The Team Sawade Clubhouse

I decided to package up my video of ‘a photo a day’ because the render is NEVER going to dry in Canberra this winter.

Ok, in reality it will probably be a couple more weeks but we all know I am like an impatient child.

A friend asked me today if I was bored yet.  Clearly she knows that I struggle to relax and will be looking for my next project.  Thankfully (for Marky Mark) when you have weeds bigger than rose bushes so my next project is pretty obvious.

I have really loved this experience, loved the builders, loved the shopping, the decisions and seeing 13 years of ‘planning’ all come together.  I have those friends who love houses just as much as me and I feel sorry that they have had to endure nearly a decade of indecision on what we should do with our humble abode.  But the end outcome proves that our friendship, coffee dates, wine dates and constant internet links of houses or ideas was worth it.

Have to thank the family, friends and neighbors (who are also friends) for taking photos when I couldn’t.  You rock.




Inside is pretty much done.  I’ve still got the odd picture to hang and a couple of little things to buy or paint (like Gretel’s desk needs to be painted white).  But this is as good as it is going to get for a little while.


I love the entrance.  I’m really in love with long hallways that you find in old federation houses in Melbourne and tried to create something like that.  The stone wall at the front looks amazing (well worth all the agony posts) and the pendant hanging at the end of the hall throws an amazing pattern on the wall at night.  The third photo above is a purpose build wine area – just need to buy the wine cabinet to put it in.


The LittleMan’s room is the old master bedroom. It is nearly a bedsitter and will be perfect for when Grandma comes to stay (or other guests).  I still want to buy a sofa bed so you can sit and watch tv and play the wii but it will be the perfect teenagers hangout.  (Marky Mark took these photos and clearly if I’d have taken them they’d probably have a straightened bedspread, clean desk etc but love that he took the photos for me).  The LittleMan desperately wants to hang copious amounts of Adelaide Crow’s supporters gear but we will pass for now (or ever).



The Wingman’s room is a completely new room that is roughly 3mx3m.  I’m really happy with it and so is he.  He is loving all the Star Wars stuff (without going completely over board). He said to me the other day that he can’t wait to go to bed at night and snuggle in his sheets and look at all the cool stuff.


The Gremlin’s room is the first (and only)  room that I’m slightly disappointed in my spatial planning.  It is 3m x 3m and was her old bedroom but just made slightly bigger.  In my head it was going to have a hanging chair from Ivory and Deane in it but the builder said it would be difficult to get into the roof trusses to hang it.  I’m still thinking about how to make it extra special.  In saying this, if you saw her gorgeous walk in wardrobe you’d probably want to move in. Still need to hang the painting her and I drew (it certainly isn’t going to win a prize but happy that we created it together).




The kitchen and dining area didn’t get too much of a change.  We bricked up an existing door and knocked out (and enlarged) a window into a mega sliding door.  Originally we wanted french sliders but that would require a new steel beam that I wasn’t prepared to splurge on.  I’m very happy with the end result.

Painting the wall black was a late ‘on a whim’ decision that I’m in love with.  The old part of the house had a cosy country vibe and by painting just one wall black it now has a more industrial/coffee lounge vibe.  I may have had black paint all over my hands but so worth it! We are going to continue the photo wall wrapping around and have already picked five awesome photos to get enlarged from our recent trip. Amazing how one dramatic change (that took maybe four hours to implement) has completely changed the vibe of the room.



The stairs are stairs!  Not a feature but probably more just a function need.  I splurged after looking at Pintrest from hours and got the foot level down-lights. I’ve hung the same pendant light in the void space to throw the same cool pattern at night time.



As the build went on I was a little nervous about the master bedroom.  Compared to the LittleMan’s room the master looked tiny.  At the end of the day all we needed to do was sleep there. But I think when you combine it with my mammoth ‘dressing room’ complete with black chandelier you realise how spoilt and lucky we are. (Apologies for the messy drawers but I figure essentially this is a massive closet



So if you come and visit my house one thing you are going to say is ‘how big is this bathroom?’  And in reality it is big (we acknowledge it)  but it was cheaper (and easier) to build on the existing walls downstairs.  Hence it is as wide as one hallway wall to the beginning of the LittleMan’s ensuite.

The shower combo is so nice in the morning that pulling yourself away from it is hard.  The reflection in the big rain shower is so flattering (lol).. hence the photo.  I would highly recommend the bathroom layout we have (but maybe ask me after the first water bill). The black tapwear, shower heads and bathroom hardware is a personal preference and will probably polarise some people but absolutely… 100 percent.. no regrets!

RUMPUS aka Parents Retreat aka Lounge aka Dance Floor

So this room is just heaven.

We new it was going to be and it has delivered.  The impressive windows capture the beautiful mountains at every turn.  I sit here in the morning and night, eat most meals and drink wine just thinking and taking it in.  The view just doesn’t change… dad is looking down on me I’m sure. I talk to him from here; it is the one place I feel connected to him.

We still have the fireplace to put in but we are debating if up here is the right place given how warm it can get in the afternoon.  One afternoon as I sat in the beautiful sun streaming in I was debating turning on my awesome fans (hmm wonder how hot summer is going to be – thankfully we have air-conditioning).





I’ve been quiet.. but we are in.

So I have been quiet but for good reason – we are in.

Its amazing!  100% amazing!  It feels like it is all a dream that is probably 13 years in the making.  We never bought this house as our forever house but now it is.  Every night we just sit her and pinch ourselves at how lucky we are.


It isn’t completely finished because in this wet Canberra winter we can’t get the render to dry enough before the next lot of rain comes through.  I think we are both content to wait until late August/early September to finish that part of.

For now close enough is good enough.

In love.


Carpet Ready

Not much happened at the house today. A couple of small finishes like broken glass fixed and some roofing but nothing too note worthy.  Everything is ready for tomorrow’s carpet.

In my head I have placed, replaced, purchased, returned furniture and am just waiting to start trying things out.  I took some final finals before the carpet goes done but I must look like I’m floating on cloud nine.


I need to take a good night shot from the front.. those up down lights are the bomb!


Moving Day – Day 1

With the house now clean and most of the furniture leaving temporarily on the back deck we decided to spend the day moving back into the old part of the house.  Woot woot


We can’t do too much because we still don’t have carpet in any of the new part of the house but we can get the old kitchen, dining and lounge in order.

Most of the day felt like we were just moving furniture around on the back deck to just find pieces for the old lounge room come music room.

My mum loves this picture because lets face it… cleaning makes me happy. Mr Sheen even brings back memories of Saturday chores (ha ha ha mum).


After four hours I’m pretty happy – none of this is new just repurposed from various other rooms. I think I want a rug but it is probably pretty low on the priority list.


The kids were so awesome today. Spending five hours with nothing to do other than trampoline jumping or book reading.  I decided to brave the cold weather and take our youngest ninja to the skate park for ninja warrior training.  He loved it.. his muscles at age 7 are just crazy… he should help me move some furniture this week. I’ve uploaded the video to my public facebook page.



Cleaning Day has arrived

Today and yesterday (Thursday) was all about cleaning.  Originally it was going to be carpet day but we ended up a couple of days over schedule.  I decided to just give the cleaners some space and not go over to the house (too much).

The outside of the house still isn’t done but probably wont be now until we get a couple of good days of sunshine.  They are still having some trouble getting the render to dry which means they haven’t been able to paint either.  I’m not too phased because as long as the inside is finished and we can live in it I don’t really care.

It is looking so beautiful!


How many cars can you fit at our house?


I think I counted nine cars at our house today at one stage.  It is the final push and it is amazing!

Also note that every single car is white!

Today we had

  • painters x 2
  • electricians x 2
  • builders x 2
  • roofers x 2
  • air conditioning
  • supply drop-off company
  • (and more)

We spent the day moving out of our rental house and onto the back deck and carport.  The house wont be ready for us to move straight into but thankfully my brother inlaw has offered for us to stay at their house whilst they are still away.

Inside the final fittings are happening.  I am completely in love with my black chandelier.  To me it is just a small insight into the humor of the house. Marky Mark may hit his head everytime he walks under it but nothing a strategically placed ottoman wont fix.


I think the neighbors will be happy when the skip gets removed.  It was completely full to the brim today (hmmm.. I was going to add to it but better not).


The road photo


My Beautiful House – the finish line in sight

We did call around to see the house yesterday afternoon but only had a good look today.  Painter Stan is there busily trying to finish it off which he reckons will be tomorrow.

We didn’t stay too long because the Wingman took one step in the house and touched a wall… grrrr… banished to the trampoline for the rest of the visit.

It is so nice to see all the past months improvements in person.  Looks so awesome.


Our South East Asian Adventure – The Best Of

I’m writing this post somewhere over the Indian Ocean, the Timor Sea or the Java Sea. Who am I kidding – I have no idea where we are.

We have spent the day relaxing by  the pool, eating at the local restaurant and then making our way from Phuket to KL and now onto Sydney.  We are on some ‘red-eye’, uber cheap flight with Air Asia and to be honest it isn’t that bad.  We must be paying about $250aud per person which is absolutely amazing for plane travel.

I figure now is as good of time as any to do our ‘best of’ for the Team Sawade tackles Asia experience. Overall I have enjoyed it but I certainly don’t have an itching to come back any time in the immediate future.  From the comfort of my beautiful Australia I am certainly very lucky to live in such a beautiful country that has a great standard of living, good health care, education and cherishes things like our beautiful beaches.  Simple things like waste management (which I thought Australia could improve in) is well advanced in comparison to some of the countries we went to.

So here is the best of:

  • Best Experience – for me it is the bike riding in Hanoi which on reflection was a crazy and hair pulling adventure BUT it is certainly one we aren’t going to forget.
  • Best Overall Destination – I really loved Hoi An and could probably come back and relax here for a week (if Marky Mark has his way we will… because he wants to stockpile his wardrobe).
  • Best AccommodationBangkok Chatrium Riverside.  To be honest we paid for it though and it was our only five star hotel.  I’d say the Eden Star in Cambodia was a great second.
  • Best Tour Guide – We really enjoyed Susan for Royal Vietnam Tourism and if we were to do it again we would request her to do the entire Vietnam experience with us. We only had one day with Rocky in Cambodia but I’d highly recommend him too (he works through Christinair)
  • Best Food –  I will never forget the deep fried Elephant fish on the Mekong so it has to get a mention.  But sad to say, the 4 P’s pizza (not even Asian) was a real highlight in Hanoi.
  • Best Learning – I throw out too much useful stuff that others could benefit from.
  • Best Photo – I love the one that Rocky took in Siam Reap with us looking through the ruins (see below)… certainly one for the wall.

Some negatives…

  • In Ho Chi Min our tour guide really stuck to the programme and we didn’t enjoy it.  We were pretty direct with things we didn’t want to do ‘eg. we don’t want to go to the Chinese Markets in Ho Chi Min’ which I think threw her off a little.
  • I didn’t feel particularly safe at the Chatuchak (Mohit) markets in Bangkok.  It was extremely crowded with narrow market stalls and streets, a lot of people and to be honest I thought if something was to happen I’d lose the kids and probably get trampled.
  • The Mondial hotel in Hue was part of the tour package and probably wasn’t up to the standard of the other hotels.  I feel their is a difference between a western focused hotel and Asian focused hotel and this hotel was definitely not aimed at westerners.

I’ve had a few people ask how we planned and organised our trip.  I get real pleasure in doing this all myself and finding the best deals and accommodation that suits us.  Here are my tips if you want to book it yourself.

  • As a minimum I try to get all accommodation with a pool because it is a good bargaining tool to use with the kids  ‘eg. we have the tour all day today but can then spend the evening in the pool’
  • Start looking at accommodation three months in advance and check the prices every day as the do change.  If you find a good deal on a booking site the hotel will normal match it plus guarantee additional requirements you have (eg. high floor, extra bedding, connecting rooms).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions, act dumb or just say it how it is.  I think we got the best experience from Susan in Hoi An because I was upfront with what we wanted, that the kids didn’t want to see another temple and that we wanted more down time relaxing.
  • Sometimes it pays to just ‘book it’.  I probably could have found better flights but I was starting to get anxious about it so I ended up just booking it. Sure, I might have saved an extra $100 but it was a weight lifted off my shoulders once booked.
  • Kids are capable.  Kids can do anything they set their mind do.  My kids pack and carry their own bag, if they lose their toothbrush they find a new one or use their own money to buy a new one.  The amount of parents I saw carrying bags for (what appeared like ) 10 year old children was astonishing.  If you can’t carry your own bag (and you are over 5) then you can’t come with us 😉

Our tour through Vietnam and Cambodia was through Royal Vietnam Tourism who I worked with to customise our requirements with.  It was a good private tour that was affordable but I’m sure you could get better if you were prepared to spend more money.  You have to laugh at their slogan on the bottom of emails ‘we are not the best but we are trying’.

I hate reading blogs like this and thinking ‘wonder how much that cost’ so I’m going to tell you.  This is my best guess and I didn’t really keep a running book on the entire trip.  I’d suggest it is approximately $15000 aud for the four weeks (maybe a little more).  We didn’t scrimp or splurge on anything and we do live pretty simply.  We don’t buy extravagant souvenirs or trinkets but we will spend money for a life experience.

I leave you with our top five from this trip.

ONE | Crusing Halong Bay


TWO | Bike Riding in Hanoi


THREE | Exploring Siem Reap


FOUR | Private Speedboat through the Adaman Sea (including jumping from the boat)


FIVE | Hiking up ‘the Peak’


(On reflection I think the Gremlin might have a different five).

Coming to an end


Our holiday is coming to an end.  You’d think I’d be sad but I’m so ready to go home.  I have loved the holiday and not only do I feel relaxed but I do feel like we have all learnt something from this Asian experience.

I really struggle to relax and just sit by the pool so this week as our friends have gone off to a variety of ‘extra’ shows, parks and events I have really tried to focus on just lounging and relaxing.  I think I have done well but the fact I am forcing myself to relax is a problem in itself.

Tonight Marky Mark and I had one of our romantic dinners (complimentary) whilst the kids lounged by the pool, sipping mocktails and playing on the giant chess board.  A beautiful jazz band played on so I was really happy that we had moved our dinner from the villa to the restaurant.

Our bags are pretty much packed and we are ready to head home – I can’t wait to see our house!