As I've written previously, I've spent a lot of time sourcing suitable lighting for the extension. It's been a fairly exhaustive search.... I think I've checked pretty much every local and international website or magazine looking for suitable fittings in our price range.

One thing that I will say is that commonly when someone is doing a new build or renovation of their home they do not budget enough for lighting. Lighting is one of those things that gets overlooked completely, or is an afterthought. It's also the thing that usually gets crunched in the budget as it's a final item installed at the end of a project, and usually most people are running out of money and need to make a few savings. But it is, in my opinion, vitally important in giving a space a bit of extra oomph.

With this in mind, I allocated (what I considered to be) a reasonably generous budget for lighting. Some things, like all the lamps I will add to our living area, will come over the next year or so as I find things I like (and can afford - thanks blog commenter Charlotte for your suggestions on the lamps you like from Villaverde - I'm now lusting after them too!), but the main feature pendant lights will mostly be arriving over the next few months. Except for the Dining area.

I have written previously about my difficulties in sourcing a light fitting for this area. I looked at a few things.... all with the idea of something modern to counter the traditional elements of the room (the fireplace, our bits of antique furniture, the slightly more traditional kitchen design I've done). I also wanted to find something that wouldn't block our large painting that is going on the wall behind the dining table. I want the light fitting to complement the space but be individual in its own right.

So the first light fitting that I found was this Kevin O'Reilly Altar light. It was perfect... except that when I priced up the size I needed with the local agent it was $21,000 RRP. Oh dear.

The second light fitting I fell in love with was thanks to Laura at Elsee Blog, who emailed me to suggest that I look at this fitting, by Lindsey Adelman.

And I loved it - the perfect mix of hand made traditional/ modern. But it was $24,000 (in the US, so shipping and local handling extra).

The third thing I looked at was a much more traditional style iron chandelier in a rusted finish from Vaughan in the UK. While it was obviously much more traditional than the others, I thought it could work off the simple detailing I've done in the back extension. But it was around $16,000. Still far too much.

So I started to despair. Then I had an idea - I'd commission a light fitting. I'm not sure why this didn't occur to me before - certainly with a commercial project it is a not uncommon thing to commission pieces (sculpture/ carpet/ fabrics in certain colours/ lighting/ furniture). But domestic projects often don't have the budget for a 'decent' commission. So I tentatively contacted the Jam Factory, whom I wrote about recently when I attended their 40th birthday dinner. After speaking to the head of the glass studio about the proposed fitting, I emailed her some images of what I'd previously looked at, photos of the space, measurements, and most importantly my budget (rather more modest that the other light fittings I'd looked at - actually, a lot more modest).

Luckily they came back to me saying they could do it for what I'd set as a budget, and that they were excited to do it - they really loved the images I'd attached. This week, the head of the Glass Studio and the head of the Metalworks Studio came out to have a look at the room, and have a chat with me about what they were thinking of doing.

Now, if you're interested in doing something similar, one thing to remember is that you are not going to get an exact copy of something you like (this is both unethical, but also insulting to the creative person you are commissioning). So I'm feeling excited to see what they will produce as a design, as we seem to be on the same wavelength.

Additionally, it's working out quite cost effective. If you consider the amount of steps that a light fitting goes through to get to us in Australia (designed by a designer, usually made up in Asia/ Italy or the USA, shipped to the US, UK or Europe, then reshipped to Australia, local trade agent who takes a large percentage, original designer who gets a royalty, wholesaler overseas who gets a large percentage..... it adds up to a lot of extras). Not only does commissioning a piece locally cut out a lot of those elements, but it also means you're keeping local artists employed. All the money is going direct to them, rather than middle men, shipping and handling costs.

So far from being the preserve of the rich or the corporate only, commissioning something for your home can end up being a cost effective solution that also gives you something completely unique.

I'll update on the progress of this process - it's not as quick as ordering something ready made, so we'll likely be installing the light fitting in March/ April. I'll be looking at design drawings and glass shade prototypes just before Christmas. But I'm feeling hopeful that the last piece in the Lighting jigsaw may be finally complete.

As you can see from the rather lengthy blog title, it's been a busy week. Two weeks ago was one of the most miserable I've had in a long time - pressure to pack up the grotty old kitchen, and trying to organise the children for their one week holiday at their grandparent's house meant that I was rather a frazzled mess.

But it was all worth it when after taking no less than 3 separate plane rides, the last in a tiny light plane, I found myself on Lizard Island, the northern most island on The Great Barrier Reef and as remote as you can get from the realities of every day life. We were guests of friends who had a boat for 5 nights and we were all child free. The boat had a crew of 4 (the luxury!) and we each had a stateroom with ensuite - bliss. We spent the week snorkelling (the reef is within swimming from shore distance), swimming, eating and drinking rather too much, and in my case doing a lot of lazing around reading. No shoes or makeup for a whole week, no housework or meal prep, no builders asking me questions constantly - it was lovely.

Whilst on the boat Mr AV and I celebrated our 13th Wedding Anniversary. As it was such a big event (!), we decided some decent wine and champagne was in order to go with our dinner of BBQ fillet of Beef.

There was a lot of Kaftan action, and rather a lot of Aperol Spritz for pre dinner drinks

We did go fishing one day... and I managed to catch a rather large Scaly Mackerel... which I threw back (apparently inedible - he will live for another day). I had been tricked into the fishing by being told that I could drink a glass of wine and read a book while doing it. Not so - not only were we out in open (rough) water in a fairly small boat, but it was far too action packed to do either activity. 

After gaining approximately 5 kilos, and catching up on much needed sleep and sun, we flew home via Melbourne, to be greeted at the airport by a 14 degree C chill and lashing rain. We stayed this time at the Grand Hyatt  in the city which was very nice... in a sort of bland international hotel with lots of marble type way (as the wedding we were attending was in a Club next to it, it was handy), and did a bit of catching up with friends for dinner at Movida on the Friday night, and then on the Black Tie wedding on Saturday night. 

Here's a terrible photo of my outfit - a navy Oscar de la Renta via The Outnet rose print dress, and my Shoes of Shame were thrilled to get the opportunity to dance the night away. End result was rather sore legs the next day...those shoes are punishingly high. I had my hair done by my old hairdresser in Melbourne (as I thought it would likely not look so flash after a week in the tropics with no hairdryer). I asked Mr AV to take a photo of my back view for the blog. After taking a few photos of my actual back, we finally got it right, albeit as I was punching lift buttons at the hotel. I may have to fire him from his role as official back up photographer to the blog and find a professional.

The wedding had an ice sculpture (with the tag line "Is This What you Had in Mind" on it - a running joke between the bride and groom) and a seafood buffet in standard High Club Style. I took a pic of the flowers - all different white ones in crystal vases as centerpieces. It was a fun night, and a very late one. Sadly we arrived home on Sunday home to Adelaide rather weary.... and to rather a large mess at home.  

In our absence the old kitchen was ripped out and a new doorway punched through to the hall for the new powder room. They've framed it out, and the start of S's bedroom can be seen. 
 Here are the before pics

Happy days that it's finally gone - it was as bad as it looks (and actually it usually looked worse due to stuff on the bench top - it was a seriously tiny kitchen cupboard wise). Here's what it looks like now

In the back extension, the new kitchen and laundry have been installed. They'll finish it all up this week, and then the painter will start on the kitchen cupboards - they're being done in grey.

In the laundry I decided to go with laminate benchtops in the end - despite having the stone left over from the kitchen bench tops, it was still going to cost $1200 to have it cut and polished to size.  This was compared to $400 for a finished laminate one. So I decided the laminate was fine by me - simple can be good sometimes...

And a couple of other shots of the dining area in relation to the kitchen. That is our dining table under the orange plastic

I've been frantically busy all day - the house is covered in a fine layer of plasterboard dust, we have no food to eat and a mountain of laundry....and of course a lot of things still to decide on the renovation. 
So please excuse the short blog post, and I'll try to come back later in the week. But here are a few more photos of Lizard Island - truly a beautiful part of the world.

Hope you had a good week too xx
It's been a busy weekend. I have arrived home a little weary, and most certainly all talked out after catching up in Melbourne on the weekend with the bloggers known as Faux Fushia and Romy from Diary of a Hobart Housewife, plus blog commenter Pamela (who knows them both from the Garden Tour they all took earlier in the year in England). It was such a fun weekend - non stop talking, a bit of light shopping, breakfast/ lunches and dinners out and a few cultural highlights.

We all arrived in Melbourne on Friday, and had dinner at Cafe e Cucina in South Yarra. I wore this navy Lela Rose dress with my gold shoes and clutch and fishnets. Cafe e Cucina unfortunately disappointed this time - far too noisy due to large group tables. It got to a point where I turned around and asked the group of young guys sitting behind us to turn the volume down as we literally couldn't hear each other talking. To their credit they were apologetic, but this is not normally something I would do... so that means they were really, ridiculously loud. I really hate not being able to hear in a restaurant. I am turning into a grumpy old person.

Saturday was a gloriously warm and sunny day. We hit the ground running with a tour of the cultural sights of the Paris end of Collins Street (as it is known) in the city.

Here's Romy and Faux Fuchsia admiring the Hermes Halloween themed windows. They had crows made of paper and matching black Hermes accessories showcased, just in case you're in need of some inspiration for your Trick or Treating maybe?

Romy managed to confuse the four Hermes sales staff by asking them to find the hidden monkey on this scarf for her (it's the signature of the artist). At one point they were all gathered around it staring intently.... It would have been the best time to run off with one of the bags on display (most likely my only chance of ever getting my hands on a Hermes bag).

We then popped into Paspaley. The sales staff are so lovely and let us try on lots of necklaces. Here is Faux Fuchsia in an $88,000 strand of baroque south sea pearls. Pamela had a strand worth $230,000 on that looked like large gum balls. They really do make your skin absolutely glow - If I had to choose between that or a facelift, I'd definitely take the pearls any day as an anti ageing trick.

We visited Christine, purveyor of excellent accessories, and right next door to the floral designer Pollon, which I tried once before to take a photo of for the blog but finally managed to do so in a non blurry way.

After visiting Miss Louise, Chanel, Prada, and Dolce e Gabanna we stopped for lunch at Bistro D'Orsay which has beautiful painted ceilings and stuffed ourselves for lunch with with Rillettes and pasta. Somehow the day passed in a blur, and despite covering a geographical area of approximately 200 meters, we spent 7 hours doing so.

Dinner on Saturday night was at Grossi Florentino, so we all frocked up and I wore this bargain drapey black silk Oscar de la Renta dress (70% off with an extra 30% off from the Outnet), matched with my Shoes of Shame on their first outing and a pink patent clutch bag.

My photos from dinner are dreadful. I need to sort out the lazy camera situation. Iphone photos do not do it justice. It was a beautiful setting and the food was outstanding. This was the chocolate souffle I had for dessert.

 Pamela had the best vintage Alligator handbag with bamboo handle from the 50's. The bags were given their own mini seats next to ours at the restaurant - very fancy.

Sunday, Melbourne turned on the weather charm by lashing us with rain and a maximum of 14 C. We headed to Albert Park, my old stomping ground, to have breakfast and a browse in the shops, including The Avenue Bookshop, which I think is the best bookshop in Australia. They have a fantastic range of Art and Design books, and the sales staff are often Authors or at the very least absolutely passionate about books. We managed to while away an hour in there.

We then went on a slow stroll around St Vincent's Gardens just around the corner from the Village. It is listed by Heritage Victoria and has beautiful terrace houses arranged around the Heritage garden square in the centre.

We admired everyone's front gardens and the beautiful old houses.

Then strolled through the garden square in the centre - it's modelled on the traditional London Garden Square, and there are only a handful in this format in Melbourne, this being the most Architecturally intact. All the iron railings around the park were taken out during WW2 for the iron, but aside from that the planting schemes and paths are intact. I used to practically live in this park (the playground part) when we lived in the neighbourhood, as do all the mothers in the area, as the houses in the area are generally very small - lots of tiny workers cottages.

 And so, I then returned home to an equally exhausted Mr AV who had held the fort while being inundated with work... he wasn't the most cheerful.

But in my absence my first Lady of Shallot rose by David Austin has opened. Isn't it pretty?

And a couple more flag irises. The garden is quite behind this year as it's been much wetter and cooler than usual.

The reno is moving along too - here's the finished exterior render, the first coat is now drying off for the final coat in grey

Inside the plasterboard is going up

And next week the existing old kitchen is going to be demolished... which means I'll be without a kitchen for a few weeks before the new one is completed, but also that I have to pack up the kitchen stuff and put it somewhere (where I don't actually know, we are losing even more space now). So I'm going to be a bit quiet on the blog front for a couple of weeks as I do the pack up and cope with the chaos. 

Be back in a couple of weeks..... I hope! Hope you had a great week too xx

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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
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