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DIY Disasters And Recommended Home and Living Reading

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Mark Tregoweth
Mark Tregoweth

Accidental Renovator: A Paris story

Barbara Biggs

Southern Publishers

When an opinionated Aussie moves to moves to France and finds herself in the midst of a DIY disaster, what follows should be a hilarious farce.

Unfortunately in Barbara Biggs, The Accidental Renovator: A Paris Story, the tale of renovations in a strange land, is little more than mildly amusing diary entries and observations.

Biggs real life account of visiting a friend in France and deciding on a whim to move there and buy an apartment, that needs a major overhaul, tempers amusing anecdotes with colourful characters, what it fails to offer is before and after photographs of the actual renovation.

While she thinks she has a handle on real estate in Australia, she is blissfully ignorant to how business is done in France. Never one to miss out on a bargain she decides to checkout the apartment market in Paris and before she knows it makes an offer which is accepted.

A relic from the past the apartment requires extensive renovations before anyone can live in it. Able to speak little French, and a tad undiplomatic, Biggs returns home to Australia and decides to smuggle an Australian builder (and neighbour), named Bruce, in to oversee the alterations. Almost immediately as they arrive in Paris, cracks in their relationship begin to appear.

During her series of misadventures, she is welcomed into the ex pat community, make friends with the locals, and discovers life as an adopted Parisian.

From the heavy subject matter of her past books, where she detailed how she was sold to a paedophile by her grandmother at 14, worked as a prostitute before becoming a successful journalist and property developer, this tale offers amusement and light in the face of adversity of a different kind.

Blending serious stuff with humour and a healthy serving of optimism, The Accidental Renovator: A Paris Story is likely to make you smile and occasionally laugh.


Small Spaces: Making the most of the space you have.

Rebecca Tanqueray

Southern Publishers

Whether you live in an apartment, share a flat or have downsized to a town house knowing how to make the most of a small space isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

In Small Spaces, Rebecca Tanqueray, a former deputy editor of Elle Decoration magazine, tackles a series of sensible solutions that take a small space to a sophisticated area within a few straightforward steps.

Starting with a chapter titled ‘Making the Most of your Space’ the author explores a series of small spaces, a narrow home, mezzanine floor and lofts and offers practical advice on what can be done to improve these and other minimal spaces.

A chapter dedicated to ‘The Zones’ provides an in depth look at different zones of a home and how to best optimise their use. In ‘Solutions’ suggestions on dividing space, using colour, lighting, texture, storage solutions and small space friendly furniture provide the perfect ending to a useful book.

While a small space can’t be physically stretched to make it bigger, author Rebecca Tanqueray proves it can be expanded visually in Small Spaces, the perfect guide for anyone who lives in a small home.


A Home For All Seasons

Kirstin Perers

Southern Publishers

The key to turning a house into a home doesn’t depend on the size of your budget; it comes down to small touches and simple techniques that work.

In A Home For All Seasons, American born fashion designer and home and lifestyle guru Kristin Perers, takes her experience in the fashion industry, working for Calvin Klein, Banana Republic, and Giorgio Armani, and offers seasonal solutions for personalising homes.

While on the surface the theme may seem far from unique, dig a little deeper and the easy to follow inexpensive ideas on offer are likely to appeal.

Using everyday materials, affordable items and quirky accessories many of us will already have at home, the book serves as a source of creativity encouraging readers to be original not outrageous in how they style their homes.

The four seasons are served up as early inspiration. Everyday wonders such as autumn leaves, spring flowers and seaside finds are explored and reinvented into items to adorn homes.

In ‘Creations’ the theme is homemade and the results, surprisingly good. Whether you choose to make a throw to keep warm, decorate an old lamp for light, get stylish with a stencil or sew a cushion cover there is plenty of inspiration.

Big on casual comfort and the luxury of low key living, Kristin Perers’s A Home For all Seasons offers simple touches and timeless techniques that won’t break the budget.

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