Tuesday 27 January 2015

Inspiration for the Renovation

This week marks the start of the main phase of the renovation of our 'Cabin by the Sea'. However with all the work we have done over the holidays, it feels like we need a break, but it's full steam ahead with design meetings booked and tradesmen coming to tackle other projects we have in motion already.

We are meeting with two building designers this week which we have short listed, so that has meant making sure we know what the key ideas we want implemented are, and then getting them detailed in a master plan for council / building certification approvals. Then we can crack on and get moving on the physical construction. 

I have spent a little bit of time lately playing around with a rough outline of what we are hoping to get done...

One of the benefits of living in a property before renovating is you get the opportunity to see what works and what doesn't, and whether your original ideas survive both the changing seasons, as well as your ongoing scrutiny of your design brief. For example, when we first moved in we looked at ways to improve the outdoor entertaining area, I was leaning towards tiles, and Kate was leaning towards decking. But over time we've come back to decking as a preference because the house (being a masonry block home) lacks some timber tones. After seeing the following picture online, this is certainly the type of look and feel that we are after and hope to achieve...

We hope to tackle the outdoor entertaining area first so that we can have some sort of makeshift kitchen set up outside (fridge, bbq and pizza oven) while the kitchen renovation gets underway. We will be sticking largely with the same layout (due to the floor tiling being done up to the existing cabinets footprint), although it will still be a complete gut and we will try and get something a little more modern and functional like this kitchen here...

While the above two projects are not beyond our capability to design, quote, source materials and coordinate tradesmen during construction, the next project and the main part of the renovation will be breaking new ground for us; building in the double garage to convert this space into a Master Bedroom Suite complete with en-suite and walk in robe. I have been wanting to do this since seeing the Jazz Homes Machin display home at North Shore last year, and it's Master Bedroom (below) is a good hint at what we are hoping to achieve...

And last but not least we'll be aiming to build a double carport out front and improve the facade of the existing house, to give it a little bit of street appeal that it currently lacks. A couple of designs (without the carport) that provide inspiration include the Machin 247 (by Jazz Homes) and the Beach House (by McDonald-Jones Homes).

No doubt it will be another busy week and we'll keep you up to date as things progress.

Cheers, Col

P.S. It's back to school week for the girls as well. As if Kate needed anymore things to juggle this week ;-)

Monday 19 January 2015

"At the end of the day, it's just a laundry..."

Actually, it turns out it may end up being more than just a laundry, but we'll come back to that later. 

For now let me bring you up to date with the laundry renovation as it seems some time ago that we started this project. Our cabinet maker (who we used on the last house) delayed the job until just before Xmas, then said he needed to delay it until the first week of January. We hadn't heard from him at the end of the first week of January, so we contacted him and he said all my other jobs are taking longer than expected, and if you want to take the job elsewhere please feel free to do so! So we did - we gave the job to ourselves - a job which we had wanted to do from the start but time wise it was too hectic for us to tackle in the last two months of 2014. However the start of 2015 has given us the time, and our former Tradie has given us the motivation, to tackle this project ourselves. So read on to see how we are progressing.

The above photo is the 'before' shot, although the brand new integrated Bosch washer dryer was due to the old top loader dying weeks premature before its original intended demise!

This is me completing part one of the gutting work in November. The ol' guzzler hot water system is now gone and a new system has taken up residence outside. All the exposed pipework is gone as well (I don't know what they were thinking when they put that in?!)

After much deliberation, we decided to go for the Flatpack laundry cabinets from Bunnings over the Kaboodle range. While the Kaboodle range offers wider options in terms of cabinets and colours, it is also more expensive. We thought the white would tie in well with the existing floor tiles (at the end of the day, it's just a laundry...) and we would look to the bench top and splash back tiles to jazz things up a bit.

We were constrained to choices for Laundry tubs as the wall next to the door is narrow at 500mm, so doing an inset tub in a 600mm standard bench top wasn't an option. In the end we went for this Everhard 45L laundry trough and cabinet which will do the job just fine (at the end of the day, it's just a laundry...) 

Rather than the traditional wall mounted laundry tap and spout you find in older styled homes, we've chosen an Estilo side lever sink mixer to try and make things look a little more modern.

Once home I had the joy of putting together the three Flatpack cabinets, starting with the tall broom cupboard. I put it together in the garage and then had to man-handle it into the house with Kate's help - this thing is deceptively heavy! 

I have to give Flatpack due credit, these cabinets were real easy to put together, even the three drawer cabinet was relatively straight forward.

The joys of renovating, moving everything three feet to the right to do some more demo work. We decided to go with three wall mounted cabinets, and that meant chiseling the existing render off part of the wall so the cabinets would all sit flush.

This shouldn't take long he said...

Three hours later - finito!

Does anyone remember the painter lady?
Here she is making a guest appearance!

The first cabinet being fitted. I'll be building a bulkhead to fill in the space between the cabinets and the existing cornice (at the end of the day, it's just a laundry...) 

Almost finished part one of the fit out. Our plumber Ray returns this week to fit the sink and mixer, and then I can install the end panel between it and the Bosch front loader, followed by the wall cabinets and bench top, and then Kate and our tiler can crack on and install the splash back. There will also be a void ~900mm wide underneath which is where we plan to put a portable ironing trolley.

I know we keep saying it's only a laundry, but while we were looking at the laundry in this new layout and the position of the void, it dawned on us that this large laundry room could potentially do double duty as Kate's sewing room. You get a nice breeze through the screen door and plenty of natural light during the day, plus the mobile ironing trolley can be set up against the back wall for easy use whenever Kate is making one of her dresses for the girls. Which is pretty cool, because while it's just a laundry, it makes sense to make it more functional than remaining just a laundry.

Stay tuned because the next laundry post when we get to it will be the finished product!

Cheers, Col

Friday 9 January 2015

Garden fun in the holiday sun

Well, that depends how you define fun...

We have been a bit quiet on the blogging front, for a couple of reasons. First of all it has been the usual silly season approach in the lead up to Xmas, and rather than get tied down with social media over the holidays and blogging, we wanted to make the most of our first Xmas in the house. Secondly, we had some big jobs to get done in the short time that I had off over Xmas, so we made that a priority, and get done they did !! So read on and see what we got up to on our 'break' ;-)

The happy snap of Sasha is a good indication that landscaping was one of those jobs on the to do list.

The shed was finished in time for the holidays

It got certified by the building inspector on the day I finished work for the year.

Which meant I got to crack on, go shopping at Bunnings, and start putting together the work bench and storage units :-)

This is just the start, as both walls have floor to ceiling storage which means we could free up space in the garage (and can now actually park the car in there!).

Once that was done it was time for another quick trip to Bunnings on Xmas Eve to buy a chicken coop, then dash home to get it put together in time for the arrival of four new chickens for the girls, of which Kate can fill you in on the details later.

Next it was time to turn our attention to landscaping the garden bed along one side of the pool (you can see Red doing an on-site inspection above).

It also meant getting rid of this  old garden bed, as the Paw-Paw trees in the photo were blown over during the last cyclone (early 2014), and we found termite damage about four weeks before Xmas. This required us to have the garden bed sleepers treated, then wait a couple of weeks before getting rid of the affected timber.

Which was no small task I can assure you. Digging out the sleepers and getting rid of the top layer of accumulated weeds and clippings meant two trips to the dump, all done by shovel and barrow (by yours truly) in the heat of the day.

Once all this was taken away I got down to some decent garden soil (a bonus considering we are on sand out here), some of which I transferred to the other garden bed, and the remainder (above) which will be used to create some new vegetable garden beds.

To get some plants for the garden bed alongside the pool we took a drive out of town to Woody's Tree and Worm Farm. Woody's an ex-pat Pom with a great sense of humour, and has a wide range of stock that you can buy at half the price of major nursery's and hardware chains.

These charcoal pavers from Bunnings provide a raised edge for the existing garden bed, which will stop soil and mulch washing out in heavy rains.

We got  combination of plants from Woody's, including society garlics, varigated crotons, cordylines,...

...and some blue eyes for ground cover. 

The fine mulch we got from McCahills Landscaping Supplies on the South side of Townsville - great value for money.

And at the end of all this hard work we took a trip to Bunnings (again - sigh say the girls), and picked up a new four burner Matador BBQ, and a Chapala Wood Fired Pizza oven.

The Pizza oven stand went together really easily.

And the pizza oven has to be the quickest 'flat pack' assembly ever !!

The BBQ however took a little longer - 3 hours and 3 beers later...

Hope your break was as productive as ours, and here's to a good year ahead with some major renovations planned to take place. Wish us luck !!

Cheers, Col

P.S. I didn't lie, here's a photo of the car actually IN the garage !!