Friday, October 9, 2015

snap shot of my home

As we head into the final quarter of the year I am looking back at 2015 so far.  Like all years some bits have gone to plan, and there have been unexpected ups and downs to deal with.  Most of our diy energies have been spent getting Currawong Cottage from derelict to a lovely country getaway, while at home it has all been about finishing touches.  At home we have been adding layers, updating rooms, experimenting with layout.  I was so surprised to see the flavour of our home appear on the "My Home" menu page (screenshot below).

I love that it looks so cohesive and I can really see how the homes that inspired me have been interpreted in our space.  

The last big project of the year, finishing the pool cabana, will be a cool addition to the collection and is really going to add to how we live in summer.  It is almost there, just the decorative wood work to add, and it looks pretty fabulous already.  I promise to share soon.  

Plans for the rest of the year?  I would really like to have more time to build things, to create more.  And I would like to entertain more too.  Sometimes I feel that I am so busy creating the space I forget to really enjoy it.  A return to full time work has left me a little time poor but has been very rewarding on other levels, not least that I can indulge in a little retail therapy for the home.  

Still lots to do in 2015, let's all make the most of it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

kitchen benchtop transformation with worx multitool

So this was the Currawong Cottage kitchen as we inherited it.  Nobody's dream country kitchen is it.  The tiles had to go.  Now bench tops can be expensive and we don't have much cash to spend on the cottage, but Mr B spotted some reasonably priced laminated wood bench tops at Bunnings.   Winning!!  At first we wanted to take the old tops off, but the cabinets are old and may not have survived.  We decided to simply put the new top straight over the old, securing with glue and screwing the tops down from underneath, up through the old top from inside the cabinets.

New bench tops also allowed us to make the island counter a little wider, it was really narrow.  The extra few cm's make a huge difference when you are cooking.  Overall it was a pretty easy diy, only a few large cuts to size the bench tops, you could get your hardware to do these for you.  EXCEPT for where the top butted up to the wall, here a pesky bit of trim was very much in the way.  Cutting out the trim could have been a nightmare, but my handy Worx Multitool saved the day and put the fun back in the diy.

So this is how it work, place the new counter down and rest the Worx Multitool on it, the blade automatically sits just above it which means your cut will be in the perfect place.  That is handy!  The light makes seeing what you are doing easy, and then the blade just cuts through the trim like butter (see above).  It even cut through some old hidden nails.  Let me repeat, cuts like butter.  What could have been a horrid hour long job took under 5 minutes.  And once the trim was cut the new bench top slid neatly into place, a really good finish.

So I am a total fan of the Sonicrafter Multitool.  You may not need it often, but when you do want to cut off a bit of molding, or sand a difficult to reach corner, or cut through a pipe in an awkward spot, this little beauty is going to save you a lot of time and energy.  Put it on your Christmas list for all the diy enthusiast's in your life.

How amazing is the overall transformation of the Currawong Cottage kitchen!!!  I really love a good before and after, especially one I had a hand in.  

I was given the Worx Multitool but all opinions, as always, are my own.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

how entertaining dinner table styling

Summer is coming and the evenings are warmer and lighter. We are planning to do more entertaining this summer.  last year I got so excited about making the table perfect I lost the joy of just having people over.  So this year the table will be simpler, but the food will be as delicious as always.  Planning a few updates to make the table pretty effortlessly.

1 - Love my Mud Australia porcelain bowls, I have a huge grey one and small cream one but would love one in slate.  Food just looks so amazing on the dark colour.  I bought one as a gift for a friend and now I really want one for myself too.
2 - The new Sittning range from Ikea has such pretty glasses in pink, amber and smoke colours.  I think they will look really fab on my outdoor table and at just $10 for two its an update I can afford.
3 - I love these simple place markers, and yes I know its supposed to be simple but these would not to much trouble.  Especially when I get my hands on the new Fiskars tag maker, then it will be really easy.
4 - These gold serving set from West Elm is just lovely!  A little bit glam but not to much, and see how well they go with those pretty glasses.  And at $49 another reasonably priced update.
5 - Flowers are going to be very simple, more succulents, more eucalyptus arrangements like this one I did for Christmas last year.
6 - more Sittining collection, these tumblers look fab too

So now to plan dinner...

Friday, September 25, 2015

spring flowers at home

Ranunculus are one of my favourite spring flowers and I am loving how the intense colours are set off by the cool blue grey of the chalk stick succulents from the garden.  

I have these little arrangements all around the house, one bunch of flowers goes a long way in small glass vases like these.  Hooray for spring!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

No more knots... with the Nylex never kink garden hose

A few weeks ago I opened a surprise parcel and discovered this pretty blue Never Kink Hose by Nylex.  Thanks guys for this unexpected treat, especially at the beginning of another hot summer.  

Now I have always wanted a hose like this but I have never been sure whether it would be worth the extra cost.  So today I am reviewing the Nylex Never Kink Hose for you, read on and you will see why I think its worth the extra investment.
Here is the test.  I am sure you have this experience, you are watering your garden, or washing your car, you give the hose a tug and the water flow slows to a trickle, another tug and the water stops completely.  Non PG curses!  You follow the hosepipe back, find the kink, spend five minutes trying to force the kink out, go back to watering, and the water slows to a trickle again.  Cue non PG curses. 

Nylex Never Kink Hose promises this won't happen so I devised a test, a task I know my ordinary hose can't pass without kinking multiple times.  

I was going to wash the car.  This means connecting the hose in the courtyard, dragging it around the corner and bins, through a gate, around another corner to the car.  Two corners, gate posts and three wheelybins, that was the test.

I connected the hose, using the very pretty brass swivel tap connectors that were supplied (so on trend right now Nylex, I love them), dropped the hose on the ground and walked towards the car, just pulling the hose behind me.

This was the test, no careful placement of the hose, I just pulled it around the corner and past the bins.  And then I washed the car, pulling the hose right around it, flicking it over the roof, and guess what, not one single kink.  

I finished washing and again just dragged the hose back to the courtyard where I tidied it into a loose coil.  Again not a single kink, not a hassle, not a non PG word said.

Its a winner, and yes I think its worth the extra investment.

The Nylex Never Kink Hose was supplied for me to test, but all opinions are, as always, my own.  A final word, I use tank water to water my garden and wash my car, water is a precious and scarce resouce and should always be used responsibly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Build 101...walk in robe plans storage wardrobe

So here is the skinny on the specifics of our walk in robe, in case you love it as much as I do and absolutely have to have your own.  I relied heavily on the Italian style wardrobe designers, like Poliform and Fanuli, for inspiration.  I love the symmetrical designs and substantial but elegant cabinetry.  

#1   Width of shelves and dividers
All our shelves and dividers are a chunky 32mm wide.  It makes the joinery marginally more expensive but creates a very high end custom looking finish.  
You could economize here and use a normal 18mm width, but the small extra cost does add a lot of extra visual impact.

#2   Symmetry and the power of 3
A big part of what makes the Italian designs so pleasing to the eye is their symmetry.
Three is a classic design number, things really do look better in three's or other odd numbers. 

Although the storage on our His and Hers sides is a little different, they have the following symmetries:
  • the height of the hanging rails is identical on both sides
  • the shelves above the hanging space are identical on both sides
  • each side is divided into three sections
  • two of the three sections on each side are identical. 
Even though the sides are not exactly the same there is a strong sense of symmetry in the space.

#3   No doors - pros and cons
PRO 1: I like being able to see our clothes.  I tend to keep things tidier and there are fewer hidden pockets of clothes that are never worn. 
PRO 2: Not having doors also means the space can be smaller.  We would need at least half a meter more between the two sides for doors to open without blocking the space.  And don't mention sliding doors, not a fan.
PRO 3: No doors is cheaper.  You can spend more on making the internal joinery pretty, and on pricier inclusions like pull out racks, drawers and shoe racks.

CON 1: It's messy if you don't keep it neat.  We specified pocket doors between the walk in robe and the bedroom to block the space visually.  It is nice to be able to close them if we need to, but it only happens when one of us is getting dressed early and we want to keep the light out of the bedroom. 
CON 2: Dust - not really a problem, yes there is a little dust but hardly clouds of it.

#4   Hanging rail height
Our hanging rail is 193.6cm high.  Much higher than most manufacturers recommend, but I can reach it easily, and I am not very tall.  The extra height creates space for double drawers underneath.
If I had a dollar for every time I was told by a builder it just isn't done that way, well my walk in robe would lead to a luxury yacht.  It may not be done that way normally but there is no reason it can't be.

#5  Lots and lots of hanging space
Two reasons you should plan lots of hanging space:
  • It is cheaper than putting in drawers and shelves because there is less wood and less work,
  • Clothes don't crease when they are hung
  • You can see exactly what you have and are less likely to hoard what you don't use

#6  Finish - stained oak
I love this finish, its elegant but not pretty and totally timeless.  Now that I have had a wardrobe with a dark inner I can't figure out why most of them are white.  Probably only because white is the most easily available option.

#7  Basic measurements
You can see the detail in the attached scale drawings but here is a quick summary:

  • width of shelves & dividers - 32mm
  • depth of cupboard - 600mm/60cm
  • width of space - entire space is 2.7m long and split into 3 sections.  After allowing for 32mm dividers each section is 957mm wide
  • height of space - 2.7m and wardrobes built all the way to ceiling
  • height of hanging rail - 193.6cm
  • remaining details are in the drawing

#8  Pull out pants rack/trouser rail
I discovered that it is pretty hard to get good pull out trouser rails at a good price, and that they are only available in very limited sizes.  So for our non standard space I had to make my own.  It was a surprisingly easy project to achieve, to see how it can be done see the full diy here.

Having lived with a walk in robe I cannot imagine not having one in the future.  I would be finding a way to put one in by stealing space from the bedroom or re-configuring smaller rooms.  Read all about why a walk in robe is a great investment of your hard earned build dollars here.  

For more details you need to know to get the finish you want, see the rest of the Build 101 series here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

#currawong cottage transformation

This is the biggest transformation for the smallest cash investment in the whole cottage.  Currawong Cottage came to us with a vintage kitchen, and while I love the soft yellow cupboards and the Aga, these hideous tiles needed to go.  Not only was the colour really ugly but you can see there was a strip of tiles missing.  The solution - tile paint, see below for the amazing transformation.

Replacing the missing tiles:
Fixing the tiles was a surprisingly simple and very quick task.  The tiles go up the chimney a bit so I levered a few off with my Worx Sonicrafter (you can see them on the counter above) and chipped off all the old grout carefully.  Then I simply stuck them into the missing gap with some Weldbond, and when the glue was dry filled in the gaps with Gap Filler.  You cannot tell where they were missing and it took me about half an hour tops to do.

Getting the tiles off was super easy with the Worx Sonicrafter.  You could use a screwdriver but the Sonicrafter made it a super easy process.

Tile paint in three steps:

1 - Clean tiles thoroughly, all oiliness needs to be washed away so the paint will adhere properly
2 - Paint with primer
3 - Paint with tile paint once primer is dry

To easy!

I did one coat of primer and two of tile paint and the entire job took me around three hours all in, with drying time in between coats.  I was worried that the tiles would look painted and poorly finished, but the end result is good, crisp and clean.  It isn't quite as good as new tiles or back splash, but for around $50 it is a fab transformation.  Highly recommend this if you hate your tiles but don't have the budget for a redo.

Seriously - how amazing is this transformation of the before and after.

You may have noticed there is a new bench top too.  Another really inexpensive and easy to achieve transformation!   I will be sharing how we did here soon.

See how lovely Currawong Cottage looks after all our diy work, and book your own stay to see it for yourself and explore the lovely Mornington Peninsula.

Friday, September 4, 2015

instagratification...succulents with black glass

I am loving succulents and black glass right now.  I cut back the gorgeous blue chalk sticks in our garden and they are all over the house.  Perfect is early morning sun in the spare room(at top) and by candlelight in the living room (bottom).  The vintage black glass vase was a lucky bargain find in the Coledale markets, the fan another market find from Cape Town.

For more instagram moments follow here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

#cottage renovation...bathroom update with lots and lots of white paint

Seriously!  This is what the bathroom at the cottage looked like when we bought it.  Pretty original and not in a good way!  Infact this photo makes it look like the colours were kind of vintage charming, when really they were just dirty, and don't get me started on the vanity.  

I would love to have gutted and started again, but we are saving our pennies for other projects.  Something had to be done though.  After reading lots of online reports we decided to paint everything white.  The blue walls are plaster so we could use acrylic, but the pink bits are plastic (yes plastic!).  Plastic needs special paint and we went with White Knight Laminate Paint & Primer.  Now I should say that all the hard work was done by Mr B, and he reports back it was hard work.  Not difficult but a lot of effort.  

First you have to clean and sand the surfaces really really well.  This takes 90% of whole time of the job, but if you don't do it well the product won't work well.  If you aren't prepared to do a whole lot of sanding this product is not for you.  Once the surfaces are prepared, cleaned and dried, paint on the White Knight Tile & Laminate Primer.  Once the primer is dry paint with White Knight Laminate Paint.

Safety note!!!  The paint has really strong fumes, extremely strong, so do not start without first buying a good quality mask and goggles that you can wear comfortably while you are painting.  Mr B said he could only be in the room for about half an hour at a time before the fumes really started to get to him.  Even with the windows wide open he had to outside for lots of breaks.  This little room took two whole days to do, and a lot of effort.  But for around $250 you have to admit the results are pretty good (the photos are not the best I know it really is a tiny space and hard to photograph).

With a lot of elbow grease and a lot of white paint it's gone from very very yucky to fresh and bright and spotlessly clean.  We could not salvage the vanity, it was truly horrid, so we bought the Hemnes/Rattviek from Ikea.  It fits in well with the country style, has a generous sink and lots of storage.  So much better and good value too!

There is still a little way to go, that is why I called it "better" rather than "after".  We were going to paint the tub but now I rather like the sky blue, it may stay, what do you think?  I would love to paint the floor in a blue, white and grey pattern, maybe an encaustic style pattern.  The trim still needs painting too.  But it is clean and whole lot better that what we started with.