Thursday, May 19, 2011

Garden Wreckage

Builders, even nice builders like ours, inevitably damage a garden. Machinery and goods have to be moved in and out, new drainage lines have to be dug (Oh! Farewell, Salvia 'Black Prince'! sob). We also had a huge new pit drain installed, which ran further under my vegetable patch than I realised. I knew its length; I hadn't realised the width! In the left foreground is a mound of reasonable soil from the vegetable patch, taken from the drain area. The bare earth on the right-hand side is mostly clay.

And the only thing coming through the clay is onion weed.

Apart from the occasional nasturtium and borage.

My damaged and unmaintained vegetable patch, however, still has a few surprises. The leeks and red silverbeet are still going, along with the sorrel and a Tuscan kale. I wasn't surprised to find volunteer parsnip everywhere, because that's what parsnip does. What did surprise me was the chervil on the far side of the garden, and feral Florence fennel everywhere!

The other surprise is our sneaky Banskia spinulosa. This plant has been sitting there for years, refusing to flower, growing nicely but not a "candle" in sight. But now we aren't looking at it, what has it decided to do?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Walls Go Up

Over the last two weeks, the brickies have been at work. It's exciting to finally see the real proportions and scale growing up from the flat concrete slabs, even though rain slowed everything down a bit. Our face bricks are the solid kind with frogs, and can absorb their own weight in water. Once wet, they cannot be laid as they will sink in the mortar bed, so they have to be left a day or two.

The garage walls were started first, and the internal wall to the laundry was done.

Then our new family room walls started going up.

We climbed in and out via our family room window a few times.

The garage was finished first. Our builders pointed out that the wouldn't normally use face brick on the far wall, as nobody will see it from the side, but with our doors, face brick was essential. I'd never have thought of it.

Then at last the beam over the back door went up.

They had to brick in above it and do my herb bed...

Then it was done! Here is the view from the kitchen.

And from the back yard:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thinking of Kitchens, Part 2: Layout

Somebody is bound to think that I have put style before substance in listing Style ahead of Layout when discussing my new kitchen. The reason is simple: my new kitchen layout has so many constraints, there's not a great deal of choice available to me.

Our kitchen is going to be eat-in, for a start. The effect will be something like a farmhouse kitchen. I've noticed that when you look up farmhouse kitchens, you tend to get anything but the kind of kitchen found in actual farmhouses, which is something like this:

Now this picture is not from a farmhouse either! But the layout is typical: a table in the middle, used for both meals and food preparation, and the perimeter of the room taken up with kitchen benches, appliances and storage. My kitchen will be like this, but there's room for benches on only two adjacent sides, if you look at the initial plan below.

As it's expensive to move plumbing and the like, we're sticking with the sink (and dish-washer! Hooray!) under the window, and putting the fridge in the corner. This is the short wall (3300mm, previously the long wall). The long wall (3600mm) will hold the stove and under-bench oven, and there will be a run of cupboards above the bench.

I'm planning to centre the stove on the long wall: I am right-handed, so I will be preparing food to the left of the stove. The one thing I've craved all my married life is room for cooking preparation, and I will have it!

Immediately, I hit an additional constraint. Did you know that your gas tap needs to be accessible via a cupboard, in case of emergencies? Bang goes my idea of under-bench pot drawers to fill the long wall. I need a 400mm cupboard to the left of the stove. Putting a 400mm set of pot drawers to the right will give us a symmetrical, if not brilliantly useable result. Further to the right, more pot drawers. I imagine I'll be using them for food storage rather than pots.

I was planning to have wall cupboards on the long wall only. The first kitchen designer suggests mirroring the widths of the under-bench cupboards in the wall cupboards. I suppose I could do something slightly different there, but I wouldn't want it to look odd.

Secondly, the builders tell me it will look strange to end the base cabinets at the dish-washer, and have suggested building around the fridge -- putting in a side panel and that inaccessible little cupboard on top (I'm not very tall). I think this will interfere with the window too much, but I haven't come up with any other ideas.

In the meantime, I pop in just to enjoy my less-ugly kitchen space!