The big (and expensive) decisions – tiles and doors

Last weekend we set off on a mission to purchase the doors and tiles for the newly renovated bathroom and laundry. Now, if you cast your mind back many blog posts ago to my research on tiles specifically, you might remember my shock at the cost of replacing the mosaic pattern tile which was featured in the existing bathroom. Over the weeks since that blog post we have um-ed and ah-ed about the prospect of forking out over $100 a square metre for these tiles. I have surveyed family, friends and work colleagues and with no firm decision about what to do, I jumped in the car with dad armed with my bank card and measurements to make these purchases.

 Remember these tiles?

My first stop was a local, family owned tile shop in the southern suburbs of Perth. Though polite, I wouldn’t have rated our store assistant in the highest category on the customer service scale. I began by explaining the vintage of our cottage and the look were trying to achieve and basically was told to visit what seems to be the only period tile shop in Perth. Before insisting we head somewhere else, she did (unenthusiastically) show us the same style of mosaic tile as mentioned above at double the price I had seen it at that period tile shop. Very helpful.

The second shop on our list was a recommendation from a friend on Facebook who had told me to visit a particular store saying that they had a great range of tiles and that the store was beautiful. Now, how beautiful can a tile store really get? Let me tell you! Dad and I pulled up at a store featuring a mesh steel facade in to a car park which only featured cars made by high end european car companies. I turned to dad and said, ‘Something tells me that this isn’t our tile shop!’.

See the lesson here is two fold. 1) Always listen to a personal recommendation because word of mouth is truly the best source and 2) never judge a book by its cover.

Hesitantly, we went inside and were overwhelmed by the beauty and range of tiles on show. This store really does take the term ’tile showroom’ to a whole new level. Sales assistants who are as knowledgeable as they are beautiful, walk around immaculately dressed and in high heels putting dad and I in our steel cap boots and painting overalls to shame! We were blown away. In recent weeks I have visited countless tile stores and never have I seen decorative tiles, stylish mosaics, colourful timber look tiles and extra large porcelain marble look tiles like these.

Still unsure about whether I was going to find the tiles I needed, I made my way to the back of the store to a ‘sale’ section like you might find in any clothing boutique. I scanned that sale wall to suddenly realise that all my Christmases were coming at once. Beaming with excitement, I took a closer look at the perfect 200x200mm black and white matte floor tiles, which would suit my space perfectly, and found them discontinued and on sale for $20 a square meter. What’s that you say? $308 to tile my entire bathroom and laundry floor – that sounds like winning to me.

The wins didn’t end there either. Whilst on the way to another tile store, we stopped on a whim past a store with signs out to say ‘end of year financial sale’. I was delighted to find the perfect 150x75mm white gloss subway tiles down from $137 a square meter to $40 a square meter. After a quick call to the boy and a hesitant ‘just buy them!’, I bought both the floor and wall tiles that almost every store said we wouldn’t be able to find because they’d been discontinued, for $1400. Tiles under budget – tick!

 The style we have decided on. 

The doors are a little less noteworthy but still worth a small mention. I’m not sure what I was expecting but my god, are doors expensive! We’re using the the existing antique jarrah door as the entry to the laundry. This means there are three doors left to purchase; the bathroom door, the sleepout door and the external backdoor. I’ve decided on two barn-esk doors for the internal doors and a traditional panelled backdoor with a frosted glass panel, for the addition of some extra light, in the laundry. Two stores later and $800 out of pocket, we have three doors. Pictured below, they’ll fit perfectly with the style we’re setting out to achieve once painted in gloss white and featuring heavy chrome antique handles.

Internal barn-esk doors   
External laundry door 


Want to visit those tile stores?

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Glory box delights

The boy sold his apartment fully furnished and given that we had only acquired things in the last couple of months meant that we only had a handful of things to move. Or so we thought! 

With a thrifty truck hired and a friend and dad in tow to do the moving, we were ready to stop inconveniencing people all over Perth who had kindly looked after our belongings over the last few months. I waited eagerly at the house for the boys to arrive with a truck full of goodies, ready to unpack and for a house to feel a little more like home. (The truth is, this truck meant a fridge, kettle, cups, plates, a toaster, pots and pans – all of the things to make overnight sleepovers a little more comfortable!). 

However, when that truck arrived and the door flung open, I was a little bit confused by the number of boxes inside. How had we acquired so much stuff? 

Now for those of you who have European friends you might know a little something about a glory box. Traditionally prepared by your parents as a gift for you when you move out for the first time, you could think of it as a kickstart to your new life with the foundations and essentials for everyday life as an adult. Think blankets, tea towels, a cultery set, other bric-a-brac, etc. The stuff you know you need when you move out of home but would never be sensible enough to acquire before actually moving out.  However, apparently my mum had mistaken the glory ‘box’ for ‘boxes’. 

In that truck contained the gifts from my very own glory box(s), collected over the best part of a decade. My thoughtful, organised, wonderful, Portuguese mother had collected and stored TWELVE large sized cardboard boxes filled with treasures for the kitchen and linen cupboard. She had even labeled every single box with a thorough description of their contents! 

Treasures inside included Pyrex dishes, serving bowls, Tupperware, a pot set, steak knives, designer curlery sets, porcelain mugs, crystal vases, glasses of every description including port glasses, martini glasses, shot glasses and two sorts or red wine glasses (glasses are not indicative of our drinking behaviors, I promise!) and the list goes on! 

Collecting these bits and pieces over such a long period of time cannot have been easy and though a few pieces have dated and there are double and triple ups of a few things (she’d forgotten what she’d purchased over the years!) we are absolutely indebted to her for such a special gift. It hasn’t just kickstarted our lives in our new home but has sent us running in the right direction and saved us a significant amount of stress and money. 

I hope this is something we are in a position to do for our children so that they too may sit in their kitchens and feel the excitement of opening a box to find a jaffle maker (sandwich toaster) inside! 

Don’t you wish your mum was this good? I know you’re jealous! 

We’re off and running

This weekend was the Western Australian Day long weekend but instead of having a relaxing weekend celebrating the beautiful state that we live in, the house was a flurry of activity. 

Remember those naughty rotting timbers? Well, thanks to the help of a super handy brother/brother in law we have removed them and put a concrete footing it its place. 

After much um-ing and ah-ing we also made a decision to remove the timber cladding in the sleepout which would have once formed the external wall to the house. In cementing in the new footing in the bathroom, timber cladding on the outside of the house has had to have been removed because, as in many instances with houses of the age that ours is, homeowners over the years have patched the outside timbers where holes have been made. The timber cladding from inside the sleepout can now be recycled and used on the outside of the bathroom to give that wall a fresh new look whilst the walls in the sleepout can be nice and flat to match walls in the adjacent laundry and bathroom. A win, win! 

Another handy brother/brother in law was also able to reroute our television aerial and phone line cables to accommodate our plans to make the front room with the fireplace our bedroom and the other front room the loung room. Thank goodness for handy family members, even if they choose to proudly pass you a bag containing a rat found in the roof which looked like it had been dead for longer than house had existed (and affectionately calling it Rodney!). Ugh. 

We also decided to move our furniture in this weekend which has made a hell of a lot of difference in the comfort of staying there overnight. Finally, eskys are made redundant by a beautiful new stainless steel fridge and the barbecue may be less used now we have pots and pans. 

I also began the tedious task of sanding and priming our soon to be bedroom. However, this and other stories must be left for another day. Some action and progress pictures below until then.

Ornate cornices – beautiful until you try to prime them!  
The fun of unpacking. 

 

Indian Inspiration

Whilst recently away losing ourselves in the thick of the ‘country of colour’, India, that beautiful little cottage waiting for us with all of the fun and games of renovating wasn’t far from our minds.

Even before we went on leave, the boy had decided that he was going to take an extra week off from work after our amazing Indian adventure to get stuck in straight away on the demolition stage of our reno. Given that we had been given our keys on the Thursday and flew out in the wee hours of the Saturday morning, there was basically no time to do much more than make the place secure while nobody was there.

India has given us inspiration a plenty. It’s use of colour, silks, marble and all things decadent are truly unique. Anyone who has travelled to this wonderful country would know that the Indians definitely do not do things in halves! What I learnt in India was that you can never judge a book by its cover because the run down facade of a building may not indicate the true beauty of the amazing interior which is waiting for you behind the front doors.

We managed to fill our backpacks while in India with too many souvenirs, as you do on holidays, of which most were for the house. We bought Ganesha statues (in both camel bone and bronze!) for luck and prosperity, masala chai tea (because there is nothing quite like welcoming someone with a beautiful cup of sweet chai) and pop-art inspired street art of India culture (picture very bright turbans in an Andy Warhol-esk theme).

For me though, our best buys were in Varanasi. Varanasi silk, or so I am told, is some of the best in the world. While on tour in this chaotic and mesmerising city, we toured through the small and winding back alleys to find entire sections of the city devoted to silks. We watched as men and women worked one thread at a time to create what can only be described as pieces of art work in the form of scarves, sarees, shalls, bedspreads and throw rugs. We were invited in to a wholesaling business of silks from this area and were shown through some of the most brightly coloured and softest creations I have ever had the chance to see and touch.

We just couldn’t help ourselves. We weren’t leaving without a few of these beautiful and timeless pieces. I purchased a earthy, natural coloured raw silk throw which has hints of orange and green (two of my absolute favourite colours, particularly together). The seller assured me that I was making a justified purchase because this type of silk is affectionately termed the ‘Mahatma Gandhi silk’ after his original profession as a raw silk weaver. Now, I’m not sure if this is in fact a little fib or not, but it was too late, I had already fallen in love. The boy also decided to splash out and purchase a ‘handmade with love over 90 days’ bedspread in a pastel shade of green – just gorgeous.

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An example of a raw silk throw for reference

So once the renovations are finished and we get around to unpacking what we have collected, we will look around and be reminded of the Indian adventure that was. We will remember a beautiful country of endless sunsets, searing hot days and a life changing experience that we wish we could do all over again. I hope that our home reflects all of our adventures together and celebrates where we have been and where we are yet to go!

Some photos of our Indian adventure

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The colours of Jaipur

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The wonders of the holy city of Varanasi

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My favourite – the city of Delhi

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!

Tapware Fit for a DIY King and Queen…

Whilst the waiting game for settlement is still being played, now is the time for us to turn our painting tape designs on the floor in to a reality. The boy took the draftsman to the house to measure the bathroom, laundry and sleep out spaces accurately to have our winning design from two posts ago turned in to something legible to a tradesperson.

In the meantime, we have been on the hunt to find the perfect tapware. There is a lesson to be learnt in this blog post which as a rookie, was bound to happen. As you know, we’ve been flicking through a ridiculous number of home and bathroom magazines, creating mood boards and piecing together our ideas. In the search for ideas I noted that all of the tapware I was cutting out and pinning to my mood board was from the same company. So with this in mind I set out to find local stockists of said tapware here in Perth.

Unfortunately, we aren’t as spoilt for choice here in WA as they are in some of the eastern states when it comes to shopping around for this sort of thing! However, there are two local stockists for this particular brand (or so the website says!).

So, off we set one Saturday out to Midland to find the perfect tapware, Given that we have a character home, we are on the hunt for chrome Federation or Victorian styled pieces. We had decided that we preferred lever tap handles and that the shower set needed to have a hand-held shower as well as a drop down given there’s theres no room for a bath in the tiny space and our future may or may not include little humans. I was filled with anticipation, particularly because apart from thinking about it, this was the first actual purchasing we were going to be doing! We drive the 40 minutes out there, chatting with excitement, product codes and product pictures in hand to realise… the stockist had closed twelve months ago.

Never mind! Remember that there is two stockists in Perth, perhaps we’ll have more luck with the second store. On his lunch break I send the boy to the store in the hunt for this tapware specifically. He walks in the front door that afternoon and hands me a product brochure with handwritten dollar amounts besides the products we had marked. Put simply, I had sent the boy in a store not knowing that the prices of the tapware I had been lusting over for weeks would cost almost the same price as my car! I asked him ‘how did you respond!?’ and his response was this:

I had to pretend like I was fine with it but I literally had to try not to sweat bullets when reading what the guy was writing down. I kept thinking to myself, I wonder if he’s going to charge me just for asking!’

They had quoted us almost $3,000 for the toilet, $2,835 for the shower set and over $1,000 for the basin tap set with additional charges for the handles that we preferred. Like any woman, I know that style (and good style at that!) is worth its price tag. However, this just simply isn’t in our budget. The lesson learnt is, they don’t quote the prices in magazines for a reason! They want to suck you in, make you fall in love and make an emotional purchase that your heart loves and your wallet does not! The save in grace in this situation was that the laziness of the shop assistant meant that there was no followup the next day as promised and the boy never had to provide an explanation (perhaps his acting wasn’t as good as he thought!).

In compromise, we have hunted around and found a company which creates similarly themed products without the hefty price tag. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t being cheap with out tapware at all but the Bastow range which can be purchased at Reece Plumbing, and in part at Bunnings, ticks the boxes for us. It is beautiful, elegant and suits our theme perfectly. It also comes with a 7 year warranty which says it all really.

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Tapware from the Bastow range thanks to Reece Plumbing

So, its done! For about $2,800 we’ve purchased the shower set, basin set, the basin its self and the laundry mixer tap. The next steps are to send the dimensions of these products off to the draftsman for him to pencil in to our plans, choose a toilet and meet with the cabinetmaker to have him draw up our vanity, matching shaving cabinet and laundry cupboards. Slowly, the dreams are coming to life!

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!

Mood Boards and Style Inspiration

Despite falling in love on first inspection, it was very clear that the breezy, light-filled cottage that we had purchased would require a lot of love and therefore, a lot of cash too. It was evident that walls would need to be patched and painted (and in some instances replaced), areas outside would need to be repaved, soak wells installed, the kitchen replaced and that most importantly, a new bathroom would need to be fitted.

We very quickly decided that the bathroom would be the first space we would try and tackle for one main reason. The thought of living without a bathroom scares me. I have this image of me showering outside whilst trying to cover my private parts from the construction workers building the two storey town house on the rear block next door – no thank you! So provisions were made and a budget was devised to renovate a bathroom in the first few weeks of possession and to have it done before we would consider moving in.

Settlement, because of the issuing of new titles for the cottage and its newly subdivided rear-block, has of course been delayed which has allowed us to thoroughly research every aspect of the renovation and decide on floor plans, budgets, style inspiration and make some decisions. Ultimately, we have a 2m x 2.4m square box to work with in which we have to somehow fit a vanity, toilet and shower. Say whhhattt!

What we have to work with:

GrandProm11I decided (much to the boys disgust!) to create a mood board to visually represent the look and feel of the bathroom we are aspiring to create. I have trawled and cut my way through what seems like every bathroom and home renovating magazine on sale in Western Australia. In creating my mood board as well, I have analysed various options in layouts for this tiny space.

Tools like the ‘Reece 3D Bathroom Planner’ (see http://www.reece.com.au/bathrooms/3d-bathroom-planner) have made this exceptionally easy to see how average sized baths, showers, toilets and vanities might fit snuggly in to this space. We have toyed with various options, such a keeping the plumbing as it is and completely moving it around. Though nothing was more telling than actually mapping out the design on the floor.

I’d recommend this as a part of anyone’s design journey. Do yourself a favour by going to Bunnings, buying some of that blue paper tape (usually used for painting) and map out any design you are considering on the floor. There was no better indication of the functionality of this space than ‘sitting’ in the design and there is nothing more important than functionality.

Failed layout design number 1 (out of at least 20!)

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So, after about twenty failed attempts at designing our bathroom we finally have a layout which we are happy with and which is functional. We’ve chosen this particular layout to accommodate a simple open frameless shower screen, a decent (1m wide) vanity and as to avoid seeing the crapper as you enter the door (a rookie error for newbie renovators – or so I’m told!).

The winning design!

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The plan is to create a functional but beautiful space with touches of old world charm in a modern setting and the mood board has been a great tool in coming to a joint decision on some of the key elements of our planned renovation.

So get printing, cutting and imagining and use all of the style inspiration that you find on various websites, in magazines and in your creative juices to create a mood board which represents you and your space.

Ta da! My very own mood board.

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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