Lighting: Kitchen Island Bench

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You might remember late last year we started our kitchen planning, and now that we’re close to building commencing, we’ve been trying to finalise our lighting choices to go through with the electrician. One of the key elements of the kitchen is the lighting over our island bench. While the lights in our inspiration picture (below – (image from Marsh and Clark) are from the US, I managed to track down an Australian supplier. Unfortunately, it turns out they are worth $2,500 EACH!! That certainly doesn’t fit our budget, regardless of how much I love them. So instead, I’ve been trying to find some alternatives. I’ve come up with a shortlist of these 6, and I think we’ve just about settled on the first option. They’re online only, so we’re going to have a look at the third option which are in store, they’re similar, but a bit bigger and at a much higher price point – but will give us a good idea of what they’re going to look like. Very excited to have ticked one more thing off the huge to do list!

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Kitchen planning + weekend fun

Well we still haven’t signed a contract for the build, but hopefully we’re very close.

This weekend we decided to start kitchen shopping as we’ve got the option of going with our builder’s cabinet maker or a kitchen company of our choice. I’ve found 4 companies that we wanted to check out, 2 of which are on the Gold Coast (the other 2 in Brisbane) so Saturday morning we jumped in the car and headed for Burleigh Heads. It was great to chat with both sides of the process – one place we spoke to the owner and the actual builder himself, and the other place we chatted with a kitchen designer. We already know fairly certainly what we want, but it was good to know that what we’re looking for is possible to achieve! I won’t go in to details until we have the actual drawings and are further along in the process, but this is our inspiration picture (image from Marsh and Clark).

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After spending 2.5 hours talking kitchens, we were both over it and given it was such a beautiful day we decided to swing by the beachfront and see if we could get a carpark and go somewhere for lunch. Luckily we only did one lap of the esplanade when we found a park and it was right in front of the best beachfront spot at Burleigh!

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We thought we’d push our luck even further and see if we could get a table at Rick Shores, a Pan-Asian restaurant headed by renowned Melbourne chefs, and managed to score the last two spots at the casual bar! Lunch was amazing, the flavours were so fresh and there wasn’t a bite that didn’t taste great. We had:

  • Chicken Popcorn, Meyer Lemon, Spiced Salt
  • Beef Brisket Bao, Smoked Ssam Jang, Cucumber
  • Massaman Curry, Lamb Shank, Potato, Pickled Onion
  • Miso chocolate parfait, with milo, peanut butter and malt.

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The cocktails were pretty amazing too!

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On our way home, we dropped into the estate to see if there was any building progress anywhere. Two lots have their building pads being levelled, so it’s likely we’ll see some construction there in the next few weeks. We had a hilarious story while we were there: we found a little pool in the nature reserve between us and our neighbours. It looks like it could be about a metre deep and it had a fair bit of water in it. We were looking at it and said wouldn’t it be great if there were turtles living in it. We got back in our car and drove around a couple of the other streets and all of a sudden hubby put the breaks on and said “what’s that?”. We got out of the car, and there was a turtle sitting in the middle of the road! It was really hot and the poor thing looked distressed. We’re not sure how it got there, or why it was there – perhaps it crawled up from a nearby creek and got stuck once it climbed down the gutter. I told hubby to pick it up and we would take it back to our little pond. Well, the minute we walked towards it, it ran and hid in the shade under our car! Hubby had to get an umbrella out of the car and he managed to get it to climb into an insulated cooler bag we had. We put it in the car and raced back to our block and managed to get it into our little pool! It was so happy, it swam around, ducking deep into the water and then finding a little ledge to rest on. Who knows if it will stick around, but at least the poor thing didn’t die in the sun!

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We spent a lovely day today celebrating our friends birthdays. Such a great group of girls!

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Did you know that it is only 91 more sleeps til Christmas? Can you believe how fast this year has gone? Have a good week everyone!

Meeting the neighbours + build update

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One of the key things hubby and I were looking for when we started looking for land to build our forever home, was a sense of community.

I grew up in a street where everyone knew each other and we stayed out playing in the street until dark when we’d run home for dinner. There were about 20 kids with a 10 year age range and we all got along. There was a park and a creek at the end of the street and we’d ride our bikes up and down the hill, with an occasional shout of “car!” signalling the scramble to get off the road. I lived in that house my entire childhood, and it was only at the age of 21 that I finally moved out of home – to a house a couple of streets away! At 29 I’m still in contact with many of the children that I grew up with, and many of the parents still live in that same street along with my own parents. Hubby on the other hand, moved around a lot as a child and moved out of home quite young.

While we both come from very different backgrounds when it comes to calling a place home, we both agreed we wanted to achieve a similar life as what I had as a child for our own children. And even for ourselves. I like the idea of getting home on a Friday and cutting through the backyard to go and have a drink over a back fence with a neighbour. Just knowing our neighbours will be a good thing! In today’s society we are becoming more isolated and don’t like to get to know our neighbours. We’re looking for a community, with similar goals and views on life.

We had strong hopes for this sense of community when we purchased our land, but needless to say we were very excited when we heard the initiatives that the developer has in place to help us all meet and get to know each other. The first of which was a ‘Meet The Neighbours’ evening at the estate, where we had nibbles, drinks, games and a bonfire. We met a number of our direct neighbours, and even a few who are a couple of streets over. It was a great introduction to the community and the first of many events they have planned – there was talk of movie nights under the stars and another BBQ type picnic affair.

In terms of where we’re at with the build. Well, we’re learning to be patient! It takes a long time to go back and forth with the builder and we still haven’t signed a contract, but we did receive what is hopefully the final drawings and changes to our plan today (with lots of highlighter colours and mark ups!). We’re hoping to quickly review and send back, so that we can get them to draw up the final contract and get it signed. Then it’s off to the bank for money, the developer for their design approval, and the council for building approval. Fingers crossed, we might be laying the slab in November. I’ll cry if we’re not!!

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We’ve settled! Now to get to contract stage…

So we settled on the land yesterday! After 10 long months we can finally say we actually own the land, yay! But now the hard work starts!

Hubby met with the builder during the week as we try to work towards our final building contract. While we don’t have to make complete final decisions, we do need to have a pretty certain idea of what style we want, so the different trades can quote on it. Hubby has a strong opinion on details such as windows, window frames, skirting boards and cornice, so I’m happy to leave him to make those decisions. But I have the strong opinion when it comes to the kitchen and bathrooms – these are actually my most favourite areas to work on, as there are so many elements to come together. And so the sketching begins!

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Yes, yes, I am by  no means an artist! But at least hubby understands my rough sketches and can do something with it (the toilet looks weird, but it is very specific – I only like completely flat backs that can go against the wall!).

But anyway, I digress. So now we’re at the stage of working out what cabinet style we want, so the cabinet maker can quote on it. What tiles we might want, so the tiler can quote on it. What shower, bath, toilet and vanity we want, so the builder can quote on it. Lots and lots of quotes!! So hubby and I have been trawling through our inspiration pictures and Pinterest, picking out our number 1 pictures that give a strong indicator of the style we want. Here’s a snapshot of our ensuite, laundry and kitchen inspiration (in order).

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Once we’ve put together the more detailed photos and requests, the builder thinks we should be at a point to sign a contract in the next two weeks, which is so exciting! Here’s hoping it all goes to plan!

Have a good weekend!

Project Build: Ready for settlement!

After what seems like forever, the developer is finally ready to hand over the land and we can get on with the process of BUILDING! We received notice the other week that everything is good to go, and thankfully at the same time our finance came through so according to the solicitor and mortgage broker, we are all ready for D-Day!

There’s been a little bit of progress with the site over the past 6 months and I thought I’d share some photos of the changes as they happened little by little. In case you missed it – here is my post on when we purchased the land! Probably the most exciting part was when we got the roads in – that’s when things really got real. Now the construction gates are down and we can come and go as we please which is really exciting.

September 2015

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December 2015

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February 2016

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March 2016

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June 2016

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July 2016

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In other news, we’ve also settled on a builder and are trying to finalise our plans as much as possible before signing the contract. I know a lot of builders are happy to do variations to the contract as the build progresses, but we’re really keen to have everything locked down as much as possible. With hubby being an Engineer he is very detail-oriented, and we have a meeting this week with the builder to raise a number of smaller points that we want finalised. Here’s an updated floor plan to have a look at, although there are still a couple of small changes to come.

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Well hopefully everything goes smoothly this week and we become proud new land owners!

Project Build: designing the floorplan

It’s been a little while since I told you about our building project that we’re embarking on, but since then we’ve been visiting display homes, sorting through design books and scrolling through Pinterest, and we think we’ve finally come up with a basic floorplan for our forever home! Our plan is to make use of a builder and their design service, but figure that we should at least have a reasonable idea of what we want when we go to talk to them. Given the slope of the block (gradual, but it’s there) we won’t be able to go down the path of a project home, and we want something a bit more custom anyway!

High on the priority list were the following:

  • 4 bedrooms – we have family and friends all over the country and the world that we often have to stay with us, so extra bedrooms were a must!
  • A library – hubby works from home at the moment, and we both have a lot of books, so we knew we needed something more than just a regular study. This room will be large enough to have a meeting table in the middle, as well as a desk and be lined with bookshelves.
  • Dressing rooms in the master – I have a lot of clothes and shoes, and we’ve finally just gotten some decent wardrobes in our current home, so I’m not going backwards!! Good storage is a must, with space for natural light and a central display unit for jewellery and bags.
  • Meals corner – I want to have a formal dining room for having nice dinners at, but I also love the idea of something more casual for breakfasts and lunches. A meals corner with booth seating against a window is my dream – I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to this!!
  • Theatre room – we want to have a theatre room, but we want it to be multipurpose too. Growing up my parent’s house never had the extra space for teenagers and their friends, and I imagine this will be that space in our house. The idea is that the wall between it and the dining room will be bi-fold, so that we can open up both rooms and use them for indoor entertaining if need be.
  • Split level – we want to work with the slope of the block, rather than cutting and having huge retaining walls everywhere. So, we’ve opted for 2 splits which you can see from the steps in the hallway of the drawing.

Now we’ve put our artist’s hat on and done a rough sketch on the computer – rooms aren’t quite in proportion and we’ve already decided to switch around the master so that the ensuite is overlooking the garage and the bed overlooking the outdoor area – but it’s a good start we think. We’ve been and met with a builder (an update on that will come soon) but we’ve been told it’s a great document to have and they can certainly work with this – yahoo!

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Project Build: In the beginning

As many of you will know, hubby and I purchased our first home 6 years ago. In that time we got engaged, got married, have travelled to Europe and been on many a cruise. At the same time, we’ve slowly but surely been carefully renovating every part of our house. It wasn’t a small project that we took on, but we knew we could do it if we had the patience and stamina. I won’t lie, it’s tested our relationship some times, but what’s that saying – if you can survive a renovation, you can survive anything?? We can survive anything! We’re nearly finished now and in the end we will have completely gutted and rebuilt our living, dining and kitchen area, terraced our front yard including a new retaining wall and garden beds, redone our entertaining area and decked our pool, gutted and re-did our main bathroom, master bedroom and ensuite, and refurbished the remaining bedrooms with new carpets, paint jobs and replaced the lovely amber glass windows with modern ones. It’s been a big job but the results have been very satisfying.

Along the way, we’ve often been asked “what are you going to do when you finish?”. We’ve always said we would sell and many people didn’t believe us, after we’ve put so much hard work into this house, and it does look beautiful now. The truth is, we never had any intentions of this being our “forever home”. This was pure and simple a business decision. Buy what we could afford to enter the market, renovate as much as we could without paying others to do it, sell for a great profit and move on. The move on part was what we weren’t sure about. Do we renovate again? Do we build? Where do we want to live? Near the city, or the country? We both agreed that if we decided to renovate again, we would be doing it to stay put and we would probably pay people to do it for us now. Hubby’s job has improved greatly since we began this journey and now our time is worth more than what we can pay someone else.

One day, I was scrolling through my realestate.com alerts (like any savvy home buyer, I have a number of these set up to come through daily!) and I happened across some land that grabbed my attention. I flicked it to hubby and we decided to go and have a look at it. At this stage we were leaning more towards building, but land is expensive and we weren’t sure we could get it in an area we liked, so we were still seriously considering a major renovation. When we saw the land, we fell in love. It was perfect, exactly what we were looking for, and crazily enough, within our price range. Suddenly, it was on. Meeting with our mortgage broker, figuring out what we had left to do on this house, how we would finance a build, what kind of house we would build, how much it would cost us, time frames…. the list was endless. We did all of this in about a week, and decided to go for it. We found the block that was the smartest buy (we buy with our heads, definitely not our hearts) and rung the agent to put our deposit down. And it was sold. Yep, it sold 5 hours earlier. I was gutted. Mentally it had been a huge week and I had finally come to terms with what our financial position was, the fact that we would be moving (increasing my work commute by 20 minutes each way) and what it meant for the next year as we built. I was exhausted and gave up.

During the week, hubby couldn’t let go of it. He kept looking at the maps, studying the contours and trying to find us another block that suited our needs. On Friday morning he told me he wanted to go and have a look at another block. I was over it, and told him he could do what he liked and what he needed. If he thought it was good, I was happy for him to buy it. So off he went, taking his dad to have a look while I was at work. I got a phone call a couple of hours later telling me I was the proud owner of a block of land!

And so there we have it. The beginning of our Project: Build. Settlement isn’t until around May 2016 so we’ve got plenty of time to tie up lose ends at our current house and prepare for the building process. Then we’ll be selling up, renting somewhere short term and building our forever home. I’ll be documenting the process along the way, so I hope you’ll enjoy coming on this ride with me! In the meantime, here are some pictures of our land. There are a fair bit of earthworks to happen before May, which will mean that it is significantly levelled out, particularly at the front of the block, but we are happy with this and that is one of the reasons we bought the block.

Til next time, check out the pictures below of our purchase!!

L xxx

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