Wednesday 22 October 2014

Wha' do ya sink of ma ombré, hombre?

Translated - What are one's feelings towards my 'shaded or graduated in tone' walls, dude?
Yeahhhh well, it worked in my head, maybe not on paper.  Confused?  Read on...
Before we moved back to Australia, we had told the girls that this will be our last move (liar liar pants on fire) and they could have their forever bedrooms and a special feature wall colour all of their own choosing.  As we all know, that didn't happen in the last house as we kept it all neutral knowing we were going to move 'one last time'.  Fast forward to this house.  We stood by our promises and allowed the girls to chose a special colour for their new, REAL, forever bedroom walls.  The only rule was that out of the 4 walls, 3 would be white and they could pick the fourth wall colour, as long as it was a nice lively colour - not black or brown. 
Now I have to digress a little here to explain may be thinking to yourselves, 'surely they didn't need to be told that, as if two little girls would pick brown walls'.  And mostly you'd be right but just to show how much we, as parents, influence our youngest here's an entry into Poppy's Yearly Question Book**(see ps.) from 2013...
So her favourite colour had evolved from just 'purple' last year to 'purple and brown' and her career of choice was now 'a wall painter'.  We left the answer as that in her book, but she wasn't done.  She went on to say, "...but I wont be painting my peoples houses all this boring white. No, nope, no, I will paint everything brown".  Then she started gesturing at walls, "this one BROWN,....that one BROWN".  And so on, so do you see now why the caveat was put in place?  Ok, goodie...lets continue.
So during the start of the bathroom demo (i.e before we lost the toilet), I was spending all week painting the lounge and kitchen walls and at weekends we would occasionally camp out at the house.
Col would paint the ceilings and do general maintenance stuff, and I would continue with the bedroom walls.  The girls would spend hours creating a model house out of a huge piece of cardboard that we had acquired from somewhere or another.  It is amazing how well children can play when they have 'nothing' to actually play with.  We see this every week at the beach, they could sit for hours making 'kitchens, meals, soups, flags, houses, you name it, they find it in seaweed, shells, sticks, seeds, coconuts etc.  Love it!
Sasha even included a trophy room for her Irish medals and trophies in her half of the house...haha!
On one of these camp outs Sasha said to me, 'I've chosen my wall colour'.  Yayyy! I was so excited to be able to nip to the paint store and buy some bright pink or lilac or......ombré aqua!  Whaaatt??! I assume you will all know what I am talking about as this ombré phase is very popular at the moment, from graduated hair colours to nail varnish and fabrics to cakes, like this one from Sasha's Frozen party.
So yes, you're hearing this correctly... my 10 year old was asking for an aqua wall going from light aqua at the top all the way through to dark vivid aqua at the bottom.   Ha!!  I laughed out loud at her suggestion and said 'Honey, there is no way that is happening'.  Not because I didn't like the idea, it sounded awesome but I knew there was no way I could achieve it.  The blending would need to be seamless to pull it off otherwise it could end up being a 1st class entry to the pinterest fail site, you know, like this sort of thing...
She looked so disappointed when I said no but in true Sasha fashion she tried to hide it and said 'I bet you could do it Mum, but it's fine - just do aqua'.  I thought about it some more and decided maybe she was right, maybe I could do it?  I could at least try, if I didnt tell the kids and it all went wrong I could just paint over it and be done with it.  That week I had bought a different white paint to our usual colour and hated the result.  So I had a whole tin of this stuff that we would only ever use as an undercoat, so I went to my paint guys and asked if acrylic paints are the same as the stuff they tint the paint with in store.  (Thinking that I could use up my 'mucky' white by mixing it with acrylics and making my own tints of the aqua).  It was only a small wall and to buy 3 or 4 shades of each colour just for a tiny wall would end up costing a lot of money and producing a whole heap of wasted paint.  The paint specialist said it was basically the exact same stuff as their tints only their stuff was highly concentrated, so essentially a drop to them would be much stronger than a whole spoonful of plain acrylic.  I was happy with that, so bought a tube of teal acrylic paint, 3 disposable paint pots and off I went.
Sasha had previously got the paint chip you can see above from the hardware store when she was looking into colours schemes so it gave me a good idea of where to start.
Unfortunately I don't have any shots of while I was doing this apart from mixing the paints above.  Mixing the paints was tricky as you are never quite sure how they will dry and how different they will look on a wall with different and changing lights.  But really you just have to go for it, you can always add in some tint as you go if needed.  It is a very finicky process, especially up here in the Ville, it is a task that has to be completed in a major hurry as the blending process is key to the whole thing working and you can only blend it well while the paint is wet and it dries pretty darn quick here in the tropical north.  I was on my own here the day I did it so I had to work like crazy to get it all on and blended.  So the only picture I managed to take was when I had marked up the wall...
 Roughly dividing it into thirds to give me an idea of where to start and stop my different shades
I basically started with white at the very top and then gradually added the lightest aqua in the first section, continued on into the middle then added the mid range colour.  At that point you blend it together...then you blend again and again and again....over.and.over.and.over!!  Until you think you can't blend them anymore...but you do it all again just to be sure.  I was working with about 6 paintbrushes throughout the whole job.  Then the same goes for the next section.  The process is actually super, SUPER easy it just takes a bit of patience and a whole lot of elbow grease.  It was really hard to get a decent photo of the wall, (you were probably expecting a super cool Canon shot - sorry) all I have is this camera phone picture but it shows the graduation without any furniture in the frame so I hope it gives you a good idea.  The carpet guys were coming a few days after completing this, hence why in this picture you can see our lovely new mink carpets, not those smelly old yellow ones anymore hoorar!
On seeing this room completed I took Poppy's purple colour choice and ran with it in the ombré design too....

Poppy's didn't turn out as well as Sasha's because I started it a bit too light at the very top.  It still looks great and I loved it even more when the carpets were installed, but it is definitely too light. 
But this no longer really matters comes the obligatory Kate face palm....I am doing it all over again....wait, what!???  Yup.  Once we were all moved in we realised that no matter how much I wanted the bedrooms set out in the way I had done it, i.e - the bed going along the back wall rather than going along the 'feature' window wall, it just doesn't work.  These rooms are very narrow as we have previously mentioned and no matter how we set the rooms out, the only way they really work, in terms of allowing enough space and not looking over cluttered, is to have the bed running along these walls... covering the lower part of all my lovely hard work.  It is such a shame, but it is easily fixed.  When I have time I shall repaint these walls white and re-produce the same effect on the back wall.  Or I may even go across ways instead of top to bottom to counter any furniture covering it up, that way you will always see the graduation.  Anyway until that happens the rooms still look fab either way and it was great fun to do, it looks awesome and the girls, especially Sasha, love it.  When I mentioned it to Maddi (House Rules) way back when we interviewed her for the blog she said, 'Damn I wish I had known that before I went on House Rules I so would have used it' 
Darn it I could have sat there at my telly shouting...'Yayyyy Go Maddi - that's our Sasha's idea!'
As always, thanks for reading!

Ps - Col asked me to include a few lines on Poppy's Yearly Question Book as he said no one will have a clue what I am talking about.  We have a special book that we write in every year.  We start with a photo of her and her age, then ask her the same series of 6 questions; where do you live, favourite colour, favourite food, favourite TV show, her best friend's name and what she wants to be when she is older.  Then there is a page for a drawing, a page for some writing, and a page for us to jot down her favourite activities.  It's a lovely way to keep track of changing ideas and dreams but also a great keepsake for her to have when she is older.  The front of the book is just the most perfect quote too...

Wednesday 15 October 2014

10 renovation tasks to do... the 10 weeks to Xmas.

That's not meant to be an alarming announcement to get everyone focused on looming Christmas shopping and festive decorations; 

Oh don't it get 'cha in the spirit?!
But it is here to lay out in the open, a few tasks that we must get done in order for us to keep our renovation on track. In some sort of relative order of priority, here they are:

  1. Gut the laundry in preparation for the new fit-out and arrange an on site visit by our cabinet maker to measure up cabinets for the above.  (Part one gut the laundry - check)
    Sneak peak
  2. Source and purchase required tiles, fixtures, fittings and new door for the laundry.
  3. On site visit from builder's construction manager, to get a tradie's perspective on our renovation ideas.
  4. Big one - our first focus meeting with our builder to develop a master plan for the whole renovation, broken down into phases.
  5. Have a big pre-renovation clean out by participating in Australia's biggest garage sale.
  6. Decide on, purchase and arrange installation of new hot water system with our plumber, including relocating it outside.
  7. Paint all door trims (4 x Bedroom, 1 x Bathroom, 1 x Toilet) and all skirting boards white (yes - they are still canary yellow).
  8. Re-point and fix up a few tiles in the roof and install 2 x Solatube Solar Stars to ventilate the roof space.
  9. Build a 3m x 4m shed at the rear of the block.
  10. Final meeting to lock down the details of the renovation Master Plan and pass to a Building Certifier to gain the required approvals.
Should be easy enough... wish us luck!

Cheers, Col

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Bathroom IV : Final fit out and reveal!

So finally (yawn) after all this time I can finish off our bathroom series.  Yayy! Apologies for the long gap, since our last post we've had the 3rd term school break here in Australia and enjoyed 2 weeks of no school, no work (blog or renovating) and lots of play, beach, sand, sun and sea... a post on that will follow. 
But for now I knew I had to get this post written up and sent out...asap!  Of course, things are never that easy or straightforward when it comes to me and my writing so it will be a bit more than just a few before and after pictures.  We have a few shots of the final details being completed, a few shots of our failures (face palm) and a few shots of our successes to get through first...
When we planned how we wanted this room to look we took lots of inspiration from the display villages around town.  We loved the simple white and brown/sand tones that many had used in their bathrooms.  But we had to remember that this room was essentially going to be the girls bathroom (once we complete our full renovation down the track) so we didn't want it looking too 'old/mature' with browns and beiges but at the same time didn't want it all stark and white.  We also had a budget to keep in mind,  after seeing the great works completed on shows like The Block and House Rules you tend to get a bit blindsided by the wonderful designs and completely forget that the hexagon tiles and wooden baths are in another league altogether.  So once we had decided on a floor tile we went back to get some more advice from our tile lady about what we should match it with.  She came up with the idea of using the wall version of our chosen floor tile to be continued up one wall. 

She explained that with it being a small room, you can give the illusion of more space by continuing the floor tiles up the wall facing you as you enter the room.  I have to be honest I wasn't completely sold on it to begin with.  Col and the girls loved the idea and our tiler was happy that it would work well, so I trusted them all and went with it.  It did work well, and it leaves the bathroom open and airy instead of possibly more enclosed like the darker tiles we had originally chosen, but without being a total white wash either.
Fail #1
The toilet walls were originally tiled about 3/4 of the way up but as we didn't want tiles in there we thought it would be easy to render the walls after the tiles were taken off.  Our tiler did it for us, we said we wanted a 'rough job' as the rest of the house has been 'roughly' rendered so although we knew we'd never match the finish of the rest of the house we thought it would be ok.

Unfortunately, it's not ok, not at all ok!  We hate it!  But at the end of the day it is just a toilet, so at the moment it will stay as it is until we can think of another option.  In the photo below, once it was painted it looks just fine, and it does from a distance and with the light on.  But close up it's not a great look, I look at it every day and moan about how crap it is (no pun intended).
Fail #2

Strictly speaking this one isn't our fault so a 'fail' is probably a bit harsh.  But anyhow, keeping on the toilet theme, when it comes to choosing a loo you can't just pick any old throne, there are a number of factors that determine what will or won't work in your particular space.  Design, set-out distance, price, size of the room etc.  So when it came to choosing ours all the ones we wanted were either not the right design, or were out of stock.  As it was the most crucial part of our reno so far (remember, as soon as the toilet was installed we could move in) we had to go with whatever we could find.  Our bathroom store rang around all their suppliers until they found one of only 2 toilets that would work for our space and budget in the Townsville area!

Again, we hate it!  When I say we, I mean Col.  I don't particularly like it but Col totally hates it!  It will be going eventually, but for now it will have to stay until we have finished everything else and then it will be replaced.
Fail #3
Kinda my fault this one.  When it came to tiling the wall behind the vanity, the tiler asked me if I wanted the tiling to go all the way up the wall (as is mostly standard now) or whether I wanted a space left for the mirror.  There was a space left for the mirror beforehand so I asked what people usually do.  He said 'either', so as I already had the mirror picked out we decided to leave the gap and add the mirror afterwards.  Even though he had all the measurements, what we hadn't banked on was the fact that our mirror had a top and bottom frame but the sides were just the glass itself.  In other words there was no way it would sit right in this gap.  It was made to be hung over the top of tiles.  We could have made it work by siliconing down both sides to fill the gaps at the edges but to be fair it would look a bit shoddy.
So I stared at this unfinished room for ages*.  Every day moaning about how I wished I'd tiled all the way up.  I took the mirror back and went back to the drawing board in terms of a solution.  After 4 weeks of staring at this awful gap I called my tiler and said "I have to change it"!  He came back and took down the 9 tiles surrounding the hole and replaced the  whole lot.  A silly and potentially costly mistake (luckily our tiler didn't charge us to change it all)  but it was all good in the end, and allowed me to have whatever mirror I wanted...more on that below.
*Note I should just say, we had no basin for ages as our vanity which had been on order since the 3rd week into the reno was delayed for FOREVER and ended up taking over 2 months to arrive.  So we had to use the bath as a basin for the first 5 weeks that we were in the house!
As for the successes. Well, the whole bathroom is a pretty big success but my piece de resistance is my mirror.  I LOVE IT!!  I'd had an idea in my head for a mirror all along but could never find anything like it.  I made a mock up one out of a little box and started asking around as to where I could find one like my sample.

It is such a simple design I found it odd that it couldn't just be bought off the shelf.  One store had something similar but the finish wasn't right and the quality wasn't great, certainly not worth the $400 they were asking for it.  So a couple of people suggested going to Studio Dubbeld - the old Kingfisher Furniture store - to see what they could do.  Joel Dubbeld is a master craftsman.  He heard my idea and straight away said "Too easy, that'll look great"  Success...major success!  Not only could he do what I wanted, but I could choose the exact size I needed including the depth of the frame and had the choice of 12 or more different timbers.  I chose the most gorgeous Camphor Laurel, and made the frame of the mirror just deep enough to carry a few small decorative items.  Just look at the grain and colours on it, it's totally, love, love it!

So with all those bits and pieces out of the way we can finally reveal the full bathroom all re-done and ready to go!  It has been a long process both in the making and the blogging of this room.  But I am glad you all stuck with us and I hope you like it as much as we do.  So far we have had some great reactions from visitors so I am hoping it looks as good as we think it does!
The long awaited before and after's....


Do you recall the above wallpaper from behind the original mirror? Well as you know I love to capture a bit of history, so I saved it and used it in these little white frames for a bit of art and history all in one.  The 'welcome to the beach' sign adds in a nice bit of coastal fun and connects with the blues from the 70's wallpaper.
I also bought a crate and mixed my own paints to match up with the beach sign to tie in the colours more and also to add some cute storage to the room.  Ignore the purple plant pot, it's a throwback from our last house, we desperately need to change it!

We replaced the windows and doors too, you can't see the windows very clearly here due to the light but we took out the existing sliders and put in glass louvers and eventually we will change the honeycomb security screen for stainless steel screens.  It wasn't in our budget right now (steel screens are approximately the same cost of your windows again, i.e if your window replacement is $600, to fit the screen will double it) but we wanted it to be secure so had these ones fitted and will re-fit with see thru screens when all our other reno stuff is completed.  As for doors, all I can say is as much as I moaned about the painting of them I am so glad I chose them, I love them!  *Hot around when it comes to door-buying.  These doors are precisely double the price I paid for them at another door store in our area!
And that's a wrap!  Gosh that took forever, thanks for sticking around guys!