On becoming a shop snob and DIY as therapy.

Girls room.

With the benefit of Instagram filters.

Having just survived a sleepover party for six almost-10-years-old girls, the only thing I can do this afternoon is laze on the sofa.    The second Little Pig and I glammed up her room a bit with some matching doona covers.  I ordered them online since I’ve had no time to shop.  That was a mistake.  While the doonas themselves are quite lovely, they are not the colour that they appear online (nor in the hard copy advertising of the product sent along with my order).  So the various pinks in the room clash.

Doona cover.

New doona cover, modelled by Evita.

The Nice Wolf says I should have learned by now.  Helpful.  I’ll probably do it again.  I’m afraid I’ve developed shop snobbery, an unpleasant side effect of several years of online interiors “research”.  There’s only one local shop that satisfies my snobbery, so if I can’t find it at Frisky Deer, I look online. There is the argument that buying better quality products than the average Kmart product may pay off in the long term, but when it comes to bed linen I’m not sure that it’s true.  I pick on Kmart because I recently got all excited over Kmart’s new industrial style lockers.  Just what I was searching for to put in my son’s room.  The excitement ended as soon as I saw the product, so small and looking as though it would barely make the trip home let alone stand up to the hardship of housing a 6 year old boy’s daily clothes.

Shop snobbery is an expensive addiction that I’m trying to control.  To curb my habit, I’ve taken up some DIY.  Inspired and instructed by Maya from House Nerd, I dared to drill a hole in a brand new wall.  At first, I thought I was no good at it, but then Nice Wolf replaced my inferior drill piece included in a kit, with a decent drill piece and away I went.

 

Bathroom hooks.

Bathroom hooks.

I was on a roll with 3 wall hooks mounted, only to be halted by some electric wires.  According to my wire detector, my whole wall around my bed head is filled with electric wires!  Exactly where I want to put a bracket for my much-loved pendant light.   Back to the drawing board.

Not to be defeated, I took up rendering.  With a couple of YouTube lessons and some advice from the Nice Wolf under my belt, I set about to hide the neighbour’s brick fence.   The Nice Wolf made me a concrete mix in the mixer.  He was laying cobblestones (forever….) while I rendered the wall.  I donned some gloves, put the grouting gizmos (technical term) in my hands and hoped for the best.

 

I am not a perfectionist.  Some may shiver at my amateur efforts, but I am rather pleased with this wall so far.  I plan to paint the wall once the rainy days disappear, then plant a row of pleached pears or lilly pillies in front.

The professional landscapers installed our outdoor lights.  They look WOW!  They bloody well should, too.  (Dad, cover your eyes…)  They cost $7000, or about $500 a pop, on average.  My night time photography is blah, but trust me that my 3 coastal banksias, lit up at night, look fantastic and as for the copper step lights?   See for yourself.

We are, as always, progressing slowly.  I really, really, really hope that next time I blog, our landscapers, Tim Davis Landscaping, will be finished their scope of work.  They still have the pool to finish, a couple of fences to install, a bench seat to deck and a few bits of tidying up to go.  Honestly, they’ve been incredibly slow.  I can’t blame them in this rainy weather, but they did start last December.

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Jetty Christmas!

Santa on the canals.

Santa delivers lollies on Christmas Eve.

In the scheme of things, I thought that a jetty was low priority.  After all, we don’t actually have a boat.  But The Nice Wolf had other ideas and last week the Jetty Man motored up to House By The Water, drilled in a couple of poles and attached a brand new jetty.  Just like that!

The Three Little Pigs watched the jetty poles go in.

The Three Little Pigs watched the jetty poles go in.  Jetty by West Coast Jetties.

The Nice Wolf paid attention to the functionality of our jetty design, I oversaw the aesthetics and I am rather pleased with the result.  An unexpected bonus of the jetty is that it visually extends our “back yard”.  Suddenly our canal side area seems so much larger.  The jetty has been well used already:  breakfast while dangling feet over the water and many boating guests, including Santa, a previously anonymous blog reader and some new neighbours who welcomed us with a gift of champagne!  Plus, there has been plenty of shenanigans on our kayaks and the Three Little Pigs’ Christmas gift, a blow up paddle board/windsurfer.

Another highlight of the week was the installation of our cray pot pendants.    They are not quite finished yet, but already I love them, especially at night.

Christmas baking provided a good test for our ovens and kitchen space.  Pavlova?  Check!  3.5 kg salmon?  Check!  2 adults cooking at once?  No problem.

Kitchen

Kitchen in use.

Kitchen crowd.

Boxing Day kitchen crowd.

Guess The Handover Date Competition.

Congratulations to John!  John guessed December 24th would be the day we received keys to House By The Water, 6 days later than our actual handover day.  A good bottle of West Australian bubbly is  available for collection or delivery.  Thanks to all blog readers who joined in with this competition.

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.

Building to schedule.

Construction schedule

Screen shot of our construction schedule.

I’m taking our construction schedule with a grain of salt.  Obviously it’s a standard schedule.  10 days have been allocated to paving, and we are not having any paving by the builder.  We are 2-3 weeks off schedule already, but that’s nothing that can’t be explained away by “the non-availability of trades, inclement weather, shortage of materials or the like.” In any case, I’m using it to plan the timing of purchase of “owner supplied items”.  Since we aren’t living locally during the build we really tried to minimise owner-supplied items, but some items such as our fireplace, air conditioning and the integrated dishwasher weren’t offered by Webb and Brown Neaves.  In the case of our feature pendant lights, I didn’t like any we saw at our builder’s supplier. Between a variable construction schedule, variable lead times on items we need to supply and nowhere to store purchased items, the whole situation is a bit tricky.  I already made the mistake of purchasing the fireplace early to avoid 2015 price rises, and then was tripped up by a $250 delivery fee to a friend’s garage because the supplier wouldn’t hold it.  I’ve been creating lists and charts over the past week, trying to get better organised for costs, supplying items and the post-handover activities.

Owner-supplied items.

Owner-supplied items.

You can see I’m having some commitment problems with a couple of items.  For the kitchen pendants, my taste is expensive, but I can’t be sure that what I want is the right thing.  So I’m leaning towards buying cheaper alternatives, until I’m in the house and able to weigh all the other factors up.

 

Sources:  1.  Beacon.  2.  Weylandts.  3.  Dunlin.  4.  Cocoflip.

For the alfresco area, I have grand plans for an oversized cray pot pendant, DIY.  So all I need is a bare bulb hanging on a cord at least 2 metres long, but I am struggling to find something that won’t quickly rust in our outdoor environment.  Outdoor lighting options are rather lacking!  The only item I’ve seen that fits the bill so far is $600.  No!  Not when it’s going to be covered up anyway.

Build update

The brickies have made a start on the second storey of House By The Water.  Imagine my excitement to receive this picture on Sunday, the first news of any brick laying activities:

Extra brownie points for our building inspector who took this unsolicited photo on his long weekend!

Extra brownie points for our independent building inspector who took this photo on his long weekend!

And special thanks to house-building blogger, Trixee, who popped by our house on the weekend and took the photos shown below.  Trixee is building a glamorous solar-passive house in Perth.  Trixee’s slab has just been poured so the excitement is mounting over on her blog:  The SP Chronicles.

All set up for second storey bricks.

All set up for second storey bricks.

Scaffolding jungle for the alfresco void area.

Scaffolding jungle for the alfresco void area.

Garage

Garage with concrete beams and pipes that will be invisible before long.

Stairs.  And the terrible realisation that I should have had that changed to include a storage area.

Stairs. And the terrible realisation that I should have had that changed to include a storage area.

As they say,  it’s coming along!

Australian made.

Photo source:  Mark Tuckey.

Photo source: Mark Tuckey.

I’m patriotic all year round, but in honour of Australia Day, it’s time to dedicate a post to the talented artisans of Australia and some companies that proudly produce beautiful things in Australia.  There are plenty of reasons to chose Australian made products for my home but the clinchers that actually make me buy local are:

  • Australian style.
  • Made to last, quality.
  • Reduced environmental impact related to shipping.

It’s becoming harder to find Australian made products, particularly as companies like Freedom and King Furniture move their manufacturing overseas, but collaborating on this topic is only going to make it easier.  If I’ve missed your favourite Aussie-made goods for stylish homes, please add them in the comments.  I love recommendations.

Furniture

Mark Tuckey:

Mark Tuckey showroom.

Sofas, beds, chairs, tables, drawers, mirrors, etc.

OK, I could actually move right into a Mark Tuckey show room.  I love everything they make.  They make chunky furniture from “recycled timber and sustainably managed forestry sources”.  Like many companies on my list, don’t expect Ikea prices, but don’t expect your purchases to end up as landfill either.

Domayne:

Domayne furniture.

Sofas, beds, desks, dining sets, entertainment units, etc.

Domayne has a good range of Australian made furniture.  I’m eyeing off a king size bed from there.  For some fun, check out their new app which allows you to visualise how a particular item of furniture will look in your space.

Jardan:

Jardan furniture.

Sofas, beds, rugs, lighting. Source: Jardan.

Jardan make sofas to die for and prices to match.  Their furniture, designed and made in Melbourne, is classy.  Combine wood and linen and I go weak at the knees.  (No longer stocked in W.A. I believe, but available online.)

Others:

Bay Furniture  – West Australian custom made furniture including sofas, chairs and tables, using local wood.

Oz design – Some, but not all, furniture made in Australia.

Arthur G – Having recently oohed and aahed over my friend’s new Belair sofa in a gorgeous fabric she selected herself, I can vouch for its comfort and style.  Available in Perth.

Nomi – Scandanavian in style, but designed and made in Australia.  Tables, benches and chairs.  You can mix and match their parts to semi-customise your furniture.

Textiles.

Moochie Lou:

"Wattle" fabric by Moochie Lou.

“Wattle” fabric by Moochie Lou.

The design, fabric printing and production of Moochie Lou‘s bedding, cushions and tableware all happens in Australia.  My favourite print is the “wattle” but you might prefer W.A. inspired “Hamlin” or “Flow”.

Old Grey House:

Old grey house linen.

Tea towels, table linen, cushion covers.  Source:  Old Grey House.

I “helped” the 3 Little Pigs buy me some Old Grey House tea towels and a cushion cover for Christmas.  I love the gumnut inspired prints made in Western Australia.  A limited selection is available online, but I look forward to visiting local markets and stores for a greater range.

Ink and Spindle:

"Silver Gum" bedding by Ink and Spindle.

“Silver Gum” bedding by Ink and Spindle.

Completely gorgeous!  You can choose your own colourway, but I like this one best.  Ink and Spindle sell fabric and ready made items such as cushions, ottomans and bean bags.

Others:

Bonnie and Neil – Bold and beautiful cushions, tableware, decorative wooden tiles and small furnishings.  A bit on the pricey side.  Great splashes of colour, if you are that way inclined.

Cloth Fabric – Fabrics, lamp shades, cushions and ready-made curtains.

Homewares

Eucalypt home:

Ceramic loveliness by Eucalpyt Homewares.

Ceramic loveliness by Eucalpyt Homewares.

Floral or Eucalypt?  It’s hard to choose, but you know it’s gotta be blue.  You can buy Eucalypt Homewares in shops around Australia or at West Australian markets.

Others:

Samantha Robinson – Handmade porcelain vases, jugs, plates, bowls and teapots.

Lighting

Cocoflip:

Mr Cooper pendant by Cocoflip.

Mr Cooper pendant by Cocoflip.

I’d better not put yet another picture of my favourite pendant on the blog.  So here is Coco’s brother, Mr Cooper.  Cocoflip design furniture and lighting.  They have a limited selection but the quality is superb.

Who did that:

Pod Lux pendant by Who did that.

Pod Lux pendant by Who did that.

Tasmanian made flat-pack timber chandeliers (yes!) or leather pendants.  “Who did that” create lights that make a statement.

Inkster Maken:

Limestone pendant by Inkster Maken.

Limestone pendant by Inkster Maken.

Inkster Maken has a small range of lights made from South Australian limestone and hardwood.  Concrete looking at its best!

Others:

Barnlight Australia – Include a range of Australian made lights of industrial and country style.

Paint:

Bauwerk Colour:

South Fremantle house painted in Bauwerk Basalt and Bauwerk Slate.

South Fremantle house painted in Bauwerk Basalt and Bauwerk Slate.

The paint choices from Bauwerk Colour make me want to get out a brush.  You can order colour cards and paint online or visit their Fremantle warehouse.

Pop by my “Australian made” Pinterest folder for more Aussie goodness.

Little discoveries from my W.A. visit.

Cocoflip replica

Replicas galore.

1.  I’m so glad I checked out the “Cocoflip” pendant replicas. At $300 (versus $1500 for the real thing) – I had to consider them.  They looked great from 2 metres away, but then as I got close I noticed that there was no join between the “ash” top and the “aluminium” bottom.  So I reached out to see how it was done and realised that the whole thing was painted tin.  If I’d been fooled online and had the replicas delivered I would have been so disappointed.

2.  A sad moment at Myaree Ceramics…. the oil-blue tiles that I had coveted to replace our discontinued splash back tile, have also been discontinued.  No time for crying.  There were a number of good options that were close to my original grey subway tile selection.

How about that white “painted brick” tile (bottom right)?  Very clever.  Possibly not in keeping with House By The Water’s style.  Here’s my selection:

Splash back tile.

Masia gris claro tile. $96/m2

I’m going to have it laid vertically for a modern touch.

Next, I needed to reselect floor tiles for the laundry and powder room.  The laundry was easy.  I’m keeping it simple.  A matt grey tile.  The powder room, however, is a little room where it may not cost much to experiment with something a bit “out there”.

Powder room mood board.

This floor tile is a bit unusual so I made a mood board to help the Nice Wolf visualise how it might look.

Here the Caesarstone bench top in clamshell and the floor tile seem to clash but in reality they looked good together.  The tiles actually come in 4 different prints (of which we’d use 3) so the tiler will have to puzzle it together.  Hmmmm?  That could be unpopular.  I’m waiting for the costs of laying this tile to be confirmed before I commit.

3.  Next stop, a meeting with the owner of “Well Built Landscape Construction” (WBLC) to discuss our front yard plans.  I give Nick 10 out of 10 for keeping his overheads low, with our meeting taking place in McDonalds!  WBLC gave me the best quote for a cobblestone driveway and have produced some stylish home landscaping.  We discussed the driveway and our front fence and gate.  I begged him to help me decide whether to go with vertical wood or steel infills and render for the front fence.  He would have humoured me with either option, but my sensibilities and his have pushed me towards steel infills.   WBLC will provide a quote to kick-start our front yard, leaving the garden preparation for us to do at our leisure.

4.    At Nick’s suggestion, I went to Water Garden Warehouse to study steel infills for our front fence.  They supply my favourite steel infill pattern – the “wattle”.

Available from Water Garden Warehouse.

Available from Water Garden Warehouse.

I photographed steel art featuring this pattern a year ago at Home Base because I loved it.  It’s still my favourite.

We need to choose a finish.  Powder coated is smart (no rust stains dripping down the rendered wall), but the rusty steel and Corten options have a more organic look.

Work in progress - but you get the idea.

Front yard mood board.  Work in progress – but you get the idea.

5.  And just because it’s right next door to Water Garden Warehouse, I had a browse in Eco Outdoor.  Our cobblestones will come from here and I always love their outdoor furniture, though it’s usually over-priced.  Currently they have a sale on so their outdoor sofas are closer to the realms of possibility.  It’s a good place for alfresco inspiration.  They have some tempting heavy linens for making cushions and a great vertical garden.

Vertical garden

The wooden frame hides typically ugly vertical garden infrastructure.

6.  I popped into to say hi to my “Construction Liaison” at Webb and Brown-Neaves’ office.  It’s always nice to put a face to a name.  Emma took the time to explain to me a proposed change to the width of our “gutter fascia” that despite my best attempts to understand, by studying the drawings, I still could not fathom.  I have been assured that the change is purely cosmetic.

So that’s it.  All else for the remainder of our house construction must be done remotely.  The next time I visit Western Australia will be for the “practical completion inspection”.  But you know, I’ll be hovering around in the mean time, one way or another!

 

Gallery

Cray Pot Pendants

Mandurah was originally a fishing town and it’s still a favourite past time for many locals.  Personally, I’d prefer to watch paint dry and grass grow than wait for a fish to attach itself to my rod.  However, it is fun to go “crabbing” with friends once a year, followed by chilli crabs on the BBQ.  And, I have been known to enjoy being knocked over by small waves while plucking abalone off the rocks.  For many years my husband and friends regularly dove for crayfish in the ocean.  Recent shark tales may change that, but it remains that Mandurah is a fishing destination.

Mr. Mitchell obviously has a great mind.

Mr. Mitchell obviously has a great mind.

I’m not one for dolphin-shaped water features or crab-mosaic splash backs, but a cray pot pendant?  Now we are talking.  I was keeping this idea as a surprise, but this week I noticed that someone else had the same idea!  I delved a little deeper and it turns out cray pot pendants are everywhere.

Picture Sources:  1.  Pinterest (original source not known) 2.  Homelife 3 & 4. Coastal Vintage.

So far this is my plan:

1.  Include provision for pendants on the lighting plan.  Check.

2.  Buy some cheap lights with appropriate cord length and have them installed by the builder’s electrician during construction.  (Getting to the light “sockety” things later, won’t be easy.)

3.  Remove cheap shades and add the cray pots and supporting wires/line/chain at my leisure.

Not much detail there, I know.  I have figured out that there are plenty of places that will sell you the necessary bits and pieces (eg. Ikea and Beacon Lighting in Australian, West Elm in North America).  I have 3 potential locations in mind for my cray pot pendants, all in areas with double-height, 5.4 metre ceilings.  I think I will need at least 1.8 metres of cord.  And now, what I don’t know:

  • Cray pots weigh 1-2kg.  Is that normal for a pendant?  Do you think the cray pot needs to have its own support, rather than hang from the cord?
  • One of the pendants will be in the alfresco area, in other words – it’s outside but has a roof above.  I’m worried about rust.  Has anyone put in pendant lights designed specifically to withstand coastal conditions?
  • The largest cray pots available, in the style I like, are 60cm wide, but only 30 cm high.  Maybe too small for our large spaces?

Have you made your own pendant lights?  Any tips for someone who is ever-so-slightly challenged by electrical concepts.

I’ve collected a few DIY pendant light stories in my Pinterest DIY folder.  If you are feeling creative, have a click around in there for links to instructions to make pendants such as these:

One of "50 Coolest DIY Pendant Lights" found at Decoist.

One of “50 Coolest DIY Pendant Lights” found at Decoist.

Woven rope pendant - DIY by Design Sponge.

Woven rope pendant – DIY by Design Sponge.

Most importantly, do you have any old cane or wood cray pots rotting away behind your shed?  I’m a willing buyer.

When all else fails, I have found a few cray pot fakes!  Good looking fakes, mind you, but not useful for actually catching crayfish.

Picture sources:  1.  Darcy Clark   2. Zaffero   3. Freedom.