One year at House By The Water.

The Nice Wolf and I have been flat out getting at least some of the garden ready in time for the influx of Christmas and Summer visitors.  I’ve lost count of the weekends the Nice Wolf has been laying cobblestones.  He complains that I get the good jobs and it’s probably true.  Planting, painting.  Any way, no time to write, but I feel I owe my readers at least some photos of recent progress.  I hope you enjoy the gallery:

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!

 

Sweet dreams, new bed.

Since we last talked, I’ve been sleeping on a lovely new bed!  We ordered an “Iris Dunes” bed from Snooze.  They are made to order, in Australia, so I asked for the bed head shape to be varied from the wavy version in the show room.  I think it looks excellent!

Luxury!

Luxury!

It’s a little bit wide for the mattress, or is the mattress a little narrow for the bed?  Both are King sized and both are from Snooze, so it’s a bit annoying that the slats are visible on the sides. After waiting 3 months for the bed, I can’t bare to send it back to be modified…

More on the master bedroom soon…. (Freedom have a furniture sale this weekend, so I have plans…  Plus, I need to ‘fess up to a Pottery Barn curtain disaster.)

Roller blinds.

Charcoal light-filtering blinds.

Blinds.

Blinds up.

The living room blinds arrived and were masterfully installed by a pleasant fellow from Kresta blinds.  One wall of blinds were not measured accurately, so they need to be sent back to QLD for recutting.  (Note to self: do not chat with sales lady when she is trying to take measurements.)  I was a bit nervous that my dark choice of roller blind would look out of place on our light walls, but I’m very happy with how they look.  In fact, they are more pleasant looking than our fairly ordinary window frames.  I’m currently typing in our living room, without wearing sunglasses, which is a plus.

 Concrete pool surround.

 The landscapers concreted around our pool in preparation for tiles.  The rate of landscaping progress is excruciatingly slow.  Luckily, I’m well trained in patiently waiting for trades to arrive.  It’s going to be great when it’s finished.  You just need long range vision.

Aunty Kate (a.k.a. my sister and unqualified, highly-opinionated interiors advisor) is currently in residence.  Possibly sleeping off the latest feast on the deck.  Of course, I was aiming to impress her.  This called for a quick stock up of flowers and greenery from Frisky Deer and a whirlwind cleaning spree.  You can imagine that the effect lasted only minutes with the Three Little Pigs around, but I made sure to snap a few pics as proof that House By The Water was momentarily clean.

  

In any case, Aunty Kate has given the official thumbs-up to House By The Water with one exception.   The purple blue blind in the powder room.  Remember the interesting powder room door?  It has clear glass.   Perfect for sitting on the loo and waving to the neighbours.  A bit of a blunder with the building addenda.  Various solutions are still being thrown about, but in the mean time, the Handy Wolf and I picked up a cheapie roller blind from Masters for self installation.  It was inky blue in the shop, without any sun behind it.  It’s vibrant purple in our powder room.

Featuring purple!

Featuring purple!

 

The “to do” list right now seems quite impossible, but with this as our regular dinner time view, how could we complain?  

Cheers!  And happy Easter!

Me!

“The hostess @housebythewater”.  Photo by Aunty Kate.

 

Old furniture meets new house.

Open living area.

Smitten with our House By The Water.

Our boxes and furniture arrived.  The kitchen boxes took me a full weekend to unpack and I’ve declared a ban on any further kitchenware purchases.  Our plentiful kitchen storage is full.

Kitchen bench, caesarstone.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone and the splash back tile dilemma, well and truly resolved.  Pot stand made by my Nan.

This 3 day weekend, my mission is to clear the house of all the other boxes.  I’m spurred on by a special request from a South African reader for photos of our void area and by the impending arrival of an important guest, Aunty Kate.

Our living room (with void) is furnished temporarily with old furniture:

Living area void.

View of our living area from the second floor.

Living area.

I have big plans for this living area, but I have to be patient.  In the end, practicality won over lust and I’ve ordered this sofa:

Lazio Daybed.

Lazio Daybed by Weylandts.

The sofa is coming from South Africa and is due to arrive in May.  I’m taking that to mean July, because everything seems to arrive later than advertised.  (Hello?  Bed I ordered in December.  Shutters I ordered in October.  Are you there?)  When the sofa arrives, I shall borrow some rug samples from Frisky Deer and will select a rug to complement the new sofa and the “I.O.U. artwork” that is yet to be purchased following a conspicuous birthday a certain time ago.

I’m only half way through my box emptying spree, but I feel like showing off our living area.  I’ve earned a short break…

Open living area.

Open living area.

Through the chaos of the week, I’ve enjoyed finding little spots that give me pleasure.  Honestly, everything looks better with timber floors:

And finally, a preview of our powder room:

Clamshell Caesarstone.

The arty-farty version. Clamshell Caesarstone.

Powder room.

The real version.

Timber floors and suddenly it feels like home.

At times it seems like jobs will never end, but after 6 weeks our timber floors were finally finished.   

living room timber floor.

Living room. I hope the floors distract you from the kerbside couch that has survived too many moves.

 Life has hit crazy-busy levels over the past couple of weeks, but my current favourite past time is to find a little corner of the house to put right. 

    

Blackbutt stairs.

A happy corner.

 We moved in some old pieces of furniture that were in storage for years.  The rest of our belongings arrive this Friday so we’ve been madly trying to make some room in our garage for access to the house and for the inevitable items that won’t be unpacked. 

Landscaping is moving at snails pace.  Over the past two months the landscapers have removed the pool scaffolding and rendered around the top of the pool.  Full stop.  I’d better start cracking the whip if we want it to be ready before next Summer.  

concrete pool

Hurry up, landscapers.

 The Nice Wolf has been working on a jetty-style entrance.   The idea was to reduce sand entry to the house as soon as possible.  

creating a jarrah  

Jarrah entrance.

Like most things around here, work in progress. Our front door is yet to be replaced.

Never without a hitch. 

Good news first.

Doesn’t our kitchen look swish?

kitchen

House By The Water kitchen.  I think I might “pin” that.

I glammed the house up a bit with some greenery in honour of my Mum’s visit and the return of The Three Little Pigs from holidays with grandparents.

Kids' bathroom.

The Little Pigs’ wash trough, with maiden hair fern sitting atop the laundry chute.

girls room

Christmas gifts for our 11 year old pig included an Armadillo & Co rug and bedding from Adairs. Furniture still in transit.

The fireplace saga….

 Round one of fireplace saga took place a year ago, I won’t bore you with the details.  Round two of fireplace saga started with us collecting our fireplace from storage last month to find that we only had 4 metres of flue.  No good for a 6+metre building.  A few extra days and we soon had some extra flue.  Next, the fan kit for the heater ($750) was nowhere to be found.  Storage upturned and triple checked, supplier contacted and no evidence that it was delivered or not.  Nice Wolf huffing and puffing (enough to circulate heat around house). No chance of paying for another.  Fireplace installer and supplier both agree that fan is not necessary.  Fireplace installed without fan and with a frame that’s sort of just hanging loosely off the wall….

Moving on.

Driveway.

A quick rush to get the driveway concreted before the timber floors were to be finished.  The aim was to have an access point to the house that doesn’t involve traipsing through sand.  A couple of quotes later and a bobcat was ploughing sand out of our front yard.  Well worth the $300 + clean fill when compared to the hours of digging that would be the alternative.  I’d never have thought we’d have 3 truckloads of sand/dirt to clear.  All was going well until a little water spring appeared from the water meter.  “It was already leaking.  Can’t you tell by the green grass around it?”  “Fair enough”, I said, wondering if there was also a leak from our letterbox which also has a green patch of grass.

I supplied the concrete contractor with a copy of council’s requirements for driveways, but thought that this should be old hat for any local concreter.  If you follow council’s requirements, they’ll reimburse you for some of the cost of the “crossover”.  Well, they almost got it right.  No expansion joint at our property boundary….maybe I should get them to come back?   Maybe it’s too late.

concrete driveway

The base for our future cobblestone driveway.

Our window shutters were due to be installed mid January.  When I inquired about progress last week I was told there was a “slight delay” of a few more weeks due to one of the shutters being unusually small.  Hmmm…..

Our timber floors are currently having “a rest” before being sanded and finished.  The blackbutt stairs and our curved void area are quite impressive.

 So, there you have it.  Progress, albeit with hitches.

Coming up:

  • Tree farms.
  • Floor finishing, I hope!
  • The return of our furniture.
  • How are the builders tracking with the pre-handover list?
  • And, you never know your luck, a pool before winter?
Jardan Melbourne

Window shopping in Melbourne 

Yeah, I know my last post was about running out of money.  This was purely research.  Really.  I had 3 or 4 hours to spare and three suburbs to cover.  Special thanks to the stranger at Oakpark train station who loaned me his Myki public transport card so I didn’t have to wait for the Post Office to open at 9am to purchase a card.

Church Street, Richmond, was first on my list, to sit on, look at and touch Australian-made sofas that are available online but are not on show in Western Australia.  Jardan sofas woo me in every Australian interiors magazine.   The Jardan store is one that you feel you should have packed your pyjamas and moved right in.  It’s much more homely than the somewhat clinical photos I’d seen imply.  On top of their famous sofas, they have an eclectic collection of rugs (not all online) and some art I could have stood in front of all day if I had not been a woman on a mission.  It was good to sit on the sofas.  some are just too deep  for cups of tea and upright conversation and others are just right.  I identified some beautiful fabric should I select one of their products in the future.

Jardan sofa

Jardan sofa in “ink blue”. Proving once again that colour in the photo/on screen does not equal reality

Church Street is a sort of sofa shopping hub, amongst other homewares, furniture and interior decorating supplies.  Right across the road from Jardan is Voyager Interiors.  They had some completely dreamy sofas with removable covers, all the way from Italy.  I think they flew business class.  Anyway, I was interested in their Australian-made “Odense”, so after it passed the sit test I organised a quote and fabric samples.

Voyager Interiors sofa

Australian-made “Odense” by Voyager Interiors

I popped past Fitzroy to have a squizz  at Southwood Home who I have been admiring on Instagram for their Australian-made furniture for a long time.  Some of their bedside tables are contenders for a future place at House By The Water.  I gazed at their beautiful linen for longer than is normal then plodded down the footpath in search of a Mark Tuckey fix.  The decision to move into the Jardan show room or the Mark Tuckey showroom would be a close call, but on this occasion the doors were locked at Mark Tuckey so I’ll stick with my own home for the time being.

I met my sister for lunch at Weylandts’ Kitchen in Abbotsford.  This sister, previously referred to as The Sensible One, is building a new house soon but is usually too busy with work to loll about dreaming of future interiors.    To quote my sister, Weylandts was “like visiting a museum”!   (That was a compliment.)  It’s a huge warehouse showing off furniture and homewares from around the world but definitely with an African focus.  Weylandts is a South African company with an eye for style that I love.  Their collection is perfectly curated and original.  Giant tree roots hang from the ceiling!  Some products such as rugs, lighting and artefacts are competitively priced.  Looking at these photos again now makes me sigh….:

Meanwhile, what’s been happening at House By The Water?  The timber floors have started.  The Auswood brothers set off at a cracking pace two weeks ago, sanding and sealing our concrete floor then laying the beautiful, raw blackbutt timber from NSW.  So far the bottom floor timber is down and about half the top floor.  The tricky bits such as the stairs and our curved, suspended slab edge are yet to be done, but the end of concrete dust, sawdust and a furniture-less home is in sight.

Concrete sand and seal

Concrete sand and seal

Blackbutt everywhere.

Blackbutt everywhere.

Scullery getting homely.

Scullery getting homely.

Self levelling concrete.

Self levelling concrete.

Coming soon:

  • Will the fireplace saga ever end?
  • A trip to the tree farms.

 

When the money runs out…

…you wait, and you DIY.  

Spending is over.  Paying bills is not. It would be lovely if we could just keep handing out cash in order to quickly finish off the house but the optimistic reality is that landscaping and furnishings are going to take a year or two, limited by funds and time. 

So the Nice Wolf started work on the cobblestone pavement on the canal side of our property.  The idea is to practice our skills before taking on the project of cobble stoning the drive way.  To remind you, the quotes for  a cobblestone driveway were in a the order of $35K.

DIY cobblestones go something like this:

  1. Get all keen and order the cobblestones.
  2. Take a week or two to recover from the shock of the arrival of the crates and crates and crates of cobblestones. 
    Endicott cobblestones

    Endicott cobblestones from Eco Outdoor

     
  3. Prepare area, level ground.  In the case of our canal landing this involved carting in road base and hiring a compactor.
  4. Mix concrete and lay the cobblestones.  Some cobblestones are nice and consistent in size, but the ones I selected have huge variation in thickness between stones, therefore a thick layer of concrete was needed to compensate.  
  5. Grout between the cobbles. 
    cobbestone grout

    Grubby work.

      
    cobblestone grout

    My first attempt at grouting. I will experiment with a piping tool next time.

     

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Well, at current rate, I estimate we’ll be finished by June.   

cobblestone progress

Work in progress

 
Now, you know that I like to pass my home decorating dilemmas on for reader opinions.  The latest interiors quandary is the colour of our interior blinds.  Living in House By The Water for just 3 weeks has confirmed that we do need blinds to protect us from the setting Western sun.  Our living area is basically inhospitable from 4-7pm in Summer without blinds.  The heat and the glare is severe.   
living area windows

Living area windows.

 
So roller blinds it is.I’m going for a light filtering blind.  You can still see through it during the day time and my first inclination is to go with a charcoal colour.  I’ve seen examples of this looking good.  My hesitation is that when the blinds are fully rolled up, we’ll have a black bar of colour across the top of all the windows.  I’d prefer a more camouflaged approach.  The obvious alternative is a lighter coloured blind but I’m worried this will be glaring and too much whiteness during the day. 

Roller blinds

Charcoal or “Sterling” (below).

 
I think this is a job for Pinterest, but do send your opinions my way.

I’m hoping for the timber floor installers to start this week and the return of the landscapers to start to get the pool into working order.  

I’m still pinching myself everyday, checking that my amazing new surroundings are real.  Our jetty visitors this week have included ducks, dolphins and a rather large stingray!

*Note:  please excuse editing anomalies.  This post was produced entirely on my mobile phone.  Apparently, laptops  and concrete floors do not mix. 

Would you let your husband choose tiles? Alone?

Note from wife sign.

Photo source: unknown.

Up until this week The Nice Wolf (a.k.a. husband) has been too busy to get involved in the minor details of House By The Water.  He’s left all the interior decisions to me and many of the other decisions too.  An ideal situation, as far as I’m concerned.  Well, The Nice Wolf is now on holidays and has been busying himself with thoughts of reticulation, hanging cray pots from the ceiling, cobblestones and many other future DIY projects.  He’s been popping past House By The Water to act as liaison between myself and our landscapers and to submit a daily report on the head count of tradespeople on site.

And yes, he had to bring a note from his wife in order to make a tile selection.

Pool tiles.

Pool tile samples were duly brought home for my approval.

More about that head count.  It has been exceptionally high this week.  Webb and Brown-Neaves and related contractors have been pulling out all stops in order to get the keys to us next week.  On top of that, our landscapers, Tim Davies Landscaping, have started work.

Here is just some of what has been happening:

The lights were installed:

The painters have been inside and Kitty Grey is looking very pretty:

The tiling and stonework is just about finished:

The robes were installed:

Sinks, tapware, shower screens and mirrors (not shown) were installed:

Work on the deck began:

Jarrah decking.

Deck in progress.

Behind the scenes we’ve been booking in the wood fire and floor installers, connecting the internet and phone and ordering the council-supplied bins.  In a very pleasant twist of events, we received a variation notice from the builders giving us an $11.5K credit for site works.  Yep, you read it correctly.  Credit.  Yippee!   (Skipping all the way to the cobblestone shop….)

Looks like I’d better start chilling that wine.

The end of my two year spending hiatus.

Dear Nice Wolf,

Don’t bother to read this post.  It’s not really your thing.  Mostly about interiors.  I’ll send you some pictures of building progress very soon.

Love,  Me.

Okay, readers.  Just between you and me, it’s possible that I’ve spent more on shopping in the last 6 weeks than I did in the whole two years prior to that.  There wasn’t a lot to tempt me in Brazil and anything of interest was exorbitantly priced.  So I’ve been patiently planning for two years and refining my interiors style.  We’re calling it “modern Australian with a touch of earthiness” or “surf and turf” for short.  Well now I’m home and we are on the countdown until House By The Water is ready for occupation.  We’ve had a run of birthdays and, yes, the mother father of all consumer events is just around the corner, so some rather lovely things have been purchased.  I’ve been buying only things that fit with the mood boards I’ve created for each room.  Here’s some highlights:

Living room:

Cray pots!

Cray pots.

West Australian cray pots.

The Nice Wolf sourced these locally for my birthday.  They are the real deal.  The man who made them thought it was such a waste to use them for lighting when they could be catching crayfish.  They have so much character and a lot of weight.  I plan to age them in the weather a bit, then hope they’ll bring a relaxed, natural vibe to our house.

Living area mood board.

Living area mood board

I got some sofa quotes, but I’m not entirely happy yet, so I think I’ll extend the search.  My dream was an Australian-made linen sofa, but practicalities (read: removable covers) lead me to look at the Lazy Time sofa.  Its fabric is mixed, with only a small percentage of linen and the sample fabric I chose in the show room is not quite right:

Sofa fabric mood board.

I’m luke warm on the sofa fabric.

Girl’s Room.

The First Little Pig turned 11 and, with  strong reader encouragement, we gave her a hanging chair:

Hanging chair.

Hanging chair, snaffled up at Empire Homewares in Freo. The shipping cost of these from the East was putting me off. Cushion by Kip and Co. from Frisky Deer Interiors + Cafe.

Tween room mood board.

Book worm heaven in a hanging chair.

Master Bedroom

After 20+ years on the same mattress and 15+ on a homemade, rickety bed, we are upgrading.  I’ve been researching beds for the past year and had my eye on several Australian-made options.  I like very plain, blond coloured timber, with the focus on a comfortable backrest for my breakfasts in bed!  My shortlist of beds did not include any beds stocked in Western Australia so I went in search of a bed that didn’t come with shipping costs.  What do you think of this one?

Iris Dune bed

Iris Dune bed from Snooze. Aussie made.

I love the way it appears to float off the floor.   I haven’t bought it yet.  I don’t want to peak too early with my purchases and have to deal with moving lots of  furniture when our floors are installed.  I did, however, buy some linen sheets to celebrate my first pay cheque for my new job.

So the master bedroom mood board has morphed to something like this:

Master bedroom mood board.

Curtains, rug, bedding, art, lighting, chair – all accounted for.

I’ve a few other items that cannot yet be revealed.  I’m finding it useful to shop with the mood boards in mind, helping me stick to the big picture and to make quick decisions.

At House By The Water this week, I’m actually locked out – not just for accounting purposes.  Of course, it’s cramping my photo-taking style.  The internal painting is in full swing, and thank goodness there is some tiling started.  The tiler is also working on our stacked stone cladding which seems to be a case of “don’t rush the artist”.  It’s certainly an art fitting all the pieces together while trying to balance out the different colours and shapes to give the illusion that it’s all random.

Stacked stone cladding.

Boral’s Country Ledgestone in Echo Ridge.