Today is Anzac Day, Australia and New Zealand's national day of reflection and remembrance on the sacrifice made by so many for our country. I went for a walk this morning, and part of my walk was along an Avenue of Remembrance. Each tree is an Elm, planted by the family of a soldier who did not return from WW1.

This morning there had been a dawn service, and as I walked through the avenue of trees, there were a few with photographs and rosemary sprigs left by family who still remember and honour their relatives who died so many years ago. Next to the tree pictured above is another tree planted for this soldiers brother who also never returned.

It's the tail end of the School Holidays here, and we've been busy. I thought I'd update on a few of the renovation things going on. We're really down to the last few weeks of defects and finishing things off. The builders have finished the veranda posts - they are chunky timber posts, so give a better weight to the outdoor area. If we had left the more spindly traditional posts, it would have looked strangely top heavy.

I toyed a little with the idea of making the posts more decorative, but decided against it for a few reasons, one being that I worried it would look too faux and fussy for my liking - the aim all along has been to do a stripped back version of the classical front of the house. Not imitating it too much, but complementing it in a more modern way. The posts have to be painted up this week, but they've had the outdoor lights installed on them, so I took a few photos.

I've put a micro spot uplighter on each post. They are fixed up a little off the ground so that they won't be tripping hazards. We won't add in more lighting to the outdoor area - between those and the fixed up down lighters beside the doors, there is enough ambient light to see without it being lit up like an operating theatre.

I particularly like the effect of the library wallpaper on the back wall of the stairs from outside when you look through the kitchen window at night.

Back inside, we took delivery of two kitchen height bar stools. I searched a long time to find something that would work. I didn't want a gas lift stool, as they have very heavy bases on them (which are often shiny chrome), and wanted something that wouldn't draw too much attention to itself. These "About a Stool" from Hay Denmark ticked the boxes and compliment the steel windows. Now when I cook, I often have company from someone perching there chatting to me.

 Some more wallpaper photos - here is the door to the Laundry covered in the Cole & Son's "Woods and Pears" wallpaper. The wallpaper guy is so good - he's a perfectionist and lined it up perfectly to create a jib (concealed) door. I'll show more photos of the completed playroom one the School holidays are over (I am keeping the sliding door from the kitchen shut a lot to screen the horrific mess it is in!).

 Lastly, I thought I'd leave you all with the depressing view from inside the house. This is the before series of photos of the garden... it's looking pretty bad. Most of the builders equipment and mess has gone, but we have a lot of aggregate, sand and generally depressing landscaping to sort out. Add to that we have had to poison off the remaining grass/ weeds before starting the major landscaping works, and it looks a little desert like out there. I'm really looking forward to the trees dropping their leaves in the next few weeks as Autumn truly descends, and the remaining greenery disappears (!).

depressing back garden

side garden

I've been sorting through the quotes for the pool and major landscaping. As the quotes are fairly horrifyingly high, we are going to do the back garden in stages, with the priority being to remove the gravel/sand/ clay dirt around the new extension and bring in new soil, plant a lawn, lay out the garden beds and do the pool. The planting we'll do, and I'm intending to grow as many of the plants myself as I can. I'll divide up the things growing in the front garden, like lambs ears and agaves and irises, and strike a few more Salvias, Ecchium and Euphorbias as well as planting things from seed. Plants are horrendously expensive, so anything I can save there will make a huge difference to the bottom line.

We've been renovating the back of the house for over a year now, so I'm looking forward to having no builders in the house, and looking forward to having no dirt and dust tracked in and around. We're also coming up to the 4 year anniversary of when we bought the house and started the renovations. We started work after settlement in July 2010, so we've been renovating steadily for nearly 4 years now. And we're still not finished!! The garage is on the list of things to do next, but that will be a while away yet - we have the garden to sort out first. Good things come to those who wait though, and this has certainly been an exercise in patience! But we are loving living in the new extension. It's definitely all worth it, and we feel very fortunate to have a home like this. I think the contrast between how the house was and how it is now, and the way we lived in it for so long definitely makes you appreciate it all the more.

It's been a while between my random bits and pieces posts, so this one will be photo heavy and text light (well, as light as I can go on the text front!).

I've been to Melbourne twice in the past month, both for single nights only for Mr AV's work. We were staying in the city, and so I did my usual thing... popping in and out of the shops on Collins Street admiring the wares, like Miss Louise below (shoe heaven).

Valentino window in brights

This was the YSL/ Sergio Rossi window

I paid a visit to the Hill of Content Bookshop on Bourke Street (my second favourite bookshop in Melbourne- The Avenue in Albert Park is my favourite), and did a bit of stocking up for my bedside table.

I wore this 6 year old DVF heavy wool wrap dress to dinner at Becco. I always have a problem with top gape in wrap dresses, so I haven't worn this one in ages, which is a shame as it has a nice weight to it and the skirt swings really well. I accessorised it with new shoes (to replace my old patent leather ones - yes, the search is over, Hooray!). These are by Giovanni Rossi, and have a metal heel, so will hopefully not shred quite so easily when I inevitably get it stuck in a grate somewhere. They also matched my existing black patent clutch well. 

We also went to see "Grease" the Musical with the clients. My advice is to not bother unless you're a die hard fan. The acting was very wooden (it stars Rob Mill, who was a reality tv star some years ago. He was outshone by the other T- birds). It also made me realise for the first time that the message of the story was that a woman should change for her man, even if he is a total loser (smoking, drinking, dropping out of school - and she was the Grade A student with a promising future). Somehow I'd missed this when I watched the movie so many years ago. Perhaps John Travolta, who was so good in the original version managed to disguise this well... a lacklustre actor made it all too apparent. I left feeling very confused as to why she'd bought herself down for him.

The next week, upon returning to Melbourne, I did a bit of walking through the city and along the banks of the Yarra. Melbourne will hide a cafe or bar anywhere it can. Mostly they are in back lane ways, and you have to be in the know to find them... but here's one on the pylon in the middle of the river, at the bottom of a footbridge over the Yarra.

I walked through some of the beautiful Victorian era arcades in the city - this is the Block Arcade with its original mosaic floor.

And wore this out to dinner that night - a Navy Lela Rose dress with the same shoes and bag as the week before. I wore a Rockstud bracelet to give a bit of edge/ casualness, which I think worked well. 

On the home front, I've been enjoying the last flush of roses, and the glory that is the Salvia and Sedums at their peak

Autumn Joy and White Iceberg Sedums

Here's my Isis Ceramics flower brick (yet again), with mixed David Austin Roses - (left to right) Golden Celebration (slightly crispy edges from the heat), Sharifa Asma, Claire Austin, Lady of Shallot, and Heritage centre front.

One of my favourites is David Austin's Jude the Obscure - highly scented and so pretty with its soft buff colour. Here's a posy of it in the new guest loo/ powder room.

satisfyingly jungle like

I'm not the only one plotting garden changes. I went on a garden tour and lunch in McLaren Vale (an hour from Adelaide, and a well known wine region) a few weeks ago with a couple of friends. This was our view for lunch - where the garden ended the rolling vineyards and hills began.

I thought this very clever - a weeping cherry had died, so the garden owner painted it lilac. There were lots of sculpture and features in the garden.

My friend A was so inspired, that she's been gardening ever since. She managed to take a break (she's had her head down for nearly 3 weeks now in a frantic garden overhaul) to have lunch with me at Tin Cat Cafe in Kent Town, where we ate well (the food is always good there) and workshopped her garden plans. I used the new Sparetables app to make the booking, which was fantastic (it's new and only in Adelaide at the moment until it has a national roll out, but you can make restaurant bookings online, and many tables are discounted at off peak times. We got 20% off our total bill).

Pork Belly for me, and A had some sort of Vegetable Tagine thing

It's not been all lunches and trips away though...I've also been busy, along with the four other hardworking members of the Volunteer Committee planning the Royal Flying Doctor's "Wings for Life" Ball this year. Good news readers! If you thought last year's Snow Ball looked fun, the tickets are now on sale for this year's - The Bazaar Ball... but it will sell out quickly. There are only 20 tables left already. You can buy either a table for 10, or just individual tickets if you prefer. It's going to be so much fun, and for such a great, and iconic Australian cause, I hope to see you there!

Lastly, Books.... I've read "Sheila" which was a biography of an Australian who married into English Society in the early 20th Century... she married three times, and was friends with all sorts of interesting historical figures - the Kennedy's, Churchill, the Coopers, the Mitford sisters... she had an affair with Prince Albert, the Duke of York (the future King George VI). It dovetailed in with a lot of other biographies I have read about that era. I also read "The Book Thief" (I have not seen the movie, and realise that I am very slow to get to this book as it's not exactly a new release). At first the narration by Death was slightly confronting/ grating, but in the end I think it was extremely clever, and I really loved the book - a definite recommendation from me if you haven't read it.

I've got more book chat, but this is a long enough post now as it is! So I'll leave you with some gratuitous rose photos from my garden. I think the navy blue salvias and the orange and yellow roses are a winning combination.

Hope things are well in your world xx
A quick renovation update. A lot of the work over the past month has been bits and pieces that don't make for particularly satisfying photos.... lots of paint touch ups/ fitting of door hardware etc.

But last week the stairs down to Mr AV's study and the cellar were finally enclosed with the steel windows (ordered from a different manufacturer than our main windows, and blessedly easy to deal with, and a straightforward install). The glass went in a week later, and then the wallpaper guy came to finish the feature wall of the Andrew Martin "Library" wallpaper in Sepia tones at the back of the stairs.

Not only does the glass let a lot of light down to the cellar area, but it's now a real feature in the living room, and provides me with a nice view from the kitchen island, which is opposite.

From the living room, this is the view above. We've also taken delivery of the new side tables for the sofas. At last... I chose a pair of the Pottery Barn "Bourke" nesting side tables. They're made of black steel so work well with the steel windows, and when we have people over I can pull out the smaller ones and use them around the seating area. Pottery Barn had a 20% off deal on at the time, and just three days later they arrived - I was very pleased. No more spilling of cups of tea or wine over the new sofas.

I've styled them up with the (one) lamp we have - it's rustic wood, and I think contrasts well with the metal elements. It also ties in our side board and the dining table to this area. It's still woefully empty in here, and I'd dearly love a rug to cut down on the echo, but these things take time.... and money.

I realised I hadn't shown the changes to the old back door either. I quite like having a real emphasis on the threshold between old and new in a modern extension to a house, and this is achieved here with the single step down to the new extension, with the existing old slate step between the timber floorboards and the linoleum in the extension. We kept the old leadight highlight window and the pretty and original brass opening hardware on it, but the old door was in pretty bad shape, was not at all attractive, and opened over the new opening to the guest loo/ powder room adjacent to it. We have had glass french doors installed instead - they let light through when closed (although are almost always open), and we just shut them to dampen noise down when we have people over for dinner and the children are asleep.

Looking from the hall to the extension

Looking from the extension to the hall, with an attractive bank of modern life adjacent to it - intercom/ air conditioning controls/ thermostat for heating/ burglar alarm pad etc etc.... unavoidable. They had to go somewhere.

Here's the old door

The powder room/ guest loo has been finished. The beautiful Celerie Kemble for Schumacher "Hot House Flowers" wallpaper has been installed. It's an overprint on grasscloth and is truly beautiful in person. I've been shutting myself in there to admire it and enjoy the peace! This room has been difficult to photograph, so my apologies. It's small and the light is a bit odd in the photographs (maybe because of the skylight?). I still have to get a mirror for it, but for the moment, it is beautiful as it is.

 I have more photos to show, but might break it into a few posts - we're nearly finished! Hooray!

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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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