Friday, April 21, 2017

Roman Blind

While I'm waiting for deliveries of bathroom fittings, I've been busy catching up with my studio work, which has been somewhat neglected while I've been a bit obsessed with this little phase of my renovation. I did make this roman blind for the window........I want to make a number of these for the house, because I really like the look of them, but I'd never made one, so I wasn't sure how to go about it. I found a couple of really clear and well-explained tutorials online and I jumped right in. My thought was that this small bathroom window could be a practice run for the larger blinds I need to make and if it failed miserably, then it would be no great loss.

It took me a while to find a fabric I liked - this grey and white print was the closest thing I found, but it needed red in it, so I hand-painted in parts of the background first. I think the important thing about making a good roman blind is to measure and cut really accurately - take time to do that part properly! Then the rest is quite straightforward. Here's how it looks in the window:

I've also used the print fabric (without the red painted background) to back the shelves I put together previously. The leaf print is a perfect foil for the otherwise very geometric look of the room - it adds a softer touch.

While I've been working on this room, I've been thinking increasingly about "design style", having come across various "styles" when I look things's not something I've consciously thought about much before - "style", to me, is something that just happens as you live your life, not a "look" imposed on a living space as an artificial, separate thing. But apparently, there's Scandi style, retro style, industrial style, modernist style, brutalist style.........blah, blah, blah.

If pushed to describe my design style with a label, I would probably call it something like "Designer Frugal".  Having been to Art School in the dim, dark past and having worked as a practising artist my whole working life, I know a thing or two about using colour, shape, line and so forth, so that's where the "designer" part of the label comes in. And the "frugal" - fairly obvious..........I don't have much money to splash around! Here are the basic tenets of
 "Designer Frugal Style":

* Don't replace things just for the sake of it - often a bit of hard work can breathe new life into them. This was the case with my kitchen cabinets. Instead of pulling them all out and replacing them, I repaired, replaced catches, handles and hinges and repainted. Half the time what you are going to replace them with might not be as good as the original (who makes dove-tailed hard-wood drawers any more? That's what I saved.)

* Don't be a slave to trends just for the sake of it - be brave and do what you really like. Today's trend is tomorrow's dated look, but if you go for more timeless looks and avoid this year's
 hot new colour trends, well, they don't date.

  * Be open to serendipity.......sometimes something will pop up that you hadn't thought of, so don't be afraid to change your ideas and go with the flow if that happens. That's what I did when I discovered the hidden tile splashback in my kitchen.....I worked how to use them in a new way.

* Learn new skills - you will surprise yourself at how much you can achieve yourself (excluding electrical and plumbing work, or major structural stuff, of course!) YouTube is your friend.

* If you do anything really quirky or idiosyncratic, make sure it is easily reversible.                     

Designer Frugal: Plenty of dash......not much cash.   



Friday, April 14, 2017


I've done all the hard graft, the messy, dirty, dusty work and now I have to wait for three things: the items I've ordered to be delivered (hand-basin and shower screen); the bath to get it's shiny pristine new coat (26th April) and my handy help, Alan to return from his Easter break in Victoria. In this hiatus, I've been finishing off silicone sealing of expansion joints, completing the painting and sourcing a few odds and ends to make this space special ("I've become a staaahlist, daaaarling!")

I've had my eye out for some lovely rich red accessories for quite some time, to no avail until this morning (in Bunnings of all places) These resin ones are perfect and pretty much exactly what I had in mind. Note: the window still needs a good clean and scrape on the outside - it was sloppily painted last time it was done.

And I put together this cheap and cheerful cube storage unit that has fabric drawers. It's really shoddy stuff (cardboard came with the kit to tack on the back - I'm going to use some fabric instead) but it will do for now until I can design and make a more permanent storage unit. I even found some towels in the right colours on special in one of the city department stores. Might go and get a few more next week - it's ages since I had any new towels. This is FUN now!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tiling Done!

After an epic few days all the bathroom tiling is in place - I think it looks great! What I've chosen should be timeless enough not to date in a couple of years and I love the graphic Piet Mondrian look of it.
 It's now ready for grouting, which I started today and then I can extrude some silicone sealer into the expansion gaps and waterproof the grout seams. There will be a few days' delay while things dry out and then I can get the bath professionally re-surfaced and the plumbing installed. I've located a fixed and swing bath screen, which has been ordered. It should be here in about ten days. Tomorrow I'll do the rounds and look for a compact hand-basin that takes up less space than the monster I took out!

...........and here's a small reminder of what it looked like a week or so ago:

Slight difference?

Here's the Works Inspector keeping an eye on proceedings from a high vantage point.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bathroom Update

I've been working non-stop getting the bathroom prepped, tiled and painted........much progress has been made and the end is in sight! I've been on a steep learning-curve, learning how to cut tiles; how to make holes in them to accommodate plumbing pipes; how to lay them straight and properly spaced; how to mix the adhesive to the right consistency and so forth. It would be an understatement to say I am pleased with the result! It helps that the room is actually very straight and true, which has made this job easier than it might otherwise have been. That said, this has definitely been the single biggest job I have tackled alone. (Well I must acknowledge my friend Alan, who helped at the ripping out stage to lift out the old hand-basin unit and cap off the water outlets while I carry out the work.

Playing around with tiles before beginning to lay them.

Cutting a tile to accommodate plumbing

Staring to tile around the bath area.

So this is where things stand: all the painting has been done (except the door); the floor tiles are all laid and ready to grout and one wall of the bath surround has been tiled and is also ready for grouting.
 I'm hoping to finish all the tiling today, including the red and grey skirting tiles (as laid out in the above photo). Then tomorrow I can start grouting and sealing. Once that is done, I can call in the resurfacing company to renew the tub. Then it's just a matter of putting in a new hand-basin, putting up some shelving next to the basin, connecting up the plumbing and installing the shower and the glass screen. Oh yes......and re-hanging the door!

I'm starting to think about finishing touches now: I want to make a roman blind for the window, so I have my eye open for a suitable print fabric. I also have my eye on some cubic open shelving that has pull-out fabric drawers that you can add. So I'm thinking that would look good without busting the bank, and I can leave some of the cubes open for towels.......
*Thinks: I need new towels* 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ready to tile!

The bathroom is all prepped and ready to go with tiling, which I'll be doing this week. Suddenly this whole bathroom renovation looks like it will be over soon. Once the tiling and grouting are done, I need to call the company that does the bath resurfacing, which will take half a day to be done. Then I can install the tapware and shower, new hand-basin and the glass shower screen  (Rick McLean Fix and Swing.........500 fixed and 400 swing). Shelf and mirror. Silicone sealing and painting and it will be done! Can't wait to have that first shower!

Cement sheeting underlay down.

                                        Bath surround tanked and waterproofed ready for tiling 
                                          (This was after one coat - another was added later)
                                   Where the door was........this will be shelving and storage.

This bathroom renovation has been a massive job - I'll probably take a month off after its done and then get back into painting (still a couple of rooms to do) and the outside jobs are always beckoning! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Unbuilding is cathartic. Very. The old bathroom has been all ripped out - all the dodgy "improvements" (with the accompanying huge gobs of silicone filler) have gone, and the bathroom is pared back to its bare bones. I've ripped out old vinyl flooring, skirting boards and my friend Alan, helped me to stop off the water outlets and remove the ugly old vanity unit.

I've replaced rotten timbers where damp has caused damage and pulled off broken plaster to replace the lower half of the wall ready for tiling.

Can't wait to replace it with something bright, clean and functional! I'm hoping, though modest, it will have a bit of a wow factor.

Here's the ceiling showing the second coat of plaster being applied. The finish it actually getting pretty smooth........I'm happy! Big effort, but worth it.

And do you know something? bathing in the laundry trough is not so bad. For a while!

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.