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

Posts tagged ‘renovation’

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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Insects in the living room

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t alone just so something would move or happen when it wasn’t me doing it. An elf would be handy.

A month before I started on the room of hell downstairs, I decided something had to be done about the buffet. This cabinet/buffet/console,  whatever you like to call it, was the garage sale find of my life. Having missed out on one for $120 that needed a LOT of work,  when I asked the price of this one at a sale I only called into on the spur of the moment, I wasn’t expecting a price tag of $60. And they had a ute and delivered (it was only a suburb away). It then sat in the carport for months  because I really wanted to stain it darker to get rid of the 80’s pine look. (And I will one day, especially when I pull up the carpet and reveal the light Tas Oak floors under it. Meanwhile last Christmas I decided it was good enough to use while it waited for it’s makeover so it came inside.

2012DEC12 Loatta 046

The problem was it sat empty all year because everything I wanted to store inside looked messy behind clear glass. (I really wanted to store the tablecloths and mats and assorted decor. So in September I lifted the glass out of the doors and searched   for my glass paints (a story in itself –  note to self: Don’t move things without leaving a note of where I’ve stored them)

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I drew up a couple of designs and started outlining them with the leading paint.This was hard on the hands, and I ended up peeling one entire lot off and starting again for various reasons. Between total exhaustion from painting and filling downstairs and lack of good lighting it wasn’t until a week ago that I actually started laying in the colours.

I had a party here on Wednesday night, and true to form, I finished the glass painting about 2am on Wed morning….

Now the photos are not the greatest – I taped a torch in the cupboard for some light. Eventually I’ll get some LED strips and insert them around the door for a better backlight. Unfortunately where the cupboard sits, without backlighting they are barely visible designs.

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Ready for the big reveal? Here they are in their (poorly) lit glory.


Panel 1


Panel 2


Now to start filling the cupboard!

Glossy Hell

When I die I’m going to Hell (I’ve been informed of this by many people over the years who seem to know.) I now know what Hell will look like. It will be a never ending bathroom with rows of toilets that need painting behind and around the base and shower-bays that need sealing and pipes that have been painted 47 different colours and now need to be sanded back so they can be disguised again. Ever surface will need 4 coats and just as I finish someone will scrape them with a piece of furniture or a mop handle and I’ll have to start again.  Oh and it will be evening and the windows will be open – not that that helps with the smell from the oil paint, and the light will attract everything with wings, all of whom will suicide into the wet paint that is just beyond my reach.
This is my hell. (I just didn’t realise I’d died yet….)


Is it restoration when the original wasn’t in bad condition, especially cosmetically?

I actually finished my shadow chest of drawers just at the end of the Summer holidays, after being delayed by the swirling drifts of wisteria flowers and elm seeds in Spring and then hottest Summer in decades. Now the cold of Winter has set in maybe I’ll actually get it posted.

I came across this chest of drawers at a garage sale in October.

original golden pine.

They needed a new runner ($0.90 at Bunnings), and the base in one drawer was broken but otherwise was in very good condition. But I didn’t want orange pine in my bedroom (or anywhere else in the house for that matter.}

So I sanded the varnish right back, bought some stain, and started to play.

First was the staining. Wenge is a dark greyish colour, like walnut without the red undertone. I loved it. Two very light (diluted) coats.chest-inspire

This position in the drive inspired me and so I started to play some more. I also had this wonderful burn pile buffet stained image from Sawdust & Embryos, in the back of mind.


Armed with some wisteria leaves, some charcoal, a small paintbrush and some walnut and wenge stain mixed together,I began.


A close up as it was drying. I actually learned to put less on the brush and so have less bleeding. I also dry brushed a lot of the edges again.


chest-before-varnishI’ve put this photo in because it’s a very  close match to the actual colour. Once it came inside and was varnished it seems to  glow reddish in the photos, but it is really like a glossy version of the above.

chest-done2Ta Dah!




I’m pretty pleased with it as a first attempt. Now to do the 1970s  bedside drawers to match 🙂

I was inspired by the burn pile buffet at Sawdust and Embryos

Sharing with the amazing DIYers at the link party with Traci at Beneath My Heart



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

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