House Renovation: decisions, decisions.. so many decisions!

A few months ago we became the new owners of an old Queenslander. With only two other owners in the past 100 years, it has a pretty special feel – it’s also largely untouched, with most of the original features inside, still  intact.

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The fun part of the renovation – choosing fittings. These lovely lights are from Pottery Barn (Etta Bowl Pendant)

We are fortunate that there are two kitchens and far more bedrooms than we will ever need, so we have started the renovation upstairs, while we live downstairs. The plan is that, once upstairs is liveable, we will switch, and get to work downstairs. Good in theory. So slow and painful in reality!

Upstairs there are four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, three living spaces, and a porch. Every single room is currently part way through being sanded, painted, stripped of old built ins or re-wallpapered. Every single room has dust and clutter. And because the timeframe has blown out (already!), I have a long list of items in rooms where they don’t belong. There’s a V&B toilet in the casual lounge.. a rangehood and a sink in the formal lounge.. boxes of tiles in the dining room.. the list goes on.. oh, and a range cooker on the enclosed porch. Deep breaths!

The kitchen is starting to take shape, but currently awaiting a plumber, before we can finish everything off.

Last time we renovated, I desperately wanted Perrin and Rowe tapware, but couldn’t justify the cost. This time it’s not negotiable. I’ve gone with the gorgeous Provence set with spray rinse and soap dispenser. My other splurge was on Armac Martin drawer pulls and knobs. They’re all in matching polished nickel. So pretty!

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The stunning Armac Martin drawer pulls and knobs – these match the Perrin and Rowe tapware perfectly.

The kitchen will have a bit of a Hamptons twist, but it’s still a Queenslander at heart. The pine floors will be stained a dark oak – the walls painted in a beautiful combination of white duck half and snowy mountains quarter from Dulux (their colour consultant who came out made it such an easy process) – with matching custom cabinetry. We have also installed a large traditional style bifold servery window to let in the breeze and light.

For the splashback we’ve gone with a matt white subway tile. This took an eternity to find, as the quartzite has a honed finish, so anything with a gloss just didn’t work. The lighting was proving another difficult task, until Pottery Barn released its range of Etta pendants. Problem solved. I’m going with two for now.. but that may change once I get someone to hold them in position for me!

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The centre stone is a 30mm white quartzite, which is being used for all benchtops in the house

This is the work in progress – still a fair bit to go!

 

 

 

 

What’s on our bookshelf right now

Books have a special place in our house. Both Miss H and Master T love a bedtime story and always have done. Even though one is a very proficient little reader, there is nothing quite like snuggling up together at bedtime and sharing the pages of a good book. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, I love the worlds they open up to my children.

As a result of my love of books, they get free reign at the book store. I find it hard to say ‘no’ to anything they want to be reading!

Some of their favourite picks are the Usborne ‘Look inside’ books. They love seeing what’s under each flap.. and I like that you can spend a lot.. or a little.. time on each page depending on how tired they are (or Mum or Dad for that matter).

Hiding underneath the stack below is a lifecycle book. This one is about chickens.. but we also have bees, frogs, butterflies.. the list goes on. My parents keep bees as a hobby, so I find books like this add a new level of interest and it always amazes me what little sponges they are remembering all the information.

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Screen-free activities .. animal life cycles .. and life the flap books are on our bookshelf right now.

‘150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids’ is a a book that I turn to quite a bit.. especially on weekends when there are no play dates, birthday parties or school events to run off to. It has has some great ideas in it for at-home activities and most of them don’t take too much preparation. I still struggle with ‘mess’ sometimes.. but I find I’m much better emotionally if I’ve thought ahead and have a dedicated messy-zone for paint etc!

You might have guessed that a lot of the books I choose have an underlying educational theme – I also try to choose books that open their eyes and minds to other people’s lives. One of those is ‘Good People Everywhere’ as it shows how valuable everyone’s contribution is to a community, no matter what your job is. Did I mention that it’s a beautiful book to look at as well?

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‘Good People Everywhere’ and ‘Walk this World’ are beautiful books. ‘The Odd One Out’ is a gorgeous ‘spot the difference’ book.

One we picked up from the bookstore is ‘A Patch from Scratch’ – made even more special as they had signed copies to choose from! I dream about the day when we can have chickens roaming around and vegies growing out the back. This book is about a family who went back to basics, and it’s all told through the eyes of a child.

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I yearn for a simpler life. ‘A Patch from Scratch’ tells the story of a family who did just that.. through the eyes of a child.

And here is Master T’s choice.. a typical 3-year-old boy, he will go for anything with an emergency theme!

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Master T’s selection from the bookstore – anything with emergency vehicles is a hit right now.

Miss H chose this one.. she’s up to chapter books, but still enjoys a shorter one at bedtime if she’s tired. It’s a lovely story of a little girl who helps her mum get ready for a party (after her exhausted mum falls asleep putting her down for her afternoon nap).

I must admit I had tears in my eyes at the end.. it’s exactly what my little girl would have done too.

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A lovely bedtime story that left me with a tear in my eye.

And here’s what I’ve been flicking through the pages of! Angel Adoree’s Vintage Tea Party books are divine. So much inspiration. It’s heaven on a beautifully-styled cake plate.

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Heaven on a cake plate. Love it.

xx

 

A Ruby Red Shoes inspired party

My daughter loves Ruby Red Shoes. For those not in the know about this fabulous little rabbit, Ruby is a very aware hare who lives in a gorgeous caravan with her grandmother and spends her time tripping off to Paris and London. She’s also very mindful of others and of the world around her. It’s magical.

And while my daughter loves Ruby, I (unashamedly) love planning my children’s birthday parties. We’ve done Peter Rabbit, a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Under the Sea, Princesses and Pirates. But this time it was all about Ruby Red Shoes. Such a delight.

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For the invitations, I created a faux terrarium using little glass jars from the local discount shop. My dad kindly sliced up an old tree branch and I used that, along with some pretend moss, a little toadstool, a flower (I bought a spray of small flowers and pulled it apart) and one of the (almost business-card size) Ruby Red Shoes cards as a background.

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The jar was tied with a piece of calico that I hand-stamped with the invitation wording. This took too much longer than what I thought it would (I used one of those stamps that you can change the letters on, so it was line.. by line.. by line), but I was so happy with how they turned out. Until I realised I hadn’t actually included the date. So.. I started them all again.. line.. by line.

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I used the slipcase that the books came in as the inspiration for the cake and created a fondant Ruby sitting with her bundle of books.

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For the party food, I decided to make some miniature edible gardens of chocolate mousse and fondant vegetables, which were then finished off with an edible sign for Ruby’s garden. The carrots were used to top carrot slice.

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We also served chocolate brownies (topped with little fondant toadstools) and almond croissants (to celebrate Ruby’s recent adventure to Paris).

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The garden-themed floral cupcakes were made using the new Russian icing tips. They are nothing short of amazing and so incredibly quick.

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Our little guests sat down to a table with fresh flowers, linen and a mix of vintage and antique china tea cups.

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I themed the favours and presented the little girls with a ‘Rare Rabbit’ hair clip, a pencil with an inspirational quote and a Ruby Red Shoes melamine plate, while the boys took home a pale blue china mug with a little white rabbit perched on the edge (and sweets).

It’s always a lot of work, but so enjoyable. My little boy’s birthday is in August – he’s requested a fire truck theme.

xx

 

 

A few of my favourite things ..

There is something so wonderful about a parcel arriving at your door. A small flatpack. A giant box. Coming home and finding one of those little Australia Post cards makes my day.

Do I know what’s inside? Maybe.. maybe not. (You know when you’ve waited so long for something to arrive, you’ve forgotten all about whatever it was you needed to buy..)

Will it be intact (or, God forbid, broken and requiring some kind of Paypal claim)?

I am the first to admit I have made some dubious online purchases in my time. But I have also bought some of the most amazing, beautiful things that I hope I never have to part with. A perfect Friday night is when the children are in bed and I can sit on the couch and trawl through pages of French antiques on Etsy (it’s either that or fold a pile of laundry, so no competition really).

French wash basin

A 19th century French boudoir wash bowl and pitcher. So gorgeous. And huge. So happy it was handled with care on its postal journey .. now it just needs to be kept out of reach of little hands at home.

The problem (if you could call it that..) is that the longer I spend clicking through the pages, the more random my purchases tend to become. Who knew that I needed about six different part rolls of antique wallpaper? Or an antique hessian sack used by a bride two centuries ago? Or a second old sack for that matter, which was used to carry mail in the 1930s?

Liberty wallpaper

Random part-rolls of French wallpaper. If only I could buy enough to do a whole room. This is a fabulous 1900s piece from Liberty that I think I’ll get framed as a large print for the wall.

French painting

A 19th century French oil painting that I’ve hung in our bedroom. I seriously put this painting in and out of my cart a thousand times before finally buying it.

French wedding sack

A French wedding sack dated 1889. Literally needed a hose when it arrived, after being uncovered in an old barn and arriving in ‘as-is’ condition.

Antique fabric

The most delicious French fabric – antique chintz with roses and ‘Paris pink’ velvet. Cushions are in order, I think.

My husband is now at a point where, as long as it doesn’t involve a removalist truck, he turns a blind eye. Wise move.

xx