It’s okay to change your mind.

Once I was at the supermarket, a little while after The Block All Stars had been on, and a woman approached me and told me she was decorating her home but had no idea what she was doing. ‘How do you know what goes with what?’ she asked me. To which I replied ‘I have no idea, you just kind of do!’

I realise that advice was extremely unhelpful, but honestly I don’t know how I know, I can just tell if something works or not. I can picture things in my head, both with interiors and outfits, and just know if they’ll work or not. Most of the time I’m right, but not always. And in those instances I can usually tell after a while that it’s not working and then I will change it.

You know that feeling when you wear an outfit that you thought looked OK in the morning, but then all day you just don’t feel that great in it? In those instances I’m getting better at knowing not to wear it when I don’t feel 100% about it from the start, or better still not buy it in the first place. But I still get it wrong sometimes, and it’s the same with your home. A space should make you feel good when you look at it, from the colours of the walls to the pieces you put in it, and if it doesn’t it’s okay to change your mind and change it.

I spent so much time deciding on the colours of this house (I’m doing a full post on all our paint colours soon) because I know how important colours are for setting the feel of the house. Even white is not just white. There are hundreds of shades that seem to look exactly the same at first glance, but each will have slightly more blue, or green, or yellow, or pink and when you paint a whole wall with them that can completely change the look of a room.

I am always telling people, if you don’t like the colours of your walls – paint them! It’s not that hard and you will be amazed with how it changes how you feel about the space. Also, when it comes to decorating, none of us get it right all the time. You’d be surprised how often Block contestants change everything the night before reveal, or even after reveal, because they’re not happy with it.

Remember with All Stars Dan and Dani painted their first bedroom about three times, because they weren’t happy with the shade of grey? At the time I thought that was a bit over the top, but now I get it. It’s better to change it and be happy with it, than live with it and feel like it’s not right.

When I first started decorating this house I had a firm idea of what I wanted to do, which was mostly blue and white throughout the house, with natural and duck egg tones in the living room. But then I would go to stores (Adairs is a big culprit!) that had fabulous bright colours and I would leave with bags full of cushions and colourful accessories. Then an artist friend of mine, Belinda Benton, sent me a photo of a new artwork she had painted and I loved it. The colours were totally on trend and matched all the cushions I’d bought so I decided to change my look and go with those colours in the living room.

Except that every time I walked into the room, as much as I loved the artwork, I felt like it wasn’t quite right. So I kept the tags on the cushions in case and I gave it a few more days and after then I knew that look wasn’t working with the house and I had to go back to my original plan. So I exchanged the cushions, returned the art (actually, a friend bought it for her house!) and I went back to my original plan. I bought the Designer Boys artwork I had my eye on for the last year, I took out all the bright colours and replaced them with muted tones and I knew instantly that it worked.

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By the looks on her face, Bessie isn’t sure if it’s working either! I LOVE the artwork, but it wasn’t right for the space. Art by Belinda Benton, find her on Instagram.

In another room I knew the artwork above the couch was right for the room, but was too small. So I thought about getting a matching print and putting them side by side, but then realised the mirror I had in the hallway (that I thought would work there but didn’t, because it was reflecting a blank wall) would be perfect. It needed more blue cushions so it wasn’t too much white on white, but as soon as I put it there and moved the other print to the side wall I knew it was perfect. Now whenever I walk past that room I feel happy.

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Nice, but not quite right….

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Perfect!

Trust your gut. I even trusted my gut with the pool paving, when the pattern wasn’t quite right.  They’d only put six big pavers in before leaving for the day and when I looked at it that afternoon I knew it wasn’t right and would bother me endlessly. So I called the paver and asked if it was too late to pull it up if it wasn’t dry yet. He said I could, so Phil and I pulled them up and hosed them down so they could relay them the next day and I’m so glad we did. Luckily in that instance we could do it and it wasn’t that much for them to redo, but it’s another example of trusting yourself if something isn’t quite right.

There have been other instances where furniture isn’t perfect for a room and you can’t always return or replace everything, so in that case I move it to other rooms and keep trying things until it feels right. I may do this for the next 6 months, but that’s OK!

Don’t be afraid to try things, paint things, move things and experiment. You don’t have to spend big money to make your home beautiful, you just need to put some time and thought into it. And have a patient family who just roll their eyes when you say you’re moving things around – again!

Amity x

Variations – make sure you’re prepared.

So it turns out there is a word in the English language I previously didn’t think much about, but now realise when you’re building a home it suddenly carries a whole lot more significance. Variation.

According to the dictionary the word variation means ‘A change or difference in condition, amount, or level, typically within certain limits.’ But to those of us who are building it means, ‘This is going to cost you more money.’

As I’m discovering in my ‘building in the real world and not on The Block’ experience, when you change your mind about something, or you want something that’s different to the standard inclusions of your contract, it’s called a variation. And variations can make or break your budget.

I was probably ruined by doing The Block (in so many ways!) because it gave me such a false sense of how the building process works. I mean, of course I knew building an entire kitchen in a week was insane, but it’s the little things that I’ve found to be so different as well. On The Block every decision is made at the last minute and if you change your mind and redo something it’s good drama, so everyone just goes with it. But in the real world no one is as excited about your spontaneous last minute decisions to change things, so if you decide you want to move where your pendant light goes after they’ve cut the hole, that’s a variation. I’m learning in the real world, and understandably, changes to the plan cost time and money.

It’s not just changes at the last minute though (and I haven’t done that many!). It’s anything that falls outside your original contract and agreed price that you should be aware of, because it can catch you out if you’re not prepared. Particularly with the cheaper house and land packages, this can be a huge pitfall. With some of those (you know the ones where you can’t believe you can get a house so cheap) you really do get what you pay for. That’s not to say they’re not an excellent option for people looking to get in to the housing market, they are. But for that price you will only get a very basic list of inclusions and anything else will be considered a variation. This can be a particular issue with things like electrics, where there is only one standard ceiling light and powerpoint per room allocated, or in the bathroom, where only larger tiles are quoted and anything smaller will be an additional expense.

So, when you are working out your contract and budgeting for the overall spend I would definitely advise anyone to budget for variations. Because even those of us who know what we want are bound to have some last minute changes and additions. So, it’s best to be prepared for them.

Here is a list of the areas and examples of where you could expect to encounter cost increases due to variations……

Paint. I wanted white gloss paint on the windows, doors and trimmings, but that requires a minimum of four coats to look good, on unpainted timber, something I didn’t realise when I chose it. The standard most builders budget for is two coats, so if you need extra that will cost more in both paint and labour. Luckily our builder Scott Salisbury Homes’ standard is three coats, but in this instance they’ve had to do four. I was told this would be a variation, but as I really wanted that look I still did it. It”ll look amazing, but next time I will know to expect this.

Lights. I don’t think there has ever been a build where the owners haven’t increased both the lights and the powerpoints that come as standard. But beware, downlights can prove to be expensive! Also, keep in mind if you want switches and points that are nicer than the ‘basic’ range that will probably cost you, as will adding dimmers to your lights. It’s the little things that add up! All building companies have a different package of what they include, with the more prestigious builders typically offering a much higher standard. Either way, this is somewhere that is open to variation based on your tastes and wants, so is something to think about when you’re working on your contract and lighting plan.

Carpet and floors. Again, you get what you pay for and the standard will vary from builder to builder. But, if you’re like me and have expensive taste, chances are you could fall in love with something that is outside the included range. Why do I never pick the cheaper one!

Tiles and tilers. This one came a bit of a surprise to me, but it does make sense. Most builders base their budget for tilers on a standard 600 x 400 tile which is pretty quick and easy to lay. So, if you choose a small mosaic, or subway tile, or anything that requires a more complicated patter, shape or size to lay, it’s going to cost more. So when small tiles and patterns like herringbone are what is on trend, this can be an unexpected cost.

Appliances, fixtures and fittings. Again, most builders have standard packages which include certain brands and ranges for kitchen and bathroom fit outs, so if you want something different it’ll be a variation. Although this one can go up or down depending on what you choose, so you could even save money here if you’re prepared to chose a more economical range.

Finally, another area you should be wary of with extra costs as part of the total build is landscaping. If you have a block with even a slight slope from street level, it will affect your budget with additional soil removal to get a flat surface to build on. Also retaining walls and fences that need concrete plinths to maintain the new level. This can add tens of thousands to the overall costs, so it is definitely another one to be mindful of and discuss with your landscaper upfront.

One thing we’ve found in the process of building our own house is communication is an absolute necessity. Be part of the process of your build. Talk thoroughly with your builder to understand not only what your inclusions are, but also the processes and steps. Don’t allow yourself to be swept away by choosing the colours and textures of the inside – these are just the icing on the cake. It’s the total structure of the home that you want to spend the most time, money and consideration on. You can always upgrade your carpet later!

In other news, everything is tracking along really quickly now and we have a full house of tradies working at the same time. The painters have started on the exterior and ceilings, the kitchen has gone in (I’m keeping that under wraps for now!) all the joinery is pretty much done and the lights go in in the coming days. Now, this is the fun part!

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It was all action this week.

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Our painters, John and Andrew. I’m so glad they are doing this and not us. They also like to sing while they work, which I appreciate!

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In the coming weeks they will take the board off the pool, connect it up and pave around it. I can’t wait to see some grenery, although it will be a while yet before it’s all finished. But we’re getting there!

Amity x

Things are going to go wrong

Things are moving really quickly now and it’s so great to see visual changes every day. Still not as fast as The Block, but I’m realising more and more how crazy that was. Doing bathrooms and kitchens in a week is insane!

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Everyone was always working on top of each other to get to deadline….

And when you go that quickly things are bound to go wrong. But really, there’s probably never been a build anytime, ever, where at least one thing hasn’t wrong. It’s the nature of building. And we’ve been no exception, with a few minor set backs over the last week. Just the kind of minor but annoying set back that’s to be expected in a build, but that you’d get a whole nights drama from on The Block. You know what I mean, the dramatic music would play underneath, Keith would come to visit and shake his head and Scotty would do his serious voice-over while they did a close up of my worried face! Sadly for my theatrical self there is no dramatic music or Scotty voice-overs when things go wrong on a real build. And having a minor set back is certainly not the disaster it is when you only have a week to present a room. It is annoying when things get held up, because that often results in a flow on effect where other things fall behind, but it’s not the epic drama it is when every day counts.

But the reality with things going wrong is this; no company, or builder, or tradie, or human is ever going to get things right 100% of the time. People make mistakes. But it’s how you deal with those mistakes that shows how good you are at what you do. It’s how quickly you rectify it and minimize the fall out that impresses me, and in every instance this week that happened. Actually, it happened on The Block too, but they gloss over how quickly you fix things. They want the drama of the mistakes, because stuff going right is boring to watch!

Anyway, everything is back on track now and we’ve already caught up on time. All the external timber is finished and ready to be painted and the deck is done and ready for the outdoor kitchen. Our carpenter Mark Burns and his sons did an outstanding job, their workmanship and quality to detail was second to none. Mark may have been a man of few words, but his work speaks in spades and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

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I love the detail of the verandah balustrade.

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Plenty of space for the outdoor furniture!

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Internally the bathroom cabinets have gone in and the tiling is underway and I am in love with the bathrooms already!

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I’m going to resist posting pics other than this little teaser until they’re finished, because I don’t want to ruin the reveal (now who sounds like a TV producer!) but I know you’re going to love them as much as I do. I was inspired by the American bathrooms I see on Pinterest which are classic and elegant so hopefully mine has the same timeless style.

We’ve also got our laundry cupboards in (complete with more storage than I have in our entire current house) and our own puppy palace! When we told our joinery designer at Alby Turner and Sons Kitchens that we’d like to incorporate a space for the puppy we were getting she sent me this pic she found online and asked if i meant something like that.

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Um, yes!!! So she drew it up and now our puppy has her own little space (that she is forbidden to chew!) We’ve even designed a removable food and water bowl ledge and I’ve bought a bed to go in there that matches our splashback tiles. OTT, possibly, but if our rooms will be well styled why shouldn’t our dog have the same?!

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The beginnings of puppy palace. We just need a bed and some wicker baskets (and for the outdoor fence to be replaced!)

Our puppy arrives in five days and to say the kids are excited would be an understatement. I think they’re more excited than Christmas. She is definitely going to be very loved. And I am going to spend the next few weeks training a puppy while managing this build. Are you getting the picture that I tend to bite off more than I can chew?! That’s one thing the puppy and I will have in common – she just better not bite anything off of my joinery! ;)

More soon…xx

Our unexpected home loan experience

When we won The Block All Stars the thing we were most excited about was gaining an instant deposit to buy a house. Everyone knows how hard it is to save a deposit big enough to get into the housing market these days and we were no exception. Renting, running a business and the general cost of living take up enough of your money, let alone saving the significant amount you need to buy a home. No wonder young people are finding it impossible to achieve that goal, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney where the prices are astronomical. Add to that the reality of seeing the market go up and up, and the feeling that if you don’t get in now you never will and it’s a pretty big pressure.

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 Us during our All Stars auction, easily one of the best moments of our lives.
Phil and I had bought and renovated investment properties before, but had never owned our own home. We were happy to rent and live without the burden of a big mortgage over our head, allowing us to travel and invest in our businesses. Besides, whenever something needed fixing it was done for us and there’s a lot to be said for that! But eventually, as we had kids and my passion for interior design grew we yearned to have a place to call our own. Somewhere I could paint a room if the mood struck me and not have to suffer through the inconvenience of inspections and the uncertainty of lease renewals. Somewhere we could build a future.

Soon the freedom we’d felt from renting felt like a weight on us, and the desire to own our own home became all consuming. However, the excitement and possibility of going to open inspections was counterbalanced by the prospect of home loan applications. Now, instead of a home inspection to deal with, we had to face a financial inspection.

We’re both self employed and have been for as long as we’ve been together. And we work in the arts. Can’t you just see the banks rushing to give us a loan?! With creative professions that involve risk and financial uncertainty there can be good months and bad months. We both love what we do and wouldn’t change it for the world, but it does make us a slightly challenging prospect for bank decision makers. So we knew we had to find a bank that would give our application the time and attention it needed.

Straight away my Dad suggested we meet the Customer Relations Manager at Bendigo Bank, Corinne, who he had been dealing with on all their banking matters. He talked about how friendly and helpful she was and she’d recently secured a loan for another family member he’d referred, so he was confident she’d do her best for us.

These days it feels like the role of the personal bank manager, who made the decision on your applications themselves, is long gone. Not that I’m  old enough to remember it ever being like that, having always dealt with computers and ATM’s when it came to my banking, but I imagine it was very different.

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Olden days banking, c/o Mary Poppins.

Now it’s all so impersonal and a computer gets to decide the outcome. It looks at your information without emotion or perspective and decides if you tick the boxes. Or fit into the boxes. And if you’re like us and don’t fit into them perfectly, there’s a real chance the computer will say no.

So when you’re suddenly dealing with a real person, who shows a genuine interest in your life, business and future plans, it feels a little bit old fashioned and surprisingly nice. As soon as we met Corinne made us feel like she cared about our individual case, unlike the computers. She took our calls when we were frustrated by delays and calmly reassured us that it would be worth it. My Macbook never does that.

Finally, we got our approval and were very excited to be the proud owners of a big fat mortgage. Although I have no doubt in a few years time, when something needs fixing, we will reminisce about our renting days! However, when we did eventually find our perfect property and signed on the dotted line, Corinne was right, it was so worth it.

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Our first pic in front of our new house, that we later knocked down!

We’re not the type that fit into boxes and we’re OK with that. However there are so many of us in the same situation. Whether they’re self-employed, freelance, artists, single parents or students, sometimes we need someone to look at our story, go into bat for us and champion our cause.  A real person that can see what a computer can’t, that boxes are inflexible but life is not.

Now it’s not just my Dad who is recommending that friendly lady at Bendigo Bank, we are too. Honestly, I never thought I’d have something nice to say about a bank, but in this case they really surprised us. And when our dream house is finished, we’re going to invite Corinne around for coffee to show her what she helped us achieve. Just like in the old days.

*We are now part of Team Bendigo Bank and will be sharing more of our experiences with them throughout our building journey.

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!

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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…..

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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.

Dream….

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Reality.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It all comes tumbling down!

This morning was the moment we’ve waited many months for, with the old house being demolished to make way for the new one. It was an exciting moment, especially for Phil who got to help with the excavator. What boy doesn’t want to drive a life size Tonka truck and be told he is allowed to smash it into things!!

Everyone who has watched us on The Block knows Phil is not the handiest of men, in fact he’s a bull in a china shop. But this morning he was finally able to let that bull loose and go for his life. I assure you, I was standing way back because I did not trust him with that big claw with bit.

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Phil getting a lesson from Iain on how to use the excavator. Does he look like he’s listening?

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Like a kid in a candy store.

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No wait, Phil, not that way…

A big thanks to Bill and the team at AC Construction, who were fantastic and indulged Phil so he could live out his demo fantasy, but then will continue to do all the hard work after we’ve gone. And to the wonderful team at Scott Salisbury Homes, who made us our ‘Site Manager in Training’ shirts – we love them! We can’t wait to see a blank canvas on the site so we can start work on our dream home.

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The managing director of Scott Salisbury Homes, Lyndon Henman, who also kept a safe distance from Phil.

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Site managers is training, that’s us.

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 From calm to crazy!

 

 

 

 

 

Designing our butlers pantry

Two of the things I am most excited about having in our new house are walk in robes in all the bedrooms and a butlers panty. Phil and I have always lived in older houses and apartments, so walk in robes have never been part of the floor plans and I can’t wait to finally have somewhere to properly store and find all our clothes. And as for a butlers pantry, well until recently they were only something seen in the mansions of the super rich! However they are quickly becoming a standard inclusion in new home designs and renovations, as we’ve seen in the latest series of The Block, so a butlers pantry was definitely something we had to have in our dream home.

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This butlers pantry is stunning, but ours probably won’t be this formal. Although, it is so gorgeous…

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Chris and Jenna’s butlers pantry on The Block Glasshouse. This one is more like an extension of the kitchen than a pantry. Lovely though.

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Dea and Darren had open shelving in their Block Glasshouse butlers pantry. Which doesn’t look as pretty in photos but is probably more practical.

The only trouble is, as I’ve never had one before I’m not sure what to put in it and each time I ask someone’s opinion I get a different one! Some people who already have them swear by having another sink, and even dishwasher, in there. Others think a sink is wasted and more bench space is a better feature. I do know it will be the place I store all the appliances we use regularly but don’t want displayed, like the coffee machine, toaster, sandwich press etc. but whether extra bench space for preparation or an extra sink is more useful I don’t know. Usually I know exactly what I want, but not in this case!

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A great example of a practical yet stylish butlers pantry.

I like the look of closed cupboards to store all the food as it looks a lot neater, but open shelving is probably easier to use. After all, it is a pantry so is supposed to be user friendly rather than pretty. But I definitely want lots of deep drawers for pots, pans and platters underneath the benches. So it’s mostly just the sink v bench space I’m not sure about. Oh, and whether we want a wine fridge, do we have the same bench tops as in the kitchen or cheaper ones and does the microwave go in there or in the main kitchen…Decisions, decisions!

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This is how I dream my shelves would be arranged…

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But it’d be more likely to be like this. On a good day.

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This is pretty close to the dream…

I’d love your input, especially if you have a butlers pantry, on what works and what doesn’t, so any comments are much appreciated. Also, I will be overseas for the next few weeks so not likely to make any posts until I get back, but then we will have our final design to share and I can’t wait!

Amity xx

Loving (and trying to decide on) cement tiles.

Even though we’re still working on the overall design of the house I am anxious to get to the next stage, so have started looking at the bathroom design. I went into Beaumont Tiles to have a look at what they have last week and I came away with lots of ideas. They weren’t a sponsor of The Block when we did our series, so we had to buy tiles from our own budget. The couples are lucky to have it covered now, as it was a big cost!

When we were choosing our tiles for the All Stars I shopped at Terra Nova Tiles in Bronte. They have the most stunning range of tiles and at the time the owner Chris was really insistent that I consider the cement tiles that had just arrived from overseas. He told me the judges would love them because all the designers were raving about them, and I had to agree they were both different and eye catching.

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The cement tile I loved from Terra Nova.

However I just wasn’t sure if they were too specific a look and whether they would appeal to a wide market, which was our aim with our overall house design. So as much as I loved them I decided not to go with them for our bathroom, instead choosing a more classic look. However when we had the opportunity to do a challenge bathroom I knew that tile had to be in it. So I used them on the floor and as predicted Neale Whitaker loved them and we won the challenge.

challengebathroom

Our winning challenge bathroom – yes there are boxes holding up the cabinet. We couldn’t mount it in the time we had and with the tiles only stuck to the wall. Everything was just placed where it was meant to be, not fixed. The magic of TV!

Despite winning we still didn’t go with them for our Block bathroom, but in hindsight I wish we had! Not just because we ended up losing bathroom week (I still think we were ROBBED!!) but because cement tiles have gone on to become super popular and are now both a designer and a timeless look.

So I would really love to use them in our new bathroom, but I still want to make sure I go with a style that isn’t too current so it won’t date and we won’t get bored of it. So here are the tiles I’m currently liking….

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I like the Milan Mist for the main (kids) bathroom, done in a Chevron pattern. Not sure whether I want it on the floor or walls?

 

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This is the Milan tile in the Charcoal, which is what Dee and Darren used in their main bathroom. I loved that look, but most certainly will not be copying it!

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I love the Marrakesh for our ensuite bathroom, it’s just a bit softer and more elegant. Still not sure on floor or walls though.

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The Winchester is a gorgeous pattern too. I am choosing to stay within soft grey tones and then will probably mix it with a white subway tile, so it still looks classic.

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Another nice pattern. It’s hard to choose! I love how this one looks like wallpaper.

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I wouldn’t choose this for this house but love how it has the effect of tessellated tiles.

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So what do you think – I’d love to hear your thoughts! You can find the whole Artisan range that Beaumont Tiles carries here. It’s great that this designer look is now available at a big retailer and not just in the little designer stores you find in Sydney and Melbourne. That’s especially coming from someone living in Adelaide who has to do a lot of online shopping to find what I want! The advantage of this tile is also that it’s already sealed, as opposed to a lot of the other cement ones which need to be sealed after installation.

As a funny side note, when I was checking out Terra Nova’s site I found our challenge bathroom tile, which is now called the Amity!! Too funny! Check out their site too if you’re looking for inspiration and if you’re building in Sydney I’d highly recommend speaking to Chris, he knows (and loves) his tiles!

Ok, give me feedback and help me decide!

xx

 

Real estate, research and Pinterest – Oh my!

Now that we have our house and block of land, the fun part really begins – deciding what to do with it! I’ve waited a long time for this moment and have essentially been planning my dream house forever, but now it’s a reality that planning and research has taken on a whole new importance.

I love looking at homes, whether it’s in the flesh, in magazines or online and am always collecting images of things that inspire me. When we bought our house an agent friend of mine told me to cancel my real estate alerts straight away, in case I saw something better and had buyers regret. But I am way to curious for that so I kept them coming, just to see what else was out there. And much to my delight I haven’t seen one house that I wish we’d bought. My mum still pours over the houses for sale online as well, even though they recently bought a house, so I guess that’s where I get it. But I love it, especially looking at houses I can’t afford but aspire to own one day. You should never stop dreaming and aiming high!

Another thing I am obsessed with is Pinterest, especially when I am researching for a renovation. Whenever I give people advice on what we learned doing The Block I always say that doing your research beforehand is the single most important thing you can do. In the lead up to All Stars I was online for hours every night looking for ideas, even though I had no idea what the house we’d be renovating looked like! That did make it a little trickier, but the research was still invaluable. I documented pictures I liked both online and in magazine cuttings and then refereed to them constantly during the renovation. I can’t tell you how much it helped, particularly when I had to make decisions quickly, which of course The Block is all about.

Anyone who has renovated or built will know how many decisions go into creating a house, from paint colours, tiles, floor coverings, tap ware, appliances, cupboards, benchtops, curtains, lights and door handles, just to name a few. Not to mention the all important floor plan, which is probably the most important decision of all.

When you’re bombarded with decisions and every one of them affects the look and feel of your home it can get very overwhelming very quickly. When you’re standing in front of a wall of paint swatches or door handles they can all start to look the same, which makes choosing difficult for anyone, even those of us who have done it a few times. So that’s when your research comes in handy.

Whenever I had to make a design decision I would refer back to my pictures, to see what I had originally liked. I would usually find I had subconsciously collected a lot of pictures of the same thing, whether it was paint colours or kitchen designs, so that helped to point me in the right direction. It was also extremely helpful to show my builder and kitchen designer what I was going for, especially when I couldn’t always put it into words. For example, if I wasn’t sure whether to choose white or cream cupboards, or matt or gloss, I would look at my pictures and see what most of them were. Then I’d look at which door handles they used and if they were all the same or a combination, those little things that can such a difference to the overall look of your house.

Trust me, even the ‘experts’ do this! They create moodboards before a job and refer to them to stay on track with their colour palette and design. So if you are doing your own renovation or new build I cannot stress how important it is to do this research beforehand.

At the moment I am mostly looking at exteriors and floorplans for our house, but I do tend to get distracted by gorgeous Hamptons style kitchen and living rooms! So if you want to get some inspiration from the pictures I’ve collected make sure you check out my Pinterest boards. If you’re into Hamptons or modern country style you will love them.

Another great site for inspiration is Houzz and there are many more I’m sure you’ll find in your searches. Just make sure you have a coffee (or wine) and a few hours to spare, it can get a little addictive!! Happy researching. :)