kitchen benchtop dilemma

While we have made a lot of progress on the house, the last week we’ve gone one step forward and two steps back. I am totally cool with putting in the time for a good result but when all that effort is for nada, it’s frustrating to say the least.

Here’s how it happened:

I prepped the kitchen, including priming the entire cabinetry for painting. I painted the tiles – beautiful! I painted the cabinets – beautiful! I painted the benchtop – uh… not so hot.

The Man was nervous about saying anything because I’d spent so much time on it. But as soon as he said that he didn’t think the benchtops were working with the rest of the kitchen, I admitted I was thinking the same thing. No qualms with the product itself (in white it has made the faux wood cabinets look amaze) but the colour? Well, we just weren’t feeling it.

We did consider trying a different colour paint but thought we’d look at other options while we were about it.

I remembered my friend Mary saying something about her plans to concrete her benchtops so I hit her up for some details. I also went online and saw a couple of examples, which boosted our enthusiasm.

I was all gung-ho to get straight into it but The Man wanted to be thorough and make sure we’d considered all the options. So we started looking at getting new benchtops. Of course, we couldn’t have new counters with a cruddy old sink, could we? And we couldn’t have a shiny new sink with decades-old plastic taps, could we?

Even with a cheap Ikea number (Lagan, if you’re  wondering) it was still going to be nearly $600 for the benchtops alone. We had car keys and measurements to head to Ikea when we both just looked at each other. Are we sure about this?

The timber counters would have looked beautiful in the kitchen against the white cabinets, true. But this is only a cheap cosmetic makeover to tide us over until we do a full-on renovation in a few years. We never intended to drop several hundred dollars on new fixtures.

Ugh. So, a whole Saturday afternoon wasted and it was back to Plan B: concrete.

I’ve applied one coat and so far so good! I will do another post on the full process once I’ve finished. Wish me luck – it seems I need it!


gas hot water unit

I didn’t think too much of it about a week after moving in when The Man mentioned that his shower ran out of cold water. I apologised, figuring I’d just been in there too long scrubbing wallpaper scraps from my arms.

Unfortunately, it was a much bigger problem than my indulgent showers.

Yep, the hot water system was busted. Great.

(This also happened right after we moved into the townhouse which makes us wonder what we ever did to the hot water gods.)

Instead of simply replacing the old electric unit, we opted to get gas instead (it was available in the street but was not connected to our property). It was a total nightmare for The Man to coordinate the various parties (the person who installs the inlet is a different person to the one who installs the meter who is a different person to the one who installs the new unit, then of course there’s the energy company themselves whose call centre is simply delightful to deal with).

Oh and did I mention that when the gasfitter was emptying the old unit outside, the water started flooding in the back door?! Needless to say, I grabbed a bunch of towels, not the camera.

We did manage to get a temporary system (above) for a few days’ respite from the freezing showers (hooray!)… but then they took it away again to install the permanent unit which wasn’t hooked up for another three days (nooo!). So it was back to my parents’ place, towels in hand.

gas hot water unit

All up, it cost A LOT. Way more than it would have been to just replace it with another electric unit. But switching to gas will not only be more economical to run, it will also allow us to have a gas cooktop in future (we hate cooking on electric), to plumb in the barbecue and to replace the non-functioning oil heaters with gas if we want to.

Sorry, no eye candy for you today. Keepin’ it real with the boring and ugly realities of home ownership!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to wash my hair.

How do you power your home? Electric, gas, solar or a combination?


While I’ve been beavering away at the office and kitchen updates, The Man and a couple of friends worked on the lounge. Specifically, tackling this intimidating amount of wallpaper.

wallpaper removal

Some bits were flaking off even dry so we thought it would be much easier than the kitchen. Sadly it wasn’t quite that simple, but once you got into the swing of it it was manageable.

wallpaper removal

First we removed all the wall lights and outlets and covered the wires with plastic to protect them from the water and steam. We also removed any hooks and nails.

I had researched wallpaper steamers and they cost a bomb to hire. Not so bad if you only have a small area that you can do in a day, but we have an entire house. We were keen on this baby but it didn’t ship to our area. Happily though, The Man scored a second-hand one on eBay for $80!

wallpaper removal

It’s really easy to use; it’s basically like a giant kettle with a hose connected to a flat plate. We started off using less steam and more scraping, but with a bit of patience, the steam works like a charm if you take your time.

wallpaper removal

wallpaper removal

We also uncovered some unexpected scenes, like this spiders’ hangout between the wall and the loose wallpaper.

wallpaper removal

See if you can spot the four spiders in the photo!

wallpaper removal

The steamer works with water only (no chemicals or other additives) which is great. Although like the kitchen, we’ll give it a wash and scrape with a bucket of wallpaper glue remover solution to remove the glue residue.

Then there is the usual prep work to be done on the walls to ready them for painting, which will be the next step.

wallpaper removal

This is such an epic room – 10×3 metres – so it was a big job and we’re very relieved to have it done.

This post is sponsored by White Knight.

Kitchen before

Anyone for a brown-on-brown kitchen with orange and olive green accents?

Didn’t think so.

The first step in this makeover (or should I say makeunder?) was to remove the crazy wallpaper. With the help of a wallpaper steamer, some elbow-grease and couple of kind friends, after a (very hot and steamy) day we had uncovered the bare walls.

Our first of many rooms to de-wallpaper – very satisfying!

Kitchen during

I’d had great success using White Knight tile paint before in our first home’s kitchen and bathroom so I knew it would be well worth the effort here too.

This 80s delight called for a more serious approach though, needing not only tile paint but also laminate paint for the cabinets.

Kitchen during

One of the things that attracted us to this home was the beautiful natural light. The kitchen, however, is in the centre of the house and is really dingy with the dark cabinetry and lack of light. The Man and I selected white for the splashback and cabinets to really brighten up the space.


I set about giving everything a thorough clean with Tile & Laminate Cleaner, followed by a coat of Tile & Laminate Primer. I like using a foam roller (and foam brush for the edges) to get a nice smooth finish free of brushstrokes.

Kitchen during

Our cabinets were a cinch to paint but if yours have handles I would remove them first for a neater finish.

And here it is all primed and ready to go:

Kitchen during

Already it looks so much bigger and brighter!

Stay tuned for part 2…

New house ideas

No surprises that I’ve been pinning like mad since December when we signed the contract for our new home.

Like the announcement, I wanted to keep everything hush-hush until it was all 100% sorted. But I just realised my epic pinboard was still set to ‘private’ – oops!

Well and truly time to remedy that so you can peek inside my brain to see how my ideas for the new house are forming. Make yourself a coffee and go over and browse my inspiration so far on Pinterest. Go on, I’ll wait.


Back? Good! Tell me, what did you think?

In some ways it’s quite a departure from my normal design tendencies. There is a lot of white and other light wall colours (mostly very pale grey) instead of being drawn to my usual bold palette.

Certainly it’s partly due to age – we were in our early twenties when we bought our first home so it was a fun, colourful house for a young couple, whereas I feel like this is our ‘grown up’ house.

I think also at the time I had a boring job and wanted a stimulating environment at home. Six years on, I have more than enough stimulation in my day so I now find myself craving calmness and simplicity. (Self-diagnosing psychology through Pinterest – who would have thought!)

Some things definitely haven’t changed though. Overall my style is still a mix of old meets new, with a heavy mid-century influence, graphic patterns, industrial touches and pops of colour.

Either way, you can definitely see clear themes emerging, which is what’s so great about the process of creating moodboards.

My goal with this house is to have it all flow and work together, instead of the dog’s breakfast of a colour palette we had in the townhouse. Consistent flooring and a whole house colour palette is at the top of the list.

That said, I do have the irrepressible urge to paint a couple of the rooms in really bold shades, but I’m leaning towards neutrals rather than brights (greys or even black). I still want it to be playful and colourful (couldn’t live without that!) but more as accents rather than competing everywhere for attention.


I do have a very clear vision for our home, but I am going to take my time and let it evolve bit-by-bit.

This is the first time I’ve planned a whole house scheme at once. Have you ever done this or do you take more of a take-each-room-as-it-comes approach?

And how has your style or approach evolved over the years?


Another huge weekend working on the house, this time working exclusively on the kitchen. I actually have a sponsor for the kitchen reno though so I can’t share anything yet.

So here is a pretty photo of a flower from our garden instead!

A couple of days ago with the early autumn weather a bunch of our bushes started flowering. It’s looking so colourful and lovely, both from the street and also the view from the dining room (where I’m currently working from while the office is awaiting completion).

We are so enjoying having a proper garden here.

working bee in progress

This is what our living room currently looks like.

It’s acting as HQ for all of our renovating gear so we don’t have to run out to the garage every ten minutes for tools and supplies.

working bee in progress

We’re making good progress on the kitchen and office and have made a start on the lounge. I took the photo of our master lists earlier in the week so I’ve since had the satisfaction of crossing off a bunch more tasks.

The Man is off at a work thing all this weekend so I’ll be cranking up some tunes (we figured out how to use the house’s built-in speakers which is pretty sweet!) to help me get through more painting.

It’s utter chaos but I’m loving every minute.

attic office progress

House progress photos as promised!

The first project I tackled was my upstairs office as I really want to get it set up as soon as possible so I can get back into the swing of things work-wise.

I started by throwing litres and litres (seriously, I used a tin and a half) of white paint at the room. I actually used an all-in-one sealer/primer/topcoat (One Step by Dulux) on all of the surfaces. Unfortunately the wood panelling and surprisingly even the walls needed FOUR coats so I was well and truly over it by the end of the week.

It was definitely worth all the neck-craning though because it is looking light and bright now.

attic office progress

Next I ripped up the golden yellow carpet. I’ve never taken up carpet before but, happily, it was easier than expected (how often does that happen?!).

I hooked a small screwdriver into the carpet itself (it has a high pile) in one corner of the room to begin lifting it up. From there it was pretty easy to jimmy off the tacking strips (using a larger screwdriver and a mallet where necessary) and yank up the underlay.

attic office progress

Instead of navigating the old carpet roll down the stairs The Man and his brother threw it out the window onto the front lawn which must have been an odd sight for the neighbours!

attic office progress

Behold! We have floorboards!

attic office progress

attic office progress

As you can see, it’s not in the best shape but it will still work for what I want them for which is painting them.

attic office progress

I still have to figure out how to patch a few gaps caused by too-short planks plus fill in all the nail holes, sand and paint.

A long way to go but certainly a marked improvement on this:

house before


empty house

Despite the boxes and dust and chaos we are already feeling quite settled at the new house so I can’t believe it’s only a week since we said farewell to our first home!

Here it is as we left it ready for its new tenant.

empty house

empty house empty house  empty house empty house empty house empty house

I thought we I would get a touch emotional when it came time to leave the only home either of us has had as an adult. Perhaps it was just relief at having finally finished packing, moving and cleaning but we locked up the house and haven’t looked back.

It’s a public holiday here today so we are having a bit of a working bee with some generous friends. With any luck I’ll be able to show you a bunch of progress soon!


Since I may be without internet for some time (eek!) I’ve scheduled for you a roundup of before and afters of our first home.















before-and-after-bathroom-2 before-and-after-bathroom-1



You can also see the progress shots over on the house tour, but it’s fun to see the side-by-sides from 2008 compared to 2014. Basically, nothing has been left untouched except the floors. We are so excited to take on an even bigger challenge with the new house!

My blogging will be patchy over the next couple of weeks as we wait patiently impatiently for our internet connection and while I find the time to put down the wallpaper stripper long enough to edit some photos.

I will be posting updates and photos over on Twitter and Instagram so follow along to get the latest.

A collection of pretty meets practical ideas to inspire a happier home

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