Sunday, 30 June 2013

Timber Floor Finishes

Do you like black painted timber floors? Could you, would you, should you even consider them as an option? I must admit, I really do love their appearance - and they look pretty damn sharp in these stunning images by local photographer Toby Scott (which, by the way, is another recently completed project by OVP. Can't you tell?)

Owen+Vokes+Peters - Bardon House (all images via OVP)

Makes me want to grab a paint brush and break open a tin of Black Japan. And when I look at these images, I start to think about using black cabinetry in the kitchen again. Oh decisions!!!

But from a functional perspective, how easy are they to keep clean? What about the dust, and crumbs on the floor? (My kids happen to be very messy eaters.) Would it do my head in?

I spent a bit of time researching different floor finishes for our timber floors - a combination of original hoop pine flooring and blackbutt which will be laid in the new addition. I finally decided to choose a hardwax oil in a clear satin-matt finish (rather than a polyurethane coating) for the following reasons:

Hardwax oil is based on natural oils and waxes that penetrate into the wood surface making the floor extremely tough and hardwearing.

Flooring that is damaged or showing signs of wear in patches is easily repaired by simply cleaning the surface and applying a maintenance coat to the area. There is no need to sand and re-finish the entire surface.

Conventional lacquers require sanding the entire floor back to bare timber to re-coat, which reduces the thickness of the timber -  can be a problem when you start to run out of timber above the tongue and groove.

Example of Hardwax Oil -  matt finish
Do you have a black painted timber floor? Care to share the pros and cons? Love them or hate them?

I'll leave you with a final image of the bathroom from the same house above. I love the detail, including the brass edging around the mirror. We have the same tiles and tapware specified for our bathroom and ensuite.

Saturday, 29 June 2013


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

School Holiday Edition
All: You have all been up to some kind of mischief in one way or another - I put it down to the fact you have been indoors more than you would prefer. I don't know why I paid someone to demolish bits of our house when I could have just popped you over the fence and let you guys loose. You would have had the place stripped down in no time at all. You even managed to break our neighbour's letterbox (which is now sitting on the front stairs.) 

Friday, 28 June 2013

It's Finally Finished

After approximately 18 months duration, the renovation to this character house, sited opposite Orleigh Park in West End, is finally completed. It was designed by local architect James Davidson - you can read more about this project here.

The newly painted "grey/blue" coloured weatherboards is very popular around these parts - at least four homes nearby have recently been painted in a similar shade.

Here's the same house during construction -

And the original cottage -
As you all know, we are painting our weatherboard house white (and I for one will be glad to see the green finally go - sorry Pantone, I have to disagree with you this year.) What is your favourite external colour scheme?

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Reno - Week 3

This week the last bits of the demolition took place in preparation for the house being raised and re-stumped. The cottage currently sits on a mixture of concrete and steel posts and original timber stumps, most of which are in poor condition.

The main reason we decided to lift and re-stump the house was to gain better clearance for vehicular access and storage in the undercroft and to sort out the uneven and sloping floors. As we are not building habitable rooms underneath, the house only needs to be raised approximately 400mm, which retains the scale and proportion of the house.

Here are the before and afters:



And here's a view of the rear:


It's every homeowner's worst nightmare to discover that their home has been invaded by termites and I've read that one in three houses in Queensland are affected. If there was any chance of termite damage to our property, it was bound to be near the bathroom as they are fond of dark, damp conditions. And sure enough when the bathroom was demolished, here's what we uncovered:


At some point termites had made their way up through a timber stump and across part of a bearer. Fortunately there was no live activity - this is fairly old damage. For whatever reason the termites cleared out and fortunately this is the only damage that needs repairing- phew.

The structural steel beams and posts are next to go in.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Samples and Mood Boards

For the past couple of weeks, I've been gathering samples of materials and finishes in an attempt to put together a mood board:

1 Mokum "Soot"
2 Mokum "Gunmetal"
Bluestone Hexagonal Mosaic
White Ceramic Wall Tile

The tile supplier has even managed to get me a sample of the mosaics we are having custom-made for the bathroom floors, and I must say I am really pleased with them. The last remaining item to select now is the fabric for the banquette seat that is going into our Sitting Room so I have been surfing the net trying to get some inspiration for the cushion fabric:

I need something easy to clean and hard-wearing - something that can take the abuse of four small children, so I figure a dark coloured fabric is the way to go. I have narrowed down the choice between two fabrics from Mokum's Ficus range - "Soot" while dark is not a true black and the other is "Gunmetal" which reads as charcoal when viewed from a distance.

It wasn't my intention at the beginning, but the house is starting to take on a very "Scandi" feel.

Saturday, 22 June 2013


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

Oscar: You and I were out doing the groceries, and a man tapped me on the shoulder and said to me "She's gorgeous." OK - I get it. It's probably time for your first haircut.
Charlie: The other day you asked if I would buy you a drum kit - NEGATIVE. There is already far too much noise in our house.
Harry:  It's your birthday this weekend - Happy No 5.
Jack:  You can now do 8+ laps of the oval during Huff N Puff. You have an endless supply of energy - soon you will be running marathons.

Friday, 21 June 2013

When Life Gives you Mandarins

Mark was out on the road yesterday, and while driving through Gayndah, he stopped in at a citrus farm and bought a HUGE box of mandarins - 8kg for $7. So who exactly is getting ripped-off here? Is it the Farmers or us who pay that much for 1kg in the supermarket?

Question is, what is one to do with so much fruit? I turned some of them into a Mandarin and Poppyseed Cake:

which I served with some double cream and a pot of tea - it was the perfect way to end a busy day. And believe it or not, I actually have a recipe for "mandarinade" which I might try over the weekend. I don't think you can get enough Vitamin C, particularly with all the colds and flu getting around. Anyone like to offer any other ideas?

And on the reno front, what we thought was asbestos sheeting in the bathroom has turned out to be FC so that should considerably reduce the removal costs for us. As for the rain..... well let's hope it doesn't last.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Reno - Week 2

Demolition has begun, and today the old girl lost her skirt (amongst other things): 

A pile of rubbish is steadily accumulating out the back:

 And while the old toilet has been removed:

it has been replaced with another that is somewhat more civilised:

Unfortunately there are some areas in the house that contain asbestos, including the ceilings on our front verandah:

This will be professionally removed prior to the house being raised. And speaking of raising houses, it has been interesting hearing and seeing people's reactions to what is such a common thing here in Queensland.

But it's not all ugly here at the West End Cottage. Two rather large camellias full of new buds are just starting to flower:

And thanks to Mel's recent suggestion, I am now considering putting in an advanced Pink Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia Palmeri) as a feature tree out near the back terrace.

This hardy and fast growing deciduous shade tree would make a wonderful specimen - the canopy is a blaze of colour in Winter and Spring with beautiful pink bell-shaped flowers. I think a gorgeous pop of "pink" will be great outside our O+V+P's trademark black and white colour scheme.

Saturday, 15 June 2013


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

Oscar:  Just yesterday I commented that despite having four boys, I was fortunate that none had suffered from broken bones. And that very same night you fell off the sofa and broke two bones in your left arm. I'm going to book a permanent room at the hospital.
Charlie:  I'm flat-out keeping up with you on that bike now, and the downhill sections are your favourite part of the ride.
Harry:  I'm glad I kept you back from primary school. Most days I usually find you like this when it's pick-up time from Kindy (pre-school).
Jack:  Despite your often wicked behaviour at home, your teachers having nothing but kind words and praise for you. I'm so proud that you've tried hard this term.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Reno - Week 1

Because Monday was a public holiday, the official kick-off date for our long awaited renovation was last Tuesday, 11 June. Not much has happened during the first week - a temporary power pole was installed into the front yard and because space is a premium over at the West End Cottage, the pole had to be positioned right up against the only tree that is left on-site - a frangipani. The said tree had to lose a couple of it's lower branches to accommodate the pole, but I suppose they will grow back.

And speaking of trees, I've had loads of time to figure out what sort of feature tree to plant beside our back terrace.

There is a space next to the semi-circular masonry wall which forms part of the terrace and is a perfect spot for a specimen tree. I want something that provides some much needed shade during the height of Summer, but it has to be deciduous so that it also allows lots of light and sunshine during Winter and I thought that an advanced frangipani was a good option.

Today I received confirmation that an advanced tree (3.5m high with a canopy of around 4.5 metres) is available.

The variety is called "Lei Rainbow" and the flowers look just like this:

Magnificent would you agree?

Now you might think it a bit premature to be discussing landscaping, but the tree will need to be planted sooner rather than later. In fact while the footings and foundations are being dug, I will arrange for them to dig out a hole for the tree. The tree will need to be planted before the walls are erected - otherwise there will be no chance of a crane getting access to deliver and lower the tree into position. Plus doing it now will give the tree a good 6 months to establish prior to us moving in.

So what's next? The asbestos removal guys are due sometime next week to remove what we think is AC sheets that line the verandah ceilings, bathrooms and soffits at the back of the house. The builder is also doing a bit of demo work and then,

We're Raising the Queenslander...

Saturday, 8 June 2013


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

All:  I've been taking the kids to a local park after school in an attempt to wear them out before going back to the apartment, our temporary abode for a further six months until our house is finished. They love to play on a huge wood chip mound - and when dusk rolls around, it's our cue to go home and prepare dinner.

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Whistle has Finally Blown - we're off

Plans approved - check. Finance approved - check. The builder's contract has been signed so our long awaited renovation is due to commence next week. The bird on that kettle isn't the only one whistling for joy!

A temporary power pole is going in on Tuesday and then a bit of demolition work will occur before the house is raised.

In the meantime I've been having a hard time selecting the bathroom floor tiles - some were too big, some were too small and others weren't quite the right colour. So - I'm getting custom tiles made to measure. I've picked bluestone which is being cut into a 35mm x 30mm hexagon mosaic. I've also decided to put in a skirting tile, so they are also making up a square 98x98mm bluestone tile so that the grout lines will line up with the subway wall tiles. Fussy, I know.

Now the only thing left to select is an oven, and unfortunately both the ones I have in mind have proven difficult to track down. I've managed to find a Smeg pyrolytic oven - the only one in Brisbane is at Winning Appliances at Indooroopilly. As for the AGA, I will have to fly to Sydney or Melbourne to see it as there are no retail outlets in Queensland.

This gorgeous weatherboard house below, located in Williamstown Victoria, was featured in Home Beautiful magazine (circa June 2006) and is probably where I first saw an AGA oven.

This original four-room weatherboard cottage has had a contemporary wing added to the rear (designed by Steve Domoney.) I coveted this house for ages. And now that I think of it, we are using many of the same materials in our renovation (ie blackbutt flooring, bluestone tiles, white painted weatherboards, zincalume roof and possibly even an AGA oven.)

Black Six-Four AGA oven

I've always been fascinated by older-style houses that are combined with contemporary new additions - the perfect mix I think.