Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Solid Teak Rainwater Bath

The nature-lovers and simplicity-dwellers are sure to like this. An unusual and stylish bath, the Rainforest bath is the first to have a hand-made wooden bath.

Hundreds of caringly curved timbers are crafted to make this unique boat bath. Each of these are made in natural Teak hardwood which are waxed for smooth hard-waring finish.

The taps must be wall-mounted or floor mounted. Please note that the bath is without over flow and also the colors may vary as each bath is individual. Each of these retail for $25,105.

Via - Loadedshopper

Simon Turner

Rotating Gas Fireplace

Share the heat with everyone and be the envy of Australian homes, with this Diva Gas Rotating Fireplace, produced by Spartherm.

Control the gas pressure through a remote control and comfort yourself to get heated with the fireplace that rotates as per your convenience.

A glowing sphere of warmth sliced open on two sides to reveal the inner splendor this contemporary fireplace can rotate at your will. This handy function likewise allows you to directly feel the cozy heat of the Diva fireplace wherever you may be in the room. Running on gas, the Diva is easy to use and functions at the touch of a button.

Simon Turner

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Multi-Functional Pool Table

Pool tables typically dig a huge hole in our pockets resulting into their own marketing pitfalls. Hence, they’re out with new ways to justify their huge expense and massive real estate usage.

Moreover, they need recuperate from their downside caused by all the whacko games offered by Nintendo Wii.

To save their shrinking markets, the Pool table manufacturers are out with a new mantra, the “Fusion” Pool table/dining room table created by Aramith, our long-time leading manufacturer in the billiard industry. The multi-functionality Fusion table combines a dining table, a pool table and a game table all in one. How about a good game of pool after dinner?

Simon Turner

All That: Glitterbox Chandelier

This exclusively designed chandelier breaks all the design barriers and revitalizes the concept of the chandelier, whilst celebrating the rich traditions of this evocative and emotive expression of cut crystal. Vertical Glitterbox Chandelier is designed by George Beadle for Swarovski. Completely out-of-the-box concept, this stands tall. It includes 80 ‘twinkling’ 1 watt LED lights.

You can opt from clear, golden teak and peridot and for $US52,000, these glittering columns are sure to add uber-glamor to your d├ęcor.

Dimension - 98.5″ h a 8″w x 8″d

Simon Turner

The Billionaire Club: The Home of Bill Gates

The Home of Bill Gates

Medina, Washington

Net Worth: $58 billion

Gates' 66,000-square-foot compound is built into a hillside on the edge of Lake Washington, near Seattle. Out-of-shape visitors can skip the 84-step hike to the ground floor and opt for an elevator ride instead. Among its enviable amenities: a 60-foot swimming pool with an underwater music system, a 2,500-square-foot gym and a 1,000-square-foot dining room, which seats 24.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

This 'Ol House

Where To Start When Renovating an Older-Style Home
The Interior: Things to Note:

Water Stains - stains can be found most commonly in these two places, ceilings and floors. Ceilings usually indicate a leaky roof and that the whole ceiling will need to be replaced. Floors mean either the ceiling has leaked so much onto the floor that now the floor is warped, or that a pipe from a bathroom, water heater, or kitchen is broken. If a pipe is broken, it could mean tearing out the walls to find the source, and if you don't find it right away, the cost to find it adds up and up and up.

Sloping Floors - walk into the home and take a good look at the floors. You will be able to see slopes easily by looking at the baseboards and the floors relation to them. Walk on them and you can tell if you go downhill. Start thinking of foundation problems, or settling issues. We have even seen supporting beams cut to put a pipe through, thus causing floors to sag under the unsupported weight.

Charred Attic Trusses - many historic homes used coal fireplaces instead of wood. The burning embers would sometimes leak through chimney mortar and cause attic fires. In the home above, during the inspection we found a 2200 square foot third level was completely charred. The good news was that by speaking with neighbors, the fire had been 60 years before and the wood was so thick that the fire barely affected the structural integrity. You might not be so lucky and find the damage was so great that the entire truss structure must be replaced.

Original Plumbing & Wiring - if the home still has cast iron pipes and the original electrical system, then you are in for a huge cost to replace these items. But to do a project right and to keep the old wiring from burning the house down, they really need to be replaced. For a 4000 square foot home, it might cost you $15,000 for the electrical and another $15,000 for the plumbing, and that is just to install it. It doesn't include building the bathrooms, or installing fixtures.

Wall and Trim Paint - take a good look at the paint on trim and determine how thick it is. Over the last hundred years there is no telling how many coats have been applied and how much of it is lead based paint. Lead based paint is a health hazard if ingested, especially by young children. It is best to get rid of all paint in the home through stripping (a timely & costly process). But once the original wood is revealed, sanded, and stained, the value of the home has greatly increased in the eye's of a buyer.

Cracks in the Walls - if you see alot of cracks in the walls, beware! Most likely the walls are the original plaster and have been taped repeatedly over the years. As soon as you go to hang a picture with a nail, the "walls will come tumbling down". Replacing the plaster is expensive as most likely you will have to use thicker Sheetrock and account for the higher ceilings. Sometimes the cracks are also a sign of settling issues or structural problems. Best to have a contractor take a look at it to assess any problems.

Cracked Windows, Rotten Sashes, Broken Pulleys - if the original windows are still in the home, make sure to open each window. Check for rotten wood around the frame and on the sashes and cracked windows. If the window won't open, chances are the rope pulleys are broken and need to be repaired. See the costs starting to add up?

How Fix Your Home's Leaky Windows

One of the most common problems found in older homes is a window that leaks air.

In the winter the cold air comes in, condenses on the window, and in some cases freezes. In the summer, your precious air conditioning is sucked out into the warm atmosphere causing your compressor to go into overdrive. What do you do? Here are some options that will not only stop that whistling noise, but save you money as well.

Loose windows - some older homes are not properly weather-stripped. Applying the proper type is the least expensive fix. For some homes, a spring bronze weather-stripping can be used, which is a strip of brass that is inserted between the sash and the jamb. If this is not available, you can also buy a vinyl strip that does on the outside and inside of the window sashes.

Insulation - it might come as a surprise to you, but some older homes are not properly insulated around the windows or in the exterior walls. Fixing this problem might take some time and cause some headaches for you will have to take off the window trim or some of the drywall (maybe even plaster if your home is old enough). The best advice is to call in a professional insulation company who can do the work right and give you an estimate of cost.

Worse case scenario is you might have to replace the window. Vinyl windows are the norm today, but if you have a historic home with double hung wood windows, finding a company that manufactures them could prove difficult. Either shop salvage companies that specialize in old home fixtures, or call someone who can custom make the window.

Simon Turner

LUXURY ESTATES: The $US125million Finest Estate in America

"Fleur De Lys" - The Finest Estate in America

350 Carolwood Holmby Hills, CA 90077

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber House Hunting in Sydney

Naomi Watts and her actor boyfriend Liev Schreiber are looking for a family holiday home in Australia.

The couple and their 7-month-old son Alexander were spotted viewing property in Sydney on Feb 17.

Rumours are making rounds that the acting couple is looking for a home in Sydney neighbourhoods Bronte, Tamarama and Bondi, so that Watts and Schreiber are able to live close to the actress' best pal Nicole Kidman.

Born in England, Watts was brought up in Sydney.

Simon Turner

Interest in Renno's Rising

SYDNEY'S home owners have shrugged off rising interest rates and started renovating again, with the value of renovations and additions increasing for the first time in 18 months.

But the jump in renovations came amid a slump in overall building late last year, sparking speculation that interest rate rises were starting to bite into economic activity.

The jump in renovations - a 7.9 per cent increase in the three months to December, according to Bureau of Statistics figures released yesterday - breaks a fall in NSW renovations since mid-2006.

Home-buyers tended to renovate soon after they purchased a property, which means most of the work would have been done in buoyant inner-city property markets. But the national chief executive officer of Masters Builders Australia, Wilhelm Harnisch, said the high cost of property in inner-Sydney would prompt more people to start renovations, which would be cheaper than moving house and paying stamp duty.

This means that it is likely that alterations and additions will be a growing feature of the Sydney housing market.

Give Your Interior Walls Texture From Outside

Interior trends are increasingly looking outside for inspiration, and River Rock - a new premium textured special finish paint from Dulux - epitomises the latest direction in effortless, natural style for the home. It draws inspiration from the great outdoors, resulting in a grounded, confident finish.

The beaded texture gives rooms a depth and sensory appeal, and is a lovely link back to nature. River Rock delivers a seamless shift from outdoors into the home, particularly for those who live in urban dwellings and otherwise miss out on that connection with nature.

The palette, comprising 30 directional earthen colours, gives plenty of scope for new moods in the home. European Stone, Spring Sage and Thistle Ridge are some of the softer shades on offer for rooms exuding understated sophistication. Warm, instantly-inviting environments would look to Oyster Farm, Weathered Rock or Charcoal Wash. Those with a penchant for bolder, dynamic colours can turn to Wild Rivers, Mulga Downs or Anglers Dream for striking feature walls.

Dulux knows that leading fashion comes and goes, and with that in mind River Rock has been developed so that walls can take on a new look and feel when it is eventually time for change. It is available nationwide from Bunnings, paint specialists and hardware stores, in 250ml sample pot, 2L, 4L and 10L sizes. RRP starts at $17 per litre.


Simon Turner

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Surfing on the River Thames

Who knew? London has 60,000 surfers, according to the British Surfing Association, a fraction of the roughly half million enthusiasts throughout the UK. Up till now British surfers basically had two options: don wet suits and brave the crowds at Cornwall and other close-to-home spots or hop a flight to catch the waves abroad.

But a GBP 20m outdoor wave machine along the Thames set to open in 2011 could create an urban surfers’ paradise in East London. The attraction is part of a huge planned sports complex called Venture Xtreme that will also include rock and ice climbing walls, mountain bike and skateboard courses, what’s touted as the world’s longest artificial cave system and a vertical wind tunnel that simulates a skydiver’s freefall.

Venture Xtreme’s backers hope it will give active Londoners an exciting alternative to an after-work health club visit, the Guardian noted. An hour’s session in the surf reportedly will cost GBP 30, higher than rates charged by Adrenalina, the smaller wave-machine-in-a-mall-sporting-goods store we profiled earlier this month, but cheaper and more convenient than a day trip to the English coast.

And in fact, Venture Xtreme is the latest among several new and extravagant sports complexes located within major urban areas. Like Dubai’s famed indoor downhill snow-ski slope and a similar attraction called Xanadu now under construction in the New Jersey Meadowlands near New York City, Venture Xtreme will give city dwellers easy access to experiences they would otherwise need to travel for.

Buyer Beware: How to Spot Illegal Building Work

If you are looking at buying a property, Marquette Turner always recommend that you carry out a building inspection before you make any concrete decisions.

Recent national statistics on building faults show that those buyers in South Australia are most likely to discover something to be wary of. Those in New South Wales are statistically the safest, but nonetheless the figures are alarmingly high.

VIC: 33%
QLD: 23%
WA: 24%
NSW : 22%
SA: 43%
TAS: 30%

Often home buyers are not aware of the illegal building and could find themselves in lengthy court proceedings or having to undertake costly repairs in relation to wiring, plumbing or structural repairs. Some of the basic signs of illegal building include:

- Wiring which has not been correctly and neatly arranged.
- Unsympathetic additions using materials which do not blend with the original home.
- The removal of walls inside the home to 'open up' the interior of the home.
- The building of extensions over gully traps.
- Ceilings that are lower than regulation height.
- Toilets positioned directly off areas such as kitchens where food is prepared.
- Lack of adequate ventilation in toilets, laundry, and bathroom areas.
- Staircases which do not conform to regulations.

Many of these problems are either under the floor or in the roof wher many prospective buyers cannot normally access. Therefore, get a detailed inspection before you act.

Simon Turner

Dream Homes: Paul Mercurio of Strictly Ballroom

FOURTEEN years after Strictly Ballroom made women weep and men take up dancing, Paul Mercurio has settled in a bayside suburb with his wife, Andrea, their three children, Elise, 16, Emily, 14, Erin, 10, and two dogs.

Black-and-white photographs of Mercurio in motion for the Sydney Dance Company decorate the lounge walls at Casa Mercurio. When he was dancing for the SDC, Mercurio earned raves from the greats: Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov. Wife Andrea Toy also danced for the SDC and when they were travelling the world together, they fell in love and eventually married.

"We are nomads," he says. "Very much used to being on the move. We've now been here for more than 4 1/2 years, the longest we've ever lived somewhere and the longest I've lived anywhere since 1981. "No wonder we have the `itchies'! A renovation means we can be here long-term." Asked if he still dances, Paul scoffs: "Are you kidding?"

About the closest he gets to a dance floor these days is judging Channel 7's Dancing With the Stars. Shunning Hollywood for family life in Australia after Strictly Ballroom has led to some career sacrifices and a variety of jobs. In 2001, he spent five months in Vancouver choreographing robots in the Alex Proyas film I, Robot, starring Will Smith, before heading home to sell computers for a few months. Later that year he got the call to play Guy in The Full Monty.

The Mercurios like where they live, but the house does not suit them. Two bedrooms between three girls, two of them teenagers, has proved troublesome. "The girls want a room each. This is what's motivated everything," Mercurio explains. Architect Adam Woledge stepped up to develop a design brief for the couple. Mercurio gave a guided tour of his house recently to Archicentre and to Woledge. The brick house has been renovated at least twice by previous owners, once to the front and once to the back, obscuring its original character.

Woledge thinks the house was probably built in the 1960s. The front gained a huge master-bedroom ensuite and walk-in-robe which Paul and Andrea like. The back of the house has a narrow, exposed brick extension under a steep, timber-lined ceiling giving it a rustic character. Meanwhile, the boxed-in rooms in the middle of the house could use some of the fluidity associated with Paul's dancing.

Other than the need for an extra bedroom, the Mercurios are eager to resolve a pokey laundry set-up and shift the central bathroom to an outer wall with a much-needed window. Out the back, they want to extend the house with a combined kitchen, dining and living area linked to a year-round entertaining area with swimming pool. The wishlist includes a revitalised garage to store Mercurio's motorcycle and an office from which he can work and brew beer.

With motorcycling, brewing is one of his favourite pastimes. For the Mercurio household, the kitchen requires special consideration. "The great thing about the kitchen is it's the hub of life. We spend a lot of time here," Mercurio tells Woledge. "One of us will be cooking and someone will be standing there with a glass of wine chatting or you'll be cooking and the three kids will be chopping up stuff.

"I want an open-plan kitchen with a big bench, stools and a massive pantry." Several weeks later Woledge comes up with a design concept that leaves the existing house untouched through to the lounge and third bedroom. Opposite the third bedroom, Woledge converts the existing kitchen into a large bathroom. On the other side, he designs a laundry with easy outside access. The west wall of the family dining area would be knocked out to make a bigger and better space, creating the open-plan of the Mercurios' dreams under a single pitch skillion roof.

A row of clerestory windows to the north, set high in the wall, would keep the area bathed in natural high light and encourage a natural cross-ventilation path. "The large open living spaces are well suited to the everyday demands of contemporary living and the opposing skillion roof forms provide a good, modern touch," Woledge says. "There is a strong visual link to the rear private open space and also expansive north-facing clerestory glazing to take advantage of natural daylight." The new kitchen is not only open to the dining and living areas, it is more spacious and ideal for parties. There is also an extra-large island bench and extra storage.

"I like this," Mercurio says, pointing to the floor-to-ceiling pantry lining the east wall. By extending the lounge into the back yard, Woledge's plan creates room for a fourth bedroom (much to Emily and Erin's delight). It sits flush on the southside, with its own access. Woledge has made great strides in rezoning the house. A heavy-duty sliding door at the entrance of the kitchen/living room will be handy to muffle any revellers if others are trying to sleep.

Out the back, he turns a liability -- the garage -- into an asset. "The garage occupies much of the rear yard but it is structurally sound and removing it would be somewhat onerous," he says.
"What we have done is incorporate a free-standing pool house and office -- which is linked to the garden -- with the capacity to act as a covered pavilion. "Upstairs, Paul would have his office and on summer days, from the balcony, he could watch the family swim in the kidney-shaped pool."
Story — Archicentre's Shane Moritz

Friday, February 15, 2008

Michael Jackson on the Brink of Losing Neverland

Trying to raise USD23 million in mortgage finance for a home is not easy in today’s credit squeeze environment. This stark reality is facing Michael Jackson who now faces losing his fantasy land home Neverland.

The mortgage broker trying to find fresh financing for Jackson on his $23 million loan held by Fortress Investments is finding it near impossible to find a willing lender. If Neverland is not refinanced, Fortress can foreclose and sell the ranch at auction. Recently, Fortress laid off $300 million in loans to Jackson on HSBC.

The refinancing resulted in Jackson's paying off around $20 million in debt, but it still left him cash-strapped and unable to deal with the Neverland crisis.

Neverland Valley Ranch is a developed property in Santa Barbara County, California, It operated as his private amusement park and home when the facility opened in 1988, but is no longer in operation. The property is over 2,800 acres (11 km²) in size contained among other things, a zoo and a theme park, with a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, zipper, spider, sea dragon, wave swinger, super slide, dragon wagon kiddie roller coaster and bumper cars. It is named after Neverland, the fantastical island in the story of Peter Pan, where children never grow up.

Jackson has not lived at Neverland since 2005. Two weeks after he was acquitted on charges of child molestation and conspiracy, Jackson decamped to Bahrain. Within a year, Neverland was shut down when the pop star fell behind on wages for the remaining employees and did not maintain insurance or workmen’s comp for them.

Simon Turner