Stylish, Not ‘Chic’

designer lightingIs it just me, or is ‘chic’ now one of the most overused concepts in home design? Like, EVER? Not that I’m a professional home designer or anything, but I keep up with the whole thing and I read Home Beautiful every single week the day it comes out, so I at least know the trends. And I see the same thing every time: chic. Chic furniture, chic curtains. Every single reviewer of anything spouts the word ad nauseum, like it’s a magic password that’ll make people understand your point of view.

I do think the home design scene is getting a bit stale. Maybe there’s just too much chrome. I mean, at least when it comes to that new exhibition on Melbourne designer lighting trends, not everything is chrome. Seriously, you walk into a lot of lighting shops nowadays and all the high-end stuff is shiny and reflective, and thus just looks the same as everyone else’s. The whole reason I read home design mags is because I want my home to look different. I want visitors to walk into my home and be impressed by the designer lighting, not just pass over it with their eyes like it’s stock-standard.

At least there are actually people making some different stuff, like the lighting people. And yesterday in the ‘pre-loved’ section of Home Beautiful there was a sofa with these swirling patterns that looked like they’d be right at home in a 1970’s smoking lounge. Maybe retro really is the key to breaking the power of ‘chic’. Maybe no one ever comes up with anything new; they just recycle old stuff, and the retro label is what we use to make it seem cool.

Okay, now I’m wondering about the ‘retro’ standing lamp I just put in the study. Maybe once upon a time, it was chic piece of residential LED lighting, and now…things have come full circle. Or maybe I was just born too late?

-Vera

Get Yourself a Real, Qualified Plumber

Melbourne plumbing companySometimes I wonder if my nephew is really as qualified as he says he is. He says he’s worked for a bunch of highly-qualified and prestigious Melbourne plumbing companies as an apprentice, but I’m starting to realise that could mean anything. Maybe he kept stuffing up and being punted around until nobody else would have him. I mean, he DID go to a TAFE of sorts and get his degree, but I asked him about it once and he said it was MTSC, or the Melbourne Technical Skills College. Now, its reputation has skyrocketed in recent years, but that’s only because it was previously regarded as a rubber stamp college where the lecturers were all frauds and nobody cared that the buildings were falling down.

Ernie is…earnest, I suppose. Whenever I tell him that one of my properties needs some maintenance work, he jumps right to it and gets there in record time. Plus he hasn’t set fire to anything yet, so that’s a plus! Still, a few of my tenants have expressed some…doubts at his efficiency. Ernie said that he hasn’t noticed anything, but he’s such an optimist, I feel actually telling him the scope of the problem would crush him.

Alright, I know full-well that nepotism got me into this mess. I’d do anything for family, including getting them into jobs that might not suit their skillset. Ernie is so sunny and great with people, I feel like he’d be much better suited for a job as a counselor, or…something similar. He loves kids. He just can’t get enough of baking. So why was it plumbing? It’s not even in the family!

So now I have to fire my nephew, which is going to cause some awkwardness when the family Christmas rolls around. I’m sorry it had to come to this, but there are local emergency plumbers in Melbourne who could just do so much better at the jobs. I can’t continue to rely on family for my tenant’s plumbing needs, when their plumbing needs are not being met.

Perhaps I can soften the blow by highlighting Ernie’s actual talents.

Home Selling and All the Stress!

home stagingMaybe that sofa could be a little bit more to the left. The windowsill is so bare, how have I never noticed?? I need some flowers, even if they’re not real. The next person who owns this place can do what they like, including putting the sofa back to where it was, but it’s crucial that they get a good impression of the place. Selling a home is usually stressful, which is why we got the home styling people in in the first place, but this is something else. That’s what we get for buying a home supposedly haunted by a vengeful spirit.

Oh, it’s ALL just stories. I swear, the people around here in Keymore have the most vivid imaginations and they gossip like it’s 1790 and social media hasn’t yet graced this part of the world. It’s this sort of silly superstition that makes me want to move away and find somewhere a bit more in keeping with the modern world. We can have all the property styling Melbourne has to offer, the place can be made to look like an absolute dream and a family haven for years to come…but that doesn’t stop the neighbours stopping potential buyers in the street (every time! Are they watching from the windows on some kind of rota?) and casually mentioning that seventeen people were killed in this building eight years ago as part of some silly ritual or something. Petty details! What matters is the here and now: the positioning of the furniture, the ample garden space for pets and kids, the ensuite in both the master and guest bedrooms, the new curtains that let in just the right amount of light, the cozy study that can be converted into a bedroom in a flash and the masses of storage space under the stairs.

People don’t need to know that this place was known as ‘The Charnel House of Keymore’. How silly. They don’t need to know that the taps sometimes turn themselves on, or I don’t know…the whispers in the night that promise revenge upon the world for injustice. Oh, and the little raining blood thing that happens in Tamara’s bedroom. Amongst…other things.

Our house staging has been fabulous, though, so we’ll be out of here soon! I really hope… 

-Kate

Dishwasher Repairs, and So Much More

broken applianceToday I learned that a baby swan is called a ‘signet’, which sounds like something much cooler but…ah well. I’m learning so much in my life course, and now I’m wondering why everyone doesn’t just do one of these. Mine was set up by a local community teacher who noticed that kids in his class AND parents couldn’t do basic things like change a plug or point to Canberra on a map. So he set up a ‘life course’ that teaches you all the things you SHOULD know, but for some reason were never taught to you. Great, huh?

I’m looking forward to the segment on appliance repair. This teacher used to do Whirlpool repairs in Sydney, and we all know that Whirlpool is the most dangerous and complicated brand to work with, so he should be an absolute expert in the field. A true genius of making sure your coffee maker is ticking over correctly. A wizard in the art of properly cleaning the inside of your toasted sandwich maker, so that your next cheese toastie isn’t coated in old bacteria. Such things that I’ve missed! Were it not for this fellow, I wouldn’t even have known that Townsville was an actual place. I’ve always just thought it’s an expression for somewhere that you can never reach because it’s out in the bush. Like, ‘all the way to Townsville and back’ to describe a long journey. I owe an apology to the good and real people of Townsville.

We have to wait a few weeks before we’re doing oven repairs, though. Those are a bit advanced, and right now we’re still on a class on what to do if we find injured wildlife, or if we actually injure the wildlife while driving. Funny, you’d think living in Australia we’d be great at this sort of thing. But anyway…I’ll learn from this Sydney bosch repairs master. And then, I’ll do repairs of my own one day. Without help!

-Skye

My Spy Career is Over

name badgesI could’ve been a spy. I’m really that good at infiltration and espionage in general. I’ve seen all the movies and I’ve incorporated all of their techniques into my repertoire. I’ve taken self-defence classes, I was pretty good one that one time I went to a firing range and I’m really good at sneaking up on people. My improv isn’t too bad either.

Thing is, I don’t think I was really born into that line of work. For one thing, my parents owned a supermarket, and they notably didn’t teach me to be a cold-blooded killer from birth. I feel like that sort of thing would be necessary. Also, I started working at the supermarket and they made me wear a company name badge. Sure, the extra bit of pocket money was great, but everyone could look at my name badge and see who I really was. A couple of times I tried to use someone else’s name tag, but I often worked when Mum was the boss and she’d tell me to stop being stupid. Great, so now the whole world knows my name because it’s right on my name badge in bold letters. As we all know, having a visible name is not a great start to being a spy.

I suppose if I took on a new name, that would work. But my past would be easy to trace, and then they’d come after my parents and burn my house down and then I’d return from my spy work and find my family home in ashes and then I’d be devastated. That day would be a real bummer, and then I’d be either distracted from my spy work or so angry I have to go after the Russian mobsters who did this and it’d be a roaring rampage of revenge in which everybody would be the loser. All because I had to wear a name badge.

Sure, staff name badges can work great…but what if people want to be spies? Have they considered that? Identities are precious!

-Not Harry

Too Much Reality in TV

signsReality TV is all about the competition nowadays. That sounds like an obvious thing to say, but…hear me out. You get the odd one, like People Who Are Just Lovely About Each Other’s Baking where they’re quite nice and saying goodbye to someone in one of the weeks is genuinely tough because they’re such chums. Maybe that’s because it’s British and their concept of drama is a bit different.

Still, all the billboards for People Who Are Nasty About Each Other’s Cooking (PWNAEOC) are pretty focused on the competitive side. I know Melbourne signwriters have to work with what they’re given, so it’s not the signage company’s fault. The networks are the ones who really need to reign it in, because that’s a direct culture of negativity beaming into cars travelling along the freeway. I wonder what my daughter thinks when she sees a big billboard advertising PWNAEOC on weeknights, and it also has one of the nastier contestants featured. Her name is…Perona? Patricia? Pangea? Anyway, they all her the Financial Falcon, because she’s a financial planner but is also really quite vicious and swooping with her comments. And now she’s the designated villain, because even reality TV needs that kind of thing apparently. Maybe Pangea is really just a nice girl in real life, you know? It could be camera trickery.

To be fair, that’s not the only kind of outdoor signage on the market. There are other couples in the competition, and they’re pretty nice sometimes, some of them, maybe. Or at least, the signs call them by nicer names and imply that they’re in it for the fun. Can’t we all just be in it for the fun? You know, like in PWJLAEOB. Such a nice show, without any dramatic musical cues when someone’s chicken tenders turn out to be a bit stringy. I want to see some quality Melbourne outdoor signage that highlights the skills and contributions of the contestants, not playing up how they’re going to cause trouble. I should write to the network.

-Byron

Ovens and Forgetfulness Don’t Mix

ovensI just discovered something amazing, and terrifying. When you’re not HOLDING a spoon…you forget HOW to hold a spoon! What kind of scientific witchcraft is this? I don’t know how this works, but it does, and it’s chilling. What if one day I have to mime the use of a spoon, and I end up looking like I’m using a shovel? It’ll be a sad day, indeed.

I forget things often. Like how to operate an oven. I had to get the Smeg oven repair guy in from Sydney because I was convinced that there was something freaky weird going on with the whole process. As it turns out…it was me. As in, I hadn’t turned the oven on properly. I’ve done it a thousand times, and for some reason, this time I just forgot completely. I pressed a button, or some such thing, and it refused to heat up. My natural conclusion: broken. Broken, beyond repair! Of course, I called the repair person anyway. They came in a jiffy, and declared me to be the scatterbrained idiot that I was (with their actions, that is. They were far too polite to say something like that). It was all my fault, like the information just fell right out of my brain. Sounds like something a robot would do.

Of course, these are only two incidents in a lifetime of memory lapses. I was never too good in school, not because I didn’t understand what was happening, but because I didn’t retain it. None of my teachers thought I’d amount to anything. It wasn’t my fault, me forgetting basic things….the information just won’t stay in!

And worst of all, I’ll probably have the Sydney gas oven repair people here again. I’ll forget this ever happened, and do something silly again. Probably blow up the house. I’m terrible, really.

-Henrietta