House By The Water – The Movie.

Every spare moment has been spent in the garden lately.  Planting, reticulation, lawn preparation, mulching and cobblestones, of course…  No time at all for blogging.  We’re on a mission.  Guests are coming for Christmas.

 Fortunately, the “House By The Water” videos, made by our builders, are ready.  You can enjoy a little chat in our kitchen and living room instead of reading a post.  There are two short videos.  Click on the pictures below to view.  I don’t think I’ll take up vlogging, but it was fun to do this once.



Becoming a film star and testing the pool.

Interview.As life becomes more hectic and posts are more distant, there’s rather a lot to catch up on.  House By The Water made its film debut.  Out of respect for the job well done by our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, I agreed to host an interview about our building experience.  There were conditions, of course.  Firstly, the filming would be confined to the part of the house that I could guarantee to be tidy given the habits of the Three Little Pigs.   Secondly, I would do my best to make House By The Water look stylish, if the builder’s marketing team could do something about making me photogenic.Builder's movie

It was a fun morning.  It was the longest make-up session that I have ever endured, much to the amusement of the Three Little Pigs.  Reneé, from WBN, did an excellent job of being a temporary TV journalist and Troy was cool and calm behind the cameras, trying his best to keep me relaxed without involving alcohol.

I made a last minute attempt to purchase a new floor rug for the living room, but fell for the rug that was “out of stock”.  Fortunately, Dee from Frisky Deer Interiors, stepped in with the loan of a luxurious Armadillo and Co rug for the video shoot.  It looked very good at House By The Water and I secretly hoped that tea/wine would be spilt on it and we’d have to buy it.

Living room.

Looking like a film star, but the rug has seen better days.

I may or may not let you all know when the video is published.

Enough stardom, onto the pool.

The landscapers are almost finished.  There are just a few finishing touches left in their scope (and years of work left in ours).  The pool was filled and commissioned and despite the weather still behaving like Winter we decided to “bugger it”!  We heated up the pool for one weekend and let the Little Pigs in for a wallow.Pool.

First swim in the pool.

Happy as a pig in pool.

I finally committed to an olive tree beside the pool.   Though young, it’s already a feature, looking especially lovely lit up at night:Olive Tree

The canal side landscaping is finally starting to come together.  It shall be ready for the Christmas visitors and the throngs of tourists boating passed lured by Christmas lights.


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 at night.

Living room.

Building update. With my very own eyes.

So, we may have made a short visit to House By The Water at half past midnight, upon our arrival in Mandurah.  And it’s quite possible that we are averaging 3 site visits per day this week.  We are a tad excited.  We have a lot to catch up on and so do the builders.  The new construction plan is all go go go, aiming for handover before Christmas.

Here is the promised tour:

Front facade

Front facade






Stairs and hallway.


Entrance void



Living room.

Living room.


Looking towards the kitchen from the living room.

Master bedroom

Our bedroom.


Through the walk-in-robe to the bathroom.



Looking down into the living room.

Looking down into the living room.


The Second Little Pig’s bedroom.

Open living area.

Open living.

3 little pigs

The Three Little Pigs, squinting to preserve their anonymity.

Man hole

The Nice Wolf inspecting the man hole. I think it fits.

I added the above photos to this post this morning, but by my second visit to the site this afternoon more ceilings had been plastered and lots of the scaffolding was removed.  Woohoo!  So now you can really see the size of the living area, including the living room void and alfresco area which looks especially huge.

Canal side aspect of the house.

Canal side aspect.


Double height alfresco area.

Open living area.

Plastered ceiling, dining room

Plastered ceilings ground floor.

Plastered ceilings ground floor.

And for this week’s style dilemma, the stack stone that I selected almost 2 years ago for the feature column on the front facade is currently unavailable, so I needed to reselect.  I checked the options online and made a tentative selection, but for $14K worth of stone and the labour to install it, I thought it wise to see a sample.  Midland Brick in Mandurah stock Boral’s stone cladding and I went to inspect.  I’m so glad I did because the colours of the stone on my computer screen were completely different to the real samples.  That made me nervous so I decided to take a short list of samples around to the house for testing:

Online “Aspen” (left) was my first choice, but in reality there was too much orange.  So Echo Ridge (middle) and White Oak (right) were the last two contenders.  I’ve selected Echo Ridge, wanting a bit of dark contrast to the rest of our light grey pallet to break up the front facade with texture and colour.  My Mum (starring in the photos) likes White Oak the best which is very beachy, but slightly off my colour pallet of greys.


Oral “country ledgestone” in White Oak, Echo Ridge and Aspen.

That’s all for now.  My head is still a bit rattled by jet lag, too much excitement and a hectic week.


Top 40 homes and gardens.

To end a month of celebrations and self indulgence, I’m sharing my Top 40 favourite pictures of homes and gardens.  I thought it would be a cinch to post my favourite pics, but it has actually taken me all month to pull this together.  I’ve included all the links to the photo sources, so if you see something you like, click a little further and you’ll often find pictures of the whole house.  When you get to the end, leave a comment to let me know which photo you like the best.

Top 5 Houses that I just keep coming back to look at:

  1. Previously rentable via One Fine Stay, this New York apartment was renovated by Athena Calderone from Eye Swoon.
  2. A little on the sparse side, but I imagine this house to be very similar to HBTW once we put timber floors in.   Somewhere between the extremes of the house above and this one is where I’d like to see HBTW’s aesthetic lie.

    Amalfi Residence by Bayden Goddard Design Architects.  Source:  Home DSGN

    Amalfi Residence by Bayden Goddard Design Architects. Source: Home DSGN.

  3. An irresistible entrance and home amongst the trees.  This house says “Australia” to me.

    Storrs Road Residence by Tim Stewart Architects.  Source:  Home DSGN.

  4. Bondi home with a beach vibe, without being obvious.  I love the splashes of blue with white and wood. The brick walls are original.

    Source:  Trends Ideas.

    5.  And, if I wasn’t starting with a new build – I’d want a warehouse, or a barn to convert.  This Amsterdam loft conversion is just the ticket:

    Picture source: Vosges Paris.


5 Best of the West.

For more details and pictures of all 5 of these Western Australian homes, check out one of my favourite blogs:  House Nerd.

  1. Cambuild’s “light, white, wood-filled house“.  Inside and out, I’ll take one of these, please.

    Photos by Joel Barbitta of D-MAX Photography.

    Photos by Joel Barbitta of D-MAX Photography.

  2. The “rustic modern house“:

    A new house with character.  Photos by:

    A new house with character. Photos by: Joel Barbitta at D-MAX Photography.

  3. Jeremy’s house was designed around a marri tree and some special needs.  I wish all kids with special needs could have a house like this.Jeremy's house
  4. The Old Stone Farmhouse is a piece of rural Australian history.  It’s filled with goodies old and new, many of which you can purchase on the owner’s website, Cranmore Home.

    The Old Stone Farmhouse.

    Photo by Sally Mills.

  5. House Nerd has a special radar for interesting houses.  This spacious living area was once a church.

    Photographs by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

    Photographs by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

Top 5 Kitchens from around the world.

  1. One from South Africa:

    Unrestricted by safety regulations!

    Unrestricted by safety regulations!  Source: Home Adore.

  2. Norway:
    Norwegian kitchen.

    Natural light galore and a neutral pallet. Source: Planet Deco.

    3.  France:

    Old mill kitchen.

    19th century oil mill. Source: One Kind Design.

    4.  Canada:

    Canadian kitchen.

    Old meets new in a light and homely kitchen.  Source: Sophie Burke Design.

    5.  And, the United States of America:

LA kitchen

My size kitchen bench.  Room for the whole family.  Jenni Kayne’s Los Angeles kitchen found on Architectural Digest.

Top 5 Backyards

  1. This garden by Tim Davies Landscaping belongs to the original “Rubix” display house – our house plan.
  2. There’s so much I love about this Melbourne back yard; the decking, the timber “soldiers”, the pizza oven, the brickwork, all designed around the tree.  
  3. From Punta del Este, in South America, my ideal outdoor kitchen and dining room.

  4. With similar “back yard” space to us, this Sydney yard has always stuck in my mind.  The fish pond and pool connected by a “jetty” is such a unique touch.

  5. This garden is in the U.S., but it would look equally at home in Australia.  Rust for the outback, big trees for the bush.  

5 rooms I love.

  1. Sofa ✔ timber floors ✔ single grey wall ✔ art made from material ✔.
  2. A master bedroom that manages to be light and moody all at the same time.

    Source: Lonny.

    3.  Probably any room from this house could make it onto my Top 5.  Check out the whole house, it’s full of nice surprises.  The stand outs for me are the art, the large windows and the floral additions.

    Mill house open living

    Remodelled mill house. Source: One Kind Design.

    4.  I like my light and I like my trees… you might need high fencing between neighbours for this one.  The house to which this bathroom belongs is probably not what you’d expect.

    Transparent bathroom.

    Source: Mi Casa.

    5.  A delightfully welcoming hallway:


    Top 5 “Australian-made” showcases

  1. Mark and Louella Tuckey’s home, filled with Mark Tuckey‘s Australian made furniture and relics from an Aussie life.

  2. Jan Juc house showing off custom made cabinetry and Aussie-made sofas.

    Source: House Awards

    Source: House Awards.

  3. This award winning Australian house was met with mixed feedback in its unfurnished state.  I think the view speaks for itself.  Here it looks modern and homely with Australian-made furniture from Domayne:Domayne Furniture.
  4. Inspired by and built into the sand dunes near 13th Beach, this house is a beautiful work of art.

  5. Have I already mentioned that I love Melbourne?  Fitzroy is the place to be.  Australia’s answer to New York’s loft conversions.  So cool.

    Source:  Home Adore.

    Source: Home Adore.


Top 5 “By The Water” houses

  1. My kind of beach house.  Relaxed.

    On the New South Wales Coast.  Source:  Desire to Inspire.

  2. A villa in Majorca.

    Source:  Planet Deco.

  3. Not your average display home….

    Pacific view.

    Apartment display suite at Bondi Beach. Source: SJB architects.

  4. Jaw-droppingly beautiful grounds on the Mexican coast:

    Photo source: Freshome.

  5. Somewhat extravagant, but I could do it if I had to:

    Sydney knows how to do water views.  Source:  Home Adore.

    Sydney knows how to do water views. Source: Home Adore.

Top 5 spaces for “my next life”.

  1. As a child I will grow up in this bedroom:

  2. I will, of course, be French!

    French home.

    Source: AD Design File.

  3. I will have chooks and a veggie patch large enough to be self sufficient.

    Vegetable garden

    Source: not known.

  4. And, probably a very expensive oven where I will bake ’til my heart’s content and never get fat:


    Source: Remodelista.

  5. Then laze in my outdoor bathroom.
Outdoor bath

Source: Living.







Building, post by post.

With an eye firmly on the goal.  Landscape design by Tim Davies Landscaping.

Looking into our future. Landscape design by Tim Davies Landscaping.

I’ve been thinking out loud here on this blog for one year now.  There has been some dilly dallying by me and plenty of advice from you.

The blog has been viewed over 14000 times, mostly in Australia, but with peeps in over 70 countries.  (It’s going to be a big house warming party.) On average, 30 different readers pop by each day (more than 70 hits) – so not just my Mum, after all.  But, the best bit about blogging is receiving comments.  Your comments have helped me make quite a few decisions.  I love that readers outside of W.A. prompt me to think “outside the box” for options and solutions, and I love that readers inside W.A. provide local tips and advice.  If you comment, don’t forget to check back later for my reply and the comments of others.

I bought the blog a birthday present!  Did you notice?  If you are not a WordPress member, you will have had pesky little ads coming up at the bottom of my posts.  That was the result of me not paying to use their clever blogging platform.  House By The Water is now 100% ad free.

In honour of the occasion, here are a few favourite blog moments:

You might think that after one year there would be something to show for all this planning.  The thing is, we don’t want the house to be finished too soon before we return to Australia in late 2015.  In fact, we put in our preliminary plans agreement (PPA) that the house should not be completed before July 2015.  So we are going to be patient.  I am grateful for our luxurious time line.  I can’t imagine how some people can make all the decisions required in the few weeks between signing up for building a home and the work actually starting.  For example, just picking a fireplace took me two weeks.

I’m expecting to see some action on the block in May.  In the mean time, I’m sure we’ll find something to talk about.

It didn't take our Landscape Architect to figure out his client -  glass of wine and laptop on the deck looking out across the canal.  Tim Davies Landscaping.

It didn’t take our Landscape Architect long to figure out his client – glass of wine and laptop on the deck, looking out across the canal. Tim Davies Landscaping.

Thanks for listening.

Watching the build.

It has occurred to me that I’m going to have a bit of trouble keeping an eye on the build.

In case you missed it in a previous post, there is the small issue of the house being built in Western Australia, and me being currently located in far, far away Brazil.  (The house is my dangling carrot.  One more international assignment then I can settle down into blissful, ordinary, predictable, normal Australian suburbia, in a beautiful family house with a lovely view.)

Despite the geographical challenge, you’ve probably noticed that I’m doing my best to enjoy every minute of the building process.  I’ve let my fingers do the walking and there is not too much that can’t be done online.  I realised this morning, that most of the big decisions are just about made and in a few months, it will be time for me to chill out and let the builders do their thing.  But I know that most people who build visit their developing home at least once a week to check on progress and take a few exciting photos of flat paddocks of sand, slabs, piles of bricks, wiring, scaffolding and that sort of thing.

"Sunset over slab".  Photo by Brilliana.  at Film and Fancy.

“Sunset over slab” by Brilliana von Katterfeld at Film and Fancy.

You may not be sorry that you could miss out on these types of photos, but me, I’m like a doting new parent- I want to see it all!  So I’ve come up with a few schemes to overcome my problem of being an absentee home-under-construction owner:

  1. Install web cams.  I couldn’t find a precedent for this.  I suspect it would a) p… off the tradespeople and b) be way too complicated for someone who thinks Smart Wiring is a shoe-phone belonging to Agent 86.
  2. Employ Agent 86.
  3. Approach Mandurah Cruises to see if they will reroute their daily cruise past our block and ask their tourists to email me iPhone pictures.
  4. Convince the very lovely, smart, wise and, not to mention, handsome (or should that be beautiful?) builder’s liaison officer to send me weekly progress pictures.
  5. Bribe local neighbours, friends and readers to regularly paddle/drive/ride/walk/ motor past our block and send me photos.  I’m thinking of a roster system.  Payment by the universally accepted currency, beer.  Actually, I already owe one homemade apple pie and one home cooked meal for similar favours.  I might have to start a new page to keep track of I.O.U.s.  No, I’ve got it – payment in wine on the HBTW deck once it’s done.  Any takers?

I’ll leave you with a beautiful house building photo, thanks to Brilliana von Katterfeld at Film and Fancy.  Don’t you love the colour palette?  Teal tinged trusses, sandy bricks, Scandinavian-inspired grey minimalist shed, bitumen in metallic platinum gloss.  Film and Fancy house

Merry Christmas from HBTW!

OK, so it's not exactly the Mandurah canals, but I can dream.  Source:  Habitually Chic.

OK, so it’s not exactly the Mandurah canals, but I can dream. Source: Habitually Chic.

I’m getting in the holiday spirit and will (metaphorically) put my feet up for a week or two!

In case you miss me and need a little online reading, I thought I’d share my favourite home building blogs with you.

1.  We’re Building a House.

You’ll have to be quick to join the many fans of this blog because the lucky owners of this NZ home have just moved in.  But there are still a few bits and pieces to finish up.  Jon and Gemma’s unique and beautiful home has been built on a very tricky site.  The result is great and Jon has been keeping a diary.  Jon is a talented wordsmith with a sense of humour, so not only do you get the nitty gritty of home building, but you often get a good ol’ belly laugh too.  My favourite recent post includes a discussion about whether or not to let house guests wear their shoes on a gorgeous, new wooden floor.  Personally, I voted “no”!

2.  House Nerd.

This blog has everything from new and old house tours and DIY home reno projects, to reviews/introductions of homeware stores and other fun bits and pieces (like weddings).  The best bit is that it’s all based in Western Australia and that’s kind of ground-breaking!  It was a very tough decision to pick my favourite recent post – any of the house tours are contenders, but I really love this tour of an Old Stone Farmhouse in rural Western Australia.

The next blogs on the list are from new home builders just like me!  The twist is that they are not building with the common, big name (big volume) builders in Australia.  Their houses are so, so far from mine, and each one is going to be wonderfully different.  This list also doubles as my “house swap list” for when I’ve lived in my new house for a while and am ready for my next holiday.  (I haven’t warned the home owners yet, but I’m sure they’ll agree once they see my finished house!)

3.   Our Self Build Story.

With permission from:  Our Self Build Story.

With permission from: Our Self Build Story.

Check out the view from this house-to-be in the Isle of Skye, Scotland.  Whoah!  The stunning view comes with some geographical and meteorological challenges.  To keep warm in the future, the owners have installed a ground source heat pump.

4.  Home in the Making.

This “contemporary farmhouse” is being built in Johannesburg.  I find it amusing to see how construction differs in South Africa.  The author, “Africadayz”, is sometimes disconcerted by the chaos of so many people on the building site.  In Australia, we’d be celebrating that.  It’s good to know that supplying tradesmen with “morning tea” of Coca- Cola and biscuits is a worldwide practice.

5.  Happy Laughs

With permission from Happy Laughs.

With permission from Happy Laughs.

Happy Laughs is building a barn in Texas.  When I saw her photo of recycled farmhouse beams arriving at her property, I knew it was going to be a special project.  Happy Laughs’ home is currently being framed, and, can you believe it, her tradies recently had a few days off due to snow.  In Texas!  Happy Laughs has 4 kids and from the pictures she’s selected to inspire her home, I know she is building a warm and lively home.

Wishing all my readers a very, happy Christmas!  

Thanks for all your tips and comments.  See you in January when I will be very excited about my trip to Australia for the “pre start” meeting with our builders.

Landscape design

When we woke up to a little package of 3D landscape drawings in our inbox it felt like Christmas morning.  Immediately we were visualising our summer days sitting on the deck, watching boats putt by and listening to the kids splashing in the pool.

We are not afraid of a bit of work in the garden and fancy that we could put together a nice yard with plenty of greenery, a place to BBQ and a bit of decking.  Our last garden was certainly all DIY.  But when we saw what our landscape architect came up with to complement our future home, we knew it was better than any plan we could have conceived.

So that was the good news.  The bad news was that this impressive design was double our budget.  Together with our landscape architect, we’ve been cutting pieces to bring the design closer to our budget and now we are at a point where our “back garden” will look more like this:

Plan B is without the fancy louvre shade structure at the end of the pool, has a fibreglass pool and leaves Igor and I with plenty of the work to do ourselves.

Plan B is without the fancy louvre shade structure at the end of the pool, has a fibreglass pool instead of concrete and leaves Igor and I with plenty of the work to do ourselves, including all of the lower (canal) level.

I think it has the “Wow” factor.  It’s a little less organic/Aussie/au naturel looking than I had imagined for us, but it really suits the house.

To keep within our budget, we are forgoing the shade structure for now, but the umbrella looks pretty good and some of the landscape can evolve over the years.  The pool, on the other hand, needs to be right from the start.  This is why I’ve been reading up about concrete pools versus fibreglass pools and badgering people-in-the-know to figure out which is best.  There are pros and cons to both, but assuming a good quality product and careful installation, the most significant “pro” for concrete in my mind is the look of it, and the critical “con” is the price.  I am talking about at $10 – 20 000 difference between the two for the proposed design.  Has anyone got two bobs worth to add to that little dilemma?


House By The Water goes facebooky

Sometimes I have house thoughts that are not quite big enough for a blog post, but still demand some attention.  Like this week, I began seeking timber floor quotes, which tipped off a whole new round of questions – “plank on ply” versus “direct stick”, matte, satin or gloss sheen, etc.?  As you may have already gathered, I’m a little bit geographically challenged with this house build.  We are building in Western Australia but right now I’m 5 hours by plane away and it’s only going to get worse.  So I can’t just pop into a few showrooms for a little browse and chat with sales staff.

This blog and its readers have been helping me blunder my way through so far and it’s all been such a lovely relationship that House By The Water now has a little offspring.  For all those not-yet-blog-thoughts, please visit my new facebook page. You can click on the facebook link in the right column of the blog home page or click here.

Owner of this beautiful house, if you could just pop by my new facebook page and tell me if you blackbutt floors have matte, shiny or gloss sheen, that would be great.  (Photo from:

Owner of this beautiful house, if you could just pop by my new facebook page and tell me if your blackbutt floors have matte, shiny or gloss sheen, that would be great. (Photo from: