Managing Editor, Kate St James is prepping with Emine Mehmet, interior designer for their first appearance at GrandDesigns Live at Darling Harbour. Here is a sneak peak of their discussion on Sustainable Design: Health, wealth and conscience:

How do you define sustainability and what is sustainable design?

How can you save money on heating and cooling your home?

What is passive solar design and why should every building use these principles?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and Particulates;
What are they?
How do they affect your health?
Ways to minimise their impact.

What is BASIX? (Building Sustainability Index)

Product Life Cycle
What is it and how is it important to sustainability?

Check out the #GrandDesigns :Live website for more info on the exhibition;

It’s going to be huge!!!

The easy secrets to growing orchids

It’s a common myth that growing orchids is difficult. It’s a myth that they need lots of attention so that they bloom just right. It’s all myth. The fact is that growing orchids that are more than just beautiful is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Really!

So what is the secret to amazing orchids? Getting the right balance of water, light and temperature.

Orchids are one of the most gratifying plants to care for. They can reward you with beautiful, exotic and fragrant flowers that are absolutely breathtaking. Growing orchids in either your house or the garden let’s your enjoy some of the most stunning flowers on the planet.

Orchids are warm plants, having come from the more tropical regions. As long as we remember to get the balance right they will manage to live almost forever.


Most orchids are air plants, so this means you will see their roots. It’s crucial you don’t over water your growing orchids. Their root systems and the pseudbulbs are very resourceful in storing water. So letting the soil dry out before watering is a good thing.

Growing orchids should be watered only when the potting material is dry, making sure that the water drains out easily.

In general, growing orchids should be watered twice a week. During the spring flowering season however, lessen their water intake to once a week or once every two weeks. It is important in helping them bloom continuously.

If you feel the need to take special care of your growing orchids, knowing how the different species like to be watered would be useful. For example:

Dendrobium, Cattleya and Oncidium orchids like to dry out completely before watering. An easy way to water the plant is to place it in the kitchen sink and let the water flow through for about 20 seconds. Let the water drain from the growing orchids before putting them back.

Phalaenopsis orchids like to be close to dry. A simple way to determine if these growing orchids need watering is to place your finger in the mix by a few centimetres. It should be spongy and moist.

Growing orchids like Paphiopedilum and Epidendrum should be watered roughly twice a week so that the soil is always slightly moist.


It’s important not to put your growing orchids in direct sunlight. They have sensitive skin and will definitely burn. Placing them by a well lit window area that receives a few hours of sun or bright light a day is the perfect spot for your growing orchids.

A window also provides ventilation. Growing orchids like to be fully ventilated. When they receive a continuous stream of gentle air movement, your orchid will bloom more often.

All orchids adore light. They would never survive in a poorly lit environment. But to ensure that they don’t suffer from over-exposure to direct sunlight. Drape a sheer curtain over the window to help avoid this.

A growing orchid’s leaves will tell you everything you need to know. Extremely green and vigorous leaves mean the plant isn’t getting enough light. If you notice this, slowly introduce the plant to more and more sunlight over time. A healthy and ready to flower orchid has leaves lighter in colour with a slight yellow tinge.


Keeping the temperature and humidity right is a central part of life for growing orchids. Most growing orchids do extremely well at room temperature.

Humidity is a key factor in keeping growing orchids healthy. Growing orchids love high humidity. The best way to provide them with a humid environment is to place them in a clay pot on a humidity tray. Just a flat tray filled with pebbles and 1/2 water is perfect for keeping them warm and happy. Be sure not to let the roots sit in the water because they will rot.

It’s a good idea to keep a small hand mister close by. Spraying their leaves every now and then in summer will keep the cool.


The less you re-pot growing orchids the better. It may be necessary every so often, so try to re-pot them after their resting period and they’ve started growing again.

When removing them from a pot (which can be difficult, you may even have to break the pot to get it free) take a knife or other such tool and lever it between the bulbs, separating them into at least two sections. You should remove most of the dead and leafless bulbs, but leave a few next to the new shoots.

Check the roots for damaged, rotten or tangled sections and remove these.

Good drainage is important for growing orchids, so make sure the new pot has plenty of drainage holes. If the growing orchids roots are healthy and firm, place it in a pot just one size larger.

Add some potting mix to the base, you can get special orchid potting mix which is specifically designed to make them comfortable. Sit the orchid in the pot so it’s roughly the same depth as it was in the previous pot – the new shoots should be level with the pot rim – and fill in with more mix.

If the growing orchids are not secure, the new roots won’t grow properly.

Don’t fret if your orchids won’t flower for a year or two after dividing them, they’re just getting re-settled.

Growing orchids in your home is one of the most beautiful and interesting ways to add colour and charm to your home. Their astounding colours and shapes are sure to brighten up your home and garden and add a wonderful tropical feel.

Lawn fertiliser for dummies

Big or small, every lawn needs a certain degree of care. Turning it from a dried out mess into a lush children’s play area or the envy of all your neighbours can be easy with the introduction of a little lawn fertiliser. It might not be a top priority need, but it can be the difference between a wasteland and a healthy lawn.

Due to water restrictions, our lawns have been left to ‘rough-it’ alone. By revamping your garden and choosing a drought-hardy variety, you can still have an area of turf you can be proud of.

Feeding your lawn in the spring is the best way to get it ready for summer. By applying lawn fertiliser then, it won’t just look greener, it will be more resistant to diseases and it helps prevent those pesky patches of dirt that just seem to appear!

Grass needs its own special type of fertiliser. Lawn fertiliser specifically.

The What’s What of lawn fertilisers

There are many different types of lawn fertilisers out there, and it can be confusing to know which one is right for you. This list should help you out:

– Slow release lawn fertilisers are designed to release nutrients slowly. This means less feeding, and although you might have to wait longer for results, they will be strong and constant.

– Organic lawn fertilisers (such as blood and bone) are natural products based on manure, minerals, and seaweed. These are specifically designed to nourish your lawn over several months.

– Synthetics are chemical lawn fertilisers which are made up of a mix of trace and major elements. They’re designed for quick release to make your turf go green fast!

– Combination lawn fertilisers combine both organic and synthetic fertilisers in one.

– Liquid hose on fertilisers are fast acting. Due to this they don’t provide a long term solution but they’re wonderful to spray around a few days before a party!

Whichever lawn fertiliser solution you choose it’s important to understand the Nitrogen/Phosphorous/Potassium ratio. The N:P:K ratio is usually located on the back of the pack you purchase.

By selecting a balanced fertiliser (N11:P4:K8), you will encourage growth in all the right areas. So when you mow the lawn next all the nutrients won’t be taken off the top! It will be slow and steady, but it will definitely win you the race.

To get the best from lawn fertilisers you should prepare the lawn before immediate application.

Compacted soil should be aerated with a large garden fork. This is good for both fertiliser and water penetration.

Remove large leafed weeds before summer because they will make a permanent home in your lawn. You definitely don’t need them taking away nutrients from your grass. Wondering what to do with bare patches of earth? Just sprinkle some sand over the top.

Lawn fertiliser is often looked over when trying to spruce up a lawn. Instead of thinking about ripping up everything, try some and see the difference for yourself.

Your guide to popular interior design

Stylish and popular interior design doesn’t have to be something created by a top notch firm. You can furnish to your own home to suite your tastes whether it’s cottage, retro or even Mediterranean, without the pain of handing over all that money to someone else.

You can take comfort in the fact that Complete Home is here to lay out all the rules and reveal all the tips to help!

Popular interior design has evolved over time. Some elements, pieces and styles are timeless, while others are made to suit certain tastes and particular personalities. Due to all this we have an endless list of popular interior design styles to sift through.

So whether you like clean, simplistic lines or that feeling of a country home, there is a popular interior design style for everyone.

Breaking it down to basics we have uncovered seven main design styles.

The main colour palate in Chic interior design is surrounded by light, gentle shades. Typically associated with washed out colour and white, it is not uncommon to see bright yellow or a whole range of Marie Antoinette blues among the design.

It becomes part of the popular interior design package through its use of both modern and vintage items. By pairing modern furniture with vintage pieces, you can create a look that is elegant and subtly stunning.

Another popular interior design is contemporary style. This gives a clean, sleek look to a room. Much like chic, contemporary uses soft colours, but this can make the design look cold and unwelcoming. We can counteract this by incorporating brighter colours and curvaceous pieces to add that element of comfort. Art pieces are also a major focal point when discovering contemporary design.

If your tastes lean toward something with a bit more flair and flavour, you might want to give your home that continental edge. Asian and Mediterranean styles are both extremely popular interior designs.

Asian style design achieves a look of tranquility through use of simple, clean lines. It’s an extremely versatile art ranging from minimalist – from simple wooden chests, tatami mats and screens – through to the bold and bright – with strong Chinese reds and golds.

When you think of the Mediterranean you envision Spanish mosaics, the terracotta, and the large tables everyone will fit around. Just put those thoughts into your design and you’re done! Using cornflower blue, yellow, reds and a beautifully soft purple can bring the warm feel of the Mediterranean to any room you choose. Pine furniture will set the room ablaze with life.

More often referred to as ‘shabby chic’, the cottage style of design is an eclectic, ‘lived-in’ look that is always comfortable and welcoming. You can achieve this popular interior design look easily with recycled furniture, floral prints, linen fabrics and pale colours. Either tiled or wooden floors make an excellent addition to the room. Bring everything together with hand-painted pieces, a signature motif of the style design.

French has to be the most well known popular interior design style. It’s mainly characterised by the rustic, old-world charm that meshes both formal and informal elements seamlessly. Incorporate the French style by using natural materials such as aged timber. To decorate, think rough-stained, painted plaster walls with blue and white china and crystal pieces throughout.

There is plenty you can do to achieve the next style with it’s use of natural materials and clean, often unusual lines, known as Retro. The ‘cool’ hipster style of the beginning of the century has an emphasis on fun, and often portrays this through contrasting pieces. Bright colours with dark fabrics, solid clocks of colour and even incorporating smooth plastic and crushed velvet have made retro famous.

Traditional interior design focuses more on timelessness than anything else. It shows its beauty through natural tones and textures, often using silks, brocades and leather to achieve this. Patterns can be mismatched for an endearing look. This popular interior design tends to be more formal, and uses pieces from different time periods to give the home a comfortable environment.

Whatever you choose, any style of popular interior design is sure to uplift your home and give it that new life you’ve been looking for.

Kitchen windows: Natural inspiration.

Installing new, bright kitchen windows is becoming an increasingly popular trend for those currently undergoing the renovating process.

Kitchen windows not only bring more enjoyment out of your kitchen but have transformed over the years to become main focal points of the home and part of the family living area.

By rethinking kitchen windows in your home you can create a marvelous open space, giving the illusion of more room and open air. You’ve designed your own luxurious escape by adding the beauty of nature to your kitchen.

Kitchen windows in modern architecture are used to compliment the interior and connect it with the beauty of outdoors. By using modern lines and classic overtones, kitchen windows add a whole new dimension to the room.

You can make the most of your view with the installation of new kitchen windows, no matter how small. Instantly, a spacious and light filled room is created, and you can really feel the difference.

The installation of kitchen windows creates a stylish new space. It transforms a stuffy room into a gorgeously airy, family focused living area.

Adding feature kitchen windows is increasingly popular. Their understated beauty lets in much more natural light and brings the simplistic beauty of the outside, in. Kitchen windows enable you to save electricity with the addition of light playing a key role.

If you have a colourful kitchen, kitchen windows can greatly improve your space. The added natural light highlights, the colours of your kitchen and accentuates various features, allowing you to better appreciate your surroundings.

If the view from your kitchen windows consists of the curious neighbours, there are several things you can do to still maximise both light and space. Planting tall shrubs both improves your view and will also add a more natural element and feel to your home.

If statement kitchen windows are more to your tastes, hooded windows should be considered. They’re similar to bay windows with a glass roof. Not only are do they create an impact and make a statement, but they can double act as storage!

Renovating can be hard, having to contact the council anytime something needs to be done. So before installing glorious kitchen windows you should check with them first. Changing windows that still fit in the existing space should be alright, and it also eliminates most of the structural cost that come with a large feature window wall.

As time goes by, we have seen a number of innovative windows and concepts. The development of double and triple pane glass has been a wonderful addition to the window world. They eliminate most noise and protect you from fierce storms.

Kitchen windows have the additional benefit of not only softening the harsh lines of pantries and cupboards but add a certain depth to the room. Kitchen windows that open and close can help enormously when trying to control temperature, create ventilation or retain heat.

Kitchen windows are a great and innovative way to completely transform your living area. They provide a beautiful spectacle of both light and colour and will be there to dazzle you all day and night.

Outdoor blinds around the home

Outdoor blinds make the perfect addition to any outside area. Whether it’s simply to entertain or even just have an extra screen, outdoor bistro blinds are a great way to protect against the elements.

Outdoor blinds are available in a number of colours and sizes. Whether clear or tinted, there is always going to be outdoor blinds to suit your tastes. They let you have a clear view of your stunning backyard, while keeping out flies and insects. Furthermore, they can protect your family from the harsh sun, all the while not taking away from the aesthetics of your home.

Outdoor blinds can be easily sourced and are an affordable and easy way to add life to your outdoor area. Just think – you don’t have to take the party inside next time it rains. With simple outdoor blinds you can entertain all year round – rain, hail, or shine!

In your home, outdoor blinds are simple and easy to use. The whole family can operate them without much fuss.

There are several components to focus on when installing your outdoor blinds. However it requires the assembly of a few simple parts.

Clamping – to hold your outdoor blinds in place during installation. Find a solid structure such as a cross beam or brickwork. This is essential to fix the blinds to as you don’t want them to move. Clamp the blind into the position you think fits best and is ready for drilling.

Screws – after the initial drilling, the screws need to be drilled into place to hold the outdoor blinds up and out of trouble. If drilling into masonry, the appropriate plugs must be used instead.

For a cross beam, drill 30mm deep holes with an 8mm twist bit. Tighten the 10mm coach screws with a shifting spanner.

Aligning/Joiners – when thinking of joining two or more blinds together, you need to purchase an outdoor blind zip joiner separately. Position the next set of blinds so that they align and zip them together. Give it some tension as to create a smoother look. Clamp the next head rail and attach as before.

Weather sealing – protecting your family against the elements is always important. Also sold separately are outdoor blind wall anchors. These can create a strong weather seal and protect against the wind and rain. Insert the edge of the blind into the anchor channel and slide it to the end. Drilling 4 equally spaced holes through the anchor to attatch it to the wall is good.

Anchor plates – these are used to help hold the blinds steady when faced with light wind and slight movement. Fix the anchor plates in position at base of the structre with the screws provided. Then all you need to do is adjust the anchor strap.

Chord cleat – this helps the outdoor blinds move up and down. The excess cord when the blind is rolled up should be tied off, to prevent the blinds falling. Fix a cord cleat to a post or wall at an easily accessible level and weave around to tie off!

I’m sure it seems like work now but once it’s done, your outdoor blinds will be the envy of all your friends.

Now you have a gorgeous entertainment area you can use non stop. Enjoy!

Growing Australian native trees

There is nothing more iconic than a soaring Australian Gum tree, or the fluffy, bright yellow of the Wattle. Australian native trees are what make this country so beautifully unique and special.

Sitting out near the bush on a lazy, sunny afternoon is a truly Australian experience money can’t buy.

Bringing this feeling and atmosphere to your backyard can be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done. Here’s how you can introduce the smaller Australian native trees and plants to your garden.

By sourcing smaller Australian native trees such as the Banksia and small Eucalyptus like the rose mallee, the Queensland Box Brush and even the Wattle, you can have your very own slice of bush land heaven.

The Banksia has always been a well known Australian classic. It is extremely striking and is even more so in winter when it blooms. Reaching heights of up to 7 metres, the native animals love them. They are able to be easily pruned to make an excellent garden screen.


Most small eucalyptus fall under the sub-category mallee. The rose mallee is known for its grey foliage and its large pink-red flowers. ‘Little Gumball’ or Angophora costata, is a hybrid gum. This plant grows up to 5 metres high with distinctive red leaves and unique rust coloured bark.

Australian native trees such as the Queensland Box Brush are slow-growing and mature into a rather medium sized tree. As unique as Australia itself, they have variegated leaves, and therefore they take longer to produce their own food.

Another classic to add to our list of Australian native trees is the Weeping myall Wattle. An elegant tree with sophisticated and charming grey leaves that fall to the ground. It’s a hardy plant which is able to withstand the harsh conditions and dry spells we often face.

Australian native trees are part of a huge industry. A large range of small growing native trees are sure to be available in your local nursery, or could be found growing naturally in your local area. After careful selection it is relatively easy and pain free to grow at least one type of the many Australian native trees there are on offer.

If you want to add a professional touch to your garden some landscaper designers specialise in using Australian native plants. They will be able to help you make the most of your typical Australian backyard. With their expertise you can give your garden some excitement and an indigenous flair with the addition of a few simple Australian native trees.

Landscaping with Australian native trees is becoming increasingly popular. Many people now want to bring a taste of the bush into the backyard and Australia native trees are an ideal way to do this. Visit your local nursery today to find out more about Australian native tree.

Companion planting in your home

Companion planting is generally viewed as the practice of pairing various plants together, in hopes that they will assist each other in any number of ways. Companion planting has often been misunderstood as a “cure all” solution for your plants and without proper guidance it can fail to achieve the desired outcome. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you make the most of companion planting by dispelling myth from fact and creating a guide for perfect plant companions!

Companion planting has a number of known benefits, some of which are said to include; deterring pests, improving growth, attracting beneficial insects and predators, and fixing nitrogen.

The way you plant your companion crops can help dispel unwanted insects or attract a multitude of helpful creatures.

Planting companions with tubular flowers such as ‘Turk’s cap’ or ‘Cape Honeysuckle’ will attract predators such as birds and dragonflies, which will help keep the population of unwanted pests at bay. On another note, they add a surprising flurry of colour and activity to your garden.

By choosing the right companion plants, you can let your garden do most of the work for you!

For example, companion planting beans against corn or sunflowers is a great way to get the best out of both. The beans fix nitrogen for the sunflowers. On the other hand, the long stalks of the sunflower provide support for the beans and also providing nutrients. In this case, companion planting will see your sunflowers do noticeably better and your beans will likely produce earlier.

Onions and pansies: An unusual combination, but these guys are truly great friends. The pansies spread out and suppress any weeds trying to grow. Their roots keep the soil insulated. For much less work you can reap the benefits of bigger, healthier onions than you’d expect – plus pansies are always beautiful!

Companion planting is a great way to suppress unwanted weeds and insulate soil for other plants who like a warmer environment.

Using companion planting to act as a suppressant is a perfect way to make the most out of the concept. It’s tried and tested and usually always works. Weeds are held at bay and even the insects have less room to move. This manages to centralise their activity, protecting your plants from serious harm.

Companion planting is a natural way to encourage bio-diversity. By including a multitude of plants it helps develop a wide range of plant and animal species and provides the good insects with a range of choice to thrive in a well established garden.

Flowers, herbs and vegetables can all be interchanged and paired with others for companion planting at its finest. Google a companion chart for the best ideas. According to the ABC, in Sydney’s Botanical Gardens, companion planting is used to mask the sent of roses from aphids.

Not only does companion planting diversify your garden design, but it also adds an attractive, exciting and aromatic element to your overall garden .

We’re still unsure as to whether companion planting to improve crop is myth or fact, but don’t be afraid to give this a go, you may be pleasantly surprised.

If nothing else, you’ll have a more diverse design to appreciate and something is always going on in your garden!