House By The Water – The Movie.

Every spare moment has been spent in the garden lately.  Planting, reticulation, lawn preparation, mulching and cobblestones, of course…  No time at all for blogging.  We’re on a mission.  Guests are coming for Christmas.

 Fortunately, the “House By The Water” videos, made by our builders, are ready.  You can enjoy a little chat in our kitchen and living room instead of reading a post.  There are two short videos.  Click on the pictures below to view.  I don’t think I’ll take up vlogging, but it was fun to do this once.

 

 

Becoming a film star and testing the pool.

Interview.As life becomes more hectic and posts are more distant, there’s rather a lot to catch up on.  House By The Water made its film debut.  Out of respect for the job well done by our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, I agreed to host an interview about our building experience.  There were conditions, of course.  Firstly, the filming would be confined to the part of the house that I could guarantee to be tidy given the habits of the Three Little Pigs.   Secondly, I would do my best to make House By The Water look stylish, if the builder’s marketing team could do something about making me photogenic.Builder's movie

It was a fun morning.  It was the longest make-up session that I have ever endured, much to the amusement of the Three Little Pigs.  Reneé, from WBN, did an excellent job of being a temporary TV journalist and Troy was cool and calm behind the cameras, trying his best to keep me relaxed without involving alcohol.

I made a last minute attempt to purchase a new floor rug for the living room, but fell for the rug that was “out of stock”.  Fortunately, Dee from Frisky Deer Interiors, stepped in with the loan of a luxurious Armadillo and Co rug for the video shoot.  It looked very good at House By The Water and I secretly hoped that tea/wine would be spilt on it and we’d have to buy it.

Living room.

Looking like a film star, but the rug has seen better days.

I may or may not let you all know when the video is published.

Enough stardom, onto the pool.

The landscapers are almost finished.  There are just a few finishing touches left in their scope (and years of work left in ours).  The pool was filled and commissioned and despite the weather still behaving like Winter we decided to “bugger it”!  We heated up the pool for one weekend and let the Little Pigs in for a wallow.Pool.

First swim in the pool.

Happy as a pig in pool.

I finally committed to an olive tree beside the pool.   Though young, it’s already a feature, looking especially lovely lit up at night:Olive Tree

The canal side landscaping is finally starting to come together.  It shall be ready for the Christmas visitors and the throngs of tourists boating passed lured by Christmas lights.

 

Housey blogs

Every woman and her dog writes a blog these days.  There are literally thousands of blogs documenting home building, renovation and decoration but with a bit of sifting, you can find a good community of like-minded people sharing tips, referrals, encouragement and inspiration.  A couple of friendly home-building bloggers sent their readers my way and posed me some questions.

Let me introduce:

  • Trixee, half of a motivated duo building a modest but glamorous solar passive home in Perth, from Eco Home Style.
  • Sheilzy, a go-get-em chick who’s building a Metricon home in Sydney, from Our Hudson.
  • Kerrie-Lee, the world’s most patient builder’s wife, who is building a very stylish home in coastal NSW, from eternalicons.

Thanks for the plug, girls!

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started my first blog 4 years ago when we moved to China for the interest of our extended family.  I enjoyed keeping a record of expat life and playing with words.  I caught the blog bug.

The 3 Little Pigs in China.

Photo from my first blog:  The 3 Little Pigs in China.

2. What are your favourite 3 blogs and why?

  • Spacecrush – I only recently discovered interior stylist, Jane Ledger’s blog, and the timing is perfect for me.  Jane, who is Perth based, shares her passion, knack and skills for interiors with unusual generosity.  I’m lapping up her “how to” series of articles such as “How to hang art” and “Choose the right sofa”.
  • House Nerd – You already know I love House Nerd for her rambling stories about interesting homes, DIY projects and local creatives in Western Australia.  Maya always keeps it real and affordable and I’m guaranteed a laugh, often at Maya or Mr. Nerd’s expense.  Maya reminds me that I’m glad that we are over the reno phase of life, but that it was good for us!
  • Third place was tough- so I’m going for a tie between The Design Files, for wholesome Aussie homes with lots of heart and character, and Planet Deco for an endless supply of beautiful homes, mostly from Europe .

3. What’s your favorite post that you’ve written and why?

40 decades of houses because it was such a nice trip down memory lane.

Exposed brick and psychedelic green!

Exposed brick and psychedelic green!  That’s Aunty Kate in the box, and I’m towing.  Check out my art.  I haven’t improved.

4. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

The connections made with readers.  We are helping each other blunder our way through home building.  The banter is fun and the tips are helpful.

5. How do you find things to blog about?

Somehow I always have at least one month’s worth of blog topics up my sleeve.  Ideas come to me naturally as part of the building process, often while I’m doing the dishes!  So far I’ve resisted writing the:  “I can’t wait to have a dishwasher” post.

6. What do you hope to achieve from your blog?

  • Make sense of the building process.
  • Make good decisions by “thinking out loud”.
  • Maximise the enjoyment of the building process, however remote I may be.
  • Keep the builders honest!

7. Describe your favourite meal.

One large salad with beetroot or mushrooms and goat’s cheese, and a cold glass of Margaret River white wine, please.  Served here:

Landscape design for House By The Water by Tim Davies Landscaping.

Landscape design for House By The Water by Tim Davies Landscaping.

8. If you had a day to do anything you want, what would you do?

I would go homewares and furniture shopping in Melbourne with Aunty Kate (my sister).  We would, of course, have an unlimited budget.  We’d meet my Mum and my other sister for lunch at Cumulus Inc to drool over the lamb and the interior design.

We’d visit Mark Tuckey, Jardan, Southwood Home, and Weylandts.

Jardan's Melbourne store.

Jardan’s Melbourne store.

9. What are your current obsessions?

Blue, preferably dark and moody.  Linen.  Australian made furniture.  Oh yeah, and that small thing called building a house.

10. In 5 words describe your interior style.

Relaxed, modern, Australian, earthy, light.

Normal blogging services will resume next week.  

 
Edit:  News just in from Webb and Brown Neaves.  
Second floor brickwork is still not quite complete.  
The roof carpenter is expected to start next week.
Bedroom of the second little pig.   An impressive amount of scaffolding.  I'm quite amazed to see it all.

Bedroom of the second little pig. An impressive amount of scaffolding. I’m quite amazed to see it all.

The scaffold floor will be removed to reveal a void space above the ground floor living area.

The scaffold floor will be removed to reveal a void space above the ground floor living area.  It’s starting to look large.

Reader vote: next week’s post.

The indecisiveness is spreading.  First it was the splash back, then the pendant lights, and now I can’t even decide what to write about next.  Here’s a few ideas that are circling in my head.  Take your pick, or suggest something new.  You have a few days to place your vote.

 Other topics that I have up my sleeve in the “coming soon” file are vegetable gardens, the post-handover plan and interior paints, but I’ve got some more research to do before they go live.

By the way, if you are looking for some good pinning opportunities this weekend, checkout Webb and Brown-Neaves’ latest display home, The Islander.  The interior design is definitely my favourite of all their displays so far.  I love a bit of “beach” without the kitsch.  Pay close attention to the tiles, some may look familiar.

So fa, no good.

A sofa for appreciating the view.  Source:  Houzz.

A sofa for appreciating the view and conversation.  Source: Houzz.

While the builders are preparing to cavity fill our brick retaining walls with concrete, I’m doing important things like browsing sofas.

The current state of sofa affairs is not up to standard.

Exhibit A:

I've repositioned the seat cushions at least 3 times already today.

I’ve repositioned the seat cushions at least 3 times already today.

  • Ikea’s Ekeskog sofa bed.
  • 8 years old.
  • Very comfortable for television viewing as long as no one moves.
  • Can seat the whole family at once.
  • Performs well as a sofa bed, being sag free and able to accommodate bodies that are longer than 6 feet.
  • Removable, washable covers.
  • Ripped on the corners.
  • Categorically cannot keep the seat cushions in place.
  • Daggy/slouchy.

The greenie in me will not throw out sofas without a good reason, so here’s the plan:

Move Exhibit A to the second floor, out of sight.  It can see out its days in the upstairs living room that will be a multipurpose space: study, secondary television viewing area, kids’ hangout, spare bed when we have a full house.  If it lasts, it will be palmed off to the first lucky “Little Pig” to leave home and require share-house furnishings.  I will consider recovering it with off-the-shelf slip covers such as these made by Comfort Works:

Not bad for $460, but it wouldn’t solve the problem of the slipping seat cushions.  I’d staple those in place except for the need to remove them to use the bed.

 

Exhibit B:

Actually, having a looking-good day.

Actually, having a looking-good day.

  • Freedom 3 seaters (x2)
  • 10-15 years old.
  • Dignified survivor of 3 projectile vomiting babies.  (Okay, you probably didn’t need to know that.)
  • Good bones.
  • In some light you can see heat damage from spending years in storage/transit.
  • A bit of light wear on the arms.
  • Old fashioned shape.
  • Has a green tinge in some light.

Plan:

Use Exhibit B in the library.  These couches are too old-fashioned and small for the large space that will be our main living area but they’ll fit nicely in the smaller library.  I’ve been researching the cost of re-upholstering these sofas.  Without actually asking for quotes I estimate that each couch would cost approximately $700 in labour, plus material.  Roughly, a minimum of $1000 per sofa, more likely $1500 considering my love of 100% linen.  Too much.  I’m not into sewing, although I did buy a sewing machine years ago for the specific purpose of recovering a foam couch.  My skills are basic, but some of these simple sofa cover options are within the realms of possibility (if not for me, then certainly for my handy Mum):

(Pictures:  1.  The Design Files  2. Graham and Green  3. House of Turquoise  4. Alvhem Mäkleri  5.  RTL Woon Magazine.)

Finally, this leaves a vacancy in the main living room, open to the kitchen and dining room, for

Exhibit C:

Any of these will do.  (Picture sources: 1.  Houzz.  2 & 3.  Jardan.  4.  Domayne.

  • Modular, fabric sofa.
  • Australian-made (except for the first sofa).
  • Expected to last 20 years plus, with a warranty to prove it.
  • Not too slouchy so that you can converse with guests.
  • Not so modern that it goes out of fashion in the next 5 years.
  • Price unknown – $5000-10000.  (The Domayne sofa is just under $5000, but Jardan do not list their prices which is never a good sign.)

I really like the sofas with a “chaise longue” (the bit without the back rest) for their flexibility.  You could perch on the end to face the kitchen or turn around to admire the view or fireplace.  Or rest your feet on it at the end of the day.

Have I missed any Australian-made options that might fit my criteria?  Have you successfully breathed new life into an old sofa?  Got a sofa that you can’t bear, but it stays because you don’t want to add to landfill?

 

Gallery

Window Shopping

I’m not exactly sure what the builders are up to right now, but the odd little bit of “behind the scenes” information is sneaking into my inbox.  What are the soak well requirements for the pool?  Can I confirm that I want the front door stained not painted?  And, most excitingly, the names of our Construction Liaison, the “Starts Manager” (in charge of site works and slab), and Site Supervisor. Any moment now there will be a start date!

Meanwhile, I’m having a little holiday in Australia.  And as I take my job as Chief in Charge of beautifying House By The Water seriously, I plan to do a bit of retail research.  This week I’m in Sydney, hitting the shops for a couple of days with Aunty Kate.  Then, my husband and I are having a rare child-free 24 hours in Beechworth, North East Victoria.  And finally, a mini-break in Melbourne with the kids to soak up all that we love about that great city.  Food, shops, interesting architecture and a European vibe, all seen through the rose-coloured glasses of sentimentality.  (My husband and I met in Melbourne 20 years ago and lived there for several years.)

I thought I’d share my itinerary wish list with you, in case you have some recommendations for me.

Sydney:

  1. West Elm.  (Pictured top.) I’ve seen a lot of pinning action on some lovely West Elm furniture and their prices are not too shocking.  I want to see how it looks in reality.
  2. Williams and Sonoma.  When I lived in Canada I visited this paradise for home cooks regularly and was always in awe of the quality cookware.  Can the Australian store lives up to my expectations?
  3. The Society Inc..  Sibella Court’s little office in Paddington.  This lady has mastered the art of making clutter look good.  I need lessons.
  4. Zaffero Pop Up Shop.  I’ve never been to a pop up shop before, but in a world of online shopping, it’s a great idea.  If I’m going to spend a few hundred dollars on a light fixture or rug, I really want to see it first.  This way, I can look now, buy later.
  5. Matt Blatt.  The king of replicas.  Will they fool me?  I hope so.
  6. David Jones.  Australian-made towels by Country Road are currently 50% off.
  7. Adriano Zumbo.  With all that home decorating research, I’m going to need some sustenance.  Zumbo is everywhere these days (Tim Tams anyone?) but I like the tiny, original store in Balmain.

Hardly revolutionary, I know.  But don’t forget I’ve been in the depths of wild Brazil (slight exaggeration) for the past 8 months, deprived of shops tailored to Australian taste.

Beechworth:

Provenance accommodation, Beechworth.

Our accommodation at “The Provenance“, Beechworth.

On my last visit to Beechworth, 20 years ago, my highlights were sticky beesting from the Beechworth bakery and viewing the jail where the infamous bushranger, Ned Kelly, was held.  Beechworth is a gold rush town that has maintained many of its beautiful old buildings.  It’s now also a gourmet destination and I’m hoping that it will have a few cute antique and home wares stores for browsing.

Melbourne:

  1. H and M.  Trendy and cheap clothes and home wares.  I’m interested in their linen bedding and curtains.
  2. Corporate Culture.  One of the stockists for the gorgeous Coco pendant that is in top spot for contention as our dining room pendant light.  At $1500, I have to see it first.
  3. Fonda Mexican Restaurant.  The interior design of this restaurant has been a bit of a talking point, but I suspect my family will be more interested in the guacamole and margaritas.

I’d love a little more “Australian-made” on the list.  I suspect we’ll make a few discoveries as we wander the streets of Melbourne.

Do you have any favourites to share?  I won’t bore you with another shopping post, but if I find any treasures, I’ll share them on House By The Water’s Facebook page.

Gallery

Cray Pot Pendants

Mandurah was originally a fishing town and it’s still a favourite past time for many locals.  Personally, I’d prefer to watch paint dry and grass grow than wait for a fish to attach itself to my rod.  However, it is fun to go “crabbing” with friends once a year, followed by chilli crabs on the BBQ.  And, I have been known to enjoy being knocked over by small waves while plucking abalone off the rocks.  For many years my husband and friends regularly dove for crayfish in the ocean.  Recent shark tales may change that, but it remains that Mandurah is a fishing destination.

Mr. Mitchell obviously has a great mind.

Mr. Mitchell obviously has a great mind.

I’m not one for dolphin-shaped water features or crab-mosaic splash backs, but a cray pot pendant?  Now we are talking.  I was keeping this idea as a surprise, but this week I noticed that someone else had the same idea!  I delved a little deeper and it turns out cray pot pendants are everywhere.

Picture Sources:  1.  Pinterest (original source not known) 2.  Homelife 3 & 4. Coastal Vintage.

So far this is my plan:

1.  Include provision for pendants on the lighting plan.  Check.

2.  Buy some cheap lights with appropriate cord length and have them installed by the builder’s electrician during construction.  (Getting to the light “sockety” things later, won’t be easy.)

3.  Remove cheap shades and add the cray pots and supporting wires/line/chain at my leisure.

Not much detail there, I know.  I have figured out that there are plenty of places that will sell you the necessary bits and pieces (eg. Ikea and Beacon Lighting in Australian, West Elm in North America).  I have 3 potential locations in mind for my cray pot pendants, all in areas with double-height, 5.4 metre ceilings.  I think I will need at least 1.8 metres of cord.  And now, what I don’t know:

  • Cray pots weigh 1-2kg.  Is that normal for a pendant?  Do you think the cray pot needs to have its own support, rather than hang from the cord?
  • One of the pendants will be in the alfresco area, in other words – it’s outside but has a roof above.  I’m worried about rust.  Has anyone put in pendant lights designed specifically to withstand coastal conditions?
  • The largest cray pots available, in the style I like, are 60cm wide, but only 30 cm high.  Maybe too small for our large spaces?

Have you made your own pendant lights?  Any tips for someone who is ever-so-slightly challenged by electrical concepts.

I’ve collected a few DIY pendant light stories in my Pinterest DIY folder.  If you are feeling creative, have a click around in there for links to instructions to make pendants such as these:

One of "50 Coolest DIY Pendant Lights" found at Decoist.

One of “50 Coolest DIY Pendant Lights” found at Decoist.

Woven rope pendant - DIY by Design Sponge.

Woven rope pendant – DIY by Design Sponge.

Most importantly, do you have any old cane or wood cray pots rotting away behind your shed?  I’m a willing buyer.

When all else fails, I have found a few cray pot fakes!  Good looking fakes, mind you, but not useful for actually catching crayfish.

Picture sources:  1.  Darcy Clark   2. Zaffero   3. Freedom.

Gallery

Colour therapy and paint

Interior painting is included in our house contract.  We won’t need to select paints for a while, but it’s a relaxing way to spend time while I am waiting for construction to start.  In particular I want to get the double-height living room right because repainting it will involve scaffolding, an exercise I hope to avoid for many years.
Although I find rich, moody colours so tempting, the overall look we are going for with HBTW is light and natural.  My plan is to use just one colour for most walls in the house.  Here’s my shortlist:

Snow White, Feather dawn, Soft Apparition, Crystal Ball, Scribbly gum, Paper White.
I know it is absolutely necessary to test these on site because the colours online, in photos, in someone else’s room, in different light, etc, all look different.  Take Scribbly Gum as an example.  Based on the swatch above, it looks beige to me, rather than a light grey that I’m aiming for.  But check out how it looks in this bedroom:

Scribbly gum paint.  Source:   MS Mega Home Lottery.

Scribbly gum paint. Source: MS Mega Home Lottery.

More grey, don’t you think?
One of my blog readers, who just moved into her Webb & Brown-Neaves home, painted boards with her sample pots of paint, so she could move them from room to room, and see how the paints looked in different spaces.  Clever.
I am contemplating a different colour for two areas of the house.  The first is the fireplace/chimney wall:

I played around on Polyvore with some different colour options:

I do like the striking black, but I’m pretty sure my husband will say no.  And, when I envision one dark coloured column in the whole open living area (kitchen, dining and living room), it seems isolated and wrong.  My current preference is the grey, darker than the other walls, but not shouting for attention.  On the other hand, here are a couple of spaces that I love, that manage to have a “feature wall” without it over-featuring:

Photo sources:  1.  Lisa Petrole via Houzz, 2.  Archnew.
Oh, the indecision!
The second area in contention for a variation in colour is the library.  Originally, I assumed we’d stick to white/slightly grey, but my husband has other ideas and I could be persuaded.  I’m going to save that discussion for another time.  In the mean time, if you are craving colour, take a look at a few of my favourite places on the web for brave and wonderful use of colour:

(You can buy paint from them too if you are feeling adventurous.)

Mood boards for the kids’ rooms.

I’ve found a new toy.  Another fun way to waste spend hours on the internet.  It’s Polyvore. Polyvore is a digital mood board creating tool, suitable for use by those with no real talent for online graphics or design.  I’ve tried a few other free mood board programs before but either found them difficult (yes, no real talent), or severely limited by the products you can plonk onto your boards.  While Polyvore is American, it is loaded up with products from Ikea, Freedom, West Elm, etc….. all found in Australia.  You can even find some Australian-made items loaded up by “yours truly”.  Using the “cutting tool” you can clip images from other websites, or if you feel lazy, you can simply choose a similar item to the one you have in mind, for the purposes of the mood board.  They also have plenty of background images to mimic your choice of wall paint colour, floor boards, or even empty rooms.  You can add text, but I’m still working up to that.

Here are my first couple of mood boards:

HBTW open living

My first board – trying to get a feel for how the kitchen, dining and living rooms are going to work together. It’s open plan. These are not exact selections just a rough end goal, to help me avoid any incongruent decisions or purchases.

A2's bedroom

This room is for our little artist. She’ll be 9 when we move in. We already have the bed, chair, art and bunting. I’ll paint an existing bedside table.The rug is from Anthropologie, my favourite shop.

I decided to try and get more specific for my son’s room – using only what we already own or I know that we can buy in Australia.  I needed some inspiration first, to focus my plans, so I turned to my Pinterest files and picked my top 3 boyish bedrooms.  The 3rd little pig will be 5 when we move into House By The Water – so I’m trying to find a happy medium between babyish and dull.  Tricky.

Nautical without being too heavy on primary colours.

Nautical without being too heavy on primary colours.  I love this.  Source:  Country Living.

The tiniest bit of bright colour sneaking in - easily modified as tastes change.

The tiniest bit of bright colour sneaking in – easily modified as tastes change.  Source: unknown, but I’m guessing Australian!

Brown, greys and blues would be in keeping with the rest of the house.

Brown, greys and blues would be in keeping with the rest of the house.  Great desk.  Source: The House That A-M Built.

Here’s what I came up with using an existing bed, chair, boat and chest:

Room for J

I might need to learn to use Ebay for the lockers and do a bit of a makeover for the old chest we collected from a sidewalk.  This room might satisfy my love of “industrial style” home decoration, which so far I’ve restrained from in planning for other rooms.

If you get keen and try some of your own mood boards, share them with me on Polyvore.  If you like something I’ve used here, you can find it on my Polyvore boards and “like it” to use it on your own.  After just a short play on Polyvore, I already find this tool better suited to mood board creation than PowerPoint which I was using previously.  Have fun!

Making an entrance.

Source:  HomeDSGN.

I’ll take one of those, please.  Designed by Tim Steward Architects.  Source: HomeDSGN.

We’ve been playing around with ideas for the front entrance and yard.  We needed to make a decision about the floor surface for the patio.  To cut a long story short, we’ve decided on timber decking.  It will match the interior flooring when the front door is open, and will tie in with the deck at the rear of the house.  I showed this stunning picture to my live-in handy man as a model for the patio decking.  Always ambitious, he’s already planning not only the jetty-style path, but the water on either side too.  We’ll see….

You might think it is a little early to worry about the front yard, but with site works commencing in the near future, we wanted to think about how we would deal with the small slope (about 70 cm over 10 metres) from the house to the verge.  So out came the colouring pencils and graph paper.

The front yard plan.

The front yard plan, with plenty of scope for change later.  

I struggled to think how this was going to work in 3D but this is what I’ve surmised:  The driveway will slope from the garage down to the verge.  We will flatten the front yard by dropping the ground level in front of the house and increasing it towards the fence line.  This way we can avoid complicated plans and approvals required for retaining walls over 50cm high and can add interest to landscape in front of the house by including a step down from the patio to the path, maybe even some water.

Looking out from the front of the house, it should look a bit like the next photo, except where the decking is – think of a vegetable garden in raised beds.

Via Pinterest.  Original source unknown.

Via Pinterest. Original source unknown.

Finally, I returned to one of my recurring dilemmas, the front fence.  I eliminated some of my favourite ideas by putting them on the mood board, only to discover they didn’t compliment the house facade at all.  Now, I’m planning a more subtle fence – hidden behind the trees.  At last, I have a mood board for the front facade and front yard that I’m very pleased with.

Front facade and yard.

Front facade and yard.

You can find the colour and material details of this mood board on the Colour Selections page.  If you want more inspiration for your own front yard, check out my ever-expanding Pinterest files:  Outdoor, Front fence, Front yard, PlantsVeggie patch and Driveway.

I can’t wait to get my garden gloves on.