office makeover

In case you’re wondering where I’ve disappeared to for the last week or so, few posts… I’ve been on my knees working on the office makeover.

I’ve often mentioned how much I hate the salmon carpet throughout our house. And how much I specifically hated the office carpet cause the dogs (NOT my dogs! Mine are toilet trained.) used it as an indoor toilet.

A bit of background for those of you who don’t know our story: when Wayne and I got together he brought 2 dogs into the relationship: Mischa, a purebred staffie, and Barney, her illegitimate spoodle cross son. Neither of them had ever been indoor dogs. They were escape artists and were penned when Wayne was at work and at night, and rarely allowed into the house. When we moved in here we kept them in the dog run when we were at work and they slept in the garage at night. I soon moved them into the entry way and allowed them in the rest of the house when we were here. When Mischa died I felt sorry for Barney so he’s been a couch dog since. While in the house and out of our sight, they would often use the office carpet as their private restroom.

As a result the carpet in there was disgusting. I’d started removing it before we started the kitchen makeover and when there was another ‘accident’ in there (cause I forgot to close the door) I’d just cut out and throw away the piece of carpet. Why bother trying to clean it up?

So, over the week I had off and Wayne was away, I started the office makeover. First step was to remove the old carpet and underlay (which I re-use as a weed barrier).

Then I sanded the floor the same way I did the kitchen. First I went over it with the belt sander, then with the orbital sander and finer grit.

The floorboards now run from the kitchen, through the small hallway to the office.

After sanding both the office and hallway, I gave the office floor 3 coats of polyurethane. The hallway will have to wait. I ran out of time.

Next I I removed the shelving from the wall. I should really had done that sooner (like before sanding!) but the living room was already squeeze through room only. Once the floor was polished I took eveyrthing off the shelves, piled it into the middle of the room on a dropsheet. I now have to clean it all!
I painted the office walls the same colour as the kitchen, 3/4 strength Dulux China White. It looks so much brighter in there now. I had grown to dislike the blue which I thought was grey when I picked it. I also did the skirting boards, window and door frames in Dulux Antique White USA.

I still have to work out the window covering situation… I was considering painting the old blind but it doesn’t fit on the inside of the window frame, and its a bit worse for wear. I’ll work out what I want there eventually.
I have put a few things in the office, but can’t finish things till I work out the shelves. I’ve painted them and have to decide how to configure them. Now that I’m making films I’m thinking of putting my small flat screen in there as a second monitor. That means working out how to best place the shelves and screw them into the brackets before I can start replacing things to clear the floor.
I’ve put Wayne’s antique map on a different wall and placed my desk under the shelves. The plan is to minimise the crap stuff I put in the office. And try to work on ONE project at a time (says the woman who can’t see the coffee table or living room floor cause of office stuff and fabric to make costumes for a film!). 
The plan is to put an armchair in this corner and only have the sewing machine on a small table with wheels, the computer on the desk, and only the things I use most often in the office. And a rug.
And not jam pack the office with a million things to ‘get to when I can’.
Yeah, yeah, famous last words. However, I must point out that the kitchen is still neat and tidy and hasn’t begun to accumulate junk on surfaces. I love it so much I even wipe and put away anything I have to wash by hand immediately!

Here is a preview of another project I’ll post about when I get a chance… they key box!

And, as a bonus, you get to see part of the pile in the middle of the floor.
I hope to be able to get more done on the office this weekend but back to work means doing things in dribs and drabs. I’ll keep you updated.

storage bench with pallet top

A long time ago, in a land far far away on one of my visits to the tip shop, I found this little cabinet. Like the one I posted about previously, this little guy was made as a base to a wardrobe. A small wardrobe. This is the only ‘before’ pic I can find (not one of my best, I confess).

It didn’t have a top at all, had a couple of big cracks on the sides and the drawer was broken. In fact it was a real mess. But I liked the shape and handles, and was already thinking bench and shoe storage.

My vision was that one day I’d put a new top on it, give it some new paint and make the drawer into a door.

It sat in the casita for about a year. Maybe more. It held all kinds of junk for a while. It stood on its side a fair bit trying to look inconspicuous… It hung around gathering dust and possum poop (thanks to the resident possum, Mr Ponsonby who has since been relocated, and turned out to be a Mrs anyway).

Eventually I noticed it again and decided it was about time to do something with it and regain some space in my workshop. Especially given I’d pulled apart and repurposed the old shoe cabinet/bench.

I started off by giving it a coat of paint. At the time I was experimenting with greens so I painted the body green, but the handles were painted in a creamy yellow so I stuck with that for the door. I put a shelf inside the cabinet and painted the inside a slightly brighter yellow.


I pulled apart the broken drawer keeping the front. I had to fill the dovetail joints with bits of timber and gap filler to make it into a door rather than the front of a drawer. (Sorry, no pics of that.) I attached a clip closer and hinges so it now opens downward.

I’d always been itching to make something out of pallet wood (I’ve used pallets for many things but never made anything out of the wood) so I went and collected a couple of pallets from the ‘free’ pile outside a hardware store.

To be honest, I’m not sure they’re totally free, I was told they were by a friend and I chose to believe her, but whenever I’ve taken any I’ve always felt rather sneaky about it. Whatever… most of the ‘free’ pallets are broken or made of really cheap wood. Obviously. They’d never throw out good pallets.

Anyway, I got my pallets home and started pulling apart the only one long enough to make a top out of. I split most of the bits of wood I got off. In the end I got enough better pieces to create the top.

It wasn’t easy. I see so many pallet wood projects and I wonder how people do what they do… either they’re getting much better quality pallets than I got, or they’re just plain better than me!

I finally pieced together a top with as few gaps as possible, matching warped boards together like a jigsaw puzzle. I joined the wood together using 2 slats of wood underneath to hold them together and to give them added strength. (Did I mention this was crappy timber?)

Once that was done I sanded it back really well. It looked great.


Only problem was I wanted a weathered timber look, not a brand new look.

So I looked around for some steel wool to put in vinegar and resigned myself to waiting for the requisite rust to age the timber with.

I couldn’t find steel wool. I think I used all I had patching up holes around pipes in the wall in the kitchen! (Apparently mice won’t chew through steel wool. At least I hope they don’t!)

Well, that was the end of that idea. What else could I do?

I got out my artist acrylics and mixed up a watery solution of burnt umber (a colour you hear about a lot on my blog), grey and black. Grey cause weathered wood is always grey and black cause nails holes always go black.

I slopped the watery solution over the wood and let it soak in a bit, then wiped the excess off with a clean rag.

Not quite right yet.

I got out undiluted colours and painted them on and wiped them off, leaving darker areas. I dabbed black over areas of the wood, especially around holes.


I love the way it turned out.

When it was dry I put 3 coats of satin polyurethane on it to finish it.

Finally, I distressed the cabinet a bit in areas where it would normally get wear and rubbed in some burnt umber to give it an old appearance. Not that it wasn’t old, but the paint was new and burnt umber is like the accumulation of years of dirt.

Funny how I refresh something, make it nice and clean, then make it look grimy before putting it in my house… I wonder what that says about my personality…?

I’m still not entirely sure about the colours. I didn’t want just another white or cream cabinet and I had this colour mixed up and thought it would go well with the creamy yellow. An antique colour mix I thought. Do you think I achieved it?


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accidental stripes

You know how sometimes things work out in ways you never expected? Well, that’s how it turned out with the striped blind in the kitchen.

One morning soon after I installed the blind I went outside as the sun came up and noticed the way the stripes in the blind and the stripes on the enclosed porch side sort of matched. It was totally accidental – when Handyman was enclosing the end of the porch he used some of the old bits of timber from the front of the house where the window was put in. The new timber is unpainted, the old timber is the light yellow the house was originally painted.

I kinda like it.

I’m considering painting the enclosed area two colours – the antique white I used on the posts and the white pepper I used on the house and the handrail slats. It’ll be way more subtle than it is now, but it might be interesting.

Then again, it might be stupid and it’ll be a ton more work…

So, what else’s has been happening?

Well, the office floor is half sanded. I’ve finished a couple of projects and am close to finishing another. Plus I’ve started on the costumes for the movie we’re making at work.

Other than that, I’ve been having a quiet time.


More later. Check back soon.


then and now – the kitchen

While its still fresh in all our memories, here are some then and now photos of the kitchen.
This is what the kitchen looked like when we viewed the house for the first time – with the old owner’s stuff in it:
And here it is now:
This the side with the window/pass/whatever you call it into the living room on the day we moved in:
Here’s the same wall now:
Here’s the basic layout the day we moved in: 2 windows in awkward places due to the upper cabinets, stove in the middle of the front wall, sink to the left.
This is the layout now: big window in the middle of the room, sink under window, stove the left, no upper cabinets. 
I took a set of photos showing walls so I can sketch on and work out where to put my shelves. I’m thinking 3-4 on either side wall, all same length on the left and staggered from shortest to longest on the right. I’m thinking the top shelf will run across over the window as well…
I’m thinking tassie oak shelves, matching the benchtop in colour and finish.
The entrance to the house is through the mudroom, the pantry and the kitchen. (Don’t ask!) The door to the kitchen and another door leading to the rest of the house create a funny corner with two doors. This is how it looked the day we moved in:
This is how it looks now:
Naturally, I made small changes to the kitchen along the way to make it more me… which basically means cramming it full of collectible old bits and pieces… I hated the top heavy upper cabinets so I removed the doors on one set to create open shelves.
Here is the same area with the open shelves:
Here is the same corner now.
The plan is to put some kind of pot rack on the wall next to the door…
We had a large built in pantry in the back corner of the kitchen. Very handy admittedly, but when I moved the pantry to the old entry, I decided I wanted something prettier there… Here it is with the ill-considered and badly executed, huge fail chalkboard pantry doors:
Now my antique kitchen dresser pretties up that corner. With its extra support legs which need staining to match! Its old and was sagging in the middle so it needed some strengthening. 
When designing the new kitchen I looked over all the gadgets I owned and decided I didn’t need half of them. I’m streamlining. I still need to sort where to put some of them, but I’ll get there. I haven’t even started on the pantry yet…
The kitchen bench then – always full of stuff:

The bench now:
I love it being clean and uncluttered. We used to drop everything on the corner as we came in the door. I’ve outlawed that now. We have a phone station for phones, I’m making a key rack, and I’m thinking about how and where to create a drop zone for other stuff. 
For Wayne mainly.
I’m over his constant search for his wallet, glasses, keys, etc.
So, here’s what we did to achieve this transformation:
Removed 2 inconvenient windows.
Put in a new window in the middle of the front wall.
Bought a new stove, rangehood, dishwasher and sink.
Had new cabinets custom made.
Had a solid timber benchtop made (which I finished)
Moved the hot water cylinder to another spot.
Moved the electric power meter to another spot.
Put in new wiring for the new stove and rangehood.
Lifted lino and masonite and I refinished the original timber floor.
Fixed the uneven original timber floor.
Moved the sink/plumbing to another spot.
Lined 3 of the walls with pine.
Painted all the woodwork Dulux Antique White USA.
Painted the whole kitchen a Dulux China White 3/4 strength.
Mounted an old tempered glass door behind the stove as splashback.
Painted the doors a minty greeny aqua colour I made up.
Did I miss anything? The months of mess. The months of having nothing to cook on… waiting for tradesmen… the frustration when things didn’t work out or we discovered unpleasant surprises when doing something we considered a ‘quick job’…
So there you have it.
To celebrate, today I’ve spent HOURS cooking up a storm to try out the new fan forced large oven which promises to cook 3 dishes at once evenly. I made lasagne, spanakopita (greek spinach pie) and baclava.
I’ll let you know how they go.

then and now – the ugly house

I’ve been thinking about the amazing before and after photos on the blogs I follow. And the TV shows I like. They’re amazing. Even when I don’t particularly like the style, I see the amazing transformations and feel inspired and more than a little envious.

I mean the after rooms are always perfect, styled to within an inch of their lives, great colours, interesting mix of textures, fantastic furniture, creative vignettes… Magazine quality rooms.

I may occasionally be able to set up a perfect corner in my house to photograph, cropping out the mess of stuff I’ve had to move out of shot in order to create that corner of perfection. But I can never show you a complete finished and styled room.

Even if I finish a room (the only room here close to being finished is the kitchen!) I won’t have the right furniture. Or I’ll have a stack of things I have no real place for and that just don’t fit in. Or I’ll have clothes airers drying clothes in front of the wood heater (this place is like a chinese laundry all winter,)

So, in the spirit of sharing the progress of our home, from what it was when we first saw it, to how its looking right now, almost 3.5 years later, I decided to do a then and now series.

We’ve come a long way since we bought the farm… at least in some parts of the property. Its good to remember just how much has changed – for the better.

This is how the house looked when we bought it:

And this is what it looks like now:

When we bought it, there was a tiny little porch on the end near the driveway, with an outside toilet (the blue door):

We enclosed the tiny porch, making a mudroom, and bringing the toilet into the house:

Of course, the hot water cylinder (which used to be on a blank wall) was now on the porch:

So this year we moved it to the driveway side of the house:
We also enclosed the end of the porch to give us a dry zone and protect our boots from horizontal rain:
This is what the driveway side of the house looked like before:

Here it is after some painting and planting but before the hot water cylinder was moved and the retaining wall was put in.

What we’ve done:

Enclosed the tiny porch.
Added a big porch which we joined up to the small one on the back of the house.
Replaced the small kitchen window with a bigger one.
Planted flowers.
Painted the house.
Moved the hot water cylinder.
Levelled the driveway and put in a retaining wall along the side.
Replaced the trellis on the small back porch with slats to match the new porch railing.

Its been a long, meandering road.

Again, here is the house when we first bought it:

And here it is now:


And now:



Even with wheelbarrows on the porch and painting waiting to be done, its a lot prettier now, wouldn’t you agree?


roadside salvage drawer to phone station

One of the problems in our kitchen is that the telephone jack and a power point (where we plug in the phone and one phone charger) were kind of ‘in your face’ in that they were to the right of the ‘servery’ into the living room, but not lined up vertically or horizontally. Hard to hide in other words.

Here’s a photo of the ‘pre’ kitchen and you can see how I dealt with it before. An old drawer, with a hole cut out to expose the phone jack, held the phone, a framed print of a rabbit (cause why not?) and some of my 50’s collectibles.

Of course the powerpoint was lower and to the left, so that remained exposed along with the accompanying ugly cords.

When we were doing the kitchen and Handyman was lining walls with pine, I asked him to move the power point and phone jack so that they were closer and neater.

I wanted to create a ‘charging station’. A place to keep and charge our mobile phones and landline. And hide the mess of cords and plugs.

I have a ton of stuff in my workshop and the shed, including a stack of drawers I picked up off the roadside one day. I evaluated them and thought one of the drawers would be perfect. It had an unusual shape – it was long, one section had 4 holes, and a dip in the sides. No idea what a drawer like that would be for.

Here it is after a coat of milk paint.

I took off the handle on top, filled the holes. then did a few coats Lichen milk paint to stop the paint flaking off too much in some spots.

I had to somehow hide the holes in the back… We buy our timber from a local guy who mills his own wood and cuts his own boards. Last time I was at his place I picked up a few of the trimmings he’d cut off the ends of his boards when dressing them. They were the same width but irregular thicknesses so I sorted through and picked the bits which were more of less closest in thickness.

I cut them to size, sanded the weathered layer off and glued them to the back of the drawer.

I really need to go back and get more of them. They’re great!

This was the plan: the top shelf would hold the landline phone station. The bottom section would have a shelf added up the top to hold our mobiles. Below would be a door to hide the power points, cables and chargers.

I made the shelf out of an offcut of pine since I planned to paint it and it didn’t have to match. I put a ‘lip’ on the shelf in tassie oak, matching it to lining and so mobiles won’t fall off. I drilled 3 holes in the bottom shelf (one for the landline cables, one for each of our mobiles) and one hole in the original shelf for the landline cables.

Now I needed a powerboard, giving us enough power points for 2 mobiles and a cordless phone.

Since the idea was to hide the mess behind a door, I cut a hole in the drawer… badly. Necessitating the addition of trim to neaten it up. eh. That part will be hidden most of the time. 

The worse problem was that when it was finished, I screwed it to wal, plugged everything in, then discovered that the mobile chargers were too fat for the door to close properly!


I had to cut out the entire bottom back of the drawer to give them a bit more room.

Goodbye trim.

I’m such a professional!

Anyway… next came the exciting part. The door.

A barn door with Zs at the back.

I always wanted to make a door with Zs at the back.

I bought the smallest T hinges I could find and a silver handle I kinda liked. But I didn’t want them looking new, so I painted them. Tons. So they’d look like they’d been used for years on many different cabinets.

I also got a magnetic catch as a closer since I planned to swing the door downwards, like an oven door.

Here’s what it looked like when it was finished.

And here it is in the kitchen, ugly cords hidden, Mickey, Mini, Wilma and Barney back in their spots. Plus a rusty wire flower Wayne made me.

Here are some details…

(Btw, I used bread bag clips to keep the charger cables from falling down behind the door.)

Lastly, inside I decided to try one of the cord organising tips from Pinterest… I got a hand paper towel roll, decorated it and discovered the plug wouldn’t go through the middle. I had to slice it open to slot the cord into it, hence the jute string holding it together.

The only things I had to buy were the hinges and power board. Overall its a success I think!


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false alarm – kitchen update

Ok, I’m curious how the women out there in blogdom can do these great reveals where they show ‘after’ photos featuring perfect rooms all set up with the right curtains, the right cushions, the right furniture, the right artfuly placed ‘random’ items.

Even when my kitchen is finished, it won’t be finished enough for that perfect ‘after’ photo.

For one thing, I plan to put up shelves and I don’t want to put them up till I live in it a while and decide where I want what…

For another, I won’t have the perfect dishes for a while, and I won’t have the kitchen dresser painted for who knows how long…

I guess you won’t so much get a ‘finished’ photo but periodic ‘after’ photos every time I add to or change something… cause I’m nothing if not in a constant state of updating, rearranging and changing things.

Meanwhile, yes, you heard right.

The kitchen isn’t finished yet.

It would have been finished but for the sink…

See, when Handyman was doing the plumbing, moving pipes from the old sink position to the new one (back when we had a hole in the floor), he calculated that the sink would be centered in the window and put the pipe there. But when he put the sink in the bench and showed it to me, the sink looked too far to the left.

Visually, the sink looks centered when its further to the right, cause the eye sees the bowls as the center.

So, Handyman moved the sink to where the boss (me) wanted it and now he has to find a joiner of some sort to connect the offset pipes.

Here are some photos I took this morning.

You can see the rangehood and glass splashback, the stove, the dishwasher with its protective film still on it, the sink with our two taps..

Same wall but you can see the cornice that needs painting and the handprints on the rangehood stainless steel cover.

This is the window into the living room. Note the decorative corner bits. Love them.

Now I have a dilemma. What type of window covering do I put on the window? A roller blind? Curtains? Lace? Doily curtains? Modern? Shabby? I have no idea. Well, I have an idea but I’m not sure. Any thoughts from my silent readers?

The window faces east so summer afternoons are hot hot hot. And on winter evenings I need a window covering that will keep the heat in. The rest of the time I want the window open to the view.

I await your thoughts.


only the tail to go – kitchen update

There’s a saying in Greece which says “You’ve eaten the donkey, only the tail to go”.

My cousin Zefi reminded me of it on FB today and I had to laugh.

Its true. The kitchen is almost done. Sure, there’s still a lot to do, but its really almost finished.

Handyman will be back tomorrow with a few plumbing bits we need and he’ll finish connecting the sink and dishwasher and the kitchen, from his point of view, will be finished!

Of course, as you know, my job is just beginning.

You’ll remember that, cause I’ve been tediously itemising my To Do list with monotonous regularity.

Still, I’m kinda excited…

If I don’t sleep for the next three days and get all the painting, cleaning, polyurethaning, organising and moving done by Thursday… I might be able to make Wayne a home cooked meal and surprise him when he gets home from work.

Yeah. Don’t hold your breath.


Its a nice dream.

Not long now!


i made a door – and kitchen update

I’ve always wanted to make a door…

I finally made one.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Ok… so its only 11in high.

Its still a beautiful door!

Its part of something I’ve been working on for the new kitchen… Hopefully it’ll be ready to share soon.

Meanwhile… the kitchen progresses.

Today the cornices were all finished. Some of the corner trims went up. The hole for the sink was cut. The bench edges were rounded. The bench was glued together.

Tomorrow Handyman says he’ll finish.

I really really really hope so.

Cause even after he finishes the kitchen won’t be ready to use.

I figure it’ll be next weekend before we can actually use the kitchen.

What with getting home late Mon-Wed, I won’t have time to get much done till Thursday. Not that I won’t plan to.

I always have the best intentions. I plan to get my entire To Do list done in 2 days. I plan to.

I never actually do.

Things always take longer than I plan they will and I’m tireder than I plan to be.

What is it about plans, mice and men…?

Well, either way, its getting closer… I can almost taste my own home cooking… I really miss pasta. And home made soup!



hiccup – kitchen update among other things

 This is what the kitchen looks like right now.

Its what it looked like yesterday afternoon.

Handyman was sick today.

Today wasn’t a great day for me either. I began to doubt that everything will be finished by the end of the week. I was not happy.

Meanwhile, I spent quite a lot of time in the workshop… I started a few projects and continued work on a few things I started ages ago then left languishing. I’ll have photos soon… unless they’re total failures… in which case I should share them anyway so you can see how badly I can stuff up at times.

I’ve been experimenting with some milk paint I bought recently. I’ve never used it before and I’m still not sure if I like it…

Either that or I’m just doing it all wrong…

Eh. Its all about learning and experiencing new things.

Learning from our stuff ups.

And finding ways to fix them or get rid of them.