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:

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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! 

So it’s 4 months between posts.

Don’t judge me. It’s not that I haven’t been working on the house: it’s that I hightailed it to Melbourne as soon as my teaching year was over and spent a blissful six weeks just hanging with my homies. AKA my family. We actually like to hang out together. I know. Odd. (Also took the opportunity to redecorate the beachhouse for presents for mum and dad. Which now looks AWESOME.)

Anyhoo. So remember when last year I was moaning about the house being too noisy? Well it still is, but an amazing, wonderful thing happened. My daughter moved out. Yep. She and her partner were handed a house across town and she leapt at it. So she’s been gone since Australia Day/ Invasion Day and guess what I’ve been doing? !

Painting, y’all. Painting. While I wait for the agonisingly long time it’s taking for my iphone to upload its photos to my dear old, tired MacBook (now that’s a design story for another time), let me tell you what I’ve been up to these last few weeks.

At the time I was moaning and bitching about the noise, we got a bunch of real estate agents through to look at the house. Turns out we could get a good price for it, but there is an ever so slight correction in the overheated Australian property market and I think to suggest we’d make $1,000,000 on our little home (and land) is a bit of an overreach. And now we’ve had a bit of a mind change about wanting to sell, because life, the agents keep bugging me and I’ve had to ignore their calls.

And then I went away for a long, long time. So I’m back home, daughter’s out, and now WE HAVE A SPARE ROOM. In truth it’s not really a spare room because my step-daughter needs it, but she has to share with visitors now. Sorry not sorry.

So of course, being one to grab an opportunity when I see an empty room, I PAINTED it. And now it’s beautiful. I’ve complained before about the length of time and effort it takes to paint VJs, haven’t I? Suffice to say, once again hideous. But the result is stunning. The room is south facing, which in Australia means the cold side, but which in hot QLD means the comfortable side. I painted the walls with 3 coats of Dulux Vivid White, and finished the woodwork with 2 coats of Dulux Natural White Enamel. God it looks good. Then, and this is where I give myself the biggest pat on the back, I McGyver’d the ceiling fan. It was an old rattan-inset wooden-bladed thing. Dusty, a horrible cream colour, it had a horrible amber glass light shade and was ERGLY. Parts of the blades were coming apart because old, and really it needed to go. But we can’t afford to do that right now, because then there’s a whole thing with lights and electricity we need to deal with and we can’t afford it. So.

I spray painted it with 2 cans of British Paints White Satin Spray paint. I glued and clamped the dodgy fan blades back together, and replaced the light shade with a simple round white one from Beacon Lighting. Sometimes, I amaze even myself. The darned fan looks like new.

Then, and this is where it all gets a little bit exxie, I bought a double bed for the daughter-of-step (and visitors), and now we have a beautiful guest room decorated in shades of wood, white and blue. It looks amazing. I’m about to decorate with a mirror wall, (no, NOT that sort of mirror wall), in which all our old mirrors and some new ones will be artfully placed on one of the walls to give the impression of even more space in there. I’ve bought a bunch of cheap vintage mirrors in gold plaster frames, and we already have some regular wooden ones, so one whole wall will be devoted to this decorating extremism.

Also in my painting adventures, I finally painted the woodwork in our ensuite and WIR. While it was all given undercoats etc, I hadn’t quite gotten around to finishing it all off. So I used the hottest ever recorded months of January and February to do this. Because I’m a masochist. And because I like sweating into MY EYES. But the effort was worth it (of course).

The NEXT thing I did, because my daughter moved out and we gave her all the crappy stuff under the house we no longer wanted; well there’s this thing in Australia we have called the nonburnable rubbish collection (AKA the hard rubbish collection, AKA the “we collect your shit so you don’t have to take it to the rubbish dump” collection). Yep, you guessed it. I’ve been clearing out the basement. When I say basement, what I mean is the ground floor of the house that is open to the elements and only has timber battens protecting all the stuff from the weather, thieves etc. It gets wet, and dusty, and dirty and all the things are not really protected.

We offloaded 2 broken fridges, some old broken chairs, a bunch of old electronic equipment, heaps of broken Ikea shelves and stuff, and then I cleaned nearly all the corners under our house. And swept the concrete. And now I feel lighter and cleaner. It feels SO GOOD, y’all!

I have to reconfigure my workspaces under there (I have 2 workbenches: 2!), and clean up some more bits and pieces, but OH BOY was it good to finally do this.

So in the next few weeks, I’ll be painting the ghastly 2nd bathroom a fresh white, cleaning out and painting the Oh Jesus room, and painting the rest of the house interior. Only 5 rooms to go, and the entire ceiling.

Oh yeah. Remember how I fell off that ladder last year and had a cry? Well, we offloaded that old thing and bought a brand new 2.4m ladder with paint tray, and a trestle board. Imma painting the ceiling now. Even though I don’t want to.

Y’all, my iphone and MacBook have decided that uploading 700 photos all at once is a bit difficult, so I’m going to suggest you take a look at my Instagram account, @brivegashome and you’ll see all the great photos there of my house and such. Because it appears the world will end before I get to upload any pictures from my phone!

Have a great week and I’ll be posting more frequently now.

Cheerio!

Jess

Um. In which I confess our house is too noisy.

I think I’ve finally cracked it. I love love love our crazy house. I love its weird nooks and crannies, its period charm. I especially love my WIR and new ensuite bathroom. However, I reached the end of my rope recently when I returned home from an extended stay in my home state, where I had been sleeping in quiet bedrooms like a very happy baby. The traffic noise on our busy street just got to me.

DH and I are having trouble getting enough deep sleep, as our house, on a busy road, is made of wood and tin and has air cracks everywhere. Typical of a stilt home. We can’t get our bedroom quiet enough for a good sleep. So on the weekend I started looking in earnest at houses on quieter streets, with the requisite number of box rooms for our myriad children. I think I found one. It’s a mostly unrenovated Queenslander in very good condition, with a near-new (albeit dog ugly) kitchen, good sized back deck and three separate living spaces. Less backyard, but that’s not a drama. So this week is VERY OVERDUE TAX week. I have to do this to see how much I have earned, so that banks won’t look at me funny when I say, no, I’ve not done my tax in three years! (This is a distressing but typical thing that I do). Also, given that I have a company, I will be compiling SIX tax returns. Bad, bad me. But it must be done.

Because Harry’s Money Pit, beautiful and quirky that it is, is suddenly getting too noisy to manage. And a home needs to be a nest, a place of rest, and a sanctuary. With traffic roaring up and down the hill all day, this ol’ house is not the oasis of calm I need it to be.

If the banks (plural because we will schlepp, I can promise you) give us their blessing and their money, we will spruce up the exterior with a new paint job in that white and black thing I was talking about. We will replace all the window hoods with fresh new tin, and repair the back deck cover and put on a new UV rated perspex canopy, and fix one of the unrenovated side exterior walls. We will spruce up the interior with a fresh paint job on the ceilings and woodwork where needed, and insert a new wall in the Oh Jesus room.

In the garden we will get a proper gardener to come in and trim the two trees of overhang, and repair the turf at the rear, as well as clear the yard of detritus. We will pave both walkways down the sides of the house with cheap concrete pavers so the walkways are easy to access.

In the downstairs we will clear out most of the stuff and put it into a storage facility, or, if new house happens first, into the new house.

If we don’t move I’m tempted to do all this stuff anyway, blow the budget! It’s all needed.

 

 

That Tiny Home Thing.

Free-to-air TV programs on the lifestyle channel have been extolling the benefits of going tiny. In all honesty it seems like many of the clients are those down on their luck, who are downsizing because of money woes.

That being said. I kinda have a desire to get me an old bus, (all those windows, all that light!) and create my own travelling wagon. One that I could plonk on my own bit of dirt, and survey my kingdom. And the views. Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to leave civilisation behind and take up off-grid living. I would just like to live in a wee little home on weekends, preferably near the water, with my hubby and the dog. It’s a getaway thing.

Given that my home is rather visually colourful, my ideal tiny home would be Scandi-minimal. Besides, I really like clean design when it’s well-thought out. There’s an Australian company that creates tiny homes called The Tiny House Company (no surprises there!) and while their houses aren’t cheap, they are very beautiful. I want one:

tiny-home-1

This is an awesome tiny home, with tons of storage and very light-filled. It comes with a deck, too.

It’s like a weekend writing and reading nook with a bed, kitchen and bathroom attached! Want want want.

 

Exterior house paint colours

I’m loving a newly renovated wooden cottage round the corner from home this week, which has been painted the most delightful shade of sea green. Colours are hard for human eyes to reproduce away from the original, so the best I could come up with is this Benjamin Moore Sea Green:

paint-north-sea-green

(It’s a bit more grey.) With complementary white trim, and grey window shades and corrugated iron, it looks spectacular, dramatic and clean and a world away from the ubiquitous grey and white that has Australian homes in a stranglehold. I used to love grey and white. Now I think I prefer something else.

I’m not sure this colour will suit our house. I don’t want to be too conservative, but house colours can last for up to 30 years on the house, so one has to be prepared for a long-haul colour that won’t date too fast.

I’m liking the blue/green/grey combos such as Benjamin Moore Lucite Green:

paint-lucite-green

Matched with white trim, this colour is great. But without some depth, it can look wishy/washy. One of my favourite renovation shows is Masters of Flip, which shows in Australia on 9MSN. The colours chosen by the host are often fantastic, and I think this show is single-handedly responsible for my new-found love of rich exterior colours, such as this one below:

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Can you see this in a sea-green with white trim, grey and white window shade, and white valance? I’m excited about the possibilities.

It’s either that, or white and black!

In which I confess my Pinterest obsession. Again.

I’ve been having some seriously green moments of late. I’ve been scrolling through Pinterest with the fervour of a demented person, and I’ll have to take a break just to claim my sanity back.

I’ve been loving window seats and banquettes. This may have something to do with the brain wave I had about our planned kitchen/family room addition (sadly on the never-never plan, but a gal can dream). On the bottom right of the plan is the kitchen, which sits along the east boundary. The whole addition is 5 metres x 7.3 metres, which when added to the current room more than doubles the space. The butler’s pantry will be about 1.5 metres wide. The free-standing island bench will be about 3 metres long and about 1.2 metres deep. The kitchen wall will stretch the length of the space, giving us about 5 metres. Once the fridges and appliances are accounted for, there will be about 2 metres of inexplicable room at the end. What to do, what to do?

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My cunning plan is to put in a corner window seat. How ’bout that?! The architect and I had planned for doors to open onto a narrow deck on the south-east corner, but I have a better idea. We will move the doors (yet another repurposed set of French doors to the south west corner. Once again repurposing the kitchen windows (which are beautiful and original to the house), we will place them on the south-east corner and put a window seat underneath, to which I will add a recently purchased 1870 mahogany breakfast tilt-table. I think it will end up being the most popular spot in the house, and certainly the sunniest in the mornings. Huzzah!

This is what I think it might look like:

window seat

Yass.

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This is a version of the table I recently purchased:

Mahogany breakfast table

Tilt tables became popular with the rise of the middle class throughout England and America in the 1700s, and were used for conversation spaces where breakfast and afternoon tea were served. I envisage this table will evoke exactly the same feels. At least, it will make a lovely study space and Sunday-morning-paper-reading space.

It’s no surprise that the images I’ve shown also indicate the type of kitchen I want. As our house is nearly 100 years old, it has a country farm style, and I want to carry that through the kitchen, with Shaker cupboard faces, slightly retro fittings and finishes, and a wee touch of marble (NOT on the counters, because marble stains horribly. Perhaps marble subway tiles in a herringbone pattern on the backsplash).

In the meantime, though, I’m planning the studio addition to the house, which DH and I are hoping may be possible to add sometime next year. This will add valuable capital to the house, allow us to paint the exterior and move the entryway to the front. We will also add another family bathroom at this time. I had a great deal of success with our ensuite, and I know exactly the types of fittings and fixtures I want, as well as the tiles and general design. I’ll stick to the same basic palette of concrete-style floor tiles and extra large white tiles laid in a subway pattern I used in the ensuite, but I’m thinking about a pale blue Spanish tile as the feature:

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I’ll order the same light fittings, but I’ll choose a slightly different mirror. As for the vanity: well, it might be an off-the-rack job, depending on the size. I’ve also decided to add a bath under the shower. It might reduce the size of the room but my children will appreciate it!

 

Well, hello!

Oh my word, has it really been 2 months between blog posts? Well, sometimes life gets in the way.

It’s been 2 months since I fell off the ladder and I finally figured out why: the ladder is a bit crap, and the floor is uneven at just the spot that I fell down. When painting the second coat I discovered this and got my daughter to hold the ladder for the 2 minutes it took to paint that section. Then I got the hella off of that ladder. There are jobs I gave up attempting: I’ve given up trying to paint the ceiling. It’s nearly 11 foot high and I just can’t manage it without buying some serious scaffolding equipment. I’ll hire a professional painter. I’ve also (for the time being) given up trying to paint the windows and architraves. Not that I can’t: it’s just a messy business, what with sanding and filling and gapping and all that stuff and I just can’t bring myself to be bothered right now.

One needs a break from hard yakka.

On the fun side: I’ve been slowly upgrading our bedroom furnishings. Our bedroom is SO much more inviting now, and it still has 2 chairs, 2 bedside tables and 2 large chests-of-drawers in it, plus a queen-sized bed. I’ve added a Chinoiserie stool similar to this:

china stool

I bought that lovely dove-grey Belgium linen doona set I was coveting:

belgian linen doona

I paired it with a beautiful set of duck egg blue Sheridan sheets in 700-thread count Egyptian cotton (on sale, of course!). The picture below is actually of white sheets, but it’s appears about the right shade with a cursory glance.

sheets

The blue and grey complement each other very well. The grey could be paired with just about any colour as it is quite a neutral stone, but a blue themed bedroom (SO restful) is my preferred look.

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These photos were taken before purchase of new blue sheets.

In the next few posts I’ll show you some photos of my newly painted lounge-room, and the adventures I’ve been having with French-polishing. Adios for now!