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.

Bench tops and tiles.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

Kitchen island in Alpine Mist and orange plastic.

The good news is that House By The Water is starting to come together.  The bad news is that the photos are lousy.  Dodgy, locked-out, bad angles, reflection-on-the-windows, ground-floor-only kind of photos.  I’m going to show you any way.

Last week the painters made the ceilings, doors and door frames white.

Then the tilers got busy in the bathrooms and the laundry.  I caught them on the job one morning:

Since then, the wall tiles in both bathrooms have also been laid.

The laundry tiles are almost complete.  There is just a small section under the cabinets left to tile.  This is going to be the hiding spot for our robotic vacuum.

Laundry tiles.

Keeping the laundry basic.

My powder room floor tile choice is proving to be more than just a puzzle:

Powder room mat effect tile.

Puzzling powder room tile.

The tiles come in a series of 6 different tiles.  When they are pieced together they create a rug effect.  We planned to use just three in the series since our powder room is fairly small.  All nice in theory.  Problem 1:  wrong tiles delivered.  Problem 2: replacement tiles still wrong.  Problem 3:  calculation of powder room floor space did not include extra width at the door openings, therefore 4 tiles in the series are actually required.  Problem 4: the second tile in the series is darker than the 1st and 3rd tiles making it look all wrong.  Gotta feeling the tiler isn’t going to love this tile.  I just hope I still do once all the problems are resolved.

The renderers covered some of the planter boxes beside the canal:

Planter boxes.

Planter boxes rendering in progress.

And, most exciting of all, the Caesarstone went in today.  Most of it is covered in protective plastic, but I managed to get a close up of the Alpine Mist bench top in our scullery through the scullery window.

Kitchen bench.

My kitchen bench. House priority #1.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone

Behind the scenes, the landscaping ball is rolling again.  I’m selecting tiles for around the pool for the third time.   The first tiles were discontinued, then the second.  There’s a chance we will have some decking before handover of our house which is a thrilling prospect.  You all know that it’s the glass of wine on the deck that I’ve been dreaming about for the last 3 years.

Our dishwasher is purchased and is awaiting fitting.  We bought the integrated model of Fisher and Paykel’s double dish drawer.  This means that the dish washer will be disguised as a kitchen cabinet.  Very swish!  We’ve had Fisher and Paykel dish drawers in several houses over the past 15 years and I give them two thumbs up.

It’s almost time to start making some lists.  It’s not long now before Webb and Brown-Neaves’ work is done and ours is just beginning.

Little discoveries from my W.A. visit.

Cocoflip replica

Replicas galore.

1.  I’m so glad I checked out the “Cocoflip” pendant replicas. At $300 (versus $1500 for the real thing) – I had to consider them.  They looked great from 2 metres away, but then as I got close I noticed that there was no join between the “ash” top and the “aluminium” bottom.  So I reached out to see how it was done and realised that the whole thing was painted tin.  If I’d been fooled online and had the replicas delivered I would have been so disappointed.

2.  A sad moment at Myaree Ceramics…. the oil-blue tiles that I had coveted to replace our discontinued splash back tile, have also been discontinued.  No time for crying.  There were a number of good options that were close to my original grey subway tile selection.

How about that white “painted brick” tile (bottom right)?  Very clever.  Possibly not in keeping with House By The Water’s style.  Here’s my selection:

Splash back tile.

Masia gris claro tile. $96/m2

I’m going to have it laid vertically for a modern touch.

Next, I needed to reselect floor tiles for the laundry and powder room.  The laundry was easy.  I’m keeping it simple.  A matt grey tile.  The powder room, however, is a little room where it may not cost much to experiment with something a bit “out there”.

Powder room mood board.

This floor tile is a bit unusual so I made a mood board to help the Nice Wolf visualise how it might look.

Here the Caesarstone bench top in clamshell and the floor tile seem to clash but in reality they looked good together.  The tiles actually come in 4 different prints (of which we’d use 3) so the tiler will have to puzzle it together.  Hmmmm?  That could be unpopular.  I’m waiting for the costs of laying this tile to be confirmed before I commit.

3.  Next stop, a meeting with the owner of “Well Built Landscape Construction” (WBLC) to discuss our front yard plans.  I give Nick 10 out of 10 for keeping his overheads low, with our meeting taking place in McDonalds!  WBLC gave me the best quote for a cobblestone driveway and have produced some stylish home landscaping.  We discussed the driveway and our front fence and gate.  I begged him to help me decide whether to go with vertical wood or steel infills and render for the front fence.  He would have humoured me with either option, but my sensibilities and his have pushed me towards steel infills.   WBLC will provide a quote to kick-start our front yard, leaving the garden preparation for us to do at our leisure.

4.    At Nick’s suggestion, I went to Water Garden Warehouse to study steel infills for our front fence.  They supply my favourite steel infill pattern – the “wattle”.

Available from Water Garden Warehouse.

Available from Water Garden Warehouse.

I photographed steel art featuring this pattern a year ago at Home Base because I loved it.  It’s still my favourite.

We need to choose a finish.  Powder coated is smart (no rust stains dripping down the rendered wall), but the rusty steel and Corten options have a more organic look.

Work in progress - but you get the idea.

Front yard mood board.  Work in progress – but you get the idea.

5.  And just because it’s right next door to Water Garden Warehouse, I had a browse in Eco Outdoor.  Our cobblestones will come from here and I always love their outdoor furniture, though it’s usually over-priced.  Currently they have a sale on so their outdoor sofas are closer to the realms of possibility.  It’s a good place for alfresco inspiration.  They have some tempting heavy linens for making cushions and a great vertical garden.

Vertical garden

The wooden frame hides typically ugly vertical garden infrastructure.

6.  I popped into to say hi to my “Construction Liaison” at Webb and Brown-Neaves’ office.  It’s always nice to put a face to a name.  Emma took the time to explain to me a proposed change to the width of our “gutter fascia” that despite my best attempts to understand, by studying the drawings, I still could not fathom.  I have been assured that the change is purely cosmetic.

So that’s it.  All else for the remainder of our house construction must be done remotely.  The next time I visit Western Australia will be for the “practical completion inspection”.  But you know, I’ll be hovering around in the mean time, one way or another!


Variation costs

Do you like the good news or the bad news first?

I always prefer the good:

  • We have a new and super-organised “pre start consultant”.  She writes me emails full of lists.  She answers all my questions.  AND, she is currently celebrating her own slab.  I think her heart is in her job.
  • Most of the pre start variations have been costed.  The driveway variation cost makes the retaining walls look good.
  • There are a few credits in our variation list, for example, we deleted the timber look kick board and wall oven surround in the kitchen.  $1907.
  • We are getting closer to something actually happening on our block.

And now for the bad.  We’ve had to cross a few nice things off our list because the cost is just plain silly:

  • Cobblestone driveway. ~$60K or $550 per square metre.  I know that cobblestones aren’t cheap (in Australia) and require a solid base, but I had a figure of ~$200/m2 in my mind.  Looks like it’s back to standard paving for us.  We may pull it all up later and put in the cobblestones ourselves.  I’ve been checking out the standard paving options, but I’m also getting an independent quote for a cobblestone driveway.

    Cobblestones in "Endicott", $110/sqm.

    Cobblestones in “Endicott”, $110/sqm (not installed).

  • Wooden hand rails on our balustrades instead of polished stainless steel.   Plus $4000.  We have about 12 metres of balustrade, including a curved section.  Hmph.  The polished stainless steel looks quite harsh.  I hope our wood floors will soften the look.  (Wrought iron is an affordable alternative but I’m not keen on that either.)
  • Calacatta Caesarstone for the kitchen island instead of standard Caesarstone.  Plus $8600!  Whoah.  Just for the (waterfall-edged) island bench – not including the benches either side of the stove top or in the scullery.   Plan B is Caesarstone Alpine Mist – that’s $4652 for all the kitchen and scullery bench tops including the island bench.  The “Nice Wolf” doesn’t know that yet though, so I might have to work on a Plan C.  (Nice Wolf – please see credit note for deleting timber-look laminate in kitchen.)
  • Fancy shower drain $880 for 2.  I wonder if these can be retrofitted ($60 each online)?  Probably not….

    Bermuda shower grate.

    Bermuda shower grate.

  • USB wall outlets – $140 each (downstairs), $180 each (upstairs) including installation.

And now here is a small “maybe pile”:

  • Upgrade to a different front door that matches a decorative screen door better.  $950.  Would you?

And finally, the “OK, wish it was cheaper, but we want it pile”:

This list does not include variations that we added before signing the building contract.

  • Build the right size hole for the firebox.  $1422.
  • A hole in the wall, electrical connection, a concrete plinth and admin fees to accommodate the air-conditioning $1595.
  • Entry door “rebate” to fit future flyscreen $106.
  • Niche in shower to sit the shampoo bottle $446.
  • Viewing windows in the meter box for Synergy (electricity) and Alinta (gas) $138 each.
  • Rail change in WIR $51.
  • Change from clear to translucent glazing to the ensuite WC door $80.
  • 10 pullout pot drawers in pantry $1563.
  • Minor tweaks to bathrooms and laundry $255.
  • Change from stainless steel to ceramic laundry trough  $217.
  • Change toilets to avoid icky dust collections behind older style toilets.  $349 for 3 toilets.
  • Cold water tap to fridge $266.
  • Extra electrical/lighting costs (over and above the $10000 allowance – note this does not include the actual lights). $2874.
  • Extra tiling costs $4256.
  • Changed taps in kitchen and laundry $26 each.

Ooh,  I wish I hadn’t just written that.

We are facing at least $13 000 in extras on this list.  There have been a lot of emails back and forth to Webb and Brown-Neaves this week.  This is our last chance to get everything right before any further changes incur financial penalties.


Colour selections summary

A new “page” snuck onto the blog today.  You might like to check it out by clicking on the “Colour Selections” tab on the header above.  It comes with a warning – colours on computer screen do not equal colours in real life.  My sister is going to read that page and say – “That Caesarstone Snow is a bit pink, are you sure that’s what you want?”  I’m going to stand strong and trust what I saw in the tile showroom and the advice of the interior designer.

My favourite of the mood boards so far - the powder room.

My favourite of the mood boards so far – the powder room.

I’ll add to that page as more details are set.  I’m still playing with the exterior colour plan – trying to get the main entry right.  And, I’m waiting for Caesarstone to decide just how much people might be willing to pay for that lovely new Calacatta Classic that looks a lot like marble.

Have you had any colour disasters – when the real thing wasn’t what you had in mind?  Or maybe you’ve got some Caesarstone in “Snow” – tell me that it’s not pink….please.

Prestart Meeting Round Up

It has been a hectic and productive few days in Perth for my “pre start meeting” with  our builders.  Here is what I’ve been up to:

Day One:

1.  First meeting with the Webb and Brown-Neaves interior designer to decide on house exterior colours including paint, roofing, garage door and window frames.  (I’ll write a separate post about all my selections, inside and out, next week.)  We also reviewed and made a few small changes to toilets, sinks, tap ware and door furniture.  I selected a rather lovely white porcelain sink for the laundry instead of the standard stainless steel.  I am told the price difference is no more than a couple of hundred, but I will post again when I have a full list of variation prices.
2.  I dropped into EcoOutdoor to check out their cobblestones.  Their show room is quite inspiring for landscaping so I think we’ll be back there again when the time comes for us to make our front garden beautiful.  I asked for help to select a product for the floor of the home entry/patio that would compliment a cobblestone driveway.  The lady on duty recommended a “French patterned” stone of similar colour.

What do you think?  I’m going to make some more mood boards with all the exterior colours together to see how it looks.  The alternative would be wood, to match the decking at the rear of the house.

3.  I visited the Caesarstone showroom to view some large samples of my favourite colours and to chat with staff about the elusive “Calacatta classic” Caesarstone that I have my eye on for the kitchen.
Calacatta Classic Caesarstone.  Source: Caesarstone.
Calacatta Classic Caesarstone. Source: Caesarstone.
This new “colour” is due to be released in “early 2014”.  I can’t yet commit to it because there are no samples available yet and more importantly, the price is not yet known.  The lady at the showroom guesses that there will be a price rise for the latest colour compared to the currently available colours in the same range.  Luckily, we have some time up our sleeve, so this is one decision to postpone.

4.  I picked up some brochures and colour swatches from Solver paints.  Our interior paint colours will be selected from this range once the house is nearing completion.

5.  I met with my “pre start consultant” and an enthusiastic trainee to review and make small changes to the plans and addenda, clarify some questions I had and create an electrical plan for all the powerpoint locations.  The result of this meeting is two lists – a list of potential variations (eg. wooden rail balustrade, a hiding place for a Roomba in the laundry, a cobblestone driveway, ceiling recesses for automated blinds) for our consultant to price up for our consideration and a list of items that I need to follow up, such as the voltage requirements for the pendant lights that I will supply, the dimensions of the gas fireplace that we plan to purchase and the dimensions of our chest freezer to ensure it fits in the laundry.

6.  Collapsed in a heap of sleep.

Day Two:

1.  I visited Myaree Ceramics accompanied by WBN’s interior designer.  Instant relief!  This showroom has plenty of modern tile options AND the exact same tile that I used in my kitchen mood board.  Actually, it is not glass as I had thought, but porcelain.

Splash back tile.  Vogue Grigio $104/sqm.

Splash back tile. Vogue Grigio Gloss $104/sqm.

Within an hour, my no-mucking-about interior designer and I had selected all the tiles for the laundry,  bathrooms and kitchen and had matched them with grout colours.  Phew!

2.  I wandered through Home Base Expo in Subiaco.  It’s a permanent exhibition of local suppliers of building materials and home fittings.  You can pick up brochures, but on a week day at least, it is unmanned by any one with product knowledge.  I wanted to view some gas fireplace options but there were very few there so I’ll have to do some more leg work.

3.  I visited our block.  It was no surprise to find our neighbours making full use of our vacant land for their knock-down-rebuild.  They are progressing nicely but they are going to have to move swiftly now if they are relying on easy access to the rear of their property.

Some one else's building action.

Someone else’s building action.

4.  Collapsed in a heap of sleep.

Day Three:

1.  I had a meeting at Intelligent Homes to prepare plans for television, telephone and data points, intercom to the front gate and home security.  I’m not particularly literate when it comes to technology so I was a worried that I wouldn’t understand the necessary lingo for this meeting but I begged the consultant to tread lightly and he did a wonderful job of explaining what was required for the house to be all wired up for modern technology needs.

That’s almost it!  (I’m going to a fireplace show room on my way to the airport today.)  There is plenty of follow up to be done and I promise pictures of my tile and colour selections soon.

Pre-start countdown.

There are 6 more sleeps until “pre-start”!  Well, sort of.  There are 4 flights and a 13 hour time zone difference between me and the pre-start meeting, so who knows how many sleeps that will really be.  My suitcase is out and the first item packed is my trusty measuring tape.  Do I sound excited?  

I tried to explain the purpose of my trip to Australia to my language teacher: “It’s like a giant shopping trip!”  I’m looking forward to seeing our block again and to meeting with Webb and Brown-Neaves’ interior designer.  I hope she’s not going to sigh heavily when she sees all my carefully prepared mood boards.  I’m not particularly looking forward to some of the less glamourous parts of the process – negotiating some changes to the builder-supplied paving, sorting out the locations for the techno wiring, making some changes to details I missed earlier (e.g. cheap windows with bars through the middle of our beautiful view) and, gulp, hearing the variation price of the Caesarstone colours that I’ve fallen in love with for the kitchen bench.

I’ve got my little list of things to remember to discuss and my big list from Home One Forum members of things they wish they didn’t forget.  I’ve got my addenda and plans to re-read.

Source:  Arquitetura & Construcao.

Source: Arquitetura & Construcao.  Architecture by:  Angelo Bucci.

I’ve been suffering technical problems lately.  No internet, home phone or telly for more than 2 weeks now!  So you are on photo rations.  However, I couldn’t write a post without adding at least one photo – so I’m showing you my favourite picture of the week.  I love this garden.  (Actually there’s a better view of it on the front cover of a local magazine.)  The wood, water, stone and plant combo is modern, private, and relaxing.  I bought the magazine on the basis of the cover because we have been thinking about using cobblestones on our driveway and the lower level of the canal frontage.  I was worried that cobblestones were not a good fit for a modern home, but this photo shows it working so well.

See you again soon, when I report from the beautiful land Down Under with plentiful internet!