Planting a Pittosporum Hedge

Pittosporum Hedge

With the Simon in charge of progress on the bedrooms, I decided to tackle a few outdoor projects while the sun was shining and before Spring got properly settled in.

Thinking ahead, we want the outside to look as good as the inside as we make progress, so we have to give it a head start on growing. We’ve been keen on the idea of a hedge and the existing fence could certainly do with some covering-up.

I started by removing the existing plants – a few went into pots to be replanted elsewhere later and the others went into the green waste bin.

Pittosporum Hedge

Admittedly, I didn’t do a lot of research when it came to hedge plants. I knew of two options – the lilly pilly and the pittosporum. I made my second Bunnings trips for the day and chose the pittosporum “Green Pillar” for two reasons – its bright green, shiny leaves and the availability of enough plants. I needed 14 for my 9m hedge and there they were, waiting for me in the nursery.

Back home again, I prepared the soil by digging through some organic compost from our local Sand & Soil supplier. A third trip to Bunnings was required to buy a pick and break up some lumps of roots (roses?) I found lurking below the surface. Note to self – think more about what you might need for a job before you start it. I don’t need the staff at Bunnings learning my name just yet.

Pittosporum Hedge

A watering system was already in place so once the dirt was ready all that was left was to get them in the ground. I used an off-cut of timber stud Simon has discarded on the porch as a spacer and lined up the pots, dug the holes, and planted our hedge.

I turned on the watering system and sat on the edge of the porch, cider in hand, while I admired my work. The neighbours gave their nod of admiration too, secretly jealous of my tufts of hedge and the potential for greatness that lies within.

Pittosporum Hedge

Gutting the Bedrooms

Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family

With our bed currently sitting in place of a dining table and clothes stacked on boxes around the house, it’s pretty clear where the renos have to begin.

When the rest of the house is covered in dust or held together with builder’s plastic, we’re going to need somewhere to escape to – a little sanctuary amongst the chaos. What better than a cosy, finished bedroom to motivate us through the next stage of work?

The house was advertised as having 3 bedrooms, but it’s more like 2 + 1/2. The third bedroom is part of the sunroom built on to the back of the house, and measures around 6m2. We’ve decided to remove it completely in favour of an outdoor entertaining area, but more on that at a later date.

The 2 remaining bedrooms are both pretty roomy, at around 4m x 4m each. They have had built-in robes, in poor condition, and some delicious peachy/pink walls.

Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family

We started gutting the bedrooms by removing the robes, which had been well and truly built in. With the cupboards out, one of our first discoveries was revealed – the house was originally a weatherboard. It’s since been covered with metal cladding and we’re not yet sure why, but we’d love to take it back to the original timber eventually.

Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family

The plaster used in the walls and ceilings is HEAVY DUTY. Before plasterboard sheets were invented, all sorts of stuff was used to reinforce wet plaster, including asbestos. Ours appears to be sisal so it’s non toxic, but weighs an absolute ton.

The dust that came down with the ceiling would have to be toxic, though. Thankfully the current living areas are blocked off by the hallway and we didn’t end up with too much through the rest of the house.

Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family

It didn’t take long to fill the first 4m skip, nor the second. With the walls, ceilings, robes, and carpet out we finally got a good look at what we’d spent all this money on. After all, the bits you don’t usually see are the ones that cause the most drama – roof supports, borer-damaged studs, crooked stumps… The upside is it can all be fixed, and the borers are long gone.

Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family

With the rooms stripped back to bones we can start straightening frames, re-plastering, painting, laying carpet and – best of all – putting in a new wardrobe. The good thing is there is no rush – no looming deadline to have things complete, other than our own desire to move out of the dining room.

The current setup feels a bit “temporary”, and thankfully it is. We’re hoping to finish the bedrooms by the end of September but we’ll see…

The Transition

Waratah Street: Week 1 - This is My Family

New Keys + Super Wallpaper

The week kicked off with Settlement on Monday, picking up the keys and heading straight over to the house. The real estate agent gifted us an Italian cook book and the previous owners had left behind an extra roll of the very special wallpaper featured in the hallway. Any ideas how we can use it?

A 2.5 Hour Move

We booked 2 men and a truck from Little Red Trucks. Our 2 bed + study house fit snugly inside, and was swiftly shifted less than 2km away, all with a smile.

The Pup

He’s been a bit sulky – probably still trying to work out where he is and isn’t allowed to go.

Sleeping in the Dining Room

We kept the bedrooms empty because they were first in line for the sledgehammer. We’ve set up camp in the living/dining room, away from most of the dust and with a generous amount of storage in the makeshift bed head.

That Stove

The state-of-the-art Whirlpool Chancellor and Robinhood 2000 are but a few of the treasures the kitchen holds. I think my favourite part might be the sink-to-shed intercom…

Feet up!

Heating our lounge/bed/dining zone is surprisingly effective. After days of shuffling boxes around, the best spot is right in front of it, on the couch – feet up and bubbles in hand. Now the fun really begins!

This Week: In the Box

There’s a nervous pup in the lounge room. A couple of bags packed is enough to make him suspicious, but start filling boxes and he gets mighty worried. So much so, he started lying on the pile of flat, empty boxes, hoping to put a stop to all this nonsense.

Packing Up

With Simon in charge of the Shed, I got the rest of the house. We were lucky to move not long after a couple of friends and inherited a decent amount of boxes. Rather than try to work out which texta scrawls were ours, I ‘labeled’ our stuff with pink gaffa, which is easier to spot in a stack of cartons. Fragile tape was put to obvious use, and any boxes marked as such were off-limits to the removalists.

Packing Up
Packing Up

I put aside one Essentials box for each room, to be packed up last and unpacked first, ensuring we had things like toilet paper, washing detergent and the TV remote handy when we arrived.

We sold a few pieces of furniture that would have been a pain to move or didn’t work in the new place, and the rest either went in our car or the truck.

The nervous pup finally realised he wasn’t being left behind and cheered up on seeing his backyard had tripled in size.

Packing Up

Hello Yellow

It’s not too hard to work out what my favourite colour is – a quick scan of my recent pins gives a pretty strong clue. I have no doubt there will be a few pops of yellow in our new place, but keeping it to just a few pops and not allowing it to take over completely will be an exercise in restraint.

hello-yellow

1 low wire basket ++ 2 hello mat ++ 3 bench ++ 4 sunny bathroom ++ 5 floor lamp ++ 6 lampshade ++ 7 rug

This Week: Stradbroke Island & Brisbane

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

Above: 2 days escape on Stradbroke Island. Whales, dolphins, turtles and palm trees, plus prawn rolls for lunch. Melbourne winter can get stuffed.

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

Above: Joey & Rob shows us the ropes on the pottery wheel, beneath their gorgeous Queenslander.

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

Above: A particularly spotty sausage, Jock blends in with the leaf litter.
Below: Sitting around a fire takes us back to our NT camping days, where friends were made between cans of XXXX and ukulele tunes.

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

One Month & A Dream Pantry

Yesterday marked one month until Settlement on our new home so I’m putting on my Organised Adult Face. Certain behaviours come with the Face, like emailing mortgage people and signing Stat Decs and getting quotes on new carpet. The first 30 days since we purchased have flown and Organised Adult Face only made a brief appearance on two occasions – when I booked the removalists and when we decided which wall to knock down first.

Simon and I have moved house 3 times together (not including the day he moved in with me) and probably 30+ times collectively – we should have this system down by now, right?

Dream Pantry // via This Is My Family

Image: EmersonMade Home Tour on Design*Sponge

One thing we have learned along the way is that it’s easier to get rid of things than move them. When I opened the pantry at breakfast time today all I saw were jars and packets and sachets of stuff that I will have to put in a box and unpack at the other end. I decided then and there on No More Buying and a lot more Using Up. First to go were 3 half-packets of lentils and barley, hiding halfway to Narnia at the back of the pantry.

That’s the thing about pantries – our current one is narrow and deep, perfect for stuffing full of things and then forgetting about most of them. In our new home, we get to design a new kitchen from scratch and I tell you what – it makes me happier than a spoonful of peanut butter in the middle of the night.

pantries

Images: Light Locations | Oh Happy Day

My dream pantry would be either walk-thru or walk-in, have wide, shallow shelves and a step-stool for accessing the upper storage areas. I’d be able to keep semi-useful appliances and big pots in there so they didn’t take up bench or drawer space. And judging by my Kitchen Pinterest board, it would need white subway tiles on the walls. I’d have to buy shares in a glass jar company but I’d be ok with that.

What are your pantry essentials?

A House, A Home

waratah-street
When I was in primary school, and my parents spoke about things like Mortgages and Insurance and Superannuation, it made me wonder when I would start learning how to do grown-up things like buying a house. Was it part of high school? Or university? How did they work it all out before Google?

We’ve been looking at houses for three or four months now – we’ve even bid on a few at auction. There was one we really wanted but someone else really wanted it more than us, thwarting every effort we made to make it ours. I think you should probably really want any house you bid for, but there were some Simon just practised on (apologies to the people who actually wanted to buy those places). You can read about auction techniques on countless websites, but we found the best way of learning about them was to go to them.

We didn’t hire a luxury vehicle and park it out the front to intimidate other bidders, as one site suggested. We didn’t even “dress like we could afford the place”. We just watched people as they inspected a house, muttered to each other in the laundry, and chewed their lip when the bidding got too high. And they always got too high – one place we had our eye on sold for more than $200k over the advertised range. It gives you little faith in the numbers and even less in the agents, but the more you attend, the more you learn about the process and the better you can predict the outcomes.

When we walked into this property on Waratah Street, we could immediately see ourselves living there. Sure, there was work to be done but the location was ideal and the price seemed reasonable. We wanted to avoid an auction so we decided to submit an offer at the upper end of the price range, thinking it was a fair price and assuming with all our local market knowledge that it would go around $30-50k higher in a bidding frenzy. The vendors received a second offer, both above the reserve, and the agent called a ‘boardroom auction’. Yet another learning experience.

Unlike the emotional rollercoaster of a crowded footpath on a Saturday morning, a boardroom auction involves just those parties with an acceptable offer, in a room at the agent’s office, duelling for victory. There’s no guessing who’s serious and who isn’t, and no dramatic time-wasting techniques on behalf of the auctioneer. Ours was the highest offer, so the other party bid first.

$500.

In a move I think should be illegal, they raised us by $500. So we matched it. $500.

$500, again.

And again, and again. For $11,000 we played ping pong like Forrest Gump, until they gave up and we won. We had survived the game and avoided a circus and in 60 days we’ll be holding the keys. In the meantime, we’ll be learning how to Apply for a Mortgage by being thrown into the deep end. So far the bank is doing a good job of being patient while we compare Standard Variable Rates with No Fee Loans and Special Economisers.

I think this journey is worth recording, and this blog is where I’ll do that. There’s a lot of work between the Before and After but between an architect and a colour-crazed photographer I think we’ve got things covered. We’re starting from the ground up, and this is ground we’ve got to work with.
A House, A Home
Have you bought a house at auction before, and lived to tell the tale?

Images: Nelson Alexander Real Estate