Bathroom nearly done

Dad, Mum and Holly painting the bathroom

We're making progress with the bathroom. Phil's finished up yesterday, with all the fixtures in. Follow the link to see some photos. Today we sanded and painted the undercoat layer. During the week we'll finish it off and put in things like the towel rail and bog roll holder.

The sliding door gives the room an enormous amount more space, and the fixtures we bought are spectacular. The sky light is great and, even after losing a window, it's really sunny in there. Really happy with how it's looking.

Busy weekend of bathroom shopping and free stuff

We've had a very busy weekend getting all the bits we need for our bathroom renovation. The whole bathroom is getting gutted today, so we had to get a bath, toilet, vanity, cupboard and all the bits. We got the tiles the previous weekend. Lots of driving around, but we found everything we needed at pretty reasonable prices, I thought. The built-in cupboards we had installed last weekend also mean we don't need our freestanding storage stuff any more.

This means there'll be a bunch of stuff going onto freecycle. So if you're after a bath, toilet base, chest of drawers or bedside table with drawers, let me know and I won't put it on freecycle.

Eco Choices for Home Renovators

rough draft drawing of our shed

I did a class run by The Watershed on Monday night, Eco Choices for Home Renovators. This is my second class from this organization, the first being a worm farming workshop.

They're funded by the City of Sydney and Marrickville councils to promote sustainability in the area and their courses are excellent, and free!

The class covered many of the basics which I know well, about passive solar design, materials choices, embedded energy, energy efficiency, volatile organic compounds and the like, but was a good recap. What's more, there were great case studies and samples of materials that can be used.

We're renovating our bathroom and installing built-in wardrobes next week, with my uncle staying with us to do the work, so I'll be putting some of these ideas into action there.

Where I'll really use it, though, is in the design of the shed/office building we're planning for the back garden. I'm planning to integrate passive solar principles, as well as enormous amounts of insulation, into the design to get away with absolutely minimal heating and cooling. To that end, I've starting drawing it in SketchUp, which is an amazingly easy-to-use 3D modelling tool from Google. It's just a shame it doesn't run under Linux, which means I have to do it at work. Above you'll see my first crack at it, which isn't very accurate as I'm still learning the tool.

I've already changed my mind about some of the features of the design you see here, and I'll be working on it a lot over the next few months. Will show you future drawings here.

For context, it's going along the back of this garden.


Laminate flooring and Udden bench and drawers


Today we got a lot done on the house. We laid a laminate floor in the kitchen and built an Udden bench with drawers. Above is the "before" shot. Note the disgusting lino and the oh-so-chic bachelor pad cum ski lodge wood-panelled cupboards. We ripped up the lino and pulled out the cupboards.

Sun Herald
27th January 1980

We found this nugget of history under the lino. January 27 1980. The Sunday Herald hasn't changed, with its screaming headline about us selling Titanium ore to the reds, while we couldn't sell wheat to them because they invaded Afghanistan. Underneath Macca is getting deported from Japan for forming Wings. Or something.

and flooring go down

The underlay and flooring go down.

The trim
goes down

The trim goes down, to hide my sins.

finished kitchen

And here it is finished, with the Udden bench and drawers. Lovely!

Lessons learnt: Measure twice, cut once is very optimistic. More like measure twice, get someone else to check your measurements, stop and have a think, measure again, then cut. Sometimes you get it right.

But this laminate flooring is great. We bought a very cheap type of it, as we plan to completely redo the kitchen soon enough anyway. All up it probably cost about $120, including some tools I had to buy.

I took a bunch more photos too.

Next job is fixing shelves and stuff to the walls.

Productive DIY day

Four bikes
on racks

I'm starting a new category, DIY, to capture improvements we're making around the house.

I had a very productive day of DIY yesterday. I made and installed a couple of flyscreens for our bedroom and the lounge room. Flyscreens are amazingly simple to make. All you need is a hacksaw, mitre box and a special tool for stuffing the spline into the slot which costs about two bucks. All the materials for the screens themselves can be bought at your local hardware store. The most important thing, though, is to get your measurements right. Geometric transformations in your head, the classic tool of IQ tests, are needed to ensure you're cutting the aluminium in the right direction.

After the screens we grabbed four bike storage hooks from Cell Bikes down on Parramatta Road and I installed them. This allows us to store our four bikes in a very small space. Hanging from the front wheel isn't ideal, but we need the space. I made a bit of a mess of the wall getting the holes drilled with my crappy non-hammer cordless drill, but once we get a shed built we'll repaint the room anyway.

before the makeover

The next project will happen tomorrow. We've bought some laminate flooring and a bunch of Ikea shelves. The laminate needs to acclimatise to the kitchen for two days, so that means we can't lay it until tomorrow lunchtime.

Apart from the floor and all the shelves, the crappy cupboard and bench in the middle there is coming out to be replaced with the Udden stainless steel console we've already got, supplemented with two drawer units. With those drawers and all the shelves, we should find ourselves with much more kitchen space and certainly it'll be a lot nicer.

Wall fastening

A question for any DIYers out there. I'm going to be installing an Udden shelf tomorrow and I'm wondering what kind of fastening to use. Ikea are very coy in their instructions: "Choose screws and fittings that are specially suited to the material in your wall/ceiling and have sufficient holding power." Which isn't very helpful.

I was thinking of using green wall plugs and 10G x 50mm screws but that shelf only has four screw holes, which would place quite a bit of load on such fixings. I've been trying to find some specs on what you can load on such screws, without much success. Given that we'll probably be storing glases and plates on it, I'd want something that's well and truly strong enough.

Should I consider one of the more technical fixings like Dynabolts and similar? There are varieties that don't seem to need special tools, and their web site gives excellent technical and installation information, not that I know how to interpret the technical specs.