This post title is not about the heart attack you may have when you reach the end of your build and are presented with the final invoice from your builder....I'm talking about Asbestos. I was emailed recently by the Mesothelioma Cancer Centre to ask if I would include information about where Asbestos is found in a home for my readers. I'm only too happy to talk about this, as it is SO important, and something that can easily be overlooked when renovating a house.

In both houses we have renovated, we have found Asbestos. Australia has a high rate of awareness of Asbestos, due to the extensive media coverage of the Litigation in the 1990's/ 2000's with James Hardie (major manufacturer of Asbestos products). For those not aware of what exactly Asbestos is, and how it was used in houses, it was used in building material fairly extensively in the 1950's - 1980's in Australia, as well as the rest of the world, in building products for both domestic and commercial use. After the 1980's in Australia it was banned for use in houses (the dates differed state to state). If your house was built or renovated prior to 1990, it is likely there could be asbestos in your home somewhere - it is estimated that 1/3 of homes in Australia contain Asbestos.

Our first home in Melbourne. The facade looked like it had been clad in Asbestos, but it hadn't.

Mesothelioma is the type of Lung Cancer that people exposed to Asbestos can get many, many years after their exposure. It is always fatal, and is not a pleasant way to die. It takes only one fibre of Asbestos in the lungs to lie dormant for decades and then to develop into Mesothelioma, so it can be hard to pick when and where exposure occurred. But Asbestos is a fairly random thing - some people that worked daily with Asbestos have never developed Mesothelioma, and others who had minor exposure were unlucky enough to get it. Australia has the second largest rates of death in the world from Mesothelioma (trailing the UK) due to the Asbestos mines, and the huge take up of asbestos products in the building industry during the post WW2 boom in building.

The first large wave of Mesothelioma deaths in Australia generally related to people who had worked with Asbestos - plumbers who had sawn up asbestos pipes, people who worked in the Asbestos mines, Builders who worked with Asbestos sheeting and insulation products - 75-80% of the deaths were male.

But there is talk about a second wave of deaths, mostly relating to DIY work that unwitting homeowners do on their properties, as the places built from the 1950's onward are renovated by a new generation.

If you are going to do work of any kind on your house, it is wise to find out if there is Asbestos in there. You can look up the Yellow pages in your city, and you'll find details of companies or consultants that are able to come out to your home and do an Asbestos audit. They'll visually check the house out to see if anything looks suspicious (people experienced with Asbestos know what to look for). Any material that they are suspicious about will have a sample taken away for testing, and you'll be advised on how to deal with it if you wish to remove it.

Asbestos is safe if left undisturbed. By this, I mean that it is not deteriorating or cracked, and is not broken up by drilling/ hammering a nail in, or making any attempt to remove it. If you wish to remove Asbestos, you should have it done professionally. When doing new construction, this can end up seeming like an expensive exercise if you're on a shoestring budget to get an audit and have Asbestos removed. But my attitude has always been that I'd be a fool to save $850 (the cost of removing the Asbestos in our house in Melbourne for instance) to wind up with Mesothelioma 30 years down the track.

So, here are the places that you might find Asbestos in your house, courtesy of the Mesothelioma Cancer Centre.

In our house in Melbourne, we had Asbestos lining the wall and exhaust behind the stove in the kitchen, and on the exterior kitchen wall.

The 1960's era sun room we demolished for our new extension. 

In our current house, our renovations commenced a year ago with the removal of the vinyl tiles on the floor, which contained low levels of compressed asbestos in the lean-to playroom/ sunroom on the back of our house. This always surprised people that I spoke to, as most people are unaware that vinyl tiles could contain asbestos. I had always been suspicious of them, and this was confirmed by a test prior to their removal.

 The vinyl floor tiles that contained compressed low grade asbestos (1960's era)

To remove Asbestos, have it done by an experienced contractor - they should wear protective suits and masks, and your property should be sealed off from the street with warning signs so that people can't unwittingly enter the property while the removal is under way. They use water spray (to keep asbestos from becoming airborne), and special vacuums, and the asbestos product and any debris is wrapped and taped up in special plastic sheeting before being placed in bins and taken to a contaminated fill dump. It is illegal to dump asbestos in general household or construction rubbish, and as a homeowner, it is in your interest to ensure that your contractor is licensed and follows correct procedure.

While our Asbestos vinyl floor tiles were being removed

I wanted to write this post to be informative, rather than alarming. If you have Asbestos in your home, and you don't intend to do construction works, it is perfectly safe if left undisturbed. Our lean-to sun room was the children's play room for 2 years. I had thought from the time we purchased the house it was likely the tiles contained Asbestos, but as it was low grade, the tiles were solid and the chance of loose fibres escaping were virtually impossible, I was comfortable leaving it down. In my former professional career I worked on several commercial developments where Asbestos was found - often due to cost the Asbestos would be prominently tagged with warning signs, and left in place - occasionally covered over by new building works, but easily visible should renovations take place in the future.

If you'd like more information on Asbestos in the home, the Australian government has a site relating to Asbestos Safety and free information booklets have also been produced.

This post is not a sponsored post, rather I was asked if I'd write about Asbestos in the home to spread awareness.
Grace with her Hermes bag via

There has never been a time when we've seen so many signs that we are witnessing the slow death of what is perceived to be the luxury good. Luxury goods were, once upon a time, the provence of the truly Rich and the well travelled. The average person had no idea who Balenciaga, Worth, Chanel, and Dior were, except perhaps if they glimpsed them in the pages of Vogue, and gradually  (some many years down the track) saw the designs trickle through to the mass market. If you wanted actual Dior, you had to travel to Paris, make an appointment at the atelier (and you were not guaranteed being granted an appointment as they vetted who was allowed to wear their designs), you'd have your outfit made to measure and then hand over very large amounts of money to pay for your one of a kind threads. Similarly, if you wanted a Gucci handbag, you would visit Florence, Tiffany jewellery - you'd visit New York. These things had an aura attached to them due to sheer inaccessibility, their quality and craftsmanship, and the requirement that you were in the know to actually recognise these things in the first place.

the modern take - Naomi's favourite celeb Kim Kardashian with her super chic Kelly Bag via 

Not anymore. With today's mass consumption of the luxury good, and the celebritisation of the brands behind many iconic fashion items, inaccessibility is no longer a problem - click and you can buy it. Or just walk into a shopping mall in Melbourne or Texas or any other large-ish city in the world and get your Prada handbag (Adelaide is getting a Tiffany's for crying out loud - who needs to go to 5th Avenue now?).  We are now in an era where the average person on the street will recognise the Chanel logo, thanks to the relentless advertising and heavily logo'd goods Karl has pumped out for the past 30 years.

Karl's laughing all the way to the bank with this creation via 

A couple of weeks ago I read an interesting article buried deep in the Business section of The Australian newspaper (syndicated from the WSJ - article here). The cost of a Chanel handbag has risen 70% since 2009. This is, they claim, to offset the rising cost of producing the handbag. The article cites that Chinese wages have increased 67% in the corresponding period. The only problem with this, is that these handbags are supposedly manufactured in France, by French workers. The French have not seen big pay increases since 2009, as France is fairly depressed economically. Additionally, the Euro has fallen against most other currencies during this period. So, in fact, the price of Chanel handbags should have fallen, rather than risen. Unless they are indeed made, or largely made, in China (in which case the workers are probably being paid say $2.70 an hour now, instead of $1.50 in 2009, which would hardly justify a $2,700 price increase on the bag).

Largely, the large luxury good companies are trying to make their bags scarce, and attempting to make their bag exclusive by pricing out the middle classes, and this has been the real driver behind the big increases in the cost of the bags. The price we pay in no way actually reflects the quality or craftsmanship or the cost of producing the item, nor in fact reflects its exclusivity. 

And who exactly are these eager customers willing to pay hand over fist for the increased price? Walk into any luxury branded store in the world, and you will see a sea of Asian salespeople behind the store counters. This is because the biggest growth area, and the biggest and most loyal customers, come from the East, where there is an insatiable appetite for Western luxury goods. Many of the stores ration their goods out to the Asian tourists who clamour to bring home a souvenir from their holiday and threaten to clean out a store like a plague of locusts (because nothing says "I've been to Australia" like a Hermes bag) - there is a one bag only policy in many Chanel stores around the world.

This point was further hammered home when I was reading an article about the venerable English tailor Gieves & Hawkes, of Savile Row fame. They hold warrants to make suits for Prince Charles, amongst others, and have a 200 plus year history of outfitting English gentlemen with their military uniforms and city suits. Unfortunately, despite holding the royal warrants, and despite manufacturing their bespoke made to measure suits in exactly the same way as they had for past few centuries, they were losing money. In 2002, the Gieves family finally sold the business to a Chinese entrepreneur. It's been turned around, and in spectacular fashion.

Their first order of business was to run things essentially on dual levels. You can still get a bespoke, made to measure suit in the Savile Row store from the tailors that still work on the premises (they can make a maximum of 800 suits a year), but now there is an enormous Ready to Wear division, which has put the business back in the black. The suits are not, however, made in London... or even the UK (although they still have the Made in Britain sign on the website, confusingly). They are now made in China, and are being marketed at the Chinese and the Asian market - Gieves and Hawkes opened 113 stores across China alone, capturing a large swathe of the fast growing aspirational Chinese upper-middle classes. Slick marketing, such as their Como web video hone in on this - watch it and see if you don't want this life too.

There's just one problem with this. It's just not Gieves & Hawkes as it was any more. Theses are suits made in China, for the Chinese, and have no relation to Savile Row (they note in the article that they have even had to change the fit of the suits slightly, as the Chinese prefer a boxy suit cut). It's now just a brand name with luxury cachet given by the Royal Warrants (but for how long, given that this is not a British company any longer) and the 200 year history, and a very slick website. By running a two tiered system of sales, they may be making a commercial success of the business, but they've removed the actual genesis of what gives the brand the cachet that it once had - location and exclusivity. They run the risk of the actual bespoke suit part of the business losing customers due to the new mass production rendering the brand common, and in turn the Asian customers at some point realising they have been conned into paying through the nose for brands that are not actually luxury goods.

For surely this is what will one day happen. The irony that the West is producing luxury goods that are gobbled up by the eager East, who in turn produce the cheap mass produced goods for the West surely will become evident?

And what exactly is a luxury good these days? Surely a bag, or shoes or ready to wear clothes that are (in actual fact) manufactured in large quantities, and sold in boutiques located all over the world is not that luxurious? It's just expensive, and not exceptionally good value for money. The mood in the West over the past 10 years has started to shift to brand authenticity, heritage, and quality. Those things cannot be mass produced - for that reason they are, in fact, luxurious. Hype, excitement, the new and the latest - all things associated with the large luxury goods brands (most of which are now owned by large conglomerates, rather than the privately run family businesses they started out as) is used to shift large volumes of perfumes/ bags/ shoes/ trinkets. Mostly this is gobbled up by those who can't really afford it (I once read a blog where the girl writing it - a college student in the USA - was saving $100/ month toward a Chanel handbag. She had to work to put herself through college, and was accruing large amounts of student loans during her period of study, but wanted to buy herself the bag as an end of college gift to herself after saving for four years).

So is this the beginning of the end of the luxury good industry we are witnessing.... and what does luxury mean to you?
As promised, I'm writing up a review on our Kitchen Appliances. For those not interested, but who would like the recipe for the Parmesan Pastry wrapped Olives I posted about in my last post, just skip to the end.

My most popular posts on this blog all have to do with Kitchen Design, the selection of finishes and Appliances, so this will no doubt be of interest to the readers looking to replace their appliances or who are planning a new kitchen.

Firstly, I wrote about my criteria for the appliance selection in this post, and wrote about my preference for certain brands, and the functionality aspects that were the basis for my selections.

We have now been using the new kitchen for around 3 months, and I've given all the appliances a good workout with a little bit of entertaining, general family cooking and baking, and cleaning up. I took a few photos during the week. They are completely unstyled, so have dishes in the dishwasher, and food in the fridge as it is usually. And I forgot to take a day shot of the tap, so here's one at night instead.

Even though the Tap is not strictly an appliance, I thought it was worth reviewing here. I chose a Perrin and Rowe Ionian cross- handled tap with separate spray in Bare Brass. This was a custom order finish (not a normal stocked item, as Brass is not widely popular enough for them to keep it in stock yet), and took 14 weeks from date of order to delivery.

It was worth the wait! It's visually quite beautiful, and as my tap is in the centre of the kitchen and the centre of the windows, I wanted it to be something attractive. I was initially unsure about getting the old school style cross handled taps, instead of the lever ones they also have. Aesthetically I preferred the cross handled, but all I have been taught/ brainwashed says a lever mixer is the easiest tap to use, and that a lever tap at the least would be preferable. In the end the visual won, and I ordered the cross handled. I have to say, I'm SO pleased with it - the handles turn with only one finger with light pressure on them, so even if you are arthritic or not fully able bodied, these are not difficult to turn on and off. Having always had mixers before now, I don't mind the separate hot and cold (as I usually use either hot, or cold, and not lukewarm water for washing up and cooking). The brass is un-lacquered and is starting to show age spots and tarnish up. I may end up polishing it up, as I do quite like the shiny look, but for the moment I'm letting it go. So, in conclusion, it's a fantastic tap, and worth every expensive penny in my book.

The sinks are Franke stainless steel underbench mounted. One is large enough to hold a baking tray from the oven in it, or my biggest chopping board or platter. This was really important to me as in the past I've had to use the laundry sink to wash bits and pieces that wouldn't fit in the sink. The quality of the sinks is great, however I must admit I can't tell the difference between Franke and the cheap Clarke one I had in my old house in Melbourne. I got the Frankes at 50% off in a warehouse sale, but otherwise I probably would have chosen another Clarke undermount as they are pretty similar in my book. The one thing I'll make mention of is how I set up the sinks and tap. I treated the two sinks essentially as one large rectangle and centred that in the bench, with the tap centred on the rectangle as well. The builder and plumber and kitchen guy were inclined to centre the tap in the middle of the sinks (which as one sink is big and the other smaller would have thrown it all off centre). The setout we ended up with functions perfectly well (the spout reaches both sinks) and creates the symmetry that was really important in the design of the kitchen.

The wall oven is a Neff Double Wall Oven ( model number U16E74NOAU). I LOVE this oven. This is the first oven I've owned where I can bake a cake or a batch of cupcakes and have them all rise evenly and brown evenly. My top of the range Miele in my old house had definite hot spots in it, and I would get uneven rise in it. The other Miele I used in the place we rented also did the same. The Neff has a bread function, which produces a crispy crust and moist interior, and it comes standard with telescopic oven trays. The other thing that I love about it is that it has removable oven rack guides, which makes the interior of the oven bigger if you're roasting a large piece of meat (equivalent to a 700mm wide oven, rather than a standard 600mm wide one). The only thing it doesn't have is a pyrolitic cleaning function, which is a bit sad, but you can't have everything. The upper oven is great when I'm just baking a single tray of cupcakes, or grilling, and has almost the same functionality as the lower oven. I highly recommend it, and have been very impressed with Neff so far, my first experience with Neff (I don't know anyone in real life with one).

I have a Neff 290mm deep warming drawer (model number N22H40NOGB), shown above at the bottom of the oven, this is the extra deep one and will fit 12 place settings in it if you're warming plates, or deep and high dishes or saucepans if you're keeping food warm. I've also used it to rise dough when making bread. It's pretty simple in terms of the functionality and I imagine very similar to others on the market, but I'm enjoying using it and am happy with how it works so far.

I have two dishwashers, both fully integrated. This seemed like an extravagance to have two dishwashers, but I have to say I am loving having them - we never have dirty dishes left out waiting to go in the dishwasher when it's empty now. I ended up with two Siemens dishwashers. One was model SX66T091AU, which was on a runout sale as it was discontinued, and the other one was model number SX66T093AU which is a newer model. If I had my time again, I'd just buy two of the run out model. The extra cost for the newer/ better model seems to equal having better lighting in the dishwasher, and a few extra programs I probably won't use. It does have one nifty little feature worth mentioning though. As it's fully integrated you can't tell when the load is going to finish until you open the door (the controls are on the top inside edge of the door), so this dishwasher has an LED light display that projects onto your floor directly below the dishwasher a countdown of how long until it's finished. Very clever. Unfortunately as we don't have a recessed toe kicker on the kitchen due to the design I did, that bit that projects the light got covered up by the skirting. Oh well! Overall the dishwashers are good, everything gets cleaned, and if you have extra large dinner plates they fit well in the bottom drawer (I don't have, so this is not that important to me). The top drawer doesn't fit wine glasses in it very well, so they tend to waste a lot of space and I end up hand washing them rather than sticking them in (also they end up on a strange angle, and don't wash well). The very top drawer is the cutlery tray, as seems to be standard in dishwashers these days. I like a cutlery tray as it makes taking the cutlery out and sorting it very easy, plus you don't end up damaging your fork tines by putting them in a basket. So, in summary, they get a tick, but I won't rave about them, as many of the features are similar to other European brands.

The cooktop is from Siemens and is an induction cooktop (model EH875SKU11E) and the entire cooktop is a giant induction zone, so you can pull a baking tray out of the oven, brown meat on it on the cooktop and then put it back in the oven. At the time of purchase, the only other model on the market that did the same was from Gaggenau and was around $3,500 more expensive. I haven't cooked with induction heat before, but I am loving it - it's much more responsive than Gas or standard electric, it has a countdown timer to use if you wish so it will switch off after a certain time when you are cooking (handy when doing a dinner party where you might forget while talking to guests... a hazard for me), and you can pick up a saucepan and move it and the cooktop will recognise it in its new place and keep cooking at the old temperature. From an aesthetic point of view I like that it is just a sheet of dark grey glass, and doesn't have circles on it for saucepan placement as other induction cooktops do, it's very discreet. It's also very, very easy to clean. A simple wipe and anything baked on will come off - so much easier than a stainless steel gas cooktop. The only thing I've noticed as a problem is that the magnets (induction cooking works on magnets) can make a weird tinny whirring sound occasionally when it's coming on. This doesn't happen all the time. Overall, I'm really happy with it. I love induction cooking, and while I've heard a lot of people dismiss it because they don't want to replace their saucepans, that didn't concern me much as I only had a couple of saucepans anyway (and saucepans are fairly cheap now - the prices haven't risen at all in the nearly 14 years since I was married). This one gets a big tick from me - and as you use your cooktop the most when cooking, this was an important thing to get right.

The rangehood is the Qasair fully concealed Universal model (UV 800L2). It has two light levels using LED lights, which I like as I often use the rangehood for ambient light in the kitchen in the evening. There are two fans which can be turned from low to high and on and off separately. It's quiet, and is excellent from a suction point of view (they are recommended for indoor BBQing). Ours vents directly outside, which I recommend as the recirculating ones don't move the smelly air out well enough. It's also easy to clean, I just put the filters in the dishwasher every couple of weeks - they're easy to pull out and replace so it's not nearly as much of a production as my old Miele one. This gets a big tick, plus bonus points as Qasair manufacture in Australia.

The Fridge and Freezer are fully concealed and from Electrolux (Freezer model EFM3001WDL, Fridge model ERM3701WDR). There are essentially three manufacturers of built in fridges - Liebherr, Miele and Electrolux. Some models of the Fisher and Paykel can also be built in, however our old fridge was a Fisher and Paykel, and we'd outgrown that model, so this was discounted from selection (that was their largest fridge freezer that can be built in). The Electrolux are the cheapest by far compared to the other two, and considering my bad experiences with Miele and Liebherr, I went with them. The freezer is fantastic - it's huge (300 Litre) and will come in handy for storing frozen meals/ stocks/ sauces etc once I've become more organised. Conversely, the fridge is just too small (370L). By lacking the width of my old Fisher and Paykel, and the depth issues that fully integrated fridges all have (as they are cupboard depth, rather than standard fridge depth), I can't fit large platters of food in there if we are having people over, and the fruit and vegetable crisper bin at the bottom is tiny. I tend to buy large quantities of fresh fruit and veg weekly, and there really is only just enough room for everything... and one day my children will be teenagers, and we'll have a bunch of people over for dinner or a BBQ and I won't be able to fit a thing in the fridge.  We will most likely have to put a second fridge down in the cellar or in our (future - stage 5 or 6 of our renovations of this house) garage. So the fridge gets the thumbs down from me.

I hope that's been helpful for those interested. And those not particularly interested, to sweeten making it to the end, here is the recipe for the parmesan pastry olive balls that I served for hors d'oeuvres the other night. They are delicious!

Olives in Parmesan Pastry

50 small stuffed green olives (buy the ready stuffed ones in jars in the supermarket, otherwise the gourmet ones are too big)
1 Cup Flour
100 gm Butter
150 gm grated tasty cheese or (fresh) parmesan
pinch Cayenne Pepper
1 egg lightly beaten
poppy or sesame seeds to decorate

Process flour, cayenne pepper and butter until combined in a food processor, add cheese and process until the mixture forms a ball then knead until smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or longer). Drain the olives on absorbent paper towel until they are dry. Roll pastry out and cut circles using a scone cutter. Fold circle around an olive and roll lightly into a ball. Dip the top into the egg mixture, then dip into either sesame seeds or poppy seeds and place on tray. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then bake in the oven at 190C for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Slowly, slowly we are starting to entertain family and friends again in the AV house. We haven't hosted a dinner party in over 3 years - the last one we hosted was when we still lived in Melbourne, and was for 6 clients of Mr AV, when S was 8 weeks old (as you can probably guess, that one wasn't my idea). After moving, our house in Adelaide prior the renovation was not conducive to anything other than a very casual BBQ or afternoon tea. But with things reasonably finished in the new living area and kitchen,  we have slowly started to have people over. The first dinner we hosted felt a bit like having training wheels on - we hosted our friends A & A for dinner, and I decided on a menu centring around the Ottolenghi Jerusalem cookbook. Most of the things I made could be prepared in advance, and suited the warmer weather we still have in Adelaide. 

In honour of this auspicious occasion, I retrieved our silver cutlery from my Dad's house, where it has lived since we sold our old home in Melbourne. As it had been in storage, it had tarnished fairly badly. I cleaned it up using the bicarb technique (as described in one of my most popular blog posts), and in an hour had cleaned the silver setting for 12, plus a few other assorted bits and pieces I picked up from around the house. I noticed that the silver that had tarnished the least was the stuff stored in the one felt anti - tarnish cutlery roll that I had. The rest of the silver had been wrapped in tissue paper and had varying states of tarnish. 

So after the dinner party, I did a bit of hunting around on the Internet, and found that, of course, the best source of felt cutlery rolls made of the anti tarnish felt was from the UK - John Lewis on line. 3 days after ordering, I received a small box full of these rolls, so hopefully the next time I pull the silver out it will be in pristine order.

I wore this Lela Rose dress, with the shoes of shame. 

Hors d'oeuvres were smoked salmon with creme fraiche in filo cups, and parmesan olive balls (pitted stuffed olive wrapped in parmesan pastry and baked). These last ones were a favourite of my Mum's and are so delicious.

I then got busy talking and forgot to take photos of the rest of the meal...!

Today we hosted the whole family for a casual lunch (it's a long weekend in Adelaide) - quite a production. I set the table casually with the usual stainless steel cutlery, and served the food off the sideboard (two quiches and a couple of salads). Pavlova was for pudding.

I have mentioned before our problems with the Eames dining chairs... another one bites the dust. 

The outdoor area is evolving - yesterday Mr AV and I moved all the box topiaries that I bought at the local estate Auction houses last year to the back area. If you squint a bit and ignore the red steel veranda posts, it looks almost finished now. 

The veranda looks quite top heavy without the finished posts. They should be going up in the next few weeks.

So,  throw in a few afternoon teas, and we've been busy. Big dinner parties will commence soon - I love having people over and cooking something other than everyday dinners for the family, so with a few wobbles (quite literally in the case of the dining chairs) we are on our way. 

It's been a while since I've done a renovation update - things do not move now at such a cracking pace, as they did just before Christmas when we were in the big push to move into the new extension. There are not such dramatic progress pictures, so I'm not taking so many photos. But I thought it was a bit overdue. So... here's what's been going on.

The slate has been completely laid outside, and it looks fantastic. We're so pleased with it, and we've put our very weathered teak outdoor dining setting back in place under the outdoor dining area (which goes well with the grey tones), and had the Swingrest swingy- chair rehung. I did a bit of styling last weekend when we had friends for dinner on Saturday night with a topiary and some hurricane lanterns, and if you squinted and ignored the mess behind in the 'garden', it looked lovely. Especially once dark and the candles were lit (and the garden was a blurry dark shape in the background).

Inside, the hanging laundry maid was installed by the builders for me - it's fantastic. I highly recommend one. One of my pet hates is having airing racks around the house with laundry drying on them, but this means you can hang it up straight from the machine, and then by hoisting it up off the floor to the ceiling and it's fairly unobtrusive. When clothes are on it it's high enough up that you can easily walk under it, and it's not visible through the open door from the main living area. Here's a photo of it with the sheets on to give the full commercial laundry feel.

We've had some more lighting installed, at long last. The art light was put up over the painting in the dining area. The brass tones of the LED light work really well with the gold tones in the frame. I still have to find a more appropriate pair of lamps for the table - they have to be fairly low line so that they don't interrupt the painting too much. The current lamp is enormous, so it's actually throwing off the scale in the photo above.

In the powder room/ guest loo (whatever you want to call it!) the handbasin has at long last been installed. We're now waiting for the wallpaper guy to make an appearance and put up the wallpaper. Annoyingly I made an error with my measurements for the wall panelling - I took the overall height of the handbasin based on a standard handbasin height, forgetting that this one has a bit of a curvy splash back thing on it, so sits higher. As a consequence it comes up and over the moulding at the top of the dado panelling. Not ideal, but I wasn't going to start ripping it all out, or source a new handbasin for it, so we'll live with it. It's doubtful anyone else would notice it - it's just another thing on my list of 'imperfects'.

Down in Mr AV's home office (or as he now calls it his Study, which is confusing as we have another room we call the study, and which he is not trying to make us all call the Library... except that problematically all the books are still in boxes in the shed) we've had the trellis installed over the mirror and the grate made up and installed at the top of the light well to stop people from falling in. We are waiting for the electrician to finish hard wiring the sump pump in, and then will put pebbles into the base of it (to allow water drainage and cover up the concrete). This little trick of the eye convinces you that you are actually above ground, rather than in a subterranean cave. Mr AV still needs the lights on during the day, but with the play of shadow and light from the lightwell and the reflection from the mirrored trellis, it feels really quite nice down there. Certainly, he's very happy.

Here's a photo of Mr AV's desk set up - he's decided to put it against a wall, rather than facing out, which would not be my preference, but it's up to him. We've had the desk for around 8 years - it's Scandinavian and from the 1920's. The chair that goes with it is in the picture above, but we've bought an Aeron office chair for him to use day to day. Yes, his desk always looks like this, and he works from home a few days a week. He is very neat - it's a running joke with a couple of his friends that they'll move a pen on it to see if he notices. He also got a new desk light for his desk - there's still a lot of furniture to put in this space (sofa, side tables and credenza, things for the walls), but that will happen gradually. This is no instant decorating blog, I'm afraid. We like to wait to be able to afford nice things, and for the perfect item to present itself, rather than buying filler pieces that we throw out in a few years.

The landing on the stairs down to the cellar and Mr AV's cave was tiled too. The risers are going to be filled and painted (they are currently raw concrete).

S finally moved into his bedroom - we were waiting for the blind to be installed, as there was no point putting a 3 year old into a room to have him up with the sun at 5.30 am. So he's finally moved in, and is a little bit so-so about the whole thing, despite the initial excitement and having chosen his colour scheme, wallpaper and fabrics. He misses sharing a room with his sister, and will frequently sneak back into her room after being put to bed to chat to her. She, however, is delighted that she finally has a room to herself, having shared since she was 1.5 years old with one or the other of her brothers.

The matching seat cushion for his window seat is on its way... apparently. I haven't bought the new big boy bed for him yet - I had thought perhaps the transition to a new room might be made easier by having the same bed, which is a toddler bed. But he was very unhappy to find he did not have a new bed in there - so we may speed that purchase up.

And finally, we've had a big clean up of the 'garden'. The builders spent 2 days clearing out all sorts of rubble/ rubbish/ timber offcuts etc etc and another large skip was taken away. And I then spent 2 hours last weekend trying to weed the edge garden beds and prune the hedges. Mr AV had the whipper snipper onto the overgrown grass, but we've got a long, long way to go. I'm going to call in the landscapers to quote to get the lawn put down sooner rather than later - the dust tracked into the house is pretty terrible. Plus there's a very limited space for the kids to play.  I haven't bothered to take photos as the before and after are far too similar to feel remotely satisfying. So instead, here are some gratuitous shots of the ceiling lantern in the living area.  Still the best thing in the new extension. I just love the light in this space.

So that's pretty much it for the time being. A lot of the other bits of progress aren't visually exciting - silicone drying around window panes, the steel stair enclosure under tarpaulins in the back garden etc don't make for great photographic imagery. Hopefully I'll have a bit more slow progress to post in another couple of weeks! I will however come back and do a review of the kitchen appliances this week - I know from the google search results and comments that the kitchen design is a big area of interest, as are the appliances.

Enjoy the weekend!
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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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