Pros and Cons of travelling interstate

So I blithely decided to visit my extended family in Melbourne on the 24th January because the borders finally flew open and I hadn’t seen them for a billion years. I had a lovely time, hubby came south too and we had a few stunning days in Melbourne staying at a gorgeous boutique hotel, eating dumplings and yum cha, visiting some of my favourite places and seeing some wonderful shows before he returned to warmer climes. And avoided the border closures by 3 days. Because, drum roll please, I decided to stay an extra week, hanging with the fam and just being a bit helpful. And got caught by a COVID-19 quarantine breach.

I was going to fly out Sunday Feb 14, but I’ve gotten caught in a 5-day hard lockdown here – no leaving the house for anything other than exercise, work, compassionate/ health grounds or food shopping. And when we DO leave the house we need to wear a mask. In truth this hasn’t been too hard because it’s mostly what I do all day every day anyway, but QLD have SHUT THE BORDER! This means that until I hear otherwise, I have to assume I can’t re-enter QLD without 14 days in hotel quarantine that I have to pay for.

The very funny and highly appropriate Jimmy Rees posts YouTube videos about lockdown in Australia. He has numbered them because everything changes so rapidly. Video number 10 was published on January 19: watch it here. Another video was published at the end of January and now: video number 12. Take a look and you will understand what I mean when I yell in caps: SHUT THE BORDER!!!

I’m now waiting for news about the QLD border, because at this point I won’t get home until March, and will miss hubby’s birthday. I admire QLD’s conservatism and over-abundance of caution, but it is a bit grating experiencing this on the other side of the border line (also known as the Dark Side). I’d rather avoid hotel quarantine, because at least here I can go for walks and see my family, and from Thursday I have free movement around Melbourne. Mum and dad’s house is large, they have the world’s sweetest dog, they live by the beach and I have good internet access. I can work from here as I brought my computer, and there’s no excuse not to work on The Book or the research I’m actually being paid to do. This means I won’t be leaving until QLD release the border again, which could be 14 days (Feb 27), could be 28 days (forever). But anyhoo, I’m not complaining because I’m loving the weather here and Mabel the mini labradoodle is the cutest girl ever, and I don’t have to sweat all the time. But I DO miss the hubby and my dogs, and I know hubby is also finding life lonely without me.

While we’re waiting, though, I had a design epiphany. Anyone who follows me on Insta will have seen my posts about a couple of wonderful QLD architects: well, I’ve seen the light. I want to create a surprisingly different downstairs room that will function as the kitchen and family living area, and I want to do it in a modernist style. YUP. You heard me. MODERNISM. What IS the world coming to?!

The top floor of our house sits at street level, but there is an immediate drop of some 1.5 metres from the street, and a clever person built a gantry from the street to the house so that if one of us suddenly became non-ambulant that at least we could be rolled into the house without too many dramas. This of course also means that there’s heaps of room downstairs – with potentially nice high ceilings of up to 4 metres (16ft). Have a look at these images from Shaun Lockyer Architects to see what I mean. The ones I’m posting are from their website and this is in no way a paid endorsement, rather a chance to spread the love of this very talented company.

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So, what are we looking at here? Things of stone and wood, that’s what. I’m thinking a matte-polished concrete floor (or if not that, then a travertine flagstone – and while I hate the non-eco friendly state of concrete, the current area is already concreted, so it makes sense to carry this through), black aluminium-framed windows and doors, and a lined wood ceiling. There’s lots about this that is already a bit out of date (concrete floors are SO 2010, and wood-lined ceilings are not always well finished), but there are parts of these designs that are already 90 years old and have withstood the time test. Stone, for one. Or rammed earth. Not sure I’d get either of these in the design because expensive but at least this is an idea for me to grasp. Basically the room would be about 8 x 8 metres, with the kitchen and associated working areas along the south eastern side. There would be a step-down from the stairwell foyer into this large room. There would be windows on 3 sides and the kitchen backsplash would be a window to allow more light from that side. I would recommend a clerestory window system all around the room as it sits low on the block, and there would be an all glass sliding door system right along the wall facing the garden, that would lead onto the deck and the pool.

Here are two images: the first is the current layout, and the second is the proposed mud map:

See? Very simple. The new room would extend to where the main bedroom ends, but that’s it. The current “car port” is just a concreted space under the house, mostly useless as we don’t really use it for anything other than temporary storage. And puhlease, I’m using a really ordinary drawing program that sucks, hence the crappy design – and I don’t know how to use CAD or anything like that – don’t hate me! The GBs are vegetable garden beds, and the pool is blue. The downstairs bathroom would stay in place but made slightly smaller and updated. We would need to demolish the upstairs deck and install a gorgeous gable-roofed covered deck that would reach to the back of the master bedroom. We would then change out the windows in the bedroom for louvred glass French doors so we could have the doors open all night in the summer, as we do with our windows. Yes, it gets dusty and noisy, but it’s worth it. And, of course, upstairs would not only get a new deck but a new family bathroom, and an ensuite and WIR in the main bedroom. It would also get a sweet little drinks area/ kitchenette for when we’re too blah to go downstairs for the coffee. Here’s its current plan:

Imagine that deck extending to the back bedroom wall, and then removing the kitchen and reorganising all the wet areas…!!! We’d have to replace some of the upstairs windows as they are wonky, but other than that the bones of the original house would stay exactly as we found them. They are lovely. In terms of the external appearance of the extension – well, again I think I’d prefer to surprise people and keep it wood siding like the original. Three sides would be glass, of course, but the remaining wall would be hidden by the car port too. Maybe a stone pillar on the south western border… and I’m no fan of the black kitchen, so I’d have to come up with a gorgeous alternative. Lucky me!

Next post I’ll show you another architect that’s got people talking in QLD.

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