Wednesday 27 March 2013

Paris is always a good idea...

...Audrey Hepburn thought so, and so does our Sasha!

Sash has had a mini-love affair with Paris since she was just 5 years old.  She was runner up in a national competition by Mattel and won a huge prize pack including a DVD of the latest Barbie movie, Barbie and the Three Musketeers.  She watched that film over and over again and fell in love with everything about Paris and the Eiffel Tower.  Since then she has collected a few things here and there, so when she was finally able to begin planning her new 'forever' bedroom it was a no-brainer that it would have to be based around a Paris theme.  Although she has not been there, (unless of course you include Paris in Las Vegas :) she can at least now enjoy a little bit of Paris in her room at the end of each day!

Her room (currently being shared with Poppy) was the first we completed from floor to ceiling.  It was so important for the girls to have a safe haven to retreat to at night time, after a full-on day amongst the mess of the reno.

So what did we do?

Well, here's the before shot...

...I know, on face value it looks pretty darn good already right?  But once you go past the surface even the cleanest of rooms needs more work than you first imagine.  Obviously the first job was to clean it from top to bottom.  This room had the filthiest ceilings of the entire house, but with a bit of elbow grease and sugar soap they looked a million dollars, see pic below.   After cleaning, we painted them with Taubman's Ceiling Paint in Crisp White.

We used Taubmans Endure Low Sheen in Crisp White for the walls.  Below you can see what a difference the first coat alone makes to the walls, the lower part has one coat and the top has only been cleaned and cut in.

We changed out the ceiling fans, this one wasn't too bad but as we were changing the rest we wanted them to all be the same.

We had the electrician remove the 1950's light switches and the (later addition) ceiling fan switches with new all-in-one, neat units.  Of course this leaves us with gaping holes in the wall, which Col did a great job of patching.  I don't have a finished shot of those yet as our removal came just after it had been filled so we are still in the process of painting the patch but you get the idea from the (nearly finished) last picture below.
We used the same Taubmans Crisp White but in a gloss for the doors, door frames and window frames.  F
inally we added gorgeous cedar venetian blinds and sheer patterned curtains over the top.

We let Sasha pick out her lamp and pendant light and to finish it all off we added her pictures, new bed sheets and pillows. It looks gorgeous (when it's neat and tidy) and both children love it!
We had it 'sleep' ready within the first week and all the electrics completed by the end of the second week.  Unfortunately the main art work which was her favourite picture of the Eiffel Tower was one of the only things that arrived smashed to pieces in our removal, so we have a couple of things to add once we have replaced it.  But all in all it's a great room.  You can check out all the product specs in our Design Book page. 

K x
PS - This bedroom still has one more transition to come once we move Poppy to her bedroom so watch this space for more updates later on.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Don’t waste time sitting on the fence…

… knock it down, rebuild it, and make some friends in the process :o)

One of the jobs we absolutely HAD to get done before arriving back in Australia from the USA was to have a new boundary fence put up on the eastern side of the property.  The existing wire fence was unsuitable for our needs, not only was it particularly ugly (see pic below) but it was also way too ‘open’ for our liking.  Sometimes you need a little bit more of a’ barrier’ between neighbours (no matter how friendly you are with them) for privacy on both sides and also in our case to keep our dog Red from yapping at the fence at every slight movement next door.

To top it all off we didn’t want to pay for it all!  Which is where things either go really, really well or you draw a blank…Luckily for us, when we finally managed to get in touch with the owners of the adjoining property, they wholeheartedly agreed that the fence needed to be upgraded and were also happy to foot half the cost of getting it installed. Yayy us!!  Yayy them!!  After a little liaison via email between us, them and a fencing contractor, we were able to agree on the style of fence, timeline to complete, and a few smaller details on design. Due to some delays with wet weather, the actual construction didn’t start until two days before we flew home, but thankfully it was completed the day before we arrived. And it looks awesome…see?!

Not only have we all got a much better outlook, but it also broke the ice between us and our neighbours.  It seems to be increasingly harder when you move to a new neighborhood to make friends with your fellow street dwellers.   People tend to keep to themselves much more nowadays than in the past.  But I plan to change that, just like when I moved to Townsville last time…but that’s another story!

PS - We are still playing catch up with these backdated posts, we thought we would be able to knock a few out each night or two…but alas in all reality we are spending so much time working on the actual renovations, that the recording of our progress (on here) tends to fall by the wayside. But we are trying to catch up, please stick with us….

Thursday 21 March 2013

Sunshine and Sugar Soap...

...and a lucky escape!

Well, after Kate’s initial ‘excitement’ at seeing the house for the first time which you can read about here, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty, to roll up our sleeves, use some elbow grease and make our house shine...well, begin to shine anyhow!
The most obvious task to complete first up was to clean, clean, and clean some more!  Normally, in a newer house and has been our experience in the past, this would be an easy job consisting of cleaning the floors, wet areas, and inside all the cupboards. But as we were prepping to renovate this old house, it also meant breaking out the sugar soap in a bucket of warm water and cleaning the old girl fully…from the 9ft ceilings to the shiny hardwood floors and everywhere in between.  This doesn’t seem like too big a task at first as it is ‘only’ a small three bedroom Queenslander, but when you add in the heat and humidity factor in the land of sunshine (remembering we had just arrived home from a Pennsylvanian winter), then it does make for one hot and sticky job!
I have to say it’s amazing to see how much ingrained dust and grime comes off the walls and ceilings when it has been allowed to accumulate over a number of years, and in this case I would say there was about three years of buildup needing to be removed. I also think previous residents may have left the air conditioners running a lot of the time with the windows closed up, creating areas of minor surface mildew. One room that showcases the power of sugar soap and elbow grease is bedroom 2, its ceilings were the worst, practically grey, the picture below really doesn't show its full extent but gives you an idea.
We were under no illusions, we knew it was going to be a big job and initially we only had 4 days to get as much stuff done as possible (this later changed as our furniture removal was delayed and we were given an extra week to play with – thank goodness).  We started with the master bedroom and bedroom 2, followed by the bathrooms and kitchen. We wanted to get the first two bedrooms cleaned, prepped and painted in the first week so that when our removal finally arrived, us and the children would have a clean fresh sanctuary to retreat to at night, as luck would have it we left the kitchen ceiling till last, and luck was certainly needed…
To fast forward slightly; as we finished painting the two bedrooms, our removal arrived and the delivery, unpacking and sorting became our next priority. We got our sparky (electrician) in to install a few new power points in the kitchen and to quote on some additional work. As everyone knows, electrical and plumbing jobs often uncover many unforeseen issues, and this case was no different. You see, at some point someone had decided to cut the earth wire off from the ground stake, as in completely remove it!  So after installing our new power points, and our new earth, our sparky then had to complete an earth test of every single electrical outlet and fixture in the entire house. All our power outlets were fine; but then it came time to check the lights and ceiling fans and they were not fine....not by a long shot! The last room to be tested was the kitchen – see the photo below for a quick memory jog.
kitchen with old light fitting
You can see the big, old, black, circa 1950’s fluorescent tube light fitting at the top of the shot. When Wade 'our sparky extraordinaire' went to test it, it started registering on his test equipment before he even touched it, it actually sparked as he got closer.  He immediately shut the power back off to investigate.   To his horror an internal wire’s protective coating had cracked and the electrical wire had fused itself to the metal body of the light fitting, which when tested revealed 150 volts of electricity running through the fitting making the whole assembly live!! He had never seen anything like it.  Had the ceiling lights been earthed, this would have kept tripping the fuse and the problem would have been discovered long ago, but due to some idiot taking out the earth it was never discovered, it just kept on working.  Thank goodness no-one had ever touched it.  You can see in this picture what the inside of the fitting looked like when it was safely removed.

We don’t even want to think about what the end result would have been if I had been cleaning the kitchen ceiling, with sugar soap and come into contact with the light with a nice wet sponge… :o(
On a serious note, finding this unseen problem highlights the importance of having a licensed electrician conduct a detailed inspection prior to commencing any renovation work. There were no issues highlighted in the building inspection report from when we purchased the house three years prior, and in the three years we have been renting it out we had had many electricians round for different jobs over the years, from installing air con units to changing out smoke detectors, but none had ever noticed the earthing issues.  With old houses you never know exactly what you might find until you take a closer detailed look, and to do that you need to put your money and trust in a great electrician.
Keep watching this space to see how we slowly but surely transform our kitchen from the dodgy light fittings, right down to the cracked and peeling lino!
Till then, happy renovating ;o)

Monday 18 March 2013

Life is like a box of chocolates...

In the infamous words of Forrest Gump (well his Momma if we are going to be exact) you really never know what you are going to get. 

And that was exactly how I felt the day we arrived, four weeks ago, keys in hand, poised at the front door ...

I had never seen the house in person, as we mentioned here we bought the property sight unseen, so I had never stepped foot inside.  Col however had been lucky enough to do an inspection 2 years after we purchased it on a trip up north with work and so had a much better understanding of its layout and size.  And there we have it, the buzz word of this post...SIZE!!!

Let me explain...Col had shown me pictures, drawn me to-scale layouts, even warned me daily for the last 2 years that we had to begin downsizing..but STILL it was a shock to my 'have-to-see-it-with-my-own-eyes' type system.  I looked around and around hoping that more rooms would appear or at the very least more storage opportunities would make themselves known...but nope.  All I could think (and say over and over again) was 'where the hell is all our stuff gonna go'.   I had no idea at that point that the following 7 days would be SO full on with cleaning, sanding, stripping (a'hem, paint!) cleaning some more, cutting in and rolling walls that I wouldn't have time to worry about the size of the place again for quite some time!


Monday 11 March 2013

And so it begins...

..hello and welcome to our blog. 

Wow 'our blog' ...that sounds weird!!
It has taken us a while to begin this journey online but finally we have taken the plunge!
We are a few weeks into our new life in our beloved Far North Queensland, and have begun the renovations that will make up this blog.  It has been non-stop in this little household for the last 3 weeks so we shall be updating and backdating our work so far over the coming days. 
For's the house that welcomed us on our arrival, from here on in it's all... Sunshine and Paint Pots!