Tuesday, 27 September 2011


To anybody who's not renovating, the next post will be tediously boring so don't even get started... however to anybody who is thinking of renovating... it might prove to be kind of helpful... I'll let you decide.

So we need to pave a 100m2 terrace around the pool (that includes pool coping - tech word for the pavers that run around the edge of the pool), waterline tiles (I think that's self-explanatory) and 2 sets of 3 long steps.

My wish list:
  1. Rectangular pavers where the width was 1/2 the length... 1000mm x 500mm or 800mm x 400mm or 600mm x 300mm (in that order of preference). I wanted rectangles to increase the sense of width and felt that over such a vast area squares would be too boxy, and I wanted those dimensions because they are just more visually balanced... one of those design rules like 'odd numbers are always more balanced than even' you know, 3 candles in the centre of the table sit better than 4... am I sounding slightly mad now?
  2. The coping pavers needed to have square profile with pencil round edges, not a round bullnose profile.. again, just because I like that better.
  3. I wanted to be able to get the waterline tiles in the same material as the terrace - all one uniform look wrapping over into the pool - not a distinct stripe of tiles around the waters edge.
  4. The material needed to be honest. That's just one of those other things that I like, concrete to be concrete, stone to be stone and tiles to be tiles... I don't like materials pretending to be something else like tiles or vinyl that are made to look like timber. 
  5. I was fairly flexible on colour so long as it was grey.
  6. Cheap, cheap and cheap. We're on a tight budget.

So the search began. This is where you start saving the big $, schlepping around town yourself to find the right product at the right price and not paying the pool company or project manager to do it. But of course you need the time, patience and passion (fortunately I have all three but even I was kind of over it after I visited the um-teenth supplier).

I started with recycled concrete pavers - I liked their eco credentials and I thought the cost was ok, they have a square bullnose available, and come in pretty much any shade of grey you can think of. However they actually turned out to be quite expensive for the larger sizes (only the 500mm x 500mm were affordable), and what I wanted only came in 38mm thickness which made them very heavy and more costly to lay (more time and effort always costs more).

Next up was outdoor tiles. Thought I'd take a look as the price goes down significantly but they all just looked too much like tiles (what a surprise) and I couldn't make the compromise. For me, tiles are too thin, the texture just didn't feel right for outdoors, they tend to be slippery around the pool and they don't have the sense of strength, gravity, or whatever, over such a large area.

So on to natural stone which I had ruled out because I thought it would be too costly but it turned out not to be. I was even more surprised to find it cheaper than the concrete pavers (but note that they have to be glued and sealed - and both of these products add to the cost / metre). Started out with Bluestone,  decided the risk of a dark hot surface underfoot was outweighed by the diminished glare (our pool area is North facing and relentlessly sunny at midday) and was about to seal the deal when I found da na na naaa my Teneriffe Grey Granite.

Another $15m2 cheaper than the Bluestone (loving that), a lovely mottled grey with light and dark flecks (so not too glarey and not too hot), can be made into a lovely square bullnose that folds down (will show you a pick to explain when they arrive), 30mm depth paver for the main area with a 10mm waterline tile available, and did I mention... cheaper than anything else I liked!

Only compromises is that's it's a smidge rough underfoot but that's ok to minimise slipping and I had to go with the 3rd size choice of 600mm x 300mm to keep it cost effective (both in materials and laying). But really, really happy with the end result. Ah the labour of love was worth it.

Monday, 26 September 2011

falling balls

In the thick of pre-reno planning now with all the administration that comes before the build. The pool is well underway and I am super happy with my choice of granite pavers - I promise to write an entry about the journey to natural stone for anyone trying to make a similar choice soon (definately ignore it if you're not).

House Construction Certficate underway, I am now a qualified Owner-Builder, complete with OH&S Certificate, and very much consumed by banks, insurance companies and Council whilst trying to bargain down quotes for structural steel, windows and doors, timber flooring, pool fencing and the rest. Longing for a time when it will be about choosing white bathroom tiles, white kitchen cabinets and white paint for the walls... but for now it's just juggling lots of paperwork balls in the air ... and keeping my fingers and toes crossed that they land in the right place!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


Concrete for the pool has been poured, music playing loudly in iTunes, sun is shining, half-way through my owner-builder certificate, family all safe and well and the crab-apple in our front garden is in full splendorous blossom .... life is good.

linen dreams

Baby sister's birthday last week and along with some jewellery I've been making (experimenting with), I made her this linen apron. She's a great cook (and married to a chef) so dinner at their place is always extra delicious and I wanted to make her an apron that said 'domestic goddess' more than ' housewife' ... and this is it.

The french linen is so beautiful - I source it at Tessuti Fabrics who sell designer 'end of line' fabrics at thoroughly reasonable prices and actually one of the few places where I've found these really affordable, top quality linens. I like to screen print on linen (as it makes for calmer backgrounds than stark white fabric) and Tessuti often have offcuts that I can use to experiment with designs. Worth a look and they sell online.