Christmas is coming!

Whether I like it or not, there's no denying that it's December 1st.  As with many other house holds, that means the tree is going up.  I should probably think about some Christmas shopping too right?

Before the tree went up

All trimmed and waiting for gifts ... and perhaps some Christmas themed art on those plain walls.

Keepsake ornament from Little Miss's 2nd Christmas

This year's keepsake ornament

Christmas kisses

I have hydrangeas!

Yes, that statement is worth the exclamation mark.  A year ago when we moved into this house I declared that I wanted blue hydrangeas in the garden across the front that would hedge up and bloom right outside my bedroom window.  My family event started a hydrangea fund as our housewarming gift.

This time last year I couldn't find blue hydrangeas anywhere ... but now, well here they are.

Handsome Handy Hubby has constructed a pallet veggie garden for himself and after he was at the nursery stocking it up through the week he reported "I think they have those blue purple flower things that you want". Lucky I speak Hubby.

So after swimming lessons this morning a very tired little miss cute and I headed to the nursery and a wonderful display of pink, blue and lavender hydrangea's greeted us.  These are the ones we brought home.

After a little digging, worm watching and watering, we went from a garden with one pink test hydrangea in a pot - from my Gram's neighbour.  I left it here in the garden to see how it would do for about a year. To a garden with the beginnings of a hydrangea hedge.

It's not the most dramatic change you've ever seen, but it makes my heart sing.  Sure, it'll look a bazillion times better when we pull out the banksia and add in the last hydrangea, take their tags off, build a structure to hide the bins, put in a gate on the side of the house for the climbing rose around the corner there to make a home and of course mow the lawns.  But it's a start.

Job 1 of about 150 garden jobs done!

Laundry Progress

Laundry isn't my favourite job.  Housework in general isn't my favourite job.  I'll do the laundry because I like clean knickers, but the housework ... I can find a million reasons to put that off!  I do feel much better, more organised and successful if the house is tidy and clean (both at the same time is like a jackpot) so it doesn't get too out of hand.

Since I have to do laundry in order to have clean clothes then I'm determined to do it in a pretty space.  We have one important functional need from our laundry ... space for two washing machines.  Handsome Handy Hubby does dirty work.  When we first moved to Kiama he was coming home covered in grease every day.  We were living with my grandmother and I couldn't put that through her washing machine, so we set up ours.  Now, he comes home cover in dust from working in a plant that crushes rocks all day.  It's better than grease but still not something that we want in the same washing machine as everything else.

We also don't have a lot of built in storage, so packing as much as possible into the laundry is another goal.

My inspirations was of course found in Pinterest.  I love the colours and light in the first wonderful space and the hanging rail in the second image is a great addition.

The only structural work we did before we moved into this house was in the laundry.  Thankfully, the house was already blessed with a large laundry that we could fit two washing machines in.  It's located at the end of the hallway which originally had a very deep storage cupboard, a solid door through to the laundry and was a dark area sucking all light from the hallway.  Click here to see the original and new floorplans.


So, we ripped that storage cupboard right out, moved the doorway so that it now goes across the end of the hallway and installed a frosted glass door which glows all morning as the sun streams in through the laundry. We painted it a lovely soft seaglass green - Dulux Zenith Heights

View from the window into the end of the hallway with cupboard and original door removed.

Looking down the hallway to where the cupboard used to be.

New doorway across the end of the hall.

View from the window across to what used to be the end of the hallway
Frosted laundry door across the end of the hall

From the window looking across to what used to be the end of the hallway. Check out that sunshine!
 Next step was to get some cupboards and a bench in there.  We used basic white flat pack cupboards from Bunnings for now.  Hopefully we'll get something more stylish down the track, and a built in linen cupboard but for now this provides the function we need.

Handsome Handy Hubby used the same bamboo boards as we used on the floor to build that beautiful long laundry bench.  It's so functional and much nicer than an expanse of white laminex would have been. I actually enjoy standing here in the morning sun folding up the washing.

 And just to keep it real, here's how the other side of the laundry looked while I was taking these photos.

Ah yeah, still got a bit of work to do.
  • Two overhead cupboards on the wall with a rail in between
  • Window treatment as the summer sun is super hot coming through the window
  • A toilet in the corner between the end of the bench and the window
  • Build in the linen cupboard
  • Artwork
  • Floating shelf

Reality Check: 3rd Birthday Party

Our Little Lady turned 3 recently.  Apparently this now makes her a big girl who can do everything by herself and knows everything.

In my dreams I would use my 10 years as a professional event planner and lifetime of bossy organising to create a birthday party for my Little Lady that was all colour co-ordinated with an Amy Atlas style buffet, party games, home made gifts for her little friend and their parents.  In reality, she's three, she doesn't much care about all that as long as she has friends to play with, presents to open, a Peppa Pig cake and candles to blow out.  So I'll keep the more elaborate parties for when she's a little older and can be involved in the preparation ... and keep my sanity in tact.

I did attempt my first shaped birthday cake and I'm pretty happy with the results.  At Delaney's Cakes in Wollongong I discovered their white chocolate mud cake mix and the white fudge icing.  I thought it was cheating, but honestly it made the results so much better than I would have achieved starting from scratch. I got three cakes out of the mix which made it pretty economical and everyone love the cake.  The textures made it great for cutting into shape, the icing was easy to colour pink for the Peppa Pig cake and a little Dutch Cocoa made great chocolate icing for the grown ups cake. The other big thank you goes to my Gram who helped me figure it all out.

As for photos ... too busy to take many.

And then life gets in the way

Wow ... almost a year since my last post.  What happened to my good intentions to document the process of moving in and turning this house into a home?  Life got in the way of course!  I know many more people with much busier lives than me, but with both of us working full time, a rapidly growing toddler on the scene who has only just started to sleep through the night regularly, and trying to have some kind of fun and excitement now and then in our lives, bloggin just didn't happen as I had hoped.  Maybe now I'll spend more time doing ... and maybe not.  It remains to be seen.

Personally, I am feeling more 'normal' than I have in about three years.  Why?  Well Katie is almost three and along with that comes a huge amount of independence.  She want's to do everything for herself and is capable of doing so much that it amazes me on a daily basis.  She has also started sleeping through the night more often than not.  So, about five out of seven days a week I actually get 6 or so hours of uninterruped sleep.  Sheer bliss!

So what did the better look like all those months ago?

The entry - before, during and after.  Not quite the same angle.  But whe tore up the slate, laid bamboo boards and painted from cream to pale grey (Dulux Vanilla Quake 1/2 strength).  We also removed the screen door and painted the door and surrounding frame a soft black (Dulux Domino).

Lounge - Handsome Handy Hubby started ripping out the carpet before I could get a complete before photo, but check out the one from the listing.
Painted and waiting for carpet
The hallway - we pulled up the existing old carpet, continued the bamboo floorboards down the hall, painted the same pale grey as the rest of the house.  We also made the only structural change during this phase of the makeover.  See how dark it is at the end of the hall and that huge solid door?  It's a linen cupboards the width of the hallway and about a metre deep.  To the right was the door into the reasonably sized laundry which has a lovely big window and lets in lots of morning sunshine.  We pulled out the linen cupboard, took the laundry door and the wall out and put a frosted glass sliding door across the end of the hallway.  This gave us a huge amount of extra space in the laundry and floods the end of the hall with light.

Kitchen - check out the original listing photo and our before ones.  Dark red feature wall that sucks in the light and lots of wood furniture.  While it looks wonderfully light in these photos it's not.  The back wall of the dining area is probably the darkest spot in the house.  And see those lovely 'parquetry floors' ... laminate.  A lovely pattern and new it was bound to be great, but tired, old and when we went to pull it up, not even glued down.  We pulled up the flooring, painted our favoured pale grey again and replaced the lights.

See all that lovely light streaming in through the door on the far right hand side - that's coming from the laundry!  You see why we had to take out that cupboard at the end of the hall and let that come through right.

Our bedrooms - there are three of them.  All in such bad states that they weren't even pictured in the listing.  We removed the flooring, took the doors of the wardrobe and ordered milk glass sliding doors, repainted and recarpeted.  In the master bedroom we painted it a darker grey, one wall is about 80% window so the darker colour works even though the room is small.  We also removed the built in wardrobe ... yes, that's what the wardrobe looked like when we took posession of the house.  Removing the wardrobe made the room big enough for us to fit in a king size bed and two bedsides, with enough room for a flat pack wardrobe as well.  At least for now...

Last, but not least, the laundry.  The top left picture is hte only before tha I have.  It's a large room with a great window.  We kept the tiles and painted it a soft turquoise shade.  See that photo on the top right, that's where we took out the cupboard at the end of the hall and put in the sliding door.  We carried the bamboo floor boards from the hallway all the way through to the back wall.  Once again you can see that lovely light steaming in through the windows while I'm taking photos.

Over the course of three weeks we did an enormous amount of work.  The day before we moved in we had the agent who sold the house come back and take a look.  Besides being amused that we had chosen the same shade of Dulux Domino soft black for our front door that he had also used on his, he was blown away by the changes we had made.  In his opinion, we had added about $35,000 in value to the house.  We spent about $15,000 in total and did all of the work other than the painting and carpeting ourselves.

Thank Yous.  To my Handsome Handy Hubby who worked his day job and then put in several hours a day at the house for nearly three weeks straight to get it all done.  To my Brilliant Builder Brother who did the structural work on the laundry.  To my Brothers tradies who helped out with labour and plaster work.

We've still got big plans for the house and there have been a few updates and changes since moving in.  I'll try to get them documented over the next little while.