Feb 20, 2020: Kitchen finished

Finished Kitchen

The Finished Kitchen

Yesterday I put the final touches on the kitchen in the old house next to the Greeny Flat. I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s obviously a modern upgrade to an old house but it feels sympathetic to the character of the old girl. It’s interesting how a few small touches save it from feeling too modern and sterile. Things like the cabinet handles we salvaged off the old kitchen (featured in our Newsletter on Jan 24th) and some nice timber details which I’ve just completed. We made these out of the studs that came out of the wall which we removed in order to open up the living room to the new kitchen. It turned out that all of the framing of the house above floor level was made of Cypress wood which polishes up beautifully. So we took some of the old studs, cut them in half, planed them down, glued them together and polished them up.

Sanding a piece of Cypress that has been cut, planed and book-matched.

Sanding a piece of Cypress that has been cut, planed and book-matched.


Varnishing some Cypress pieces.

Varnishing some Cypress pieces.

Cypress shelf at the end of the island bench.

Cypress shelf at the end of the island bench.

We used these for the ends of the island bench and for the kickboards underneath the kitchen cabinets.

'Gorgeous kickboards' is not something you hear every day.

‘Gorgeous kickboards’ is not something you hear every day.

These are, without doubt the loveliest, book-matched, polished, 70 year-old salvaged Cypress kickboards you will ever see. Actually no-one will ever probably notice them because who looks at kickboards but it was a fun way to turn a functional part of the old house into a beautiful and interesting part of the new kitchen. It somehow helps to tie the old together with the new and, for me at least, it is deeply satisfying.

All told the kitchen renovation has worked out really well. I think we’ve succeeded in keeping the charm and character of the old house while adapting it to a modern lifestyle.

Open-plan kitchen, living and dining area.

Open-plan kitchen, living and dining area.

The last major project of this renovation is to now turn part of the old kitchen into a second toilet which will be a handy and functional improvement to a four-bedroom house that only has one loo.

Maybe Not So Fire Proof

After I wrote in our last Newsletter on New Year’s Eve about a house on the South Coast that survived a severe bushfire through careful ‘Fire-Proof’ design and detailing, a dear reader sent me a link to the following article from The Conversation entitled Building Standards Give Us False Hope – There’s No Such Thing As A Fire Proof House.

The gist of the article is that…

‘…The sad truth is that any practical building that is exposed to an intense bushfire will probably burn down, whether it complies with Australian Standard 3959 or not.

Worse still, the available evidence suggests there is a significant risk that the people sheltering in it will not survive without an effective refuge…’

And the conclusion it comes to is…

‘…We may need to have difficult conversations about whether our subdivision practices are appropriate. Allowing people to build in areas that are bushfire-prone, particularly where buildings are effectively built into the bush, might be creating unmanageable problems for the future.’

And, while I certainly agree that our subdivision practices are inappropriate and that allowing people to build in fire or flood prone areas is asking for trouble, that will not be any sort of comfort to people who already own property in those areas or to the many people who are faced with rebuilding after having lost property in the recent fires.

3 comments to Feb 20, 2020: Kitchen finished

  • Glenn Robinson

    Nice job Andy

  • In Buxton NSW our sustainable mud brick house and farm were lost to the Bush Fires. Nothing left standing…….except a concrete rain water tank and the mud brick walls. Which stood erect and proud to have come from the surrounding earth. The inferno was so hot that it turned glass into liquid. In close proximity to the house large european deciduous trees which for many years have supported our solar passive lifestyle, were charred a little but did not burn. However, the surrounding native bush landscape did.
    The fire attacked from three side. All the preparation and fire fighting equipment was no match for the fire. As we enter the property today…it is bare and black. No house, shed, animals pens, farm equipment or tools. But as you approach the lifestyle areas there is a healthy green horizon. The europpean trees continue to shelter the swimming pool area. There is a european hedge and trees standing ready to defend the home site from the heat of the western summer winds. The eastern flank of european trees stand tall in readiness to filter the summer heat and then let the warmth of the winter sun to flow into the (yet to be built) new homestead. Directly opposite the homesite stands a canadian maple with its bright red autumn leaves. In the burnt out edible landscape only the european food plants are returning to life. Amazingly a healthy crop of sweet potatoes sits alone in a burnt out garden. Stevia plants look isolated in a burnout garden. The Passionfruit Tea plant is growing radiply to support suriving bees. And the wild herb(weed) Fat Hen, is providing flavour to salads and grilled cheese. In my fifty years of self-sufficiency I find myself gaining a whole new perspective. And so, being an author,I thought I would write another book “Perspective of a Bush Fire Refugee”

    • admin

      Judith, I’m so sorry I didn’t see your post until just now. What a horrible loss for you both. It sounds like you were starting to think about rebuilding and seeing some positive signs in the garden way back in February. I hope it’s been going well since then. Please let me know when you have the chance.

      It seems extraordinary that the European plants would have survived the fire better than the Australian ones. It’s amazing that anything survived at all.

      I hope you’re both well and I look forward to catching up with you when I get back from Port Macquarie.

      Love, Andy

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