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.

 

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?

Jetty Christmas!

Santa on the canals.

Santa delivers lollies on Christmas Eve.

In the scheme of things, I thought that a jetty was low priority.  After all, we don’t actually have a boat.  But The Nice Wolf had other ideas and last week the Jetty Man motored up to House By The Water, drilled in a couple of poles and attached a brand new jetty.  Just like that!

The Three Little Pigs watched the jetty poles go in.

The Three Little Pigs watched the jetty poles go in.  Jetty by West Coast Jetties.

The Nice Wolf paid attention to the functionality of our jetty design, I oversaw the aesthetics and I am rather pleased with the result.  An unexpected bonus of the jetty is that it visually extends our “back yard”.  Suddenly our canal side area seems so much larger.  The jetty has been well used already:  breakfast while dangling feet over the water and many boating guests, including Santa, a previously anonymous blog reader and some new neighbours who welcomed us with a gift of champagne!  Plus, there has been plenty of shenanigans on our kayaks and the Three Little Pigs’ Christmas gift, a blow up paddle board/windsurfer.

Another highlight of the week was the installation of our cray pot pendants.    They are not quite finished yet, but already I love them, especially at night.

Christmas baking provided a good test for our ovens and kitchen space.  Pavlova?  Check!  3.5 kg salmon?  Check!  2 adults cooking at once?  No problem.

Kitchen

Kitchen in use.

Kitchen crowd.

Boxing Day kitchen crowd.

Guess The Handover Date Competition.

Congratulations to John!  John guessed December 24th would be the day we received keys to House By The Water, 6 days later than our actual handover day.  A good bottle of West Australian bubbly is  available for collection or delivery.  Thanks to all blog readers who joined in with this competition.

…She’s making a list, checking it twice…

Kitchen splash back.It seems to be the done thing to start writing lists at this stage of the build.  I’ve been postponing my list writing for fear of what I might find.  But here it is, out in the open, for all of you to tut about how it’s not possible to do all those things in just two weeks, before the builders shut down for a long break.

To do:

  1. Finish interior tiles: powder room, splash back, laundry chute/bath surround.
  2. Exterior texture (nearly finished).
  3. Stacked stone feature (started).
  4. Render, waterproof, texture planter boxes and retaining walls (started).
  5. Paint walls (started).
  6. Install balustrade.
  7. Plumbing finals, installation sinks, taps, toilets.
  8. Electrical finals, install light fittings (started).
  9. Phone/future link finals.
  10. Shower screens and mirrors.
  11. Robes (started).
  12. Door hardware.
  13. Manhole.
  14. Stacker doors, front door.
  15. Flyscreens.
  16. Garage door.
  17. Install appliances (started).
  18. Insulation.
  19. House clean.

I started the list last weekend, and although it seems like there has been plenty of activity at House By The Water, the list looks fairly unscathed.

As I am a “glass half full” kind of person, here is my list of items that were completed this week.

Completed:

  • Balustrade measured up and a new balustrade finish negotiated to avoid availability of product delays.
  • Splash back tiled and grouted.  Looking very lovely, if I do say so.

    Scullery tile and bench

    Masia Gris Claro tile and Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

  • Bathroom and ensuite tiles grouted.
  • Powder room floor problem # 4 (some tiles in the series darker than the rest) resolved by creating a new pattern.

    Powder room tiles.

    Powder room tiles.

  • Robe areas painted.

    Solver Kitty Grey. Purrfect.

    Solver Kitty Grey. Purrfect.

  • Stacker doors installed.
  • Appliances, sinks and toilets delivered.  Ovens installed.
  • Downlights, some pendant lights, smoke alarms and power outlets fitted.

    Vintage LED pendant.

    One of the void pendants. Cray pot to be added later.

  • Robes started.
  • Stacked stone progressed.
  • Front door delivered.

All considered, I’m pronouncing it a good, productive week at House By The Water.  Stay tuned for the big week of painting ahead.

 

How cabinets made my day.

Fearing another slow week, I decided to trial a new strategy to keep work progressing rapidly at House By The Water.  Bribery.

Our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves asked me to meet the tiler on site on Monday, so first thing in the morning I left the tiler a box of chocolates hoping it would make him work at his best.  I know that the tiling is a big job and a critical one in the pathway to the builders handing over the keys on December 18th.  Well I’m not sure that it had the desired effect, (any tilers reading, please send in your suggestions,) but we do at least now have the bathroom and ensuite screed.

Bathroom screed.

Kids bathroom. Note: hole in floor for laundry shute.

Ensuite screed

Ensuite

The renderers have started to add the final textured layer to the house exterior:

Grey pebble render.

Dulux Grey pebble render.

I collected some render that had fallen to the ground to take to the tile shop.  I need to select a tile to cover the top face of the patio awning.  I want it to be inconspicuous.

The concreter poured the garage floor and a concrete plinth beside the house for the air conditioning unit to sit on:

Grano garage floor.

Grano garage floor.

A couple of broken windows have been replaced and some interior scaffolding is in place.  I hope it means that the painter will start soon.

But the highlight of the week is definitely the arrival of the cabinets.  My mum sent me a text message during the day…”There’s a large furniture truck outside your house.”   Oooooh!   Cabinets!  Cabinets for the kitchen, scullery, laundry, bathroom and ensuite.  Lots and lots of beautiful storage.

What a giant puzzle it must be now to put it all together.

For those of you who are missing my little chats about interiors, I promise a short break from building talk next week.  I’ve been making a few exciting purchases and plans for our interior but I can’t reveal them just yet.

Top 5 new house features that I will not take for granted.

Traditional and modern housing.

This is not my house. I live in one of those modern concrete and tile monstrosities in the background.

Before I give you my list, let me first say that I am well aware of my spoilt brat status.  Here in Brazil, we are certainly part of the privileged population.  We live in a brand new apartment, with 4 bedrooms, plus an extra room out the back “for the maid”.  There are 6 bathrooms!  Complete luxury, yet things here just don’t seem to work quite right.

As I am counting down the days until our departure (30!), here are the top 5 things I’m looking forward to having at House By The Water:

  1. A dishwasher.
  2. Hot water.
  3. Safe drinking water from the tap.
  4. Toilets that really flush.
  5. A house with some soul.

 

Dishes drying.

It’s usually a two rack job.

1.  A dishwasher.  Maids are more common than dishwashers in Brazil.  Hmmm.  Alas, the “maid” in my household is moi!  Dishwasher, you are most definitely top of my “can’t wait” list.

Kettle.

Our hot water system. I’m yet to see an electric kettle at the shops.

2.  Hot water is not plumbed into our apartment.  I suspect that most people shower in cold water which is not really a problem when you live just 2 degrees from the equator.  We have shower heads installed that heat the water just moments before it falls on our heads.  The water, that is.  But also sometimes the whole shower head and, once, the heating element, in flames.  That was an exciting moment.  These shower heads require regular maintenance to refill the little silicon plugs that pop loose and spray water all over the ceiling.  I’d have a bath, but well, it’s cold.

Water bottles

Our drinking water order.

3.  I order 80 litres of drinking water at a time.  No big deal, usually.  The supplier has changed phone numbers several times and today the number is unresponsive.  I don’t understand the recorded message in Portuguese that is coming on the line.  Ho hum.

4.  Without going into too much detail, there is a good reason why we have 6 toilets.  Only 1 or 2 work at any one point in time.  Moving on.

Typical Brazilian kitchen.

Our rental kitchen, fully lined with tiles and highly practical.

5.  Soul.  I know this bit is up to us.  Plants and things you love can bring soul to any space, but even so, being surrounded by so many large white tiles feels a bit sterile.  At House By The Water, we’ll be living in our own home for the first time in 10 years.

This list goes on, but I know I shouldn’t.  I really shouldn’t publish this post.  I should relegate it to the never-to-be-read pile, along with the post I wrote about “Ways to justify living in a big house”.  But, you know, every time I do the dishes these thoughts come back into my head, so I’m blurting it out.  Feel free to tell me to get a grip.  Or you can tell me what you are most looking forward to in your new home, or what you’ll never take for granted.

And, did I mention?  30 days!!!!

 

Outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchen

Our barbecue collection is becoming a bit embarrassing.  Lest we be caught short without a barbecue, our current count is 4, spread over 3 locations.    But that is not enough for The Nice Wolf (a.k.a. husband).  Australians love to barbecue, but so do Canadians, Brazilians and South Koreans and they all do it in different ways.

The Nice Wolf loves to entertain and if he invites you for dinner, the chances are you will be fed either BBQ or pizza.  And when the husband is cooking, which wife in her right mind would deny him the “necessary” tools?  So the outdoor kitchen at House By The Water shall be requiring a standard Australian/Canadian style barbecue, a Brazilian churrasqueira and a pizza oven.

Top 5 Outdoor Kitchens:

COS Design back yard.

This is probably the closest example of how I imagine our BBQ area to look. Amazing Melbourne back yard by: COS Design.

Pizza oven

Pizza oven and built in BBQ by Harrison Landscaping. (Feature photo is from the same garden.)

Punta del este alfresco

Space hungry but beautiful.  Source: Menossi Fotografo.

Black and timber outdoor kitchen

Building approval required for this rather OTT outdoor kitchen. Never-the-less, it’s classy. Photo source: unknown.

Simple BBQ bench.

Subtle BBQ bench by Secret Gardens.

Longtime readers will know that I like to choose my favourite 5 photos for inspiration, but I have to tell you that outdoor kitchens were a struggle.  So many of them dominate a space.  When I’m outside, I want to forget about the sink and let the canal and garden be the focus.  We want a lot of BBQs but we don’t want it to look like a lot.  Probably the standard BBQ will be wheeled out of sight most of the time, leaving just the built-in churrasqueira and pizza oven on display.  I’m sure the Nice Wolf will enjoy the challenge of designing just the right space, with my guidance on the finishes:

Mood board for outdoor kitchen.

Keeping the outdoor style consistent. Modern Australian with a touch of Italian and Brazilian!

  • concrete ✔︎
  • timber ✔︎
  • matt black ✔︎
  • stainless steel ✔︎
  • neighbour friendly ✔︎
  • plant friendly ✔︎

Have you got a fancy outdoor kitchen plan?  

What are your back yard cooking essentials?  

Could you start your own barbecue shop?

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to my Dad whose favourite BBQ method is a snag in a pan on a campfire in the paddocks, and to the Nice Wolf, who likes that too!