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

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tackling The Kitchen

I love to cook. I love baking. I make my own bread. The kitchen is an important space to me, because I spend quite a lot of time in there. The kitchen I "inherited" with this house was dirty, smelly, with an oven that only worked partially, mismatched drawer and cupboard door handles and a lot of damage to cupboard doors and walls. (It looked like they had endured a few fits of temper!)

When I first moved in, the most important job was scrubbing everything down (multiple times) until I was satisfied it was at least clean, even if it still looked shabby. I had to put up with it like this while I got on with a few other more pressing things, but once I was able, I started repairing the holes in the walls, the kicked in cupboard doors and replacing broken catches (ALL of them!) I bought a new oven and had it installed by an electrician (definitely NOT a diy job!) Oh, the joy of simply being able to bake again!

Walls, ceiling and cabinets painted and the kitchen started to feel fresh and renewed.

Before - old oven on the way out!

Starting the tiling on the old/new splash back

 I could have called in a company and had all of this old kitchen ripped out and replaced with a brand spanking new *bland* one, but I really wanted to see how well an old kitchen like this could be refurbished and repurposed. These drawers are made from dove-tailed hardwood - you won't see that in your melamine-coated MDF flat-pack kitchen! And money is an issue - I'll save it wherever I can.
On ripping off various stuck-on finishes etc, I uncovered these lovely burnt orange tiles on the wall behind the stove and above one of the benches. I really wanted to keep them, but of course, the tiles could never be matched and I needed more  because the newer stoves don't have that high back like the older ones and I also had to take off an inch-thick melamine splash-back that was worse for wear. So I chose some tiles that were a contrast in both colour and texture and went to town employing my  skills as an artist to design a graphic interplay between the old orange shiny tiles and the new grey-toned matte ones. In my head I could see how it might look, but the reality, when it was done far exceeded my expectations……I LOVE it!

I chose greys and white for my kitchen colour scheme - nice and restful, but with the zing of the surprise orange. As serendipity would have it, some of my best cookware is also orange. This was meant to be.

Same view showing the tiling job completed - before and after painting the cabinets

When I bought the oven, I also bought a range-hood and because it was one you just plug into a socket, I decided I could install it myself. This was a fairly big job - I had to make an MDF box to house it, attach the box securely to the existing cabinet and wall and install the hood. (It said on the packaging, that it was a two-man job to install it, but with a bit of ingenuity, I managed it by myself……two men = one woman?) All that remained was to fill in the space with a piece of plywood and paint it to match the cabinets. Astoundingly, is is all straight and neat!

This is what I was replacing………!!

New range hood

I would have liked to have put in some new bench tops, but because what I'd like is expensive, I decided to do a refurbish job on the old tops until I can afford new ones. There is a special laminate finish that is available, so I decided to give that a try - I got it tinted to a tone the same as the cabinet doors, but a shade darker and just followed the instructions on the tins for prepping and doing the job. There was one burnt, damaged area that I had to repair before I started. 

One bench top completed

The finish is so good, you can't even see where the repair is. It remains to be seen how durable this is once I start using it, but it probably only needs to last for a year or two.
So the kitchen is now pretty much done. For now. Except that I'm going to put in a microwave cabinet and some open shelving above the refrigerator. I love my kitchen!
Next job? not such a big one…….repairing and repainting the small dining room adjacent to the kitchen.