Tag Archives: retro

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!

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Growing room

Our current project-du-jour (the master bedroom makeover) isn’t providing many photo-worthy opportunities just yet, so for today’s post we’re going back to the kids bedroom one last time.

A couple of months ago it was all about the layered look we seem to have stumbled upon in there, and then last month I shared a quick DIY curtain project. So the final piece in the puzzle is changing out the cot for a toddler bed. Miss E was happy enough in her cot, but we felt she was ready for the bed, and we needed every bit of space we could get in the spare room (where we’ve moved while our master bedroom gets trashed!).

So while her cot is packed down and standing in the corner of our lounge, the kids bedroom is looking a little more spacious, and colourful and fun and cosy!

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I did get a little sentimental packing up the cot – it’s a very definite end to the baby era – but I’m excited for the freedom that comes with the short time between babyhood and settling into school life.

We have a long weekend coming up, and plans to get some plastering underway. Of course if all goes to plan I’ll have photos to share next week!

Until then, adieu x

 

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?!

 

DIY Retro Style

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I’ve had an amusing and enlightening half hour this afternoon listening to Miss E chatter in her cot instead of sleeping… browsing through a decades old Reader’s Digest Do-it-yourself Manual!

This wardrobe is what I was looking at before I got distracted by all the other “projects”.

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Andre pointed it out to me the other night (he regularly flicks through this manual…!) and I was keen to have another look, to see if it might be an option for our master bedroom wardrobe.

I’m not a huge fan of lots and lots of bare timber so my pick would be the white doors, with timber trim (bottom left).

But that’s a whole post for another day, so here’s some more midcentury project inspiration:

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Adore the tiled (tiled-look at least) splashback and the hardware free cabinetry. Fresh baked bread – that too!

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These stacking beds are good for a smile! And they’re actually a bit ingenious don’t you think?

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This plant table has potential… I think I’d make a succulent version for outdoors.

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Speaking of outdoors… if you have a large tree in your backyard how fun would this little hideaway be?! I love the striped canvas “roof” rather than a more permanently built one.

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This telephone hall table brings back memories of a childhood friend who had one in her big wide villa hallway… envy! Home phones might be somewhat obsolete in the near future but it wouldn’t be wrong to perch on one of these for a chat on your smartphone would it? It would put a stop to pacing up and down or trying to fold the washing while holding a meaningful conversation – that’s got to be a good thing!

The previous generation (or two) were smart cookies, with style. And they even left us manuals to prove it. Hooray for them!

 

 

Pin of the day: A perfect home

Rachel & Brett's "Resourcefully Chic" Family Home

In the visual feast of Pinterest perfection that can get a little overwhelming at times, it was so so refreshing, and relaxing (phew, this looks more like my house!) to see this super gorgeous but utterly lived in home, shared by Apartment Therapy.

The retro touches, and the retro house for that matter, are not for everyone. But I love it so much, because it looks loved itself!

Oh yes there is definitely styling here, but it’s styling of objects that are meaningful and more than likely sentimental. And precious because of that, but not so precious that you don’t want kids within 3 metres. That, my friends is what I call a home. It’s the kind of home I aspire to and bit by bit, want to share with you here as we go.

There is so much more to see of this house – please do. Even if it’s just to humour me!

Stripping the man…

…robe.

Saturday saw us picking up a manrobe (among other adventures) which we purchased for a bargain price of $67 on Trade Me. I was convinced it would go for over $150 and left Andre to bid up to that amount (it closed at 11pm – I was well in bed by then!) so I was delighted when he told me (at around 4am after feeding session number lost count) we won it, and for so much less than I thought it would get to.

While the littlies were sleeping and he had to keep away from the power tools Andre went to pick it up.

I was glad to see that all it needed was a going-over with the sander and then a spit and polish to have it looking lovely but still character-worn. Having had a saved search going on Trade Me for one of these things for the kids room for months now, I was super keen to get stuck into it.

So I did. I handed over the baby monitor to Andre, got my dust mask and safety glasses on and got to work.

First up I dismantled the handles, which proved to be a little more time-consuming than I would have thought, and the first three all came off in varying combinations of handle pieces. I decided I’d better grab a bag to collect all the bits in.

There wasn’t a close up of the handles on the Trade Me listing, so I wasn’t entirely sure what they were like, but thought I could easily replace them if I didn’t like them so it was hardly a deal-breaker. But Andre really likes them and I quite like them, so I think they’ll stay. They’re also quite nice to “handle” which is one of those little details that make such a difference when you’re battling to get a toddler dressed!

As mentioned, they all came apart in different ways. This was the one that stayed together, but most others had the handle part in a few more pieces than the one you see here!

Note: I need to spruce up the handles and their hardware a bit (they’re a little tarnished and rusted) so any advice on a simple way to do so would be appreciated!

Once all the hardware was secured in its bag I got onto the real job of sanding Mr Manrobe. (Power tools were allowed for me at this point because I was working in the back yard, not right outside the little ones windows where Andre was halfway through installing an irrigation system in our new garden.)

No progress shots on this as I was hard at work and too filthy to pick up the camera. Besides, I was having fun! Here though you can see where I got to with the orbital sander, and the top level has been cleaned off, and the bottom level still covered in sanding dust. Once I cleaned up the rest of it I got to work with some sandpaper and got the edges (see below how there are still dark bits, with varnish on them) and all the fiddly corners done too.

By this time it was cooling off (you can feel it in the blue-ness of the photo above!) and the little ones were both up and “helping” (Master W) or watching (Miss E) so I was glad to be finishing up and heading inside.

I was so pleased with myself though for getting stuck in and completing the sanding job within hours of Andre picking it up! Not many things happen quite like that around here, as you’ll well know if you’ve been reading my vague and unfulfilled promises of “I’ll have some finished photos for you real soon!” for a while.

I’d hate to disappoint you though so you can count on it being at least 3 more months until I get back to this project and varnish it and get those handles back on (even handles take months around here)!

Anyway, here’s the stripped manrobe in all it’s glory (sitting on our concrete back lawn in all its glory):

Anyone else get to stripping (furniture only please…) last weekend? Or have plans for it this weekend? I haven’t put ideas in your head now have I?!