Second storey bricks

Our House By The Water has grown.  Three weeks of brickwork has seen the house go from single storey to double.  As photos have landed in my inbox each week, I’ve become increasingly excited.

Week One:

Thank you Mark from Best West Building.

Second story bricks.

Second storey bricks.

Week Two:

Harry, you are the best!Second storey bricks - week 2.

Week Three:

Thanks to new reader and future neighbour, Tracy.

Nearly done.

Nearly done.

Front facade.  The feature column will be bricked to 80 courses.

Front facade. The feature column will be bricked to 80 courses.

Most of the house is 63 courses high, double brick.  That’s a lot of bricks.  Work has come to a temporary halt.  The feature column on our front facade (that will eventually be clad in stack stone) is 80 courses high.  The brickies need an extra “lift” of scaffolding so that they may complete the taller sections of the brickwork.  The scaffolders are booked for next week.

In other news, following on from my “I love Linen” post, I won a little competition!   Ink and Spindle is a Melbourne based company that print gorgeous Australian-inspired prints on 100% linen, cotton and hemp.  You can buy their fabric or ready-made homewares using their existing prints, or you can choose one of their prints and customise it to your own colour way.  They have just introduced some new colours and celebrated with a competition.  My favourite colour combination proved popular and won me some fabric!  One 100% linen Silver Gum doona cover in Bluestone and River Salt on Oatmeal coming up!

My winning entry.

My winning entry.

Of course, then I had to play with mood boards for the master bedroom, to check that my current front runner for linen curtains (Pottery Barn) and the new fabric will work together.

I'm happy with the blues, woods and linen that are starting to form the back bone of my master bedroom grand scheme.

I’m happy with the blues, woods and linen that form the back bone of my master bedroom grand scheme.

I’ve had a heavy week on Polyvore, playing with mood boards.  It started with the question of linen versus leather  for sofas in our living room.  Leather is so practical and has my husband’s vote, but I love so many linen sofas.  This week a leather sofa that really appealed to me crossed my laptop screen, so I plugged it into Polyvore.  These decisions are always multifactorial, so I tested some of my favourite rugs and pieces of aboriginal art too.

Living room 1

Living room 1

Living room 2

Living room 2

Living room 3

Living room 3

Don’t tell, but I spent a whole Friday afternoon doing this!  It was blissful.

My conclusions are:

  • Artwork and floor rug should be considered together.  For example, patterned artwork and patterned rug is a bit too much.  Pick one star, then don’t upstage it.
  • Either leather or linen couch could work, but both together, hmmm..??

Which living room version do you like the best?  Why?  

Should linen couches and children occupy the same space?  

I’d love to find a really nice, Australian-made, linen sofa with removable/washable covers.  

Any tips?

Finally, to some money saving news, for a change!  Tracy alerted me to a potential rebate on stamp duty!  In Western Australia we pay a lot of money in tax/duty when we buy land.  Our “stamp duty” was in excess of $30K!  However, residential land is taxed at a slightly lower rate, so if you commence building within 5 years of land purchase you may be eligible for a rebate.  For us, it could be worth almost $3000.  That’s a sofa nice little bite off our mortgage.  Already I have secured a “Newly Constructed Residential  Exemption” from annual land tax, a separate bill of a couple of hundred dollars, by filling in a form and sending the department of finance proof that we’ve commenced construction.  As always, there is some fine print, but if you haven’t already investigated these potential savings, it could be worth your while.  Now, just to find our original stamp duty document….


How many blog readers does it take to pick a light bulb ?

While we wait for the pre start variations to be priced up, it is fairly quiet on the house planning front.  We’ve had a change in pre-construction consultants and apparently everyone working on our plans is on holidays.  Another week like this one and I’m going to have to go shopping again.  (See Patience and Building.)

Here are a few bits and pieces we’ve been thinking about:

1.  Changing the front door to make the most of a good looking security screen door.  We want a screen door so that we can open up the solid doors and let the breeze through the house.  We like this screen door from Entanglements:  Screen doorWe changed our front door from the door on the left to the door on the right:

Webb and Brown-Neaves’ interior designer recommended glass over a solid door to keep our entry light.  We think it is good advice and it will have the added advantage that we will be able to appreciate the fancy screen door from both inside and outside the house.  I know that some people prefer to be able to hide behind their front door, but a tall front fence, clever lighting and landscaping should be able to prevent sticky-noses from seeing into our house.  Worst case scenario is that we have to install blinds on the inside of the front door.

2.  The number of pendant lights above our kitchen bench.

An attempt at showing the correct scale for kitchen bench, pendant lights (36 cm diameter) and ceiling height.

An attempt at showing the correct relative scale for our kitchen bench, pendant lights (36 cm diameter) and ceiling height.

For a 3 metre long bench, many advise 3 pendants but my favourite pendants for the bench are quite chunky and three doesn’t seem right to me.  So my husband put a life-size picture of the pendants up on our television screen and I got out my trusty measuring tape to get a feel for the bench size.  I had just about decided that two pendants would be OK when some sensible person on the HomeOne Forum reminded me that I also need to consider the light projecting onto the bench in order to achieve consistent lighting across the bench surface instead of strange shadows.  Back to square one.  There are so many variables at play here that I’ve decided to do nothing!  Our lighting plan remains unchanged with 2 pendant lights and my fingers are crossed that the down lights in and around the kitchen will make the question of pendant number aesthetic rather than mathematic.

3.  With recent motivation from various sources, including my own blog post about taking photos of the building process, I’ve decided it’s time to get over my fear of photography.  So far the good pictures on this blog belong to someone else.  I’d like to be able to take photos of our house that I don’t have to apologise for.  Here’s the result of my first practice session.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified folding stool, made in Brazil by Butzke.

When this little baby finds its way to House By The Water it will either be sitting beside the bath, keeping a glass of wine upright, or snuggling next to a comfy sofa waiting for a cup of tea.

Interior Lighting Plan

I’ve been thinking about interior lighting.  Our builders have included one light and one power outlet per room. We also have a $10,000 allowance for extra lighting and power outlets.  Sounds hefty, doesn’t it?  However, I suspect by the time we allow for enough extra power outlets to keep an iFamily happy, a good amount of that will be accounted for.

Our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, recommended we draw up our likely furniture arrangement to help guide lighting and powerpoint locations.  And, my friends at HomeOne Forum have an ever growing list of “Things you forget” (when building) that includes sections on lighting and electrical.  Between all these hot tips and suggestions from Lighting City I hope not to forget anything and still be within budget. When I emailed Lighting City to initiate the lighting plan, I asked them to include provision for a few pendant lights and for the majority of the lighting to be LED.  Of course, I have my usual problem to deal with – that is, my eyes are bigger than my wallet.

Here is what I have in mind:

1.  Two or three (?) pendant lights above the kitchen island like one of these:

Picture sources (L to R): 1. & 3. Dunlin, 2. Anthropologie, 4. Archiproducts.

2.  One beautiful pendant centred over the dining table such as this one:

Coco flip pendant from:  .  Black or white are both beautiful.

Handcrafted Victorian Ash Coco pendant by Coco Flip. Black or white are both beautiful.  $1500, 60cm diameter.  Also available in 40cm.

3.  One oversized pendant to fill the void above the living area.  (This pendant is top-secret, but I have something different in mind.)

4.  The same oversized pendant to fill the void over the alfresco area.

5.  A long, dangly pendant, or several, for the void above the front entry.

Picture sources: (Top) Ross Gardam, (L to R)  Viesso, Dunlin, Onefortythree.

Aside from these feature lights, any other fancy lighting can be in the form of floor or table lamps.

Now to the practical side of things.  Here is the lighting plan (first draft) by Lighting City:





I think they are pretty clever with the plan, but there are a few things I’ve already thought to ask about:

  • Extra lighting for the scullery over the sink.  There is nothing worse than dirty dishes after a wash.
  • Ceiling fan/light combo for the master bedroom, if not all bedrooms.
  • Ditching the 3 “oyster lights” that I think are located in the laundry, cellar and walk-in-robe.  I know they are low traffic areas, but I’ve never liked oyster lights.  Replace with down lights?
  • Adding an interior switch for the lights that will be installed to our pool and deck areas by our landscaping company.
  • The best way to accommodate a plug-in pendant light that is a souvenir from Seoul.

Can you think of anything I should add to my list?

Kitchen Colours

While my thoughts are still firmly planted in the kitchen, it is time to take the plunge and decide on some kitchen colours.  I’ve been doing some heavy Pinterest trawling lately and I’ve saved a lot of pictures, but surprisingly, selecting my Top 5 pictures for kitchen inspiration was easy.  The Nice Wolf kiboshed one of them, so we are down to four:

My absolute favourite, though probably not quite in the style of "Modern Australian with some earthiness."  Silver, white and wood, with the tiniest bit of black.

My absolute favourite, though probably not quite in the style of “Modern Australian with some earthiness.” Silver, white and wood, with the tiniest bit of black.  By Sophie Burke Design.

A daring addition of black on the wall oven stack.  I wonder if I could pull it off.

A daring addition of black on the wall oven stack. I wonder if I could pull it off.  Picture from Fancy! Design Blog.

This looks like the kitchen of a cook.  Homely.

This looks like the kitchen of a cook. Homely.  Picture from Home Adore.

Silvery grey, white and wood again.

Ignore the style,  I love the colours.  Designed by ML Interiors.

So it’s blatantly clear the colours scheme I like.  White and grey, with wood and stainless steel.  A touch of black and a splash of live greenery.  Should be easy, right?

Here is the display home kitchen looking a little too, well, display-homey for me:

The "Rubix" kitchen, as seen in the display home.  Photo from Webb and Brown-Neaves.

The “Rubix” kitchen, as seen in the display home. Photo from Webb and Brown-Neaves.

We added a freestanding 900mm oven instead of one of the wall ovens and modified the kitchen island design so now our kitchen layout is like this:

Our kitchen layout.

Our kitchen layout, the scullery to the left keeps the fridge and microwave out of sight.

Playing on my laptop for a few hours, I came up with this:

Almost looks like a kitchen....

Almost looks like a kitchen….  It needs a splash of colour, my favourite blue salad bowl or some olive leaves in a vase.

This kitchen plan is based on:

  • NSW blackbutt timber floors
  • Calacatta Classic Caesarstone bench tops (I may have to reselect later due to $$)
  • Polar White Laminex cabinets
  • Grey glass tiles
  • Walnut tractor stools.

As usual there are a few dilemmas you could help me with:

1.  The wall oven stack.  The original stack design incorporates a border (see display kitchen photo), so there is an opportunity to make it two-toned.  I don’t think a wood-look border would work since it sits on a timber floor and matching the two could get ugly.  I tried a grey border, but again matching a grey laminate with 2 other greys (splashback tiles and bench top) didn’t look right.  Should I try a brushed silver look?  Husband has said “no” to black.  Maybe I should ditch the two-tones and keep the whole stack white.  Help!

A grey border on the oven stack could look like this.  Picture from Minimalisms.

A grey border on the oven stack could look like this. Picture from Designed for life.

2.  After my previous post, I narrowed down my splash back options to stone-look tiles or a decorative tile.  However, when I put the stone-look tiles on the mood board they seemed to clash with my favourite Caesarstone benchtop colour and the decorative tile that I fell in love with was too dark.  While I am drawn to glass tiles I was worried that they would not suit the style of the rest of the house, but I am surprised that they looked the best on my mood board.  And so the indecision goes on…  probably only to be resolved when I can get my hands on all the samples.

3.  To pendant, or not to pendant.  I like the touch of black from the pendants.  I think it balances the black of the wall oven.  The Nice Wolf is not keen.  I tried some other options,  glass, shiny nickel, dark grey and vintage silver but they may as well not have been there at all.  Aside from the colour issue, there is the question of height.  There is a bulkhead in our kitchen at 28 courses.  This means that the kitchen ceiling height is relatively low, at about 2.41 metres.  (The kitchen shares open space with the dining room, 31 courses, and the living room, 63 courses.)  Should I ditch the pendants, stick with downlights for the kitchen and add a little bit of black elsewhere, such as dining room pendant?

Door heights.

Hedging your bets...   (Picture source:

Hedging your bets…
(Picture source:

For the hard core house-building readers, a quick note on door heights.  The standard door height for our favourite house plan is 25 courses* or 2040 mm.  When I informed the builder that we’ll be installing wood floors throughout, the question of upgrading door heights to 28 courses came up.  The sales pitch was that they “look awesome and are currently fashionable”.  Of course, my first question was “how much?”  Answer – about $4000 to upgrade most of the doors in the house.  No, thank you.  However, I was a little bit tempted by the idea of raised door heights for the main front entry and the entry to the living room, but at approximately $1000 a pop (they’d have to be custom made) I’m declining at this stage.  Our ceiling heights will be varied, ranging from 28 courses in the kitchen, 29 in the upstairs bedrooms, 31 in the dining ares, 32 in the library and a ginormous 63 in the lounge room (with void overhead).

As always any measurements of your door and ceiling heights will be appreciated – especially from those of you whose homes I’ve been in and so already have a sense of the space.  And you could throw in your opinion on the matter too, if you like.

*One course = height of brick plus a layer of mortar.  Typically about 86mm.  Or so I’m lead to believe…

Owners of this beautiful Bayden Goddard Design home, if you could just measure up your doors for me, that'd be great.

Owners of this beautiful Bayden Goddard Design home, if you could just measure up your doors for me, that’d be great.