Nearly May, which means Winter is here!

In South East Queensland, it is generally accepted there are two seasons: hot and humid, and not. Living in the subtropics as I do, I have to confess I really hate January through March here in Brisbane. When late April/May arrives, though, it’s the best place in the world. I’m in two minds about November-December. Sometimes it’s blazing hot, other times it’s mild and warm. Good for old bones at any rate. September is nearly always gorgeous but we usually get overrun by southerners trying to warm up after a long dark winter. They go to Noosa. Which is a little slice of heaven that I can never return to because it’s full of southerners. 😉

Winter in Brisbane is like everyone else’s awesome Autumn. The days are mild, bright and sunny (mostly – it’s proving me wrong this week), the nights cool and crisp. The frantic never-ending heat and humidity of the last few months has ended, and I stop sweating into my eyes. Top temperatures are about 22 degrees Celsius, nighttime temps from 6 – 15 degrees.

That being said, of course, this is the first Winter in our new house, and we have a feeling it will be a cool one. Most Queenslander tin and timber homes are too hot in summer and too cold in winter, and even though I’m sure this old girl is insulated in all the new sections, the old wall sections can’t really be well insulated without a lot of retrofitting, which is difficult and expensive. So we make do with insulated ceiling cavities, warm jumpers and ugg boots, snuggly rugs and hope that there are no ill fitting windows. There’s no natural heating in the house – the two working air conditioners are reverse cycle, which means they can heat a house in winter, but I’m not really fussed – a little chill never hurt anyone, and the air is quite still in winter – very few breezes and we’ve fixed all the window cracks and creaks.

We’ve had a “little man” come round and do a few odd jobs for us. He’s not little, really, he’s Scottish and has a dear broad Scottish accent – oh aye, quoth he (like, literally, he says “ooh aye”. Never heard anything like it). He’s been fixing holes in ceilings from when we moved the light fittings, a bit of cupboard hinge repair work, and he’s been repairing and cleaning up our front fence. We do intend to replace our front picket fence in the next few years, but a good refresh with a coat of paint never hurt. Already the painted sections look brighter and crisper.

We don’t really have the funds to paint the entire exterior – I got a quote that was nearly $30,000!!! So we’re taking the much cheaper option of painting the trim, fence, rails, bannisters and decking posts a bright Dulux Natural White. This has a cream base but is much brighter than the current colour, which is a deep cream. And we’re looking at a lovely mid green called Taubmans Sweet Clover for the contrast colour, which we will use sparingly on the window trims. We’re playing with a strong black/brown Dulux Klavier for the decking boards – everything is a dreary, miserable dark green at the moment, so this will provide a much needed lift. At some point we will need to replace the boards but not this decade – when we do we’ll go with a natural timber colour. Silver paint will be used for all the window hoods – we could replace them but the metal is solid, so painting over them is better, IMHO. And finally, of course, we will be painting the front door a divine Taubman Sachet Pink to match its glass insert.

The colours we have chosen look like this:

Klavier is a bit darker and the Linseed is as close as I could get to the dreary main house colour – it’s a tiny touch more green – hence the green contrast trim colour, but these colours work well together. It’s been a bit of a sad journey to put aside the crisp white, grey and blue combo I was investigating, but these colours will serve us well into the future and won’t cost us all the monies, and the Linseed does not yet need repainting.

I promised months ago to show you another architect I’m investigating for our never never renovation. I’ve been looking at Alexandra Buchanan Architects. One of the reasons I like this architect firm is because it was started by a woman, and women have a pretty terrible time of it in architecture, as they do in many other fields. The designs are comfortable, bright and clean, and really well suited to our sub tropical climate, but I really like the designs that are more oriented towards a bush feel. In our back yard we have about 20 trees and palms, and it has a really cool, forested vibe out there. So I want to honour that look and feel, and include a lap pool at the back – I really enjoy swimming but the nearest public pool is a bit icky. Below are some examples of her work – all copyrighted to Alexandra Buchanan Architects, of course. The first three are of a house in Warrandyte, Melbourne. I love the mix of stone and wood textures and clever use of the butterfly roof line that enables a good clerestory window action. The final two are of a new build here in Brisbane. I love the use of white and natural stone, and the pale cement. We have plenty of room under the house to build – about 4 metres high, so I’m not worried about the light or anything. But like all good ideas, ours is super expensive as we need to upgrade the upstairs wet areas too. So this might be on the back burner for good! Argh.

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