The Nice Wolf and I have been flat out getting at least some of the garden ready in time for the influx of Christmas and Summer visitors. I’ve lost count of the weekends the Nice Wolf has been laying cobblestones. He complains that I get the good jobs and it’s probably true. Planting, painting. Any way, no time to write, but I feel I owe my readers at least some photos of recent progress. I hope you enjoy the gallery:
Our boxes and furniture arrived. The kitchen boxes took me a full weekend to unpack and I’ve declared a ban on any further kitchenware purchases. Our plentiful kitchen storage is full.
This 3 day weekend, my mission is to clear the house of all the other boxes. I’m spurred on by a special request from a South African reader for photos of our void area and by the impending arrival of an important guest, Aunty Kate.
Our living room (with void) is furnished temporarily with old furniture:
I have big plans for this living area, but I have to be patient. In the end, practicality won over lust and I’ve ordered this sofa:
The sofa is coming from South Africa and is due to arrive in May. I’m taking that to mean July, because everything seems to arrive later than advertised. (Hello? Bed I ordered in December. Shutters I ordered in October. Are you there?) When the sofa arrives, I shall borrow some rug samples from Frisky Deer and will select a rug to complement the new sofa and the “I.O.U. artwork” that is yet to be purchased following a conspicuous birthday a certain time ago.
I’m only half way through my box emptying spree, but I feel like showing off our living area. I’ve earned a short break…
Through the chaos of the week, I’ve enjoyed finding little spots that give me pleasure. Honestly, everything looks better with timber floors:
And finally, a preview of our powder room:
Yeah, I know my last post was about running out of money. This was purely research. Really. I had 3 or 4 hours to spare and three suburbs to cover. Special thanks to the stranger at Oakpark train station who loaned me his Myki public transport card so I didn’t have to wait for the Post Office to open at 9am to purchase a card.
Church Street, Richmond, was first on my list, to sit on, look at and touch Australian-made sofas that are available online but are not on show in Western Australia. Jardan sofas woo me in every Australian interiors magazine. The Jardan store is one that you feel you should have packed your pyjamas and moved right in. It’s much more homely than the somewhat clinical photos I’d seen imply. On top of their famous sofas, they have an eclectic collection of rugs (not all online) and some art I could have stood in front of all day if I had not been a woman on a mission. It was good to sit on the sofas. some are just too deep for cups of tea and upright conversation and others are just right. I identified some beautiful fabric should I select one of their products in the future.
Church Street is a sort of sofa shopping hub, amongst other homewares, furniture and interior decorating supplies. Right across the road from Jardan is Voyager Interiors. They had some completely dreamy sofas with removable covers, all the way from Italy. I think they flew business class. Anyway, I was interested in their Australian-made “Odense”, so after it passed the sit test I organised a quote and fabric samples.
I popped past Fitzroy to have a squizz at Southwood Home who I have been admiring on Instagram for their Australian-made furniture for a long time. Some of their bedside tables are contenders for a future place at House By The Water. I gazed at their beautiful linen for longer than is normal then plodded down the footpath in search of a Mark Tuckey fix. The decision to move into the Jardan show room or the Mark Tuckey showroom would be a close call, but on this occasion the doors were locked at Mark Tuckey so I’ll stick with my own home for the time being.
I met my sister for lunch at Weylandts’ Kitchen in Abbotsford. This sister, previously referred to as The Sensible One, is building a new house soon but is usually too busy with work to loll about dreaming of future interiors. To quote my sister, Weylandts was “like visiting a museum”! (That was a compliment.) It’s a huge warehouse showing off furniture and homewares from around the world but definitely with an African focus. Weylandts is a South African company with an eye for style that I love. Their collection is perfectly curated and original. Giant tree roots hang from the ceiling! Some products such as rugs, lighting and artefacts are competitively priced. Looking at these photos again now makes me sigh….:
Meanwhile, what’s been happening at House By The Water? The timber floors have started. The Auswood brothers set off at a cracking pace two weeks ago, sanding and sealing our concrete floor then laying the beautiful, raw blackbutt timber from NSW. So far the bottom floor timber is down and about half the top floor. The tricky bits such as the stairs and our curved, suspended slab edge are yet to be done, but the end of concrete dust, sawdust and a furniture-less home is in sight.
- Will the fireplace saga ever end?
- A trip to the tree farms.
It seems to be the done thing to start writing lists at this stage of the build. I’ve been postponing my list writing for fear of what I might find. But here it is, out in the open, for all of you to tut about how it’s not possible to do all those things in just two weeks, before the builders shut down for a long break.
- Finish interior tiles: powder room,
splash back, laundry chute/bath surround.
- Exterior texture (nearly finished).
- Stacked stone feature (started).
- Render, waterproof, texture planter boxes and retaining walls (started).
- Paint walls (started).
- Install balustrade.
- Plumbing finals, installation sinks, taps, toilets.
- Electrical finals, install light fittings (started).
Phone/future link finals.
- Shower screens and mirrors.
- Robes (started).
- Door hardware.
Stacker doors, front door.
- Garage door.
- Install appliances (started).
- House clean.
I started the list last weekend, and although it seems like there has been plenty of activity at House By The Water, the list looks fairly unscathed.
As I am a “glass half full” kind of person, here is my list of items that were completed this week.
- Balustrade measured up and a new balustrade finish negotiated to avoid availability of product delays.
- Splash back tiled and grouted. Looking very lovely, if I do say so.
- Bathroom and ensuite tiles grouted.
- Powder room floor problem # 4 (some tiles in the series darker than the rest) resolved by creating a new pattern.
- Robe areas painted.
- Stacker doors installed.
- Appliances, sinks and toilets delivered. Ovens installed.
- Downlights, some pendant lights, smoke alarms and power outlets fitted.
- Robes started.
- Stacked stone progressed.
- Front door delivered.
All considered, I’m pronouncing it a good, productive week at House By The Water. Stay tuned for the big week of painting ahead.
Dear Nice Wolf,
Don’t bother to read this post. It’s not really your thing. Mostly about interiors. I’ll send you some pictures of building progress very soon.
Okay, readers. Just between you and me, it’s possible that I’ve spent more on shopping in the last 6 weeks than I did in the whole two years prior to that. There wasn’t a lot to tempt me in Brazil and anything of interest was exorbitantly priced. So I’ve been patiently planning for two years and refining my interiors style. We’re calling it “modern Australian with a touch of earthiness” or “surf and turf” for short. Well now I’m home and we are on the countdown until House By The Water is ready for occupation. We’ve had a run of birthdays and, yes, the
mother father of all consumer events is just around the corner, so some rather lovely things have been purchased. I’ve been buying only things that fit with the mood boards I’ve created for each room. Here’s some highlights:
The Nice Wolf sourced these locally for my birthday. They are the real deal. The man who made them thought it was such a waste to use them for lighting when they could be catching crayfish. They have so much character and a lot of weight. I plan to age them in the weather a bit, then hope they’ll bring a relaxed, natural vibe to our house.
I got some sofa quotes, but I’m not entirely happy yet, so I think I’ll extend the search. My dream was an Australian-made linen sofa, but practicalities (read: removable covers) lead me to look at the Lazy Time sofa. Its fabric is mixed, with only a small percentage of linen and the sample fabric I chose in the show room is not quite right:
The First Little Pig turned 11 and, with strong reader encouragement, we gave her a hanging chair:
After 20+ years on the same mattress and 15+ on a homemade, rickety bed, we are upgrading. I’ve been researching beds for the past year and had my eye on several Australian-made options. I like very plain, blond coloured timber, with the focus on a comfortable backrest for my breakfasts in bed! My shortlist of beds did not include any beds stocked in Western Australia so I went in search of a bed that didn’t come with shipping costs. What do you think of this one?
I love the way it appears to float off the floor. I haven’t bought it yet. I don’t want to peak too early with my purchases and have to deal with moving lots of furniture when our floors are installed. I did, however, buy some linen sheets to celebrate my first pay cheque for my new job.
So the master bedroom mood board has morphed to something like this:
I’ve a few other items that cannot yet be revealed. I’m finding it useful to shop with the mood boards in mind, helping me stick to the big picture and to make quick decisions.
At House By The Water this week, I’m actually locked out – not just for accounting purposes. Of course, it’s cramping my photo-taking style. The internal painting is in full swing, and thank goodness there is some tiling started. The tiler is also working on our stacked stone cladding which seems to be a case of “don’t rush the artist”. It’s certainly an art fitting all the pieces together while trying to balance out the different colours and shapes to give the illusion that it’s all random.
It has sometimes been hard to get a park at House By The Water this week. The head count has included a roof carpenter, ceiling installers, insulation installers, scaffold workers, electrical contractors and renderers. It has been all action and there is plenty to show for it.
Behind the scenes, the electricians are ready to receive all our lights for fitting. Only their message reads more like a ransom note than a request for fittings:
“Deliver to our warehouse….at this secret location…. only at this time….or we will fine you… a lot…. and you will regret it! Don’t try to sneak in a wrong light…..we will fine you for that too… If you dare to forget to label a box….that will be another $95.” Okay, I might have embellished that a little, but honestly, their complex instructions and unforgiving fees have me scared I’m going to make a mistake. Luckily, we’ve only received this information now, otherwise I would have been too frightened to order anything that was not available from the builder’s recommended light suppliers. Most of our lights are coming from Radiant Lighting and I trust that they have the experience to meet the demands of the “ransom note”, but I also have 7 pendant lights that I’m supplying myself. My pride and joy, the coco pendant, is now in my possession and my order from Dunlin lights arrived this morning. Sadly, one of the pendants has been pushed out of shape in the box during shipping, so the delay to get a replacement to the electrician is bound to incur one of the electrical company’s friendly fees.
The cabinet makers have been checking up on a few of our details: hidden robotic vacuum dock in the laundry and our integrated dishwasher. I’m very happy to hear they are making a start on our cabinets.
I bought curtains for the master bedroom:
I met the sales rep from Boardwalk Shutters on site this afternoon to measure up the shutters for the other bedrooms and our library. I left this until the white set was completed so that more accurate measurements could be taken, but with the 10-12 week lead time on shutters, this means we’ll be without window dressings for a few weeks post handover.
And between running around like a headless chook for the past week, I’ve enjoyed a couple of cuppas and sweet treats at Frisky Deer Interiors with friends, old and new.
I quite like the minimalist look but the Nice Wolf and the Three Little Pigs just didn’t get the memo. You know all those gorgeous pictures of perfect houses that I’ve been posting? Well, that’s not going to happen. Okay, it might happen once or twice, but if you knock on my door on any random day, you won’t see it. Keeping my house tidy is an ongoing, half-hearted battle. I know the motivation will increase tenfold once we move into House By The Water, but still, I’d rather be in the garden, on the deck or in the kitchen cooking up a storm.
Of course, I’ve tried to train the Pigs (now aged 10, 8 and 5). They are rewarded for cleaning their rooms and for helping with chores. I trialled Hong Henwood’s “black bag strategy“, where, after fair warning, any kid’s items left lying out of place in the living areas are collected in a bag. In our case, the “black bagged” items could be earned back, donated to charity, thrown out or regifted at birthday or Christmas times. Well, the two oldest pigs formed a union and I received a formal complaint:
An elaborate bag-stealing heist followed, foiled only by the littlest Pig being a goody-two-shoes. On day two of “black bag” I asked the Third Little Pig to put away his skate board. He replied that he was leaving it out for me to put in the black bag because he’d like to receive it again for Christmas!
I’m hoping that in a double story house, the ground floor will be tidy-ish most of the time. Two of the pigs will have their sties upstairs and perhaps as they get older their mess may be constrained within their own four walls, but for now at least, they like to be where I am. They bring toys out to play on the lounge room floor and their homework is done at the dining table despite having their own desks.
So my challenge is to create spaces that can handle a bit of real, 3-kids, no-hired-help, living. Part of that will be allocating drawers, hooks and cupboards in the living areas for quick clearance. (One of my friends suggested a kitchen drawer for the mobile phones, pens, mail, etc. Yep, all the stuff that’s currently sitting on my kitchen bench.) Part of it will be sticking with fresh, tidy habits. Wish me luck. And part of it will be embracing the lived-in, homely look. On this final point I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for inspiration.
Beautiful rooms that look inhabited:
I notice from this collection of photos that the signs of life, be it personal items, clutter or disorder, add to the character of the room. Unique windows, interesting artefacts, layered soft furnishings, mismatching and multicolours provide enough interest that the kid’s toys and pile of books on the floor look perfectly suited to the space.
So matchy- matchy? Out! Monochrome? Out! Minimal? Never a consideration! Sleek, shiny, see-through? Probably not.
Greenery? In. Favourite bits and pieces? Definitely. Anything with storage potential? Yes!
Have you mastered the combination of kids/husband and tidy house without feeling like your life revolves around housework? If so, I need tips.
I’m sticking to the subject of storage, but this week I’m trying to balance utility with aesthetics. In Australia, we are lagging when it comes to planning built-in cabinetry in the design stage of our new homes. We manage to get it right in the kitchen and bathroom, and recently in the bedroom too, but our living areas and dining rooms typically get fitted out with non-custom, ad-hoc items of furniture.
Is this because we are such cool, unique collectors of eclectic pieces that ooze character and style? Nope. It’s because built-in cabinetry costs so bloody much.
Example one: House By the Water. Cost to add a built-in-robe (1.37 m wide) to our study to convert the room to a bedroom. $2200. (Rejected.)
Example two: Friend’s home. Cost to install book shelves to all walls of one medium room to create a library. $50 000. (Rejected.)
Luckily the Nice Wolf is handy, and when equipped with time, he will make us some lovely shelves for our future library, dining room and scullery. I might have to wait until he retires for furniture and cabinetry. In our laundry, we’ll need overhead cabinets. The garage overflow can go here, plus we’ll need to hide what I imagine will be an ugly, exposed (but oh, so convenient) laundry chute.
The plan is to turn this:
into something more like these:
It might be in our laundry, that Ikea has its “House By The Water moment”. When we gutted an old kitchen years ago, we used some Ikea components for the new pantry and cabinets. The quality was good. So I sketched up some laundry plans for HBTW and dived into the Ikea website. Woah! It’s a minefield of choices and digital tools in there. I found it quite overwhelming and it’s probably best to head into Ikea and leave the maths and design up to their kitchen planners. Never-the-less, I managed to come up with a basic list of what we’ll need for laundry wall cabinets and a price estimate. $750.
Trying to shop around, I checked out Masters’ website too. Although their selection is limited, the pieces all work together, so creating a shopping list was much easier. Price estimate $750. I wondered whether Ikea’s doors could be put on Masters’ cabinets, but the sizes are mismatched.
I also had a quick squizz at Gumtree for second-hand wall cabinets. Most look dated and heavy, but there is potential there, at least to use the bases, if you are prepared to be flexible with layout.
Did you add cabinets to your home?
Have you got your own scary custom-cabinets quote to share?
Have you dabbled with cabinet installation?
Do you know a great place to have it all done for you at Ikea/Masters’ prices?
An absence of news from our building site can only mean one of two things.
- Everyone is so busy working on our house that they have no time to write.
- There is no news.
I’m trying to remain patient. The Nice Wolf has brought up the subject of contingency plans, you know somewhere to sleep when you don’t have a house, but I’m not entering into it yet. Instead, I’m doing what I do best, admiring pictures – developing the vision for House By The Water. Some might call it burying my head in the sand.
So with my room inspiration formula well established by now, I set out to select my Top 5 entries/hallways. I’ve collected pictures of many beautiful home entries, but our entry should reflect our home style and finding “modern Australian with a touch of earthiness” soon narrowed down the contenders. As I look at more and more beautiful homes it can get confusing at times, but I’m trying hard to stick to my self-imposed “brief”.
Hmmm, yes, only 4. Nevermind. How hard can a hallway be?
Our entry and hall has a great design with a linen cupboard tucked away to the side and even some wall space to hang hats and bags that is out of sight as you enter the house. Functionally, aside from being a passage way, it will be the shoes on/off space. We are a shoes off family. It comes from having lived in Canada. Wear those snowy, muddy boots inside and you are going to get a thwack. Once I got a taste for this, there was no turning back. The reduction in grub (read floor cleaning) is huge when you are a family of 5. Plus, we like to be barefoot. It’s one of many reasons we are installing timber floors throughout our house. Currently The Three Little Pigs sit on the floor to remove their shoes and shoes are every where. So a bench for sitting is in order and most of the ground floor linen cupboard will be dedicated to shoes.
We have a beautiful antique buffet cabinet that we bought in Tasmania on our honeymoon. It won’t fit in our new dining room with no walls, so I’m going to house it in our hall. Accommodating that and a bench to sit on are my only prerequisites for this space. We have a void space above our entrance that is calling for a long feature pendant. If money was no object, I’d hang several oak pendants. In reality, I’m planning to install some kind of traditional fishing basket or net here as pendant lighting.
Definitely a few extra styles sneaking in there. Perhaps I should just add “a hint of coastal” to my brief. “Modern Australian with a touch of earthiness and a hint of coastal” is getting a bit long winded. How about “Aussie surf and turf”?
Have you given yourself a decorating “brief”? Can you name your style? Or is it just me watching too many home renovation shows?
Does your home entrance reflect the mood and style of the rest of your home?
Got any secrets for avoiding a large pile of shoes and school bags beside your front door?
I’m going for longevity with my material and decorating choices in House By The Water. However, despite my best efforts to stay true to this, I am not immune to trends. My preoccupation with beautiful homes on Pinterest and tempting homewares on Instagram and my penchant for watching the likes of “The Block” and “Reno Rumble”, means that I can be a sucker for trends. Sometimes I get sensible and reign myself in, but sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between fad and enduring style. Take for example, the style of these sofas that I’m coveting.
They are definitely on trend. I guess they could be described as Scandinavian style, but I think they look good in Australian “earthy” homes. I’m seeing them everywhere. I like them for their height off the floor, allowing the floor space to look larger, and for their simplicity. But have I been brainwashed? Am I better off with a more solid design, that is more conducive to slouchy, feet-up moments?
Anyway, I digress. So far on this blog, I’ve tried not to offend too many readers. It is with some trepidation that I introduce this topic, but after a recent conversation with one of my readers about an “unnamed material” being used for pendant lighting and the possibility that such “unnamed material” may be a passing fad, I couldn’t resist. You have all been so lovely, commenting when you see something you like on this blog, but I think you are a little shy when it comes to saying “yuck”. (Aunty Kate, you may be the exception!) But readers, I feel I know you well enough now, that you can hit me with the truth. Tell me what decorating trends you love, those you hate, and especially those beautiful things that you think stand the test of time.
I’ve got some pictures to show you of some current top trends. Some I like, some I don’t. Then there is a survey I prepared. It’s just for fun. It’s anonymous. I’ll collate the results later and let you know how much we are like sheep!
Fiddle leaf figs
Click “HERE” to access the survey.
Got a home decor trend that you love to hate? Feel free to get it off your chest by leaving a comment! I promise not to be offended. Homes would be boring if we all liked the same things!
What about a trend that you just can’t resist even though you know it’ll soon be “so last year”?
(Feature photo by Eve Wilson for The Design Files.)