Saturday, 29 September 2012

Lock it in, Eddie

We have finally agreed on the floor plan - no more changes (other than a bit of tweaking with the kitchen and master bedroom layout.) So here it is:

The terrace will act as an outdoor room, which will get some lovely morning sun. It will be glazed on two sides, which can be opened right up, blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors. On the flips-side it can also be used during the colder parts of the year as we will have an outdoor fireplace, which is the focal point of the scheme.

I can see us having lots of our meals out here and the beauty about it is I can hose it down afterwards. I am sick of cleaning the floor after each and every meal - are all kids messy eaters like mine?

So where to from here? We're finally at Design Development. This is where the other specialist consultants (eg hydraulic and structural engineers) come on board. It's also where the bathroom, kitchen and joinery designs get finalised. I'm hoping that by the end of October we should have a full set of construction drawings ready for tender.

I've already been doing some preliminary sketches for the kitchen design in my spare time - Mark and the three older boys have headed up to Cairns leaving me alone for a few days with the baby. Let me say that looking after one child is a walk in the park! We will meet them up there tomorrow for a week of fun in the sun. Hope you are enjoying the holidays.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

3D Models of the New Scheme

Here are some 3D models of the new scheme which includes the courtyard terrace. You'll have to imagine this addition clad in weatherboards to match the existing cottage at the front. I think it looks amazing! Those guys at O+V+P are magicians.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Two other Floorplans We're Now Considering

These are the two new schemes we are currently looking at. Basically the front section of the house in all three schemes is the same (which now include the master bedroom + ensuite.)

Option 1

The main difference between this plan and the original is the corridor that runs between the bedrooms and the terrace has been removed which a) allows for bigger bedrooms and b) increases the width of the terrace. I've now managed to find a way to fit two single beds into one of the kids' rooms, so no need for bunks, YIPEE.

And this is the second scheme:

Option 2

Here we have 2 x kid's bedrooms, both much larger (two children to a room). However as you can see, this scheme provides for a wonderfully large terrace which incorporates some outdoor banquette seating which would be great for entertaining. When you enter the house through the front door, you have a vista straight through to the outdoor fireplace on the terrace which would look amazing while fully ablaze during our cooler nights - no need for those gas patio heaters, and I'm sure the boys will have fun cooking marshmallows here.

This image (while not correct) gives you an idea what the terrace will look like

Both plans still allow access to the backyard via a rear stairwell behind the kids' rooms without them having to run through the house to get outside. The other nice thing I like about all these plans is that you can be standing in the kitchen and have a view straight out into the street as well as long views right to the rear boundary - it gives that feeling of spaciousness which is very important to a relatively small house on a small lot.

There you have it - all three designs have their pros and cons, it's just a matter of choosing which one is the best for our family.

More Design Options, and what is better - Pull-Out Bed or Bunks?

Just when I thought everything (in terms of the design) was wrapped-up, my architect is now looking at a couple of other schemes. What, more decisions to make? We should have some preliminary models ready by the end of the week, so hopefully it won't take long to decide which is the best one.  Then we can commence the Design Development stage - one step closer to getting this project off the ground.

Because we've deleted the upper story that contains the master bedroom, we've had to find room for it downstairs. This now means that two of the boys will have to share a room and I am a little unsure about how to make it work. The room is not large enough for two single beds and I am somewhat opposed to installing bunk beds in the kids' bedrooms because (a) they are a bugger to make and (b) my boy's are at risk of injuring themselves. They are still too young to be using them in a safe and appropriate way. I just know they will be jumping from the top bunk and the thought of broken bones and a sudden dash to the hospital scares me to death.

So this is another option I have been toying with. Imagine this is a wardrobe:

which at bedtime becomes a bed:

Both images from Gill Architecture

What do you think? It's definitely safer than a bunk bed. However if this option proves to be impractical, then I will get a set of bunks custom-made using these images as a reference.

This particular one from Ouef will go with the bed plinths I have in mind for the other bedrooms:

Bed plinths with built-in drawers

And I don't mind these ones either.

Monday, 24 September 2012

West End - the parks, cafes and how that's influenced the design of our house

The inner city suburb of West End is well known for it's beautiful parks, multitude of cafes and restaurants and it's quirky, eclectic personality. That's why I love it and I want to inject some of these qualities into the interior design of our cottage.

It was never my intention to make our worker's cottage into a showcase home with a shiny, sleek and modern interior. Or one that says "look at me - but don't touch." In fact, it's quite the opposite. This is going to be a working house -  one that I am sure is going to be manhandled to the nth degree. The design is more to do with function and how it's occupants (ie us) live their day-to-day lives. As we are a family of six this is even more critical to get absolutely right. Being a mother of four young boys, any design feature that will make my life easier will be employed in the design of this house.

The design has changed now to include an eat-in kitchen, and I'm imagining it to take on a cafe-style vibe. Think chalkboard, stainless steel benchtops and appliances, lots of open shelving (for easy access to glasses and crockery) and a back-of-house section (scullery) to contain all the mess. Oh, and I shouldn't forget to mention a spot for our very much loved and often used coffee machine.

La Scala Butterfly Coffee Machine

My initial idea of using black cabinetry has now changed back to white, using cut-out handles - I'll deal with the pests!

English Tapware 

I'm seriously contemplating a S/S bench top with integrated double sinks. "What about the scratches?" I hear to say. Well it doesn't seem to bother world class chefs, so I figure I can handle it too.

Photo courtesy of O+V

Still installing these subway tiles however - love them!

I also plan to use the colour green in the interior design which is a nod to all the lovely parks along the riverfront which are dotted with gigantic jacaranda and fig trees - plus it happens to be my favourite colour.  It's the reason why I bought this painting many years ago:

I'm off to meet with the architects tomorrow to discus all these changes, including the amendments to the floorplan.

Oh - I almost forgot to mention. We are still proceeding with the renovation; our other options didn't come together for one reason or another, but I'm glad to be focussing on just one house now. I'm so ready to get this project started.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Pantry Bugs - and some tips on how to avoid them

The responses to my last post reminded me of an incident that happened to me not so long ago. I had purchased some semolina, and being the pedantic housewife that I am, after opening the packet I decanted the contents into a airtight container. The next time I went to use some, I opened the lid only to find lots of little brown bugs crawling around inside. EWWWW! The seal on the container was as tight as a fish's bum, so how the hell did they get in there? And, there's not a cut-out handle in my kitchen to be seen!!!

I tossed the whole lot in the bin, emptied out the entire pantry, gave it a thorough clean-out and put everything back in. Now I don't want to cause any alarm, but did you know most infestations in pantries are not caused from pests entering from the outside, but rather they (or their eggs or larvae) are already inside the food packaging! Yes, that's right - I kid you not. The eggs eventually end up hatching inside the packet and away they go.

Items most likely to be infested with pantry pests include grains, flours, cereal, dried fruit and nuts, biscuits, herbs and spices. Also they can be found in dry pet food.

So with that in mind, here are my hints on how to prevent infestations in the first place:

  • Don't buy food that is out of date.
  • Don't buy nuts, dried fruit or other food that's sold loose from open containers.
  • Don't buy food that is in damaged, dirty or dusty packaging.
  • Freeze the items mentioned above for a couple of days to kill-off anything that may already be inside the packaging before placing them into your pantry. (I'm going to make a point of doing this from now on, particularly with organic foodstuffs which are not fumigated.)
  • Once the package has been opened, store the contents in an airtight container.
  • Clean up any spills in your pantry promptly.
  • Apparently bays leaves placed randomly on the shelves will deter some pests.

If, however, you do encounter an infestation:

  • Empty out the pantry and wipe it down with a diluted bleach solution.
  • Leave the doors open to allow the shelves to thoroughly dry out.
  • Carefully inspect and throw away all infected food (not in the kitchen bin; chuck it straight outside into the wheelie bin.)
  • Use traps or baits.
  • Ensure that all gaps (particularly where there is pipework, eg under the kitchen sink) are well sealed.
Have you ever had an infestation, and what do you do about it?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Kitchen Cut-Out Handles

Right from the outset I decided against handleless doors for our kitchen joinery - you know the ones that have recessed grooves in each door/drawer that you grip to open? Yes they do offer a strong visual aesthetic and are popular for a smooth, sleek finish but when you spend as much time as I do in the kitchen, by the end of the day you begin to feel like arthritis has set into each and every one of your fingertips.

As our kitchen is rather large (at over 6 metres in length) and will include a considerable amount of cupboards and drawers, I was looking at these simple cut-out handles. They look good and I suspect will result in a considerable cost saving when you consider how expensive good quality hardware costs.

Has anyone got any comments on these type of handles and what are the pros and cons? I've been doodling around with some kitchen designs and having a good, hard think about the style and finishes, etc. Oh my gosh -  wait and see what I've come up with now!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Green Pendants - Out of the Box

I've been spending a fair bit of time surfing the net whilst we wait for our ultimate decision to be made. In particular, I enjoy looking at architectural websites to see what all the other creatives out there are doing. I stumbled across these images, which I know one of my bloggy friends will appreciate:)

If you look through this window you'll just be able to make it out.

Here it is hanging above the timber dining table; a lovely green pendant light.

And another in the kitchen...

All images from Nest Architects

Not sure if it's the same one, but I just wanted to share this with you so you know what it will look like out of the box!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Plans and Pink Ceiling Roses

As you can see, I've been busy sketching up floor plans for not one, but three different houses. I swear I should have been a draftsman - I actually enjoy solving the spatial problems of trying to fit six people into a relatively small house. I've managed to shave off 37m2 (without a major loss of amenity) from our current plans - which brings the total area down to 165m2. Sounds pretty small doesn't it? Take away 10 metres of glazing (if we choose the external corridor option) and I predict there'll be a saving of approximately $130,000. In the current economic climate, I think it's the wise thing to do.

Yep, there are still 3 house options on the table and by the end of the month our decision will be made. I actually have a firm favourite, which happens to be Mark's least. Unfortunately we are one of those couples that seem to disagree on everything - but I will get my own way;) The house I like has a nice layout, good sized yard, will accommodate us for now, and if and when we decide to extend is not bound by the small lot code. Most importantly the makeover that is required can be done fairly quickly, which means we can get out of this apartment pronto. But one thing I'm sure we'll both agree on is that the pink ceiling roses have gotta go.

Monday, 10 September 2012

External Corridor and other design changes

During the masterplan exercise with O+V, one of the original design options was for a single level addition to the rear of the cottage. This later morphed into a 2-level extension which is the design we have today.

I've been doing some thinking about the current design, just in case we continue with the reno. There are a few changes I want to make to the design (and being a woman, it's my prerogative to change my mind, again.) One of the main changes is to scale the renovation back to a single storey addition. There are a number of reasons for this, budget being the main one, and by doing this I'm guessing there will be a saving of approximately $100K.

(My architect doesn't know about this yet, as he is on holidays overseas.) I've been doing some preliminary sketches to show him on his return.

New rear elevation

This is how the new floorplan will look :

The master bedroom will be moved to occupy space in the original cottage. The sitting room/library, kitchen and scullery will stay in the same location, however as the kitchen is quite substantial in size, we could potentially use it as an eat-in-kitchen (using either a table or breakfast bar).

Above images from Anthony Gill Architects

Image from Base Architecture

The multipurpose room is just that - it can be used as a dining room, TV room or bedroom - I think it's important to have that flexibility to change things around as your needs change.

The rear addition which contains the kids' bedrooms and amenity area remains the same, however I'm seriously thinking of one radical change and that is to make the corridor (15) into an external corridor (or essentially a verandah) that is linked to the backyard by a set of stairs.

Image from Base Architecture

So rather than the wall adjacent to the terrace being glazed, it would be screened by simple timber battens. The battens will allow good cross-ventilation whilst providing security at the same time. The boys rooms will then have glazed timber sliding doors which open onto the corridor.

Our beautiful Queensland climate will allow their bedroom doors to be left fully or at least partially open for about 80% of the year. As an added bonus, the dappled morning sunlight will have a lovely effect shining into their bedrooms along with the sensory experience it will create - a little bit like camping. I think the boys would love it.

Do you think that would be too radical?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Finger painting gone bad

What starts off as harmless artwork, with intentions of promoting a bit of creativity ...

suddenly turns into this:

And that's why these boys can't be left alone for one minute.

However a mother's revenge can be very sweet indeed:


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Renovation Update + Stress = Friands

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been. I think I'm suffering from severe cabin fever - our renovation is due to commence in January and we have been advised to allow 9 months for the build, however I don't know if I can take apartment living for too much longer.

We've seriously been looking at our options, and this is very 11th hour. Don't get me wrong, I still love the plans for our house - but having a slightly larger block is also very appealing and there are a few houses that have caught our attention.

You may remember a recent post about missing out on THE house - well as it turns out, it actually wasn't. The contract fell through, so I finally got an opportunity to inspect it, but the house just didn't feel right - so that got crossed off the list

Then I inspected another house (some most people would call it a dump.) However I could see it had potential, so I placed an offer on it - but it was rejected. Another one crossed off.

Since then, we have found another two houses which we are very interested in. Both are large enough without having to extend, so it would mean a simple makeover rather than a hard core major reno. So (and you won't believe this) we have put our cottage on the market. I still feel our house is in a better location, and we already know lots of people in the street so it would be very sad to sell up - not to mention the time and money we have already invested into this project.

So this is where we're at: if we can get either of these two other houses we will sell ours, but if that plan doesn't work out, we'll keep our cottage and continue with the impending renovation. Either way, westendcottage will continue (just not entirely sure which cottage it will be.) Ahhgg, the stress of it all!

Generally when I am faced with a stressful situation, I whack my apron on and start baking. Somehow it seems to calm me. In the past I have tried imbibing in a bottle of red, but that somehow seems to create it's own problems (how else did I manage to get four children!)

Raspberry Friands was the treat of choice:

I love the little flower shape which is embossed into the bottom of each cake

Hot chocolate and cake for afternoon tea!