So I bought a large black and white standing desk and assembled it myself with 2 screwdrivers and a drill (the instructions did NOT recommend this as a thing – I had to find out when there were no pre-drilled holes in the desk top). And I love it. I stand most of the day now, and if I get a little tired I walk away and come back to it in the standing position. It’s fantastic. This desk is very large because I have three screens (2 monitors and a laptop, plus assorted portables when needed), and I needed to ensure the desk wouldn’t sag over time, as they tend to do when made of veneer and chipboard. The Rapid Span 1800mm desk (made in China) came with a modesty panel as standard – this helps to stabilise the desk in the standing position – and a metal u-beam that screws to the underside of the desk. Even better is that I can see outside to my garden now, and I love it!
The worst part about this new desk are all the cords. It’s nearly impossible to hide them, and if people tell you they can hide them they lie. My monitors each require 2 cords (1 power cord, 1 connector cable). My computer requires 1 power cord, 1 mouse cord and a keyboard cord, plus the AV cord that goes from my trusty 10-year-old Harmon Kardon woofer and tweeters. Ask me why I don’t just get wireless everything: go on. Well, until mouses (mice?) and keyboards are fully rechargeable I’m not going buying ones where I have to replace the batteries every week. There is one brand I think that sell USB rechargeable mouses and keyboards but they are super exxie and I’m just not going there yet. And yes, I DO have a wireless Bluetooth speaker in the room, but I prefer to use the Harmon Kardon – it’s not obsolete! Plus there’s the desk-lamp cord, three power boards (for all the power cords!), my USB phone charger, the Bluetooth speaker charger and the air-diffuser. And the printer power cord. And the desk cords. Basically, it’s just really cord-hungry, this room. Some folks have suggested buying a cord tidy, but actually all the cords and cables go in different directions and then hang off the desk – it’s quite hard to manage them overall, so I just don’t.
I’m a musician in a former life and I still have an electric keyboard, microphone stand, mic, music stand plus 2 speakers on one side of the room, and when I’m doing any work here I have to acknowledge that the cables and cords have always been a part of my working life. What should change now that I do research and stand at a desk all day?! I do dream of a cord-free study that looks pretty, but that’s not reality. In reality, there’s not enough storage in here, I’ve had to turn one of my IKEA bookcases awkwardly sideways to make it fit, and when not in use the desk chair basically gets in the way. But it’s my work room and I love it.
The Rona has been playing havoc with our lives, at least for everyone who isn’t me. As a work from home self-employed academic and author, it makes little to no difference to my day, and it has been quite nice not to go out at night – and I usually have to force myself to go to the shops in normal climes. So here I am, trying to think of ways to keep busy now that my teaching has finished for the semester and I’m at home with the doggoes.
2018 and 19 was pretty good for us, renovation-wise. We installed a new front porch and gorgeous yellow door with pretty side lights, we installed an automatic garage door and gate, and did some painting on the exterior – just the face to the side fences. As you can see, Harry’s home looks so cute now! With all the original gables intact it looks a lot like a modern Hamptons-style house. It’s not: it’s a classic Ashgrovian Queenslander, built about 100 years ago, with the entryway originally at the side (still there). The gable on the right we estimate was added in the 50s, and thank goodness the gable design was continued because there are lots of similar extensions we’ve seen with a flat or gently sloping roof, and they don’t provide enough head height to be legal bedrooms.
The fence we installed 8 years ago is starting to lean and we’re thinking of replacing it with a more sturdy stone and aluminium style. The stone will sit along the base of the fence (in truth it will probably be bessa brick – cinderblock – with a stone face) and the aluminium pickets and posts will look pretty much like what’s already on the fence but without the need to paint it every three years. I really like the look of this new home and fence that is near our place:
Our entryway is sweet but it has a rather ugly concrete plinth that I’d like to cover in square grey cobblestones – we have lots of garden planning to do even though I said a few years ago the front is done. It is not, but we’re waiting either for fortunes to change or to finish our long-awaited extension.
Inside we’ve done a lot of work, although it doesn’t really seem like much now that 2 years has passed. We installed an upstairs laundry – given our laundry was under the house, all dusty and horrible, this has been an absolute blessing. Hubby has taken over the washing, I think because he just enjoys doing it so much that it’s all mostly dirt free! I added a touch of colourful tile bling for fun, and I feel like this can do double duty as a drinks section. It’s an open laundry that leads to the bathroom and 4th bedroom, so I wanted it to look swanky. And yes, it always looks this clean as there are only 2 of us. 😉
We switched around the bathroom and a bedroom, and we now have a fully working 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom home. Our family bathroom – in a country Art Deco style – is the cutest thing ever (I swear I had better staged photos than these):
This bathroom is lovely and light filled (not that my phone can cope with all the light – it tends to underexpose the natural light in this room!). There are a couple of things I would have changed if the products had been available: I would have put in a different vanity, and stained the shelves a lighter colour. The vanity I bought was the only one at the time available with a wooden top, and I’m not in love with the heaviness of it. Last year, long after we had installed this piece, I found a different supplier of vanities that had a brand that would have looked much nicer, but I don’t care enough to swap it out (plus, it’s expensive to do this and those tiles are in short supply!).
The last room to be completed was the small guest bedroom (it easily fits a double bed but not much storage) and I swear I’ll hang the last painting over the bed very soon:
Unfortunately this room gets SUPER hot in summer. I’m not quite ready to install the side shades due to the wishing and hoping renovations, as I want a striped navy/white electric retractable awning series covering all windows on the western side, and this area is not yet at the Definitely Done stage to do that.
In all the other spaces we’ve just been painting or finishing off some long overdue maintenance:
My study desk is not affixed to anything, so that we can repurpose the room into a bedroom down the track for selling purposes. It’s not ideal as the desk is a little too high: it rests on the bookcases which sit just above the ideal height for a short-legged-person’s desk. And with all of those screens (yes, I use them ALL) I can’t get a standing desk just yet. Another thing that needs some work.
In the new entryway we swapped out a cute vintage 30s yellow glass shade for a bright white 20s vintage shade: it works better with all the bright white and colours, and that sweet abstract painting and the chair are now in my home office – I’ve put plants where the chair used to be. I have a thing for aqua and teal right now, and my study is a riot of blues and whites and wood. I dare not show you the “storage” area behind the photo as it’s a bit of a disaster! There are 2 bookcases and a cello and a covered keyboard and lots of books and supplies for work; they all need proper storage. I have dreams of building in a decent storage and shelving unit but we keep putting it off, due to the aforementioned wishing and hoping renovations.
The spare bedroom has of March this year become quite an important study for hubby – he, like most of the world, has had to work from home. Luckily, his industry enabled him to do that (we’re both academics). I’ve based the styling around the Gillie and Mark painting we bought a few years ago – these colours are very “in” right now, and they’re nice and masculine, perfect for hubby’s home office.
That rather scrummy leather chair from West Elm was never intended to be sat in 8 hours a day! It’s not very comfortable for long haul work weeks, but it looks good!
The master suite looks the same as it ever did: the ceiling needs a paint but other than that there’s not much to report, except I’ve gone mad for deep blues and soft greens in this room: warm dark blues in winter, and their lighter companions in summer. I’m not yet ready to abandon these colours and I’m not overly fond of the new terracottas and pinks and peaches that have flooded my instagram of late: when you live in terrible heat and humidity 80% of the year, you need some cooling vibes to bathe in at night!
The lounge room has had a bit of a makeover – we bought some vintage mid century chairs in a bright orange and they just look fabulous. Our red room is now a jewel of rich colours:
We’ve changed out the gorgeous Nellie Marks painting over the couch for a commissioned Bromley: Nellie has taken pride of place in the entry, except of course now I have to rethink the rug colour: SIGH.
And our kitchen is the same as it ever was: people seem to like its slightly industrial Melbourne vibe but I’m just getting really annoyed with it now: the oven cavity traps the heat, there’s no extractor fan so all the open shelves and their contents get greasy, there’s no natural light and it’s a tiny, tiny space to try and work in. But we recently replaced the old ceiling light with these new industrial/country lamps and it all seems to work really well! You can see how much stuff we have to store on the shelves: there’s no storage in this house!
As you can see from the photos: I’m no minimalist. I wish I knew how to pare my world back just a bit, but every time I do, my eye gets distressed and I have to decorate more richly than my hubby or even I would prefer. The worst part of being a maximalist is the dusting, of course….;)
So why has it taken me two years to post? Well, I’d begun a heap of posts, but somehow I just got sidetracked with work. I’ve taken lots of photos of the renovations as they happened but once they’re finished it’s a bit of a chore to upload “in the moment” shots long after the fact. Also, I’m writing this on my computer rather than my phone, for what I hope are obvious reasons, and I’d forgotten my log in and password, and then I have to SEND my phone photos to myself and… and… and… you get the drift. Also at about the same time I discovered Instagram. And suddenly the blog seemed all a bit too hard.
But I’ve done myself a solid, found my password and username, and here I am. Because, in truth, I really want one of two things: either we sell Harry’s Money Pit and move to a house that’s already completed, one that’s a bit better organised, with 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a workshop, a landscaped garden and pool, or we try and complete the renovations here. I’ve already talked about how I’d like a new family room and kitchen and back deck, but in order to make this house a viable selling proposition down the track, I need to think about adding a bedroom, rumpus, bathroom and workshop downstairs, to make this house a truly 5-bedroom home. And even though it’s June here right now and nice and cool, I really would love a lap pool for when it gets hot here, which is September to April. It might just be better to sell and buy fresh. We have a healthy savings balance now, and the bank would probably lend us quite a bit of money, but I can’t imagine how much all of that would cost, and I’m scared to ask!
So now that I’ve no more excuses, I’ll be posting more regularly in the blog, so that you can see my world and how we live in it, and I’ll update you on my house plans as they happen.
I’ve been having some seriously green moments of late. I’ve been scrolling through Pinterest with the fervour of a demented person, and I’ll have to take a break just to claim my sanity back.
I’ve been loving window seats and banquettes. This may have something to do with the brain wave I had about our planned kitchen/family room addition (sadly on the never-never plan, but a gal can dream). On the bottom right of the plan is the kitchen, which sits along the east boundary. The whole addition is 5 metres x 7.3 metres, which when added to the current room more than doubles the space. The butler’s pantry will be about 1.5 metres wide. The free-standing island bench will be about 3 metres long and about 1.2 metres deep. The kitchen wall will stretch the length of the space, giving us about 5 metres. Once the fridges and appliances are accounted for, there will be about 2 metres of inexplicable room at the end. What to do, what to do?
My cunning plan is to put in a corner window seat. How ’bout that?! The architect and I had planned for doors to open onto a narrow deck on the south-east corner, but I have a better idea. We will move the doors (yet another repurposed set of French doors to the south west corner. Once again repurposing the kitchen windows (which are beautiful and original to the house), we will place them on the south-east corner and put a window seat underneath, to which I will add a recently purchased 1870 mahogany breakfast tilt-table. I think it will end up being the most popular spot in the house, and certainly the sunniest in the mornings. Huzzah!
This is what I think it might look like:
This is a version of the table I recently purchased:
Tilt tables became popular with the rise of the middle class throughout England and America in the 1700s, and were used for conversation spaces where breakfast and afternoon tea were served. I envisage this table will evoke exactly the same feels. At least, it will make a lovely study space and Sunday-morning-paper-reading space.
It’s no surprise that the images I’ve shown also indicate the type of kitchen I want. As our house is nearly 100 years old, it has a country farm style, and I want to carry that through the kitchen, with Shaker cupboard faces, slightly retro fittings and finishes, and a wee touch of marble (NOT on the counters, because marble stains horribly. Perhaps marble subway tiles in a herringbone pattern on the backsplash).
In the meantime, though, I’m planning the studio addition to the house, which DH and I are hoping may be possible to add sometime next year. This will add valuable capital to the house, allow us to paint the exterior and move the entryway to the front. We will also add another family bathroom at this time. I had a great deal of success with our ensuite, and I know exactly the types of fittings and fixtures I want, as well as the tiles and general design. I’ll stick to the same basic palette of concrete-style floor tiles and extra large white tiles laid in a subway pattern I used in the ensuite, but I’m thinking about a pale blue Spanish tile as the feature:
I’ll order the same light fittings, but I’ll choose a slightly different mirror. As for the vanity: well, it might be an off-the-rack job, depending on the size. I’ve also decided to add a bath under the shower. It might reduce the size of the room but my children will appreciate it!
The architect came round last week and our plans are nearly finalised. In fact, we’re pretty happy with the front of the house and only a little uncertain about the rear extension, which I discovered was smaller dimensions than I had anticipated.
The extra size I’ve asked the architect to do shouldn’t add too much to the total cost, given that most of it will be exterior deck.
In the meantime, though, we’ve come up with a great solution for the home studio. Here’s a photo of the plans:
The internal width of the room is 3.6 metres (huzzah!) and the length will be about 6.2 metres, although this seems longer than I expected, but the architect’s drawings indicate a total of 7.7 metres external length including 1.2 metres for the bathroom, so I guess this must be about right. There are windows at the front and side. It will be light and airy all day.
This is a fantastic size for a home studio/office/guest room. As you can see here, there is a landing at the bottom left of the drawing. You take one step down from the main house onto the landing and the powder room (with shower) is right there. It’s private yet importantly still accessible from both the main house and the studio, as it will be the main bathroom for visitors and party guests.
I’ve asked the architect to hide the toilet cistern in the wall, as there will be enough room to do this, and we can probably do the same with the vanity taps too, and possibly even a mirror cabinet. The shower recess will definitely have one of those handy recesses to hold shampoo etc.
We’ve even started to think about wall bed units for the studio. The left hand side is free wall space. I’m currently intending our sofa bed sit along that wall, but I’m tempted, dangerously so, for a wall bed unit that puts the bed out of sight until guests stay over.
Some of the ones I just investigated online are only as narrow as 30-40cm thick, which is almost as narrow as regular bookcases. Most of them come with surrounding bookcases to make it look a bit more built in, and plenty of people put paintings on the cupboard door to hide it even more.
There’s enough room to do this, but we won’t be buying them any time soon – we’ve still got to pay down the last credit card and set of school fees! Ooh, but I’m tempted…