Time to sell Harry’s Money Pit?

We may or may not have just signed a contract with our real estate agents to sell our home. Not sure what we’ll get for her, but the photos are looking pretty awesome and I’ve finally painted most of the woodwork. It took me FOREVER to do and my poor dodgy upper back is really feeling the pinch.

We had some professional shots taken and I’m pretty pleased with most of them, although there were a few in which seriously some of the crap could have been moved out of shot. I’ve seriously been feeling rather overwhelmed this week and the house cleaners didn’t do a very thorough job, so I was left trying to complete all the cleaning and clearing. Not very happy Jan.

Here are the new images of the house; I hope you enjoy them! And no, we’ve not bought another house yet…

Staying home with the Rona

The Rona has been playing havoc with our lives, at least for everyone who isn’t me. As a work from home self-employed academic and author, it makes little to no difference to my day, and it has been quite nice not to go out at night – and I usually have to force myself to go to the shops in normal climes. So here I am, trying to think of ways to keep busy now that my teaching has finished for the semester and I’m at home with the doggoes.

2018 and 19 was pretty good for us, renovation-wise. We installed a new front porch and gorgeous yellow door with pretty side lights, we installed an automatic garage door and gate, and did some painting on the exterior – just the face to the side fences. As you can see, Harry’s home looks so cute now! With all the original gables intact it looks a lot like a modern Hamptons-style house. It’s not: it’s a classic Ashgrovian Queenslander, built about 100 years ago, with the entryway originally at the side (still there). The gable on the right we estimate was added in the 50s, and thank goodness the gable design was continued because there are lots of similar extensions we’ve seen with a flat or gently sloping roof, and they don’t provide enough head height to be legal bedrooms.

The fence we installed 8 years ago is starting to lean and we’re thinking of replacing it with a more sturdy stone and aluminium style. The stone will sit along the base of the fence (in truth it will probably be bessa brick – cinderblock – with a stone face) and the aluminium pickets and posts will look pretty much like what’s already on the fence but without the need to paint it every three years. I really like the look of this new home and fence that is near our place:

Our entryway is sweet but it has a rather ugly concrete plinth that I’d like to cover in square grey cobblestones – we have lots of garden planning to do even though I said a few years ago the front is done. It is not, but we’re waiting either for fortunes to change or to finish our long-awaited extension.

Inside we’ve done a lot of work, although it doesn’t really seem like much now that 2 years has passed. We installed an upstairs laundry – given our laundry was under the house, all dusty and horrible, this has been an absolute blessing. Hubby has taken over the washing, I think because he just enjoys doing it so much that it’s all mostly dirt free! I added a touch of colourful tile bling for fun, and I feel like this can do double duty as a drinks section. It’s an open laundry that leads to the bathroom and 4th bedroom, so I wanted it to look swanky. And yes, it always looks this clean as there are only 2 of us. 😉

We switched around the bathroom and a bedroom, and we now have a fully working 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom home. Our family bathroom – in a country Art Deco style – is the cutest thing ever (I swear I had better staged photos than these):

This bathroom is lovely and light filled (not that my phone can cope with all the light – it tends to underexpose the natural light in this room!). There are a couple of things I would have changed if the products had been available: I would have put in a different vanity, and stained the shelves a lighter colour. The vanity I bought was the only one at the time available with a wooden top, and I’m not in love with the heaviness of it. Last year, long after we had installed this piece, I found a different supplier of vanities that had a brand that would have looked much nicer, but I don’t care enough to swap it out (plus, it’s expensive to do this and those tiles are in short supply!).

The last room to be completed was the small guest bedroom (it easily fits a double bed but not much storage) and I swear I’ll hang the last painting over the bed very soon:

Unfortunately this room gets SUPER hot in summer. I’m not quite ready to install the side shades due to the wishing and hoping renovations, as I want a striped navy/white electric retractable awning series covering all windows on the western side, and this area is not yet at the Definitely Done stage to do that.

In all the other spaces we’ve just been painting or finishing off some long overdue maintenance:

My study desk is not affixed to anything, so that we can repurpose the room into a bedroom down the track for selling purposes. It’s not ideal as the desk is a little too high: it rests on the bookcases which sit just above the ideal height for a short-legged-person’s desk. And with all of those screens (yes, I use them ALL) I can’t get a standing desk just yet. Another thing that needs some work.

In the new entryway we swapped out a cute vintage 30s yellow glass shade for a bright white 20s vintage shade: it works better with all the bright white and colours, and that sweet abstract painting and the chair are now in my home office – I’ve put plants where the chair used to be. I have a thing for aqua and teal right now, and my study is a riot of blues and whites and wood. I dare not show you the “storage” area behind the photo as it’s a bit of a disaster! There are 2 bookcases and a cello and a covered keyboard and lots of books and supplies for work; they all need proper storage. I have dreams of building in a decent storage and shelving unit but we keep putting it off, due to the aforementioned wishing and hoping renovations.

The spare bedroom has of March this year become quite an important study for hubby – he, like most of the world, has had to work from home. Luckily, his industry enabled him to do that (we’re both academics). I’ve based the styling around the Gillie and Mark painting we bought a few years ago – these colours are very “in” right now, and they’re nice and masculine, perfect for hubby’s home office.

That rather scrummy leather chair from West Elm was never intended to be sat in 8 hours a day! It’s not very comfortable for long haul work weeks, but it looks good!

The master suite looks the same as it ever did: the ceiling needs a paint but other than that there’s not much to report, except I’ve gone mad for deep blues and soft greens in this room: warm dark blues in winter, and their lighter companions in summer. I’m not yet ready to abandon these colours and I’m not overly fond of the new terracottas and pinks and peaches that have flooded my instagram of late: when you live in terrible heat and humidity 80% of the year, you need some cooling vibes to bathe in at night!

The lounge room has had a bit of a makeover – we bought some vintage mid century chairs in a bright orange and they just look fabulous. Our red room is now a jewel of rich colours:

We’ve changed out the gorgeous Nellie Marks painting over the couch for a commissioned Bromley: Nellie has taken pride of place in the entry, except of course now I have to rethink the rug colour: SIGH.

And our kitchen is the same as it ever was: people seem to like its slightly industrial Melbourne vibe but I’m just getting really annoyed with it now: the oven cavity traps the heat, there’s no extractor fan so all the open shelves and their contents get greasy, there’s no natural light and it’s a tiny, tiny space to try and work in. But we recently replaced the old ceiling light with these new industrial/country lamps and it all seems to work really well! You can see how much stuff we have to store on the shelves: there’s no storage in this house!

As you can see from the photos: I’m no minimalist. I wish I knew how to pare my world back just a bit, but every time I do, my eye gets distressed and I have to decorate more richly than my hubby or even I would prefer. The worst part of being a maximalist is the dusting, of course….;)

So why has it taken me two years to post? Well, I’d begun a heap of posts, but somehow I just got sidetracked with work. I’ve taken lots of photos of the renovations as they happened but once they’re finished it’s a bit of a chore to upload “in the moment” shots long after the fact. Also, I’m writing this on my computer rather than my phone, for what I hope are obvious reasons, and I’d forgotten my log in and password, and then I have to SEND my phone photos to myself and… and… and… you get the drift. Also at about the same time I discovered Instagram. And suddenly the blog seemed all a bit too hard.

But I’ve done myself a solid, found my password and username, and here I am. Because, in truth, I really want one of two things: either we sell Harry’s Money Pit and move to a house that’s already completed, one that’s a bit better organised, with 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a workshop, a landscaped garden and pool, or we try and complete the renovations here. I’ve already talked about how I’d like a new family room and kitchen and back deck, but in order to make this house a viable selling proposition down the track, I need to think about adding a bedroom, rumpus, bathroom and workshop downstairs, to make this house a truly 5-bedroom home. And even though it’s June here right now and nice and cool, I really would love a lap pool for when it gets hot here, which is September to April. It might just be better to sell and buy fresh. We have a healthy savings balance now, and the bank would probably lend us quite a bit of money, but I can’t imagine how much all of that would cost, and I’m scared to ask!

So now that I’ve no more excuses, I’ll be posting more regularly in the blog, so that you can see my world and how we live in it, and I’ll update you on my house plans as they happen.

Cheerio!

It’s the little things

We’ve been granted the world’s longest mortgage to extend and renovate Harry’s Money Pit! Huzzah. Now there’s a whole lotta money in the bank burning the world’s biggest hole in my pocket while we plan our big renovations. In the meantime, we’re getting a few “little things” done around the house to make our lives just that little bit easier.

Firstly: I’ve ordered a new automated garage tilt door and automated gate opener. These are from Doors Direct, and we’ve ordered a timber-batten version like the image below, because we’ve decided we can’t afford, nor really need, to build under the house:

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Once painted it will look a treat, although I haven’t yet received the quote (but they were totally on it! Might only take a week to make and install, given their speed of service thus far). For the last 5 years we’ve been getting out of our cars, opening the front gate and garage door by hand, driving in or reversing out of the garage, then doing it all again. Time to save a bit of time. We live on a busy street and need privacy, security and dog protection, hence the fence and gate and garage door ballet that is our life (sometimes we just park our car round the corner because doing this 3 times a day gets old fast).

The other thing we’re doing right now is ordering plantation shutters for the bedroom and front room. I’m not a fan of curtains in our hot, humid climate, where material smells/fades/gets mouldy. And this is a thing we’d promised ourselves once I’d finished painting the bedroom. Well, I haven’t finished painting the bedroom, but this sure as hell will put the boot in my butt to get this done! They’re coming over next week, and it’ll be fun working out how many we’ll need, as we have banks of windows in each room. Are these counted as singular or grouped?

plantation shutters the blind space

We’re also getting quotes on the house painting of the exterior: the guys doing the job next door (who are doing a BEAUTIFUL job), are coming over tomorrow to chat. Of course, they can’t do much until we get the various outside bits done that need doing.

OH! And we’re ordering air-con for the bedroom and studio. I’ve had it with humid summers. And I don’t think I can get through another summer without some kind of night-time drying system. (I’ve found out that instead of using the “cool” setting, if I use the “dry” setting on the air con, the temperature setting can be higher and still feel just as cool as the “cool” setting, saving us moolah.) So of course we’re putting in solar. What with these dry winters and hotter-than-average-temperature summers, it makes sense to take pressure off the grid, and reduce our bills at the same time, while still enjoying some cool inside air.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll order some new ceiling fans and inset ceiling lights for the bedrooms and lounge. Maybe.

It’s the little things…

OMG. The bank just gave us some renovation money.

After 6 years, a mini renovation and more trips to Bunnings than I can count, it is done. We have been lent the funds to renovate our house.

Aaaaahhhh$#(%*&)@(#%&9ut18u6[0iqkmv0986i5$$$$#@&%$#$#*%# !

(That, if you will, is an image of me running about the house with my shirt over my head)

We have yet to determine how much, and Mr Bank Man is working out the details, but he has offered us enough money for us to definitely add the new kitchen, living and deck extension. With a squeeze we might be able to manage the garage and a poured concrete slab behind the garage for an extra room, laundry and half-bath downstairs. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Of course, it also all depends on whether Mr Bank Man thinks we can pay off the loan, too. Not a problem. We got this.

Ooh, I can’t hardly wait!

 

Other June Activities

Hubby went overseas for a time in June, and I spent his absence doing some things. The back yard has remained mostly tidy after our mammoth demolition day, although it now resembles a mud pit due to the stupid amounts of rain we received this week.

In the meantime, we had also cleaned out all the rubbish crap under the house and now we’re left with just the crap from our former lives. Now that I’ve finally sent off my taxes (I know, I know, 3 years late), I’m going to get stuck into the various Jesus rooms, and rid ourselves of all the stuff that can be sold on Gumtree. (Australian eBay, it’s a kind of garage sale for those who sell stuff from time to time.) Hubby and I were both married before, and I have lots of stuff during my time as a single parent that I need to organise, while we each have heaps of old paperwork in massive plastic boxes to clear out.

However, I’ve actually done a few little things to make our lives easier. Firstly, I bought that Wagner paint sprayer, and while it’s not at all perfect, it certainly made my life painting the ceilings a lot easier. I’ve painted the spare room ceiling, which means the room is now nearly entirely finished bar a beautiful Indigenous art work and a couple of round mirrors I left in Melbourne:

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I painted the bookcase you see there a fresh white gloss enamel and covered the back in a rather divine, if rather floral, wallpaper I bought from Bunnings. Mind you I used PVA glue to attach it because I was too impatient to return to the shop to buy the forgotten wallpaper glue so there’s seriously no going back!

I also (you may have espied), COLOUR CODED the books. Yes. I hang my head in shame. I can see why it works so well in these spaces. I apologise to all who I have previously dissed in the past.

I also did some furniture restoration. This was great fun, and I learned a bunch of new skills too. I re-upholstered a drop-in seat with some beautiful blue cloth, and repaired and painted the small chest below. It was in pretty terrible condition, but after some repairs to the back and a new leg, some sanding, paint, and new drawer pulls, I’m very happy with the end result, even though the bottom drawer doesn’t open (because NOTHING was square)!

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I painted the ceiling in the hall, not that one can tell as there is zero lighting in the hall. And I have finished painting the lounge room and entryway. Huzzah! Our lounge room now looks bright and clean, and the ceiling is a whole lot cleaner now that it has had a full coat of bright white paint:

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I love Australian Indigenous art, and the wall painting is “My Country” by Nellie Marks Nakamurra. Our rather dilapidated 17-year old couch is from Freedom (originally cost me $3000 back in 2000, now a new one costs: $3000. If that.). It needs a good oil and spruce but the leather is finally starting to split in parts, and I’m SO looking forward to saving up for a new one! The cushions on the left next to the vintage lamp are from West Elm, the old tapestry one on the right from Laura Ashley and the fishy one from C.A.M.

It’s now August and rather warm, and I’ve not yet talked about July yet, so I’ll publish another post very soon.

To those in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you’re enjoying the last of summer! And to my southern hemisphere friends, I hope the winter has been mild and wet, because I feel an El Nino coming on!

 

In which I report on things I’ve done in the garden

June has been a productive month. Yep. Done some things. If I can ever get my phone to upload the thousands of photos I’ve taken of the many fabulous things I’ve done, then I’ll show you.

In the meantime, let me begin with a recounting of the weekend hubby and I spent cutting down weed trees. On a Saturday before hubby had to head overseas, I took it upon myself to insist we clean up the back yard. Hubby was not too happy about this, saying that I often make a proclamation about cleaning up the yard which he then goes and does while I sit around inside. It’s actually true. But it’s because he just goes and does it and forgets to inform me.  And it’s usually terribly hot. So this particular weekend I took it upon myself to change our behaviour*.        *my behaviour

We hired a ute (which I drove because I intend to get me a ute eventually, Mazda BT-50 King Cab with tray, midnight blue, thanks for asking), and I bought a chainsaw. Which I now know how to manage, including how to tighten the chain, how to clean and fill the thing, and that I can’t start it from cold: I don’t have explosive arm power, even though I’m probably stronger than hubby. Cut down a bunch of trees and took a bunch of stuff to the tip, which has a recycling section as well as plant material sections.

Hubby then mowed the lawn (because I have to give him a little task to do every now and again). Our backyard looks all of a sudden quite clean and tidy. 2017-05-29 15.16.34

Of course, it’s been raining and horrible this week (quite unlike SE Queensland in Winter, which is normally dry season and gorgeous) so no more garden work has been done, but can you see the delightful (not) prison wall has now been transformed into a sexy aubergine-coloured wall? Bought that Wagner paint sprayer I mentioned and painted the wall. Took 20 litres of paint. I did it myself, and hubby held the ladder.

Here’s a pic before, and after:

I’m going to plant two climbers on this full-sun purple wall: Orange trumpet creeper, and of course a passionfruit vine:

orange trumpet closeupOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApassion-fruit-vinepassionfruit

Can you imagine that orange creeper against the purple wall? Gorgeous!

Now that we’ve painted and cleared away most of the back wall area, there’s no real excuse not to start planting out the rear of the garden. We’ve got to poison and remove some weed plants including invasive Chinese Elm, and that yellow New Zealand tree, and the camphor laurel on the left which has decided to pop up again. Then we’ll hire a guy with a bob cat to churn up the earth near the wall, and plant a bunch of things.

 

In which I make decisions on What To Do.

A few months ago I was complaining to you about the overwhelming number of tasks required to get our house and garden into ship-shape order.

Well, I’m actually looking forward to the next six months. My inside jobs are tedious but I’ve made a little decision about the painting work: I’m buying a spray gun contraption. Yep, I’ve spat the dummy where our ceilings are concerned and I’m going to spend some of my birthday money on a paint spray gun. Yay!! Of course, this means I’ll be painting ALL the things, including our kitchen/dining room, entryway, the Jesus bathroom, and internal storage rooms.

Before I do this however, I need to finish cleaning the Jesus room. I’m nearly there: I’ve offloaded my old desk to my daughter; I’m most of the way through my tax and I’m about to have a massive clean-out of old, unnecessary paperwork. Then it will get a furniture re-arrange, and possibly some new window guards to block that hideous summer sun that essentially blows the heat in our house up from a reasonable 26 degrees centigrade to a hideous 34.

Tomorrow I have an old mate coming round to quote me on some outdoor projects, including a fox-proof chicken run. The chooks are looking like they were attacked by foxes last night. No deaths yet, thank goodness, because I haven’t cut their wings recently and I don’t shut them up. Hence they were able to escape. But there are feathers everywhere, including in the nesting box, and one of the girls is looking very odd and scruffy, while another has lost some of her tail feathers. They’re a bit jumpy today. The visit by old mate has actually been planned for a while, so I hope my girls don’t cark it before they have a chance to live in safety!

We’re planning build a coop that will be affixed to our huge concrete wall. This means I will have to PAINT said wall prior to the affixing. Hence, Paint Spray Gun. That wall is BIG, y’all!

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The chickens are going to get the REAL Taj Mahal of chicken runs. We will build a structure on the back wall to the right which will start at nearly 3m high, and drop to about 2m. The width of the run will be 3 metres, and the length about 4 metres. That’s a proper room size. A small bedroom for humans. A dog house, even. The roof will be classic tin, with hardwood timber posts concreted into a shallow channel that runs all the way round the coop, possibly on a small brick base. I want the chooks to have natural dirt beneath their feet, especially if we’re away for several days and they need to stay locked up. The whole construction will be a simple tin and wood one, with sturdy steel mesh that’s better than the crap stuff currently stapled into their balsa-wood coop. A locking door at the front, and their original coop secreted inside, with enough space inside the run for me to clean it, and I think we’re done here!

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I’m rather tempted to paint the run and make it pretty like this one here…! And perhaps I’ll get me a lovely treadle feeder that will be sturdier than the last one I bought, which was, sad to say, a complete failure.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

 

 

House and home photos 

So, friends. Herein lies the problem. My MacBook Pro was recently upgraded and now iPhoto doesn’t seem to want to upload all my iPhone photos. Which means I have to do my blogging from my iPhone if I want to show you pretty things I’ve done this year! Which, for an all thumbs typist (I kid you not, I’m only using my thumbs), is slow going. Anyway, I want to show you some of the things I’m working on. 

First up is the spare room. Yass. My daughter moved out. And now her room is light and bright!


I painted the walls with 3 coats of Dulux Vivid White and the woodwork with a coat of Dulux Natural White Enamel. We bought the double bed from Forty Winks as it was on sale, and I dressed the bed with linen and cushions I’ve owned for a trillion years. Laura Ashley, Freedom Furniture, and Adairs, I think. The curtains and lamp are IKEA and the chair is one my mum restored. I also cleaned up the crappy fan with a new shade, some coats of white satin spray paint and a quick glueing to repair it. Next, I’m going to create a mirror wall with some found mirrors from vintage stores and under the house:


Added to these beauties are some rectangular wooden mirrors I’ve renovated and cleaned up. However I’ll have to hold off on any more spending because my son is getting married in a month and April is looking expensive, y’all! I really want to do a basic woodworking course but I can’t afford it right now, so all my restoration projects under the house will have to wait until after May.

I don’t know about you, but do you ever get overwhelmed by the list of home projects you need to do, and the order in which to do them? I do. And the weather here is not exactly cooling down, so my next interior project which involves de-moulding and then painting the family bathroom is beyond me right now.

And don’t get me started on the fox-proof chicken coop, the privacy planting on the eastern boundary, the repairs to our window hoods and decking, the plantation shutters for the main bedroom, the removal of the wall between the two teeny rooms from when we had a thousand children living here at once, the renovation of both the eastern and western wings… the list is endless! 

And until I pay the last of the school fees, none of this will happen. 

So I dream, and clean, and play with Poppy the pooch, and look to the day when all our debts are magically paid off (every time I pay off my credit card another purchase miraculously appears on it. And not teensy things. Oh, no. Overseas trips things.)

Happy March, everyone!