Top 11 Insider Tips on how to get your home ready for Airbnb

I have been a host on Airbnb for 2 years now and will remain one for the foreseeable future. Even if at some point I stop renting out my own home, we are the process of renovating the cottage on the farm for exactly that purpose. There are many pros to putting your property on Airbnb, but there is also a lot of preparation that goes into it. Here are my personal top 11 tips on how to get your home ready for Airbnb.

It’s important to first determine the type of accommodation that you offer. We only make our home available for booking during the Easter and Christmas holidays. We tend to be away during those times anyway and this way we know the house is occupied (diminished security risk) and we get an income from it – bonus! It’s a big job packing up a home – especially with 3 boys! – so it has to be worth my while. For that same reason, we also don’t accept bookings of less than 3 nights. If however, you have a smaller place or the property is not your primary home, then it’s much easier to be flexible with your bookings.

So how do I secure all of our personal belongings, create closet space and open up our home to strangers? Easy!

Image Ed O’Reilly for Ideas

TIP #1: Declutter

No-one likes to fight their way through the clutter! Make way for your guests and clear desks, counters, tables, bedside tables, and dressers.

TIP#2: Only lock away your most valuable things

Airbnb is built on the principle that you stay in someone’s home, so it’s totally expected that there will be personal things like photographs, artwork, and any number of other things that you adorn your home with. Unless it’s priceless, leave it where it is. It probably adds to the look and feel of your home and someone else will most likely treat it with the respect it deserves.

TIP#3: Clear some closet space

If you have double wardrobes, then try to cram everything into 1 for the duration of your guests’ stay. If that is not possible, then invest in a few clothing rails with fabric hanging shelves and position them in front of wardrobes.

TIP#4: Lock with cable ties

Not many of my wardrobes and cupboards have keys, so I end up cable-tieing everything. It’s a friendly way to say: “this is my personal stuff, please don’t open”. Here’s what I lock: pantry cupboard, drinks cabinet, 1x closet in every bedroom, linen cupboard, chest of drawers, dressing table and my walk-in.

TIP#5: Clear out your bathroom

Our bathroom cabinets have open shelves with baskets. Nothing could be simpler: I throw everything in there and stack them on top of each other in the laundry baskets which I store in my walk-in closet. Granted, the walk-in is a life saver come pack-up day, but you can easily store this in another cupboard or even in the garage.

TIP#6: Invest in Airbnb linen and towels

I bought separate sets of bedlinen and towels that we use for guests only. It’s all white which makes cleaning really easy and makes the bedrooms look fresh and inviting. Our bed linen gets packed away in the (locked) linen cupboard so that when we return, I just pull all of the bed linen off and put ours back on. I also always take it to the laundry to be washed and ironed – it’s just too much to get through a domestic washing machine in any reasonable time! When it comes to towels, bath sheets are always a better choice. It’s not essential, but I have a white bath sheet and a small white towel for each guest, as well as a separate set of dark coloured hand towels for each bathroom.

TIP#6: Buy a separate set of bathroom products

A nice touch is to offer hand soap and lotion, shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner to your guests. I bought a set of luxury products for each bathroom in the house which is only taken out when we have a booking and then replenished and safely packed away again afterward. And make sure that you have enough toilet paper and toilet spray or a perfumed reed diffuser for your guests for the duration of their stay.

TIP#7: Put together a cleaning kit

Unless you want your guests to leave your home in a tip, put some cleaning products in a caddy in the kitchen where they can clearly see them. Dish washing liquid, a small container with washing powder (just in case), surface cleaner, toilet cleaner, glass cleaner, sponges, dish cloths, bin liners and dishwashing machine tablets if you have a dishwasher. Also make sure that you have insect spray as well as insect repellant, insect coils or citronella of some sort in your caddy if the season requires it.

TIP#8: Make sure that you have braai necessities (totally essential if you are in South Africa!)

If you offer braai facilities, make sure that you have fire wood or charcoal, braai tongs, grill, fire starters and matches handy.

TIP#9: Local attractions and instructions

Put together a file with everything your guests need to know about your home: emergency numbers, security codes, neighbour’s numbers, and any weird and wonderful things that will help them enjoy their stay. It’s also nice to put in something about yourself, and if you plan to host regularly, you can also add a guest book. Guests tend to leave brochures and pamphlets of local attractions which can add some further reading to your file.

TIP#10: Clean up! 

This may seem obvious, but make sure that you home is in an immaculate condition when guests arrive and 9 out of 10 times, they will leave it in an immaculate state when they leave.

TIP#11: Welcome note and gift

This is again not essential, but it definitely is a lovely touch. I always write a message on the chalk board in the kitchen to welcome our guests and leave a box of chocolates for them on the table. It’s a small thing that makes all the difference!

I’d love to hear your tips on hosting with Airbnb – please drop them in the comments below!

 

4 free printables that will wow your guests

Kari from Lovilee shared this gorgeous post on guest room printables. Click here for the original post!

About four years ago we renovated and moved into our own home and I’ve loved personalizing it with distinct pieces, making it warm & homey, more personal and more ‘us’. We absolutely love having guests over which usually coincides with visits to the mountain, delicious food & great conversation. It’s important to me that our guests feel at home, free to make coffee for themselves & get comfortable and there’s no easier way of doing this than prepping the guest room & bathroom for them, adding thoughtful details & fresh linen.


free guest room printables

This month is all about bunnies on the blog and it’s no secret how much we love this theme. To me it was the perfect opportunity to create thoughtful details to add to the guest room, which includes a welcome card, water bottle labels, a do not disturb sign & a card for the wifi password so our guests know how special they are to us – all designed by Lieflingkind. I’m so excited to be sharing these designs with you today & know that you’ll love the bunny details as much as we do.

We kept to a cool grey-blue and gold coloring, meaning these free guest room printables will suit most rooms and all of the seasons. These are simple to create, easy to display and perfect for hosting your guests over the upcoming Easter holidays (or any time of the year really). Pop the cards into frames, add a couple of midnight snacks in jars and you’ll be a memorable host in no time at all.


You’ll need

  • Downloaded guest room design, printed onto A3 cardstock (download them from the original post here)
  • Art knife & steel ruler
  • 500ml water bottle
  • Two 15 x 10cm photo frames in colors of your choice (we recommend gold, white or a wooden texture)
  • Glue gun

To make

  1. Cut out all the printed elements, using the crop marks in the corners as your guides. Be careful not to cut too far past the crop marks.
  2. Once cut, add the Welcome & Wifi Card to the frames and display on a bookshelf or dresser. Feel free to play around with different sizes/designs for the frames to keep it interesting.
  3. Add the Water Bottle labels to 500ml bottles using your glue gun & place the bottles on the side tables.
  4. Cut the Door Hanger Tag out according to the thin grey lines & hang at the back of the door.

Have fun spoiling your guests & be sure to let us know if you have any tips and tricks of your own!

Winter Warmers: traditional and tangy vinegar pudding

The days for warm puddings are getting fewer but my yearning for weekends spent in front of the fireplace has not yet been satisfied. While I am clinging on to winter, I find myself searching for traditional comfort food more and more. It was on one of these recipe-hunting adventures that I found this traditional dessert in my trusty old Kook & Geniet (Cook & Enjoy). It is filled with amazing old-school South African recipes and reminds me of Sunday lunch at my gran’s house.  As my neighbour pointed out when I told her of my intention to make this for our lunch on Woman’s Day, the term “vinegar pudding” is really a contradiction in terms. But this delicious, warming pudding is filled with sweet and tangy goodness that will make you want to lick out the bowl.

For the sauce, you will need:

  • 500ml water
  • 500ml sugar
  • 125ml vinegar (plain white spirit vinegar is fine)

For the pudding, you will need:

  • 25ml butter
  • 125ml sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 375ml cake flour
  • 10ml fine ginger (I didn’t have ginger, so I substituted with cinnamon which was great!)
  • pinch of salt
  • 5ml bicarb
  • 2.5ml nutmeg
  • 30ml apricot  jam or honey

Method:

  • First, make the sauce: Cook the water, vinegar, and sugar together in a small saucepan until all the sugar had dissolved. Leave to cool, and then pour into a greased oven dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together, and then add the eggs.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients, and add to the butter mixture.
  • Add the jam or honey and stir well.
  • Spoon the thick dough into the dish with the sauce – no need to mix anything!
  • Bake for 30 – 40, until the pudding is beautifully brown on top.

When you dish it up, drizzle with a spoon full of the sauce. Serve with a hearty dollop of warm custard or whipped cream and enjoy.

Happy baking!

The pretty bowls were a gift from my sister – aren’t they just lovely!! x

 

How to create a tiny kitchen on a budget

Some of you may have followed my bathroom renovation adventure but what you maybe didn’t know, was that the project doesn’t just stop there! We have a cottage on the farm that has been a long-term rental since we moved here 6 years ago. People have come and gone, but we never really spent any money on upgrading the place. When the last tenant moved out, my neighbour and partner in this endeavour, Cate, and I decided to convert the spot to a luxury cottage that we can rent out on Airbnb. It was in quite a state, but always the optimist when it comes to interior spaces, I let my imagination run wild and set out to create this tiny little kitchen on a budget in the Winelands. This was, of course, easier said than done, so I enlisted the help of a few suppliers who were more than happy to jump on my renovation band wagon.

The results are slowly taking shape around us, but I hope to show you our fully furnished, fully kitted out, rental-ready cottage by the end of this month.

To call this a cottage when you look at these pictures is a bit of stretch. Basically, this used to be a double garage adjacent to one of the houses on the farm which was then converted to a very basic 1-bedroom cottage before we came along. The bathroom was really the worst feature and the biggest challenge which I set out to sort out first. The kitchen was also horrible, to say the least. The cabinets were rotten and the layout left a lot to be desired, so we just pulled everything out and started from scratch.

tiny kitchen

And there it is! I have to admit that I am so pleased with the result. It’s light and bright and really quite spacious. We will probably add an island a bit later, but for now, it works.

tiny kitchen

Builders Warehouse was really keen to get involved with the kitchen, and so I set out to my nearest store to pick out the materials. They do these really simple white flat-pack kitchen cabinet units which you can use to configure your own kitchen. Considering our tight budget, they were the perfect choice for the project.

tiny kitchen

For the countertop, I chose a Woodland Postform – it has the look of butcher block with the virtual indestructibility of engineered wood: scratch resistant, heat-resistant, and stain resistant.

tiny kitchen

I am quite proud of the shelves in this little kitchen. I am always appalled by the cost of shelving, and because I wanted 2 rows of shelves to cover the whole 3.5m length of the wall, I decided to design them myself. Our trusty farm handyman/gardener/Jack of all trades, Titus, made these brackets one morning, and they came out beautifully. Click here to download the drawing!

tiny kitchen

I used 22x44mm pine battens for the brackets, 16x220mm laminated pine shelving and an 8x44mm pine cover strip for the down stand. A quick white stain allows the wood grain to show while making the shelves beautifully light. I really love these shelves and they came in at a fraction of the cost!

tiny kitchen

tiny kitchen

The small Franke drop-in sink matched with the Isca sink mixer is all that you need for a little self-catering space like this.

tiny kitchen

These brushed brass pendants work very well with the overall design and are positioned in such a way that they will be hanging over the island, providing task lighting.

tiny kitchen

Given the proximity of some of the Cape’s best restaurants, Cate and I realized that guests are unlikely to roast a leg of lamb or bake a cake, so an oven is really not necessary. They might want to fry up an egg or 2 the morning after a night out, so we added a clever little 2-plate stove top just in case. Add to that a basic bar fridge, kettle, and toaster and you’re good to go! And because we’d like to really make it convenient for our guests, we also installed a dishwasher and washing machine. It’s the little things that count!

tiny kitchen

And here’s a clever trick: if you have an old property with unsightly cables and things, just hide it behind pretty accessories! (There’s a horrible electrical box behind that bright bread bin and jug 😉

Builders Warehouse kindly supplied all of the building and plumbing materials used in this project. Get 10% off your online purchases with the voucher code SAVETEN until 20 August!

Happy renovating!

7 of the best insider tips to create a luxury guest room at home

Whether you are having friends or family stay over or have a guest cottage that you rent out, we all want our guests to have the best possible experience during their stay. I recently had the privilege of being a guest at the Pearl Valley Hotel by Mantis and got some great tips from them on how to make a guest feel extra special. The hotel is the epitome of understated luxury, but their attention to detail is what really makes all the difference. Here are the 7 things that you will need to create a luxury guest room for your guests.

#1: Welcome note and gift

A personalized welcome is always appreciated. A simple welcome letter with a small token is a great way to make your guests feel right at home. We found these delicious little traditional Turkish Delight with a note from the hotel’s general manager on arrival – a welcome treat after a long week!

#2: Quality Linen

Source

Feather duvets, large comfortable pillows and high thread count – these are the things that are going to ensure your guests have a great sleeping experience. Invest in a high-quality bed linen set for guests and buy the best that you can afford – at least 400 thread count Percale linen. White bed linen is always a good choice since you can easily dress it up with a couple of scatter cushions and a throw. It is also the best option for regular laundering.

#3: Keep Accessories Simple and Stylish

pearl valley luxury guest rooms

The decor of the rooms was inspired by the surroundings of the hotel. Natural wood, moody greys with stripes, indigenous floral prints and delicate cobalt shway shway patterns all remind of the natural beauty of the Franschhoek valley without competing with the magnificent views from the high windows. High gloss finishes are contrasted with light wood to create a warm and sophisticated interior. Keeping things uncluttered is key, so stick to 2 or 3 scatters on the bed and a throw for colour. Bed lamps on both sides of the bed are a must, and a luggage rack and comfy chair or ottoman are essential.

#4: Tea and Coffee Facilities

Even if you’re not offering a self-catering option for your guests, a small tea and coffee-making area is essential. Ensure that you have a selection of local teas and offer both regular and decaf coffee. Instant is fine, but also offering ground coffee beans and a small plunger adds a nice touch. Something that I really appreciated, was the option of a small teapot. I love tea but a cup is just never enough!

 #5: Blackout Curtains

By adding a second blackout layer behind your decorative curtains, you can ensure that your guests will have complete darkness to rest in. This could be either full-length blackout curtains or a blackout-lined blind. Sheer curtains will add a layer of privacy during the day and help to diffuse harsh daylight.

#6: Bath sheets

Crate & Barrel

Few adults are actually able to comfortably wrap themselves in a standard bath towel. Make sure that you invest in good quality bath sheets to enable to your guests to fully envelop themselves after a shower or bath. Towels should also be of the highest quality cotton to make them extra absorbent and comfy.

#7: Well Appointed Kitchen

If you are going to offer a self-catering option, ensure that your guests will have everything they might need. A kitchen doesn’t have to be big, but it does have to be equipped with the basics. On top of the tea and coffee station with fridge, you will also have to offer cooking appliances (oven, stove top, and microwave), washing up facilities and utensils. Unless you are offering a serviced apartment like at Pearl Valley, a dishwasher is another great luxury touch because honestly, who wants to wash dishes on holiday!

Happy Hosting!

High fives for the love of olives

When we moved to the farm, we inherited a large number of fruit trees: pear, fig, olive, orange, lemon, cling peach and a massive wild plum orchid that was, and still is, completely overgrown and not bearing fruit. In the early days, I conjured images of large pots happy bubbling away on the stove and me lovingly filling jars with fruit and sweet, sticky goodness. I soon learned though that keeping fruit trees are a HUGE undertaking that requires attention and dedication – and knowledge – none of which I had.  Except for olives. Olives love doing their own thing, and so far, it’s the only crop we have that appears to have no appeal for fruit flies and their friends.

olives

I missed the olive harvest last year because of a pre-occupation with my new baby. But this year, I am back in the olive preservation saddle and have produced a total of 7 jars. Shocking, considering I usually have at least 6 times that, but sadly even the olives felt the drought and the fruits were minimal.   None the less, I am sure they’re going to be delicious!

This recipe is one of my own doing, but it’s ultimately a combination of tips from the local women in my community who have been doing this for years.

How to preserve your own olives with rosemary and garlic

Ingredients:

  • Fresh olives, harvested when they’re plump but still young
  • 1kg coarse sea salt
  • Salt water solution (390g of salt to 4.5 liters of water)
  • Garlic cloves
  • Rosemary
  • Vegetable oil (you can use olive, but canola or sunflower oil works as well)
  • Selection of glass jar with tight-closing lids

Method

Step 1:

Put the harvested olives in a large container with a lid, and soak it for 2 weeks, changing the water daily.

Step 2:

Next, give each olive a cut along one side, up to the stone. This will allow the bitterness to be drawn out of the flesh. Then carry on soaking for another 2 weeks, but this time add a handful of coarse sea salt to the water each time you change it.

A NOTE ON BOTTLING: to ensure your preserves stay preserved, is to make sure that the jars are sterilized. You can bake them in the oven at 140°C for 20 minutes, boil them in a large pot for 10 minutes, or just put them through an otherwise empty dishwasher on the setting with the highest temperature.

Step 3:

You are ready to bottle! Sterilize the jars and fill each one with the rinsed olives, a few cloves of garlic and a sprig of rosemary, leaving about 1 cm free at the top.

Step 4:

Pour the salt water solution over the olives, still keeping that 1cm free at the top.

Step 5:

Fill the jar to the top with vegetable oil. The oil will prevent air from getting in and spoiling all your hard work.

Step 6:

Screw the lids on tightly and leave for another minimum 2 weeks. Using this method, I have been able to preserve olives for up to 12 months.

While it does take a bit of time, it is seriously worth the wait. Enjoy!

Happy preserving!

 

The future of interior design is at the fingertips of the masses

This blog post is a part of Design Blogger Competition organized by CGTrader

For as long as I can remember, acquiring the services of an interior designer has been the privilege of the wealthy. When I was a child, women in high heels with extravagant hair and manicured nails or men in pristine suits and probably a tad too much jewelry, would saunter through their clients’ homes and help them to make the most of their space. Elaborate drapes were matched with finely patterned and carved furniture, heavy rugs and tasseled table lamps. All with an appropriately elaborate price tag. Getting someone to advise you how to put your home together was reserved for the rich, while the rest had to make do with our own creativity, inspiration from design books and whatever the limited retail offering was in those days.

What does the future of interior design look like?

The internet brought with it a whole new era of free information. Consumers suddenly had the chance to see what someone on the other side of the world was doing and creating without having to wait for it to appear in a book or magazine months later. But what that also did, was open up a whole new market for designers to virtually connect with clients anywhere in the world.

Designers possess the superpower of visualization and we don’t always understand that not everyone can see things the way we do. That’s why we can see what a room should look like even if it is just an empty shell or a line drawing on a piece of paper. And that’s ultimately why our clients hire us. You don’t actually have to be in the room to do the job. Does it help? Sure. Is it essential? No.

This way of working is much more cost-efficient for a studio. There’s no travel time and cost to consider, and no site management required, giving a virtual project a much quicker turn-around time. This cost efficiency allows anyone with a bit of extra cash to consult with a designer on anything from a color scheme for a room to a full-scale design service for their home at greatly reduced rates.

I have been chatting with many interior designers over the last few weeks and I was amazed to find how many of them have embraced this new way of designing for the masses. They still offer a turn-key design service for those who want it, but they also offer piecemeal design for single rooms and a variety of virtual design packages.

How exactly does virtual interior design work?

It’s really simple. You take pictures and a video of the room and send it to the designer. You then discuss your requirements with the designer over the phone or via video chat, much the same as you would face-to-face, and they then come up with a design, layout and shopping list. Depending on their location, they could even recommend contractors to complete the job. Many established interior designer firms offer this virtual service but you can also look at online freelancer marketplaces like Upwork to find a designer. Just post your job requirements and wait for bids.

Fellow SA designer and blogger Belinda of Tassels and Tigers does a virtual design service as well as Decor-In-A-Box where you request your desired theme or the look you want to create, and then a box filled with custom curated decor items is shipped to your door.

Tassels & Tigers

Scout & Nimble in the US has taken this concept to a whole new level by creating a marketplace of desirable goods matched with a selection of talented interior designers. Their Shoppable Designer Rooms have been created by established interior designers using the products on offer, and you literally shop the contents of the room with the click of a button. It’s like the get-the-look shopping page in a decor magazine, except that you can click and shop without leaving your home.

Scout & Nimble

Another designer that took that idea and ran with it, is Sarah Wittenbraker. Her page Worn + Domestic takes a fun look at a theme, often a movie or childhood memory, for which she then creates a mood board with shoppable links for both clothes and decor.

Worn + Domestic

This new way of making design accessible, as well as the variety of blogs and websites sharing free information and tips, have really brought interior design into anyone’s home. There will always be the privileged who will get an interior designer to create that picture perfect, styled and magazine-ready home. For the rest of us, there is the internet.

Happy Decorating!

Feature Image: Shutterstock

Make a DIY captain’s mirror with a tray, some lids and a pie dish

I inherited a pretty metal tray from my Gran a few years ago. I have never actually used it, and keeping it as a tray stashed away next to the fridge seemed like such a waste. So when Ideas Magazine asked me to come up a mirror project, it was immediately clear to what the tray’s ultimate purpose in life was meant to be: it was supposed to be a beautiful mirror! So I gathered a few other odd, unused items, got my drill, and got to work on my DIY captain’s mirror!

A note on the frames: Any metal object with a thin edge can work, provided it is at least 10mm deep. I used my Gran’s metal tray, a pie dish, a brass plate and a couple of old metal lids. Try to get a combination of shapes and sizes for your collection.

DIY captains mirror

You will need:

  • A collection of metal items that you can use as frames.
  • Brass and steel chain (whichever finish match the frames best). We used roughly 50cm per frame.
  • Spray paint (we used matte black)
  • Key rings
  • Mirror hooks
  • 2mm pop rivets and a rivet gun
  • 8mm metal drill bit and a 4mm metal drill bit
  • A mirror for each frame. We cut ours to roughly 10mm smaller on all sides than the frame.
  • Double sided foam tape

Before you start, choose which frames will have chains, and which will have a mirror hook. 

FOR THE FRAMES WITH MIRROR HOOKS:

DIY captains mirror

Step 1: To add the mirror hook to the back of the relevant frames, mark the position of the hook with a marker. It’s easier to mark and drill the holes from the inside of the frame, otherwise you risk denting the frame.

DIY captains mirror

Step 2: Using the 4mm drill bit, drill the holes from the inside of the frame. Then use the rivets and rivet gun to secure the mirror hook on the outside of the frame.

 

FOR THE FRAMES WITH CHAINS:

DIY captains mirror

Step 3: To attach the chain to the relevant frames, use the 1.8mm drill bit to make small holes in the frame’s edge.

DIY captains mirror

Step 4: Thread the key rings and chain through the holes. Don’t be too concerned with the length of the chain at this stage – you can always adjust it later if necessary.

DIY captains mirror

Step 5: Spray those frames and chains that do not match your collection.

DIY captains mirror

Step 6: Use 2 layers of double sided foam tape to fix the mirror to the frame. The extra height will ensure a beautiful shadow gap around the mirrors.

Easy as that! To determine how you want to hang them, lay them out on the floor or a table until you’re happy with the configuration. You can also cut out templates and stick them up on the wall with Prestik to make sure you get it right.

Happy DIY-ing!

This post was originally done for IDEAS Magazine.

 

Curtain headings 101: know your tab top from your eyelet

I started my interior design career as an assistant in the design offices of Laura Ashley in London. I made sample boards for clients day in and day out for an entire year, and that is where I learned everything there is to know about the softer side of interior design: curtains, upholstery, soft furnishings and all things pretty.

People are often overwhelmed about the different types of curtains available to them because let’s face it, there are PLENTY. Here is a breakdown of the most common types of curtains. This is by no means an extensive list and some names may differ from one company or country to the next but you should be able to find your way around armed with these!

Let’s take a look at hardware options from Finishing Touches before we dive into the curtains.

curtain headings 101

Pelmet Poles: An innovative product, this pole allows the curtain to be hung below it, acting as both a decorative pelmet and pole. Available in both 33mm and a wider 105mm, this pole comes in a variety of lengths and adds a sophisticated touch to your interior.

curtain headings 101

Wooden Poles: Natural wood looks great in any setting, especially since it has a large variety of finials to match your decor. These 34mm poles are available in a variety of colours and finishes and come in lengths of 1.5 to 3m.

Steel Poles: Finished in black, pewter, silver, bronze, and gold with a vast selection of finials to add some glam to your room. The new Grecian Double Ash range is just beautiful!

Clippa Track: made from steel with plastic wall brackets, this track is suitable for light-weight curtains. The track is lipped which ensure smooth gliding of the gliders.

Supa C Track: Another steel track, this comes with steel wall brackets and the same lipped track to allow for smooth gliding. This track is also suited to lightweight curtains.

Raider Track: this is an aluminium track with steel wall brackets, making it suitable for light to medium-weight curtains. It comes with deluxe wheeled runners for ease of use.

Curtain Headings 101

Pencil Pleat

A very traditional and probably one of the most used curtain tops. Curtain tape is stitched to the top and then the fabric is gathered by pulling the strings that are woven through the tape. Plastic or metal hooks allow the curtain to be hung to a pole or track. Easy. The fullness of the curtain will depend on how tightly the fabric is being gathered.

curtain headings 101

Coco Lapine & Sew Helpful

Deep Pencil Pleat

curtain headings 101

Sarah Wittenbraker & Curtains Curtains Curtains

Same principle as the pencil pleat, but using a wider curtain tape that results in a much deeper pleat. This is especially suited to very long curtains. The fullness of the curtain again will depend on how tightly the fabric is being gathered.

Double Pleat /  Pinch Pleat

curtain headings 101

Budget Blinds & Restoration Hardware

A more formal look where the curtain tape is pinned using 3 prongs resulting in 2 pleats per pin. The pinches can also be sewn by hand.

Triple Pleat

curtain headings 101

Nell Hills & Sew Helpful

A formal curtain style where the curtain tape is pinned using 4 prongs resulting in 3 pleats per pin. These pleats can also be sewn by hand. This type of curtain is very full and is suitable for a heavy drape with interlining.

Cartridge Pleat

curtain headings 101

Curtain Menzilperde & Sew Simple

A little pocket is created with a special cartridge tape. The curtains have a beautiful linear quality and are especially suitable for tall windows.

Eyelet

curtain headings 101

Very popular and lovely in an informal setting, eyelet curtains are available from most retailers and are simply popped onto a pole.

Tie top

curtain headings 101

Ebay & How Do I Know

Ribbons at the top make for a very pretty formal or informal window dressing. Dress it up with a pole and decorative finials. This style of curtains works very well with wispy sheers.

Rod Pocket

curtain headings 101

Busy Door & Country Curtains

The easiest way to DIY a curtain: sew a pocket and slide the pole through it. This curtain heading works equally well with formal dress curtains and cafe curtains.

Tab Top

curtain headings 101

Etsy & Kirey

Another informal and widely available heading, the tabs can be either above the main part of the curtain or concealed behind it. The design allows for a lot of creativity if you want to DIY a pair!

Box Pleat

curtain headings 101

Jane Lockhart & Window Dressing Inc.

The gather is at the back of the curtain to create a flat “box” on the front resulting in a no-fuss curtain with clean lines.

This should give you a simple overview to help simplify your curtain choices.

Happy decorating!

Dragon Meat Cake with Purple and Gold Scales

I know, disgusting right!? But that’s what you come up with when your soon-to-be 5-year old and 7-year old boys request a Knights and Princesses birthday party, and a dragon has to be slain. Or 2 dragons actually, one for each boy.

After a lot of searching on Pinterest, they finally decided that this dragon meat cake was just the thing. So, I opened a bottle of red wine and started baking.

Red Velvet Cake (aka Dragon Meat Cake)

Ingredients:

  • 350g cake flour
  • 300g sugar
  • 5ml bicarb
  • 5ml cocoa
  • 5ml salt
  • 200ml buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 375ml veggie oil
  • 5ml white spirit vinegar
  • 25ml red food colouring (I used quite a bit more because dragon meat is really dark)
  • 5mml vanilla

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  • Grease and line 2 small cake tins (12cm diameter)
  • Sift all the dry ingredients
  • Using another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, food colouring, and vanilla.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and bake for 40 minutes or until cooked.

And this is where the fun began!

The scales are actually pretty easy to achieve. Apply a blob of buttercream icing to the cake, and smear it to the right (if you’re right-handed) with the back of a teaspoon to get the desired effect. Then apply the next blob over the smeared edge, and smear to the right again, and so and so forth. Again and again and again! Once you’ve done the sides, apply the icing to the top in the same way, working your way in a spiral from the outside in.

My sister, Anélle, who is the baker and caker in the family, came over the night before the party and we spent a good hour at the kitchen table scaling the 2 cakes. A final touch of black edible glitter and a lot of gold dust blown onto the scales, our dragons were ready to be slain.

The boys were thrilled and the cake was delicious – or so they told me. After 4 batches of batter, I was a bit over it!

And of course, we all dressed up for the party. Here are the Bruwers in full party gear – 2 knights, a princess, a king and a jester 😉

Happy baking!

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