Interview with new home owners, Miranda and Cameron.

HBTW's slightly older sister:  Cameron and Miranda's house.  Sketch by Webb and Brown-Neaves.

HBTW’s slightly older sister: Cameron and Miranda’s house.  Sketch by Webb and Brown-Neaves.

It’s no secret that I’m home-building obsessed.  But I’m not the only one. There’s a zillion people like me, and worse, hanging about on the “HomeOne Forum“.  There are first-time home builders, repeat offenders, and even professionals.  No question is too silly, tips are given and mistakes are shared.  It’s on the HomeOne Forum that I (virtually) met Miranda and Cameron, fellow customers of Webb and Brown-Neaves. Miranda and Cameron recently moved into their new home and it’s a home to drool over.  Miranda has been such a fantastic help to me during our build process so far, warning me of traps for beginners, sharing details of trades she recommends and answering my endless questions.

I’m so excited to introduce awesome couple, Miranda and Cameron, and their equally awesome new home to you!

When Miranda, a lawyer, and Cameron, a management consultant, became engaged and started searching for a family home in Perth, they were looking for established homes.  During their search they viewed a house built by Webb and Brown-Neaves a decade earlier.  The block was too small to accommodate a double garage and was crossed off the list but the house made a lasting impression on Cameron and Miranda, particularly how well it suited the neighbourhood.  This lead to some research into building costs, the purchase of an old house fit for demolition and the decision to build a new home.

HBTW:  What were your new house “must haves”?

M & C:  3+ bedrooms, study, home theatre, large WIR, scullery/ pantry, island bench in kitchen, large living areas at rear opening to alfresco, pool, storage spaces, as large a backyard as possible and a rear garage.

HBTW:  And “nice to haves”?

M & C:  Free standing bath, storage space that could become a cellar, 4th bedroom/ activity room, very high ceilings in the living areas (at least 33 courses), slightly larger minor bedrooms than the norm and the pool located beside the living area.

Freestanding bath

Freestanding bath (from The Stone Super Store), complete with view over the bedroom to the garden.  It took 6 men to move the bath inside!

HBTW:  What inspired your home layout and material choice decisions?

M & C:  Having a corner block with a rear lane way and a North-facing back yard dictated much of the design.  In terms of style, we are drawn to natural, organic but elegant spaces.  We stayed in some inspiring accommodation in the Maldives for our honeymoon just before we had to make a lot of the decisions for our house.

M:  I searched for a ceiling fan like the one we saw in the Maldives and was lucky that Beacon released the “artemis” just in time for our builders to install it.

HBTW:  What or who was your best source of building information?

M & C:  Hours of research on google, the HomeOne Forum, Miranda’s dad who is an engineer and friends who have built before.

HBTW:  How did you divide the planning and decision making between you?

C:  I looked after the electronics, cabling, sound and TVs.  Also the pool equipment and heating.

M:  Most decisions were made together.  Even though this takes time, the house belongs to both of us and we are both indecisive.  We usually wanted a second opinion, or third, or fourth!

We took a six-week interior design course at Home Base.  I think it was great that we did the course together. We learnt a lot and it gave us some structure to be able to work out what style we liked and why, which choices work together and the pros and cons of various options.  I was surprised that there were very few men at the course.

Oozing style!  Sofa and coffee table from Natuzzi.

Oozing style!  Sofa and coffee table from Natuzzi.

HBTW:  What are your top tips for those starting the process of building a new house?

M & C:

  1. Sales consultants can make a big impact on your experience.  Visit different display homes until you find one that you feel comfortable with.
  2. Get everything in writing.  Make lists of what you have to do and what the builders have said they’ll do.
  3. Check all drawings, addendas, variations and costings very carefully.
  4. If something is very important to you, be prepared to do the research yourself.  The “impossible” may actually be possible.
  5. Really think about your block, not just its aspect, but also the ground levels in relation to privacy and views.

HBTW:  How about tips for people already building?  Like me!

M & C:  Sorry HBTW, some of our tips won’t work for you…

  1. Visit your site often and take lots of photos.  They might not be relevant immediately but could be useful later.
  2. If issues arise and the builder proposes a solution, make sure you know the cost implications before you agree.
  3. Be able to describe your style in a way that makes sense to the various people you’ll be working with.  (Pinterest helps!)
  4. Add conduits everywhere, especially for motorised blinds.
  5. Watch out for quotes that don’t include GST or other essentials, like delivery.

HBTW:  What was your biggest mistake?

M & C:  Believing that Webb and Brown-Neaves could accommodate a custom design or even substantial changes to their normal designs.  The majority of mistakes we noticed were related to these changes. Their processes just aren’t set up for that, and it didn’t work well.

M:  On a smaller scale, I regret letting the lighting consultant talk me into keeping oyster lights in the walk-in-robe and laundry.  Even if the light is better from oyster lights, I don’t like how they look (especially how green they look when they’re on). We’ll need to replace those.

HBTW:  Were there any companies that were so good, you’d like to give them a plug?

M & C:

1. Aussie Clotheslines.  Their sales people were really helpful.  It was easy to book in a convenient time only a couple of days after I rang them.  They turned up on time and did what they said they’d do for the original price and didn’t leave any mess or damage anything in the process. If I could say that about everyone involved in building, it would have been a thousand times easier!

2.  Just Blinds.  Andy organised our blinds and shutters and has been very helpful.  He came back a couple of times, for example, when the electrician was struggling with the connections to motorise the blinds. He doesn’t have a shop so he comes to you, with all the samples to choose from and all the info. It was a very easy process.

3.  Freedom’s Decorator Service.  Felicia, from Freedom in Osborne Park was excellent. She really listened and understood what we wanted.  She made great suggestions and not just for Freedom things.  She helped us with all sorts of decisions like skirting, blinds and paint colours.  She gave us the confidence to do a few things that we wouldn’t otherwise have done, but really like: for example, having a couple of non-matching dining chairs; using several different types of timber in our living area and having a fitball in the study instead of a second office chair.  She was going for a feeling that was more “young and fun”, rather than trying to re-create the kind of rooms our parents would want.  No disrespect to our parents intended!

HBTW:  What is your favourite part of the house now?

M:  My favourite part of the house is looking into the kitchen from the living area, where you can see the kitchen, pendant lights, stonework and bar stools.   (HBTW:  Mine too, Miranda.  The combination is amazing.)

Caesarstone , under bench stone by   ,  Stanley hammered copper pendants from Dunlin,  stools.

Osprey Caesarstone (chosen by 90% of WBN’s clients!), under bench stone from EcoOutdoor , Stanley hammered copper pendants from Dunlin, Replica Norman Cherner barstools from Matt Blatt.

C:  My favourite part of the house is probably the home theatre, though I really like our bedroom and living area too.

Living area.

Living area.

HBTW:  What was you biggest splurge?

M:  At the time of purchase, my pendants and freestanding bath felt like big splurges but now that we’ve been worn down by all sorts of high costs, we’ve become a bit numb and those amounts don’t seem so high any more.

C:  Have you forgotten the cost of the ovens?

M:  Yes, the Miele warming drawer, normal oven and steam oven.  They were definitely my biggest splurge.

C:  My biggest splurge was the pool.  And putting the pool up against the house  – with the extra cost of footings and engineering work that required.  The plan is to put a tv in our alfresco so I can sit in the pool and still being able to watch the cricket!  I’m thinking of a housewarming party on boxing day, watching the Boxing Day Test from the pool.

HBTW:  What was the first thing you did upon receiving the keys to your new house?

M & C:  We rushed straight back to the house to let in the flooring people.  They needed to get started that day to get their work done in time for other people who were booked in. We had re-shuffled everything following a few delays.

The weekend we moved in was much happier – champagne was involved that day.

HBTW:  Thanks Miranda and Cameron for sharing your home pictures and all the nitty, gritty details.  I hope you have many happy years in your beautiful new family home!

Dining and kitchen.

Dining and kitchen.

 

 

 

Easter unplugged.

Spare room for HBTW?  Guests over-staying their welcome?  Just release the ropes.  Source:

Spare room for HBTW? Guests over-staying their welcome? Just release the ropes. Source: Home DSGN.

I don’t wish to make you jealous, but the island I am going to this Easter break is unlikely to have internet.  So this week’s blog post is just a bit of silliness (put together in a rush between packing sunscreen and snorkels) to wish you all an eggcellent holiday.

Here’s the best of egg-inspired design that I could find:

Picture sources: 1 & 2. China Whisper.  3. Top Creative Works.  4 & 5. dmvA. 6. Lomme. 7. Houzz. 8. James Law Cybertecture. 9. Helberg Design.

How do you like your eggs?

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!

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.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/blogs/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.

http://www.house-nerd.com

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.

http://selfbuildhouse.wordpress.com

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.

http://parkhomeinthemaking.wordpress.com

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

http://happylaughs.wordpress.com

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.

Powder room.

I nearly didn’t write a post for the powder room, but then I thought it was mean-spirited to deprive you of these inspiring pictures.  Here’s my top 5.

Light and simple.

Light and simple.  Image source: The Style Files.

A little darker grey and the wood seem to make this powder room a bit masculine.

A dark grey and the wood seem to make this powder room masculine.  Photo credit:  Segev photography, via Houzz.

Light and airy.

Light and airy, despite the smelly boots.  Source:  The Style Files.

Darker tiles for splashback works nicely with the black.

Darker tiles for the splash back works nicely with black.  Source: RTL Nederland.

You know fancy floor tiles make me weak.  (I still haven't discounted them for the laundry and powder room).  Cute nautical touch for the mirrors.

You know fancy floor tiles make me weak. (I still haven’t discounted them from the laundry). Cute nautical touch for the mirrors.  Source: E-mag DECO.

Our powder room is the only bathroom on the ground floor.  It will be for guests, but it will also be used by the youngest little pig who will sleep in the downstairs bedroom. Dangerous, I know.  I’m trying to forget about smelly socks, and worse, in order to plan a guest-worthy powder room.

Here is the basic layout we are working with:

I’m going to try and tie the laundry and powder room together in terms of colour, although the laundry will have a Laminex bench top while the powder room is going posh with Caesarstone.

Powder room mood board.

Powder room mood board.

I tried some combinations that included a decorative floor tile, but it all looked too busy.  This mood board shows:

  • Travertine white honed tile (National Tiles) – I need to find something similar from one of our builder’s tile suppliers.
  • Feather Dawn paint.  (I dabbled with Grey Pebble this time, but it looked too dark.)
  • Clamshell Caesarstone vanity top.
  • Polar white Laminex.
  • White wall tile. (Standard issue, matt surface.)
  • Builder supplied mirror and basin.
  • Some very cute wooden dots that you can hang clothes and towels on from Muuto.

In order to bring the laundry and powder room together, I now think I’ll have to modify my laundry plan a bit.  The floor tiles are too dark.

Phew.  That’s it for tiled rooms.  I’m fully prepared for my “pre start” meeting now.  I will be happily swayed by good advice from the builder’s interior designer, but it will be for the smaller details.  The basic mood/colour/theme for the bathrooms, laundry and kitchen is established.  This should help me avoid making any on-the-spot decisions that I later regret.

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:

Downstairs

Downstairs

Upstairs.

Upstairs.

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?

Ensuite colour plan

By now, you know the drill.

  • Step 1.  Select my top 5 photo inspirations.
  • Step 2.  Find the common features between them.
  • Step 3.  Review the layout of our “Rubix” plan.
  • Step 4.  Create my own mood board using products included by my builder.

It seems to be working so far.

Introducing my Top 5 ensuite bathrooms:

Light and natural.  Source:

Light and natural.  Source: Bo Bedre.

Grey and white, with wooden accessories to warm it up a little.

Grey and white, with wooden accessories to warm it up a little.  The “texture” (is that the right word?) of the tiles makes this room interesting.  Source:  Elle Decor.

Grey and white.  Simple.  Source:

Grey and white. Simple and calm.  Source:  Home Beautiful.

A few luxurious touches, not to mention marble walls, create a glamourous bathroom.  Source:

A few luxurious accessories and amazing tiles create a glamourous bathroom. Source: Toronto Interior Design Group.

Black?  Hmm.... Maybe some silver metal where the black is.  Source:

Black?  Hmm…. It’s a bit formal for the ensuite.  That’s a lovely grey bench top though and I’m always a sucker for lavender.  Source:  79 Ideas.

So grey, white and wood it is again.  (I hope you are not boring of it.)  Fancied up with some battered silver or glass.

Here is what we are working with, plenty of windows and space:

Excuse the open cupboards, but this is the photo that shows the layout  best.  Photo from Webb and Brown-Neaves.

Excuse the open cupboards, but this photo shows the layout best. Photo from Webb and Brown-Neaves.

I didn’t like the vanity style much, so I had it switched for this one:

This rather lovely bathroom is from the Azumi, by Webb and Brown-Neaves.  Our vanity will be this style.

This rather lovely bathroom is from the Azumi, by Webb and Brown-Neaves.

So now we are having tiles all the way up to the ceiling behind the vanity and mirror, and we also extended tiles to the ceiling in the shower.  Inadvertently, in selecting the different vanity design, I think I have also selected the wood veneer laminate.  That may present a problem for my colour selections.

What do you think?

It took a lot of restraint to leave out a sparkly chandelier

Hang on a sec!  The WordPress grey picture border looks better than the paint colour I selected, shown here on the left edge.

Based on:

  • Floor – Travertine white honed tile, extending up the wall behind vanity (National Tiles) or similar.
  • Vanity unit – Laminex Blackbutt Wave timber veneer.
  • Bench tops – “Pure White” Caesarstone.
  • Wall paint – Solver Feather Dawn
  • White plantation shutters.
  • Frameless mirror.

With great self-restraint, I have not included a glass chandelier!  It was tempting, but as I spend only 5 minutes per day in the bathroom, not warranted.  Before I realised my addenda specifies Blackbutt Wave Laminex for the vanity drawers and shelf, I put a white vanity with lightly grey Caesarstone bench top on the mood board.  I’m a bit nervous about a pure white bench top, but I tried various other whites, and also clamshell grey, but none of those seemed to work.

Of all my mood boards so far, this is the one I’m least confident about.  Do you think the wood veneer laminex can work in this case?  (It looks great in real life at the Azumi.) Or should I investigate the possibility of changing it out?