Tuesday 31 July 2012

Orleigh Park - West End

We are so fortunate to have so much green space where we live - and we make good use of it too particularly due to the fact that we are currently living in an apartment. It actually won't really matter that the yard at our house is small. Orleigh Park happens to be located just around the corner and it is such a beautiful and popular park with the kids - they absolutely love it.

It's amazing that this quiet little pocket, otherwise known as Hill End, is so close to the city. It's got to be my favourite place.

(NB: These photos were taken with my iphone - I'm still reading the camera manual!)

Monday 30 July 2012


I don't know what everyone else out there is using, but I've been using my trusty iphone as a camera. I use it to capture all my images - birthdays, photos of the kids and photos for my blogs. I'm not much of a photographer - I've just been winging it so far.

I happened to celebrate yet another birthday over the weekend, and my wonderful hubby bought me my very own camera. It's a Nikon 1 (the new ones they've been advertising lately) that comes with a number of interchangeable lenses.

I wasn't going to say anything, but now that you know I guess you'll be expecting to see some gorgeous/professional photos from me. All I have to do now is learn how to use the damn thing. Talk of diopters, ISO, metering and aperture just goes straight over my head. I had best get myself booked in for a photography course quick smart.

Thursday 26 July 2012

2012 Houses Awards

Houses Awards, an annual program celebrating Australia's best residential projects, will be announced tonight from 6.00pm. There are eight categories, with the best house receiving the premier award of Australian House of the Year.

If you're looking for some bathroom inspiration, here is a selection of some of the entries:

Source: all images are from www.housesawards.com.au

Owen & Vokes' Four-Room Cottage happens to be a finalist in the House Alteration & Addition Under 200m2 category. They have won a squillion awards for this house already - best of luck guys!


Wednesday 25 July 2012

Take a seat - Dining Chairs

We rarely use our dining table, as the dining room in our apartment is carpeted - not an ideal situation when you have four kids, particularly if you intend getting your bond back at the end of a tenancy.

In any case, our current dining chairs are awfully uncomfortable, especially when you've been sitting on them for a while. I only worked this out after they'd been purchased and were used for our first dinner party, so the prerequisite for the next ones are:

a) comfortable to sit on
b) easy to clean
c) stylish
d) good quality

My plan for the new house is to have a long timber dining table to seat 8-10 people comfortably. As for the chairs, I still haven't made up my mind, but here are the contenders so far.

These ones have been a favourite of mine for some time now:

Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair

These dining chair from Jardan could be a bit of fun - available in both leather and fabric (but there is no way I would ever have fabric upholstery dining chairs while my children are still living at home.)

Jardan Sunday Chair

You can't go past the simplicity of good Scandinavian design, and these chairs by AA are also a favourite:

Alvar Aalto 611 Chair with Black Webbing

Alvar Aalto Chair 66

You will have gathered by now that I am a big fan of C & R Eames. I like these molded plywood chairs, but I fear the kids will scratch them.

Eames Molded Plywood Dining Chair with Metal Base
Eames Molded Plywood Dining Chair with Wood Base

I've alway loved this one (I have one as an office chair) and I originally had plans to use these for the dining room:

DSW Dining Chair

Oh, but they are also nice in black too ....

Monday 23 July 2012

Kitchen garden

One of my earliest memories as a young girl was the vegetable garden in our backyard. It was huge, enough to feed a family of five. As I got older I couldn't understand why my parents just didn't go and buy all this stuff from the market instead of working each weekend tending to the massive plot.

Thinking back now, our homegrown produce tasted so much better - and the quality and freshness was far superior to anything you could ever buy at the shops. Plus there was the added bonus of knowing it was 100% organic.

Now I don't claim to be a green thumb, but one thing I definitely want somewhere in our yard is a kitchen garden - nothing huge, just a couple of raised beds.

We've always had something edible growing in our garden: various herbs, tomatoes, even some heirloom carrots. Since we moved into the apartment, I haven't bothered growing anything - even though we have room on the balcony. I really miss not having fresh herbs on hand.

Plants generally need about 6 hours of sunlight to grow successfully, so the problem we're facing is finding a spot to suit. The backyard faces south, so it will cop a fair bit of shade, particularly during the Winter months. The block of units next door also creates some overshadowing, but as it's on the western side, it's actually a good thing. At least it will block out the hot afternoon sun during Summer to keep us a little cooler. There's really no room down either side of the house so the only alternative is the front yard. Is there a way of growing edible plants in your front yard that doesn't make it look like a community garden?

My only other option is a potted garden I could create on the back terrace - at least it would be nice and close to the kitchen.

Sunday 22 July 2012

WANTED - Mid Century Wardrobe

When the youngest was born, I lashed out and bought this Nifty Timber Cot from Ubabub.

I absolutely love it. I'm actually planning on buying a kit to change it from a cot to a junior bed. I figured Oscar will get at least 5 or 6 years out of it by doing so.

I've had a re-think about the kids' bedrooms, and where each will sleep. It makes sense to put the baby in the bedroom closest to the kitchen (Bed 4).  This way, I can put a child gate in front of his bedroom door and the room can become like a giant playpen. This will be ideal while I'm cooking - he can't get under my feet, but I can still keep an eye on him and he will still feel like part of the action.

I was reluctant to get a built-in robe fitted into this room because it's in the old part of the house, so a free-standing robe would suit the room better - still undecided what the best solution is however.

Unfortunately Ubabub don't manufacture wardrobes, so I am hoping to find a mid-century wardrobe that will go nicely with the cot for the nursery.  Has anyone got any ideas where I could source one and how much would I expect to pay for it?

Alternatively, I could get one made up similar to this:

Source: Anthropologie 

It's got the right proportions, tapered legs, and cute solid timber peg door knobs - in fact the same knobs are specified for the robes in the other bedrooms. This particular wardrobe has a long hanging space on the left, shelves on the right-hand side and two deep drawers below. Crafted out of a birch ply, it could be stained in walnut to match the cot or I could leave it natural and paint some of the doors or drawers white (eg, similar to Oeuf's mini library.)

I know I'm going to a lot of trouble to decorate/furnish his room - but it's probably because I feel guilty. The poor thing has been sleeping in our wardrobe since he was born. But before you go and ring Child Services, it is a Walk-In-Robe.

All I need now is an Eames rocker, and Oscar's room is set!

Saturday 21 July 2012

Small gardens for little people

One of Mark's (not mine) concerns about our property is the size of the block of land and how it will happily accommodate four very lively little boys. It's only 405 square metres, or 16 perches as it used to be referred to. The addition will take up a considerable chunk of available outdoor space, but in saying that, I still feel there will be ample room for the kids to play, providing a bit of thought goes into the design.

Due to the planning requirements, our addition will be built approximately 1.3m off the ground. Rather than having a set of stairs from the house down to the backyard, the architects have designed an outdoor terrace. This will act as a transition area - a space that sits somewhere between the house and the garden. And as it will be constructed of masonry, there will be no maintenance issues either. I see this area having a number of different functions:

*  a place to eat breakfast
*  a place to dine under the stars
*  a nice spot for a couple of comfy chairs
*  a stage for the kids to perform

Many parents believe that a flat yard is the ideal outdoor space for children. But apparently this is not necessarily so.

One of my favourite landscape designers, Matt Cantwell, has a different perspective on this. He believes that having a multi-level terrain is important for a child's development - it helps them to negotiate changes in environment and creates a playful layout.

Layered decking doubles as extra seating

He actually faced the same predicament himself a number of years ago. His own house, which is in Sydney's inner eastern suburbs, sits on a block of only 267 square metres. He has successfully managed to design a child-friendly garden to cater for his three children. Everything about his garden, including plant selection and water features, is completely child-friendly.

Child-safe water feature

All images are from secretgardens.com.au

I think this is a fantastic idea! A one-metre setback, what would normally be considered "dead space" along the side boundary, has become a fun place for the kids to ride their push cars.

We won't have a football field, but I'm certain we'll come up with some great ideas to make the garden an enjoyable place to play in - for both kids and adults.

Friday 20 July 2012

Verandahs and Sleepouts

I'm not a Queenslander, in fact, I've only been living in Brisbane for around ten years. The timber and tin Queensland vernacular housing style is still a bit of a novelty to me, and I just happen to love it.

I'm not sure what was traditionally used to finish the timber floors on the verandahs (which in some cases became sleepouts) but I've seen both painted and clear finished versions.

Unfortunately the front verandah on our house is in a sorry state, and I assume most of it will need to be replaced, however I don't want a "new" looking deck in it's place.

As you can see in this photo, our verandah floor has been painted green

Our architect has recommended two timber finish options:

1) semi-transparent stain in charcoal, or
2) paint finish - colour TBC

I've seen Owen and Vokes use this colour on a couple of jobs now, and I know some of you will absolutely love it:

O+V - Holland Park Sleepouts

O+V - West End House
The photo above is one of their current jobs. You can see the enclosed verandah, which happens to wrap around three sides of the house, has been painted in the same shade of green (you can see the paint tin on the bottom right hand side of the photo.)

This particular shade of green is a favourite of mine, and I'm thinking of using it on our house. I wonder how well it will wear compared to a stain finish?

Thursday 19 July 2012

A post about nothing...

Besides taking care of a household full of sick people, not much else has been happening around here.  We've been cooped up inside for a week, and I could feel a bit of cabin fever setting in, so I took the kids out for a walk this morning along the riverfront. You may recall this house I originally posted about here? Well here is the progress on it.



Getting built-in underneath

View from driveway
Looks a little intimidating, doesn't it.

Onto another subject, our cost estimates are due back in a couple of weeks. A bit of nervous tension is building, particularly that last time we went through this exercise the quotes were WAY OVER our original budget. Hopefully we'll have better luck this time.

Monday 16 July 2012

Wardrobe dilemmas

Nope, this is not my wardrobe but I must remember to have this discussion with our architect when when get to the Design Development stage of our project (which is where they design all the finer details of each room, including cabinetry.)

We live in a unit that is kitted out with the best kitchen appliances - double oven, coffee machine, warming drawer, microwave:

Gaggenau Appliances

We have awesome views across the Brisbane River from each room:

View from Living Room to the Regatta Hotel

View from the boys' bedroom

But there is one major design flaw here, which became apparent on the day we moved in and has irritated us ever since. Have a look at our walk-in-robe:

The section for hanging shirts is a little too short! What were the designers/cabinet makers thinking? Isn't there a standard size or something?

So hubby is using the long hanging space to hang his work shirts (this section should be dedicated to things like dresses or coats.)

So all my dresses, etc are in one of the boy's bedrooms instead. How could they get this detail so wrong in a brand new executive-style apartment? I hope the robes in our new house are a little more functional.