Sunday, 23 March 2014

Reno - Week 37

So we've been in for a week now. As mentioned previously, the bathrooms and kitchen were not fully operational, largely due to the fact that there was still some tiling work to complete (we were about 2 or 3 metres short.) And just our luck the supplier was out so we had to wait for a shipment to arrive - from Italy!

This week the stainless steel benchtop in the scullery was fitted which coincided with the arrival of the tiles so our Tiler was able to return to finish off the ensuite and tile the splashback in the kitchen.

Tiling progress in the Scullery
Now we're cooking with gas
Our Smeg freestanding oven has a small splashguard at the rear - there were also plans for our stainless steel benchtops to have an upturn against the wall. I thought it would look better to try to integrate them resulting in a seamless finish, so the oven was brought in early on so that the S/Steel Fabricator could measure up accurately. I won't go into too much detail, but it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. However the end result is fabulous:

Fits like a glove

Oliveri Sink welded into the benchtop
There was a small niche planned in the ensuite shower for shampoo/conditioner, etc and I was hoping that the tiles in the niche would line up with the surrounding walls. Unfortunately at the time this did not look like it was going to happen. However I was adamant about this and despite trying to be talked out of it including comments like 'you'll never notice', I jumped up and down and I eventually got my way - the niche was rearranged, re-waterproofed and I finally got the result I was after:

See - perfect!

Another feature in the ensuite is the ventilated skylight - so much natural light and a gorgeous view of the sky:

This particular morning we had a glimpse of the moon
We also had some dramas with the bathroom tapware that was originally specified and during construction we had to find an alternative. After some extensive shopping (online of course) I chose to replace all the taps with a range from Astrawalker. Bad news is it ended up costing three times as much (whoops, yet another variation to the contract) but they do look amazing:

Shower detail - two heads are better than one

The steel balustrades on the front stairs and around the terrace were fitted, ensuring that any concerns regarding safety were now put to bed:

Still waiting for our frangipani tree to be planted here
I've been having so much fun on Instagram lately, and as it turns out, it's also a great source of inspiration. I was still unsure about what type of front fence (e.g. height, profile, colour) to use (at the time it was sitting in the too hard basket.) Then I found this picket fence detail on a house that was designed by highly regarded Melbourne Architects - Kennedy Nolan. It was perfect for our cottage as it closely mimics the rear elevation of the house:

And then I thought about painting it black (believe it or not, there were many supporters of this on my Insta feed) but I kept with tradition and stuck with white:

And by the end of the week, things were finally starting to come together. Thought I'd finish this post with another before/after. The 'before' really doesn't show the condition of the house as it was pre-reno (is was pretty bad.)

We chose to remove the palm (and the weeds) so it does look somewhat bare at the moment, but we have replaced both with plants more appropriate to the setting - we just have to wait for them to grow.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Reno - Week 36

Our Living Room - just a rug and a stool
At Week 36, my stress levels hit an all time high and I officially had what is otherwise known as 'renovation fatigue'. We'd  just spent a week in a hotel and I just couldn't do another night, however the house was not what I considered to be adequate or safe for the family to move in into. Firstly the kitchen/scullery was not quite complete - no splashback, rangehood and only half the stainless steel benchtop had been installed. Secondly, neither bathroom was fully completed. Painting (amongst other things) was required in each and every room and there was no balustrades, fencing or even a yard for the kids to to play in and keep out of trouble. AND, Telstra had still not installed our comms, grrrrr.......

We decided that I would move in with the older two children, who would be at school during the day when most of the work was going on, and Mark would take the younger two away for a week or so to give the builder a bit more time to complete the house.

As most of the house (including the master bedroom) was not able to be occupied properly, I bunkered down in the kids bedrooms with the two boys. They were the only rooms that we could furnish and use:

Just the very basics were unpacked
Then during the week, bit by bit, deliveries of our furniture and appliances arrived starting with the fridge, WM and dryer. Then came these - our new dining chairs:

Finally we had somewhere to sit, but there was just a small problem: we still didn't have a dining table:

And while Alberto's up the road was temporarily taking care of my caffeine addiction, it was playing with my need of being largely self-sufficient (we rarely do take-away anything over here) so I rummaged through the boxes until I found our old faithful - but then I couldn't find our coffee cups anywhere. Luckily I had a stash of takeaway cups at the ready:

Our house was still largely unfurnished, so bare and not at all homely it was making me depressed, so I headed over to the Cottage Garden Nursery to find myself an indoor plant to introduce just a bit of colour in what was an otherwise blank-white-canvass. Of course I jumped straight on the bandwagon - probably a little late I know - and bought myself a fiddle leaf fig which fit perfectly into an old basket I had:

Attention then turned outside and it was time to start clearing out the mess to create a brand new backyard for the kids, so first came the excavators (not easy when you're on a small lot let me tell you.)

As much as the kids wanted to stay home from school that day to get amongst the action - they provided me with every excuse in the book - I still made them attend, but they did get their chance of taking control of the bucket:

During the excavation a number of items that had been dumped in the ground years ago were retrieved - mainly metal objects and a whole heap of glass bottles. These are two (maybe from the 30s or 40s) that I have kept as a memento:

OK - so the backyard started out like this - building rubble, leftover material and a whole heap of weeds:

The yard was then levelled up a bit and some new fences and garden beds were installed. We later planted them out with a row of tropical birch trees and underplanted these with a mixture of blue and white agapanthus.

That was the easy part - it then came time to laying some turf. But before we could do that we needed quite a substantial amount of topsoil to go down first and so the shovelling commenced which also happened to coincide with the most hottest and humid of weeks we've had all Summer long:

And then roll-out the turf: 

The corner in the top left is earmarked for the boys' fort

Doesn't look like much at the moment and there is still heaps more planting to do, but give it a year or so to establish and we should end up with a lovely, low maintenance garden to enjoy.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Reno - Week 35

OK, so we're here at Week 35. After spending a week in a hotel it soon became obvious that it was not an option that could be sustained for very long, so the push was on to get the house as near to completion as possible so that we could move in. So the fit-out began:

The electrician installed all the light/power switches (of course we chose black cover plates ) and the rest of the lighting. Here is a shot of the bespoke bedhead in the master bedroom that includes integrated lighting - basically a concealed batten fixture. Cheap to install but very effective. It provides a subtle light that washes across the floor on both sides of the bed - some might even say a romantic effect. We don't have any ceiling mounted lighting in the room, but we really don't need it.

And of course this little beauty - a George Nelson Bubble Lamp. In fact we have two:  one in the main entry hall and one in the sitting room.

A large portion of the joinery was installed and ready for the imminent move, including the mirrored cabinets in the bathrooms. We chose to have them framed in brass mid-reno which is not like me at all as I am a silver girl through and through. In the reflection below, you can see an old doorway that has been filled in with VJs. The painted timber dowels that are placed across it are our towel rails.

The plumber installed most of the fittings and tapware (some was still on order). Fortunately the kitchen and scullery taps were ready to go - these ones are made by Perrin and Rowe. We ordered them in a pewter finish which look great with the stainless steel bench tops in the scullery:

Oberon Kitchen Tap with Spray Rinse

And the cushions for the daybed arrived just in time - we have no other seating in the interim. We chose an outdoor fabric from Mokum Textiles (this particular pattern has been a favourite of mine for ages and also happens to be one that OVP specify in a lot of their work.) I was going to select it in Seafoam (rather than black) but when I changed the floor tile specs to bluestone hexagonal tiles, I decided to go with this instead:

So by the end of the week the house was at a point where it was habitable - and so the move-in began!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Reno - Week 34

The remainder of the masonry elements were completed this week, including grouting the terrace and stairs that lead down onto the garden:

A short edge stretcher bond pattern was chosen for the floors - here's a close-up:

And this is how the terrace looks today:

The bricks still require a sealer to be applied (hence the lack of furniture, plants, etc) so I'm looking forward to transforming this space into a cozy outdoor room.

As all the tiling in the bathrooms were now completed, it was time to add the fixtures and fittings, including this blackbutt timber seat in the kids' shower:

It comes with an integrated post/timber peg for hanging your towel on - and I can sit down comfortably and supervise the younger ones whilst they shower.

The old lattice screens which sat on either side of the verandah were removed during demolition. Rather than replace the lattice, which didn't really provide much privacy from the neighbouring properties, we decided to install solid casement windows which can be adjusted to block out the harsh sun and also catch the breezes. We also replaced all the old metal window hoods (with the same profile as the originals.) Just recently we stumbled upon a local company (Thurlow Blinds) which make and restore those old colonial chain venetians - ours were cactus and were subsequently removed but we are getting identical ones manufactured which should be fitted in the next two weeks. They will be a welcome addition as we currently have no window coverings other than some old cot sheets hanging on our bedroom windows.


Week 34 was also supposed to be the week we were to move into the house, but as it turned out it wasn't quite ready for handover. Unfortunately we had to vacate our rental at this time, so we had no other option than to move into a hotel - not an ideal situation to be in but at least we had a good view of the city.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Reno - Week 33

Everyone finally asleep - time to catch up on the blog
Hello - yes I'm back after a 7 week hiatus thanks to Telstra. I won't bother going into the details, but I can say that the 'Smart Community' that West End is apparently a part of, due to the Fibre Optic Network installed throughout the suburb, is really not that 'smart' at all. Who would've thought it would take this long to connect a simple phone/internet service?

So much has happened over here in the meantime. I really wish I'd had the time to keep a weekly journal as before but the move, lack of time and family commitments just got in the way. Thank goodness that Instagram allowed me to keep at least a photo journal of the past two months.

Anyway, it is actually now Week 39 of the renovation. As you probably already know we moved into the house approximately four weeks ago, despite the fact that it was not 100% complete (totally would not recommend this option to anyone unless you really like living on a construction site with kids but unfortunately certain circumstances led this to occur.) There are still some finishing touches to complete but we are in, kind of settled, and all is good.

I don't really know how to structure this post, but I will attempt to fill in the gaps of the weekly updates based on the photos I took with my iPhone. So here we go:

Week 33 was all about wall tiles and polishing the timber floors that are laid throughout the house.
The wall tiles in our wet areas were specified to be laid from floor to ceiling, which in most cases is not such a hard ask, but when you already have 3 metre high ceilings and then add a skylight shaft into the equation things start to get tricky.

Firstly a ladder is required:

To enable the tiler to get to this, which is a good 4 metres off the floor:

Our ensuite (located in what was the old kitchen) does not have a window, but it does get heaps of natural light from a window in the WIR (the wall between the two rooms is not full height) and of course this amazing skylight in the shower. I love walking into this room in the morning, looking up and seeing the sky beyond. It really is like showering outside. And just check out the light levels:

The mirrored cabinets in the ensuite also help to bounce the light around - it really is quite a lovely space. And as for the floor tiles, well I am glad that I chose them. The colour variation in the stone makes the floors interesting to look and I love the feel of them underfoot. The bluestone floor and skirting tiles have since been sealed with a penetrative sealer which retains their natural appearance.

The timbers floors in the house were sanded in two stages: the new blackbutt floors were done first and then the original hoop pine floors were done on the following day.

You can see in the photo above the threshold between the two floors (demarcated by a strip of cork which serves as an expansion joint). Thankfully it's not noticeable - it's very similar in colour to the timber species we used. I don't know how it would look in, say a Jarrah floor.

So here's the scullery floor just as the final coat of Treatex hardwax oil was applied.

Very glossy, but in fact it is a satin finish which when fully dried looks more like this:

So what do I think of this natural hardwax oil product as opposed to a polyurethane finish? So far I like it. Apparently it was very easy to apply, has absolutely no horrid smell, is low VOC and easy to maintain. I have missed having timber floors after living in a fully carpeted unit for the past two years which is an absolute nightmare when you have kids -  the dining room was also carpeted hence why it was never used.