Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sans rose-coloured glasses

While I enjoy keeping a record of our house renovations, I think it would be remiss of me to edit the process, and break it down into cheerful chapters, like the musical interlude in an American rom-com.
Can't you see it? Perhaps Lady Gaga's Edge of Glory booming, with images of me painting the fence in my denim overalls (complete with heart shaped applique), my husband comes over and dabs me on the nose with white paint, I throw my head back and laugh, cut to me and my husband smiling and nodding over some paint swatches, finishing with us falling into bed at the end of the day, exhausted but satisfied with our work.
The reality is more likely us arguing in a tile shop before making the silent trip home empty handed, or becoming unhinged at seeing jobs that need doing everywhere we look, or spending a sleepless night wondering how the hell we're going to pay for all the work.
If you are currently shopping the market, or just about to embark on your own renovation for the first time, I feel it my duty to give you some insight into the rather less glamorous flipside of renovating. It is an exhausting, messy, costly and consuming process.
It can't be disputed that Motherwell is a beautiful house, but let me tell you, she is also an old bitch.

She steals from us, she does, whatever she can get her hands on;  holidays away, beautiful handbags, birthday parties, new shoes, dinners in fancy restaurants, and worst of all a splurge at the Easton Pearson sale.
She's like that Billy Joel song. 
And she'll promise you more
Than the Garden of Eden
Then she'll carelessly cut you
And laugh while you're bleedin'
But she'll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself
Cause she's always a woman to me

And when she's not thieving our money, she's taking all our time instead. Then there is the constant mess and dust, and nothing is quite right, at least not yet. It's like living in an unfinished puzzle. Everything seems temporary and all our hopes are pinned to something in the distant future, a time when all the work will be done and final. I worry that the house is too taxing on us and too distracting, and will it all be worth it in the end? Wouldn't it be easier to live in something smaller, newer, more manageable? I look at those brand new apartments that are always being advertised and imagine the customised shoe racks displaying all the new shoes I would buy. I eyeball sweet little cottages I see for sale that seem just the right size for the four of us. They seem to be a lot less responsibility. I don't mean to sound ungrateful. At the moment I'm just feeling overwhelmed. Of course, I know me, I know the process. This is a lull, and now I've got it out of my system, I'm sure I'll wake up tomorrow all refreshed and ready to workshop bathroom cabinets again. I'll put a bit of Gaga on to get me going.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Whatever Floats Your Boat

I know there are people around who say retail therapy is either negative or non-existant. I'm here to tell you things can make you happy. I've always thought this, god knows, I've felt it, and it was confirmed for me in November of 2011 when I read it on a Manhattan billboard.
Let me show you some examples of what has made me extremely happy of late. Exhibit A is this beautiful pair of antlers, given to me for my birthday by my three favourite people in the world.

Another extremely wonderful person gave me this print. It gives me a lift every time I read it, because I think if she thinks this, it must be at least a little bit true.
That self same person also gave me this for my birthday to add to my collection. There's something about spots that is always cheery.
I gave myself these beautiful lidded bowls, and they make me happy.
Right or wrong, I get a kick out of pretty things, and the people who visit my house do too.

It makes me happy to read this little plate on the wall because it used to hang in my mother's kitchen in my first home. I recently found a little note that Peach's had written, it said; "My bedroom is clean enough to be health, and dirty enough to be happy'. I would say this will remain her domestic affirmation forever.

This plate with the roses on it made me feel happy when I found it in an op shop. I love roses, I love pink and I thought it would look pretty on the wall. I'm no rocket surgeon.
The smaller plate appealed because it has orchids and a hummingbird on it, two symbols I relate to my father.

This peacock brought me happiness when I found it. I love shells and peacocks, so what's not love about a peacock made of shells? This kitschy loveliness hanging on my wall would have made my grandmother proud. She too had a fondness for kitsch.
I felt genuine joy when I found this 1940s shell shaped vase in pretty shades of grey and turquoise, my two favourite colours.
Even this humble $2.80 pineapple makes me feel good, and it smells beautiful too.
So there you go. My point is, if something makes you feel happy then consider yourself lucky. Enjoy. Whatever floats you're boat, I say.
Last week I watched a tv show on SBS about longevity. It is a subject which really fascinates me. I'm all for a long life, but the idea of eating nothing but bean sprouts and wheatgrass juice so I can live to 100 has little appeal for me.
This show had a man on it who was about 53 or 54, but due to his extremely calorie controlled diet and low percentage of fat, he had the body of a 19 year old. Can I tell you, he was the most miserable looking person I've seen in a long time, he barely cracked a smile, but for some reason he was hell bent on living to 100. 
My question is, would you want to live to 100 if that involved giving up virtually everything that made you happy; birthday cakes, champagne cocktails, the Christmas ham, whisky sours, creme caramel, gin and tonics, soft cheese? Me thinks a pretty lidded bowl will only get you so far happiness-wise.
I'm interested to know your thoughts.....  

The rough in

Once the wall and ceiling frames are done, as ours are now, it is time to do what is called the plumbing and electrical 'rough in'. This is when the plumbing pipes go in, and the wiring for lights, switches and power points. You need to consider how the finished rooms will be furnished. Where would a desk and bed go in a bedroom, thereby dictating where powerpoints are required?
It's a bit confronting to be faced with such fine details when the rooms still look like this.
In the main living room, which is quite large and long, we are having a coffered ceiling. This is a ceiling with recessed squares or rectangulars. In our case, the coffered ceiling will hide beams and the plumbing under the upstairs floorboards. The end will hopefully look something like this.
We are as allergic to downlights in our house as we are to Ikea, so I have been looking on-line to see the best positions on a coffered ceiling for lights. It seems they usually go in the recessed areas, but not always, making it annoyingly confusing.

Here's a pretty example of a coffered ceiling. It has sconce lights. I'm really not getting much clarification here.
On a different, but related subject, here are some examples of why you should stick to classic, rather than fashionable design - especially when it comes to your kitchen. This is what happens when the adults are in charge.
Now I have a laundry to plan.....