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.
Right. I’m definitely putting off doing any work at the moment by posting another blog, this time about our lovely new snug. In truth it’s not that different from when the furniture was in our old house, but it’s no longer a thoroughfare and we have built in bookcases! I’ve had a ball dressing them and making the room look as lush and warm as possible. The couch is from Freedom; the lounge chairs from Camp Hill Antique Centre (one of the vendors there who specialises in Mid century Modern styles) and the cushions mostly from West Elm; the Noguchi style Coffee table is from Matt Blatt; the TV is an LED Sony 55″. The TV console is from Vast (no longer trading). We have Apple TV for all our streaming options which includes STAN (an Australian streaming service), Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’m not ready to book Disney – maybe never, and Binge (Foxtel lite) is on my radar but we don’t watch enough TV to make it worth the extra cost. In total our streaming services cost less than $AU40 which is pretty good, and I have a free subscription to Apple Music for the year bundled with my phone service. We bought a fantastic Bose Soundbar and I think I’ll buy one for upstairs too; they’re terrific. We didn’t need the subwoofer as we just don’t watch TV that loud, nor am I interested in loud music.
The artwork was nearly all sourced in Australia, including Constantine Popov and indigenous artists Nellie Marks Nakamarra, Gloria Petyarre and Evelyn Pultara. There’s also a 500 year old music manuscript on vellum from a Spanish monastery and a lovely little Cossack image – red and black – by a local Brisbane artist (lost her details, sorry!) All trinkets were sourced from around the world. One of the things we used to do before COVID-19 hit (BC to you!), was travel. We would buy simple little sketches or woodcuts or etchings of the cities and places we visited, and I would also buy some pottery/ ceramics or craftwork from artists who live there. Some ceramics and art works would have long standing origins in that region, or the artist would be a permanent resident. I love ceramics and art, and these, after my family and animals, are some of my favourite things. Most other trinkets were bought from Waverley Antiques in Melbourne, Empire Revival in Paddington (Brisbane) or CHAC in Camp Hill. So no more talk: here are some photos of the space!
I didn’t realise it has been 6 weeks since my last blog post (this sounds like a Catholic confession ;)) and the last thing I posted had me all excited about fabrics. Well, good folks of the interwebs, I’ve gone and spent a small fortune buying lovely things for the new home and I can happily say it’s been totally worth it!
To start with, we’ve upgraded all the electricals. We’re not yet finished but we’re replacing all the metal, rusting ceiling fans, and adding power points, and sensor lights for outside, and changing out almost all of the old, not very attractive pendant lights. We’re halfway there. We’re adding 2 new split air conditioners and I’ve decided we’re going Solar. Finally! We also upgraded the locks and added keyed locks to all the accessible windows, and we’re doing some landscaping and general maintenance. We’re not ready to paint the exterior even though the colours are super drab (greige and dark green, y’all. SO tired), and there’s plenty more to keep us busy. But I guess you want to know about the cutest new room in the house, right?
Lemme get right to it. No, it’s not the snug: even though it’s our very favourite evening room and so cool and lovely to be in at night. Drum roll…. it’s our new green room! And here we are:
I love everything about this room except that the cream carpet needed ANOTHER carpet over it to protect it from the dogs. Pesky dirty animals. Speaking of which: introducing Poppy (black) and Dougal (blonde).
So there’s not much else to say except to name and shame the vendors. Carpet, couches and curtains by Pottery Barn. 1 of 2 coffee tables and the dark green lamp by West Elm. Palm cushions and parrot cushion by Rice Furniture. Olive cushions by Bed Bath n Table. Olive and white cushions by Coastal Cushion Company. Pale green lamp from One World Interiors. Antiques and vintage items from various vendors in Brisbane and elsewhere and my mum. Ormolu side table from Jubilee Antiques. Knick knacks all thrifted, many (most?!) from Camp Hill Antique Centre. Artwork from Lethbridge Gallery and David Bromley. Plants from a bunch of places around Brissie such as Ross Evans etc.
You’d think I could get my act together to start planning our new garden shed/ storage boxes, wouldn’t you? Instead, I have spent a rather enjoyable hour looking for fabrics, and I’ve found this terrific online shop called Spoonflower that prints your selected design onto a choice of fabric, including Belgian linen (my favourite linen, although I’m also partial to French). So before I drop $$$ on a fabric I might hate, I think I’ll get a few samples made in a fat quarter (typical width for a sample) and then select the one I prefer. That also gives me lots of lovely cushion textiles to have made into cushions after I’ve selected the one I prefer. I’m interested in a range of green quatrefoil and lattice style images for my curtains, but I want them to be super subtle. I love this design by mrsmberry but it’s probably best for cushions:
Here are a few more by some super talented designers including mistiina
I’m loving that I can find a design that already exists, and have it made to my specs. The above one has all the subtle feels that I want for my curtains, although I might yet go unpatterned plain ivory/natural linen, because I need to be able to change out the look if I want. At any rate, I’ve been sucked into an interior design wormhole, and I like it!
And of course, this is for my green room. Living!!
So I can’t really say anything about selling our house at the moment, nor can I say anything about any other purchases we may have made, because it’s not over until it’s unconditional, but I’ve been having a lovely time curating my “Green Room” lounge room, for the future. I’ve posted ideas previously to my Insta site @brisvegashome about this, and thought I’d share a larger post.
So we own this beautiful, delicate etching by renowned Australian artist Charles Blackman:
I love the colours in the work. This was not hugely expensive: there are 89 more just like it! Look at the gorgeous greens – I can see three or four in the work, and it’s so close to being a banana leaf/tropical style that I thought this would make a grand statement in the room and provide the basis for our new lounge room colourway.
So imagine this room, if you will, as being the raw canvas for the new green design.
It’s a lovely room with plenty of sweet character already.
Now imagine this floorplan which includes the dining room. 5 by 5.2 metres (16ft by 17ft) is a lovely size, large but not enormous, and well large enough for the two of us + friends. In this plan, featuring white walls and honey-wood floors there might be 2 large lounges – 2.5 metre oatmeal coloured casual Hamptons-inspired ones, with feather and down cushions etc sitting opposite each other such as this rather scrummy Monterey version from Plush:
There might be a large neutral rug:
Then imagine a couple of easy chairs in green such as these beauties:
I prefer a solid colour block for all my large furnishings – I don’t love chintz style or heavily floral furniture. Soft furnishings such as cushions etc are a different story though:
Match these with a beautiful throw rug and some gorgeous lamps and we’re set!
It’s then just a matter of fitting our old furniture around the new, including our glass coffee table, some mid-century side tables and some antique brown furniture that I can’t seem to get rid of (ok, ok, I like these pieces!). I don’t know about you, but I really hate a curated room with all new furniture. One challenge with a green room is to not go overboard on the one colour. It’s important to layer colour and texture, and play with different shades of green, but also keep it real with some colours across the colour wheel such as yellows, blues or peaches and pinks. I have a bunch of lovely old plates and some plants that will go in this room and the dining room, including my gorgeous majolica plates:
And of course we have a bunch of fabulous artwork that will adorn some walls in addition to the Blackman. I think I’ll keep the curtains very light and bright: just some sweet cream curtains from IKEA or something:
Maybe an ottoman or two:
And perhaps to keep it real maybe this side table with some of the things on it:
We have many of these tables, and there is plenty of space to put them in the mythical room you saw.
Put all these images together and you get this:
Here are some other great green inspo ideas I completely nicked from other sources that I can’t name because I did it all in a frenzy – I was so excited!
I really like the bronze and brushed gold of the above image, plus the pretty peach counterpoints – see how mixing up the colours loosens the green? And there are many different types of green here too: from lime and grass green to forest green to aqua. It all works beautifully. Also, the bottom image is the closest to what I imagine our green room to be. Just take away the gorgeous wall paper and add a beige carpet and this is a lovely casual spot to hang out in. Notice that I’ve excluded the TV from all the discussions about furniture? That’s because I don’t want it in the main lounge room. If you’re like me and you rarely watch TV for anything more than noise value, renovation shows or movies, then moving the TV to another room in the house – perhaps a games room, or rumpus – takes its inclusion down a notch.
Oh! And if anyone is wondering how I will fit all the things in the room, take a look at my totally for reals pretend placement image that I’ve totally measured and everything (NOT!):
I’ve flung some pretend furniture against the walls but in truth I can’t imagine at this point what will go where. Maybe a bookcase or two (we have 9 free standing ones that all need homes), and lots of side tables. I even have an old round side table which would work well in this space:
And with some more decor this room could look fabulous. Not too overdone, mind…!
We may or may not have just signed a contract with our real estate agents to sell our home. Not sure what we’ll get for her, but the photos are looking pretty awesome and I’ve finally painted most of the woodwork. It took me FOREVER to do and my poor dodgy upper back is really feeling the pinch.
We had some professional shots taken and I’m pretty pleased with most of them, although there were a few in which seriously some of the crap could have been moved out of shot. I’ve seriously been feeling rather overwhelmed this week and the house cleaners didn’t do a very thorough job, so I was left trying to complete all the cleaning and clearing. Not very happy Jan.
Here are the new images of the house; I hope you enjoy them! And no, we’ve not bought another house yet…
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.
We’ve been granted the world’s longest mortgage to extend and renovate Harry’s Money Pit! Huzzah. Now there’s a whole lotta money in the bank burning the world’s biggest hole in my pocket while we plan our big renovations. In the meantime, we’re getting a few “little things” done around the house to make our lives just that little bit easier.
Firstly: I’ve ordered a new automated garage tilt door and automated gate opener. These are from Doors Direct, and we’ve ordered a timber-batten version like the image below, because we’ve decided we can’t afford, nor really need, to build under the house:
Once painted it will look a treat, although I haven’t yet received the quote (but they were totally on it! Might only take a week to make and install, given their speed of service thus far). For the last 5 years we’ve been getting out of our cars, opening the front gate and garage door by hand, driving in or reversing out of the garage, then doing it all again. Time to save a bit of time. We live on a busy street and need privacy, security and dog protection, hence the fence and gate and garage door ballet that is our life (sometimes we just park our car round the corner because doing this 3 times a day gets old fast).
The other thing we’re doing right now is ordering plantation shutters for the bedroom and front room. I’m not a fan of curtains in our hot, humid climate, where material smells/fades/gets mouldy. And this is a thing we’d promised ourselves once I’d finished painting the bedroom. Well, I haven’t finished painting the bedroom, but this sure as hell will put the boot in my butt to get this done! They’re coming over next week, and it’ll be fun working out how many we’ll need, as we have banks of windows in each room. Are these counted as singular or grouped?
We’re also getting quotes on the house painting of the exterior: the guys doing the job next door (who are doing a BEAUTIFUL job), are coming over tomorrow to chat. Of course, they can’t do much until we get the various outside bits done that need doing.
OH! And we’re ordering air-con for the bedroom and studio. I’ve had it with humid summers. And I don’t think I can get through another summer without some kind of night-time drying system. (I’ve found out that instead of using the “cool” setting, if I use the “dry” setting on the air con, the temperature setting can be higher and still feel just as cool as the “cool” setting, saving us moolah.) So of course we’re putting in solar. What with these dry winters and hotter-than-average-temperature summers, it makes sense to take pressure off the grid, and reduce our bills at the same time, while still enjoying some cool inside air.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll order some new ceiling fans and inset ceiling lights for the bedrooms and lounge. Maybe.
Hubby went overseas for a time in June, and I spent his absence doing some things. The back yard has remained mostly tidy after our mammoth demolition day, although it now resembles a mud pit due to the stupid amounts of rain we received this week.
In the meantime, we had also cleaned out all the rubbish crap under the house and now we’re left with just the crap from our former lives. Now that I’ve finally sent off my taxes (I know, I know, 3 years late), I’m going to get stuck into the various Jesus rooms, and rid ourselves of all the stuff that can be sold on Gumtree. (Australian eBay, it’s a kind of garage sale for those who sell stuff from time to time.) Hubby and I were both married before, and I have lots of stuff during my time as a single parent that I need to organise, while we each have heaps of old paperwork in massive plastic boxes to clear out.
However, I’ve actually done a few little things to make our lives easier. Firstly, I bought that Wagner paint sprayer, and while it’s not at all perfect, it certainly made my life painting the ceilings a lot easier. I’ve painted the spare room ceiling, which means the room is now nearly entirely finished bar a beautiful Indigenous art work and a couple of round mirrors I left in Melbourne:
I painted the bookcase you see there a fresh white gloss enamel and covered the back in a rather divine, if rather floral, wallpaper I bought from Bunnings. Mind you I used PVA glue to attach it because I was too impatient to return to the shop to buy the forgotten wallpaper glue so there’s seriously no going back!
I also (you may have espied), COLOUR CODED the books. Yes. I hang my head in shame. I can see why it works so well in these spaces. I apologise to all who I have previously dissed in the past.
I also did some furniture restoration. This was great fun, and I learned a bunch of new skills too. I re-upholstered a drop-in seat with some beautiful blue cloth, and repaired and painted the small chest below. It was in pretty terrible condition, but after some repairs to the back and a new leg, some sanding, paint, and new drawer pulls, I’m very happy with the end result, even though the bottom drawer doesn’t open (because NOTHING was square)!
I painted the ceiling in the hall, not that one can tell as there is zero lighting in the hall. And I have finished painting the lounge room and entryway. Huzzah! Our lounge room now looks bright and clean, and the ceiling is a whole lot cleaner now that it has had a full coat of bright white paint:
I love Australian Indigenous art, and the wall painting is “My Country” by Nellie Marks Nakamurra. Our rather dilapidated 17-year old couch is from Freedom (originally cost me $3000 back in 2000, now a new one costs: $3000. If that.). It needs a good oil and spruce but the leather is finally starting to split in parts, and I’m SO looking forward to saving up for a new one! The cushions on the left next to the vintage lamp are from West Elm, the old tapestry one on the right from Laura Ashley and the fishy one from C.A.M.
It’s now August and rather warm, and I’ve not yet talked about July yet, so I’ll publish another post very soon.
To those in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you’re enjoying the last of summer! And to my southern hemisphere friends, I hope the winter has been mild and wet, because I feel an El Nino coming on!