Monday, 8 December 2014

McIntosh sideboard

Over the past few months we have acquired a few new (actually old) furniture pieces to reside in our mid-century home. You know how it is when you move have to tweak your furniture to suit the space...Ha! That's the excuse I'm running with!

McIntosh sideboard
We added a beautiful teak McIntosh sideboard to our collection of mid-century furniture. It is Scottish-made and clearly well-travelled as it eventually found its way to Australia, firstly via country Pittsworth and finally to Brisbane with us. We're using it to store our photographs, DVDs and CDs and our TV currently resides on top of it. Our poor old telly was previously on a very low coffee table...

McIntosh sideboard in our living room
I've been trying to find out a bit about the manufacturer which was AH McIntosh & Co Ltd. The business began making furniture in Kirkcaldy, Scotland in 1869 and it was renowned for making quality furniture.

It went through a time of change during the post-WW2 period catering to the demand for modern yet stylish utility pieces.  AH McIntosh began reproducing and reinterpreting Scandinavian designs in teak and their furniture was hugely popular with the aspirational middle class in Britain.

McIntosh Furniture label
Today, AH McIntosh is still in operation as ESAMcIntosh, providing furniture and equipment for the education sector. From what I have read, vintage AH McIntosh furniture is becoming increasingly collectible because it is extremely well made and has the mid-century look that is so hot right now.

McIntosh sideboard

Monday, 1 December 2014

I'm back! And window frames...

I'm back after having a month off from Fun and VJs - my long service leave, so to speak...

Really, there hasn't been a great deal going on around here during my little break. The weather has been either crazy hot or crazy stormy. Needless to say the renovating mojo is not strong in such trying conditions.

However one job which is finally finito is the painting of all the exterior timber window and door frames. They were previously cream and now they are white. Surprise, surprise! We are of the white window and door frame school of thought.

Here are a couple of after shots:

mid-century brick with white window frames.
This is the back of our home.

Mid-century brick with white window frames.
This section of the house is where our living room is situated
 And here are a couple of before cream :

It was a relatively small job but it packs a lot of impact. It is fresher and more importantly it is how the house was originally.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Meeting the architects

One of the most pleasant outcomes of participating in Brisbane Open House was how it led to a wonderful meeting with the architects who designed our home. Apparently, the newspaper publicity about the A.F Dawson Residence earlier this month was enough to pique the interest of 82-year-old architect Peter Heathwood to pay me a visit.

And what an enormous privilege it was to meet Peter Heathwood, who also brought along the charming Michael Cardillo, a second year cadet during the time the house was built. Michael's handwriting was even on the original plans. He eventually became a partner in Heathwood's architectural firm which exists today as Heathwood, Cardillo,Wilson, although both Peter and Michael are now retired.

You know it will be a nice visit when your guests bring cake, which they did. They were simply delightful and we had a good old chat!

It was quite a special moment to have the people who conceived the design of the house come back after 51 years. They were very comfortable with the home and could talk with great ease about the design features and materials used in the it was built yesterday. They were impressed at how well the home had fared for its 50 plus years.

I had a number of questions about whether or not certain things were original to the house. It was namely the use of lattice for the verandah/patio screen and balustrade, as it seemed at odds with the modernist style of the home.

I can confirm the lattice is indeed original. It was used as a buffer on the western side of the house to provide protection from the sun. The lattice pattern was also repeated for the balustrade. It is also consistent with many of Peter's other homes which used forms of screening. Michael visited the house just after it was built and remembers it quite well.

Michael said the house is very much how all of Peter's homes were built. The AF Dawson Residence is one of Peter's 'tent designs' which is quite evident when you enter the home with the central pole in the middle of the house.

Comfort and climate were the overriding imperatives in his homes. His philosophy was a home should provide shelter and his homes were designed for the best possible comfort in our sub-tropical climate. And it is a very comfortable home in which to live!

Interestingly, Peter designed all the interior and exterior Perspex light fittings himself because he said you just couldn't get decent light fittings at the time. He was chuffed they were still in the house. The yellow light shades outside were to repel mosquitoes and minimise the bugs which are attracted to white light.

The best line of the day was when Peter entered the refurbished 1980s kitchen and exclaimed, "Well, this is certainly not our work!" You'd understand why if you saw our country style kitchen which is completely out of kilter with the rest of the home.

The kitchen benches would have been much higher and would have had white Laminex bench tops which curved up the splash back and then there was a shelf  for condiments before the overhead cupboards would start. The cabinetry was originally maple plywood with black d-mould handles similar to the cabinets in our bedrooms.

Peter said to give him a call when we renovate the kitchen, as he would be able to help us out. That job has obviously jumped up in the priority list...especially given Peter's age... Stay tuned!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Repairing the plywood ceiling

The joys of aged maple plywood ceilings end when the reality of repairing them slaps you in the face!

The hole left behind when we removed the wood heater
As many of you would know, we recently removed a wood heater from the main living area. You can read about it here if you are new to the blog.

The hole after the roof was repaired
A lot of creative thought went into repairing the hole left in the ceiling after removing the heater flue. The ceilings are made from rotary cut Queensland maple plywood panels. They are the most sumptuous ceilings to behold and was part of the reason we fell in love with this home when we first saw it.

a distance shot of the hole left after we removed the wood heater
We tossed around various ideas with the help of Danny, a builder who has great experience working on mid-century homes. Initially we thought we could replace the whole ceiling panel; it had sustained water damage from where rainwater must have seeped through over the years.

Sadly, finding rotary cut maple plywood is next to impossible. We tried to source it second-hand and we also looked at the newer plywood products with a view of colour-matching it to 50 year old maple.

Another idea was to steal a panel from one of the bedrooms, and substitute it. You know, do the old 'switcheroonie' trick with a less attractive repair being relegated behind bedroom doors.

In the end our final solution would be the least intrusive and most efficient. We recycled the doors of an old maple plywood cabinet (the original kitchen overhead cupboards to be precise) that had been left behind in the garage by the previous owners (bless them!). Re-purposing the doors and converting them to a ceiling panel seemed the most viable option.

It was a slightly unorthodox solution but it meant we could colour match the ceiling without it being horribly obvious. It also had the added benefit of being free material!

Danny came over and did the job for us...with surgical-like precision...

Cutting out the damage with the help of a template and small cutting tool.
Yep, Danny is a surfing hippy who like all our recent builders is extremely well-read! Tick!

Danny made a simple template, based on the plywood doors which he had jointed together, as guide. With that template he was able to cut out the damaged ply and make a new space in which to fit the re-purposed plywood doors.

A neat ceiling gap in which to place the re-purposed plywood doors

Making the plywood piece fit proved slightly tricky. There was a lot of hand sanding the edges and corners to get a precise fit. Poor old Danny spent a lot of time getting it perfect which is just a beautiful thing to see in action - he took so much care.

A good fit. The plywood piece is in.

Danny planned to nail the piece in place but was afraid the nail heads would detract from the final finish. He changed his mind and decided a quick drying super-grip adhesive would be the best option. He used the Sika SuperGrip 30 minutes and held it in place with a telescopic prop. We left the prop up overnight just to make sure the plywood was not going anywhere!

The final product.

Et voila! You don't instantly notice the repair, particularly if you weren't aware a wood heater occupied this space. Nonetheless you can still make out there was a repair which I guess forms part of the new history of the home.

We couldn't be happier with the final result...and now we have more flexibility with this space and the ceilings still look great despite the repair.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A.F Dawson Residence at Brisbane Open House

Well what a busy couple of weeks we've had in the lead up to Brisbane Open House which was held last weekend.

It's all done and dusted and we were so pleased to be involved in the event as part of the residential homes component. For those who don't know, our home was the A.F Dawson Residence in the program.

Jason and I had a terrific time opening our home and sharing it with the general public -  meeting lovely new people and even the neighbours. We were also happy to meet quite a few Fun and VJs readers and instagram followers. Thanks so much for visiting and hearing the story of what we know about the home so far and our plans for it.

For those of you who missed out, you can visit Walk Among the Homes blog to view a special virtual home tour. As the house is very much a work-in-progress, there have been a few changes since's ever evolving as we remove, repair and restore!

AF Dawson residence – Photo by Elizabeth Santillan

We were also chuffed to be in the Courier Mail's QWeekend 4 October issue with an article written by the wonderful Margie Fraser. It is a hoot of a story about how we came to view the house because of the furniture and ended up buying the house instead!

And if you still want to satisfy your curiosity about the house, keep reading here. I promise to keep it updated more religiously as we go along!

Monday, 29 September 2014

The blue room - painting the mid-century master bedroom

Painting, painting and painting. It's all we ever really do around here...actually, I lie. We've had a few jobs completed, so I will get you all up to speed with our goings-on over the next few blog posts. But firstly, today is all about our blue master bedroom.

A few weeks ago we painted our bedroom a lovely shade of 1960s light blue. Again, we are trying to match the original colours of the house. Jason has been the chief colour matcher and he seems to be nailing the choice each time he goes to buy the paint. Go Jason!

Our bedroom was a mix of the original light blue colour and white - it seemed to be incomplete, like someone gave up when they were doing the job (and for a change it wasn't me!). We were planning on painting the room white however as with our laundry and kitchen we decided to embrace colour.

Blue suits the space and exudes a nice calming ambiance. We're loving it.

The following is a pictorial of our new lagoona teal coloured bedroom.

This is an after photograph of the painting. This shot is of our built-in dressing table.

Jason also re-painted the door which opens out to our backyard.
A corner of our bedroom with the blue coloured walls

In progress shot of Jason painting the walls

Painting white walls blue

 We still have a few things to do in this bedroom, such as changing the window coverings, and painting above the window frames (it just needs to be freshened up with white paint)...all in good time though.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Painting the mid-century laundry

The one-wall-a-weekend painting program has been quickly stepped up to one-room-a-weekend now we are unlocking our doors to be part of Brisbane Open House 2014! Nothing like a deadline to get things moving.

Last weekend we attacked the laundry with a tin of 'fresh frappe' green paint. We intend to keep some of the original colours used in certain rooms of this mid-mod home. 

Our initial thought, before we moved in, was to paint the entire interior white but having lived here for about six months our line of thinking has changed. Yes, who are we? 

I know, the light mid-century colours can be polarising...but we think they're fun and add to the personality of the home. The colour is also entirely appropriate for the era of the house. 

The laundry feels much fresher and cleaner with the newly painted walls. The change is not markedly different, however we believe the overall first impression is better.

After: repainted the laundry walls with light green paint. Jason also had more success painting the stable or dutch door. He's only painted it the once!

In progress shot of the walls as they were being painted

Before: this is laundry when it was owned by the previous owners

Monday, 8 September 2014

Removing the unwanted wood heater

Vale wood heater. It was nice knowing you, even though we never used you during winter. You were like the elephant in the room...taking up too much valuable space. We never took any photographs of you when you became ours because we never thought you worthy...sadly, unloved

For the few cold nights we have in sub-tropical Brisbane we were prepared to sacrifice cosy warmth for more useable room. 

A shot of the wood heater when the house was with the previous owners

A couple of weeks ago we hired a plumber to remove the heater and repair the inevitable hole in the roof. It only took about an hour or so for it to be done. Afterwards, a few days of rain assured us the plumber did a good job because we were leak-free!

Wood heater-free living space. You can see the maple board on the right.

Our next dilemma is to repair the hole in the Queensland maple ceiling. Finding aged maple rotary cut plywood to match the rest of the ceiling is a problem.

The solution we came up with, with our builder, was to re-purpose some old maple wood doors from the old kitchen cupboards which had been stored under the house. Fortunately the previous owners had kept the old overhead cupboards in the garage and they are a close enough match to work

Our builder has fabricated two old doors into one board which he will use to repair the ceiling. You will still be able to tell there was a repair to the ceiling, but that's fine. It all forms part of the history of the house as it evolves.

Removing the wood heater will provide us with more flexibility in our living and dining areas. That is always a good thing.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Brisbane Open House 2014

Attention all archi-tourists: it's that time again when we have to plan our itineraries for Brisbane Open House to be held on the weekend of the 11/12 October 2014.

For those of you not in the know, Brisbane Open House is an annual event which grants the general public access to some of Brisbane's architectural gems. You can read about my experience at last year's Brisbane Open House event here.

Last week we attended the official launch and received our information guide books. The breadth of historical and contemporary properties which will be on show is rich and diverse. There are nearly 90 properties featured in the guide - with 35 new buildings opening their doors this year.

Brisbane Open House guide book

One of those new buildings is also our home...Eek!

We were asked to participate and are among some of the suburban residential offerings in this year's open house program. Our home is listed as the AF Dawson residence in the program and you can book a tour of our place via the ballot system on the Brisbane Open House website. Go on, we'd love to meet you!

AF Dawson residence
We are very excited to be part of this year's event as hopefully it will raise awareness of the importance of preserving mid-century homes. Too often, homes like ours are unsympathetically renovated or even demolished to build homes which are generally poorly designed and constructed...And we can't have that, can we?

Our home was designed by an award-winning Brisbane architect called Peter Heathwood - it was drawn as a specification house for builder AF Dawson in 1962. The house was owned by the one family until we purchased it earlier this year. It's a great home and we really love it.

Railton House. Image from here
In the open house program there are other mid-century residential homes and buildings which are 'must-sees' for the mid-mod enthusiast. My pick is Railton House and Office located in Spring Hill, Torbreck Home Units in Highgate Hill, Jacobi House in Indooroopilly. You can check out the Hot Modernism suggested itinerary on the Brisbane Open House website to see what else is on offer.

Because we are part of the event it means my 'archi-touring' will be curtailed to just one day. I've got my heart set on seeing the old Boggo Road Goal built in 1903 and also the 2014 Christian Street residence designed by architect James Russell.

If you're in Brisbane which  buildings do you plan to visit?

Friday, 22 August 2014

Throne for the WC

It was a big day yesterday. A new toilet was installed in our mid mod house - a new throne for the royal ablutions.

Hmm...the joys of an older home...our throne is slightly elevated sitting on a concrete plinth of sorts...
As much as we like to keep the changes to this house 'mid-century authentic', we had to draw the line to the 50 year old toilet with original Bakelite seat. It had seen better days and was ready to be retired. (You'll be pleased to know that we are keeping the simple but highly effective toilet roll holder. Ha!)

A new modern loo was the only way to go - water efficient and hopefully much easier to keep clean.

Old toilet, I'm sure you served well over the years...RIP

We chose a dependable Australian-made Caroma toilet suite with a porcelain cistern. Anything made of plastic would have deteriorated due to the amount of sunlight streaming through the large frosted window in the WC.

I was toying with the idea of getting a new black Bakelite seat... however our experience from the Sow's Ear told us that black Bakelite is difficult to keep in pristine condition. Ours became cloudy over time. :(

After having this initial plumbing work conducted on the house we're now aware that all the old pipes are galvanised steel and are rusting badly. It will be something we will have to attend to before they eventually deteriorate to a rusty mess and seize up for good. We'll be putting that on the list as we plan out our projects.

A smart flush Caroma toilet suite
But firstly we will have to attend to the walls and floors in our sad looking WC. A coat of fresh paint on the walls, repairing the timber architraves and a choice of new flooring is on the to-do list.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The mid-century modern hallway

We had a productive week last week with the hallway receiving some much-needed attention. The fun you can have with a dark hallway, tin of paint and a few rolls of painter's tape! A mid-century modern hallway of dreams...

Hallway: taken from Bedroom 3 looking towards the shower room 

We continued the vivid white colour theme from the main living areas to down the hallway. The walls were a little tired and slightly scuffed, so the new coat of paint has freshened it up nicely. Again, it is only the subtlest of changes which still gives our home a substantial lift.

It is a dark hallway because of  the maple timber ceiling and dark floors, however the large picture window in the toilet and the skylight in the shower room located on either side of the hallway provides an abundance of natural light. When we close one of those doors, the hallway is quickly veiled in darkness.

Hallway: photo taken from the shower room looking down towards the toilet. That poor toilet is going to be replaced soon as some things are beyond restoring!
As you can see, there is a lot of wood trim in the hallway - it felt like we spent more time taping up and removing tape than actually painting. We undercoated the walls first and then followed up with two coats of vivid white paint. The inside of each door frame was painted too...which meant a week of doors ajar in a prudish household!

A huge sigh of relief was exhaled when this job was completed. It was a relatively problem free project and Jason's painting confidence is back after the setbacks with the blue front door.

We have a lot of other small projects underway, so I will be back soon to tell you all about it.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Blue door hell:part 3

If you told me that time had stood still over the past five weekends, I would probably believe you...given we are still painting the front door...It's like we are stuck in some cruel time warp, where we are in some kind of blue door painting holding pattern!

stripped back again
'What?' you ask. Didn't we finish that door a fortnight ago? appears the word finished doesn't really mean finished. Even a blog post saying the door was finished was not enough! Clearly it's not really over when the fat lady sings. Jason's quest for perfection with this blue door knows no bounds. Good enough is not good enough.

Jason wanted to do one final touch up of the door, because there was still some dust particles which showed through the glossy finish. It didn't help that one of our friends pointed out the dust too - a casual throw-away line was the catalyst for one final coat of paint. (Thanks a lot Chris! Keep quiet next time. Ha!)

Unfortunately when Jason started painting the final touch up he chose to use a paint brush instead of his trusty roller. The paint went on too thickly and it then went quickly down hill from there...particularly when he tried to scrape it off. I'll spare you the details. Holy blue door hell, Batman!

We had to strip the door right back and start from scratch. Again. Deja vu. Ground hog day.

Happy campers we were not.

Blue door drying
I'd like to say that this weekend we 'finished' the door. But I won't. We'll just wait and see, okay?

And in happier news, we are painting the hallway this week and that seems to be going quite well. Thankfully.

Hallway painting

Monday, 4 August 2014

Five years of Fun and VJs

Who knew five years ago when we wrote our first blog post on Fun and VJs we would still be plugging away today, even after a house move? Ha! Clearly I need another hobby...and Jason needs a DIY break!

Cheers to five years of blogging! Martinis in our mid-mod house.
It's been terrific fun to have a platform like blogging to chronicle our DIY adventures. From renovating our old interwar Queenslander - the Sow's Ear - to now, restoring a mid-century modern home in suburban's certainly an evolution of sorts.

Moving to a different style of home and restoring it sympathetically is presenting a whole new set of experiences for us. It's not as straightforward as you might expect given it is a younger house to the Sow's Ear. There is such a lack of appreciation and awareness of mid-century housing in Queensland. We hope by writing about our attempts to preserve and respect the original architecture of our home, we will provide some inspiration for others wanting to do the same...particularly when the norm is to just throw out the old and modernise completely.

Hopefully, some things we have written on this blog over the past five years will resonate with readers. Perhaps you're in the midst of renovating an old Queenslander or you are just about to embark on mid-century house renovation project?  We've never put it out there that we are experts...far from it. We make mistakes all the time but we like sharing information which might be useful to others...even if it is learning what not to do!

As you can see, Jason still insists on painting at night...

Although we have never reached uber-blogger status (except in our own minds) still amazes us we have such a large audience from all around the world...who are not just spammers!

Thank you so much for reading Fun and VJs. We hope you'll stick with us while we restore our mid-mod home.


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...
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