Friday, April 17, 2015

Furniture post - it's been a while

I have a studio! It needs a coat of paint or two - luckily I know just the person who is handy with a paint brush :) and I have loads of boxes to unpack but my furniture painting studio is up and running, I'm so happy to be back to sourcing interesting furniture and turning them into beautiful hand painted treasures. 

My first piece is proof that some pieces only need a lick of paint to make them really shine. This piece is probably from India. The carvings are lovely but when I bought it, it was very grubby and the glass in the door was broken. I replaced the glass with chicken wire as I felt that suited the rustic look.

To insert the chicken wire I used my Bosch Staple Gun and then with pliers, I bent over the edges of wire to make it safe. I love how it looks now.

I will be starting my furniture painting workshops very soon and will be emailing everyone who has already expressed their interest. If you want to find out more, email me on

cheers Fiona xx

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sanding Floors

For the past four days I have pretty much sat on the floor with a heat gun and orbital sander. You would never think that sitting down all day could be physically tiring.

For the rest of the house we have either laid carpet (upstairs and the downstairs guest room) or we have had our NSW Spotted Gum floors sanded and sealed professionally by David from DD Floors. Dave's team laid all the new floors and then stripped and sealed our existing floors (dining room, kitchen and hallway) to match.  

However it's the end of the job, I'm trying to save some money, so I decided to sort out the floor in our old bedroom/my new studio myself. I pulled up the carpet and was very happy to find the original 100 year old floors in great condition - except that half the floor had been covered with a thick black varnish. There was obviously a rug in the centre of the room that the previous owners had decided not to move when they were sealing the floor so luckily the varnish wasn't over the whole room. 

 I experimented with a few ways to remove the varnish but the most effective way was to use a heat gun and then my orbital sander. Slow work but the floor looks pretty good. Dave said that they use a concrete grinder to remove this but I didn't trust myself to not rip up the floorboards with such a powerful machine. I thought slow and steady might be better. It's still a bit patchy now but all the tar/varnish is gone and I can just work on evening up the colour slowly. It's very rustic industrial but it is a paint studio after all. I'm unsure of how i want to seal the floor but at the moment I am happy with having it unsealed. At least if I spill some paint I can just sand it off. The original floor boards are 25mm thick so there's no chance of me sanding too much. It feels beautiful underfoot - very smooth.

There are still tools everywhere (and that roll of carpet which is getting laid in the guest room today) but I think by the end of this week I'll have it sorted.  The floor in the guest room (below) was pretty perfect. A few old paint drips and lots of staples but if my studio floor was the same as this I could have done it in a couple of hours rather than 4 days.

more photos coming soon.
Fiona xx

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sneak Peek at our House Renovations

The pergola is getting painted white today
Our builder, Sam Hall, finished up on Thursday afternoon, right before Easter, and today he and his beautiful family move to Byron Bay to live. I'm really sad they are moving away as they have become our friends and my kids adore their kids. However I just feel blessed that we were about to have him build our house as Sam and his family were initially moving to Byron after they finished our neighbours' house (my friend/his parents-in-law) 6 months ago but decided to stay and build our house, something that we will be eternally grateful for.  

We first met Sam when he was renovating his own house and renovating in our street, we started talking to him about our build and were so sad to learn that he was thinking of moving away especially after we saw his professional team renovate our neighbours' house.  We started heading down the path of using another building company but for some reason could never bring ourselves to sign the contract and thank god we didn't because Sam came to us one day and said they were staying in Sydney a while longer and would we be interested in him building our house. I was overjoyed and shook on it then and there. No contracts required.

I have to say it's been a fantastic process with Sam. I have loved pretty much every minute of it, I just can't fault Sam - his workmanship or his pleasant easy going attitude, nothing is a problem for him. It's just been one of the best 6 months of my life working with him. The house is beautiful and highly functional. We didn't use an architect, I did the initial design and plans and then we have pulled together much of the plan and design as we have gone along.

I still have a big list of things to do: 
paint the shed, 
paint the pergola, 
paint the guest room
paint my new studio, 
rip the studio carpet up and decide on floor treatment,
paint the carport
lay carpet in the guest room, 
paint the fireplace and mantel
paint the entertainment cabinetry
hang pictures and mirrors
install shelving in the linen press
install the basketball ring and hoop for my basketball mad family,
find a bed for my daughter
decide on upstairs window coverings (romans or roller blinds?)
get a chandelier fixed and hung
level, top soil and turf the back yard,
blah blah blah the list goes on...

In the mean time I'm just enjoying what has already been finished and feeling very grateful.

Fiona xx

Thursday, April 2, 2015

An escape while floors are polished

Do you know how sometimes when you stop doing something, that it's really hard to start again. I've been a bit like that with blogging (and exercise). So much has happened this last month and so often I think I should blog but making time for it has been very difficult. Lots to catch up on (if you are interested). We had to leave our house for a week while the floors in our house were sanded and sealed.

For the week we had to be out of the house, we decided to escape to Tasmania and rented a campervan that unfortunately was a bit dodgy with lots of broken things but it got us around the Apple Isle just fine. We had a beautiful week, mainly trekking in idyllic places, being with nature and spending quality time as a family. Family time is so important and holidays like these always brings it home to me.

We travelled up the East Coast to Freycinet Peninsula and did an 11km hike around Wineglass Bay and the Hazards. Swimming a Wineglass bay was pristine but freezing.

We camped right on the beach at the Bay of Fires. I felt so at home here as the geography is so like where I grew up. Going to sleep at night with the steady rain and the pounding waves was music to my soul.

Sunrise was very pretty and peaceful (and cloudy)

We also did a hike over at Cradle Mountain over on the West Coast (in the pouring rain). We hadn't planned on going there but in the end our family loves hiking, the kids are great walkers and we love being out in nature so we decided to squeeze it in. Despite the rain (and leeches), it was fabulous.

We then had a weekend in Hobart in an apartment in Sandy Bay that I found on Airbnb, right on the beach and river. It was a great end to our holiday.  The sunrises were unbelievable. No touching up required of these photos.

Today is our builder's last day and next week he leaves Sydney to move to Byron Bay (Samuel Hall Building). I will really miss working with Sam and have to say that he's totally ruined me for ever working with another builder. If I ever renovate again it's going to have to be in Byron Bay... I'll share more of our house renovation photos soon.

Fiona xx

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Getting there and a view

Almost every room in our house has a tradie working in it at the moment - the painters are still here, the wardrobes in the children's rooms are getting fitted out, bathrooms getting fitted with shower screens, the silicon guys are here, the electricians have been here half the week, the specialist fibro guys are here tomorrow to rip down the old sheds in our garden so I've spent the day, aided by a very kind friend, pulling out ten years of junk, camping gear, bikes and garden tools and an astonishing amount of rat poo, and of course the builders are here. It feels like such a mess and I'm working over time to stay on top of it all.

I'm tired and dirty and a bit over it all to be honest. I hate to admit but there has been tears shed in the last few days over a couple of things and tonight I may need a glass of vino before I start painting my dining rooms walls - not what I want to be doing but they need it and tonight's the only time I have free before the floors get refinished next week. We are so close to the finish line but I really do think that the last few weeks of a renovation are the hardest of the whole build.  I still have a mountain of work to do once the builders finish but we have to be out of the house next week so it will all have to wait. 

We do have a beautiful view though.
It's about the only thing worth photographing at the moment :)  Here's what I see from my bed through different times of the day.

That is keeping me smiling!

Fiona xx

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Renovation Update: Staircase Progress

When I had a draftsman draw up my plans for the house, I always knew that the stairs would be difficult and that what he had drawn wouldn't work. I kept saying to our builder Sam, who at the time was building one of my neighbour's house that the stairs in our approved plans weren't actually going to work. Sam said Don't worry we will work it out when we start the build. Back in September last year when he arrived for the job at 7am the first thing he did was go and measure where the stairs were meant to be and of course they didn't work. So we immediately decided to flip the house plan around put the stairs on the other side of the house. Nothing like designing a house on the fly. Luckily Sam and I are both spatial and were able to quickly come up with a good design. What this meant is that I ended up with a big laundry (instead of a space under the stairs, a grand staircase but no study in the centre of the house. That's actually a good thing though as I'm quite messy on my desk and I think it's better for my desk to be in my studio at the front of the house anyway.

I wanted paneling all along once we changed the stair case design to an open U shape but then we had a pipe for the upstairs bathroom that wouldn't quite fit over the kitchen beams below and so the wall on the upstairs side of the staircase wasn't flush and I knew then that paneling would be functional as well as beautiful as the paneling would hide the wall step.

Except for the timber treads needing to be sanded and sealed and the risers need another coat of white paint on them, the staircase is pretty much finished. Here are some progress shots.

I can't wait for it to all be finished.

Fiona xx