A Beach Cottage Bunch of Eight Dollar Blooms & Featured at Decor8

Wed 7th, Apr, 2010

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G’day.  How’s it going?

Well, it is grey and drizzly here in Australia for the third day of the real school holidays and so I find myself at mid-day not only in my pj’s but still in bed.  On the laptop.  With tea.  And bagels.  Life is good.

Yesterday, as you know I went to the city, hopped on the ferry and took a ride to all the delights of Sydney.  It is an amazing city for sure and first of all as I stepped off the ferry right alongside the Opera House, over the quay and up one of the main streets, I felt just a tad overwhelmed…short ferry trip but a million miles from my tatty old cottage…

All was busy, office workers were scurrying around, gals in the highest heels clipping past me at a million miles an hour…all tight skirts and ruffly shirts…men with heads down and their lunch under their arm…


It reminded me of when I used to get the train from the country up to London every day…I was one of those people scampering around at lunchtime, not looking at the wonderful things around me, head down trying to do as much in the lunch hour as physically possible and tut tutting at the stupid tourists gazing around and walking too slow.

Anyway, more of that tomorrow (and if you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know I bought a million dollar dress) but for now, let’s talk about vintage ladders and flowers shall we?

Last week I had lots of emails firstly about the ladder, where did I get it how much did it cost, how does it work in the house etc., how does it work leaning up against the wall and more, could I please show more pictures of it…ha  And secondly about the dahlias.

So the ladder I found at a garage sale, one of those garage sales where you think there will be nothing for a vintage loving, flower loving gal…it was a man’s garage sale, ya know?  With tools and buckets and old bags of cement…and tucked up in the corner were a few ladders stacked in a lonesome pile.

I can’t remember how much I paid for it, for sure it was only a few dollars and I did absolutely nothing to it apart from give it a quick vacuum and clean and even that was a little, how shall we say….patchy.

It is simple to lean it up against the wall and no in my case (and I have enough of them around!) one has never fallen down…it doesn’t take long to do this particular bit of home foofing (thought the first couple of ladders I found I re-invented with paint, now I don’t bother)…simply find a ladder, clean it up, find a spot, walk up to it and lean the ladder on the wall.

Highly not recommended if you have a toddler around…plus forewarn clumsy long-limbed teenage boys of the impending hazard and dare 7 yr old boys to even think about climbing it…

Now the dahlias, someone emailed me asking me do I have flowers in my cottage all the time and how do I budget for that?  Well, luckily, there is room in my budget for a bunch of flowers from the market every week.  And I know that that is not the same for everyone.

But I love flowers, the colour, the softness, the little bag of cheer they bring along with them and I feel I must, if possible, have them… and, like many home decor books, magazines and perhaps nowadays too, blogs, I would like nothing more than to have bucket loads of them casually strewn around the place, piles of them stacked up in the sink…waiting…tables groaning with vases full of soft droopy heads.  But herein lies the problem, my time or budget does not hold within it much room for stocking this old cottage like a florist and so I have had to adapt.

Bottom line, I have a regular old life, where I’m busy and challenged, a schedule that is at times haphazard and a home that is the base for three busy kids with three busy lives.

There isn’t much space or time or casherooni for sinks full of flowers.

So this is my compromise…a regular old bunch of $8 flowers and a bit of creativity.

I am no stylist, florist or interior designer so perhaps a bunch of flowers thrown in the groceries will never be winning me any prizes, but I make no apologies for commending the house-sprucing abilities of the humble, often disparaged bunch of garage flowers.

So I recommend dear Beach Cottage readers, next time you see them on your weekly shop, treat yourself…throw them in, get them home, break em up, stick, unpretentiously in old jam jars or bottles..

..and then when they are on their last legs and you thought they had done all they could for you, tie ‘em round an old weather-beaten ladder…

There is something about this easy glamour…the heavenly mix of textures, that makes it, for me, an eight dollars very well spent.


Let me know what you think and I’d love to know if you have any other ideas for using flowers creatively…or more if you know of any real people, who live without teenagers and so have glut loads of them happily living in their sinks :-)

I’ve heard that the flower markets here in Sydney are an experience more than worth the trip and where $8 goes a long way…so one day this week, I will be emerging from this old cottage in the early hours and driving over for a mooch…wish some of you guys could come with me…

So with that, I am off girls, take a look over at my friend Maria’s for lots of eye candy with flowers and ladders and things, including her interview with Federica from Sweet as a Candy.

See you later, I am going to Bunnings and trying on my new dress from the city…


Oh and my Coastal Country Style was featured by Holly at Decor8 recently

take a peek at ABeachCottage featured at Decor8 here


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0 Responses to “A Beach Cottage Bunch of Eight Dollar Blooms & Featured at Decor8”

  1. Kat says:

    Maybe one day I’ll have sink fulls of flowers, but for now I like your way better, just having a few makes them all the more special! I’m off to check out Decor 8!

    Kat :)

  2. DeAna says:

    Thousands of miles apart and I, like you, didn’t get out of my p.j.’s today either. It was a snow day…no school. Ha Ha, you may have changed at some point. I didn’t. Loved it.

  3. Tiff says:

    Yep, in my pj’s ’til 11am! Love the school holidays, especially since we homeschool.
    I’m on the lookout for an old ladder for my bathroom, I’ll have to not drive by so many garage sales that don’t appear to show promise . . . you have proven that one never knows what is stashed in a corner.

  4. Janna says:

    Your flowers are so pretty, they look fake! :)

    Since it’s spring here where I live, I have been cutting off flowering branches of the lilac, plum and pear tree and putting them in pitchers around the house – so beautiful… and cheap!

  5. Angie says:

    OOHHH I would love to go to the flower markets. So many of your senses would come alive at the flower market. You will have to try hard to not bring it all home!! I would love to see lots and lots of photos.

  6. Anne-Marie says:

    Loving the flower placement on the ladder, looks great Sarah.
    I would love to keep you company at a Sydney flower market cause I don’t have much luck sourcing inexpensive blooms up here north of the border. $8 for a bunch is awesome.
    My trick is to snip a bit from the stem every two days along with fresh water to prolong every single minute of their precious existence :)

  7. Mary Harper says:

    I’m also loving school holidays on the coast the lazy mornings sleeping in, lunch out at the local Cafe then strolling along the beach stopping while the kids are rock pooling. Ah the life! Love the ladder and the flowers all sounds wonderful to me.

  8. anne marie says:

    those are fantastic pictures! flowers are so great to add to anything – I saw old enameled ladles hanging from a ladder once with flower blooms inside them – which reminds me! I wanted to try that someday – maybe tomorrow!! anyhow; yours look great!

    and I love reading your blog btw; it’s always so relaxing…..

  9. Ok, firstly I hope you are going to show us that dress! Second I love that ladder, you sure have a thrifting muze that accompanies you on your searches. And thirdly, yes to the cheap bunches of flowers that one can ‘stretch’.
    Have a great day!

  10. The Moerks says:

    Fresh flowers are great. Nothing better than fresh flowers to cheer you up and make your home look loved. Great ladder.

  11. cherrie says:

    Your display looks terrific and the dahlias are a lovely shade of pink. Old ladders look absolutely terrific for storing vintage linens or winter blankets, quilts,etc. Also make a nice magazine stand.

  12. Frau Mayer says:

    Well, it was high time Holly noticed your lovely blog :) I’m glad I could be of help!

  13. Dianna says:

    This is a totally random question but I just wondered what you have on the floor in your living room is it a sisal rug?

  14. Lori says:

    I love your ladder, and thanks for satisfying our curiosity about how you do things…you are very good about that. I too pick up the occaisional grocery store bunch. I used to just stuff the whole thing in a vase, but have been tutored by blogland to take it apart and use it by color. Can’t wait to see your new dress. Looks like I will need to be a fan on Facebook! I hate to miss anything :)

  15. Ruby says:

    something about a rainy day that makes me want to stay in my pajamas, read a good book, & drink a latte. there’s something calming about watching it rain. the dahlias are beautiful. i’d take an $8 bunch of flowers over a room full anyday. ruby

  16. donna says:

    Hey, first I want to see the dress! Love your ladder and you are the one who set a lightbulb off in my head. It makes a great towel bar in my bath. Once I started looking for one it wasn’t hard to find and has a great garage sale story behind it. I think that’s what I love most about the sales. The memeories. I sure did do that happy dance. <3 donna

  17. Alison Gibbs says:

    What a fabulous colour the dahlia’s are.
    Hope you get heaps of flowers from the market.
    Off to check out Decor8

  18. Sarah says:

    What a lovely blog! Your photographs are incredible. Congrats on the Decor8 mention!

  19. robyn says:

    OHh holy cow! CONGRATS on the DECOR8 gig! too cool! When I have a smidgen of room in the budget for blooms, I pick whats on sale too and pray they last all week! They make me happy!

  20. Suzann says:

    so beautiful. Simple lovliness.

  21. Victoria says:

    The beauty of a simple flower is so needed in the rush of life. One of my favorite writers said, “If you only have enough money for two loaves of bread, put one loaf back and buy flowers.” Gardening is one of my passions and I find ways to slip in flowers amongst the veggies all the time. My blue morning glories are beginning their climb across the rose arch in my front yard and my citrus trees are making my little yard a corner of heaven right now. Now, if I can only find a ladder…lol

  22. Laura says:

    It only takes a few blooms for huge impact! Love the mix of textures…soft sweet flowers and that rough greyed ladder….love it!

  23. Quinn says:

    In my world, flowers are essential. I think I realized this in Paris – all the glorious flower stalls and virtually everyone stops to get a bunch of flowers. I thought – how civilized! And I vowed that I would find a way to have fresh flowers in the house at all times. Of course, we have a long way to go here in Richmond VA to match the variety and quality of the flowers that were offered in the Paris sidewalk stalls!

  24. Jacqueline says:

    I love fresh flowers too! I’m always amazed when people touch them and almost jump back and say “They’re real!”. A bunch of Daffodils in season hardly costs anything at all. Love your style.
    Jacqueline, Cabin & Cottage

  25. Winnibriggs says:

    Love the ladder. I have a white painted one and have made book pockets which hang over the bars and propped it next to the guest bed in the spare room. Hubby thought I was mad at the time, but soon changed his mind.

  26. Gaelle says:

    I say flowers bring life in a home. I love flowers and that is why I put so many in the gardens, they stay for a few months at least, and come back every spring time. And for the inside well, I’m like you, love a white house. I do love colors too, but my tastes changes. One week my favorite color is purple, then blue, then yellow then…. And so I just have to change the color of the flowers and not repainting the walls :-0.
    And it brings a good natural smell to the house too.

    When I still lived in Brussels I loved to go to flowermarket on Saturday mornings too. It was another way to see the town. Not only with the thought of : Oh no I’m gonna be to late at the office. But with the thougt of: what a beautifull enjoyable day today, and all these colors, and what a good smell in town today!

    Ladders on the wall…such a good idea. I thought ladders where to stay in the garage or the garden! Thanks for the tip.


  27. Cindy S says:

    Gorgeous images, as always~Cindy S

  28. Judy Yates says:

    Hey Sarah, I hope you’re not actually going to try your dress on at Bunnings haha!
    Love the ladder and the touch of pretty with those gorgeous dahlias

  29. Ahhhhh flowers….where would we be without them…..they instantly change how a room looks and how you feel……if i only had a few dollars left and could chose bread or flowers i know which one i would go for!!! and don;t underestimate the beauty of winter……of bare branches, bowls of freshly picked acorns, or rosehips……
    I once read that a famous entertainer spend $42,ooo yes thats forty two thousand dollars a week, yes a week on flowers…..imagine!!!!

  30. Di Nash says:

    Hi Sarah
    Sometimes you dont necessarily need a flower to have flowers!! It can be a bunch of green leaves from the garden, or some berries or whatever. I call it ‘roadsidia’. I live at Newport and have my own garden full of gorgeous plants, but not one ‘flower’ per se. Just amazing foliage full of colour. Always something there if I am desperate.
    Another trick is in the vase, a jam jar with a leaf tied around it with string might be the perfect vessel. One can never have too many vases you know.
    I love the flower markets, you are welcome to come with me one morning, it is certainly a heady experience. Great coffee too and home again by 7am.
    Loving you blog and glad you love our northern beaches.
    Di xx

  31. Sarah,
    You are so kind, thank You for putting a link to me in your post!! You made my day~ actually night, I am off to bed.

    I love what you did with your ladder. Only you could come up with a great idea like this. I get so many ideas from you!!! It is always such a treat to visit your blog!!!
    Hope you are having a great day!
    TAke Care,

  32. Marian says:

    I live in Holland and the flowers are really cheap overhere. So if I wanted I could buy a lot of them. But most of the time I buy one bunch. Then it’s an eyecatcher for me and I believe it’s nice to enjoy them from start to end! It’s hard to throw them away, I make little bunches or sometimes there is only one leftover and I will place it on my bedsidetable. I try to buy only seasonal flowers, so now it’s dutch tulips. You can buy tulips all over the year but I think they belong to the spring. In my country when people come for a visit or a birthday it’s common to take flowers or a blooming plant.

  33. Julie-Ann says:

    Well I am an Interior Designer and I find what you do with a $8 bunch of dahlias inspiring. On Easter Saturday I left it too late to get some flowers and all I could get was a very daggy bunch of green flowers.I tried all my usual ways of arranging them and they looked terrible. In the end, inspired by you, I pulled out 3 antique milk bottles and shoved a few in each bottle. Viola the simplicity of it looked perfect:) Thanks Sarah.

  34. I’ve always filled my house with flowers too Sarah but moving further north has caused me some ‘flower stress’. The humidity here on the north coast is very unkind to cut flowers. I still indulge but not as often.
    Now I am in the process of planting an old fashioned picking garden like my grandmother had. Come spring, I’ll be able to pick fresh blooms from my own garden every day and it won’t matter if they wilt after a day or two, I’ll just pick more.
    Hugs ~ Kerryanne