Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vintage Schmintage

I've seen a bit of snobbery about The Block in the blogosphere over the past week. Now I'm the first to admit that people who sign up for a show about renovating while claiming they have no renovation experience at all are either lying or stark, raving mad. I'm also one of the first to admit that the high pressure environment they're renovating in probably isn't conducive to top quality work. What I find a little hard to swallow is people criticising it simply because contestants are furnishing rooms with furniture from *gasp* IKEA.

"Where is all the vintage dahhhhling?" is the outcry.

I mean if vintage floats your boat then that's all well and good. I have a thing about rummaging around in junk shops myself, but to dismiss something simply because it involves some Swedish flatpack seems to me to be as unimaginative as critics claim shopping at IKEA is.

Why is buying some mission brown chairs in a second hand shop and sanding them back and painting them tangerine any more inspiring and imaginative as me buying some dining chairs from Ikea, painting them yellow and recovering the seats? Chances are the mission brown chairs were mass-produced in the 1970s just like the IKEA chairs - admittedly there are probably fewer of them around these days because a bazillion of them ended up in landfill, but the principle is still the same. Isn't it?

The great thing I find about IKEA is it offers furniture that is a blank canvas. It's cheap enough for me to experiement with my creative side. I've taken $10 Lack side tables and covered them in wallpaper and create fun play tables for my daughter. I've customised Expedit shelving units and most recently, I've become obsessed with custom couch covers for my IKEA sofa.
You see when we moved and downsized, we had to get a new sofa as our old one simply didn't fit. Because we have dogs it made sense to get one with a removable and washable cover. So we went on a mission to IKEA (I know, I know, we should have schlepped around junk yards looking for a vintage sofa). We bought a basic three seat sofa and have been living with it happily ever since (design fail). Anyway, because I like the change the mood in our living room almost as often as I like to change the sheets on our bed, I went hunting for some new covers.

A search on Etsy turned up the delightful Knesting and I bought my first customised cover - all of a sudden I had a bespoke couch. In case you're wondering, it's the gorgeous Amy Butler cover in the first picture.

I then stumbled across Bemz and have since spent many happy hours exploring. I've bought three covers from there - a simple cotton one, a plum coloured chennille one and my favourite, the red and pink Marimekko one in the second picture. I haven't yet unveiled it as I'm saving it for when we move in. I think it's going to look amazing with the dark floors and high ceilings. I bought it before we bought our place, but I just had an inkling a special place was not far away so I splurged.

I've also noticed they have covers for Lillberg armchairs and I think I've picked out the perfect fabric for ours - do you like it? It will go in our downstairs living space or possibly the spare room. Truth be told it will probably move on a weekly basis.

The point of this rant? I've forgotten. Suffice to say I think 'vintage' as a term is so overused it's almost become a teensy bit ridiculous. I mean calling a 1950s beaded Chanel shift vintage is one thing, calling the empty Keen's mustard jar from last week's shopping vintage is, frankly, pretenious beyond words.

Anyway, in my humble opinion, IKEA doesn't have to be the anathema of everything that is good and creative about design.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meeting the neighbours

One of the daunting things about moving is meeting the new neighbours and hoping they aren't a nightmare. Fortunately, so far all of ours seem lovely.

Including Isabel the cat who has made herself very much at home. She's there on the back wall every time we open up the doors and makes a beeline for the chairs. She's made it clear she prefers it when the chairs are in the sun.

On second thoughts, perhaps at least one of our neighbours is a little too demanding?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ps - you be the judge

I can't imagine why Mr Puddleduck thinks he is better at this demolition caper than me, can you? I mean tell me which hole looks like it was more fun to make? Mine or his? Shame he got to uncover the fireplace and I only got to uncover a chimney. Still, I GOT TO SMASH A HOLE IN A WALL!

Just call me Sarah Beeny.

Exciting discovery

While we were pulling up the carpet on the weekend we uncovered this piece of stone next to the wall towards the front of the house and got a little excited. The main wall in the open plan living area is just over 8 metres long and has been 'built in' for about half of that length. Our plan was to knock that out and put bookshelves along the entire length of the wall. While we had been secretly hoping that a fireplace was hiding behind the wall, we didn't hold out much hope (picture us walking the length of the wall 'tapping' in a highly professional and authorative manner to determine lack of hidden fireplace).

So when we found this piece of stone that looked as though it might very well be part of a very old and very rustic fireplace we got out the hammers faster than you can say "fancy a trip to Bunnings?".

I've never been allowed to put holes in walls before so I was a teensy bit excited at this opportunity. Had there been no evidence of a fireplace I am pretty sure Mr Puddleduck would have insisted we leave the wall in tact until the professionals arrived, so I wasted no time in getting stuck in. I even let Mr Puddleduck go first (he maintains he is more methodical than me so would create less mess) and promised him new tools if he found me a fireplace.

It may have taken longer than it would have if I had been wielding the hammer (seriously why do we have to be neat when bashing down a wall ?), but we struck gold. Well actually, we struck really tacky brown tiles but nevertheless it's our very own fireplace.

Friday, June 17, 2011

First job

I tripped and fell and ripped up some carpet today. I've been simply itching to rip up this green carpet. Somewhat bizarrely, every house we've owned has had this green carpet. Seriously. Given we've fallen head over heels with all these houses, I have this nagging thought that there's something bewitching about this particular carpet. Does it cast a spell on us? Why are we inexplicably attracted to houses with fundamentally ugly carpet?

Mr Puddleduck has been a little more circumspect about starting anything resembling DIY, so I seized the opportunity of being at the house alone this morning to start ripping up the carpet. Ostensibly so I could see the condition of the floorboards underneath it, but really just because I hate it. I have to confess I started peeling it back on our very first inspection. Shh.

Turns out the boards are in pretty decent condition for a house coming up to 150 years old. Well, I mean they look fine to my entirely untrained eye. Regardless, I'm very excited at the prospect of bare boards and no carpet upstairs. At the moment it smells a little like a stable up there and I lay the blame for that fairly and squarely on the ugly green carpet.

The beginning

We've bought a house. An old house. An old, run down, slighly odd and upside down house. It may be that we took leave of our senses when we made the offer, but if that was the case, we still haven't come to our senses, In fact, we're all still a little giddy with excitement. Actually, that's not entirely true - Puddleduck is underwhelmed by it all. I suspect because the house doesn't have a TV. It does, however, have a cat that visits and she thinks that is fairly cool. I don't think the cat will be such a frequent visitor when our dogs arrive.

Join me on my journey as we transform this old office into the home of our dream!