On becoming a shop snob and DIY as therapy.

Girls room.

With the benefit of Instagram filters.

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.

Doona cover.

New doona cover, modelled by Evita.

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.

 

Bathroom hooks.

Bathroom hooks.

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.

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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. 

Gallery

Cray Pot Pendants

Mandurah was originally a fishing town and it’s still a favourite past time for many locals.  Personally, I’d prefer to watch paint dry and grass grow than wait for a fish to attach itself to my rod.  However, it is fun to go “crabbing” with friends once a year, followed by chilli crabs on the BBQ.  And, I have been known to enjoy being knocked over by small waves while plucking abalone off the rocks.  For many years my husband and friends regularly dove for crayfish in the ocean.  Recent shark tales may change that, but it remains that Mandurah is a fishing destination.

Mr. Mitchell obviously has a great mind.

Mr. Mitchell obviously has a great mind.

I’m not one for dolphin-shaped water features or crab-mosaic splash backs, but a cray pot pendant?  Now we are talking.  I was keeping this idea as a surprise, but this week I noticed that someone else had the same idea!  I delved a little deeper and it turns out cray pot pendants are everywhere.

Picture Sources:  1.  Pinterest (original source not known) 2.  Homelife 3 & 4. Coastal Vintage.

So far this is my plan:

1.  Include provision for pendants on the lighting plan.  Check.

2.  Buy some cheap lights with appropriate cord length and have them installed by the builder’s electrician during construction.  (Getting to the light “sockety” things later, won’t be easy.)

3.  Remove cheap shades and add the cray pots and supporting wires/line/chain at my leisure.

Not much detail there, I know.  I have figured out that there are plenty of places that will sell you the necessary bits and pieces (eg. Ikea and Beacon Lighting in Australian, West Elm in North America).  I have 3 potential locations in mind for my cray pot pendants, all in areas with double-height, 5.4 metre ceilings.  I think I will need at least 1.8 metres of cord.  And now, what I don’t know:

  • Cray pots weigh 1-2kg.  Is that normal for a pendant?  Do you think the cray pot needs to have its own support, rather than hang from the cord?
  • One of the pendants will be in the alfresco area, in other words – it’s outside but has a roof above.  I’m worried about rust.  Has anyone put in pendant lights designed specifically to withstand coastal conditions?
  • The largest cray pots available, in the style I like, are 60cm wide, but only 30 cm high.  Maybe too small for our large spaces?

Have you made your own pendant lights?  Any tips for someone who is ever-so-slightly challenged by electrical concepts.

I’ve collected a few DIY pendant light stories in my Pinterest DIY folder.  If you are feeling creative, have a click around in there for links to instructions to make pendants such as these:

One of "50 Coolest DIY Pendant Lights" found at Decoist.

One of “50 Coolest DIY Pendant Lights” found at Decoist.

Woven rope pendant - DIY by Design Sponge.

Woven rope pendant – DIY by Design Sponge.

Most importantly, do you have any old cane or wood cray pots rotting away behind your shed?  I’m a willing buyer.

When all else fails, I have found a few cray pot fakes!  Good looking fakes, mind you, but not useful for actually catching crayfish.

Picture sources:  1.  Darcy Clark   2. Zaffero   3. Freedom.