I was thinking about the best things I did in our new extension over the weekend and thought it might make a good blog post… I tried to keep to 5, but a sixth snuck in. Really there are probably another 10 more I could list, but in the interests of keeping it short(ish) here are the top 6 things I'm so happy I included/ did in our renovation in no particular order:


1. Underfloor heating
You feel warmer if your feet are warm, and underfloor heating put heats at human level, rather than trying to force it down from the ceiling as ducted air does (hot air rises and all…). We have hydronic heating in the house (water moving through tubes in the slab heated by a boiler unit), and putting it in the concrete slab was one of the best decisions we made - no draughts, no movement of dust, constant comfortable temperature that is economical to run.


2. Hanging Laundry maid
Using the principle of hot air rising as you winch the line up to ceiling height, I can dry a large load of washing overnight on this. Saves energy, and I avoid having mobile drying racks all through the house to trip over. I also like being able to hang it up late at night without having to go outside to the outside line and also being able to dry something overnight in winter that I might need the next day (late night school uniform washing…). Cheap, but effective, saves wear and tear on your clothes from a dryer, and makes my life easier.



3. Two dishwashers
This also goes into the making my life easier category. It seemed extravagant when I first considered it for the kitchen, but it's one of the best decisions I made (I had many people suggest this to me when planning the kitchen). I never have dishes out waiting for the dishwasher to finish, and it's particularly handy when entertaining and you have a lot of plates. I was watching a Real Housewives of Melbourne episode recently (yes, I occasionally watch trash tv!) and Chyka (a caterer) said that some houses in Melbourne they go into now have 4 dishwashers - 2 in the butler's pantry, 2 in the kitchen so that caterers can do loads of dishes as they go for big parties.

view of the kitchen when sitting at the dining table - not a lot to see

4. Separated kitchen
This was a controversial component of the design and something my husband and I had many terse discussions about - open plan living is a non negotiable in Australia, so it was hard to get it over the line. I love not being able to see the mess in the kitchen when eating in the dining area. On Saturday night we had 8 friends over for dinner, and the kitchen was in a pretty chaotic state. No one could see it, including me.


5. Linoleum floors
A decision made based on budget cuts (you can read about it here), it turned out to be the silver lining. I love these floors so much - easy to clean, comfortable underfoot, perfect for hard wearing family living, and they look so good. They are the perfect neutral backdrop. Plus they're dirt cheap.







6. Natural Light from multiple directions in the living areas
This is something I've written a little about before on this blog post, but having natural light coming from multiple directions makes for a great living space - as detailed in the Architects unofficial bible  A Pattern Language.  The changing light through the day moving through the space makes for a much more dynamic living environment. Highlight windows in the sitting area add to the experience - in the living area the light comes from North, South, East and West. The children's playroom also has East and West windows which gives the room a similar feel.


Some of these things are expensive (like the ceiling lantern in the Living area), others are cheap (laundry maid and flooring) but they all highlight what makes life easier or more enjoyable in the new extension.

37 comments:

  1. Heidi I love all of these things, especially the two dishwashers! I don't understand why underfloor heating is not used more in Australia. I also like the idea of an open flow but separate kitchen for the exact same reason that you have written about. Your house is absolutely gorgeous xx

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    1. It's funny Fifi, a lot of people are interested in underfloor heating, but have been told by builders etc "what if something goes wrong" and are put off. I think the people that say this haven't actually looked into the product as it's virtually impossible to have a pipe burst in a concrete slab, but if a supposed expert expresses doubt then it's usually enough to make people second guess whether it's a good idea. x

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  2. Thanks for the peek into your 6 best, Heidi! We have heated marble floors in our downstairs bathroom and I adore them and would have them everywhere!

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    1. I have to say that heated floors in a bathroom feel completely luxurious don't they!

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  3. Great post Heidi - your favourites are definitely things that have caught my eye in your posts. I am a bit behind with my comments lately as my boys are both studying for Uni exams and I am their supplier of food and drinks and chief proof-reader, sounding board, etc.!! I am now fully versed in the permeability and porosity of coal - exciting times!! I am trying to catch up on paperwork today and book-keeping with end of financial year looming. Hope your two littlest had happy birthdays last month. Loved the internet reviews from your last post - my 22 year old and I were in stitches reading the Playmobil ones!!. Enjoy the rest of the week. Jo xx

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    1. It's funny how parents often end up almost getting a degree in the same things their child's studies by virtue of proof reading etc! Hope the exam period passes without too much stress Jo. Glad the Playmobil reviews provided some light relief as well! x

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  4. So true Heidi, love all you did- we had linoleum in the farm house and was very durable for four kids, also I couldn't live without my laundry maid- best invention ever. My only regret is I didn't put in a second dishwasher and now my children are either married or have partners, there is often 10 plus for dinner. I am strongly thinking of putting one in my laundry- next door to the kitchen- as I don't need all the laundry baskets I had for each child and it would fit perfectly in that space. Glad to hear that you think its worth while. And lastly I couldn't live without as much natural light as possible and have never regretted, putting in saw tooths and extra sky lights even if others have felt it is over kill. At the end of the day it is all these practical elements that make the house run smoothly and that is priceless.
    Enjoy your week
    Marilyn xx

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    1. That sounds like the perfect spot for a second dishwasher - you have almost a butler's pantry situation going on if the laundry is so close to the kitchen, so it would be ideal. I have to say having lived in a Victorian era house for the first 3 years while we renovated the back that I never take for granted the wonderful light in the extension. Even on a gloomy day outside, it feels light, open and airy and I never need the lights on. Sounds like your house is the same Marilyn xx

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  5. Great post h can you do another for the other 10?! Quick question re the boiler - how big is it?! Do you have it tucked away in a cupboard and does it give off heat ie can you use that cupboard as a drying cupboard?

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    1. I might do the other 10 as there have been a few requests - wasn't sure if this would be boring! The boiler is outside and run by gas, but it's not that big - probably 70cm x 50cm x 40cm deep mounted at person height on two steel posts. It doesn't store water, it just heats it and pushes it through the pipes. In the laundry cupboard there is a manifold where the pipes come into the house and it has valves and things on it for service (I haven't had to do anything to it but gather it's necessary for the hydronics guy if he needs to fix or adjust things), and that is quite warm. I know other people use theirs at the base of a cupboard as a drying cupboard by putting in airing racks at various points. The actual manifold doesn't take up a huge amount of space - it's up the back of my cleaning equipment cupboard so shares space with the mop/ vacuum/ ironing board etc.

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  6. I love all the features in your home! The ceiling lantern is just stunning. There looks to be so much beautiful, even light in your living room. I bet it is a lovely room to spend time in.

    In an old post on lighting you spoke about the wall sconces that you used in the sitting area. Is that what you can see above the plant in the corner, and I think I can just see another beside the window opposite? It looks like they wash light up and down the wall - is that right? I remember how you said there were no overhead lights in this room, so I was just curious as to how many wall lights and lamps light the space. I bet it looks just as beautiful lit up at night as it does with the natural light during the day.

    All these features have created such a gorgeous home! I love it! - Denita

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    1. Hi Deita, it is the nicest room - there are a lot of trees outside and so we get a lot of shadows of leaves moving in the trees falling across the room, and the changing light shafts during the day as the sun angle moves are really lovely - it feels quite peaceful, even though you can hear the background noise of city traffic on streets nearby (well, and the racket from the parrots). Yes, the lights in the wall are the wall sconces above the plant - little squares in the plaster that light up and down. I have two sets on either side of the room (so 8 lights in total) and then have 2 lamps at the moment (need more - ideally I would have 4 lamps in total but have to find something I like first!). I generally like lots of pools of light with overall low level ambient lighting in a room - the pools of light are more task oriented, so I have them at corners of the sofa where you might be reading or want a little more light, and then the ambient light is nice when it's coming from the room perimeter. I think I might have written a whole lighting post where I spoke about it? I know I go on about it a lot on the blog! xx

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  7. I could have happily read your top 20 ! So interesting to see how you're living with the gorgeous reno. It is coming together so well. Clever !

    The only thing I struggle to relate to is your kitchen decision. So happy it works so well for you but I have always hated being even slightly removed from the action so that wall of cupboards makes me tense ! I think I may have severe FOMO (fear of missing out - all the cool kids have it). I do hear you on the mess front - our rather infrequent guests usually spend all night hanging out at the bench as I maul the food in front of them - adds pressure !

    Do you mind me asking where you bought your laundry maid ? I think I may pop one in. Dry washing is such a salve for the soul. x

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    1. Might write out a few more Ann! I wasn't sure if this would be interesting or not…
      I think the thing with design is that not everything suits everybody, so I understand the kitchen separation not being ideal for you. I don't feel like I'm cut off though, as the cupboards are not going all the way up to ceiling height, so it still feels like a part of the larger dining area. Also as the opening into it is so wide it doesn't feel too much like I'm in a whole other room. I think the thing that is interesting is that we've all moved so much to open plan that it's not questioned, and just like that's your preference for your kitchen for the reasons you mentioned, I don't think it is for a lot of others, but no one actually does do a separate kitchen now because open plan living is the norm here. I found Paul Bangay and Stuart Rattle's homes interesting as they were new builds by designers (even if not Architects) and they both designed separate kitchens and stated that they hated open plan living. I think with families open plan living works well to some extent but having the options to close off areas (like kids playrooms or a lounge area to watch tv, or a kitchen when it's messy) can definitely be of benefit but again, not always done as we all just accept the way things are now done.
      The laundry maid came from here http://www.lifestyleclotheslines.com.au/ceiling-mounted-clothes-lines/ and I've also seen them sold here http://www.victorianclotheslineonline.com.au/store/deluxe-6-lath-victorian-clothesline/ and if you google you might find them elsewhere. There are some really nice modern versions in the UK, but the shipping made them prohibitive, so the repro victorian ones it was!

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    2. Thanks !
      And yes, interesting on how the norm becomes something we just don't question. We had a flat in London that had one big open plan kitchen living which we as Australians loved and craved - the original divided kitchen was the size of a cupboard (London living !) The UK consultant who did our property report flagged the open plan as a negative as the 'kitchen/diner' is more the norm or desired there.

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  8. Love this post! As usual, full of very useful info.
    Thank you. Linda C.
    p.s. could have read all the others on your list as well.

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    1. Thanks Linda, I might write out the others then. Wasn't sure if this would be an interesting post (you can never tell!)

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  9. I had a laundry maid in my last home and so miss it. I need to get another one! I love the floors. So practical. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It's funny Jen but it was only after I wrote the list I realised that all the top things were practical in nature - nothing was about how things look. I think that says a lot about how we experience our houses. Most people will tell you about what they like from a practical perspective, rather than talking about decorative aspects when you do design work for them, but the decorative stuff is what always gets us more excited

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  10. Love your house - so well thought through with flow and ease and practicality and elegance, not a combo you see often.
    The laundry maid is a corker - maybe we should action that! I did not even know there was such a thing, we just hang washing over the staircase which of course is very glam.
    Your playroom is wonderful, a comfortable space with a blackboard but with that shot of wallpaper just seen, so cool
    isn't it funny that the practical things like the laundry are the most important in the end. wish our laundry was bigger and my wardrobe was bigger and living room was much smaller.
    Funny about the four dishwashers! Or to be a housewife on the telly. We have two which is greast but the brand was a bust - Asko - we have to get in the repairmen every month. And the smell of the water not draining is appalling. We are going to have to buy some new ones, everyone says Miele is the best? what do you reckon?
    Good flooring is vital, we just stuck with the Australian spotted gum throughout and because its very varied grain does not show dirt.
    The things we struggled over, like the tiles that were more expensive, I wish we'd just done all white and saved our money, they don't matter anymore. And anyway with tiles, as soon as you put the grout in they don't look as fabulous as what you'd envisioned.
    Well done you with the house. as Linda says could have read all your list. Maybe a part two???

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    1. I'm so sad to hear that about Asko!! They're one of the ones I recommend as I had such great experiences with them myself. Conversely I loath Miele for the same reason - multiple problems in different houses with their product over a variety of mediums (laundry, oven, coffee machines, range hoods) makes me avoid them. I usually recommend Siemens, Neff and Asko for appliances.. so maybe have a look at the Siemens ones and see what you think? German made, they also own Gaggenau but the pricing is better. I've been happy with mine the past year and a half.
      I have spotted gum in my hall! Good choice, very hard wearing. Grey grout is always a good option I find… it always goes that colour in the end! I might do a part two, I wasn't sure if this would interest anyone funnily enough. It's always the surprise post that does (like my all time most viewed post - on kitchen cupboard finishes. Who would have thought? But it outrates all other posts x4!)

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    2. Such invaluable advice!
      Though I may have told you before, we seem to have been lucky as our Miele dishwasher (touch wood) is still going strong and it must be around 15 years old. Washes and rinses well. Has never had a problem. When I bought our blue and white Spode dinner service, the Spode lady recommended a particular Miel model to use that would be suitable for good china (it has a gentle wash cycle at apparently the best temperature). I am so hoping that it continue for years yet.

      Have seen so many interesting light fittings here in Paris. Yesterday DIL fell for a very unusual feature light in one of the boutiques in the Palais Royal - a large circle which sits upright (like a bicycle wheel without the spokes or tyre) on a small base, usually parallel against a wall - with small LEDs(?) circling the inside rim. Not sure how much light it would really cast but it certainly was rather gorgeous.
      Time seems to be ripping by now, we've only just over a week left in Paris - and then the UK. Looking forward to Hobart. Pammie xxx

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  11. Such a well thought out project and all of your choices have paid off it seems. Love the laundry maid, so practical, as you've explained, yet to charming to look at too.

    I don't have a dishwasher, let alone two, but I can see the benefits of multiples in your household with the many mouths you have to feed on a daily basis. For parties, it must now be a breeze to clean up. I don't think anything I own (except for pots and pans possibly and our everyday cutlery) can even be put into a dishwasher, hence the lack of one in my kitchen.

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    1. I did spend a lot of time on the weekend hand washing things after a dinner party, as I won't put silver, crystal or my nicest water glasses in there. With your love of the beautiful antiques they do tend to get ruined if you don't take care of them. But funnily enough when I had no dishwasher at my last house pre renovation for 3 years and I broke so many plates and glasses when I hand washed them… things are probably safer with me in the dishwasher!

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  12. I love that you have a pulley Heidi! We had one in the scullery growing up and used to hang sticky pancakes from it on Hallowe'en, children here have to jump up and bite it bit by bit, it always ended up in a smeary face and hair.
    I've only seen two dishwashers in kosher kitchens, I rarely use mine as it takes ages to fill with just two of us.
    Our boiler is about 60 years old, it is so decrepit and massive, two giant 4ft tanks that take up a whole cupboard, it has to go.

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    1. I've never heard of that pancake tradition, but I'm sure my kids would love it.. might try it out! You sound like a good candidate for a dish drawer dishwasher - perfect for smaller households. We don't use the boiler for the floor to do the hot water here in Oz as you do in the UK - probably because the heating is off for 6 months of the year? Our water is solar heated too and only uses a gas booster in Winter when it's a bit chilly. I remember the size of the boilers and how much room they took up from when I had flats in London.. but the cupboards were always very cosy they were in!

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    2. My heating is never ever off, it's our biggest expense, we really need to get this house insulated, it's just one big rickety drafty window banging day after another!

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  13. Luff.
    Greetings from barcelona xxx

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    1. Hope you're having a wonderful time Cilla! Enjoy all the food xx

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  14. Thank you Heidi for sharing your top 6!

    PLEASE do a blog on your top 20!!! So fascinating and inspiring. I adore your house.

    cheers,

    Victoria

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    1. Thanks Victoria, and I might do an addendum with the extra bits in it. Funnily enough all of these are practical things, not at all decorative, so I would probably include the decorative stuff more in the expanded list.

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  15. So glad you put your thoughts into words Heidi. So wish we'd done underfloor heating when we renovated our bathroom. I'll let you guess what we used. Useless is a word that springs to mind. Got rid of my clothes drier years ago even though I was working. I've dried my clothes on the back of the dining room chairs for years at night with the combustion heater on more than effective great. For a lot of years I thought about an airier but where do you put it when not in use. Your solution looks great. Separate kitchen I have never been tempted to combine. I like you can't see the mess and it's nice to prepare food quietly while your guests are chatting. The linoleum looks great I've had the same tiles since 79. They are so serviceable even if not fashionable but I seem to have been able to decorate around as my style changed over the years. So there here to stay while I'm still living here. Two dishwashers a great idea wouldn't be able to fit them in here. Natural light a must the more the merrier.
    Wondering if your going to put any window treatments on those beautiful steel windows.
    I'll be interested in what you do with your TV. I surrender and did the man option and hung it on the wall but insisted the componentry was hidden behind doors.
    Regards

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    1. The two dishwashers were a challenge to fit in - my kitchen isn't huge by today's standards, but it works well by building in a lot of efficiencies to the design (lots of shelves and utilising every bit of space. The airing rack accommodation is always a challenge - before we had the extension built I would have clothes draped all over the radiators in the front part of the house, including the hall which wasn't ideal when people would come to the front door!
      The tv is a difficult problem at the moment - I really should have sorted it out when we were building, but my attention was pulled in so many different directions by what was required immediately on site and by what was going on on the home front as my husband was away that year a lot for work that it was left.. and now has no easily obvious solution. I have a solution I want to implement, but my husband has his idea… so for the time being we are still in serious negation phase. Largely it has to do with size of tv and then the location… and the two don't fit together so well due to windows etc. Sigh. I hate accommodating tv's!

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  16. Great post, Heidi; thoroughly enjoyed reading it and your further comments here. (Definitely a part 11 required!)

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  17. Will begin substantial renovation in September (perhaps another level!!!)- so will keep all this in mind :)

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  18. Heidi this post is 11/10! I could read on and on, top 20 or 50!
    I'm with you on the separate kitchen but it's also a matter of personality type, we had one in our last house that some folks would love but it drove me stark raving mad to see the kitchen in a mess while we had dinner. The separation works for me, out of sight out of mind and I can enjoy my family or guests.
    The playroom area for the children is so perfect I adore it, it should be a feature in a magazine, it's so nice to give kids a place for their creativity and building. Very well done, I can see the care you take in looking after your family, it's all reflected in your design. xo

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  19. Like everyone else, I found this post really informative & would love the top 20 (or rather the remainder). I'm curious does the hydronic heating work under floorboards? Also, the sheet on the laundry maid is that a queen size, I'm keen to get one for my laundry and if it can dry large sheets, then that would get me over the line. Finally, I inherited 2 dishwashers when we bought our current house & couldn't understand the reason for it, until that is our first dinner party, lol.
    Exx

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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