House By The Water – The Movie.

Every spare moment has been spent in the garden lately.  Planting, reticulation, lawn preparation, mulching and cobblestones, of course…  No time at all for blogging.  We’re on a mission.  Guests are coming for Christmas.

 Fortunately, the “House By The Water” videos, made by our builders, are ready.  You can enjoy a little chat in our kitchen and living room instead of reading a post.  There are two short videos.  Click on the pictures below to view.  I don’t think I’ll take up vlogging, but it was fun to do this once.

 

 

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.

 

Nice Wolf battles coastal storms to build steps.

Installing step pavers.

Slow work on steps

It’s bloody freezing outside.  I’m sure our weekend weather comes from the Antarctic.  (I’ve not had a winter for several years, so I may be a little sensitive.)  The Nice Wolf is tough!  And handy.  And is currently outside working on step pavers and cobblestones through squalls of rain and chilling wind.

He’s on a schedule.  The professional landscapers are yet to install our garden lights and the roller door which covers some outdoor storage beside the canal.  To complete these two jobs, they need us to complete the step paving which houses step light canisters and the section of cobblestone paving around the storage area.  Of course, by “us”, I really mean The Nice Wolf.  These are both seriously slow jobs.  The steps have to be done step by step, literally.  There is concrete carting and setting time involved and some fiddly circular holes to be made for the light canisters.  Perhaps a professional might knock the job off in a day, but for my weekend warrior, it is taking more than a few weekends.  Never-the-less, he’s getting there and his labour is free.

Laying cobblestones.

Cobblestone progress.

The landscaping is slowly progressing.  The outdoor tiles around the pool area have been completed and we have a fence and gate installed to restrict access from our front yard.

Monument colorbond fence.

Colorbond pool fence.

We went for a cheap option for this side of the pool fence.  We may alter this area to include a covered outdoor kitchen a few years down the track, in which case, the fence will go.  In the meantime, I’ll cover it up with some creepers on the poolside.

I’ve been itching to get started on the planting.  I need to be patient and wait for the hardscaping to be done.  The longer I have to wait, the more I change my mind.  I’m oscillating between choosing a frangipani or an olive tree as our feature tree.  On one hand I love the colour of the olive leaves for our colour scheme, on the other hand, the frangipani’s sculptural trunk and branches are hard to beat.

Coastal garden

Lomandra, coastal banksia and a native ground cover.

I snuck in a few extra plants which made me very happy.  What can be better than gardening beside the water?  My coastal banksias were looking lonely, so I planted a row of lomandra and a row of native ground cover either side of the trees.  I popped in a few ground cover plants around my kangaroo paws too, to create a bit of interest and try to limit weed growth.

Six months maintenance.

Six months since handover past and I sent my list of items requiring attention to the builder.  There was nothing of great significance on the list and I’m pleased to report that most of the items were quickly fixed with a minimum of fuss and tradie visits involved.  I will do a full review of our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, sometime soon, but I must give them a pat on the back at this point for making the “six-month maintenance stage” fairly painless.

Ensuite.

Our ensuite. Simple, spacious and lovely!

Finally, a little “HELLO” to the House By The Water tourists!   We’ve been getting people stopping in their cars outside our house to take photos.  Some are braver than others and say “hi”.  I love that one lady this week asked if she could hold her tile (that she happened to have in the car) up against our paintwork.  That’s totally something that I would have done!

Russian blue cat.

Three Little Pigs and Two Kittens

Small steps happening here.  There are a couple of feline distractions, that I deny were selected for their match with our sofa.

Six months have past since handover and I sent my list of problems into Webb and Brown-Neaves.  Nothing drastic.  They’ll pay me a visit next week to review everything. Hopefully, the fixes will be quick and with minimal time off work required.

We finally got around to our handover with Intelligent Homes who were subcontracted to install our security and communication systems.  Burglars, be warned!  You’ll need ear plugs.

A decent front door arrived (the first one was water stained) and has been varnished.  It’s a bit dark but by the time we install the decorative security screen door, that won’t matter.

The Nice Wolf hung an old front door bell that we’ve been carting around for more than a decade.  It came from our first house.  We took it off to render the 70’s brick and promptly lost the bracket so never rehung it.  I’m very grateful now.

Waterline tiles

Charcoal waterline tiles.

pool tiles

Waterline tiles

The waterline tiles have been laid in our pool and there has been talk of solar versus electric heating.  I can almost believe that we’ll be swimming in this pool come Summer.  I’d better get cracking with the fence painting and planting.

There’s a chance my blog may spontaneously combust this week.  Last year I paid a small amount for “custom design” and no ads, but this year I put the money towards this floor lamp:

Floor lamp.

Irresistible purchase from Barney and Fleur in Bridgetown.

So if this page is looking a bit weird later this week, that’s why.  I shall attempt blog first aid as necessary.

Weather testing the house.

Floating jetty.

Today we walk up the ramp to stand on our floating jetty.  The neighbours’ fixed jetty (far right) is submerged.

We only just got to the barbecue as it was rolling towards the edge of the open deck, propelled by wind.  The kayaks were about to set sail, unmanned, as the storm surge lapped over the edges of the canal walls.  The pool is being filled, a kind of icky green colour.  The hail has just stopped.  Banging doors kept us awake half the night, but there are no puddles on our floors, nor water stains on our ceilings so I’m pronouncing the weather testing a success.  We are fast approaching the end of our 6 month maintenance period and need to finalise our list of items to be fixed by our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, so the timing of the lousy weather is rather good.

Flooded garden

Wading through the bottom level of our canal-side yard. Current landscaping project.

Plus, nothing beats a good storm for providing a legitimate excuse for a day off shovelling, or whatever other landscaping task I should be doing.  Time, instead, to blog.

What’s new?  Shutters!  Actually they’ve been in a few weeks now and I’ve been waiting in the vain hope that one of the Three Little Pigs might have a bedroom tidy enough for a blogworthy photograph.  The bedrooms and library all have shutters and are all rooms that are low priority works-in-progress.  So I’m going with a couple of “keeping it real” photos for you.

Bedroom shutters.

New shutters in sty number 2, on a good day.

Library shutters.

Library shutters. (Disclaimer: the pigs are not usually this perfect.)

The shutters look good from the exterior too, but today is just not the day to prove it to you.

I have a couple of new rugs.  One of the problems I didn’t fully anticipate with our house design is the poor acoustics.  The void space over the living area allows an echo to bounce all over our open living space, not good for conversation once we have a few guests over.   I thought we needed some more soft furnishings to absorb some noise.  Enter rug addition number 1:

Sanna rug, Freedom.

Sanna rug, Freedom.

I didn’t want to spend too much on a rug for the dining room, it’ll probably only last a year or two under our dining table.  I picked a wool blend rug from Freedom, with enough colour in it so that I don’t cry the first time it cops a bowl of spaghetti bolognese.  The weave is thin enough to vacuum the crumbs easily and thick enough to absorb some noise.  I think it has helped and I must say it’s nice under my feet on cold mornings.

Rug addition number two is multi-purpose.

Armadillo and Co rug.

Armadillo and Co. hemp runner.

It is to catch any stray hot embers that fall out of the wood fire when we stoke it, to protect our timber floor.  I needed something that could disguise any soot marks and preferably something with some fire retardancy.  I hoped for wool but couldn’t find anything the right size.  This Armadillo and Co. runner is hemp.  When the fire is not going, the rug doubles as a door mat between our deck and the living room.

There has been a touch of landscaping progress.  I visited the Perth Garden Festival, where there were a couple of inspiring exhibits.  The good bits:

I came home with 21 kangaroo paws in tubes.  21 wheelbarrow loads of dirt and two weeks later the kangaroo paws are all planted and enjoying the rainy weather.kangaroo paws

The professional landscapers have completed their day of work for the month, so I’m guessing I won’t see them again now until June.

Most exciting is that I received a present that my husband gave me for a certain conspicuous birthday.  My big art.  It’s an indigenous dot painting by artist Margaret Lewis Napangardi.  I said “wow” the first time I saw this painting in Japingka Gallery‘s window.  Now it’s in our living room and I love it!

Mina Mina Jukurrpa

Mina Mina Jukurrpa, by Margaret Lewis Napangardi

Mina Mina at House By The Water.

Love it!

 

The private chef in our kitchen.

We’d like scallops for dinner, thank you.   Followed by crispy barramundi, then creme brûlée, please.

IMG_2955

What could be better than a brand new kitchen, decorated exactly to my liking, with plenty of space and all the mod-cons?  Someone to cook and clean up afterwards, of course.  Last Friday, our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves, organised just that.  An evening with a private chef is their “handover gift” to all their clients.  Such a treat!

Photos are few.  I was having way too much fun.

I had the place looking spick and span and the Three Little Pigs were banned from dropping crumbs, socks and toys for 24 hours:

Dining room

Dining room.

Our dining room has great views in all directions.

Dinner setting.

The third little pig set the table. Can you spot the error?

Eric, our French chef, from Ryan John Private Catering, arrived with all the meal preparation complete and started cooking:

DSC_0778

Our special spies guests, who helped us out in various ways during our build, arrived and might I just say how well they all dressed to complement our interior decorating!

Dinner party guests.

That’s me and The Nice Wolf on the left.

We toasted our new house then devoured the delicious meal.

Dinner party

Don’t tell The Nice Wolf but the scallops were the best I’ve had in years. The meal was completely delish and our glasses were kept topped up.  Best of all, Eric saw to all the clean-up and dishes, then politely took his leave before things got a bit embarrassing silly amusing.  We tried to keep up our civilised behaviour for a while with a little game of “Guess the Aroma” using a fun wine aroma kit.  One thing lead to another and the boys couldn’t resist showing off their amazing musical talents playing the crystal glasses, which we all knew meant it was time to go home.

Jam session on the crystal glasses. Oh dear!

Jam session on the crystal glasses. Oh dear!

Oh, hang on a minute.  We live here!  A lovely night of fine dining and celebrating our new home with good friends and we only had to walk upstairs to bed.  That’s my idea of perfect.

 

Keys Please, Webb and Brown-Neaves.

Three Kids at sunset.

Three Little Pigs, toasting the new house with “kids’ champagne” and pizza.

At 9 am yesterday, The Nice Wolf received keys from our site supervisor for our new home.  In a slightly non-traditional ending to the fairy tale, we had a pseudo pre-handover inspection and handover all in one.  That means that there are a few items still to be completed by the builders but we are able to move in.  Full credit to the builders and all their associated tradespeople for working their butts off for the past 2 months in order to deliver our house before their Christmas break.

This last week saw some crucial elements added to House By The Water.  Balustrading, toilets (phew!) and, just in the nick of time, gas, or more significantly, hot water.  As a bonus, our landscapers finished our deck and made a good start on the pool fencing.

So here we are, completely exhausted and thoroughly happy.  What other way is there to celebrate than with good champagne (thank you Webb and Brown-Neaves) and pizza on the deck?  We had a great evening, with many small boats cruising the canals to view the local Christmas lights.  All the boaters were in a Friday, festive mood, waving at us as they went by.

Today, the littlest pig turned 6 and was very happy to be served breakfast in bed on a mattress on the floor.  There has been a steady stream of tradies and we’ve been erecting some makeshift curtains.  We’ve been vacuuming concrete dust and laying down plastic drop sheets in a probably vain attempt to minimise the dust until our timber floors are laid.  We’ve been unpacking a few bits and pieces and received our new mattress.  Basically, our work is just beginning.

I will post lots of photos soon.  I just wanted to check in today and say, we’re in!

Ensuite.

Ensuite at night.

Would you let your husband choose tiles? Alone?

Note from wife sign.

Photo source: unknown.

Up until this week The Nice Wolf (a.k.a. husband) has been too busy to get involved in the minor details of House By The Water.  He’s left all the interior decisions to me and many of the other decisions too.  An ideal situation, as far as I’m concerned.  Well, The Nice Wolf is now on holidays and has been busying himself with thoughts of reticulation, hanging cray pots from the ceiling, cobblestones and many other future DIY projects.  He’s been popping past House By The Water to act as liaison between myself and our landscapers and to submit a daily report on the head count of tradespeople on site.

And yes, he had to bring a note from his wife in order to make a tile selection.

Pool tiles.

Pool tile samples were duly brought home for my approval.

More about that head count.  It has been exceptionally high this week.  Webb and Brown-Neaves and related contractors have been pulling out all stops in order to get the keys to us next week.  On top of that, our landscapers, Tim Davies Landscaping, have started work.

Here is just some of what has been happening:

The lights were installed:

The painters have been inside and Kitty Grey is looking very pretty:

The tiling and stonework is just about finished:

The robes were installed:

Sinks, tapware, shower screens and mirrors (not shown) were installed:

Work on the deck began:

Jarrah decking.

Deck in progress.

Behind the scenes we’ve been booking in the wood fire and floor installers, connecting the internet and phone and ordering the council-supplied bins.  In a very pleasant twist of events, we received a variation notice from the builders giving us an $11.5K credit for site works.  Yep, you read it correctly.  Credit.  Yippee!   (Skipping all the way to the cobblestone shop….)

Looks like I’d better start chilling that wine.

Bench tops and tiles.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

Kitchen island in Alpine Mist and orange plastic.

The good news is that House By The Water is starting to come together.  The bad news is that the photos are lousy.  Dodgy, locked-out, bad angles, reflection-on-the-windows, ground-floor-only kind of photos.  I’m going to show you any way.

Last week the painters made the ceilings, doors and door frames white.

Then the tilers got busy in the bathrooms and the laundry.  I caught them on the job one morning:

Since then, the wall tiles in both bathrooms have also been laid.

The laundry tiles are almost complete.  There is just a small section under the cabinets left to tile.  This is going to be the hiding spot for our robotic vacuum.

Laundry tiles.

Keeping the laundry basic.

My powder room floor tile choice is proving to be more than just a puzzle:

Powder room mat effect tile.

Puzzling powder room tile.

The tiles come in a series of 6 different tiles.  When they are pieced together they create a rug effect.  We planned to use just three in the series since our powder room is fairly small.  All nice in theory.  Problem 1:  wrong tiles delivered.  Problem 2: replacement tiles still wrong.  Problem 3:  calculation of powder room floor space did not include extra width at the door openings, therefore 4 tiles in the series are actually required.  Problem 4: the second tile in the series is darker than the 1st and 3rd tiles making it look all wrong.  Gotta feeling the tiler isn’t going to love this tile.  I just hope I still do once all the problems are resolved.

The renderers covered some of the planter boxes beside the canal:

Planter boxes.

Planter boxes rendering in progress.

And, most exciting of all, the Caesarstone went in today.  Most of it is covered in protective plastic, but I managed to get a close up of the Alpine Mist bench top in our scullery through the scullery window.

Kitchen bench.

My kitchen bench. House priority #1.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone.

Alpine Mist Caesarstone

Behind the scenes, the landscaping ball is rolling again.  I’m selecting tiles for around the pool for the third time.   The first tiles were discontinued, then the second.  There’s a chance we will have some decking before handover of our house which is a thrilling prospect.  You all know that it’s the glass of wine on the deck that I’ve been dreaming about for the last 3 years.

Our dishwasher is purchased and is awaiting fitting.  We bought the integrated model of Fisher and Paykel’s double dish drawer.  This means that the dish washer will be disguised as a kitchen cabinet.  Very swish!  We’ve had Fisher and Paykel dish drawers in several houses over the past 15 years and I give them two thumbs up.

It’s almost time to start making some lists.  It’s not long now before Webb and Brown-Neaves’ work is done and ours is just beginning.

How cabinets made my day.

Fearing another slow week, I decided to trial a new strategy to keep work progressing rapidly at House By The Water.  Bribery.

Our builders, Webb and Brown-Neaves asked me to meet the tiler on site on Monday, so first thing in the morning I left the tiler a box of chocolates hoping it would make him work at his best.  I know that the tiling is a big job and a critical one in the pathway to the builders handing over the keys on December 18th.  Well I’m not sure that it had the desired effect, (any tilers reading, please send in your suggestions,) but we do at least now have the bathroom and ensuite screed.

Bathroom screed.

Kids bathroom. Note: hole in floor for laundry shute.

Ensuite screed

Ensuite

The renderers have started to add the final textured layer to the house exterior:

Grey pebble render.

Dulux Grey pebble render.

I collected some render that had fallen to the ground to take to the tile shop.  I need to select a tile to cover the top face of the patio awning.  I want it to be inconspicuous.

The concreter poured the garage floor and a concrete plinth beside the house for the air conditioning unit to sit on:

Grano garage floor.

Grano garage floor.

A couple of broken windows have been replaced and some interior scaffolding is in place.  I hope it means that the painter will start soon.

But the highlight of the week is definitely the arrival of the cabinets.  My mum sent me a text message during the day…”There’s a large furniture truck outside your house.”   Oooooh!   Cabinets!  Cabinets for the kitchen, scullery, laundry, bathroom and ensuite.  Lots and lots of beautiful storage.

What a giant puzzle it must be now to put it all together.

For those of you who are missing my little chats about interiors, I promise a short break from building talk next week.  I’ve been making a few exciting purchases and plans for our interior but I can’t reveal them just yet.