In the thick of it

With all the best intentions of writing regular posts about the progress of our building renovation project, I appear to have written... er, almost none.   I know why that is, it's because the whole thing has been so crazy and at times totally traumatising I've stopped being able to crack jokes about living in a garage for 18 months, let alone pen pithy upbeat blogposts about the whole grueling affair.

However, I feel that I must today, stop the clock and make a visual record, as progress seems to be steaming along now, thank god, finally.  The sound of bandsaws is music to my ears (probably not so to the neighbours but that's karma as far as I'm concerned) and a streetfront that resembles the trade car park outside Bunnings fills me with peace and hope that there is a future beyond living in one room with my family forever.

... skip... four weeks.  LOL, I didn't even manage to get these pics up then.  Needless to say, lots has happened since then and I shall write more soon.  If I can muster the cheer required and get over the most recent drama of the plasterers, that is.  Don't ask.



'Bring out your dead'.  It's that time again, when the good people of my suburb put their unwanted items for collection by the council.   Many a time have I slowed to a crawl by the verge to peruse for any top finds.  The problem is I'm far too self conscious to get out and start picking over my neighbours' detritis, so have to restrict any hunting and gathering to nightfall or the backstreets.  Not so one of my dear friends, who is out shamelessly combing the streets for the entire week and comes home with some top booty.  She knew I collected mid century European cermics and came over with this ... "isn't this like the stuff you like?"

Oh indeed Mrs.  It is a Bitossi ashtray and would set me back at least fifty bucks were I to acquire it from a dealer. 

And look how well it goes with my other Bitossi.
It looks even more at home with a bunch of keys contained within, with a nod to the seventies and some free loving.

Happy days!


The longest time

Lord, it's been so long since my last post.... you should see how much the garden has grown!

Nature is a wonderful thing, it just does its stuff all by itself.  It brings a joy that is the reward of patience and time lived.  Unlike building house extensions, which does not.  That requires vast amounts of cold hard cash.  Yes well, we're working on that one, which is slowing things down somewhat.  But as you can see, we have made quite a bit of progress, from the outside anyway. 

All the Victorian windows carted out from England ten years ago have gone in now, blended with what will be strips of modern louvres for ventilation.

And... I'm losing my sense of humour after now a year of living in a garage/studio, with no laundry, or privacy.  "Why are you whispering Mum, you know we can hear everything you are saying". 

A bit like waiting to give birth, some things seem to go on FOREVER.  Blahhh!


Garden Before and In-between Shots

Planting out a garden is primarily an exercise in patience.   Only the very rich and greatly assisted can create an instant amazing garden.  For the rest of us it takes planning, patience and time.  Lots of time. 

I posted about this last time year about the wonderful Apace nursery from which I bought a load of cheap Australian native tubestock to plant in our laneway.  They were tiddly little sprigs of nothing at the time so I thought I should update to show how they have progressed.   I've actually had to cut this all back heaps already because they have been growing lilke billy-oh.

Below is garden bed I planted out in about November with succulents etc.  Every single  plant in here was either a cutting gift from a friend or someone who is not a friend but who's plants hang over their fences.  I know the proper names of virtually no plants, but never forget a gorgeous plant I've seen.  I'm so envious of the brains of people who can casualy drop some latin name of  the plant they happen to be standing next to. 

There's still a way to go here, for all that creeping purple leaf stuff to take off over winter and fill in all the gaps. 

These clay pipes came out of the building site when they took down the old washouse.  They don't make em like that any more.  Today pipes are all white plastic and look like they will last about six months.

Now that summer is well and truly over it is time to start planting again here in Perth.  I might be a bit over zealous, planting into a building site that will still see plenty of clumpy boots and choc milk cartons, but I've bunged in some more Apace tubestock down the side of the new side extension. 

There is a coastal salty-sagey-looking thing in there, and in beween is 'Running Postman' which will creep around and cover all that ground.  Now that's one name that is hard to forget, what a lovely image Running Postman counjours, which also has little letter-box-red flowers.    I planted some last year, this is what it looks like after 12 months.

My garden design principals are to get stuff in that will grow in the place of weeds, with minimum water or effort.  Once that is achieved there is time for fancy smancy flowers etc.  And maybe learning the names of them too.


Brian Clopper eat your heart out

The extension walls are up and suddenly there is a sea of brickwork in our backyard.  Which is good, because at one point I was about to go and do a bricklaying course as we could not find a bricklayer for love or money.  Both of which I'm feeling a bit low on at the moment after the recent trials in our renovation experience.  But find a team we did, and they have done rather a fine job I believe.  They have also been OK with working around our Victorian steel windows from England, which have caused a bit of head scratching.  Here are some pictures.

Our project is somewhat different to most of the building work that has been going on in this neck of the woods over the past years.  Most brick buildings are constructed with midis (get me with my brickie speak) and then rendered to give a flat finish.  We have built with quite a lot of face brick (or exposed brick) both inside and out.   Once the second storey (not brick) is up the brickwork will hopefully be not quite so inyaface.  Otherwise we run the risk of being referenced to the work of Brian Clopper. who was a very successful architect in Perth in the 1970s through to the 1990s.  No offence to Brian, I really like his buildings with their earthy tones and rustic materials, but when the modernist resurgence hit domestic design in the 1990s anything that looked like this immediately became a bit daggy and dated.

Brian Klopper’s Raphael Street townhouses.

But I bet there will be more of Brian's buildings still standing in 100 years time than some of the stuff going up today, mark my words. 

 Hopetoun Terrace House (1983).
Anyway, they say fashion is cyclical and hopefully we are pioneers in relaunching a more rustic and earthy (meets victorian industrial colliding with 21st century utilitarian) feel.   Reading that I realise we are sailing dangerously close to the seasick winds of design dog's breakfast, but I like to think passing by and through into the calm waters of contemporary classic.

In the blood

I wrote last about our experience at the swapmeet, in an attempt to relieve our home of a slither of the pile of vintage tatt I've spent (happy) years collecting.   I've vowed, no more opshopping.  Or maybe just a remission.

The lady over the road died last year and a new guy, Colin, has moved into her house.  It is a fantastic mid century 60s house with basement carport, lots of built in teak cabinets and wood pannelling.  He's a nice enough guy but has no appreciation of the period details that I love and is gradually 'modernising' it, perish the thought.  He's starting with replacing all the bakelite light switches. 

We've just had our regular council verge collection, or  'bring out your dead' as I like to call it.   I had to stop when I came home the other day via Colin's house and noticed these canisters he was in the process of putting on the verge.

Colin!  Those are collectable!  I said, followed quickly with the assurance that of course I don't covet things like that and would not be requiring them.  But I do have a friend who might like them.  That will be my alter ego that still can't overide vintage scavenger gene.

Well, there is a  bit of space up in the loft now, so maybe I can just find somewhere to stash them.  Interestingly, of the selection of things that we did actually get rid of at the carboot was four cannisters very similar to this.

And when I got the home and gave them a clean... what do you know, a bonus unopened bag of flour.   Can the day get any better?


Enough Stuff

One day, about three months ago, I awoke one morning and suddenly decided that I needed to get rid of a load of stuff.  Maybe the subconscious weight of all those boxes of crap up in the loft had been sending me telepathic messages in my sleep, but suddenly I felt and overriding urge to purge (most of) the spoils that have come from years of scrounging around op shops, car boots, markets, second hand shops for vintage homewares.   We loaded up the car on Saturday night and set off for a local car boot market in the dark on a Sunday morning.

We thought we were being very clever going early and getting there just before 5am to get set up.  Fools!  Most people had been there since the night before.   We could hardly get a space!  In the inky darkness we erected trestles and unpacked boxes, at which point the vultures descended and I could hardly move for sharp elbowed dealers with headtorches picking over my stuff as soon as it came out of the newspaper.  It was all a bit scary.

The morning rolled on, the sun rose, and a steady flow of people came and relieved me of some of the treasures I've spent years collecting.   Interestingly the real collectible stuff (Tracy Island, 30s kitchen cannisters) did not sell, but odd incidental things did.  Maybe I was asking too much.  Well, I wasn't going to give it away.

Yes, I did have a bit of headache by 10am when it was time to start packing up.  Seems early but after having been there for five hours we'd had a gutfull and were happy to leave.  I made a tidy $450 and learnt the valuable lesson of how much work is involved in getting rid of things, and to try and avoid shopping for leisure.  Now I have to  decide what to do with the leftovers.  Some I'll box up and keep, some will go back to the opshop.

But don't worry, in reality what has been sold is just the tip of the iceberg, and there will always be a healthy spread of kitch krap littering my home.  I really need to do it again, drop some prices and make a real difference.... but the thought of that dawn raid is just too horrendous.