Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tell us your best Bunnings experience and win $150 Bunnings eVoucher

eVoucher provided  by Bunnings

When you’re renovating it’s a foregone conclusion that your main shopping destination becomes your local hardware store.

From popping in to buy much-needed drill bits or emergency paint supplies you start to become very intimate with the layout of the store; it almost becomes your second home…an extension of your life…

We spend far too much of our time at our local which is Bunnings, conveniently located six minutes away from the Sow’s Ear. Having it so near is enough to take the edge off the pain of forgetting building supplies. The ‘measure twice, cut once’ rule is adhered to quite randomly in Casa Scrofa Orecchio…(look it up)

I don’t think we’ve undertaken any project where we’ve never had to go back to a store to re-supply. We salute the people who don’t ever get caught short.

With Christmas just on our door step and the scent of DIY in the air, we’re thrilled to be giving away a $150 eVoucher to one of our readers, thanks to the nice people at Bunnings.

All you have to do to win is tell us your best Bunnings experience in the comments section. Entries close on Tuesday 11 December 2012. If you comment anonymously, don’t forget to include an email address so I can reach you. As per usual, Jason will select the winner and we'll announce the winner the next day.

To help you along I’ll describe Jason’s best Bunnings experience. He told me it was when he bought his cordless compact impact driver  (it even rated a mention in a previous post). He had been given Bunnings gift vouchers and Mr Rooney, our now Canberra-based builder, advised Jason about the features he should look for in a drill. Equipped with the vouchers and the knowledge he said the service in the tool department was great and the drill is one of the best things he’s ever bought. And my, hasn’t it been used!

Anyway, make sure to enter the giveaway and good luck!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Being asbestos aware

Asbestos. It's that dirty word which strikes fear into the heart of the seasoned and unseasoned DIY renovator.

The ubiquitous sheet of asbestos fibro cement which forms the fabric of most of our pre-1987 homes is not something you should be touching when you're renovating.

This week marks National Asbestos Awareness Week in Australia. And for those of you who are renovating older homes or are about to embark on your renovating odyssey, it's a timely reminder to be careful and mindful about what you are dealing with.

A recent study showed that over a four year period between 2005 and 2008,  8.4% of all men and 35.7% of all women diagnosed with mesothelioma (asbestos related disease) were home renovators, with renovations and maintenance being the main cause of the disease in women. Yikes! 

The campaign is about educating home owners. We need to ask ourselves whether our homes could contain asbestos products and could we be playing renovation roulette - putting our health and the health of our family at risk when renovating...

We have asbestos in the Sow's Ear - our whole under the house was clad in asbestos sheeting and most of our sun room was clad in asbestos. Unfortunately for us a lot of it was cracked and disturbed, therefore a good enough reason to remove  it. We've had the majority of it removed and disposed professionally. It's just easier. 

For the record we have DIYed asbestos removal in our last home but took all the necessary safety precautions with masks and disposable suits and hired a plastic lined asbestos bin for disposal. But really, if you don't need to touch it, then don't.

If you'd like to know more about the asbestos in your home and what you need to do with it if you intend to renovate, just visit asbestosawareness.com.au 

Being informed is a renovator's best tool of trade. 


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Grassy knolls

Green grass. It's never really existed on one side of the Sow's Ear. Until now that is.

On Friday we spent most of the late afternoon and early evening rolling out turf. What I can take away from that experience is that a roll of turf is a lot heavier than it appears. It never occurred to me that I would barely be able to lift and carry the turf to where it needed to be laid.

Holy mother of lawn clippings! Thank goodness we were only turfing one small section of our yard. We chose Sir Walter turf because of its hardiness and it grows well in shaded areas. It is a type of buffalo grass.

The aim of the new lawn is just to minimise the dust and mud after all the renovation work on this side of the house - removal of tree stump, broken concrete and asbestos; and the construction of new stairs and weatherboard cladding.

The new lawn also softens what was previously a barren wasteland of nothing. You can see for yourself what it was like in the first two images below.

The sunroom side of the Sow's Ear in 2009

Side stairs circa 2009
The turf and the soil arrived on Friday. Unfortunately there was a stuff up and the turf arrived about 5 hours before the soil. Oi!

It also meant that the turf was blocking our access to where the soil needed to be spread. Oi!

The soil delivery guy would've been able to dump the soil straight to where it needed to be...but instead, we had to shovel it into a wheel barrow, manoeuvre around the turf and shovel it out. Oi!

Anyway, best not to dwell...

Turf blocking the way for the soil.

Jason starting to lay the first few rolls of turf

This shot was taken late this afternoon after a good watering
This part of the Sow's Ear has come a long way from the 2009 photos. I had forgotten how sad it looked...We have our fingers crossed that the grass will survive.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Kitchen renovation ponderings

You know how they say you shouldn’t renovate a house straight away and that you should live in it a good 12 months before lifting even a hammer? Well, we committed that most cardinal of renovating sins when we moved into the Sow’s Ear. We started planning a new kitchen before we even moved in and had it built within three months of moving.

Kitchen in a Queenslander house
I took all the magnets off the fridge for this shot! 

Do we have any regrets three years on? Hmmm…I’m not sure. There is nothing in particular I would change in terms of the layout or finishes. We have a great looking kitchen but I think we probably could have managed it better which would have meant more efficiencies in the long run – time and cost savings.

If we ever do it again, I’d most likely allow myself more time to research and shop around at kitchen showrooms and I definitely would organise my own tradies, especially now that we’ve got a great network at our disposal. 

You can get a more competitive price and the job is completed in a more timely fashion… as opposed to relying on someone else’s network. The number of questionable invoice surprises after our kitchen was completed would make you shudder…

We pretty much went with the first kitchen place that gave us a quote which is quite silly in hindsight. Although everything went okay and the design is good, I can’t help feeling that we should have got another couple of quotes, downloaded a kitchen design catalogue or two and perhaps not feel so pressured to rush to get the kitchen “done”. But that is the wisdom you gain through hindsight.

open kitchen shelving

One of the best things about renovating our kitchen was that it introduced me to the world of design and renovating blogs. Bloggers are generally very generous with the information they share about their renovating experiences and a lot of the inspiration for our kitchen was from blogs.

So are you guilty of renovating before the 12 month mark too or do you think that 'renovating rule' is just nonsense? 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

More Queenslander House Renovation Blogs

I thought it was time to update my list of Queenslander house renovation blogs for all of the house blogger junkies out there.

There have been quite a few home reno blogs which have cropped up on my radar since my first list back in January 2011. Sadly, not all of the blogs on the original list are updated regularly...they've either finished (super-efficient!) or done the bulk of the work; have changed circumstances or changed blogging direction; or have just lost interest in blogging altogether... Check out the original list HERE

Queenslander in Stones Corner

Never fear though, some on that list are still going strong such as Crazy House Capers (this couple are the DIY champs. Love their hard work ethic) and Bungalow Bliss (they are about to start some major work soon) and we're still around too...plugging away at it. Nostalgia and Now and Spots and Stripes are two blogs in the midst of renovating as well.

Stones Corner Queenslander with enclosed front verandah and Roman columns. Bless!

So, in no particular order let me introduce you to some cool Queenslander reno blogs for your consideration.

West End Cottage
Caroline and her family (hubby and four boys! She would be hero-worshipped in certain countries) are finalising plans for an architectural designed renovation on their teeny tiny cottage located in West End. It's going to be a fabulous renovation going on the concept plans which Caroline has been sharing on her blog. It's interesting following the process of finalising the designs and the compromises which are made to meet their budget. Award winning OwenVokesPeters are the architects they are working with, so this should be a very chic and well-considered renovation. They hope to begin building in 2013...

Hudson's House
This is a very new-to-me blog which I discovered a few months ago. You have to start from the beginning to see the before shots of the 1930s Queenslander which had a very distinctive 1970s breeze block façade.  The 70s had a lot to answer for with these poor old Queenslander homes! Anyway, it is almost unrecognisable now after lots of hard-core work. They have kick-ass valances too.

The Old Post Office
This blog's author Edwina has been kicking around the blogosphere for a long time but in just the past few weeks she started a  new blog about renovating two very run-down Queenslanders(an old post office and a cottage)  in the country. They currently have the properties under contract (I hope I haven't jinxed them...). Edwina and her family are escaping the big smoke (it's relative, right?) of Brisbane to live the dream. They have their work ahead of them and I can't wait to read their adventures.

We could, We should, We wood renovate
Clarissa writes about a major extension to an inner-city Queenslander that she and her hubby are managing. There has been a lot of activity on their house this month, so check it out and enjoy the progress shots. Clarissa also works for Timber Qld so has a lot of knowledge that might be useful.

Rachel's extremely eventually bit by bit renovation
Rachel and her hubby have been renovating their 'Queenslander' in Northern NSW for the past five years and this blog chronicles the work they have done to their home. They completed their kitchen renovation this year.  The bog is updated only now and then but it is worth checking out to read about all the things this interesting couple get up to.

A House in Auchenflower
This little gem of a blog is updated sporadically and is not a typical renovation blog. It delves into the history of the 100 year old home, Clovelly, and is more about restoring many of the original architectural features. It is very well researched and a good read for those interested in keeping intact the integrity of the Queenslander home.

There you have it. If I have left anyone out inadvertently let me know and I can update the list. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Recycling old stepping stones

We were going to buy new stepping stones as part of that outdoor turfing project that we are planning...but changed our mind when we realised we had a stash of square concrete steppers under the mango tree in the backyard!

The steppers are fairly basic - they should do the trick and save us some dollars. In their previous location, they formed a small path around the tree and were always covered up with leaves, being of no real benefit in that spot.

Relocated square concrete stepping stones.
We are not afraid to share the ugly in progress reno shots. 
We spent most of the stormy Brisbane weekend tackling small achievable tasks between the rain deluges and lightning strikes. We were very fortunate not to have the hail and the destructive winds experienced in other parts of Brisbane.

Jason finished painting the valances very early on Saturday morning before the first super cell storm hit. Lucky it was touch dry or else there would have been ugly crying tears.

The small valances on either side of the Sow's Ear are completely finished.
This shot is taken from the master bedroom window.

Early Sunday morning, we did some yard maintenance - emptying the compost bin and spreading the contents around the native lilypillies, fertilising all the plants, weeding and relocating the stepping stones to near our side stairs and getting them into position. We'll hopefully be able to get some turf delivered this coming weekend.

This last photo was taken when another massive storm hit late Sunday afternoon. A lot of rain in a short amount of time, meant those stepping stones were going to get a nice mud bath! Boo!

Water pooling near the stairs. Fortunately the water didn't get under the house.
We have a down-pipe that has been fitted in a poor location causing this rush of water when there is a big storm - another job to put on the wish list.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Win movie tickets to "LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED”

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you would know that Jason and I have been tripping the light fantastic here, there and everywhere -  there have been lots of hot dates and events leading up to Christmas.

We are going on another date soon to watch the preview of a new movie called ‘LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED’ thanks to the good folks at Madman Entertainment.

It stars former 007 Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm (A Royal Affair) and is set in beautiful Italy. Check out the information about the film here

(Warning: I suspect it is NOT the action-packed, full of battle scenes movie as I’ve described to Jason…just saying...but it looks like I will love it given it is a Danish film)


Madman Entertainment has given me another four double passes to the ‘LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED’ preview to give away to lucky Fun and VJs readers in Brisbane. The preview is on Wednesday 5 December at Palace Barracks at 6:30pm.

All you have to do to win is leave a comment on this blog post, telling me who you think you’d take as your date on the night. Obviously, you will need to be Brisbane-based to get any benefit out of this prize!

As per usual, Jason will pick the four winners. Entries close on Wednesday 21 November with the winners being notified the next day. If you comment anonymously, just make sure to leave an email address with your comment so I can contact you. Easy-peasy.

And if you aren’t free on the preview night, you can always catch the film when it is released on 13 December.

Good luck!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered. The winners of the preview tickets as selected by Jason are:
Bronze Toes (I don't have an email address for you...please email me so I can arrange delivery of your prize)
Faux Fuchsia

I'll email you the details of the prize. Thanks again!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Hose reels and holders

Yep, we're tackling all the big reno jobs around here. Not.

But let me remind you that it is the little things which finish off a home and in our case make it that little more silken purse. Untidy hoses be gone!

And hose reels and holders could not be more unattractive in this great nation of ours. To find something that will just be sturdy and unobtrusive is tricky business.

We didn't opt for the plastic retractable hose reel which seemed too hardcore for us... as hosers who dabble in only occasional watering...

This was what we ended up with. It was cheap (under $10) and easy (from the local hardware) and unfortunately heritage green...

white hose holder

But it is white. How can that be? A trusty can of white spray enamel solves the heritage green issues. At least they kind of disappear against the white weatherboards we have at the Sow's Ear. Functional and no nonsense is what we like.

From this:

To this

This hose holder is on the other side of the house.

And for the front we went fancy pants...extra scroll work equals $3 extra dollars...

white scroll hose holder
But if I had all the money in the world and lived in the US, I probably would've opted for this pineapple hose holder...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Turf plans

dirt path 

Renovating an older home has a way of destroying the yard. We are currently left with large patches of dirt here, there and everywhere... which has not been helped by the extremely dry weather we've been having in Brisbane.

When the external side stairs were rebuilt, we pulled out an old garden bed and removed a lot of old concrete which formed a path to the stairs. Now that we've been pathless for a few months, we are planning on laying turf  with some stepping stones leading to the stairs...as in the image below.

The lawn has a softening effect that appeals to me and it also has the added benefit of being an affordable option compared to laying an aggregate concrete path which we were thinking of initially. So, now we are researching turf options and 'how to lay turf' instructions. I can't wait for it to happen.

Stay tuned, as Jason may be casting off his hi-vis shirts for some shirtless turf laying action. You'll also be pleased to know that he's embraced the metro manscaped hairy chest look over his previous 70s porn star hairy chest look. It's his new Fun and VJs summer look to keep the punters happy.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Gwen Gillam frocks

On the weekend Chris and Susan invited a few people over to their home to meet a lady named Dell who used to work for  fashion designer Gwen Gillam.

For those who don't know, Gwen Gillam was an extremely popular mid-century dress designer in Brisbane - there is an exhibition currently on at the Queensland Museum showcasing her work (it ends in February 2013). The who's who of Brisbane (as well as the who's not) were known to frequent Gwen Gillam's Frock Salon which used to be located in the beautiful Brisbane Arcade.

A letter to Dell from Gwen on frock salon letterhead
Dell gave us a very personal account of what it was like to work for Gwen Gillam in her workrooms. She said they used to listen out for the clip clop of Gwen's heels, so they were never caught slacking off.

Dell brought a number of frocks and ensembles to show us some of the lovely designs and techniques used to make such divine dresses. Apparently, if the zipper was machine sewn, then it was not a Gwen Gillam dress!
hand-stitched zipper on pale pink evening dress
Susan in her Marimekko frock holding a Gwen Gillam frock.
The pink gown had a tail at the back which could be draped  to the front.

Dell promised to come back to demonstrate how to make rouleau and rouleau buttons for our fancy frocks. Let me know if you want to be in on it...

rouleau buttons and cord
Some of the girls made a pattern on yellow trace of a silk kerchief top that Dell brought along that day. It was such a simple, elegant design which was crying out to be copied. It will be the hot vintage thing to have in Brisbane this summer!

Gwen Gillam silk top being copied onto yellow trace
Also, the lovely Annie from Artistica Domestica did a blog post about the Gwen Gillam exhibition at the Museum when it first opened in August. It is another great personal account of how her Mum used to wear Gwennies and then passed them on to her daughter who wore them to B & S balls in the 80s and 90s!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Tell me...

... what does a rather dapper man in a powdered wig...

Jason dressed as Hornblower for a nautical themed work function.
He was driving in this image and about to give a bloke in a truck, who cut him off in traffic, the finger.

and a rock solid bit of decorative architectural whimsy

Newly constructed valance under a bay window

have in common?

Just another weekend at the Sow's Ear...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Renovator's Rescue: part six

I thought it was about time I showed you the latest from the Renovator's Rescue house I have been stalking for the past year or so...we drive past it on the way to school. Yesterday I stopped to take a quick snap.

It seems like the bulk of the hard work is now done to the external façade  The stairs are now up, the garage door has been installed and it seems to be occupied. I love how the bay window was retained and the external colour scheme is nice and simple.

The house has certainly come a long way from its previously dilapidated state - it was at the point of collapse, riddled with termites. The owners could easily have demolished the home and started with a blank canvas. Instead they chose to save the old home, so I guess kudos goes to them for trying to save a character home.

I'm going on record to say that I'm not a huge fan of this particular renovation. The choices made regarding the external 'look' of the home are not the ones we would've made, although the new tin roof gets a big thumbs up. It's just that the new proportions, mass and symmetry don't seem quite right in this renovation...in my humble opinion...getting that right is what makes a Queenslander home so appealing.

I think we would've opened up the front entry to make a verandah and we would not have deviated too much from the original identity of the home. I liked the distinctive façade of this inter-war Queenslander pre-renovation...

But with that said, the home is probably very comfortable and it looks to be designed for good modern living. As renovators, we know that sometimes you just have to make compromises due to budget, materials available and time...there is often a valid reason for why some things are done in a particular way, which we as outsiders are not privy to.

So this is my final post on this particular home...I'll be stalking another home soon for your house voyeurism pleasure.

Anyway, over to you regarding the renovator's rescue. Like or m'eh?

the renovator's rescue as seen in the real estate listing

The renovator's rescue in October 2011
renovator's rescue October 2012
p.s Read all the old posts about this reno here:
renovator's rescue
renovator's rescue part 2
renovator's rescue part 3
renovator's rescue part 4
renovator's rescue part 5 
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