Dream house, dream life, yeah right. Dream on…

Archive for February, 2012

Am I the only one?

Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this?

Last week I prepared food in case some friends were able to drop by while they were in the city. Life happened and they weren’t able to come. So I rang around and invited 7 people for dinner the next night. I only had to  slice some meat and throw some herbs into  the butter for the garlic bread to  be ready. So, I looked at the table and decided I wanted to use my new table runner that matches my  new  blue walls. I needed a centrepiece though.

I saw  something on Pinterest (follow me here) that I loved (of course now I want to show you I can’t find it). It was a tall straight glass filled with water and a sprig of baby’s breath with a floating candle on top. Sort of like these:

Since my table is a bit on the narrow side, and would be crowded with 8 place settings several of these in a line down the centre would be great. Just a couple of problems. I didn’t have any tall straight glasses that suited, I didn’t have any baby’s breath (or Singapore orchids). Oh and I also didn’t have any floating candles. So, with 8 hours until guests arrived I went shopping. The Reject Shop was the only place with cheap straight glasses – 3 for $2. Of course that was about the fifth place I went. Then I discovered something interesting. Apparently there is an unspoken ban on floating candles in Hobart. I finally found some, but it took several  trips across town and out to various shopping centres. Of course they were larger than the glasses I bought that morning. (Of course they were!) As a last resort I tried the Salvos for some wine glasses so I could do this instead. Wine glass votives.  I not only picked up some nice wine glasses (which was good since I actually didn’t own any) but some gorgeous parfait glasses.

Raced home, turned on the oven, raced down to  pick some flowers, then tried to  get them to  sit in the glasses under the water.  The glasses werent’deep  enough  to  add stones to  hold them down, not narrow wnough  to  hold the sides – and quite frankly everything I tried looked like a bit of  broken flower drowning, not swimming. Next time I’ll  try actually  blu-tacking some ivy sprigs to the bottom before adding water, but in the race against time to  get  the table ready and the food ready before everyone arrived I tossed the flowers out and  decided to  dye the water instead. In amongst this I also  decided that 8 people around my  extension table really  wasn’t comfortable and decided to  pull  the fiddleback table out of the craft room and use that too. I was going to  make one long table, (which of course the table runner would not have fitted anyway) but then had a brain wave. For months I’ve been  drooling over a table I saw –  a sort of a country style wooden with simple ladderback chairs – but square seating 8. I’ve  told quite a few people of my  dream to put a square table in the living room, and almost everyone  has poo-poo-ed the idea. Oh, it will  take up  a lot of room, it will  stick out, it would be to big. I took  the extension out of the dining table and discovered my  two  tables are  only a few millimetres different in length. So I pushed them together.

TaDa, square table, plenty of room for chairs without having to  sit on the legs or  around corners. But hell, what to cover it with? We’ve always had oblong tables  which means a cupboard of oblong tablecloths. I pulled out a white damask cloth that I discovered when  clearing cupboards last year. I think it may have been one of Mum’s that was discarded as being too big, or tossed for the couple of  rust marks. It was probably put aside because Mum was going to cut it down to size and make serviettes or teatowels from it. The more likely reason I discovered, is that it was put out because it’s a bitch to iron.  So the teal blue silk runner has been discarded, the white cloth ironed and fitted,  the office chairs dragged into  service (must get some more dining chairs if I’m  going to  entertain), the pasta bake and quiche are in the oven,  the bench is covered with wet candles and newly washed glasses. I decide to throw some glass beads into the bottom of the candles and discovered that when I add water the glass colours up to match the walls. Yay, the mixing of food colours to try and get the right blue can wait till another day.

I was still  buttering bread when people arrived and  someone else sliced the tomatoes (fresh out of the garden), and the meat, and someone watched the bread under the grill. But hey, when people are invited for free leftovers they have to expect to work for it *grin* It was a great evening, and the square table worked so much better than long one. So, dinner party – 10 minutes work, centrepiece, 6 hours+. I’m not the only one who does this am I?

What do you think, can the room cope with a square table?

Tour Time: The Living Room

The official description of this house is 4 bedrooms, 3 living areas. When we moved in, from a much smaller house the number of ‘lounge rooms’ was confusing. No one knew where to  find anything 🙂 So they became the ‘sunroom’ (off the 3 children’s bedrooms, the lounge room (previously featured in the new study/salon/craft room) and the living room where we essentially did live.  Open  plan from the kitchen this room takes up one side of the house. I often say “I’ve bought a house with  no walls,” and this room is a perfect example. L-shaped it has the kitchen bench at one end, double doors and a door to  the hall on one wall, a small piece of wall on the opposite side and an L with 3 sides of windows.

I’ve just spent a couple of weeks with  it covered with  drop cloths and plaster dust.  It’s strange, but it was hard to  find pics to  show what it used to  look like because  I moved stuff around after Mum died, and I have  strong memories of  previous arrangements, but not necessarily  photos of them. One constant – the TV has always been in the corner, so it was visible from the kitchen as well as all of the room.

(Click the image for a larger view)

My father liked television, it was always on in the evenings. After he died I don’t know if it was habit or company or what but Mum always turned the tv on before the news. So it’s interesting that I haven’t actually watched tv in this house in nearly 18 months, and in fact none of the TVs are currently even plugged in, let alone tuned in. (But don’t get between me and my computer or I’ll hurt you ;))

The kitchen end of the living room has changed from  seating to  dining and back again over the years.

I bought the stools from a market just after Mum went, they were a horrid 80’s ‘teak’ orange so I stained them walnut.

The organ only moved into the room when the carpets came up in the lounge.

The L – full of sun all year round.

Those shelves were really annoying me.

That was the before. Several weeks of filling cracks, painting the ceiling,  prying shelves out of walls,  filling holes,  filling more holes, sanding filler, filling along the edges of the windows and cupboards and door frames later, I could finally start painting. I’m still  working on artwork, but…  ta da!

It feels so good to  get rid of that cream (well  okay, it’s still on the windows and the kitchen, but progress has been made!) The walls are  white duck half and the trim is Lexicon.

It’s really hard to get this colour to  photograph properly with  so many windows around it. It’s Dulux Azure Blue, the same as in the study/salon. To me it’s a bit deeper  than it shows on-screen. I love it more every day. I have plans for the cupboards over the bench – hence why they haven’t been painted yet.

From the kitchen – the curve is from the wide-angle lens. (I know nothing is straight in this house but seriously it’s not that obvious.)

Grown ups please apply.

Tomorrow I get to  take my new  homeowner’s insurance policy for a test run. Which of course means instead of operating under Mum’s no excess pensioner policy I get to fork out at least $100 that I can’t afford.  Meanwhile tonight I get to try to sleep in my bed with  a piece of cardboard between me and the storm raging outside. The rugs are up off the floor, the floor has been vacced about 20 times and washed once. The bed has been completely stripped and remade. First I went over the  doona with  strips of packing tape to  collect all the tiny slivers of glass. I’m not sure I’ll  ever feel  safe in my room again. Heaven knows when I’ll  feel it is safe to go barefoot around the bed again.

This evening I was sitting at the computer when the window beside me suddenly slammed shut (stupid metal framed windows that have got loose over the years and won’t stay open.)After a very  muggy and unpleasant day the wind had finally swung around, with a vengeance. I closed the window and got up to  close the others against the  pelting rain. My bedroom windows were both open in an attempt to  air the room. I was one step away from reaching the window when it slammed shut and shattered. Thank  goodness there were shoes on the other side of the room because I was of course barefoot (and barelegged so that next step could have been disastrous if I’d moved a little faster). I spent the next  90 mins cleaning up  glass and trying to  wedge  a piece of cardboard across the gap while dodging the rain. My bed is not close to  the window, so I was really surprised to not only find  specks of glass on the bed, but on the other side of it too!

I’m just waiting for the next one – this is the second window to break (the other one is still in it’s frame, just cracked through) in a fortnight. Ironically one is my current bedroom which when Mum had it she rarely opened the bottom window (maybe this is why), and the other is the room that was my bedroom for 36 years – where I always had the windows open and never managed to  break one until I moved out.


I’ve spent today removing the glass from my bifold doors and sanding and varnishing them ready for the new glass. With any luck  on Monday they will have 5mm shaved off the outside edges (“De plane, de plane!” Sorry, I digress,) and be hung. And that will essentially finish  stage 1 of the renovations. Scary  stuff.

The living room doesn’t have  many walls – it’s essentially  three walls of windows and one of doors. It did have  two sets of built in shelves.

The first thick Tas oak shelves built by my  father in the  late 70s. The pillar they are on is actually a chimney. When we moved in there was a small wood burner in the flat below, and an oil heater in this room. Dad hated oil heaters so it went  so fast I don’t remember what it looked like. The shelves were built to  accomodate a revolving selection of plants from the large glasshouse that Dad had in the back yard.  I don’t seem to  have many pictures, but I have mental images of them stacked with  begonias and coleus, overflowing with  colour.

Hoewever everything I own seemed to be too large or wide or just didn’t fit on the shelves. And the couch was too close to the coffee table and looked clumsy pushed against a shelf.

They also seemed to make rearranging the room impossible – their position in the middle of the room seemed to define all the spaces around them. They had to go.

Problem is, my father built things to last. I didn’t realise until later, but I could have climbed the things instead of a ladder to paint the ceiling! Each shelf was attached to the wall with a 30cm dynabolt (long bolt into  a metal tube that  expands  against the brickwork.  The bolts were placed through holes through the depth of the shelf . The holes were covered by a facing of 1cm thick timber that was not only nailed on but glued too. Each shelf was in 3 pieces – but not just a diagonal seam – it had a another angle in it (hard to describe and not really visible in this pic – the middle shelf was like a jigsaw piece, it interlocked.

Chisel, hammer, more chisels, pinch bar, just getting the strip off the first piece took  some 30 minutes hard work.

One section of shelf the bolt simply wouldn’t  shift so I ended up pulling the whole thing out of the wall. It managed to pull a pulverised brick out with  it. This was the second layer of  filler  in that hole

The phone plug was half way up the wall. Not just inserted in the plaster – oh no, that would have been too  easy, it was mortared in againt the bricks.

Nearly done. A full week of  filling and smoothing and setting and filling.  Of course the originsal wall isn’t flat or level, so that makes it hard to work out what level is smooth.

One edge of this hole is actually  several millimetres higher than the opposite.  It could be worse, the house across the road has textured plaster – every  mend is visible for ever. Renovation there is going to have to start with coating every wall with plaster board.

All in all, although I KNOW where the patches are, most people can’t find them so I’m pretty pleased.

In the opposite corner we had a built in tv unit.

I actually designed these shelves 20+ years ago and we had them built. Practically the tv was too far away from where I put chairs, and again limited the rearrangability (oooh a new word!) of the whole room.

So, lifting off the tops was relatively simple (got to find a good project to reuse that timber).

Then the strips were screwed into the wall – simple. Some of the screws weren’t even filled as they weren’t visible.  Well, three of these long screws managed to strip themselves as I tried to undo them. Tried levering them out of the wall, but they wouldn’t shift (the wood broke around them). No hope of hammering them far enough into the wall. I ended up  using a combination of hacksaw, pliers and brute force to make them break at the top of the thread.

However the green plastic plugs were still in every hole and wouldn’t pull out, nor push in enough to get plaster over them. So the neat little screw holes had to be opened up with a chisel and the front of the plug sliced off. Oh great, more gaping holes to fill.

I used the better part of two large tubs of polyfilla in this room (the ceiling cracks weren’t deep, but they were plentiful). Sometimes I feel like I am singlehandedly keeping Bunnings in business. Plastering done, time to paint.
Coming up – the living room reinvented.

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