Saturday, July 30, 2011

Inspiration - What We Have Now

One of the largest influences/sources of inspiration is our current home. For the last three years, we have lived in a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment built by one of Perth’s premium apartment builders in 2008.

When we decided it was time to move into something larger, we looked at pre-established homes, but struggled to find something that met the budget without needing significant renovation to match the style and standard of our current home. Building quickly became our only option.

Mirrors make a normally
small room appear larger
For that reason, when it came time to personalise the Rendezvous design, we began by incorporating everything we love about our “little box” in the city.

One of the first things you notice when walking through our apartment is the mirrors. Each bathroom has a lovely big mirror and each of the built in robes have mirror sliding doors.

Mirrors are a wonderful interior design tool, especially in small spaces where they help to enlarge the room by reflecting space and light.

Sliding doors are great. You save so much space by not having to allow room for the door to open. Surprisingly, upgrading the builder’s standard Redicoat doors to mirrored sliding doors did not cost as much as I would have expected.

What did surprise me was the cost to “upgrade” the bathroom mirrors from the builder’s standard framed mirror, to frameless with no visible fixings. I am glad I did not ask for a bevelled edge!

Our apartment mirrors, in addition to being frameless and with no visible fixings, sit flush with the vanity bench top. I love this look. People often ask whether not having a splash back means that the mirror requires more cleaning. Personally, I would not say that it does. We find that any overspray from the taps extends well above the height of a standard splashback anyway.

Our frameless ensuite mirror and
granite vanity bench top
Something that does require extra cleaning, are the black granite kitchen and vanity bench tops. I love these bench tops! Alas, as mentioned in a previous post, we will not be having granite in our new home *sob*.

The final thing I adore about our apartment is absence cornicing. Unfortunately, it would have been too big of a change remove the cornice from the design.

What elements of your current home would you incorporate into the next?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Milestone: External Colour Selection

Personally, I found choosing the external colours a lot harder than choosing the internal colours. The front of our house is different to the display home. Therefore, I find it difficult to imagine what it is going to look like, let alone visualise it painted with the colours suggested by Ventura’s consultant.

To help with my visualisation issues, I scanned the plans for our front elevation and created a “black line master” using Microsoft Paint, which I could then colour in when we got home.

"Black Line Master" for our version of the Rendezvous


If you would like me to make a tutorial on how to do this, feel free to ask via the comments section.


The exterior component of our colour consultation revolved primarily around the front elevation. We decided to choose varying shades of grey for the render and metalwork. Ventura’s colour consultant said this would help to tie the outside areas with the inside areas as it keeps with the white, grey/silver, black colour scheme used for the interior.

Prior to the meeting, the only shade of grey we had decided upon was the colour of the roof. Choosing the roof colour was easy; there were plenty of examples to look at during our daily commute.

The colour we chose was Windspray. We wanted a colour that was dark enough so that it would not look dirty during the winter, but not so dark that it would absorb of heat during summer.

Tip: If you are interested in thermal efficiency, the Colorbond website lists each of their roof colours along with the associated thermal classifications.

Thanks to our sales consultant Mike Tanner, we received a free upgrade to Colorbond guttering and downpipes (much appreciated!). This meant that the majority of colour selections came from the Colorbond colour pallet. We decided to continue this trend by choosing a render colour from this pallet also.

The colours that were chosen for the front elevation were Surfmist, Windspray and Monument. These three colours are very modern. The consultant recommended arranging them as follows:

Exterior colour scheme as suggested by Ventura’s colour consultant.


This colour scheme is not for the faint hearted due to the high level of contrast between the light main render and the dark project render and portico infill. It was not until I had created the above image that we realised just how light Surfmist is. We wanted a light grey house with a grey roof and dark gutters. Therefore, we decided to change the main render colour to Shale Grey.

Based on this new colour trio, we set about colouring in our “Black Line Master.” We managed to narrow the options down to the following two colour schemes:

Option One: Retain the bold highlights.


Option Two: Remove the bold highlights


In the end, we decided to use the more conservative Option 2. Therefore, our finalised external colour selection appears as follows:


Windspray


  • roof;
  • facia; 
  • portico infill;
  • front door; and, 
  • garage door
Monument

  • gutters

Shale Grey

  • main render
  • project render
























Update (08/08/2011): Silly me forgot to mention what colour pavers we will be using for our driveway. If you had not guessed already, we will be using charcoal with a grey border.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Milestone: Internal Colour Selection

When it came to interior colour selection, we decided to keep things simple by selecting the same colours and materials throughout. This may seem a bit boring at first, but it allows us to accessorise each room individually, whilst maintaining a common feel between rooms.

We decided the best place to start making our selections was the kitchen. Typically, the kitchen is a home’s central gathering point. This is especially true for us. We love to host large dinner parties, where we spend all night sitting around the dining table. Therefore, it is crucial that we get the colours right!

Our current kitchen is quite small. It has silver cupboards, which look fantastic. However, we felt using a feature colour, such as silver, in a much larger kitchen would be over powering. We decided to play it safe and chose white cabinets - “Classic White Sheen” melamine by Polytec.

Choosing a bench top colour was not as straight forward as choosing the colour for our cabinets or kickboards.

Paired with the silver cabinets of our current kitchen, is a lovely black granite bench top. Despite the “extra work” to keep it clean, we would have loved to continue this trend into our new home. Fortunately/unfortunately, our builder supplies Essastone and we decided that it would be best to stick with that.

To be honest Essastone does not wow me. The current Essastone range has three colours that would suit our white/grey/black colour scheme: Carbon, French Black and Midnight Rendezvous.

The winning colour, by elimination, was Carbon. If it were not for the large black flecks in the French Black, it would have been the likely choice because the base colour complements our floor tiles. Midnight Rendezvous, unfortunately, would have left us longing for our current black granite bench tops. Essastone just does not have the shine, depth or warmth that granite has.

Kitchen Colour Scheme: floor tile,
bench top, cabinet and kickboard
Unfortunately, our budget did not extend to having Essastone bench tops in the Laundry. For this room Ventura’s colour consultant recommended using Laminex Basalt (Natural Finish) for the bench top, as it is the best match for Essastone Carbon.

Our final colour choice for the day was kickboard colour. Our colour consultant suggested brushed aluminium. In theory this would have looked great, however when paired with our chosen floor tiles, an aluminium kickboard became lost.

We decided to choose a darker kickboard. We did not want to be so bold as to choose black kickboards, so we opted for Laminex Charcoal (Natural Finish).

It is always a good idea to take samples of your kickboard, cabinet and bench top colours when you go searching for tiles. If we had not done this, we would not have realised that brushed aluminium was too light a colour to use for kickboards.

Another interesting observation was the influence of our tiles on Charcoal kickboards. When paired with white, Charcoal appears to be dark grey in colour. However, when paired with our floor tiles, it appears more blue.

Thankfully, this does not cause a problem in our colour scheme, however it is something worth keeping in mind, especially if you are choosing a more specific or bolder colour scheme than we are.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Milestone: Colour Selection (Overview)

In early May, we met with Ventura's colour consultant for an hour-long colour selection/consultation. I am glad Ventura offered this service free of charge and prior to Pre-Start. I would have hated to choose our colours during Pre-Start because it would have added another hour to what ended up being a very long meeting.

Choosing your colours can be mind-blowing, especially if the builder's terminology is unfamiliar. I knew what a gutter and a fascia were, but I was unsure when it came to “portico infill” and the difference between "project render" as opposed to "main render".

Tip: If you are unsure of the terminology used during your consultation, ask your consultant to label them for you.

The different areas of a Rendezvous' front elevation.


Once you have gotten your head around the different names for each part of your house, so that you are able to visualise what it looks like, you are then free to address the actual colours.

When we built our apartment, we had a choice of four pre-established colour boards. It was easy to point to one of the boards and say “that one.” We selected a “modern” board with white walls, silver cupboards, grey carpet, and a beautiful black granite bench top.

We have decided to stick with the general white, silver/grey, and black colour scheme that we used for the apartment. This scheme is quite versatile. It allows us to brighten the place up using different coloured artwork, pillows, and rugs, which we can change depending on our moods or the season.

Choosing the correct colours for your home is very important, if you get it wrong, fixing it can become a very expensive exercise. There are numerous websites on interior decorating and the theory of colour. Personally, I find these websites offer more information than is needed. For me, it was a case of information overload.

Odds are while you are looking for inspiration when designing your house, you will start to get an idea of what colours you like and how they work together.

A friend of mine, Brad, offered some good advice: When looking at display homes, remember to look at the interior and exterior colour schemes. Generally, the salesperson will be able to tell you what colours they been used, or in the very least find out for you in exchange for your email address.

What advice have you been given?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Milestone: Tile Selection (Part Two)

In my last post, I wrote about the tiles we chose for our house. One would think that tile selection is nearly complete once you have decided amongst yourselves which tiles you like and where you want to put them. Oh no, it is not that simple. Nor is it something you can do in a hurry.

Part two of tile selection begins when you call the assistant over. This is not as short a process as you might think. I recommend taking all of your plans with you when you go to make your tile selection. The consultants can be quite knowledgeable and can offer plenty of good advice, especially if you are planning to use feature tiles, so it pays to be able to show them the various views for each room.

When you sit down with the consultant, a form is filled in that lists each of the rooms to be tiled, which tiles you wish to use, the direction in which they are to be laid, their price and what grout will be used.

When I thought of grout, I thought it was black, brown, or white. How wrong I was. Grout comes in many different colours and shades; different grits depending on whether you have selected a rectified or cushioned edged tile; and, can have additives such as flex agents.

Your tile consultant will take care of the flex and grit choices, but you will need to do another round of colour choices. We decided to keep things simple by choosing grout colours that best matched the colour of the tiles. For our “snowy white” wall tiles, we chose an “ultra white” grout and a “charred ash” grout for our feature ensuite wall tiles.

Our beloved floor tiles were a pain to colour match, as they seem to be a brown-grey-blue colour. Eventually we chose “charred ash.” It was slightly lighter than the colour of the tile. We are not great fans of grout lines, so hopefully choosing a grout colour a shade or two lighter than the tile, will help the grout lines to blend and not be so obvious.

Our tile consultation took about an hour. Make sure you ask your consultant plenty of questions, especially if you are mixing tile sizes and edge types. One of the best tips we were given was “to ask our builder whether we can pay any costs over our allotted allowance directly to the tile store, so that we can avoid paying the builder’s mark-up.” Thankfully, Ventura already operates this way.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Milestone: Tile Selection (Part One)

Choosing the right tiles was a tough one. Most of the display homes we visited seemed to favour light coloured flooring in order to make the house look bigger. Light flooring is lovely, however, we also loved the dark floors favoured by images of “designer homes” that we saw online.

Light floor or dark floor? The answer changed daily.

In the end, we left the tile selection to chance. We were at the mercy of the tile store displays. All we knew is that we were looking for either a light grey/white tile or a dark grey/black tile. It appears that brown is in vogue, and this narrowed our selections greatly. Who would have thought it hard to find grey tiles? Thankfully, the fourth tile store we visited had something that we both liked.


Marmo Royal by Ceramica Monica
The winning tile is “Antracite” part of the Marmo Royal series by Ceramica Monica.

Marmo Royal is one of the few series of tiles we found, which offers both 300 x 300 mm and 600 x 600 mm format tiles. This allows us to have matching tiles in both the main and wet areas. This really appeals to me.

I remember seeing a display home in Piara Waters, which had 600 x 600 mm tiles in the main areas and matching 300 x 300 mm tiles in the wet area. It looked stunning. The tiles flowed from room to room and brought each part of the house together. I loved it!



Once we had our floor tiles sorted, it was onto the wall tiles. Like many people, we chose a 300 x 600 mm white tile for our bathroom. You cannot escape the allure of clean, white, bathroom tiles. Unlike many display homes, we did not choose a feature mosaic tile.

Our bathroom is small and narrow. To put a feature tile on one of the walls would be overpowering. In an attempt to make the room look longer, we will be laying our white wall tiles horizontally and using the floor tiles to tile the bath hob.

Ensuite Colour Scheme:
floor tile, feature wall tile
The ensuite, however, is a completely different matter. It is huge! For this room, we have chosen a solid colour feature tile for the back wall. Like the wall tiles, it is a 300 x 600 mm format tile.

Unfortunately, this tile store did not have a large selection of solid colour feature tiles (but they did have an amazing selection of mosaics!). Given the available selection, we chose a matt blue-grey tile. I would have preferred to use a dark charcoal/grey tile as the feature, but unfortunately, they did not have one in the correct size/colour.


As for the rest of our tiles, the laundry splashback will uses the same white tiles as the bathroom wall and we have deleted the kitchen splashback tiling so that we can install a glass splashback after handover. I have my heart set on either a black or bauxite splashback.


Speaking of the kitchen, it is worth selecting your kitchen kickboard colour at the same time as you choose your main area floor tiles. It is amazing how colours can seemingly go together in your mind, but looks completely wrong when you bring them together.

Tip: Most manufacturers offer free samples via their website. Even though you will find the tile stores already have samples, I found it useful having my own, so I could test the different colour combinations at my leisure.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Inspiration - Online Advertisements

Another source I have used for inspiration, are online advertisements for homes in my area. Websites such as REIWA and realestate.com.au are wonderful; they display plenty of photos for each listing and have excellent search functionality.

Tip: If I tailored my search to newly established suburbs/estates, particularly those close to or containing display villages, I would find many "new" house photos that are in line with the current designs offered by the various building companies in my area.


The benefit of searching for these kinds of images, as compared to websites like Houzz.com or builder's websites, is that you generally see "real" pictures. Real pictures are those that have not been photo-shopped into an unrealistic/perfect state representative of a building that no one has lived in.

Real pictures show you affordable fittings, fixtures and furniture, rather than displaying budget-less designer pieces (e.g. gas fires, stone features, spa's, etc.) used to create the "WOW factor.”

Real pictures also show you the more practical aspects of home design, for example the use of privacy glass in the bathroom. Display homes generally use clear glass in the bathrooms to let in more light and make the room seem bigger.

A real bathroom, note the use of privacy glass
A display bathroom, note the use of clear glass.

If you have the time, take a look at some online advertisements, they really do help you to get a feel for how your finished home will look.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Design Dilemma - Ensuite Shower Screen

When we designed our ensuite, we forgot to ask one important question. What is the maximum width for a shower screen? According to our builder, the widest shower screen they will install is 1500mm. We wanted one that was 1910mm wide.

Our original bathroom design


What do you do when you are short 410mm of glass? Our builder suggested building a small wall/pillar. This pillar could go in one of three places: on the open end of the recess, in the middle, or on the right. My preference was to either hide it away in a corner or make a feature out of it.

I have been modelling our house using SweetHome3D. This is one of those times when having a 3D model really helps. Below are the three options for the placement of the pillar. Which do you prefer?


As suggested by our builder, having the pillar on the left
will provide additional support for the screen.

We could try to hide the pillar, by placing it on the right hand side.
This does mean that the shower screen will need some form of
roof/wall support on the open end.

Placing the pillar in the middle of the shower screen,
would provide a place to mount the bath filler.



Ventura has given us the option to install our own shower screen after handover. I have spoken to a few companies who install shower screens and opinions appear to be split as to whether a shower screen this big could/should be installed.

Who would have thought that 40cm of glass would be so troublesome? I must say thank you to everyone on the Homeone forum who has already offered an opinion and tried to help.


Update (20/07/2011): We have decided to accept a credit for the framed shower screen provided by Ventura. We will be installing our own frameless/semi-frameless shower screen after handover. Fingers crossed everything goes according to plan!
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