Wednesday, September 30, 2015

She Cleaned up Nicely

Living in a small house feels really great for me at this stage in my life. I  love the fact that there are no stairs or multi bathrooms to clean. One level navigating is such a breeze. In this part of the world it also means there is no basement, so the challenge is storage and the fact that everything is in sight including the laundry room. It forces you to get organized and keep hording at bay.

It also means that everything that once got relegated to the basement, now gets relegated to the garage (shed in Australian). Since most sheds here in small town Queensland are not much more than a giant metal building lurking somewhere in the back yard, they are not the most convenient spot to store anything you actually care about. Sure, they are great for tools and garden gear and your car, but they are not airtight or temperature controlled, so they get extremely hot inside. There is also the added feature of scurrying geckos and spiders and all things creepy and crawly (waiting for the day when I see a snake curled up on my car hood (bonnet in Australian). Whenever I do retrieve a box or something from the shed, I carefully inspect the item for life forms. It keeps me on my toes I suppose. That sounds better than freaked out Canadian on constant vigil for Huntsman spiders.

But, back to the small space challenge. The laundry area in this house is also the back entrance to the house and serves as the pantry and linen closet and is adjacent to the toilet (water closet), so you can see that it is a high traffic zone here at Deb and Steve's Tropical Oasis. It was also tied for first place with the kitchen for the most dated and ugly space in the house. It also seemed like a good place to begin renovating. There was nothing we could do with the actual physical space in terms of expanding it, but there was plenty we could do to improve the use of what space was available. There was room to add shelving and closed storage and with a few repairs to the floor and fresh paint, new lighting, new door hardware, updated taps and a new laundry sink, it could certainly be revived and transformed into a more functional and visually pleasing zone in our humble abode. 


The highly visible location and high traffic zone in this house has gone from dingy and utilitarian to fresh and clean and functional with a bit of added kitsch that definitely agrees with my positive chi now. What was once an eyesore and a room that I hoped people would not notice is now a space that actually feels happy to me.


Let's just hope a Huntsman family doesn't want to move in to new digs. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Double Blinded

It was a pretty productive but exhausting weekend here at number 29. The painting of the living and dining rooms got finished and new blinds installed (good riddance BLUE verticals), the long-delayed stainless steel backsplash in the laundry was erected and a new pendant light over the dining table was connected. Sounds like simple tasks...however, we have learned that nothing is as simple as it seems here at Deb and Steve's tropical oasis.

I had received a quote from a window covering company here in town and not only was the price high, the delivery time was 4-6 weeks which would have meant putting the old blue blinds back up on my newly painted architraves and so I decided to go the quicker less expensive route and buy ready made shades and install them myself. Sounds great in theory, right? After all, my windows are standard sizes and I live with the handiest man I know. Although the shades came in the right widths for my windows, they would not fit with the brackets on an inside mount. This was tantamount to the look I wanted. I had painstakingly painted all the window trims out in a dark grey (Taubmans Grey Moggy), hoping to achieve a framed portrait effect when looking out at the tropical foliage and distant bushland. They would need to be cut. So, each roller shade had to be carefully disassembled completely, hardware hack sawed to size, fabric measured and precisely trimmed, then reassembled, x2 for each window as I had chosen double day and night shades. We cleared the dining room floor to make a space large enough to conduct this operation and after  5 hours of measuring twice, cutting once and crawling around the porcelain tile floor on our hands and knees, we had beautiful custom fit window treatments for about a third of the cost of contracting them out. 

Next up, bunging up the backsplash  (splashback if you are Australian). This was not too difficult other than the fact that one of the cut out holes for the plumbing was a bit tight, so we had to grind out the steel a bit. Once that was done, we adhered it to the wall and it quickly cemented itself to the drywall. Affixing the taps would be a cinch we reckoned. Think again. One thing we are learning quickly as we renovate is "never assume". The faucet and taps we purchased and installed for the washing machine matched the ones we were about to install on the laundry tub. (You may recall my reference to them as the jewels of the room - like Paloma Picasso X's). However, these were a bit different...NOT what we assumed!  So, had we checked the fit prior to sticking the Stainless Steel on the wall, we could have solved the installation easy as. But now, we had no room to manoeuvre through the steel wall and there was no way we wanted to rip it off now. The tool necessary to do the job was unavailable yesterday, so today as I write this blog, the laundry room tap installation is incomplete and awaiting the arrival of my handiest of men to bring home the tools for the job later today.

The third renovation task of the weekend went smoother than the first two but not entirely as we had hoped either. We knew going in that the dining room light fixture was not going to hang centered over the table, but we are a hopeful pair and so we forged ahead "just to see" how off it would look. I believe his words were - "the light is great darl, but the position is a bloody shocker, eh?" I agreed and made a mental note that some of my Canadianisms were rubbing off on him. Eh?

A new ceiling fan was on the agenda for the lounge room, but by the time we got to number 4 on our list, a quick read of the installation instructions calling for something necessary that neither of us had ever heard of, forced us to surrender for the weekend and as it was getting damn close to wine o'clock, we put that job on the list for the electrician that needs to come and move the junction box in the dining room and move a few power outlets. 

As I sit here at my dining table looking at the dividing line between the  kitchen that is still in it's original state and the dining room in it's fresh new look, I can see how far our humble abode has come in the last few weeks. I would love to "assume" the kitchen renovation will be completed by the time I get back from Canada in December but we all know that assumptions can often make an ass out of u and me.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Doors

Out with the old

Aahh yes, THE DOORS! And I ain't talkin about Jim Morrison. Mind you, it was not unlike being a rider on the storm this weekend as the re-hanging of the interior doors that I expected would take a couple of hours max, turned into an all day event on Saturday. Did I mention how much I love renovating? 

I took the time to remove all the interior doors and hinges and door handles so I could sand and paint and replace the hardware. For the last 10 days the doors have been on saw horses out on my patio undergoing a transformation. Sanding. Priming. Two coats of paint. Both sides. I was so stoked to see them back in place in their new shining glory. The new stainless steel hinges were screwed on and as it really is a two person job, Saturday was the big day. We carefully carried each one to its original home and reattached them to the freshly painted architraves. As we swung each one to check the fit, it was as though the doors had been on a 10 day cruise feasting and drinking and putting on the mandatory 5-8 pounds. They would not close. They crowded the stops. How could this be? We bought the exact same hinge size...or so we thought. When we held a new hinge up to an original hinge we discovered the problem. The space between the pin and the plate was off by a couple of mm. Hardly noticeable at all, but enough to cause the newly mounted doors to resist closing. 

So, we had a couple of options. Move the stops further on the jambs and ruin my brand new paint job that took two weeks, or move the screw holes over on each door. The latter seemed like a less invasive procedure, but it required major doctoring, as the holes only needed to move a little bit meaning the old holes would need filling. We were off to our second home to get more supplies. I knew I should have bought shares in Bunnings before we started this journey! So, we had to put some wood and glue in a total of 24 holes, let it dry and re-drill new holes. Hence, a two hour job took all day. We reminded each other that we were experiencing mere first world problems but it was still frustrating and by the time beer o'clock rolled around we were more than ready since the fit was only one problem.

The striker plates for the new handles were a different size than the original plates. On Saturday we re-mounted the old plates so the doors would close and decided to search out replacement plates another day. On Sunday we were back at Bunnings - they know us on a first name basis there now, and were thrilled to find the same size plates in a matching finish...but only 3 out of 4. Surely no one will notice that one is shiny chrome and not brushed nickel. We could turn it into a game, like those "find the difference" photos in magazines that I used to love as a kid. 

This is why I still do not have a before and after shot again today. No one space is complete yet. I do have a before and after of the hardware and doors, which is a pretty good sample of the contrast between old and new. The doors all work now and they look fresh and updated and now I can leave the confines of the hallway and move into the lounge room with my paint brushes and rollers. The laundry room is still waiting on the stainless steel backsplash and shelving to be installed. The backsplash is more than a week late as the fabricator is suddenly swamped with work and our small job likely got moved to the bottom of the priority list. 

In with the new

My plan is to live with the simplicity of the plain white doors in the hallway for a bit and then decide if I think they need to be embellished with some decorative trim application down the road. I don't want any traditional moulding as the goal is to keep things more modern and clean-lined...but I am not ruling out a more contemporary treatment to dress them up a bit.

They have already come a long way for now. Think I'll let them live in their new skin for awhile. They are fresh enough to make me want to sing "Hello, I love you" and what door doesn't know and love that song?