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Back To Basics

Episode 2


Kirsten:I chose the theme 'Gentlemen's Den' for Steve's room as a good contrast to the other two bedrooms. The grey-blue stripe identifies with a smart masculine feel, and the cream is the warm base for the entire house. Silver, in the stencil adds a modern touch.

The floors
I have chosen to sand back the floors throughout the house to reveal an original element and reintroduce the natural feel of timber. Rugs reinstate comfort and warmth and lighten the rooms back up.

Danish oiling notes
There are many finishing products on the market to bring your floors back to their glorious original condition.
My preference is oil as it's one of the easier products to apply; it looks the most natural and smells nice as apposed to polyurethanes.

Following my desire to add texture and colour, without overdoing it or darkening the rooms, I've kept all the window treatments very minimal and light, with Eco-wood, white Venetian blinds.

The relatively modern pendant in Steve's room was recycled from the dining room. Nice and simple, it ties in well, and saved us some dosh, and it's supplemented with bedside lights. The bedside lamps from Freedom were chosen for the same qualities, simple and light.

Stripes personalise a room and add unlimited creativity and the chance to individualise. They add pattern that can be either modern or traditional and are usually a cheaper option to using wallpaper.

A few simple rules to follow when doing stripes:
- Stripes will elongate the direction they follow. 
- Vertical stripes will make a room seem taller and narrower. 
- Horizontal stripes can make a room seem shorter and wider.

Process and tips:
- Choose your starting point carefully
- Measure the distances consistency carefully 
- A spirit level will save a lot of time  
- Mark lines lightly with a sharp knife (as a lead pencil mark will be hard to cover or erase) 
- For most efficient striping choose a painting tool a similar size to the stripe width.

- Draw desired pattern on a quartered triangle of paper 
- Cut out a prototype on paper to check the effect 
- Use this positive to cut a negative stencil out of a thin plastic sheet 
- When painting do a test first 
- Use removable adhesive on the underside of stencil to eliminate movement 
- Spray at a right angle for a sharper line

Suede bedhead
A bedhead helps structure a bedroom by giving vertical strength to the room's most dominant piece of furniture. I chose this modern and simplistic version for Steve's room so that it doesn't fight the strength of pattern in the stripe & stencil. The dark blue suede fabric is a rich tonal match to the grey-blue, and the olive bed linen is a subtle but luxurious contrast. 

So you need two lengths of a sturdy material like pine. I used a 25 x 60mm piece, almost as long as the width of the bedhead (approx 1400mm - queen bedhead = 1500mm), then cut a 45 degree mitre across the length of both. You fix one length to the wall with the angle coming up and out toward you and the other on the back of the bedhead with the angle upside-down, so when you slide the bedhead down the angles meet and friction holds them tight.

Hearth, tile - paint effect
When the existing hearth is uninteresting you can either tile or decorate with an effect. In our case the timber surround is in good condition and matches the mantle so is worth keeping, but tiling would mean having to raise the surround to match the height of the tiles.  A tile effect with paint will create similar impact to tiling but may be easier, quicker and less expensive.

Strip mantle
To reveal the original timber of the mantle we painted on paint stripper and scraped the old paint off. Always read the instructions well as paint stripper is dangerous and should be used carefully. Always wear heavy-duty gloves and avoid skin contact or breathing too many fumes. Ventilate the room well if you are unable to do the stripping outside, and wear a mask and safety glasses.

Mock tile effect 
- Mark out the grid of your chosen tile shape and size 
- Paint in the mortar colour first 
- When dry mask over with narrow masking tape then apply a top coat of desired tile colour, working it for a more textured effect 
- I went for an Italian porcelain look, in speckled charcoal

Kirsten's spraying tips
- You can save a lot time by masking an area and then spraying the whole lot 
- An airless sprayer costs $120 per day but allows for very speedy coverage
- A drawback to the airless sprayer is that it uses more paint

Tip: Try covering your face with Vaseline or olive oil before you start spraying to protect your skin from paint.

In-organic rubbish collection
Turning someone else's junk into your treasure with a simple fix and clean. Collection happens every two years with the Auckland Isthmus. Contact your local city council to see if there is an in-organic collection in your area or try your local refuse station.


Porch - Builder or DIY?
On a level of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest level of difficulty) this job would be up there, so for the serious, more experienced DIY person go for it. For everyone else it would be wise to employ the expertise of a professional.

Choosing a Builder
Rates vary but a good builder is worth paying for. A recommendation from someone who has been happy with the workmanship and integrity of their builder is often the best way to go.

My plan
Ensure that the architectural plan actually works in the practical sense. Quantify and cost all materials before starting. A porch of this magnitude is not cheap.

Remove and clear away the original porch. Start at the top and work down until the area is clear. Make sure you wear protective gear such as a hard hat, safety glasses and if required, ear muffs.

Cutting wood to the same length every time tip
If you hate measuring the same length time and time again, here's a quick tip.
- Cut your first piece of wood to the correct length
- Then screw a piece of wood to the end to act as a stop.
- Lay wood on top of new piece to be cut.
- Mark line

Drilling holes before nailing
If you want a professional look on your deck
- Grab a straight edge lay it right down along the joist
- Scribe a line and use that line to put your nails in
- Drill a hole just through the wood
- And when you put your nails in you definitely wont spilt the wood

Re-build the base / platform and ensure that it is level across the house and has a fall away from the house. To ensure it is square to the house use either a 3 4 5 triangle or (as I do) the Pythagorean Theorem.

That is: for a right triangle, the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides: a2 b2 = c2     

Steve's 'right angle tip'
example:  if 'a' =  7      'b' =3.5 
what does 'c ' = ?



the square of  a = 7 x 7 = 49
the square of  b = 3.5 x 3.5 =12.25
add  a and  b  = 61.25
the area  c = 61.25
now find the square root of 61.25
that means 2 numbers when multiplied together = 61.25
the answer to that = 7.826 ( rounded down to 3 places )
If length c is greater than 7.826, the angle a c is greater than 90 deg.
If length c is less than 7.826, the angle a c is less than 90 deg.
When length c equals 7.826, the angle a c is 90 deg. and your building will be nice and square.

Build the walls. Cut the posts and fit to position. Position the beams and bolt it all together.

N.B. Check to ensure at every stage that the structure is going to plan. It's easier to correct a mistake now than to discover it at the end of the project. With everything checked off and correct, nail to finish.

The Roof
Fit wall plate to house wall, level with the top of the front beam. Cut and position roof joists. Nail off. I used joist hangers to hold everything in place. To obtain a fall from the house I took some 75 x 50 tan H3 timbers, cut them to length and split them, turning them into two large wedges. I then nailed them down to the top of the roof joists.

Over the top of that I fixed four 75 x 50 H3, laid side to side and equally spaced. These served as battens to fix the new roofing materials to. Colorsteel roof was fitted after this.

Underneath the porch roof, 'V' grooved plywood was fixed in place and edged off with 20mm quadrant.

Plywood was used for the ceiling it's known as 'plygroove' and comes in sheets. It has a similar effect as tongue and groove and saves heaps of time.

When fitting the weatherboards to the walls a 'flair' was fashioned to the bottom four rows to provide a look in keeping with the period of the house.

Tip: Before you put up your weatherboards sand the edges, it will give you a better finish and your painter will love you for it.

Make sure the bottom weatherboard is cut to the correct length and is level.

Then work your way up, lining up the bottom of the next weatherboard just below the top of the last. When nailing off each new weatherboard make sure the nails only pierce the top weatherboard.

As a lovely traditional finish to the porch we are going to make some outriggers.

First, you need to start with a template. These outriggers are part of the grand plan for the porch. Which aims to replicate what may have been originally and will reinstate the bungalows traditional façade.

See plans on construction.

Steps plan 
Finally, the capping / handrail was made. This was cut from 300 x 50 H3, then cut and scribed around the support post.


Garden design
The single most important thing you can do to your house is to make your entrance way inviting. Surveys show that many new homebuyers make their decision to buy; by the time they get to the front door.

So the entranceways need to be functional inviting and exciting. I want visitors to this house to be greeted by a sensuous symphony of sight, sound and smell

The architectural detailing and relative symmetry with the frontage meant an opportunity to repeat this in the garden. This to me, equated to a reasonably classic formal look, layered hedges and massed under planting, gravel paths and classic urns.

I set about creating an axis off the new front steps leading up to the porch, by opening up a pedestrian entrance off the street. This is a traditional element and probably was in place when the house was built in the 20s.

In the centre I placed a water feature, an inviting focal point for visitors as they enter and exit the property. I also had to ensure that there would be easy access for anyone parking in the driveway, a direct thoroughfare to and from the front door.

This brought about the T shape paths from the "Alley" of 'Mop Tops'.

The front hedges were placed to disguise the base of the house and existing front fence, the base of the house to me, was ugly and although typical detailing of houses of that time, it is my thinking that a base of planting will soften the house and make it look more organic and nestles in the landscape.

The nice thing about using hedges is that they create instant structure, and if used wisely, add to the lines of the house. From a maintenance point of view, they let you know when they require trimming, meaning you don't need to have green fingers to know when your hedge needs a trim.

When choosing the plants I have opted for year-round good looks, I didn't want plants dying down and changing the look at anytime.

Also I wanted all year round flowering; it would be nice to think that at any given month of the year there would be something in flower to pick and bring inside.

Fragrance increases interest by pleasuring more than one sense, and I believe is a very important factor when planning any garden.

Plant buying tips
Most Garden centres will give you a discounted rate for bulk orders. Fax your plant list or take in your plan to give them an opportunity to quote.

Its important to establish what plants you should buy big or small. Your landscape designer should be able to advise you on this i.e. some plants are slower growing and should be bought larger and some plants are so fast you can cut costs by buying them small.

Witches broom
The cherry tree in our front yard has a 'witches broom' this is its common name, it's technical name is fatsiation. This is a freak of nature and I am not sure why it happens. The Chinese believe it is very good luck to have a tree with a witches broom. I have never been superstitious but perhaps cutting it down right at the beginning of the renovations wasn't such a good idea after all.

They do not do any harm to your tree, they just look a little ugly.

Jack hammering
The important thing with jack hammering is that you have the right size hammer for the job, tell the hire centre how thick your concrete is and how much of it there is, that will save you a lot of work. If the tool is too small for the job you may burn it out or make a lot more work for yourself.

Mike and Concrete Cutting
Hiring your own machine can prove costly and time consuming. Contractors will come to you and cut for a fee of about $6 a lineal metre. Tip: Wash away sludge into your garden, this is more eco friendly.

Cutting down trees
'Resource Consents are required when an activity will have an effect on the environment and is not currently permitted under your local authority resource management plan (district plan, regional plan)'.

This could mean just pruning a tree could require resource consent. Resource Management Authority (RMA) suggest anyone thinking about doing any type of work on trees should first check their local councils district plan, as plans will vary from district to district.

Bob cat tips
Because there was a lot of concrete and trees to move from the site and the site was not level I decided to get a Bob Cat in to make the job a lot easier and quicker. Try to get your bobcat in around the dry season.

A bobcat costs around $60 an hour but they can do a great deal of work if you have a lot to do. It is well worth hiring one to lift concrete, pull stumps, lift turf and flatten a property.


Garden design
The style of the house was what influenced my decision largely, in choosing the style of garden. I had many different garden styles to choose from, and could have gone several different ways.

A tropical style could have created an oasis but probably would have looked like a mock resort in the context of setting.

A contemporary style may have worked if we were doing something more contemporary with the house itself, not the case here.

The architectural detailing and relative symmetry with the frontage meant an opportunity to repeat this in the garden. This to me, equated to a reasonably classic formal look, layered hedges and massed underplanting, gravel paths and classic urns.

Most people are capable of doing their own landscaping, but there are some who will wish to choose a Landscape Designer to create a workable, maintainable garden design for them, from around $500 - $2000.

When choosing your landscape designer
- Ask a friend for referral of landscape designer (word of mouth) 
- Ask landscaper for references from clients 
- LIANZ (Landscape Industry Ass. NZ) will provide you with a list of credible members in your area. 
- Ask landscaper if you can see projects/plans of previous work 
- Establish clearly with the landscape designer what you are getting for the money you have been quoted

A good landscape plan should pay for itself over the cost of your project.