Tuesday, June 29, 2010

False alarm
Today was highly anticipated by us as being very exciting, but it has all fallen in a heap. The electrician and the plumber were due today to start installing lights, the stove, taps, toilets, pedestal sinks, the bath poles and taps and the shower hardware.
However, as it panned out, the electrician had a sick child to look after and the plumber was unwell himself. Hopefully, once we overcome this false start, everything will still be installed by Friday.
Craig thinks he will have finished painting the inside by Monday. I have spoken to the floor sander, and he should be right to sand the floors next Wednesday (July 7th?). We have always planned on doing the Porter's Palm Beach Black ourselves, but now we are considering getting the floor sander to Japan and top coat the floors instead. We need to make up our mind about this in the next day or two.
We will probably miss our July 11th deadline by only a few days, which is not bad going. Every Thursday night we perch ourselves in front of the ABC to watch Kevin McLeod and his Grand Designs. We are constantly appalled by people who try to do too much work, with too little money in an unrealistic time frame and end up moving into their house a year after the proposed completion date, with an unexpected 250,000 pounds on their mortgage. We should hit the mark relatively closer than that.
I had A-M from The House that A-M Built leave a message on my blog a couple of days ago. It was regarding my mention of the painter's name and number. Apparently, when A-M was building her house she came across some resistance from people to pass on the details of any tradespeople they were happy with.
I am only too happy to pass on contact details. For one thing, I want anyone doing a good job to continue getting the work, and secondly, it's not necessary for renovators to start behind the eight ball when they don't need to. Most people will only ever do one or two renos in their life, so there is no need to guard these 'secrets' - a good hairdresser, a lovely nanny, sure, but you shouldn't need your plumber on a regular basis.
Today I collected the last of the handles and locks for Val to fit. We got all of these from a place in Albion called Handle This on Crosby Road, telephone 07 3262 1583.
This place is run by David and Andrew. I found it difficult to understand what we needed in terms of locks, especially for the recycled doors we were using. I couldn't answer any of David's questions about door thicknesses and lock requirements, and in the end he came out and had a look for himself.
They are very specialised, they know what they're talking about and their products are good quality, although not overpriced.
We also got a lot of things from The Brass Shop Magins in Boundary Road, Bardon, telephone 3369 7179. They are a small husband and wife operation, but they have an extensive range of older style lights, taps, basins, tiles, light switches, toilets, etc. 
I much prefer to deal with these smaller businesses than say, Bunnings for example. For one thing, I want to ensure that these smaller businesses survive for everyone's sake. I also find the staff more knowledgable and interested, both of which were a huge advantage to us.
The stock at Magins was also better quality than elsewhere. Our nickel plated kitchen lights were made in South Australia, which I thought was a nice touch.
The Restoration Station on Waterworks Road in Red Hill, just around the corner from us, has a similar product range to Magins, but is a much larger store. They also keep a small amount of salvaged windows and doors, etc. This is where we got our pressed metal panels.
We got this pattern for the main bathroom.
It's going on the walls up to the belt rail like this below (although this photo is not our bathroom). We were planning on putting it in the ensuite too, but there turned out to be too many problems with the basin and toilet being fitted to it. Instead, we returned it to the store and I will go back later this week and get some lights for the front verandah. I have seen it used a lot in magazines and counters in shops and restaurants, but the builders were a bit bemused by it at first. They had never fitted it before. I love it, and it suits our house perfectly. Traditionally, it would have been more typically used on the ceiling.

The panels are actually manufactured in Bathurst. You can see their range at www.pressedtinpanels.com
We have two large Jacaranda trees at the front of our house, they aren't on our footpath but at the very end of our street (it's a bit hard to explain). They are perfectly positioned so we can enjoy their colour and beauty without their mess in September.
I found this picture below, which would look so beautiful in our jacaranda trees, but even I know that some things just cannot be translated from fantasy to reality. It's a very pretty picture all the same.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Up north
When I was about ten years old I wrote a note and my mother drove me down to a stranger's house so I could put it in their letterbox. The note said something like, 'I love your house, if you ever want to sell it please ring me'.
I think I must have been born with a love of falling down old houses. I grew up in Rockhampton in the 1970s. Back then it was like living in a time capsule, everything moved very slowly.
Since the internet had not been invented, long distance phone calls were only for special occasions, airfares were dear as poison and the road to anywhere else was very long, like all country towns then, we were relatively isolated.
There was only two television stations, the ABC and RTQ7 which broadcast a lot of locally produced shows, and I mean locally produced in the Rockhampton tv studio. Both of them shut off late at night and began again in the morning with just the test pattern in between.
I lived in an area called The Range (short for Athelstane Range). It's an area where grand Queenslanders stand shoulder to shoulder, although we did not live in one ourselves.
When Rockhampton was settled it was apparently going to be the capital of Queensland, several stately homes and buildings were constructed before it was realised the river was too narrow to be a viable trading port (or something like that). 
There was also a lot of money in the town from the gold mine at Mount Morgan. This house below, called Kenmore, was built by one of the gold miners. It's now the main building of the Mater Hospital.
Grand old Queenslanders are common as mud, and very affordable. All of these below are on www.realestate.com.au now for sale. They ranged from about 275k to 895k.

 This one above is just around the corner from where I grew up. The family who lived there then had two daughters who went on to dance with the Royal Ballet in London, one of them as the prima ballerina.
This house below used to be called St Albans. As the story goes, it's haunted. Catholics are unable to get up the front stairs on one day of the year? The main house is surrounded by about five cottages, and when I was growing up each cottage was a different type of shop; one had toys, another had kitchen equipment, another had children's clothes and dried flowers. Every weekend I would nag whomever I could find to drive me down there, sometimes I'd get lucky, sometimes not.

This house above is often photographed. It now operates as a b & b, but when I was growing up it was a family home. I went to a party there one night.
Rockhampton also has a whole street which is heritage listed. Quay Street runs along the river bank (below right), and is anchored by the Criterion Hotel (below left), just near the old bridge. In Rockhampton there are two bridges, referred to as the new and old bridge, even though the 'new' one must be nearly 30 years old now. It's a system that works very well actually, there's never any confusion.

Now the point to this brief tour of Rock-vegas? ......I don't know I can't remember actually. I may be just feeling a little nostalgic. 
Two books that we have found very good as references are The Australian House by Balwant Saini, which features many historic homes and buildings in Rockhampton.  We also have The Queensland House by Rod Fisher and Brian Crozier.
Getting back to the note in the letterbox, I have not given up hope of hearing from them one day. The number I wrote down is still my Dad's. If they call, I'm sure he'll let me know. I know it hasn't changed hands because it looks exactly the same, although it's peppermint green paint is now peeling off whereas once it was as neat as a pin. I've got time, it's only been 28 years, you can't expect everything to happen overnight.
Speaking of overnight, tomorrow the plumber and electrician will start to install all our pretty things; sinks, the stove, toilets, taps, the bath. In a few days time I should have some very exciting photos indeed!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

White on white....on white
Craig the painter sprayed our walls and ceilings on the weekend. True to it's name, Dulux's White on White is very....white?
It's just what I wanted though, a whole lot of blankness to display what will no doubt be an endless display of 'thises' and 'thats'.
I like to change rooms around a lot. Even as a small child I would be hellbent on pushing heavy pieces of furniture from one side of my bedroom to another, frequently. I love to try different combinations in case I've missed the very perfect arrangement.
The house, once dark and dank is already filled with light. Below is the view looking down the hall to the back door.
The view below is looking across the main bedroom and
through french doors to the wardrobe.

My pantry is coming along very nicely.

This photo below is taken from the dining room, looking across the kitchen and into the pantry. The kitchen island is covered with a dust sheet.

Our rustic old french doors should look a treat against the pristine white of the walls.

Craig is doing such a fantastic job. Everyone who comes to look at the house comments on the quality of his work. The builders are very impressed too. I can highly recommend him. If anyone has a painting job to do in Brisbane, give him a call. His number is 0420 927 273.
Even though we're nearly through it all, our nerves are probably getting a little more frayed than they were in the beginning when everything was full of possible disaster.
My nerves were particularly delicate on Monday morning when I went to look at the paint that was sprayed over the weekend.
When we first moved out of Euphemia I collected all our linen and washed it in an effort to feel I was being productive. I then ironed it all and packed it into zippered bags with little cotton wool balls soaked in lavender oil.
Back to Monday morning. When I walked into the house the first thing I saw was two of our good fine cotton white sheet sets being used as drop sheets over the furniture. My eyes made an involuntary glare, but I pushed on through the front door to see the painting.
When I walked down the internal stairs I came across one of our Onkaparinga woollen blankets under some scaffolding. When I finally got to the bottom of the stairs I found one of the zippered bags, unzipped. I must point out that it was not the painter doing this, but my husband. Whilst I know that it is wiser to give oneself time to calm down before addressing a situation, alas I did not. My poor husband copped a gobful, and poor me has to collect up all the linen and wash and iron it again.
When I went to check on the house this afternoon the painter told me that the floorsander had been there to measure up. Curiously, we haven't booked the floorsander yet, so I'm yet to find out who this actually was?
Our kitten Teddy is now almost seven months old. He looks like a full grown Siamese, although it's evident that his rabbity longer coat is starting to kick in. We are very fond of him and he considers himself an integral part of our family unit.
I would include a photo of him at this point...if I could find him. He has a real knack of totally disappearing, then reappearing a few hours later like a magician.
I let him out into the garden late in the afternoon a couple of weeks ago, and by the time I went to bed he still wasn't back inside. Around midnight I heard him come in through the cat door and found him crouched in the corner of the laundry. He stayed almost completely still under a blanket for the next few days. On the Tuesday after the long weekend I took him to the vet who believes he was most probably hit by a car or has suffered some sort of similar trauma.
He now seems to be almost fully recovered although his back end is still a bit wonky. His tail is limp and does nothing but dangle in the breeze. The vet has given him six weeks to regain feeling in his tail, before it may have to be docked. I knew we should have gotten one of the girls, they'd never get into this much trouble!!
While I only really started this blog as our own record of Euphemia and the project that she is (I cannot lose it if it's online), I'm chuffed that anyone is interested in reading it. I have been conscience of not only including all the ups, but the downs also. I'd hate for anyone to think that this has been easy for us, and wonder why they are finding it so difficult themselves.
I'm surprised that I'm finding the going a bit tougher now that it is nearly over, and there is barely anything to go wrong. I've found myself drinking a little too much wine, and sleeping terribly. It seems like the next three weeks or so are never going to pass. It's like going on a long car trip and finding the last half hour the most drawn out part.
We have pretty much been living in limbo since Easter last year. I didn't bother to unpack all our things when we moved into Euphemia because for one thing we had no cupboards to put anything in, and secondly, I had all of Gwennie's things to deal with too.
Craig has about two more weeks of painting inside left, then we have to get the floors sanded (one day), then it will take another week to put the Palm Beach Black on the floors.
The sound of packing tape being ripped off boxes will soon be ringing in the air, but not soon enough for this little black duck!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Slush fund trickles down the gurgler

We met with the builder today to hand over all our receipts for any purchases we've made ourselves; taps, lights, the bath, etc. I was keen for him to tally up and give us the final bill so we know how much money we have left over.
As it turns out, our slush fund has been drastically diminished by going overboard here and there. Of our pile of bills, we'll really only be covered for about a quarter of them.
This means we probably won't be able to afford awnings and blinds, fencing, landscaping, etc for a while....but how lucky is it that we all just luuurv baked beans!
We definitely aren't complaining, we know we have got an excellent job at a very, very good price.  Everything has gone so smoothly, we were expecting some snags along the way.
We're not regretful that we got such beautiful fixtures for our house either. We agree that when the dust settles, further down the track, we will never say to each other 'gee, I wish we hadn't got such good quality taps'. 
We could have cut corners til the cows come home, but we believe that the house is worthy of the best job we can do. I'll try not to get on my soapbox here but, I see lots of nasty things done to beautiful Queenslanders in our area. While the Brisbane City Council says all the right things in terms of protecting character housing, in reality it's not unusual to see the side verandah cut off a beautiful old house before it's slid sideways and an architectual eyesore is wedged in beside it. All in the name of a quick buck of course.
While I'm not against new or modern houses, I am against cookie cutter houses that are knocked up in a couple of months and look as cheap as they are. They tend to look good for the time it takes for the sold sign to go up, then the finishes immediately start to deteriorate, rust stains run down rendered concrete and once brilliantly oiled timber trims dry out. They have the substance of a movie-set., and don't stand the test of time. They are disposable housing that is not made to last.
Beautiful, original Queenslanders are not in inexhaustible supply, there are only a limited number of them left and when they're gone, they're gone. Right, that's the end of my whinge.

On a brighter note, Bill finished the tiling today. He wasn't so gruff when he left, and he's done a beautifully precise job. I took some photos but they came out terribly. My husband screwed his nose up when he saw them, but I was going to include them anyway. However, blogger says that the files 'failed' to upload, so I can take the hint.
It's at this stage that I'd normally tapdance to entertain you, but instead I'll include a few more happy snaps of some inspiring indoor/outdoor living areas, the likes of which I will soon be decorating.
By the end of the weekend the painter will hopefully have the first undercoat on the walls and ceilings which will make a huge difference. At the moment the walls are a patchwork of old and new timber. I decided on Dulux White on White for the interior. Fingers crossed

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The ifs and butts of renovating
The builders have all but finished. Someone is coming back tomorrow to attach the locks and handles on the doors and windows, but that's about it.
Once the tiling and electrical things are complete, there will still be some finicky details to take care of, but other than that we won't be seeing much more of the builders.
Craig the painter is getting through the prep work and may start spraying the undercoat on the weekend.
In my last post I said I was sad that work was coming to an end. Well, today I'm not. The end can't come soon enough.
Gruff Bill the tiler has started work. I've not had much to do with Bill, he's only there for a week or so, but this afternoon we had a few words. Bill likes to smoke while he works, then apparently he likes to stub his butts out on our timber floors!!
I gritted my teeth and asked him as politely as I could if he'd mind flicking his butts outside - lest our house burn to the ground!!!
I think Gruff Bill thinks I'm a bit uptight, and maybe I am.

Here are some coloured bits of fluff to calm me down.
This is actually a shower curtain and it's available by mail order from www.anthropologie.com If you think you love it, look it up, but be warned. It's available in other colour stories too. I find when I see something I love and decide to buy it immediately, then find it's available in other colours, I get so confused that I don't end up getting anything at all.
This house above is a bit how ours will look. Black floors, white walls. Crying out for some colour bursts.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The puzzle is nearly complete
I've always thought renovating is like a giant puzzle, juggling concept, design, budget, construction, decoration, etc.  While our puzzle is far from complete technically, all the major pieces are nearly in place.
Work is wrapping up on Euphemia. While there is still the painting and bathrooms to go, and many, many, many other smaller bits and pieces to do for us, our building team will soon be moving onto their next project.
I'm starting to feel a little sad. We've had such fun and this phase at least, is nearly to a close.
On the upside, however, thought you may like to see what's been going on this week.
The bi-fold french doors went on today. They open from our lounge room onto the little break-out deck overlooking the pool. The glass ballustrade isn't on yet, but you should be able to get the picture.

....and from the pool looking into the house.

The large glass french doors have also gone into the downstairs area.

Sorry these are the only pictures I could get. There's still a lot of excess building materials downstairs, and there's a big skip bin just outside the doors.
Although very nippy today, it was light enough for me to be able to photograph the internal stairs.

Above you can also see my tomfoolery, re the external house colour. I think Princess Bling is at the bottom.
We are also sporting our new front verandah, and handsome new stairs. Just what I wanted!

Now for a few hundred litres of paint, a tonne of topsoil and half a nursery!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Today I went out to buy a new continental quilt, and in my own grand tradition of disastrous shopping, I came home with a curtain rod and a rug instead.
The rug is for the children's room. I'm focusing on red and pink, along with the black and white which is all through the house.
Thus, began my web search when I got home to get a better picture in my mind of a pretty bedroom.
Instead of inspiration I discovered one pompous, exaggerated, fussy, over-the-top example after another.  What becomes of the child who grows up in this....
This one below isn't too bad, but I'm easing you into them.
This one is actually pretty cute too, but I think it could be toned down a bit, as in losing the satin bedspread.
This one below would be cute for the big girl, the modern day Holly Golightly.
Ok, this is getting ridiculous.
I think someone has tried to keep a lid on this one below, by using blue instead of pink.
Very camp!
And of course, for the child who is never required to enter reality - ever.
I think I'll either throw everything together and see what happens for this room, or put a bit more research into it??? Either way I think we'll be going a little more low key!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Humming along
On a weekday I usually call into Euphemia after I have done the school drop off, then again in the afternoon after the school pick-up.
I don't think Val is a fan of me bringing small children to the worksite so often, but the poor little things are used to tiptoeing around nail guns and chartering their course over piles of timber.
Our internal stairs are done, in fact we walked up them for the first time this afternoon. The stairwell is too dark to photograph at this stage though.
Val and Rat (another builder) have been working on the front verandah. They had an issue with some of the wrought iron lace. About four or five panels are slightly damaged, with missing or broken pins. The pins go into the timber handrails to hold it in place. Val thinks he can weld on some extra metal to make the broken pins long enough.
Each panel of iron has already been sandblasted and undercoated. It's so wonderful to have the original iron to put back up. Had we not been able to save it, we would have just used timber on the verandah. I'm not wrapped with that new aluminium lace which looks so light weight and perfect. I can spot it a mile off.
The stairs are in and are awaiting the ballustrade.
The stairs are lovely, large and solid - and they have risers!! They are the same width as the original ones. This is Euphemia's third set of front stairs.  The first ones also had risers like these. I have an old photo of Mr Baby sitting on the bottom step as a toddler. If I can, I'll scan it and show you.
Today I also finalised details with the glass man. I went out to Hartley Williams at Brendale who specialise in glass and managed to find some patterned glass to go in some of the new lights, or breezeways, above the doors. It's quite similar to the originals, some of which are still undamaged and in place. You can see Hartley Williams range of glass at www.hartleywilliams.com.au It's actually handy to know they exist, I have an old floor lamp I need to restore which was in the house when we bought it. They have everything I'll need for that there.
I also wanted to check out some glass to repair the front door. You can see it at the top of the stairs (above). The three very top lights are red and white and all in good condition. However, the two green lights down each side of the door are smashed. The glass man is going to come and have a look at it on Wednesday to see if he can fit thick 8mm safety glass (a legal requirement) into the current rebate. To get the right effect we would have to laminate two paints of glass, one clear patterned piece and one red, toughened glass. I'd love to get it fixed before the painter gets to it.
Speaking of the painter, Craig, he thinks he will be ready to tape up and spray the interior early to mid next week. This is excellent timing as the builders believe they should be finished by then too.
The elusive tiler, Myles, is reportedly turning up tomorrow to look at the job, and thinks he'll be finished it by about the middle of next week also.
Humming along and all going freakishly to schedule. Touch wood!!