Sunday, 31 July 2011


Wow, its amazing how much progress can be made, when you have 6 guys crawling your flat with brushes, electric tile saws and wirecutters... Then again, its amazing how much progress can be made when its 45 degrees and you're just a lone ranger in your underpants.

Anyway, lets put the discussion of time and DIY talent shortfalls aside, and move onto talking about paint. White paint to be exact.  I have to say, I didn't look at a single colour swatch in order to choose the colour white.  Some may say that's madness. I say I'm not enough of an connoisseur to tell the difference.  GG and I talk in the most technical of terms.  Brightness.  GG: "Do you think its too bright?"  Me: "Nah, I think it should have been even brighter."  And then silence for a while before moving onto look at something else.

So, in chronological order we have plastering complete and first lick of paint applied.  Again, sorry for the photo quality, the camera is buried in the bedroom somewhere...

The painting continued and the place really started to take shape:

My favourite photo shows the difference between old and new paint behind where the kitchen cabinets will go:

We've decided to paint the radiators as well, a suggestion made by the decorators.  Hard to tell here, but they look decidedly crappy next to the white walls.

And in the last couple of days the kitchen has started to take shape...  that funny cabinet on the wall will be our pantry/extra storage, since by the time we jammed in a sink, dishwasher, fridge, freezer and oven, there was only space for 1 set of drawers.  And I've previously ranted about my aversion to overhead cupboards.  However, we were daydreaming in BoConcept one day and I spotted this vertical single wall cabinet which floats on the wall and I loved it.  Ours will have 4 handleless doors and is made of 2 stacked wall cabinets from Ikea.  It looks quite large in this photo but I'm hoping once the white doors are revealed and the rest of the furniture is in the room you won't notice it too much.
Here is GG inspecting the new oven. Finally! We we will soon be able to cook baked goods. If only I knew how to bake.  Since we never hooked up the electrics for our old standalone cooker, we've been surviving solely on stove top culinary delights for 18 months now.  Oh, and of course our portable grill, "George".  
And the beast itself.  We splurged a little on the visible appliances in the kitchen.  Since we ended up going with Ikea cabinets and hidden appliances, thought it might be nice to up the ante on the hob and oven.  Both have glass rather than stainless steel surfaces. I can't wait to try them out!  Might just need to invest in a new kettle, since the old one might find his self esteem a little shaken as he stares down at his chipped reflection all day...

Here is the matching hob, the photo isn't that great unfortunately but that didn't stop us basing our purchasing decision for both the oven and hob solely on the one crappy picture below.  Slightly scary buying some of the biggest ticket items without having clapped eyes on them in person, but that's pretty much been the theme of our approach to both flat-hunting (stepped inside a total of 7 flats, 1 of which was just for funsies pre-deposit) and reno fitout.  Ah, the intertubes, how we love you.
All in all, everything starting to look good there!

Later this week, an update on the bathroom, which is nearly done! We even think we might have moved back in next week...

Friday, 22 July 2011

I love lamp

I also love Anchorman, but that's another story.

For the last month we have literally been on a spending spree for everything we are fitting in the flat.  I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually a little tired of it.  The list of outstanding items is shrinking though (just as the bottom line of what we've spent is expanding!).  One of the most fun things we've bought recently is the lighting for the kitchen and dining room.  

I've been obsessing over vintage industrial lampshades for the past 2 years, and have been scouting antique shops and the like for a while. Remember these?  We even made a trip to Berlin, in which I promised myself and GG we would source the perfect lamps for less than half the cost of what we could get them for in the UK... only to come home empty handed having realised we both needed to travel directly to work in different locations the next day.  Didn't think my clients would really understand if I turned up with a battered old lampshade under my arm, not to mention the difficulty of (either one of us) single handedly lugging several of those things around.

And then before we knew it, crunch time. The builder was asking us exactly where the light fittings would go, what they looked like, connections etc and we were totally undecided!!  I started looking on the internet, found some excellent market research by the Mouse Hunter, which exactly mirrored my own dilemmas, and somehow from that blog, ended up at Historic Lighting.  

Hoorah!  They ticked all the boxes of awesome lamp designs for both dining and kitchen, they sell all the fittings, cable and chain, are located in the UK, and do free shipping.  But guys, here's a tip - INCLUDE VAT IN YOUR PRICES! You nearly lost me at the checkout.  I know, I know - if you go back and look at each page it says 'subject to VAT', but honestly when there's one of these georgous beauties staring at you from the page, my peepholes get a little distracted.

But that's not the one we bought in the end.  We got 3 of these in black, because they are slightly smaller, and we can fit 3 of them between the beams on the ceiling directly above the dining table.  Had a minor moment of panic as I realised we would have to fix the dining table in place for good, given that I have been having recurring daydreams about the different ways we could position the furniture in the flat.  GG, being a creature of habit, was shocked to think I would even consider moving an item of furniture from its home of 1.5 years.  Anyway, I'm still not entirely comfortable with it, but its probably something we should have experimented with before we stacked up all the furniture and gave the builder our keys.

Actually, they're kind of small in real life. Almost too small. Oh well, we'll just whack them up and see, we can actually replace them fairly easily if we wanted to sell these ones later...

In the meantime, here's a few teaser shots of the place.  Completed plaster walls on the exterior of the bathroom and hallway:
And tiled shower wall:
Our little subway tiles aren't looking so little after all (we could have gone a smaller size)... but given how long its taking the tiler (2 days work at this point!), I don't think we would have wanted to pay for the extra time...  Starting to look a little lighter and brighter in there.

Today there were 6 guys working in there! That's a lot of people to have in our small flat. They're even working out in the communal hallway, cutting up tiles with a noisy saw, and the hallway is rammed full of our stuff.  Good thing GG didn't come along or he would have had a conniption.  He's a little worried that the lovely young lady upstairs will take her revenge when we move back in by kick starting her little 2am parties again.

Apparently the painters will be done by Monday. Yikes. Then things will really look different.  GG and I have the fun job tonight of going around to the flat and packing up the bedroom a bit more orderly so they can move the stuff out and into the living area in order to paint it...  Fun Friday night times.

Hope you all have a great weekend!


Sunday, 17 July 2011

3 months in 30 seconds

Oh, has it really been that long?!? I vageuly remember posting about how proud I was to have kept it up for a year, and how GG and I were launching a new look to celebrate.  Got you all excited and then... nada.

No excuses, really although I could try plenty on.  But we do have some progress to share, so get your cuppa ready, its going to be a whirlwind tour of the last 3 months in shitpoor resolution/lighting/framed blackberry photos... 

April: Berlin for GG's birthday, Paris with my friend Louise from university in Perth, now contently blogging all the way from Montreal.

Highlights were (1) the Friedrichshain flea market:

(2) Mies van der Rohe Niunationale Gallerie, spectacular architecture, and stocking a few from my fav artist Franz Marc:
And (3) currywurst and beers in the park:
 Paris. Wine. Cheese. Tasty bits.
 And this view from our little studio apartment.

May. Enjoying new shoes from Paris. Walks around the neighbourhood admiring the local architecture. Flying back and forth to Spain for work and enjoying the local cuisine.

June. Finalise builder selection. Confirm start date. BEGIN RENOVATION. Yes, you read correctly, we started!

So, in photos, here is the progress so far. Stage 1: Teardown. There used to be a bathroom there! Toilet's a little exposed at this stage, but functional nonetheless.  In this photo you can see where the builders have ripped the floor out to extend the bathroom by about 70cm beyond the original wall.  Sounds like a lot of fuss for not much gain, but actually 70cm + layout change = a bathroom big enough for 2!
Stage 2, construction begins. We ummed and ahhed about whether we should go ahead with our hairbrained psuedo-mezzanine/loft idea, and in the end we thought, bugger it lets just put our crazy-assed stamp on this place for good. And here it is, in frame form:
If you're thinking its not a lot of space up there, then you'd be both wrong and right, since its about the size of our bedroom, but with the headroom of a bunk bed.  Which is how we'll use it; its a sleeping nook and storage area, and we're going to stick our guests up there.  As long as they're not afraid of heights. Not sure how they'll get up there yet.
On the left you can see the new hallway with lower ceiling, I love how it really feels like the room really opens out when you emerge from the other side. And look how fugly that toilet is! After scouring the internet for days looking for the perfect poocatcher, I'm unfortunately very well versed in every curve, feature and style of ye olde toilettes,

Next came the internal cladding and plumbing. Minor setback as we decided to add an additional showerhead on a hose as well as the fixed showerhead, but our fantastic builder took it all in his stride and accommodated us with no complaints.
The internal view of the bathroom - the walk in shower is at the far end, the width of the room.  You can see the 2 built in shelves for shampoos.  The bathroom cabinets are actually 2 x 2-door flatpack units from Ikea, but are the perfect size and saved the builder a heap of work.

And that's how it stands right now.  Shower tray poised for installation (that's a bit of a nightmare story for another time), tiler and plasterer due onsite tomorrow. Kitchen appliances and cabinets on site. All systems go.

Sorry for the marathon post. But you're all up to speed now! I'll post a little more next week about the fittings, appliances and tiles we've picked.  I'llbe back more regularly now we actually have solid progress to write home about.