Thursday, December 20, 2007

Secrets to Stress-Free Decorating for Christmas

Your home is your Christmas holiday oasis and decorating it can be overwhelming. By the time you find the right style, budget and energy to start and finish the project, stores are decorated for Valentine’s Day.

This season, don’t let holiday decorating get you down. Follow these basic tips from Marquette Turner to make decorating a positive experience.

1. Have a plan.
Take time to decide how you want to decorate and plan ahead before you start shopping. Collect ideas and images from magazines to pinpoint the holiday style and theme you want in your home.

Whether it’s a focus on the outdoors, vintage toys or a color scheme (try silver and gold versus the traditional red and green), identify these cues to focus your search and make it easier to transform your home.

2. Be patient and delegate.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your seasonal décor style won’t be either. Craft a personal theme or style through the years, buying and collecting holiday accents as you go.

Also try to make holiday decorating a family affair. Use your family to help unwrap decorations to reveal favorite holiday themes and include them in your shopping to create new traditions. Collecting your family’s input involves them in the process and cuts down on holiday work and stress.

3.Find Bargains
The holidays are an expensive time of year, so finding ways to save money is important. If you see a holiday idea or accent in a store that is priced beyond your reach, look for coupons online. These sites offer deals for various retailers that carry holiday decorating items. Taking a few minutes to shop for these savings can be well worth it in creating your holiday haven.

Don’t forget to shop post-holiday sales and benefit from the cost savings offered on leftover seasonal items.

4. Be versatile.
Buy items you can use in a variety of ways. For example, holiday-themed tins have many alternative uses, including adding color to a table setting or making a fun display of tins you’ve collected over the years. Items like Arnott's Tins add nostalgia to your décor and can also be used as stocking stuffers or teacher gifts.

5. Use nature.
Try using elements from the great outdoors to spice up this year’s decor. Gather foliage from outside, including pine branches to create a rustic feel in a centerpiece or on a windowsill.

A simple and affordable way to add style to your home is by filling a large glass bowl or colored dish with an array of nature or food items. Foods with vibrant colors, such as berries, add rich texture and fragrance to your entertaining area.

6. Let it shine.
Lighting is a simple and classy way to set the holiday mood. Place candles throughout your home to evoke holiday scents and add a soft glow.

Wrap holiday ribbon around votives to add a special touch or lower lighting levels for a cozy feeling. Try to conserve energy by purchasing energy-saving bulbs and turning off holiday lights during the day. And remember, a fire in the fireplace sets an enchanting scene.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is devoted to rebuilding families' homes when the family is in need of new hope. The family will then be sent off on a one-week vacation while the house is renovated or demolished, depending on its condition and the family's needs. (One episode in season three did not include a vacation because the family's daughter was in isolation at a local hospital).

Beginning with Season 3 the demolitions have become quite creative -- the team has used falling trees, tanks, and even monster trucks to accomplish the task where needed.

Consistently in the top ten programs in the US, this emotive reality series follows the transformation of a family's house, including all rooms, exterior and landscaping. The home is made over by the team in seven days and is hosted by Ty Pennington, formerly a carpenter on the show Trading Spaces (similar to Changing Rooms in Australia).

The show is one of America’s top-rated series and has become more popular than the original Extreme Makeover. It has won back-to-back Emmy Awards as Best Reality Program and is in its 4th season.

Coming to W. Channel in January.

Simon Turner, Marquette Turner

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Trumped! Look Inside Donald's $125 million Palace

Donald Trump's $125 million Palm Beach, Florida mansion is the most expensive U.S. home on the market. Read on then watch the guided tour.

In 2004, Donald Trump bought Maison de L'Amitie at bankruptcy auction for $41.25 million. With the refurbished version, complete with a ballroom, a 4,100 square foot conservatory, 100-foot-long swimming pool as well as 2 others, a media room, a library and 475 feet of oceanfront, he aims to set a U.S. sales record.

The mansion has 80,000 square feet of space but no chandeliers. Lighting and other fixtures have been left out of the home, so the new owners can customize it to their taste.

The French Regency “palace” also features an eight-car garage, carriage house, guest house and pool house.

"It's just a fantastic piece of property," Trump says. "The biggest site. The biggest oceanfront. The best location in Palm Beach. And Palm Beach is the richest community in the world."

Now take the tour of Maison de L'Amitie.
Simon Turner

Water Shortage Means Added Value

ADDING water-saving features to your home will also add value to your property, particularly as water shortages and restrictions are almost inevitable these days.

Water-saving features can add up to $5000 to the value of typical Sydney homes.

It also allows people to do "their bit" for the environment.

This is a clear sign that people are recognising the importance of conserving water not only for the environment but in terms of saving money in water bills.

On a personal note, my country home in country New South Wales runs purely on tank water. This was a conscious decision and coincided with the launch of Marquette Turner's environmental program, Clear The Air.
Our tanks are currently full, and we are about to get a third: proof that a simple but well fitted catchment system is more than adequate given the average rainfall that is typical on an annual basis.

And having grown up in the city, when you know that you only have a limited source of water (ie. the tanks), one learns very fast how to conserve it. The bigger picture also becomes much clearer. Water is indeed very precious.

Simon Turner

The Basics: Insulation & Air-Conditioning


Insulated homes are cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Because of its inherent energy efficient properties, installing insulation means that you will save on both your heating and cooling bills.

The two types of insulation are bulk and reflective foil, however the most important thing to consider is the r-value. The r-value is the thermal resistance of the insulation and the higher the number, the more effective the insulation is. The range for r-values is between one and four.

The three common types of air-conditioning include split systems, fixed units and ducted air-conditioning. All of them will cool your home but the differences in installation and running costs will greatly influence what you will select.

Therefore you need to consider things such as where the air-conditioner will be placed and what you want to use it for exactly. Professionals can help you out with this, helping you choose a system that perfectly fits your needs.
Simon Turner

Star Homes: Shaquille O'Neal

Listed at: $35 million

Bought from former Heat teammate Rony Seikaly in 2004 for $18.8 million, O'Neal's 20,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style Star Island home has eight bedrooms, an indoor basketball court, an outdoor tennis court, swimming pool and a dock.

Mitchell Hartmann

Improve Your Home: Add a Deck

Building a deck can be a very pleasant home improvement - you will be able to enjoy more time outdoors at your home, and increase its value.

Before you begin, make sure you check the building codes for your area. Each code will be different based on the size of your lot, how high from the ground it will be, the area of country for frost lines, etc.

Building any home extension which isn't up to code can be a huge headache.
Planning and designing your deck should include where you are going to put your deck and what the deck will be used for.

You should also think about how much sun and shade the deck will have throughout the day. Trees are a nice addition for your home improvement deck, but be careful what types of trees. Some trees will drop a lot of debris on your deck. Berries on the trees can also stain your deck, your deck furniture and the railing.

If it is a very sunny spot, consider a trellis roof to help shade the area. If you are building your home improvement deck to house a spa, you will want to place your home improvement deck to maximise privacy.

Then sit back, relax, and enjoy your fabulous idea to build a deck!

Mitchell Hartmann

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Remember how paint-by-numbers took the angst out of arts and crafts when you were a kid?

Well, now Wallpaper-By-Numbers offers the same "freedom" to express yourself on the walls of your home. Designer Jenny Wilkinson developed an idea of printed outline designs on wallpaper which can then be filled in using paints, colouring pencils or felt tip pens - easily manageable for anybody who's capable of colouring within the lines.

A "Borders" range is also available if you or the kids don't feel quite up to colouring in an entire wall. For more information visit: Simon Turner

Chromotherapy-Equipped Shower

The Kosmic steam and shower cabin can be illuminated with a choice of eight colours to best suit your mood.

From the vitality of red to the harmony of green, the feel-good fitting offers light relief by the bucket-load. The chromotherapy-equipped unit works to ease away the winter blues. Chromotherapy - or colour therapy - is a form of holistic medicine that uses light to promote relaxation and stimulate wellbeing.

For more information visit:

Simon Turner

Top 10 Ideas To Add Value To Your Home

1. Make your kitchen really cook. The kitchen is still considered the heart of the home. Potential home buyers make a beeline for this room when they first view a home for sale, so make sure your kitchen looks clean and reasonably updated. For a few hundred dollars, you can replace the kitchen faucet set, add new cabinet door handles and update old lighting fixtures with brighter, more energy-efficient ones.

2. Give appliances a facelift. If your kitchen appliances don't match, order new doors or face panels for them.

3. Buff up the bath. Next to the kitchen, bathrooms are often the most important rooms to update. They, too, can be improved without a lot of cash. Even simple things like a new toilet seat and a pedestal sink are pretty easy for homeowners to install, and they make a big difference in the look of the bath.

4. Step up your storage. Old houses, particularly, are notorious for their lack of closet space. If you have cramped storage areas simply add do-it-yourself wire and laminate closet systems to bedrooms, pantries and entry closets.

5. Add a room in a week or less. If you have a three-bedroom house with a family room or study, the only reason it can't be considered a bedroom may be because it doesn't have a cupboard. Therefore, if you add one you've now got a four-bedroom house. That adds a lot of value.

6. Mind the mechanics. It's often very worthwhile to hire an electrician and plumber for a couple of hours to look over your electrical services, wrap or fix loose wires, fix any faulty outlets, and check for and fix any water leaks. Those details tell a buyer that someone has really taken care of the home and can really influence its price.

7. Look underfoot. Carpeting is another detail that can quickly update a home and make it look cleaner. A professional carpet cleaning is an inexpensive investment, especially if your rugs are in good shape and are neutral colors.

8. Let there be light. If you have boring recessed lights in your dining and living rooms, consider replacing one of the room's lights with an eye-catching chandelier. Home stores offer a wide range of inexpensive, but nice-looking, ceiling fixtures these days. If you have a ceiling fan and light, you can also buy replacement fan blades (leaving the fan body in place) to update the fixture's look.

9. Reframe your entry. Do you have a flimsy little knob on your main entry door? If so, spring for a substantial-looking handle-and-lock set. A nice, big piece of hardware on the front door signals to newcomers that this is a solid home.

10. Consider curb appeal. Although it sounds obvious, a nicely mowed lawn, a few well-placed shrubs and a swept walkway makes a great first impression. What buyers see when they first drive by your home is tremendously important.

Homes of the Rich & Famous: Greg Norman

VENDOR: Greg Norman
LOCATION: South Beach Road, Hobe Sound, Jupiter Island
PRICE: $US 65,000,0000
SIZE: 17,825 square feet
FEATURES: 9 bedrooms, 11 full and 3 half bathrooms

DESCRIPTION: Welcome to "Tranquility," a peaceful eight-acre estate with more than 16,000 square feet of air-conditioned space on Jupiter Island in Hobe Sound, Florida. The main house overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway with 370 feet of waterfront, and a 140-foot dock that can accommodate a large yacht with a lift for a smaller vessel...Estate includes a total of nine bedrooms , 11 full baths and three half baths in six structures.

Homes of the Rich and Famous: Jason Lee

Actor Jason Lee has just paid $US 3,350,000 for 5745 Hill Oak Drive in The Oaks area of Los Feliz.

Built in 1948, the Hill Oak Drive house is a “one-story European”-style house, with two and a half baths and a living room with beamed ceilings, hardwood floors and an Arizona flagstone fireplace, according to public records and listing information. Other features include a dining room with an adjacent patio, a kitchen with a Viking range and a SubZero refrigerator, a separate office/guesthouse, a secret garden with a spa, a rear patio with a fireplace and a barbecue area, a wine cellar, and a large driveway with room for eight cars, according to listing information. The 1.412-acre property has a pool and views of the Griffith Observatory.