After the initial shock of discovering the bulge in my kitchen wall we panicked for a few hours then realised that it may not be as bad as it first appeared. There was little if any rubble or old plaster behind the wall of cupboards. Just lots of dust and a rat skeleton. The cupboards appeared to have been built to skirt around the bulge almost as if it had been there back in the 60s when the kitchen was last renovated. Had the previous owner just hidden the wall behind a fortress of built-ins? At least the wall didn’t appear to be in any imminent danger of collapse. We called the city council’s heritage architect and he promptly came out to cast his beady eye over our old walls.

Next step was to contact the heritage brick mason who is based in Brisbane but works statewide and arrange for him to inspect the wall. He’s coming early this week. Considering his family company is the only one in the state who is able to fix this wall correctly (historical blah blah blah, heritage whatsa-doovey etc) I’m surprised he can come so quickly. We’ll be getting a structural engineer’s report too but wanted to see what the mason said first. We think it might be better just to fix the wall in the beginning instead of patching and waiting to see what happens over time. All work on the kitchen has ground to a halt while the “battle of the bulge” goes on. Thankfully we hadn’t disconnected the water or removed the sink yet and the stove is still working. Bench space is limited and storage almost nonexistent so we are living out of plastic tubs for food, plates and utensils.

Enough of these boring background details. Next post I’ll show you what I have/had in mind for the kitchen fitout. This is in a state of flux though as our budget may be about to get a big hit from the wall repair costs. We have a contingency fund but who knows if it is enough? Perhaps I won’t be getting a new stove or those fabulous marble counters after all.

Photo from Walk Among the Homes

Well may you ask. We have been trying to make a start on our kitchen renovation since this time last year. We ordered a kitchen, had to wait until it arrived in the country in November last year. Then we had a series of problems on our end … problems that turned up in other areas of the house that ate up our kitchen budget, a tree that fell on the back of the house which caused insurance problems (have given up the fight on what remains outstanding on that one), trades that couldn’t coordinate because of our delays, let our kitchen cabinets go in return for a credit to use when we were ready to start again, etc etc etc. Finally about a month ago we were ready to start again. Yay! Bring on the demolition!

Can you imagine walking into a kitchen where a blind husband is wielding a sledgehammer then an electric saw, followed by a circular saw, a crowbar and whatever else he could find in his tool shed? Welcome to renovating at my place. Surprisingly everything went well at the beginning. We had had an electrician in to isolate a couple of power points so we could remove cupboards and were happy with our first day’s work. A small cupboard next to the stove was easy to remove (photo just above). Then we moved to the other side of the room and a large, heavy built-in along the wall. You can see it in the top photo on the left. Solid beast. Wasn’t going anywhere. Let me apologise here for the quality of the photos. I was using my phone not my camera.

Look at those old bricks! So exciting. I’m planning to just have a long zinc topped bench/table/counter on wheels along this wall and a pantry at the end. Perhaps some shelves. And a sliding arm industrial style light on the wall. Next we demolished the lower cupboards and got our first glimpse of what was hiding behind this hulking wall of cabinets.

Yes that’s a bow in the wall. Old limestone mortar gone. Cracks (but not in the bricks). Wall hanging out from plumb by 2.5-5cm. OMG! What are we going to do? You’ll have to wait till my next post to find out 🙂

Old cane and a rustic trunk

Posted on Wed, 28 Jun 2017 by midcenturyjo

Old cane (rattan) furniture is my kryptonite. I love to take an unloved (and hopefully unpainted) piece and bring it back to life. I found this Art Deco era chair at @thevintageadvantage1 or rather my husband did.

It’s amazing what a good wash, lots of light sanding, some gluing, replacing broken binding cane and a coat or two of shellac can do for a piece. Look at it now!

I know the easy way to give this chair a new lease of life would have been just to paint it and skip most of the tedious prep work and I have been guilty of doing that in years past but the challenge for me now is to restore pieces back towards what they originally looked like. The whole job took me about a month of off and on work every few days.

The second piece I’ve worked on took far less time. I brouught this old chest back to life in a weekend. As much as I love Mission Brown paint (and believe me I do love all sorts of brown) I wanted to strip it back and oil it to show the wood grain. The hinges, lock and nails on this thing are all handmade and the piece has some age but I don’t know its history. I slapped on some citrus paint stripper, scraped it back, washed it off and oiled and buffed it up with Danish oil.

I love the end result. Warm and tactile and full of history just like I like my old furniture. Can’t wait to get my hands on more pieces to work on.

Pattern clash

Posted on Tue, 28 Feb 2017 by midcenturyjo

Oh I do love me a little pattern clash. Turkish kilim, Indonesian ikat on a daybed and an Indian rag rug in my office. Add a vintage cross stitch pillow and a couple made from Kelly Wearstler Trellis and Florence Broadhurst Japanese Floral and I’m done.

Collection #16

Posted on Sat, 18 Feb 2017 by midcenturyjo

Doesn’t every girl need 40 or 50 vintage plastic mehndi stencils? I’ll frame them en masse sometime. Meanwhile if you want to do some henna stencils you know where to come for patterns.