It’s crunch time!

Whilst we’ve got off to a slow start, things have kicked off with titles for the land (finally) being issued on Tuesday. With titles in hand, this means we can finally set a settlement date and its crunch time with the decision making. Now, you would think that, seeings as we’ve had so much time, decisions would be made… right?! Wrong. I always wondered why parents-to-be had such a hard time deciding on a name of their beloved newborn despite the fact they’ve got nine full months to make a choice. However, as it turns out, the more thinking time that you have, the harder it becomes to make a decision it seems.

So, where are we at? Well, as you know, washstand, basin and tapware have all been purchased. Though, decisions had yet to be made on tiles, toilet, shaving cabinet/mirror, shelving and lighting. As you can see, there is still a fair amount of work which needs to be done! (Not to mention all of the smaller things like waste, ventilation, power points and switches!)

The boy and I decided to start with the tiles first. Given that this is such a large part of the feel and aesthetic of the room, it makes sense that the tile choice will largely set the scene for the entire room. The look we are setting out to achieve is heritage but with a modern twist. One might assume that given the sudden trend of all things vintage and retro, that achieving this sort of look shouldn’t be too difficult. The reality is that anything with the label heritage, victorian, period or edwardian suddenly inherits a silly price tag.

We initially set out on a mission to find flat, white, gloss subway wall tiles and black and white floor tiles as depicted in the picture below. Surely, they’d be easy to find right? I mean step in to any nanna’s bathroom predating the 1960’s and you are sure to find them! The subway tiles are of course on-trend and readily available at any of the major tile retailers for a little over $20/sqm. The floor tiles however, are another kettle of fish. As it turns out, there is only one tiny and delightful showroom specialising in this era of tile in Perth and sure, we can order them in but… wait for it. Are you sitting? *Cue the minor heart attack!* They cost almost $100/sqm. Furthermore, if you think that you fancy one of those border tiles featured three quarters of the way up the wall in the photo below, then you better have a deep pocket because those little guys will send you back $16/tile.

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Black and White Dot Tile

Now, now. I can appreciate the workmanship that these tiles represent and the authenticity of having them handmade. I also understand that tiles bought off the shelf aren’t necessarily the right size or colour when compared to the actual tiles of that vintage. However, the aim isn’t to recreate the past or for it to be historically accurate. It’s to update the space, for the space to be functional but beautiful and for the space to have kept some of it’s heritage feel and charm. Most importantly, I don’t have an infinite budget and (unfortunately) I cant be blowing my entire budget because I fell in love with a tile and tile shop!

Fortunately for us, the other type of floor tile which keeps regularly coming up on our mood board is a simple black and white checker. Again, though it would be nice to have 150x150mm tiles, as history would tell us this is the correct size, we have decided on 200x200mm matte black and white tiles which are again, readily available at any major tile warehouse. To complete the look, we have also decided to run a black border around the base of the wall in a black subway tile and just like that, tiles are done!

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Bathroom inspiration – featuring checkered floor tiles and subway wall tiles

Sometimes, less choice is better. This was certainly the case with our choice in toilet. The lovely lady at Reece Plumbing let us know that unfortunately, high level toilet cisterns no longer adhere to plumbing standards and therefore, are no longer on sale. Well, that crosses that off the list! In addition, one of the few manufacturers of federation style toilets left in Australia is Caroma and essentially they do one type. Decision made then! And just like that, $1,100 later (I told you – anything with ‘federation’ in the label automatically warrants a 100% price hike!) we have a toilet specially ordered from Bunnings.

Strangely, lighting has been the source of the more heated discussion between myself and the boy. Choice is overwhelming and it is such a large factor deciding the functionality of the space. No one likes being in a dimly lit space particularly in your everyday bathroom where you need to shave, pluck your eyebrows and put on your make up. (I wear glasses for gods sake!). However, at the opposite end of the scale, no one wants to spend time in that bathroom where the lighting shows every fine line, crease, crevice and dimple! With this in mind, we have chosen down lights in the ceiling in white, so that they blend in and aren’t a feature in themselves. We have also decided on black pendant lighting for above the vanity. (Position and number of lights are still TBC).

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Mechanics 1 Cage Pendant Light from Beacon Lighting

Speaking of which, the decision about what we are going to hang above the vanity is the last of the big decisions to make. Though I love the idea of having a big silver statement mirror, I am quite conscious of the lack of storage. Considering too, that storage is an issue that we will have across the whole house, coupled with the fact that the washstand isn’t an adequate storage space, I am inclined to suck it up and purchase a mirrored cabinet or shaving cabinet. Though we have agreed to place shelves in the space above the toilet (picture woven wooden boxes with towels in them) I do think that a shaving cabinet is the only logical solution for the storage of every day items like toothbrushes, perfume, etc.

When looking for a shaving cabinet, don’t be disheartened by what you see on the shelf. On offer, by way of shaving cabinets at the major home improvement stores, appears to be nothing more than white boxes with mirrored doors which lack imagination or creativity. However, stores like Reece do provide a special orders service. So it’s definitely worthwhile seeing which manufacturers these stores stock and getting on their websites or contacting them directly to have a look at the range of products offered by particular manufacturers. As it turns out, these manufacturers make products which are much more exciting than their basic sister models stocked in-store and lets be honest, if you really cant find what you are after, then it may be time to call in a professional to custom make what you are after. For instance, I’ve managed to find this lovely little thing which will work beautifully in our space and tie together the vanity, basin and tiles. Best thing is, it can be made in a range of sizes ranging from 450mm to 1800mm! Finally things seem to be coming together.

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The Rifco ‘Reflect T2’ – available for special order at Reece Plumbing

So, with the big decisions made it’s almost time for the fun to begin! Bring on the next couple of weeks!

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Slow and steady wins the race!

So, I have been M.I.A. for the last few weeks as paperwork jumps from one desk to another to be processed by Western Power, the Water Corp, Landgate and what feels like the half of the Government agencies in the Southen Hemisphere. As the issuing of formal titles for the new subdivision of our block slowed, our plans came to a sudden holt.

However, there is a God and late last week we have received an email titled ‘Titles are Imminent’.. I am back to being a happy little lady. In the absence of titles I have been scouring pintrest and home renovator magazines working out exactly what sort of vanity would suit our space and style. Themes reasonating with the boy and I were both rustic and traditional. Think wooden vanities which are free standing and oversized on-the-counter basins which are coupled with our beautiful Victorian chrome tapware. 

The fact is that in this bathroom, the vanity will be one of the first things you see as you walk in the door. It needs to be functional but petite enough to work in the space. And, much like the cottage itself, it needs to have oodles of character! 

Armed with my trusty iPhone, I have been on the hunt for the last three to four weeks for a piece of furniture we could turn in to our vanity. In the early stages we decided that if we couldn’t find what we wanted we would have a cabinet maker make something to order but I was determined. 

Early Settlers had some beautiful bathroom furniture sets which gave us a good idea about what was possible and practical. The antique stores gave us ideas about what was “age appropriate” for the vintage of the cottage. However, it was Gumtree which came through with the goods. 

I had enquired about a number of wash stands that I found on Gumtree, though many were too small, needed a lot of love or were ridiculously over priced. The wash stand itself isn’t an uncommon item. Just finding the right one was going to take time. 

Out of bed I leap on Saturday at 6:45am (with far more energy than a normal person should at that ridiculous hour) to wake my sleeping beauty of a boy to show him the latest find. By 8:30am I had rung the seller, found out the entire life story of said wash stand and organised to be there at 10:30am. Dragging an unwilling participant of a boyfriend 30 minutes north of home, we had purchased a beautiful, antique, oak and marble wash stand before 11am. 



The vanity is a perfect fit for our vessel basin and traditional tapware. The question now is whether to replace the marble top for a ceaserstone equivalent or to leave the weathered original marble top. A question for another day!

In the meantime, I’m on the hunt for a shaving cabinet to be coupled with this beautiful find. A treasure which I’m sure will be equally as satisfying to find!

Op Shopping and Bargain Hunting

Whilst waiting on the settlement of our new purchase, we have taken the chance to hunt for the perfect pieces of furniture for our new pad. Apart from a bedroom suite and a lounge (which we are inheriting), we are starting from scratch. Additionally, as many couples with a new property who are coming to terms with paying a dreaded mortgage are, we’re on a tight budget! So armed with a clenched fist of cash and not wanting to give any away unnecessarily, we have been out and about searching for deals and bargains for some of the necessary big ticket items we need to kickstart out time at the cottage.

One of the most pressing items on the bargain hunting list was a free standing wardrobe. Given the vintage of the property, storage is, and will continue to be, a key focus in adequately renovating and redesigning our house. But tell me, have you tried buying a wardrobe recently?! I’m guessing that you haven’t. It is the sort of furniture that you might come across at nanna’s house and might never have thought about twice. However, let me assure you that if you are sitting on a well looked after freestanding wardrobe, you are actually sitting on a small mint! Aside from the flat-packed versions you might find at Ikea, timber freestanding wardrobes are difficult to find brand new and they’re expensive! Understandably I guess, given that there is little use for them in houses built in the last few decades.

The search has taken us quite literally across the City from op shop to op shop on the hunt for the perfect wardrobe. From Guilford to Morley to Bibra Lake to Fremantle, you name it – we’ve probably been there! Op shopping for furniture is tough as many op shops aren’t large enough to stock copious amounts of big furniture pieces. However, if you are in the market for furniture and are keen to check out some secondhand stores, here are my recommendations in Perth.

  • Rags to Riches – talk about furniture overload, these stores are definitely my first recommendation for anyone in the hunt for the perfect piece, unless you are in any way claustrophobic. There is wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-ceiling (I wish I was kidding but I’m not!) treasures if you are prepared to wade through the chaos. Though there are a number of them around, I can personally vouch for 7-9 Rockingham Road, Hamilton Hill and 16 Port Kembla Drive, Bibra Lake. The store at Bibra Lake even has a additional warehouse storage area out the back filled with bargains – just try not to get disappointed when you notice ‘sold’ stickers on the something perfect and remember to get in quick if you see something you like.
  • Russell Street, Morley – though the collections were smaller, in both the Anglicare and the Salvos stores (located across the road from one another) we found some of the best kept treasures in op shopping history. In the Salvos store for instance, there was a pristine, vintage brown leather couch on carved wooden legs with gold studded details – which we would have totally taken home had we not already had a couch! And in the Anglicare store was a delightful white dressing table with a glass top and three piece mirror. Another piece I would have gladly taken home, had I have been persuasive enough to convince the boy I needed it (I really need to work on my game!).
  • Port Care Op Shop – located at 372 South Street, O’Connor this is where we eventually, after a number of weekends of me dragging the boy from op shop to op shop, found the perfect wardrobe. This delightful store had a surprisingly large supply of wardrobes and we have managed to pick up an East West Design wardrobe in reasonable condition for the bargain price of $290. With large double doors and four deep draws, this little beauty matches our bedroom suite almost perfectly and will be a welcomed addition to our new bedroom.

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In other bargain hunting news, we have also managed to score some brand new furniture from a liquidation sale advertised in the West Australian newspaper (thanks mum!). For the very low price of $850 inclusive of delivery, mum and I trawled through the Prime Liquidations warehouse to buy a buffet, treasure chest coffee table, television cabinet and side table. Despite being a little bit ‘different’, these pieces will suit our house to an absolute tee, will add burst of colours and look exceptional against the jarrah floorboards which are such a feature in the house.

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Whether new or secondhand, there are furniture bargains to be found all over the place. Keep your eyes peeled for listings in the paper, on the web and on Gumtree and frequent op shops and garage sales. Like they say, one mans trash is another mans treasure! And sifting through all the ‘trash’ is half the fun!

So, happy shopping!

Real Estate Agents – The good, the bad and the quirky.

I have found myself throughout the house hunting adventure discussing the realty profession at length with friends and family. As someone who counsels the general public on their life decisions around career paths and projections, I find the real estate profession interesting. I mean, what sort of person gets in to the real estate game? What sort of things do they value? Are they really just in it to ‘make a quick buck’?

At times it certainly has felt this way.

For many long and tedious months, we wandered through strangers homes critiquing their design choices, renovations and lifestyles to ultimately decide whether or not we would hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars to begin our own lives there. All the while, someone is there, subtly peering over our shoulder watching our every step and listening out to every comment to see if we are indeed their next pay cheque. More often than not, we were greeted by a pushy and somewhat arrogant agent in an ill-fitting suit, trying to guess how much money we had to blow. Well versed in the art of coaxing every last detail out of you and giving you no information in return, I found myself pushing the boy through the front door to initiate the awkward small-talk with the agent at every home open attended for the 5-6 month period that we house hunted in fear that I might give away too much.

But as with all experiences (and professions) it certainly wasn’t all bad. In fact, part of the experience was even better than we could have imagined.

Meeting one stand out Real Estate Agent has certainly saved this profession in my eyes. In the process of buying a house, the boy sold an inner-city apartment. In his usual thorough manner, three quotes were sourced from three local agents all of differing character and demographic. The first was a local smaller agency, the second a big agency with a big investor base and the last, a young independent agent running a small self-managed business.

From the get-go, the young and vibrant Scott was the definition of stand-out. On first enquiry, what can only be described as a ‘care-package’ was mailed with hand-written recommendations and thank you notes from previous clients. The package came with the following list of promises (taken straight from his website – see the details below for a link):

  • Complete and utter honesty: You may or may not like what I have to say, I’m still going to say it. I will always give you my honest opinion.
  • Complete dedication: Less properties means more time for you and your property to be enthusiastically marketed.
  • Just real estate: Real estate is my only business 24 hours, 7 days a week.
  • Working together to get great results: You will be kept in the loop the whole time.
  • The most advanced and up to date marketing techniques: The market has changed and so has the way people shop for properties. Yours needs to stand out from the crowd
  • Effective negotiating techniques: Not just bringing you the buyer’s offer but negotiating the best price possible.

If this isn’t enough to make him a stand-out to you, then meeting him in person will ensure that he leaves an impression. Up rocks this red-headed man, on his scooter with home open signs slung over each shoulder ready to give you a the friendliest (but no-bullshit) service you could expect. The man gives basil seeds with his business cards for gods-sake! You are certainly not going to forget him in a hurry.

As someone selling a property for the first time, Scott answered the bazillion small question with not a hint of discern or sarcasm (even answering questions about the purchase of the new property out of the kindness of his heart!). Most importantly he kept his promises. Not only would we use him again in heartbeat and recommend him to our friends and family but we’d like to have him over dinner and keep him as a friend. I think this says something about him in itself.

The apartment was sold in four weeks… with all of its furniture included… for a price which was higher than we anticipated… to an international buyer who paid in cash! Seriously, could it be any smoother than that!?

One happy little chappy!

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Moral of the story: In every profession there are the good, the bad and the quirky. Don’t let your experience with a few bad agents dishearten you or affect your experience in buying the house of your dreams.

And with most things in life, if you’ve found a good one – don’t let them get away!

Want to get in touch with Scott or find out more about him?

Scott BJ Properties

Website: www.scottbj.com.au

Phone: 0438 933 634

Email: scott@scottbj.com.au

Back to where it all began..

Some would say that buying your first home is exciting, a right of passage for a young person perhaps? The ‘great Australian dream’ even? Well, I am here to assure you that it is the most stressful (but adventure filled) time in my life thus far.

The boy and I decided that we would take the plunge and buy our very first house in our home town of Perth, Western Australia. We had a few requirements for our new purchase which included the following:

1) Easy access to public transport – Perth is known for The its urban sprawl and of course we work at opposite ends of the city!

2) A home with character – sure, sure we could have spent the same amount and bought a brand new house, off the plan, in one of those perfectly designed suburbs where all the houses looks the same but ugh! We really wanted something ‘one-of-a-kind’.

3) Within a 10km range of city – we’re young! Call us short sighted but we wanted to be right in the thick of it. And yes, yes we could have bought cheaper in outer suburbs but the City is in the middle between our workplaces and there is nothing quite like an inner city lifestyle for a 20-something.

To us, this decision was less financial than it was ‘a feeling’ and we have definitely felt the pressure, having to justify our decision to almost everyone. One after another people have said ‘you’re paying THAT?!’ or ‘such an old house – why would you do that!’.

To these people I say, yes. I did buy a 1930’s cottage on a little over 300 square meters (gasp now!) at a little over half a million dollars (go on – judge away!) which needs a crap load of work and love (I already think your a wanker, so go ahead!) but hey! The coming months and years are going to be challenging and rewarding all at the same time.

And if you still don’t understand our decision, then you just watch as I ride my bike to a local cafe strip and live my inner-city lifestyle. Oh and please don’t forget to wave!