cottage renovation...the exterior (part 1) with dulux rapid finish

In our cottage transformation we have been very inspired by Scandinavian summer houses with the dark walls and cool white trim.  We knew this was just what our little fibro needed to make it look loved again.  When Dulux contacted me to test their new RapidFinish(TM) spray unit this job went straight to the top of the list.  I have always wanted to try out a paint sprayer but could never decide if it was worth the cost of buying one.  Let me answer that question right now - if you are painting any exterior surface it is totally worth buying.  Its faster, its cleaner, it gives great coverage, its easy to clean, and its FUN!

Its fun to use & you see progress fast
Now I like painting, but painting a whole house is a big job and by the end of the first few hours I am always wishing I had hired somebody else to do it.  Not any more.  The RapidFinish(TM) unit is fun to use, and the coverage is so good that the job goes really fast and you see results fast.  You will be patting yourself on the back in no time.

Mr B had started repainting before Dulux approached us and the front of the house was done old school.  The fibro panel profile meant he could only use a small roller and it was taking him ages, and several coats to get reasonable coverage.  In fact it took him the entire day to paint the front of the house with the roller.  The other THREE sides took us (drum roll) just ONE DAY.  That is not a typo, just one day.  We ran out of paint or we could have done more.

I was also a little worried that the paint capacity was a little small.  This also turned out not to be an issue, in fact it is quite heavy full and I would battle with much more weight.  It does need to be refilled pretty regularly, but fewer times than you would have had to refill a paint tray.  It is a little messy pouring from the tin into the spray unit, we ended up getting a lot of paint on our hands and the floor pouring.  A funnel or something similar would have helped.  This may be something Dulux can improve on.  Let me know if you have any suggestions for stirring and pouring paint fairly cleanly.

It's easy to clean
I was worried about this bit.  I was concerned that cleaning would be a big job and that the nozzle and pipes would start blocking up with use.  Wrong assumption, its actually quite easy to clean.  Pour any remaining paint back into the tin, fill unit with water and spray until water runs clear.  I gave it a good shake and the paint seemed to come right off and spray out easily.  The unit dismantles so that you can give the nozzle and pipes a good final rinse before drying them out.  

Its easier than cleaning paint brushes, and I hate cleaning paint brushes.  

Value for money
Its worth the money.  You would spend at least $40 on good paint brushes over several days of painting, the spray unit costs around $99, it will pay itself back in just a few jobs. 

Prep and splatter
It is worth buying some disposable adhesive drop down sheets (from your local hardware) to protect your windows and trim.  This is a great product with low tack tape at the top and a plastic sheet that rolls down to cover the windows.  We taped the bottom and side edges firmly closed with blue tape (see below) and our windows stayed very clean.  Took much less time than trying to paper up a window which I have done before.

We tested the spray for splatter as we went along and I was pleased to see that it stays pretty localised.  Test it out a little bit and you will soon see how careful you need to be.  Spraying outside you have a little leeway, but have to say I would test this little unit indoors to some day.

So now that I have the technical stuff out of the way let me show you some before and afters of the cottage!!

I love how the black makes the green of the garden pop, and I just love how clean it makes the house look.  I forgot to take a final one of this wall complete, we ran out of paint just before we could finish it off.  Imagine how cute this is going to look once we add some trim!!  

Below is the view from the front.

And finally a view of the back.  This is the entrance to the kitchen and the access we use most.  I am planning to pretty it up with an apple crate planted up with herbs (we found an old one under some trees).  It's going to look so cute.

And that is almost as far as we got this trip down.  We did finish all the paint and have added the trim but still need to paint it all white.  It is a huge transformation and I can't wait to get it all done and share the final pictures with you soon.

A final word about the RapidFinish(TM) unit, I have big plans for it.  I am finally going to paint the fence at our Sydney home and I am going to film it to show you just how easy it is.  It's a great product and if you have been thinking about trying one out you should.

The RapidFinish(TM) was given to me but all feedback is, as always, my own.

cottage renovation...the living room (part 2)

Back to our cottage living room renovation, see the previous post for part 1. The other big change we made is more subtle but was quite a bit of work.  There was a door from the entrance area into the main bedroom which we wanted to close up.  The bedroom doesn't need another door, it has one in the passage, and it made the entrance space very akward.  More of that dirty mint paint too!

The amazing Mr B took off the doors and frames and framed up the space.  We decided to use lining board to cover the entire wall on both sides, adding some sound insulation and also meaning no plastering was required.  I love the finished look, very Scandi country, and it was definately a good option for both cost and labour required.  I will be doing this every time we inherit a dodgy wall and is a great option for covering exposed pipes in bathrooms or kitchens.
Of course I forgot to take a photo of the finished area, I have a put a large cabinet there with baskets on top and it looks really pretty.  That's the problem with not having a computer at the cottage, you don't notice which pictures are missing before you write the post.

But what I can show you is how the rest of the room looks now!!  But quickly just a quick look back at what the space looked like before.

And now the after!!  It is quite incredible how much bigger and brighter the space feels, and it is really only a very small space.  White paint rocks!  and the wall coming down is totally incredible.  Yes excuse the messy table, it's hard to make time for styling when you are in diy mode.

A prettier shot to finish up, and did I mention that I made that pendant lamp in the shot below?  Pretty pleased with it, diy coming soon.  You are going to love the price tag and just how easy it was to do.

And finally looking back at both rooms, you can see on the floor where the wall was.  A lot of hard work, but so totally worth it.

cottage renovation...the living room (part 1)

With the bedrooms freshly painted and restored, if not totally finished, it was time to tackle the 
living room.  This transformation is going to amaze you, it still amazes me!  We have gone from dirty and unloved to fresh and cosy.  Love it!!  See the before and after progress below.

Like many old cottages ours was divided into tiny little rooms, teeny living room with a weird hatch through to the kitchen area, accessed via a door in the passage in the corner of both rooms.  Weird, and hard to live in.  There was also a doors from the entrance area into the main bedroom, who knows why as there is another in the passage.

It all seemed so simple: knock down the wall between the living and kitchen, close up the extra door to the bedroom, lots and lots of fresh paint.
In reality it was a lot of hard work.  This little house was filthy and I really do mean decades of dirt and neglect that just don't show up on the before photographs.  Those curtains were just dusty, sun eaten rags, and the crackes between the cornices and the ceiling and walls just don't show up.
Before painting each wall required lots of filling, and the cornices took more tubes of Gap Filler than you can imagine.  That dirty mint paint just wouldn't say goodbye, lots of coats of paint.

We got a chippy to take down the wall, $500 very well spent!  But the edges and ceiling had to be sealed and plastered.  We still haven't quite finished this off, there are still a few gaps to be fixed and it needs to be primed and painted.   Look how dirty the paint is below!!

And looking back from the kitchen through the hatch.  All that yellow pine panelling - YUCK!

How amazing is the space with the wall gone!!  You can see I have started painting the pine a lovely fresh white, more on that later.

Still a lot to do, lots more white paint required, but a huge improvement already.  The windows in the kitchen area are flooded with north light, with the wall gone the living room is twice as light and warmer than it ever was before.  You can just see the gorgeous old Aga range in the kitchen, can't wait until the rest of the kitchen, and especially those tile, is white and bright too. 

I will be posting more of the living room soon.  See the girls shared bedroom here, super sweet and done on a very tight budget!  

plans for the new year

I can't stop thinking about this amazing video of Kara Rosenlund putting together vignettes.  Doing her vignette styling course is high on my wishlist for this year.  Even if you can't get to one its worth watching Kara's blog to be inspired by her amazing photography, below is just a taster of how good she is.

Her own home is a huge inspiration to me as we continue to tackle the renovation of our little cottage.
Next time we visit there is lots to do: 

  • finish painting the living room and kitchen (a big job given how dilapidated the house is and how much prep these rooms still need).
  • make cushions for the new dining bench seat
  • make coat rack
  • hang and hem curtains in the bedroom and living room (a monster undertaking that I will share with you soon)
  • paint some abstract art for the mantle (and try style it like I am Kara Rosenlund)
  • decide whether to retile or paint the kitchen backsplash, I am a little afraid of taking the tiles off
  • fix the outdoor laundry, starting with fixing the leaky roof it will need a new ceiling, and new cement floor and an enormous clean
  • paint the exterior black and add white trim to the windows
  • covert an old apple crate (found in the shed) to a herb garden
  • finish the bedside lamps, think exposed bulbs and yellow cord
  • make a copper pipe wall mounted lamp for the living room
I need a break just thinking about it.  I am looking forward to being at the other end of the to do list and sharing the finished product with you all. 

refreshing spaces for the new year project at a time

Right now I am totally inspired by this home below, beautifully styled by Pamela Makin (photos by Sharyn Cairns).  Oversize groups of plants and decorative elements with lots of different textures,  everything so big and bold, the end result so clean and strong.

It makes me want to give my space a shake up again.  Last year was all about adding texture to our home, moving things around, rethinking furniture we have had for years and adding a few new pieces (very few the budget has been tight).  It's never really going to be finished, and that's ok.  A home should be a progression just as life is.  

This year will be more of the same, refreshing spaces rather than redoing them.  So thought I would share my favourite projects from last year, as well as my top tips on how to give your space a refresh.

Top favourite change at home from 2014- the fireplace
Without a doubt the fireplace, built by my amazing husband takes out top spot.  It has totally changed our living space, finally making good sense of how the space works.  Lots and lots of planning went into this one, you can follow the whole process from here to the finished product below. Worth every penny and used every night from winter into spring.

Second favourite change from 2014 - the new couch
Again an agony of decision making went into this one, many hours visiting showrooms and sitting on sofas, measuring and drawing.  Love the final choice though.
Third favourite refresh from 2014 - adding succulents
Loving succulents around the home, and they seem to be ending up everywhere right now!!  These are a few of my favourite places they were used last year.  See how I updated my coffee table with succulents here, and the second photo is on my dining room table, very inspired by the images at the top of this post.

Top tips for refreshing your space in 2015
Start with one room, the one that will make the biggest difference
Choose the one room which will make the most difference to you if you pretty it up, the room where your efforts will be most rewarded.  The best way to keep motivated is to be able to see your past successes.

Start with a tidy, you need a fresh slate
Once you have decided which room you are going to tackle, pack away everything that has been left lying out, especially those dumping grounds where things accumulate (at the moment its the corner of my desk).  If things are not being put away because they don't have a home you need to plan extra storage and that might be a perfect first project. 

Choose inspiration and study the details
Pinterest is my favourite place to start these days.  Look back at pins you love, and search out new ones.  Look for similarities between the images you like, the details, fabrics and finishes that keep coming up.  Try and use these in your home.

Break down your tasks into achievable projects
Instead of one large daunting task, make a list and divide the project up into smaller decisions and more manageable projects.

Smaller and less costly, you may need a few new bits and pieces but not many
  • a few new cushions to add new colour and texture
  • a restyle of shelves and display areas, perhaps a few new decorative items
  • adding new or different lamps
  • a new vase and some flowers
Larger and more costly
  • new furniture and rugs
  • reframe or add new art work
  • refresh paint scheme
  • adding structural features or cabinetry
If you have no idea where to begin consider booking time with an interior designer to help you come up with a new scheme, and to help you choose what should stay and what should go.
Check out our lovely contributor Emma from Nest Designs services here.

Don't be put off because you can't do it all at once.
Every addition is a step towards the finished whole, few of us have the luxury of enough budget to change everything up at once.  Don't be daunted, decide where you are going and chip away at is as time and budget allows.

Shop in your own home
Walk around your home, poke around your cupboards, see what you can use to get that look you want without spending a cent.

Don't be afraid to move things around
This is often my biggest stumbling block.  I want to change things up but there is a lot of inertia against changing things, even little things.  Sometimes, I start by taking everything off the area I am trying to restyle, just to force myself to start again.  
All right, now its your turn, choose that first project, start pining some inspiration, and get started on making a change.