Tag Archives: timber

Pin of the day: Modern farmhouse kitchen


Whoaaaa!!! Modern, classic, midcentury – this kitchen has it all going on! My dream kitchen has a big ol’ farmhouse table in it like this one, but I’ve never been a real country kitchen type. Love how this one puts it together with both timeless white and my favourite design era with the pendant and chairs. Oh and the floor? Is that concrete?! Concrete floors in the kitchen are the very best – I should know!

PS. I missed this post on Monday… worth the few extra days though right?!

It all adds up


A month ago this was where we were at. And then I got all gloomy and felt like nothing was happening so I got a little envious over someone else’s awesome (finished) space…

But I’ve just collated all my photos of the last few weeks, and lo and behold – progress!


If you feel like playing “spot the difference” you’re welcome to. If not, here are the answers:

– New deck joists
– Plants in planters
– New side garden
– All tidied up
– Decking timber ready and waiting!

So, starting with the biggie, here’s deck progress.


We are extremely lucky to have Andre’s dad doing our building. Not only do we get a deck built, but we get babysitting at the same time. I feel pretty guilty about him trying to get a job done with them underfoot, but I’m assured he doesn’t mind, and I know he adores them and they him. It’s like trying to prise an oyster off a rock to get them back inside or playing in the front yard out of the way. So I’ve about given up, and just send regular trays of coffee and hot chocolate out to keep the grizzles to a minimum.

1029_1715These are from a couple of weeks ago, so there are now spacer bits (technical term!) between the joists to keep everything straight. You might spot them in another photo further down, but no promises.

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For a simple deck we seem to spend a lot of time in contemplation over the details. Andre and his Dad have had numerous discussions and quite a lot of mutterings over the confusing nature of the building code. I had a quick look and left them to it. I’m better at the grand scheme stage.

Polka dot gumboots definitely help with grand scheming (although my feet are starting to swelter in these so it might be time for some new DIY jandals).


This is us trying to visualise the couple of steps down from the house, and a balustrade along the eastern side. 1029_8281 And the usual messy state of affairs:


So, we’re excited to have some decking timber now ready to go, but builders between big jobs are in hot demand to complete lots of little jobs so we’re sharing him around and just grateful for the days when the white van pulls up in the drive!

Next. After shovelling a trailer load of dirt out of the backyard, the last thing I felt like was shovelling another load right back in. But it had to be done, and don’t tell Andre, but I kind of don’t mind jobs like this. At least not when I’m nearing the end… there’s satisfaction in shifting a cubic metre of soil!


It was destined for these gigantic planters now never to be removed from our backyard in a million years. There have been many small steps with these planters in getting to this stage, but I won’t go into the detail just yet. I’m still mulling over my original plans for finishing touches.1029_1710

But one sunshowery day I got them all planted up. I wanted both screen-the-neighbours and fruit trees, so I picked out a couple of feijoas (two varieties is recommended because even though most types are self-pollinating, they still prefer company) and a mandarin. For now, I’ve underplanted with strawberries, just for fun, but once we get a few nibbles off them I plan to replace them with some more permanent ground cover like baby’s tears or Irish moss. We’ll see!

In the biggest pot I’ve just popped in a trio of daisies, for some colour, until our plum tree in the corner is dormant (next winter) and we can gently transplant it. It’s a great producer so I already have my fingers crossed we won’t harm it by shifting it.1029_1724

Last Saturday saw the remaining smaller pipes sitting in our drive cut up into planter sized bits. So we’re not done with planters yet…


Last Saturday also saw a scruffy little strip of weeds transformed into a promising garden bed. Down the western side of the deck we have a narrow garden space alongside the neighbours fence. Originally it was full of all sorts of jungle-variety plants but gradually we have sent them all to the tip and these scrappy weeds took over for a while.


Up against the house are were these trees, which we’ve been trimming away at for a few weeks, hoping if we take it slowly the neighbours won’t mind so much that suddenly there are no trees in the backyard offering privacy between us and them. But with a full height panel due to go up along that side of the deck I decided it was now or never and recruited Andre and his long arms to put them (me?) out of their misery.


The pink flowering one was first to go (it was always a little neglected and scrappy looking, as well as scraped annoyingly on the windows in the slightest breeze) and bit by bit we started cutting down the tall one. At the very last minute, it got a reprieve. We decided it’ll probably be happy to share with the new planting we had planned, and will actually be helpful in providing an illusion of shade (it’s on the wrong side of the sun to really give any shade) over the deck. So it just got a severe trim in order to fit the panel alongside it.1029_1873

While Andre had yet another discussion with his Dad over the finer details of the deck plan, I got busy with some rocks that had been put aside after the big hole dig.


Then we all pitched in to clear those pesky weeds and fill in with some leftover topsoil, before planting some gorgeous scented jasmine, and a few ferns that were growing mad up under the trees. Originally we were going to use some of the old decking timber to re-edge this garden bed (the railway sleepers that were there were a bit rotten and fell apart during the clear out stage) but the spur of the moment decision to make use of the rocks was a good one, even if we can’t remember whose it was! It’s the little unexpected jobs like this that really make a day feel like an achievement – completed in less than half an hour, and only using what is to hand. (A bit like this temporary sandpit of many months ago.)


As for the jasmine… I chose it because it ticks a few boxes like fast-growing, minimal maintenance (once it grows it’ll be a bit tricky to get to in this narrow space), and good screening, but also because of its bonus smells so good factor. Because we need it to fill the space and not grow primarily on either the neighbours side fence, or the panel on the side of the deck, we have staked out (hah!) a frame for it to climb on right between the two. Of course it’ll grow where it likes, but I want to be able to trim it back off the fence or deck panel if/when necessary so this middle-ground structure is where I’ll do my best to train it to.1029_8346 1029_8345I did underestimate my staking requirement initially, but now have another pack waiting to be added to this frame so there is somewhere for my little jasmines to aim for next.1029_1877

And that yucca-y tree at the north end… days are numbered. Neighbours love it, I hate it, Andre’s somewhere in between. So until my little jasmines grow a little, it stays put. But the day is coming when the jasmines and I will slowly but surely prove it’s ugliness and uselessness. All it does is drop those annoying fronds and it doesn’t even smell nice – right jasmines?!

It’s a little hard to tell in the latest “after” photo, with the new stack of decking timber under cover (here it is again so you don’t have to scroll all the way back)…


…but Andre had a huge tidy up out the back here. Piles of timber got shifted and nails and sawdust cleaned up. I was out first thing on Saturday and came back expecting some “real work” to be underway, but was pleasantly surprised with this. If ever you’re feeling disheartened about progress or lack thereof, just opt for a real good tidy up instead. It works wonders and feels just as good as progress.


While we’re on the progress train, here’s another something to keep it going…


The front yard is looking fabulous with spring helping the front garden flourish. My hydrangeas have taken off, after more than a year of being less than impressive, and sending me running for more ground cover plants and some sweet flowers to fill in the gaps, and even wondering if I’d have to pull them out and put something else in. But they’re telling me “not so hasty naive new gardener – good things take time!”

1029_1865Delighted to bring them inside to enjoy too!

Enormous post – thanks for sticking it out to the end!

Backyard update: Getting productive

After a few weeks of demolition fun out the back we had a short break in Christchurch, and now, as of last weekend, we’re into production of a new deck!

But first, a couple more prep steps from the previous weekend – digging some giant, child-sized post holes, and waterblasting. Our kid sized earmuffs by Peltor are our most used DIY item! They prevent many tears and fears and meltdowns – totally recommend them if you have some projects planned with little ones around.

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I had no part in this particular job, but could see from afar that it was pretty tough going. I was a one woman cheer team on the sidelines but I don’t think it helped much. Under our entire section is a whole lot of rock. Everywhere we happen to dig we hit rock (unless of course we hit concrete first!). So it was a good thing this little guy was super keen to help. 1001_8018

Four giant post holes later and some sign ply standing by to cover them up and prevent losing the kids.


Then it was my turn in the backyard to waterblast the last corner of fence (we cleaned up most of the fence a few months ago). And because waterblasting is a little bit addictive (try it if you haven’t… it’s good clean fun!) a few more things got cleaned up in the process…


I was too excited to get a before shot of the fence, but here’s “the concrete terraces” before and after…



Andre got caught up in the fun on a roundabout way back from the garage to changing some brake pads on my car, hence the CRC or whatever he’s holding…1001_1413

And that brings us to the start of last weekend. Post holes ready and waiting, levels marked and much contemplation of required materials.

1001_8176After a trip out to get builders mix, cement and posts, it was all go to get them in.






They are just four timber posts but I am just so pleased to see them everytime I look out the window. They are the humble beginning of our fabulous new deck!

And see that pile of dirt that has been hanging around like a bad smell since way back when we dug up the back lawn?1001_8197It’s gone!     1001_8200

All gone!1001_8201

And it only sat here in the trailer for a couple of days. Now it is totally gone gone!


There is just this small problem of the old decking timber… earmarked for next winters firewood, so it’s a matter of chopping it into fireplace sized pieces. Next weekend…!


And these three remaining trees along the side fence are out of here real soon too. Which will make our backyard feel completely exposed until we get some more planting done and it establishes itself. One step back… two steps forward. We did think about leaving them there, but I really dislike that yucca-type in the corner, and the ones near the house are actually pushing on the fence and will also be in the way of the screen we have planned for that side of the deck. 1001_8203To prepare you for some further deck building progress, the top of the post nearest the fence is about where the deck will sit, so it is pretty high up against the fence, hence our need for screening and creative handrail design, to give us some privacy and of course a safe barrier to keep adventurous ones from tumbling over to the concrete below. I hope to share some of my sketches and inspiration pictures later in the week. The advantage is some great storage space under the deck for the kids outdoor toys, garden equipment etc.

Our backyard is a few steps further from a wasteland and a few steps nearer to an oasis – hooray!

Working out the back

This is what we tell our Saturday visitors at the moment: don’t knock at the front door – we’ll be working out the back.

There are a couple of things on the go out there. The main one being demolition of the old deck, to make way for a new one over the next couple of months. It’s been Andre’s project (I’ve been getting my hands dirty with some concrete planters) but we were both pretty pleased to see the last piece of old deck come away this weekend.

A few weeks ago, we started here…


The lower steps were the first to get removed, so the kids (the smallest one at least) could no longer get up onto a half dismantled deck. Safety first – always!

With that, I left Andre to carry on as he wished…


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There were lots of rusty nails, and some help from a small boy with a hammer, until eventually all the deck boards were done and we could see right down to the odd concrete terraces underneath. 0903_1100

With a deadline looming (our building mastermind returning from a holiday!) Andre opted to stay home from a kids party on Saturday and busted through the rest of the deck. I got home in time to make him pose with the very last piece before it joined the pile of scrap timber. Here’s the “I can’t believe you’re making me do this, and that I’m actually doing it” face:


So while things are looking more like a blank canvas in one corner of the backyard, the other corner is temporarily doing the opposite. I’m just so glad for the hardy wee plum tree that is bringing a bit of blossom beauty to a very sad and sorry backyard just now! Even that succulent is giving up after being unceremoniously uprooted and dumped with barely a clump of soil to help keep it alive. I’m not sure what the plan is for this timber now – we were hopeful we could use some of the decking boards to replace some rotten bits of the lower deck triangle (right under where they’re stacked now) but a fair bit of them were also rotten, and most broke up when they were prised off also. Firewood maybe? Or just the scrap heap…?


Because I’m a neat freak clean as you go type I was in with the broom as soon as Andre was out of the way. Decades of decaying debris didn’t stand a chance. And that last remaining patch of “back lawn” got bundled away too.


The old apricot paint is a clear mark of where the old deck came to, and how it stepped down alongside the house. We’ll need to waterblast and touch this up at some stage…

Among it all, I found this:


It’s body was as long as my longest finger. Erghhh! And yes it did get dealt with when it had the cheek to actually jump on me. I totally didn’t squeal, but there was lots of arm shaking and shuddering and I made Andre check all over me to make sure none of its friends thought it would be fun to join in.

The last task before we called it enough’s enough was to mark out and cut holes in the concrete for where the new deck posts will go. The four squares marked along that line are where there will be posts in a few more weeks. The old deck came to right about the edge of the bottom concrete terrace. The new one will go to about a metre beyond that yellow line, so we’re getting another metre and a half in length, and a touch more in width too. Yes!


Next week we’re breaking out that concrete to discover if we get an easy “dig out some dirt underneath”, or need to hire a rock breaker! I’m picking the latter… this house seems to be built on rock!

For the meantime, the kids are loving playing in their idea of backyard paradise – pile of dirt, stack of timber (sticking out nail free, and securely stacked) and those fun (but ugly) concrete terraces!

Pin of the day: Leather strapped shelves

These shelves have been popping up in my world a bit lately, and at first I just admired them and carried on. But I couldn’t sleep last night, and in the process I decided it might be a good idea to replace the shelves in our lounge (just a few short months after buying them… oops) with a couple of gorgeous timber shelves held up with some leather straps, perhaps with a console underneath??

The thing is, despite mulling over the purchase of these Lundia shelves (we actually bought them from Second Gear) for quite some time, and spending a reasonable amount of dollars on them, they just don’t fit right in our lounge. (Sorry about the crooked photo… and the styling? Yes well… it’s Monday which means no child free moments for me. Styling involves moving the clothes airer aside. That’s it.)IMG_0519

Paint them? Yes, we’ve thought about it, but it just doesn’t feel right for some reason… and what colour would we paint them? White is too obvious and would just be one white too many for our lounge – which already has white(ish) walls and trim, white blinds, and a white lounge suite.IMG_0520

I’ve already relocated (in my mind) these shelves to the spare room – they will not be wasted.

It sounds like I’ve already made up my mind. I better hope Andre reads this post!

Glamming up the man…

…robe. Further to the sanding, I got stuck into glamming up my manrobe again. Can you tell this is my current pet project?! I’ve been wanting one of these for so long now, I’m just pleased to be getting into it!

My beloved manrobe has one of these quaint slide out rails (so your clothes hang in a row front to back instead of side to side) but it was a bit stuck so needed some greasy attention.


Lubed up, he was up next for a new coat of shining armour.

The first coat happened outside:

Then a couple more coats inside (dodgy weather) got it nice and glossy:

We used Cabot’s Cabothane, which we believe is the same stuff we used on our kitchen shelves (but with a change of name?). Chosen because it’s water-based and less fumey than oil-based products. It’s super easy to apply and cleans up easily. With 3 coats I think it will hold up just fine to the wear and tear of a childs bedroom.

Mr Manrobe is now awaiting me to fix up his handles and maybe give his insides a bit of smartening up, then I’ll be sorting Master W’s haphazardly arranged wardrobe of clothes into fresh new order. Aahhhhh!



Sweet satin

Well just like in this post, I can say again that the floor is done!

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with sanding, filling, more sanding, sealing, sanding, etc etc the floor has been officially announced as finished.

Here’s some progress shots:

You can see in the above photo that we sealed the floor with Resene Qristal ClearFloor 1K. Originally we had been sealing the touch up patches, and started to finally seal the whole floor with a standard polyurethane. But after enduring the fumes for a few days we had second thoughts about using such a product in a kids bedroom.

Even after the odour has gone, toxic fumes are still given off. I believe it can take years for this process to happen.

We looked into various natural oil products, which are completely free of toxins, but their cost is a little on the horrendous side, so we compromised with this very low VOC (volatile organic compounds ie. nasty things) urethane from Resene.

The cost was along the lines of standard polyurethane, and it was able to be applied over the existing polyurethane (after a light sanding). Some natural products would have required us to completely sand the existing sealer off and start with bare timber. This in itself would have meant a whole lot of toxic dust swirling all over the house and ideally with a toddler and a newborn we would have had to move out for the duration.

To give you an idea, a standard polyurethane rates around 900 VOC, but Resene Qristal ClearFloor 1K is just 38 VOC. The difference is immediately apparent in the low odour during application, and a couple of days after the last application, I opened the door this morning and just got a slight whiff. We have kept the window open and the door shut to air the room out, and will leave it that way for another week before we move little mister in.

The only natural product we were able to find with a gloss finish was a two part system, which didn’t excite us in the least, and it was expensive. Most natural products, and all truly natural products are matt, or satin finish. The rest of our floors have a gloss finish, but with years of wear and tear they are in reality more of a satin finish now, so the new floor doesn’t look at all out of place.

Take another look (I did focus, it’s just hard to see where!):

Floors that talk

Last night I noticed some new markings on our floor…

At first I was a bit concerned, but then I thought “hey, that just shows that people live in this house!” Whether it was the little one brmming his cars and scratching the floor, or an extended family member dragging some bags of “heavy stuff” over it I can’t be sure, but it just adds to the mystery of what this house knows that we never will.

I’ve just been for a walk around, thinking of all the other little quirks in our floor that suggest of its past life, or even it’s recent history that we’ve been a part of…

In the corner of the new bedroom, which used to be hidden under the laundry cupboards, is this patch of concrete which may well have been there as a more solid alternative to the timber floor to support a boiler…?

It was what Mr was working on in this mysterious shot from here. Now that it’s ground smooth there is just some grouting to be done at the edges where some bright spark has used foam filler previously.

There’s also this little fire-related accident which has branded the floor for-ever-more (a burning ember making a dash for it, from a spark screen free fireplace):

And this is just one of many marks where furniture has been hauled across the floor:

More recently we have this little patch by the office nook where we cut out part of the old kitchen wall:

Some day it will be sanded and finished and will blend a little more with the surrounding floor…

Here’s some more of the same, but even worse… it’s a little hard to tell in the photo but it looks as if the hot water cylinder once sat here and leaked its contents? It was hidden under the old kitchen cupboards, but now marks the entrance to the new bedroom. Once again it will be sanded and refinished, perhaps with some floorboards replaced if necessary. This is fairly high on the priority list (along with everything else!)…

This is an example of where we have removed part of a wall and refinished the floor – it’s in the laundry (the flash has made things a little obscure but in reality there is not much to notice):

This is the new step between the lounge and dining area (see more way back when) which got taken to shortly after finishing, by the little one and his daddy’s hammer (it’ll come back to haunt him when we choose!):

And this precious concrete floor with all its heartbreak and trauma is definitely on the scuffed side these days but is progressing nicely to match with the character and story-filled timber floors throughout the rest of the house!

I’m still trying to figure out whether a more casual attitude to imperfection is something that happens by default when you go through a renovation, or something that happens by default once you have children… probably both? What do you reckon?

1, 2, 3… kitchen complete

Finally, finally, finally I can say the kitchen is finished*!

Over the last week the final pieces have been put in place, and I’ve unpacked the last of the kitchen things to put away.

For many weeks we’ve had this going on in the kitchen, plates on the bench and “towel rails” sticking out of the wall at right:

But finally after baby steps of cutting, sanding, joining, thicknessing…

…more baby steps of sanding and sealing:

And finally the installation begins:

And then the arranging of crockery and glassware! The current arrangement is the everyday dinner set, glasses and mugs on the bottom, the second dinner set in the middle, and more decorative and least used items up the top:

I just love the grain in the timber – it adds a warmth to the kitchen that wasn’t there before!

Here is a bit of an overall shot to finish off with:

*Disclaimer: Finished in our house means there is loads more trim, windows and another top coat on the walls to be painted.