Tuesday, 31 December 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013." via Che and Fidel

We made it - after two long years of living in an apartment it has finally come time to pack up our belongings and move back into a house - our house. Our newly renovated West End Cottage.


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013." via Che and Fidel


Playing catch-up with the 52 project - I ran out of puff right at the end...

Monday, 30 December 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013." via Che and Fidel

Oscar - still self-soothing, the 'raggy' and finger sucking go hand in hand.
Charlie - your latest thing is to dress up, and any old super hero outfit will do.
Harry - even if you can't read all the words, you will make them up as you go.
Jack - you have the thickest hair I have ever seen, and it grows so, so fast. Must be time for yet another haircut.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Reno - Week 28

This week was the last working week of the year - the house is almost complete with just some finishing touches left to do. Fortunately some of the tradesmen will be working over the Christmas break so we are still on track to move in by the end of January 2014.

The main focus over the past week has been on the interior - loads of painting, joinery (most of which also requires painting), waterproofing and tiling.

For those who have been following our renovation from the beginning, you will remember that the original specs for the bathroom floors were a pistachio green porcelain tile. However just as we went out to tender I changed my mind - as much as I liked them, I wanted to try something different. I decided that a grey-coloured hexagonal tile would compliment the other finishes and also provide a textural element to the bathrooms. I was always intent on going with a small format tile - I have lost count at how many times the kids have slipped on our large glossy floor tiles in our apartment.

So I narrowed it down to the three mosaic tiles on the top row here: (L) Grigio Marble (Middle) Calacatta Marble (R) Bluestone.

The Grigio Marble is even coloured throughout and could almost pass as a porcelain tile -  I felt that each individual tile was a little on the large side and it was the most expensive of the three. The Calacatta Marble is gorgeous but despite the fact that we have marble benchtops in the kitchen, I just wasn't comfortable about using it on the floors particularly as we have four small children. The Bluestone seemed to be the obvious choice, however I felt that the tiles on the sample were a little too small. I ended up ordering custom-made hexagonal mosaics (with skirting tiles to match) which I felt were perfectly sized (the one at the bottom of the photo.)

So how do they look laid on the floors? Just like this:

Ready to be grouted

They feel wonderful underfoot and I trust they will stop any more accidental falls. All in all I've got to say I'm very happy with them - I actually like the slight variation in the colour too.

There is a lot to consider when tiling, particularly if you want the tiles to line up with the other architectural elements in the room, but my Tiler is doing a stellar job at ensuring that everything is centred and lines up perfectly:

The Laser Level does not lie
The WC (photo above) is now fully tiled. If anyone is wondering, we are using charcoal-coloured grout which make the gloss white subway wall tiles pop. A small timber shelf will be fitted along the top row of wall tiles to finish off the room.

This week I thought it might be fun to show some before and afters (or should I say before and current), so let's start with the Sitting Room:

Before - it used to be a bedroom
Now - Sitting Room
The sitting room joinery (built-in bookshelves and banquette seat) has been installed and is now ready to be painted. The bookshelf is made up of cupboards, open shelves and an inclined shelf to display our favourite reads. The fabric and foam for the seat cushion has also been ordered and should be ready just in time before move-in day.

This earlier photo taken from the front door shows you just how small the original four-room cottage once was:

Before - looking toward the back door
Now - it's such an unexpected sight, a fireplace at the end of the hall
The view from the front door leads you straight out onto the terrace (or outdoor room) that is enclosed on three sides.

A rather unusual thing we did with this renovation was to convert the old bathroom into a Living Room (it was a large bathroom by the way.) Basically the whole room was gutted to make for way for a small, but comfortable TV Room:

Before - the small louvre window was removed

Current - a sash window taken from another room was installed 
This room will be simply furnished with a sofa, armchair and wall mounted TV. We have no need for a TV cabinet - which are usually chunky and take up a lot of room. When it comes to watching movies we either rent or purchase them through iTunes or wirelessly stream DVDs straight from the computer.

And here is the wee little window that sits high in the brick wall above the arch that we have come to call the 'owl hole':

The window, which is roughly the size of a sheet of A4 paper, splays out into the room on the other side. It forms into a large opening situated above the robe in one of the kids' bedrooms:

It's a cool little detail that provides a glimpse of the sky beyond. At night, a light hidden behind a bulkhead in the opening will bathe the 'hole' in light providing indirect lighting for the room.

This will probably be the last Reno post for the year - I'll see you back here in 2014 for the final few weeks.

Have a safe and Happy XMAS. xx

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Reno - Week 27

The past week was all about bricks and bucket loads of white paint. The terrace, a suspended concrete slab that was poured right at the very beginning of construction, finally got a makeover - being completely covered in a carpet of bricks:

All the gaps between each brick will be filled with mortar and then sealed. The same brick blend that was used around the fireplace has been used on the floors however as you can see they are laid in a different pattern, adding further interest and a nice textural element to the space. I've already been sourcing some outdoor fabrics for cushions, etc that will be used for casual seating.

The painters came armed with brushes and rollers to tackle the internal painting this week. After a lot of preparation and a couple of coats of paint (one more to go) those VJ walls now look absolutely amazing:

Hallway looking towards the front door
Sitting Room
The architraves, skirting, timber doors and window are next on the list - they are being painted in a gloss enamel.

The weatherboards at the rear still require another coat of black paint, but there is a small section that is finished where old meets new:

I still can't believe that I have black weatherboards - and possibly more painted black elements to come, but I'll tell you about that later. I've been working on some landscape schemes which I think will look really hot!

The Tiler finally got on-site this week and prepared the wet areas ready for tiling, starting off with installing a waterproof membrane:

No - I didn't choose the colour (it was just a co-incidence)
He did some tiling work on a previous renovation of mine and he was that good that I insisted he do the tiling here. (I booked him months before this renovation started as he is in high demand. He is already booked out until April next year.) We talked at length about how the tiles were going to be set-out and during our discussions we opened a box of tiles and discovered a slight problem. The white subway tiles were slightly smaller than the sample tile I had originally. It was used to size the square bluestone tiles that I had custom-made which meant that they would not align perfectly. CRAP

There was no way that we could re-order, given the 10-week leadtime, and it would have been too difficult to cut them down to size. So while I started to have a melt-down, Andriy suggested we offset the skirting tiles and slightly alter the spaces which will hide the size difference. He assured me that no-one will notice - I hope he is right. Tiles that don't align bug me for some reason.

There have been moments where I've wished I stuck with the original tile selection (remember the square pistachio green tiles?) I still really like them, but at the time I just felt that I needed to choose something a little different to the standard OVP tile of choice. I hope these hex tiles look good and wear well - still deliberating over the grout colour for the floor tiles.

The joinery in the Master Bedroom is just about complete with the installation of the built-in bedhead:

Of course it still needs painting, but it does look really cool (maybe not from this angle though.) And yes, there is a decorative cut-out in it as well. The bedhead also incorporates a hidden shelf and the room's main source of light which in theory will shine up the walls on either side of the window and wash out along the floor on either side of the bed. (The pendant bulb that was hanging in the middle of this room will be replaced by a ceiling fan.)

The rest of the marble was installed in the laundry (L.O.V.E. it) and the stone mason kindly left the following note - but I don't think many people on-site know how to read, hence why it has now been covered in cardboard.

 One week of work left before the holidays.

Sunday, 8 December 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013." via Che and Fidel

XMAS Lights

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Reno - Week 26

There are only two weeks left before it's 'down tools' for the Christmas break so the race is on to get as much done as possible before then. There's still joinery, tiling, painting and fit-off of basins and tapware.

This week the remainder of the kitchen joinery was installed and on Thursday during our site meeting, the marble for the benchtop was delivered and fitted. The splashback in front of the kitchen window consists of a single 20mm thick piece of honed marble which, when the morning sun hits it, becomes opaque and highlights the grey veining in the stone - it looks like it's been backlit:

Although these photos don't show it very well, incorporated into the marble splashback is a stone shelf that sits on either side of the kitchen window. This shelf will be great for storage, keeping the main benchtop free from clutter. And of course there isn't a surface in this house that doesn't have a curved decorative cut-out:

The benchtop in the laundry, made from the same material, was also installed - we are still waiting for the stone upstand/shelf to go in:

Pull-out laundry hampers are fitted into the end 3 cupboards
The tiler is booked to start next week, firstly waterproofing the wet areas and then tiling the floors with the bluestone hexagon tiles I ordered more than 10 weeks ago. There have been moments where I've wished I stayed with the original tile specification but I wanted something a bit different. Let's hope they work out OK.

A clear, ventilated skylight in the ensuite shower has been installed, bathing the entire room in natural sunlight. Despite that there are no window openings in the ensuite, the light quality is fantastic and will become even brighter once the room is painted and tiled with gloss white wall tiles:

Ensuite - ready for waterproofing
Painting has commenced in the extension at the rear - the hallway and bathroom (which is a series of small rooms for the WC, shower and washbasin) has a similar feel to a built-in verandah of an old Queenslander:

And the first of the bed plinths in the kids' rooms is almost complete. (It is the exact size for a single bed mattress to fit on top). The cabinet maker constructed the 4-drawer unit which is now being encased in Blackbutt timber.

I'm guessing there is only six weeks to go before handover - packing has already commenced.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Reno - Week 25

Week 25 and we are finally on the home stretch. Can you believe it's been almost six months since construction commenced? Only a few more weeks to go - unfortunately XMAS is going to put a halt on proceedings, but we are still looking at an end of January completion timeframe.

There aren't a lot of pretty photos to show you this week - the work has mainly consisted of finishing off outstanding jobs from the week before.

The majority of the brickwork has now been completed:

The semi-circle wall will also double as a casual spot to sit, underneath the shade of the frangipani of course.

The only outstanding brick elements left to finish are the paths, stairs and terrace floor.

The joinery is still being fitted with the majority of the kitchen and laundry now complete (still awaiting benchtops however.) All the joinery in the house has been specified with a 10mm packer which is recessed to sit flush with the face of the carcasses to create a shadow line between the walls and cabinetry. So when I first saw this 4-drawer unit in the kitchen I was a little concerned about the size of the packer, but it soon become very apparent why it was fitted:

Without this packer, the drawers would have hit the side of the door frame (i.e. the drawers could not be fully opened). Yep - the cabinetmaker was definitely on the ball when he was measuring up.

Because we don't have a 'normal' bathroom we had to come up with clever solution of where to hang the kids' towels, as there is clearly not enough room to hang four towels in the shower room. So we Aaron came up with the idea of utilising the space in the hallway between to the two bedrooms to hang the bath towels. A set of bespoke towel rails (yet to be painted) have now been fitted - I'm just hoping that the kids' aren't tempted to use them as a climbing frame.

I've had my eyes on these black and white Missoni bath towels for some time now, and as fate would have it,  I stumbled across them over the course of the weekend, so I promptly put them into a bag and brought them home with me. I trust that the colour/pattern will hide any grubby marks that the boys seem to leave over everything.

Still playing around with swatches of fabric too - I think I've settled on the B&W print below for the banquette seat cushion in the sitting room. The pattern closely mimics the design on the decorative glass that is going into the drying rack in the kitchen next door. It's actually an outdoor fabric from Mokum so it's also a contender for some round ottomans I plan on getting which I can use as extra seating outside around the fire.

Anyone noticing a distinct B&W theme happening here?