Tag Archives: building

Master bedroom makeover: The ugly beginnings

Almost a year ago, I showed you our master bedroom in it’s best looking state – rather embarrassing to say the least. But now the demo is done and I’m excited for the ideas floating in my head and can’t wait to show you an after that will erase all memory of how it has looked for almost 4 years. Yep, we do things slowly!

First to happen was removing the old sliding door that we never bothered to slide across because it was such a cranky old thing. Now we have a glossy white hinged door and despite it missing a door handle it’s still pretty awesome! A door on your bedroom after four years is a big deal.

Note: These next few photos most accurately show the current colour of our bedroom, and believe it or not… it was once worse. Just wait…!

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(A saw hanging in your front entrance… totally normal)0508_0013So with that done, I was itching to get stuck into the wallpaper. I just had to know how easy it was going to come off.
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Short answer: not that easy. So I ignored it for a few more weeks.

But then we finally moved out into the “green bedroom” and the excuses weren’t cutting it anymore!

So, here’s what we “started” with this time last week. An empty room with beige painted bubbling wallpaper, ugly light fittings and a behemoth of a useless wardrobe. (Plus a spare bed that has nowhere else to be, and a writing bureau that is awaiting its fate on Trade Me.)
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It’s a good feeling to use a hammer and a crowbar on a room you have no attachment to, despite sleeping in it for years! And despite Andre’s nervousness about me wielding such tools, he showed no reservation when he came home last Thursday and saw I’d got started. He was into it and there was nothing left for me to do…0508_0970 0508_0975 0508_0997

…but sweep up the mess. Don’t let this next photo fool you. Neither of these two did any sweeping (I just caught them having a very short-lived sweeping lesson), although to be fair, the little one did a great job of helping me cart all the pieces of timber and gib out to the trailer.

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But that’s where all the fun ended. Because now we have the mammoth task of getting all that nasty twice painted wallpaper off.

But first – something else a little scary ugly.

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Not only is our room now a hideous apricot-beige, but prior to that it was purple… complete with glow stars. I can only hope it was once a young girls room. Before that it appears it was green, and originally it was wallpapered with storks (thankfully stripped by some poor previous owner, but we found a remnant stuck under the sliding door pelmet).

But we are moving on!

This room is in the least sunny corner of the house, and is therefore a bit damp and icky. So without going into too much revolting detail, in the extra icky parts like the back of the wardrobe and by the south side window the wallpaper came off super easy. No spraying, scraping or picking required. But fortunately/unfortunately (I can’t decide which because the first means less mould, the second means endless hours of work) in the rest of the room the paper appears to be well stuck and it’s a tedious process of removal. Which is why we’ve buried our heads in the sand not made much progress.

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The problem with painted wallpaper is it’s completely sealed and no amount of spraying any kind of solution is going to work until it’s given a way to seep into the backing of the paper. So the theory goes.

This strange looking tool is called a Paper Tiger and it’s specific purpose is to score the wallpaper so whatever you spray on will penetrate beneath the paint.

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At this point I can say it is definitely doing it’s job. The spray is getting under the paper. So far we’ve tried a detergent/cold water spray (just because I always have a spray bottle of that sitting around for everything from ants to cockroaches) and a vinegar/hot water. But either the spray or our technique or some other force is working against us and the wallpaper is coming away in the smallest peelings. I have not yet had the satisfaction of grabbing one loose edge and hauling from top to bottom. It’s a sad state of wallpaper stripping.

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So either we try something else or we keep chipping away for years to come. Either way, I’ll let you know!

But here’s at least some progress for you. I present to you… all four walls, as of this morning:0508_1126 0508_1128 0508_1129 0508_1130
Guess what we’ll be doing this weekend?!

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!

Backyard planning: A vision for privacy and safety

We could go to Bunnings and purchased a readymade balustrade system. Or we could custom design a different style of balustrading or screening on all sides of our deck.

10 points for guessing correctly. Actually make that 0 points – it’s far too obvious.

If there is anything consistent in our renovation style, it is doing things a little differently. Not because we like to be awkward, but because we like to create a space that suits us – our family and the things we like. What is a home if not a place to be yourself?

With that little disclaimer out of the way, this is what we have planned for the screening and balustrading part of our deck. Andre did render a much more accurate and engineered illustration, but it’s been misplaced (probably in the car) so this is my 30 second reinterpretation. 1004_1510

So, starting at the left as we stand gazing out the french doors off the dining area because it’s the logical thing to do…

This is the side that faces the neighbours driveway and beyond to another neighbour, as well as being the highest point in the backyard, so we want to have a reasonably solid screen along there. My inspiration picture is below, at bottom left. A little bit of mid century style, along with an easy build, and the ability to make this a real feature with some colour (that’s a discussion for another post!) put this to the forefront of my deck design mind. We may or may not leave the top section open as we will have screen planting in behind (between the fence and this screen there is about 600mm) but we can decide when we get to that point.

Along the front edge is where it gets a bit tricky, because it’s where we need some privacy from the neighbours, but don’t want to block our sun or our view to a favourite Auckland landmark. I got an estimate for a custom cut metal screen, but at around the $2k mark it’s definitely not an option. I must have had the top right image below fermenting in my mind because I’ve settled on a planter box, with wires running to a roof frame for a climber to climb to its hearts content (until it blocks our view and we have to take the clippers to it). Greenery screenery. If you’re not getting this vision, try flipping the top right image below on its side and inserting onto the top left image. Better?

And finally on the right hand side we’re going back to retro with a wrought iron (or similar) balustrade which we keep spotting all over town, but with a narrower V to comply with modern safety standards. I have my fingers crossed Andre’s contacts can help with this one on a budget, otherwise we’ll be back to the drawing board.

It’s a real mix of shapes and texture and materials, but I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. Hopefully it marries happily ever after and doesn’t fight nasty.

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Oh! We missed some pictures above… those stairs? Just in case there isn’t enough material variety already, I have my heart set on a brick wall slash handrail for the stairs which run down the right side of the deck (looking out from the house). Below is my amazing technical drawing of how that might appear (minus any sense of scale or straightness). The stairs themselves will just be straightforward timber ones – easy peasy!

And before I go, just one last thing. We’re framing in a “roof” to our outdoor room (flash term for the humble deck) which at this point will just be posts up each corner and then rafters (term?) along the three open sides. It’s still up for debate whether these will be timber, or steel as per top right, above.

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All this talk of multiple materials and styles and textures and shapes and heights and patterns is making me a little nervous. Will it look amazing??! I’m counting on it!

If you missed the last backyard planning posts with full layouts, they’re here and here.

Working out the back

This is what we tell our Saturday visitors at the moment: don’t knock at the front door – we’ll be working out the back.

There are a couple of things on the go out there. The main one being demolition of the old deck, to make way for a new one over the next couple of months. It’s been Andre’s project (I’ve been getting my hands dirty with some concrete planters) but we were both pretty pleased to see the last piece of old deck come away this weekend.

A few weeks ago, we started here…

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The lower steps were the first to get removed, so the kids (the smallest one at least) could no longer get up onto a half dismantled deck. Safety first – always!

With that, I left Andre to carry on as he wished…

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There were lots of rusty nails, and some help from a small boy with a hammer, until eventually all the deck boards were done and we could see right down to the odd concrete terraces underneath. 0903_1100

With a deadline looming (our building mastermind returning from a holiday!) Andre opted to stay home from a kids party on Saturday and busted through the rest of the deck. I got home in time to make him pose with the very last piece before it joined the pile of scrap timber. Here’s the “I can’t believe you’re making me do this, and that I’m actually doing it” face:

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So while things are looking more like a blank canvas in one corner of the backyard, the other corner is temporarily doing the opposite. I’m just so glad for the hardy wee plum tree that is bringing a bit of blossom beauty to a very sad and sorry backyard just now! Even that succulent is giving up after being unceremoniously uprooted and dumped with barely a clump of soil to help keep it alive. I’m not sure what the plan is for this timber now – we were hopeful we could use some of the decking boards to replace some rotten bits of the lower deck triangle (right under where they’re stacked now) but a fair bit of them were also rotten, and most broke up when they were prised off also. Firewood maybe? Or just the scrap heap…?

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Because I’m a neat freak clean as you go type I was in with the broom as soon as Andre was out of the way. Decades of decaying debris didn’t stand a chance. And that last remaining patch of “back lawn” got bundled away too.

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The old apricot paint is a clear mark of where the old deck came to, and how it stepped down alongside the house. We’ll need to waterblast and touch this up at some stage…

Among it all, I found this:

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It’s body was as long as my longest finger. Erghhh! And yes it did get dealt with when it had the cheek to actually jump on me. I totally didn’t squeal, but there was lots of arm shaking and shuddering and I made Andre check all over me to make sure none of its friends thought it would be fun to join in.

The last task before we called it enough’s enough was to mark out and cut holes in the concrete for where the new deck posts will go. The four squares marked along that line are where there will be posts in a few more weeks. The old deck came to right about the edge of the bottom concrete terrace. The new one will go to about a metre beyond that yellow line, so we’re getting another metre and a half in length, and a touch more in width too. Yes!

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Next week we’re breaking out that concrete to discover if we get an easy “dig out some dirt underneath”, or need to hire a rock breaker! I’m picking the latter… this house seems to be built on rock!

For the meantime, the kids are loving playing in their idea of backyard paradise – pile of dirt, stack of timber (sticking out nail free, and securely stacked) and those fun (but ugly) concrete terraces!

Pin of the day: An awesome awning

The weekend involved some sitting in the backyard, discussing the new deck build. Sometimes I get a little frustrated with so much discussion, and it seems to take for ever and ever to get on and make things happen. But, all that talking around in circles means facing the challenges and coming up with new ideas… all of which lead to something just perfect in the end! I just need to learn a little patience… hate that!

So today, post discussion and a few small spanners in my plans, I’m doing my best to visualise the deck part of our backyard plan, and come up with some potential solutions for an awning or roof of some sort, and a handrail or screen for the sides of the deck.

Modern awning, white stone, arty fence

I’m starting with this, which gives me much food for thought. I really love that awning, and just hope Andre and his dad (our builder) will refrain from rolling their eyes. And I already have a saved search on Trade Me for a wrought iron panel to incorporate somewhere… As for those tiled places to perch – they are ticking away in my mind too.

Oh I do feel for the men who will be doing their best to cater to my dreams!

 

Modifying plans

I’ve been making the most of the Auckland winter sunshine and getting outside into our backyard (such as it is) and dreaming of how it will look this time next year. Fingers crossed!

With a builder waiting in the wings we’ve had to make a decision on the deck. You might remember we started with two quite dissimilar plans? I’ve sort of fallen for one of them.

And made a few small modifications…

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We’re going crazy paving (once I convince Andre we need to break up the concrete!) and a small deck. While the multi-level deck would have been fun, and a great play space for the kids, we think this plan suits the house better, allows us to work with what we have (and hopefully save some money) and provide more variation for kids play (and adult zones!).

Since the previous version of this plan we’re thinking of keeping the entire existing raised garden bed at the left, and will plant either a screening hedge or potentially make it a vege garden. To allow more room for an outdoor dining table on the open concrete space beyond the deck, we’ve also decided to keep the stairs to the right of the deck.

I’m pretty excited about it and can’t wait to get started! May the sunshine last…

Here’s a couple of my doodlings from yesterday afternoons Vitamin D session:

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I was just trying to visualise how we could arrange/scale some concrete planters. Looks like it’s going to work for us to do that instead of the terracotta pots. Sometimes Plan B is even better than Plan A! (Even when you’re a diehard Plan A girl!)  I think I might give them a dipped look to fancy them up a bit (and to match our dining chairs and kindling crate)…0702_7247

I’m not yet certain of the pergola/playhouse structure but I’m thinking something semi closed in with screens and a climbing vine on two sides and the roof. More than likely it’ll house a sandbox and some simple benches. I kind of think it would be fun to create an outdoor play kitchen, but I must remember kids can make that happen with whatever is around all on their own! Let’s not overcomplicate things!

So… deck railing research is calling…

Have a great day!