a dynamic quality.

Caroline, who is editor of the homemaker's style “bible”, Notebook magazine, has just moved into a traditional double fronted Federation home from a warehouse-style apartment, which she painstakingly redecorated in modern, minimalist style.

Now, she's changing her whole look to a cosier, nesting approach. According to Caroline, change is, indeed, as good as a holiday!

For those looking to take on a new energy, it's not necessary to change your home - just give the old girl a facelift and voila! Welcome to a whole new look.

“I don't think a house is ever done,” says Caroline.

“Like most things in life, homes should be organic and constantly evolving to suit our moods or the seasons. Also, I have a low boredom threshold so I'm forever moving things around.

“And it's really unnecessary to be stuck with 'a look'- it's so easy to update a room just by changing the bed linen or cushions or throw rugs or window treatments.

“In the kitchen I'm forever moving around objects on shelves and grouping different things together to keep it interesting.”

When deciding to renovate or redecorate a “period” home, or any home with a unique architectural style, Caroline says authentic features can complement contemporary styling - the two are not mutually exclusive.

“I like a mix of both - the traditional features give the home a sense of history and architectural interest, but it's nice to play with colour, texture and light to give the house a more contemporary and modern feel, and one that suits our modern lifestyles and needs,” she says.

She does, however, warn that playing with colour needs to be thought out and, while it's great to bring individualism to a room, she believes keeping a stylish, neutral colour palette brings more “room to move” in decorating.

“You can't go wrong with a neutral palette, and by that I don't mean whites and creams.

“There are so many gorgeous and sophisticated paint colours available now - and it's so easy to create a look around them.

“For example, if you crave a French look you can look at warm whites that veer into shades of putty, grey, blues and greens.

“They make a statement but in a very subtle way. For a modern rustic feeling - which I'm leaning towards in my own home - complement white walls with earthy colours such as stone or terracotta that go well with timber, slate and stone.”

For that splash of colour, Caroline has one great love: “Cushions, cushions and more cushions. What can I say? I love them.”

Renovations need to be mindful of Australia's passion with indoor/outdoor living, she says, but it's also important to ensure your home's original style retains a sense of individuality.

“I really dislike how so many extensions to older homes look as though they've come from the same cookie cutter,” she says.

“You know, where the kitchen/living/dining are all in one rectangular and, generally, small space that is masquerading as modern and 'open plan'. And in so many cases, the bi-fold doors leading outside.

“In principle, it's a great idea but to me it feels like every inch of the home's character has been ripped out and no thought has been given to integrating the back with the front section.

“I really feel there's got to be a better and more creative way to deal with these spaces to accommodate our love of indoor/outdoor and open-plan living.”

■ For more on great tips and decorator hints, go to Caroline's blog: www.notebookmagazine.com/goodandbadhousekeeping

Top tips

■ When painting, don't waste water by washing brushes and rollers in between coats. Instead, wrap tightly in plastic cling film and they will stay moist - even overnight.

■ Use dental floss to quiet a dripping tap until you can get it fixed. Tie one end of the floss around the tap and other end of the dental floss down the drain. The drips travel along the thread instead of dripping into the sink and driving you crazy.

■ Fix a squeaky door by sprinkling talcum powder on the hinges. This also works for squeaky floorboards.

■ Add two tablespoons of vanilla essence to one-and-a-half litres of paint to reduce paint smells.

■ To remove old paint stains, soften with linseed oil and then wipe off. For tough stains, use a razor blade and scrape off.

■ To stop paint dripping onto the floor, glue a paper plate to the bottom of the can. The plate should be five to eight centimetres wider than the can so it can catch drips.

To cover scratches on wood furniture or floorboards, make a thick paste of instant coffee and a little water. Rub into the nicks and scratches. Allow to dry, then apply a layer of furniture polish.

From Notebook: 100 Best Ever Home Hints, published by Notebook magazine.

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