The private chef in our kitchen.

We’d like scallops for dinner, thank you.   Followed by crispy barramundi, then creme brûlée, please.

IMG_2955

What could be better than a brand new kitchen, decorated exactly to my liking, with plenty of space and all the mod-cons?  Someone to cook and clean up afterwards, of course.  Last Friday, our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, organised just that.  An evening with a private chef is their “handover gift” to all their clients.  Such a treat!

Photos are few.  I was having way too much fun.

I had the place looking spick and span and the Three Little Pigs were banned from dropping crumbs, socks and toys for 24 hours:

Dining room

Dining room.

Our dining room has great views in all directions.

Dinner setting.

The third little pig set the table. Can you spot the error?

Eric, our French chef, from Ryan John Private Catering, arrived with all the meal preparation complete and started cooking:

DSC_0778

Our special spies guests, who helped us out in various ways during our build, arrived and might I just say how well they all dressed to complement our interior decorating!

Dinner party guests.

That’s me and The Nice Wolf on the left.

We toasted our new house then devoured the delicious meal.

Dinner party

Don’t tell The Nice Wolf but the scallops were the best I’ve had in years. The meal was completely delish and our glasses were kept topped up.  Best of all, Eric saw to all the clean-up and dishes, then politely took his leave before things got a bit embarrassing silly amusing.  We tried to keep up our civilised behaviour for a while with a little game of “Guess the Aroma” using a fun wine aroma kit.  One thing lead to another and the boys couldn’t resist showing off their amazing musical talents playing the crystal glasses, which we all knew meant it was time to go home.

Jam session on the crystal glasses. Oh dear!

Jam session on the crystal glasses. Oh dear!

Oh, hang on a minute.  We live here!  A lovely night of fine dining and celebrating our new home with good friends and we only had to walk upstairs to bed.  That’s my idea of perfect.

 

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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?

How cabinets made my day.

Fearing another slow week, I decided to trial a new strategy to keep work progressing rapidly at House By The Water.  Bribery.

Our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves asked me to meet the tiler on site on Monday, so first thing in the morning I left the tiler a box of chocolates hoping it would make him work at his best.  I know that the tiling is a big job and a critical one in the pathway to the builders handing over the keys on December 18th.  Well I’m not sure that it had the desired effect, (any tilers reading, please send in your suggestions,) but we do at least now have the bathroom and ensuite screed.

Bathroom screed.

Kids bathroom. Note: hole in floor for laundry shute.

Ensuite screed

Ensuite

The renderers have started to add the final textured layer to the house exterior:

Grey pebble render.

Dulux Grey pebble render.

I collected some render that had fallen to the ground to take to the tile shop.  I need to select a tile to cover the top face of the patio awning.  I want it to be inconspicuous.

The concreter poured the garage floor and a concrete plinth beside the house for the air conditioning unit to sit on:

Grano garage floor.

Grano garage floor.

A couple of broken windows have been replaced and some interior scaffolding is in place.  I hope it means that the painter will start soon.

But the highlight of the week is definitely the arrival of the cabinets.  My mum sent me a text message during the day…”There’s a large furniture truck outside your house.”   Oooooh!   Cabinets!  Cabinets for the kitchen, scullery, laundry, bathroom and ensuite.  Lots and lots of beautiful storage.

What a giant puzzle it must be now to put it all together.

For those of you who are missing my little chats about interiors, I promise a short break from building talk next week.  I’ve been making a few exciting purchases and plans for our interior but I can’t reveal them just yet.

My husband wants an ugly coffee roaster.

I heart the Nice Wolf.  Really.  Picture source:  No Camels.

I heart the Nice Wolf. Really. Picture source: No Camels.

Dedicated to my Valentine.

I don’t like coffee.  Put half a teaspoon of it in a chocolate cake, and I won’t eat it.  And don’t even think about kissing me if you’ve had a Cafe Latte in the last 60 minutes.  Espresso?  You’ll have to brush your teeth first.

Here is the entirely functional, exceptionally ugly, coffee roaster in question:

Coffee roaster

Hottop Coffee Roaster. Source: Hottop.

Let me start by sorting out the serious coffee drinkers from the “I’d rather have a pretty kitchen” crowd.  Could you, would you?  

My husband singled out this roaster after scouring through forums dedicated entirely to coffee and related paraphernalia.

The retail price for this supreme coffee roaster is (AUD)$1599.  I don’t begrudge the cost.  It’s roughly the equivalent of purchasing a daily Starbucks coffee for one year.  My husband loves his coffee and has made his own ever since I’ve known him.  We’ve had the same trusty coffee machine for 15 years – a great wedding gift from the groom’s best men.   I know the industrial look is on trend, but in a chunky, raw materials, manually-operated kind of way.  Not in a looks-like-it-belongs-in-a-disease-testing-lab kind of way.

Of course I’ve been trawling the web in search of a good-looking alternative.  I’ve found some lovely old-looking machines, the size of  sofas and the price of  cars.  There are very few choices for home roasters.  So I sent The Nice Wolf back to the drawing board and this is what he came up with:

Yup.  A popcorn machine.  Apparently they can roast coffee too.  I wouldn’t say that any of these are worthy of residing on my kitchen bench, but they are light and small and can easily live out of sight.  Possibly roasting coffee beans in them will wear them out, but for as little as $30, I don’t think we’d be too upset.

So that leaves some spare change for stylish new coffee machine.  And it just so happens that I’ve found a couple that fit the bill.

L to R:

  1. The Anza.  Shown here in Corian and teak!  Also available in concrete.
  2. Lavazza in concrete.  Source:  Bit Rebels.
  3. Classic style by Breville.   Various prices.
  4. Ascaso shown in Deep Blue, Polished Aluminium and Deep black.  Retro style from Spain in a choice of 15 colours!  $900.

So coffee lovers, have you got a coffee machine that not only makes coffee just the way you like it but looks fabulous too?  Do tell…   The Nice Wolf is an engineer, and a chemical one at that, so he likes to play with temperatures and air flows and other stuff.  One of those one-touch machines ain’t going to cut it.

And, serious coffee aficionados, (do any of those read my blog?) have you ever roasted your own coffee beans?  How did you do it?  I recently roasted my own cocoa beans in a purpose-made clay pot over a gas flame.  I wish I’d thought to enquire about purchasing a pot.

The Scullery

Our kitchen is going to be fairly spick and span.  In theory.  But I love to bake, and the Nice Wolf doesn’t mind getting in touch with his inner Frenchman either.  So I want a space where we can let it all hang out, have everything at our fingertips and make a lovely, floury mess.  Introducing the scullery!  Otherwise known as a butlers pantry, the scullery sits behind the kitchen.  It will be also be the place to hide the dirty pots, out of view from the main living area.

My scullery inspiration:

Beth-Kirby-Local-Milk-kitchen-by-Jersey-Ice-Cream-Co-Remodelista-10

Essential floating shelves.  Source: Remodelista.

Farmhouse kitchen

Source: Vintage house.

Kitchen shelving

Simple and useful. Our subway tiles will be light grey. Source: Our House.

I know, all a bit samey, just different degrees of rusticness.  (I hope you enjoyed those two new words.)  At least I know what I like.  Some floating wooden shelves and a couple of potted herbs is all I need to get started.   I already have the vintage scales, wooden chopping boards and Kitchen Aid mixer.

Here’s the basic layout of our scullery as shown in the display home:

Photos from Webb and Brown-Neaves.

That’s more than 3 metres of extra cake-baking heaven!  We will install our own open shelves for easy access to baking staples and some hooks and racks for our favourite tools.  My Kitchen Aid mixer will have pride of place, but…..da, da, da, daah (insert “wrong answer” sound effect) – it’s red!  For many years my favourite colour was red.  I have lots of lovely Le Creuset pots and pans in red and a matching mixer.  Now my favourite colour is not red!  I am considering painting my mixer a neutral colour, but Aunty Kate strongly advises me against it.

My scullery:Scullery mood board

Featuring:

  • Floor:  NSW Blackbutt timber.
  • Splash back tile:  Vogue grigio gloss, subway tile size with white grout.
  • Caesarstone bench top: Alpine Mist.
  • Cabinets:  Classic white sheen (polytec)
  • Antique kitchen scales.
  • Well glass pendant light from Dunlin.

To finish my post, for Deb at “Deb’s Dream Home“, I’ve been trying to imagine the first thing that I’ll make in my brand new scullery.  My first thought is macarons – but in reality, when we first move in, life is going to be chaotic and macarons are not going to be a priority, so I’m going with home-made pizza or pasta!

Do you have a scullery?

What’s the first thing you cooked in your new kitchen?

And, should I paint my Kitchen Aid mixer another colour?

 

Gallery

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.
    Bedroom.

    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:

    Oven

    Source: Remodelista.

  5. Then laze in my outdoor bathroom.
Outdoor bath

Source: Living.