Staying home with the Rona

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.

Cheerio!

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.

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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!

 

A blessed break

Christmas has come and gone and I’ve taken the opportunity to have a blessed break from painting. There is nothing fun about house painting except the end. And even then you start cursing the little bits of dust and grime that so quickly build up on the horizontal surfaces. Get away, you spiders! 

We’ve had to wait for a shower screen, but all should be finished by the middle of January. It’s a good time to rest, reflect and plan the next painting foray. I want to finish off the master bedroom now. Yesterday we saw some paint on special at Bunnings and we bought 20 litres of Dulux low sheen acrylic Antique White USA at 60% off! I was kind of dreading the cost of repainting the interiors because 15 litres of quality paint in Australia costs $209. We saved ourselves $130! I still need to buy the ceiling paint but we’re going with a Vivid White semi gloss because of the VJs so I can’t buy the special sale ceiling paint which was practically free. The amount bought should see the entire interior painted with at least one coat each room. I’m using brushes, not a roller, so the coverage is better. 

As a reward for savvy shopping we bought some house plants and ceramic pots for the bathroom. The picture window is giving me ever so slight conniptions but there’s an excuse for house plants if ever I saw one:

  
They will provide an extra touch of privacy, and they will get plenty of water as they’re in the shower bay. I’m pretty chuffed. Now to keep them alive. 

And here’s a reminder of why I love this house:

  
It was Boxing Day (maybe Xmas arvo) and our dining room was suffused with the most beautiful light. Recently I removed the ghastly privacy curtains to clean up the space and it has really made a difference to the lines of the room. The photos don’t do it justice but our little room looked like a golden jewellery box. I made my husband get up off the bed and take a look too, and it was a wonderful reminder of why I fell in love with the house. It’s the light in the afternoon. 

  
I hope your Christmas was as light filled as ours.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you after I tackle the Oh Jesus Room.

Kitchen caboodling

Hello, I’m back! I took time off this blog to do some work in the real world and now I’m on holiday (read: unemployed while I finish my PhD) this is a chance to blog about the next thing that happened after the floors went in.

So, I’d said that the only things I really wanted were a kitchen in good working order and polished floorboards. The floorboards have worked out much better than the kitchen, but we were doing it on the cheap, so we went for industrial country. Via Ikea. Our mad Irishman removed what was left of the old kitchen cabinets and they have been momentarily re-purposed as storage for linen. Then DH and I went shopping. At Ikea and Bunnings. This is what the old kitchen looked like pre purchase:

kitchen pre pre renovation

Quirky retro kitsch. However, we didn’t get to see it like this: by the time we bought the house, it looked like this:

kitchen

Beautiful, hey. This is pretty much the sum total of our kitchen prior to fixing it up. Some of the drawers made it into the house as linen storage and the old table is currently being used as a worktable downstairs. The yellow above-head shelves went to friends. Well, anyway, clearly one measly wall of yellow cupboards wasn’t going to cut it. So we traipsed off to Ikea and this is what our kitchen looks like now:

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Weirdly, not that different from the old picture, given the constraints of furniture placement and doors. There’s not much storage space and even less bench space, but it works pretty well for now. We kept the old working stove, which sits on top of a rickety old masonite cupboard, although 1 month after we moved in 2 of the stove elements died, so we’ve been cooking off 2 elements and the oven. I’d like more. And preferably a stove that doesn’t have a rear incline, as all my eggs currently end up on the far side of the pan.

The whole kitchen including labour and plumbing cost around $3000. I estapoled the timber benches myself because I don’t trust Ikea stuff anymore, which was a very good idea in hindsight. Now that I own an orbital sander I can easily give them a brush up, too. So all the benches and bench tops and handles and stuff are Ikea. The 2 types of shelves are Ikea. On the right is an old 30s kitchen dresser I bought on Ebay for $150. It’s not fully original because the original lead-lighting is missing, but that’s fine, because it was cheap. One day I’ll sand it back again and paint it. Probably white, but I’m digging red right now, so maybe it’s best not to paint it at all. I might do something unspeakable. My sister had given me 2 fun posters year ago which served as impetus for the room colours and about 6 months ago we bought the beautiful new red coffee machine. A monster, but then, I have monster coffees. So, red is the theme for our kitchen, with small white bevelled subway tiles sourced from Paddington Bathroom supplies and installed by the good people at Tile Pro.

From Bunnings we bought the super cheap but serviceable sink, and we bought the tap on sale at Trade Link,  a plumbing supply store in Coorparoo. Problem is, the tap keeps coming adrift, so I think it was not meant for a cheap sink!  Either that, or the plumber wasn’t very good. I somehow think the latter, given our bathroom tap has done the same thing. Oh well. It’s our temporary kitchen.

We’ve worked in it for 2 years now and it’s a pretty good kitchen. It’s small but well formed, but there can only be one person in the kitchen at a time, and our friends and kids have a habit of hanging IN the kitchen with us. Not really enough room for lounging about! I like the open shelving, and even though it looks busy in the photo, actually I think I prefer the open shelves and the homey clutter. It’s not easy to keep things clean, though, so we have to rinse items before using them, as our house gets super dusty. I hate the stove and the alcove and want something much more open, but there is time and space to do this later. For now though, I hold my breath that the stove won’t die on us. If it does, it means rewiring the ENTIRE HOUSE. Which we can’t really afford, and which means doing the entire house in a hurry. Not my idea of responsible home ownership.