Kelvin has a thing for Depression-era furniture. It’s all about the ethos of make do, re-invent, re-use. This ingenious little set of drawers is made from kerosene cans for the drawers and packing case timber for the frame and drawer fronts, all with the original green paint. I’ve popped it on the landing walkway under an old abstract painting of mine with a few thrifted tchotchkes and an old rush-seated oak chair from . Of course the little green drawers are from .
Day 2 on the kitchen wall repair and it only now became obvious just how bad the bow in the bricks really was. The outside skin of bricks was technically inside the house. But I jump ahead of myself. The old bricks came down to reveal a subterranean concrete render on the lower bricks. It appears that the next door neighbours at some stage decided to build up their sloping garden into more level terraces. We think the render was slapped on the external wall to “protect” it from damp as the soil piled up against the house. Surprisingly it appears to have worked. One thing we noticed as the wall was pulled apart was just how dry everything was, the bricks and the dirt.
Now you can see what I mean when I say the exterior wall was technically in the interior of the house. I think we caught it just in time. The whole thing was very unstable. When everything was finally cleared away we saw the cause of the whole thing. A very large lump of concrete had been used as fill along with all the other rubble. Over time it was being pushed down the hill and into our house, The only thing that could give was the old wall. Out it had to come … by hand, one chip at a time as it was too precarious to use a jackhammer. The whole wall could come down. Instead it was stone chisel and bolster.
All out and it was time to get on with rebuilding. Day 3 saw a repeat of the formula. Pull down, rebuild and done. I asked the brick masons to turn a brick or two here and there around so the Ipswich frog was showing. It seemed a shame to hide all that history away. They also “signed” the wall with one of their own company bricks bearing the Potrzeba frog.
Ta Da! A new old brick wall all straight and true reusing the original bricks with a few new bricks underground on the exterior wall where they can’t be seen. Everything held together with traditional lime mortar and new brick ties. (The old brick ties were like giant iron nails the size of pencils.) It will eventually be lime washed when we renovate the kitchen in a few months time. First we have to turn the old stables into a new bathroom!
P.S. Just found an old photo of the kitchen soon after we moved in. The bow in the wall was conveniently hidden behind that large built-in cabinet from the 1960s. The brick masons believe the movement wasn’t a recent event. It started a long time ago and was stabilised for awhile by the cupboard when it was built.
You may remember that when we demolished the kitchen cabinets there was a nasty surprise waiting for us. The brick wall on our zero boundary line was bowing into the kitchen by a good 10 cm and was in imminent risk of collapse. It had to be fixed before we could proceed with the new kitchen. After checking with a few local builders who came up with novel is not dodgy ways of fixing said wall we finally turned to Queensland’s only heritage brick masons . Their projects include the Old Queensland Museum, the Ipswich Railway Workshops, The Mansions in George St, Brisbane City, Saint Brigid’s in Red Hill, St Helena Island … you get the idea. It may not have been cheap but the result was incredible as was the chance to watch these heritage masons work. Along the wall there were some wonderful surprises. I documented it at the time on my Instagram Stories and I keep it archived in the there but of course I need to share it here as well.
First thing they did was cut a groove along the mortar line one course of bricks above where they were going to work. The brick masons inserted a twisted stainless steel wire (more like a rod and I don’t know what it’s technical name is so don’t ask 🙂 They then glue it in finishing it to look like a mortar line. It was to act as a lintel to hold the upper bricks in place while they removed the ones below.
A few days later the repair work began. The bricks came out easily with just gentle persuasion here and there. Imagine our delight when we realised that all the old bricks bore an Ipswich frog! (A frog is is the indentation in a brick, normally where the makers name is stamped.) What a wonderful piece of history. I had seen an Ipswich frog before but never hundreds of them. Maurie said he had obviously seen Ipswich frogs before but he hadn’t seed a pattern quite like this. The size and the composition of the bricks also suggested that these were 1860’s brick he believed.
The brick masons worked in pairs for three days. Each day they tackled a third of the wall taking down first the inside then the outside walls for about a metre or so before rebuilding the outside up so high then the inside to match.
At the end of the first day it was obvious that the old wall was way out of plumb as you can see in the photos below. Wait till you see the day 2 photos. OMG!
It was time for a change. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my old bedroom. One of the very first things I wanted to do when we moved into our new old house 7 years ago was to paint at least one room black and it was my bedroom that turned to the dark side. Unfortunately impending renovations mean that my spacious bedroom is about to be chopped in half to make way for an upstairs bathroom. Yay! Much smaller bedroom. Boo! What to do? Why move across the landing and convert my office into my new bedroom. Quite a change as the new room is white. What to do? Where to start? Well I started with a rug.
It was as if the design gods were smiling the day the came into my life via email a few weeks ago with an offer to review their extensive range of handmade rugs. Think Turkish and Persian rugs, kilims, vintage, distressed, over dyed and patchwork. They are a small local producer trying to keep a traditional craft alive. Their rugs are fashioned from original handmade and organically dyed wool and cotton blend vintage Turkish rugs. The edges are hand sewn and they are responsible for the shaving, bleaching, colorization, over dying and drying of the reworked carpets. The exciting news for me here in Australia is that they ship worldwide. Yes everywhere. Think of it … thousands of rugs and worldwide shipping. I was in heaven but how was I to choose? Luckily the website was easy to navigate and soon I had narrowed it down to a handful of rugs. This is the beauty that was the genesis of my new bedroom design.
It’s a beige over dyed vintage rug. The takes Turkish carpets at least 40-50 years of age which then undergo a unique process of colour neutralisation before being over-dyed in an exciting new colour. The result is a mix of traditional Turkish carpet design fused with a contemporary vintage style with each rug unique in size and colour.
I wanted a bright neutral colour scheme, white walls, natural wood floors, caramel leathers. The room faces east and morning sun streams in. After years of sleeping in a black as night bedroom I was ready to celebrate the light. With my new rug laid before the fireplace (ooh can’t wait to light a fire when the weather cools) it was time to shop my house for what I needed to furnish the room. I did mention we have major kitchen and bathroom renovations in the pipeline didn’t I? Money is painfully tight. With my new vintage rug as the hero of the room I pulled together what I could, bought a few pieces I didn’t have like sheers for the windows and some new sheets (that’s all I had to buy believe me) and slapped some paint on old boards to create large art pieces for the walls. And yes I’m an art dilettante. I create paintings to match my colour scheme.
Luckily I am blessed with a large room with two huge windows and french doors onto a verandah. With my rug looking so good on the floor I thought it would be a shame to cover it up with furniture. I dragged in an 80’s glass and marble coffee table I had used in the sitting area of my old bedroom and paired it with two Robert Dunlop Tanderra chairs from the mid 70s. The glass top and the wide open legs of the chairs allow the carpet to shine through. I love it. The depression era chair in the corner I found in a secondhand store covered in layer after layer of homemade upholstery. I stripped it back to its bare bones and love its primitive honesty. An Eero Aarnio Parabel side table, found on eBay years ago and more than likely a reproduction despite the seller’s protestations that it wasn’t, sits beside. On the mantel is a piece I painted in a hurry for the spot. Something abstract to contrast with the 150 year old fireplace. On the other side is an old homemade workshop cupboard topped with various retro pieces and a mirror I picked up in the 90s at a local artisan market. I stole the bead chandelier from my dining room. Which reminds me I have to find something for there now. Bugger!
At the other end of the room is our bed, simply dressed in white. Above is a painting of mine that started off as another abstract but somehow evolved into a floral. Weird. I’m not that sort of girl. It still needs a frame but considering I pulled together this room in a week I think you can cut me some slack on an unframed artwork. The screen is a student piece from my design school days. Not my design unfortunately.
So there you have it. My transformation from dark to light, from old bedroom to new and the rug that set the scene for it all. A big thank you to for my fabulous new vintage over dyed rug. I love it.
P.S. The hemp over dyed kilim runner at the foot of my bed is also from the . It’s actually for my new bathroom whenever it is built. But you’ll get to see more of it when I reveal the new bathroom in all its black glory. What? You didn’t expect me to leave the dark side completely did you?
P.P.S. Want to see what my old bedroom looked like? And this room before the transformation? Here are couple of pictures for you.
… and a little later
The office before it became the bedroom …
I spent the afternoon stripping an old pine linen press I bought from . (Do I sound like a broken record yet? I by everything from Katherine because her prices are so crazy cheap and she finds the best sh*t.) If you scroll down you can see what it looked like before and during my little redo. I’m going to use it for a food pantry in the new kitchen. I can’t remember now but it wasn’t much more than $100 compared to the $1500 I was going to pay for a “new one from the kitchen shop”. Just some paint stripper, a couple of hours sanding (I lie … lots of hours sanding), a good wax or soap finish, change out the handle and I was done. Can’t believe it’s the perfect size.
Finished … except for an old wooden knob which I’m sure I can pick up (of course). This is just a little styled corner I put together because my kitchen is still half demolished. New ensuite first, then demolish old bathroom and turn it into a butler’s pantry and laundry, then repair old brick wall then new kitchen then new bathroom in the old stables. This will take some time 😜
Not sure how I feel about the white wax. Perhaps I should have used clear. Jury is still out.
P.S. The old cane industrial basket was picked up ages ago and the zinc topped bench is a hack I did on a thrifted display table.
Kitchen dreaming. First step on the road to my new old style kitchen.
Blurry photo sorry but I stole it from ‘s Instagram feed.
And here’s the after again.