Cedar and Suede - An Interview with Carlene Duffy

Carlene Duffy and husband Michael are the dynamic creative team behind Cedar & Suede, a flourishing home consultancy service, and popular home renovation and design blog. Since appearing on the record rating season of Channel Nine’s, The Block Glasshouse,the stylish pair have been in high demand.

Places Magazine caught up with Carlene to chat about her passion for home renovating and to learn a few tricks of the trade. 

Have you always been interested in renovating?

 Michael and I purchased our first house at 21 years of age.We chipped away at it for about five years before moving on and doing it all again on a much bigger scale. While most people dread the idea of tradies in their home and the noise of construction, I fell in love with it. It means progress and change. I find it energising.

Why do you think you and Michael work so well as a team?

Michael is the king of solving spatial dilemmas and can very easily visualise the best layout solution. Furnishing and styling on the other hand, he doesn't want to know about and that's where I come in. When it comes to colours, materials, furniture layout etc that's my time to shine. Just letting each other do our thing means there are few opportunities to disagree.

How would describe your design style?

Warm, layered, charismatic and inviting. I am definitely a "more is more" kinda gal so I have to reign it in when working for a client. Styling is intuitive and I'm very sensitive to how a space makes me feel. I like to create a space that makes my heart sing and when I feel that fuzziness in my belly I know I can stop, I'm done. 

Where do you find your inspiration?

 Everywhere, and sometimes in the most unlikely places - like a wall mural on the motorway. My go-to's are magazines (Living Etc is my absolute favourite), Instagram, and Pinterest. 

What is your favourite room for making over?

The living room. I love a layered space and I feel like there is no limit to how many dimensions you can add to the living room. Because we all enjoy open plan living these days, you can generally appreciate the living room from most parts of the house. I also believe that because the living room generally comes off the kitchen, it should be that fluffy big bear hug you need to contrast the kitchen's hard surfaces and utilitarian nature. I love to create a living room that promotes good conversation between family and friends as well as serious 'slothing.'

If you could only renovate three rooms in a house, which would they be?

Kitchen, bathroom and living room. Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses so it makes sense to renovate these spaces given the opportunity, and in my house (and I think in many houses) the living room is the hub of the home and in many cases where you entertain guests, so it makes complete sense that this space is at its best.

With two young children, where do you find time for renovating, writing and managing your blog, Cedar & Suede?

It takes dedication and good planning. The good news for me is that I can write from anywhere, and I do, which often means I'm writing on planes, at soccer training, in the car at dance class... At home, we have systems in place; in the mornings Michael leaves home super early so I get the kids to where they need to be and then get into my day. I run the household but Michael is the cook. We definitely don't have as much downtime as we should but the upside is I love my job so I can't complain. We would like more time to create more video content for the blog so that's something to work towards this year.

Tips for a successful sale of your property

Tips for a successful sale of your property

You only get one opportunity to present your property to the market and to create a great first impression. Failing to strike the right chord with buyers can cost you a lot of money so it’s important you get it right the first time.

Potential buyers are looking for love at first sight. They are seeking that instant attraction; something that makes their heart beat a little faster, complimented by good looks and a little charm.

This list of 10 simple things will get your property ready for sale and won’t cost you a fortune.

One – Looking your best

Street appeal is so important. Tidy the yard, put out fresh mulch in the garden and add a new latch to the fence so that it opens easily. Give the fence a fresh coat of paint, wash the house and acid wash your pavers or concrete paths.

Two – Meet you at the front door

Your agent will greet your potential buyer at the front door. They may take their shoes off and will definitely have time to look around at this point. The front door needs to be clean with a homely touch, such as twin pot plants or a welcoming door mat.

Three – Spring clean

De-cluttering will make the whole house feel larger and take away distractions from the buyer so they can focus on the house. Take all appliances off the kitchen bench tops.

Four – Let there be light

If the temperature is right, open your windows, doors and curtains creating light and fresh breezes. Put lights on, even in the daytime, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. Lamps are effective too.

Five – Expecting someone?

Present the house as if you were about to have friends over. Set your table, it doesn’t have to be a formal setting. Put some nice glasses and a jug of water out or a loaf of bread on a platter. If you have a deck or courtyard, focus your efforts there rather than on a formal dining area that is not regularly used.

Six – In bloom

Use striking fresh flowers to create a centre piece in a room. You can match flowers to the colours of the cushions on your couches to brighten the room.

Seven – Bedroom etiquette

Make sure your bed spread is crisply ironed and the bed is made perfectly. Purchase a new doona cover if you’re not happy with the ones you have but keep it neutral. A blanket neatly folded at the end of the bed is very effective and you can add extra pillows to make your bed the feature. You can get some great ideas from magazines.  

Eight – Sexing up the bathroom

Soaps, hand towels, towels and bath oils should be displayed in the bathrooms, again to look like guests are coming over. Buy a beautiful set of towels and quality soaps that you use just for the open house.

Nine – Creating the mood

Music works extremely well as buyers can freely look and talk about the house without feeling like someone is watching over them. Compilations of softer tracks and instrumental music set the mood making potential buyers as comfortable as possible.

Ten – Your best hour

Know the best hours in the day to present your house. If your house faces west it is better to do an open house in the morning. This is important if you do not have air-conditioning. If your house has a lot of shade, hold open houses in the warmer hours. Work out when the entertaining areas are sunlit but not too hot.