I have just closed my Facebook account. I've been on Facebook since 2007 (which was fairly early for Australians), but a growing irritation with it made me finally pull the plug. The reasons were many and varied.
Firstly, Facebook was primarily a social thing for me - I liked keeping up with Friends and Family Overseas and Interstate and their growing families and life changes. Unfortunately, I've noticed that people post less and less 'personal' stuff. Some of this could be that growing children don't want things put on Facebook (my oldest, who is 8, doesn't like me reporting funny things he's said anymore to anyone, let alone an audience of Facebook friends), but I think that largely Facebook has become a community of people watching each other, and wary of posting things about themselves, especially when you are potentially sending your photos out to "friends" numbering in their many hundreds. Who wants to put a photo of themselves up in a bikini for their former Boss to look at? So Facebook has, over the past year and a bit, become for me one long stream of people asking for Charitable donations for marathons and other things they were doing (fine), the reposting of inflammatory Political propaganda (I read the paper, I don't need to see this elsewhere), and an awful lot of targeted Facebook advertising (recently a targeted ad advertised to me "find mature love", which really proved to me that Facebook employs mostly 18 year olds to program their algorithms. Last time I checked 39 was not regarded as being exceptionally aged).
So a few things triggered the disconnect. Firstly around a month ago Facebook recommended a new "friend" for me. Generally these are based on algorithms that mean the number of friends in common you have on Facebook, the higher the chance you know each other in real life and will want to be friends. Fine. Except that this person is someone I've only had contact with in a Work capacity - we have no friends in common, and I've only communicated with her on my computer via my work email (not my email used to open the Facebook account). So that would suggest that Facebook has been spying on me.
A growing sense of unease over that was then compounded by a few other things - the mindless reposting of stuff without actually fact checking it prior to posting. A friend posted something to her wall via a Facebook page about "Politicians gave themselves an 11% pay rise and Nurses got 0-1%". Terrible, of course. But I thought they were having pay freezes in the Australian Parliament, I could recognise none of the Politicians in the picture, and thought the Nurses were dressed differently to Australian Nurses. Checking the page it was on it showed it to be a UK source. But by reposting this, others also then reposted it and so misinformation is spread - they obviously thought that was happening in Australia (rather than just showing solidarity for the UK nurses).
So last night, after logging on I was irate to find that several websites I'd googled earlier in the day had ads appearing in my Facebook feed. I'm sick of it! While google Ads tend to follow you around the internet (currently, I'm being tortured by a Carolina Herrera Botanical print skirt I could not afford, and which is sold out, turning up again and again in my Google Ads on various websites), I find it a little disconcerting to find 4 companies popping up in my Facebook feed that I'd completely separately been looking at earlier in the day.
The fact that it was irritating me more than giving me any form of pleasure made me decide to pull the pin.
More tea please via
What this has done, is to make me assess how we all connect in the world (or don't, really). There was this quite pertinent link a friend posted on Facebook (prior to me shutting it down), that resonated with me…. how many times have you gone out to Dinner or a bar or pub and seen groups of people or a couple that spend more time interacting with their phones than with each other? A lot of people spend a lot of time watching what others do via Facebook (or blogs or instagram) and feeling bad about their lives as a consequence. The green eyed monster rears its head that they don't get a family holiday for 6 weeks in Europe, have children winning every award at School, have children at all, are sitting at home on a Saturday night when all their friends are at the same party… I just wonder why so many people continue to participate in something that is poison to them. No one can really know what is going on in someone's life just by seeing a brief post on Facebook, it's a completely filtered medium.
via Marie C's Pinterest feed
I was reminded of this recently when busily (!) pinning away on Pinterest, my favourite time waster. I follow Marie-Chantal's Pinterest feed (Crown Princess of Greece), and she was posting quotes. They were to do with positive thinking, removing negativity in your life, having no fear of failure etc . It seems that if a Crown Princess, daughter of a Duty Free Billionaire, and a woman who has 4 Nannies for her 4 children, flies in Private Jets and wears Couture feels the need to post inspirational quotes that suggest the fairytale is not real, then those of us who are lesser mortals should bear in mind that our friends and wider social circle have their own struggles and that just off camera there is a pile of overdue bills to be paid, or a sick child (or a really sick child), or that indeed we are all just trying to keep our heads above water, and that holds true no matter how privileged the position is that a person occupies on our globe.
So farewell Facebook, I've decided to catch up with my friends in real life instead.
We spent yesterday in the Countryside, around an hour and a half's drive from Adelaide visiting our friends A & A on their farm. The farm has been in A's family since they took up the lease on the land over 140 years ago. While it's not common these days to find a house built by and still inhabited by the original family in the city, in the Country there are still properties that are owned by the same family, with the house and farm passing down through the generations.
We had a long, lazy lunch with a group of our friends and a large number of children, eventually returning home to the city late in the evening.
The house itself is late Victorian, my guess would be around somewhere between 1880 - 1900 based on the Architectural details (I forgot to ask exactly how old it is). Peeking inside homes that have had continuous family ownership is a very interesting thing - to see an old house preserved in a specific time period, as the National Trust tend to do, can be a slightly soul-less experience. Here there are layers of family decoration and memorabilia, overlaid with modern living. Many of the rooms have been left untouched, just as the generations past used them, but in the back A & A have recently completed a renovation that joined the old servants wing to the main house. This has brought inside the beautiful old exterior sandstone walls, and by leaving some of the original features in place, there's a strong sense of the old and new and they've created a beautiful new light filled, modern family living area.
back door and farm dog
In the old part of the house the room that fascinates me the most is an upstairs bedroom, which is a print room. It's covered in prints - this was something Ladies used to do to keep themselves occupied. They'd cut out pictures from magazines and arrange them on walls. This room is completely covered in illustrations and photographic reproductions from Illustrated newspapers of the time. There are a lot of pictures of Queen Alexandra and King Edward, along with Victorian/ Edwardian era beauties, etchings of cats dressed up in bonnets, race horses, scenic landscapes… it's a very quirky little room. A & A use it as a guest bedroom now.
The house also has a Billiard room, filled with Taxidermy, such as this giant deer… there are some squirrels on another wall, a fish…
Mixed in amongst the family photographs there are a few signed photos of the Prince of Wales (later the Duke of Windsor after he abdicated the throne for Wallis Simpson) from his 1920 trip to Australia, the Duke of Gloucester, and Queen Elizabeth. Some members of the Royal Family visited during their tours of Australia.
The front hall is particularly beautiful with a triple arched entry. A put a colourful rug down, and has done this throughout the house - some rooms are left as they've always been, other spaces have modern Art and bright furnishings reflecting the young family that now live there.
Outside there are numerous outbuildings - old farms were like little villages 100 years ago. This is the smokehouse, which is a tiny little building near the back of the house. A has done this up for their Children to use as a Cubby house. I don't know if you can see the scale, but there's a garden bench next to it which shows you it's tiny - it makes the perfect little house for the children with a window and chimney as well.
It was a lovely day.
It's school holidays here, and we spent the first week skiing at Falls Creek in the Victorian Alps. This was a slightly spontaneous trip, we only booked in after seeing the snow report on television the week before. It's been absolutely dumping snow, and we had probably the best skiing I can ever remember (particularly given it's so early in the season).
This was the first time we've been skiing where all three of the children were old enough to go to ski school… which meant that for the first time in 9 years I was able to ski as well, without having to juggle baby/ toddler duties. The children all loved skiing. 4 year old S has no fear (as they tend not to at that age), and behaved as if skis were a natural thing to be on. Aside from the 12.5 hour car ride to the snow from Adelaide (and the fact that the in-car DVD player became jammed with Tinkerbelle in it, which nearly lead to a riot from the boys), it was a fantastic family holiday.
We arrived back home to find that the rain had finally cleared just enough for them to lay the lawn down. I can't even begin to describe what a relief it is to see greenery out of the windows, rather than mud and dirt. Next up are plants...
Finally, I can say that the kitchen is finished. Unfortunately a delay on the pendant light fittings over the island bench meant that almost 6 months after installation, it's finally a space that is complete.
I've written quite a few posts on the kitchen design, finishes, appliances and various other things do do with the kitchen, so I will try not to rehash those posts, and instead concentrate on the finished space. I'll provide a list of links to those previous posts at the end of this post if you're interested in the process.
The design for the kitchen was a tedious and frustrating process. I love designing kitchens as I love to cook, but there were a few things that I struggled to reconcile along the way. Part of this was that Mr AV wanted a far greater input into the kitchen design than I had envisioned (he does not cook and does not work in Design, so this was unexpected). The major issue we had was the open plan concept. Open plan living is essentially a non-negotiable in modern Australia. We live and entertain casually, and it is now expected that a modern home will have a large open plan kitchen/ dining/ living zone at the rear of the house opening onto the garden and outdoor entertaining areas.
The problem with that is that a kitchen is on display constantly, and kitchens are by necessity fairly messy areas. I don't like sitting at the dining table and viewing the mess from cooking in the kitchen - as we don't have a formal Dining room, but like to entertain in a slightly more formal manner from time to time, this was doubly important. (On this topic I was recently at a large Dinner Party where caterers had been employed. The dining table was right next to the very open plan kitchen, so essentially we were right in the middle of the preparation/ cleaning up and there was no separation of the catering staff and the guests. It was not exactly hugely problematic, but some form of separation would have been reasonably appropriate in that instance.)
So, the typical response if you view this as a problem is to have an island bench with an up stand on it to block the view when sitting at the dining table into the kitchen, or to have a second kitchen (a Butlers Pantry) where food preparation and mess can be contained and a 'show' kitchen is in front of it. Instead, in our kitchen with a lack of wall space to accommodate the appliances, pantry and oven, I looked at blocking the view from the dining area into the kitchen with a wall of kitchen units, which was reasonably radical in concept to cause Mr AV and I to have a lot of… animated… discussion. The end result was that cupboards do not go all the way up to the ceiling so it still gives the open plan concept and feel.
It's been really successful and works so well. If you're cooking, you're still part of the action… but when I'm sitting at the table with guests, the kitchen can be a huge mess and no one has a view of it.
The second point that differentiates this kitchen from a lot of current kitchen design is that the island is reasonably small, and in fact the kitchen itself is not overly large - it's really a very average sized kitchen for a family home. It's in fact the same size as the old kitchen we used for 3 years, but more efficient use of the space means it functions with triple the storage, and is much more user friendly. My younger sister was surprised the first time she came over at the size of the kitchen, as she expected I would have done a cavernously large, flash kitchen instead. But I have designed kitchens like that in the past, and I don't feel they work very well from an ergonomic perspective (the design was client driven - they wanted large kitchens). This kitchen is SO easy to work in. Everything is a few paces from where you need to be, there are large areas of bench space, and it takes no effort to clean up.
So, onto finishes. The kitchen cupboards are painted melamine. They are (hand) painted in a semi-gloss pale grey enamel paint, and are easy to wipe clean when spills occur. I did the door profile in a very simple shaker style panel - my aim throughout the extension design is to do pared back semi-traditional, so simplified detailing is part of the design. The skirting is flush to the doors - there is no kicker, which has not been a problem ergonomically speaking (if you're interested), and the bench top is also flush to the cupboard panels. I was trying to make it look like cabinetry. There is a simple header at the top of the full height cupboards to make the cabinetry look 'finished'.
The wall around the steel windows are tiled in a large format subway tile that butt up against the very simple window architrave. The tiles have an undulating/ handmade look to them, and are a matt finish (rather than shiny), so give a bit of textural interest. The grout is in the palest grey grout to match the cupboards and the veining in the bench tops.
The bench tops are in a composite stone that looks like marble. I'm really happy with how it's performing. As I said when discussing finishes in previous blog posts, I love the look of marble, but know that my family will ruin it fairly quickly… so this has been a good alternative.
The handles are a brushed brass, and I chose very simple modern and timeless handles, rather than a more ornate or traditionally styled handle. I've tried to do a blend of old and new throughout the new extension.
The flooring is sheet linoleum, which has probably been one of the best decisions we made with the extension. It looks fantastic, stands up to the rigours of family life, and is very easy to clean. I really don't know why more people don't look at putting it in - it's environmentally friendly, lasts 150 years, and is dirt cheap.
Lighting in the space required a bit of thought - I didn't want down lights in the ceiling as the ceilings are very high (nearly 4 meters), and you'd need a lot of them to get enough light on the bench tops. I decided on a recessed strip LED light in the underside of the window architrave over the sink area. In the day, you don't notice it at all, and at night it provides good task lighting.
The island bench has three pendant light fittings that appear to be hand blown glass - they have a mottled quality in line with the aesthetic I was trying to achieve… a bit of a hand made/ textural feel. They compliment the light fitting made by the Jam Factory over the Dining table in the adjacent dining area.
Almost all appliances are concealed in the kitchen. With the kitchen visible as soon as you walked through the door into the new extension, I didn't want a wall of stainless steel fridges/ dishwashers etc to be the first thing to visually distract. I wanted the kitchen to look like cabinetry, and to be simple and in the background when needed. I think the overall space feels quite serene and uncluttered because of this too. Concealed in the cupboards are a Fridge, Freezer, bifold doors to the walk in pantry, and two dishwashers. The unit with the visible cabinetry is not seen from the living area and contains the double oven, warming drawer, range hood and cooktop.
Of course, opposite the kitchen is the visual interest for this space - the wall of steel windows around the stairs leading down to the cellar and Mr AV's study. This is wallpapered with Library wallpaper in sepia tones, which provides a nice view when standing at the island bench. The view out of the steel windows to the garden is slowly improving too as the landscaping continues.
The only regret that I have with the design is that I could not fit three stools at the kitchen bench for my three Children. Unfortunately I was space constrained - I would have had to lose space in the adjacent Children's playroom to accommodate a larger island, and the playroom was at what I considered the appropriate size, with no room to squeeze another half meter out of it. It's rare to be able to accommodate everything in a design, but this also means that we are disciplined in always eating at the dining table, rather than the island. The island stools are used more for chatting to the cook or a quick snack.
So, onto the details
Cupboard paint: Dulux "Ghosting" in Semi Gloss Enamel
Wall paint: Dulux "Fair Bianca"
Wall Tiles: from Eco Tile Factory
Flooring: Forbo Marmoleum from the Dutch Design range "Piet Hein Eek" M0512
Joinery pulls: Colonial Bronze "306 Cabinet Pull" in Satin Brass available here
Benchtops: Bianco Venato Quartz from Designer Finishes
Stools: Hay Denmark "About a Stool"
Pendant lights: "Bolla" Light from Gineico
Wallpaper: Andrew Martin "Library" in Sepia
Previous blog posts on the kitchen design
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