Other June Activities

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:

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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)!

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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:

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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!

 

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

Um. In which I confess our house is too noisy.

I think I’ve finally cracked it. I love love love our crazy house. I love its weird nooks and crannies, its period charm. I especially love my WIR and new ensuite bathroom. However, I reached the end of my rope recently when I returned home from an extended stay in my home state, where I had been sleeping in quiet bedrooms like a very happy baby. The traffic noise on our busy street just got to me.

DH and I are having trouble getting enough deep sleep, as our house, on a busy road, is made of wood and tin and has air cracks everywhere. Typical of a stilt home. We can’t get our bedroom quiet enough for a good sleep. So on the weekend I started looking in earnest at houses on quieter streets, with the requisite number of box rooms for our myriad children. I think I found one. It’s a mostly unrenovated Queenslander in very good condition, with a near-new (albeit dog ugly) kitchen, good sized back deck and three separate living spaces. Less backyard, but that’s not a drama. So this week is VERY OVERDUE TAX week. I have to do this to see how much I have earned, so that banks won’t look at me funny when I say, no, I’ve not done my tax in three years! (This is a distressing but typical thing that I do). Also, given that I have a company, I will be compiling SIX tax returns. Bad, bad me. But it must be done.

Because Harry’s Money Pit, beautiful and quirky that it is, is suddenly getting too noisy to manage. And a home needs to be a nest, a place of rest, and a sanctuary. With traffic roaring up and down the hill all day, this ol’ house is not the oasis of calm I need it to be.

If the banks (plural because we will schlepp, I can promise you) give us their blessing and their money, we will spruce up the exterior with a new paint job in that white and black thing I was talking about. We will replace all the window hoods with fresh new tin, and repair the back deck cover and put on a new UV rated perspex canopy, and fix one of the unrenovated side exterior walls. We will spruce up the interior with a fresh paint job on the ceilings and woodwork where needed, and insert a new wall in the Oh Jesus room.

In the garden we will get a proper gardener to come in and trim the two trees of overhang, and repair the turf at the rear, as well as clear the yard of detritus. We will pave both walkways down the sides of the house with cheap concrete pavers so the walkways are easy to access.

In the downstairs we will clear out most of the stuff and put it into a storage facility, or, if new house happens first, into the new house.

If we don’t move I’m tempted to do all this stuff anyway, blow the budget! It’s all needed.

 

 

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.

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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!

 

 

 

Yet. More. Painting.

DH (darling hubby) is away for the week so I’m taking the opportunity to paint some of the rooms long overdue for a new paint job. I’m doing the master bedroom, lounge room and step daughter’s room this week. 

In the lounge room, we replaced an ill-placed set of French doors with a new wooden wall which until yesterday was completely raw. (Don’t worry, we’re repurposing the doors.)

I undercoated the new wall with Dulux 3-in-1 prepcoat and today gave the whole room its first topcoat in acrylic low sheen Dulux Antique White. It’s brighter than the Dulux Sand Dune half strength coat that was here when we moved in, but still works a treat with our brown furniture, and looks chic and sort of French. 

I’ll confess I’m a lazy painter. The original wall paint is only 5 years old and aside from a brief dust down I didn’t bother washing the walls. Naughty, I know. My experience tells me washing VJs is a huge waste of time. They are so crusty and wonky from previous shonky paintwork that it looks fine with a fresh coat of paint. In fact, because I fix the gaps it usually looks better. 

I’m also painting my stepdaughter’s room, as she shares the VJ wall, which is single skin. Her room is still bright and fresh with Dulux Vivid White. A morning spent gapping her room with various timber bog and selleys no more gaps and her first coat of topcoat goes on in the am. 

However, I’m kinda doing this arse about. I’ve bought a Dulux semigloss acrylic in Vivid White for the ceiling, but I’m putting off doing the ceilings. Because it’s a shitty job. Also, I have to sand the lounge room ceiling a bit because the last painter was even lazier than me and didn’t remove the flaking paint. I also have to gap the bedroom ceiling because that too had a set of French doors removed, and the architraves were pulled back from the wall to fit the new wooden VJs. 

So today I gapped one wall and painted another. I’m a bit slow. Tomorrow I need to give the lounge its final coat, then do the first coat in the bedrooms. A long day, but I only have until Friday to do the 3 rooms plus the woodwork. Ugh. 

Photos to follow. 

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…😉 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'”. 😂

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! 

Australia Day and paint

   

 Just a few more days and we can declare the new ensuite and WIR finished!

The final days are for the electrician who has to return for the extractor fan install, plus a couple of little touch up jobs. I’m sueing the painter. Nah. But I need to patch and dress some final paint patches, which I will do after the fan is installed.

It’s been a long and sometimes frustrating process, making sure the vision we have is accurately reflected in the building works. Drawings and Pinterest boards aren’t always enough. Builders will make design decisions on your behalf, often without consultation at all. This is unacceptable but understandable given their desire to do a quick job. Even placement of lights and features need constant supervision.

There are elements of our renovation I would change if I had my time over, but they are small things. In general I’m happy with the final result.

Above are 2 images of the bathroom, which represent the conclusion of my design concepts. It’s come together really well. 

 

Arty, crafty, glassy.

There be photos of the new shower screen. Never knew you have to wait 3 days before touching or bumping it. Apparently it could explode. I ask, what takes 3 days to cure that a piece of glass might explode if you touch it?

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Not hugely in love with the piece of aluminium on the floor but I wasn’t actually given any choice. I love how builders make design choices for you (not). Anyway, it’s pretty unobtrusive and given that I hate water flowing throughout the bathroom from shower run-off I’m happy to see it there. My folks did a similar thing with a rounded piece of aluminium in their bathroom but it wasn’t high enough and water still flows over it. The only other alternative would have been to put a drain at the entrance but I hate the long ones – they’re swimming pools for cockroaches in our house.

I love the big, clear screen and that you can still see through to the picture window. It feels as if there is no glass at all! And the bathroom still feels spacious and well designed. So happy.

On Monday the boys come back to do the last of the work – the final siliconing of the glass, some extra electrical stuff, a louvre window, some tiling, and finally the silicone for the bathroom. Am I impatient to start using our bathroom? Not really. We’ve lived with the crappy bathroom for so long that a month seems short.

Of course, now I’m seriously regretting not having tackled the trim and door painting before the lads arrive. I might have a go with the oil paint tomorrow, just to get started.

In the meantime, DH bought a new Makita petrol line trimmer with a Bunnings gift voucher and I bought some herbs again. I love home grown herbs but I’m terrible at keeping the water up to them, and in Queensland summer sun you need to water every day – yes – even woody herbs such as Rosemary.

I’ve repurposed an old wire flower shelf back to its original use. I WAS going to de-rust and paint the thing but I couldn’t be fagged. I potted all the herbs, watered them and arranged them on the shelf and now I’ve created an artful Instagram picture (which I don’t use because Instagram).

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I’m pretty happy with the composition of this picture, actually. And yes, it has been edited a bit using Snapseed- our paintwork isn’t quite as bad as this!

Now DH is hard at work learning how to use a petrol line trimmer. There may be teething problems.

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!