May the roof above us never fall in
And may we good companions beneath it never fall out.

~Irish blessing

Friday, February 24, 2012

Penny Tiles

I am so in love with our penny round mosaic tiles. They feel amazing underfoot, especially in the shower, and when teamed with the subway tiled walls give our two little bathrooms an old New York apartment feel.

I think I first came across this look in Julie Holloway's beautiful Milk and Honey Home,

and then really fell hard for them in decorator Anna Spiro's vintage eclectic bathroom.

More and more now, I'm seeing rooms where they've taken the penny tiles UP the walls and they give an amazing neo-modern, almost futuristic feel. Have a look at Mina's fabulous almost Kubrickesque bathroom over at La Residence to see what I mean.

And some are even using actual pennies!

Stand Hotel, NY via Apartment Therapy

I've posted these two photos before, but these are the penny tiles we used for our ensuite floor last year,

and we've just finished using them again in the 'kids' ensuite'. Again, they were fairly easy to work with but I thought for those interested in having a go, I should mention a few lessons learned...

Like most mosaics, the penny tiles come glued onto conveniently sized mesh sheets so you can actually cut them with scissors, although you may need tile nippers for any edge that requires half a tile.

Now, I'm not sure where a professional tiler would stand on this, but we found that it's pretty much impossible to use a notched trowel to apply the tile adhesive, as with other tiling, because when you put the mosaic sheet down the thicker bands of adhesive squish up between the tiles. For us, it was easier to spread the tile adhesive quite thinly and evenly and gently press the tiles down.

Remember to start at one end of the room and work across is rows. Don't work towards a center point like I did in the first bathroom, or you'll end up pulling many many individual tiles off to make them fit evenly together. If you're working your way out of a small room, I really think it would be better to do it over a few days, allowing for sections to dry, rather than trying to make the sheets meet in the middle.

Grouting the penny tiles is also quite easy as no shaping is required. Just smooth it on and sponge it down so it's nice and even. Like in the other bathroom, we used Dunlop 'misty grey'.

 In a last minute decision, we decided to take the penny tiles up the bath and over the hob, indulging just a little in that whimsical retro feel. It's a childrens' bathroom after all.

The trickiest part was shaping the tiles around the hob. We thought cut edges would look too rough on the corners so Tom did some 'sculpting' with a slightly firmer grout to smooth and fill the gaps.

It's all nice and dry now, so tomorrow all the joints can be caulked and we will be nearly there. 

I'm hoping on Sunday we may even have time to put the cot and change table together! 

Happy weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Summer Garden

I have to admit our little garden is getting a bit overgrown. With me on crutches and Tom trying to get the second ensuite finished the weeding and pruning has had to take a back seat. At the same time though, I don't think the garden has ever been as beautiful. Perhaps being so housebound allows me more time to appreciate it, but I've always been partial to a bit of decay and jungle so unpruned stringy messes of salvias and gaura, studded with summer flowers and swarming with bees, really appeal to me.

In its second year, the garden is also full of little flowering surprises. Despite all the shade we have to contend with, it's definitely a summer garden. The spring garden never really got going the way I hoped it would. The foxgloves and roses were wonderful, but the spring bulbs, with the exception of a few freesias, mostly flopped and failed as if some fat animal had sat on them. Was it too dry? Not enough sun? Any tips would be welcome.

Right now though almost every visit to the garden brings a bright new discovery.

Ginger flowers in our little tropical hot spot.

A single water hyacinth flower surprised us yesterday.

The madagascar jasmine is finally in bloom and smells, well blooming amazing.

On the edible front it's all about finding those gems that really thrive on neglect. The perpetual spinach lives up to its name rain or shine and is a fantastic, easy source of cooking greens.

The corn, like many of our crops, is just too tempting to hungry critters, so we won't be bothering with it again. Such a shame as freshly picked corn is so delicious. We at least are lucky to get very fresh, yummy organic corn in our ceres order.

The tomatoes down the side are booming, and despite my concerns about poor air flow and blight, are so far so good.

Our baby is due now in only 4 weeks! While I'm hoping I'll be off crutches soon after the birth, I imagine just adapting to life with a small baby will also mean there's not a lot of time for gardening, so we're planning on streamlining the edibles to just herbs, trees and a few low maintenance favourites. The pond is a safety hazard for a crawling baby, so a new project has been devised to move the fish into this wine barrel...

then move the herbs into the fruit crates which will cease to house carrots, beetroots and other things that are are just getting eaten by rats and possums anyway.

Painting the back of the house is also something I hoped I'd finish this summer, but hopefully I'll sneak some time over the next few months between feeds, changes and naps.

And the nursery? It's all still in boxes while the second bathroom is finished off - otherwise the whole lot will get covered in renovation dust. We are very very close now though, so next week there should be a post on tiling with penny mosaics, then hopefully some nursery photos soon after that.

Oh, and I am tardy as usual, but I had to include these lovely blooms and say happy belated Valentine's Day.

My husband knows me too well. I love all flowers but especially the pink ones.