One year at House By The Water.

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:

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Old furniture meets new house.

Open living area.

Smitten with our House By The Water.

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.

Kitchen bench, caesarstone.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone and the splash back tile dilemma, well and truly resolved.  Pot stand made by my Nan.

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:

Living area void.

View of our living area from the second floor.

Living area.

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:

Lazio Daybed.

Lazio Daybed by Weylandts.

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…

Open living area.

Open living area.

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:

Clamshell Caesarstone.

The arty-farty version. Clamshell Caesarstone.

Powder room.

The real version.

Never without a hitch. 

Good news first.

Doesn’t our kitchen look swish?

kitchen

House By The Water kitchen.  I think I might “pin” that.

I glammed the house up a bit with some greenery in honour of my Mum’s visit and the return of The Three Little Pigs from holidays with grandparents.

Kids' bathroom.

The Little Pigs’ wash trough, with maiden hair fern sitting atop the laundry chute.

girls room

Christmas gifts for our 11 year old pig included an Armadillo & Co rug and bedding from Adairs. Furniture still in transit.

The fireplace saga….

 Round one of fireplace saga took place a year ago, I won’t bore you with the details.  Round two of fireplace saga started with us collecting our fireplace from storage last month to find that we only had 4 metres of flue.  No good for a 6+metre building.  A few extra days and we soon had some extra flue.  Next, the fan kit for the heater ($750) was nowhere to be found.  Storage upturned and triple checked, supplier contacted and no evidence that it was delivered or not.  Nice Wolf huffing and puffing (enough to circulate heat around house). No chance of paying for another.  Fireplace installer and supplier both agree that fan is not necessary.  Fireplace installed without fan and with a frame that’s sort of just hanging loosely off the wall….

Moving on.

Driveway.

A quick rush to get the driveway concreted before the timber floors were to be finished.  The aim was to have an access point to the house that doesn’t involve traipsing through sand.  A couple of quotes later and a bobcat was ploughing sand out of our front yard.  Well worth the $300 + clean fill when compared to the hours of digging that would be the alternative.  I’d never have thought we’d have 3 truckloads of sand/dirt to clear.  All was going well until a little water spring appeared from the water meter.  “It was already leaking.  Can’t you tell by the green grass around it?”  “Fair enough”, I said, wondering if there was also a leak from our letterbox which also has a green patch of grass.

I supplied the concrete contractor with a copy of council’s requirements for driveways, but thought that this should be old hat for any local concreter.  If you follow council’s requirements, they’ll reimburse you for some of the cost of the “crossover”.  Well, they almost got it right.  No expansion joint at our property boundary….maybe I should get them to come back?   Maybe it’s too late.

concrete driveway

The base for our future cobblestone driveway.

Our window shutters were due to be installed mid January.  When I inquired about progress last week I was told there was a “slight delay” of a few more weeks due to one of the shutters being unusually small.  Hmmm…..

Our timber floors are currently having “a rest” before being sanded and finished.  The blackbutt stairs and our curved void area are quite impressive.

 So, there you have it.  Progress, albeit with hitches.

Coming up:

  • Tree farms.
  • Floor finishing, I hope!
  • The return of our furniture.
  • How are the builders tracking with the pre-handover list?
  • And, you never know your luck, a pool before winter?

The end of my two year spending hiatus.

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.

Love,  Me.

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:

Living room:

Cray pots!

Cray pots.

West Australian cray pots.

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.

Living area mood board.

Living area mood board

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:

Sofa fabric mood board.

I’m luke warm on the sofa fabric.

Girl’s Room.

The First Little Pig turned 11 and, with  strong reader encouragement, we gave her a hanging chair:

Hanging chair.

Hanging chair, snaffled up at Empire Homewares in Freo. The shipping cost of these from the East was putting me off. Cushion by Kip and Co. from Frisky Deer Interiors + Cafe.

Tween room mood board.

Book worm heaven in a hanging chair.

Master Bedroom

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?

Iris Dune bed

Iris Dune bed from Snooze. Aussie made.

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:

Master bedroom mood board.

Curtains, rug, bedding, art, lighting, chair – all accounted for.

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.

Stacked stone cladding.

Boral’s Country Ledgestone in Echo Ridge.

 

Building action: ceilings, render, white-set, roof.

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.

Kitchen bulkhead installation

Skilled tradesman at work on the bulkhead above our kitchen.

Home theatre

Library, now looking bright with white set walls.

canal side render

Canal side rendered.

Living room

Living room – white setting in progress today.

Front facade rendered

This morning’s work: front render done.

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:

Bedroom Moodboard

Ink Blue Emery Curtain sample from Pottery Barn with Kitty Grey Solver paint, and a wool floor rug and throw from Santiago Airport.

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.

Frisky Deer Interiors

At Frisky Deer Interiors + Cafe in Mandurah.

Mixed indoor plants

Feeling green: indoor plants.

It is with some disappointment that I’m writing about indoor plants today.  Surely, 23 months after signing our building contract, 14 months after site works started and 11 months after slab down, I should be writing about progress with the house.  According to the original schedule, which I did promise to take with a grain of salt, we should be doing the pre-handover inspection this week.  Here is how House By The Water looked on the weekend:

House facade with sealed render.

So far from completion…Waiting for textured render and windows (at rear).

Webb and Brown-Neaves, our builders, are 5 months off schedule!  I’ve been reassured that some time can be made up and I believe it, so I was very disappointed to learn that nothing has been done for a week.

I’m feeling rather blue about this.

My expiry date in Brazil does not change so this week I’ve been growing piles around the home in preparation for packing.  I’ve been working on our air shipment pile.  It includes a few special things I’ve been saving for the new house.  I’ve also been recording the dimensions of some of our furniture, so that we can work out where it will all go in advance of its arrival in Australia.  And, for pure pleasure, I’ve  drawn up the plan for “what will go where” in the new kitchen.  (Thanks for the idea, Lunar at Majestic 40 at Gardener’s Ridge.)

And to change my mood from blue to green, I’ve been dreaming about indoor plants.

My Top 5 Indoor Plants

Olive

Potted olive tree.

I just can’t go past the silvery colour of olive tree foliage. Source: House to Home.

Orchid

Orchids in bathroom.

Potted orchids last so much longer than a vase of cut flowers. Source: Inside Out.

Maiden hair fern

Maiden hair fern.

Pretty and delicate. Source: Design Sponge.

Herbs

Basil, coriander, parsley, etc. I use herbs so much that the real supply will be in the veggie patch. A pot or two in the scullery will mostly be aesthetic. Source: Divine Caroline.

Basil, coriander, parsley, etc. I use herbs so much that the real supply will be in the veggie patch. A pot or two in the scullery will mostly be aesthetic. Source: Divine Caroline.

Weeping fig.

No, I didn’t miss the memo that it’s fiddle-leaf figs that are all the rage.  I do like figs.  In fact, I was once broken hearted by a fig that had to be cut down.  I’ve had these weeping figs in pots before.  I like their pretty leaf and they are resilient.  Fiddle leaf figs are pretty cool too, but maybe a bit too cool.  I’m quite sure that they are growing like weeds on every roadside around here in Brazil.  Readers, don’t let your fiddles out of their pots – they grow big and only look so-so when they have free range.  Your neighbours might get grumpy.

By the time we move into House By The Water (zzzzz…..) we’ll have missed the outdoor planting season, so I’ll be keen for a bit of indoor green.  I might even splash out for a largish potted tree in our living area, where it can give us a give us some afternoon shade until I sort out a more permanent window treatment solution.  Dare I say it can double as our, ahem, tree that is decorated at a certain time of year.  I think a nice olive tree might be perfect.

Potted olive tree.

An olive tree. Peace. Source: Brown Design Inc.  (Feature photo at top:  The Guardian.)

 

Real rooms.

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.

Living room with Lego.

Our (rental) living room at this very moment – currently the most photogenic corner of our home. Where’s the Lego in the magazine photos?

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:

Black bag 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'd rather have a cuppa and read a magazine than get the vacuum out.  Source:  Ngoc Minh Ngo Interiors.

I’d rather have a cuppa and read a magazine than get the vacuum out. Source: Ngoc Minh Ngo Interiors.

Clutter is chic en Paris!  Source:  Inside Closet

Clutter is chic en Paris! Source: Inside Closet.

Too much cleaning may crush my creativity??  Source:  Airbnb

Too much cleaning may crush my creativity?? Source: Airbnb.

Queen of collected treasures, Sibella Court's home.  Source:  The Design Files.

Queen of collected treasures, Sibella Court’s home. Source: The Design Files.

Kid and Coe specialise in stylish holiday rental homes around the world that welcome kids.  This one is in Barcelona.

Kid and Coe specialise in stylish holiday rental homes around the world that welcome kids. This one is in Barcelona.

The House Nerd blog is full of real rooms with real people (and often animals too).  Sure the floor has been cleaned and the bench wiped, but the kids' art is still on the fridge.  Photo by Heather Robbins at Red Images,  Thanks to House Nerd.

The House Nerd blog is full of real rooms with real people (and often real animals too). Sure the floor has been cleaned and the bench wiped, but the kids’ art is still on the fridge. Photo by Heather Robbins at Red Images, Thanks to House Nerd.

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.