Covering it all up, and a dad joke

Well hello there…glossing right over my long absence from keeping you updated on our progress, I have progress to share with you in spades. Or shovels actually – square front, because they’re the best for this job so I’m told.

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The last I clued you in on what we’ve been up to in the backyard, was when we transplanted the plum tree from it’s corner of the odd little triangle of deck, and up into the more deserving and lofty place of the biggest planter we could heft down the stairs and across the backyard.

I’m pleased to say it survived, and I had high hopes when we got to enjoy a good spring bloom, but sadly there were only a small handful of meagre plum offerings. Uprooting an old tree definitely interferes with it’s nervous system. Hopefully next summer it’ll be feeling more up to production tempo again.

Pretty ain’t it?

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But not so pretty… the weeds growing in every nook and cranny of the patchwork of old and new concrete, and ugly stained timber decking.

What to do….? Clearly laying ready lawn over top is not a good idea.

While we didn’t hate the concrete part, the odd triangle of deck in the back right corner really didn’t fit in with my vision of a comfortable, cosy, and relaxing back yard. What I really wanted to do was turn the concrete into crazy paving, and then cover up the deck. But apparently this was not achievable without seriously annoying the neighbours with a concrete saw for weekends on end, and the result unpredictable at best but leaning heavily towards disaster.

Would you believe we even contemplated ripping out the decking and filling the void with concrete so at least we’d be back to one simple surface? But that would have brought all sorts of retaining nightmares and probably have involved talking to the council. Not ideal.

So. “Cover it all up!” was the cry. White pebbles was the answer.

Until we saw the price. And realised that to do it properly we’d need to first invest in what the kids have deemed “honeycomb”.

“Honeycomb” is otherwise known as Natural Paving. There are various versions of it, and I forget quite why we chose this in the end, although most were priced pretty comparably, and do the same job. Which is to provide stability for a large area of pebbles. It holds them in place, and makes them easier to walk on. An added bonus is that it makes it hard for kids to dig around in them and throw bucket loads over the back fence and generally create havoc after you’ve gone to great lengths to rake it all out nice and smooth and level. Yep we’ll have some of that.

At $32 a sheet, and needing a total of 31 sheets, it got us almost to $1000 in one transaction. Scary stuff. But at least it was straightforward.

Pebbles was not so much. First there was giving up the dream of white pebbles, because that was looking like a few too many digits after the dollar sign. But mainly because once I got beyond that by telling myself they’d only be hard to keep looking good anyway, I couldn’t for the life of me make comparisons between pebbles and prices and suppliers thereafter. I was good at maths before I divided my brain in half twice by producing two offspring (leaving me with a quarter of my original… just enough to work that one out) but trying to compare these pebbles priced at so much per m3 with these different but supposedly the same pebbles at so much per tonne… way too much.

So what is one to do but go by looks then..?!

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Exhibit A: 4 different pebble samples from 3 different suppliers

I liked the look of the “Hoki Poki Small” from Daltons, and within days a truck dumped a 1.5m3 mountain in front of the garage door.

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But meanwhile… we laid all the “honeycomb” and congratulated ourselves on moving one step further so efficiently (it was super quick to lay), only to spend the next few days wondering if perhaps we needed some kind of drainage underneath…

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A wash down of my pebble samples left water sitting in the matting, with nowhere to drain to, and a quick phone call to Natural Paving confirmed that yes it was absolutely necessary to have at least 50mm of drainage metal underneath. The webbed material on the underside of the honeycomb is more for weed control. Nevermind that we’d edged off the entire yard allowing only for the thickness of the matting plus 10-15mm for pebbles on top of that. We didn’t have 50mm. At least not without copious frustration.

Andre’s day time job came in handy once again as he sussed out more advanced drainage materials than GAP 20, eventually coming across some kind of geotextile called “bidim” from Geofabrics. It has hydraulic properties which makes it ideal for use for drainage and filtration applications. Oh really? And how thick is it did you say? Oh about 2mm. Give or take 1mm!!

Laying it meant taking up the honeycomb row by row and replacing it over the top as we unrolled the bidim, so we didn’t mix up our jigsaw and get ourselves in a complete pickle.

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With that done, I spent most of a precious childless Friday moving barrows of Hoki Poki from here to there. Blisters and splinters aside, it was a good feeling to get to this point.

0504_145748I left off with it all dumped in piles where the wheelbarrow got the better of me and tipped off my wobbly ramp, too exhausted to rake it around, and definitely not able to manhandle that half-built playhouse structure around to finish off the job.

0504-03.07Andre got it done the next day, and after a good wash down of the dusty pebbles, it was looking pretty fine!

0504_4354We over ordered by a small pile of pebbles, and these have been fun for the kids (to throw around by the bucket load) but will get bagged up and used for top ups when necessary.

0504_4358 0504_4359Besides this “cover up” we’ve been busy in the backyard for most of the summer with adding timber to the front side of the planter wall on the deck, and to the side alongside the stairs. I’ve spent a bit of time in the garden up the side, trying to get some shade loving plants established, and helping the jasmine along with a better growing frame, and a couple of extra plants. We also filled in and painted the “half wall” at the garage side of the backyard.

Busy. But these leaps of progress are so worth it!

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Once you can stop and look back… and once you know there are just a couple more things left on the list. We have a playhouse to finish obviously, and then a line up of more concrete pipe planters waiting to move into position along the back fence and break the monotony of brown with some much needed green!

I’ll leave you with this:

After 5 years of fatherhood Andre is getting pretty heavily involved in the Dad-joke Club, but one of his latest (pilfered from somewhere no doubt) is actually not bad: “Did you have a good weekend or do you own your own home?”

Small spaces: Traditional vs contemporary

A Pinterest trawl this morning stopped me at this remodeled barn type house. Anything that says small and cosy has me peering closer…

We love how this #kitchen fits into the house like a puzzle piece. www.remodelworks.com

And despite my ignorance as to what this one is all about – it links to here, but I can’t spot it – it has me intrigued with it’s well executed combo of traditional style and contemporary fitout.

It would make a perfect mini flat out the back of someone’s big ol’ house, or a cosy holiday house in the woods. Amp up the contemporary style and it would look equally as at home near the beach.

I love the porch-tree-swing, the farmhouse table right alongside the kitchen, and the built in seating that tucks right up to the shelving and the windows. Gorgeous!

Summer lovin’

What an absolutely stunning summer we are enjoying here in Auckland this year! It’s hot, dry and the locals will agree that it’s not even humid!

We were lucky to spend a few glorious days at a bach on Waiheke Island. So, this was our summer – beach fossicking, swimming, stunning views, and a few motorbike rides around the winding roads!

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But we are home now, and back into the DIY groove that has been off since our last big project. Of course this time of year lends itself to the outdoors, so we are tackling the backyard once again, with a pergola/playhouse in the pipeline. Pipeline – it’s a clue! Stand by…

Merry Christmas and a bit more

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I feel a bit of a fraud – writing on my own blog, after ignoring it for so long!

But I do have to check in and say Merry Christmas and thanks for being here. And in case you get all nostalgic at this time of year (who doesn’t… just a little bit?!) here’s how we did Christmas last year, the year before, and back in 2011. As the years go by it gets a little more… well… Christmassy!

It’s been a year and a half this one. Lots has happened that wasn’t supposed to happen, and not much has happened that we thought might happen! But we are looking forward to “big things” next year, and I have my fingers crossed for a little more time to myself, with one off to school and the other to kindy. I may even get back into blogging regularly?!

But for now, just have yourselves a merry little Christmas!

Thanks x

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Mid century style in Hamilton

Hamilton is known for a lot of things, but architecture isn’t one of them, as far as I know. Although to be fair, Hamilton and I have never been more than vague acquaintances.

So I was surprised but delighted to see HOME magazine has featured a gem of a mid century home in the heart of the city, overlooking Lake Rotoroa.

Lomus house Hamilton. Photograph by Paul McCredie.

I love the thought that has gone into the design of this house (courtesy of the owners, and the architect – Peter Middleton), and the spaces that were created to accommodate various family members and activities harmoniously.

Photographs by Paul McCredie.

There is even some adults-only territory, otherwise known as a parlour. But my favourite would have to be the library. And the fireplace. I love a handsome open fireplace.

Photographs by Paul McCredie.

The big reason I got excited though, was this:

Lomus house Hamilton - Peter Middleton

A floor plan!! Weirdo me, but show me a floor plan and I’ll be happy as Larry for hours after! This one is truly a good one, and after some perusal I can’t see anything I’d be in a hurry to change. There is outdoor access from almost every room, guest accommodation at the opposite end of the house to the kids rooms, a study nook (AND the library, don’t forget!) as well as a studio and store room. Wow!

They did make good houses back then. In Hamilton.

Happy hump day x

All photos by Paul McCredie. for HOME magazine.

DIY clothes rack

As you know, we moved into our bedroom without a wardrobe. We had plans for a midcentury style built in, but got cold feet on that at the last minute. Neither of us could visualise it entirely, and we decided that wasn’t a good thing.

So our plans are to find a gorgeous pair of vintage freestanding wardrobes (like this one – below), and give them a modern lick of gloss white. Because we like our white bedroom, even though it really was unintentional!

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But… we do things a little slowly, so an interim measure was required. Crossing the hall to fetch clothes from the spare bedroom only felt fancy-dressing-room-like for a couple of days. It didn’t help that the wardrobe in that bedroom is less than an arm span in width and full of “stuff” already. Something more convenient was required!

On an instagram (@duckeggblueblog) post a while back I vowed I wouldn’t consider a clothes rack, knowing our collection of clothing is a long way short of colour-coordinatable. Plus, there is an alarmingly large pile of husbands trackies and swanndri jumpers that don’t fit in our drawers, and will never know a coathanger. Where to put those?!

Ignoring that small problem for a minute, I quickly realised a clothes rack would be the perfect interim option – cheap, quick and not so bad if I could leave the loudest of our clothes across the hall for special occasions!

So… a clothes rack:
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For anyone in a similar situation, there is so much inspiration out there for DIY clothes racks. It’s a simple matter of finding the one you like best and copying it.

I started this on a night when chaos was reigning… so excuse my over-zealous attempt to regain some control by laying out all my pieces like this:
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From there it was a simple matter of attaching the tees and elbows to the right pieces and then Andre helped me to connect them all up (one person holding up the frame, and the other spinning the allen key). Once it was all put together Andre got his squint on and adjusted everything so it was all in line, and standing straight up.
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We opted not to put flanges on the bottom to keep things a little more minimal, so needed some “feet” to keep the cut off end of pipe from scratching the floor. I found the perfect size bungs at Para Rubber!0904_2104

A little spray primer, followed by gloss white and we had ourselves a basic clothes rack!0904_2108 0904_2109 0904_2202 0904_2203 0904_2204 0904_2205-(2) 0904_2206 0904_2207 0904_2208

Budget breakdown:

Pipe $40 – Easysteel
Joiners $46 – Advanced Steel Products
Bungs $6 – Para Rubber
Spray paint (we had primer already, and some leftover white gloss, but I needed one more full can of gloss white) $8 – Bunnings

Total $100 (give or take a few cents!)

I’ll be honest and admit I removed half of our clothes for the styled shots above. This is how it really looks, with a few more colourful summer clothes still hanging next door. Not so bad!

0904_2212Next up is something other than a chair in the corner to dump those aforementioned trackies and big fat jumpers…

 

Small spaces: A bridge house

If ever you have a difficult building site, or just an extra special landscape you don’t want to mar… the bridge house could be your thing.

Besides “touching the earth lightly” this one by Max Pritchard Architects is packed with eco features such as a black concrete floor for thermal mass, huge north facing and double-glazed windows, steel louvres for summer shade and solar water heating.

Gorgeous innit?!

PS. Anyone know that ol’ railway bridge on the left just at the southern edge of Ohakune village? The property it is on was for sale a while back and I reeeeeeeally wanted to buy it and create a house on the bridge. Big old arches and all. How fun would that have been? And it looked straight up to Mt Ruapehu. Amazing… but not to be.