Monday, 26 February 2018

Colour selection for a new home

We have been "working" on this house build for many months now but alas, no start date as yet. The weather in south-east Queensland has been particularly unfriendly this week that little would have been done on the build even if construction was underway. 

The decisions have all been made so we can relax a bit and just wait. 

Here are some of the colour choices we have made.

Roof. Our current home has a black roof. It looks fabulous but I have always been a bit suspicious that it doesn't help the house stay cool in the summer so it's a "no" for our new roof. I wanted a colour that will blend into the landscape and there will be a lot of roof visible from the road so why not go green? Green roofs seem so out of date so it's also a "no" to green. When there has been little rain for weeks the block looks more like a sandy green so after much discussion, internet looking and samples arriving in the mail, we have settled on COLORBOND Surfmist ®. This will also be the colour of the rendered external walls.

According to the Colorbond website, Surfmist "embodies qualities of freshness, purity, timelessness and independency. Snow, the mist from the sea and surf, pure white sand, and the billowing sails of yachts all remind us of this colour." Yes OK, today I am going with snow.
Gutters. We wanted a contrasting colour to create lines and liked the idea of black so COLORBOND Monument®
it is. A "strong, confident colour that is unashamedly a city colour." Yes, very sheike. As you can see by the photo, a whole roof would look brilliant and also feel brilliant if living in a southern state or close to the arctic circle.  

John and I love timber. It's look, feel and smell. We will have big wooden pillars on the porch and verandah posts. There is something about timber that is raw and natural yet defined. 

We are also practical. Our current home has a floating wooden floor. Looks great but we continually worry about the scratches. It also gets mopped with steaming, soapy water. Something that should never be done as it opens the pores, just like a steam room. 

The tiles we have chosen for the hall, dining, lounge and kitchen are timber look. Is this cheating? Um, maybe but they are also beautiful.

I have taken a photo from National Tiles to demonstrate just how beautiful timber look tiles can be. The photo does not do them justice, but this is Nordic Latte, our chosen colour. 

There is not much more to say about colour. The rest of the house will be the modern, 'on trend' colours of nothing really. Off-white, black benchtops, white cabinetry, black bathroom floor tiles. 

Let's hope next week is a bit more interesting than this week has been in house building world. 

Remember to follow my blog if you want to be alerted when something interesting happens. 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Patience is a necessity when building a house

This fortnight has been frustrating in the house building department.

  • We have been patiently waiting for information from various sources but information is dribbling in slowly.
  • We are patiently waiting for a date for the building to start.
  • We are patiently waiting for the water connection so there can no longer be anything holding things up.
  • We have been slowly sorting through 'stuff' at home trying to make decisions while we patiently wait for the next steps.
I have revised my "let's move in during the winter," to "let's aim to have Christmas here this year." I have been advised not to be a pessimist so I will be very excited to move in during cool weather with plenty of time to be settled before Christmas. Note, specific date or even month not documented. 

All in all, not a lot of progress so let's skip to the fun part and start planning the landscaping.
Frangipani Tricolor
When we first bought the land I envisioned a short driveway to the garage and path to the front door. Ahhhh, no that's won't be it. The driveway is more than 30m long and the house is halfway down the block. 

My original plan was to landscape the block in front of the garden fully with garden beds overflowing with large shrubs, ground covers and the odd small tree. The back of the block is for fruit trees, shed, chook house and a vegetable garden. 

So why change course now? 
  • Because the front yard is HUGE and will require many, many more plants and a lot fitter version of Anne to keep up with the maintenance? Yes and yes.
  • Because I can't picture how it will all look in the end? Yes.
  • Because I am concerned about drainage and the possibility of all the plants sliding down the hill in one of the many vicious thunderstorms that form over Hoya? Yes.
  • Hibiscus Aussie Pearl

After lots of thoughts and lack of confidence in my ability and persistence to create something I am truly proud of and enjoy that won't look like a dug up, neglected sheep paddock, I have decided I will be sticking to the plan so let's crack on with it. 

This has given me an excuse to start collecting plants right now. So I have. 
Donkey's Ears

The garden will have the theme of "Australian Cottage," and no, you won't find it in a book. My vision is for the gardens and landscape to look well filled and a bit messy with colour sprinkled throughout. A mix of natives and exotics. This will be fun because they don't always play well together. 

I have put photos into this post of some of the plants that I have already collected for the front gardens of our Home in Hoya. Our current home is  starting to look like a nursery but I can't resist plants. 

Watercolour Rose

I bought 3 Watercolour roses from the clearance trolley at Bunnings. They were scraggly and  bit yellow but I couldn't resist. A month later after some food and plenty of water, all 3 look brilliant. My vision for this is to planted together in a row along the side of the driveway.

Plumeria Pudica

Plumeria Pudica has beautiful and long lasting brilliant white flowers. The leaves are also a weird club shape. The plants themselves are bare at the bottom so I plan to plant these in the centre of a garden bed with low shrubs to cover the lower parts of the plant. I have only 1 of these but should be able to grow more from cuttings. 

Japanese Black Pine

Japanese Black Pine. I first saw one of these at the Mt. Coot-tha Botanical Gardens in the Japanese Garden and fell in love. They are elegant, angular and prickly all in one hit. They are also very slow growing and not easy to find. I have had this plant for a few years now and its growth has been slow. It will take pride of place near the front door. 

Frangipani Darwin Yellow

Frangipanis are back in fashion and come in an ever increasing range of colours.  I have bought a few but most are from cuttings that have fallen off trees that I have been able to access by fair means or foul. Darwin yellow has brilliant yellow flowers and a spicy fragrance that is different to other Frangis.

Hibiscus Citrus Mist

Hibiscus Citrus Mist is one of the range developed by aussie colours. Check out their range here:

John bought me 3 babies. They are not easy to get. 

I will post more photos of my growing plant collection as I acquire more plants and they are happy to be photographed. 

Now let's get started on building a house. 

Friday, 16 February 2018


People are fascinated by cults and I am one of those so this book took my eye at the library. But it was more than this. The front cover drew me in. A photo of a young lady walking along a jetty towards rippling blue water and beautifully framed by mountains in the distance.

The book presented with a casual style but I was quickly drawn into the word of Cassie, a young lady who departs with her boyfriend on the adventure of a lifetime. Relations between them are not and a disagreement sees them separated once they arrive in New Zealand. It was easy for Cassie to accept the offer of a lift from a group of smiling individuals in a beat up old van.
I have always found it difficult to believe that people get sucked into a cult but this book gave me the realization that it could and does happen. The cult members treated her very well while at the same time ensuring that the outside world appears hostile and that individuality is not required or accepted.
The feelings of despair and determination that her parents must have been feeling are palpable and ultimately it is her father’s pending early death that opens a window wide enough for Cassie to squeeze through and go back to her family.

This is a story about belief in family, faith and loss. They are on every page. It is a book that is difficult to put down.

I borrowed image of the book cover from where the book currently has a star rating of 3.7/5. Check out the site.
The other beautiful photos have been labelled as free for reuse on google. 

Friday, 2 February 2018

Where to land a house on a sloping block

The contour map for our block revealed the true mountainous state of our block. There is a 7 metre fall from front to back on one side and a lump in the middle. What is under the lump we are not sure but are suspicious that there is a fair amount of rock. The earth has also been pushed onto the block to create level ground for the road.  

The lump is very obvious on the aerial photo. 

I had great difficulty picturing the house on the block. My brain couldn't translate a 2D plan on paper to a vision in my head. The plans returned with the house further from the front boundary than I expected and this created even more doubts in my mind. John build a 3D model. Suddenly it all started to make sense and I could see where our home will be. How it will sit in the landscape. Here she is!  Check out the video. It is a bit wobbly and I hope you don't feel queasy watching it. 


The large snake is our driveway, all 148 m2 of it. That's a lot of concrete. 

We will have a lot more front yard than I originally thought we would so now my mind is running wild with landscaping questions. 

Please follow my blog. The link is on the right. I am happy to share our experiences of how to create a Home in Hoya. 

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Looking for a house design

Picking a house design is not an easy task when you have a large block that is also sloping. Not sloping in one direction but two. We realised we would have challenges with the block when we bought it but were always confident we would find what we wanted.

We had a list of 'wants':

  • open spaces.
  • large windows and lots of airflow. breezy.
  • natural light.
  • a space for indoor doing.
  • room for a spa that didn't need a bush track to get to.
  • welcoming.
  • not big.
  • not pretentious.
  • be able to see outside while sitting in bed for the morning cuppa.
  • maximise views of the mountains.
I also had the idea that the house had to sit 'in' the land rather than be pretentiously perched on it for all to see. It couldn't be like a concrete pimple on a bodybuilder's back. You get my meaning? John wanted a skillion roof from the very first discussion and I understood why. It gives a modern look and would also fit with my idea that the house had to look settled into the landscape. 

We found many photos and drawings online that we thought were the sort of thing we wanted. Here are some of our favourite picks. 

Storybook Designer Homes create homes with High Quality Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Architecture. 

This is a home built in the Samford Valley by baahouse to be a tropical retreat for a granny. It was the big verandahs with huge doors that appealed to us. 

This design by Pivot Homes was one that John found. We were impressed by the large verandah that seemed to float above the landscape. 

I found it very hard to accept that there wasn't a building company in SE Queensland that had the perfect design for us already in a project home. Why not? I think partly because there seems to be the need to squish as much home as possible on your average, now not very large city block. Surely 'acreage' homes would have what we wanted but I was disappointed there also because if you live on acreage you require 4 bedrooms, at least 3 toilets, study, media room, a few lounges, cellar and of course life cannot be lived without a butler's pantry. Note I have called it a butler's pantry not butlers' pantry. Doubt if I will have more than one butler in my lifetime. 

After weeks of searching and lamenting the fact that we might have to go to an architect or draftsperson, a design that looked like a good starting point was found with a GJGardner home. There were things we wanted to change but the bones were there along with 3 toilets for 2 people, 4 bedrooms, office, library and the inevitable scullery. Just another name for a butler's pantry.  

After weeks of back and forth with a patient chap at G. J Gardner, who couldn't quite believe that we didn't want 4 bedrooms, 3 toilets, a spa bath in the ensuite and a library but 'needed' a massive studio, we settled on the design. The garage has been moved to the western side of the house and the powder room has been removed. 

It isn't a big or fancy house. That is not what we want. 
Now we had to work out how to hang it off the hill. How much will be slab and how much stumps and where to plonk it on the property to minimise excavation and build costs, plus line up with the sun? That's enough house planning for one day. Check back soon for my next post. 

Monday, 22 January 2018

A Home in Hoya

There are times in one's life when something beckons that cannot be ignored. 
For John and I this came in 2013. We had the urge to acquire a bit of land so we could eventually "retire to the country." Perhaps it was because Mum and Dad had sold their beautiful cottage at Maleny and whilst we didn't visit as often as we wanted to, we knew it was there. Or maybe it was because we had a desire to start from scratch. The thought of starting gardens on a blank canvas was hard to resist. So we didn't.

Anyway, we found this gorgeous block of land at Hoya, just outside of Boonah. It is in an estate that was once a sheep farm so of course, I am thinking sheep poo and praying that the soil will be rich and fertile.

Hoya is not a large town. According to Wikipedia, it has a population of 273, but all is good because Boonah is just around the corner and 2474 people live there. It boasts a huge IGA, butchers, bakers, a couple of great coffee shops and a hospital. We have plans to utilize all but the hospital.

Fast forward to 2017 and it is time to build. Building a house in the country feels like a big thing to do so why not join us on this "journey" and come along for the ride. We promise to share all the unfortunate details of how to build "A Home in Hoya." 

Saturday, 2 December 2017


My first foray into Lian Hearn's writing was the Tales of the Otori which is a series of historical novels based in Feudal Japan. 
I struggled with the characters' names but became totally engrossed in the stories once I remembered who was who. 

Blossums and Shadows is a very different book. It is based on historical events in Japan in the mid 19th Century but is narrated by the fictional character Tsuro. It was a period of internal division and rivalries between the hundreds of domains at a time when the semi-feudal government of the Shogun was beginning to crumble. Coupled with external threats of foreigners who arrived with guns and modern warfare ideas, Japan was in a very volatile state.

Tsuro is the daughter of a local doctor. Being a female, she cannot be a doctor so she works in the pharmacy. Her older sister has been married off and moved away so Tsuro is isolated. Tradition dictates that she too will marry someone of her father's choosing but he is broadminded and allows her some leeway. Eventually Tsuro marries a young doctor but life and love are complicated, particularly when children are not forthcoming and the country is on the brink of war. 

This book has a huge cast; of course with names unfamiliar to me so I am unable to distinguish between christian and surname which seem to be used interchangeably. To make it more difficult, changing one's name on a whim seems to be quite commonplace. It took me days to read the first few pages of the book as I repeatedly had to refer to the character list. The story includes both fictional and real historical people which added to my confusion. 

Perhaps it was my difficulty with the character names or the historical content but I found the book lacked flow at times. I never really understood who Tsuro was despite the difficult and unconventional life she led. The story includes a heady mix of politics, love, war, gender identity issues and male domination, all of which Tsuro tries to describe. I feel it was all a bit much for one character in one story to cover.  

I have had a fascination with Japan since a visit in my early twenties so I have posted some beautiful photos that I found free for public use on the internet. The links are below if you wish to explore more.