Suspended slab

The latest milestone in the construction of our House By The Water is the suspended slab.  Before you get excited, there is nothing fancy about a “suspended slab” – it just means it is not on the ground,  it spans the space between the walls.   But if you would like to get excited or astounded by the amount of steel reinforcements and electrical conduits that go into a slab, go right ahead.  I am rather amazed myself.

This network of electrical conduits and steel is now hidden in our concrete slab.

This network of electrical conduits and steel is now hidden in our concrete slab.

The heat in Western Australia last week was rather extreme.  Our slab pour was postponed a couple of days in an attempt to pour the concrete in lower temperatures.

Suspended slab

The suspended slab looking a bit spotty from some rain.

Thanks to our Site Supervisor from Webb and Brown-Neaves for the photos.

A guided tour for my Mum:Slab with floor plan.

Because we like pretty things on House By The Water, and maybe, like me, you don’t think our new concrete is quite in the “pretty” category, let me show you some good-looking concrete.

concrete floor

Beautiful concrete. Happy Laugh’s vision for her farmhouse. Source: Norm Architecture.

One of my favourite home-building bloggers, Happy Laughs, has finally arrived at the fun part of home building.  Happy Laughs and her family live on a farm in Texas and have become “owner-builders” late in the process of their build.  They are fully in charge of the finishings for their huge barn.  It’s tricky to describe the style of their house.  They’ve used gigantic reclaimed wood beams and have an unstained concrete floor but to call it rustic would not do it justice.  Happy Laughs likes country style but with some Scandanavian, industrial and modern influences.  How about that for a combination?  Check out her amazing chandelier, incredible fire place and gorgeous ceilings for yourself on Happy Laugh’s blog:

Farm house

Happy Laugh’s farm house is nearing the end of construction.

If you are on Instagram you can see Happy Laugh’s new house and her little cowboys and cowgirls enjoying the farm at:

And, if you haven’t found me on Instagram yet, I’m here:


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.

    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:


    Source: Remodelista.

  5. Then laze in my outdoor bathroom.
Outdoor bath

Source: Living.








The house slab isn’t down but already I’m thinking about rugs.  I want to be ready for the moment when I find THE rug.  I like to see and feel a rug before I buy it and the right rug may pop up while I’m traveling.  There may be no going back to get it later…

With the exception of the bathrooms and laundry, our floors will be blackbutt timber.  We’ll need plenty of rugs eventually but, for now, the main rug of concern is for the living area.  There are various opinions about how large a rug should be in relation to a room and “rules” about sofa feet being on or off the rug, but I’ve noticed that some of the most stylish of rooms don’t follow the rules.

Picture Sources:  1. Desire To Inspire 2. April and May 3. West Elm 4. Domaine Home.


For our living room, I’m subscribing to the “large makes the room look large” theory.  At a minimum I want the rug to sit under the front feet of the sofa.  At a maximum, I want to leave  20-30cm from the walls, so you can still appreciate the timber floors and to keep the rug clear of ash that might fall out of the fireplace.  I used Jardan’s room planner to map out the likely location and size of our dream sofa in our living room.  From this I took the measurements for the rug.

Each small square is 20cm square.

Each small square is 20cm square.

Maximum size 3.5x 3.4m.  Minimum size 3 x 2.2 m.  Big.

However, if I was to fall in love with a rug outside these dimensions, then I think it could be done.  Many off-the-shelf rugs do not come large enough to fit my requirements.


I’m wavering between a rug with a pattern and a small pallet of colours or something neutral and unicoloured but with lots of texture.  Here are a few of my favourites:


Softly patterned rugs

Sources:  1- 3: Jenny Jones Rugs. 4: Sanderson Home Rug at Yarn and Loom.  5:  West Elm.  6: Designers Guild.

Geometric rugs

Sources:  7 & 8:  Armadillo&Co.  9.  West Elm.


Natural rugs

Sources: 10-12:  West Elm.  13: WorldWeave.  14 & 15: Freedom Furniture.

Right now, pattern is winning.   The sofa will be plain, so some pattern won’t go astray.


  • Cotton/thread  ✔    I’m a sucker for a good kilim.
  • Jute ✔
  • Silk or a silk blend.✔  So nice under foot.
  • Wool ✔  Sometimes.  I have a great wool rug from Freedom that is at least 10 years old and has been very resilient to herds of wild children and questionable house keeping.  But some wool rugs look like they need a good shear.  They are a bit fluffy and shed!  A few rugs that I recently saw at Pottery Barn fell into this category.

If THE rug doesn’t find me, here are my

go to places for big rugs:

Under $1000

  • Freedom  (Max size: 2.5 x 3.5 m)
  • West Elm  (Max size: 2.74 x 3.66 m)
  • WorldWeave (Max off-the-shelf size 2 x 3 m, custom available.)

 Under $3000

Armadillo & Co - Twine rugs

Which rug do you like best?  Are you eyeing off an alternative?  Have I missed any secret rug shops?  You know, I usually like to consider Australian made options, but I couldn’t find one I like under $1000, not even under $3000.

If you are still not overloaded by rugs, you’ll find more in my Pinterest file.



Farmhouse tour.


Photo by Matt Rex.

Photo by Matt Rex.

Come and have a sticky beak at my Mum and Dad’s farm house in frosty North-East Victoria.  They started with a 2 bedroom shack beside a small walnut grove and a few paddocks for cows.

Ten years ago, with the help of local builder, Rob Boland, they extended the living areas and bathroom and added a bedroom, to create an interesting, light and open, modern home.  The house features 3 separate roofs and exterior wall cladding in Colorbond “ironstone” corrugated iron.

3 Roofs

Front Entrance.

Front Entrance.

Deck for cuppas.

Deck for cuppas.

Should you drop by, you can be sure of a cup of tea and some home baked goodies on the deck, followed by a garden tour.


Tasmanian Oak Kitchen Island and Alpine Ash floors salvaged from bush fires.

“Tasmanian Oak” kitchen bench tops and Alpine Ash floors salvaged from bush fires.

When I’m visiting, I often take over Mum’s kitchen while she takes over supervision of the 3 little pigs.  This kitchen has been the hub for years of entertaining a large extended family and has served as my benchmark for sizing up the kitchen in House By The Water.  You might remember that this is my “gold standard” for kitchen bench size.

Living area:

An atrium above the kitchen keeps the living area light at any time of day.

An atrium above the kitchen keeps the living area light at any time of day.

Dining room:

My Dad made the dining table when Mum was pregnant with me.  That’s an estimated 14600 family dinners!  When the clouds lift, Mount Feathertop is at the centre of the dining room view.

Master bedroom:

The pitched ceiling is lined with corrugated iron which gives a nice sense of space and a farm house touch.  The bed is centred in the room so you can check on the cows in the morning without getting out of bed.


Bath with a view, if the neighbours aren't home.

Bath with a view, if the neighbours aren’t home.


The laundry was originally a small shed, a couple of metres away from the back door of the house.  It doubles as the farm control centre, also housing the electric fence unit, chook pellets and an impressive gumboot collection.

Mum's ergonomically designed laundry trolly.  She pushes the wet laundry up the nearby hill to the old Hill's Hoist.

Mum’s ergonomically designed laundry trolly. She pushes the wet laundry up the nearby hill to the old Hill’s Hoist.

Right now the wood fire is roaring in the living room and the house is busy with grandchildren.  Toys and games are everywhere.  The kids will be outside soon to help with some farm jobs.  Dad is “up the back” renovating his tractor shed.  Mum is in the shower, but I think I’ll have another cuppa and wait for the bathroom to warm up another degree or two.

Header photo and photos in the last gallery are thanks to Matt Rex Photo.

Shipping container houses.

Redondo Beach House by De Maria Design.

Redondo Beach House by De Maria Design.

I’m still twiddling my thumbs.  So it’s another “light” news week on the blog.  Last year I resolved to go shopping for the house, to bide my time when the building process was going through a quiet patch.  I bought some fancy-pancy tractor stools, a pendant light and a persian rug.  Unfortunately, in our most recent move, the stools and rug were damaged, putting me off making purchases that will be subjected to one more move.  So, I’m changing my dealing-with-lulls strategy and I’m going to chat with you instead….

We’ve used a few shipping containers in our time.  It has been suggested to me, more than once, that we could be putting those containers to better use, have an almost-instant house and go someway towards compensating for our disastrous carbon footprint.  (OK, no one said that last bit, that was my conscience speaking.)

I’ve gotta tell you, some of these houses made from shipping containers are very nice.  I could certainly live in them.  Here are some of my favourites:

Source: Price Street Projects.

Cordell House, Texas.  Source: The Coolist.

Finally, an amazing Australian house, made from 31 shipping containers by Zeigler Build.  I love the container door details as a feature in the hallway.

One website that I read likened the construction of container homes to stacking lego pieces.  I think that the ambitious owners of one Australian container-home-in-the-making would beg to differ. You can check out the nitty-gritty of building a home from containers on their blog, the Odpod.  If you were to choose to build a shipping container home for the sake of speed and simplicity, I would suggest sticking to one or two containers.  I am coveting a little box in the bush just like this:

Port-a-bach, thanks to Atelier Workshop.  (Bach is a New Zealand term for a small holiday or beach house.)

P.S.  Since starting to write this blog post, 56 pages of final house plans, contract variations and an addendum landed in my inbox for checking and signing.  I’m no longer twiddling my thumbs.


Photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo.

Photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo.

There’s a bit of a lull going on.  After a thorough check, we signed our 12 pages of variations to the contract.  In the end, our variation totalled $30K.  Most of that is for the retaining walls.  We tried to deal with the majority of our house plan tweaks before signing the contract, while the builder was still in sales mode.  (The changes we made pre-contract signing are listed on the House Plans page.)  Now Webb and Brown-Neaves will take a couple of weeks to update all our drawings to include the variations we’ve agreed to.  I suspect there will be more page signing to look forward to.

In the mean time, my trusty measuring tape and I have been busy.  I’ve been mulling over the house plans yet again and measuring up all our furniture to see what is going to fit where.  I’ve been taking notice of all the areas with nook potential.  It’s a completely lovely past-time.

Nook 1:  The dining room.

There is a one metre wide niche in our dining room. It is too small for our antique buffet table.  I think it could be the spot for a laptop nook, with a drawer or two to hide the bills.  One probably does not usually associate computers with dining rooms, but the reality is that laptops and iPads end up in the main living area.  I might aswell plan them a place.  In my head, there is a floating desk top and an occasional chair.   There is room for a laptop and a vase of flowers, nothing else.  I couldn’t find a picture to demonstrate this exact idea.  I’m going to start the trend.

Nook 2:  The hallway.

Surrounded by stairs and visible from the library, there is a nook in the hallway that is large enough to fit my favourite piece of furniture – a Tasmanian oak buffet table.  It will be the perfect place to drop the keys.  The landline telephone will be located here.

Nook 3:  The hallway (again).

This is more of a niche than a nook, just a 90mm indent in the wall.  I’m not sure if it is intended to be for a large painting, or whether it is a remnant of the original house design where a door to the study was located.  Anyway, it could house a painting, or it could fit a narrow bench upon which to sit and put on your shoes.

Nook 4:  Upstairs living area.

This large nook was designed to be a small library, but we’ve dedicated the entire home theatre to that.  In our house it will be more useful as a study/office storage area.

Not enough nooks for you?  You can find more on my Pinterest boards:

Kitchen Colours

While my thoughts are still firmly planted in the kitchen, it is time to take the plunge and decide on some kitchen colours.  I’ve been doing some heavy Pinterest trawling lately and I’ve saved a lot of pictures, but surprisingly, selecting my Top 5 pictures for kitchen inspiration was easy.  The Nice Wolf kiboshed one of them, so we are down to four:

My absolute favourite, though probably not quite in the style of "Modern Australian with some earthiness."  Silver, white and wood, with the tiniest bit of black.

My absolute favourite, though probably not quite in the style of “Modern Australian with some earthiness.” Silver, white and wood, with the tiniest bit of black.  By Sophie Burke Design.

A daring addition of black on the wall oven stack.  I wonder if I could pull it off.

A daring addition of black on the wall oven stack. I wonder if I could pull it off.  Picture from Fancy! Design Blog.

This looks like the kitchen of a cook.  Homely.

This looks like the kitchen of a cook. Homely.  Picture from Home Adore.

Silvery grey, white and wood again.

Ignore the style,  I love the colours.  Designed by ML Interiors.

So it’s blatantly clear the colours scheme I like.  White and grey, with wood and stainless steel.  A touch of black and a splash of live greenery.  Should be easy, right?

Here is the display home kitchen looking a little too, well, display-homey for me:

The "Rubix" kitchen, as seen in the display home.  Photo from Webb and Brown-Neaves.

The “Rubix” kitchen, as seen in the display home. Photo from Webb and Brown-Neaves.

We added a freestanding 900mm oven instead of one of the wall ovens and modified the kitchen island design so now our kitchen layout is like this:

Our kitchen layout.

Our kitchen layout, the scullery to the left keeps the fridge and microwave out of sight.

Playing on my laptop for a few hours, I came up with this:

Almost looks like a kitchen....

Almost looks like a kitchen….  It needs a splash of colour, my favourite blue salad bowl or some olive leaves in a vase.

This kitchen plan is based on:

  • NSW blackbutt timber floors
  • Calacatta Classic Caesarstone bench tops (I may have to reselect later due to $$)
  • Polar White Laminex cabinets
  • Grey glass tiles
  • Walnut tractor stools.

As usual there are a few dilemmas you could help me with:

1.  The wall oven stack.  The original stack design incorporates a border (see display kitchen photo), so there is an opportunity to make it two-toned.  I don’t think a wood-look border would work since it sits on a timber floor and matching the two could get ugly.  I tried a grey border, but again matching a grey laminate with 2 other greys (splashback tiles and bench top) didn’t look right.  Should I try a brushed silver look?  Husband has said “no” to black.  Maybe I should ditch the two-tones and keep the whole stack white.  Help!

A grey border on the oven stack could look like this.  Picture from Minimalisms.

A grey border on the oven stack could look like this. Picture from Designed for life.

2.  After my previous post, I narrowed down my splash back options to stone-look tiles or a decorative tile.  However, when I put the stone-look tiles on the mood board they seemed to clash with my favourite Caesarstone benchtop colour and the decorative tile that I fell in love with was too dark.  While I am drawn to glass tiles I was worried that they would not suit the style of the rest of the house, but I am surprised that they looked the best on my mood board.  And so the indecision goes on…  probably only to be resolved when I can get my hands on all the samples.

3.  To pendant, or not to pendant.  I like the touch of black from the pendants.  I think it balances the black of the wall oven.  The Nice Wolf is not keen.  I tried some other options,  glass, shiny nickel, dark grey and vintage silver but they may as well not have been there at all.  Aside from the colour issue, there is the question of height.  There is a bulkhead in our kitchen at 28 courses.  This means that the kitchen ceiling height is relatively low, at about 2.41 metres.  (The kitchen shares open space with the dining room, 31 courses, and the living room, 63 courses.)  Should I ditch the pendants, stick with downlights for the kitchen and add a little bit of black elsewhere, such as dining room pendant?

The “Rubix” – Coastal Elevation

The house we are building is called the “Rubix”.  It is no longer a display home, so we had been relying on house plans and old photos to picture what our future home would look like.  We weren’t too worried about that, after all plenty of people build custom homes that they’ve never seen before and I’d measured everything that resembled a living space for the past 6 months in order to get a feel for the size and space of the Rubix.  But, as luck would have it, while browsing around display homes, we found a “Rubix”, complete with the coastal elevation (non-standard roof line), the same as we have ordered.

The Rubix coastal elevation.  (Not open for viewing.)

The Rubix – coastal elevation. (Not open for viewing.)

Yup, it's big.

Yup, it’s big.

Not too shy to have a good gawk over the fence.

Not too shy to have a good gawk over the fence.

Our house will be the mirror image of this.  There is a lot of white going on there.  Nothing some outdoor furniture and good landscaping can't fix.

Our house will be the mirror image of this. There is a lot of white going on here, but nothing some outdoor furniture and good landscaping can’t soften.  Not to mention, my secret lighting feature – only to be revealed upon building completion.