Saturday, 30 June 2012

Cost Estimates

All the necessary documentation has now gone out to the builders to prepare a cost estimate. This process is to ensure that the proposed building works are within budget. This is likely to take about 4-5 weeks, so there will be little progress next month.

Providing the figures come back on target, it will be all systems go with the next stage - Design Development. There have been instances where cost estimates have come in under budget, however this is very rare. But how good would that be?

Friday, 29 June 2012

Bathroom Floor Tiles

There is still plenty of time before I have to decide on the bathroom floor tiles, and I mentioned a couple of candidates on the post here. But one thing I am certain about is using small format tiles, not just because they look good but smaller tiles are better for drainage purposes. It's hard to get a good fall to the floor/shower waste using large tiles.

I think this little green number from Regeneration Tiles is great for a retro look. They are an unglazed porcelain tile, apparently wear really well, and are non-slip. They come in a wide range of colours and are a nice way to inject some colour into the bathroom.

These little mosaics are kind of cute too.

What about these black penny rounds? These would add some drama to a plain white bathroom.

Or then there's the white or marble mosaics in a brick pattern.

As for the grout colour - our architect has specified a grey/charcoal coloured grout. From a design perspective, the make the subway tiles pop, but it also happens to be a very practical idea as well. White grout always gets grungy looking over time (even if you are the type who likes to clean the bathroom every second day). Using a dark coloured grout will ensure your bathroom never looks dirty - even if it is! Luckily our bathrooms will be infused with heaps of natural light and have good ventilation, so mould shouldn't be a problem. Yep, definitely going with the charcoal grout on both the floors and walls.

Thursday, 28 June 2012


The weather has been pretty ordinary over the past few days (which amazingly coincides with the school holidays) so I've had to come up with some indoor activities to keep the kidlets amused. Mel over at Bungalow Bliss always inspires me with her creativity. I'm pretty useless at stuff like that, but I can read, so I Googled "paper craft" and found this fairly simple-to-make snowflake which is made of only six sheets of paper and some glue.

Jack and I worked away on this paper snowflake design while the little ones were asleep. It now hangs proudly over the baby's cot.

How are you keeping your kiddies amused during these wet school holidays?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Bathroom Tiles

There are no surprises here! I've chosen to go with classic white subway tiles for the bathroom walls (and kitchen/laundry splashbacks too). They are simply timeless - and they just happen to work well in both contemporary and traditional homes. They will be perfect for our house, as it is a little of each.

Still haven't made up my mind about the floor tiles however. The architect has proposed white Topcer Octagon tiles (and white dot) from Regeneration Tiles which look similar to this:

When laid, they look like this:

However I also like these marble hexagon tiles which would add a bit of lux:

What's more practical -  stone or porcelain?

Not only do I want the tiles to look good, but I want something that will wear well and be easy to maintain. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Decisions, decisions.....

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Renovating on a Small Lot

Designing alts + adds on small lots takes a lot of skill; the importance of design is even more critical. If they're not thoughtfully planned, the result is often larger, darker houses that fill the entire site leaving little outdoor space with no aspect. Loss of amenity is the trade-off for greater internal floorspace and ultimately creates ongoing maintenance and energy costs for it's owners.

Our architects were particularly careful about maintaining the building's traditional character, ensuring that the addition would not overpower the existing structure. They've spent considerable time on modelling mass to ensure that the cottage isn't going to appear to be swallowed up by a "tsunami" of a rear extension. Here are some examples of what I mean:

In contrast, here are some other examples of renovations where the additions have not compromised the original buildings. From the road, there appears to be little change - they have not been raised or visibly altered and retain their relationship with the street. The original houses have remained largely untouched, and it's not until you enter through their front doors, that you realise just what lies beyond.

Chelmer House, Owen and Vokes

Raven St House, James Russell Architects

Skinner St House, Bloc Design

I rather like the element of surprise. Don't you?

Because our addition has been carefully planned, we end up with a decent amount of indoor and outdoor space with no loss of amenity to ourselves or our neighbours. The traditional elements of our timber and tin cottage will be retained but the house will be re-designed to become more liveable.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Out and About

Despite the economic crisis and financial doom and gloom stories out there, there's still a lot of folk investing considerable amounts of money renovating their homes. There are at least half a dozen or so renovations happening within a couple streets from our place.

I managed to get a leave pass from the kids - why not come along and take a walk with me...

The next few photos are from my street alone. Here's our place - looks pretty bad at the moment, but it's going to be beautiful when it's finished.

This one here is two doors down - it's been raised and there is quite a substantial addition to the rear. I think this is being built by an Owner/Builder - he has been working alone on this one for some time now.

Two doors up from this one and we have a vacant block.

This one is an interesting story. There used to be an old tin and timber residence here. The owners applied to have the house demolished, but as we are in a Demolition Control Precinct (and the fact that all the neighbours kicked up a stink), their application was denied. The house was then left empty with all the windows and doors wide open until after many years, the elements finally got the better of it. I suspect it won't be long before a new house is built here.

Next we come to this place:

This is a little cutie on a double block. It's basically a typical worker's cottage (four small rooms beneath a pyramid roof with a verandah at the front.) The owners are building in the part of the verandah - probably for an ensuite I suspect.

I then walked around the corner and found a pile of groceries on the nature strip belonging to a very elderly couple who had just returned from the supermarket. (They have lived here for years.) So I did the neighbourly thing, picked up the shopping and took it inside for them. They thanked me by handing over some fresh free-range eggs from the chooks they keep out the back. Guess what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow morning?

A little further on and we come to this house that has just been raised. This is another project being built by Rob Peagram, who recently completed the Hill End Ecohouse (more info on that here.) The Hill End Ecohouse was built from recycled materials, using 80% of the salvaged materials from the 1930's house that originally occupied its riverfront site. I wonder what they are doing to this one? I'll have to keep you posted.

Lastly we come to this house - again another typical worker's cottage surrounded by verandahs that have  been built-in to form "sleep outs." Sometimes owners decide to open up the verandahs but in this case, they have been maintained. In fact, the new kitchen is actually going into the side verandah. Owen & Vokes have designed the alts + adds here and although it doesn't look like it from this photo, this place is only weeks away from completion.

I will try and get some photos of the interior to show you. I rather like what they've done here. It's very lovely indeed; there are a few similar features between this one and ours. 

Oh, hello there....

It's amazing the things you encounter on a walk around here. West End - gotta love it!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Happy Birthday Harry

I can't believe it's been four years since the day of your birth. Happy Birthday my darling - I am so proud of you. xxx

"To the world, you are one person but to one person, you are the world."

Friday, 22 June 2012

Bathroom Skylights

One of the design challenges was ensuring privacy from the neighbouring two-storey unit block. The proposed design of the house is such that it has "turned it's back" on the 6-pack next door. Not only have we limited views to the units from our house, we have ensured that there is little if no overlooking from the units as well.

I haven't really considered skylights previously, but we have decided to use them in our bathrooms to (a) ensure privacy, and (b) to create a unique bathing, or should I say showering, experience. The Skydome skylights we have selected are made of clear acrylic, so we will get lovely views of the sky - almost like showering outdoors.

Have a look at these examples - I think they work really nicely.

Images via Pinterest

Not only will we gain heaps of natural light into our bathrooms, but there will be no need to install exhaust fans as the skylights are also ventilated. I think they look good in contemporary designs, but also work well in traditional homes too.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Pea Soup

I was planning on writing about renovating a Queenslander this morning, but wanted to share some images of our morning instead. We live right on the Brisbane river and we've got the most amazing views across the river towards Toowong and Mt Cootha. I really love living on the river - the view is never the same and there is always something interesting to look at - the rowers training first thing in the morning, the Citycat pulling into the Regatta Ferry Terminal, the tugboats towing barges up and down the river, the luxury boats cruising along and the Mirimar taking tourists up to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

This morning we were blanketed with such a heavy fog, you could not see the water at all. Here are some before and after shots taken from our balcony.

 Thankfully it has now cleared to become a beautiful day. Time to go to the park kids...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Kids Rooms

I previously mentioned that the kids' rooms will be housed in a separate wing that is separated from the main living areas. Whilst the rooms aren't large, they will be very functional and well thought out in terms of storage. Each of their rooms will include a robe, desk, open shelving and a built in bed plinth with drawers.



What else does a boy need? Hopefully we've got everything covered. I hope they will go to bed on time when they finally get their own rooms!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Donna Hay Inspiration

I recently stumbled across the image below which happens to be the Donna Hay General Store in Woollahra, Sydney. I've been a fan of hers for years - probably got all her books too. Anyway, it got me thinking about our B+W colour scheme. Our current green peeling-off-the-weatherboards paint is being replaced with Dulux Whisper White.

We are actually removing the two windows either side of our front door and replacing them with french doors + fan lights. The room on the LHS will be the library/adults sitting room which will be fitted out with full height library shelving, and the room on the RHS will become the dining room. Having french doors opening onto the front verandah will allow better use of the area (think dinner party with people spilling out onto the deck to enjoy a glass of wine scenario.) Plus the doors will allow more natural light into the rooms - more than the current pokey windows provide anyway.

I'm hoping to install a similar cross-brace ballustrade on the upper level - the existing one is similar but has rotted out and is beyond repair. I'm liking the black french doors on Donna's General Store and may do the same with ours - but we will paint the rest of the windows on the cottage white.

Hoping to get the front facade of our place looking very similar (use your imagination people!) What do you think?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Busy body

I've spent the weekend pouring of the "preliminary" Schedule of Materials and Finishes - which consists of 17 pages worth of stuff. We're slowly, slowly getting there. I'm hoping that by the end of the month we should have a pretty concise package together so we can get some cost estimates prepared (just to check that we are still on budget.)

Last night I received the Structural Condition Survey from the engineer (this guy must work around the clock).  His work is very timely and very thorough and I would definitely recommend him. Must say there we no surprises here. Yes, I knew there were some areas of decay - the house is pre-1946, and does need some maintenance, but there was certainly no structural degradation. Big sigh of relief - phew.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Back in Black

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had decided to use black cabinetry for our new kitchen - quite a major turnaround as I had originally planned on white! This all came about after I saw the kitchen that O+V used in their 4-Room Cottage at Kelvin Grove (which recently won the Brisbane Regional Architecture Awards, House of the Year.) Well done guys.

Image via

Anyway, after doing some more "design stalking" black kitchens seem to be popping up everywhere. Just check out some of these kitchens that were shortlisted for the Australian Interior Design Awards.

All images via:

Will these kitchens date or are they timeless? Perhaps white is the safer option, but kitchens with pops of black are certainly catching my attention at the moment.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Art for art's sake

During our stay at Ammamead (from previous post) we did lots of day trips to some nearby towns and found a couple of great art galleries -  Barebones at Bangalow and Art Piece and Mullum. Mark has this thing about cattle (frustrated farmer or something), and we spotted a couple of paintings of dairy cows by a well-known local artist John Giese.

He couldn't decide which he liked better, so he ended up grabbing both (as you do!)

I, on the other hand, fell in love with this piece by Ivonne Mace. It's a large painting and quite striking - love the hues. I'd have to say that green is my favourite colour.

OK - so we splurged, but we decided that they would be early XMAS presents to each other. I'm sure they are going to look fabulous in our new house!