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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Becoming a film star and testing the pool.

Interview.As life becomes more hectic and posts are more distant, there’s rather a lot to catch up on.  House By The Water made its film debut.  Out of respect for the job well done by our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, I agreed to host an interview about our building experience.  There were conditions, of course.  Firstly, the filming would be confined to the part of the house that I could guarantee to be tidy given the habits of the Three Little Pigs.   Secondly, I would do my best to make House By The Water look stylish, if the builder’s marketing team could do something about making me photogenic.Builder's movie

It was a fun morning.  It was the longest make-up session that I have ever endured, much to the amusement of the Three Little Pigs.  Reneé, from WBN, did an excellent job of being a temporary TV journalist and Troy was cool and calm behind the cameras, trying his best to keep me relaxed without involving alcohol.

I made a last minute attempt to purchase a new floor rug for the living room, but fell for the rug that was “out of stock”.  Fortunately, Dee from Frisky Deer Interiors, stepped in with the loan of a luxurious Armadillo and Co rug for the video shoot.  It looked very good at House By The Water and I secretly hoped that tea/wine would be spilt on it and we’d have to buy it.

Living room.

Looking like a film star, but the rug has seen better days.

I may or may not let you all know when the video is published.

Enough stardom, onto the pool.

The landscapers are almost finished.  There are just a few finishing touches left in their scope (and years of work left in ours).  The pool was filled and commissioned and despite the weather still behaving like Winter we decided to “bugger it”!  We heated up the pool for one weekend and let the Little Pigs in for a wallow.Pool.

First swim in the pool.

Happy as a pig in pool.

I finally committed to an olive tree beside the pool.   Though young, it’s already a feature, looking especially lovely lit up at night:Olive Tree

The canal side landscaping is finally starting to come together.  It shall be ready for the Christmas visitors and the throngs of tourists boating passed lured by Christmas lights.

 

Sweet dreams, new bed.

Since we last talked, I’ve been sleeping on a lovely new bed!  We ordered an “Iris Dunes” bed from Snooze.  They are made to order, in Australia, so I asked for the bed head shape to be varied from the wavy version in the show room.  I think it looks excellent!

Luxury!

Luxury!

It’s a little bit wide for the mattress, or is the mattress a little narrow for the bed?  Both are King sized and both are from Snooze, so it’s a bit annoying that the slats are visible on the sides. After waiting 3 months for the bed, I can’t bare to send it back to be modified…

More on the master bedroom soon…. (Freedom have a furniture sale this weekend, so I have plans…  Plus, I need to ‘fess up to a Pottery Barn curtain disaster.)

Roller blinds.

Charcoal light-filtering blinds.

Blinds.

Blinds up.

The living room blinds arrived and were masterfully installed by a pleasant fellow from Kresta blinds.  One wall of blinds were not measured accurately, so they need to be sent back to QLD for recutting.  (Note to self: do not chat with sales lady when she is trying to take measurements.)  I was a bit nervous that my dark choice of roller blind would look out of place on our light walls, but I’m very happy with how they look.  In fact, they are more pleasant looking than our fairly ordinary window frames.  I’m currently typing in our living room, without wearing sunglasses, which is a plus.

 Concrete pool surround.

 The landscapers concreted around our pool in preparation for tiles.  The rate of landscaping progress is excruciatingly slow.  Luckily, I’m well trained in patiently waiting for trades to arrive.  It’s going to be great when it’s finished.  You just need long range vision.

Aunty Kate (a.k.a. my sister and unqualified, highly-opinionated interiors advisor) is currently in residence.  Possibly sleeping off the latest feast on the deck.  Of course, I was aiming to impress her.  This called for a quick stock up of flowers and greenery from Frisky Deer and a whirlwind cleaning spree.  You can imagine that the effect lasted only minutes with the Three Little Pigs around, but I made sure to snap a few pics as proof that House By The Water was momentarily clean.

  

In any case, Aunty Kate has given the official thumbs-up to House By The Water with one exception.   The purple blue blind in the powder room.  Remember the interesting powder room door?  It has clear glass.   Perfect for sitting on the loo and waving to the neighbours.  A bit of a blunder with the building addenda.  Various solutions are still being thrown about, but in the mean time, the Handy Wolf and I picked up a cheapie roller blind from Masters for self installation.  It was inky blue in the shop, without any sun behind it.  It’s vibrant purple in our powder room.

Featuring purple!

Featuring purple!

 

The “to do” list right now seems quite impossible, but with this as our regular dinner time view, how could we complain?  

Cheers!  And happy Easter!

Me!

“The hostess @housebythewater”.  Photo by Aunty Kate.

 

Timber floors and suddenly it feels like home.

At times it seems like jobs will never end, but after 6 weeks our timber floors were finally finished.   

living room timber floor.

Living room. I hope the floors distract you from the kerbside couch that has survived too many moves.

 Life has hit crazy-busy levels over the past couple of weeks, but my current favourite past time is to find a little corner of the house to put right. 

    

Blackbutt stairs.

A happy corner.

 We moved in some old pieces of furniture that were in storage for years.  The rest of our belongings arrive this Friday so we’ve been madly trying to make some room in our garage for access to the house and for the inevitable items that won’t be unpacked. 

Landscaping is moving at snails pace.  Over the past two months the landscapers have removed the pool scaffolding and rendered around the top of the pool.  Full stop.  I’d better start cracking the whip if we want it to be ready before next Summer.  

concrete pool

Hurry up, landscapers.

 The Nice Wolf has been working on a jetty-style entrance.   The idea was to reduce sand entry to the house as soon as possible.  

creating a jarrah  

Jarrah entrance.

Like most things around here, work in progress. Our front door is yet to be replaced.

4 decades of houses

I’m indulging in a moment of sentimentality because, well, it’s a conspicuous month.  A certain birthday.  I’ve been reminiscing about the 21 houses I’ve lived in, being amused at the decorating fashions that have been recycled over the years and hypothesising about the influences of my history on my current choices for House By The Water.

1974-1980

My first House By The Water.

1980

The A-frame rental.

Memories of itchy chicken-pox as I lay under the pitched roof.

Memories of itchy chicken-pox as I lay under the pitched roof.

1980 – 1984

The humble Australian weatherboard house.

Weatherboard house interior.

Wood lined walls may be perennially popular, but what about lace curtains?  Who cares?  The inhabitants were happy.

On the eve of my 7th (?) birthday, once I’d gone to sleep, my parents moved me into my very own bedroom.  I pretended to remain asleep, but really I was peeking at the newly pine-lined room (thank you Dad), complete with custom made soft furnishings (thank you Mum).  Their renovations had been top-secret until that moment.

1985-1993

Farmhouse.

Was it 2 hours before or 2 hours after settlement of this house that Dad started wielding the sledge hammer?  This old farmhouse needed some work.  My room was pink and black (ergh!) with a barre and gigantic mirror for ballet practice, but my favourite spot was on a wooden platform up a tree where I would write my journal.  Slowly Mum and Dad beautified this country house and large garden.

The garden, with its mountain view, was the perfect place to return to for our good ol’ fashioned country wedding several years later.

Our wedding - with my husband's parents.

Our wedding (in the year 2000) – with my husband’s parents.

1992

Double story English brick houses.

On student exchange to England, I had the privilege of calling 4 different English houses my home.  All were double story and each had a great sense of cosiness.  For the first (and only) time, I experienced the luxury of a bedroom basin.  I thought it was decadence to have my own basin for teeth cleaning.  The grand home above was extra special with a beautiful outlook over a massive garden and a hidden veggie patch keeping my hosts in stock with fruit for evening crumbles.  Yum.

1994-1997

Melbourne – student digs of various descriptions.

So long as a tram rolled passed the door, there were no holes in the floor and the price was right, then we were happy tenants.  Even so, I managed to secure a cute old semi-detached house (not pictured) to share with friends – you know, the kind of house that is one room wide.  It was in Melbourne that the Nice Wolf and I had our first home together.  We rented an apartment in Carlton with a great city view.  Yes, it was best appreciated with the lights off!  But, ooh, what I could do, if only I could get my hands on that apartment now!

1998

Bendigo character house.

Some lovely heritage details in the historic city of Bendigo.

Some lovely heritage details in the historic city of Bendigo.  My room had wooden floors, a fireplace and stained glass windows.

1999-2002

The Indian Ocean.  Mandurah brick and tile.

Two full-time incomes for the first time and freed from Melbourne rental prices, we decided there was only one place to be.  By the beach.   These houses are typical of Mandurah, but with amazing views.  We swam in the ocean most afternoons after work, and watched a pod of dolphins take their daily trip North.  When we moved from the first house to a second house in the same block, we loaded our white goods onto a trolley and wheeled them down the street.  The second house was built by a builder to be his holiday/retirement home.  We rented just one level.  The workmanship was fantastic.  Without a doubt the best feature was the upstairs, outdoor spa, just right for serving cocktails as the sun set.

2003-2006

Renovators’ delight.

This house was our first purchase.  A 1970’s brick and tile do-er-upper.  We spent 3 years renovating on weekends – rendering the outside, restoring the roof, installing recycled wood floors, completely gutting the kitchen and 2 bathrooms.  The Nice Wolf is pretty handy and put in a new kitchen. We did most of the work ourselves and a lot of it the hard way.  It was a good project to “cut our teeth on”.  My favourite place was the back yard.

2006-2009

Canadian townhouse.

This was a beautiful townhouse in a beautiful area, walking distance from Lake Ontario.  Wood floors, high ceilings and a wood-look, gas fire place for wintery nights.

2010-2011

The Queenslander.

The source of much inspiration.  Plantation shutters, wood floors, white kitchen.  Our first pool.

2011-present

City high-rise monstrosities with views.  China, South-Korea, Brazil.

2015….

House By The Water…..never move again.

 

Site progress is going swimmingly!

The landscapers took charge of our block for a week.  The only evidence of their presence from my far away vantage point was a hefty invoice.  So I sent out an S.O.S. to my Mandurah friends:  “Do we really have a pool?”

The resounding reply was “Yes!”

And what a beautiful chunk of concrete it is.HBTW pool

Let me draw attention to the features:

  • Steps
  • Things sticking out of the wall (for lights, we hope)
  • Built-in ice bucket!

I don’t think it’s too early to “bags my spot”.  I’ve never been good at art, but just so it is on record, my spot is marked by the green arrow:

Wooden bench seat going here.  Throw on a couple of outdoor cushions and I'll be set for the afternoon.  ...Should have had that ice bucket installed up this end.

A wooden bench seat is going here. Throw on a couple of outdoor cushions and I’ll be set for the afternoon. …I should have had that ice bucket installed up this end.

Thanks to my lovely friends and Brian, site-supervisor extraordinaire, for the photos:

The pool was whipped up in a matter of days and the site was handed back to the builders.

Next steps:

  1. Set up scaffold over the pool (for safety) and along the retaining wall.
  2. Fill the retaining wall cavities.
  3. While the concrete is curing, waterproof the back of the walls.
  4. Backfill the site.
  5. Prepare the house pad for the slab.

I am eagerly waiting for the site supervisor’s next report, any day now, confirming that these tasks have been done.

In other minor news, I have subscribed to Nearmap for one year.  Nearmap is a provider of aerial photographs.  Initially I was put off by the high price of $200 per year, when the Mandurah area was only scheduled for 4 updates in the next 12 months.  So I let it go.  My hesitation paid off and a half-price offer appeared in my inbox.  $100 for one year.   Still expensive photos at $25 a pop, but you know how I like my photos…..

The most recent photo was taken on July 18th when work on our retaining wall footings had just begun:

Nearmap shot of our block.

It has been fun to check out the block over time (Nearmap pictures for our area date back to 2009) and to see some of our previous homes.

Are pictures of piles of sand and curing concrete not your thing?  Don’t worry, I’ll be philosophising about home cellars, libraries, rugs and spaceship lighting again soon.  Maybe one of those topics is up your alley?

 

 

Interview with new home owners, Miranda and Cameron.

HBTW's slightly older sister:  Cameron and Miranda's house.  Sketch by Webb and Brown-Neaves.

HBTW’s slightly older sister: Cameron and Miranda’s house.  Sketch by Webb and Brown-Neaves.

It’s no secret that I’m home-building obsessed.  But I’m not the only one. There’s a zillion people like me, and worse, hanging about on the “HomeOne Forum“.  There are first-time home builders, repeat offenders, and even professionals.  No question is too silly, tips are given and mistakes are shared.  It’s on the HomeOne Forum that I (virtually) met Miranda and Cameron, fellow customers of Webb and Brown-Neaves. Miranda and Cameron recently moved into their new home and it’s a home to drool over.  Miranda has been such a fantastic help to me during our build process so far, warning me of traps for beginners, sharing details of trades she recommends and answering my endless questions.

I’m so excited to introduce awesome couple, Miranda and Cameron, and their equally awesome new home to you!

When Miranda, a lawyer, and Cameron, a management consultant, became engaged and started searching for a family home in Perth, they were looking for established homes.  During their search they viewed a house built by Webb and Brown-Neaves a decade earlier.  The block was too small to accommodate a double garage and was crossed off the list but the house made a lasting impression on Cameron and Miranda, particularly how well it suited the neighbourhood.  This lead to some research into building costs, the purchase of an old house fit for demolition and the decision to build a new home.

HBTW:  What were your new house “must haves”?

M & C:  3+ bedrooms, study, home theatre, large WIR, scullery/ pantry, island bench in kitchen, large living areas at rear opening to alfresco, pool, storage spaces, as large a backyard as possible and a rear garage.

HBTW:  And “nice to haves”?

M & C:  Free standing bath, storage space that could become a cellar, 4th bedroom/ activity room, very high ceilings in the living areas (at least 33 courses), slightly larger minor bedrooms than the norm and the pool located beside the living area.

Freestanding bath

Freestanding bath (from The Stone Super Store), complete with view over the bedroom to the garden.  It took 6 men to move the bath inside!

HBTW:  What inspired your home layout and material choice decisions?

M & C:  Having a corner block with a rear lane way and a North-facing back yard dictated much of the design.  In terms of style, we are drawn to natural, organic but elegant spaces.  We stayed in some inspiring accommodation in the Maldives for our honeymoon just before we had to make a lot of the decisions for our house.

M:  I searched for a ceiling fan like the one we saw in the Maldives and was lucky that Beacon released the “artemis” just in time for our builders to install it.

HBTW:  What or who was your best source of building information?

M & C:  Hours of research on google, the HomeOne Forum, Miranda’s dad who is an engineer and friends who have built before.

HBTW:  How did you divide the planning and decision making between you?

C:  I looked after the electronics, cabling, sound and TVs.  Also the pool equipment and heating.

M:  Most decisions were made together.  Even though this takes time, the house belongs to both of us and we are both indecisive.  We usually wanted a second opinion, or third, or fourth!

We took a six-week interior design course at Home Base.  I think it was great that we did the course together. We learnt a lot and it gave us some structure to be able to work out what style we liked and why, which choices work together and the pros and cons of various options.  I was surprised that there were very few men at the course.

Oozing style!  Sofa and coffee table from Natuzzi.

Oozing style!  Sofa and coffee table from Natuzzi.

HBTW:  What are your top tips for those starting the process of building a new house?

M & C:

  1. Sales consultants can make a big impact on your experience.  Visit different display homes until you find one that you feel comfortable with.
  2. Get everything in writing.  Make lists of what you have to do and what the builders have said they’ll do.
  3. Check all drawings, addendas, variations and costings very carefully.
  4. If something is very important to you, be prepared to do the research yourself.  The “impossible” may actually be possible.
  5. Really think about your block, not just its aspect, but also the ground levels in relation to privacy and views.

HBTW:  How about tips for people already building?  Like me!

M & C:  Sorry HBTW, some of our tips won’t work for you…

  1. Visit your site often and take lots of photos.  They might not be relevant immediately but could be useful later.
  2. If issues arise and the builder proposes a solution, make sure you know the cost implications before you agree.
  3. Be able to describe your style in a way that makes sense to the various people you’ll be working with.  (Pinterest helps!)
  4. Add conduits everywhere, especially for motorised blinds.
  5. Watch out for quotes that don’t include GST or other essentials, like delivery.

HBTW:  What was your biggest mistake?

M & C:  Believing that Webb and Brown-Neaves could accommodate a custom design or even substantial changes to their normal designs.  The majority of mistakes we noticed were related to these changes. Their processes just aren’t set up for that, and it didn’t work well.

M:  On a smaller scale, I regret letting the lighting consultant talk me into keeping oyster lights in the walk-in-robe and laundry.  Even if the light is better from oyster lights, I don’t like how they look (especially how green they look when they’re on). We’ll need to replace those.

HBTW:  Were there any companies that were so good, you’d like to give them a plug?

M & C:

1. Aussie Clotheslines.  Their sales people were really helpful.  It was easy to book in a convenient time only a couple of days after I rang them.  They turned up on time and did what they said they’d do for the original price and didn’t leave any mess or damage anything in the process. If I could say that about everyone involved in building, it would have been a thousand times easier!

2.  Just Blinds.  Andy organised our blinds and shutters and has been very helpful.  He came back a couple of times, for example, when the electrician was struggling with the connections to motorise the blinds. He doesn’t have a shop so he comes to you, with all the samples to choose from and all the info. It was a very easy process.

3.  Freedom’s Decorator Service.  Felicia, from Freedom in Osborne Park was excellent. She really listened and understood what we wanted.  She made great suggestions and not just for Freedom things.  She helped us with all sorts of decisions like skirting, blinds and paint colours.  She gave us the confidence to do a few things that we wouldn’t otherwise have done, but really like: for example, having a couple of non-matching dining chairs; using several different types of timber in our living area and having a fitball in the study instead of a second office chair.  She was going for a feeling that was more “young and fun”, rather than trying to re-create the kind of rooms our parents would want.  No disrespect to our parents intended!

HBTW:  What is your favourite part of the house now?

M:  My favourite part of the house is looking into the kitchen from the living area, where you can see the kitchen, pendant lights, stonework and bar stools.   (HBTW:  Mine too, Miranda.  The combination is amazing.)

Caesarstone , under bench stone by   ,  Stanley hammered copper pendants from Dunlin,  stools.

Osprey Caesarstone (chosen by 90% of WBN’s clients!), under bench stone from EcoOutdoor , Stanley hammered copper pendants from Dunlin, Replica Norman Cherner barstools from Matt Blatt.

C:  My favourite part of the house is probably the home theatre, though I really like our bedroom and living area too.

Living area.

Living area.

HBTW:  What was you biggest splurge?

M:  At the time of purchase, my pendants and freestanding bath felt like big splurges but now that we’ve been worn down by all sorts of high costs, we’ve become a bit numb and those amounts don’t seem so high any more.

C:  Have you forgotten the cost of the ovens?

M:  Yes, the Miele warming drawer, normal oven and steam oven.  They were definitely my biggest splurge.

C:  My biggest splurge was the pool.  And putting the pool up against the house  – with the extra cost of footings and engineering work that required.  The plan is to put a tv in our alfresco so I can sit in the pool and still being able to watch the cricket!  I’m thinking of a housewarming party on boxing day, watching the Boxing Day Test from the pool.

HBTW:  What was the first thing you did upon receiving the keys to your new house?

M & C:  We rushed straight back to the house to let in the flooring people.  They needed to get started that day to get their work done in time for other people who were booked in. We had re-shuffled everything following a few delays.

The weekend we moved in was much happier – champagne was involved that day.

HBTW:  Thanks Miranda and Cameron for sharing your home pictures and all the nitty, gritty details.  I hope you have many happy years in your beautiful new family home!

Dining and kitchen.

Dining and kitchen.

 

 

 

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