This is a story about a major renovation of my family's own dream home. Follow me in my search for the perfect home sourcing finishes and fixtures, altering floorplans and dealing with trades people. Fingers crossed it's going to be fun!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Marvellous Marble

Ok. So this might be getting ahead of myself here, but I went to have a look at some marble today. I was surfing the web about 2 months ago wondering what benchtop to specify in the kitchen. I have designed a big island bench, with a lovely enormous & fat butcher block at one end for all the hard work and school lunch making etc. No point dragging out a chopping board every time I say. Let's just have a permanent one with, and this is the 'pièce de résistance', a hole down to the compost bin to just wipe it all away!

a rough plan of the kitchen by the Amazing Alex Vega

The rest of the island, and also another wall where the main sink will be, will be a stone of some description. I had been looking around and love all the carrara marble around but I think it's too grey and cold for my home. I'm usually drawn to oranges, greens and reds.

Back to the web surfing, as I was...I came across an arabescato pano marble at Baltic Stone, in Dandenong. I was immediately frozen. It had the most beautiful mix of the grey veining similar to a light carrara, a very white base colour and lots of gold threads through it. It was exactly what I thought I would never find. A warmer version of carrara. I contacted them to see if a) it was still available b) if they usually have that colour in stock and c) if I could hold it there for a year until I need it! Turns out they won't get it in again, so if I wanted it I needed to move fast. Discussions with my husband proved futile. I was NOT to be depositing on a kitchen benchtop when we hadn't even signed the building contract, or got a quote... words like sensible or logical come to mind. So I've been putting off going to see it for a while now. But I keep thinking about it, I just know it's the one. So I dragged my poor 5 year old there today for some moral support. Surely if SHE liked it I had reason enough to reserve it?

You want to see it close up don't you?

And in detail

Ooh isn't it heartwarming? Lo and behold Miss 5 liked it. Whether she was just trying to please Mummy I do not care. Now 3 lovely slabs have my name stickered on them til the end of next week. Hopefully by then we will have a quote at least and I will have enough ammo to convince that far too sensible husband of mine to deposit on them. Exciting!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Bringing Back the Budget

The past couple of days I've been surfing the net for our interior door furniture. I want to really get this right and find a good solid, and attractive knob, set let's go with set. There's not really a polite way of saying that! I have already specified our hardware, but after discovering the cost of $275 a set I'm looking for something at least half price! I have quickly found Australia doesn't do the finish I want. Surprise, surprise Laura wants something more. When we moved in all the doors had builders' standard plated shiny brass levers. But I found this picture...and I'm sold.

It's a satin brass, and it's unlacquered - which is still stupidly uncommon here. Leaving it unlacquered will allow it to patina. Beautiful. I also really like the soft shape of the knob and the sharp lines of backplate. It looks like it would sit nicely in your hand. (get that mind out of the gutter) That's because it's custom isn't it, which means it would cost a bomb. So to find a satin brass finish here? Well, I might be in luck because a UK company called Frank Allart & Co do this finish and they have suppliers in Melbourne! I'll just have to settle for one of their standard shapes to keep the costs down.

The other thing I've been deliberating about is our open plan space at the back and the doors that open out onto our outdoor BBQ area. We have a 6m space for this span of doors. For some reason I have a thing against bifold doors. I don't know why, maybe because there's so many cheap & nasty ones out there. I've seen a few 5cm gaps in my time. So I was planning on doing BIG modern sliding doors, 2 maybe 3 panels. They seem more secure to me.

Courtesy of Centor

But I just keep thinking all our other windows are lovely long elegant shapes with transom fanlights above, would a wall of giant doors look out of place? In 10 years would it look like a dated renovation? I'm slowly eating my words about those bifold doors now. I think the proportions of them would suit the house better. They're absolutely not as trendy. But it's not about that. This house has to last the test of time. At least there are some super systems out now that are fantastic. Ideally a few sets of french doors would look best, but to get the flow outside I want the whole wall opened up.

Bifolds Courtesy of Pinterest

Hmmm. The sliding doors might be given the boot me thinks.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Finally Getting Somewhere...

Sunday was a fab day! I had spent most of the weekend hand detailing joinery for the entire house and I was quite pleased with myself. I finished it all and posted it off to our lovely CAD guy. I stress lovely as he puts up with my constant changes.

The kids' bathroom. Do you like the armoire style cupboard? 2 girls need lots of storage!

But then this morning I received an email that some walls hadn't been measured correctly in the original drawings (which were done 3 years ago by someone else) and the engineer needed to rejig the plans so walls were sitting on supporting walls etc. Which prompted me to get out my measuring tape. "I wonder if this is going to make much difference?" I was wondering. Well yes, turns out 1 wall in the kitchen is 850mm out!! How I have not noticed this before is beyond me. I must have been away with the fairies. So all that lovely kitchen joinery with the proportions just so....well it has to be done again doesn't it!

I stopped measuring after that. I don't want to find any more problems :-(

On a brighter note, a lovely friend of mine visits Paris yearly and recently sent me some photos of a new concept store there called Merci thinking I might like it. Thanks T!

I love the space they have!

Beautiful porcelain pendants

More gorgeous candelabras, and look at those rustic dining chairs. Right up my alley.

And a pretty pink place setting with an oversized crystal chandelier to finish it off. We should use more colour here in Australia. This is gorgeous!

So who's coming to Paris with me?! x

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Joinery Details

I'm currently working on all the joinery in the house. Every single piece needs to be drawn and detailed which is a mammoth job. Especially when I'm so pedantic over the details! I much prefer to draw freehand so I'm in the process of getting it all down on paper and then handing it over to our very patient Architectural Designer to CAD it up. I'm so glad he's doing that part - my head would explode otherwise!

I've just finished the kitchen (I think) so next onto laundry, bath, powder rooms, ensuite, wardrobes x 3, cellar.....overwhelming, yes? Well look, if I wanted standard profiles and finishes, it would be a piece of cake. Call me a snob, but these details make a home. A nice 20mm frame visible around each kitchen cabinet or drawer makes a kitchen feel robust, and handmade. A sweet, simple corbel integrated into the bottom of overhead cabinets feels more built in rather than just stuck up there on the wall.

by Muse Interiors

My most favourite detail ever is adding a fake plinth or feet to the face of the kick boards. It's so clever! It gives the illusion of a completely handmade, and much much more expensive kitchen. Like this.

image from

Oh, and while we're at it, here's a pic of the range I've chosen. A Lacanche Saulieu. Isn't it hot?? We'll either order this matt black finish or stainless steel finish with the brass trims.

Love it! I'm off to try and get some more sleep. These plans have been running through my dreams! x

Saturday, 2 February 2013


Pinterest has been a life saver for me this past year. I've been a Pinterest zombie once the kids are in bed at night. My poor husband! Thanks to my addiction I've managed to collect thousands of pics which is proving so useful when I'm designing, think all the little details in the kitchen cabinetry. I now have a clear vision of what I want, and I keep finding ways to tweak & improve the plans, much to the dismay of the builder currently quoting for us! 

Here are some of the key images I'm salivating over...(all from my Pinterest here)

One of the main reasons we are renovating is to address the entrance to our house. It was built on a corner with its main facade and front door facing the views, but there's no parking or garage anywhere near there. We're moving the entrance to the side of the house and the skill lies in making the side now look like the front facade. This involves unifying and beautifying all the windows and accenting the front door somehow where it will take the place of a window. This is a simple and sweet way to do it!

This has our family stamped all over it. We are not tidy people, and this room feels to have the right amount of clutter and lived in feel. I love the sofa colour and texture, and the warm colour scheme throughout.

I've just changed our engineering design to allow for a pitched ceiling in the master bed. I keep being drawn to these images so had to do it! Ours will have a collar tie near the top, which means it will have a little flat bit, and then pitch down. We'll clad it in shiplap of course!

We have been holidaying in Port Douglas for the last 3 years and the gardens at the Sheraton Mirage were sublime. Unfortunately most of it wouldn't survive down here in Melbs, but there are tricks! I also figured the tropical feel would gel with the brass accents I'll use.

The British Colonial or 'Glam Beach House' vibe with a touch of brass.

Artwork by Kolene Spicher. Love a bit of whimsy.

Kitchen by Jim Howard. There's such a trend for white shaker kitchens with cararra or calacatta marble at the moment. I love the look, but think it's too cold for our house. I want to use something still pale but warmer on the benchtops. We will have the back wall of our kitchen white, and the island I want to be stained timber like this. A walnut colour so it looks aged and like a piece of furniture. We will mimic the panelling in our hallway and somewhere I want to use shiplap....hmmm.

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Details

So! As previously mentioned A Shiplap Home has quite a few features worth retaining. Yes we are planning on modernising and opening it up to the magnificent views we are very lucky to have. However, we are hell bent on being politely courteous to our lovely lady - She's too beautiful & rich in character to contemporise for the sake of it.

Here's an overview of the details:

I should probably start with the shiplap eh? This is a central feature of the family room, the heart of the home. The room will be opened up to the kitchen in the reno, but we will keep this as our main focal point. With the high ceilings it's a grand beachy feel.

A bit of bling I thought was pretty daggy at first. We have 2 of these waterfall crystal chandeliers in the family room. There was another in a dining room but when we bought they were missing loads of crystals, so I've sacrificed it in order to restore the 2. I have lovingly removed and washed every single crystal. It was a bloody nightmare! I now love how old Hollywood they are, even if they don't really help with the beach house ideal. For 3 years I've been stressing how I'm going to work these into a scheme, with shiplap! But for me they just work, so my scheme I've now labelled Glam Beach House, what do you think?!

Continuing on with the brass accents are these amazing solid cast handles on the french doors in the family and master bedroom. They are gorgeous and I love the patina they have. I'm thinking I'll mirror this with raw brass hardware for the internal doors in a more simple cast. I guess I'm lucky with the trend for gold and brass being so hot right now. But I'm totally against anything trendy, especially with this place. Key word 'classic'.

And last but not least, the hallway panelling. We also have this on the master bed wardrobes, something we will definitely replicate in all future bedrooms and the kitchen.

So that's it for now. I'll be visting a few suppliers next week to do some specifying, so watch this space!

A Brief History

In 1890 Matthew Lang, a Mayor of Melbourne, ordered the construction of a mansion to be known as The Point. It was a large estate that encompassed a few streets here and the mansion sat perched on the cliff with wide bay views. The estate was subdivided in 1953, the original mansion demolished to make way for modernist flats and the only thing that remains is the old caretaker's cottage.

'The Point'
Image courtesy of State Library of Victoria

We have been told a wealthy Melbourne town family who may or may not have been linked to the Ripponlea Estate purchased our block and built their beach house to use as a holiday home. My husband and I bought this home in 2007, and after a small fix up to make it liveable we moved in September 2009. It's a gloriously solid, double brick late 50's home with the Colonial and Georgian influences typical of the date for this area. Next door was built a smaller version of our house for the family's mother in law, but that has unfortunately been demolished in the past  2 years and redeveloped.

Our house now

Our home has had a few 60's wrong doings, mostly the ghastly conversion of what was a terrace overlooking the bay upstairs into a flat roof hot box room. But the original house is (was) beautiful. It still retains the original panelling down the wide hallway, waterfall crystal and brass chandeliers (so 50's Hollywood), and of course shiplap surrounding the fireplace, one of my favourite features!

More on that next time!