Monday, 14 April 2014

Finding 1960s bathroom fittings

I am trying to find a simple little towel rail bracket for our bathroom. The original bracket has corroded and fallen off - it was only sitting in place with the help of soap scum I suspect!

1960s chrome towel rail in square profile and bracket.

I've already visited a couple of salvage yards in search of a matching bracket but it's proven fruitless. At one salvage yard, the old bloke just stared at me with an arched eyebrow and bemused look suggesting I was completely bonkers when I showed him the corroded bracket. Jeez, customer service is not going to happen in these bloody salvage yards...

Corroded chrome towel rail bracket
People throw out this kind of stuff, as it seems no one wants to retain original mid-century bathroom fittings. My tip for someone entrepreneurial is to start replicating or salvaging this 1960s stuff - in a few years time retro renos/restorations are going to be the next big thing...maybe for Generation Z?

It is a lot easier to track down fixtures and fittings for an old Queenslander than it is for a 1960s house I am finding. Who'd have thought it would be easier to find the 100 year old stuff than the 50 year old stuff?

I probably wouldn't have worried too much about it normally but it's just that we have two matching towel rails that are in great condition and we'd like to keep them rather than just replace. The profile of the towel rail is square and quite thick, so it's not like we'd be able just to buy a modern equivalent either.

Anyway, the search continues...And if one of you happens to find the matching bracket, you know how to reach me...OK?

Monday, 7 April 2014

Low cost home improvements

As is the case with most people who have moved house, funds become severely depleted and the life focus is generally trying to get settled into the new place and bring the finances back on track.

We'll be all about the very low cost jobs around the new house - things which don't require a big financial or time outlay but still make a cumalative impact on how the house looks. 

The built-in cabinetry in the bedrooms are coming back to life with some furniture restorer and a good oil.
Some of the jobs we've been doing since we moved here are just TLC kind of jobs. Re-oiling the timber panelling, doors, cupboards and timber architraves is one such job. We're doing it progressively...but gee it looks good. The timber doesn't look as sun faded and tired and it is definitely a worthwhile endeavour. And no, we will not be painting over the Queensland maple plywood...it's survived 50 years intact and deserves respect.

Eww...laundry door knob was particularly grimy

Another small job is polishing all the old Schlage (American brand) door knobs throughout the house. Under all the years of grime, the door knobs are a shiny chrome...you'd never know they were 50 years old in their shiny state. There are 22 knobs to do and we've tackled the worst of them. 

shiny schlage door knob
Jason also whipped out his huge gerni, as one does, and has started high-pressure cleaning the brick work and paths. It's an instant pick-me-up for the house.

Cleaning the blonde bricks on the curved driveway

After shot of the brickwork 

There's nothing like a good old basic clean to make everything look better. Like our poor old ceramic stovetop...it's a little bit beyond redemption, aesthetically, but at least the knobs are white again!

One white knob...
We also ripped up the 1990s style floor vinyl in the kitchen. We've scraped off most of the adhesive from the timber floor boards but the floors will need to be refinished at a later date. Again, just having the vinyl off the floor is a step in the right direction, despite it being far from perfect.

Jason in DIY mode
 Anyway, there is a lot to keep us out of mischief over the next few weeks...

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

'Uncaging' the patio

One of the nicest parts of our new house is the patio. It's a lovely L-shaped terrazzo outdoor space which forms the front of the house and flows to the side where the living room is located. It presides over a nice green leafy outlook of the suburb.

The patio as it is now. We plan to have some of the cracked terrazzo repaired.

The patio faces south west; the wide eaves and crisscross sun screening protects it from the elements. It will be a great spot when we entertain but at the moment we've been using it for a few quiet afternoon drinks on the weekend.

A photo of the patio during our second inspection of the house. Son #2 and #3 were having a good explore.

At some point the patio was enclosed with security grilles, which we felt detracted from the look and feel of the home. We decided these grilles were overkill given all the doors and windows have locks and there is nearly always someone at home.

After we obtained the keys to the house we changed all the locks to open with the one key. While the locksmiths were out we also had them remove the patio security grilles.


Madly modern Susan sharing our mid-mod joy during the inspection.

'Uncaging' the patio has made a huge difference to the look and feel of the new house. It is much more welcoming and has given us more usable space.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Buying a modernist house in Brisbane

If you had said to me on New Year's Day that by April we would be living in a modernist home in Brisbane, I would've said you were crazy. Moving out of the Sow's Ear was really not on our list of things to do in 2014...especially as we were planning on building a swimming pool for next summer!

Alas, those plans were put on hold after Jason and I went to visit a mid-century house for a bit of fun one Saturday morning. I had seen the real estate ad online and wanted to check out the place as there was a cool DQF dining table and chairs in some of the photos. Ha! I wanted to see the furniture more than the house.

It was like an absolute revelation to us when we rocked up to that first open house inspection. The house was fairly anonymous looking from the front, but as soon as Jason and I walked through the door we realised we had stumbled on something very special.
central ceiling/roof support, with Jason artfully blurred

At first, the interior reminded me a little of the Hayes and Scott designed Jacobi House (click on link) due to the central pyramid ceiling. The entire interior was virtually like a mid-century time capsule: original light fittings; the wood panelled ceilings, timber doors, timber cabinetry and walls were all untouched by paint. The hardwood floors were in great condition too, as were the terrazzo floors on the patio and in the wet areas.

front entry
The more we looked at the house, the more Jason and I liked it - the floor plan was ideal for our family, with four decent sized bedrooms away from the main living/dining area.

I knew it was meant to be when I opened up the kitchen cupboards and saw the Midwinter Stonehenge Sun cups and plates. A sign from the mid-century gods.

We were also attracted to the fact there is also little work required to restore this house back to its former glory - it just needs some TLC, which we have in abundance!

The shower room which apparently has the original tiles. The racing track is black, red, white and gold flecked mosaic tiles

Many larger modernist homes can be quite daunting for the average Joe with the amount of work required to restore and maintain them. We are fortunate our new house is in relatively good structural condition for its age, it is reasonably modest in its size and most importantly it had not been unsympathetically renovated beyond recognition over the years.

We found out the house had been designed by a noteworthy Brisbane architect which made it an even more attractive prospect. Needless to say we made an offer on the house pronto and things moved incredibly quickly after that! And here we are now, living the modernist dream in suburban Brisbane!

As an aside, I just wanted to give a shout out to our mortgage broker, David Amies, who has been helping us for the past 16 years whenever we have had to obtain finance or refinance our loans. He's an absolute gentleman and extremely thorough - we were able to obtain finance very quickly thanks to David's diligence. We could not recommend him highly enough if you are in the market. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

We're in the new house

You just have to wonder why we do it to ourselves when we pack up our entire life to fit into one large moving truck?

We've just done it and to be honest I don't think we'll be rushing to move again for a very long, long time. It's confronting to realise (for closet hoarders like me, that is) the little bits of memorabilia we have been holding on to for many years can be so easily discarded in the rubbish bin on moving day!

front entry (with dusty footprints for authenticity)

There are packing boxes, pictures frames and quite random sh*t scattered throughout the new house, but at least we are in our new digs. It's slowly starting to feel like home, but we can't wait until we have more time to devote to putting our things in their proper placed.

Living and dining rooms

We spent most of the weekend getting the new place into some semblance of order, while this week has been preparing the Sow's Ear to be tenanted. You should see the poor old piggy; naked and bare. I'll show you some photos as a final farewell to the our old home.

So, onwards and upwards as they say. We do have quite a bit to do on this mid-century house which will now be the main focus of our blog. I guess the principal aim is to show how mid-century homes are worth saving too - they don't necessarily have to be knocked down or  be completely gutted. The blog will be about embracing the modernist style and tweakng it to suit how we live in 2014.

We've already made some small improvements and I can't wait to share them with you.
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