Share our trials and tribulations as we build our new home - a custom Dominico by Fairmont Homes NSW

Monday, January 23, 2012

Epic Tale of a Busy Weekend Looking at Kitchens and Flooring

On Saturday Mick and I had our kitchen and tile appointments. While out and about we also looked into timber flooring, visited Masters and the display home.

I had expected that most of our decisions would be made and we would be able to relax, however I think we've come away with more questions than answers...

In our kitchen appointment we discussed the look we want to achieve for the kitchen but we had trouble with some of the specifics. Mostly however, decisions will come down to cost and how much we want something versus how much we want to spend on it. I think that if money were no option, we could be very precise in what we want. However, some things are just not justifiable. We were able to hash out a few things at least and others will be put into a quote ready for our next appointment which will see Joe present us with layout options as well. Here's a brief rundown:

Benchtop: Caesarstone "White Shimmer" 
Splashback: Caesarstone "White Shimmer" - Fairmont will be pricing up how much it will cost to continue the splashback up behind the rangehood
Cupboards: Polytec Melamine "Classic White" Matt 
 - Under-bench: Recessed Aluminium 
 - Overhead: fingerpull
 - Above Oven and Microwave: Push-pull
 - Pantry - TBA but we want these to match the fridge

We were very specific that we didn't want any handles however, with my condition (fibromyalgia) and Mick's amount of mouse-use (he's in IT) we have a lot of difficulty with our hands (and Mick also has a back problem). This means that the very beautiful choice of having no handles and a 'shark-nose' finish on the doors hurts our fingers to use. Classic handles can also give us problems when we're having trouble with fine motor control. The best we've found are recessed aluminium handles. They seem to use the strength of the arm rather than the fingers/hand and require little co-ordination. The push-pull and finger-pull options on the overhead cupboards are also great and large handles on the heavy pantry doors are a must.

The other practicalities I've taken into consideration for the kitchen include wall-mounting our oven and microwave, and converting (where practicable) every cupboard into drawers. Drawers lessen the movement -under-load on the back i.e. reaching into the back of a cupboard to lift out a heavy appliance versus a straight-lift from a drawer. Our fridge is also chunky and has a french-door, which means that the more frequented section requires no bending, and the freezer is a drawer (edit: the model we want is too deep, so we are looking into alternative french-door fridges). We're also pricing something we discovered called a Tandem Pantry Unit (pic and link below). It means that we don't have to lean into the pantry to get an item.

I don't mean to paint a bleak picture of Mick and I being terribly frail, but it's nice to eliminate the unnecessary strain, especially for the bad days which happen to the best of us.

Our tile appointment also yielded more questions than answers...

The tiles we found when renovating Mick's unit aren't available through Fairmont's supplier. Peter at Macarthur Tiles has been really helpful and will try to source them, however if he can't I think Mick and I will purchase them through the lovely man we dealt with when renovating at the Fairford Tiling Centre. We did manage to find a tile we like for the downstairs wet areas, alfresco area and balcony though. They are a porcelain tile called "Sandstone" and they look like real sandstone. They are really interesting and beautiful with a mottled finish (I can't remember the exact name but the best way I can describe it is as "matt with flecks of gloss." We just like that they're non-slip). It's hard to do them justice but here are a couple of pics:

We would do the smaller tile on the floors in the Powder Room and Laundry and the larger tile on the wall (to save money we are only tiling to skirting). We would also use the larger tile for the Afresco and Balcony...and possibly the portico.

The tile we like for the Ensuite (and that we're having trouble sourcing) is called "Night" and we would look to tile floor-to-ceiling with the glossy wall-tile (including the shower bench). The "Night" shimmery mosaic (and they are beautifully shimmery!) we would use for the entire shower wall with the niche (including inside the niche). The effect will be that the first thing you see will be a shimmery wall. I know it may sound like too much black (and I do have my doubts), but I've seen all-black bathrooms before and they are beautiful. We will have two windows in there (including one which is full-height) and the loo and vanity will be white. This is the effect we want to create:

The black wall tile and mosaic are the actual tile we want to use:

Black and white bathroom idea:

Adore Wall Tile "Night:"

Adore Mosaic "Night:"

For the main bathroom we want to tile floor-to-ceiling (budget permitting) in the same brand of glossy tile in a colour called "Cocoa." It is a taupe (brown/purple/grey) and also has a shimmery mosaic, which we would use for the niches and bath surround.

Adore Wall Tile "Cocoa:"

Adore Mosaic "Cocoa:"

In between these appointments, we also looked into wooden flooring. We found a place that was recommended to us in Fairfield East which sells VERY reasonably priced timber flooring. Mick and I will most likely now be installing a solid timber floor to the entry, hallway, formal living, kitchen, meals and (maybe) study. The price of our favourite timber, Sydney Blue Gum, is too cost prohibitive so we will instead be going with our second choice of Spotted Gum. It is a lovely hardwood that has varying brown tones through it from beige to dark, reddy-brown. We will still carpet the Media Room (for it's sound-absorption qualities), stairs and entire first floor living.

Spotted Gum Floor:

Here's a link to the supplier we've chosen:

The carpet we are now looking at purchasing is called Eco+. It is the same material as the carpet we were looking at purchasing from Harvey Norman, but is Australian made and thus a lot cheaper. We are considering doing a dark colour for the media room (to reduce glare) and a light colour for upstairs:

Media Room:


Here's a link to the carpet:

After all this we capped off the day with a visit to Masters and the display home (poor Kerry must think we're ready to move in!).

Sunday was then spent clearing and cleaning Mick's unit which just requires one final push (mowing the courtyard and moving the last of the cleaning supplies and garage odds and sodds) to be ready for settlement which is due on the 10th Feb.

So, we're not as sorted as I thought we'd be, but we're inching closer. I'm looking forward to our second kitchen appointment in a few weeks to review quotes and layouts.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Unit Sold and The Decision-Race to Construction is on!

Mick accepted an offer on his unit last week and cooling-off completed this afternoon. Yippee! So, the countdown for Settlement and Council Approval are almost in sync, with plans being submitted to Council on Monday.

Now the race to the finish line (which in reality is the starting block) is on, as decisions need to be finalised by the time Council Approval is in so Fairmont can do the ordering for our job. From then, changes will cost money so I am making sure that Mick and I comb through the plans carefully and make considered colour selections. The morning and afternoon train rides, lunch hours and weekends spent looking at colour swatches, emailing suppliers, coordinating showroom visits and googling like an addict will hopefully pay off as we attend our tiling and kitchen appointments 21 January (so exciting!).

This weekend I hope to also finalise our flooring. We’re having this done ourselves as it is cheaper and we can get what we want (our carpet is only available from Harvey Norman) and Fairmont are more than happy for us to do this. I want to have the flooring selected and samples at the ready when we go to our tiling and kitchen appointments.

I’m also happy to report that whilst Wattyl Paint is no longer available through Bunnings, they are available through Masters and our local store at Gregory Hills has a huge colour chart and is able to mix us up sample pots and colour match to Dulux if we need. Yippee! I am narrowing in on colours but won’t make those final selections until flooring, kitchen and tiles are finalised and sample pots purchased, brushed-out and analysed.

On an electronic-front, Mick and I have decided to install a video intercom/doorbell with three screens in the house. It not only makes answering and opening the door easier but also safer as we can see who is on the other side of the door before deciding to open it. It’s also great for re-sale and means Mick and I can call each other if we’re in different parts of the house! Yay for toys!

Here is the model our builder has quoted us for:

Do we get the black or white..?

On the light-front, I can’t find what I want for the Kitchen pendants and whilst our earlier choices are great, we’re not so sure on them given we have a lot going on in that space already - raked ceilings, sky-lights, wall at the end of the kitchen island, unusual range-hood etc. I know exactly what I want, but I can’t seem to find lights like the following for sale anywhere:

I did manage to find a couple of Australian light companies that import commercial-looking lights from overseas and some of their brochures are promising. I like the following:

And so the search continues...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Let There Be Light!

Mick and I looked at lights today as we need to supply the pendant lights for the house ourselves and we might as well buy when the sales are on. We (well, mostly me) fell in love with a light for the stair well. Its the Zenon 12 Light Pendant in Chrome with Crystal at Beacon Lighting:

We also looked at pendant lights for above the kitchen island. We can't decide between these "nest" lights which we feel will go with both the kitchen and the long, dark-timber dining room table:

Or these suspended, modern fluoros:

Both options are modern and will go with the look and feel of the house we wish to achieve. We just can't decide...any opinions/suggestions are welcome :-)

We also learnt a lot from the Lighting Centre at Campbelltown. The very nice and helpful lady there gave us great advice on all the lights in our house. She told us to check with our builder as to exactly which LED downlights they're installing. Apparently, ideally we shouldn't run more than six on any single switch and they should be above 620 lumens and have a beam greater than 60 degrees. We also need to check they're gimble (though we already knew this) as this will allow us to alter the direction of the beam which is very handy in a raked ceiling! We also discovered that lights only account for around 2% of your energy bill and are often cheaper to run (and last longer) when left on continuously rather than switching them on and off again. The lady we spoke to used to turn her kitchen fluoro on when getting ready for work in the morning and leave it running until she went to bed at night. She didn't have to replace a tube in eight years! Anyway, assuming the information she gave us is correct, we learnt a lot.

The gentleman we spoke to at Beacon Lighting was also very helpful and spoke to us a bit about BASIX requirements and showed us the difference between different wattage and coloured (i.e. cool white and warm light) bulbs.

After our reconnaissance mission, we then popped by the Fairmont display homes at Gregory Hills. It was great to catch up with Kerry and to see the homes. We were especially interested in their single story home (the St Thomas) as it has a raked ceiling with sky lights similar to what we are building. Mick used his trusty tape measure to check the ceiling heights and ensure that the lights we like at maximum extension fit and also to see if their proportions will work. It was also really nice to take the time to sit in the Meals Area of the Dominico and feel like, just for a moment, we were home.

So, here are some pics from the gorgeous St Thomas display home:


 I can't wait to be able to see sky while standing at the kitchen sink!!!

Me being silly while trying to hide from the camera:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More Kitchen Decisions Made

Mick and I braved the 40 degree heat today and went for a trek to the Smeg showroom in Banksmeadow, as it is the only place that has our rangehood on display. We just wanted to make sure that it's the right height, scale and look for our kitchen as it would be a very expensive mistake! We are very pleased to say that it looks beautiful! Here are some pics:

The gentleman there, who happens to be related to a work colleague of mine (small world!), was very helpful (long before we discovered the connection) and showed us all of our appliances and took us through how to use them. He also showed us their new range of beautiful (and big!) sinks. Aside from the fact that we already have our sink, they are a little too expensive for our liking, though they look beautiful and are very functional.

We also need to pick a dishwasher so we wanted to check out Smeg's range. Mick has decided on the semi-integrated DWAI152XT. It is one of the most energy and water efficient machines on the market (Mick was sold), it holds 15 place settings and looks beautiful (so I was sold!).

Seeing as we were in the neighbourhood, we also stopped by the Caesarstone showroom at Alexandria. I was so excited and already had an idea of what I was looking for. Our favourites in the showroom were, Nougat, White Shimmer, Free Spirit and Buttermilk, though there were so many beautiful options. The clear winner for us though is White Shimmer. We love that it's white with a hint of speckle (to help disguise mess/steaks) and the 'sparkle' through it from fine mirror chips is gorgeous. I couldn't take my eyes off it! I loved watching the glinting specks 'dance' as I moved around the room. With the sky-lights, downlights and pendant lights in the new house, I'm hoping that the benchtop and splashback will always be a little 'glittery'  and subtly change through the course of the day.

It's impossible to properly convey the glittery effect in a photo, but here is a pic of Caesarstone White Shimmer:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Formal Living 'Mood Board'

My Inspiration for the formal living areas of the house:

Feature Wall Colour Option - Dulux Lampoon:

 Main wall colour option - Dulux Handmade Linen Half:

Sydney Blue Gum Engineered Hardwood Floor (for entry, hallway and kitchen/meals):

The Carpet we like, Smart Strand IQ150 (we like this colour and pattern too):

The formal living area of Fairmont's display Dominico. We will have the same feature cabinet:

I love the Jasper line of sofas at King Furniture. I want Jasper pieces (or Jasper-like furniture) in the reading area (marked as formal dining on the plans) and formal living room:

We will have more custom cabinetry in-built in the reading area as book shelves (images from Google search "in built bookcase"):

(From left) Caesarstone "White Shimmer," Melamine "Classic White," Wattyl "Angora..." Wattyl "Hunter Grape." (Background: Dulux "Hogsbristle Quarter")

Spotted Gum timber floor: