plywood mobile

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Colour. Now there is something novel. Although I am of course a fan of all things monochrome I didn’t want my baby to think there are only two colours (shades?) in the world. So I made a colourful mobile to hang above the bassinet. I cut out random shapes from plywood with the jigsaw, primed them and spraypainted them. The priming is an important step because spraypaint tends to slide right off plywood. I’m not gonna lie, this took a while. The cross (for some reason) nearly killed me.

I originally used a thicker string but the shapes were not heavy enough which meant they did not hang straight so I used cotton thread instead. For the top of the mobile I cut out two shapes and added a slit so they joined together (with a bit of trial and error). One side is plain plywood and the other is black and white: old habits die hard. To finish I added some natural beads at the top. In addition to black, white and grey, my baby now wakes up to blue, gold and neon pink.

cost: plywood $9, spraypaint (old), beads $6 (leftover from the mountain peak bunting project).

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linen curtains

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Changing the curtains immediately improved the feel of my space. The existing curtains were heavy grey curtains in some unnatural (gasp) fabric that sat low over the windows. As my place was a serviced apartment I kept imagining the breath of various interstate visitors hanging in the poly blend… Ok, perhaps I am being a bit melodramatic, but it is not an exaggeration to say that, along with the carpet, I was particularly happy to see these curtains go.

I wanted something in a natural fabric that would stretch the length of the wall and also from the roof to the floor. And I found them: AINA linen curtains from IKEA. Such a great find. I had to sew* (*outsource to a family member) several curtains together to cross the whole length of the wall. The curtain rail was tricky but I came up with an ingenious plan: I removed the old shiny white double metal rails that held the old curtains and spray painted them matt black (using a primer coat first). I then hacksawed them to fit the length of the wall and screwed them to the roof. A bit complicated, but basically free. A great result too–a neat black line across the top of the ceiling with no fussy fixtures. Having the curtains reach from the roof to the floor really makes the room seem bigger (cliché I know, but true). I was tossing up between the white, grey and the beige colour and I am happy with my choice – the beige mixes well with the warm colour of the polished concrete floors.

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Two more little things I want to mention about the windows. The first is the metal lines across the doors leading to the balcony. The apartment has great windows with black lines across the glass (they echo the Very On Trend black metal windows look, if you squint). But strangely the metal lines did not go all the way across the doors (look carefully at the ‘before’ picture above). So I bought some metal from the hardware store for about $8 and hacksawed it into pieces and hung it in the door frame in intervals to ‘fill the gaps’ so the black lines are continuous across the windows and doors (hard to explain – check out the pictures).

The second thing relates to the round window. It is random, but I love this window. The sill was originally painted the same cream colour as the walls. To give it more depth I painted the inside sill black (the same almost-black (Dulux Klavier) as the black wall).

Call me neurotic but I think these little things make a difference. Don’t you?

As for the furniture in the living room, I purchased the couch for a bargain from Gumtree (Australia’s more casual version of ebay). The lamp is from–none other than–IKEA (called Ranarp). I added a filament globe from Bunnings. The coffee table I particularly love–I found it collecting dust at a secondhand furniture store. It has a white round stone top and a carved teak base. Also a bargain. Of course.

cost: IKEA Aina curtains ($79 x 3), black matt spray paint $9, metal for windows $8

mountain peak bunting

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Bunting. It seems that no baby may be born after 2011 without some form of bunting hanging in its nursery. It turns out my baby is no different. Such is also the fate of each of the babies of my friends who have received my felt mountain peaks as a gift. At least these frosty felt bunting peaks are inverted–ok so not that unique, but it’s something.

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I handmade the felt peaks one productive crafternoon. I had to search through 20151219_154431the craft aisle of my local fabric shop for just the right type of felt. I did not want any stark white faux snow business. I wanted the flecked creamy felt that looked more like genuine snow. The shop assistant (perhaps understandably) did not appreciate the difference, but I found the snow cap felt I needed. Displaying some rare skills in spacial awareness I think I managed to cut five identical mountain triangles from one sheet of grey felt. The snowy caps I cut out freehand-style (alternating between straight and curvy snow–crazy, I know) and glued them on with craft glue. The natural beads were the perfect addition to break up the frosty peaks, although threading the beads and tying the knots was probably the most time consuming part of the whole caper.

cost: felt $7, beads $6, string and tape

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handmade wooden toy

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There are so many cheap looking plastic baby toys around. So plastic-y. So many primary colours. I wanted something from real wood so I got the jigsaw out and made a plywood baby gym (yes, google tells me that is a thing). Apparently babies can only see in black andDSC_4695 white for the first few months (don’t quote me on that): black and white it was. It wasn’t too hard to make – designing the main structure so it locked together was the tricky bit. For the rest I drew the shapes, cut them out, sanded, primed and painted them. I used a drill to make the holes in the shapes to thread the string. Encouraged by this first foray into the handmade toy business I ended up making a few more little things–see the plywood mobile and mountain peak bunting.

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  IMG_4750     IMG_4751       cost: plywood $16

polished concrete floors

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What to do with the floors? The floors were the first thing I wanted to change.  I was faced with brown(ish) stained carpet and cream(ish) nothing tiles. The carpet and tiles were specifically combined to meet in an arbitrary line that split the living area in two, halving the feeling of space.  Why?  Why?

So I researched many different flooring options.  The floors (a) had to fit within the budget, and (b) had to have a certain something (although simply not making me want to curse when I open the front door was a good start).  I considered wooden floorboards (delightful but exxy), herringbone tiles (huge labour costs) and even vinyl and reconstituted floorboards (NQR).  In the end the decision was clear: polished concrete floors.  So excellent.  I love the imperfect speckled texture combined with the smooth finish.  And it is practical.  I have been known to forego practicality for style on occasion … but I did not need to this time.

To save costs I enlisted some help (thanks folks) and ripped up the tiles and carpet myself.  It was hard work carting tiles and bundles of carpet up and down stairs and prying each individual carpet nail from the concrete; but it was also quite satisfying.  No more brownish/creamish nightmares.

It was a battle to find someone willing to polish concrete in an apartment (it was not an easy job – it involved large machinery and a lot of dust) but eventually I found someone local with a sense of adventure and humour. The floors were polished throughout (including the bedrooms) but unfortunately the bathrooms fell into the Too Hard Basket.  This really opened up the space.  I originally attempted a matt grey finish, but it just looked, well, unfinished.  So I had a gloss topcoat applied and the result was a slight shine without looking like a Mediterranean museum.

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gloss finish

gloss finish

matt finish

matt finish

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powder blue chairs

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DSC_4668Standing in a junk yard outside a shed in the industrial zone of C-town I awkwardly called out to the person making industrial sounds inside. I had purchased four sixties patio chairs (patio, what a great word); but

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before(ish)

they needed some attention. They had an excellent recline and a perfect grid-frame. But they were rusty and the white plastic coating was peeling off like insect skins. The ‘before’ pictures below are not of the actual chairs (I forgot to take a snap in their original form – gah!), but you get the idea. I often buy things from second-hand stores and think to myself that I will just ‘do it up, no problems’. This rarely ends up happening. But there was something about these chairs… I negotiated with the guy in the shed who looked like he stepped out the Mad Max set. He would sandblast the chairs and send them over to his mate to powder coat them (Australian efficiencybefore(ish)). Then, for the second time that day, I awkwardly waited outside an industrial shed. This shed was a lot more serious-looking. The powder-coating bloke found it amusing that I wanted to see the colour options: “most people just pick grey … or metallic grey”. I guessed it had been a while since he had powder-coated patio furniture. But he managed to find an old can of powder blue paint being ignored on a shelf: apparently people don’t want powder blue trailers.  I also picked up some powder blue velvet cushion covers from Ikea. Mmm velvet.

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details: chairs from second-hand store, sand blasting: $50 each, powder-coating $25 each, Ikea cushion covers $10 each

plywood plant stand

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There was a moment when I was going to shell out some clams for a plywood plant stand and I thought, ‘I could make this’.  I have this thought often.  I usually ignore it.  Reality usually hits that there is no way I wouldIMG_3682 be able to make something that other people are able to exchange for cash money.  But  I figured that this project involved plywood — and, well, that’s it.  I purchased a jigsaw (an excellent piece of machinery) and a piece of plywood and got to it.  I measured, and/or guessed the proportions and cut out the pieces in my living room.  I sanded the pieces and then coated it with some trusty scandinavian oil.  I guess I just made a plywood plant stand!  I also made a lot of mess.  I took me longer to clean up the sawdust than it did to make the plant stand.

details: plywood, jigsaw, scandinavian oil cost: jigsaw $24, plywood $16 (for two stands)

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the black door

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The door was the beginning: it was first to turn black.

In its previous life my space was a serviced apartment—and the door made this abundantly clear.  It had a no-smoking sticker, an automatic door closer and (no doubt) hundreds of fingerprints from travelling strangers.

Having removed the tiles and polished the concrete floor (more on that later), I was left with a decent gap under the door.  I found a brass door seal that matched the brass switches.  It took a bit of hacksawing and screwing but it works just fine.  The black is the same excellent purple black as the black wall.  And there are no fingerprints to be seen.

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midway

details: paint: dulux klavier, brass door seal

cost: paint $50 (with plenty left over), seal $20

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wood paneling

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      The seventies.  I grew up in a house that was decked out with hand-made macrame, cane furniture, maidenhair ferns and, yes, wood paneling.  Eventually the fern greens were replaced with the peachy pastels of the eighties.  But I still love seventies delights.  Perhaps, like my dining table, it reminds me of home?

It turns out the seventies was easy enough to recreate in my noughties space. I found a pile of DSC_4658long wood strips (cedar?) collecting dust at the hardware store.  The strips were shaped like an arrow–great for creating a wavy texture.  As the guy from the hardware store cut the strips into seventy five identical pieces, he asked me what I was planning on doing with the wood.  I explained.  It seems he did not share my seventies vision.

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double spacing

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After some serious sanding and generous dousing of scandinavian oil, the arrows were ready.  I experimented with different spacings: no spaces was too heavy and and the double spaces was, well, too spacey.  Single spacing it was.  Next: liquid nails.

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details: cedar wood strips, cut,
sanded and oiled

cost: wood $90 (incl. cutting),
scandinavian oil $40