Tuesday, November 29, 2011

3 days to go .......

We get "handover" from the builder this Friday. I think this means he hands us back our keys (symbolically) while at the same time handing us the bill for the final installment of the project. I feel like an elastic band that is stretched to the limit and is about to snap - work/home/child/end of school year all contributing in their own way to this. We are moving as much as we can ourselves this weekend, then movers will help with the big stuff on Monday. I have next week off work - the thought of having a cup of tea in the morning on the new verandah and a glass of wine at night is my silver lining this week.

I just have a random selection of photos - will post more next week once I surface.

shiny floors

shower in ensuite

bring on next week

more gratuitous Poinciana photos

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

king sized comfort

Since we will soon have the luxury of a spare bedroom, we had to go bed shopping today.
We will move our existing bed into the spare bedroom, and will have a brand new bed in our bedroom. The house we have been renting/house sitting has a king sized bed which has been fantastic. Previously we have had a queen which gets a bit cosy when the boy of the house inevitably wanders in for a cuddle in the early hours. It also has a latex mattress - the man of the house has the unsocial habit of getting up at 4:30 am to cycle with his posse, and latex has this wonderful property called "minimal partner disturbance" - I don't hear or feel him get up and leave. This is a good thing.

We went to the mattress shop today - unfortunately due to timing we had to take the boy of the house with us. This was not a good thing. Lots of excitement, jumping on all the beds, and strained smiles from the saleswoman who clearly didn't believe my repeated assurances that "he's not normally like this". The photo below shows him streaking through the store.
We had to buy a mattress after all that.....

blink and you'll miss him

So we decided on a King sized ensemble - but not latex. Too many $$$ and also we think maybe too hot in those summer months in Queensland. Our bedroom is small and the bed will take up a lot of the room but so be it. We have also decided on a bed head from here - Richmond in Catalina Storm. It won't be ready until February, but I'm excited!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

the grass is greener

The garden is looking a bit more loved after some attention today. We have laid some turf and it's amazing the difference it makes. The challenge of course will be keeping the grass alive in this heat and the dry conditions. There is rain forecast for the end of the week, and I might get the boy of the house to do a little rain dance for us all.


boy of the house enjoying the new verandah and
practicing his rain dance moves

after - taken from the verandah

side of the house - before

side of the house - after

I have embarked on some little projects with some of my WAC treasures. The first was easy - repainting a vintage style mirror to suit the colours in our powder room area. The second thing I am planning is to revamp the vintage Casala chairs - they need to be sanded and then painted. That sounds as if I know what I am doing - so far I don't think I am fooling anyone, including the helpful man at the paint shop. At least I have chosen a colour - I am loving the Resene colours and Guardsman Red is my favourite:

One of the girls who has an office next to mine at work today had these beauties on her desk and their beautiful scent filled the air:

I wonder if I would tire of these if they flowered all
year round. I doubt it

Monday, November 21, 2011

any day now

The date for moving back into our house is getting closer every day. The floors are still being sanded and polished (the sander is a man obsessed and a perfectionist - good for us of course, but he doesn't work quickly). White goods are arriving and all the little jobs seem to be being tackled one by one. It will be strange not to speak to our builder every day.

While we haven't been able to get into the house we have been using the pool most days which has been bliss - in the mornings on the weekends, and after school during the week. It has been fantastic. It has been so hot and dry here that it is a relief to dive into the water.

We are getting some turf laid tomorrow to hopefully make the back garden less of a dust bowl. The rest of the landscaping will have to wait.
The Poinciana in the front garden is starting to bloom which is gorgeous.

view from the front verandah

I am looking out all the Christmas decorations in anticipation, and I think one of the first things I'll do when we move back in is put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house. All the other stuff can wait. I love Christmas - my favourite of course is the cold climate, northern Christmas that I grew up with. I always get a little homesick at this time of year, and I think that's why I throw myself into the festive season.

Monday, November 14, 2011

little things i love this week

We have been banished from the house this week as the floors are being polished. Feels very strange not to be dropping in every day as I usually do on my way home from work. So I just have some photos of a few things that have gone in that I particularly like:

the long awaited new bath - not quite as tiny as anticipated

this is one of the original doors in the house that my Dad lovingly
restored about ten years ago. I really wanted to keep these doors
in the renovation, and they have all gone back in - this door leads to the little toilet

tapware in the kitchen - the smaller one is a fancy
schmancy water filter

chrome lights above the kitchen bench - not the best
photo but the only one I have

As it gets closer to the day that we move back in, there are also a few choices I have made and things that are now installed where I am not so happy with the decisions made. None of them major but we'll see how things feel after 6 months of living in the house, when I will hopefully be less obsessed and have gained some perspective ....... I wonder if everyone doing a project like this gets obsessed by the details, and if it's normal to be feeling slightly anxious as the final stages are ticked off ? Maybe it's just me - which is why it was so nice to spend the weekend at Byron and to have lunch with some girlfriends here:

view from the Byron Beach Cafe

Brisbane, renovations, and probably most importantly work seemed like a million miles away as we all enjoyed a beautiful long weekend, remembering that what is important is the company of family and friends.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Visiting the house this afternoon I noticed how beautiful the jacaranda tree on the footpath is looking. This is the first year that it has really burst into flower like this. Maybe it's because of all the rain we have had this year, after all those years of drought. I am hoping the same will be true for our Poinciana tree.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

come over for a swim

We still can't quite believe that we have a pool. After waiting until the boy of the house was a competent swimmer, we finally decided that the time was right to build a pool, and it made sense to do this before the renovation started while access to the back garden was very easy and there was plenty of space to move around in.

The pool was originally scheduled to start in January 2011, but that of course was the time of the terrible floods in Brisbane. Luckily we were not affected by any flooding, but the ground was so water logged from all the rain that they had to delay digging the pool by about 6 weeks to avoid it caving in. Scary thought. We felt so lucky to have escaped unscathed from the floods compared to so many people who lost everything. It did mean our pool was eventually ready just in time for winter, with the boy of the house declaring that he would get frostbite if he swam in it. Clearly he has not inherited many of my hardy Scottish genes....

We didn't finish the landscaping as we moved out at that stage for the major part of the renovation to begin. In the past week we have been doing some more work around the pool so I thought I would post the progress photos over the year. It makes me a bit sad to see how much lovely back garden we have lost - both to the pool and now to the extension of the house - but of course you can't have everything.

the garden before the pool

this is what it looked like when we moved out

In the past week we have had Eco decking (bamboo composite) laid along one side, and have tidied up the conifers and the jasmine that were planted just before moving out. The pool builder only recommended a small area of coping down one side which sounded good at the time, but we have reconsidered and wanted more room for kids to play. I hope that by next summer the jasmine will have flourished and grown along the trellis to camouflage the fence. We have also moved the pool filter and paraphenalia into a shed.

There is still a bit of work to be done, but I am really looking forward to being able to say to friends "why don't you come over for a swim?"

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bathrooms in evolution, and the smallest bath known to man

It is amazing how quickly things are happening now. It seems likely that we will be moving back into our old girl in about a month, in time for Christmas. Every day when I visit there have been lots of changes. The big outstanding jobs are finalising all the wiring and electrical connections, and polishing the floors. In the past week the bathrooms have been the main focus.
We chose all the tiles and fittings so long ago that it is interesting to see all of our choices come to life.

We had a fairly traditional bathroom in the house - clawfoot bath in heritage green, pedestal basin and traditional mosaic style flooring, with lots of traditional brass bathroom fittings. We wanted to be a bit more modern with this renovation, but I really wanted to keep our clawfoot bath for the new main bathroom.

the old bath in the bathroom looking a bit unloved - this is day 3 of the renovation
and all the fittings and plumbing had been ripped out. The bath was waiting to
be collected to be resurfaced

by the next day this was all that was left of our bathroom

I took my time in deciding exactly which shade of white we should paint the outside of the bath. Seems ridiculous I know, but anyone who has repainted or renovated will know that "white" is no longer just "white". Hmmmm. It turns out that my indecision was a good thing. When we actually measured the dimensions of the spot for the bath in the new bathroom, we realised that it was too big. To say that was a tense day would be an understatement.
By this stage the house had been raised, the external frame was up along with the initial plumbing. It would have been very hard to accommodate the bath and also have a shower and toilet.......
For a while we thought we would have to install the smallest bath known to man:

This photo does not adequately convey just how tiny this bath was. I think the length was around 1 metre. It would have been useful to bathe our pampered Dalmatian pooch, but would not be useful for much else.

Luckily our builder was able to source a genuine clawfoot bath that will fit and is marginally bigger than the one pictured above. It will still look small. But it's all relative....
So our much loved original clawfoot bath remains heritage green, while we decide what to do with it.

The bathrooms have otherwise been progressing without incident. I know it is ridiculous but I love the soft close toilet seats we have chosen. I found myself today just lifting the seat up and down to watch the smooth motion of the toilet seat. The plumber was showing the man of the house the toilets today and said "Mate, all the women love these". I hate it when I am a stereotype :)

new powder room - yes, with soft close toilet seat

vanity in the hall - awaiting doors and drawer fronts

tiling on the floor and the shower walls
in the ensuite

vanity in the ensuite again awaiting drawer fronts

We chose the light fittings this weekend - I think they will go in this week - and we are waiting for the mirrors to go in.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

a blank canvas

It's funny how once you have improved one area of your house, the other deficiencies become glaringly obvious. The driveway is almost finished, and of course now all we can see is the daunting job we have ahead of us to land scape the garden and also finish the area around the pool. We will be doing most of this ourselves.

I am still re-living my recent time in Europe. I grew up with a different set of plants and vegetation over there - geraniums, rhododendrons, roses and camelias, lush green lawns, and bluebells signalling the first few days in spring after the long Scottish winter. On our recent trip I noticed how much care goes into gardens and shop fronts in Germany:

a village bank with a lovely display of

a front garden with autumn display of blooms and small
pumpkins ahead of Halloween

a shop front with the ubiquitous geraniums

I will post some photos here of the "before" landscaping shots. I suspect it will be some time before there are any "after" shots :(

Not only is this a big job, but it's hard to know where to start and what to plant. I love formal hedges which I think reflects the gardens back in the UK - most of those plants are not as suited to the Brisbane climate.

view from the street down the driveway - I am picturing
a hedge along the left hand border along the fence.
Maybe gardenias.

the front of the house - I think a lilly pilly hedge here
would look good

the driveway and path up to side entrance/office.
No ideas for this area yet.

back garden

another view of the back garden

The lovely thing about this time of year in Brisbane is the sudden explosion of all the Jacaranda trees with their unique flowers. I associate them with the onset of summer, but for many of my colleagues they tell me it reminds them of being at University and last minute study for the end of year exams. Either way they are beautiful and sadly all too fleeting.