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.



Flooring maketh the house

When we bought our Queenslander, I stated firmly that there were two things that were non-negotiable in the purchase of the house. Firstly, that the floors had to be sanded and polished prior to moving in, and secondly that there had to be a workable kitchen.

We were really dealing with the bare basics here! Of course, that list grew to include a new toilet area and fixing those stumps. All other aspects got to wait, including replacing the louvre windows with laminated hopscotch windows, putting in a clean new bathroom and storage for our pantry and clothes.

So this post is about the flooring we chose.

The first night in the house, 3 hours after we got the keys and the title, we grabbed our spade and some gloves and began to tear up the old lino flooring. Underneath the lino was a layer of masonry board tacked to the floorboards, so we pushed the spade under and gently wedged up the old flooring, revealing the 80 year old 150mm wide hoop pine boards underneath. On the verandahs there were two types of timber: rare ash in the north and east wing, and regular hardwood in the western wing. From this:


To this:


To this:



Flooring underneath

We removed all the old flooring in about 4 hours. Exhausting work, but we had to get the stump guys in the next day, I had to paint some more rooms, and then we had to get the flooring done. There was little time.

We pulled out as many of the tacks as we could find, and then our sanders came in and finished off the job 2 weeks later. They were great. Speedy Floor Sanding: ask for Dave. Barely talked at all but they were quick and got the job done in no time. They did a nice job on staining the new boards to look like the old ones, and even though you can tell they are there, they don’t stand out at all.

We found a hilarious dude called Michael Ryan to do some small construction work, including replacing the rotten floorboards (some borer in about 20 sq metres throughout the house) with new hoop pine. A semi-retired Irishman, I could barely understand him at all and many a story telling regaling friends about our renovation experiences had me saying “shushshsushshushhsh to be sure to be sure”. A good builder with years of experience, his clear preference was to replace all the old stuff with new, including replacing our wonderful old 12-light French doors with new cedar ones. 12 light! I can’t find any French doors that are more than 10-light. I didn’t let him go near anything but the floorboards.


He replaced the rotten and borer riddled ones with lovely new hoop pine, like this:



And this:


This little room had previously been a bathroom and the boards were badly rotten, with even some old termite rot appearing. DH had thought he would tackle the replacement boards himself, but there was too much to be done, including some structural work, so we wisely left it to the experts. I had hoped to replace old with old, but Michael our builder wasn’t fond of working with old wood. Sigh. Anyway, the finished product looked a treat once sanded:


This is halfway through the sanding process.


This is the nailing process. Fun.

And these photos show the finished product. The sanders did a really great job, keeping all of the wonderful kinks and marks of 80 years on the floor and giving the floorboards a new lease on life. We chose a satin finish as it looks better, to my mind: less new. It degrades faster than a gloss finish but I like it and will use it again.

Don’t you just love the different timbers? Below is the ash.

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