Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Blue door blues part 2: using oil paint

The new glossy blue door which we painted with oil-based enamel paint
You wouldn't think painting a blue door would give us so much grief... In the quest for the perfectly painted door we realised the water-based enamel paint was not going to cut it, in this instance. Damn shame really because it has so many great advantages...

The painting fubar with the water-based dries too quickly. The roller just stripped off a section...

After trying to salvage the door and failing dismally, we decided to strip it right back and start all over again with old school oil enamel. The last straw was when Jason painted the last coat of water-based enamel with a roller. He went over one section which had dried too quickly and ended up stripping off a thin layer of paint...ruining the final finish.

And then it was on. Jason lost his cool quite spectacularly - it was like we were back to days of yore at the Sow's Ear. I could have charged admission for the show and made a fortune!

Fortunately, a can of paint stripper and a new tin of oil paint was enough to quell the tide of anger. It was quite easy to get the first blue paint layer off. It was like peeling the skin off from a sun burnt Smurf, if you require a literary device to imagine the scene...

Peeling off the water-based enamel. 

Stripping back the door revealed its colourful past -  beginning from blue, to mustard, to salmon, to white and back to blue again.

The paint stripper was able to remove most of the other layers. A quick sand and a dust down was preparation for the first coat of oil-based enamel.

The oil-based enamel has a lovelier, glossier, smoother finish

The colour is much richer than the water-based stuff, it also has a smoother and glossier finish. It was exactly the look Jason desired. The major downside (which is also an upside if you have to fix anything) is the lengthy drying time - it's quite a few hours, so don't expect to be shutting your door in a hurry if you use oil based paints.

Jason used a roller specifically for gloss paint to paint the door - it has a finer stipple to minimise the orange skin effect when using a paint roller. He painted one coat and after it dried completely he sanded it down before applying the second coat (this was completed over the space of two weekends, by the way).

Success! It looks a thousand times better. All is well in our small renovating world.

The next door we need to paint is the stable door or dutch door in the laundry...that should be an interesting experience. I'll keep you posted on how we go...

Friday, 18 July 2014

The spare Danish dining chair

It didn't take long for me to find that DQF (Danish Quality Furniture) dining chair  I was so desperately after... An Instagram acquaintance kindly put me on to someone who had a spare blackbean DQF dining chair for sale. Again, the power of social media is strong!

The very sad looking DQF chair after I bought it a few weeks ago

The chair was in a pretty average state and needed re-upholstering...It was a bit beyond us really so we outsourced it to Collette at Rewind Mid-century who looked after it for us.

The only problem we encountered was sourcing the black vinyl to match the existing 1960s black vinyl on the other chairs. Not all vinyl is equal. Sadly, shiny smooth vinyl is not made anymore. Most upholstery vinyl has a grain or texture through it.

I went to a few car upholstery places to see if I could find something to match but had no luck at all.

Luckily, my architect friend Robyn Booth was able to source a commercial vinyl (used in hospitals etc) for us that had the smooth texture to match the other chairs. It is not as shiny compared to the other chairs but it really is as perfect as we could get to the original. You wouldn't really notice the difference unless you were looking for fault.

The chair at the front is the newly reupholstered chair

The chair on the right is the new chair
I picked up the chair a few days ago from Rewind Mid-Century who repaired the chair base and had it reupholstered in the smooth black vinyl. We are really happy with it!

It's great to finally have the sixth chair for the dining room setting. Who's coming over for dinner?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Hot Modernism

Queensland's modernist architecture from 1945 to 1975  is put under the spotlight at a major exhibit now showing at the State Library of Queensland.

I was very excited to gain a sneak preview of the Hot Modernism exhibition at the official launch earlier this week thanks to dansk vintage who is principal sponsor of the exhibition. (They were away overseas on a buying trip and kindly gave me some of their tickets. Yay!)

Centenary Pool Spring Hill designed by James Birrell
It is heartening to see there is a growing appreciation of mid-century design and from a preservation point of view this exhibition will add to that important conversation. You can never fully grow if you don't learn from the past. It is undeniable the period of development between 1945 to 1975 was the start of a modern Queensland. And it is wonderful to see the architects, designers and builders who dreamt big (and a little bit left of field) after the immediate post-war period acknowledged.

So, from a mid-century modernism enthusiast's point of view, this is a must-see exhibition. There are photographs, plans, models and videos a-plenty in which to immerse yourself. I'll be going back to have a good old leisurely look when the children are back at school next week.

Inside the re-creation of Jacobi House with vintage Danish furnishings from dansk vintage

One of the many highlights was the full-scale replica of the iconic Jacobi House (1957) designed by Hayes and Scott. It is a fabulous re-creation and gives a taste of how 'less is more' when it comes to building design.

Madly modern Susan posing in the Torbreck room.
Ironically, Susan looks like a 1950s housewife but has never  used a washig machine in her life according to her domesticated partner Chris.
There is also a room dedicated to the construction and history of Torbreck Home Units (which I wrote about in a previous blog post).

Speare House profile in the Hot Modernism exhibition

And of particular interest to me were the drawings and photographs of the demolished Speare House (1959) which was designed by the same architect who drew our modernist house. Although it precedes our home by four years, some of the features and ideas about climatic design can be seen in our humble abode.

Our friends, the publishers of Australian Modern (Chris and madly modern Susan), were also interviewed as part of the exhibition. A short three minute video was made about their mid-century home and how they came to buy it and then become friends with the architect, Barry Walduck.

Their modernist home will play host to the Man about the House Tim Ross Comedy show which is part of the Hot Modernism special events. The show cost is $58 and can be booked here.

Hot Modernism is a free exhibit at the State Library and is open until 12 October.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Blue door blues

As part of the restoration of our modernist home, we intend to retain some of the original colours (or as close as possible) used in the home when it was first built in 1963.

We're using an old photograph and also taking DNA colour scrapings from the wall...Ha! The old colours seem to work quite well and it makes painting a little more interesting when using colour as opposed to our usual vivid white.

Snorkel Sea blue front door

We found out the original colour of the front door was a deep blue after we scraped it back. Funnily enough it is not a colour we would have ever contemplated using in this house...but we like it and, more importantly, we think it works well with the exterior.

The front door used to be green on the inside and white on the outside

We love the new door colour - Dulux Snorkel Sea - which was as close to the original blue we could find from our local hardware. Jason used a water-based gloss enamel (he's used water-based enamel in a vivid white to paint around the window architraves to great effect).

The door, however, has not worked out as well as he would like and Jason is quite despairing of the finish. The paint strokes are too visible for his perfectionist streak (I don't really mind too much but he doesn't like it at all)! He's been fiddling with the front door for two weeks now and it is still not quite right.

He plans one more attempt to fix it before abandoning the whole project and using an oil-based enamel. We'll have to go back to square one and strip the whole thing back if we do...yikes!

Anyway, there are three more exterior doors we need to paint blue so we need to get this front door right before we proceed further.

On the weekend Jason painted the front facade white which it was originally from what we could gather...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Torbreck Home Units

I ticked another thing off from my bucket list...visiting the landmark Torbreck building in Highgate Hill. Torbreck is one of the first highrise mixed-use (though the proposed restaurant and shop never eventuated) residential towers in Brisbane, which was built between 1957 - 1960 and designed by architects Job & Froud (read my post about a Froud house).

It is one of those Brisbane buildings which fascinates locals. Due to its very high location up on Dornoch Terrace, it is the most visible and distinctive looking building on Brisbane's southside. It always had the reputation of being the residence of the well-heeled...and to some extent, it still has that reputation today with the units occupied by mostly professionals.

I've always wanted to see the units and when Chris from Australian Modern organised a tour of the building for his annual MAD Weekend, I jumped at the opportunity... as did many other mid-century architecture enthusiasts.

Torbreck Home Units

The Torbreck entry from Dornoch Terrace

The Torbreck home units comprise of the Tower Block and the Garden Block which are linked by an external walkway.The Garden Block was erected first, with the Tower Block following quickly afterwards. If you want to read a more detailed account of the Torbreck building you can visit their website HERE which has links to further information.

Interestingly (for me, at any rate) , the architect who designed our house also worked on the drawings for the Garden Block when he was a student architect at Job & Froud. As a consequence, I was very keen to seen these compact one-bedroom units in this block.

First floor of the Torbreck Garden Block

Mid-century brick relief between the Tower and Garden Block. You can also just see that a different coloured check tile was used on each level of the Garden Block
We saw four different units in the Garden Block which the owners very graciously opened up for us during our visit. Each unit would have been almost identical when they were built, but over the years they were renovated or updated to suit their individual owners.

Original kitchen in a Garden Block unit

Some of the units had original kitchens while others units were completely reconfigured. One unit had its bedroom moved to where the kitchen would have been originally, while its bedroom was enclosed behind glass partition walls. It was interesting to see how each resident used and interpreted their living space.

Original planter boxes on the balcony of a Garden Block unit which overlooks the communal swimming pool.

The highrise Tower Block units are the more spacious units of the two blocks. We visited three very different two-bedroom units in the Tower. The Tower block also takes in the most spectacular views with each unit having at least one balcony.

Looking up to the Tower Block from the linking bridge 

Again, the Tower units were different in style, some with many of the original features, while others were updated to a more contemporary style, often undoing past renovation of previous owners.

Original entry/ kitchen in one of the two-bedroom Tower Block units

Lovely contemporary plywood kitchen.
Apparently, the original kitchen was replaced in the 1980s with a pink and curvy kitchen which had dated quite badly. The new owner has brought back some restraint to the space and has referenced the exterior Torbreck tiles in the splash back. 

Climatic design elements can be seen at play in the building. For example, full height sun blades are used to control the sun on the eastern and western sides of the building. It allows owners to adjust the amount of light and breeze to enter the unit.

Blue metal sun blades to control the light

In the units, the internal plumbing is stored in the ceilings. Originally they would have been hidden behind a perspex ceiling which gives an almost ethereal light adding the illusion of space in the small bathroom/laundry. 

In some units the perspex has been replaced with solid panels and in one particular unit the quirky owner decided to rip out the ceiling entirely and paint the pipes gold! GOLD!

Quirky exposed plumbing 
The jewel in the crown for Torbreck is definitely its observation lounge on the top floor. It has the best uninterrupted view of Brisbane and was definitely a huge highlight of the entire visit. How lucky to have this in the building where you live! It was simply breathtaking and was a fabulous place to sit and contemplate the world.

The Torbreck observation lounge with 360 degree views of Brisbane. 

Drawings of the observation lounge and proposed roof top garden which was never built.
Torbreck is on the Queensland Heritage register. The iconic Brisbane building will also be featured in the Hot Modernism exhibition at the Queensland State Library starting on 9 July.

Its image is the 'face' of the promotional campaign.

Image from here

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