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.

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.

Never without a hitch. 

Good news first.

Doesn’t our kitchen look swish?


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.


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?
Jardan Melbourne

Window shopping in Melbourne 

Yeah, I know my last post was about running out of money.  This was purely research.  Really.  I had 3 or 4 hours to spare and three suburbs to cover.  Special thanks to the stranger at Oakpark train station who loaned me his Myki public transport card so I didn’t have to wait for the Post Office to open at 9am to purchase a card.

Church Street, Richmond, was first on my list, to sit on, look at and touch Australian-made sofas that are available online but are not on show in Western Australia.  Jardan sofas woo me in every Australian interiors magazine.   The Jardan store is one that you feel you should have packed your pyjamas and moved right in.  It’s much more homely than the somewhat clinical photos I’d seen imply.  On top of their famous sofas, they have an eclectic collection of rugs (not all online) and some art I could have stood in front of all day if I had not been a woman on a mission.  It was good to sit on the sofas.  some are just too deep  for cups of tea and upright conversation and others are just right.  I identified some beautiful fabric should I select one of their products in the future.

Jardan sofa

Jardan sofa in “ink blue”. Proving once again that colour in the photo/on screen does not equal reality

Church Street is a sort of sofa shopping hub, amongst other homewares, furniture and interior decorating supplies.  Right across the road from Jardan is Voyager Interiors.  They had some completely dreamy sofas with removable covers, all the way from Italy.  I think they flew business class.  Anyway, I was interested in their Australian-made “Odense”, so after it passed the sit test I organised a quote and fabric samples.

Voyager Interiors sofa

Australian-made “Odense” by Voyager Interiors

I popped past Fitzroy to have a squizz  at Southwood Home who I have been admiring on Instagram for their Australian-made furniture for a long time.  Some of their bedside tables are contenders for a future place at House By The Water.  I gazed at their beautiful linen for longer than is normal then plodded down the footpath in search of a Mark Tuckey fix.  The decision to move into the Jardan show room or the Mark Tuckey showroom would be a close call, but on this occasion the doors were locked at Mark Tuckey so I’ll stick with my own home for the time being.

I met my sister for lunch at Weylandts’ Kitchen in Abbotsford.  This sister, previously referred to as The Sensible One, is building a new house soon but is usually too busy with work to loll about dreaming of future interiors.    To quote my sister, Weylandts was “like visiting a museum”!   (That was a compliment.)  It’s a huge warehouse showing off furniture and homewares from around the world but definitely with an African focus.  Weylandts is a South African company with an eye for style that I love.  Their collection is perfectly curated and original.  Giant tree roots hang from the ceiling!  Some products such as rugs, lighting and artefacts are competitively priced.  Looking at these photos again now makes me sigh….:

Meanwhile, what’s been happening at House By The Water?  The timber floors have started.  The Auswood brothers set off at a cracking pace two weeks ago, sanding and sealing our concrete floor then laying the beautiful, raw blackbutt timber from NSW.  So far the bottom floor timber is down and about half the top floor.  The tricky bits such as the stairs and our curved, suspended slab edge are yet to be done, but the end of concrete dust, sawdust and a furniture-less home is in sight.

Concrete sand and seal

Concrete sand and seal

Blackbutt everywhere.

Blackbutt everywhere.

Scullery getting homely.

Scullery getting homely.

Self levelling concrete.

Self levelling concrete.

Coming soon:

  • Will the fireplace saga ever end?
  • A trip to the tree farms.


Post handover plan.

In theory, the keys to House By The Water should be ours in 6 months from now.  Somehow it still seems like a lifetime away, but I’m daring to start thinking about the post handover plan.

There’s an enormous amount to be done, so I put it all on a spread sheet and prioritised each task into high/medium/low categories.

Post handover plan - missing some pieces.

Post handover plan – work in progress.

The critical items are installing timber floors throughout the house and window dressings for the bedrooms.  These need to be done before we move in.  The driveway is also high on the list – we don’t want to be walking sand on beautiful new floors.  We took the driveway out of our builder’s scope of work.  We want cobblestones and their quote was ridiculously out of line with any other quote.

So herein lies a logistical nightmare!  Our best flooring quote comes from a company that says our floors could take up to 5 weeks to install!  We do have 300 square metres of floor to cover, including a set of stairs, but this is not what I expected.

You can see I have a few gaps in the table.  I’m looking for recommended local contractors to quote on:

  • laying a cobblestone driveway with a concrete base
  • constructing a rendered brick front fence with steel insets
  • installing an automated driveway gate  (preferably these 3 items would be done by the same contractor)

I’d really like to know:

  1. What was your order of works post-handover?
  2. Which post-handover tasks could be done in unison?  i.e. multiple trades on site.
  3. How long did you take between handover and moving in?
  4. Any other tips for running a tight post-handover ship?

I want to get this plan right.  The race to Christmas will be on for the construction industry, and the longer we take the longer I’m going to be sleeping in the caravan in our front yard.

Perhaps if I get a few film cameras involved,  in “The Block” style, we can get the whole lot done in a week!

These pictures are from my favourite house on The Block this season.  Josh and Charlotte share my love for timber floors and white shutters.  (Photo source:  Domain.) House By The Water will be the third house we’ve lived in with this simple winning combination.


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.

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?

Pre-start Preparation

The neighbour's new pool.  I wonder if this will be the view from our deck...

The neighbour’s new pool. I wonder if this will be the view from our deck…

For those patient readers who are not actually building a home (i.e. Mum), “pre-start” is builder’s jargon for a meeting between the customer and builder to select the finer details of the house including interior and exterior colours, tiles and bench tops.  Decisions should be considered final because any changes after this meeting come with financial penalties.

Some of the big items that need to be organised in advance of our pre-start are:

  • flooring selection (to ensure doors and windows are fitted to suit floor height)
  • air conditioning plan (so that the builders know where to leave holes in the second floor slab)
  • pool and retaining wall plans

I hope that by the time I’m at the pre start meeting I will have already made most of the decisions, including the little ones.  So, being the “slow and steady” kind of person that I am, I made a little pre-prestart visit to Western Australia.  My first stop was a timber floor showroom.  I wanted to check that the “feature grade” blackbutt floors that I’ve been quoted on actually look like I had imagined.  They did.  The bad news is that the “select grade” blackbutt sitting beside it looked even better.

Select grade blackbutt.

Select grade blackbutt.

Feature grade blackbutt.

Feature grade blackbutt.

According to the helpful fellow at Planet Timber, depending on the plank size, the “select grade” is about $30/m2 more expensive than “feature grade”.  Our place will use approximately 285sqm, so that would be an extra $8500.  Or $4000 if we just upgraded the first floor.  Do you think it is worth it?

My second stop was Lighting City.  This is the company that Webb and Brown-Neaves use to create lighting plans and supply lights.  I wanted to see the range of lights on offer.  My first impression is that they will cover the basics adequately but for the feature lighting the options were quite limited.  I collected a brochure or two so that we can study up on LED down lights that I think will be the core of our lighting.

The only pendant lights in store that came close to tickling my fancy.

The only pendant lights in store that came close to tickling my fancy.

Next stop, European Ceramics in Mandurah (a supplier approved by our builder).  Our tile budget is $60/sqm for the bathroom floors and walls, the laundry floor and the splash back.  I wanted to see if I would be able to find tiles that I liked at this store within the budget or whether I would have to extend my search.  I didn’t make any selections, since I haven’t yet worked out my colour schemes, but a quick look was enough to know that I’ll be able to find something suitable for all the tile areas with the exception of the splash back.

Of course, no trip to W.A. would be complete without dropping by our block to admire the view and peace.  In fact, our block was a hive of activity, our neighbours making the most of our vacant block while they can.  I do love their new concrete pool with an infinity edge towards the canal.  I had a little walk around the neighbourhood taking note of the front fences (very few people seem to comply with council regulations) and house exterior colours.  I found a lovely fence to add to my recent collection of inspiring front fences.

Fence spotting in Mandurah.

Fence spotting in Mandurah.

House By The Water goes facebooky

Sometimes I have house thoughts that are not quite big enough for a blog post, but still demand some attention.  Like this week, I began seeking timber floor quotes, which tipped off a whole new round of questions – “plank on ply” versus “direct stick”, matte, satin or gloss sheen, etc.?  As you may have already gathered, I’m a little bit geographically challenged with this house build.  We are building in Western Australia but right now I’m 5 hours by plane away and it’s only going to get worse.  So I can’t just pop into a few showrooms for a little browse and chat with sales staff.

This blog and its readers have been helping me blunder my way through so far and it’s all been such a lovely relationship that House By The Water now has a little offspring.  For all those not-yet-blog-thoughts, please visit my new facebook page. You can click on the facebook link in the right column of the blog home page or click here.

Owner of this beautiful house, if you could just pop by my new facebook page and tell me if you blackbutt floors have matte, shiny or gloss sheen, that would be great.  (Photo from:  homedsgn.com.)

Owner of this beautiful house, if you could just pop by my new facebook page and tell me if your blackbutt floors have matte, shiny or gloss sheen, that would be great. (Photo from: homedsgn.com.)