ASK AN EXPERT Stylish solutions to all your design dilemmas
Each issue, we’ll find stylish solutions to all your decorating and design dilemmas from those in the know
QI’d like to engage an architect for an upcoming reno; do you have any guidance on how to brief them to get the best result? Daniel, via email Great communication is critical to the success of any renovation, so first and foremost, owners should ask themselves if they feel comfortable talking with their architect. Does the communication seem open, easy and honest? Are they on your page, so to speak? After those initial conversations, which are often quite casual, I would suggest putting critical aspects of your brief in writing – like a more formal agreement that can be referred to later. It’s also important not to overburden your design briefs with prescriptive outcomes. A good brief should challenge your architect to think creatively about the project’s potential – after all, this is their field of expertise and what you pay good money for – so take advantage of it!
QI’m looking for handles and knobs to add to my kitchen for a special finishing touch to our renovation. Can you suggest some sources? Vanessa, via Facebook “Handles are a great way to take your kitchen to the next level,” says our style editor Jono Fleming. “A good place to start is Hepburn Hardware (hepburn hardware.com) where you can select your choice of material and go for either traditional or contemporary styles. US retailer Anthropologie (anthropologie.com) mixes materials in really interesting ways and ships to Australia on smaller items such as knobs and handles. Buster + Punch, available from Living Edge (livingedge.com. au) offers the ultimate designer handle selection. Sleek and beautifully designed, these handles are bound to make your kitchen look refined and polished.”
QWhat’s the difference between vinyl, laminate and hybrid timber-look flooring? Sonia, via Facebook “Laminate flooring uses a wood-based panel, with a printed top layer with melamine. It’s tough, colourfast, and resistant to marks, scuffs and stains. Waterproof laminates are also now available,” says Kendall Waller, national product manager at Quickstep (quick-step.com.au). “Vinyl flooring is primarily composed of flexible PVC. Being plastic, it is completely waterproof, and the clear PVC wear layer provides a tough yet soft layer that is quiet underfoot. These planks are mostly glued down and require a very smooth sub-floor to look their best. Finally, ‘hybrid’ flooring is a name given to mainly rigid PVC panels that mostly use a flexible vinyl top layer. The benefit of these rigid panels is that they can be laid over any flat surface. The panels click together directly over tiles or chipboard, while also remaining waterproof. I’d advise choosing laminate where you want that ‘real’ wood look and feel with great durability, or the vinyl options when you want a quiet floor.”
QI have a narrow garden down one side of my house but it doesn’t get much sun and it’s a bit damp so the grass won’t grow. Any thoughts on whether I could deck it? Sean, via email “Decking will help to breathe new life into an unused area of the garden and connect your home with the outdoors,” says Fiona Dzebic, consumer specialist at James Hardie (jameshardie.com.au). “Alternatives to timber decking, like HardieDeck, are appealing because they’re virtually maintenance-free. As this area is damp, HardieDeck, a moisture-resistant material is the perfect option. In this situation, allow 150mm of ground clearance for good cross ventilation under the decking. HardieDeck can be stained to look just like timber, but also looks great coated with a clear sealer or painted almost any colour. In this case, fully seal the decking boards to protect the stained finish.”
Buster + Punch furniture handle in Brass, $115, Living Edge, livingedge.com.au. This luxe kitchen is finished off with simple yet chic ‘Bronte’ knobs from Hepburn Hardware.
‘Majestic’ laminate in Desert Oak Warm Natural, $57/sqm, Quick-Step, quick-step.com.au.
This outdoor zone by Three Birds Renovations (threebirdsrenovations.com) features a white HardieDeck system, hardiedeck.com.au.