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Lounge Upgrade

I have just upgraded my lounges at home to these beautiful three seater Chesterfields in Linen fabric. For quite sometime we had two lounges that we sourced from Salvo’s which were fabulous and helped us make do till the time came for an update.  The new Chesterfield lounges and wooden  coffee table have transformed my living room with a balance of new and vintage.


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It is not only Retailers that have Sales but Wholesalers have Sales as well. When a Wholesaler has a Sale it means that effectively Retailers are purchasing discounted products to sell to the end customer so therefore significant savings can then be passed onto those customers. To allow you to  get the best prices on great products that I see around from time-to-time with these Wholesale Sale’s I have setup a “Specials” page for you. The Specials page will change constantly and often these Sales will last for a few days only.

To open up this Specials feature we have Ruby Star Traders having a Wholesaler Sale through till Friday 13th April 5pm. Check it out here. If you are interested I can place an order prior to Friday 13th April 5pm to save you over 50% on retail. Free Delivery within the Sydney area.

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A very special fundraiser  event was held recently in Manly to raise money for our beautiful family friends whose son, Louis, is fighting cancer. I painted this second painting in a series of Beach Scrub Scapes specially for the fundraiser auction as one of the many fantastic donations up for bidding. The evening was a wonderful night of laughter, tears, lots of hugs, great people and incredible music who were all there to support Louis and his family.  It was awesome and so lovely to be a part of it.

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The Evolving Home

We purchased our first digital camera in 1998. At the time it was at the forefront of technology however it allowed us to take an increasing number of photos for virtually no cost. Today our immediate family has a photo library of over 40,000+ photo’s. Obviously with that number of photos it is difficult to take a “browse” one evening to reminisce old times. Since 2000 we have created an annual family  compilation. That is a compilation of slideshow and short family movies of the most important things done for that year. The annual compilation runs for about 15-20minutes. Looking back over these annual compilations one thing that really sticks out is how our home has changed. I mean profoundly changed.

I see things like furniture upgraded, rooms transformed and rooms changed from toy rooms to recreations rooms and study areas as the kids grow up. Furniture and homewares have been swapped  as tastes have changed. Colours of the house have been repainted from Wasabi Green and  Burnt Orange in the early days to more neutral shades today. So what has happened is our home has evolved as our family grows up. Opening my Mirium store with beautiful vintage furniture and homewares, gave me so much more scope to be able to purchase these beautiful pieces that I would find at Auctions, Vintage stores or Charity shops. It was an open licence to go larger scale than what I had been doing in my home for decades. Mixing these individual pieces, with other items I would research for at Seconds stores and various Sales, created excellent value and translated into a home that was contemporary and personal.

One of my favourite finds at a local Charity store has become a feature piece in our home.

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If I’m looking for furniture one stop I make is the Freedom Furniture Excess Outlet at Turramurra in Sydney. Fortunately it is nearby where I live so it is handy for finding bargains in sofas, dining room tables and chairs through to outdoor furniture, bedding, cushions and assorted homewares. The Excess Outlet sell well below retail price, sometimes up to 50% or more. The stock comprises discontinued lines, seconds, samples and some current stock that may be overruns or has damaged packaging. I sometimes pop in just to have a look to see what is available as the stock is turning over regularly.

Last year I was in the market for a lounge for a recreation room at home. Browsing the Excess Outlet store I found a white leather lounge that looked a good bargain at $900. Checking what the price would be normally at Freedom it was $1,850. In talking with the sales assistant about the lounge there was no issues such as marks or anything. I purchased it, arranged Freedom to deliver it home for me (another $50). Done. Saved $900.

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Factory Seconds

Factory Seconds is another avenue to seek great value for purchases around home. We were in the market for an outdoor table for our patio and I was wanting to steer away from the mainstream outdoor furniture and had my hopes set on a more provincial look that was in keeping with the updated changes to our home.  Searching for a while around retailers I found the typical price for good quality outdoor furniture was much higher than I was prepared to pay. Finding what I wanted meant looking at discontinued and seconds stock.

I finally found what I wanted in a warehouse in Sydney’s South. The outdoor set was a Venetian table top with Amalfi bases including 6 chairs and was a Factory Second. During delivery it had been dropped and sustained a small hairline crack on the table top. I was hard pressed to see it and in fact had to get one of the warehouse staff to point it out to me. It was very, very minor. I could live with that… particularly since it had been discounted >$3,000 as a result.

I purchased it and had it delivered to home. Browsing through Freedom I found some inexpensive seat covers for the chairs. I laid some plastic down over the table to protect it from oils. Perfect.

Check Factory Seconds as an option for high ticket options. It can save you a fortune.

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Late last year we had builders and landscapers do work on our house and garden. One item that was outstanding for our outdoor patio area was a BBQ. I did a little research and found out that in general built-in external BBQ’s fall into two categories. Either they are cheap low quality units with lots of metal or very expensive and not necessarily aesthetic to the eye. Discussions with various folk we determined that Weber builds a good quality external BBQ unit at a modest price. Trouble was though it was an external unit. So what if we sat one of these Weber BBQ’s inside a frame so as to make it look like a built-in unit? The builders were asked and they said no problem.

An external Weber was purchased, brought home and the metal “wings taken off”. The builders then quickly knocked up a frame which was easy for them as they were onsite anyway. For the table top we decided on stone. A visit was made to a local marble granite merchant. A suitable off-cut (effectively waste stone from another job at a much cheaper price than you would get otherwise) was purchased and they were asked to cut it to size. Now the stone was expensive at around $1000 but it makes such as dramatic impact to the final BBQ look. The builders fitted the stone top and the BBQ was ready.

The final product is shown below and looks great.

So key lessons here are that if you involve tradesman or builders try and get a whole lot done at once and include “incremental work” rather than spacing things out into multiple jobs and secondly use offcuts where possible for things like kitchen benches (we used offcuts for some of our kitchen tops), sandstone (we used offcuts for our fireplace) or in this case a stone table top.

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During a recent trip to Los Angeles I visited two Fashion Outlets. Citadel Outlets is just near Anaheim and was generally OK. Real cheap compared to Australia. A superior outlet in my view though was the Camarillo Premium Outlet about a hour North of Los Angeles. Well worth the drive up there.

Should also mention that at the Premium Outlet networks you can reap further discounts through online coupons and VIP Coupon book. The Premium Outlets® portfolio is the world’s largest collection of upscale outlet centers. It includes Premium Outlet Centers in the United States, Japan, Korea and Mexico. Basically go to the Premium Outlet website here and sign up to the VIP Shopper Club.  It is free. You can then print off vouchers to various brand stores for further discounts. You even print off a voucher to obtain a Free VIP Coupon book at the information centre at the Outlet you are going to. These coupons provide significant further savings.

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An old pot stand is perfect to hold my Fowlerware mixing bowl collection which I bought at a Sydney Auction House. Looks beautiful. The Lamp is an eBay purchase for $55 and was a bit of a drive to get it as well.

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KitchenAid are renowned for manufacturing some of the best kitchen appliances in the world. Notable their mixers are robust are sought after in Australian kitchens. Downside is that in Australia KitchenAid products are very expensive. Typically buying a standard KitchenAid Artisan Mixer KSM150 from a major retailer will cost you something in the order of $795. In the US they are half the cost. Since I was not in a real hurry for a KitchenAid mixer I did some research to see how I could get the best value.

In the end I bought my KitchenAid online through Amazon in the US. It took around 4 weeks to deliver. Here is how it worked out. Note that the US dollar (USD) was a little above 1:1 with the Australian dollar (AUD) so consider 1 USD = 1 AUD after credit card fees taken out.

USD$360 KitchenAid Professional 6-Quart Pewter Mixer
USD$68 Icecream maker (AUD$195 at major retailers in Australia!)
USD$106 Shipping
AUD$148 Step-down Transformer to convert Aus 240v to US 110v

The mixer, if it was available in Australia, would be around $1000. Along with the ice-cream maker therefore I’d say that I have saved >$500.

A quick note on buying appliances from the US. Electrical equipment in the US runs on different voltage. Here in Australia we have 240v and in the US it is 110v. Therefore if you buy electrical equipment from the US you either have to ensure it has been modified for 240v for use in Australia or use a step-down transformer. In Sydney you can buy step-down transformers from places like TorTech. TorTech have a special write-up on using Kitchenmaid appliances in Australia here. As the KitchenAid model I was buying has a powerful 575-watt motor I needed to get a 1000watt step-down transformer. Further I purchased a US type powerpoint (see photo) from the equivalent of Bunnings when I was last in the US. An electrician wired in the step-down transformer so it was out of sight.

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