Tag Archives: renovation

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?!

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Transplanting the plum tree

So, for better or for worse, we’ve done it. A quick reread of some online advice on transplanting fruit trees and I realised we’d better get onto moving our beloved plum tree. Apparently it’s something that should be done in early winter when the tree is at it’s most dormant. The next best time is late autumn, and I wasn’t planning on waiting 11 months for the next one of those to come around! Plus, it was a dull but warm day on Saturday, with no rain coming, and at this time of year you need to take those and make them count!

You can just see the tree we’re talking about on the far right of this picture (taken before we put up the screen and pergola on the deck), and that giant planter (temporarily filled with daisies) in the middle is where we’ve shifted it to.

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This plum tree is pretty small really, and unassuming, and I even used to call it ugly before I truly came to appreciate it’s inner beauty. It produces the loveliest plums in abundance, and I will have my fingers crossed until I see it looking once again like it did last summer!

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To get in the mood I started by weeding every other garden and doing my best to tidy up the vegie patch.

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First I removed some weedmat that had been stapled around the inside edge of this planter box, and did my best to loosen things a little, wishing the whole box would just disintegrate. It sits under this odd little triangle of deck in the back corner, and has always been an eyesore. We are still trying to figure out what to do here to replace it or at least cover it all up.
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When neither the tree or the box were budging, I gave up for a bit and turned to the planter. There were some wintering daisy clumps in there that I hauled out and replanted in various other spots in the garden as fillers. And there was dirt to remove.
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A certain small guy was keen to help. You can see here how huge the planter really is – you can lose two or three small children at once!
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Then it was time to enlist Andre’s help in the form of ingenuity and brute strength. He rigged up this levering system, then with a bit of spade work, and some good old-fashioned hauling…0610_1850 0610_1851 0610_1853 0610_1856 … it was out!0610_1857 Here’s the planter ready and waiting. We painted on some waterproofing stuff in the inside of these to help keep the moisture in.0610_1863 Then I had to down camera to help lift the tree up and up and into the planter.0610_1864 It’s a sweetly lopsided ol’ tree so it took a little spinning to get the right positioning in order for us not to fight with it every time we walk around the front side of the deck.

Although it’s not intended to stay here – at this point we’d like to fill in that old planter box with concrete and roll the whole tree plus concrete planter right back over top of where it began. That way it will allow the neighbours to come and go without us keeping tabs on them!

Eventually I’d like to have planters right across that back fence, both for privacy, and to hide the fence and it’s awkward change in height. Plus we desperately need to add as much green as possible back into this concrete filled space!0610_1867 0610_3747

So, grow little container orchard, grow! (And enjoy all this rain you are getting today…!)

Master bedroom makeover: Wall prep

We are in the middle of a week of plastering and sanding, and I’m too scared to open the door to the bedroom for fear of a dust explosion happening through the rest of the house. I put up with a mess of dust through the living room once, and I don’t want to do it again!

Last time we talked about this room reno we had demolished the wardrobe and were starting on removing the wallpaper. But it wasn’t going well remember?

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And then we remembered there was this great invention called a wallpaper steamer! For less than $25 for a days hire I convinced Andre we should at least try it.

I’m not sure what was going through his head but he was all for carrying on with our spray and chip method for the next three months.

Buuuuuttt… look who took over. Power tool – it’s only natural. And a few hours later I had to forcibly remove the steamer head from his hand because it was way past bedtime.0605_1167 0605_1168

Once again, I was on clean up duties. But I was content to lean on my broom and watch that wallpaper coming off in strips, not chips!

And the next day we were done with a couple of hours still to spare before we had to return the steamer soooo… the bathroom got dealt with too. This wallpaper is of the nineties trying to be twenties era. It had to go.0605_1173

This was possibly/probably a paper especially for use in a bathroom as it seemed to have quite a “plasticky” top layer, which I ended up pulling off before Andre used the steamer to remove the backing. It all came off really easily, and of course it helped that we only had the top half of a small room to do.0605_1178 0605_1181 0605_1182

But apart from cleaning up that mess, the bathroom has had no more attention for now.

So back to the bedroom. I mentioned last time there was icky stuff to be found under the paper in certain areas. This is the dampest and darkest of all the rooms in the house, and with drafty timber windows and no insulation until recently I wasn’t surprised, but I was still well and truly disgusted.

So after a bit of research and pulling on some latex gloves with a satisfying snap I held my breath and got rid of it as best I could. I started by spraying it with a water/vinegar/tea tree oil solution. I did this two or three times over a couple of days. Apparently that’s all you usually need to do to treat it (slash kill it, although how do you tell when it’s dead?!) and wiping it is maybe not good because it can cause the spores to spread. But of course we need to paint these walls and I’m not painting over dead mould, no matter how dead it is.

So I compromised and did my best to kill it before I then cleaned it up with rags doused in the same solution. Those rags got binned immediately – nasty things.

For luck I went back for a third step and sprayed again to ensure any leftovers were well dead.
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In the meantime we spent an evening doing some wardrobe visualising with the doors and shelves of the old wardrobe. We are trying to decide whether to use woodgrain on the sides of the wardrobe, or on the doors. Or not at all.0605_1204

All other spare time in the last couple of weeks has been put into sugar soaping. I started out with this job thinking sugar soap was some miracle cleaner that would disappear all gluey mess as soon as I touched my cloth to the wall. Not so my friends, not so.

I scrubbed, and scrubbed, and scrubbed until my arms ached and my fingers were raw.

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You can see below the difference it makes though – the left side is sugar soaped, the right is still waiting…0605_1207But I’m done, and now it’s Andre’s job to plaster and patch up and then finally sand smooth these four dodgy walls!
0605_1269And I don’t envy him one bit. I’ll take sugar soaping every time!

 

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?!

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!

 

Holiday mode

Nelson lakes, New Zealand

Once again, it’s kindy holidays and we’re living in an out-of-routine kind of world. More trips to the park, more play dates and more chaos reigning in the house.

So please be patient. Blog posts will be sporadic at most!

We spent our Easter weekend in total anti-social mode and finally got the screen panels and pergola up on the deck, finishing around 9pm on Monday night. So there are definitely pictures of that coming your way!

Easter eggs and DIY

I’m in a pretty good mood today! Here in NZ we are almost beginning the best (longest) weekend of the year with Friday and Monday included in our Easter weekend, and this year it’s followed by Anzac Day next Friday and therefore another long weekend! It really doesn’t get much better than that.

We feel pretty satisfied with the away holidays we had in January and February this year so we’re making the most of these coming weekends at home. And yes I have a list of renovation jobs that’s pretty looong. Here’s hoping we can cross off a few things!

But first, an Easter egg card, with much thought and love from Master W.

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I’m guessing by the end of the weekend he should know his Easter eggs from his fried eggs?!

Here are a few things I’m reading today, then I’ll be back next week with a whole lotta progress (I hope!). Have a fabulous Easter weekend (whether you choose to holiday or DIY), and good luck with finding a stash of the right kind of Easter eggs!

– A bedroom makeover on sfgirlbybay

– 5 tips for evaluating a business idea on A Beautiful Mess

– 10 ways to make cheap wardrobes look more expensive on Apartment Therapy

– 3 tips for styling an entryway on A Beautiful Mess

– A California house tour on A Cup of Jo

– The Perfect Carrot Cake on Made from Scratch