Tag Archives: midcentury

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?”

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A little light makeover

Following on from last weeks bedroom reveal-of-sorts I thought I’d cover how we went about replacing our wall lights.

While shuffling things around in our bedroom was definitely talked about (mainly to accommodate a larger wardrobe) we ended up sticking with the current layout, because we didn’t want to turn a fairly simple reno into something major involving moving electrical stuff and patching big holes.

So, that meant utilising the current wiring and dimmer switches for some new look lighting over our bed. Cue a sad face when I knew I wouldn’t be following the trend for plug in pendants wound artfully around a bracket on the wall. But I consoled myself with knowing that is likely just a short term trend, and that my “statement making cord”-free wall lights were probably safer with kids around anyway.

That was the easy bit. I spent months keeping an eye out for a pair of good looking mid century wall lights. It seems fixed lighting was something of a novelty then, because there wasn’t much to be found.

But eventually I came across these ones on Trade Me.

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They’re by Beamalite, made in 1963, and were advertised as needing some restorative love. Fine, we can do that! We can do that with some glossy white and gold!0814_1889 0814_1894 0814_1898 0814_1914Over two or three days I painstakingly masked off each part and sprayed happily. Gold was a whole new experience for me and while it admittedly made me nervous, it was a fun kind of nervous!

Until I undid my “last” round of masking. Ooooh not good. Despite using proper painters tape (which I’ve not bothered with before) I had parts of the gold come off. It’s the worst to get to the end of a project and get yourself pumped for the big reveal, only to find you have to start almost from scratch again. There was feet stamping, and maybe tears.
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But I got over that, and went for round two. A little wiser maybe… So I tried taping first to get a smoother edge to my mask, then layering the foil over the top and taping it down. (You can get a glimpse of this in the back light, far right.)
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My trigger finger was a little lighter this time, and I left loads of time for drying. So the result was much, much better, although not perfect. There were some jagged edges of bleeding paint that still made me cross. But not cross enough to deal with it. I was over this project and considering other options…

But Andre assured me those little imperfections were not going to be noticeable to anyone else, so I handed them over to him to get them installed.
0814_1952 This is where things should have ended happily ever after right?

Alas, no. I’m going to summarise this quickly for you because it still hurts. We ended up with a hole in the wall (just days after we’d finished painting it) where Andre had plastered over the hole left by the previous fitting. Which meant more plastering, sanding and painting. Yes it was just a hole a few centimetres across, but at that point in the whole scheme of things the thought of just getting the plaster back out was enough to make us give up for another couple of days!0814_1965

 

So onto the other light. It was successfully installed in minutes. But then I get another shout – “the light is melting!” Sure enough the paint was starting to run, as it was warmed up by the bulb.

We quickly turned it off, and left the whole sorry mess in a huff!

Turns out that all we needed was a couple of smaller, lower wattage bulbs, and a few more days drying time. No more melting lights!

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So that’s how we came to have “new” lights that match the character of our scuffed up floors. (That is my excuse for everything that turns out a little imperfect in our house!)

Really, they’re not so bad. They’ve just lost a little of their shine, and have some dull patches where they were handled during the melty paint stage.

Time heals, and I’m back to thinking they look pretty awesome actually! Agreed?!

Master bedroom makeover: Moving in

I started writing this post a week ago, almost to the hour… and then big things happened and this blogging and renovating and home decor part of my world fell out the bottom. I think I might start hauling it back up… but no promises I won’t drop it again!

Because in the whole scheme of things it is the last thing that matters, BUT I’ve come to realise too that these small and unimportant things can be the things that help when the big and important things get to be too much sometimes. I was picking up mess around the house yesterday afternoon and realised that if there’s one thing that might possibly keep me able to function if my world flipped it would be having my house in order. When kids are yelling, the phone is ringing, the dinner is boiling over and there’s a whole host of things spinning in my head, the first thing I’ll do (apart from making sure the kids are yelling over nothing!) is tidy. Then, and only then will I answer the phone and try to save the dinner and write myself a priority list (all at the same time, because if my house is tidy I can do everything!).

So, with that… back to last week:

I feel lots of things writing this post. Relief is the big one though!

After three months of living across the hallway in a room that every member of our family has now called theirs for a time, it feels truly amazing to be back in our room to stay. Last time, we’d nearly finished painting the walls. That was a big step in progress for me. It made me feel like we were really getting there!

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But then there were the windows. We grabbed our opportunity on a Saturday about 3 weeks ago. There was 14% chance of rain. But this is Auckland in July, so that was pretty good! We took it.

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Now this week… In the early afternoon we could see the rain was coming and the freezing temperatures weren’t helping the paint dry very quickly. So we taped up some plastic drop sheets over the gaping holes and filled the room with windows. Then began a few days of tedious top coats, and a few nights of lying awake in fear of the temporary windows giving in to the stormy weather (yep we picked the worst days of winter for this!) and flying off to cause an accident somewhere in the next suburb over. This is how it was for me at least. Andre had no trouble sleeping!

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The storm died down, we finished painting and scraping, and on a dark and peaceful night we had real windows back up again! Following that we had a little floor touching up to do, where the old wardrobe framing had been. We gave it a quick sand and some coats of high gloss poly. (Our preference would be a Low VOC sealer like we used when we redid the whole floor in the kids room, but they don’t appear to come in high gloss to match the rest of the house.)
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Once we put up the blinds, curtain rods and our sheer curtains, we moved on in!

Let me open the door…

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I won’t even begin to list all that still needs doing or replacing – in terms of furnishing and decorating we’re at about 8%. I’ll save that for another day, along with sharing some of the details like where we found a door handle to match the others in our house, the wall lights we found and made over, and the obvious “what are we doing about a wardrobe?!”.

Because right now, I’ve got something to be doing about that wardrobe situation… and a house to tidy!

Have a lovely weekend x

Our midcentury outdoors

I made a promise on Instagram this morning that I’d get a backyard progress post up. And I know I’ve been saying the same thing on here for days now.

So, I hereby dedicate my entire afternoon (yes it will probably take me that long) including all available precious few moments of near silence with Miss E asleep and Master W temporarily convinced to sit still in one place, to show you where we are at with our deck and backyard.

We left off last time with the professionally built brick wall (which I still completely adore!) and this view of the backyard:

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And after a horrendous amount of painting and a bunch of other stuff, we now have this view from roughly the same position:

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Spot the difference?! I promise it does get more exciting. But first I’m going to thrill you with the process. If we had to endure it, it’s only fair I get to share it right?

This stage started yet again with cutting and drilling and digging and chipping out a couple more holes (but with much less grumbling because they could be the last) for the pergola posts.

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And I started with the fun task of choosing colours for the mid century screen on the side of the deck. I’ve had a trio of colours in mind right from the beginning (see the inspiration picture here) and even photoshopped them up here, but when it came to the nitty gritty of choosing the actual paint colours, I freaked!

There were numerous trips to Bunnings and the Resene Colour Shop and I collected a small hoard of samples, in the hope that one or two swatches would say “hey it’s me! pick me!”. Nope. All silent, even when I taped a few of them up onto the frame they didn’t squeal.

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But a few days of mulling it over and I finally picked the least saturated of my selections, knowing that on a sunny day the brighter colours would just be ouchie on the eyes. Plus the pastel tones are more true to mid century styling. We also picked for the strongest of the colour trio to fill the smaller panel on the left. And I did what I don’t normally do and grabbed some test pots of my chosen colours. Wiser and wiser! And the lesson is learnt, because with some bigger samples painted up (you can spot them a few images down, halfway through the pergola building process) I changed my mind on the blue.

But these screen panels weren’t all I had to paint. The pergola posts and fittings took me days of endless painting and a few mishaps along the way. It was definitely not my favourite painting project.

Before we go any further, let me just explain how we came to use steel pipe for our pergola… We knew we wanted something that would span the length and width of our deck without needing posts or bracing all over the place. We also wanted something solid and definitely there, but not chunky, so that ruled out timber (which would have needed to be on the chunky side to hold itself up) and left steel. I had pinned a bunch of images of awesome outdoor spaces that used I-beam steel as a pergola frame and so we designed up a frame and worked out how it could all fit together… then got a little concerned at the cost and logistics of having to construct it onsite. It would have been super heavy and needed welding in position. A little too much to ask of a humble husband and wife DIY team. There was no way I could single-handedly (the other one would have been feeding kids) hold up a 4 metre I-beam while Andre perched on top of a ladder with the welder. So Andre came up with Plan B: steel pipe and fittings. With a 60mm diameter being the largest standard tube size I was worried the whole construction would look too flimsy alongside our bold privacy screen and solid brick wall. But a little scrap pipe visualising along with Andre’s winning smile, and the knowledge we didn’t have any other choice (without spending way too much) convinced me to just go for it.

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So, with that the pipe was ordered and the painting started with a primer made for galvanised metal (I had to hunt this water based Steelite one down) and then topcoats of gloss white (tinted to Painters white for way better coverage).

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Next time we do something with steel I’m going with spray paint and probably will start with an etch primer or something like that. More expensive, but so much easier and a guaranteed better result. We had to do up to 4 top coats to get these pipes and fittings looking good. Te-di-ous. And yes they got rained on and a couple of times as I rolled the pipes to paint them they fell off the saw horses into the dirt. Aaahhh but it’s over now. The posts are all up!

Starting with the two upright posts, the weekend before Easter:

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With a last minute dash to Bunnings for a final piece of timber before Easter weekend (and a closed up shop on Good Friday) we were good to go with the rest of the pergola. Or so we thought… unfortunately “we” picked up a piece only treated for indoor use, and we definitely needed something outdoor treated. Oops. That left us with just a bunch more painting to do on that first precious day of the long weekend, and you already know how that went.

On day two Bunnings was open and the right piece of timber purchased so construction could get back underway.

Our resident builder came to lend a hand and the critical piece was ready to go up by lunchtime. Things are looking up (literally!)

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Oh but I forget… it needed painting. And the panels for the screen did too. That sorted the afternoon of day two. And of course it rained again.

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Which brings us then to our third and last day of DIY’ing it on Easter weekend and finally getting this pergola up.0429_3300

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By this time I wasn’t trusting the weather one dot so we rearranged the house to paint the panels inside. Take that rain.

0429_3284Somewhere in the midst of the late afternoon the last coat on these panels was deemed dry and we hung them. That was a happy moment I tell ya. There was dancing on the deck!

But no photos because I had my hands full of these heavy Durasheets while Andre nailed them into the screen frame.

Determined to finish by the end of the weekend, we were back out on the deck after an Easter Monday dinner of fish and chips.

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9.30pm – Done!

It wasn’t until the next day that I even really looked at it! At first I worried that the centre pipe in the “roof” was one pipe too many, but I think it’s just taking some getting used to. Anyway, we have plans for it, involving some shade for next summer so it’s staying put for now, and is an easy task to take it down if we change our minds.

So here’s where we’re at with our mid century flavoured deck and backyard space!

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I am delighted with how it makes this outdoor space an extension of our living area, and even Andre no longer scoffs when I use the term “outdoor room”. He gets it!

It just feels good out there on that deck! Much like when we built the front fence, the addition of the screen along the side, and the pergola frame makes this space feel like it now belongs to us. It’s cosy. We don’t have to share our deck dancing moments with the neighbours!

The colours for the privacy screen are, from left: Dulux Te Awamutu, British Paints Water Watch and Dulux Cape Kidnappers. Love them!

There is just a smidgeon more building to do out here before we’re calling it quits on exterior work for the winter. The outside of the planter box on the deck needs it’s decking timber skin (same as the front side) and we’ll do something similar (but more narrower/trellis-looking) to cover in the underside of the deck by the stairs.

So of course I’ll be back with that as it happens.

But for now, my deck is calling me to enjoy the last of the sun with a bite to eat. It’s well past afternoon tea time according to hungry kids and yes, this post has taken me ALL afternoon!

 

A brick wall to talk to

You don’t want to listen? Fine… I’d rather talk to the brick wall anyway. I’ll stop short of saying it’s better looking, but… well…

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…It is looking mighty fine!

After two long weeks I can finally share our finished brick stair wall. I even managed to wait patiently for the rain that was promised over the weekend, to wash all the orange dust away so I could show it to you at its best. It was hard… but worth the wait!

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I love it! Really, really love it! As it started to go up I thought “shivers, that’s really cutting our backyard in half!” But it’s perfect. It’s a big step in creating the outdoor spaces that we originally planned. Space for relaxing, space for playing, and space for storage and services.

There is still a fair bit to do to make these spaces more defined but this brick wall feels like the biggest step of all.

Next up we’ll be working on a steel framed pergola over the deck (which reminds me… I need to pick up the fittings for that today!) and closing in the gap under the deck. There’s so much useful storage under there so we’ll possibly not close it in entirely, or we’ll put an opening section in so the kids can easily get their toys in and out. Or at least out. It seems to be my job to tidy things away still, but I’m working on it!

Beyond that we need to decide how to approach the rather boring area where the kids sandpit and the plum tree currently sit. But we’re happy to mull that one over and don’t plan for anything to be happening there until next summer.

For now, I’m delighted to remember how far we’ve come in just 5 months. From this:

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to this:

0317_0035By the way, we got the door on in our bedroom! The predicted storm was less stormy than rainy, but it still kept us inside and got that done. It’s a small thing, but it’s big too yes?!

 

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?!

 

Pin of the day: My favourite midcentury pattern

Evoking little antennas from old timey black and white TV’s, Charles and Ray Eames created this timeless mid-century pattern in 1947.

First spotted during my wallpaper search, for our custom kitchen splashback, this midcentury pattern is my favourite!

According to Pinterest, it’s inspired by tv antennas, and created by Charles and Ray Eames in 1947. Now that’s timeless.

I enjoyed an hour or so (and could easily have spent longer!) at the California Design exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery at the weekend, and came away so inspired and excited. Really excited! It’s been far too long since I immersed myself in design and my head hasn’t stopped buzzing since. Now to turn all those ideas into something a little more tangible…