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Archive for the ‘renovation’ Category

Operation Fence (Part 2)

My new ‘Roman’ fence (it wasn’t built in a day) stayed propped up with various bits of stakes etc, and was often laying on the garden for weeks as the weather and work conspired against me. As a friend noted, it wasn’t going to keep anything out.

I finally got all the posts in. A couple of pieces had to have some length taken off the legs to bring them down near the rest of the fence. Some posts went through the legs of the bedhead, some tied to the sides.  Mostly wooden stakes as the plastic ones I bought were too thick to go through the bedposts. Then the adding of the netting.

Got nice black plastic net for around $20 for 10m at Bunnings which was better than chicken wire as it won’t stay pushed up if they try to go under (a few sections I’ve added a length of wire at the base to keep it down), but being black it fades from view. I’d have had to paint chicken wire. The netting will need a few more cable ties added once it has relaxed into place a bit more but it became a race against the sunset to get it on.


There are three gates which simply lift and rotate around the stake through their post.  This means I can push the mower through the back, or open the front to add pine bark etc.


So far so good. The petunias are flowering (apparently petunia buds are yummy…) and the chrysanthemum is covered in buds.

Next job, to extend the garden to the fence, and add a couple of clematis.


See part 1 here







Operation Fence (part 1)

I’ve been gardening here at 28 Gumtrees since I was 10.  Over the years I’ve  grown and shown daffodils and chrysanthemums,  grown just about everything, built gardens, destroyed gardens, planted, removed, and planted more trees. However when I bought the place 6 years ago my focus turned to the inside, and the garden was left to fend for itself.  Around the same time, the wallabies started to come in, although it wasn’t until the drought hit 4 years ago that I really noticed them eating anything but the lawn.  Very few plants are safe from a hungry wallaby, and once they discover a plant they will return to it over and over.  I have, or rather had, a lovely little self-sown hebe that was about half a metre high that suddenly was not allowed to have a leaf. However, the parent plant, just 2 metres away was barely nibbled. While I stripped floors and rebuilt kitchens and painted everything in sight the garden struggled. Between the weather and the hopping lawnmowers I only had to mow about 8 times a year, mostly to get the weeds around the lemon tree (compared to the 50 times a year average before the wallabies).  The twitch (which they don’t eat) took over the garden beds, and things either survived or died, pretty much unnoticed.


Before Christmas last year I decided this had to be the Summer of the garden, and the weather (and the loan of a trailer!) co-operated nicely.  Project Resurrect began with 7 loads of green waste, and a number of loads of pine bark. My plan was to plant what I had, and only grow things that could survive the wallabies since without installing a few hundred metres of fence, I had little way to keep them out.  I started poisoning the grass, then gave up and just dug holes in the weeds in an effort to “Plant Everything” before it got too hot.  I got about  3/4 of the pots in, and dumped pine bark on the weeds to make new garden beds.

I removed 6 trees (5 of them dead, 1 almost so),  got some bargain plants through exchanges and markets and was determined that I was not going to start “collecting’ plants like I had in the past.  I once had about 30 different dianthus (wallabies’ favourite food it seems) and I haven’t seen an ixia or muscari flower in 5 years.  While I was willing to put a few fences around some trees until they got big enough to be out of wallaby reach, I was determined not to end up growing a bunch of wire cages. If it wouldn’t survive without minimal attention from me it wasn’t going in. However, when I planted out the two chrysanthemums that have been struggling along in tiny pots for a couple of years right beside the path that Rufus uses to come and go at night, I was not prepared to go to water them the next day to find they did not have a leaf left between them!  This combined with the demise of the long awaited liriope flowers before they even broke bud made me snap. I started planning how to fence off a part of the garden without spending money.

I thought of using scrap timber I had on hand to build rectangular frames for chicken wire, then attaching them to posts I’d have to buy, but I wasn’t loving the idea of all those straight lines around my flowers.  I thought of chicken wire or plastic mesh around star pickets (until I priced them at nearly $15 each!), but wallabies have a habit of just leaning on wire until it sags, so I’d need a lot of posts, and it would look a bit like a poorly made chicken run. I almost got some (give away) lengths of iron balustraude, but they would have had to be carted up a hill, AND cut before I could fit them on the trailer to bring home –  which was a bit beyond my skills and strength.

Then, someone posted a headboard bench seat –  you know the type –  wooden bedhead, with the footboard cut in half and attached as arms each side and a few planks to make a seat.  

And I remembered an idea I had to make a gazebo for the back garden, but rather than build a railing, I wanted to use the timber and metal bedheads that I often saw at the Tip shop and garage sales. I wanted bedheads like mine, timber posts and black ironwork.

So  I set off for the Hobart Tip shop-  bedheads please…  They had one.  One. A narrow piece of metal, missing the side posts… Not worth bringing the trailer over for.  So instead I went home and hitched the trailer to get some bark – and thought I might as well look in Mornington Tip shop,  maybe get one there to start the collection.  $50 later –  and the trailer was fully loaded with 11 bedheads plus another bit.  Dropped them at home,  carted them down the back, hitched the trailer up again, went and got some pine bark,  brought that home,  disconnected the trailer and went back to Bunnings to get stakes and cable ties and wire and most importantly…  spray paint!

Operation Fence had begun.

Step one: Get some consistency. With only 2 bedheads that actually matched in design, and one that was bright blue, another gray, and the rest strange combinations of  sun faded and scraped black the first step was to spray them with flat black paint

Then, test out the placement. I discovered I had an extra piece which when inserted meant I could extend beyond the current garden. If I’m going to all this effort I want every centimetre I can get.

Test run

See part 2 here

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.

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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.

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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!

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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 😉

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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.
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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.

Choosing colours

First order of business when I bought the house was to change the colour scheme. Last painted in the late 80’s the butter cream yellow and autumn toned kitchen had gone well with the 1975 autumn toned carpet but not as well with the newer pink toned cream carpet laid in the mid 90’s.

A few years back when everyone started painting their walls white I thought they were crazy. I thought I’d be the last person on earth to paint my house white. Somehow, by the time I owned some walls I was hankering after a nice light neutral but not white. I’d never use white.  I’d never decorate with greens either. Oh how we change.

I spent months  looking at colour charts. Next door was so neutral coloured it was basically monotone. I didn’t want that. In fact I had feature walls in mind for most of the rooms. But what colours? I don’t like browns. I hate pinks. I’ve seen some nice reds, but they’re not really me, besides I wanted a relaxing home, not an angry colour. No yellows or creams – too close to the 90’s colours.

I looked at HUNDREDS of colour scheme room photos. Not one of them worked with the amount of varnished wood in this house. Mantles, window sills, skirting boards, bookshelves, entire glass walls surrounded with timber, and I was just about to expose a lot of the floors – more Tassie Oak (Eucalypt), all of it in shades of orange.  I pulled out the colour wheel and looked for complimentary colours for orange. Greenish blues. Hmm, well I quite liked the ocean…

A lot of  sites recommended taking a colour scheme from a loved object, like a bowl or artwork. Everything I owned was bought to go with my mother’s colour scheme so that wouldn’t work. Then one day I saw a cushion in Coles that I quite liked. A couple of weeks later it was reduced to half price. I figured it was a $4 sign. I knew what my main colour and my neutral looked like now.

This was about a year before the teal blues  really started appearing in the stores and colour schemes (wow, I’ve never ever been ahead of a trend before!)

Now to actually find them in paints. I spent weeks with colour cards  propped against all surfaces. Dulux Azure blue was one of the cards (there were about  15 all in the same range of greenish blues. It’s scary contemplating painting with such an intense shade though. Plus I have blues in the kitchen laminex and the kitchen floor and I didn’t want them to clash.azure blue dulux

Indecision reigned and the off whites remained completely elusive. Everything was  too brown, or too cold in tone  or it was a cream.

And then there was the bedroom. The master bedroom was a hideous shade of salmon pink. It needed to be changed. It also needed to be different to the rest of the house. It had to be my haven, not just another room. Since I was somewhat reluctant to move into this bedroom it also had to be something I absolutely adored, AND  completely different from my old room (which had been a light sandy peach for decades, and before that a wisteria mauve.)

One single colour scheme photo struck a chord as far as the bedroom went. From the moment I saw it I was hooked. It was in a Wattyl ‘Inspiring Designs’ booklet. (Most of them inspired me to yawn or throw up.)

wattyl bedroom Mantra


Wattyl Mantra looked perfect in the image and I loved the idea of black (Colourbond Nightsky is a fancy name for  black) accents –  although when I finally worked out that the throw rug wasn’t black the only possible black in that photo is a few centimetres of skirting board visible under the bed. When I got a sample pot of Stalactite though I discovered it was as white as it looked on the page. So obviously the ceiling. But was was that wall colour above the blue?  A half dozen sample pots later and long  sessions with the colour atlas and the aisles of sample cards and I was no nearer finding out. Colours that looked perfect during the day in the bedroom looked like cold sandstone or cement at night. Colours that looked great at night didn’t go with the Mantra in the daylight.

Apart from spending a fortune on sample pots I was running out of time.  I wanted to have the majority of the painting done in the lounge, hall and bedroom before I got the floors refinished and I had an annual ‘party’ in early December and I really wanted the painting mostly done by then. Then suddenly I had a confirmed date that the guy would be coming in with the sander.

I hated the idea of paying someone else to choose my paint colours. I’m fairly good with colours, I like playing around with them. So it especially hurt that  I was about to employ someone to essentially pick out two shades of white!

Calling Fiona , the local Dulux colour consultant was probably the best decorating decision I ever made.  The hour and a half that she fitted in at extremely short notice was invaluable.  Not only did she find  three ‘neutrals’ that I just love but she helped me decide upon the azure blue for the living room, made a heap of decorating suggestions as we chatted, redid the entire exterior colour scheme and was so enthusiastic about all my plans and ideas that I could have happily chatted all day. It was nice to have someone validate my choices without suggesting I use “Hog bristle” (I could NOT use that colour, I’d think of the name every time I saw it), or stating that I’d never be able to sell the place with a dark colour on the walls (hello, I just BOUGHT the place, please leave defeatist attitudes at the door.)

Fiona Dawson has, unfortunately for those of us in Tassie, moved to Queensland, and can be found at Dawsons Designs or on Facebook

After the consult I went straight out and bought the paint, no more mucking around with sample pots, these colours were going to have to do. I put the first coat of Dulux White Duck (Half strength) on the lounge wall and thought I’d made a HUGE mistake. It was green. Like duck egg green. Too bad, I had the paint, so on went the second coat.

It’s not green, not even slightly, in any light. It is the most wonderful colour, almost white, but not. Not cream, but warm. Not grey, but neutral. I love it so much that the bedrooms and sunroom which originally weren’t going to change colour from the “Swiss Muesli” they had been for years, have now  (or soon will)  become White Duck half.


Check out the final schemes (Posts with accent colours and pics coming soon).



Wattyl Mantra double strength. (feature wall)
Dulux Domino (windows, skirting) Wattyl Stalactite (Ceiling – all the ceilings are this which is much brighter than the sample above shows on my screen)
Dulux Beige Royal half (Cupboards and neutral walls)

Living areas


Dulux Azure Blue
Dulux Lexicon Half (Trim)
Dulux White Duck Half


What’s your favourite colour scheme and how did you settle upon it?






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.




































26 Million dollar table

This Summer there were a few days that hit ‘roast’ on the thermometer. On one of them I hosted a few friends  for a BBQ on the terrace.  I don’t think any of them realised what a miracle it was that we were seated at a table.


See this was my table.


And this was my table the day before…

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And this was my table leg…

2014JAN12 005aNot only had the bottom broken off, but further inspection found it soft and spongy all the way up.

When the leg first started breaking off I thought I could maybe cut all the legs shorter and put on castors. But when I realised the extent of the damage I was devastated. This was MY table. I bought it from a clearance table when out shopping for a 1/5th of the original price and somehow managed to fit it in the car. I then had a prolonged ‘discussion’ with a man in K&D who insisted I didn’t want to varnish it as I would have to sand and recoat it every year. He insisted I should ‘oil’ it. I didn’t want to oil it, I wanted a table I could wipe clean before eating off it.

I pointed out that the tin of oil he had handed me instructed one to “sand back and recoat every 12 months” and that having grown up with wooden boats I certainly hadn’t had to revarnish them every Summer. I finally walked out with my can of marine varnish. I loved how that table came up.

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That was 8 years ago.  It was re-coated in the third year.  It should have been redone a couple of years ago but somehow it never made it to the top of the job list. (Funny that, since I was stripping and varnishing floors and painting walls etc that year.) There were a couple of cracks in the top that were starting to lift with the rain. Two years on these were serious rifts in the wood. But it was usable. At least it was until half the leg fell off.

‘Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability… ‘

Well I thought I did, until I tried to replicate the angles cut at the top and bottom of each leg. I turned it, turned it again, picked it up, looked at it closely, stepped back, held straight edges across the angles,  but I could not find a way to cut the new leg to replicate the old. I ended up coming inside and phoning my reno guru who talked me through how to cut them – which still didn’t make much sense. I walked outside, picked up the new leg, turned it  around and wham, there was the angle, so easy to replicate. Don’t know why I couldn’t see it before, I tried holding it every way possible.

Once it was cut I needed to replace the bolts. This was the tricky bit. I thought I would have to figure some new way to bolt all the way through, but amazingly Bunnings had exactly what I needed – furniture bolts (and an employee who could tell me how to install them – put a nut or two on the top section, then use them with a spanner to screw the bottom section into the leg.)

2014JAN12 007a 2014JAN12 008aI eyeballed the angle for drilling the holes for the bolts and no one was more surprised than I was when I got it right the first time – the bolts slid into the table bracket like they had been made for it.  I’ve also put plastic ‘feet’ on the end of each leg so they are no longer sitting directly on the cement.

TaDah! Dinner is served.2014JAN12 017

Later I pulled the table back into the carport and dug the bad wood out of the cracks, scraped and sanded  the varnish back to raw wood. The biggest of the cracks had almost rotted out the entire piece –  the ends of the slats were barely resting on wood at all. I knew my skills didn’t extend to replacing the edge of a circular table, so I stuffed the hole with wood glue and sawdust, clamped it, let it dry, stuffed in some more, let that dry and then filled the top with wood filler.

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I thought I would probably have to paint the edge of the table black to hide all the filler, but  after the first coat of varnish it was not that noticeable.

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Eight coats of varnish later and the table is back to it’s former glory… although it’s a different colour. Much more like teak and a range of tones  instead of the solid gold that it used to be.

I like it.

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(Yes, every time I tried to take a photo it had been raining.)









De-Pinking the bathroom

My first renovation project in this house was the bathroom. One thing you can almost guarantee about houses built around 1954 around here is the bathroom will be either pink or puke green. A new neighbour started to describe the ‘horrific’ bathroom they had just pulled out of the house – it was a carbon copy of my own. Pink wall tiles, to match the pink bath tub, which of course matched the pink basin.  Beside the basin is the world’s smallest vanity, which was covered with, pink laminex! All of this sat above terrazzo (polished concrete) floor in a fetching, wait for it, yes, matching pink with black and gray pebbles. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate pink?


My bathroom contains a bath with a shower over and a basin. The toilet is separate. On the other side of the bathroom is another room, a separate walk in shower bay. This room was also pink terrazzo floored with pink tiles. At some point my father tiled the upper wall (which was just lathe and plaster and not coping with the moisture) with white tiles with a pink vein.

A couple of decades later not only was the grouting starting to leak but I quickly figured out when I thought I might just regrout the room, that the original tiles were so crazed that the water was actually leaking through them as well –  hence the spectacular inch high blossom of mould that pushed the plaster off the bedroom wall on the other side of the shower.  Showering over the bath (which we rarely did) simply made the back of the wardrobe in the spare bedroom black with mould. So we stopped using the bath.   White Knight came out with a tile paint.  They sell a primer and a tile paint combination, which I used on the shower walls.  The primer was hopeless – despite cleaning and sanding it simply peeled off in sheets if damaged – like a water based paint applied over an oil. I had to run a craft knife around tiles and remove the damaged primer in spots and repaint a tile or two over the first 12 months. When I did the bathroom later  I skipped the primer and simply used ESP to prep the walls and have had no problems – but then again the bathroom walls get a lot less water than the shower walls do.

Somehow I never end up with enough before shots – it’s a shame because the cracked, dirty pink tiles were really special. Here’s the  shower floor, scrubbed and ready for painting. The terrazzo was totally disgusting, so worn that the mould never seemed to scrub out of the hollows.


There aren’t any paints that are really made for wet areas (except pool paints), but painting was my only option – the curved sides weren’t tileable (and I couldn’t afford tiles anyway). I decided against the acid etch that was recommended for priming  concrete and instead wiped ESP all over the floor, then painted with a water based paving paint.


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For the first time in  30  years the shower felt clean, the water wiped off the tiles, the floor cleaned with a sponge. It was wonderful. About 3 months later I had to patch a couple of spots on the walls where the water seemed to be getting behind the paint (esp near the handrails where it apparently wasn’t sealed well) and a few spots lifted on the floor under the direct flow of the shower, but they were quickly fixed and given a  day or so to dry.

After 18 months however this was the view.


I ESP (I think it stands for Extra Surface Preparation, it’s great stuff, claims you could even paint glass using it) primed the floor and gave it another coat which lasted pretty much another 12 months.  Repainting a tiny floor every 12 months is well worth it to me to have a shower that doesn’t look like the bottom of a swamp.

Despite the fact that I had bought the paints to do the bathroom I wasn’t allowed to until four years later, after Mum died.  Trust me, de-pinking was a great way to start the Summer holidays.

First up was the pink basin. The cabinets, which had been painted gray were painted with white semi gloss. The enamel basin had a very worn old drain surround and several hairline crack radiating from it, and a couple of dents/cracks in the bowl (although I have no recollection of how they occurred).  I bought a two pack epoxy enamel (White Knight Tub n Tile). The bath tub wasn’t done for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it wasin near perfect condition. Secondly, this stuff is not cheap and the pack I had just did 3 coats on the basin) and thirdly, I don’t think I had a hope if getting a really good surface on the bath with it without using a spray which I didn’t have.   Using a brush (and luckily keeping the leftovers in the fridge because after the second coat dried I definitely needed to do a third) I can still see some brush marks in the basin, and I know where the dent is. I sanded until my hands fell off and I still think I probably could have sanded more, especially around the rim. 3 years later, it still looks pretty good. I’ve had to fix one chip where it was hit by a hairdryer, and I patched that with the tile paint which hasn’t been a problem.  I took the tap off and painted the hole cover to match the sink. I had to borrow a friend’s hubby and his mate who finally managed to undo the drain. I’m very proud of the fact that I put in the new drain (with pop up plug) and reinstalled the tap by myself  (although I had to borrow a friend’s father to stop the tap connection dripping. He taught me about PINK teflon plumbing tape which is the best thing ever (I’d been using white). I’ve since replaced toilet cisterns, showers, taps and installed an in line water filter all without a drip 🙂


It took so long to get to the point where I could actually run water in the sink (It needed to dry for at least a week, then the delays with the plumbing…) that it actually took me a week to get out of the habit of walking into the laundry to do my teeth.

The walls took a few coats to really get rid of the pink, but you can’t tell they are painted. (I filled the holes in the grout first). And then the floors. Toilet, bathroom, and shower all got a lovely couple of coats of Berger Jet Dry paving paint, which is oil based and seems much hardier than the water based version.  I still have to patch up a couple of spots in the heavy water area in the shower every Summer, but it’s a small price to pay for the lovely floor 🙂



Note the holes in the tiles. I took down the shabby old chrome towel rails (before they fell down). The  wooden plugs in the wall were  rotten and loose. I thought I would just buy new rails to put back up, but of course it wasn’t that simple (nothing is in an old house).  First, I needed to match the new rails with the existing holes. Drilling into tiles over brick  was not among my skills at the time. The problem was, of the 4 metal rails in the room,  3 were completely different designs. different end shapes, different wall brackets, different screw holes.  So I cut and stained some pine (walnut stain) and using blutack and textas and a bit of luck managed to mark where the holes were on the posts and mounted them to the wall and then attached the rails.



I deliberately made them nice and deep so when a folded towel was thrown over them it wasn’t pushing them off the wall like the old chrome rails.

I learned a lot from tiling the tiny vanity, I know lots of what not to do next time. But it’s still better than pink laminex. 🙂 And the new wooden strip across the front finishes it beautifully. One day soon I’ll get around to putting some stained timber around the mirror to hide the horrible edges.


The bath caddy I got at a garage sale for $2 and painted black. The shower curtain I found online for $14.

I hardly even notice the bath is still pink these days

 bath done

All up cost, well under $300. Cleanliness factor –  priceless.

De-pinking an old bathroom

De-pinking an old bathroom


Anti-procrastination week

This week is turning into a week of jobs I’ve been putting off forever that are finally getting completed. On Saturday I cleaned up all the herbs and potted plants on the terrace and even unearthed the barbecue.

Today was too hot, not as hot as the other states, but far too hot for a place that had snowfall predicted on the Mountain just a fortnight ago.

So today (after I washed yet another set of sheets and towels and cleaned up after possibly the dirtiest guests yet (Does no one under 50 know how to wash up or wipe a counter?) I started on a task that has been bugging me for years.  The broom cupboard. It was not a pretty sight. Once upon a time I sorted everything into labeled drawers and it was fine,until I got some more cleaning cloths and somehow nothing got put away…

The before (you may want to cover your eyes)

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Months (and months and months) ago I figured out how to put shelves into this cupboard (which has a brick wall, a melamine wall and a timber over brick wall). I drew up plans, working out how I could get all the pieces I wanted from one sheet of chipboard and off I went to Bunnings…

… where the panel saw was deader than a dodo (and apparently much rarer). It seems Bunnings Moonah have the only panel saw around these parts, unless I wanted to pay a cabinet making firm to cut the piece (which didn’t work because I had no way to get a 2.4m x 1.2m sheet of timber anywhere). The saw went off to America for repairs and I waited. And waited. For the first few months I rang regularly to see if it was working yet. Then I just forgot. Then one day about  4 months ago I came across my plans.  So off I went and came back withs a stack of cut pieces. Which sat in the carport for a while. Then the moved out of the weather  to along the wall of the passageway for a while. Then I cleaned up the front entrance and they got stashed in the shedlet for a while…. (anyone seeing a theme here?)

Finally today I dragged them inside,  screwed them together and …

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 Basicaly two long pieces  joined at one corner, with square shelves inserted. One taller than the other. They slide into the non standard cupboard opening well.

The shelves were made to fit the boxes I got a while back.

I need to add labels, but the best part is most of the storage boxes are less than half full which means things don’t have to be folded to precision sized pieces in order to fit.

I present the broom cupboard


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It’s a man’s hardware store

The events at the heart of this post happened 2 years ago last October in the days immediately before the house settlement. I was sitting in the said house (as I had for the previous 36 years) and mentally cataloguing all the things I would do once it was MY HOUSE. Carpets to go, boards sanded and varnished. Kitchen splashbacks to go and be replaced. Couldn’t afford a new kitchen, but I had ideas of how to change the cupboards that were there. New cupboards to build in the laundry. Fresh paint (bye bye butter cream yellow!) from ceilings down. Turn the hall into a library with floor to ceiling shelves. New doors. New handles on old doors. New doors on the cupboards with new modern hinges. New light fittings in lots of rooms. Air conditioning. Window awnings. So many ideas I literally could not sit still.

The amount of money I was about to spend on the house was not small. I think I probably underestimated what paint would set me back by about $800 alone. Since I couldn’t afford to have anyone else do the work I was going to have to learn a few new skills. So one Friday night, sitting here twitching because I couldn’t really start any project (might jinx it if I did before it was truly mine) I focused on the amount of timber I would need to cut in the immediate future and went shopping for a sliding compound drop saw. I knew very little about them other than the fact that I can’t saw a straight cut to save my life, so this was a necessity, not a luxury if I ever wanted shelves.

I headed for K&D Warehouse Mitre 10 store in the city. It was almost ingrained – as a child I followed Dad on many a trip to Kemp & Denning for hardware. I went to the tools section. There were two men serving, one older the other a younger guy. So I planted myself in front of the saws and browsed while I waited for them to finish with the customers. I read boxes, fiddled with display models and got moved twice while the salesmen got up to higher shelves for things. Each time I went back to the saws. I was not just propping up a shelf waiting for hubby. The older guy finished with his customer. I started to initiate eye contact. I turned towards him. He turned towards me. He walked towards me….and straight past me to greet a man just entering the section behind me.

Deep breaths. Apparently I’d lost more weight than I thought and was now invisible. I waited as the younger man finished up with his customer at the other end of the row. As his customer walked away I started that little half wave you do when shopping. I almost got ‘hello’ out before he glanced my direction, turned and went to serve a man who had just entered the tools section at the other end.

I should have demanded to see a manager. About 6 months before I had asked to see a manager in the same store – to commend the actions of a salesman who had gone above and beyond to find me 6 screws (and then even cut them to length for me) – a total transaction of about $5. I was standing looking at $700+ equipment but these men weren’t interested in serving me. To tell the truth I was so furious I knew I wouldn’t have been coherent. I walked out of the store, got in my car and don’t remember driving to Moonah. As I walked into Bunnings the woman greeting at the door asked how they could help me.

“Depends, do your men serve women?”

She was a bit shocked when I told the story and assured me that wouldn’t happen here. I walked into the tool department and the salesman there spent the next hour going through what I needed, what would be better, which would do what etc. He pointed out the cheaper saw would disappoint me and talked me into the next model up which has a laser and less vibration so it stays true. He did all this despite me stating up front that I wasn’t spending any money that night, just getting a feel for what to buy later. 5 days later I walked in and bought the saw $800, several smaller tools and some paint. Within the next couple of weeks I had spent around $5000 in Bunnings, and that was by no means the end of it. I haven’t added up the total because I really don’t want to know. Despite the fact I have to almost pass K&D to go to Bunnings I went there constantly. In fact one day one of the cashiers commented I was there more than she was and she worked there full time.

Then, 12 months after they refused to serve me, I had to go to K&D. Firstly, they stock Rustoleum paints (which I have read rave reviews of on many an American blog) and Bunnings doesn’t. (Having now tried a couple of cans of Rustoleum I am now very reluctant to buy other brands of spray paint – they are just so superior in application and quality.) I also have a router which I bought from K&D many years ago and I’ve lost the fence (cutting guide). I was hoping maybe they had them individually. Well I took the manual in so he could see the model. (Note, the router is almost useless to me without the fence). The man in the tools department glanced at it, said “We don’t sell them anymore,” (the brand is discontinued, which I knew) and turned and rushed away from me as if he had an appointment. I later turned a corner and found he was in a hurry to hang packets of screws!) Now, if he’d said, we don’t have them, BUT here’s our range of routers, I’d have probably bought a new one. Stuff them, when I need a new router, I’m going to Bunnings for it.

Is sexism still alive and well in your hardware store?

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