Friday, 31 May 2013

Tiling - stickler for detail

Moving right along, the Building Contract has now been signed, QLeave Levies have been paid and the BSA Insurance Policy is in place. The builder has penciled in a 10 June start date - Woo Hoo.

I am still struggling to find the "right" wet area tiles locally, so some samples have been sent up from Melbourne and Sydney. One is a hexagon Grigio Marble and the other is a hex Bluestone (both are very similar) but there is about $100 per m2 price difference between the two:

Luckily there is only 9 m2 of floor tiling! And speaking of tiling, there was a slight issue that cropped up during a previous renovation, so anyone who is about to renovate their bathroom, please take note:


When the Tiler got on-site, he discovered that the bathroom walls weren't plumb. Now this normally isn't an issue with walls that are covered with plaster, but it can create a drama for a Tiler, particularly  when the walls are being tiled from floor to ceiling. Unless the tiled corners are plumb, you'll have tapering cuts or mismatched grout lines where the planes converge:

Our Tiler was very experienced and spotted this potential problem from the get-go so it was sorted out promptly. The finished result was spectacular - his work was absolutely meticulous and his attention to detail unmatched.  His work is the best I have seen, and I have requested that he do the tiling in the new house. (If anyone is looking for a Tiler, I would thoroughly recommend him.)

I am one of those people that walk into a bathroom and scan the walls and floors, looking at how the tiles have been laid and making sure the grout lines all match up. (Am I the only one who does this sort of thing?) The smallest of discrepancies stand out like a sore thumb, so the tiling in the new house has to be perfect, otherwise it will irk me forever. Do you ever critique other people's handiwork?

Monday, 27 May 2013

Renovation Progress Report

I'm still here, but sadly there has been no progress on the renovation. In order to get a Building Application (approved plans), you are required to submit a signed building contract. But here's the catch - we don't have finance approved yet, because the bank wants a copy of the approved plans.

So we needed to either a) extend the cooling-off period on the builder's contract to allow time for finance approval or, b) include a finance clause into the contract.

We were supposed to sign the builder's contract last week, but unfortunately Harry became ill with asthma and he ended up in hospital for a few days. I'm happy to say he is much better now so the meeting has been rescheduled for Tuesday this week. Fingers crossed there are no more hiccups - I am getting desperate to get this project off the ground.

In the meantime, I have narrowed down the bathroom floor tile selection to these two marble hex tiles:

I really do love the one on the right (Carrara) but I think it might be too elegant, particularly in the boys' bathroom. The darker tile (Grigio) just seems more practical for the floors as it won't show up muddy little footprints, etc.

All the other fixtures and fittings in the house have already been selected. Here is a reminder of our kitchen finishes:

Main Kitchen

I've decided to go with an Oliveri Sonetto double undermount sink in the kitchen. I was originally going to put a small prep sink into the Scullery, but instead I've opted for a larger single bowl which can be used for washing up big oven trays, platters, etc which enables all the stuff that can't fit into the dishwasher to be taken out the back away from view.

The scullery sits into the new section of the house. Two large high-level windows will provide loads of natural light in this space while ensuring privacy from the adjacent house.

As for the oven choice, I've narrowed it down to these two:

AGA or Smeg
The AGA's good-looks are winning me over, but I'm not sure whether the solid doors would bug me. I'm forever peering through the glass doors when something is cooking in the oven. Do you do the same?

Saturday, 25 May 2013


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

Jack: I was woken up the other morning by a light shining into my eyes and the sound of running water accompanied by singing. You came into my bedroom, turned on the light and had a shower in my ensuite. I applaud you for being organised and making sure you were ready to go to school, but hey, it was only 6.00am. Your mind is a beautiful thing!
Harry: I've spent the last three days sitting on a chair beside your hospital bed. Thankfully you are now much better, but I am exhausted.
Charlie: You too have come down with the dreaded lurgy - however you generally recover quickly, especially after a bowl of homemade chicken soup and a long sleep.
Oscar: You are forever moving that chair around the house to get at whatever it is you want to reach. Please don't go out that window - we are a long way up.

Saturday, 18 May 2013


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

Oscar:  Scratching in the dirt. You have lived your entire life in an apartment. Soon you will have your own yard - soon.
Charlie:  For the first time, you lasted the whole day without a sleep. And straight after dinner, you put yourself to bed.
Harry:  Our sofa tends to be over-run by a jumble of little arms and legs. I can only imagine what it will look like when you are all lanky teenage boys.
Jack:  Wolf in Sheep's Clothing? You took your baby brother's hat and wore it for the rest of the day - even when you were back indoors. You often do strange things like that.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Oven Diaries

I've come to the conclusion that when it comes to purchasing a new oven, they are all much of a muchness. Each of them have their pros and cons and depending on which store you go to, you will get a completely different answer as to which brand is the best. Most people end up choosing an oven based on budget, heat source and preferred aesthetic.

I cook - a lot - and I have a huge tribe to feed so I need an oven that has the ability to multi-task and accommodate large meals. I also want an oven that cooks evenly and is reliable.

My initial plan was to purchase a 900mm wide free-standing stainless steel oven with 5 or 6 gas burners on top. I like to cook with gas - that's just my preference. With that in mind, and of course appearance, I was going to buy a SMEG for our new kitchen. Their new pyrolytic (self-cleaning) oven is due out this month but finding one in a showroom to have a look at is proving difficult.

However just recently I've been looking at the AGA, and up until now this brand has not even crossed my mind. I've always associated them as a wood-fired oven and pictured them residing in a country-style kitchen:

BUT this is definitely not the case. I've now decided that they also look great in contemporary homes too:

The traditional AGA cookers generally sit in "slumber" mode, producing an ambient heat which would be lovely in Winter but not so good in Brisbane's sub-tropical climate particularly in the height of Summer. However they do offer a model known as the Six-Four (a conventional stove) which offers a choice of 6 gas burners, 3 ovens and a separate rapid-response ceramic grill. They come in a huge choice of colours, but I would probably select either the white or the black. They are priced at around $12,000 - a big investment!

What is your dream oven? Has anyone out there owned an AGA that would like to provide any comments on it's performance?

Sunday, 12 May 2013

What's Happening?

We are now almost halfway through the month of May, and as the last of the leaves fall from our frangipani tree, we are still waiting for construction to commence. So this is where we are at:

Our house design includes a 9m long built-to boundary wall. The Engineer forgot to ensure that the wall had a FRL (Fire Resistance Level) which is a BCA requirement, so that meant a slight delay to revise the drawings before we could lodge the Building Application. We should have BA approval next week.

In the meantime, we have commenced lending approval (which couldn't be done without a copy of the building contract) so this too is now underway. Hopefully both approvals will coincide - fingers crossed.

If this all goes to plan, the builder will be able to start by the end of the month, with a 5 month construction timeframe confirmed. This means that we should be moving into our new home before Christmas, at which point the tree above will be covered in flowers and accompanied by that familiar heady scent.

I'm still yet to confirm some of the inclusions (ie floor tiles, oven and a couple of other things that will need to be decided on-site) but I've still got a bit of time to work these details out.

Once we get underway, this renovation should come together relatively quickly, but I'm sure - just like a pregnancy - that last month will d-r-a-g out.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, 11 May 2013


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

Oscar:  You've been wearing your amber teething necklace since you were only a couple of months old. I can't say for sure that it works, but you have been the most calm and placid baby.
Charlie:  You are only three, but you are already having a say in what you want to wear each day (God help me!)
Harry:  A bubble bath - one of your favourite ways to relax (mine too).
Jack:  You are the most content when you're outdoors.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Chocolate Frangipane Tart

Remember this vintage find?

Well yesterday I put it back to work, only this time chocolate was on the agenda, so I knocked out this absolutely devine chocolate frangipane tart:

For anyone who has a Thermomix, the recipe can be found here.

Well I'm off to make a pot of tea and enjoy another slice (if there's any left.)

Saturday, 4 May 2013


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

Jack: Your current obsession is all things dinosaurs. You were certain you would find a fossil in those rocks by the sea.
Harry:  I hope your collecting habits don't turn into a hoarding disorder. Our house is always peppered with stones, leaves, sticks and other objects you find on your travels.
Charlie:  After an absolutely perfect day on the beach, you are showered and ready for the trip home.
Oscar:  Your usual indicators (ie fingers in mouth and raggy on standby) are telling me you are tired and ready for a sleep. I think you will get a good rest in the car because it looks like we're in for a slow ride home: