Monday, February 24, 2014

Bathroom Renovation Inspiration

Following on from yesterday, when I showed you why bathroom is a dirty word around here at the moment (literally), I bring you a series of slightly less horrifying photos.

Before I start though, I'm going to show you the bathroom we actually use, before anyone misunderstands the situation and calls child services on me. This is the bathroom at Little House, although it's had a shower screen fitted since I took these photos hours after the renovation finished.


Ok, there's a few factors at play when it comes to deciding what the Big House bathroom will look like. Firstly, the main features of the room will be the windows and bathtub, because we already have them and they both demand attention.

The bathtub is an old clawfoot tub we unearthed from the garden on arrival here and plan to clean up. This is what it looks like. 

Mmmm, nothing says let's get clean more than a tub full of weeds, does it?

I have been contemplating what colour we'll paint the base of the tub and saw this matt black finish on Pinterest. I love the fact that it looks aged and quite achievable. Dan will be painting the tub himself, so achievable is good. Rustic is good.

Photo from here

Although, you know what other colour I'm strangely desiring? Can you guess? Apple green. That colour is infectious.

Photo from here.

The windows we'll use are these ones from Gumtree, which I've featured before.

This is what they look like when the sun shines through them, which will be often as they will face west. 

Have you noticed how bright they are? Because they are in your face bright. I love them, but I know everything else has to be pretty subtle to get away with them. These are feature windows if ever I saw them.

The windows will sit over the tub and be set up so you can slide them both open and look out at the view, which will look a bit like this. 

In terms of colour scheme, well, I'm thinking white wall and charcoal floor tiles much like the ones we used above in Little House. It's practical and durable and those big tiles are easy for my novice-tiler husband to install. 

I think we might follow the pack and go with the very-trendy subway tile with grey grout combo. Because dark grout hides a multitude of sins, in my opinion. Less time spent scrubbing grout can only be a good thing.

Photo from here.

Vanity-wise, we used a fairly contemporary one in Little House but I'd like to go a bit more classic in Big House. Something unassuming with clean lines, like this one from Ikea:

So that's where we're at, bathroom ideas wise. Loads of ideas and loads of work to do to implement them. 

This post was sponsored by Monier. To see their range of terracotta tiles and other roofing products, please follow the links!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bathroom Woes

What if your bathroom looked like this.

Say the shower had been pulled off the wall by your husband so he could attach the high pressure hose for use INSIDE the house (don't even get me started).

Say your rickety toilet, an afterthought built into the hottest corner of the back verandah, carried the scars of abandoned wasps nests. And they weren't even that old.

Say the ceilings were unlined and when the sun shone, which was pretty much always, you could almost bake to death in the time it took to relieve yourself.

Although, luckily, there were spots where the cladding had been hacked away by the roofers so at least you had a bit of ventilation. 

What if you knew that most of this back verandah still had to be built in, incorporated into a bathroom and the 'master suite' - although, mercifully, you had decided to incorporate a large section of open verandah into that suite mainly you couldn't be bothered doing anything more significant with it (also, private back verandah accessible only from French doors off master bedroom? Yes please!)

If all of this were true, well, you might find yourself up against the occasional wall of renovation fatigue. 

We're pretty cozy and comfortable living over in the renovated comfort of Little House, which probably explains our slow-down. I feel a need for a bit of motivation though, so I'm going to raid Pinterest for some bathroom inspiration ideas today to share tomorrow. 

Who knows, maybe before I'm old and grey, I'll get to put them to use!

Friday, February 21, 2014

An Update on the Bonded Stores on Margaret Street, Brisbane

A few days ago, I shared a post on the Bonded Stores on Margaret Street, saying that demolition may commence at any time.

We had some great news yesterday afternoon, with the announcement that the State Government has issued a stop work order for work on the site until the buildings can be assessed by the Queensland Heritage Council at a special meeting.

Hotpoint House, one of the three Bonded Store buildings.

Premier Campbell Newman himself is quoted in the Brisbane Times as saying that the bonded stores are heritage buildings and need to be properly assessed.

This is a HUGE step forward for the campaign to save these buildings. While they're not safe yet, their fate now lies with the Heritage Council.

I'll keep you posted, or keep an eye on the Brisbane Heritage webpage for more information.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Let's Go Fly A Kite

This renovation has been moving a little, ahem, slowly of late. In fact, it's barely been moving at all. Sometimes we get through lots of work on the place, other times we are more occupied with actual paid work - which we need in order to fund the renovations but does tend to get in the way of actually DOING the renovations.

We have, however, spent a little time doing other more enjoyable things. We have turned the old cream shed into a playhouse for Lu. I felt that a house without walls, doors or windows didn't feel like much of a house - so I got a doorbell, street numbers, a gnome and some furniture from the op shop.

The sound of the doorbell can now be heard most afternoons. 

All afternoon. 

It's driving me a little insane, if we're being honest.

Then there's been the kite flying sessions, carefully supervised by Scooby the pony of course.

And that's been life of late. Has anyone been up to anything more exciting? Care to share?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Bonded Stores and Brisbane Heritage

A couple of months ago, I heard about the fight to save the Bonded Stores on Facebook. I've since become involved with the Brisbane Heritage group and the fight to save these three beautiful buildings from demolition. 

This is the central building, called O'Reilly's Bonded Stores. 

There's also the Free Stores building...

and Hotpoint House.

A demolition application was made for these buildings late last year and swiftly approved by the Brisbane City Council despite a great level of public support for the campaign to save them - and more than 120 submissions to Council against the demolition.

Brisbane isn't a city famous for its heritage protection. Quite the opposite, actually. But I think it's fair to say that us old-building-lovers thought we'd come further than this.

Demolition may commence at any time. The space the three buildings occupy will then become a temporary park before the future construction of a concrete high-rise.

Brisbane Heritage isn't anti-development. The group  just believes these buildings should be incorporated into future development on the site. They'd make a beautiful foyer, a great venue for restaurants and bars.

I believe old buildings give a city its soul and character. We have so few of them left, it just defies belief that the Bonded Stores aren't deemed worthy of protection and incorporation into the future use of this site.

If you'd like more information or to support the campaign, the links below will take you where you need to go:

Over to you - do you think the Bonded Stores would be great incorporated into a development on the site? Or do you think they'd be better removed and replaced with something new?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Things You Should Know

Since starting this project, Dan and I have received plenty of advice. We’ve also had plenty of people who’ve told us they’d love to do something similar one day (that is, move out of the city and renovate an old place to raise their kidlet/s in.)
 So, today, we’ve collected a few little insights we’ve learned from our experience so far. Do with them as you will and take them with a grain of salt. Our experience is ours - yours will be equally as unique.

-DIY renovations of old houses are not for the faint hearted. Really, they’re not. You either need to sink a whole lot of time and energy into these houses, or a whole lot of money.  You may end up doing all three anyway. Materials are far more expensive than in newer houses and renovation costs can easily blow out. (VJ timber, I'm looking at you).

- Contrary to what everyone seems to say, acreage within an hour of the CBD can actually be  reasonably priced (this might be more true of Brisbane than Sydney or Melbourne, to be fair...). We had always looked around more expensive acreage areas where getting what we wanted - a large, original Queenslander in a pretty spot - was unachievable. We looked at less fashionable acreage areas and found ourselves able to afford what we wanted. Plus, when we got here, we found we weren't the first ones to have the idea. We've found a great little community of like-minded souls at a similar age and stage of life here, too. It suits us just fine.

- If you renovate a Queenslander outside the inner suburbs, there’s a very real chance of over-capitalising. These houses can be complete money pits. Be realistic about what you spend, even if you’re planning on staying awhile. Always keep an eye on what comparable properties in your area are selling for and work out your budget accordingly. 

-Gumtree is your friend. We've found loads of bits and pieces for our house on there. We've also found most of our hedging plants, too.

A Gumtree find - windows for the bathroom.

- When you're planning your move, don't rely solely on to research and find a property. Spend a lot of time driving around instead. Our place had a terrible online ad that we'd skipped over dozens of times (cringing as we did so), but when we drove down a funny little backroad in an area we'd decided we liked, there it was, and (for Dan, at least) it was love at first sight. That said, there are some excellent online tools to help you. gives really accurate travel times, so you can work out just how far out you're really going. A property may be further out as the crow flies, but have better road infrastructure nearby, which means it's actually closer to your job/family/favourite Chinese takeaway.

Another little farm in our neighbourhood.

- If you want information on a house you're considering, just put its address into Google. You'll be surprised at what might turn up. Usually, you can find information on previous sales listed for that address including dates and prices. And yes, if you go and put your own address into Google now you'll probably be able to find that information, too. Scary, no?

-  Think of your landscaping at the beginning and take time out to plant hedges and trees where you want them to be as soon as you can. Then get on with other things.

- Once you’ve lived with high ceilings, you'll never want to go back to normal height ones. 

- Do your research before committing. According to a fairly grim study by Charles Sturt University, almost 90 percent of 'tree-changers' surveyed in Victoria in 2009 were unhappy with their move and planned to move on within five years. That's terrible odds.

- Prepare to be stunned that, with all the amazing things mankind has invented and done, the whipper snipper is still the favoured method for removing grass in hard-to-reach-places. Whipper snippers are awful, frustrating things.

- Nothing really compares to the contentment of sitting on a verandah on a quiet afternoon, drinking tea and staring into space. If 90 percent of people really regret their tree changes, I seem to know an amazing amount of people from the other 10 percent - ourselves included.

This post was sponsored by Cordell. (Sponsored posts allow us to progress this project just that little bit faster. Yay!)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Apple Green

The other day,  Lucinda's Grandma came to visit and I decided to take some time to do something constructive on the house. I bought a new, extra-large paint scraper and spent a couple of hours continuing the painstaking process that is getting rid of the crumbly pink acrylic paint from the master bedroom.

The old paint fell away in long strips leaving the original lead paint wall behind. It is painted - shock, horror - apple green. 

Up the other end of the house, the ceilings continue to dazzle with their bright white radiance and the apple green walls are slowly disappearing under a layer of white undercoat - a precursor to the light, ever-so-slightly-grey tone I've picked for the walls.

I found myself looking at the cream pendant lights I'd bought for the kitchen and suddenly they were all wrong. I knew I was going to need some colour somewhere in an otherwise very neutral space. I briefly considered painting them bright orange but couldn't kick the feeling that it wouldn't have worked with the era of the house.

So, I took the pendants back to Ikea and exchanged them for apple green ones. 

I couldn't be happier. Our house will continue its love affair with green, just in a much more restrained way.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Rogue Gloria

I should have known that writing the words 'one big happy animal family' would jinx things.

That's how I signed off the last post, voicing my concerns that Pepper would get into the yard and kill the chickens.

Pepper hasn't proved to be a problem at all and the few times she's gotten up close to the chickens now she's been very mild. 

This might be because I misjudged her character or it might be because I ran over her foot the other night. 

Either way, she's been a much calmer presence. Shortly after driving over her foot (full recovery expected) I went to check on Gloria and Eunice. 

I found Gloria perched precariously in a very damaged coop, a flurry of feathers around her. When she got up and moved, I saw she was in fact sitting on top of a two-metre long python.

As someone on Instagram pointed out, she was probably just trying to hold him down until I got there. 

Look, I probably don't need to tell you that the news regarding Eunice isn't good. She had a short life, and I hope she didn't suffer too much at the end, but given the chaos in the coop I fear it wasn't exactly a quick demise. 

Our neighbours were quick to come and take the swollen python for relocation, and bring us a new chicken which Lucinda has christened 'Little Fella'.

When Little Fella was eventually taken to the yard, Gloria was not in a great state of mind. She climbed up on the post in the corner.

Everyone tried to talk her down.

That didn't go so well. 

So began a two-day period where Gloria went rogue, living rough in the out buildings and generally being sighted at unexpected times and places.

I'm happy to report Gloria is now safely back in the yard (well, safe might be overstating things, given the fate of her friend). Little Fella seems to be settling in nicely, the python has been relocated and, for now, things are again peaceful.