Monday, May 27, 2013

Functional with frills - Pantry, panic room & office nook combo

Panic room may not be exactly the right definition of what I mean. Unless it means somewhere to hide from your children with access to a computer and unlimited Tim Tams. In that case, it's spot on. I know the current trend is to have a butlers pantry, which I think is a miniature kitchen inside the pantry to conceal all the mess, but really, what fun is all that? Far better to have a small  room to blog uninterrupted than a closet to dump all the dirty dishes in I think.

So, given that it's come time to finalise our kitchen design and that includes our walk in pantry, I thought I would share what we are planning and get any tips from anyone who has an actual functional pantry. I personally have come from a tiny cupboard  so stuffed full of food that the garlic salt can never, ever be found when you need it, so I cannot imagine what it will be like to actually be able to put everything away, let alone be able to find it again.

Of course in my fantasies it will look exactly like this,

with all the milk glass lovingly displayed in neat rows with a gorgeous grey backdrop. Unfortunately, in the real world of Betsy, the pantry will actually be for..........gasp........... FOOD! I know, a complete styling nightmare but what can a girl do? After roaming around on pinterest ogling pantries, I have decided that what is really needed is a series of interconnected smaller and smaller pantries, kind of like in the 'Cat in the hat comes back' when he has a hat full of tinier and tinier cats named from A- Z.

Imagine, a pantry just to look gorgeous, then one to dump all the mess in, then another for the  milk glass, another for the pyrex, another one for an office, one for all the bulk goods and so on and so on. Don't giggle, someone is probably doing it now, for next months Belle magazine.

Anyway, back to the reality of only one pantry. This is the before shot. This small space is tucked between our bedroom and the existing kitchen. The previous owners were planning to turn it into an ensuite but instead became overwhelmed with the concept of a renovation and decided to ditch Betsy for a house that required no work. Luckily for us that meant no dodgy ensuite to rip out, just the bare bones of a very small room that we thought was in the perfect position for a pantry.

The doorway on the right ( which leads into our bedroom) will be closed over. A new doorway will be made on the left with a sliding door. The window will be replaced with a full width glass panel with a view out onto the side fence, with just a glimpse of the neighbouring house and lots of trees.

Below the window will be a bench with a stool and a filing cabinet to store all our paperwork. Above the window will be some shelves to store folders. Below the bench will be a filing cabinet and there will be a stool to perch on. Probably a  similar size to this, just add a window above the desk.

 When you enter the pantry you will be facing the left hand picture and the wall in front will have my teapot hooks and probably aprons and bags. To the right will be floor to ceiling shelves.

The opposite end to the window will have 500 mm deep pantry shelving almost to the ceiling to store large items and appliances. The shelves along left left hand wall in the photo below with have 300 mm deep shelving for all the pantry goods. The wall on the right will have no shelving but high up will be a large open space (which is above the fridge and microwave) to store eskies and probably the Christmas tree.

Given that the entire space is 1.2 m x 2.7m we hope that this is a functional use of quite a long narrow little room. I anticipate it being the place were bills are paid, food is stored, school paperwork is organised while still having enough frills that it will be a nice little nook to sit in and enjoy the view. Perhaps even nice enough to shut the door and hide in with a cuppa, and the floor to ceiling Tim Tams.

And speaking of doors, I'm quite liking that yellow one in the first pic. I had planned to get frosted glass doors to let in more light, but a solid colour painted door is also appealing. So given that my previous pantry space was about the size of a mini-bar, any tips or thoughts on general pantry design and function would be greatly appreciated. And answers to those pressing questions of course.

Would you paint your pantry door yellow?
Would you put an office nook in a pantry?
Would you like to able to lock yourself in your pantry too? (with internet access and chocolate).

Images that are not mine via 1.Remodelaholic  2. Thistlewood Farm 3. Apartment Therapy 4. Decor Pad

Sunday, May 26, 2013


a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013 via Che and Fidel

He : happily wearing his viking hat at his mates birthday party. This, my child who does not like to dress up but surprises me every now and again.

She : busily collecting every last scrap of sparkles and treats from the birthday piƱata. I wore a brooch to the party, so she had to as well. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

All hands on deck- Reno day 16

So this week, all of a sudden, Betsy grew a whole new deck. It has no bizarre cut out sections, is not painted a dirty blue colour and frankly, is awesome.

This week has been one of those ones where every day something huge happens. On Monday there were bearers, joists and posts.

On Tuesday, most of the boards had been cut to size in preparation for the nailing in.

And yesterday they probably would have finished except that our builder wasn't happy with the quality of some of the boards that had arrived and sent them back, so  now we are waiting for more to arrive. We have chosen spotted gum for our deck and from what we have seen, it looks beautiful.

So, there is not much expected to happen until next week when the big steel beam goes in to support the bifold doors and the framing starts. The post in the centre of the picture above is the old corner of the house, the two steel beams are in and show the span of the bifold doors that are going in next. This week we have had to confirm all the doors and windows and of course for us that meant a few minor changes but now they are locked in.

And this is the gobsmacking view from the back yard. Those posts are pretty close to showing where the new gabled roof will sit. I am slightly in awe  of it all. I just need to get used to not being able to see that huge expanse of sky but how brilliant will it be to have a deck that is actually functional, with a view up into the canopy of our huge poinciana tree.

Monday, May 20, 2013


a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013 via Che and Fidel

He : is scrubbing his scooter with a toothbrush. Can see him a decade on taking care of his first car. 

She : doing the biggest of big swings courtesy of Dada, she is as high as the back deck where I am standing, which is a good three metres above the ground.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The good, the bad and the potentially expensive - Reno day 11

So, we are not even two weeks in and the reno is chugging along very nicely. Let me share the good bits. The post hole digger arrived and by the end of  day nine we had a lot of these

Then the next day, all the new deck footings were concreted in.

And then, the following day we appear to have a full set of bearers marking out the new laundry,

the future closed in granny flat rooms,

and the extra bit of lounge room before the deck starts.

Pretty impressive progress for three days work we thought. So that pretty much covers the good. The bad and the potentially expensive are pretty much the same thing and involve an discrepancy between the floor heights of Betsy the original house and the tacked on granny flat done about 15- 20 years ago. Let me provide a visual.

While it is probably not as bad as it looks, the left hand side is the bearer for the granny flat floor and the right hand side is the floor level for the rest of Betsy. It appears that when the granny flat was built no one had intended for the two structures to be joined in the future and now we have the little problem of about four centimetres to deal with. Not enough for a proper step and just enough to be a trip hazard.   We have been left pondering where exactly to place this trip hazard  tricky join and mulling over the costs associated with a few different alternatives.  So while I remind myself of the joys of an old house I am choosing to distract myself with this lovely view.

Just imagine a lovely set of recycled french doors where that wall is and a view down to the doorway into my new sewing room. See, that four centimetre trip hazard has just flown right out of your mind, right?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A surprise discovery- Reno day 8

So last week appeared to involve a flurry of destruction and then a few days of not much. This week heralds a gaping hole in Betsy's backside. The old bed 4 has been opened up to allow positioning of the massive steel beam that will support the new roof. There was also the discovery that several stumps on the granny flat plan did not actually exist in reality and 5 new ones would need to be ordered and added to the overall cost. There are always surprises with old houses, this just happens to be one of them.

The position of the new carport has been marked out,

and concrete has been removed in readiness for the post hole digger. These mark out the position of the new laundry.

The big steel beam and all the new footings have arrived.

But none of these were the surprise find. No, that came when I wandered inside to take a better look at the gaping hole in the back of the house. Can you see what might have grabbed my eye? See that bit of blue poking out of that pile of rubble?

Yes, that one with what appears to be a star and a stripe on it. What on earth is that? Roboboy thought it might be part of a flag and could we please salvage those bits because he might want them for somewhere in his room ( he has been watching The Block since he was five and no doubt plans to create some elaborate installation).

On closer inspection my awesome site manager pointed out that it appeared to extend further under the lino than just  the boards they had removed. He kindly ripped up a big piece of lino to reveal this.

Woah there, a painted floor in the most vivid of blues that based on the colour alone, I would strongly suspect is old lead based paint. My god did I have to restrain myself from ripping up all that lino on the spot just to see what had been done. This floor will be polished and will become the new kitchen floor when the house is joined together so the pattern won't be staying but it is still a pretty cool unexpected find.

These floorboards can't be reused in the house as the tongue and groove edges have been damaged in removal, but I'm actually kind of pleased as that means that  Roboboy and I get to  find some way to restore and display this little bit of Betsy's history.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mothers Day Magic

My mothers day was pretty magical this year. My kids have reached what appears to be the best ages for producing copious amounts of home made cards and goodies. They started with these flowers from our local flower market, never before have I seen these two-tone gerberas that Roboboy chose for me.

They followed up with a positive bounty of home made goodness. There were cards,

(it seems I have been upgraded from "best little mama in the world")

breakfast in bed ( the handmade variety), followed up by a real buttery croissant and cup of tea,

artwork from school,

and even some time playing with watercolours together on the day.

My mum and I even popped out to a gorgeous art exhibition at the Botanical gardens, this is the card mum bought me from the artist Nadine Sawyer,

and a lovely much wanted gift from Legoman and the kids, handmade by  Betty Jo at Lino Forest.  I couldn't choose between the sewing machine and the budgie brooch, how lucky that she was having a 2 for 1 Mothers Day sale. She makes these intricate brooches from salvaged linoleum.

All in all, probably the most colourful, love filled Mother's Day I have ever had. (This would be Liongirl's painting from kindy of our new house and Roboboy and I worked on that gerbera painting together).


a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013 via Che and Fidel

He : is showing his cat around her new garden to get her settled in. Once she found the sunshine she was all good.

She : Mama, come and look at our new chair fort. I think the downstairs section wasn't quite as comfortable as the upstairs. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

We have begun- Reno Day 1

This is the sight that greeted me on my way home from work yesterday when I popped around to check the letterbox. We had only just finished cleaning the granny flat out on the weekend and  were unsure when exactly the builder would be starting. It appears that he is as good as his word. The only sad part is that poor Legoman missed out on all the fun of the demolition, as this is what I found around the back.

Yep, the deck is completely gone and there are already string lines up to mark out the new stumps. Unbelievable, this is day one. Lucky I took that hasty shot of the deck on Sunday.

See the weird, jagged floor cut outs that were a feature of the old, mostly roofless deck? Feng Shui Nonna (aka my mother) has been telling me to get rid of those poisoned arrows pointing into the house for three years. We should all be sleeping better tonight then I guess.

You can really see the shape of the existing house well now. I suspect that the jutting out section on the left was probably where the old kitchen was, before they shrunk and moved it in order to make this another bedroom.  The three bi- fold doors will extend to become seven all the way over to the right hand side.

The verandah of the granny flat has all been removed. This is being enclosed in order to enlarge the rooms and the far end of this old verandah will have a set of french doors directly into the new kitchen.

This is the back jutting out room on the left and the old kitchen on the right. That wall in the middle will be going and the new kitchen will run through both rooms. That wall currently blocks much of the light  from getting in so I will be excitedly waiting for it to come down.

As I wandered around I saw that a single board had been removed from outside the laundry. We suspected that this room probably contained asbestos and the builders were obviously trying to establish if this was indeed  the case.

If you haven't been reading my blog for two years, you may not have stumbled onto posts ranting about my laundry in a cupboard, in my lounge room. Needless to say, it is a stellar example of  the previous renovations Betsy has been traumatised by. Aside from my excitement at having a proper laundry vs a cupboard for the first time in 13 years (my last house also had this but more sensibly located in the bathroom), it was pretty thrilling to read these words.

Yep, that would say "Manufactured Without Asbestos". I am hoping those three little words have just carved a big chunk out of the $4k allocated to asbestos removal and I get to spend it on something much more exciting, like ceiling fans, or down lights, or louvres. Woohoo, it seems this reno is finally off and racing.