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Archive for the ‘house tour’ Category

Upgrading the salon desk

A couple of years ago I bought a new in desk extractor fan for dust and fumes for the nail salon.  It cost a small fortune, and for another small fortune I could have got it already seated in a cheap and nasty laminate desk that didn’t really fit the space I had at the time. (Most of them had one small drawer for storage, if that.)

I started out thinking I’d have to make a desk, then ran across an oval computer desk in a discount clearance centre. I’d seen this desk at $90, looked at it at $69 and decided it was too flimsy (the oval sat atop the  two side pieces (a file drawer and a computer tower box) on 2 tubes that allowed the drawers to roll under the desk.)

When it hit $25 I looked at it again with new eyes. For $25 I got 2 pairs of drawer slides, 8 castors, and a nice large top – all in horrid brown plastic laminate (crapboard as my neighbour calls it). The top was big enough to fit the fan in, which was the most important consideration.  So I bought 2 of them.

I shaped one top, attached it to the bases with 2 posts each side (so much more stable), mounted the fan, set up one set of drawers, cut the other set down and made them sliding shelves,  added some  wings to hold UV lamps and even cut the spare top in half and made shelves.

I ended up with raw chipboard against me as I worked and so it got covered with a layer of duct tape. One day soon I would  give it a coat of paint I said.

2012JAN07salon 007a

Three years later, the salon has moved rooms, the duct tape was half off for the third time and the acetone had wiped away some of the plastic wood finish. It looked charming – not.

2014NOV02 006a

So, since I had the paints out for the kitchen, and I had a sudden surge of clients that left me with a week without any appointments, I taped off the metal, undid the wings, rolled on some primer and a coat of Lexicon white acrylic.

Then I started playing. I diluted some black acrylic, brushed it on, sponged it back, rolled over it with diluted white, brushed some more, rolled some more.

And TaDa!

2014NOV05 012a

I went into Bunnings to see if there was a non yellowing oil based polyurethane to seal it with (can’t use acrylics with acetone around). I didn’t think there was, thought I would probably be rolling on a coat or two of normal poly and watching it yellow up over the next year or two. But the woman serving me said there was a clear paint, not a poly, from Dulux. It was low chemical and so didn’t yellow she said. The label said it discouraged chroming with low chemicals. It wasn’t until afterwards that I discovered chroming is the word for using spray paint fumes to get high!

So I sprayed my desktop.

This was it two days later after 3 light coats.

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No that is not the lighting, it is yellow! Not cream, or slightly off white. Yellow!

Lesson learned – This 2014NOV10 006ais NOT CLEAR.

My desk looked like something pulled out of grandma’s kitchen which hadn’t been changed since 1930.

I couldn’t face the thought of all those layers and dying times again. But I couldn’t live with pee yellow either, even the fake woodgrain had been better.

So I got the primer out again, and  coated the desk. Then a coat of white semi gloss enamel (left over from door frames). Then the next day, another coat of white, this time with some diluted black enamel (left over from my bedroom trim) painted into the white while it was still wet, with a feather. No sponging, no blotting. A couple of spots got a bit of another layer over them to fix up strange bits the next day. No sealer (so it’s not as shiny as it was). And there are brush marks because I didn’t use the roller this time.

But it looks so fresh and bright. And best of all, it doesn’t show the acrylic dust, which was the whole reason for painting it 😉

2014NOV21 048after

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There are black buttons that cover the screw holes, it just isn’t dry enough yet 🙂


How I made my bathroom taller.

I made my bathroom taller today.
It took all of about 2 minutes.
Definitely one of those “why didn’t I think of this earlier” moments.

This was my bathroom.

The orchid on the windowsill has grown, and has a couple of flower spikes coming. Every time I move my towel I have to move a leaf and I’m scared I’ll break a spike.

This is my bathroom today.
2014NOV02 010a

Two minutes to find the spare hanger and hook it over the old curtain hook. The flower spikes are up out of harms way and without the plant sitting on the sill the window seems bigger, taller, brighter.

Tour time: House layout

My house was built 60 years ago this year. Most of the houses in my street were built within about 5 years.  The majority of them have a hallway with a few bedrooms off it, and a lounge room, possibly with double doors into a  dining room. Only one place in the street has full length windows (and only in the sunroom out front). They all feel old when you walk inside. Maybe I’m biased but my house has aged well.  Firstly, with 4 bedrooms and three living areas it was huge for the times. Having them all open plan and interconnected makes it feel even more spacious and modern.  The kitchen separated from the living room by a breakfast bar was I believe very modern –  I don’t know of any other in the street that had this as an original feature.

Then there’s the passive solar layout, way ahead of it’s time. The house sits  almost exactly square to the compass points.  The Western wall is large windows into the main bedroom, the lounge room and full length glass wall of the livingroom.   Deep eaves provide protection from middle of the day Summer sun while the Winter sun floods the house with heat and light.

The sunroom on the Northern side has a high ceiling and a wall of glass that extends up to the cathedral ceiling. In Winter the sun spills into this room from just after sunrise until the early afternoon. It’s only missing the slate floor to store the heat. In Summer the sun passes directly overhead, hitting the windowsills but doesn’t shine into the room at all.

Of course it’s not all perfect. The only bathroom and toilet is located beside the front door (well from the outside,  inside you have to walk around a bit between them), but the number of times someone has arrived at the front door while I’m in the toilet is ridiculous, and there is pretty much no way to pretend you aren’t there, or sneak out without it becoming very obvious.

Just in case you love looking at floor plans as much as I do, this is one I drew up when I was planning the renovation. It is ‘close to scale’.


The Lounge is now the new study. The corner suite has found a new home. Bed 4 which was my study is now the nail salon.

When one door closes…


A neighbour came in the other day. It was COLD, so I had the hall doors closed to keep the heat in the living areas. First time she had noticed the doors. I’m pretty sure she has gone home to plot how to change her hall door, she asked so many detailed questions about the process. When I think about it, it probably is the biggest change I’ve made to the house.

When I took over the house I moved into the main bedroom, the opposite end of the house to my childhood room.  Originally I planned to  let out the 3 spare bedrooms, so the nail salon moved into my new study. I started coming and going through the front door instead of the back door which was closer to the old study and old bedroom. And  when I heated or cooled the house, I’d shut the hall doors to halve the space.  Problem was,  it halved the space visually too.  Visitors were stunned to find out I had more than 1 bedroom.  Despite walking down the full length of the house to get to the door,  most people apparently were quite happy to believe that only the back part existed and that I lived in a small one bedroom unit. Even though I had to go through the hall doors to the bathroom I found I rarely ventured further. It was like a different planet (and it was usually a different temperature too.)

The front hall (yes there’s a front and back hall), as it was for most of my life, varied only by the potted plant or vase of flowers on the hall stand. Master bedroom off to the right of the entrance.





The other end of the hall leading into the living room after I started converting the hall into the library The closed door leads to the living room/kitchen. Open it covered half the DVD shelves, closed you couldn’t open the cupboard. Over the years I spent a fair amount of time trying to get out of the way of that door.


The middle of the hall from the new study/old lounge room which has a glass wall into the hall. The closed door leads to the back hall,  bathroom and sunroom and other bedrooms.



From the other side –  the back hall

ImageThe door took up so much space in this tiny hall.

I started out dreaming of a door with glass in it.  I even found some unfinished ones that had 10 panes down the full length. I considered frosted glass and eventually decided I would probably get clear and then frost/etch/or do something to it to obscure the direct view. But doors aren’t cheap, and the new ones were not the right size, they would have to be cut down (of course my doors aren’t standard, the standard came in long after this house.) So I dreamed on and did nothing.

My sister and my best friend both have  bi fold doors in their houses which I have long coveted. But holy cow, the prices! Nearly 3x the price of the cheapest single door.

I mentioned my dream to a client one day who responded that she had 2 spare bi-folds that wouldn’t fit their house. Some measuring and bargaining later and I had 2 doors –  5mm too wide!

They sat in my shed for ages (5mm was not a width I was willing to tackle). I bought the tracks (Nearly twice what I paid for the doors!).

I pulled the doors out and propped them up to see how they would look.


The fake stained glass had to go. I could, I suppose have lived with the red highlights (red is  one colour that does not appear in my  house as a rule), but the kookaburras –  no way. If I wanted doors with pests on them (kookaburras are introduced in Tasmania, not native, and take many native birds from their nests) I’d rather have something furry. Rats maybe. I pulled the glass out and sold it for enough to buy plain glass panels as replacements.

The doors got varnished.


Finally I got a friend’s husband over to trim the 5mm from the middle of the doors, and help install them.

What a difference!


The hall/library now feels like a room instead of a passageway. I can’t wait to be able to replace all the temporary shelves with floor to ceiling built in shelves.





The back hall feels so spacious now you don’t have to walk around the door to get to the toilet.


I love my new doors, feels like a different house.




































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.)

Tour Time: The ‘um’ room

My first memory of living in this house was the night we moved in, walking in on a cold wet winter’s night after a long car trip from our old house and Dad (who had come earlier with the furniture) was sitting in an easy chair in front of a roaring fire. We’d never had an open fire before and I loved it.

Unfortunately, the chimney design sucked (or more to the point, didn’t suck) and so regularly smoked us out if the wind changed), so over the years we gradually stopped using the fireplace.

A few months ago, trying to work out how to keep the house I decided I had to let out some bedrooms. Since I was using them all this meant some major reorganisation.

My first thought was to stay put in my little bedroom and tiny study and move the salon into the spare room and let out the lounge and master bedroom.

Then I decided I could get more money letting 3 small rooms than 1 or 2 larger rooms. So, the contents of my tightly organised and packed study would need to move into the large, open, loungeroom, a room with no morning sun, a hearth and a fireplace and essentially no walls.  This meant finding room for walls of books and folders, boxes of beads and assorted craft stuff, a desk and shelves full of scrapbooking supplies, a table (that my father built) from the sunroom, and the myriad of office supplies that any self respecting stationery junkie always has on hand.

Later, I decided that the salon really didn’t earn itself a bedroom of its own and had to move into the lounge too.

So, if youy’re looking for something, it’s probably in the um lounge, I mean the new study um, ah, that is the salon, or  the um craft room.Actually, right at the moment I probably have no idea where it is!

The um, study, from the library/hall


The wall colours are Dulux Azure Blue, and White Duck half.

The book nook. Can't wait to get the fireplace working again this winter.


The craft corner. Not sure what I have planned to deal with this mess.

The salon corner

Tour Time: The old study

I’m  devastated. I’ve just discovered that apparently I don’t have any photos of the study  before I dismantled it. I have pics of the process to  put it together, but none of the ‘finished’ product of the last year or so.

My study used to be my sister’s bedroom. It was the first room where I got smart and picked the curtain fabric first, then used it to find the paint colours instead of trying to  find something to go with the walls. Of course, after trying literally dozens of paint samples I ended up using the same “Swiss Muesli” that is in the sunroom, but it’s the thought process that counts, right?

A few years ago I bought a new printer and discovered I had  something like 14  different  surfaces in the study and none that would fit the printer. So I built a desk across one wall and a return down the other, fitting them around file cabinets and bookshelves. I built DVD shelves behind the door that fitted my CDs, my VHS and my DVDs, as well as my laptop.. The shelves I built on the walls were made to  fit my  recipe folders, my  trade paperbacks, my  family tree folders, etc. The wardrobe and old library trolley were FULL of craft stuff.

Every millimetre of that room was organised and used. As I sit here in my new study and wonder where on earth  the crystal tabs and spare tapes for the label printer might be, I really miss it.

Here’s what I gave up:


A lot of stuff for a room that barely makes 2m x 3m. 🙂 It took more than 14 reflex boxes just to empty the dvd shelves.








Tour Time: The Formal Lounge


When we (Mum, Dad, my younger sister and I moved into No.28 Gumtrees (from No.28 Queen St, anyone see a pattern?) on the 4th of July 1975 it was the wettest winter in decades. Not that us kids cared. We had free range of a house at least twice the size of the one we had left, and much better laid out. We left the long hall down the middle, the 2 bedrooms off one side, the lounge room on the other with the bay window (which features in my earliest ever memory at 18 months), the large old kitchen and a tiny sunroom/laundry. We exchanged it for 4 bedrooms, 3 living areas and a terrace on half an acre of gardens.

One of those living areas was dubbed ‘the lounge room’ to distinguish it from the living room and the sunroom. Visible from the hall through a wood and glass internal wall it opens into the living room with double sliding doors.

It started out as the formal lounge –  the  brocade couch and chairs flanking the fireplace. We used to wheel the tv into the double doorway on Sunday nights in Winter and sit around the fire watching The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie and eating soup and  smoked toast.

Once the fire stopped being used it got very little use,  closed up  in Winter to keep  the rest of the house warmer it was generally only used when  we had  meetings or gatherings here. It was an excellent room to put the dining table in the middle to  serve buffet dinners or suppers. Finally after  fishing  my  nephew out from under the table one too many times when he started to  crawl we jsut moved the table permanently into  the lounge and called it the dining room. As such it got used about  twice a year. Mum and I usually ate on our laps or in the study.

I moved the table back into the living room after Mum went into hospital.  But the lounge room still  only got used when entertaining. It was a great room for that – we had 50 people here for dinner one night,  no  problem.

So, this is what the loungeroom looked like before this Spring…

From the hall:

The fireplace:

Looking back to the hall:

And, the last corner, behind the door:

Stay tuned to see how it looks today.


Tour Time: The Library

Finally, some pics of my house. I know I’ve been promising them for ages, but somehow they are never quite ‘good’ enough, I always think I could take better ones tomorrow when the light is better. No more. Post now is my new motto.

Ladies and gentlemen, gather around, we are starting our tour at the front door. Yes, I know it is on the side. Yes, I know it is closer to  the back fence than the other outside door. I know you  walk past the bathroom windows. I know it LOOKS like a back passageway but trust me, it’s the FRONT ENTRANCE!

The trek to the front door

The path to the front door

I have plans for this area (heck I have plans for every where.) I’m actually finding I’m getting defensive about that because a few clients have indicated that it’s not a good thing to make a lot of changes, or have a lot of plans. Apparently it’s ‘going to cost a lot of money’ – well duh, but not everything will, and 1. I only said I had plans, not instant deadlines, and 2. hopefully I will earn money one day 😉 Anyway the plans for this area include some wall art to pull the eye away from the toilet window, painting the concrete and building a water feature on the back of the wall to  the left.

The FRONT door. Yes, really.

My plans for this door at the moment mostly involve it not being white. Actually it has spent a lot of the last 6 months open (with the screen door locked) to  air the house from sanding, varnishing, painting and just because the fresh air is nice.

Until a few weeks ago  when you walked in the front door the hall looked like this.

The front door and hall

Interestingly I went back through at least 8 years of photos and this view only changed with a  christmas decoration or two.

It’s a little different now.

The Library

This is only the beginning. At the moment these are shelves from the old study and the sunroom. After Christmas I plan to  pretty much line both walls with  floor to ceiling (or windowsill) shelves in a walnut stain (to go with my Aunt’s blackwood cabinet). At present the books are merely stashed on the shelves, I can’t wait to  be able to sort them (and have shelves the right heights for them!)

Looking from the front door to the living room

The glass wall on the left looks into the formal lounge room (now the study/salon/craft /sitting room). I can’t show you that room just yet (you  actually can’t see it for  boxes), but looking out of it into the hall used to look like this:

Looking into the hall in the past

Now this is what you see:

The book corner

I love love love my new  feature wall colour, and it doesn’t show well in photos but the new lampshade in the hall is a perfect match which changes into purple with the light, or as you move around it.

New shade and garage sale base.

Now, for a sneak peek of the future.

Having moved from living basically in one end of the house to the other, one thing I noticed was that whenever the doors to the hall were shut (often for heating purposes, and probably more often in the future for privacy) it feels very much like I live in a 2 room unit. I found clients were totally unaware there was more house  beyond the hall. I was looking for a bifold glass door for the ensuite, and a client mentioned she had  2 she was willing to  sell as they didn’t fit her place. Now, nothing in this house is standard, so I didn’t hold much hope oif them fitting here either, and as it happens they are too wide for what I need in the bedroom, but they are only  3mm too  wide for my current doorways. So the other day when I was shifting them around to make more room in the shed I couldn’t resist seeing what they looked like in situ. (All I need to  do  is work out the mysteries of bifold door runners, figure out a way to  shave a couple of mm off and replace the glass (I hate kookaburras –  going to  put some clear or nearly glass in and then frost it myself, and see if I can sell  the awful  birds.) And I can’t wait. They look amazing. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t fit in a house with all but one door painted wood and no panelled doors at all, but I think they are going to fit just perfectly (and it’s my opinion that matters :P)

What do you  think?

The dvd library and door to the living room 'before'

A look into the future. Clearer glass will give more depth, and show the teal blue on the wall ahead.

And looking across the hall from the study out to the bathroom area and sunroom…

Across the hall in the future

Going with not quite clear glass here, it looks into the shower from certain angles, but enough to be able to see someone standing at the cupboard  behind it and let the light through.

I hate waiting. I have no patience what so ever.

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