Monday, February 28, 2011


Home Sweet Home: Fresh Flowers, 
with vintage Tea Box Panel backdrop

Yesterday I worked myself silly, or to exhaustion.  No painting (but I did that all day Saturday, see pic of back foyer to see the day's work).  Just cleaning cleaning and more cleaning.  Sweep, vacuum, damp mop, dry mop (to buff away last bits of construction dust residue on floor boards).  Also last bit of sealing the grouts on tiled floors.  Still, a huge milestone to be able to clean something here in a civilised way, the sort of way that looks very nice when done and that is worthy of moving in.  It started looking like a home, a house...and not a demolition or renovation zone.  I was tired, but left with things looking pretty clean and ready for arrival of house hold goods.

Back Foyer--UnPinked !
Lounge Room, after clean up, before set up
Sitting Area, clean
and waiting for move in

Then today the removalists showed up bright and early (right on time).  I sequestered pussy cats for their own safety and before long the furniture uplift and delivery were done.  

Now we have a sea of boxes here everywhere.  And furniture pieces.  Not everything fits where I hoped it would (a few doorways were constraints).  I have worked a Plan B.  For ex, a wardrobe used to hold handbags for past 4 years will be pressed into service in the office, holding equipment and supplies.

Ian's latest invention ?
We also have to improvise a bit.  Built in Closets are going to be put in in April or we have an "open closet" format for now, with a hanging rail Ian made out of pipes and spare timber !

My office,
styling in progress

So after a long day, another milestone.  We are moved in.  This pic is dark, but shows my new office.  Net on and working fine.  Things not yet arranged or organised.  But cats visit and sit relaxing on the tangerine velvet chairs, just like I knew they would.

A long day.  Good one though.  Even if we did forget to bring over the bed pillows (I found one spare in a box)  Oops--more to get tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Old Cupboard

The Old Cupboard (upside down)
When we got the house, there was an old built-in cupboard in the back foyer.  A bit beat up, but had character and fit the space perfectly.  I knew we would need some storage there and all along have had in mind to tidy it up and paint it.  I thought it would turn out nicely with a bit of fresh paint to spruce it up.

So I was a bit surprised to see it removed quite early in the renovations work.  A fair few times I had to save it from being pitched onto one of the demolition scrap heaps or in a skip bin.  And it seems Ian (and some of the other guys working on the house) disliked the cupboard as much as I seemed to like its old character.  He thought it belonged in the rubbish and wasn't worth doing up.

Ian working on the Old Cupboard
Today the back area behind the back foyer (porch) was cleaned up.  The old cupboard was there all alone, waiting for something to happen.  Ian wanted to just throw it out (again, still).  But at this late date, I countered that we need storage and, unless he had another (cheap, quick) idea in mind, we should use it.

Turns out the old cupboard would need some surgery before it could be returned to its original place.  It used to sit neatly under the window sill.  But those decrepit windows and their rotted frames are long gone (into the skip bin !) and the new window has a new frame, which is very nice (and wider).  And, in order to even up the floor levels in the adjacent kitchen, the tiled floor is a bit higher up too.  So the cupboard was too tall.   It was also too wide, needing to lose some centimeters given up to the new doorframe for the vintage door we have installed.  Even more than disliking the cupboard, turns out Ian did not want to have to cut pieces off the sides and bottom and then patch it up again... Practicality (of time and budget) won out though.  After lunch, Ian began working on the cupboard with loud equipment.  I put my ipod on and zoned out while doing more of the ever dull and tiresome trims painting.
old nail ca 111 years old

When Ian was done, he announced he believes this cupboard is original age of the house.  So over 110 years old !  I asked how he knew this and he said due to the nails (which were pressed out of metal and had a squared shape, see pic for a rusty example jutting out of a cut off side of the cupboard) and also the cupboard construction techniques had some interesting techniques used to compensate for not having glues and adhesives we use today.  The cupboard has been improved along its life, but its original structure is a bonafide antique.

Old Cupboard back in its position, under new windows
So the old cupboard has prevailed.  I vacuumed it out and we returned it to its place, with its adjustments to fit just so.  It looks pleased to have been saved.  I have not painted it yet.  But will soon.  What colour ?

It's nice to have something original from the house.  So many original features have long since been removed or replaced (some of them with clearly wrong or unsympathetic choices).  We are considering which to replace faithful to the old style (some of the exterior features on the verandah for example) and which not to worry about and just do as we please for form and function.

Area behind house.  Future 2d bathroom & new laundry
Meantime, a quick peak at the area behind the house.  Pretty grim looking at the moment.  This will be done over in the next stage of work, Phase 2.   The toothpaste green walls will be the outer perimeter for the second bathroom and new laundry room (temporary laundry is in back foyer...when new laundry is built, it will become a small butlers pantry).  The walls you see have stone retaining walls behind them, so we wont be taking them down, hence why to relocate bathroom and laundry on this side.

Looking out to site of future sunroom & covered patio
To left of the area with white wall will be a sun room (shown in last photo), plus a covered entertaining patio area too.  There used to be an old outbuilding with a decaying old laundry and a second bathroom (outdoors bathroom) in this location.  The plumbing services were centred there and we have moved all of that.   The area where the sunroom will be gets nice light and will make a lovely living space.  We will  plant some bird attracting native shrubs in the retaining wall shown on right of the last photo, for a nice outlook from the sunroom.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Drama Coming Soon

Things keep progressing on the reno front.  I think I buy paint every day, or at least 5 days each week.  I keep running out of the right colour and finish.  Or like last week, one of the colours I tried to match to an old fave just did not cut it.  The first brush stroke of it on the wall that I saw, I absolutely hated it.  Tonally correct, but too "cold"  So despite having a 4 Litre can of it to use for several rooms, I switched to another I had on hand (but then I had to buy more of it, because I didn't have enough).

The paint store has been great, I told them about the bad paint colour.  They said to bring it back in and they would help me make it into some other colour.  I thought that was great.  We looked up some paint colour recipes and picked one we thought would work.  I promised to bring the 4L can in the next morning.

When I got there Saturday morning, I waited for my big can of paint to be transformed.  I was just itching to do something bold and unexpected somewhere.  I have gone very neutral with all the wall colours so far.  Which is OK, the house wants more elegance and a break from pink to be sure.  But I knew a bit of drama was needed too.

I saw some new paint swatches by Dulux, in very vivid tones.  I looked at the dark greys and plum toned blacks.  I also was drawn to some of the jewel tones shown here too...but they are more inspiration for for textiles and art placements and such.  (and they echo some colours in a couple of favorite artworks too).

For the bold stroke I craved I picked a colour called Namadji, (it is the on-top colour swatch in the dark set above).  The wet paint looks like a pot of melted darkest chocolate.  Really delicious looking.  Dry on the wall it "reads" black, in a low sheen finish, so it is not dull or flat   I wanted a warm toned black (not a cold one).  Namadji is perfect.  I have never painted a nearly black wall before.  It looks very dramatic indeed and was fun to paint too, which is what I wanted.

It is painted on one of the office walls.  The office is not a bright light room anyway (its windows are under the verandah), so dark dramatic colours are suitable for this sort of room. I don't think the photos do it all best possible justice, as it was late in the day when I got to photograph things.   But hopefully you get the idea !  The feature wall is  opposite the windows, which is the direction I will be facing when working at my desk.  In front of it will be some tangerine velvet tub chairs and on the wall will be some awesome artwork.  Which piece ?  I have ideas, but art always picks where it wants to be in my home, so the paintings will be casting their votes next week, when we move in !

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Turning the Corner

Just 2 weeks ago Ian and I were thinking things  seemed very un-fun and rather exhausting at that.  But we thought we could carry on for just 4 more weeks to move in. Just 4 weeks of this renovation slog to get through (to move in stage).

Last week on Thursday evening, I snuck in on the way back to the Campsite (rental house) after appointments and errands out.   Ian and all the tradies had already left, but I wanted to see the tiling work.  And it really hit me, seeing it done.  It looked so gorgeous.  And my mind ran through what we started with and could see how far we have come.  That moment is when I felt we turned the corner on this project.

What a difference that makes.  Since then, it has felt better to finally have the wind blowing at our backs for a change.  I think we are both more energised...still working hard, but we can see some real results, not just work that generates another pile of sawdust or construction rubble to clean up.  Things are actually getting finished !  (and they look pretty good too).

So we now have a bathroom that is close to finished.  I finished painting the room today.  Freestanding tub is in, vanity, tapware, and toilet too.  Everything works.  Just fixtures like hooks and shelves to put up, also mirror and lighting.  And shower screen is on order, will arrive in 2 weeks.

The kitchen joinery is now installed.  And looking GORGEOUS !  We now await stone benches (counters), and also have to install the lighting and power points.  And do backsplash tiling behind sink (after benchtops are installed).  Today Ian put in the dishwasher and did most of the prep work for the sink plumbing, to be completed also upon benchtop installation.  Soon he may set up and hook up the cooker too.

The stainless steel belfast sink looks great on its cabinets...  (one of the design splurges for the kitchen..., though fabulously functional too !)

More to do (of course).  This week will see me doing more trims painting, I need to do all those peach doors.  And look, more of that horrible pink we found in Every Single Room.  I guess I am not done wall painting quite yet !

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Almost Cookin'

Things have been busy on the renovation front.  Something new is happening every single day.  Progress that seemed slow before is now picking up steam.

This week I went to visit the Kitchen Maker's showroom and workshop, to pick out cabinet pull hardware.  Mark Feltus owns Feltus Kitchens in Kapunda, SA and he showed me the various piece parts of our kitchen that his team was readying to install THIS week--Tomorrow.  Very Exciting !!   I asked if I could snap a few pics of my short tour of his workshop to share in this post.

It was fab to see the cabinet colours, all painted up.  I had previously seen just the small paint chips I picked for the lower and upper cabinet colours.  Darker shade for the base cabinets (the two pieces on the left above), and lighter for the upper wall ones (shown to the right above).  Darker shade also goes on the cabinet for the fridge and microwave.  I liked the door and drawer front contour too, came out really well.  The paint job looks fantastic, a great finish.

It was exciting to see the kitchen all lined up and stacked up in the workshop, with the doors being assembled, now they had come from their paint jobs.  I can't wait to see it all in place tomorrow !

After tomorrow, some additional installation work will be completed Monday. And also, the stone company comes to measure up the templates they will use to prepare the stone benchtops (counter tops).  Those get installed at end of February and everything has been timed to get things in place so we will have a complete kitchen when we move in on the last day of the month.

Meanwhile, Ian has been busy on things in the kitchen too.  He has  had to do a lot of work on the walls that will show underneath and above the cabinets (it was all pretty grotty and yucky before).  And he has gotten the kitchen painted, ceiling and walls.  Walls are done in Porter's 'Old Church White.'  I have not used this Porter's colour before and I really really love it.  It is soft, a neutral white with a warm edge on it, and elegant--all at once.  What a great choice and goes really well with all the other colours we are painting in the house.  Today he also painted the window frame above where the sink will be, it is a colour called Volcanic Ash, and is almost black...very elegant also.  We will do the baseboard and door frame trims later, just could not get that done this week (we lost a week of painting time when the weather was over 38C, or 100 F plus).

Some areas shown in pic on left are not pristinely painted because they we will be behind the cabinets.  But even most of those areas got a good coat of fresh paint (they just did not need a topcoat).

And the tilers have  set the tiles backsplash for the fireplace area where the cooker will go.  Grouting will be done tomorrow.  The backsplash behind sink will wait until the kitchen joinery is installed, but it will be the same white butcher tiles, set in a running arrangement, just as is done for the fireplace inside area.

You can't see the floor tiling well in these photos, we still have it covered up, but I suppose  tomorrow Ian will remove the cardboard that has been protecting it from construction hazards, in time for the kitchen joinery installation.

Just in case you want to see how far we have come so far, here is a shot of the kitchen before (left, wearing big band of that liver pink wall colour we have found somewhere in every single room of the house).  After old cabinets and fixtures were ripped out.  And before old tiles taken up, subfloor was leveled (with new level and quality concrete), tiled in porcelain, ceiling trussed up and supported from above (so it doesn't sag anymore), the fireplace opening raised up, electricals conduits embedded in the walls, the walls repaired, new plumbing and gas-fitting put in, and all the ceiling and wall paintwork done.

Kim in the doorway to kitchen
Tomorrow will be exactly 4 months elapsed since we got the House and its keys and surveyed what to do first.  I am feeling pretty amazed at what we have gotten done in 4 months time (minus being away 2 weeks at Christmas-New Years).  Two weeks ago it seemed daunting.  Ian and I were/are both tired (and things were not feeling very fun or exciting...just more work more work).  I wondered how we would make it happen as per the plan.  Last week we decided to just power forward and get it done, one (short) month, four weeks, not even 30 days to do.   We have a big big punch list still, and time is short.  But now, Oh Wow.  Things are coming together.  Today, for the first time, I felt like we are turning the corner and heading in for the home stretch of this first (biggest) phase of our renovation race against schedule and time.