…She’s making a list, checking it twice…

Kitchen splash back.It seems to be the done thing to start writing lists at this stage of the build.  I’ve been postponing my list writing for fear of what I might find.  But here it is, out in the open, for all of you to tut about how it’s not possible to do all those things in just two weeks, before the builders shut down for a long break.

To do:

  1. Finish interior tiles: powder room, splash back, laundry chute/bath surround.
  2. Exterior texture (nearly finished).
  3. Stacked stone feature (started).
  4. Render, waterproof, texture planter boxes and retaining walls (started).
  5. Paint walls (started).
  6. Install balustrade.
  7. Plumbing finals, installation sinks, taps, toilets.
  8. Electrical finals, install light fittings (started).
  9. Phone/future link finals.
  10. Shower screens and mirrors.
  11. Robes (started).
  12. Door hardware.
  13. Manhole.
  14. Stacker doors, front door.
  15. Flyscreens.
  16. Garage door.
  17. Install appliances (started).
  18. Insulation.
  19. House clean.

I started the list last weekend, and although it seems like there has been plenty of activity at House By The Water, the list looks fairly unscathed.

As I am a “glass half full” kind of person, here is my list of items that were completed this week.

Completed:

  • Balustrade measured up and a new balustrade finish negotiated to avoid availability of product delays.
  • Splash back tiled and grouted.  Looking very lovely, if I do say so.

    Scullery tile and bench

    Masia Gris Claro tile and Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

  • Bathroom and ensuite tiles grouted.
  • Powder room floor problem # 4 (some tiles in the series darker than the rest) resolved by creating a new pattern.

    Powder room tiles.

    Powder room tiles.

  • Robe areas painted.

    Solver Kitty Grey. Purrfect.

    Solver Kitty Grey. Purrfect.

  • Stacker doors installed.
  • Appliances, sinks and toilets delivered.  Ovens installed.
  • Downlights, some pendant lights, smoke alarms and power outlets fitted.

    Vintage LED pendant.

    One of the void pendants. Cray pot to be added later.

  • Robes started.
  • Stacked stone progressed.
  • Front door delivered.

All considered, I’m pronouncing it a good, productive week at House By The Water.  Stay tuned for the big week of painting ahead.

 

Living room.
Gallery

Building update. With my very own eyes.

So, we may have made a short visit to House By The Water at half past midnight, upon our arrival in Mandurah.  And it’s quite possible that we are averaging 3 site visits per day this week.  We are a tad excited.  We have a lot to catch up on and so do the builders.  The new construction plan is all go go go, aiming for handover before Christmas.

Here is the promised tour:

Front facade

Front facade

Entrance

Entrance

Garage

Garage

Stairs

Stairs and hallway.

Entrance

Entrance void

Library

Library.

Living room.

Living room.

Kitchen

Looking towards the kitchen from the living room.

Master bedroom

Our bedroom.

WIR

Through the walk-in-robe to the bathroom.

Ensuite

Ensuite

Looking down into the living room.

Looking down into the living room.

Bedroom

The Second Little Pig’s bedroom.

Open living area.

Open living.

3 little pigs

The Three Little Pigs, squinting to preserve their anonymity.

Man hole

The Nice Wolf inspecting the man hole. I think it fits.

I added the above photos to this post this morning, but by my second visit to the site this afternoon more ceilings had been plastered and lots of the scaffolding was removed.  Woohoo!  So now you can really see the size of the living area, including the living room void and alfresco area which looks especially huge.

Canal side aspect of the house.

Canal side aspect.

Alfresco

Double height alfresco area.

Open living area.

Plastered ceiling, dining room

Plastered ceilings ground floor.

Plastered ceilings ground floor.

And for this week’s style dilemma, the stack stone that I selected almost 2 years ago for the feature column on the front facade is currently unavailable, so I needed to reselect.  I checked the options online and made a tentative selection, but for $14K worth of stone and the labour to install it, I thought it wise to see a sample.  Midland Brick in Mandurah stock Boral’s stone cladding and I went to inspect.  I’m so glad I did because the colours of the stone on my computer screen were completely different to the real samples.  That made me nervous so I decided to take a short list of samples around to the house for testing:

Online “Aspen” (left) was my first choice, but in reality there was too much orange.  So Echo Ridge (middle) and White Oak (right) were the last two contenders.  I’ve selected Echo Ridge, wanting a bit of dark contrast to the rest of our light grey pallet to break up the front facade with texture and colour.  My Mum (starring in the photos) likes White Oak the best which is very beachy, but slightly off my colour pallet of greys.

Ledgestone

Oral “country ledgestone” in White Oak, Echo Ridge and Aspen.

That’s all for now.  My head is still a bit rattled by jet lag, too much excitement and a hectic week.

Scaffolding, be gone!

Can’t talk.  Gotta clean.

A couple of photos to tide you over:

Front facade.

I’m so pleased to see the scaffolding gone so the plastering and rendering can progress.  The house looks a bit washed out of colour – I think that’ll change with the stack-stone feature column and landscaping.

Side view house progress.

Side view. A bit of scaffolding left for the last little piece of roof to go on.

Australia, see you in 3 days!  Prepare for photo overload.

Mixed indoor plants

Feeling green: indoor plants.

It is with some disappointment that I’m writing about indoor plants today.  Surely, 23 months after signing our building contract, 14 months after site works started and 11 months after slab down, I should be writing about progress with the house.  According to the original schedule, which I did promise to take with a grain of salt, we should be doing the pre-handover inspection this week.  Here is how House By The Water looked on the weekend:

House facade with sealed render.

So far from completion…Waiting for textured render and windows (at rear).

Webb and Brown-Neaves, our builders, are 5 months off schedule!  I’ve been reassured that some time can be made up and I believe it, so I was very disappointed to learn that nothing has been done for a week.

I’m feeling rather blue about this.

My expiry date in Brazil does not change so this week I’ve been growing piles around the home in preparation for packing.  I’ve been working on our air shipment pile.  It includes a few special things I’ve been saving for the new house.  I’ve also been recording the dimensions of some of our furniture, so that we can work out where it will all go in advance of its arrival in Australia.  And, for pure pleasure, I’ve  drawn up the plan for “what will go where” in the new kitchen.  (Thanks for the idea, Lunar at Majestic 40 at Gardener’s Ridge.)

And to change my mood from blue to green, I’ve been dreaming about indoor plants.

My Top 5 Indoor Plants

Olive

Potted olive tree.

I just can’t go past the silvery colour of olive tree foliage. Source: House to Home.

Orchid

Orchids in bathroom.

Potted orchids last so much longer than a vase of cut flowers. Source: Inside Out.

Maiden hair fern

Maiden hair fern.

Pretty and delicate. Source: Design Sponge.

Herbs

Basil, coriander, parsley, etc. I use herbs so much that the real supply will be in the veggie patch. A pot or two in the scullery will mostly be aesthetic. Source: Divine Caroline.

Basil, coriander, parsley, etc. I use herbs so much that the real supply will be in the veggie patch. A pot or two in the scullery will mostly be aesthetic. Source: Divine Caroline.

Weeping fig.

No, I didn’t miss the memo that it’s fiddle-leaf figs that are all the rage.  I do like figs.  In fact, I was once broken hearted by a fig that had to be cut down.  I’ve had these weeping figs in pots before.  I like their pretty leaf and they are resilient.  Fiddle leaf figs are pretty cool too, but maybe a bit too cool.  I’m quite sure that they are growing like weeds on every roadside around here in Brazil.  Readers, don’t let your fiddles out of their pots – they grow big and only look so-so when they have free range.  Your neighbours might get grumpy.

By the time we move into House By The Water (zzzzz…..) we’ll have missed the outdoor planting season, so I’ll be keen for a bit of indoor green.  I might even splash out for a largish potted tree in our living area, where it can give us a give us some afternoon shade until I sort out a more permanent window treatment solution.  Dare I say it can double as our, ahem, tree that is decorated at a certain time of year.  I think a nice olive tree might be perfect.

Potted olive tree.

An olive tree. Peace. Source: Brown Design Inc.  (Feature photo at top:  The Guardian.)

 

Building progress: photo frenzy.

The first thing I do every morning is check my inbox for photos of House By The Water.  You never know when one of my Mandurah friends might have been in the area and thought to take a photo or when our builders decide it’s time to show off some work.  This week I cracked the photo jackpot.  My blogging friend, Trixee, was in Mandurah.  Trixee is building a solar passive home in Perth and knows what a girl wants when it comes to building photos.  No detail is too big or small to snap.  Aside from evidence of building progress and quality, the photos serve as a record of the location of pipes, wires, holes, etcetera.  As if Trixee’s photos weren’t exciting enough, our site supervisor sent photos of windows!   WINDOWS!

Here’s an abbreviated collection of the photos:

OutsideUpstairs render and windows.

The top floor render is completed and is drying out before being sealed, “textured” and painted.

Upstairs windows

Bedroom windows.

The window frames (in “white lustre”) should blend in with the walls once the render is painted.  Some top floor windows are yet to be measured up on site.  Coming soon!

Upstairs:

Upstairs living.

Left to right: linen closet, stairs (scaffold covered), master bedroom (in distance), living area.

Upstairs the rendering is complete, the ceilings and cornices are in.   Ready for sanding the ceilings and white-setting the walls.

Garage

The garage that will be filled to the brim before long.  Entry directly into the hallway, handy, should we ever be able to fit a grocery laden car into our garage.  (Note: photo featuring discarded tradie clothing.  I think Trixee wanted to add this to her rather impressive “What the tradies leave behind” photo collection.)

Hallway

Entrance

Entrance and hallway.

Looking rather dark, but not for long.  Scaffolding currently covers the entrance void space and light grey walls will make all the difference.  The library opening is to the left.

Bedroom for the littlest pig.

Kid's bedroom.

Future sty.

Scullery

Scullery.

Scullery. My mess hiding indulgence. Home to sinks, dishwasher, fridge, microwave, pantry and more.

Laundry

Laundry chute.

Featuring the laundry chute.

And the best for last,

Open living area.

Kitchen

From the dining room, looking into the kitchen. Scullery at right rear, “cellar” through the door.

Open living area.

From the dining room, looking across the kitchen to the living area on the left (still housing a lot of scaffold to cover the void).

To top it all off, Nearmap published another aerial view of our property – the first time they’ve flown over since December.  There’s not much to see now that there is a gigantic roof on top, but you can see the difference in style of our house compared to a typical house in our area.  I hope the neighbours are not cringing!

Aerial timeline:

Aerial view - canal side.

Canal side view. Work in progress.

 

Counselling for building customers.

House building packages should come with counselling.  You know, the “Build Well value pack”.  It includes internal painting, floors, air conditioning and 4 sessions with a qualified psychologist.

Sunday night, I was a little bit grumpy.  The cause?  The weather App on my phone.

Mandurah weather report.

Outlook is blah!

I had visions of the tradies staying at home all week, Ugg boots on, watching reruns of “Real Tradies of Melbourne”.

Tradies health video link

Special program for Tradies National Health Month.

Fortunately, I woke the next morning to fresh photos of work at House By The Water and a plan for the week that didn’t revolve around weather.   So I’ve postponed my session on the therapy couch for another time.

The renderers managed to get some external render done before the rain:

The ceiling fixers put up the ceiling on the top floor:

Alfresco ceiling.

Alfresco ceiling. Versilux sheets.

Plasterboard ceiling.

Plasterboard ceiling and a small amount of internal render started.

I have been waiting for this bit.  The ceiling makes all the difference between a construction site and a future home.  The light suddenly changes and you get a sense of the room proportions.

The internal render on the top floor should be completed this week.  (Writer’s déjà vu.) Then the ceiling fixers can return to flush the joints and put the cornice up.

How do you deal with the emotional highs and lows of building or renovating?  

External paint revealed.

External paintThank goodness for a new photo and a smidgeon of progress at House By The Water.  The scaffolding that was getting in everyone’s way, and seemed to be the cause of a two month standstill, was finally lowered.  And, ta da! The external colours of the house are revealed.  I’m rather happy with my paint choices.  Although I spent weeks deciding what interior colours to use, the exterior paint was a 5 minute decision.  I showed Webb and Brown-Neaves’ interior designer a picture of a house exterior that I liked and muttered something about grey.  She said “How about Grey Pebble with Calfskin?” as she poked a couple of sample strips in my direction and I said “OK”.  Done.

The trim, between the roof and the top of the brick work, is Dulux Calfskin and the paint over the render that’s on the top of the window and on the feature column is Dulux Grey Pebble.  (People like to know these things!)  The roof is Colorbond Surfmist.

The plasterers were due to start and finish the internal plaster on the first floor last week, but my spies dropped by on the weekend and couldn’t find any new work.  Ho hum!  This week should be action packed  with ceiling fixers and external renderers both scheduled to be on our site.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, otherwise it’ll be a post on housing pets next week and I’d rather it didn’t come to that.

On a side note, this week I had

My 15 minutes of fame!

In case you missed it, I was interviewed about my purchase of an original Coco pendant as opposed to a replica.  You can read the article on Domain News.

The Coco pendant. A work of art. Source: Coco Flip.

The Coco pendant. A work of art. Source: Coco Flip.

In response to the article my blog stats did a bit of a flip of their own, and, ahem, check out the hits counter!  It reached over 100K views.

Secondly, an anonymous blog reader nominated House By The Water for the U.K. based, Amara Interior Blog Awards in the Australian category.  Thank you to Mr. or Mrs. Mystery and “hello” readers from the U.K.. If you wish to vote, click on the icon below:vote-now

Okay.  I’ll get back in my box now.  Awkward moment.

Feeling bolstered by my newfound “fame” I decided to test out a suggestion made on the HomeOne forum to another home builder.  Remember the cobblestone driveway saga?  Think $$$$.  After getting yet more crazy quotes for the driveway, my husband and I decided we’ll have a go at it ourselves.  Some of my Instagram friends even offered to turn up with scones and help!  (One might be forgiven for assuming this means that we eat scones and chat while we watch the Nice Wolf, a.k.a. husband, lay cobblestones.  But if you’ve seen my Insta friend, Lady Jo, with her tools, you’d know that her offer is sincere.  But I digress…)  So the suggestion was to ask suppliers for trade prices in return for displaying a sign advertising the product.  Since House By The Water will be highly visible, I thought there was some potential for this idea and I asked Eco Outdoor for a discount on cobblestones.  I received a polite and prompt response, offering a rate of $121 per square metre.   $10 per square metre more than my previous quote.  Ha ha ha! The price of fame….

Cobblestones are everywhere here in Brazil. Might have to pack a suitcase full.

Cobblestones are everywhere here in Brazil. I might have to pack a suitcase full.

Real rooms.

I quite like the minimalist look but the Nice Wolf and the Three Little Pigs just didn’t get the memo.  You know all those gorgeous pictures of perfect houses that I’ve been posting?  Well, that’s not going to happen.  Okay, it might happen once or twice, but if you knock on my door on any random day, you won’t see it.  Keeping my house tidy is an ongoing, half-hearted battle.  I know the motivation will increase tenfold once we move into House By The Water, but still, I’d rather be in the garden, on the deck or in the kitchen cooking up a storm.

Living room with Lego.

Our (rental) living room at this very moment – currently the most photogenic corner of our home. Where’s the Lego in the magazine photos?

Of course, I’ve tried to train the Pigs (now aged 10, 8 and 5).  They are rewarded for cleaning their rooms and for helping with chores.  I trialled Hong Henwood’s “black bag strategy“, where, after fair warning, any kid’s items left lying out of place in the living areas are collected in a bag.  In our case, the “black bagged” items could be earned back, donated to charity, thrown out or regifted at birthday or Christmas times.  Well, the two oldest pigs formed a union and I received a formal complaint:

Black bag complaint.

An elaborate bag-stealing heist followed, foiled only by the littlest Pig being a goody-two-shoes.  On day two of “black bag” I asked the Third Little Pig to put away his skate board.  He replied that he was leaving it out for me to put in the black bag because he’d like to receive it again for Christmas!

I’m hoping that in a double story house, the ground floor will be tidy-ish most of the time.  Two of the pigs will have their sties upstairs and perhaps as they get older their mess may be constrained within their own four walls, but for now at least, they like to be where I am.  They bring toys out to play on the lounge room floor and their homework is done at the dining table despite having their own desks.

So my challenge is to create spaces that can handle a bit of real, 3-kids, no-hired-help, living.  Part of that will be allocating drawers, hooks and cupboards in the living areas for quick clearance.  (One of my friends suggested a kitchen drawer for the mobile phones, pens, mail, etc.  Yep, all the stuff that’s currently sitting on my kitchen bench.)  Part of it will be sticking with fresh, tidy habits.  Wish me luck.  And part of it will be embracing the lived-in, homely look.  On this final point I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for inspiration.

Beautiful rooms that look inhabited:

I'd rather have a cuppa and read a magazine than get the vacuum out.  Source:  Ngoc Minh Ngo Interiors.

I’d rather have a cuppa and read a magazine than get the vacuum out. Source: Ngoc Minh Ngo Interiors.

Clutter is chic en Paris!  Source:  Inside Closet

Clutter is chic en Paris! Source: Inside Closet.

Too much cleaning may crush my creativity??  Source:  Airbnb

Too much cleaning may crush my creativity?? Source: Airbnb.

Queen of collected treasures, Sibella Court's home.  Source:  The Design Files.

Queen of collected treasures, Sibella Court’s home. Source: The Design Files.

Kid and Coe specialise in stylish holiday rental homes around the world that welcome kids.  This one is in Barcelona.

Kid and Coe specialise in stylish holiday rental homes around the world that welcome kids. This one is in Barcelona.

The House Nerd blog is full of real rooms with real people (and often animals too).  Sure the floor has been cleaned and the bench wiped, but the kids' art is still on the fridge.  Photo by Heather Robbins at Red Images,  Thanks to House Nerd.

The House Nerd blog is full of real rooms with real people (and often real animals too). Sure the floor has been cleaned and the bench wiped, but the kids’ art is still on the fridge. Photo by Heather Robbins at Red Images, Thanks to House Nerd.

I notice from this collection of photos that the signs of life, be it personal items, clutter or disorder, add to the character of the room.  Unique windows, interesting artefacts, layered soft furnishings, mismatching and multicolours provide enough interest that the kid’s toys and pile of books on the floor look perfectly suited to the space.

So matchy- matchy?  Out!  Monochrome?  Out!  Minimal?  Never a consideration!  Sleek, shiny, see-through?  Probably not.

Greenery?  In.  Favourite bits and pieces?  Definitely.  Anything with storage potential?  Yes!

Have you mastered the combination of kids/husband and tidy house without feeling like your life revolves around housework?  If so, I need tips.  

 

The modern Australian entrance.

An absence of news from our building site can only mean one of two things.

  1. Everyone is so busy working on our house that they have no time to write.
  2. There is no news.

I’m trying to remain patient.  The Nice Wolf has brought up the subject of contingency plans, you know somewhere to sleep when you don’t have a house, but I’m not entering into it yet.  Instead, I’m doing what I do best, admiring pictures – developing the vision for House By The Water.  Some might call it burying my head in the sand.

So with my room inspiration formula well established by now, I set out to select my Top 5 entries/hallways.  I’ve collected pictures of many beautiful home entries, but our entry should reflect our home style and finding “modern Australian with a touch of earthiness” soon narrowed down the contenders.  As I look at more and more beautiful homes it can get confusing at times, but I’m trying hard to stick to my self-imposed “brief”.

Simple.

My idea of the perfect entrance.  Photo:  Made By Cohen.

A place to put your shoes on.

A place to sit to put your shoes on.  Photo:  Home Adore.

Coastal

Coastal.  The fish is a bit much for me, but otherwise, yes please!  Photo:  Hare and Klein.

Almost worth changing the house plans for!  Coastal with no kitsch.  Photo:  Lucy Marstan, Architect.

Almost worth changing the house plans for! Coastal with no kitsch. Photo: Lucy Marstan, Architect.

Hmmm, yes, only 4.    Nevermind.  How hard can a hallway be?

Our entry and hall has a great design with a linen cupboard tucked away to the side and even some wall space to hang hats and bags that is out of sight as you enter the house.  Functionally, aside from being a passage way, it will be the shoes on/off space.  We are a shoes off family.  It comes from having lived in Canada.  Wear those snowy, muddy boots inside and you are going to get a thwack.  Once I got a taste for this, there was no turning back.  The reduction in grub (read floor cleaning) is huge when you are a family of 5.  Plus, we like to be barefoot.  It’s one of many reasons we are installing timber floors throughout our house.  Currently The Three Little Pigs sit on the floor to remove their shoes and shoes are every where.  So a bench for sitting is in order and most of the ground floor linen cupboard will be dedicated to shoes.

A wide entrance and a hidden nook for shoes and bags on hooks.

A wide entrance and a hidden nook for shoes and bags on hooks.

We have a beautiful antique buffet cabinet that we bought in Tasmania on our honeymoon.  It won’t fit in our new dining room with no walls, so I’m going to house it in our hall.  Accommodating that and a bench to sit on are my only prerequisites for this space.  We have a void space above our entrance that is calling for a long feature pendant.  If money was no object, I’d hang several oak pendants.  In reality, I’m planning to install some kind of traditional fishing basket or net here as pendant lighting.

My one chance at the "minimal" look, and I've blown it already.

My one chance at the “minimal” look, and I’ve blown it already.   (There will be art, but I can’t decide which pieces yet.)

Definitely a few extra styles sneaking in there.  Perhaps I should just add “a hint of coastal” to my brief.  “Modern Australian with a touch of earthiness and a hint of coastal” is getting a bit long winded.  How about “Aussie surf and turf”?

Have you given yourself a decorating “brief”?  Can you name your style?  Or is it just me watching too many home renovation shows?

Does your home entrance reflect the mood and style of the rest of your home?  

Got any secrets for avoiding a large pile of shoes and school bags beside your front door?

 

 

Build update: roof cover.

We have a roof.  It’s a rather dazzling white despite the gloomy day on which the Nice Wolf took these photos.

Colorbond Surfmist skillion roof.

Colorbond Surfmist skillion roof.

Roof at the front of house.

Roof at the front of house.

The skillion roof line of our house is such that no one is actually going to see much of the roof cover.  We picked “Surfmist” Colorbond to reflect the sun, to keep our home a little cooler and minimise air conditioner days.  We plan to add solar panels later.  These will contrast completely with the white/grey roof cover but only the seagulls will notice.

You really can’t see the effect of the roofline yet for all the scaffolding:

Canal side/back yard.

It’s a scaffold jungle on the canal side/back yard.

Side of house, pool in foreground.

Side of house, pool in foreground.

Eventually it will look a bit like this:

Front Elevation.  Not a lot of visible roof.

Front Elevation. Not a lot of visible roof.

Aside from the addition of the shiny roof, all the ducting for our air conditioning has been installed and our air conditioner unit is ordered.  We have ordered an LG 17kW system – recommended for its value for money by our cooling specialist.  Other companies recommended that we install two units for our house, doubling or even quadrupling the cost!  Luckily, we are not wilt-in-the-heat types, and hope to manage the heat well with window dressings and only use the air-conditioning on the really hot days of the year.  On those same hot days, the solar panels will be producing plenty of energy.

We had to raise the roof line by 3 courses of brick to accommodate the air conditioning ducts.

We had to raise the roof line by 3 courses of brick to accommodate the air conditioning ducts.

Pre-wiring for our phone and internet lines, the plumbing and electrical tubes and guttering has all been installed for the second floor.

Bathroom plumbing will be hidden in the scullery ceiling.

Bathroom plumbing will be hidden in the scullery ceiling.

According to my schedule we are still 3 months away from “lock up”.  The next big job on the list is internal and external plastering but I think some of that incredible scaffold jungle has to come down first.

One last dodgy site photo (for my Mum)!  This picture is taken from the open, upstairs living area.  Check out the view!   It’s a little dark now, but wait until the rain clears, the scaffold is removed and the walls and ceilings are painted.  We were so focussed on getting the downstairs orientation for views right, that the upstairs view comes as a pleasant surprise.

Upper living

Walk straight ahead to our bedroom. Space here for the kids lounge, a study nook and the Pilates Reformer.