Keys Please, Webb and Brown-Neaves.

Three Kids at sunset.

Three Little Pigs, toasting the new house with “kids’ champagne” and pizza.

At 9 am yesterday, The Nice Wolf received keys from our site supervisor for our new home.  In a slightly non-traditional ending to the fairy tale, we had a pseudo pre-handover inspection and handover all in one.  That means that there are a few items still to be completed by the builders but we are able to move in.  Full credit to the builders and all their associated tradespeople for working their butts off for the past 2 months in order to deliver our house before their Christmas break.

This last week saw some crucial elements added to House By The Water.  Balustrading, toilets (phew!) and, just in the nick of time, gas, or more significantly, hot water.  As a bonus, our landscapers finished our deck and made a good start on the pool fencing.

So here we are, completely exhausted and thoroughly happy.  What other way is there to celebrate than with good champagne (thank you Webb and Brown-Neaves) and pizza on the deck?  We had a great evening, with many small boats cruising the canals to view the local Christmas lights.  All the boaters were in a Friday, festive mood, waving at us as they went by.

Today, the littlest pig turned 6 and was very happy to be served breakfast in bed on a mattress on the floor.  There has been a steady stream of tradies and we’ve been erecting some makeshift curtains.  We’ve been vacuuming concrete dust and laying down plastic drop sheets in a probably vain attempt to minimise the dust until our timber floors are laid.  We’ve been unpacking a few bits and pieces and received our new mattress.  Basically, our work is just beginning.

I will post lots of photos soon.  I just wanted to check in today and say, we’re in!

Ensuite.

Ensuite at night.

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.

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!

Paint, pendants and panoramas.

The Nice Wolf arrived back from his visit to Australia with everything he needed to stay in the good books for quite some time.

  • Australian home magazines.
  • Earl grey tea.
  • Tim tams.
  • A light weight measuring tape, more suited to handbags than my current heavy tape.
  • Loads of photos of the house.

But best of all, he brought small panels of sample Solver Paints from my short list.  I’ve spent hours gazing at these boards.  On the weekend they were perched on a bench in direct view from my bed, then I moved them to the living area to watch them throughout the days as the light changed. Any normal person would stop there.

Not I. 

Feather Dawn, the first to be eliminated from my shortlist.  Too white.

Feather Dawn, the first to be eliminated from my shortlist. Too white.

Kitty Grey is very pretty and looks the best with our Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

Kitty Grey is very pretty and looks the best with our Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

Kitty Grey and Crystal Ball undergoing a warm light, bedroom mood test.  You can see that Kitty Grey could be "greige" (grey/brown) at times.

Kitty Grey and Crystal Ball undergoing a warm light, bedroom mood test. You can see that Kitty Grey could be “greige” (grey/brown) at times.

Crystal Ball (I think!) flanked by purples and blues.  My biggest fear with using a "cool grey" paint, is it looking like lavender.  All clear here.

Crystal Ball (I think!) flanked by purples and blues. My biggest fear with using a “cool grey” paint, is it looking like lavender. All clear here.  Soft Apparition was next to be removed from my shortlist due to hints of purple in some lights.

Full sun test.  Top left: Crystal Ball, Top right: Soft Apparition,  Bottom left: Southward, Bottom right:  Kitty Grey

Full sun test. Top left: Crystal Ball, Top right: Soft Apparition,
Bottom left: Southward, Bottom right: Kitty Grey.

Final 3,  L to R:  Southward, Kitty Grey, Crystal Ball.  With some colours and textures that you are likely to find in our main living area.  The colour on my screen is fairly true to reality.  Which do you prefer?

Final 3: (L to R) Southward, Kitty Grey, Crystal Ball. With some colours and textures that you are likely to find in our main living area. (NB: Timber shown is not blackbutt such as we’ll have at House By The Water )

The colours on my screen are fairly true to reality. Which do you prefer?  Southwards is quite dull at night, so I’ve narrowed it down to two.  Kitty Grey and Crystal Ball.

And just in case you were thinking of giving me an “A minus” for my home creating obsessiveness, here’s a current view of my rental kitchen.

Dunlin pendants (almost) - 45 cm diameter on left, 36 cm on right.

Dunlin Titan pendants (almost) – 45 cm diameter on left, 36 cm on right.

At $600 a pop for my proposed kitchen bench pendant lights, I wondered if I could get away with a slightly smaller pendant.  The answer is no.  Now, I just have to be certain that I’ve picked the right style.  It would be much simpler to install these lights when everything else is in, taking a couple home from a local shop to test, returning them if necessary before installing.  Online ordering and building by a “package system” don’t favour this.

My husband took a lot of photos on site recently.  I’m going to be restrained and limit my “show and tell” to just 2 panoramas.  One photo to show off the view, the other to give you a sense of our main living area, with the L shaped dining, kitchen and lounge area.  Click on the images to be taken to the interactive 360 degree panoramas.

Canal side at House By The Water.  Click on image for 360 degree tour.

Canal side at House By The Water. Click on image for 360 degree tour.

Standing in the kitchen looking towards the main living area.  Click on picture for 360 degree tour.  You'll see the dining room to your left and the scullery to the far right.   The door opening seen here is for the "cellar".

Standing in the kitchen looking towards the main living area. Click on the picture for 360 degree tour. You’ll see the dining room to your left and the scullery to the far right. The door opening seen here is for the “cellar”.

Home Trends Survey Results

Last week I surveyed readers about Home Trends in 2015.  As I suspected, you are a reasonably well-balanced bunch who only let the overwhelming barrage of home deco media and retail get the better of you occasionally.  Thanks to 40 readers for participating in the fun, mostly from Australia, but also 9 readers from elsewhere in the world.

What was our biggest temptation?  Copper!  Almost half of you can’t get enough copper, and the other half like it at least for the kitchen pots.  Let’s hope this is one trend that’s here to stay.

What were we most adverse to?  Human skull decor, closely followed by pineapples.

Of course there were a few rebels among you.  Thank goodness for that.  Life would be dull if we were all the same.  I’ll let you know when I sign up for a Shibori course, maybe you’d like to join me.

Painted feature walls.

Dear Reader,  

Thank you for suggesting I write about the topic “Feature walls, Yay or Nay?”  I was wondering the same thing.  It is with pleasure that I present to you my entirely unqualified opinion on the matter.  

Yours sincerely,

Johanne at House By The Water.

Yay or Nay?

5 rooms that definitely say “Yay”:

The colour adds mood, without drowning the whole room.  Source:  Lonny.

The colour adds mood, without drowning the whole room. Source: Lonny.

Black wall adds depth.  Source:

Black wall adds depth and definition. Source: Home Adore.

Framing a view, creating a division of space.  Source:

Framing a view, creating a division of space. Source:  Home Adore.

Background colour highlights the pendant and fire.    Source:  Cote Maison.

Background colour highlights the pendant and fire. Source: Cote Maison.

Grey wall frames art.  Source: Lux Interior Design.

Grey wall frames art. Source: Lux Interior Design.

When to use a feature wall:

  • to create mood, without intruding on the feeling of space and light.
  • to frame a feature such as a view, painting, fireplace, special piece of furniture, architectural detail.
  • to create depth and interest.

Simple, hey?

Wrong.  I’ll use my dilemma area as an example.  Our fireplace.

Display home version of our fireplace.  By Webb and Brown-Neaves.

Display home version of our fireplace. By Webb and Brown-Neaves.

Firstly, I can’t decide whether or not our fireplace wall should be “a feature”.  Giving it a colour of its own, would highlight the fire and provide a nice back ground to a large pendant light that will hang in the room.  On the other hand, we’ll already have the canal view as a feature (at least in the day time) and I have plans for a big piece of art for the large bare wall, shown on the left side of  the photo above.  Is that too many features?

Secondly, for every beautiful feature wall I’ve seen, there is an equally beautiful room that is elegant in its simplicity.  (Plain in the left column, “feature” walls on the right.)

Photos sources:  1. Zusss.  2. The Style Files. 3.  Remodelista.  4. Plastolux.  5. Zuster. 6. Contemporist.  7. Milk Magazine. 8.  Nixon Tulloch Fortey.

Thirdly, try searching “feature wall” on Google or Pinterest.  You’ll find all kinds of “nay” happening there.  Pulling off a feature wall takes confidence and skill.  A feature wall, well, features in a room, so you’d better love whatever colour you choose.

In the case of our fireplace, I don’t think we can go wrong.  The easy answer is “no feature paint” but I don’t want to miss an opportunity.  With the double height wall, painting it  later would be a saga.  At this point, most people would buy a couple of sample pots and paint a wall to make a decision “on the ground”.  We don’t have this option right now.  The next time I see House By The Water will be for the “Practical Completion Inspection”, when the interior walls will have long since been painted by the builders.

To resolve the issue (again), I turned to my new favourite time-wasting activity, mood board creation.

Open living at House By The Water.

No “feature wall” in our open living area.  Kitchen, living and dining all in one.

So for our fireplace, I’m saying “Nay” to a painted feature wall.   An additional block of colour seems to detract from the rest.

I also considered a painted feature wall for my son’s bedroom.  We are going for an industrial/coastal style there.  (There’s a new combo for you!)  A charcoal colour would go nicely, but there was the question of which wall to paint. In the end I’ve decided it’s all or nothing.   (Another post, another day.)

Of course, there are alternatives to painting a feature wall.  Wallpaper is big right now.  But if you think I have commitment issues with painting a feature wall, I am down-right scared of wallpaper.  I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the time we removed the old wallpaper in our first house.  It was not fun and it went on for days.  Timber panelling, exposed brick, raw concrete and stone are all high-commitment options for feature walls.   Although they usually require thought in the planning stage of a build, I consider some of them to be low risk options.  Rarely do I see a stone or timber wall that I don’t like.

And, for the complete “feature wall” chicken, here are some gorgeous wall hangings that I love:

These are from Restoration Hardware in the United States.  Unfortunately, they don’t ship to Australia.

So, dear reader.  Are you still there?  I’m voting “yay” for feature walls, but not always.

Your turn:

Are you planning a feature wall?

Have you painted a feature wall that you lived to regret?

How about one you love to bits?

Has anyone tested out the new so-called “removable wallpaper”?

 

 

Construction site visit

I’d mentally prepared myself to expect some disappointment.  Maybe the house would seem small.  Maybe the retaining wall – house relationship was not right.  Perhaps I’d added a big window where there was nothing to see but brick wall, or the building neighbours might have blocked out all the morning sun.

But my first (and probably only) visit to our house whilst under construction revealed nothing but excitement.  Naturally I took a zillion photos, but I’ve narrowed it down to just 10 for you.

1.  The first floor brick work is complete.  The scaffolding and planks are installed in preparation for pouring the second floor slab at the end of this month.

House front

Bottom half of front facade. L to R: garage, entrance, bedroom.

2.  Our fireplace in the living room.  The First Little Pig was a bit worried that Santa won’t fit down the chimney.

Fireplace.

Living room fire place.

3.  From the canal side, looking through the dining room to the kitchen (marked by pipes for the sink).  The three openings at the back of the kitchen are for the hallway, cellar and scullery (L to R).  I was relieved to feel that the ceiling not too close.  The dining room is 31 courses high.

Dining room.

Dining room through to kitchen.

4.  View from the future couch location.  Looking from the living room, through the alfresco area to the canals.  Both traditional paddlers and stand-up paddlers passed by while I was there.

Couch view.

Testing out the couch view.

5.  Stairwell.  And a bit of blatant evidence that I missed an opportunity in the planning stage to incorporate access to the under stairs space.  Never mind, my lovely old Tasmanian buffet table is going to look perfect right there.

Stairs

Pre stairs.

6.  The alfresco area seemed huge.  Probably large enough for sofa and dining set.

Alfresco

The alfresco area as seen from the canal front.

7.  Checking out the deck width from the dining room to the planter boxes.  Could be a bit squeezy for outdoor dining. (2.2 metres across.)

Deck.

Measuring up the deck.

8.  Kitchen sink view test.

Kitchen sink view test passes.

Pass!

9.  The First Little Pig made a movie starring brick walls, scaffolding and herself.

First little pig.

Tools of the visit: camera, measuring tape, chalk.  Looking through the living room to the hallway.

10.  This week’s work.  Steel reinforcements for the second floor slab.  I had no idea so much steel would be involved.  I find it very reassuring.  I met the fellow who is singlehandedly going to lay the steel this week.  He said he’d been doing this job for 25 years.  He looked tough!

Steel.

Steel reinforcements for second floor slab.

I met our site supervisor from Webb and Brown-Neaves, really just to be acquainted.  We discussed a few minor details and he explained the process for the next few weeks.

There wasn’t a lot of time for soaking up the atmosphere but I had my fix of all-things-house for a while and now have a better picture in my head of the scale of things.

Next week I’ll post about my other activities and discoveries during my visit to Mandurah and Perth.

 

Site progress is going swimmingly!

The landscapers took charge of our block for a week.  The only evidence of their presence from my far away vantage point was a hefty invoice.  So I sent out an S.O.S. to my Mandurah friends:  “Do we really have a pool?”

The resounding reply was “Yes!”

And what a beautiful chunk of concrete it is.HBTW pool

Let me draw attention to the features:

  • Steps
  • Things sticking out of the wall (for lights, we hope)
  • Built-in ice bucket!

I don’t think it’s too early to “bags my spot”.  I’ve never been good at art, but just so it is on record, my spot is marked by the green arrow:

Wooden bench seat going here.  Throw on a couple of outdoor cushions and I'll be set for the afternoon.  ...Should have had that ice bucket installed up this end.

A wooden bench seat is going here. Throw on a couple of outdoor cushions and I’ll be set for the afternoon. …I should have had that ice bucket installed up this end.

Thanks to my lovely friends and Brian, site-supervisor extraordinaire, for the photos:

The pool was whipped up in a matter of days and the site was handed back to the builders.

Next steps:

  1. Set up scaffold over the pool (for safety) and along the retaining wall.
  2. Fill the retaining wall cavities.
  3. While the concrete is curing, waterproof the back of the walls.
  4. Backfill the site.
  5. Prepare the house pad for the slab.

I am eagerly waiting for the site supervisor’s next report, any day now, confirming that these tasks have been done.

In other minor news, I have subscribed to Nearmap for one year.  Nearmap is a provider of aerial photographs.  Initially I was put off by the high price of $200 per year, when the Mandurah area was only scheduled for 4 updates in the next 12 months.  So I let it go.  My hesitation paid off and a half-price offer appeared in my inbox.  $100 for one year.   Still expensive photos at $25 a pop, but you know how I like my photos…..

The most recent photo was taken on July 18th when work on our retaining wall footings had just begun:

Nearmap shot of our block.

It has been fun to check out the block over time (Nearmap pictures for our area date back to 2009) and to see some of our previous homes.

Are pictures of piles of sand and curing concrete not your thing?  Don’t worry, I’ll be philosophising about home cellars, libraries, rugs and spaceship lighting again soon.  Maybe one of those topics is up your alley?