Welcome Home - August edition

Posted on August 7, 2014

Tips for Decorating on a Budget

You’ve chosen a house plan you love, you’ve been impressed by the stylish display homes, and you can picture your new home coming together. Let’s be honest though – furnishing and decorating your brand new home can be tricky on a budget. Hitting the right note with your décor is often when your house really becomes a home, but not every purchase needs to break the bank. There are plenty of ways to save when it comes to filling your home, and it’s worth the effort!

All it takes is some know-how, patience and savvy spending to make the most of your money. Keep down costs with these tricks of the trade and when it comes to furniture, accessories and appliances, and you’ll be able to create a trendy, attractive, and comfortable home on any budget. Part 1 of this series looks at how to save when it comes to getting the building blocks of your interior – the furniture.


1. Buy second-hand or unfinished: Shop at op shops, antiques shops, garage sales, and check out online listings such as Gumtree for some great bargains. Not only are they affordable, but items like these tend to have a whole lot more personality! Sure, they may be used, but the truth is a lot of antique furniture is more sturdily made than newer items. Look for well-constructed pieces made out of durable materials such as solid wood; you can always refinish surface flaws or give them an easy coat of paint. And speaking of refinishing furniture, many furniture companies will charge you less for furniture made of raw, unfinished wood. Once they’re yours, applying a few coats of stain or paint is easy for even a DIY novice! And the bonus is, you’re able to personalise it to suit your space.

2. Shop the sales: Think of those big stocktake sales that happen a couple of times a year, or the great long-weekend specials that pop up around public holidays. Stores are always trying to outdo each other with huge discounts on everything from big-ticket items to household essentials. With enough patience and planning, you can snap up a bargain on nearly anything! If you’ve got your eye on items from certain stores, why not ask the manager when they restock with new season items? Once you know, you can actually shop for the previous season’s inventory, which usually goes on sale around the same time.

3. Buy unassembled or flat-pack: If you learned anything moving away from mum and dad for the first time, it was how to that little hex key that came with your flat-pack furniture. Still waiting to move out for the first time? Start practicing! Put those skills to use knowing that you can save a whole lot of money by buying furniture that you have to put together yourself. We know from experience that teaming up to put together an unassembled bookshelf is the ultimate test for any friendship, relationship, or family ties!

4. Buy outdoor furniture in winter: If you think about it, there’s no actual season for furniture – except your outdoor furniture. Don’t leave it until the weather warms up to go out and spend big on some good outdoor furniture. Most outdoor furniture is reduced at some point during the colder months, so this is the time to buy. With so many new HomeStart homes going up with spacious alfresco areas, plan ahead and buy in the off-season to make serious savings.

5. DIY: Deliver It Yourself: Time to hitch up the trailer, fold down the back seats, or call in that favour with your mate who drives a ute! Skip the hefty delivery fees that come with large items by transporting them yourself – even if you need to hire a trailer, it costs a whole lot less than forking out for shipping costs yourself.

Kids DIY: Paper Chain Décor

Nothing gets kids excited like making something - and when you let them know they are making something beautiful for their new home, they’ll be ready to get creative! Most of us remember making paper chains as kids, this updated version uses the unique designs and patterns of scrapbooking paper to create décor-friendly, child-focused garlands for your little one’s new room.

What you’ll need:

  • Sheets of printed scrapbook paper in patterns chosen by the kids. Try craft or specialty stores like Spotlight for some great designs.
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scissors
  • Paper cutter (for older kids, or if mum and dad are helping)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

How to do it:

1. Using either a paper cutter or scissors, carefully cut out the rectangles. Make as many of these strips of paper as you want, choosing different patterns as you go.

2. On your first piece of patterned paper, use your ruler and pencil to mark our rectangles about 2cm wide by 15cm wide. You can vary these sizes as you go to make a variety of chains.

3. Use a small piece of double-sided tape on one end of a strip and loop it round into a circle, adhering with the tape. Get a second strip, place your piece of tape on the end, and insert it through the first loop. Join it together and your chain has begun!

4. Repeat the above steps as often as you need to make a chain of your desired length. Alternate the patterns throughout for a fun and colourful chain. For an added dose of fun, try wrapping some LED fairy lights through your chain before hanging them – perfect for celebrating a child moving into their new home!

Recipe of the Month: Feta Salad Shooters

It’s a rite of passage for every new home: the housewarming party! Whether it’s the relaxed barbeque in the backyard, gourmet fare in the chef’s kitchen, or traditional party food with extended family, this is your time to let your house – and cooking – shine! Your house will be looking its best, so match it with an easy and delicious recipe that will be sure to impress your nearest and dearest. These Feta Salad Shooters are just that: deceptively simple, but so tasty even the fussiest eaters will be asking for seconds

The key to this recipe is a mix of simple ingredients with modern presentation, giving a new twist to party food. Leave the sausage rolls to the kids and treat the crowd to some real party favours!

Making Feta Salad Shooters:

Preparation: 15 minutes

Makes: 16 party-sized servings


  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • Pinch of salt and ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium cucumber, finely chopped

  • 500g (2 punnets) of cherry tomatoes, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

  • 200g crumbled Greek-style feta cheese


1. In liquid measuring cup, whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly drizzle in oil until all oil is incorporated.
2. Place cucumber in one small bowl; place tomatoes and basil in second small bowl. Divide vinaigrette between cucumber and tomato bowls; stir both mixtures, separately, until well combined.
3. In sixteen tall shooter glasses, or other small cups or glasses, layer cucumber mixture, cheese and tomato mixture. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Budget Busters for Home Buyers

A mortgage is one of the biggest financial commitments you will ever make, so it’s important to take your budget seriously. Take a look through some of these tips and see where you could save big!

1. Plan your weekly meals before you go grocery shopping, make a shopping list, and stick to it! Save even more by buying in bulk.
2. Pay off your credit cards as soon as you can. Your money is better off paying off your house than paying interest on a credit card.
3. Have a garage sale to prepare for moving – it’s out with the old, and in with some extra funds too!
4. If you’ve got health insurance, car insurance, contents insurance, or any other insurance, look into taking everything to the same insurer for a discount.
5. Make your lunch or take something from home rather than buying food every day for work.
6. Walk, ride, carpool, or take public transport – save on fuel and on car maintenance.
7. Take local holidays! Not only is it affordable, it can be great fun for the family spending a long weekend down south at some inexpensive, family-friendly accommodation.
8. Plan gifts in advance and shop the sales! Imagine how much calmer Christmas will be when you’ve done all the present shopping months earlier.
9. Explore free activities with the kids. From visiting the library, to the local playground, to the fantastic activities available at Kings Park, a day out doesn’t have to cost the earth.
10. Turn off appliances at the wall and limit the amount of heating and cooling to save on electricity bills.
11. Remember to shop locally and seasonally. Buying in-season is always more affordable! Try your local farmers markets for seasonal food straight from the producers.

Moving Your Pets to a New Home

Moving house can be a tough process for everyone, but it can be even harder on pets. While we get caught up in the chaos and excitement of relocating to their new home, our furry friends won’t understand why their whole environment is changing. A new of address can lead to animal behaviour problems, pets going missing in search of their previous home, and sometimes ill health. So, when it comes time to move, it’s up to you to make the transition as safe and simple as possible for your cat or dog

Pet Planning

It’s essential to update your pet’s registration and microchips. Contact your local government authorities for information about registration, and your vet will be able to advise on updating a microchip. Make sure your pet has a collar with its registration tags, name and a reliable telephone number to call you on – and make sure they’re wearing it throughout the move! This way, if your pet should escape during or after the move, people will easily be able to contact you.

Next, put all your pet essentials into a clearly marked box. Either take this box with you as you transport you and your family, or mark it to be unpacked first by professional removalists. This box should contact your pet’s bowls, food, bedding/blankets and toys – everything your pet knows and loves.

Packing Up

Most animals aren’t big fans of changes. Help your dog or cat adjust to the moving process by having moving boxes around early on, and keeping all their toys and supplies in a room you plan on packing last. When it comes time for your moving day, keep your pets some where quiet an safe – in a peaceful room with the door closed, or even at a friend’s house. The last thing you want is for your pet to get spooked and make a run for it in the commotion of moving.

Getting There

If you’re moving a long distance, make sure your pet is familiar with travelling in your car and in their harnesses or carriers. Make sure you stop somewhere fun, like an animal-friendly park, so that your pets can learn to enjoy trips. Always make sure pets are secured safely in your car, just like you would for the rest of your family.

If you’re moving nearby, give your cat or dog a chance to visit your new home before moving day. Show them you’re relaxed and normal in this new environment, and allow them to familiarise themselves with the new smells and spaces for short periods of time.

Maintain Routine

Before, during and after your move, keep feeding and walks set to a routine. Dogs and cats like to feel in control, so don’t stress them out unnecessarily by shaking up a routine they’re used to. Also, while it may be tempting to get caught up in the excitement of the move and settling into your new home, remember to treat pets with the same level of attention you usually would.

Settling In

While you may be tempted to set your cat or dog loose to explore their new home, this can be overwhelming for an animal. Choose a ‘home base’ for your pet, and allow them to adjust to this room first. This is where you should unpack their essentials, so set out their bowls, bedding and toys here. Remember to keep other areas closed off for now, and when they get comfortable, gradually welcome them into other parts of the home. You can begin to move your cat’s litter box into a different room as well.

Always ensure you double check your fencing, gates and locks before allowing a pet to roam free in the yard. Don’t tempt them into escaping by leaving gates opened or unlocked! Dogs benefit from being taken on lots of walks, this way they will become familiar with the sights and smells of their new neighbourhood as quickly as possible.

By following the tips above, your pets have the best opportunity to remain happy and relaxed throughout the move. Always remember to keep your vet up-to-date about their adjustment to the move, and be sure to tell them if they have ongoing health or behaviour problems. A safe and secure pet is a happy pet, so keep in mind the happiness of your furry family members when it comes time to head to your new home!

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