Trade-Off is Love, Trade-Off is Life

OH. MY. ALTERNATE VIEWING.

I know I usually just talk about the one thing, but how can I when the Great Australian Trade-Off is back on our screens? I do have other interests, and one of them is a bit of home improvement. Well, when I can get the lazy husband off his butt to come and help me, but…who needs him? I don’t mind rolling up my sleeves and ripping out a few kitchen cabinets to make way for new and better things.

That was the main focus of the show this week, of course: complete kitchen renovations. The contestants were set some extremely tough challenges, watched over by professionals in the kitchen makeover field, and let me tell ya…I would’ve looked at some of these projects and hung up my GATO tool belt right there and then. Glynda, that silly woman who got eliminated last week, would’ve fainted on the spot. I suppose they must all just be more professional than that, because they took it in their stride and got down to some serious kitchen makeover madness.

Jorge was given a kitchen to renovate that was basically OWNED by rats, so he had to remove them and then clean up…everything they left behind. Tania was set upon a student kitchen that had seemingly never been cleaned, with the cooker so gunked up that she needed a blowtorch to get through the grime. And Harriet…wow. She was given a kitchen from the eighties. Sunshine yellow tiles, all over the dang place. It was an absolute nightmare and she turned it into a dream.

Oh gosh, I could watch people do kitchen refacing all day long. We really should just bite the bullet and pay for that subscription to the industrial kitchen renovation channel: kitchen renovations, 24/7.

-Leticia

 

Behold the Future of All Kitchens!

We have seen the future of kitchen design, and the future is robots. Droids. Androids. Droid-Anns (that is, droids that are called ‘Ann’). That’s why we at Android Office Solutions are diversifying the brand and starting a second company, Android Kitchen Solutions. The main problem is that we don’t actually have any skilled kitchen designers on staff at the moment, so we’d be looking to find an efficient and well-rated kitchen designer open for business, so we can work together to craft the kitchen of the future.

Which will be robots. But not JUST robots. There’s no use fitting a kitchen, commercial or residential, if it looks horrible. All the robots in the world aren’t going to get you any business if you just slap a bit of chrome all over the place and call it a day. No, people on the hunt for quality kitchen design know exactly what they want. Elegance, simplicity, and soon…robots. Just imagine it: you get a kitchen fitout that gives you the oaken counter-tops of your dreams, a double-sink at last, and one of those little thingies that gives you boiling water at any time you like. But ALSO, the microwave now responds to your voice commands and asks you how your day is going, maybe even recognises certain types of food and doesn’t have to ask how long to heat it up. The fridge automatically adjusts to the optimum temperatures for every piece of food, and of course there will be a robot butler: Jeeves 6000. We’ve already started working on his core software. He will be both posh and efficient.

People always talk about modern kitchen design, but this will be the kitchen renovation to end them all. Your specifications, your perfect countertops and floor materials…and Jeeves. Faithful, subservient Jeeves, and his wife, Ann.

-Chen

Office Design, Where it’s At

There’s absolutely nothing more serious than office design. Everyone here is joking around, saying that they hope they come back to our main office to find that it’s full of robots that do their work for them, and a multi-storey car park that pick up your car with a metal arm and places it into a bay.

Well, for the record, that would be AMAZING. Also, very convenient…parking in bays is hard. But offices are the way of the future. If we don’t evolve, we just face away. Gone are the days of orange sofas and orange soda machines. Orange used to be the new navy, but now, purple is the new orange. Not to be confused with burnt orange, which was the new grey, but has now been re-overtaken by grey. But that’s gunmetal grey. Surely there must be at least one respectable place that does office fitouts. Sydney is bound to have a few companies that can be trusted with such a crucial task.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, offices, and the incredible importance of making them look and feel great for the continued business success of this great country. For you see, the trite office design of the early 2010s has fully passed us by. All the big tech companies used to just fill their break rooms with jelly bears, and line the walls with fun workplace snaps of a candid nature. I think people are starting to realise that workplaces have to have a certain degree of professionalism if they want to function properly. You can let people arrive in the morning with running shoes, and they might occasionally have casual Fridays, but professionalism is key. So once we get back to our quality office fitout, by Sydney office design professionals, they’ll have to see the truth.

Grey. Purple. Open-plan but nothing too crazy. It’s the way of the future.

-R.Y.

We Need Us a Fine Kitchen Space

Now that we’re all settling in nicely, it’s time to put in the flourishes on the place. The castle-mansion was quite nice when we moved in, but this is all about putting in a personal touch. I can’t see us ever going back to Romania, not in quite a number of years, so it’s time to start planning some serious renovations. Surely, there are plenty of purveyors of commercial charcoal grills around here who can help us out. I’ve been terribly impressed with the visual aspect of Melbourne thus far, so perhaps something with a bit of a fusion aspect, just so we can proudly display our heritage.

Kitchens in Transylvania are quite taken with the theme of black. Black stoves, black cookers, and all of it looking rather rustic, like it was all hand-forged. Indeed, our kitchen back in the family castle was hand-forged back in the 1400s when the castle was built, with only minor adjustments for modern conveniences. My favourite piece was in the very centre of the kitchen: a cast-iron furnace, big enough for several people to stand inside. I wonder if any kitchen renovators would be able to ‘hook us up’ with something similar? Not that we want to put people in there, of course! Haha. You don’t cook people…it ruins all the flavour.

In any case, I’m also really wanting a kitchen surface of black marble like we used to have. I liked the effect, and it made cleaning a charm. The wife really enjoyed the storage, so something like that will go over quite well, plus we can’t forget the children’s cupboard. We like to instill a sense of duty and reward, so they both have their dedicated space for ingredients and also treats.

Perhaps we’ll get together as a family and make a list of things we need. Oh, and a commercial deep fryer would be wonderful! And if we have to import some pure-black cast iron…we shall!

-I.M. Payler-Alucard

No One Expects the Secret Tunnel!!

There’s one thing we’ve been missing from the garden, and it’s a SECRET TUNNEL.

That’s right: a secret tunnel through the garden!

There might be some kind of building regulations that stop me from going underneath the neighbour’s gardens, but I should really look into it because I don’t just want a secret tunnel underneath my own garden. There’s no point in even having a secret tunnel at all if it goes nowhere. And if it turns out that I can’t dig a tunnel deep underneath the property belonging to the neighbours (not like they’re using the space…), then I’ll just have to pour all my effort into building some kind of secret lab instead. That’s where the secret tunnel will lead.

My interest has been piqued by all this talk of aggregate. Carrum Downs is having a tidy gardens competition, and everyone is rushing out to purchase crushed rock and all sort of landscaping supplies to improve their gardens. But the thing is…they’ll all end up looking the same. That’s a massive pain for the people who have to judge the competition, going from one garden to another with perfect pebble formations and little garden beds of sand and flowers. You know, whatever’s in.

You have to do something slightly out-there to really get their attention, and you know what’s totally out-there? That’s right…a secret tunnel. Even if I don’t win, I know I’ll be leaving a good impression on everyone who finds out about my ingenious idea. None of the judges will ever have seen a secret tunnel underneath a garden, possibly one that leads to a secret man cave.

Of course, the upper levels are quite important as well…got to make a good first impression, so I’ll have to follow the trends. Maybe I can buy sand in Cranbourne, make myself a nice little sandy flowerbed. Or however you use sand.

-Son

Enjoying a Hot Property

I’m excited about this new house for a whole host of reasons. But there’s one in particular that stands out, which is that it has central heating. The fact that I won’t have to spend another winter gritting my teeth in a tumbledown shack of a rental property fills me with glee.

I realise it’s kind of ridiculous for Australians to complain of cold winters. A friend of mind who’s from Finland reckons it’s a total joke. But what can I say? It’s all relative. Having grown up in Brisbane doesn’t exactly help my cause, either; the midyear climate in Canberra is a rude shock by comparison.

So, yes – I don’t mind if I do have an effective heating system, thank you very much. Linda wasn’t too sure about the safety factor (something about a horror story her aunt used to tell over Christmas dinner), but I’ve managed to convince her that having it professionally maintained should keep it from turning on us. Now, who can recommend a company that does the most impressive ducted heating services Canberra has ever seen?

I’m convinced that the main reason we’re so soft in this part of the world, when it comes to seasonal climatic fluctuations, is that we get both the hot and the cold. We have legitimate call for both heating and cooling systems in Canberra, because the temps go to polar extremes at different times of the year.

I know that Linda will be down for sorting out a good air conditioning system, at least – she really struggles with high summer out here. The quality of the air is somehow different to how it is on the coast; it can get very dry. As for me, I tend to run on the cooler side, which is why I’m so intent of figuring out this heating situation.

I’m realising that one of the greatest things about owning a house is the possibility of implementing appliances like this without having to hassle a landlord on the subject. This residence is totally our domain, and we will adjust the temperature accordingly.

I Shall Make Music, for the Office…

I like to think that I’ve basically mastered the banjo by now, so I’m trying to diversify into other instruments. I tried the triangle last week, but I really felt like there were an infinite number of nuances that just aren’t for me; not the way I am now. Perhaps I’ll give it a few years and come back to it. Right now I’m struggling with the tambourine, but I’m determined to make it my own! Not that you can really own a musical instrument; it’s more of a symbiotic connection between friends.

Right now I have my sights set on a musical competition where people have been challenged to use only a single syllable to create a song, and the reward is that a company will come and do a full commercial office design for your company! Of course, I don’t have a company, but I’m thinking of gifting the prize to my friend Elsa, who DOES work in an office and has confided in me several times that the bland cubicles and blank walls are steadily sapping her creativity every single day. If Elsa is the one who presents the office design to her boss, that will give her some degree of creative control, and thus she’ll be able to steer her workplace in a more positive direction. Maybe I’ll claim ONE thing, since I won/will win the competition. Perhaps guitars hanging from the ceiling, to remind everyone that the music is inside them?

I have to actually write the song first, however. A single syllable is almost TOO much, as my symphonic poems are often done with a single letter. How can I best appeal to people who would offer premium office designs? What syllable best represents offices? This almost makes me wish I’d spent more time in them…almost.

I’m going to go with ‘UGH’, because that’s the noise I’d make if I had to drag myself out of bed to sit in a cubicle. But for Elsa, once she gets her premium Melbourne office fitout, that will be no more! Open-plan all the way! Complete with dangling stringed instruments.

-Deirdre

Stain Disdain

Oops… that’s one word for it. I just heard a sound from the lounge room which sounded a lot like my housemate knocking over a glass of red wine onto the carpet, and responding accordingly. Now she’s exclaiming at William, her kelpie. From what I can make out, he must have knocked it over with his tail.

Regardless of William’s level of involvement, going to hold Becky accountable. We literally just moved in, and we need the real estate on our side because it’s an ideal house. I, for one, plan to stay here for as long as possible. If that means making Becky shell out for the most professional stain removal , Melbourne resident have ever seen, then so be it. I’m not putting up with careless damage to the inbuilt furnishings like I have in the past.

The annoying fact is that I’ll have to have an awkward conversation with Becky about this, in which I inform her that I see it as her responsibility to wear the cost of the carpet cleaning. Past experience suggests that she won’t be readily forthcoming with an offer to do so (if she was, I might be more inclined to chip in, actually).

Well, maybe I drive a hard bargain as a housemate. But if you’re going to have a puppy, you can’t expect everyone else to take on responsibility for the havoc it wreaks. She should have known better than to leave her red wine on the coffee table, anyway – I mean, it’s precisely at tail-wagging height. Even I can see that, and I’m not a dog person. 

According to another friend I’ve shared with, it was good for his personal development that I forced him to pay for professional odour removal services. His indoor tobacco smoking habit, as he found out the expensive way, is not great for the whole bond retrieval situation. In any case, I’d prefer not to have to deal with that whole end-of-lease cleaning frenzy again.

I just want to get on with living in a clean, stain-free house. Is that so much to ask? The dog can stay.  

Put your back into it… or not

Dang it! I’ve done that thing to my lower back again. I’m pretty sure it happened at the hairdresser, of all places – Marcus asked me to tip my head back towards the washing basin, and I felt that tweak. It’s odd, because I thought I was only moving from the neck. But it appears to be true what they say: the knee bone’s connected to the shinbone and so forth.

So now I’m sitting up perfectly straight on the lounge, doing my best not to bend my back or make any sudden movements. I’m aware that I’m doing what a physio once told me is called ‘bracing’, which is the body’s way of protecting itself from damage but is not necessarily the most effective response to minor tweaks and twinges that don’t actually involve tissue damage. Still, holding myself in this way makes me feel less like I’m about to disconnect that one thread holding everything together.

Alright, so that’s a ridiculous thought. There isn’t one fine thread that’s going to cause everything to unravel if it breaks. But I don’t know enough about anatomy to replace that mental image with something more realistic. I need a professional to tell me that it’s all good. Time to book in for a physical therapy appointment, evidently. Who’s got a Cheltenham physio recommendation?

There are so many different types of specialists around these days, though. Maybe I should try something new. My friend from book club is always telling me about the dry needling and cupping sessions she’s had at her latest myotherapy appointment. Cheltenham is still pretty new to me when it comes to finding services like this, but I can’t be travelling all the way up north every time I need something done.  

I mean, it took me long enough to find Marcus, my hairdresser. It was worth it, though – when I told him I thought I might’ve just put my back out again, he offered me a glass of pinot.

Making Light Work of Renovations

It seems that buying a first house that’s cheap enough to have the stamp duty waived is possible, after all. Success! Turns out, though, that the dollars saved there must immediately be directed into renovations – either that, or one must deal with a somewhat depressing amenities situation. At least, that appears to be true in my case. 

Never mind – I’m fortunate enough to have the spare cash lying around after mortgage repayments. Plus, it gives me the option of finally having the bathroom of my dreams, which is essentially just one that features a bath. But I wouldn’t say no to a glass shower screen and rainfall-style shower head, plus a well-lit mirror.

From the sounds of that, I’m going to have to hook myself up some residential glazing services, along with a designer and builder. No matter – I can put them to work on a glass splashback for the kitchen, too, seeing as that’s also in need of a serious reboot. Oh man, that stove is just terrible. But it’s going to be so good!

While I’m at it… what are your thoughts on glass staircase balustrades, Melbourne? Will they make my home look too much like an office, or will they create a sense of openness and light? In any case, they’d have to be an improvement on the current excuse for a handrail – a wiry affair that looks like it was designed to be temporary.

Honestly, I’m not complaining. This house has many great things going for it, which is why I decided to buy it. For starters, it’s structurally sound, and the location is to die for. Ultimately, though, it’s all about the light – the place is perfectly positioned to catch it at just the right angles. Once I’m able to get started on the garden, that feature is really going to come into its own. I’m thinking a glass solar dome and maybe even an outhouse workshop with a skylight.