Tag Archives: style

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!

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…!

Small spaces: Cosy in Norway

Winter must be on its way… I keep grabbing onto images of blankets and fires and cosy spaces!

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This Norwegian holiday cabin featured on the Citta Design blog a few days ago and I’ve been saving it up to share here for Small spaces this week.

In our travels around Scandinavia far too many years ago we fell in love with the rocky landscape. Despite its barrenness it doesn’t feel too harsh because look at those rocks – all the edges have been softened off them by the weather and they’re just right for embedding a holiday hideout into!

Inside, things are very Scandinavian, which looks great of course, but I’d move in with a pile more blankets and books and a basket full of slippers!

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I love this image, because it shows how the architects (Erik Kolman Janouch and Victor Boye Julebäk) worked with the landscape, and the house was built to fit, rather than modifying the landscape to suit the desired house.

Erik Kolman Janouch och Victor Boye JulebakPretty awesome right?! I can definitely see myself cooking up a real hot chocolate on that wood stove, watching the kids rock hopping out the window with scarves and boots and hats and mittens. And Andre would be out playing hunter-gatherer and fossicking for firewood.

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Bliss!

 

Small spaces: A kitchen – cluttered or cool?

We don’t see too many kitchens here, because that’s the last thing on my mind. We finished our kitchen a looong long time ago!

But kitchens are the biggest part of a home, even the tiniest kitchens.

Here’s one that I liked the look of, until it started to close in on me. What do you think of all the pictures? Is it too much? Or is it a whole lot of good style?

It definitely helps that there’s no colour – the black and white is a classic look… but it still scares me a little at the thought of turning around with an armful of hot pot and whacking a picture or two off the wall.

Found on a blog with a cool name. Because that footwear of choice is my favourite too!

Pin of the day: A starry night

Everlasting Star (glow in the dark) - Engel. - BijzonderMOOI* Dutch design onlineBack with a pin of the day after many months of neglecting it!

This one got me for a number of reasons. The first one being that amazing navy wall. I’m seeing dark walls everywhere right now and I love them! The star garland is perfect against it, and reminds me a little of the washi tape skyline I did in the kids room a while back.

Also, how amazing is that wall hung cabinet, and so fun to push the bed right up next to it. It almost makes me want to move back into a single bed so I can have me some treasures and hide them safely next to me while I sleep!

Not so keen on the technology right next to the bed. Or to be honest, at all in a kids world (other than letting them borrow mum and dad’s under supervision). What do you think? Are you all for kids embracing technology from a young age or do you opt for good old fashioned fun every time? I’m hoping to find the middle road…

Image from my Kids Room Pinterest board.

 

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!