Tag Archives: interior

Going backwards to go forwards

I’ve been itching to get a progress update on here, because there has been a bunch of stuff going on with just little hints shared here and there.

But… there’s not a room in the house that doesn’t have that “work in progress” vibe. The front room (below – first sneaky peek of that progress!) just has a hint of it, with it’s bare walls and badly styled shelves, but every other way I look it’s far from subtle.

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The dining area currently houses a cabinet destined to be the new bathroom vanity, along with a stack of chairs and cushions that used to belong in the lounge.

The lounge furniture is packed and stacked tight in the middle of the room because we intended to get onto painting the freshly plastered walls and ceiling much sooner than we have… (haven’t yet!).

The kids bedroom is a haphazard halfway point between building a loft bed but not quite got to rearranging the other furniture and artwork to work with the new layout…

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The map prints from the lounge are leaning up against the wall in our bedroom, precariously close to kid-sized somersaulting on the bed feet.

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All that, and the arrival of spring is also making me freak out about the state of my kitchen cupboards and the contents of all wardrobes in the house. A massive declutter suddenly feels like a matter of urgency!

Plus, I miss this edition of the kids room. Why did they have to go and grow so quickly and need full size beds already?!

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In the meantime… we are actually crossing things off the list, and I know it’ll all come together and look fab again soon. Real soon… because I can’t stand it much longer!!!

Hotter… colder… cold… hotter… hot!

Outside, the wind is howling, and the rain is lashing the window in violent gusts. Inside, I can hear the faint roar of logs burning, and I can feel a rosy warmth at my back. (And there the romance novel stops thank goodness!)

Each time I’ve arrived home today it’s been off with the jacket and hat and scarf, and on with… oh! Nothing! No more that big comfy, chunky cardy that’s only fit for home. Because, my friends…

…We have warm! We have an efficient wood burner where once there was…

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Ouch! Thankfully this stage was momentary, but I admit it was a little tough on my organised self. This room is the centre of our house in a literal sense, as well as a living sense. We walk through the lounge to go between the kitchen/dining area, and the bedroom/bathroom area. There is no avoiding it – even when it looks like it should be a no-go zone.

Anyway, back to where we started. Since we did away with that awful mosaic tiling back in 2011, our fireplace has looked like this:

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It gave us much, in the way of ambience and rustic style and a whole lot of love. But efficiency was lacking greatly. Sitting in the armchair right next to it was never close enough… there were many times when it probably looked like I was perched half on top of it in a bid to get some warm air! And I’ll be honest, it didn’t always look this glamorous – mostly it was all about poking it with a half burnt stick every few minutes to keep a little flame flickering. No way would it still be going after I popped out to pick up another bottle of cream, or drop kids at kindy.

And with rumours of law changes around allowing open fires… we knew we finally needed to do something about getting a more efficient source of heat.

Of course we looked into a heat pump. If you don’t have one, you’re well and truly in the minority, and absolutely missing out on being able to say gushing things about how “convenient” they are, and “so cheap!” and “oh I could never do without one”. So there must be something in them.

I lost track of how many quotes came in (they somehow all seemed to quote almost exactly the same model, and at exactly the same price?!) before we almost, almost said yes, we’ll do this. We’ll do it for the resale value, and the convenience (which are one and the same are they not?!).

But… what I really, so desperately wanted was not just for our living area to be toasty warm, but our WHOLE HOUSE! Would that really be too much to ask?!

Sadly though, no amount of pleading with these heat pump guys got them anywhere near saying yes, ok, we can place it here… or here… and it’ll be pretty effective in heating your whole house. They’re a one room only option.

Of course, there was another option to the tune of around $8000 – a fully ducted system delivering quality heat to every room we wanted at the flick of a switch. Ideal – except for the price.

And the other thing… we are a little attached to the romantic notion of a wood burner. And we knew if we had a heat pump as well, the fire would just never get lit. We’d tell ourselves it would, but of course it would just be… too hard… and completely pointless. Plus I’m suspicious of that “currently on hold” ban on open fireplaces sneaking it’s way into law without so much as a “hey I’m back!”, which would leave us with a useless hole in the wall.

So after all this indecision I was finally convinced by coming across a forum that discussed heat transfer kits and how they really are effective when used in conjunction with an efficient wood burner. Annnnnnd… with an April/May special on a 3 room heat transfer kit bought with any new Metro fireplace (which turned out to be the only brand of insert that would fit our current opening) it was looking like the better option all round. Sitting in the middle pricewise, but achieving my goal of a warm and dry house (not just a room!), and the bonus of no ongoing costs (we’ve never had a problem getting free firewood), it was a done deal. Decision made!

So, it was onto scrubbing up that fireplace to get ready for it’s fancy new insert! We have always intended to do something about the marker scrawls all over the brick (drawn as a guide for the mosaic pattern), as well as the mantel and hearth. None of the three were in great condition, but we’d got used to them… and knew it was going to be a messy job, so avoided it accordingly!

But the time had come… to set up an adult size play fort a sealed dust enclosure, and get to work.

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Despite our great precautions, this red brick dust has a mind of it’s own and did manage to find it’s way out, but a little deep breathing, a stress relieving cup of tea, and a whole lot of vacuuming, wiping, and mopping, and we were back to relative normal. And Andre had a good long shower!

And once the dust settled and the nerves calmed, we could see the plan to remove the marking all over the brick was rather successful! But it seemed the brick was a little less attached to the wall than we assumed, because of some chunks of mortar having broken off and weasled their way in between the wall and the surround over time.

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However, what was going to be a straightforward job of chipping that away and refixing the top half of the surround to the wall ended with dismantling the entire surround and a good portion of the firebricks inside.

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Meaning… no fire at all until the new one was installed. I did have a little moment of sadness that we would never sit in front of our open fire again, but was glad I had “wasted” the entire previous evening reading a trashy novel right in front of the crackling flames!

Life Lesson #1: do nothing more often – you won’t regret it!

It all got put back together safely a few days later, and we could stand back and see how that brick was looking. My first reaction was “oh! it’s so orange!”. And actually I’m still thinking it’s rather orange… the grinding took off not just the drawn on pattern, but a layer of red stain/paint/mortar/something-or-other. And while I’m not a big fan of red (don’t ask me how it got to be the somewhat overriding colour in our lounge?!) I’m even less so of orange. Especially when it suddenly clashes with our rug.

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Sealing it with the same two part Peter Fell mix we used on our concrete floor helped tone down the brightness a little…

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…And I made an executive decision to leave thinking about it until the new fire was put in, then live with it for a while and make a decision over time. Because what we do with the brick, is dependent on what we do with both the hearth, and the mantelpiece.

The mantelpiece had its front edge planed off a while back on a whim. A whim along the lines of “I wonder what kind of timber is under here?” We may replace this entirely with something non-combustible, so we can remove the heat deflector from off the top of the fire.

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And the hearth is a little disastrous looking right now too – rough ground concrete which doesn’t play nicely with the brick, surrounded by some battered timber edging. Not sure what we’ll do about this one. It’ll take some sitting in front of the fire contemplating no doubt!

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Anyway, we had the insert installation booked for one day last week (which meant about two weeks between enjoying our last open fire, and getting the new one in), and I was more than a little excited as the day approached. I was that annoying person that rings to check in the morning – “What time did you say you were coming?” Afternoon it was. Afternoon came, and was passing… and by 3.30pm I was thinking this doesn’t bode well for lighting our fire tonight. So one more phone call which eventually came back with the message that the installer had no record of our job on his schedule. Oh I could have howled! And just to rub it in, everything had been delivered the day prior, and we had to pretend like it was ok that we were making do with a picture on a box.

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I knew, with the recent weather we’ve been having that that could have meant another two weeks delay before we could be scheduled in again. But the installer must have felt sorry for us and offered to come over and get it done in the middle of the only long weekend we get between April and October! Even though it was raining and slippery up there on the roof. Thanks Colin, thanks ever so much!

After a tedious afternoon of conditioning the fire by lighting two sheets of paper on the hour, every hour, for eight hours according to the instructions of the user manual (and the first time I’ve seen Andre read one, let alone pay any heed to it…?!) we finally got to light it for real the following day. A fire for the Queen’s birthday – how about that?!

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And the next day I woke to a fire going (thanks Andre!), and came home to a fire going, and came home to a fire going again… oh this is the life!

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And now, I’m off to sit with a trashy novel in front of the fire.

Life Lesson #2: Pay attention to Life Lesson #1 – you won’t regret it!

Small spaces: A dream come true

Living a life on wheels isn’t everyone’s dream. But it’s mine!

Right now, thinking about how life on wheels could (or couldn’t) work frazzles my mind, but it’s there as a “one day” dream… It’s my fall back dream. And actually, it is a dream Andre & I have already had the great fortune to live, for a few blissful (ignoring the fairly regular tantrum days!) months. That was pre-kids, pre-home ownership, pre-proper career, pre-overinflated sense of responsibility.

Now, that over-inflated sense of responsibility gets in the way of such dreams, but I still have hope to quash that and just do it anyway.

Part of my plan is to devour every post and picture that encourages that dream!

This darling home on wheels by Tiny Heirloom, via my scandinavian home, has added a lot of determination. How could it not?! Creature comforts, and a sense of style are not forgotten!

Small spaces: A brick loft

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That brick?! Inside AND out. Love that.

This one is a small one bedroom loft guesthouse, in San Fran. The architect made use of a small footprint by going up, up, up! On the lower level is the kitchen and living area, and the mezzanine bathroom is accessed by the ships ladder. Up top, across a glass walkway is the sleeping loft. Apparently it’s been described as a treehouse. Pretty amazing treehouse!

A guesthouse conversion in San Francisco

I love the texture palette, and the natural colours mixed with bright white. Gorg!

Follow me on Pinterest for more small space inspiration. x

Pin of the day: Spring is in the air

schoolhouse rocks.

 

I spent a lot of Saturday in the garden, and I’m so pleased to have tidied up all of the front and side yards. No longer are they overgrown with weeds (or those herbs I planted and forgot what they are…), and although they are still looking a little wintery and bare, at least we’re up to presentable again. Maybe next winter I will learn how to make the best of at least the front garden…

The good news is, I could feel a little spring in the air, and I even spotted a pansy poking it’s head up. My bulbs are starting to sprout (even the ones around the tree on the lawn, despite being mown over twice already!), and I’m looking forward to a flourishing garden again in a few short weeks!

The image above has got me a few times this past week or so – it’s been popping up everywhere. I finally gave in and pinned it on my Backyard board. I love a little private garden oasis like the one glimpsed through these doors!

There is lots more to this house too – it’s a converted schoolhouse in Haarlem, with masses of light and open space, but with plenty of eclectic goings on to create that cosy feeling the Dutch are so good at. More pictures at sfgirlbybay and here.

Enjoy!

Pin of the day: Making an entrance

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There’s nothing grand about this, but I still think it is a grand entrance! I like that it just says “Hi, this is us, come on in”.

It’s friendly and welcoming – if a little reserved – and totally without fuss. It’s tidy, it’s sweet and it gives no inflated expectations of what you might discover inside.

First impressions count, and I’m getting well-scrubbed, big ol’ kitchen table and a pet-hair-free, comfy sofa from this one, which is just what I’d like!

Have a great Monday…

Pin of the day: My modern style

B&W + Wood deco

Peace. Calm. Serenity. Definitely not words that go with my current house.

Our style of colour explosion works well at the moment but I can see myself tending towards the monochrome and timber look when we all grow up a little!

Think giant, black, steel-framed windows and lots of architectural shapes within shapes, softened with timber furniture and comfy cushions and throws. All in a refined palette of black, white, grey and timber. And with a stunning view of a rugged landscape or moody seascape.

Oh yes I can dream…!

Layer upon layer

It’s been a while since I’ve zoomed out and given you a little room update anywhere in our interior. We’ve been all about the backyard for months! But just like the brick wall that’s happening layer by layer, life is adding layers to every room inside too.

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Apart from a lack of curtains and art on the big wall by Master W’s bed, the kids room is the most “got it together” room in the house. And I like that it is actually the most mixed and matched and everything goes type room as well. A little like the lovely layered home I shared with you some time ago.

So here are some photos of my favourite space! This boy-girl room where our little darlings sleep (and jump on the bed).

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For a small room with no wardrobe (the cupboard in the corner houses the hot water cylinder) we have packed a lot of function into this room and I’m excited to see how it will grow and adapt with the kids. At some point in the future I’m envisioning corner bunks, to allow more room for play in here, as well as sleeping. I hope to lose the kids for a time, only to find them engrossed in a book curled on their beds, or having some fun with imaginary play under the bunk! A bedroom is such a big space in a small persons life. I know mine features strongly in my childhood memories. Maybe because of its pink floral wallpaper, pink floral duvet, pink floral curtains and pink floral lightshade. All matching. Laura Ashley I think. No matter, I loved it at the time!

Now I must do something about those missing curtains. Here’s a promise… the next photo you see of this room will have curtains! And probably a toddler bed… how fast do the cot days go?!

 

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 do we DIY?… Tortoise or hare?

0131_9492 I’m an avid home magazine and design blog reader. Which is good for relaxation and inspiration, but not so good for making me feel awesome about our own progress. Reading about home owners bemoaning the fact that their renovation took “more than 6 months!” makes me cringe inside a little.

We thought we were being totally reasonable with a vague plan of two years to renovate when we moved into our home sweet home.

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But, halfway through year four and the list is still pretty comprehensive. We don’t even have a master bedroom sanctuary to hide away from it all yet!

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You probably picked a long time ago that I’m something of a list maker. And then I like to work through that list, one item at a time. It does my head in, to be working on multiple parts of our renovation project at one time. Because I like to cross things off my list! On a typical Saturday (our biggest DIY day) I like to get up in the morning and have a rough outline of what I’m going to get done that day, and usually, I’ll have everything I need already, to do that. In the week before, I will have been to Bunnings and got my paint, or I’ll have a request in for tools we need to borrow.

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But I’m learning to give a little, and enjoy the process. Nothing crossed off the list in a month? Fine. After all, what will I even have to do or think about when we are “done”?!

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I’m also a little astounded at what we’ve learned in the process of taking our time, and doing things ourselves where possible, and sensible!

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Part of that process is stopping every now and again to just look back and see how far we’ve come. It’s important for keeping spirits up and making the to do list take up a little less of the viewfinder. So, if you’re new to the blog or just want to join me in some reminiscing, let’s carry on!

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After a few months of settling into our house, and mulling over plans for making ourselves a home, the demolition started. Fittingly, with our front entrance.

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Sometimes the smallest and least exciting of projects can make the most difference to every day living – like a washing line. And sometimes the biggest changes are the ones that feel like they were always that way. Did our kitchen really use to be an empty sunroom?!

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Our kids share a bedroom, and Master W can’t remember when that bedroom didn’t even exist. I don’t blame him. My memories of cooking and doing the laundry in the space that the kids now sleep in are very vague.

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Renovating, especially with small children to care for all at the same time, can lead to some pretty challenging times for a Type A person, but it just makes me more grateful for the peaceful corners and the little personal projects that do get ticked off the list.

With the outdoors neglected for the best part of two years, we finally turned our attention to the front yard, with a little morning breakfast patio, and a life-changing fence and gate.

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We had to have a few goes at getting something to call a lawn and this summer hasn’t done it any good so you might see more on that in a while! Failures are all part of the DIY deal, but the successes more than make up for them!

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It has been a labour of love on our part for the majority, so we are super lucky to have a builder in the family to help with the bigger and trickier bits. We’ve only called in a couple of pros like a gasfitter and electrician to connect up our new kitchen, and the biggest job we outsourced was the exterior painting. It saved so much time, and was definitely worth it!

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Soft furnishings are a little few and far between as yet, so putting up some delicate sheer curtains made me smile for days (ok weeks!) and I still completely adore our lounge room rug. Artwork too, is taking it’s time filling in the walls, so besides the giant maps in the lounge the kids room and the dining space are the only ones to get any attention as yet.

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On the go at the moment of course, is our backyard which we are very much enjoying this summer despite its unfinished state, and we have great things planned for our bedroom. One of which is going to be a new wardrobe! Whoop whoop!

I am very grateful to you all for reading and liking… and especially the lovely comments. It definitely keeps me motivated to crack the whip keep things happening around here, even if at a slow pace!

So to all the hares out there enjoying a snooze or two in a beautifully and completely renovated home, I commend you (ahem… envy you!) but we’re sticking with our tortoise style and will enjoy the scenery as we go!

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If you are just starting, or somewhere in the middle, or even near the end of a similar adventure, do let me know – tortoises unite!