It’s instalment four of our exclusive series with former Blockheads Julia and Sasha and so much has happened! Read on for Julia’s warts and all account, some exciting developments (and, let’s be a honest, a few fails!).
We all have those friends we text from time to time saying: “We must catch up!” But of course, we never do. I feel like that’s been us of late so sincere apologies, we’ve been swamped. The good news is there’s a lot to catch up on and I’m on my third coffee and ready to overshare. Let’s go.
Building a two-storey house is no cakewalk. It’s not as easy as whacking on a second level and wham bam, thank you mam. Oh no. There’s scaffold to build and trusses to move, roofs to attach and money to lose. (Dr Seuss, who invited you?!).
After shelling out a small fortune for staging equipment, it was time to settle on our biggest decision to date – the exterior colour scheme. I’d been extremely decisive up to this point but everyone has a catalyst for change and this was mine. I cannot tell you how many hours I spent driving around the neighbourhood gawking at houses. An elderly gentleman actually asked if I was checking him out and I awkwardly said: “Yes, indeed I was,” because I didn’t know what else to say. Truth be told, he had a lovely abode and I ended up pinching the colour scheme for Little Willow.
Whilst most heritage homes boast galvanised iron roofs, we had our hearts set on something more intense. There were the traditional offerings of course, but they were all a bit blue or brown and we couldn’t embrace them. Enter Basalt, a perfect mid-grey reminiscent of lead. Our first instinct was to lock in matching gutters but our roof plumber called us ‘boring’ so we buckled and went with contrasting Monument. Opting for the two-tone effect was a risky move but my nickname as a child was ‘Drama Llama’ and as they say, if the name fits…
Choosing the right white can be an absolute mine-field. The first question you need to ask is: “Am I a warm or cool kinda person?” We’re obviously very cool and prefer whites with brilliant undertones. They elicit a sense of calm and are widely appealing, thus perfect for Little Willow. We tested a million paint samples before deciding on Crisp White by Taubmans. It’s the perfect stark-but-not-too-clinical shade and sets a lovely tone for the property. Pro tip: Only swatch on materials you are not actually using. I went to town on a sheet of plasterboard that ended up being redundant because the samples would forever shine through.
Little Willow was built from the top down to allow for full scaffold and a safer worksite for our crew. Once the upper roof was secure, it was time to attach the weatherboards. I know people go mad for brick homes but they’ve never been my thing and seeing Little Willow clad in the good stuff made my heart soar. The painters did a stellar job and for the first time in a long while, she beamed again. It was like she’d spent an afternoon at Sephora sampling Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation. She was literally flawless.
Of course, things aren’t always as they seem and it’s what’s on the inside that counts. With the top level watertight, it was time to draft the electrical plan. Can you sense the excitement in my voice? No, no you can’t because there literally isn’t any. Lighting is so not my jam and I’d been avoiding it like the plague. As it transpires, it’s the stuff Sash’s dreams are made of so I handballed it quick sticks and got back to Younger. She spent hours marking out a legend with six different highlighters and proudly presented it to our electrician. Sash often says her biggest achievement was winning the Under 11 70m hurdles at Camberwell Little Athletics, but this almost pipped it. She opted for a mix of pendants, wall sconces, downlights, and lanterns but left me to supervise come rough in. That was an interesting day but I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say I’m now an expert at laying under-floor heating because we all learn from our mistakes, don’t we?!
After what felt like eons, we were finally ready for plaster. Anyone who’s ever built or renovated a home will tell you this is by far the best bit. For the first time we could see the interior take shape and make sense of the space. In a nod to the home’s heritage, we reinstated the original gutter cornices. It really is next level and adds to the luxe vibe throughout. Sash left me to my own devices when selecting the ceiling roses for the formal rooms and immediately regretted her decision. She thinks they’re too elaborate but in my world there is no such thing so, next!
Whilst we were busy bickering, our trades made the great escape and started tiling the upstairs bathroom. Selecting tiles has never been my strong suit but I’m going to toot my own horn and say I absolutely nailed this choice. The marble rhomboid from Beaumont Tiles is the perfect focal point, balanced by soft grey on the floor and white matte on the walls. Our rule of thumb is to use contrasting grout on feature tiles and matching on all others, so we opted for white on the rhomboid as it really makes them pop. Given we’re all about consistency, we’ll be incorporating marble into all wet areas, albeit in different shapes. It’s worked a treat for us in the past so stay tuned for all the inspo.
Now the majority of the building work is complete, it’s time for the fun stuff! In the next instalment we’ll reveal our kitchen and laundry design, courtesy of our dear friends at Freedom Kitchens. They’ve helped us create three stunning spaces in the past and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve come up with this time. They’re real show-stoppers so get ready to pin all the things.