Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Renovation

Can you believe we have been living in New Zealand now for 2 years! Crazy huh?

I remember when I first wrote item #32 on the Life List: 'Live and work overseas for a year', we were envisaging somewhere exotic like New York. But it turned out to be Wellington... and we have never regretted the decision to relocate to New Zealand from Australia.

Living in Wellington has been difficult. It has been hard being away from our friends and family, but the positives have outweighed the negatives.

We really feel like some days life in Wellington is really like 'Living the dream'.

Soon after moving to New Zealand, we made the very rash and crazy decision to buy our Dream House. It was a decision that could have gone very very wrong, but so far we have never regretted it.

One thing about owning your own house is that you can decorate and renovate it as much as you like!

So we are currently in the midst of doing a FULL renovation of our main bathroom.
It isn't because the bathroom is old or dated. But rather due to some terrible decisions made by the previous owners which resulted in a leaking roof (which rotted the bathroom beams and weakened the tiles) and a very leaky shower. Because of this we have needed to gut and re do the bathroom.

This is what the bathroom looked like before. It was absolutely fine and usable. But because of all the leaks and damage we needed to do something fast.

Given I am a frustrated Interior Designer at heart, I have relished the challenge to re do our bathroom. I really don't think I have been this excited about doing a 'project' in a very long time.

I have been trawling through countless websites, Pinterest boards and catalogs to find the dream bathroom. Finally we have settled on marble and white subway tiles, with a feature wall where the shower will be located.

This is what we have decided on.

 We just loved the feature tiles. We would have loved them to cover ALL the walls, but alas we could not afford that.

From Yellow Trace's Instagram

It will look something like this (sort of).

From Home Beautiful

 Feel free to have a look at my Pinterest board - that shows all the new bathroom details.

This is what the bathroom looks like now. A bit of a bomb site.

One thing we discovered when the builders gutted everything was a space in the wall where the original vanity must have been located (when the house was first built in 1930).
So we have decided to make this a niche in the final design.

The niche

I can not wait until it is done!

Maybe even I can tick #13 off the  Life List: "Have my home appear on Apartment Therapy or similar".

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Orchids love Dior

I love Orchids
I always have
I had them in my bridal bouquet
I even have orchids on my Life List = #18. Set up a greenhouse to grow orchids

So when I saw Dior had created the most amazing wall of Phalaenopsis orchids for their most recent runway show I had to share it with you.

See more via Yellow Trace

Image source: Yellow Trace

Image Source: Yellow Trace

 There is even a video that features the event

Image Source: Yellow Trace

Image Source: Yellow Trace
Love, Love, Love

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Living the Dream

Living the Dream is when I wake up to this and go Sunrise Chasing with the dog in tow...

All these photos were taken over the course of 30 minutes on the morning of Tuesday the 29th of July in Seatoun, Wellington, New Zealand

[all images taken by Zahara Dessert via an iPhone]

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"If you build it, they will come": My House Tour

I have been a frustrated Interior Designer for many years now. It all started when I was searching for ideas on how to build a window seat for our house in Australia. I stumbled across a little website called Apartment Therapy and I was hooked.

I visit AT nearly every day. I especially love looking at the house tours and seeing how people put their houses together with such creativity and style.

I have always wanted my house featured on Apartment Therapy, and one of the first things I put on my Life List was #13: "Have my home appear on Apartment Therapy or similar".

So this post is my Field of Dreams moment: "If you build it, they will come".

These are the original plans to the house which I found in the Wellington City Archives... I would love to know more about Lily Coombe, the original owner of the house

Our Dream House
When we lived in Australia we owned a town house that was quite new. We loved decorating it, but I always dreamt of owning a house that had much more character and wasn't so 'un-original'.

We moved from Australia to New Zealand because my husband was offered an amazing job which we couldn't pass up. We somehow went from renting a little 1970's Town House to owning our very own Bungalow in a matter of months. It really is the Dream House we could NEVER have afforded back in Sydney.

We have been living in our 'Dream House' house here in Wellington for just over 1 year now. It is a bungalow that was built in 1930. A lot of the architectural features have been kept, like the original stain glass windows and Carrara ceilings that are very typical to houses here in Wellington.

Although the bungalow had been renovated before we bought it, the previous owners seemed to have taken the 'easy' option on a few of the updates.They didn't bother updating what we feel are important things like the electrics (a lot of the house still had the original 1930 wiring) or having the house insulated. The poor tenants who lived in this house before we bought it must have been very very cold during the cold New Zealand winters.

The house still needs some work and I need to learn how to take better photos, but here is my very own House Tour.

The Living Area

In the plans you can see that originally the Living Room was separated into 2 separate rooms. We assume that you could close the doors and stay in the room with the Fireplace and keep warm. However by opening up the rooms it created a much bigger living area.

I have a love/hate relationship with the fireplace. From what we can tell, it is the original fireplace to the house. But I just don't like it. I don't like the poo brown tiles or the gold tiles they used to 'bling' it up (an original feature). I have always wanted a fireplace similar to Anna's at Door 16. But I am learning to love this one.

Prints from Society 6 and She Hit Pause
At the moment the TV area needs a bit more love. The TV unit is not exactly what we want and it needs some more art above the TV so the TV doesn't dominate the area so much, but it will do for now.
I love my print from James Jean - it has always reminded me of Windy Wellington
When we were viewing the house the real estate agent described the house as being 'Light Challenged".

The lack of light was really an issue and we had to think long and hard if this would be a deal breaker. But we decided that we hopefully could install skylights and fix the issue.

So the week we moved in, we installed some really amazing Sky Tunnels. We had originally only wanted to install two of these above the Fireplace, which was the darkest part of the house. However the skylight man recommended we add another one in the main lounge area and we never have regretted the decision to do so.

Although we don't get the abundance of light that we would like, you wouldn't describe the house as necessarily 'light challenged' anymore.

We only recently moved the 'study' from the dining room area to near the fireplace. We love this new little nook.

These are my Jam Fancy prints. I think of them as portraits of 'husband', my sister and I.
The burglar is husband, I am Rose Red and my sister is Snow White.

My DIY Piano Stool
I very proud of my DIY piano stool. I found it for $30 at a second hand store in Wellington. I reupholstered it myself using material I found at Spotlight for $10. Hey presto we have a new laptop stool.

The Master Bedroom

Our bedroom is probably my most favourite place in our home.

I love waking up in the mornings, opening up the curtains and looking at the mountains and seeing the boats and ferries sail by.

Our new 'walk in wardrobe'
When we bought the house, the main bedroom for some reason had no wardrobe and had a hole in the gap where the previous owners had something hanging to hide the clothes from view. So the first night we moved we went to Bunnings (for not the last time) and bought a new wardrobe system and installed it that very night.

This is how the bed head originally looked
However the gaping hole was still there. We solved this by installing some tongue and groove boards and creating a mini walk-in wardrobe behind it. 

We have really struggled with finding the right art work for this house. Given this house may not be our forever house and we probably will move back to Australia eventually we don't want to buy more art work to add to the works we have already stored in Australia.

Instead of buying more art work for the bedroom to put above our bed we decided to use Origrami  and print my Instagram photos out. These are the photos of our past year of living here in Wellington. It is a cheap and easily changeable solution. We love it.

The Kitchen

The kitchen was renovated when we moved in. But it had no range hood and the tiles and splash back was just plain old ugly.

So using the advice from Door 16 and Manhattan Nest we tackled our very own Subway Tile kitchen renovation.

The ugly tiles and no range hood in the kitchen when we bought it
 We are quite happy with the transformation.

This wallpaper is another part of the house that I have a love/hate relationship with.
I don't know whether to rip it down or leave it?

We put these shelves up ourselves, as this house has a BIG problem with storage. So the more spaces we can put our things on or in (especially in the kitchen) the better.

The Dining Room

In the original house plans this room was called the Breakfast Room and it was closed off from the 'Kitchenette'. However when the house was renovated the kitchen and dining room was opened up into one big space. This is such a great space especially in the mornings, when the morning light steams in. I am so happy that we moved the smaller sofa in this room. It has also become Ziggy's favourite part of the hose.

Ziggy has taken up ownership

 What the house looked like before
How the house looked in the real estate sales brochure... it was very brown

I hope you liked our House Tour?

All images by Zahara Dessert
Except for the before photos of the house - they were from our Real Estate agency

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

River Cottage Wellington

Ever since we moved into our Wellington home, we have wanted to tick  #19 and #63 off the Life List: Grow a veggie patch/orchard in back yard and Live more sustainably.

In Australia, our house had a tiny paved courtyard where you really could only grow potted herbs and nothing much more. We did however manage to get some tomatoes growing one Summer.

'River Cottage Wellington' Summer Harvest - 2013/2014
However here in Wellington, our home has a proper (although small) back yard.

So this past Summer,  inspired by River Cottage Australia and Miss Piggy's Balcony Garden we decided to make it happen and get our organic Veggie garden in working order, which I have unofficially called 'River Cottage Wellington'.

As you can see we have had a good little harvest, producing tons of strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroot and rocket... and this was just the harvest in the back garden! 

The back veggie patch
My husband then decided to create a veggie garden in the front of the house, where we added pumpkin, beans, eggplant, capsicum and more carrots. However it wasn't as successful as the garden in the back and it is currently being reconsidered.

Now that it is Winter, the harvest has dwindled. But we still have an abundant supply of Rocket (Arugula), which means we haven't needed to buy Rocket in months.

Beans in the front garden
I love ticking things off the Life List.

I can't wait to bring River Cottage Wellington back for Spring/Summer 2014/2015...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The American Dream Realised

As I mentioned way back in April, the year 2013 was going to be the year that quite a few Life List items would be ticked off.

And we did.

Last year we flew out to American to have a 3 week adventure. The trip was planned around LL point #32: 'Renewing our vows, Elvis style'.

So here are the 7 items I ticked off my Life List

32. Renew our wedding vows in Las Vegas (Elvis style) DONE 

Re-Married on the 31st of May 2013, Las Vegas Nevada
33. Buy a real Eames/Hand Wegner piece of furniture Explained Sorta DONE. 

Husband bought me for my birthday an Eames House Bird. OK so it isn't a piece of furniture, but it will do for now

35. Take a road trip through California and visit the Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs and San Francisco DONE

We had to do a U2 pilgrimage of sorts

71. Go back to Central Park in NYC and see the Alice in Wonderland statue DONE

We found her

72. Go to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles  DONE

Loved the planetarium

74. Go back to the Getty museum in Los Angeles DONE

This is really one of my most favourite 'Happy Places'

79. Search for the perfect Margarita (or at least go back to Spice Market in New York and have some more of those heavenly Ginger Margaritas) DONE

Our perfect Margarita
Things we tried to do but didn't manage to tick off...

82. See Bill Cunningham at work/on his bike in NYC (one can only hope) Tried, but we didn't see him
84. Be able to afford a pair of authentic designer shoes and/or hand bag (I need some glam shoes for #32!) We tried, but given we just bought a 2nd house the week before we left for the US, we thought the money could be better spend

I love ticking things off my Life List!

All photos by Zahara Dessert

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Happy 1 year (Elvis) Wedding Anniversary

Today we celebrate our one year Elvis Wedding renewal anniversary.

As I blogged about before, we have been wanting to tick #32 off the Life List for sometime: 'Renew our wedding vows Elvis style'

When we found out our really good friends were traveling to Las Vegas to celebrate Mike's 40th Birthday, we jumped at the opportunity to join them and celebrate his birthday and also have a double wedding renewal on the same day.

The ceremony was very different to our first one, but we loved it just as much. It featured Elvis singing his hits, bad Elvin puns and a lot of Hunka Hunka Burning love.

And although it was 7 years after the first one, it was just as emotional and lovely wedding. Which was topped off by an amazing dinner to celebrate the birthday boy at Jean Georges.

Left: The original one, on a beach in Australia. Right: The renewal, in a chapel in Las Vegas

So Happy Anniversary dear husband. Its been a great ride.

Let's do it all again for my 40th Birthday!

Just (re)married