30 March, 2011

My Ikea home. Part V

An unscheduled visit to FlatPack City has resulted in some impulse purchases I'm now having second thoughts about.  I don't think that's why I've got a sore throat and headache though.

I went down the path of the Asker kitchen rail and accessories, (why oh why didn't I go for the more economical Bygel?)  with a view to fixing them to the underside of the bottom shelf in my workspace so I can dangle stuff, and not have clutter on the actual benchtop.

Asker accessories with Bygel rail.

Asker rail
Asker hooks

Asker pod

And so has arisen the main grumble I have when it comes to Ikea.  There is no way to view the instructions and logistical information until you've actually opened the packaging. And I'm assuming you can't return product (unless its faulty) if the packaging isn't in tact.

Anyway, the Asker rail has to be attached to the wall, not to the underside of the shelf.  So unless I rethink my configuration, I'm going to have to return to the fork in the road and travel down to Bygel, and find somewhere else for these.  Maybe Milo's room, maybe inside my wardrobe.  Maybe even on the wall under the shelves if it's not too deep and cavernous (which I think it will be).  

Anyway, I'll work it out.

I also bought MIlo a "popping basket".

Kusiner - mesh basket with lid

And four of these spice racks for $2.49 each

as I jump with vigour on the Bekvam band wagon (as seen in many cool design / decorator websites).


29 March, 2011

The blind man cometh...

While I sat on my bottom all day and designed my new business card, continuing to recover from the other day's painting frenzy, Mum put the first coat of semi-gloss on the shelves.

The vision is finally being realised.  I can't say how good it is to know we can start unpacking soon.  And how much I am looking forward to not having to shimmy around boxes any more.

The kitchen is being installed at the start of May, too.  My estimate of completion by 6 May was a little ambitious.  It will be all finished, done and dusted by end-May once the stone's installed, splash back chosen and installed and flooring issue resolved where the island bench is going in, and we don't have any spares of the existing tiles.  We've decided to fill the gap with a floating timber "bridge" to match the other timber in the room.  It's going to look just fine, and not be too costly.  Win.  Win.

Also, Brad Blinds came today and installed the replacement for our verticals.  They look perfect.  Exactly as I hoped.  And completely right.

Our double blinds.
The inner provide daytime privacy.
The outer are for nighttime.
We've now got them in the lounge (depicted), dining room, kitchen, family room, laundry, Dad's study and Mum got one upstairs too.

(Shutters for Mum's pine box are now coming at the end of May.)

The one thing I'm left pondering is why Mum didn't let Brad remove all the verticals.  For some reason she wants to keep them up for a while. (Huh??!!) Obviously, if it were me, if I had the say, those suckers would be off the windows and into the skip (the one which was meant to be collected on Saturday but remains in the driveway) quicker than, gosh, quicker than a quick thing on a speedy day.

I've chosen not to fight that battle, though.  I said my piece once and then for all intents and purposes I let it go. 

Even though I think my mother is certifiably INSANE.

27 March, 2011


Management apologises for this break in transmission.  Neck and left arm have left the building.  We hope to resume normal posting as soon as they return.

Heartwarming comparison

Haven't had a peek at realestate.com.au for a while, so was delighted to see a house for sale, in our suburb, with very similar specs to the House at Porter Street:  four plus bedrooms, three living spaces, pool, garden, etc etc. 

Let's call it Tap House.

The difference between the two is Tap House has been stripped of its datedness while retaining its character.  Just exactly what we're trying to achieve here.  
  • New kitchen and bathrooms (we're not doing our bathrooms yet, though).
  • Landscaped gardens.
  • Beautiful pool surrounds.
  • The whole shebang.
The compelling thing is that the asking price for Tap House is nearly double what we paid for the House at Porter Street.

Will be watching with interest to see what price it achieves as an endorsement of our continuing investment of effort and money.

Not that we didn't know it was worth it, anyway.  Also, our house will have more character.  Tap House's interior decoration is very "styled for selling" if you know what I mean.

26 March, 2011

If a picture's worth a thousand words, I wonder what three pictures, albeit of white walls and shelving, are worth.

Following the lead of yesterday, today's been all about invoking a state of exhaustion in the pursuit of beautiful, white walls and shelves.

The list today:

  • finished undercoating all the shelves in the lounge  (looks no diff from yesterday, so no pic today)
  • finished all the walls in my workspace (only the gloss on the shelves to go)

  • sanded and refilled the walls holding up the shelves in my room (they're still a bit of a mess and need some more concerted prep) 
  • painted the wall where the gas heater was removed, the new entry to Mum's study

  • and repainted the shocking job the rorters did up the stairs.
the stripes are just shadows from the bannisters. 

I can't promise tomorrow's post is going to be any more exciting, although I must say it's terrifically satisfying mucking in.

And plunging into biggest bath afterwards wasn't half bad, either.

Painting 101.

Don't get me started on the mini roller.  What a useless piece of crap that is.  Big roller and decent brushes are the go.

Mum and I started the prep on the shelves.  

The "professionals" painted this first in low sheen, then again, in semi gloss.  They never felt the need to use a primer, even though we gave them a tin of it.  So the paint peeled off both times.  Also, the second time they painted they didn't think it was necessary to attend to the front of the shelves, which remained dark brown.  Such an original look.  Alas. not what we were after.

My workspace shelves are deceptively expansive.  50cm deep (top and bottom).  And high.

My arms are going to fall off, and this is just the undercoat.

AND I've got five more in my bedroom.

24 March, 2011

Buckets and brushes

It's bucketing here, rain that is.  

Usually I greet inclement weather warmly.  However now we're here, in the House at Porter Street, with the damp smell made worse with the pitter-patter of rain-drips, I can't help but grimace a little, and remind myself, yet again, about the essential oils we need for the burner to help combat the pong in Papou's bedroom.

Things have moved along here today, after a hiatus brought about by some sad happenings in the world.  Peter Builder returned and dragged the Everest of garbage (including Laura Palmer) from between the bank of conifers in the front garden and the giant cumquat, to the skip that arrived yesterday.

That pile has been in situ, and growing, since the first week we moved in.  So the day it was gone was always going to be a happy happy day: so joyous I even embrace the huge skid mark it left on the lawn.

Peter Builder also finished off the installation of the chunky shelves in my bedroom.  Completion of the project is now in my hands.  Woo hoo.  

Milo and I have already picked up some putty and a spatula and began the prep of all the shelves in readiness for sanding, priming and painting.

Mum and I ventured out to pick up the kitchen sink today too (which came with three accessories, not the two as I feared) and we also swooped on Bunnings for some essential supplies and advice and have returned ready to take up tools and embark on grunt. 

There was some learning in this too.  Did you know that when you're using a drill, if you inadvertently have it on reverse when working with wood, the hole will start smoking.  And I assume, if you keep going, catch fire.  Who knew?

22 March, 2011

Kitchen Update : The Sequel

Today we received the plans and 3-D drawings of our new kitchen.  On paper, the whole thing lacks a little charm, I must say, although in the mind's eye, the glossy whiteness adds a whole world of appeal.

The thing about these drawings of course is that the CAD people are working with drop-in components so you end up with a cupboard that's a drawer, knobs that are handles, walls where there are windows and a rangehood flue that ends in mid-air.  Very unnerving for the uninitiated.

Anyway, we've paid the deposit and given the go-ahead.  So four weeks from now we should be looking at installation.  That's 19 April, marked in my book.  

And with three days to install and ten days after that for the stone, we can expect a finished kitchen by week ending 6 May.  

Woo hoo.  Bring.  It.  On.

21 March, 2011

Walter Garden has been

Today has been enormously eventful in and around the House at Porter Street.  Or maybe I'm just a nervous wreck.  God knows.

There has been, amongst other things, an early morning outing to the dental hospital, real fear of the loss of the boy Bongo, who hadn't been sighted for over 36 hours, the unexpected and extremely painful meeting of Milo's hip with the concrete driveway, and the excitement of a dear friend buying a long longed for and very much deserved first home.  And as the day ends, I am sat contemplating the gardens and what our vision for their resurrection might look like.  And after that, how it may be manifest.  

Walter Garden came today for the first time, and has been retained to curb our unruly growth, halt the disease and decay and finesse our vision into some sort of reality.  And then turn his hand to the garden - boom boom.

Our relationship was a little shaky at first.

Walter:  I love the pines and conifers.
Me:  D'you want them?

And I was seriously doubting if we could ever be on the same page.  But then I asked him what he thought about the bay tree (my feelings about which can be found here:  Chainsaw Anyone?) and his rapid fire "take the whole damn thing out" won me over straight away.  I know now there will be parry and thrust, but we can and will make our way to compromise.  So all is well.

Oh, except our lemon trees which are apparently diseased (gall wasp infestation) and require rather immediate and extreme pruning to save. 

You don't want this.
Image from gardenworld.net.au

I look forward to his next visit, next week, with tools.  And in the meantime I need to conjure up the grand vision.  Bliss.


Yesterday we found ourselves in Kensington, picking up two cast iron fire grates (very heavy) sought and bought on eBay.  The cost of both was about two thirds the price of a new one from Schots Emporium.  

It was my first strategic foray in the auction world.  Normally, overcome with enthusiasm and excitement, I leap in at the moment of sighting and inadvertently start a bidding war.

This time, I waited (I understand I need to be more patient) until 20 minutes before the close, felling all competitors with a knock out bid.  Glory be to me.

Except, in the eight days between sighting les objets desire and the drop of the hammer, did I think about dimensions?  Did I pick up any of the many tape measures lying about the place and contemplate the breadth of our orifices (orifii)?  Sadly, no.

So disappointingly, despite the latter being a fabulous fit in the lounge hearth, the former is too big for the family room's. Therefore I remain in the market for a smaller grate, not more than 50cm wide.

19 March, 2011

One down. Eight to go.

I suspect the dangers of biggest hill were almost visited upon Bongo this morning.  I don't even want to imagine how close this morning's attempt to cross Porter Street was to being his last.  But this afternoon, after an introduction to the local vet, as he sat again amongst the feral green licking clean his injured paw, I shed a little tear and thanked the heavens that my Biggest has survived this closest of close calls.

Hundreds of years ago I worked on the front desk at the Council of Adult Education:  an organisation renowned for its eclectic and eccentric mix of clientele.  It was impossible at the time not to note the link between  the occurrence of full moons and the most outlandish behaviour and extreme swings of mood amongst the student populace.  

Prompted by this recollection, I can't help but ponder if tonight's monumental full moon had anything to do with Bongo's death defying dash.


Milo and I decided to take advantage of the sunny day (and an opportunity to stealthily observe the injured) and tackled the lawn.

It's such a thankless task as far as results are concerned.  Although as far as progress is concerned it's terrifically gratifying.  

Our crop of weeds is impressive.

The dirt patch previously inhabited by the weeds is
significantly less to speak about

Today we harvest weeds.
Tomorrow (figuratively) we'll aim for something edible.

Dad recently claimed to've been born with nine green fingers, accompanied by one finger of death.  

I was born without a horticultural clue, although I am eager to muck in - provided there are gloves and tools and people to fan and bring me drinks.  I therefore have no idea about what to do with the  enormous patches of dirt I'm exposing by ripping out the weeds, but someone will surely share some hints.


18 March, 2011

Five down. Three to go.

The three shelves in my workspace are done - barring cosmetics - and two of the five in my room are now in place.

The results at this stage are Frankenstein-like with screws and scarring abounding - because there weren't any vertical supports for the shelves to attach to - but after another visit from Not Peter the Plasterer, the blemishes will be distant memories, and the walls will be ready for painting.

The only unresolved element is the floor.

There are cutaways in my divine vinyl parquetry where the old desk used to sit.  I'm obviously going to have to remove that whole section of flooring and replace it with...  with...  um...  Well, that IS the question really isn't it?  It extends about 10cm beyond the shelves so there's another thing to consider if you're going to be putting your braincells to the task of finding me a creative solution.

As far as other things went today, Lee/Leigh Kitchen came to do the technical measure up.  Only a few things needed to be tweaked from Beata's master plan, involving cupboard doors and shuffling of appliances, but Mum and I nearly came to blows over the length of the island bench which was somewhat surprising.  I suppose there had to be something.

The other hiccup was bulkheads.  The price of materials and labour for the construction of the new ones wasn't included in the contract.  I think this is an oversight, although Freedom have come back to me subsequently with the attitude "Oh, if you wanted that included, then you'll have to pay extra".  Bloody ridiculous.  Watch this space for the outcome of that one.

17 March, 2011

Workspace. Part I

Gestation comes to an end as Peter Builder gives birth to my workspace.

The shelves were being erected this morning with only a small amount of trouble but St Patrick's Day (boozing) halted progress until tomorrow.  I live in hope the aftereffects of this afternoon's celebrations don't impact negatively on tomorrow's advancements.

I suspect the next step will involve me and a paintbrush which might actually have to wait until next Tuesday when Milo's at kinder for the full day.

My Ikea Varde unit will be slotted into the cavity underneath.

And then I can finally get busy deciding how the space is going to work and how I can work in the space.

After two years at Riverside with my artistic life in boxes, all around me, but completely inaccessible, this is a heavenly thing.

So excited.

16 March, 2011

Please meet our new sink:

we have a different tap, though
It's by Swiss company Franke and was sourced from Reece in Burwood.  It was chosen because it is deep (200mm) and big (798mm wide) and solid.  One brochure says it comes accessorised with the drainer, draining basket and chopping board although the specifications sheet has no mention of the draining basket, so I must remember to check when I pick it up in a couple of days.

We used Peter Builder's trade account to get a big 5.4% discount.  He was over this morning to commence the installation of my long long long awaited shelves.  Hopefully they'll be finished tomorrow and ready for painting.

And just to divert into the garden, we're hoping this is parsley that's gone to seed

Because we've just replanted some continental parsley and sprinkled these seeds on top with the expectation of a healthy crop.

The new settlement of parsley.
The garden is feral. We'd been waiting for the rubbish 
to be removed from the front before we got the lawns done.
We obviously shouldn't wait much longer.
Note too, in the background, the sad concrete cherub
who recently lost her wings in a tragic entanglement
with a wet sheet on a windy day.

15 March, 2011

Everything. Including the kitchen sink.

Apparently exposed Caesarstone edges don't like being bashed with heavy pots and pans.  Apparently they also don't mend seamlessly.  And apparently its a risk we, the owners of the House at Porter Street are unwilling to take.  

So it's just as well I threw out the idea of the laboratory sink weeks and weeks ago or else today's visit to Architectural Stone in Johnson Street might've been too much for me.  Coz today we''re completely done with the undermount sink we'd ordered for our new kitchen and instead we'lre all over the inset variety.

The wash up from this is that we need to rethink before the man comes on Friday to do the technical measure for the new kitchen.  I need to be able to provide him with the exact dimensions of all appliances and inclusions.  Everything.  Including the kitchen sink.

Since Freedom Kitchens don't have any suitable sinks in their range (and that comes straight from our kitchen designer who works for them) tomorrow we start looking again.

Hi ho, hi ho.

14 March, 2011

Chainsaw anybody?

Encroaching on Suffocating the verandah, at the back of the House at Porter Street, is an appalling tree.

Poppy on the armchair wards off any interloping possums who've come to  ravage
Mum's new ornamental capsicum.

I never conceived of such deep antipathy for leafy, green goodness, especially not the EDIBLE leafy green goodness of a bay tree, resplendent with enough bay leaves for a nation's generation of sauces, stews and soups.

However abhorrence is what I feel, and I have no desire to put lipstick on THIS pig.

The bay tree works as a [claustrophobic] screen between us and our own fence, which is at least 1.8m from the rail and beyond that, our neighbours. 

The space between the tree and the fence
where dwells the pool filter.

A family of trunks to the left (wedged in by yet another ugly, horrible pencil pine) extend across the 5 or 6 metres of balcony.

The monster's trunk.
There's a "workshop" under the verandah,
rendered useless due to lack of light, due to the dense canopy of leaves.
Oh, and there's more planks of wood under here too...

The beast is unarguably out of control.

The canopy inspired by the Amazon Basin

My urge is to remove the thing altogether, replacing the screening element with clumping bamboo.

Fargesia Robusta : photo copyright Noah Bell, Bamboo Garden

And/or doing something along these lines

and if its possible, relocating the very VERY well established jasmine to "stink it up" as Milo so lyrically puts it.

The jasmine currently owns the railing on the south side of the balcony...

I swear, the place is a jungle.


As I complain about wood and damp and rubbish and the bay leaf tree (oh, that's my next post), I do need to say how grateful I am that we are in tact and are not homeless.  Not like all those folk in Japan who have suddenly lost their homes, their families and in vast numbers, their lives following Friday's earthquake and tsunami.  

There but for the grace of God...

12 March, 2011


There are no words.  (The words I do can not utter relate to the nether lands).  I donned my cap and tracky dacks, borrowed Papou's torch, and ventured beneath again today.  Why?  I shrug a little and ponder.  Perhaps in the hope that exposure to the full catastrophe would inspire some sort of plan.  Some scheme to move us closer to a resolution.

Resolution?  Resolution of the damp.  Resolution of the fire hazard.  Resolution of the compulsion to purge every blessed corner of this abode of the unhealthy spectre of those who resided here before.

Alas and alack.  

The scale of the task is truly daunting.  There are cobwebs like ropes.  Spiders the size of a small staffordshire bull terrier, enough wood for a fleet of The Arks, lorry-loads of pine cones, kindling enough for a collective noun of Rudyards, roofing tiles, pipes, nylon netting, piles of bricks, buckets, did I mention planks?

I think he's down there as well.  Milo's Monster.

To be frank, I just don't have the first clue about where to start.

I kept telling myself "just start".  But then where to I put all the mountains of stuff when its out?  

Hey (brain cogs are churning) I wonder if the chook shed's dry...

Perhaps that's it.  Maybe the chook shed will be our salvation.  Tomorrow morning I shall investigate.

I feel a little buoyed.

Thanks.  Better.