Category Archives: Garage & Outdoors

Pillar to paint

It seems we’re a little hasty in calling things done and moving onto the next big thing. You see, for every big project we cross off the list, there seem to be always just a couple of little finishing touches that we turn a blind eye to, being more enthusiastic about planning for the next job. And I doubt it’s just us?!

0705_7301Last summer, we “completed” our front fence and gate, and it was a glorious moment crossing that one off the list! But hang on… those pillars look a little rough?!

Yes, it’s taken me a year to slap some paint on those. But overlooking that minor issue, we’re all good now. See…?

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Note 1: Yes, the gate is missing a couple of coats of paint still. Give me another year? (Actually this one needs a little more attention because the steel frame actually needs to be regalvanised… it’s rusting. And really annoying me in the process!)

Note 2: Yes we do have a couple of apricot planter boxes still on the right hand side of the drive (scroll up… up… up) but they’re a little lower on the priority list yet.

If you’re very extremely rather observant you might have seen a hint of pipe sitting on the front lawn in one of the photos up above? If this weekends scheduled cyclone doesn’t arrive that’s the project for the weekend – getting started on putting up a pergola over our deck. Oooh la la!

If it does get wild, we’ll be inside and hopefully getting a real door on our bedroom at last. I’ve been busy painting it this week and I’ll be almost as excited as I am about our brick wall* when it actually gets hung!

*As of today, the bricklayer has bid us adieu and packed up his saw. I am actually hoping for some rain to wash away all the dust because I want to do it justice and photograph it all fresh and clean! It’s going to be a good one…

 

Welcome in!

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After almost two years of wear and tear, our mid century doormats were defintely more antique condition than retro cool.

After looking around for some replacements I was a little stumped. Yes, there are plenty of nice doormats to be had, but there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me about spending almost three figures on something to wipe your feet on.

For some reason (I’m blaming the muggy afternoons we’re getting this week) it took a while for me to come to “hey… I have two dead doormats, a bunch of spray cans… how about round two of DIY doormat design?”

But there wasn’t three minutes after that thought before I was out ready with spray can aimed!

Prep was limited to a quick bashing of the mats with a half brush to get the worst of the dust and dirt out. Obviously you’d be better off starting with some fresh clean mats (from memory these were something like $7 each from Bunnings) but Miss E was asleep and a trip to Bunnings wasn’t happening.

Excusing the sorry mess of front lawn (it’s not all this bad, I just picked this spot for my painting spree because clearly I couldn’t destroy any grass in the process) this is my two doormats with a base coat – one of silver and the other duck egg blue.

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Without too much thought I grabbed my masking tape and whipped up one grid design:0227_9949

And then a random diagonal version:0227_9950

For something that took all of 15 minutes effort, with barely a minute of prior thought, I’m delighted with the results! My front entrance and back door look so much more welcoming and bright!

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The paint job may or may not last long… but there are more spray cans in the garage!! Thank goodness for spray paint right?! It hides an array of disasters… although sometimes it can be the disaster!

That grown-up feeling

If you’ve been a faithful reader (I thank you from the bottom of my heart!) for some time you’ll know we love colour in this house, but we have yet to actually paint anything in something braver than whites or greys (exterior).

Oh but I forget… our door!

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Nevermind that I’m really not besotted with that result and am considering something more… neutral.

But forget that for now. Because I’m mulling over something a little more dramatic for our master bedroom…

We’re not quite done out the back yet, but while one project is trucking along nicely I always have another one or two doing the rounds in my brain, and Andre especially likes to jump around from working on this to that and back again. So as much as I wish we could just pick an area and deal to it properly before moving on, it just doesn’t work out that way.

That’s the long way to say we’ve started on some master bedroom improvements and of course I can’t wait to make some more progress and share it with you.

If you want the bite sized bits and pieces of what we’re up to (like having some fun with steel tube while thinking of a pergola over our deck) you’re best off following along over at Instagram (@duckeggblueblog).

For now though, just feast your eyes on this grown-up goodness (all images below from my Pinterest bedroom board or click the picture for it’s original link)…

the design files

Dark (and Surprisingly Soothing) Bedroom Walls

Dark (and Surprisingly Soothing) Bedroom Walls

 

interior by jean liu

Do you get that moody-cosy-romantic-retreat kind of feeling? Or do you think it’s all rubbish and we should stick with light and crispy white for this pretty well sunless bedroom of ours?

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Hmmmm???

How to get sandy feet in 10 minutes…again

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Avoid eye contact with the renovation to do list and run away for the weekend to the beach!

Or…

You might remember last time we whipped up a ten minute DIY sandpit? We had to dismantle that one when we redid the lawn, and I’ve been feeling deprived (on behalf of my kids) since.

So once it was confirmed we didn’t need the blocks for our upcoming brick wall, I claimed them as mine and set about putting our world of play right again.

First I cleared and swept the area clean, then it’s a simple matter of laying down weedmat and placing the blocks on top. I used weedmat again because it keeps the sand from falling through the deck, but also because it makes for easier clean up when you need or want to pack it all up. This area of the backyard is still in development, so it’s unlikely the sandpit will stay beyond next summer (although I’ll probably incorporate a more permanent version into the plans!)

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We had weedmat and the blocks from last time, but we did need to buy some sand this time. 3 bags from Bunnings at $7 each barely cover the bottom of it but the kids are fine with that, and we’ll get some more at a cheaper rate once the trailer is emptied of it’s latest lot of builders mix.

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For shade and some colour, I’ve fixed the umbrella stand to the fence and we put the umbrella up when the sand pit is in play mode.

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0224_9806The kids are pretty pleased with the results, and I’m happy with anything that gets them outside in the fresh air for some creative play. It also adds a little something to the corner of the backyard that is looking the most neglected right now.

0224_9804We will more than likely build some sort of structure for play and/or shaded seating in this corner. But we need to wait for winter, and the dormant stage for our plum tree before we can uproot it and try and transplant it into that giant concrete planter. Then we may need to strengthen that odd little triangle piece of deck before we add more planters right across in front of the back fence. I would also dearly love to turn the expanse of concrete into crazy paving, but it’s not just so easy to smash it up. Apparently. We might have to go for plan B involving pebbles.

0224_9820The very next thing out here though will be the brick wall. The footing is completed and I’ve just had word from our bricklayer that he’s scheduled us in for next week. Can’t wait to see the last pile of materials sitting around the backyard to transform into something useful. Maybe that will help erase the memory of two weekends spent waterblasting every. single. brick. on. every. single. side.

What also helps is feeling like we are at the point in this renovation project where we can look around and really see how much has changed – not just how much we need to do. Does that mean we’re on the downhill side? I think it might! Wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!

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A deck for summer

As promised, I’m back with a few progress shots of our backyard. I’ve been a little slow to post an update, not just because weather made things a little less photogenic for a while, but because we’re at that awkward, inbetween stage of A to B where things just get confusing if you don’t have a clear view of the B in mind!

So put your visionary goggles on for this one!

A couple of months ago this is how things were looking out the back.

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This is the same(ish) view now!

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We have ourselves a deck to dine on, play on, sun ourselves on, and stargaze on! It feels so, so good to be at this point, and I’m so grateful for our warm and summery weather of the last few weeks (I’m doing my best to forget those two days of incessant rain!).

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Our custom balustrade is completed and installed and I am so happy with it! We took a popular midcentury design and modified it to meet modern safety requirements. I was worried the V shape would be so narrow it would barely even give a nod to its predecessor, but I do feel like we got away with it! Phew! One thing I’m not entirely happy about is the colour, but I’m reserving judgement until we firm up some plans for a frame (see below!).

1211_8725A few temporary measures have been taken to ensure child safety, and enjoyment of this space, until we move onto the next stage of progress which we’ll get to after a few weeks of Christmas and holiday fun. The handrail down the stairs, along with the plastic netting on attached to the full height screen are not part of the vision! The handrail will be replaced with a brick wall/handrail, and here is a little preview of our vision for the screen:

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We are also weighing up our options for a “steel frame” to make this outdoor space feel a little more like a room, than just an open deck.

It may or may not include rafters across the top, for some extra potential in hanging furniture or decor! You can see below my vision for planting too… a jasmine hedge is underway in the narrow garden space behind the screen but it may take some time to fill in like this! Also, we have a few little marigolds in the planter box at the moment, but plan to replace them with some kind of climbing/overhanging vine to add a little privacy and interest to that side of the deck.

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If you scroll right back up to the top, you can see that things are all rather brown and grey at the moment, so I’m grateful for the little bits of greenery that we have, and couldn’t resist these close ups of the plum tree, and concrete planters, and a sneaky nasturtium peeking through the neighbours fence.

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Here’s to a relaxing holiday season, and lots of enthusiasm to finish this space off in 2014!

Spo-rad-ic (adj)

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Sporadic blogging… hmm. I’ll try and do better. It’s just, well… I’ve been too busy sunning myself on our new deck…!

Actually, not too much because we’re not quite at the toddler-proof stage yet (not that I’m a toddler, but there’s usually one not too far away from me) but oh the promise! I’ve moved the coolie chairs in, and our custom balustrade is ready and waiting to be installed.

There has been progress a million, so I definitely owe you an update post – bear with me til next week? I’m still getting over last weeks post which took me way too many hours to write!

If you just can’t wait you can get a few little sneak peeks via my Instagram (@duckeggblueblog) or have a look on Facebook. Links just over that way ——–>

Have a lovely weekend!

It all adds up

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A month ago this was where we were at. And then I got all gloomy and felt like nothing was happening so I got a little envious over someone else’s awesome (finished) space…

But I’ve just collated all my photos of the last few weeks, and lo and behold – progress!

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If you feel like playing “spot the difference” you’re welcome to. If not, here are the answers:

– New deck joists
– Plants in planters
– New side garden
– All tidied up
– Decking timber ready and waiting!

So, starting with the biggie, here’s deck progress.

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We are extremely lucky to have Andre’s dad doing our building. Not only do we get a deck built, but we get babysitting at the same time. I feel pretty guilty about him trying to get a job done with them underfoot, but I’m assured he doesn’t mind, and I know he adores them and they him. It’s like trying to prise an oyster off a rock to get them back inside or playing in the front yard out of the way. So I’ve about given up, and just send regular trays of coffee and hot chocolate out to keep the grizzles to a minimum.

1029_1715These are from a couple of weeks ago, so there are now spacer bits (technical term!) between the joists to keep everything straight. You might spot them in another photo further down, but no promises.

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For a simple deck we seem to spend a lot of time in contemplation over the details. Andre and his Dad have had numerous discussions and quite a lot of mutterings over the confusing nature of the building code. I had a quick look and left them to it. I’m better at the grand scheme stage.

Polka dot gumboots definitely help with grand scheming (although my feet are starting to swelter in these so it might be time for some new DIY jandals).

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This is us trying to visualise the couple of steps down from the house, and a balustrade along the eastern side. 1029_8281 And the usual messy state of affairs:

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So, we’re excited to have some decking timber now ready to go, but builders between big jobs are in hot demand to complete lots of little jobs so we’re sharing him around and just grateful for the days when the white van pulls up in the drive!

Next. After shovelling a trailer load of dirt out of the backyard, the last thing I felt like was shovelling another load right back in. But it had to be done, and don’t tell Andre, but I kind of don’t mind jobs like this. At least not when I’m nearing the end… there’s satisfaction in shifting a cubic metre of soil!

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It was destined for these gigantic planters now never to be removed from our backyard in a million years. There have been many small steps with these planters in getting to this stage, but I won’t go into the detail just yet. I’m still mulling over my original plans for finishing touches.1029_1710

But one sunshowery day I got them all planted up. I wanted both screen-the-neighbours and fruit trees, so I picked out a couple of feijoas (two varieties is recommended because even though most types are self-pollinating, they still prefer company) and a mandarin. For now, I’ve underplanted with strawberries, just for fun, but once we get a few nibbles off them I plan to replace them with some more permanent ground cover like baby’s tears or Irish moss. We’ll see!

In the biggest pot I’ve just popped in a trio of daisies, for some colour, until our plum tree in the corner is dormant (next winter) and we can gently transplant it. It’s a great producer so I already have my fingers crossed we won’t harm it by shifting it.1029_1724

Last Saturday saw the remaining smaller pipes sitting in our drive cut up into planter sized bits. So we’re not done with planters yet…

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Last Saturday also saw a scruffy little strip of weeds transformed into a promising garden bed. Down the western side of the deck we have a narrow garden space alongside the neighbours fence. Originally it was full of all sorts of jungle-variety plants but gradually we have sent them all to the tip and these scrappy weeds took over for a while.

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Up against the house are were these trees, which we’ve been trimming away at for a few weeks, hoping if we take it slowly the neighbours won’t mind so much that suddenly there are no trees in the backyard offering privacy between us and them. But with a full height panel due to go up along that side of the deck I decided it was now or never and recruited Andre and his long arms to put them (me?) out of their misery.

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The pink flowering one was first to go (it was always a little neglected and scrappy looking, as well as scraped annoyingly on the windows in the slightest breeze) and bit by bit we started cutting down the tall one. At the very last minute, it got a reprieve. We decided it’ll probably be happy to share with the new planting we had planned, and will actually be helpful in providing an illusion of shade (it’s on the wrong side of the sun to really give any shade) over the deck. So it just got a severe trim in order to fit the panel alongside it.1029_1873

While Andre had yet another discussion with his Dad over the finer details of the deck plan, I got busy with some rocks that had been put aside after the big hole dig.

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Then we all pitched in to clear those pesky weeds and fill in with some leftover topsoil, before planting some gorgeous scented jasmine, and a few ferns that were growing mad up under the trees. Originally we were going to use some of the old decking timber to re-edge this garden bed (the railway sleepers that were there were a bit rotten and fell apart during the clear out stage) but the spur of the moment decision to make use of the rocks was a good one, even if we can’t remember whose it was! It’s the little unexpected jobs like this that really make a day feel like an achievement – completed in less than half an hour, and only using what is to hand. (A bit like this temporary sandpit of many months ago.)

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As for the jasmine… I chose it because it ticks a few boxes like fast-growing, minimal maintenance (once it grows it’ll be a bit tricky to get to in this narrow space), and good screening, but also because of its bonus smells so good factor. Because we need it to fill the space and not grow primarily on either the neighbours side fence, or the panel on the side of the deck, we have staked out (hah!) a frame for it to climb on right between the two. Of course it’ll grow where it likes, but I want to be able to trim it back off the fence or deck panel if/when necessary so this middle-ground structure is where I’ll do my best to train it to.1029_8346 1029_8345I did underestimate my staking requirement initially, but now have another pack waiting to be added to this frame so there is somewhere for my little jasmines to aim for next.1029_1877

And that yucca-y tree at the north end… days are numbered. Neighbours love it, I hate it, Andre’s somewhere in between. So until my little jasmines grow a little, it stays put. But the day is coming when the jasmines and I will slowly but surely prove it’s ugliness and uselessness. All it does is drop those annoying fronds and it doesn’t even smell nice – right jasmines?!

It’s a little hard to tell in the latest “after” photo, with the new stack of decking timber under cover (here it is again so you don’t have to scroll all the way back)…

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…but Andre had a huge tidy up out the back here. Piles of timber got shifted and nails and sawdust cleaned up. I was out first thing on Saturday and came back expecting some “real work” to be underway, but was pleasantly surprised with this. If ever you’re feeling disheartened about progress or lack thereof, just opt for a real good tidy up instead. It works wonders and feels just as good as progress.

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While we’re on the progress train, here’s another something to keep it going…

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The front yard is looking fabulous with spring helping the front garden flourish. My hydrangeas have taken off, after more than a year of being less than impressive, and sending me running for more ground cover plants and some sweet flowers to fill in the gaps, and even wondering if I’d have to pull them out and put something else in. But they’re telling me “not so hasty naive new gardener – good things take time!”

1029_1865Delighted to bring them inside to enjoy too!

Enormous post – thanks for sticking it out to the end!