Tuesday, March 18, 2014

the kitchen renovation: another update

So two things that have still not happened: 1. My baby has not been born. 2. My kitchen is not finished. No real surprise there with either of them, though! Baby is now four days overdue and just when I think things might be kicking into gear, they stop and it's back to just UGH. The kitchen on the other hand, is getting closer. The windows went in a while back, then the plasterer finally came and fixed the walls and then finally came back to sand and then the electrician after a few delays managed to get the rangehood in and so all the major work is now done. HURRAH! So it's just up to us now to paint, sand and stain the floors and put the fridge in the right space. Oh and tile the splashback - it's just going to be the simple white subway tiles again - same as the bathroom for a bit of consistency. And also because I just love them. I did it myself last time, so here's hoping I'll be able to do a smaller area just as well.

At this stage my plan is just to tile under the windows and up to the rangehood - the tradies kept asking if I was planning to tile on the wall to the left as well but I just can't imagine that looking great having one wall tiled and the other not. Your thoughts? 

I was worried the windows might look funny being so small, but I'm so glad I went with windows on either side of the rangehood and not walls. And cheers to the builders to suggesting we square-set the windows and not architrave them as was originally planned - I questioned the squishiness of it and they came up with some other options - don't always think you HAVE to stick to plan A. It was worth the very long wait! Architraves would have looked so busy and weird between the wall and the pantry. 

And on the other side of the space is a black wall - Dulux Domino. It needs a second coat and a serious touch up thanks to the disastrous painter's tape I used. I have used millions of them now and this one was just terrible (Unipro?) - not sure if it was just a bad batch or what but it just might as well have not been used. I'm trying a Japanese washi-tape version for the glass doors - will let you know how we go with those once they're done. 

We're pretty exhausted in the home DIY department at the moment - a few storms in the past few weeks brought to light an existing problem we never noticed before: the roof leaks. Always good. It used to just leak against the back wall and wasn't noticeable at all (well we never noticed it - just assumed it was wet from the TERRIBLE patio job that someone erected out the back before we bought the house. The whole thing might as well not be there - water comes in everywhere) but since the doors have now replaced the wall, when it leaked it was leaking onto our doors, over the top of them and inside. We freaked out about our unprimed doors warping and everything being ruined and got priming ASAP once they dried. The builders made a few trial-and-error fixes (there were a few things it could have been!) and a few rain storms later, we're no longer leaking. Yay! Doors are still only primed though.... We'll get to it when baby arrives. Well Steve might - he's been my painter lately (bathroom needs one more coat!) and the cubbyhouse builder. And the hardware stalker. It's been weird  NOT being the person to hit the hardware for timber or paint and other bits and pieces... I kinda miss it. But honestly, I'm struggling to walk now - sore back, broken toe (I nearly did the splits in the rain a few weeks back - if my toe hadn't stopped me, am pretty sure I'd have broken legs and given birth on the ground. Or something. At least the baby would have been here...) and huge baby belly = awkward. 

Nordic Taburet Counter Stool, Click On Furniture // Tractor Stool, Freedom // Replica Tolix, Everywhere

We also finally decided on stools for the kitchen island - there were a few options. I had my heart set on some Danish-style timber ones I saw on Instagram ($$$) Then I saw the price - $325 each. Considering we need 4 of them, it was never going to happen. Then I fell for the Freedom tractor stools ($$) but there is several months wait. Steve found some $15 timber stools at a shop near his work - FIFTEEN DOLLARS EACH!!!!!!! But then decided he'd prefer something metal so we're back to the Tolix ($). He loves them, I love them, so it's settled. I've seen some absolute bargain ones at The Reject Shop and at Mitre 10 for less than $40 each so the hunt is on. For the price of one tractor stool or half a Taburet, I can get all four. Which in my clever mind means I have saved so much money I can spend it on more frivolous, pretty things like this collapsible copper basket I fell for from Dear September. Fruit bowl, perhaps? 

In other renovating news, I picked up the latest Real Living mag last night and was looking forward to the kitchen and bathroom special (despite having already done them both!) and I was, well... disappointed. I just didn't feel there was anything helpful in there at all - aside from the tips in Deb's letter. The pics were pretty, yes. But just pretty. Not totally practical. Too trendy. Too expensive. Too... unrealistic. I'm not here to pick on magazines - I love them! ESPECIALLY Real Living - I still think of it as my baby. But it's not what it was meant to be anymore and while I love the direction it's going for prettiness and gorgeous covers, I feel there is a big gap in the market again for real tips/real-life living/real budgets/real needs. Pinterest and blogs have caused mags to up their game - I have no doubt. But usually only in terms of inspiring images. And to be perfectly honest, I've seen projects in the mags that I've already seen on Pinterest. And as for great information, I get it all now from endless google and blog searches because I find I just don't believe top interior designers are speaking to me when they reveal their "top tips". I have come across the odd great tip every now and then, but I just can't relate most of them or their work. And one more rant: one would think only architects, interior designers/stylists, graphic and fashion designers or shop owners are the only people with nice homes! Bit tired of seeing the same old designery interiors - surely there are teachers or police officers or something out there who have some taste and creativity!

And so long story short, when I eventually do the final reveal of the bathroom and kitchen, I'm also going to write some helpful things I learnt along the way. I'll include prices and contacts and links and honest reviews of products. And if you have specific questions or things you'd like to know about for your own upcoming reno, please ask away and I'll see if I can address those too. Let me know in the comments what you'd like to know about the process. 

Fingers crossed my next post will be an introduction to our newest addition! One can only hope.... 

{top three images by Belinda Graham for The Happy Home}


  1. I agree with everything you said about Real Living. I just finished reading it tonight and was thinking the same thing about the "real homes".

    Your kitchen is coming along nicely, it will look gorgeous no doubt. And good luck with bub no.4! You're a brave woman :)

  2. Here here Belinda. I too just Love Real Living magazine and am an avid interiors magazines reader. I do love real living because I love how so many of the houses seem lovely warm and rustic and even maybe attainable for an average family like myself. Unlike other magazines where it every house is gorgeous but has million dollar reno's.... And it would be great to occasionally see a beautiful reno on a small itemised budget! Lets hope they keep it 'real' for us budget savvy interior decorator/renovators. Goodluck with the bub, I hope she comes soon. Marnie x

  3. The scotch brand orange tape was my friend when painting recently. It wasnt cheap but it made a great finished product. I wouldnt skimp on paint so didnt skimp there either. Hope you have more luck w future tape!! Also, more importantly.... Sending you my best wishes for a safe delivery of your sweet baby.

  4. Kitchen looks amazing, I love the square set windows! For some reason I thought you were tiling the whole wall behind the cooktop/rangehood! I totally agree about Real Living too. I loved it for years, and now it's just not the same, it's not 'real' anymore - especially not with a very tall, very leggy, distinctly 'not real' model on the cover every month. And there are so few Australian homes being shown, I get that Scandinavian homes are lovely, I do (I painted my floors white, I get it!), but I can see those homes on online. I want to see beautiful, Real, Australian homes, that belong to Real, Australian people, that don't have thousands of dollars to spend on each and every item. My husband gave me a subscription for Christmas, and I'm just not loving it (not that I would tell him that!). Such a shame, it used to be a great magazine. Whoops, rant over!

  5. Love this post. The kitchen looks great & your mag rant gave me a giggle. Here's hoping your little one is ready to arrive soon.

  6. I'd love to see your tips, real prices & time frames too!

  7. Love your work Belinda! Kitchen looks amazing. I'm not sure about tiling only up to window sill - multiple levels going on with window range hood and walls...but I'm sure it will look great because you're doing it!!
    I agree re Real Living - I persist in buying it but I'm really over the foreign homes (if I want that I'll read Vogue Living or Belle) and the leggy models!! It's definitely lost touch with the "real" part of its credo! Deb Bibby's editorial is the best part:)
    All the best for your new baby...hoping it goes smoothly!!!

  8. Hi Belinda, i couldn't agree more about Real Living (which i've taken to calling either Real Acid Trip or Real Ridiculous of late). I have every single issue since the very first in my study and have started the culling process and am amazed at how many of them i am throwing out. I have a couple of issues left on my subscription and i won't be renewing it. Such a shame, it used to be awesome.
    Hurry up bubs!
    PS. Kitchen looks amazing, we did ours 2 years ago and still haven't bought bar stools, so any help in that area is much appreciated!

  9. Looking lovely! Great lights! Though I don't envy you the job painting the ceiling...

    I tend to get a RealLiving subscription for my birthday, because my man loves the way I sit in bed reading it, holding it very close to my face (having removed my lenses) and going oooooohhh and ahhhhhhh and "Look at this!". There hasn't been much of that lately, I just find myself disengaging from it, and I'm also starting to find the covers quite generic, loads of bold patterns plus some long-legged beauty in the midst of it all...

  10. Belinda you are so on the mark re: print mags in Australia (and around the world for that matter) and let's not start about the fluffy projects and tips - who is their target market, the home renovator or someone having coffee in a café?
    I love your kitchen and the windows. Tradies can surprise you and this is a great suggestion. Subway all the way for me - literally, all over this wall! Will you tile our the window recess? I'll attach a pin showing the corner capping you could use. Sorry pic ended up in my camera roll and I don't have source.

    Hope babe is out and all is well :)

  11. Hello! I just stumbled upon your blog & I love your new kitchen :)
    I must say I totally agree with you about Real Living. I've always had a penchant for interiors/home decor but equally like to find a good bargain. When RL came out I thought 'Yes, finally!' but it wasn't long before the features & products weren't speaking to me anymore...design-wise or financially, so disappointing! Who can afford $300 cushion covers ? And are those people reading RL anyway?
    It's been a week since you posted. I hope that means your sweet little cherub has arrived safe & well. Enjoy those precious newborn moments x

  12. The kitchen looks amazing. The designer has done a very good job. I have also renovated my kitchen by a kitchen remodeling contractor in bridgewater. 

  13. The windows on either side of the rangehood are awesome. I myself would like having a view of the outside while I'm cooking just so it doesn't seem so boring. The hanging lights above the countertop also add to the feel of that relaxed atmosphere. Love it!

  14. Thanks for share, i appreciate your work and i must say that you done it very well