Friday 21 June 2013

Our Kitchen Rules - Final

...tiling, curtains and that floor??!!

I am sure you don't need reminding about previous posts in this series but just in case, or on the off chance that we have some random newcomers to our little world, you can find Part I here and Part II here if you would like to catch up.

Once the cabinetry was all done and the dishwasher was in, the kitchen still needed work but was usable and it was great.  I now had more cupboard space than I needed (although it soon got filled up) and everything had its place which, as we all know, is so key in keeping things tidy.

*Talking of which I wanna share this tip...(**sorry if most of you have been doing this for years..but it only dawned on me during this re-fit)  I had bought a plate rack (top right) on sale for about $2 thinking my plates would stack neatly inside our crockery drawer...FAIL.  My plates didn't fit, so upon looking in my cupboards to see where else I could use it, I saw the mess that was my baking pan shelf.  So I flipped this little thing on it's side and stacked all those hard to store pans and trays...hey presto I have a much more organised baking cupboard...awesome huh?!

Anyway...the next job to do was the back splash.  Way back when we were doing our bathroom I had told our tiler Bin that I really wanted to do the kitchen tiling myself.  To which he responded "Good, I'll lend ya' all ma' gear and teach ya' how it's done, and Col can bring me a few tinnies (beers for our non Aussie readers)"  And that's exactly what he did, he is so cool!  As the original tiles had almost fallen off, it was clear that they were either not put on with the best of adhesives, or the walls are just not that keen on having anything stuck to them, Bin said we could either re-sheet over the existing walls so that the tiles had something to grip to, or have our wet sealer come and coat the walls so that it gives it a nice even area for the tiles to stick to.  We chose the latter, it is quicker and cheaper but gives the same results.  When it came to it, our sealer Haysie was AWOL (gone fishin' apparently) so Bin did it himself, (hence why it isn't as neat as our bathroom wet sealing - sorry Bin if you're reading!)

Wet sealing done
Tiling going up by moi!!
Bin went off on holiday leaving me all his stuff so that I could grout the tiles and finish off, it was great, I loved tiling.  Although I have to say as these were tiny tiles on a mesh backing it was a bit easier than having to cut loads of larger tiles to size. I don't know how I'd go on a tiled floor but would love to try.  Maybe the next house! 
PS - we don't seem to have many pictures of the tiling happening probably because I am chief photographer so this will have to do till the final pictures at the end! (*edit by Col - or it could be that Kate doesn't like any photos being taken of her!)
With the tiling completed we only had two more jobs, the floor and the curtains.  We wanted to have some kind of covering for the windows but didn't want to completely block out the views and light.  We have a lychee tree to the side of the house (picture above) which is gorgeous to look at and the back window (over the sink) looks out to the pool so I didn't want to go for something that was full coverage, and I wanted something that would let the light in too.  So I decided to make my own cafe style curtains, that cover the lower portion of the window only, that way we can have them shut and still have light coming in from the upper part.  I found the perfect fabric at Spotlight to tie in all the colours and got sewing!  I attached them with a simple stretch wire to alleviate any bulky rods or rails going across the window frame.
So what about this flooring situation - well, this is the part where you will either love or hate our new kitchen!  It is 70/30 (in favour of our choice) so far with visitors opinions.  If you remember we had this lovely (?!) floor when we moved in... 
And it backs straight onto our dining and lounge area which, like the rest of the house, has polished floorboards
So our dilemma here was... what to do, what type, what colour, what finish??!  The folks at the carpet and tile store said to rip it up and take it back to polished floors keeping it fluid throughout the house.  We absolutely did not want to do that for a few reasons, the practicality of having floorboards in a kitchen wasn't sitting well with us, the teeny tiny groves between the boards could harbour all manner of germs and stains, not to mention water issues and secondly there were three different coverings over this floor already so once you got down to the boards (after pulling up layer after layer) you might find them in awful condition or they may have a stain or be damaged right in the middle of the room and then you'd be back to square one.  The floor sheeting under this lino (from a kitchen upgrade 10 or so years ago) was in great condition with no marks or lumps, so it was perfect to lay new flooring straight over, so we decided to keep to a practical washable easy lay lino.  Then came the choice of colours and style..OMG sooooooo many.  Here are a few we looked at..
We liked the top left as it was almost the same as our floors but thought it may look a bit odd.. like we were trying to match the existing floorboards and didn't quite make it, so decided against it.  The two lower ones are a lovely linen look floor that looks stunning when it is down and, had the colours been slightly more grey than brown-ish we would have chosen one of those.  Soooooo after much deliberation and an on-going poll with Sasha, Poppy and 4 different tradies....we went for the grey floorboard look (top right)!  I know, half of you are probably going what the..!?  But honestly the colour was perfect with the white of our cupboards, with the existing laminate benches and with the new tiles that had just gone up.  So we went against the advice of the flooring shop (are you seeing a pattern here?) and went for it! 
Here it is going down
(sorry for the colour descrepancy you can see it more accurately below)

As we have since learnt through research and having people come through the home and share ideas, many have said it is far better to have such a contrast as it clearly separates the kitchen from the rest of the house.  Also by choosing the best colour for the space it finishes off the area perfectly and makes a feature of it as well.

 Well...what do you think?  Are you for or against?

So, at long last the biggest project of our reno so far is complete.  As I said in my last post, I hope the 'after' pictures will blow you away, of course I am not suggesting that you are about to witness a kitchen makeover of 'Grand Design' style proportions, we are not talking about a million dollar bling-bling chef's kitchen here.  We are just so pleased how far this humble little kitchen has come with a great deal of planning, work and vision...enjoy!


I hope it looks as good to you, as it does to us...!


Monday 17 June 2013

Our Kitchen Rules - Part II...

..oversized sinks, unmatched bench tops and an unconventional dishwasher cavity, and that's the new kitchen!

As you know, it has been AGES since I got round to writing a post....luckily Col has somehow found time to punch a few out in the last few weeks in between study, looking after a sick household, doing the school runs, and pottering in the garden/under the house etc (I really think he should change his name to Col Timemanagementextraordinaire Lea) BUT.. I am now finally back on track!!
To be honest we have had an odd few weeks in the land of Sunshine and Paint Pots, we had multiple visits from Murphy, (of Murphy's Law fame) with our bathroom reno, we had so many things both good and bad going on outside of the house reno, and then we had an awful few weeks of sickness and colds go through the house, with only our Sasha avoiding it all.  I felt like this...

...but didn't even have the strength to go through with my threats, I suffered the worst out of everyone so unfortunately was out of action for a full 2 weeks.  But we are all over it now and plan to kick this reno's butt and get this place finished!! 

So without further moaning about all the bad stuff that's happened ado, here is the second part of our kitchen reno, if you need to refresh your memory, or haven't read the first part go here to re-read it.

In a brief re-cap (for those who can't be ar*ed to click above..lazy much?!)....we were adapting the current kitchen to more suit our needs and the needs of a modern kitchen, without changing the layout/floor plan of it.  To gut the whole thing would have been over budget and almost pointless.  Due to the lack of any extra available space, we would gain nothing by changing the layout, the cupboards were generally in good nick and the laminate work top (although not exactly what we would choose ourselves) was in great condition and, with a change of colours around the kitchen, would work in well with what we would be doing.  So, in terms of modernising the space it basically needed a dishwasher cavity, more storage, a change of colour in both walls and fascias, a new sink and faucet, shiny new handles, new paint and a new floor.  Easy peasy right?!

The first job (after prep and painting) was to get our cabinet maker in.  We had originally planned to do all this ourselves with the Bunnings Kaboodle range, a smart looking, shiny melamine.  The finish on the Kaboodle range is beautifully clean and modern, BUT we spoke with 3 different kitchen experts and they all said NO WAY, don't use it!  Apparently it is perfect in the cooler climates down south but up here in the tropics it doesn't work well at all.  The heat and humidity plays havoc with the coating and peels very quickly ruining the entire finish. So we steered clear of that and went with a great cabinet maker who had just left a big company here in Townsville and started up on his own.  He has no overheads and still uses his old workplace to cut all his pieces, so his costs are way lower than the big companies and in turn he delivers a perfect, experienced service for half the cost.  We had to wait 6 weeks for him to start, his new business is booming, but that was just fine we would happily wait for the savings we were making!

He began by altering the cabinets under the sink to accommodate our new double sink.
Remember in the last post Col mentioned a drama with the sink?  As we were keeping our existing laminate bench top, it meant we had to stick to the same or 'as close as' dimensions for our sink.  That in itself sounds like an easy task, after all a double sink is a double sink right??  Hmmm.. kind of.  It took us about 3 weeks to source the sink with the closest dimensions, I had checked it, Col had checked it, even Daryl our cabinet guy had checked it on one of his measuring visits.  It was gonna fit.  The only thing none of us actually did, was take it out of it's nice, neat packaging box.  Until now, the day it was due to be fitted.  As soon as he opened it and saw the edges he knew it wouldn't fit after all.  The edges on this nice, new, shiny sink were beautifully curved, not like the old thing that had much squarer corners.  So there would have been huge gaping holes around each corner.  Col as you can imagine, was ropable!  Mainly because he honestly didn't think we would find anything else to fit.  We had to work fast to find a replacement as we wanted the majority of this fit out done today.  Daryl felt sooooooo bad that he had overlooked it (being new to this, we would never have thought to see how curved the edges were but he perhaps should have known better) that he immediately phoned around every trade-mate that he knew in the Ville until he found something the right size.  There was only one possible choice, it's a commercial sink, so is much bigger than our original, but we had no option but to accept it.  Within 3 hours he had it here and it fitted! 
Crisis averted...phew!

In the meantime the brand new cabinets were going up, to create double the storage..yippeeee
*Note the deliberate mistake, we ran out of time to paint behind the old microwave cavity.  So when the next owners come round to updating this kitchen, they will find random paint colours behind these cabinets...eveyone loves a bit of history.. right?!
 Building the new cabinets to fill the otherwise dead space between the pantry and the dining area. 
 Fascias, handles and exhaust fan have gone up, it's finally starting to come together!
Due to us keeping the existing laminate work top, it meant that we would have a small section of laminate bench on the pantry side of the kitchen that wouldn't match.  Not ideal I know but if we were to keep to budget we had no choice at this stage.  Daryl insisted that we do not try to match it, but instead go for something totally different.  I went against his advice (which he was very good about, he just smiled through gritted teeth and said 'okay') as I thought all the other options looked equally as odd on their own, and also because this area is going to house our microwave and coffee machine, so therefore will not be 'that' noticeable.  So I went with a modern day version of what is already there and I actually really like it.  Ideally if we were staying here long term we would change the whole thing out to match, but for now it is just fine.

*Note if you are wondering why we didn't just re-laminate the existing bench top like you see on all these makeover shows, if we could have we would have.  It is possible with surfaces that have a flat edge like in the new piece above, but as ours has that curved edge it isn't possible, so unfortunately it was never an option.
As for the dishwasher you can see below, there was NO WAY a dishwasher would fit in the space next to the sink. 

Even if we moved the internal cabinet over to the right to create a bigger gap, it would still not allow the space for a double sink bowl to sit, so it was never going to work. One day, weeks earlier when we had Nick Nack (our awesome chippie) over for a beer we were all stood staring at the kitchen looking for solutions. He was 'the thinker' who actually suggested moving the dishwasher cavity to a cupboard next to the cooker. Yes it is totally unconventional but in the grand scheme of things it really makes no difference.  The next day we got Greggy (our plumber) and Daryl over to take a look to make sure it would work and they both agreed it was the best only option.  So while Daryl was here finishing the refacing of our cupboards, Greggy was here plumbing in the dishwasher, the pipes are held up internally through the corner cupboard, you don't even notice they are there.  You can just see the brand new shiny Omega Slimline washer poking out from its new location below.

All in all the kitchen was taking shape and looking like a brand new room, it was amazing to see Col's vision and design all gel together so well.  He has an amazing eye for this stuff, I find it really hard to visualise most of the time, but every time he has been spot on with both design and use of space. 

In the next and final part, I will cover the tiling, flooring (boy did we cause some controversy there) and all the final styling.  The finished pictures will blow you away, I am certain!!

Cheers and thanks for reading..
K xx

Friday 14 June 2013

A study with views of the castle...

An often quipped piece of sage advice is to live in a house for at least 12 months before you renovate. That way you know where the light falls and moves to during the day, where the hot and cold spots of the house are during each season, and what functional layout works best with your furniture. Very sage advice. However, obstacle #1 = we don't have 12 months to wait before renovating. Obstacle #2 = we're trying to downsize from a 4 bedroom 2 living area home to a 3 bedroom 1 living area home; functional layout was always going to be a challenge to overcome.  Obstacle #3 we are trying to find a study in a 1950's home that, lets face it, doesn't actually have, do you see our problems??

As we finally got to shifting furniture around in the living/dining/study/entry area of the house so that we could paint the walls and ceilings, we found that while our newly found study nook started off in the dining area, it would actually work much better where the entry foyer is. When it was placed in the dining space it was on the western corner of the house, so it's the hottest spot in the afternoon. Whereas the entry foyer area has a sun shade over the windows and is therefore always cooler as a result.

To refresh your memory, the entry foyer is approximately 1.8 mtrs deep x 3.2 mtrs wide (~6 feet x 11 feet) and backs directly onto our lounge. It used to be the front veranda but has been built in sometime in the last 20-30 years.  Here's what the space looked like on the day we got the keys...

And another view a few days later once we had been sugar soaping and preparing the house for the arrival of our furniture.

The front door has two Kookaburra's painted on the frosted glass, which is quite nice (I think...Kate doesn't) considering we occasionally see them sitting up high in the back yard in one of the neighbours trees.  We are yet to do anything with the front door, Kate wants to paint it white, I am not sure.  Ideas??

The key things that needed to be tackled (apart from the painting) was to have the electrical outlets and switches replaced with modern fittings, remove the old light fitting which was both unnecessary and didn't work, and to get insect screens built and fitted for the four bay casement windows. These windows were the only ones in the house that weren't already screened.  Casement windows are great for letting the breeze in, but without insect screens they need to stay shut, to stop uninvited visitors buzzing into the house and making a dot-to-dot out of Kate.  Seriously if there are 200 people in a room and one mozzie, it will find her...instantly!

Anyway, after two months of this space being a generic holding area for books and boxes, not to mention not so fun games of 'human Tetris' moving boxes back and forth constantly just to find something, this is what it looked like before we started our renovation on the study with Castle views (we'll get to that bit later)...

The biggest key change at this stage is that we had the new insect screens custom made and fitted, the ceiling light removed, and new electrical fittings installed. As soon as the screens were fitted it was great being able to have the windows open day and night, catching the natural breeze coming by the house, one of the climate principles in the design of Queenslanders.

As with all of our final painting jobs it meant shifting the furniture around to get to the walls and ceiling panels, starting with that big bookcase in the corner.  With the bookcase out of the way it was down to the nitty gritty of sugar soaping and no-more-gapping in preparation for the base coat, and then systematically cutting in and painting each wall and ceiling panel. For this space I gleefully handed over the responsibility of painting to Kate, and I can not fully express how therapeutic it was watching someone else paint, soooooooooo relaxing!

Once Kate (yes, she is wearing Ugg the tropics) had completed the painting of that wall we shifted the bookcase back into position and started on the next section, and so on.  It is a total pain having to paint around furniture but as long as you have everything covered with plenty of drop sheets you soon get into the swing of it.  To change the room into a study meant taking out the timber sideboard with wine storage and shifting in the desk and bookshelf from the dining area. The timber sideboard will take up residence in the space formerly occupied by said desk and bookshelf. The end result will be more room to study in a designated area, and more room in the dining area as the sideboard is about half as narrow as the study it was win win.

After a lot of shifting of furniture and painting areas as they became available  the newly found study nook soon took shape, here are the before and afters of how the study with castle views turned out.  Sorry the photo's aren't that great, as Kate was working on this project mostly by herself the photo's got forgotten about to a certain extent...

Entry way, so much brighter
Adding the narrow book shelf into the corner fills in an otherwise dead space
The skirting's had seen LOTS of wear and tear, but came up good with a sand and few coats of gloss
The finished room, a much better use of space and having used it for a few weeks now, it is a lot cooler than it's previous position

And what about the castle views I keep going on about, well you may remember this previous post (here), from our front door we have a great view of Castle Hill, and now that we have moved the study to this side of the house, we have the duplicate view.  We'll call it a sweeping panorama shall we ;o)

Anyway, it's time to get back to reality and hit the books.

Cheers, Col