Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Subject Of Colour

I had a rather exciting week last week. As well as buying a block of land for my next project, I got flown to Sydney by Taubmans, to take part in the 'Taubmans Great Colour Debate'. 

This was the floor of the venue. 

I learnt lots about paint technology ("paint is not just about colour, but also technology") and that great paint that they use on 'Selling Houses Australia'.

I'd heard of it (Taubmans, 'Endure') but I'd never really investigated what made it different to any other paint. Being a scientist by trade, I was in geek heaven. I like things to be scientifically proven.... with reproducibility and stats thrown in for good measure. Choice loves it... as an 'overall best performer'... and the Asthma Foundation have labelled it a 'sensitive choice'. I'll leave a link HERE for you to read all about it's goodness, as this is not a sponsored post . This is just me telling you about my fabulous day.

So we were in this really groovy place... with fabulous lights, paint splattered floors, vibrant fresh flowers, rustic table settings....

.... and seriously heavenly food.

Shaynna Blaze, the interior designer from 'Selling Houses Australia' and the newest judge on 'The Block' (they DID listen to the viewers and bring in a female judge!), talked about how the general public has lost confidence in colour. We see all these fabulously, colourful makeovers on TV and in beautiful magazines... and blogs! ...but the biggest selling paint colours are still the neutrals.....whites, beiges, off whites. 

Why do we have such a fear of colour? (why do I have such a fear of colour?... I was asking myself quietly, hoping no-one would notice that my favoured aesthetic is a 'white washout'). Is it a hangover from the 70's and 80's...... mission brown, orange, yellow and bold patterns? Is it a fear of being judged? Is it a fear of failure? In the end it's just paint, you can paint over it. Yeah! I can vouch for that, painting over my 'royal blue' kitchen feature wall in the 90's to bring in the 'spiced apple'... oh those were the days! I used to love colour. What happened?

As Shaynna said, "we have been in a beige coma for way too long". The norm now is "layers of beige".

Shaynna made colour sound delicious and enticing, stating that "colour is like a complex woman. It's sassy, and moody, suggestive, manipulating, fun and nurturing". I didn't realise that colour names use such sensory words.....words that evoke such emotion... chocolate, latte, caramel, espresso. We link sentiment to colour. One participant told a story about a bright yellow room in her mother's home. The 'yellow room' was saved for all the special occasions... birthdays, Christmas, celebrations, happy times. You'll never guess what the participant's favourite colour was! She is planning a yellow room in her own home. Sentiment exactly.

So how do we progress on from neutrals? As Shaynna said.... "we experiment". It's ok to make mistakes. It's very low risk, very low cost. It's not failure. 

Nadine, from Taubmans, cited an interesting study that showed people who made a big mistake with colour in their home were more likely to live with it longer and not change it... compared to people who were happy with the colour in their home. The people who had made a good colour choice, and lived happily with it, were more likely to change their colours more often!

How cool is this? 
I digress. 

We discussed colour in small spaces.. as our homes are becoming smaller. It was suggested that you link your wall colour to your floor... and don't create blocks of colour.... block of couch, block of rug. Don't use jarring colours (opposites on colour wheel). Don't create levels of colour in a small space .... keep skirtings, architraves, cornices and walls in a similar colour, no more than 1/2 a shade away from each other.

I could feel a bit of a paradigm shift, sitting amongst all these colour advocates. You will see colour in my next place. Big statement, but true. Colour beyond the accessories. Colour on the walls. I'm going to 'put my brave on' and start with tints. You can hold me to that.

I was most impressed with my goodie bag. As I said my favourite colour was blue, I got the most rocking electric blue nail polish, which is going to go down so well in orchestra!.... and that tin of Endure paint?... full to the brim of M&M's. We've made a start!

Thank you Taubmans. I got to meet some of the other wonderful invitees ...... from Vogue Living, Burke's Backyard magazine, Domain, Indesign, News Limited, Dec PR and Taubmans and Shaynna Blaze of course.

I had a lovely, happy, colourful day!

Friday, March 30, 2012

House Purchase Update

Image Via Pinterest

Sorry for my absence today. Have been running around 'due diligence-ing' my house block.

Due to a nasty 3 x 3 x 3 council truncation on the corner of the block, 2 little houses are just not going to be feasible.  I could have made it work somehow, as there is always a solution, but there was also the issue of beautiful council trees on the footpath that could not be removed... making it impossible for me to put the garage of one house on the boundary.... to best utilize every square metre I have. 

I went back to the house this afternoon and sat in the gutter opposite, chin on my knees... waiting for the universe to speak to me... to tell me what to do. I tried to picture the best outcome for this lovely block. I have a 40m frontage. In the past I have only dreamt of having a frontage this big to work with! These big double blocks, with city views, are as rare as hen's teeth..... so I've decided to go for the biggie. One big house. That said, more obstacles can still come my way. I'm still investigating council restrictions, services and demolition issues. Lot's to do before I go unconditional next week.

I found this message in my inbox tonight: 

Fear, A-M, like joy, usually means that you're exactly where you should be, learning what you're ready to learn, about to become more than who you were.

    The Universe

My heart is racing...... so I must be right where I should be.

Back tomorrow.
Have a great night.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Houses That A-M Built

'Lucky Pen'

Bit beside myself. I bought a block of land. Deceased estate. Signed the contract the day before yesterday.... with the agent's lucky pen. I could feel it in my waters that it was going to be mine.... but I still used the pen... so as not to offend the nice agent. He was very nice. Nice manners.

So, I am going to try my hand at a subdivision and build 2 beautiful houses side by side. There is a house on the block at the moment. I think I am going to polarise my blog readers when I eventually publish a photo of it as, despite it being post war, it is sort of really lovely.... in it's own way. It's not timber, it's stucco and brick.... so it's going to have to be a noisy, scary warm and fuzzy recycling story this time around I'm afraid. I will make a promise to the neighbours that I will replace it with something much much better.

At this stage, I am not going to get ahead of myself.... which is extremely easy to do when you have a blank canvas sitting there in all it's beauty! Step by step. I'm in discussions with a town planner at the moment, during the contract due diligence stage, as I wish to reconfigure the current subdivision to enable the best street elevations and city views for both houses. So I am changing a 2 lot, into a 2 lot, if that makes sense.... from long and skinny blocks to square blocks... with wider frontages. I'll get the terminology right eventually. I built the last place on 'thingys' and 'whatsits' so I know that people do eventually get what I am talking about.

I'm really, really going to need your help. Lots of advice. Just like last time. Remember? You helped me build that place. I can't do it on my own. So how about it? Are you in?

Might have to change the name of my bloggy?
PS And in other exciting news, I had the most delightful day yesterday! Taubmans flew me to Sydney so I could take part in the Taubmans Great Colour Debate. I will tell you all about it tomorrow as I have to rush out the door this morning. Lots to do! Kid's to deliver at school, town planner meeting and filthy shed chores. The glamour.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Via Pinterest - original source unknown.

Over at Live Bold and Bloom blog, there is a wonderful post in which 20 top bloggers share their most life-altering, fearless actions. It's an inspiring article to read.

I found this contribution, by Farnoosh Brock, from 'Prolific Living', most inspiring, as I too have made a similar shift over the past few years....

"The one bold and fearless thing was a mindset shift when I decided to follow my own gut, my own feelings and my own decisions without the weight of everything and everyone around me. When I decided to fully trust myself and the direction I was choosing my life to go, I made the biggest boldest shift. From that change in perspective and mindset, all my other seemingly fearless decisions have followed from leaving my lucrative corporate career, to getting a boyish haircut, to feeling confident about my present and ultimate success. It may not seem like much, but if you can believe in yourself and trust your decisions and honor your feelings, you will be amazed by what you can accomplish".
...hence the reason I find myself sitting amongst professional musicians in a symphony orchestra every Monday night now, telling myself that all I need is practice. "You can do this A-M, you can do this". Doesn't help that they are all violin teachers!... and my last formal lesson was like 30 years ago in my teens. Fearless I am. Fearless. Mantra....mantra....mantra.... affirmation....affirmation....affirmation.

Do you find yourself doing more fearless things as you get older? I find that I am seeking them out now. Life is too short to be scared of anything. Anything.

Happy Tuesday! We're off to the cathedral tonight for the school Easter service. Little one is singing in the choir. Awwww!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Nook

This morning's kitchen nook comes all the way from a property called 'Bright Bliss' in Bright, Victoria.
Oh look, my bar stools and lights! They have such fabulous taste down there.

'Bright Bliss' is self-contained, luxury accommodation, situated at the foot of the Victorian Alps, walking distance from the Bright town centre. 

Isn't it pretty?!

Love the stone.... and the gorgeous light!

I've checked out the map.....smack bang in between Fall's Creek and Hotham ski resorts!

Check out the tub! Imagine soaking your aching 'ski legs' in that!

'Mor' body products and Sheridan towels.
I'm there.

... and look!
I'm so there.

They have a website HERE.
.... and they have deals on their Facebook page HERE.

Hmmm, maybe I need to get my act together and plan a Victorian Alps ski trip. Maybe end of term 3?..... when big son is tripping the light fantastique in Japan on his school trip? What a great base for a ski trip. Via Melbourne of course. Centre of the universe. Got to get my fix.

Busy day of clients today...then my second orchestra rehearsal tonight. Been practising all week. Not so scratchy now. Although my boys would disagree. Little one skipped past me yesterday with hands over his ears! I kid you not.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Week That Was

I knew it was going to be a good week, when my big son cooked me this last Sunday!
Bit heavy on the butter... but who's complaining? He's learning.

Joined the Symphony Orchestra on Monday.... as you do...

.. then ate my body weight in celebratory food the next day.

Dropped in on Bill to deliver more art goodies (thanks Jen W.. see he put them in one of his many plastic bags, as it was raining. That's Bill's heart umbrella!.... ooh and I spy the green plastic plate I gave him with his fruit basket at Christmas.... good to see it's still useful!)...

...spied on my son while he was practising his new piece....

Little tacker is learning a new piece too. 
This was him about 5 minutes ago. It's all systems go here this morning!

...went back to collect some paintings from Bill, to sell for him on my blog... but he'd gone walkabout. 
He loses track of the days and forgets what day is Friday.
I left him a note. 

...decided it was all too hard and planned to take the day off... reading the paper and sipping coffee...

.. then I got the call that 3 pallets of lights had arrived.
Shoes off!

.. more of my gorgeous Etienne French Glass lights...

.. and some beautiful crewel throws and cushion covers from Orson and Blake...

... straight to my sofa. Some for you and some for me!

I finally invested in a torch.. so I can ferret around in there like nobody's business.

... tragic for the nails, all this hard labour. 
Look away Faux Fuchsia.
The colour had to go anyway... frowned upon in orchestras.
Length has to go too... although this is my bowing arm so I can keep them a bit longer. :)
Today is election day here in Queensland. 
Time for a new government... Queensland has gone to the dogs.
Happy Saturday!
PS My boy is playing Enrique Iglesias 'Somebody's Me' on the guitar while I have my coffee. That song always makes me cry.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Brother Love

Found this sticky-taped to my little one's bedroom door. He's been in a bit of trouble lately:

I am truly blessed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Clearing A Block

 I think that's my youngest brother having a sticky beak there. He originally contemplated taking the house off my hands.

Bit lazy today. This post is a 'reprint' of a post I did a couple of years ago. Lately I have received a few emails from new readers, who are looking at buying a knockdown or who have recently purchased an old home and are wanting to remove it, in order to build. They have enquired as to how I went about demolishing the original house from the block I built on and how much did it cost to do so. Well I chickened out of a demolition... for the trauma of it all and the cost... and the whole removal project cost me $1.

I am looking for a similar project to kick off now. Now it costs more for half the size of this block! I wish I'd bought the house 2 doors up, when it came on the market while I was building. I wish, I wish....

Ok, original post:

There was an old home (above) on the block when I purchased it. The block was 782sqm, 31 perch, with a natural 5 metre fall from the back down to the road. It was in a 'Demolition Control', 'Character Code' precinct and because the frontage was less than 15m (14.9 can you believe it, 10cm out), I also had the 'Small Lot Building Code' to abide by. Lots of codes, lots of restrictions.

The new owner sizing up the project!

Aerial photographs of the land in May, 1946 show no house. Aerial photographs in May 1947 show the house built. That's all that is required to prove the build time frame for a demolition. Anything built before 1946 had to remain in this 'Demolition Control', 'Character Code' precinct... it just scraped into the demolition approval year by the skin of it's teeth.

I couldn't bare to demolish it (or part with $20,000). It was a deceased estate, only one family had owned it, built it, grew up in it, passed away in it.... and despite the fact that no house removal company would touch it, due to asbestos, I knew someone would want it. It still had another couple of generations in it. Have you ever witnessed a house demolition? ..... very traumatic and horrifically noisy. Not good for the soul.

It was a very basic home inside (very typical of homes built post war, when money was tight) - one lounge/dining area, 2 small bedrooms, a sleepout, original 1947 kitchen, with 1947 newspaper lining the kitchen drawers, outside toilet, out amongst the spiders (redbacks). Oh and the top third of the block was a rubbish tip (144 sqm of it). The little old man was a bit of a 'Steptoe and Son' and collected black plastic garden pots.... thousands of them, not to mention sheets of fibro (more asbestos) leaning up against the asbestos fence (that I promptly had removed as my first project).

So I advertised in the newspaper 'Free House. House for removal. Clear land required for house build.' ....and the offers came in. The deal was done through a $1 contract - "you can have the house, as long as you leave the block clear for us.... and you have this long to do it". 

I used to drive past the house on weekends, whilst the new owners were working to clear the block... of all those pots! I felt so guilty as it was so much work. I think they filled 6 skips. Often I wanted to stop and help them!

The roof tiles were removed and the house was cut in half, with asbestos management all the way. It left the block in the dead of night, on the back of 2 trucks, and it arrived at it's new home on the outskirts of town at 2.30am. The new owners sent us an email the following day saying that their neighbours were still speaking to them, despite the ruckus!

Here it is the following day, waiting to settle into it's new life.

Her new country view

New roof, verandah and sleepout opened up, extensions to the back and paint.

Her new owners even gave her a name, as they love her so much.
'Abelia Cottage' - I am so glad you were saved sweetie!
A-M xx

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New On Board

I have 2 lovely new blog sponsors..... now contributing to the 'Feed A-M's Growing Boys Fund'.

First, say hello to 'Miss French Navy', from French Navy.

She creates the most beautifully elegant stationery...

.... including wedding stationery and stylish personalised stationery ...

.... in the most fabulously happy colours.

.. and look, monograms too:

...and 'Miss French Navy' has a range that is sold in Liberty of London!
I know. Exciting.

Aaaaaannnnnd to top it all off, she has a bloggy HERE..... which just exudes style and sophistication.

Coast and Country Homewares have also joined in the fun.

Their gorgeous collection of homewares, soft furnishings, tableware and jewellery is inspired by our beautiful Australian coastline. There is also a touch of the Hampton's in there too. Their range delights me as I have found lots of blue things!

I especially love their blue and white collection. 
I am seriously in love with this plate.

...and look at their gorgeous tea lights!

... striking...
..... and robust enough to survive a Spaghetti Bolognaise session, powered by boys.

I hope you enjoy these lovely shops.
Say hi from me!

Happy Wednesday!

Oh and PS, thanks for all your encouragement yesterday. I was so 'encouraged', I practised until dark and knocked off Debussy's 'Petite Suite' in only 2 hours! Sorry neighbours.... no, it wasn't a kid, it was an over enthusiastic grown-up making that noise. Oh how my fingers hurt this morning. A deliciously nice hurt though!