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

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!

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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 😉

2014NOV21 048after

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

before-after-desk

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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.
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.

Scales

One thing about relief teaching is you never know what you’ll be doing on a day. Which is how I ended up touching my first ever live snake on Friday.

Snake!

Snake!

This tiger snake shed her skin the day before. Those gold highlights aren’t light reflecting, they are actual streaks of gold in her scales.

There are only three species of snake in Tasmania, all are poisonous. The tiger snake is the 6th most venomous in the world. Lucky us 🙂

And this guy was standing in the middle of a complete set – tigers, copperheads and white lipped snakes. They were climbing his leg, hiding under tubs and generally ignoring him. It was the best demonstration I’ve ever seen of the fact snakes get used to your presence, and as a result can be slow to react when you come across them. Snakes won’t chase you. Their only interest is in getting away.

IMG_20141114_140310a

He also showed a ‘snake bite kit’. Two compression bandages. He gave the example that by tightly wrapping the bitten limb and sitting very still you could last 8 hours after a bite. If after being bitten you ran the length of the schoolyard to the house, you probably would be dead before you got there.

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Please excuse the poor quality photos – taken on my phone in terrible lighting.

There were a range of other reptiles and spiders there, but this blue tongue was my favourite.

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She’s a bit shabby because she was shedding her skin.
This is what blue tongues usually look like.

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The pure black one is apparently the opposite of an albino.

Garden mystery

I have a viburnum (Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum) in the middle of my back yard. The first few years it was there, it grew, then we had a drought and for the next few years it actually got smaller each year until I thought I had lost it. Then suddenly it started growing. And Flowering. When it flowers it looks like it has snowed on just one plant. It is gorgeous, stunning and everyone  would comment on it.  This was it in October 2012. Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum

But just two years later it is a very different plant.  I haven’t pruned it, but the lovely spreading shape has changed dramatically. backgarden 28 gumtrees

It starts out covered with flowers, but every day there seem to be fewer on display. Rufus

I just  don’t understand what has happened. Rufus

It’s a complete mystery.

 

Tasmania is well known as a great place for genetic research because apparently lots of family stay here, they don’t spread out like on the mainland. It is also said that we have two heads due to our inbreeding.    That of course is totally untrue, (*pulls scarf over scar*) however, while the rest of the world might only be 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, here in Tas, the distance between two people is more likely to be 2 1/2 degrees, and the half is most likely a cousin.

Friends from other states are often amazed when someone they just met turns out to be related to someone they already know. Tasmanians tend to take this as the norm. Take today for example. I go to have my boobs squished and the radiographer glances at my address and goes –
Oh you live in  Gumtrees Rd.* When I first moved to Hobart I boarded in that street, in an art deco house on the left hand side. I immediately had an image of the house I thought she meant although she couldn’t remember the number. I didn’t know the name of the people who where there when we moved in 39 years ago. She went on to talk about the woman who lived there and how she ran an illegal book and the phone rang all weekend. She then mentioned that when the woman was away she would go down the street and stay with  Norma* and Albert so she wasn’t in the house alone with the other boarder, a man.

“Norma and Albert were my next door neighbours when I moved in,” I said.

“Norma was my future husband’s (who boarded at the other end of the street) Aunt,” she said.

Of course I thought, and we continued to catch up on some gossip about members of the family I hadn’t seen since Norma had moved North and died (many years after Albert died).

I didn’t have time to get the radiographer’s name and discover how else we might be connected.  There’s a funny story concerning the neighbours though. First, picture the street. Back in 1975 most of the houses were still occupied by the same people who had built them 20 years before, whose children had gone to the local school, and who were now retiring. (20 years later we were still the ‘new’ people in the street.)

When we first moved in Norma was quite abrupt to my mother, telling her that people in this street didn’t have time to chat over the fence all day when Mum tried to say hello.  (Mum had two young children, she certainly didn’t have time to chat.) Funny that 11 years later in one of the many LONG fence side conversations when Mum mentioned we were looking at other places Norma declared we were the best neighbours she had ever had.  For the first 5 or so years we were here Albert never spoke to us, and she couldn’t get away fast enough. One day Dad came in and said he thought he had figured out why the neighbours didn’t like us, they thought he was his brother (who had been involved in some criminal activity and done gaol time – in association with a business that was connected to the business Albert had worked for before retirement.) Albert had apparently spoken to him, and basically admitted that   he ‘wasn’t who we thought you were.” My father and his brother both had the same initial. Mystery solved, except that didn’t explain why they had continued to be very friendly with the neighbour across the road.

You see when we moved in, Mrs P from across the road came across, talked to us kids at the fence line and when she heard our surname mentioned that her daughter had just married someone with the same name. I had to run across and ask Dad, who replied that was his nephew. Yes, that’s right, her daughter married the son of the man the neighbours thought Dad was and so avoided. And they had a son, so Mrs P’s grandson is my cousin. Mrs P has had more contact with his aunts (my 1st cousins) than I have, in fact she was the one who  kept me informed when one was fighting cancer.

Then Kirsty moved in to the house opposite me.  One day (several years later) we were talking about selling houses and she mentioned that her Aunt is a real estate agent, if I wanted her details. No problem I said, my cousin is a real estate agent.  A bit more conversation and she mentioned her Aunt’s company – which just happened to be the same one my cousin worked for.  Yes, this is Tasmania, Kirsty’s uncle, was my cousin’s husband. Mrs P would often babysit Kirsty’s son, so I mentioned one day that technically Kirsty’s son,  Mrs P’s grandson and I were all related. We’re cousins.

Two and a half degrees. Or less. And nearly always a cousin. Welcome to Tasmania.

*Names and locations changed because, well, this is Tasmania!

And just because it was stunning (although I only caught the very end of it, I was driving through the rest), here’s tonight’s sunset.

Sunset from 28Gumtrees

 

 

 

 

A creature of habit?

Rufus

12 months ago Rufus spent most of July in my yard while his foot healed. He is obviously a creature of habit, or else he remembers that the food was good (I supplemented his systematic destruction of my garden with wallaby pellets), because he’s been here most days for the last month, and again yesterday and today.   I don’t think he has become ‘dependent’ upon the pellets (especially as they weren’t offered for 10 or so months), but he certainly has learned what it means when I hunt him down in the yard, wave my closed fist at him and then walk back up to the clothesline lawn. He’s usually there before I get back to the door. If I stay to watch you can see the indecision – avoid human, or eat….. He has learned that “It’s just me” is code for, stop hopping away you stupid creature, I didn’t know you were behind that bush either!

Despite the yard being very very green,  the lawn (which I’ve only mowed a couple of times in the last 18 months!) is rather well trimmed, even the weeds that usually grow around the lemon tree are very low. Nothing is really growing (except the ixias, and apparently they are very yummy!)  It’s been very cold, extremely windy and very wet over the last few days and apart from looking very pathetic sitting out in the storms, he has vacuumed up every pellet offered in moments, showing every sign of being very hungry (although obviously a long way from starving, let’s just call him ‘big boned’.) So this is just to share a few photos and videos from the past couple of weeks.

Rufus in the rainThere’s a Mountain behind him, being covered in snow and it’s raining.

A couple of videos:

Coming up for dinner

I smell pellets…

 

rufus fluffyNot fat, fluffy!

2014AUG02 010aGimme food!

Rufus2

rufus claws Check out those claws!

I can just reachNo, it’s okay, I don’t need to move, I can reach them….

Rufus 3

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).

Bedroom

  

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?

 

 

 

 

 

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