Internal progress – lights and other details

Ok, I’ll admit… it’s been a while between posts. I have nothing to say in my defence except that life got in the way, and of course we’ve been living in the house, so that makes it infinitely less photographable. Also there’s the fact that I haven’t really done any decorating yet, it’s still very much a work in progress and probably will be for some time. There is furniture to be bought and there are pictures to be hung, a few more lights to be installed, a few more naked windows to be dressed. I am forever gripped by indecisiveness when it comes to making purchases, and at the end of the crazy, exhausting day, there doesn’t really seem to be any spare time for ‘project’ work, just the normal rigours of household business as usual.

Anyway, as promised for months now, here are a few updates. Not by any means ‘the finished product’ but just some progress shots. I’ve had to zoom in close to crop out all the detritus and unpacked boxes, but I will post more down the track when I am more organised. (No really, I will.)

Disclaimer: I still haven’t done anything about my photographic skills, so I apologise for the dim lighting and dodgy angles.


I browsed for and deliberated over island bench lights for ages. Ages. But then I found these ones at Barn Light Australia for 99 smackers each, including shipping, (although currently $174 each) and I stopped looking. I love the little splash of colour they add to an otherwise very neutral space.

Dino pendants in "Jadite" from Barn Light Australia

Dino pendants in “Jadite” from Barn Light Australia

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I found the dining table chandelier at Ivory and Deene for $395 including shipping, and spent quite a few neck-breaking hours threading all the beads and droplet things onto it. It sits above our new dining room table, which I bought on sale at Veranda Home & Garden.

Dining room chandelier from Ivory & Deene

Dining room chandelier from Ivory & Deene

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I’ve included the photo above to show the chandelier from a distance – this was taken just after the new sofa was delivered but before we sorted out that mess you can see through the bifold doors.

So with a chandelier over the dining table and three pretty barn lights over the kitchen island, I wanted something a bit more subtle for the loungeroom. I ended up with two plain white drum pendants, which have three bulbs in each. There are no other down lights in that room so I was worried they might not provide enough light, but they’re fine. The only trouble is the collection of dead mozzies above the diffusers, but it’s nothing an occasional dust-bust doesn’t fix.

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My favourite lights in the house (and the biggest splash out) are the six wall lights. There are two in the stairwell and four in the upstairs hallway. I was worried I might not have included enough light for these areas, but as there’s no living space upstairs I didn’t think it needed to have really strong lighting. Beaumonde’s electrician wanted to move the first wall light on the left hand side of the stairs to the opposite wall, ABOVE the staircase on the right, which would have looked ridiculous. It’s hard to visualise when the balustrades haven’t even been built yet, but I’m glad I stuck to my original request and the wires (eventually) came out in roughly the right place.

Westbrook Hurricane wall sconce in shiny nickel from Interiors Online

Westbrook Hurricane wall sconce in shiny nickel from Interiors Online

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One of the original lights I’d considered for the entry void ended up getting a start in the stairwell. The only thing that bugs me slightly is that the chrome is quite a different finish to the shiny nickel*. I always thought silver was silver, but evidently I know nothing about metal. *First world problem, I know.

Wellington lantern

Wellington lantern

Upstairs hallway

Upstairs hallway

The first lights I ever bought for the house, back when it was still in the very early planning days, were these two rainbow chandeliers for the girls’ bedrooms. This was even before you could buy them online anywhere – my sister bought them for me at Ishka in Melbourne and they posted them over to me. I’m pretty sure you can get them around Perth now. Even though we haven’t got very far with decking out the girls’ rooms yet, they really love their chandeliers.

Rainbow chandelier

Rainbow chandelier

I bought this one from Sebastian Alexander. It’s American so I had to track down the correct bulbs (an E26 instead of an E27) which I found at Horner Bawden in Osborne Park. This is going to be my office/library but at the moment is an abomination of boxes, papers, school bags and other paraphernalia. Shelves and desk have been bought… so we will have it ready soon(ish).

Dallas silver leaf pendant light - Sebastian Alexander

Dallas silver leaf pendant light – Sebastian Alexander

Speaking of the library abomination, the only other thing I can show you from this room is the ‘add-on’ architraves, which you can just see in the photo above. We got them for the front and back of the library double doors, the playroom double doors and the pantry double doors…

Doorframe mouldings from Authentic Additions

Doorframe mouldings on library double doors from Authentic Additions

Playroom double doors with doorframe mouldings/architraves

Playroom double doors with doorframe mouldings/architraves

They look so much better than the standard builders’ ones, but we couldn’t put them everywhere because we didn’t leave room for them (oh, the things I’d do differently next time!)

I went with Ikea lights for the laundry and the walk in robe in the master bedroom. All of them keep dropping away from the ceiling, despite repeated attempts to clip them back up.

Kristaller mini-chandeliers in walk in dresser

Kristaller mini-chandeliers in walk in dresser

That may well be the last time I ever take a photograph in the wardrobe… or floordrobe as Heath calls it. We ended up going with the Elfa white mesh system that I showed in my wishlist here. The laundry has two Ottava pendants, but I haven’t even bothered to take photos in the laundry. It’s not pretty.

What else… I bought an Armadillo & Co Marigold rug in last year’s 20% off sale at Eco Chic, which sits just inside the front door. It’s such a lovely rug and so beautifully made.


This is the view looking up from that rug…


I love the white/wood combo on the balustrades and the fact that the oak handrails match the floorboards and stair treads. My amazing uncle spent countless hours last year painting all the balusters, stair posts, skirting boards and architraves to match all the other white trim.

I bought two small drop pendants from Beacon Lighting for either side of the ensuite basins, although when they were installed they were cut shorter than I would have liked, and the huge amount of condensation and mould we are getting in that room is taking its toll on the metal fitting.

Pendant lights either side of the ensuite basins

Pendant lights either side of the ensuite basins

Heath has installed the mirrors that I bought. He painted the frames with a marine-grade sealer first, so hopefully they won’t rot. Two of these in the ensuite:

Ensuite mirrors from Recollections

Ensuite mirrors from Early Settler

And two of these in the kids’ bathroom:

Shutters from Boardwalk Shutters

Bathroom mirrors from Bed Bath & Table

The shutters were installed by Boardwalk Shutters in December, after we finally got tired of waiting for Beaumonde to fix our screeching, stiff sash windows (and got tired of living in a fish bowl for months on end). Boardwalk did a great job, and we will be going back to them if we decide to put any more shutters in. There really aren’t many companies from this build that we can say that about!

We got our fireplace installed in time for Christmas, so I could hang my beloved Pottery Barn stockings up (we of course didn’t actually need the fireplace for heating until this past month). It’s a Real Flame Captiva 600 and has a granite hearth and a Richmond mantle from Subiaco Restoration.

Realflame Captiva 600 Gas fireplace, crying out for a nice big mirror to go above it

Realflame Captiva 600 Gas fireplace, crying out for a nice big mirror to go above it


Speaking of Pottery Barn, I must be the last person to hear about its imminent opening in Perth! 11 days to go! I always pop into the Bondi Junction store when I’m in Sydney, but the fact that it’s going to be right here on my doorstep is too exciting. And a bit dangerous actually.

One last thing that I promised to show was the linen curtains in the loungeroom. I bought them at Ikea as a stop-gap solution to the problem of the overlooking windows on the neighbouring property – I needed something to make us feel less on show at night, as we haven’t planted anything in the garden bed along that fence yet. They are the AINA curtains, which are slightly heavier than the VIVAN, but the downside is that the white isn’t nearly as white. Still, as far as finding something long enough to cover the French doors and the highlight windows above, they were unbeatable for price and they do the job.


The rods were cheap ones from Spotlight – for memory about $15 each.


Note my efforts at sustaining plant life in the corner there. Clearly there is not much progress going on in the back garden – we are still dithering on what to plant around the boundaries – but we have been busily planting roses, hedges and vines out the front. I will do a separate post on our external progress.


Handover, and timber flooring progress

Yes, it’s true. We *finally* have the keys to our house. It’s been almost two weeks, but I’ve just been too busy to sit down and update the blog (I know, always with the excuses). Here are our girls, eating their first dinner on the dirty concrete slab of our future dining room…


Much excitement. We even cracked open a bottle of Apple and Pomegranate Appletiser to celebrate, along with fish and chips for dinner (I know, we’re fancy). I do have a bottle of Veuve ready to go for Moving Day, but that’s still a little way off because there’s loads to do still. Floors, skirtings, lights, shutters (which won’t be ready for aaages), phone line, aircon, mirrors, security film on the windows, pool, paving, driveway, clothesline, letterbox, blah blah blah. Oh, and furniture.

The first two things were the timber tiles on the verandah/alfresco, and the timber floors inside. The former is finished…

Timber tiles - front verandah

Timber tiles – front verandah

They need a good clean, but we’ll go through and do a proper clean on the whole house before we move in. Despite supplying the tile shop with a set of plans for them to quote on, they conveniently managed to underestimate the required square metreage, and then slugged us an extra $900 at the end of the job for extra labour and tiles, thanks to their inability to read a set of plans. Needless to say we were *not* amused, and will not be returning to them or their tilers for any future projects. (If you’re looking for timber tiles in a 1200mm length in Perth, I would suggest trying Ceramic Tile Supplies. That’s where I’ll be going next time.)

Anyway on a far more positive note, Larry from Hillspec Flooring has been on site for the past several days installing our beautiful engineered American Oak floorboards. He was recommended to us by friends and I can’t speak highly enough of him and his work. It’s so refreshing to have someone on board who isn’t cutting corners/destroying the place/demanding more money/being adversarial. Unfortunately it seems that finding someone who is competent and professional is like winning the lottery, and I feel like this week I’ve been smiling and happy about the house for the first time in months, thanks to him.

It’s still a work in progress but I couldn’t help myself today, I stopped in at the house and went inside with Amelie (in our socks, because the floors were only stained yesterday) and snapped away. So, this isn’t the end result but I’m just so happy with the way they’re looking, I have to post photos.

Raw floorboards

Raw floorboards. Instant transformation!

...and stained Bona Ebony

…and stained Bona Ebony

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We requested a recessed sill on those bifolds, with a view to “seamless indoors/outdoors” but our builder struggled a bit with the concept and we ended up with a 45mm sill sticking up in the middle. At least the bright whiteness of it should hopefully reduce the frequency of tripping children!


White risers still to come…



and skirting boards still to come…


We were just a little bit excited at the dawning of a new, post-concrete era

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And just to keep things even on the photo count for the grandparents (this was last weekend, painting the base of the balustrades before the stairs were boxed and treads laid). Here’s the cheeky, littlest one.


Next week, more floor sanding, finishing off/sealing etc, and hopefully we can make a start on doorframe mouldings and skirting boards.



Nearly there, still, and some random bits and pieces

We made it to “practical completion”. Yay! So we went in to do the pre-handover (PCI) inspection the Wednesday before last. Only to discover the electricity had been shut off by Western Power following a failed routine inspection the day before. Booo! It was disappointing for a lot of reasons but mostly a relief that the fault wasn’t inadvertently discovered by us or our children after handover. Anyway obviously we couldn’t test any of the electrical stuff, and couldn’t see in the darker rooms (it was a rainy day so not much sunlight streaming in, and we had to go and buy a torch to check inside the windowless powder rooms and cupboards). So we’ll go back and re-inspect after we’ve agreed on the final account (a saga unto itself). Then they start fixing the defects, we have two weeks to pay the remaining balance, and then we can have the keys and get on with the flooring, window treatments, mirrors, lights, painting, fireplace, landscaping, driveway, furnishing and…moving in! Hopefully we can mobilise our people a bit faster than Beaumonde did, and we’ll have our new address sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, as we wait ever-patiently for handover, I’ve been sorting out a few bits and pieces in the background:

The pool

We fast tracked the pool installation in March because our neighbour was keen to get the dividing fence installed and this would’ve meant cutting off our access. As it’s turned out the fence only went in yesterday, but we worked with what we knew at the time, which was that we needed to get a bobcat down the side ASAP. The day the hole was dug, the pool man called me to say they’d hit water (which, in spite of our proximity to a big lake and knowing that the people two doors down had hit lots of water when they’d dug their pool last year, we were all hoping and praying wouldn’t happen after 5 months without rain and the fact that our block is slightly higher than theirs) at which point mild chaos ensued and they got the crane round a day early to drop the pool in while they were busy scooping water out of the hole. By the time Daisy and I turned up to watch the show, it was already in and they were wriggling it into place.

Pool day 1 - Shell craned in

Pool day 1 – Bang! In like Flynn!

Half filled with water to keep it stable

Half filled with water to keep it stable – note the glamorous beach ball (our first housewarming present! From the crane operator I think)

Pool day 6 - back filled

Pool day 6 – back filled and water topped up

Pool day 12 - concrete bond beam poured

Pool day 12 – concrete bond beam poured

Since then we’ve had a floating dispenser and chlorine tablets sitting in it trying to stave off tadpoles, and temporary fencing for safety. Last week after it rained we did find a frog frog-kicking his way around the pool. The girls loved him immediately and were a bit devastated when I said we couldn’t bring Froggy home and make him our new pet. (WA is the only state in the country that won’t let you keep frogs as pets, according to the Burke’s Backyard factsheet I found online. Thank you very much Don Burke.)


I’ve found the paver I’d like around the pool. Originally I was looking at the pool coping pavers with the rebated edge, but I could only find them in travertine or bluestone, and after learning that they’d all (i.e. all the pavers in the pool area) need to be laid like tiles on a concrete base, I could see the costs being blown out to infinity and beyond, so I gave up on the idea of the rebated edge. So this is what we’re going with:

Bermuda Shell paver - Fremantle Stone

Bermuda Shell paver – Fremantle Stone

$89/m2 at Fremantle Stone. They are filled with bits of shell and fossils and are really quite gorgeous (as far as pavers go) and can be laid on sand with this special filler stuff between them that dries hard and stops the weeds coming up. They only have the rectangle ones in stock (squares and random pattern can be ordered) but I think the rectangles will look good. I can’t really change my mind now anyway because I got the pool blanket box guy to powdercoat the top of the blanket box in Shoji white, which is the closest match to the Bermuda Shell.

This is an example of it laid in the backyard of a Riverstone home:

Riverstone Homes

Image via Riverstone

I like how they’ve done theirs from the pool edge all the way through to the alfresco area – our alfresco will be tiled so we’ll have to pave up to the edge of the alfresco, and we’ll probably put lawn on the other side of the pool fence. They should be easy on the feet in our scorching hot summers anyway.

At this stage I’ve also got Fremantle Stone to quote for the cheaper limestone square pavers for the SW side of the house where the kids will no doubt want to scoot up and down while I’m pegging out washing. These are only $32.95/m2 and the Coral Ice ones are close enough in colour to the Bermuda Shell that it should blend in.

Coral Ice Limestone at Fremantle Stone

Coral Limestone in “Ice” at Fremantle Stone

Timber tiles

I’ve ordered some Porcelanosa timber-look tiles for the alfresco and verandah. They seem to be the only brand available in Perth that come in the 1200mm lengths (instead of 900). They’ll be laid with dark recessed grout like they have out the front of the tile showroom.

Jatoba Wenge anti-slip tiles outside Ceramo showroom

Jatoba Wenge anti-slip tiles outside Ceramo showroom

The Jatoba Wenge only comes in the 193mm wide tile now, not 143 as in the photo. The wider tiles will make them look less like a traditional verandah, but I’m just happy that my take-home sample passed the key scratch test (as well as the kids’ bike and sandy shoes scrape tests) with flying colours and they should need next to no maintenance, other than the odd hose down.


Oh, the saga of the mirrors. Back in early August I found a place called Deco Mirrors that said they custom made any mirror to any size and shipped all over Australia, so I ordered three of these Venetian mirrors in 60x90cm- two for the girls’ bathroom and one for the adjoining powder room.

Venetian mirror

They said it would be 2-4 months. Fast forward nine months and several emails later, and they confessed that only one mirror had arrived, not three. After suggesting alternative sizes/styles, or the prospect of another potentially long wait for the other two to be made and imported, I decided to just buy the one mirror, put it in the powder room, and find something locally that I could buy two of, for the bathroom. Which I now have – these ones from Bed Bath n Table.

With hindsight – and here’s my new trying-to-be-Zen approach to house building coming out – I think I actually prefer the more understated ones for the mosaic wall. The Venetian one will probably work better in the powder room, which has nothing else pretty going on inside at the moment.

Landscaping ideas

Lots of thinking going on here, not much progress. For the backyard I was thinking recycled red bricks with low-walled curved flower beds along the boundaries (inspired by my sister-in-law’s fabulous yard), but now I’m wondering if having the rustic red brick on one side and the smooth Bermuda shell pavers around the pool side might be a bit disjointed.

Out the front we have about an 80cm rise from the kerb up to the house so I’m trying to work out whether to put in a low retaining wall, or just slope the whole thing. I’ve been checking out display homes with similar slopes (and the front door immediately adjacent to the garage, like ours) for ideas. They all seem to go for exposed aggregate, so all are variations on a standard theme.

There’s the ‘flower beds used to retain’, plus steps approach, like this:

Or the gentle slope upwards with one small step up to the entry…

The giant letterbox as the retaining “wall”…

Or a combination of all of the above…

I have a really hard time visualising what will work when I’m standing in front of the house, looking at metres of uneven sand and those giant footings that extend well beyond the verandah. I wanted a flower bed along the front but it might be tricky trying to sustain life around all that concrete. Then there’s the angled shape of the front of the block, which probably doesn’t lend itself neatly to a fence – how do we smoothly transition from the wonky shaped block to the verge? And what do you do with all the blights on the landscape created by pesky but necessary “services”, which seem to be everywhere.

The front of the block - more ugly blights (unseen) off to the left

The front of the block – more ugly blights (unseen) in the left foreground

I think we might need some professional help.

Re the new Zen me… my brother came round one day recently and found the girls singing “Let it Go” (the theme from Frozen) at the top of their lungs, and suggested I adopt it as my own theme song, lest all this building stress cause me to self-combust. (We changed the words but I won’t repeat them here.) So that’s what I’m doing, with the aid of nightly glasses of wine.

*Breathing iiiiiin*
*Breathing ouuuut*

House progress (or lack thereof)

So the end is not as nigh as we previously imagined. It’s no longer even “in x weeks”. It’s just a vague fantasy, kind of like taking the kids to Disneyland. “One day girls, that house we’ve been staring at for the last 365 days… it will be ready to… LIVE inside!”

Over the road from where we live now, Lifestyle Homes are busy finishing off a two storey place. I’m not exaggerating when I say there are people working there morning, noon and night. AND Saturdays. Six work vehicles sometimes. The other night a guy working away with a hammer under lights didn’t knock off til 10:30pm. When they first laid their slab the kids decided we would “race” them (and we had about a three month head start). They don’t even know there’s a contest going on and they are about to flog us RESOUNDINGLY.

Our house is like one of those sad abandoned houses with dust all over the windows and no signs of life within. Well, the pool has gone in (we organised this ourselves) and the Security/Ducted Vac/Smartwiring guy has been and finished his work (again, he’s our man), but the builder hasn’t been sighted in weeks. All we need are the flywire screens, knobs on cupboards, door handles on the French doors to be replaced again (these are the second set of incorrect handles, and there seems to be about a three month wait every time the window company stuff something up), the last few glazing bars stuck on, a cat flap cut into the laundry window, silicone around the edges of the benchtops where they meet the walls, the loose/chipped roof tiles to be neatened up, the base/kickplate under the oven to be fixed so that the storage compartment can open properly, and also the bulkhead above the kitchen cabinets needs to be fixed. I think that’s about it. So there’s really not much *actual work* left. Just a lot of waiting. Sort of the exact opposite to the build over the road. I heard the owner has been plying them all with beer in an effort to get things moving, but even if I wanted to buy beer for our guys I couldn’t because they’ve all gone AWOL.

In the meantime I’ve started giving some thought to landscaping. There’s quite a lot of dirt there to deal with, and I have absolutely no experience of gardening, other than two indoor pot plants I managed to keep alive for a few years (not at the same time). I’ll write a separate post with some ideas soon but in the meantime, here are the handful of updates the house has seen in the last tedious 114 days, when I last posted house progress photos.

Day 304 - Showers and screens in

Day 304 – Showers and screens in

Day 312 - Front door and sidelights painted

Day 312 – Front door and sidelights painted

Day 315 - Balustrade on staircase

Day 315 – Balustrades in

Day 315 - island cabinet fronts

Day 315 – island cabinet fronts

The kitchen was of course a big deal for me. I took photos of Mel from Georgica Pond’s famous kitchen to my cabinetry meeting to illustrate the ‘skirting board’ finish around the island and the recessed kickplate under the other cabinets. I didn’t get the recessed kickplate, although the shaker fronts are what I asked for and do look lovely. I also ensured that the plans included a bulkhead flush with the overhead cabinets, which didn’t happen either, but they have said they will fix this particular item.

Not recessed kickplates...which went on to cause big headaches when the oven arrived

Not recessed kickplates…which went on to cause big headaches when the oven arrived. And not flush bulkheads.

Day 315 - Cabinet fronts in bathrooms, and door handles all on

Day 315 – Cabinet fronts in bathrooms, and door handles all on

Day 326 - Garage door installed

Day 326 – Garage door installed

Day 327 - Oven installed - storage bit at the bottom is unopenable due to not recessed kickplate...

Day 327 – Oven installed – storage bit at the bottom is unopenable due to not recessed kickplate…

Void light installed

Void light installed – looks a bit crooked here though hopefully it’s the camera angle (but wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’s actually on an angle)

So after all my careful researching of lights based on widths and heights and chain lengths in an attempt to find one that would hang *below* the window and fill the space between the ground and upper floors, the electrician (who makes a habit of installing power points and light fittings in the wrong places) installed the Paper chandelier while I was dropping my big girl at school, and when I returned to see how he was going, had chopped the chain back to yay high and hung it so it’s partially visible through the window. It just goes to show, you needn’t bother putting time and effort into designing things a certain way because the tradies just do whatever they want anyway. To be honest on the scale of things it’s not one of the bigger issues and I’m not sure much can be done after the fact anyway. One must pick one’s battles!

Looking up at the void light from the front entry

Looking up at the void light from the front entry

Day 328 - Heated towel rail. Presumably the nice big hole he's made in the wall will be repaired.

Day 328 – Heated towel rail in ensuite. Presumably the nice big hole he’s made in the wall at the bottom there will be repaired.

Day 333 - Correct French doors installed with incorrect handles

Day 333 – Correct French doors installed with incorrect handles

Day 339 - Caesarstone benchtop installed

Day 339 – Caesarstone benchtop installed

This photo was taken through the glass doors. We had to wait several weeks for the island to be rebuilt because the first slab of Caesarstone was cut 18cm too short (i.e. leaving a 12cm “breakfast bar” which was never going to work given the length of the legs in this family) and was stuck down so well nobody could get it off again. We ended up keeping the London Grey because the latest check on the Caesarstone website reveals that the Calacatta Classic is now due in July 2014. Even allowing for the huge slowing down in pace on this build, July is too late.

Day 341 - Glazing bars added to front windows at long last

Day 341 – Glazing bars added to front windows at long last

So that’s where we’re up to. Figuring out what to do with the driveway and the rest of the yard (oh and the pool surrounds – I will post some photos of the pool separately), while we wait patiently for fixes, flywire et al. At least we don’t have to spend the school holidays packing now, which is good because it’s going to be busy enough what with all the traversing the bottom half of the country and stuffing ourselves on chocolate.

Eleven finishing touches on our house To Do (wish)list

Now that the end is *almost* nigh, I can start thinking about the bits and pieces that we do after handover. Some things are pretty much necessities, like floor coverings, but a lot of things are just nice to haves that we can add as we go. I’ve got a list of things in my head and in display folders and disorganised piles of papers but thought I’d put them all together here.

1. White timber shutters – except I’d prefer the PVC ones that you can take down and blast with a hose. I think cleaning the dust from every individual blade of venetian blinds and shutters must be up there in the list of Most Tedious Jobs In the History of the World and something I’ve only ever felt like doing in those twenty minutes of late pregnancy known as “nesting”. I haven’t had a quote yet but I think we’ll have these pretty much everywhere except the open plan living/dining area where we have French doors, bifold doors and three windows overlooking the pool. Still contemplating what to do with those.

Boardwalk Shutters - via New Homes Guide

Boardwalk Shutters – via New Homes Guide

2. Vines growing up the verandah posts and along the timber friezework. Something that doesn’t stick to the paintwork obviously (*pointed look at Heath*). And some white iceberg roses. And a nice little hedge. And a pair of pots either side of the front door, bearing pretty flowers that don’t die easily. (I like the look of hydrangeas, but they might have to be fake, or maybe geraniums – I could probably keep geraniums alive.)

Source unknown - this was taken from a real estate listing years ago

Source unknown – this was taken from a local real estate listing some time ago

3. A nice screen door. I *know* it’s the done thing to leave your door in all its bold painted/stained glory to increase kerb appeal etc etc and I do love this look. But I need my fresh air and I NEED my security. Of course triple-locking super-strength mesh security doors aren’t the most elegant looking things so I’m going to look into options with timber-look steel frames so that it kind of complements the design. Not the Colonial style ones as I don’t think they’d be quite right either, but not a plain one and definitely not the diamond-shaped grilles we’ve been living with for five years. The hunt is on for an in-between option.

Screen door - via Desire Empire

Something like this?? – via Desire Empire

4. These door frame extenders for the internal door frames that have enough space around them (this excludes the majority of them actually, but if I had my time over I’d design them into the house plans…) They just add a bit more style and substance to the thin metal door frames that the builders use.

Door mouldings from Authentic Additions

Door mouldings from Authentic Additions

5. Some random/crazy paving in pale earthy colours – somewhere! We still need to do a big brainstorming session with the landscaping but I love the look of this paving and would love to incorporate it into the overall design somehow. If not the random stones then some sort of paving in those colours. I do love the look of dark grey or bluestone paving but I think paler colours would be kinder on our feet in the summer. Especially if we’re having artificial grass, which isn’t kind on feet at all.

Porphyry crazy paving at

Porphyry crazy paving at

6. Rebated pool coping that drops down over the edge of the pool. I saw this in the paper a few months ago. And/or some mosaic waterline tiles, although Heath’s not keen on this idea because we saw some falling off when we visited a pool display centre once where they’d glued some onto their fibreglass pools. So pretty though and I’m sure there are ways of doing it where they don’t fall off. I do love my mosaic tiles!

Rebated square edge pool coping - Pavers Plus

Rebated square edge pool coping – Pavers Plus

Fibreglass pool with mosaic waterline tiles - Barrier Reef Pools

Fibreglass pool with mosaic waterline tiles – Barrier Reef Pools

7. PVC picket fencing. If not as part of (or all of) a proper front fence, then at least for the side gate that we’ll need to install on the northern side. I know people get funny about the plasticky feel of it but I love the fact that it looks so nice and needs no maintenance.

8. A stainless steel address sign. Actually this is Heath’s thing, he told me at the beginning of the design phase that he only wanted three things. Bifold doors, a dropped ceiling/bulkhead in the kitchen (which I’m afraid I vetoed because I really didn’t want it there), and a shiny address sign on the front of the fence/letterbox. At first I objected because it seemed too modern for the style of the house, but I noticed this one out the front of a house that I drove past one day and thought it was a good compromise.


Shiny address plate and PVC fence/gate

9. The walk-in wardrobe fit out and mudroom-style storage as mentioned previously…Decent storage is something I’ve dreamed of since the dawn of time (which is roughly how old the kids think I am). I don’t need fancy joinery in my wardrobe, just a place to put everything. Something like this would be perfect.

10. A mantlepiece for Christmas stockings. My grandparents had a mantlepiece over a fireplace and it was important to me to make it happen somehow in this new house. I dithered like mad over the location during the design phase – I put it in the living room, then moved it to the dining room, then removed it, then back in the living room (I was concerned about combining the fireplace with the TV screen as the TV shops weren’t very encouraging of the idea) and eventually back in the dining room. The interior designer wanted us to clad it with stone and put a chunky wooden mantle on it, but I think we’ll probably go for a painted white mantle. Or maybe some kind of stone/white wood combo for indecisive types like me.

Image Courtesy Huestis Tucker Architects via The House that A-M Built

Image Courtesy Huestis Tucker Architects via The House that A-M Built

Painted white mantle - via Centsational Girl

Painted white mantle – via Centsational Girl

Stone AND white wood - image found here

A bit of both – image found here

11. A built in window seat. Again, if I had my time over I’d design these into the layout, as Riverstone did in the ‘West Hamptons’ display home…everywhere you look there are window seats with clever storage under nice sunny windows.

Window seats

Window seats – photos (clearly) by me!


Coulda shoulda woulda. Many of our windows are too high to accommodate a window seat, but the play room and my library both have lower windows. I was wondering about building a wall of shelving/cupboards either side of the playroom window with a drawer base underneath using this Pottery Barn Kids ‘wall system’ furniture – conveniently on sale as I type – but Heath thinks it’ll look “funny” so I have *shelved* that idea for now. Somehow I think the PB stuff might be a far cheaper option than custom-built loveliness like this though…(not to mention more portable).

Window seat in a playroom - via Houzz

Window seat in a playroom – via Houzz

Maybe we just need to visit Ikea hackers for inspiration!

Lighting the void

When it came time for the electrical plan, aside from a handful of LED downlights (which turned out to be unnervingly expensive given that they’re essentially invisible) I requested batten holders everywhere and thought we would just take our time buying light fittings and have them wired in later on. I’ve spent many an hour fawning over the online catalogues from American lighting stores and lamenting the lack of interesting and affordable lights here, but am not convinced yet that buying them in from the States is a good idea, given the falling Aussie dollar and the fact that shipping prices are so horrific, before you even add in the cost of having them rewired (which is likely to be extra expensive in a city like Perth). Surely with a bit of stamina and some dedicated Googling, the right lights will materialise within Australia…

Anyway we dropped in to the house a couple of weeks ago after my post-op knee appointment. Our supervisor told us we were getting closer to handover, and that they’d need to put scaffolding in to get up and put the batten holder in for the void light, and that while he’s there, wouldn’t it be wise to just hang the void light and save the extra effort later?

It's a long way to the top...

It’s a long way to the top…

Good idea! Press the button. (Thanks to Princess Polly’s Potty book nobody can say “good idea” in this house without Amelie following it up with “press the button!”) So of course I flew into a blind sweat over the void light. Heath was surprised I hadn’t already chosen one, but for the reasons outlined above, I hadn’t felt any urgency to choose anything just yet. So out came the Pinterest lighting board and the ipad and I immersed myself in the world of Australian pendant lighting for a few days.

I discovered that the majority of the nice lights available in this country are either (a) prohibitively expensive or (b) only available on the east coast or (c) available on the east coast but with nightmarish shipping costs to Perth. You often see ‘free delivery to most major city centres’, with Perth excluded in the fine print. I’ve even seen a button labelled “Fright Estimate”, which is about right. Then they’ll suggest you organise a furniture carrier, which is insanely costly if you’re not moving a substantial amount of stuff. Oh the frustrations of living in the most isolated city on earth (not to mention the priciest city in the country).

Anyway, back to the void light. I had to find a light that would be appropriate for a 1.8m wide by 2.2m deep, 66 course (5.6m) high space. So a pretty small but very tall square. I’d seen some great statement lights in some of the local two storey display homes, which were centred nicely in the window so you can see them all lit up at night.

Entry foyer in Webb & Browne-Neaves' "The Raffles" display home

Entry foyer in Webb & Brown-Neaves‘ “The Raffles” display home

Entry foyer light in Webb & Browne-Neaves' "The Montauk" display home

Entry foyer light in Webb & Brown-Neaves‘ “The Montauk” display home

Entry foyer in Peter Stannard's "The View" display home

Entry foyer in Peter Stannard‘s “The View” display home

All well and good, but then I realised their windows were much much larger than ours. Our window is a compact 94cm high x 70cm wide, with glazing bars along the top obscuring part of that 94cm. So I would need to find something with pretty specific um…specifications ie narrower than 70cm wide, shorter than 94cm high, and with about 60cm of chain to have it sitting in exactly the right spot.

I really like the look of lanterns, like these ones (all unavailable here).

Add source here

Clawson Architects, Maplewood, NJ via Georgiana Design

add source here

White Picket Fence, Santa Monica, CA via Georgiana Design

I found this one in the first lighting store I went in to.

Wellington light by Mercator

Wellington light – Mercator

The 6-light verson is 43cm wide by 82cm high and would have fitted into the window, has an open bottom (therefore no dead bugs to pile up in the base), has an adjustable chain and is lovely… but I just worried that it would have looked tiny on the inside.

I found this one…

Larkin 6 light pendant - alti lighting

Larkin 6 light pendant – Alti Lighting

It’s 10cm taller and 3cm wider. It looks beautiful on the internet and comes in “olde bronze” (black, for short-sighted people like me) but in the flesh it didn’t really do it for me, especially given its price tag. There’s no glass in it.

Even the biggest versions of lanterns didn’t feel like they’d be big enough for the space (though might work better above our stairs, so all is not lost yet…). Through my trails on Google I kept coming across a rule of thumb that the light fixture should be 2.5 to 3 inches tall for every foot of ceiling height, which worked out to be about 120cm. Way bigger than our window. I spoke to a very helpful guy at Alti lighting in Claremont who suggested I stop worrying about the window and just hang the light lower than the window, so that it’s visible from the inside of both the upstairs landing and the downstairs foyer. Although he did point out that all the lights I was looking at only take incandescent bulbs, which have a habit of blowing regularly. So how the hell do you reach it to change the bulbs? Who’s insane idea was it to have a void there anyway? (Erm, mine.)

I’m still a bit confused about LED bulbs, because they all seem to be advertised as direct replacements for any regular bulb, yet the people in the lighting stores talk about light fittings in terms of what sort of bulbs they’ll take. And he also said LEDs aren’t very bright, so you’d probably need other sources of light in the entry, which we don’t have (unless you count a potential table lamp in the hallway). Arghhhh. I thought choosing lights was going to be the fun bit. The bit where you get to add a bit of your own personality to the house and just go shopping with gay abandon and buy pretty stuff.

So the contenders:

Verona chandelier - Wayfair

Verona chandelier – Wayfair (to fit in the window)

Carisbrooke 8 light via Alti Lighting

Carisbrooke 8 light pendant – Alti Lighting (with adjustable chain)

Replica Studio Job Paper Chandelier via Oz Lighting

Replica Studio Job Paper Chandelier – Oz Lighting (adjustable chain)

In the end I chose the replica paper chandelier (which is made of fibreglass), which I think is a real statement light and will strike a nice balance between modern and traditional. Heath and I both really liked it (he wasn’t keen on many of the others I suggested) and Oz Lighting had a free shipping promotion on that week, which saved us $260 in shipping (I told you shipping costs to Perth were dear!) It is en route to us now. I am hoping it won’t look too gargantuan, that it will take LEDs (convenience wins over dimness), and that it won’t cause dramas because of its weight.

Here it is installed in a very glamorous loungeroom designed by Greg Natale. It probably won’t be quite as dramatic in our foyer because it’s not contrasting against dark walls, but I’m still really excited to see how it looks.

I’ll post some photos once it’s in.

Choosing carpet, or how to give yourself a giant headache

When I first started thinking about the fitout for the new house I was adamant we would have no carpet (just as we don’t in our current house). Then Amelie asked me if we could have “some of those soft furry floors” like the ones at her cousins’ house, and I notice Daisy lies on the wooden floors and rolls around there watching TV, which doesn’t look very comfortable. Kids like soft surfaces. Besides which, a bit of research revealed that there wasn’t much to separate wood floors and certain carpets in the hygiene and toxicity debates. And so it was decided.

I started to scrutinise people’s carpets, on Pinterest and in housey magazines and just in general. I liked the look of sisal (and the other natural grassy looking floor coverings).

image via A View on Design

Super glamorous and super not-child-friendly. Image via A View on Design

Then I thought, maybe we could just have the sisal in the master bedroom and have something softer and easier to clean for the
kids’ areas. But to be honest, the one time I tried having a jute rug, Heath referred to it as a “giant doormat” and I did find the dirt it harboured pretty offputting, and that was a small rug that I could easily shake out. Even with regular vacuuming with the Dyson it always seemed to be dirty and the stains seemed to settle in for good. And it was scratchy. So while sisal = gorgeous, I suspect it would make us all miserable.

At the other end of the scratchiness scale, but even more glamorous, was plush velour. I rather warmed to the idea of velvety soft carpet underfoot and thought I could happily live with the “tracking” of footprints and the vacuum cleaner, and the potential nightmare of it getting stained.

Plush carpet. Image via A View on Design

Plush carpet. Image via A View on Design

As above

As above

Then I thought: “nahhh”. I decided there’s a time for glamourous-ness and a time for practicality, and that time (practicality) is now. At least when the carpet cleaners come there will be only one type of carpet to clean, and if when the kids spill their drinks all over the carpet in our room it won’t be a national emergency.

After visiting a few carpet shops and leaving ten minutes later feeling overwhelmed by the vastness of possibilities, I ended up at Choices flooring in Osborne Park and got loads of useful relevant information. I chose Godfrey Hirst eco plus “Natural Springs” (made from triexta, which is made from corn sugar, whatever that is, and recycled milk bottles or something) which appears to be the most “natural” of the artificial fibres, is made in Australia, is super soft and is allegedly easy to clean. And it springs back if you decide to move your furniture. And it was on special at the time, which is why I ordered it slightly earlier than I perhaps needed to.

Then it just came down to colour. I thought about going dark to provide a contrast with the lighter floorboards and tiles, but – and I know I sound like a broken down record – I know from having lived with jarrah floorboards for five years that dark floors show the crumbs/sand/fluff/general debris really badly. That’s the reason I’m opting for an oak floor with a subtle stain over it, rather than dark floors as originally planned. EVERYTHING has been designed to be not like what we have now (dark floors, white tiles, no storage), in an attempt to save my sanity. So dark carpet was ruled out. And really light carpet obviously wouldn’t be much fun either.

So this is what it came down to:

Godfrey Hirst Eco Plus Natural Springs carpet in "Sandy Shore" - image via Choices

Godfrey Hirst Eco Plus Natural Springs carpet in “Sandy Shore” – image via Choices

Sandy Shore. Like walking around on our own personal beige-coloured beach. See how it has a bit of “tonal variation” (because yes, I suddenly know what I’m talking about) so it should conceal dirt well. I think by the end of this I could just about write a book about How to Build a House that Will Hide Dirt. The antidote to Shannon Lush and those ‘How Clean is Your House’ ladies. (Disclaimer: I do actually clean my house reasonably regularly, I just despair of the need to clean it EVERY SINGLE DAY when a cyclone the kids have been through.) What’s that quote? A perfectly clean house is the sign of a misspent life?