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.

 

Advertisements

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. 

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.

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.

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!

Vegetable garden
Gallery

Veggie Patch

All good Easter Bunnies need a vegetable patch, so I thought it was a good time to tackle the topic of growing vegetables.  Well, I bit off more than I could chew,  so consider this Part One.

Let’s start with the easy bit.  Some inspiration.

Wood planters.  Source:  Remodelista.

Wood planters. Source: Remodelista.

Photo by Anna Fasth at  Tradgards Design.

Photo by Anna Fasth at Tradgards Design.

Concrete kitchen garden.  Photo source:  Skarp Agent (unverified).

Concrete kitchen garden. Photo source: Skarp Agent (unverified).

Source:  Style Room

Source: Style Room

(Header photo source:  Victoria Skoglund.)

Good looking, hey?  Looks are important because our vegetable garden is going in our front yard.  I like the simplicity of several black boxes in a row, but I’d also like to soften the look of the front yard so gardens with varying heights and angles appeal to me too.  There are plenty more swish vegetable gardens to see in my Pinterest file.

I’ve grown herbs and a few veggies before but on a very small scale.  The more I read, the more I go round in circles considering aspect, soil, garden bed material, climate, pests and even who’s friends with who in the vegetable world.  So I’ve narrowed my plan of attack down to these three options:

  1. Continue to study up and plan a technically correct vegetable garden.
  2. Bribe my Dad with an airfare, give him a budget and let him loose in my front yard.
  3. Wing it.

I’m currently favouring the last option.  In the mean time, here are a few resources that I’ve found interesting:

  1. Yates – my hard copy of Yates Garden Guide is in storage, so I had to resort to the web.  This site has a lot of Australian based information.  I signed up to trial their virtual garden, but it lacks the detail to be useful.
  2. Garden Angels – How to Grow Your Own Vegetables video series.  These cheerful and short videos start right from the basics of building your own garden bed.
  3. Online Garden Planner.  The trial version is free.  You can map out your garden space, getting an idea of scale.
My veggie plan as drawn on  the Online Planner:  work in progress.

My veggie plan as drawn on the Online Garden Planner: work in progress.

And because I’ve failed dismally so far to put together a “This is how I’m going do it” plan, I am referring you to the talented Steph from Saltbush Avenue.  Not only did Steph do her research and develop a great vegetable garden plan that included the most adorable illustrations, but she’s harvested her first crop and is now teasing me with photos of home grown veggies.

Have a great Easter everyone and don’t forget to leave a carrot out for the rabbit.

 

 

Vertically challenged.

Vertical garden

Gorgeous but tricky?
Source:  Architectural Digest.

I’m not the worst gardener in the world, but I reckon some of those beautiful vertical gardens wooing me on television screens and magazine pages, could be money down the drain.  Some are gorgeous works of art when they are first installed, but I wonder how they look one year later.

Our House By The Water has a few spots that will need the green treatment.  My main focus for now is the view from the scullery:

Scullery view

Creamy coloured old brick wall.

Side alley.

Site for future vertical garden.

Dining view

The dining room shares a partial view of the same brick wall. I’m not sure how the neighbours intend to replace the fence they took down, but at least, the existing section needs beautifying.

Here’s the situation:

  • The width between the house and the brick fence is 1.6 metres at the narrowest point.
  • Shared utility space for garage access, washing line and bin storage.
  • Strong chance of being a wind tunnel.
  • Exposure to sun: only a few hours per day.

Tough conditions.  Forgetting the plant selection for a moment, here are my options:

  1. Plant climbers into the ground.  Help them with some simple wires.
  2. Espalier trees.  Reticulate.

    Photo sources: 1. Flickr.  2. Lucy Williams Interior Design.  3.  Herbidacious.

  3. Pot plants and use shelves or some kind of structure to layer them up the wall.

    Photo sources:  1. Revista Natureza.  2.  One Kings Lane.  3.  Flickr.  4. Wanilla Rose (unverified).

  4. Use a simple pocket system for vertical gardens, with or without an irrigation kit.

    Photo sources:  1.  Wemmy.  2.  HGTV.  3.  Plants On Walls via Buzzfeed.

  5. Use a complex vertical garden structure with built in watering system including a pump.

    Photo sources:  1.  Better Homes and Gardens.  2. Garden design.  3.  Watergarden Warehouse.

Verdict

I’m going to save options one and two for the front yard, to hide the rear walls of the neighbours’ garages.  The front yard faces North and there will be room to condition the soil, so espaliered fruit and climbing plants should do well there.

Options four and five scare me.  In our challenging conditions, I’m worried we’d end up with an expensive, dead mess.

For my scullery view, I’m favouring the plants in pots option.  We’ll render and paint the brick fence almost black.  We’ll add some structure to give the plants height so we can see them.  I’ll recruit a large, hardy pot of rosemary or something equally tough to act as a wind break, or if necessary construct a screen.  Worst case scenario, move struggling plants to a happier location.

Pots on shelves.

Yep, I could gaze at this while I scrub some dishes. Source: Revisita Natureza via Blog da Ayda.

Could you pull off a vertical garden?  Do you have some suggestions for covering a shady wall?  Have you seen any great green walls that stood the test of time?  (Ivy doesn’t count!)

For more vertical garden ideas of all descriptions, take a look in my Pinterest file.