On becoming a shop snob and DIY as therapy.

Girls room.

With the benefit of Instagram filters.

Having just survived a sleepover party for six almost-10-years-old girls, the only thing I can do this afternoon is laze on the sofa.    The second Little Pig and I glammed up her room a bit with some matching doona covers.  I ordered them online since I’ve had no time to shop.  That was a mistake.  While the doonas themselves are quite lovely, they are not the colour that they appear online (nor in the hard copy advertising of the product sent along with my order).  So the various pinks in the room clash.

Doona cover.

New doona cover, modelled by Evita.

The Nice Wolf says I should have learned by now.  Helpful.  I’ll probably do it again.  I’m afraid I’ve developed shop snobbery, an unpleasant side effect of several years of online interiors “research”.  There’s only one local shop that satisfies my snobbery, so if I can’t find it at Frisky Deer, I look online. There is the argument that buying better quality products than the average Kmart product may pay off in the long term, but when it comes to bed linen I’m not sure that it’s true.  I pick on Kmart because I recently got all excited over Kmart’s new industrial style lockers.  Just what I was searching for to put in my son’s room.  The excitement ended as soon as I saw the product, so small and looking as though it would barely make the trip home let alone stand up to the hardship of housing a 6 year old boy’s daily clothes.

Shop snobbery is an expensive addiction that I’m trying to control.  To curb my habit, I’ve taken up some DIY.  Inspired and instructed by Maya from House Nerd, I dared to drill a hole in a brand new wall.  At first, I thought I was no good at it, but then Nice Wolf replaced my inferior drill piece included in a kit, with a decent drill piece and away I went.

 

Bathroom hooks.

Bathroom hooks.

I was on a roll with 3 wall hooks mounted, only to be halted by some electric wires.  According to my wire detector, my whole wall around my bed head is filled with electric wires!  Exactly where I want to put a bracket for my much-loved pendant light.   Back to the drawing board.

Not to be defeated, I took up rendering.  With a couple of YouTube lessons and some advice from the Nice Wolf under my belt, I set about to hide the neighbour’s brick fence.   The Nice Wolf made me a concrete mix in the mixer.  He was laying cobblestones (forever….) while I rendered the wall.  I donned some gloves, put the grouting gizmos (technical term) in my hands and hoped for the best.

 

I am not a perfectionist.  Some may shiver at my amateur efforts, but I am rather pleased with this wall so far.  I plan to paint the wall once the rainy days disappear, then plant a row of pleached pears or lilly pillies in front.

The professional landscapers installed our outdoor lights.  They look WOW!  They bloody well should, too.  (Dad, cover your eyes…)  They cost $7000, or about $500 a pop, on average.  My night time photography is blah, but trust me that my 3 coastal banksias, lit up at night, look fantastic and as for the copper step lights?   See for yourself.

We are, as always, progressing slowly.  I really, really, really hope that next time I blog, our landscapers, Tim Davis Landscaping, will be finished their scope of work.  They still have the pool to finish, a couple of fences to install, a bench seat to deck and a few bits of tidying up to go.  Honestly, they’ve been incredibly slow.  I can’t blame them in this rainy weather, but they did start last December.

Nice Wolf battles coastal storms to build steps.

Installing step pavers.

Slow work on steps

It’s bloody freezing outside.  I’m sure our weekend weather comes from the Antarctic.  (I’ve not had a winter for several years, so I may be a little sensitive.)  The Nice Wolf is tough!  And handy.  And is currently outside working on step pavers and cobblestones through squalls of rain and chilling wind.

He’s on a schedule.  The professional landscapers are yet to install our garden lights and the roller door which covers some outdoor storage beside the canal.  To complete these two jobs, they need us to complete the step paving which houses step light canisters and the section of cobblestone paving around the storage area.  Of course, by “us”, I really mean The Nice Wolf.  These are both seriously slow jobs.  The steps have to be done step by step, literally.  There is concrete carting and setting time involved and some fiddly circular holes to be made for the light canisters.  Perhaps a professional might knock the job off in a day, but for my weekend warrior, it is taking more than a few weekends.  Never-the-less, he’s getting there and his labour is free.

Laying cobblestones.

Cobblestone progress.

The landscaping is slowly progressing.  The outdoor tiles around the pool area have been completed and we have a fence and gate installed to restrict access from our front yard.

Monument colorbond fence.

Colorbond pool fence.

We went for a cheap option for this side of the pool fence.  We may alter this area to include a covered outdoor kitchen a few years down the track, in which case, the fence will go.  In the meantime, I’ll cover it up with some creepers on the poolside.

I’ve been itching to get started on the planting.  I need to be patient and wait for the hardscaping to be done.  The longer I have to wait, the more I change my mind.  I’m oscillating between choosing a frangipani or an olive tree as our feature tree.  On one hand I love the colour of the olive leaves for our colour scheme, on the other hand, the frangipani’s sculptural trunk and branches are hard to beat.

Coastal garden

Lomandra, coastal banksia and a native ground cover.

I snuck in a few extra plants which made me very happy.  What can be better than gardening beside the water?  My coastal banksias were looking lonely, so I planted a row of lomandra and a row of native ground cover either side of the trees.  I popped in a few ground cover plants around my kangaroo paws too, to create a bit of interest and try to limit weed growth.

Six months maintenance.

Six months since handover past and I sent my list of items requiring attention to the builder.  There was nothing of great significance on the list and I’m pleased to report that most of the items were quickly fixed with a minimum of fuss and tradie visits involved.  I will do a full review of our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, sometime soon, but I must give them a pat on the back at this point for making the “six-month maintenance stage” fairly painless.

Ensuite.

Our ensuite. Simple, spacious and lovely!

Finally, a little “HELLO” to the House By The Water tourists!   We’ve been getting people stopping in their cars outside our house to take photos.  Some are braver than others and say “hi”.  I love that one lady this week asked if she could hold her tile (that she happened to have in the car) up against our paintwork.  That’s totally something that I would have done!

Russian blue cat.

Three Little Pigs and Two Kittens

Small steps happening here.  There are a couple of feline distractions, that I deny were selected for their match with our sofa.

Six months have past since handover and I sent my list of problems into Webb and Brown-Neaves.  Nothing drastic.  They’ll pay me a visit next week to review everything. Hopefully, the fixes will be quick and with minimal time off work required.

We finally got around to our handover with Intelligent Homes who were subcontracted to install our security and communication systems.  Burglars, be warned!  You’ll need ear plugs.

A decent front door arrived (the first one was water stained) and has been varnished.  It’s a bit dark but by the time we install the decorative security screen door, that won’t matter.

The Nice Wolf hung an old front door bell that we’ve been carting around for more than a decade.  It came from our first house.  We took it off to render the 70’s brick and promptly lost the bracket so never rehung it.  I’m very grateful now.

Waterline tiles

Charcoal waterline tiles.

pool tiles

Waterline tiles

The waterline tiles have been laid in our pool and there has been talk of solar versus electric heating.  I can almost believe that we’ll be swimming in this pool come Summer.  I’d better get cracking with the fence painting and planting.

There’s a chance my blog may spontaneously combust this week.  Last year I paid a small amount for “custom design” and no ads, but this year I put the money towards this floor lamp:

Floor lamp.

Irresistible purchase from Barney and Fleur in Bridgetown.

So if this page is looking a bit weird later this week, that’s why.  I shall attempt blog first aid as necessary.

Sitting on the fence.

The kitchen at House By The Water has been getting a good work out. Cake for 70 people last weekend and curries for 20 people this weekend. It has been such a pleasure to spend time in the kitchen, chopping, baking, stirring, all the while overlooking the family action going on in the living room and keeping an eye out for the dolphins herding salmon in the canal.  The pinch-me moments continue.

Kitchen time takes from gardening time though, so the landscaping report is rather slim:

  • More dirt shifted.
  • 3 coastal banksias planted.
  • 3 holes chipped in brickwork for step lights.
  • And one day of tiling by the landscapers (sigh).

The Nice Wolf has been wrestling with stone pavers trying to create steps, which has of course involved the purchase of new tools, and is most certainly a labour of love.

While we are outside, new home builders, please tell me about these sticky-out things:

What is going on here?

What is going on here?

I thought they were weep holes.  Maybe they are.  Should they be trimmed?  They look a bit ridiculous.  I should put them on my 6 month maintenance list for the builders….

We are trying to stay focussed on working on the landscaping, though there are a zillion interior distractions.  (Save picture of lovely rug option until later.)  The front fence debate has been going on for quite some time. Railway sleepers versus rendered brick with decorative steel infills.  Railway sleepers are currently in the lead, but before we actually spend any money on it, I thought I’d take one last hypothetical look at both options:

Steel infills.

Steel infills.

Railway sleepers.

Railway sleepers.

*Credit to Trixee at EcoHome Style for the blog title idea.  (Trixee, post pics of your amazing gabion walls soon!)

That out of the way, who can resist dreaming about interiors?  There is so much that could be done at House By The Water, and if I’m honest, so little that needs to be done.  So for the sake of our finances, I’m trying to curb my interiors spending.  It’s rather fortunate that this current resolution was made AFTER the purchase of our new sofa:

Lazio Daybed.

Lazio Daybed from Weylandts.  Real living room.

but somewhat unfortunate that Armadillo and Co’s divine new rug range has been released after my self-imposed ban on interiors spending. Wouldn’t this rug look so good with our new sofa?  It would lighten and soften the room.

Living room mood board.

Future living room.

Aaah!  The butterfly chair, leather ottoman and a new coffee table would be nice too.

 

Weather testing the house.

Floating jetty.

Today we walk up the ramp to stand on our floating jetty.  The neighbours’ fixed jetty (far right) is submerged.

We only just got to the barbecue as it was rolling towards the edge of the open deck, propelled by wind.  The kayaks were about to set sail, unmanned, as the storm surge lapped over the edges of the canal walls.  The pool is being filled, a kind of icky green colour.  The hail has just stopped.  Banging doors kept us awake half the night, but there are no puddles on our floors, nor water stains on our ceilings so I’m pronouncing the weather testing a success.  We are fast approaching the end of our 6 month maintenance period and need to finalise our list of items to be fixed by our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, so the timing of the lousy weather is rather good.

Flooded garden

Wading through the bottom level of our canal-side yard. Current landscaping project.

Plus, nothing beats a good storm for providing a legitimate excuse for a day off shovelling, or whatever other landscaping task I should be doing.  Time, instead, to blog.

What’s new?  Shutters!  Actually they’ve been in a few weeks now and I’ve been waiting in the vain hope that one of the Three Little Pigs might have a bedroom tidy enough for a blogworthy photograph.  The bedrooms and library all have shutters and are all rooms that are low priority works-in-progress.  So I’m going with a couple of “keeping it real” photos for you.

Bedroom shutters.

New shutters in sty number 2, on a good day.

Library shutters.

Library shutters. (Disclaimer: the pigs are not usually this perfect.)

The shutters look good from the exterior too, but today is just not the day to prove it to you.

I have a couple of new rugs.  One of the problems I didn’t fully anticipate with our house design is the poor acoustics.  The void space over the living area allows an echo to bounce all over our open living space, not good for conversation once we have a few guests over.   I thought we needed some more soft furnishings to absorb some noise.  Enter rug addition number 1:

Sanna rug, Freedom.

Sanna rug, Freedom.

I didn’t want to spend too much on a rug for the dining room, it’ll probably only last a year or two under our dining table.  I picked a wool blend rug from Freedom, with enough colour in it so that I don’t cry the first time it cops a bowl of spaghetti bolognese.  The weave is thin enough to vacuum the crumbs easily and thick enough to absorb some noise.  I think it has helped and I must say it’s nice under my feet on cold mornings.

Rug addition number two is multi-purpose.

Armadillo and Co rug.

Armadillo and Co. hemp runner.

It is to catch any stray hot embers that fall out of the wood fire when we stoke it, to protect our timber floor.  I needed something that could disguise any soot marks and preferably something with some fire retardancy.  I hoped for wool but couldn’t find anything the right size.  This Armadillo and Co. runner is hemp.  When the fire is not going, the rug doubles as a door mat between our deck and the living room.

There has been a touch of landscaping progress.  I visited the Perth Garden Festival, where there were a couple of inspiring exhibits.  The good bits:

I came home with 21 kangaroo paws in tubes.  21 wheelbarrow loads of dirt and two weeks later the kangaroo paws are all planted and enjoying the rainy weather.kangaroo paws

The professional landscapers have completed their day of work for the month, so I’m guessing I won’t see them again now until June.

Most exciting is that I received a present that my husband gave me for a certain conspicuous birthday.  My big art.  It’s an indigenous dot painting by artist Margaret Lewis Napangardi.  I said “wow” the first time I saw this painting in Japingka Gallery‘s window.  Now it’s in our living room and I love it!

Mina Mina Jukurrpa

Mina Mina Jukurrpa, by Margaret Lewis Napangardi

Mina Mina at House By The Water.

Love it!

 

Landscaping slowgress.

Snail’s pace is the only way to describe it.  The current rate of  work seems to be one job per month.

Hardscaping progress.

Current state. Work in progress (occasionally).

  • December- deck.
  • January – glass fence
  • February- remove scaffolding over pool.
  • March- concrete around pool
  • April – start tiling, concrete roof of storage area.
TDL plan

Landscape plan by Tim Davies Landscaping.

The grand plan for landscaping on our canal and pool side was conjured up 3 years ago.  We were wooed by smart landscaping around display homes and the existing relationship between our builder Webb and Brown-Neaves and Tim Davies Landscaping.  We decided to pay the big bucks for a clever design and for the luxury of not having to find and co-ordinate trades to make a pool, concrete, lay tiles, build a deck, install fences, etc.  Turns out the experts also have trouble finding and co-ordinating trades and so it has been a sloooww going.

To keep within some sort of budget, we kept at least half of our garden space to landscape ourselves, plus all the planting preparation and planting because that really shouldn’t be rocket science.  There is a lot to be done, so we are breaking it into chunks and trying to set some reasonable goals for completion time.  I really want the canal-side planter boxes to be filled before Winter.

I’ve been having an internal debate about whether the planting should be massed rows, or “randomly artistic”.  I can argue either way.  I am so inspired by modern coastal gardens designed by the likes of Peter Fudge and Fiona Brockhoff:

Fiona Brockhoff coastal garden

Fiona Brockhoff Design

Peter Fudge modern garden

Peter Fudge Gardens

The apparently random planting on the very impressive Esperance foreshore and good ol’ mother nature herself in Australia’s south-west on our recent holiday had me convinced that “au naturale” was the way to go.

Esperance park

City of Esperance, stunning foreshore development.

Coastal garden Esperance.

Coastal garden inspiration.

In the end, I’m going for the easier option and the one that was originally intended for our landscape design, rows and repetition.  (Don’t try to talk me out of it!  I’ve changed my mind daily for the past month.)

I’m about to head off to the Perth Garden Festival, but a few pictures of our current DIY landscaping progress.  (Yes, equally slow to progress.)

Front entrance.

The Nice Wolf did a stella job constructing our “jetty” front entrance.  (Front door is still to be replaced.)

Mum and Dad at work.

My Mum and Dad love a good day’s work in the garden.

Planter box.

My Dad moved the lion’s share of a truck load of dirt from our front yard to this giant planter box at the back.

Dianella.

I had the fun of the first plantings. Dianella.

 

The private chef in our kitchen.

We’d like scallops for dinner, thank you.   Followed by crispy barramundi, then creme brûlée, please.

IMG_2955

What could be better than a brand new kitchen, decorated exactly to my liking, with plenty of space and all the mod-cons?  Someone to cook and clean up afterwards, of course.  Last Friday, our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, organised just that.  An evening with a private chef is their “handover gift” to all their clients.  Such a treat!

Photos are few.  I was having way too much fun.

I had the place looking spick and span and the Three Little Pigs were banned from dropping crumbs, socks and toys for 24 hours:

Dining room

Dining room.

Our dining room has great views in all directions.

Dinner setting.

The third little pig set the table. Can you spot the error?

Eric, our French chef, from Ryan John Private Catering, arrived with all the meal preparation complete and started cooking:

DSC_0778

Our special spies guests, who helped us out in various ways during our build, arrived and might I just say how well they all dressed to complement our interior decorating!

Dinner party guests.

That’s me and The Nice Wolf on the left.

We toasted our new house then devoured the delicious meal.

Dinner party

Don’t tell The Nice Wolf but the scallops were the best I’ve had in years. The meal was completely delish and our glasses were kept topped up.  Best of all, Eric saw to all the clean-up and dishes, then politely took his leave before things got a bit embarrassing silly amusing.  We tried to keep up our civilised behaviour for a while with a little game of “Guess the Aroma” using a fun wine aroma kit.  One thing lead to another and the boys couldn’t resist showing off their amazing musical talents playing the crystal glasses, which we all knew meant it was time to go home.

Jam session on the crystal glasses. Oh dear!

Jam session on the crystal glasses. Oh dear!

Oh, hang on a minute.  We live here!  A lovely night of fine dining and celebrating our new home with good friends and we only had to walk upstairs to bed.  That’s my idea of perfect.