Build tips for designing bathrooms

Today we are talking bathroom details.  It's an expensive room and you want to get it right the first time.  Changes are going to cost you.  There are lots of decisions to make besides choosing the perfect tiles.

It is very important to have a detailed layout of the room.  You will want to give this plan to the builder, the tiler, and the plumber - all of them.  My old friend graph paper is your best friend here too.  Draw the room to scale, floor plans and elevations (what it looks like when you stand on the floor looking at the wall).  

Its a little time consuming, but its the best way for you to check how something is going to look, and much cheaper than making changes once the fittings are in.  If you have given a tradesman a scale drawing there is no room for misunderstanding, if it isn't what you drew they need to fix it at their cost.

Below is an elevation of one of our bathroom walls, I did similar drawings for each wall with fittings on it, and a floor plan.  

So lets get into it the detail.

Design decisions I would make again:
  • height of counter - 800mm
  • height of tap spout above basin - 1,050mm
  • position of tap - spout centered with plug hole
  • counter top and splashback - both caeserstone in white.  Caeserstone can be ordered in a single large piece so there are no tile lines to worry.  The finished look is very clean making the basins and tapware the hero, which is as it should be.  It is also warm to the touch unlike stone, good in winter.
  • tap fittings - I love the Brodware City Stik range and used them throughout the house
  • basins - Lavabo Solid Surface counter top vessels by CIBO.  Not to deep, they don't splash, and plenty of space for Mr B when he is shaving.
  • free standing bath - Kado Lure from Reece Bathrooms

Other decisions to consider:
  • Position of plug points for hairdryers etc - check your local code but usually have to be above counter height for electrical safety
  • Position of floor waste - check local code again, try and tuck it under the vanity, somewhere you don't see it as soon as you enter the room
  • Shower grates - I am a big fan of linear grates rather than a central waste.  Does depend on your tile choice and floor plan.
  • If you are using a white counter top make sure it matches the colour of your basins, you would be amazed how many tones of whites there are and they don't all match well.
  • Make sure the white of your basins tones in with the colour of your bath and toilet.
  • Storage, storage and more storage.  We have a full length double cupboard in the bathroom so we didn't need under counter storage.  Your bathroom will never look tidy unless there is space to pack everything away.  Plan enough storage that you never need have any products standing on the counters unless you are using them.

We made all five million of these decisions when we built four years ago and I learned so much along the way.  For more details you need to know to get the finish you want see the rest of the Build 101 series.

instagratification...a fabulous rug

Spotted this enormous 3x4m rug in hemp and chenille rug in papaya home on sale for $999.  It's enormous and a great base for every room.

Their other rugs are fab too and the price point is not bad.  For more instagram moments follow me here.

want want want list

Some inspirational styling from Karin Meyn to whet your appetite, and a few things on my want want want list.  

 I am slightly obsessed with these petrified wood sculptures.  Amazingly it is wood that has turned into a mineral but still looks like wood.  So badly want some of these.  The Sourceress has some beauties online.

Arteriors book ends - I don't need book ends but I still want these
And then there is lighting.  I am always on the look out for unusual lighting.  I really like the new Josh and Jenna range from Beacon.  Good prices and lovely materials, I think this copper and cement Gaston uplight would be fab in Miss E's room.  The bottom light is the Spence from the same range.  Sandwiched in between is the fabulous Pileo lamp by Porada.  A real feature piece but a feature price tag to match, but it could be a design classic, I love it.

Sigh... so pretty...

currawong cottage... a magical tree house

A magical tree house at Currawong Cottage built by Mr B for Miss J.  A place to play and dream and spot kangaroos.  Painted pink & orange (well coral because we couldn't mix orange) for fun & decorated with holiday craft jellyfish.  Magical memories in the making.

A wintry sky view.

Coral pink, next time we will make it more orange and build a wall and a door!

Tree house love - I had lots of trees to climb as child but never a tree house as cool as this one.
Book your stay at Currawong Cottage, the perfect spot to explore the Mornington Peninsula from.

Framed modern made easy with the right tools

I am feeling liberated.  After a morning tinkering with my new Ryobi Compound Mitre Saw and Ryobi Nail Gun and I am ready to take on a whole lot more wood work.  I am nervous of Mr B's saws, now finally I have one that I am confident to use on my own, no more waiting for help!  Today I tested them on a project that I have been wanting to try for a while, making a floating frame for a canvas.  It was a gratifyingly short job with the help of the Mitre Saw and the Nail Gun and I love how the finished piece looks below.  

A couple of things I really like about the Ryobi compound mitre saw:
  • it has a laser guide which allows you to cut exactly where you marked the wood.
  • a simple but effective clamp to hold the wood in place and make sure your fingers are nowhere near the blade.
  • a great sliding action for larger pieces which allows a really smooth cut and allowed good control.
  • An easy to use mitre setting, you simply swing the front arm until it gets to the correct angle that you want, then lock it firmly into position with the front lock.
You can see below how clearly the laser line marks the wood, it is easy to match to the pencil line and make a really accurate cut.

To make your own basic floating frame you will need:
  • Any canvas - mine was a failed painting hiding in the garage
  • Wooden trim slightly wider than the depth of the canvas frame
  • Enlarged photo copy an image you like ($7 for B1 size at Officeworks)
  • Magic tape
Make as follows:
  • Tape photo copy to the front of the canvas, like wrapping a one sided present.  Make the corners as neat as possible and tape down securely.
  • Cut long sides of wood trim - measure them to be the same length as the canvas sides and mark the cut line in pencil with a set square.
  • Turn the laser guide on, match up the red laser line with the cut on the wood and lock wood securely into place.  
  • Clamp both side pieces to the sides securely and get your nail gun.  (Love the nail gun) Nail trim at left, then at right.  Start at the side so that you can adjust the piece if you need to.  This is the work of minutes and really really fun!
  • Cut the trim for the top and bottom pieces of the frame.  Measure these pieces from the edges of the already attached trim.
  • Cut, clamp and nail gun in place as before.
Yes it really was that easy.

What I really liked about the Ryobi Airstrike nail gun:
  • This model compresses its own air and doesn't need a stand alone compressor or canisters.  Less things to hire, buy and store.
  • Not to heavy, easy enough for a non-chippy like me to use
  • An easy nailing action and the ability to set nail depth
  • I cannot hammer in a nail straight, but with the Air easy.
I am going to be making so many things with these fab new additions to the tool shed.
Next time I am going to try something a bit more complicated and use all that fabulous mitre capability.  Can't resist a final action shot.

So this was really a very easy test, I just couldn't wait to make something and give you a little feedback.  Mr B will be putting them through their paces when he replaces the cladding in the Currawong Cottage entrance.  I am thinking I may make a tray next, I want to test out the mitre capabilities.

Tools were provided by Ryobi but all opinions are as always my own.

inspirational styling at home with The Broken Heart Repair Shop

Some spaces are just inspirational!  Today I am sharing the home of my talented cousin Justine, proprietress  of The Broken Heart Repair Shop.  Justine has the gift of spotting a great buy at 100 paces, and the even greater one of styling spaces effortlessly and originally.  "Curating the lost and found" is how she describes her style and her shop.  Watch this space, Justine is going to be working with amazing artists to create a new home wares line soon.

Have a wonderful weekend

diy bedside pendant lamps ... part 2

Mission accomplished.  From design (below left) to finished installed product (below right).  What do you think?  I could not be more pleased with them.  Click here to see how I made the wooden structure, for more on the cord and installation read on below.

For this part of the project you need 2 extension cords, two lamp holders for pendants with a built in switch, and two lamp shades.

Step 1 - "piggy back" extension cords
I bought two 5m "piggy back" extension cords from Bunnings.  5m seems quite long but the next option down is 3m which is to short.  I also recommend the "piggy back" version as it means you don't use up all the plug points in your room, because the "piggy back" fitting has a plug on one side, and a plug point on the other.

Step 2 - attach the lamp holders
Next, cut off the socket end of the extension cord.  The lamp holders are going to be attached to this end BUT you need to thread it through the holes in the cross piece before putting it on.  Hold it up against the wall to make sure you have threaded it the right way.  Attaching the lamp holder is as easy as changing a plug.  You can see a close up of this type of fitting here.
For safety I am not going to explain how, ask your local hardware if you need help.

Step 3 - attach lamps to the wall
You will need to drill two holes (you can see them clearly on the left below) in the wooden upright that you are going to attach to the wall.  I used a countersink drill piece so that the screws sit into the wood, I could fill them and paint to get a completely smooth finish but I like how it looks for now.
Only drill this hole half way into the wood, then get a bit the same size as your wall screw and drill the hole right the way through.  Position the fittings where you want them and mark the wall through these holes so that you have the correct position.  Then use the appropriate wall fitting to attach them securely to the wall.

Once they are up you can add your choice of pendant or lamp shade.  These ones were $9.99 each from Bunnings and perfect for my white on white scheme.

You could go out and buy one of those pretty colourful pendant cords and use them in this project, but there are two problems.  First they are pendants and don't have a plug fitting which means you are going to have to attach one yourself.  The second is that the flex cord may be to short for your project remember to measure what you need.  If you want to use a colour flex contact an electrical specialist store and they will be able to get them for you.

So I am delighted with the project.  I can't wait to do another project soon.  Planning planning!

Thanks to Worx tools for letting me test drive the brushless motor drill.  I really love it and you can read all about why in the previous post.  As always all opinions are entirely my own.

diy bedside pendant lamps ... part 1

This one is a goodie.  You may remember that Mr B made these very gorgeous pendant lamps for our bedroom at the cottage.  Well I wanted to have a go too, but clearly my woodwork skills are a little less accomplished so it would have to be a bit more simple.  I came up with the design below, two pieces of wood with the pendant threaded through it.  A good project for testing my new Worx Tools brushless motor drill.  Below you can see my very simple design, two pieces of wood joined at right angles with some long screws & the cord (in yellow) threaded through, finished with a pendant shade.  

Two things I have learned from wood work lessons with Mr B.
Lesson 1 - the finish is much neater if the edges you are joining are perfectly straight and square.
Lesson 2 - Clamps are your friend, clamp your pieces together before you join them, clamp them to the work bench, and clamp in stabilisers.  You can never have to many clamps.  All this effort is going to keep the wood still while you are drilling & glueing and will give you a much better finish.

So no surprises that clamping everything together is where this project begins.

Step 1 - clamp everything together securely.
You can see below I started by clamping the long piece of wood to the edge of the table.
Then I positioned the second piece of wood at right angles and used a spare piece as a stabiliser and to make sure the join is exactly at right angles.  I clamped the stabiliser to the first piece and then clamped the second piece across the stabiliser.  This may sound confusing, just find your own way and make sure everything is held down tight.

Just a quick look at how the finished piece is going to look when it is put together.  Tutorial continues below.

So Step 1 was to clamp everything down (below left)

Step 2 - Predrill the holes in the piece that will go against the wall
This means you don't have to push so hard when you drill in the screw & in my experience this means I can drill straighter. I also used the Kreg bit to create a countersink hole which means the screw head will sit flush with the wood.  When you come to hanging the light this means the wooded upright will be able to lie flush against the wall.  You are going to thank me for suggesting this now.

Step 3 - Glue and Screw
Put a little wood glue on the surfaces you are going to join and screw together.

Step 4 - Clamp and let it dry
Leave it all securely clamped until the glue is dry and you are done.

Step 5 - Drill the holes in the cross piece for the cord
I forgot to photograph this step.  Just make sure your bit is a little bigger than the cord.  Pretty straight forward.

I am going to show you the finished product and discuss the cord in another post, once it is installed in the cottage bedroom.  

I am going to end with some comments on the Worx Brushless Drill that I used for this project.
We have another drill, a standard good product used by most trades, and I was given this one by Worx to road test.  I love it, and I am not just saying this because it was a gift, my opinions are always my own.  But I really love love love this drill.  

  • Firstly the brushless motor means that it is a little lighter than the normal drill which makes it feel better to use, especially if you don't have super muscular arms like me.  
  • Secondly the trigger has a really good action, it seems to be smoother than my other drill and definately allowed me to apply pressure more steadily which meant I had more control.  
  • Thirdly, the light is on the base of the handle and shines up at the drill bit, sounds minor but it's just a better position and makes where you are drilling easier to see.
  • Fourth, it has a really good driver bit that slots into a space on the handle for quick storage.  If you have spent hours hunting for drill bits like I have you will understand why this is a good feature.
  • Finally, the set came with two batteries.  This means you are never out of power in the middle of your project.  Batteries are expensive so a set that comes with two is a bonus.
It is going to look fab so looking forward to sharing the finished piece with you soon.
See part 2 of the finished piece here.

currawong cottage...winter update

Some new pics of Currawong Cottage.  Looking so pretty now that it is getting some finishing touches.  Lots and lots of trim still to paint but seeing how far we have come gives me the energy to carry on.  And very very exciting news!!!  If you like the cottage you could spend a weekend there yourself!  See our Currawong Cottage website for rates and availability (and because it is pretty too).

We couldn't do any painting this time, it was just to cold and it was taking to long to dry, but we hung curtains, fixed the kitchen counter tops, build a bench seat and finished the entrance, hung lamps and arranged furniture in the third bedroom, added some decorative country pieces, and just generally had fun.  

Pop by the Currawong Cottage website and let me know what you think. 

anytime entertaining

Thinking back to some lovely summertime memories.  Sharing my favourite summer posts for those enjoying summer in the northern hemisphere right now.

I like winter, but summer is better...
Clockwise from top left: Australian wild flower dinner party, Gatsby Glamour, Lemon Slice ice balls, an evening outdoors

pecan nut shortbread... memories from my granny

These are my favourite biscuits ever!  Not only are they a delicious short bread with a dusting of icing sugar for sweetness and pecan nut for crunch, but they are also the biscuits my granny used to make for me when I went to spend holidays with her on her farm.  I remember the old biscuit tin they were kept in, drinking sweet hot tea out of my "small" Spode teacup, the cool feeling of slate underfoot and the smell of hot, dry, dusty highveld air.  Treasured memories of the place I most loved being when I was small.

Recently I made them with Miss J for the first time, you can see her "helping" me with the butter.  It is a great recipe to make with children because the dough is rolled into little balls, perfect for little hands.  To make you own follow the simple recipe below, and enjoy.

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 250g butter - softened to room temperature
  • teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 packet (80g) pecan nuts - broken into pieces
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar
  • icing sugar for dusting (around 2 cups in all)

To make:
  • Cream butter and sugar until well blended 
  • Add vanilla essence & blend
  • Add flour and mix until a rough dough forms
  • I do all the steps above in my food processor
  • Add the pecan nuts and mix the dough gently until all flour is blended.  Be gentle, this dough doesn't like to be overworked.
  • Roll into bite size balls.
  • Place in an oven preheated to 200C and bake until they are golden but not brown - around 20 minutes.  
  • Allow to cool
  • Once totally cool roll in icing sugar and store in a well sealed jar or tin

Now simply enjoy with your tea or coffee.  Mmm mmm

Found the lovely birdie cookie jar at my favourite $2 shop.  I am going to take it to the cottage on our farm to store holiday biscuits for my own children, hopefully creating the holiday biscuit memories all over again.