Tag Archives: tiles

It’s cold outside…

…so let’s keep talking of warm things like firewood, and fireplaces.

A selling point (from the sellers point of view… not so much ours as buyers) of our house was the mosaic tiled fireplace created by the wife of Neil Finn, who now runs a business called Sharondelier. (I am trying to make up for what will follow by providing a link to Sharon’s website…) The fireplace even featured in a newspaper article which we have a copy of for historical reference.

It was a real talking point and we hardly had a visitor who didn’t comment on it. Some said yay and some said nay. But for us, it just didn’t fit with what we have (and have in mind) in the way of furnishings and other artwork.

This is how it looked:

Once we decided enough was enough, it started to look like this:

We liked the look of the rough brick underneath, so carried on chipping away (while it wasn’t hard work, it did take some time as each little tile had to come off individually):

And this is how it looks today (literally… the fire is going to keep the chill away, the spark guard is pushed to the side because we’ve recently discovered it keeps a lot of the heat in, my crochet beginnings are out of reach of little ones on the mantelpiece, there is piles of demolition timber sitting around because the old kitchen is disintegrating into fireplace sized bits, and I’ve just committed to sorting that pile of magazines tonight… sigh!):

You might also notice in the above photo (if you’re not too distracted by all the surrounding bits, or my running commentary) that the pattern of the mosaic was first scrawled onto the brick to make the tile layout easier as it was done. Scrawled… in…….black….. permanent……… marker…. This little detail makes me cringe! How could you do that to a lovely, lovely brick fireplace? How could you?!

I’m happy with the scruffy bits of mortar in between the bricks and the remnants of tiling grout and think they will make a nice contrast with a shiny big mirror above the mantelpiece one day. But alas, the vivid.

Our first thought is to go over it with a wire brush, but while we have yet to try it our hopes are dimming each time we peer closely at it. Vivid being vivid it’s likely penetrated into the brick and may never be got out.

Here’s a close-up for your convenience:

Option B would be to paint the brick. I’m thinking white, or even glossy black. What do you think?

Coming ready or not!

Finally what we’ve all been waiting for…

New kitchen photos – whoop whoop!

But just because there’s a little bit of power-crazy nastiness in me a call for suspense here, I’ll give you this first.

6 months ago we had a kitchen in the middle of the house (well we still do…), with an internal window looking through the sunroom, and a laundry off to the side with another window looking at our fence. All in all, a little gloomy and average, with perfectly adequate but tired cabinetry and an also perfectly adequate but not my style wooden benchtop. According to the master plan (another post perhaps??) it has to go to make way for another bedroom.

But first, a new kitchen… in a space that just housed our desk but was begging to be transformed into my happy place (and why not the kitchen seeing as I do actually spend a fair bit of time in there for one reason or another?!).

What was originally the verandah of our house was walled and roofed in some time ago to create a space that got the best sun in the house but made little sense in function or flow.

In the midst of the demolition it looked a little different…

And finally… it looks a little different again!

Above the splashback there you’ll notice some steel pipes sticking out of the wall – they are not towel rails (temporarily they are!) but brackets for open shelving which we’re working on (or I’m constantly reminding about and he’s working on!).

My mother in law gave me some flowers last weekend and they have pride of place in my new kitchen! Oh happy, happy kitchen!


Absolutely floored!

Wow… here is the mammoth post that I promised way back here (I said a week??!) and you’ve had hints of here and here.

As of last night (or this morning really if you want to count the drying time and holding our breath all night that in the morning all would look fabulous) the floor is finished. Complete. Finito. Done.

I’ll try and let the pictures do the talking, otherwise I’ll get sore fingers and you’ll get sore eyes.

So, back to the beginning:

Followed by destruction:

Marking out the new floor level (about where the white paint is on the walls):

Adding polystyrene around the edges for an insulation break:

Formwork at the back door:

Polythene, polystyrene (creating an insulation break from the existing concrete floor) and reinforcing steel laid out ready for the pour:

And planks laid for access during the laying process:

The truck arrives:

The pour begins:


And finishes:

The next evening, a cut made to prevent cracking:

The sheets on the floor are to keep it damp so it doesn’t dry too quickly:

And then the awful, messy, noisy job of grinding… we (much more of the him and very little of me!) hired a grinder for a day and got to it:

As you can see there is a lot of nasty grey sludge created which drained out the back door, across the driveway and kept clogging our drain… yuck!

Grinding the edges with a hand grinder:

And now for the polishing… just a test patch first (under the kitchen cabinets):

A few more test patches were done… and over a week of going back to it and then rethinking, back again, rethinking again… the polishing process was abandoned. The thought of going over the whole floor with a hand grinder at least once for each of these discs…:

… was a little too daunting, particularly when there was mixed success with the test patches.

Plan B involved researching the sealing process (see this post for more) and trying more test patches before finally deciding on the Peter Fell products.

First though, there was the issue of the “little, tiny holes”. These may have come about from air bubbles, or from small stones being pulled out in the grinding process. However, something “had to be done”!

This was what we (yes, I got down on my hands and knees and filled and scraped with my very own putty knife) did one Saturday while the little one was sleeping:

And then just for fun (and to be sure the holes were well filled) we did it again one night the following week.

Of course, that then had to be gently ground off. It’s ok if you’ve lost count of how many times this floor has been ground – we have no idea either.

Finally after cleaning, vacuuming, sweeping and vacuuming we’re ready for sealing:

Two coats of that, then there we left it for while, while more building work went on. Andre decided it would be best to finish it once there would be less mess, scuffing and potential spills during the building process.

I love this image – it pretty well portrays our life these last six months… renovating and living in constant untidiness while juggling the everyday demands of work and a toddler, with little glimpses of the finished renovation to keep the motivation up!

Weeks (months more likely) of just ignoring the floor, then a flurry of activity this last week (and lots of sweeping, vacuuming and sweeping again) brings us to a light sanding, scrubbing of paint spots, another couple of sealer coats, and finally a top coat of something a bit glossy and non-slip.

Or supposedly… this is me on my knees with a rag buffing/washing the first top coat off because it went wrong:

And this is Andre mopping the floor with soapy water because my buffing didn’t quite do it:

Then I was back on my hands and knees with an old towel to dry it off, and finally Andre got down on his hands and knees to apply another top coat, with a wallpaper brush rather than the mop as recommended but which failed the first time.

And now, a finished floor and a very large to do item crossed off the list!

Loving it! But I have to say the motivation to make a concrete benchtop for the new laundry has waned significantly. I think we’ll be looking at laminates!

Time for a floor shout!




Polished or ground & sealed?

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Our new kitchen/dining floor is going to be concrete. The rest of our house has wooden floors, but rather than attempt to match that in the newly floored area we are going to go for a contrast.

Here is what the area used to look like with the terracotta tiles (mm mmm! Love the random tile inserts…):

And here is a bit of a progress shot looking the other way. We used a laser level to mark the level of the new floor which will incidentally be… errr… level…(it wasn’t before) and higher than it was previously so we’ll have less of a step down from the lounge. The white paint on the wall is about where the floor level will be (so the ranchslider at right is coming out, and will be replaced with the french doors removed from between this room and the lounge, and they are perfectly shorter to fit right in!)

The question is whether we polish the concrete, or grind it and seal. Excuse me if I have the terms not quite right. It’s Andre that has been doing the real research on this one.

Anyway, here is the sample we’ve done to help us decide:

On the left is the ground and sealed. It’s not long been sealed in this image and still has a milky white appearance – it’s much clearer but lighter when dry.

On the right is the polished look which is much glossier, and definitely the look we are after. The only concern is how well it will hold up to kitchen/dining spills? Will the concrete stain because there is no protective coating on it?

Here are some polishing in progress shots just for interest:

Hello Cherry

We’ve always loved a front yard with a feature tree big enough to hang a swing!

So one of our first adventures to Roger’s involved a trailer. We went with “cherry tree” in mind but Rog tried his best to sell us various other “lovely foliage” and “striking colour”. Being the bit stubborn that I am (and having always wanted one) we came home with a cherry tree.

Knowing the tendency of our little boy to get well and truly in the way we plopped him right in bed and got stuck in with the spade.

This is about as far as it got before we hit pay dirt solid rock.

Thankfully we had a rock breaker hanging around due to another project underway but no go with that outside Otto’s bedroom at nap time!

No nap forthcoming unfortunately so off we all go back outside to get those rocks out.

There they are! Fun times ahead for all landscaping projects…

Here’s the only photo of me – just to show it’s not just Andre who does the real work!

And in Cherry goes – a couple of handfuls of sheep pallets in the bottom of the hole and a whole lot of compost right around.

Beautiful! (If you squint right you can miss the trailer full of tiles – yes more terracotta tiles gleefully smashed… more on that later – and the scruffy flax bush on the left).

We envision a tidy hedge right the way round, minimal/no garden at the foot of the hedge and a decent lawn area (minus a whole lotta existing concrete) for playing and… ahem… trailer and boat parking. And if we stay here long enough, a swing hanging from our great big cherry tree!

A welcoming entrance

Or at least the start of one…

Some people love terracotta tiles, and that’s nice… but we couldn’t wait to get rid of these things! Walking over them every time we stepped in and out of the house was plenty of incentive to make this one of our first projects.

Picture our welcoming entrance: Glossy black door, charcoal sill and “just a touch of grey” house walls… ground concrete steps with a non-slip sealer and a raised garden with bay trees along the right hand wall… all at the end of a ground concrete pathway.

This is the start of it:

As you can see there is much to be done but good riddance terracotta tiles and welcome ground concrete!

No photos of the grinding process – it got a bit messy so I was in charge of keeping the little one out of the way for the most of it. Plus the camera may not have appreciated concrete dust in all it’s crevices…

Excuse the work boots and the concrete dust all over the wall.

As you might notice we’ve chosen chosen not to extend the steps to the right as they were – the bare edge will be finished off with a raised garden along side with some structural planting… maybe 2-3 bay trees with some buxus edging?

The “after” photo also shows the pathway which has been ground and cut – to the left of the cut (the unground part) the concrete will all be ripped out and the front lawn extended. A little bit of history: A previous owner apparently ran a concrete business and it seems like he got carried away with the leftover concrete from his jobs… hmmm.

The rocks lining the edge of the garden were an idea for the garden wall, but they’ve now been banished again and the decision is to go with a stuccoed concrete wall to match the house.

Of course the house will be painted (apricot has NEVER been a favourite colour…), we’re thinking very, very pale grey walls, white window frames, grey sills and a stunning gloss black door. Welcome to our home!