Friday, March 24, 2017

Progress......and a setback

Well, I've had a pretty good week getting stuck in with Project Bathroom, but unfortunately I was a little bit gung-ho with exuberant ceiling plastering and I exacerbated an old back injury - enforced layoff for several days while it got better. I think it is my 60+ year-old body saying, "Hey, you're not eighteen years old any more, you know!" It's nearly better now, so I'm proceeding.....carefully!

Here's what I got done before I hurt myself: 

Door and architraves removed, creating an opening between the laundry and bathroom (Love that un-building tool!)

 Studs added to fill the cavity and gyprock cut to size for the opening.....glued and nailed in place. If you are wondering about all those little extra blocks - well, it's because modern stud timbers have considerably smaller dimensions than an old hardwood 4x2 from 1962! I had to improvise a bit to get flush surfaces on both sides to attach the gyprock to. It works. Solid wall.

 ..........and plastered.

The bathroom ceiling had this nasty, grotty, unevenly applied bubbly textured finish - it had to go! I wasn't sure quite how to deal with it. In the end, I decided the best thing to do was to re-plaster it. It's had one coat of plaster and it's working much better than I could have hoped. One more coat and it should be a fairly smooth finish. It won't be mirror smooth, but I'm confident that I'll get it acceptably smooth! Hopefully it won't all come down on top of me when I'm in the tub one day.

While all that was drying, I turned my attention to the laundry side (or as a friend of mine refers to it - the "butler's pantry" -not sure about that, but it is definitely more than just a laundry) This room was still in it's original dingy state with old cigarette smoke smells deeply embedded. It had a decorative wallpaper frieze around the top of the wall which I removed. Underneath was another one, which I removed. Underneath was another one.......but wait! The final one was actually a rather neat stencilled on design, and not a wallpaper frieze at all. I might keep it; I haven't decided yet. I washed the walls and ceilings down with sugar soap ready to paint when the plaster is dry and lo and behold the awful lingering smell has finally gone.

And while I am bathroom-less, this will be my bathing facility........fortunately I DO have friends with showers!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Dirty Little Secret

Summer draws to a close, though the weather is continuing warm and dry. I've had a few months being busy with other things, but my attention is now turning to my dirty little bathroom.
The rest of the house is largely clean and liveable even with a few less urgent reno jobs pending.  These will slowly get done over the winter...........but the bathroom needs to be done yesterday! I've been kind of putting it off because (a) it functions; (b) it's the only one I have and no bathroom for a few weeks is a daunting, but not insurmountable problem; (c) Plumbing is an arcane art. I need help with it. All that notwithstanding, now is the time to bite the bullet (I am tired of apologizing for my bathroom)

So here's my dirty little secret - the "before" pictures:

Actually, it's not dirty - I keep it clean, but it is so dingy that it looks dirty and it is the last room that still smells of lingering cigarette smoke when I walk in. At some stage, someone thought it was a good idea to knock through a second door from the bathroom into the laundry area - totally unneeded and a waste of space in a small bathroom. My first job will be to remove this door and restore the wall. I'll be taking up the old vinyl on the floor, putting down sub-floor and tiling it. Haven't chosen colours as yet, but it will be light. Then I'll be ripping out the laminex walls around the bath and replacing with tiles. Tiles also around the base of the walls instead of skirting boards. The old glass shower screen is going and being replaced with a new one. New hand basin.........of a more appropriate smaller size. Ceiling fixed and painted. I'm leaving the basic configuration as it is: shower over bath and hand basin in the same place to avoid the expense of moving plumbing. But I'll be splashing out to get the bath professionally re-surfaced. Not inexpensive, but it will be worth the expense! I've been in touch with the company that does it locally and they said it's the last job to do after everything else is done. Freeing up wall space by removing the redundant door will give me more room to add open shelving for towels etc.......with the added bonus of space for pantry shelves on the other side. Win-win! A touch of luxury will be a hand-made substantial wooden shelf next to the new hand-basin and around the corner. And heated towel rails. I have a friend with lots of practical building experience to help me with some of this work, so I'm hoping I won't be bathroomless for too many weeks! I start today.

Here is my back garden with lovely summer alfresco corner. I love it!

Sponge baths in the laundry I come!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Back Into It Again!

Well, Christmas has come and gone (first one in the new house.........complete with Christmas tree, as promised to my grand-daughter, Leila!) I've had a busy time with other things, including the "Images" exhibition in Hobart that opened in mid-December during which I sold eight of twelve works (which is pretty good these days!) and the annual music camp down at Camp Clayton on the north-west coast. Renovations have been at a standstill because there has been no time, but I'm just starting to get right back into it.
Yesterday I ripped up the old, stinky carpet in the second bedroom to get it ready for re-finishing the floor and refurbishing the windows. It's a nice sunny room - the middle-sized of three bedrooms in the house, and the one I have been using since I moved into the house.......despite occasional wheezy problems because of the horrible carpet. Here's what I pulled out: dusty, dirty stained carpet full of animal smells and disintegrating underlay.

Then I had the rather horrible job of removing the strips of spiky timber around the perimeter - the ones that hold the carpet in place. They have a name, but I can't remember it. I removed all the staples that had been holding the underlay in place and any left-behind nails. Scrubbed the floor with water and bleach to remove lingering odours and started stripping the paintwork on the window. There is a dated, but serviceable built-in wardrobe and cupboards in this room and I think I can make it fresh and new with a decent paint-job and some new hardware (I've seen some brilliant ceramic knobs in Ishka - might get some of those) The room is now ready to go with paint and floor finishing.

Of course, I had to move everything out of the room, so I can work on it unimpeded, so I've moved into the first bedroom that was renovated and which Leila had most of last year. (She moved into a share house a few minutes walk away from here in late November)

I'm not sure if this move is permanent - I like the room, but waking up to your own reflected image in a wall of mirrors is a little confronting!

The garden continues to improve and be a delight. I'm harvesting home-grown vegetables: potatoes, zucchini and herbs so far, but I have tomatoes, capsicums, cucumbers, beans and beetroot which will be ready soon. I have created a lovely spot to eat down the back with a big market umbrella to provide shade.........had some friends to lunch last week to "christen" it. I'm loving having this sweet alfresco spot - something I always yearned was always too windy and exposed at my previous house, so it just wasn't practical.

I'm really glad I  didn't stint on expense with my new oven - it bakes so well that cooking is a joy. If I'd settled for a cheaper option, I think I would have regretted it!

And finally........I'm using the lavender bounty from the front garden to create small gifts like these lavender bottles. I'm going to make some lavender bath salts and some sachets as well.



Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Dining Room Refreshed.

After an almighty push, I got this room done in two days……..and my aching body attests to the fact that I possibly overdid it! Painting ceilings is quite physical work, I've found.
So that's another room down and a lovely, light, clean dining room to enjoy. I will start seriously looking for curtain fabric this week. The room needs the warmth of a lovely fabric to lift it and echo the warm orange tones in the adjoining kitchen. Hope I can find the right one.

Now I am relaxing, drinking wine and eating chocolate to reward myself for this effort - I love this room!

The time is rapidly approaching when I have to face the mammoth task of tackling the bathroom - I will post some "before" pictures soon - it really is a bit of a horror show, but I think I can create a bathroom that will be delight to use.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Back To Work!

After almost a month away from any work on the house, I've been raring to get back to it! I did manage to put in a microwave box in that time, so it's now up off the bench and out of the way in its own little cubby-hole……….with a bonus shelf on top for coffee pots and so forth. Last night I cleaned down the walls and ceiling in my little dining room and sanded back where I'd previously filled a zillion nail and screw holes (The previous owner sure liked to cover the walls with itty-bitty stuff…….with a big old screw-hole for each bit!) I also took off a rather jerry-built pelmet that was only held up by a couple of screws - I had a hard time stopping it from crashing down after I removed the screws. Sometimes an extra pair of hands would be "handy".
This morning I have painted the cornices and I'm about to tackle the ceiling. Needless to say, breakfast was a bit chaotic with furniture moved, ladders and paint tins to avoid.

I'm keeping my eyes open for some suitable curtain fabric for these windows…….I have something quite specific in mind, so it might take a while to find it. I have contingencies if I can't find exactly what I want.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Break

I'm taking a bit of a break from any major work for a little while……I have a couple of teaching gigs etc to prepare for, so time is limited. Here are "before and after" shots of the kitchen taken from almost the same spot, so you can compare for yourself. I didn't take the "before" shot and it is actually quite flattering - it doesn't really show the smashed cupboard doors, all the holes in the walls, the mis-matched handles and knobs, how really dingy it was and the smell. As soon as I get back from my interstate teaching job in a couple of weeks I'll be painting the dining room - can't wait to get it done!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Time Out!

Although I'm actually (much to my surprise) really enjoying the whole process of creating this home from a sad wreck, I'm not busting myself to get it all done yesterday……..I'm happy to let the repairs and garden refurbishment happen at a manageable pace, because……well - there IS only me! The process seems to have acquired a natural rhythm, where I will have a few days of much activity to get a certain job done, followed by periods of less activity……on the house anyway. I still have to allow time to get my artwork done, because it is my bread and butter. And my nails. And paint.

I also like to take time out to explore my environs, and I am lucky here - I am very close to Cataract Gorge and Duck Reach, so there are excellent walks to be had right outside my front door. There is also a lovely little reserve of remnant bush called Woods Reserve only a hop and a step from my house.

It's open bushland with native species and a population of resident wallabies and possums. It has paths meandering through it and you get occasional glimpses down to the city below. It's lovely.

Not far away is Duck Reach, which is spectacular after heavy rain with floodwaters rushing down it. The floods we had back in June this year were the biggest since 1929!

Cataract Gorge

A natural doorway on the track

The historic Duck Reach Power Station before and during the June flood - shows how much water there was!


Rock detail