All the final photos (Part 2)

As promised here is part 2 of the final photos. If you missed part 1 you can find it here.



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Details below. For extra details check the older posts as I gave a lot of supplier details in each of them.

Builder: Scott Salisbury Homes

Kitchen, Bathroom and all joinery: Alby Turner Kitchens

All Tiles: Beaumont Tiles

Timber floors and carpet: Choices Flooring

Paint: Wattyl

Pool: Narellan Pools

Pavers: Maison Design

Thanks for following this blog and our building journey. I hope you’ve been inspired by the process! Massive thanks again to Scott Salisbury Homes and Alby Turner & Sons Kitchens, who we worked with closely to create our dream home and had such a wonderful experience with. And who knows, we might decide to build again and I’ll see you again then!

Amity xx

Saving some money for landscaping

So often I see pictures of lovely new houses where everything is just right…except the garden, which is either unfinished or very plain. It’s always such a shame, because the garden has such a big impact on the overall look of the house. However of course I know all too well why this happens, because the owner runs out of money and limps to the finish line just to get the damn house done!

So with that in mind, we are already thinking about and saving for our garden design. Remember Dea and Daz’s amazing terrace they revealed at the end of The Block Triple Threat? I think they said it cost something like $20K, which they had put aside knowing it was going to be a big cost and an important feature. That’s pretty rare to have that much money left on the last week of The Block and only happens if you win enough for it to be possible, but they were smart to do it and it paid off (in a massive way.)

However, as I’m learning, by doing some things now we will be saving money down the track, as it all costs more to do when there’s a house to work around. I was really surprised when our order of works with Scott Salisbury Homes had the pool going in first, as I just presumed that would happen at the end. But of course it makes sense to put it in at the start when you have easy access to the site, and the cost of labour is going to be a lot more when you have to get cranes and bobcats around a house.

There are other things we are doing now, like putting in the footings for the pool fence and getting the levels right for the future retaining wall. Our earth shifter (I think that’s his title!) even suggested we get the loam for the grass in now, as it would cost less while the yard was still easy to access. Firstly I had to check what loam was and whether we really needed it, but once I was across it I agreed it made sense. It is one of those costs you never think about when you’re budgeting, but boy do those costs add up fast. Especially when you have a block as big as ours. Fencing, loam, turf, plants, paving, lighting…yikes.

Which gets us back to why finished houses often have bare gardens!


The pool is already in and boarded over. See how much room we have to landscape? It’s huge. This isn’t even all the way back.

I am no landscape designer but the way I see it designing gardens is not that different to designing interiors. It’s about creating layers, having texture and interest and then enhancing it with good lighting and some wow factor. You also need to think about how you use the garden and what your family needs from it. Don’t forget to consider practical things like where the clothesline will go and how you get the bins out at night. These things will end up being much more important than which flowers you put in (that is really a note to myself more than anyone.)

We knew we wanted lots of flat grass for the kids to play in, but also want it to feel lush and private. I love gardens that feel like an oasis, with thick walls of greenery and hedges bordering pools.

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Basically, I want this. Except you have to fence the pool in Australia. And having grass up to a pool is a mowing nightmare. And we don’t have a gardener to tend to our garden. So basically, our garden is not going to look anything like this. But it’s nice to dream.

I also want it to be relatively low maintenance and kid friendly. Unlike the Chinese star jasmine I tried to grow along our current back wall, which got kicked with a soccer ball so many times it just couldn’t take it anymore and gave up (I understand completely how it feels at times.)

I am meeting with the landscape designer next week and will take lots of pictures of what I like. I also have a pretty good idea of which plants I want, with ornamental pear trees creating a screen down one side and Murraya hedges to create borders. I love gardenia too, they probably aren’t that soccer ball friendly though, so might need to go in the front!

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I love these ornamental pear trees. They also look stunning in Spring with their blossom.

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This is Todd McKenney’s house, featured in Home Beautiful magazine. I want this hedge. Immediately. I do realise it takes many years of growth to achieve, but would rather not focus on that part.

Another thing I am so excited about is the little wooden shed from the original house, which is now the last thing standing. It’s built on a concrete slab so I had the idea to add windows, paint it and turn it into a cubby house. Which was a great idea, but it’s looking a little shabby now and is going to look even more so when it’s next to a brand new house. So we’re going to replace the timber cladding with the same weatherboard cladding as the house, to make a mini version of the house. There may be little chandeliers involved. Can you hear me squealing at the thought of how cute it will be?!!

Current cubby house…..


Future cubby house. Could it be any cuter!

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I know we will be spending so much time in the garden so want it to feel like a cohesive extension of the house design, with the same wow factor and family friendly feel. I’d also love to get it done before we move in, while we still have the motivation (and money) to achieve what we want. I’m just hoping it’s not a case of famous last words and I have to write again in 6 months to tell you we’re completely tapped out and our kids are playing in a big pile of loam.


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You can check out more of my garden inspiration on my Pinterest boards. The frames go up this week, so more pics soon!

Amity xx









Creating the Australian dream

The hole for our new pool was dug this morning, so I started work at tradie hours to be on site and make sure it was put in the right place. Something that was worth setting the alarm and leaving the house on a sunny, yet frosty, 6 degree morning for.



I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid if you had an in-ground pool in your backyard you had made it. Sure, we knew some people with a rickety above ground pool, which even in the height of summer was always freezing and slightly murky to swim in, but those people with a heated in-ground pool, well they were fancy.

It’s funny how those little childhood perceptions stay with you into adulthood, meaning that even now when I look at pictures of the pool that will go into our house, I quietly think to myself, ‘We’re going to be a little bit fancy.’

We were definitely not fancy enough for a pool when I was growing up, but 9 years ago my parents bought a house with a pool and it was VERY fancy. It was a gorgeous backyard, it had even been photographed and used as an ad for the pool company, so we still occasionally see it in magazines and feel a bit sad that they no longer have that house. But at the time their purchase was perfect for us, we had just moved back to Adelaide with our new baby and were at their house every week, so many a summer day was spent in that pool. In fact, it was the perfect scenario for us all round, we could drop in and use the pool whenever we wanted, even inviting friends over and hosting parties, but we didn’t have to pay for it or clean it. What’s not to love about that?!

But a year ago they decided to downsize and we all sadly bid farewell to the house and pool. And I promised my mum we would put a pool in our new house and they could come over and swim in it whenever they wanted (which made her feel less guilty about taking the kids favourite summer past time away from them!)

I always presumed that when that day came we would get a concrete pool, seeing as they are the ‘fanciest.’ However, when we’d bought our block and I started looking into it I realised there was pros and cons for both concrete and fiberglass, with the main points being:

– Fiberglass pools are WAY cheaper. Big plus there.

– The warranty was typically longer for fiberglass pools, because concrete pools can crack and need repairs. This is a big plus in Adelaide where dry soil and cracking can be a big issue.

– Concrete pools can be shaped in any design whereas with fiberglass you’re limited to their designs. However I liked a lot of the designs I saw and didn’t want anything other than a simple rectangle anyway, so this wasn’t an issue.

– Fiberglass pools stay warmer.

Ultimately I couldn’t see any reason that the significantly higher cost of concrete was worth it. The photos of fiberglass pools I saw looked pretty fancy to me, as long as you get the pool coping right, having it overlap over the edge of the pool. In that case you can hardly even tell it’s fiberglass unless you’re right up close. And I figure if it looks fancy from afar, the kids certainly won’t care what it’s made out of when they’re in it.

After looking at photos and hearing recommendations we went with Narellan Pools and ordered their Symphony pool, which is their most popular shape.

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Looks pretty fancy to me. I also liked that it had a step all the way round for the little ones. Seeing as our pool will now become the ‘family’ pool that’s a plus for my toddler niece and nephew.

The colour we chose is the Grey Quartz, which is a grey fiberglass but when it has water in it makes it a soft turquoise shade that’s reminiscent of the crystal clear waters of Tahiti or Fiji. Don’t you want to just jump in there now!

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We also chose the mineral pool instead of the salt one, which is a new option to Narellan Pools and is marketed as having the therapeutic health benefits of magnesium, which is absorbed through your skin. Apparently it magically washes away aches, pains, stress and improves your health and well being every time you swim. Wouldn’t that be nice! It’s also gentle on the environment through the low salinity of the water, so sounded like a pretty good option to me. We also spent a little extra getting it electrically heated, because I was told we’d get an extra 6 weeks of swimming a year out of it.

A pool is undoubtedly a big investment, but the way I see it it will also save us money in not needing to go out if we’re all happy to hang out at home all summer. Also, as the kids get older if you have a pool they are more likely to bring friends over to your place rather than going out. So if having a bunch of rowdy teenagers hanging out at our house means I know where they are I’m ok with that. Not that I can even think about my two being rowdy teenagers, but sadly they will be before I know it!

But for now I’m just looking forward to having friends and family over for a BBQ, sitting on the deck with a glass in hand and watching the kids play, feeling just a little bit fancy. :)

Garden demolition (and Phil nearly loses a limb.)

Yesterday was a gorgeous day in Adelaide and we had a rare weekend day with nothing on, so we thought we’d get stuck into the garden. As I may have mentioned the garden needs a lot of work to get it to what we want, so we thought we’d start on the bits we can while the house plans are being finished and lodged. Plus, I am impatient to get started and this is one thing we can do straight away!

The first thing I couldn’t wait to get rid of was the bird aviary. The previous owner obviously loved animals because there is a bird aviary, chook pen, another wired animal enclosure and a dove house. We’re still deciding whether to keep the chook pen and the dove house (it’s very cute looking but I’m not sure) but the second wire enclosure and the bird aviary had to go. We also couldn’t wait to start pulling out some of the plants and small trees that have seen better days, to make room for the ones we want. So we pulled out our Blundstone boots for the first time since The Block and got stuck  into some hard work. And hard work it was! Eight hours later our bodies were aching, but the sense of accomplishment was huge. What a great feeling it is to work on your own property and know that you’re not only making it beautiful but increasing the value.

So this is what the avery looked liked before.



It’s part of a big vined archway that runs down the middle of the garden. Originally we were going to get rid of the whole thing, but then a friend told me about the beautiful archway in her friends country property and got me all inspired. Her friend has a table under hers and hosts lunches with fairy lights hanging from the vines and I can imagine it’s an absolutely magical setting. Of course I love the sound of that, but right now ours is too narrow to fit a table under and it’s taking up too much room in the yard, so it needs some major redesigning. So we decided for now we would just remove the aviary part and then once the house and pool foundations are set we can work out how much of it we can keep and how it can work within our design. Right now I am imagining it diving the pool and the grassed side of the garden. We can put an outdoor sofa or daybed in it, some hanging pendant lights and then you have the perfect outdoor feature and shady spot to lounge by the pool and read a book. Heaven!

Besides, established garden features like this take decades to achieve and we loved the idea of having such an established garden complementing our new house. It will give the house a lived in feeling, rather than looking like a new show home, which is what I want.


The entrance to the archway. It needs some major pruning!

So, back to project aviary. I have to say, it didn’t start well.

I swear, we couldn’t even make this stuff up! Anyone who watched The Block (or this video) will know that Phil is not a natural handyman. In fact, he’s more like a bull in a china shop. Anything that requires delicate work, or patience, or not breaking anything, he’s not your man. But what he lacks in handyman skill he makes up for in brute strength. He has the shoulders of a Royal Show wood-chopper and when it comes to demolition he’s worth his weight in gold. Having said that, at times he has absolutely no common sense, as this video proves….

Luckily he eventually listened to us and no limbs were lost in the process. He is playing it up of course, but you do have to take things seriously when you’re dealing with power tools, ladders and home and garden repairs. Did you know the biggest reason for hospital admissions for middle aged men on the weekends is injuries from exactly that?

It took many more hours than we expected, but eventually the last piece of the aviary came down. It was so great seeing the garden open up and start to get a feel for how it will look. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s progress. Eventually we will take out the lower beams to open it up even more, but there’s plenty of time for all that.


We also got stuck into the rest of the garden and at the end of the day had a great big junk pile (and very sore muscles!) It was great having the kids help and be part of the process, Jamison in particular. It not only got them outside (and off the iPads) but I love that they’re seeing just what goes into creating a beautiful home. Hopefully they feel even more of a pride and connection to the place when it’s done, knowing they helped make it happen.



Our next weekend project is to turn the old wooden shed into a Hamptons style cubby house. So we removed the old door and window and started to sand it back, ready for the next free day we have.


I have a feeling we’ll be spending a lot of time in this garden over the holidays and I can’t wait. I love a project and we’ve certainly got one with this place!