Before & After #50 : Jett

Monday, 20 December 2021

Speaking of weeds, last Thursday was Jett's last day of high school, and also the last day of wearing a school uniform. If you can call it a school uniform. It was held together with safety pins all through his final term. 

He wore his school uniform better back in his Collegiate and Sandy Bay Infant School days.. 


Before & After #49 : Rug Replacement

Monday, 8 February 2021

After 15 years and 15 tonnes of dust, dirt and food scraps deposited into it, it was finally time to replace the red rug..


for a less shaggy and hopefully easier to clean version. It's a bit more boring colour wise, but it does allow the artwork on the wall to shine even more.


It's nice and soft NZ wool. 


Before & After #47 : Deck Projects - Part 2

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Last summer I spent a lot of time cleaning and restaining our deck and generally making it look a lot better.   I think you'll agree that it looks quite nice now:


But one thing that has always let it down is the view of my work area from the relaxing area of deck. It normally looks much worse than this:


So I've been thinking about making some sort of screen for quite a while.  So over easter I joined the queues of people definitely only making essential purchases at Bunnings and got the supplies I needed. Then I built this:


It looks a bit like it's floating there,  but it's actually on wheels and in a track that's attached to the ceiling, so if we ever need to move big things across the deck, it can be rolled back a bit:


The back side of it looks a bit plain, I'll probably paint that at some stage, but for now I'm happy with the result.


Before & After #46 : Deck Projects - Part 1

Friday, 17 April 2020

Mum and Dad have had a few of these old bottle crates hanging around for at least 30 years.  They are remnants from when dad used to get some sort of soft drink  (not coke) delivered by the crate-load of glass bottles.  The empty bottles would go back out in the crate and the delivery people would swap it over for a fresh crate every few weeks. I guess there came a point where the system stopped and mum and dad ended up with 3 empty crates.  Since then they have been kicking around in the garden being used for various things.

I've had my eye on them for a while, so I offered to take 2 of them off mum's hands recently and she was happy to get rid of them.

First step was to wash them. Then 'revitalise' them with red spray paint (I'm glad Bunnings is still open).


Then re-do the coke markings. This was a fiddly job, but like a moth to a flame, Zali sniffed out the craft project, took over and finished them off nicely.


In the meantime I made the tops with left over wood from other projects.


And voila! 2 new seats/side tables for the deck.




Before and After #45 - Garden Project

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

For the last few days I've been transforming the failed vegie patch into something a bit less unsightly. It's been hard work and has involved a few trips to the tip, plant shopping,  and about a billion wheelbarrow loads of mulch. I'm pretty happy with the result and hopefully everything will grow despite the shadiness of the area which is what caused the vegie patch to fail:







The other patch of garden we landscaped a few years ago now has been going really well although it's been quite dry lately so some things have suffered a bit. I'm looking forward to some rain so the grass returns to green:


Before and After #44 - Jett's room take 2

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Zali has spent the last 2 weeks alternating between pyjamas and my red painting overalls as she set into action her plan to makeover Jett's bedroom.  

It's been a while since his room got a makeover - I remember doing it while Jett was at childcare way back when we first moved in... I never really got any proper before photos, the before shown below is his old room in Sydney.


This time around it was goodbye to the blue stripes and colourful spots..


and hello to a bold new colour scheme that Jett chose and Zali refined, as well as a bit of new furniture.  



And it looks pretty fantastic! Zali did a great job with the painting which took almost all of the first week to prep and execute.  I did a good job of coping with having to buy 7 different coloured tins of paint and a whole lot of new paint rollers.  I was very concerned about the beautiful new carpet but it survived without a drip of paint falling on it (that I know of!).  Anyway - it looks awesome and Jett loves the result.  Well done Zali!

Before and After #43 - Kitchen Update

Saturday, 2 September 2017


Now that the troublesome rangehood is installed I can finally post photos of the finished kitchen.  The rest of it was finished about 4 weeks ago so it has actually been in use for a while now!

Just as a recap, our old kitchen was essentially sound, but in need of an update. So my plan was to keep the below-bench carcasses, replace the bench top, oven tower, overhead cupboards, and also to install a new unit surrounding the fridge. 



Aside from the range hood (which came out of its box looking like it had fallen off the production line and rolled down a long set of concrete steps) everything went smoothly.

The most nerve-wracking part was the installation of the bench top. Unlike more modern base cabinets which have legs that can be individually adjusted, the existing cabinets are built on wooden plinths, This means they are a lot stronger, but a lot less adjustable.  There was a 2mm fall along the long length of the bench area which is apparently a big deal when it comes to stone.  The other complication was the fact that I was keeping the glass splash back - so they had to slide in the bench top underneath the glass (rather than drop it down from above).  Knowing this would be tricky we (me and Ezikit) ordered a bench top that was 3mm thinner than the old laminexr top, just to allow a bit of wiggle room, but it was still going to be a challenge.  There was about a week between the finishing of the building and the installation of the bench during which I fretted constantly about it not being able to be installed, and worried about having to cancel the other trades who were dependant the bench top already being installed.

Much to my relief, the installation team of 3 guys were all really nice and appeared to be completely competent. After much huffing and grumbling about the situation when they arrived (they hadn’t really been briefed by Ezikit before they came),  they went off to get the extra batons and packers that would be required and ended up doing what seemed like a solid job.  It took about 3 hours al ltogether, during which time I sat nervously on the couch. 

The next day the cooktop got connected which left just the plumbing of the kitchen sink which took another few days before I could get anyone in to do it.

All in all it took 13 days from the day I started demolition until the day it was finished (aside from the range hood).  This included 3.5 days of building & installation,  3 visits by the electrician, 1 visit from a plumber. 1023 visits to Bunnings and Mitre 10.   

 And the costs? Well the appliances were about $4000 (double oven, sink, range hood, induction cooktop).  The ceasarstone bench top was $4200 including installation.  The new overhead cupboards, drawers, oven tower and fronts for all the old cupboards were $6000.  I spent an extra $200 on ceiling and wall paint, plus extra money on replacing the daggy kitchen and outdoor lights since the electrician was around anyway installing powerpoint and moving light switches for the kitchen. In fact it was great to get a whole lot of other electrical stuff fixed up during this process. Until now the pantry light hadn’t worked for years, the kids new ikea lights have finally been installed, and some other broken switches have been replaced. All the stuff you live with because it’s such a hassle and expense to get someone around.

Anyway - by the time we’ve paid the electrician, plumber and builder’s bills which are still to arrive, we’ll be at around 18k I think.  Whilst we’d originally planned that I’d be back at work and earning money before we started this project it turned out that I really needed to be around for the entirety of the 2 weeks to wait for tradesmen and supervise the building.  If I hadn’t been thereI would have arrived home to see the cupboards installed at the wrong height, handles put in where we didn’t want them, and all sorts of other little issues would have been harder to resolve. It’s lucky that both the builder and bench installers had a good relationship with Eikit as we needed extra pieces of the woodwork to be made on the fly, and the installers needed to borrow some of their specialised tools for the installation.  Needless to say  I would have been absolutely stuffed if I’d tried to the installation imyself. 

My favourite parts of the new kitchen are the charging station, which is tidily hidden away into a little alcove next to the fridge:


and the 'secret' cupboard which stores all the extra stuff we need for family dinner every fortnight, which previously had no-where to go apart from the games room or in very high cupboards I couldn't reach.


Also i'm really happy with the hardwood cladding I did around the side of the bench. I wanted to add something to the design to make it look slightly different to a regular kit-kitchen.  And it was fun to do it myself (with my new nail gun!)


I really love the induction cooktop - it's so fast! and I really like the top oven - it's great for cooking smallish items and it preheats really fast. I'm still coming to terms with the larger bottom oven - mostly it's been fine but I managed to cook a burnt-on-top yet dry yet undercooked lemon and poppyseed cake in it last week  - so clearly more practise is required!

With the rangehood finally arrving yesterday I was able to cover the hole left by the old rangehood with the acrylic sheet I had custom cut for me.   It's a bit odd, but a much better solution than buying and installing a whole new piece of glass.


So all up it was a good experience. I'm so glad we've done it.  I'd like to update the stools in the not-to-distant future - I've got my eye on a nice set, but for the now old ikea ones will have to do!



Before and After #42 - Tool Storage

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

After assembling the 12 drawers and 5 base cabinets, and thus reaching the extent of my cabinet making abilities I've turned my attention to a bit of re-use work in the laundry.

So while the real-life builder is busy doing all the tricky things like attaching stuff to the wall, putting on cupboard handles without drilling 58 holes all of which are in the wrong place (as is my want), and generally dealing with all the issues I would never be able to solve (unless the solution involved drilling a lot of holes), I've been deconstructing and reconstructing the old drawers so that they fit into the existing dodgy shelving I added into the laundry a few years ago.  Not only is it good to not chuck out absolutely everything, it's going to make my tool storage area a lot more spacious..


so behold the before (left) and after (right).. 

Before and After #40 - Be afraid.. Be very afraid..

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

In a few weeks Jon and I are attending a 50th birthday celebration in Melbourne where the theme is ‘Best of British’.  I’m going as punk cos I think that was a pretty cool fashion and art movement and I’ve also never had the opportunity to dress punk before.  

As everyone knows, to be properly punk, you really need a good pair of Doc Martens.  I do own some Doc Martens, but unfortunately they are Mary-Janes like these:

Not the sort of Doc Martens that you glimpse people wearing in dark alleys right before they knock your teeth out and steal your coloured hair spray.   I wear mine to work. Sometimes I even wear them with socks - which I guess is scary in it’s own way.

Anyway - I needed some boots, so yesterday I went to Big W and bought some sort-of-ish-not-really-but-at-least-they-are-lace-up-boots.  These..

Yes - i know, you still aren’t worried about meeting me in that dark alley (unless I’m wearing my MaryJanes with socks in which case you are at real risk of laughing yourself to death).  That’s ok - I’ve got paint, and I’ve got time.. and I’m not afraid to use it..

And I’ve also got masking tape - that’s what I used first..


then white spray paint..  

the more tape, followed by blue spray paint.

Then I had to do a lot of touchups with a paintbrush as spray paint is no match for masking tape really..

Then more tape for the red bits..

Then more touchups..

Then I hand painted on the narrow red lines (which I'd learnt weren't even centred), and retouched the blue where the masking tape had peeled it off in bits (due to not allowing enough time between coats I guess).. and so finally I had..


Stll not exactly Doc Martens, but I'm pretty happy with the result! 


Before and After #39 - Ikea Stools

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

This project seems very small after the behemoth that was the sliding wardrobe, in fact it just took a day from start to finish, and most of that was drying time. 

We've had these two Ikea stools for ages. They have been used as chairs, side-tables, stools (for painting), and everything in between.  They are great and if Ikea were still making them I'd buy two more, but unfortunately they discontinued them a few years ago.

Anyway - with all their use, they were starting to look a little worn - one even had a bit of water damage from its service in the bathroom as a side-table, so it was time to refresh them. 

The first step was sanding them..


then using paint I already had (which was the aim of the project), I added some colour..


I painted each with a different design to keep it interesting..


Then I put 4 layers of clear varnish on them.  The tin said to wait 2 hours between coats. I am an impatient craftsperson, so I waited 30 minutes between coats..


And voila! Shiney and new-ish looking!


Before and After #37 - Sliding Wardrobe

Sunday, 5 March 2017

For the last few months, most of the available floor space in the games room has been covered by boxes and boxes of ikea flat packs. So many that I had to hire a ute to get them from the drop off point to home.  The reason for the boxes was this.. our wardrobe..

This wardrobe was built in, which sounds good, but it actually had nothing more than one shelf and a hanging rail for clothes storage on each side.  That meant most of our clothes were stored in the basket style drawers.  Also it had swing doors, which meant that I couldn’t enter the bedroom if Jon had his open. Together all four of them absorbed a lot of floorspace in a not particularly big room when they were open which they almost always were.

So I’d been planning to upgrade it for a while. I considered just building in shelves and drawers  into the existing spaces but we still had the problem of the doors and I didn’t think I could do a good enough job with my skill set. Also it seemed to me that a lot of space was wasted by the dividing wall between the two wardrobes and the little walls on the left, right and top  - which I figured I could remove.  So I made an Ikea shopping list and visited the website every few weeks. I ordered a basic ‘Pax’ wardrobe but of course it was slightly smaller than the width from wall to wall, so I had to order another smaller wardrobe carcase  which I planned to cut down (somehow) to fit the available space.  Then I ordered extra drawers and shelves and other bits and pieces to make it all nicer.   After completing the shopping list It took me a few more months to get the courage to actually hit ‘check-out’ on the ikea website as I knew it would start a chain of events I couldn’t reverse.   It was only once my work end date was in sight that I finally committed to the purchase and the truckload of stuff arrived a few weeks later.

I had figured that the project would take at least 2 weeks to complete during which time there would be fairly major disruption. It would involve relocating our clothes and furniture, removing the doors and demolishing  the existing walls, plastering the resulting mess, painting the room, taking out a section of carpet, installing the wardrobe, getting someone in to install new carpet. When all the bits arrived I still had a month or so of my work contract to finish, then we were away after Christmas, and then we had people staying in January, so I decided to wait until the kids were back at school and our guests had left before starting. So as planned, with 1st term underway Jon and I dragged the mattress into the living room and cleared out the bedroom so I could begin.  

The first thing to do was remove the existing wardrobe bits and the little walls surrounding them.  


That left large sections requiring plaster repairs and although I had originally thought that I’d hire a plasterer and a builder for a day or two each for this project, after getting a solid dose of price-shock ordering the carpet I decided I would have to do  the plastering myself, since most of the area needing plastering would be hidden behind the new wardrobe.    So a few youtube videos later (and a billion trips for supplies from bunnings), I dove right in..


Now that I am experienced in plastering I’d just like to advise everyone I know to never, ever, let me plaster anything in your house.  Particularly if you have carpet.

Despite the mess and the dust, by some miracle it actually turned out pretty well, so I was able to paint the room and ceiling before calling in extra assistance from Clare for the start of the construction.


Together we powered through building the 4 units which made up the bones of the wardrobe.  Thanks Clare!

I still had to cut down the final bespoke unit which by some miracle a) worked, and b) totally fitted into the space when I shoved it in. The only problem was that the floor wasn’t even, so three units sloped gently backwards, and two sloped forwards, which meant it would have been impossible to fit them with a sliding rail.

So it was a few steps backwards as I pulled them all out of their position and sanded down the floor where I needed to and chocked up other corners until I had a perfect fit.  


Then I could do the fun stuff of putting all the shelves and drawers and fancy things into them. Yay!



Then it was the challenge of the 4 sliding doors.  I’d ordered 2 in frosted white glass and two were mirror glass. They were all big and heavy and this was a daunting task especially as the ikea instructions suggested that I’d need identical twins for the job and I didn’t know any.  


I built what I could through the day then got Jon to wear a matching top to mine as he helped me hang the doors when he got home from work.   By some other miracle they went on pretty well too (once I realised I’d installed one of the rails upside-down, and made a few running fixes to where the two long rails joined.  By this time in the project I’d used just about every power tool I’d owned, including the angle grinder to fix the sliding rails.yay tools

We got the sliding doors installed just the night before the carpet came, so the final stages of the project came together quite quickly and before we knew it, Jon and i were able to move out of the living room into our flashy new bedroom, and the kids could have the games room back.  



I still need to do a few little things like move a powerpoint and sort out what will happen with the 5 cm gap between the wardrobe and the roof, but other than that I’m really pleased with the final result.  It went better than I’d imagined it (without any professional help), and it looks just as good as I hoped. I have to admit that Jon and I are still getting used to the sliding doors but I’m sure we’ll get the hang of not crushing each other’s fingers and start to solve the logic puzzle of what doors to move to access which parts.  All up the transformation cost about $2400 for the wardrobe, and $1000 for the carpet with a few extra hundred for paint and plastering stuff - so it wasn't all that cheap however when I've investigated gettng sliding doors before from local suppliers, the doors themselves cost over $2000, excluding any wardrobe upgrades, so I think it was all pretty good value.

Before and After then After that #37

Monday, 3 October 2016

For my own amusement I wanted to compare how our newish native strip is looking, compared to when we first planted it. And look - it's going great guns! I'm really happy with it - particularly the puffy cushion plants (seen at the front of the right hand picture) which I love!


In fact I like them so much I bought some more today (after I took these photos), and planted them further down the back, and I also added some more low grasses to the edges and around my creek-path.

The wallabies have eaten 5 or 6 of the plants, but as our only alternative is to put them in cages (the plants, not the wallabies),  we've decided just to put up with it and enjoy what does survive.


I have also planted some mondo-grass around the 'creek' bed, which I think looks nice (left picture).

After a wet winter, some of the plants which have struggled in the last few years, like this waratah, are really thriving..

Sadly the white waratah didn't survive the previous hot dry summer, so it's gone.  The Magnolia continues to do ok (although it flowers about a month after all the other neighbourhood magnolias have - a symptom of our lower sunlight and terrible clay soil!)

It's always worth the wait though.


Before and After #36 Zali's Room Take 2

Monday, 3 October 2016

Take 1 of Zali's Room Renovation was shortly after we moved in , in about 2007 - so it has been almost 10 years or so since it had seen any improvement.  I repainted the blue/grey walls to pink and white, changed the curtains, and painted her bedhead.  The 1994 vintage carpet wasn't very nice, but I didn't bother changing it back - I figured it was still going to  suffer some toddler wear and tear so it was best to hold off. This is how it all looked at the start of the Take 2 makeover:


Last time I did it all in a day while she was at childcare. This time around Zali got to have a say in the design, although she took so long to decide on anything (we're talking months) I did end up hurrying her along with some design ideas so we could get started. The teal and grey colour scheme was certainly all hers.

So it was gone with the pink stripes, butterfly curtains and giraffe topped desk. And in with teals & diagonals. Although we didn't plan to, we did end up keeping one of her pink ikea floating shelves - it doesn't look too bad on the grey.

I'm really happy with Zali's new desk. It's actually mostly still the old desk, just with painted drawers, new drawer handles, and a wider and longer top.  The top was just a $45 pine sheet from bunnings, which I painted then covered with a billion layers of clear gloss varnish (which I happened to have on hand). I think it looks (and feels really nice), and was a nice way to keep most of the old desk (which used to be mine), but making it feel new again. 

The giant bean bag is a bit of a luxury and it does take up a bit of floor space, but it does catch the afternoon sun really well and both Zali and Pinto enjoy sunny afternoons reading and snoozing there.

And that's it! I wonder how long it will be to Take 3 !

The final touch was the lovely new carpet. It's soft and lovely and Jett's room got some too so they both look great.  (BTW Jett is very happy with his room and didn't want to change it - I did ask!). 

Before and After #35 - CD Tower to Mirror

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A long time ago, in a city far away (well.. Sydney, in about 1996), we (Andy and I) commissioned a long-time friend (Alison) of a good friend of ours (NicolaPC) to make us 2 CD towers out of recycled wood.  

Alison and Nicola had been friends for ever and that's how we knew her and had seen her recycled wooden creations around the place. We were really happy with the CD towers she built for us.  


A few years later,  a stupid crappy thing happened, as they sometimes do, and Alison died from cancer. She was in her very early forties. 

Time marched on, circumstances changed,  and the CD towers eventually came with Jon and I to Tasmania where they've languished under the house for the last 5 or 6 years, (what with CDs no longer being relevant to us Spotify-listening hipsters).  I always felt this was a shame - I didn't want to give them away, I still wanted them to be part of our possessions - they were more than  old cd towers.  So when I renovated the greenroom (again) I was happy to come up with an idea of how I could re-use them.  

It's taken a while to enact that plan, as it wouldn't have been possible without the fancy dropsaw I am lucky enough to own.  

First I had to take out all the nails - that took a while..Alison obviously had a nail gun at her disposal!! 


Then I had to do the maths and the cutting, as per the post below. And then some further glueing, re-cutting of a few pieces and hanging-on-the-walling.. et voila..

I'm really happy with it - It adds a bit of home-made warmth to the starkish scandinavian styling and I think Alison would have approved with my reuse of the reused planks. I recon it cost less than $50 which includes the mirror (from ikea) and the backing plywood - but of course it wasn't about the cost anyway.  

Before and After #34 - Green Room Take 2

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

We have been living in our house for just over 8 years.  One of our first projects back in 2007 was to clean up the room under the house - dubbed the 'Green Room' due to it's heavy green carpet.  It used to also have blue walls and particularly horrible cheap-fake-wood sliding doors over inbuilt shelves.    In 2007 we repainted the walls white, removed the sliding doors (which I painted and turned into tables), and generally made it into a semi-comfortable guest room - albeit without any ensuite facilities and with the dark green carpet.  

After a few years of infrequent guest use, we started to fill the green room up with stuff.  Boxes, bikes, bike bags, until it wasn't really a guest room any more.  However at the some time we started to make plans to add what was sorely needed to make it really good -  an ensuite. We had plans drawn and submitted and approved by council. We even had Shirl and Tim help us start the excavation, then we hired a labourer to help us excavate the remaining square metres of clay so that we were ready to start work. By this time 4-5 years had gone by, and we really needed to be starting the council process again and getting plumbing plans drawn up.  And then we went for a run and decided to spend our money on the upstairs bathroom, the one we use every single day, instead.

And I don't regret it at all. I love the new bathroom. I love the extra toilet. I love the bath.  

But that did leave the Green Room in rather a state.  Every surface was covered with dust from the excavations. The hole in the wall where the ensuite was going to be looked like a horrible and slightly scary dirt cave. The carpet hadn't really recovered from when the water heater was leaking behind the nearby wall and of course the whole room was packed with crap.  

So after the bathroom was done, I did the laundry. Then when the laundry was done, I decided that it was time to reinstate the Green Room as a guest room.   Unfortunately I didn't take any before photos, when all the junk was in the room, but I did take some during the first major operation - pulling up the carpet.  I'd never pulled up carpet before, so I dutifully watched some youtube videos of people pulling up tacks and carefully rolling up the carpet.  Then I headed downstairs with some gloves and expectations of being finished in an hour or so.

Yeah. Not. Exactly.  Instead of tacks, I found that every square centimetre of carpet had been glued to the concrete floor. The original carpet layer must have used gallons of glue, and of course there wasn't any underlay so it was basically incredibly hard to remove. After an hour of dusty sweaty work I'd removed about a square metre and inhaled about a kilo of carpet dust. The only way to get it up was to edge the claw of a hammer underneath and pull up with all your weight. 

 Half the time the carpet would just rip (sending you toppling backwards), the other half the time it would come away reluctantly, leaving tufts stuck to the floor.


It was truly horrible work.  And it was clear after that very first hour that I needed help.. so I invited my best two helpers (Jon and Clare) for a pulling-up-the-carpet-party..and a few nights later they came!! yay!


Clare is making it look easy there - it wasn't, but after a few hours of hauling and hacking, the room was just left with all those tufts, which I spent the next week of evenings scraping off the floor.


Then I was ready to paint the walls and ceiling, lay the new floating laminex flooring, find a solution for the ensuite-hole-in-the-wall (dubbed the non-suite), and redecorate with the help of Ikea-delivery-to-Tasmania, Target, Bunnings and Kmart…(and Clare of course)

..and it was slow going. The project took another six or so weeks to complete after the carpet was up, but it was fun and I was able to indulge in one of my favourite past-times - assembling flat packs… 



I'm really pleased with the new sliding doors which I built with plywood and pine, then whitewashed.  Behind them, in the non-suite, are our good bikes and the rest of the storage area. Maybe one day it will be an actually be an ensuite but until then, I think this is a nice solution.

The table in the corner is one of the original sliding doors and there are still some green touches and original decorations from the first time this room got an overhaul. The addition of Janet's artwork, some of the relocated posters from upstairs, and some framed photos of Jon's that were banished years ago, give the room a travelling theme.



So overall I'm really happy with it.  There are a few details I hashed up along the way which I still need to fix (like the bottom of the external door which looks like I chewed it), but I'm still really proud of the room.  And fittingly, Clare will be the first official guest when she stays tomorrow night.

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