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.


  1. The sandstone look tiles look great. Dark and moody bathrooms are so moody and striking! I like the first pic that has a bit more white to 'lift' it. looks very smart.

  2. Thank you for your comments. I really like dark bathrooms too as they can be very striking. I'm still torn about how much white to have...our ensuite isn't that big so we're tempted to only tile the black to 1.2m...hmmm, may have to do more research.

  3. I love the tiles you've chosen!!!

    Spotted Gum.... mmmm. Yummy! :)


  4. Thanks B! Fingers crossed we can get them...

  5. I am always amazed at how project builders expect a ka-zillion choices to be made so quickly. It seems such a terrible stress but obviously with their project time frames this is the way it has to be. Those sandstone tiles look great and I do Love black & white and think the bathroom will look fantastic as you've planned! We've build & renovated hundreds of homes (ours & clients) and Spotted Gum timber is our flooring favourite. It comes in three qualities but we prefer the 'Australiana' with the most veining etc as it has gorgeous character and is also the most cost effective of the choices. Thank you for joining my blog, I'm looking forward to following yours too.
    x KL

  6. Hi KL. I found your blog via B's and I can't wait to explore it further! Mick and I also love timber with lots of character. When looking into flooring i couldn't believe that people actually pay extra to have timber without "flaws!" Anyway, it's great to a hear your reassurance. Thanks for your kind comments. Ash.

    1. I also meant to mention that you are absolutely right about the tight timeframes KL...though Mick and I have managed to completely ignore them so far! I'm sure we've driven our builder mad with our questions, plan changes and how slow we are (which I prefer to think of as being "deliberate").