So it’s 4 months between posts.

Don’t judge me. It’s not that I haven’t been working on the house: it’s that I hightailed it to Melbourne as soon as my teaching year was over and spent a blissful six weeks just hanging with my homies. AKA my family. We actually like to hang out together. I know. Odd. (Also took the opportunity to redecorate the beachhouse for presents for mum and dad. Which now looks AWESOME.)

Anyhoo. So remember when last year I was moaning about the house being too noisy? Well it still is, but an amazing, wonderful thing happened. My daughter moved out. Yep. She and her partner were handed a house across town and she leapt at it. So she’s been gone since Australia Day/ Invasion Day and guess what I’ve been doing? !

Painting, y’all. Painting. While I wait for the agonisingly long time it’s taking for my iphone to upload its photos to my dear old, tired MacBook (now that’s a design story for another time), let me tell you what I’ve been up to these last few weeks.

At the time I was moaning and bitching about the noise, we got a bunch of real estate agents through to look at the house. Turns out we could get a good price for it, but there is an ever so slight correction in the overheated Australian property market and I think to suggest we’d make $1,000,000 on our little home (and land) is a bit of an overreach. And now we’ve had a bit of a mind change about wanting to sell, because life, the agents keep bugging me and I’ve had to ignore their calls.

And then I went away for a long, long time. So I’m back home, daughter’s out, and now WE HAVE A SPARE ROOM. In truth it’s not really a spare room because my step-daughter needs it, but she has to share with visitors now. Sorry not sorry.

So of course, being one to grab an opportunity when I see an empty room, I PAINTED it. And now it’s beautiful. I’ve complained before about the length of time and effort it takes to paint VJs, haven’t I? Suffice to say, once again hideous. But the result is stunning. The room is south facing, which in Australia means the cold side, but which in hot QLD means the comfortable side. I painted the walls with 3 coats of Dulux Vivid White, and finished the woodwork with 2 coats of Dulux Natural White Enamel. God it looks good. Then, and this is where I give myself the biggest pat on the back, I McGyver’d the ceiling fan. It was an old rattan-inset wooden-bladed thing. Dusty, a horrible cream colour, it had a horrible amber glass light shade and was ERGLY. Parts of the blades were coming apart because old, and really it needed to go. But we can’t afford to do that right now, because then there’s a whole thing with lights and electricity we need to deal with and we can’t afford it. So.

I spray painted it with 2 cans of British Paints White Satin Spray paint. I glued and clamped the dodgy fan blades back together, and replaced the light shade with a simple round white one from Beacon Lighting. Sometimes, I amaze even myself. The darned fan looks like new.

Then, and this is where it all gets a little bit exxie, I bought a double bed for the daughter-of-step (and visitors), and now we have a beautiful guest room decorated in shades of wood, white and blue. It looks amazing. I’m about to decorate with a mirror wall, (no, NOT that sort of mirror wall), in which all our old mirrors and some new ones will be artfully placed on one of the walls to give the impression of even more space in there. I’ve bought a bunch of cheap vintage mirrors in gold plaster frames, and we already have some regular wooden ones, so one whole wall will be devoted to this decorating extremism.

Also in my painting adventures, I finally painted the woodwork in our ensuite and WIR. While it was all given undercoats etc, I hadn’t quite gotten around to finishing it all off. So I used the hottest ever recorded months of January and February to do this. Because I’m a masochist. And because I like sweating into MY EYES. But the effort was worth it (of course).

The NEXT thing I did, because my daughter moved out and we gave her all the crappy stuff under the house we no longer wanted; well there’s this thing in Australia we have called the nonburnable rubbish collection (AKA the hard rubbish collection, AKA the “we collect your shit so you don’t have to take it to the rubbish dump” collection). Yep, you guessed it. I’ve been clearing out the basement. When I say basement, what I mean is the ground floor of the house that is open to the elements and only has timber battens protecting all the stuff from the weather, thieves etc. It gets wet, and dusty, and dirty and all the things are not really protected.

We offloaded 2 broken fridges, some old broken chairs, a bunch of old electronic equipment, heaps of broken Ikea shelves and stuff, and then I cleaned nearly all the corners under our house. And swept the concrete. And now I feel lighter and cleaner. It feels SO GOOD, y’all!

I have to reconfigure my workspaces under there (I have 2 workbenches: 2!), and clean up some more bits and pieces, but OH BOY was it good to finally do this.

So in the next few weeks, I’ll be painting the ghastly 2nd bathroom a fresh white, cleaning out and painting the Oh Jesus room, and painting the rest of the house interior. Only 5 rooms to go, and the entire ceiling.

Oh yeah. Remember how I fell off that ladder last year and had a cry? Well, we offloaded that old thing and bought a brand new 2.4m ladder with paint tray, and a trestle board. Imma painting the ceiling now. Even though I don’t want to.

Y’all, my iphone and MacBook have decided that uploading 700 photos all at once is a bit difficult, so I’m going to suggest you take a look at my Instagram account, @brivegashome and you’ll see all the great photos there of my house and such. Because it appears the world will end before I get to upload any pictures from my phone!

Have a great week and I’ll be posting more frequently now.

Cheerio!

Jess

In which I confess my Pinterest obsession. Again.

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?

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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:

window seat

Yass.

window seat 4window seat 3window seat 2

This is a version of the table I recently purchased:

Mahogany breakfast table

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:

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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!

 

Well, hello!

Oh my word, has it really been 2 months between blog posts? Well, sometimes life gets in the way.

It’s been 2 months since I fell off the ladder and I finally figured out why: the ladder is a bit crap, and the floor is uneven at just the spot that I fell down. When painting the second coat I discovered this and got my daughter to hold the ladder for the 2 minutes it took to paint that section. Then I got the hella off of that ladder. There are jobs I gave up attempting: I’ve given up trying to paint the ceiling. It’s nearly 11 foot high and I just can’t manage it without buying some serious scaffolding equipment. I’ll hire a professional painter. I’ve also (for the time being) given up trying to paint the windows and architraves. Not that I can’t: it’s just a messy business, what with sanding and filling and gapping and all that stuff and I just can’t bring myself to be bothered right now.

One needs a break from hard yakka.

On the fun side: I’ve been slowly upgrading our bedroom furnishings. Our bedroom is SO much more inviting now, and it still has 2 chairs, 2 bedside tables and 2 large chests-of-drawers in it, plus a queen-sized bed. I’ve added a Chinoiserie stool similar to this:

china stool

I bought that lovely dove-grey Belgium linen doona set I was coveting:

belgian linen doona

I paired it with a beautiful set of duck egg blue Sheridan sheets in 700-thread count Egyptian cotton (on sale, of course!). The picture below is actually of white sheets, but it’s appears about the right shade with a cursory glance.

sheets

The blue and grey complement each other very well. The grey could be paired with just about any colour as it is quite a neutral stone, but a blue themed bedroom (SO restful) is my preferred look.

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These photos were taken before purchase of new blue sheets.

In the next few posts I’ll show you some photos of my newly painted lounge-room, and the adventures I’ve been having with French-polishing. Adios for now!

 

 

 

Fall from graceĀ 

Well, just as you think you’re really hitting your straps, along comes a minor disaster to keep the hubris at bay. As I was standing atop my 6′ ladder with a full 4 litre can of acrylic Dulux Antique White, busily painting the largest of my bedroom walls, I was thinking about how my dad, who is a still sprightly 75, would be up here painting, but that if he fell it would be a serious accident. I thought about how fortunate it was that I hadn’t had a single fall in 5 years atop this old ladder. I was happily engaged in this thought when I fell. With a full can of paint. Onto the floor which was only partly covered with a light canvas drop sheet. The paint went everywhere. Onto the floor. The drop sheet. The furniture. Splashing onto the walls. The oil-painted bedroom door which was about to have a new coat of oil paint. Me. 

As I was doing the large rear wall I hadn’t covered the furniture with anything, which wouldn’t have mattered if I hadn’t fallen. But even the new quilt cover got a little splash of paint. Well. I picked myself up. Adrenalin was pumping so hard I couldn’t tell if I was injured, but I knew I had to get the paint off the floor before it dried. The furniture wasn’t too badly spattered; a few little drips that would peel off when dry. But the wooden floor. OMG. I frantically started to paint the walls with the paint that had glopped on the floor. I was wet, sticky and cold with paint in my hair, hands, clothes and feet. I couldn’t tell where I didn’t have any paint! The door, splashed with half a can of paint it seemed is now half painted Antique White. Not sure how to fix that except paint it all and sand it back slightly. I was working so fast that I was very slapdash, but actually the speed worked for me and the paintwork looks fine. I got most of the paint onto the walls and then I called for my daughter to get a bunch of towels and stuff to help me clean the rest of the floor. Actually I think I probably screamed at her, but she was very good about it! She got me a heap of warm soapy water, some Brillo pads and a mop, and between her on the outside of the room and me stuck inside we managed to clean up the paint. You can hardly tell where it has been, except for a couple of cracks in the floor between the floorboards where the paint got in. 

I am unutterably grateful for the excellent polish our floor sanders applied so well 5 years ago. The acrylic paint literally just lifted right off. The blue Brillo pads helped lift the dried bits but without even scratching the floor polish.

I am also unutterably grateful to my daughter, who brought me cups of water, coffee and a Tim Tam as well as replenishing the mop bucket with fresh hot, soapy water. Even when I screamed at her. Because panic. (Of course I apologised later!)

And after I had finished cleaning up the floor, I cleaned myself up, had a good long sit down and started to feel very very tired. A body response to adrenaline. Well. That threw a spanner into my time frame! 2 hours to clean it all up and only 1 bedroom wall is painted. So today I’ll finish painting the other 3 walls (they’ll be a bit quicker because less wall). To make up for lost time last night I patched some of the ensuite woodwork which speeds things up a bit. Whew! What a day.

So last night I watched a lot of renovation shows (what gives, USA, about those house flippers?!) cooked my usual roast dinner and made Rocky Road for the first time. With cranberries, pistachios and some broken up Tim Tams alongside the usual marshmallows. And had a big drink of Shiraz! 


Today is a new day. With a bruised elbow the only human suffering apart from my bruised pride. Onward and upward. On that ladder. With a dented can of paint and newly acquired extra caution. 

Cushion overload

Hello folks. Sorry about the long silence between posts. We’ve been enjoying our new mini renovation and taking some time out to relax and get some chookies. (Backyard hens for free range eggs). The black Australorp Josephine is already laying well but the other 2 are just not doing anything yet. We may have to wait a few months until spring.


I’ve slowly been updating our bedroom’s soft furnishings. I may have gone overboard just a tad this afternoon:


5 new cushions. Sad, I know. I encouraged my hubby to come along for the ride. He flat out refused! Can’t think why…šŸ˜‰ The grey velvet on the left, the stripe on the right and the silly white faux fur cushion were bought from Freedom Furniture; good buys for AU$33 each (buy 2, get 1 free). The watercolour style cushion on the left from Adairs was AU$50, and the gorgeous slub velvet on the right from West Elm was a breathtaking $75. Worth it! My hubby said to me just now as he prepared for bed: “I’ll be in the bedroom removing the cushions. As Scott of the Antarctic said when he stepped outside: ‘I may be some time'”. šŸ˜‚

While I still love our navy and white colour scheme, I’m looking forward to updating our bed linen soon with a soft dove-coloured quilt cover in Belgian linen, matched with darker grey Euro cushion covers. We’ll update our current lamps with new mid-grey linen lamp shades, and replace our very sad old white rattan ceiling fan with a new low profile white one. Now that the weather is finally cooling down I’ll get stuck once more into some house painting. The bedroom walls will be a simple Antique White (Dulux), matched with Natural White wooden trim and a Vivid White semi-gloss ceiling paint. Gloss paint is typical for these old Queenslander houses with their wooden beadboard ceilings, but it’s not too shiny. Because we live on a busy street we often have to keep our blinds closed so it’s important that the room feels light and bright. No grey walls for us!

The bedroom used to look like this: 

There were 3 entry points and too much furniture:


We removed the French doors near the chair and moved the bed to that wall. The wooden chest is no longer in the bedroom. The French doors on the other side were also removed and are now awaiting repurposing for a future renovation. The opposite side opening, flanked by the chests of drawers, leads into our walk-in-robe and ensuite. 

The room is already much larger and better organised and I can’t wait to add plantation shutters to the windows, which will really streamline the room. Finally, I’m hoping to find a large watercolour painting of clouds, much like the cushion I bought today: 


Peaceful and lovely. With that, I’m off to bed to see how my husband has fared with his cushion battle. Good night all! 

The pantry is go

DH and I finally got to the pesky West Wing and now the Oh Jesus Room is a little better: my desk at least is clean and I’ve dusted and we are using the cupboard spaces for good, not evil. DH refitted the blinds, I reorganised the space, and apart from the corner of painting equipment I’m dreading putting away – because it means I’ll never bring it up again if I do and there’s still a heap of painting to do – it’s basically done. I COULD spend some time reorganising the bookshelves because all the books are out of order (fiction in with my non-fiction, that sort of OCD hell) but I have to do my tax first. Priorities, people.

Onto the pantry. It has long been a bugbear. It’s a small room of about 1800x2400mm. Perfect for a bathroom or small storage room, it’s a walk-through space to the West Wing, so it has to have a clear passageway. Now that the West Wing is (partially) done our gaze yesterday turned to this horror space. We had used black Ikea Kallax shelves donated by my adult child to store our food, and two old yellow cupboards repurposed from the original kitchen to store linen, towels and other stuff. It was dark, messy and we couldn’t find anything. The shelves were too deep and dark, and the old cupboards hard to access. So horrible I haven’t even taken a photo.

Yesterday we took the unprecedented step of repurposing two chrome wire wardrobes we had recently bought from Bunnings into one storage shelf. It worked a treat. So much so we decided then and there to buy 2 new storage shelves in the same design for the back wall. At $59 each, 750W x 300D x 1800H they didn’t break the bank and it’s amazing how much better one feels when one’s living spaces are organised. I put them together in about 20 minutes – super easy to construct and the designers need some sort of prize for simplicity and ease of design.

I then stacked the shelves and noticed a small problem – the wire shelves weren’t secure enough for smaller jars and tall bottles to rest on without wobbling. We MacGyvered it. For those who don’t know, MacGyver is a TV character well known for his seemingly endless ability to make stuff within a time-sensitive emergency event out of bits of found objects such as duct tape, wire and paper. MacGyver

(Photo courtesy Oh My Geek)

Under the house in the breeezeway, I noticed some melamine shelves stored between the floor joists. We had saved them from an IKEA cupboard that had literally fallen apart because it didn’t have secure bracing at the back (yes, they used CARDBOARD AND PINS). I don’t know why we had saved them, but I quickly realised we could cut out the corners with a jigsaw and they would literally be a perfect fit with the new shelves. Serendipity! They are now supporting the cans, jars, bottles and pantry stuffs, and it looks clean and bright in the room, so much so I may even have to vacuum and wash the floors. This house is coming together, y’all!

We never throw anything out. We thought we had an old working coffee maker downstairs gathering dust, but when we went to find it there was nothing there. This is a tragedy because our brilliant expensive cherry-coloured Breville coffee machine finally died yesterday and started shorting out the electrical circuits. It had been the victim of a power surge about 18 months ago and I think the temperature gauge had blown, so it was overheating and ruining the on-board computer. We limped along with imperfect coffee but were unable to get it fixed because it was just out of warranty and the cost to repair is usually greater than the cost to replace. Anyway, no espresso coffee for us any more. Cherry finally blew up. However, us never throwing anything out has proven to be a blessing in the storage department.

It’s a great day when your storage room starts to feel like a proper storage room!

On the other side of the room (where that little bit of pine shelf is visible) are two bookcases. Don’t say we can’t squeeze every last centimetre out of our storage areas!

 

The WIR is go!

This week we moved our clothes into the WIR. Tada!

I finally finished the topcoat in the WIR and now I just have to do the architraves and door. I’m leaving these for a bit because I’ve moved on and we have to wait for the final building fixup.

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Yes, I know the window is not yet in, and there will be yet more painting and sanding and nail banging before the final finish. But the sad truth is all our clothes are a bit dusty anyway, from the building dust getting into all parts of the house. I’m loving the distressed concrete look of the tiles I chose. So cool.

The great thing about our WIR is that compared to other WIRs we’ve seen recently (did I mention we like looking at houses for sale on their open house days?), ours seems really large. It’s not, but it has a wide walkway of 1.1metres, 2.6m of hanging space on one side and a metre on the other. This makes it feel really spacious. I must admit however that my shoes are STILL fighting for space, and I’ll be using the large pullout drawer under the bed for all my rare spares. I’m one of those sad puppies who keeps her shoes in their cardboard shoe boxes where possible because of dust and humidity. This takes up room but protects the shoes.

I must say, looking at my clothes it appears as if I wear all black, white, red, and tan. I don’t, of course. I keep lots of my clothes in clothing bags which happen to be black. Again, this protects the clothes from fading, dust and pests. Eventually we’ll put plantation shutters on our bedroom and WIR window but for now it’s storage bags.

I’m now painting what is intended to be our front porch entrance (but without actually doing it because funds), and I’m painting it a fresh Dulux Vivid White acrylic with Natural White architraves in oil. It’s hiding the colour I originally painted these outside rooms when we bought the house, which was a cool grey that ended up looking rather purple in a certain light. I’ve now changed my interior design look over the last few years and going with whites, for cleanliness and brightness and sanity. The grey was great but it was designed to cover flaws in the old walls. I’m putting off what I really should do right away – gap filling – because it’s a boring boring boring job and I have to do this and then wait for it to dry before giving the room its penultimate topcoat. There’s lots of gap filling as we have installed VJs:

And the dust. Oh, boy. Yes, well, ok. I’m off to do it then.

 

 

ProcrastinationĀ 

So close and yet so far. I’m putting off the inevitable by lying here writing a blog post about putting off the inevitable. Sad, I know. I need to finish our WIR and ensuite. I need to finish painting them. When this is done we can put our clothes in the WIR and turn the Oh Jesus Room back into a proper working space. 

I know this. But I can’t bring myself to get up yet and do it. Probably because painting is boring boring boring and I’ve discovered my work with gap filler in the WIR leaves a lot to be desired! I need to sand back some of my bodgy work and do a topcoat. Then I can paint the woodwork. There’s really very little to do!

Oh, ok. Here I go. In the meantime here’s a picture of the guest room I dressed yesterday. 

  
I’m hating the pine furniture. My mum made it and if I paint it it might look crappy. I’m tempted though; the white oil paint I bought is a perfect colour and I could change the pine handles to something else more on trend. The sofa bed is hardly on trend and it has faded badly in the West Wing in the 2 years we’ve owned it. But it’s useful, so it stays. I need to wash the cushion covers and hang some art work and get some curtains/ blinds on the windows. Then we’re done! (Well, ok, I need to finish off oil painting the windows and French doors but there’s a whole lotta prep stuff I need to do before I can, so it’s on the “to do in a million years” list.)

DH and I already love this room so much it’s becoming a multi-purpose space. My stepson is quite neat and tidy and he is unlikely to create much personality in the room, so when he’s not here it may well become a sitting room for us. And it will definitely do double duty as a guest room. It’s so bright and friendly. My old teaching studio. Vale, teaching studio. You were useful once!