Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Getting Festive

For our first Christmas in the house we decided to start a family tradition of having a real Christmas tree.  I've had a small 4ft high fake tree since my single days at Uni which has served me very well over the years, but the scale of the rooms in the new house calls for a more appropriately sized tree.

So last weekend we bundled the boys into the car and headed out the Princes Highway to a Christmas Tree farm.  I'm glad I measured the desired height of its placement in the family room before we left, as they all looked so dwarfed in their little Christmas tree forest!  I didn't want anything higher than 6.5ft and the first few I chose were well over 7ft!

I rather like the smell of the tree and contrary to my initial thoughts, it's not as overpowering as I thought it would be.  It's situated in the open plan area of the house and so I'm reminded that Christmas is approaching every time I enter the kitchen!  As Paul works in the city I've tasked him with going to David Jones to purchase a "Baby's first Christmas 2012" bauble for the tree to mark the occasion for Lucas.  Oli has his hanging on the tree along with his Dad's ornament from his childhood.  

I've done most of the Christmas shopping so now begins the task of wrapping them all and placing them under the tree.  I've a few nights of this activity ahead of me - there's no way the boys give me enough time (or free arms!) during the day to even attempt it!

Our first real family Christmas tree

I bought a wreath for the front door a few weeks ago, but as yet haven't hung it.  It's presently serving as a side table decoration.  We have a 20,000 litre concrete water tank being buried in the front yard this Friday so I'll wait till the earthworks are complete before I hang it outside as I don't fancy cleaning clay dust off it!  The works were scheduled for mid last week, but the storm a couple of days prior put it all on hold - too much water meant the job would take longer in the boggy clay and the local tips would likely have been closed (i.e. more expensive...).

Christmas wreath in it's temporary location

Oli's latest book fascination is with that of his namesake: the Ollie "I Love..." books.  He asks me to read them 2 or 3 times a day.  Currently he has "I Love my Dad", "I Love My Baby Brother" and "I Love Christmas".  I've told him he needs to put "I Love my Mum" on his Christmas list to Santa, as I'm feeling rather left out!

Oli's "Ollie" books

My sister is hosting Christmas lunch this year and as a former chef, it's sure to be a delicious treat to mark the day!  I'm looking forward to it, although we've decided not to travel to SA this year which is disappointing, but it's a long trip with two kids under 3 amongst the Christmas traffic.  Instead we'll head there for vintage in March - I'm not sure if this means Paul will be making wine again (he's skipped the last two vintages) or just because I know he's rather homesick and it's a busy time in the Barossa so is quite a nostalgic time for him to be there.  I'm sure if he makes it in time for harvest he won't be able to resist making a 2013 shiraz!  2013...good grief!  I can't believe the year is coming to a close already!  It's been a BIG 6 months...feathering the new nest and rearing two young chicks!

Thursday, 22 November 2012


We celebrated a milestone in our household a few weeks ago: Lucas began rolling over from his back to his tummy.  It made me realise that it won't be long now before he's on the move, making his way across the floor to investigate any object which takes his fancy or simply just crosses his path.  And this thought leads me to think about safety.

Even though Oli is only 2 years old and household safety is therefore still a very recent memory (and still very relevant), we haven't had an infant in this particular house before.  Whilst it was relatively easy to childproof our previous 2nd storey apartment when Oli was a baby, a larger house on the ground floor is a whole new daunting task!  A strategically placed coffee table and a few padded corner edges isn't going to cover all the bases this time!

Ikea Patrull safety plug

Furniture used to obscure every powerpoint in the apartment, but our new sparsely furnished house means powerpoint covers are on the shopping list.

Ikea Patrull fingerguard for doors

We only had 3 internal doors in the apartment and were happy to use a simple wedge to keep little hands from playing with them, but with 14 doors in the new house and a 2 year old who won't take care in opening or closing them we are going to have to invest in a better solution.

It turns out Ikea has a great range of child safety equipment for the home, as does BigW and Bunnings.

Another safety topic I've been lax in addressing in the past is fire.  Time to head to Bunnings for a fire extinguisher and fire blanket for the kitchen and also the car (given both sets of grandparents live in rural areas).

It's also time to make sure the first aid kits (bathroom and car) are fully stocked.  Here's a great checklist I came across.  Although most of the items are logical, I would have missed a few myself.  So I've decided to type up a small inventory list of these items and store it in each first aid kit so it's always easy to check and replenish stock levels.

St Johns First Aid Kit from Officeworks

Lastly, after a choking incident with Oli when he was small I really shouldn't put off doing a child first aid course.  There are various agencies who run them in the Melbourne area, including St Johns Ambulance and the Red Cross, and some even come to your house if you organise a group of adults.

In my research I discovered St Johns even have an iPhone and Android application on safety!  But of course they do, there's an app for everything now!

St Johns iPhone Application

Sunday, 28 October 2012


My upholstered bedhead from Temple & Webster arrived a couple of weeks ago and already I can hardly recall what the room looked like without it!

I'm really happy with the quality of it, especially given I bought it online - sight unseen other than the picture below from the website.  Turns out it was a good representation as it was just as I expected.

Now if only I was actually sleeping in my own bed, I could appreciate it to its full extent!   Paul and I vacated our bedroom a month ago as I was getting tired of feeding young Lucas every 2 or 3 hours overnight and instead of moving him to his room and risk his protests waking our two year old, Paul and I moved to his room.  Over the last week he's reduced to only waking once a night and last night actually slept right through, so fingers crossed that continues and we'll perhaps have our own room back next weekend...

Friday, 26 October 2012

Dining Room

The stretcher bars for my Marimekko fabric arrived at the art supplies store earlier this week (I had to order the sizes I wanted as they didn't have them in stock).  I purchased the fabric from Kiitos and pine stretcher bars from Zart.

About half an hour with a staple gun and - vwallah! some colourful artwork for the Dining Room.

Of course, I forgot to buy some wire and eyelets from the art store so it's only leaning on the wall niche at the moment.  Who knows when I'll actually get round to hanging it (although I quite like it low so it's at eye level when seated at the table).  Also, I believe it's meant to hang in the other direction (i.e. purple stripe running vertically down the left) but given our niche is wider than it is higher, I like the direction running horizontally.

Paul had this lovely vintage Danish rosewood dining table when I moved into his apartment, and it fit the space well there, as well as his previous house, but is a little too small for our present dining space.  It is extendable but would you believe it, is too long when extended.  We plan to get a 2m x 1m table sometime in future.  As lovely as rosewood is, it does dry out quite easily and I don't love the smell of Linseed oil, so we'll probably choose something different.  We bought the vintage Rosewood chairs to match the table a couple of years ago (both the table and chairs are from Danish Vintage Modern in Adelaide) and I can't bear to part with them - it will be hard enough to lose the table - so we're thinking maybe a timber colour that will contrast the chairs.  Anyway, that's a purchase for another day...quite a fair distance into the future I imagine.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Getting Crafty

Inspired by my sister in law, who pinned the following rug on Pinterest, I decided to join her in taking up crotchet!  I haven't done anything crafty since school and for someone who is in a very technical profession it's a little out of character for me, but I guess there's a need to be creative in some capacity!  Or maybe it's the soothing methodical nature of doing something repetitive?

Source: Meet Me at Mikes

In any case, a quick trip to Lincraft to pick up a crotchet hook (or 4!), some wool and a 'Learn to Crotchet' booklet, I was on my way...or so I thought.

My first stumbling block turned out to be the fact that I'm left handed.  So following little illustrations in a book had me all confused trying to do things backwards (the book suggested left-handers look at the pictures in the mirror - would it really have hurt them to print alternative pictures for the 4 or 5 they had drawn?! - [cue a lifetime of 'lefty' rage])

So with some frustration I turned to YouTube...and discovered a wealth of left handed crotchet tutorials.  I love it - the web has everything you could think of!  It only took me about half an hour and I had the makings of my first granny square.  I decided to do it in a 'solid square' pattern rather than the typical granny square as this will mean there'll be less holes in the blanket for my little boys to get fingers and toes caught in (those of you grew up with crotchet rugs on the couch will know what I mean!)

Here's my first attempt.  I don't have the joining corner right - it's taken me until my fourth square to work out which chain to pick up to complete each row (at 5 rows apiece that's 20 times before I got it right - not counting the amount of times I pulled the rows out and tried again!).  Practise makes perfect - only about another 100 or so squares to go before I have enough for a throw to adorn the couch!

My first crotchet solid granny square

I'm thinking of making a chevron throw also as I have the patterns for the following two pictured.   (Other than the colour, the main difference is whether to have decorative holes in the zig zag point, and the thickness of the wool):

Which brings me to my second stumbling block.  After following the American woman on YouTube for my first crotchet attempt and then using a Patons branded pattern for the chevron throw I discovered (after much head scratching and reading, and re-reading and studying diagrams with much intense, eye-squintingly up-close scrutiny) that US and UK crotchet stitches are named differently.  Not just that, but worse they use the same name for different stitches!  I'd been happily 'double crotcheting' the solid granny square, and when trying to learn how to 'treble' crotchet for the chevron throw, found the book to be showing me a double crotchet stitch...?!  A quick text message to my sister in law and she confirmed that US 'double' crotchet stitch is the same as a UK/Aus 'treble' crotchet stitch.  Good - no new stitches to learn then!

I've done the first two rows of the chevron throw to confirm I can follow the pattern and it turns out it's not hard at all!  Speed will come with time I'm sure.  In the meantime, back to my granny squares to perfect my tension and joining rows...and complete one project before getting distracted by another!

Speaking of distraction; man I'd love to crotchet the following rug from Aura...now there's something to aspire to!
Aura Home crotchet throw in aqua

Source: Domayne Online

Source: Aura home on Facebook

Friday, 12 October 2012


After what feels like an eternity, we finally have a driveway!  Oh, and a huge mound of dirt...

Our landscape plan has a 20,000 litre rainwater tank buried in our front yard, so the pre-work for this future item was to re-route the stormwater runoff from the present location on the garage boundary, underneath the new driveway to the opposite side of the block.

Here's a good tip - get your landscape plan done before you sign off on your final house plans.  I know those who build in new estates are required to do this for developer approval, but in an existing area knockdown/rebuild project it isn't a requirement.  If we had done so however, I could have asked the builder to have the stormwater exit the property on the South side in the first place and saved us $2k.  

Anyway, hindsight is a wonderful thing and the cost of moving our driveway location to the opposite side of the property goes up yet again!

The concreter will be back in a few days to seal the driveway (exact day depending on weather in the next few days) and also to prepare formwork for the new crossover and reinstate the old driveway to kerb and nature strip.

Now we need to save our $$ so the tank can go in as soon as possible, as we plan to dispose of the dirt from the driveway excavation and tank excavation in one go to save paying for equipment hire twice.  Also, our stormwater won't get reconnected to the street until then and will wash dirt over the footpath with every downpour.  I don't fancy enduring the task of sweeping that off for very long...!

Trench for stormwater - 'old' pipe removed

Telephone, Water & Electricity lead-ins uncovered
(and landscaper has marked on our plan)
New stormwater - graded to run in the opposite direction to that laid by the builder 

Pins drilled into front portico slab

Pins drilled into garage slab

Driveway after concrete poured

Before aggregate blasting

Final product (still wet)

Formwork to allow aggregate to be flush with future portico paving

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Side Tables for the Family Room

A couple of weeks ago, and for the first time since having baby number 2 four months ago, we hit the shops for a little eye candy session. Our destination was a handful of vintage furniture stores in Fitzroy.

First stop was Angelucci 20th Century to check out their slimline sofas (not that we have budget any time soon, but I wanted to work out sizing for our room and get a cost estimate so we at least have a savings target.  There's so much in this store I'd love to purchase, but that's half the fun isn't it - collecting items over a period of time?

The Design Files recently posted an article showing owner Dean Angelucci and designer Lisa Gorman's home - more eye candy!  If I owned a store such as his, I'd find it incredibly hard not to clutter up my house with finds from every new shipment of furniture!  No idea how he keeps it so minimalist!

Next stop was the Modern Times Pop Up Shop a few blocks down. I've been eyeing off some teak nesting tables on their website for some time now and they still had them for sale, and reduced by $150 and so I simply couldn't leave the shop without them!

Our new old tables in their new home

I also have a couple of mini projects on the go. I'm painting a laminated filing drawer cabinet to go in the study.  It's very functional being two large lateral filing drawers, but it's currently an orange beech laminate which I'm not fond of and so I figured I'd paint it white.  So far I've primed it with a laminate primer and plan to give it a topcoat or two this coming weekend.

The other project is to frame some Marimekko fabric to hang as art in the Dining Room.  Until we get the funds to purchase a piece, a cheap and colourful option is to hang some fabric.  I purchased it online last week and now just have to get to an art supplies store to buy some spacer bars to mount it.  The electrician will be here to hang the pendant in the Dining room tomorrow so I'll post pics later this week.  In the meantime, here's a mockup of what it will (vaguely!) look like:

Monday, 10 September 2012

Bedhead Purchase

I have long wanted a tufted headboard for the master bedroom, after years of only having a mattress and base and pillows to decorate.  My favourite has been The Richmond from Heatherly Designs, but at around $1000 was a little out of my price range.

The Richmond
Heatherly Designs

I had therefore resigned myself to making my own bedhead after seeing DIY instructions on another blog (http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2010/01/diy-simple-tufted-headboard/) but then last week, up popped an affordable solution!

For those who haven't come across it before, Temple & Webster is an online store that source various homewares and offer them at discount prices on the website for a limited period (subscription is free).  Last week they were selling headboards and this is my purchase.  At just over $400 (plus $30 odd in shipping) it's not far off what it would have cost me to make my own (minus the frustration and potential novice look!)

I am looking forward to receiving it sometime in the next 2-4 weeks.  Photos in situ to come!

P.S. Sorry for the 2 blank posts last week, I left Blogger open on the iPad and my 2 year old couldn't resist those big orange buttons for 'new post' and 'publish'!

Blogging: anyone can do it! ;)

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Hunt for a Chevron Rug

Inspired by the photo below from Houzz.com, which has our Nelson pendant light, I have been trying to find a black and white (or ivory) chevron rug for our family room and have found rug stores in Melbourne (apart from the really expensive ones in High St) seriously lacking in patterned rugs.  Although admittedly, I've mostly been trying to find one online to save running around (having 2 boys under 2 is a massive constraint in trying to get around the shops!).

I have found the following rugs on US websites but I don't think they'll ship rugs to Australia, particularly in the size I want - at least 2m x 3m.  I'm not sure whether it's a size/weight thing or a restricted import item.  West Elm ship to Oz but won't ship the rug I want, but I don't think the price is competitive outside Australia anyway.  Coincidentally I read they are opening their first store outside the US in Sydney next year, so perhaps I'll wait until then.

Home Value Chevron Rug - Rugs USA

Milliken Chevron Rug - Rugs USA

Alexa Hand Tufted Wool Chevron Rug - Overstock.com

ZigZag Rug - West Elm

Has anyone seen a large black and white chevron rug in an Australian store that they can point me in the direction of?...

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Kitchen

I have a love-hate relationship with my new kitchen.

I love that it's new
I love all the space
I love the white benchtop and white splashback, the workmanship and placement of the benchtop joins and that the splashback is one long single piece of glass along the back
I love my new appliances (which we installed after handover)
I love the butlers pantry and all the storage it affords me!

I'm ok with the laminate colour I chose, but I would have preferred glossy white below and natural looking timber with a horizontal grain for the overheads and back of the island bench.  Unfortunately the budget wouldn't allow it and I couldn't choose a Laminex colour of the natural timber colours without seeing it against the expanse of the spotted gum floor.

I'm ok with it, but would have preferred an integrated rangehood, but M wouldn't allow it if supplying our own rangehood (for reasons I understand - cabinetry customisation and all that).  Overhead cupboards weren't standard in our house design, but were included as part of the promotion when we purchased the house.  In hindsight I should have ask for these to be credited and installed our own overhead cupboards with an integrated rangehood after handover.

I'm ok with the island bench depth, but would have preferred a deeper benchtop to the island (so you could actually sit under it rather than forced to drink your coffee leaning over it), but M's drafting department refused to allow it, even though they did it in the display home.  As it turns out, the bench overhang is only 18cm and there is another 13.5cm to the edge of the wall without the benchtop protruding into the hallway, so I don't understand why they said they couldn't make it wider.

13.5cm of space where we should have been allowed to extend the bench overhang

I hate the 'soft close' drawers. We spent $1245 for this privilege and I've had them before in my previous kitchen and loved them.  However, in my current kitchen these are the worst effort at soft close drawers I've ever experienced.  They click and don't close without a proper shove and the drawers are wobbly so all the contents rattle around when you open and close them.  If I'd known the mechanisms weren't going to be a recognised brand (e.g Blum, Haefele, etc.) I wouldn't have paid for the upgrade.

I hate the overhead cupboard doors that are different sizes and knock together when you close them.
The misaligned cupboards and drawers aren't that obvious to look at - it's not so much the aesthetics of this that's an issue - it's the fact that the misalignment causes them to knock together and not run smoothly.

Our Construction Manager wasn't happy with the kitchen either and the SS had to get them back 3 times to adjust the cupboards and drawers (alas to no avail).  They said it's the best they could do and what to expect when we they weren't the top of the range mechanisms.  Really would have been nice to know there were different options!  But hate to see what they would have cost if $1200+ gets you what we got!

Example of drawer front that isn't straight

I hate that I spent an additional $880 for 4 sets of pot drawers to replace standard cupboards and they're only 430mm deep (when they have 580mm of cavity to work with - and even the one drawer to the right of the oven where the gas pipe is could have at least been made to 450mm, as per the contract specification).  Why one drawer bank has to force all the others to be short, I can't fathom the justification other than cost to the manufacturer or builder.  They don't fit any standard drawer inserts (like cutlery trays and spice racks, bins, etc.)  I checked and all the M display homes are this short, so there was no point raising it as an issue.

I hate that the pot drawers don't fully extend.  Almost 10cm of the already short 43cm drawer is inaccessible to pull pots and dishes out of without first moving items from the 'front row'.

I hate that the kitchen supplier installed the handles centred in the middle of the drawers.  They are hard to pull open from the middle rather than the top and the bin drawer in particular looks odd not being aligned to the cupboard handles either side.  I've mentioned this in previous posts that I requested them centred and top aligned in the Selections appointment, but missed the fact that in the final spec the consultant had only stated 'centred' and didn't specify horizontal or vertical positioning.  My bad for not noticing the oversight!  Although I think the paperwork should have tick boxes rather than just a free field of 'Alignment' so I could have noticed the omission and the installer didn't have to make up his own mind on the placement.  I checked the display homes and most are top aligned drawers, but a couple were centred.

Lack of handle alignment

And lastly, a bit of dodgy workmanship that we missed during PCI, which I'll report for the 3 month warranty inspection: one of the powerpoints on the splashback isn't screwed into the backplate on one side and is wobbly (and showing a gap).  Shouldn't be too hard to fix I hope!

Well, nothing's ever perfect is it?  And it's probably also the fact that I had a custom made kitchen in my last place that I loved and have as a point of comparison.  So perhaps I can feel justified to splurge on a kitchen remodel in 5 or so years time...hmmmm, maybe...

Friday, 17 August 2012

Family Room Purchase

Unbeknownst to me Paul had been watching an item on eBay last week and successfully won the bid.  It's a 60s teak shadow box to hang on the wall in the Family Room.  I love it (just as well, eh?!).  We are yet to hang it in the wall so here's the pics from eBay:

I've been inspired by some recent blogs on indoor hanging plants - example:

Planters by Farrahsit

and am thinking that I might mount these Ikea ceramic holders on the wall next to the teak shadow box.  It's a North facing room so should get enough light to support the indoor plants. We'll see how it goes!
Ikea Asker container

I'm also coveting a black and white chevron rug for this room, but so far have only managed to find a black and stone colour from Bayliss rugs.  The Ikea Stockholm rug is my other consideration for the interim (whilst trying to save some pennies!)

Bayliss Flatweave Chevron rug in Black & Stone

Ikea Stockholm Rug

Concept board for the Family Room below - at this stage anyway...!  It may change if/when we have the money to do anything about it!

So far, the lights are installed, Coburn picture hung and Teak shadow box purchased.
Still to come: the Nelson slimline sofas (2 x 3 seaters), the chevron rug, teak coffee table, Ikea containers...and the jury is still out on the red Swan chair...

Also debating whether to put a Danish sideboard in this room or the Dining Room.  If this room, I may consider just one sofa and two matching chairs rather than two sofas (so you can actually see the sideboard!)