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:
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.
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.
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.
I finally committed to an olive tree beside the pool. Though young, it’s already a feature, looking especially lovely lit up at night:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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:
*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:
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.
Aaah! The butterfly chair, leather ottoman and a new coffee table would be nice too.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
Snail’s pace is the only way to describe it. The current rate of work seems to be one job per month.
- December- deck.
- January – glass fence
- February- remove scaffolding over pool.
- March- concrete around pool
- April – start tiling, concrete roof of storage area.
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:
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.
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.)
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!
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.)
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.
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.
Cheers! And happy Easter!
…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:
- Get all keen and order the cobblestones.
- Take a week or two to recover from the shock of the arrival of the crates and crates and crates of cobblestones.
- Prepare area, level ground. In the case of our canal landing this involved carting in road base and hiring a compactor.
- 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.
- Grout between the cobbles.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, at current rate, I estimate we’ll be finished by June.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.