Sunday Evening Gossip

Hi Folks

We recently went shopping at one of my favourite wholesalers Bibina.  I love going to Bibina as we can pick up very different types of bulk foods and groceries compared what's available at Aldi, Woolworths of Coles. Like any store, it is still important to be be savvy with the prices we pay, but the variety and stock is fascinatingly different.  The main post picture is of some nuts and lentils and the next couple of pictures also gives you the feel of the warehouse.

Drums and huge glass jars of pickles, oils, fruits and preserves.

So many different types of flours.....

Far more interesting than a shopping centre.

Huge tin cans of olives, fruit, fish, pickles and consumables.

There are so many good quality European, middle eastern and Asian foods here that we simply cannot get at a normal supermarket.  I also love the huge glass jars that so many of the preserves come in - you would pay a fortune just for the jar normally.

Me: "Oh, can we get that?"
Mrs HM:  "10kg of rollmopps!!??"
Me (whispers meekly): "I like the big jar..."
Mrs HM: (the look) ..... (moves to next aisle without wasting breath answering)

In other news, we have been painting.  I love the transformation from old to fresh, stained to sparkling, daggy to serene as the next few photos show ....

Cutting in ....

Patching holes and covering stubborn stains ....

Paint central.
We are  using Dulux Antique White USA.

Old versus new.  The walls in the kitchen are very oily and
need many more washes before I can paint - I'm leaving
that till last.

Just like new - Bedroom 3
The 40 year old Berber wool carpet eventually came up
looking respectable after a zillion go-overs with the rented
Britex machine.

Just like new - Bedroom 4
(actually, it probably is the original sun room)
I love the pattern the 1970's light fitting casts on the top of the walls

We have a few challenges too - what would you do with both these following scenarios that does not cost lots of money?

This mid 1970's kitchen made of laminated chip board is
pretty ugly and worn and the once-apple-green bench top is also
looking as appealing as a dropped pie (very scratched and faded).
What would you do without spending too much?

This mid 1970's air conditioner was built into the brick feature
wall from new. It is now beyond repair.
What would you do with the gaping hole it will leave?
(No, I do not have any of the original bricks)

Your ideas on both these challenges would be of great interest to me folks!

We are having a lovely Sunday evening here listening to the rain.  Mrs HM and I are resting in our recliners with a cuppa and English muffins with butter and honey.  Mrs HM is working on a knitted baby blanket for her new great niece and I am typing (obviously!). There are a few gentle conversations happening here and there as we think of things, Toshi-the-cat and Toby-the-dog are successfully re-triggering the cold war and the girls are organising themselves in their rooms for Monday morning.

We hope you are having a contented Sunday evening too.

Mr HM (Phil)


  1. i'm guessing here but with you painting & wanting ideas i take it you have bought yourself a lovely little home?
    i would put a fixed window where the aircon is & look on gumtree for bargain kitchen cupboards or scrounge around the opshops; there is also some treatment you can do for old laminate, you may have to google that but it comes up rather nice
    good luck
    thanxx for sharing

  2. Having a very contented evening in Melbourne curled up in a blanket listening to the rain coming down.
    If you do find an answer to the 'hole in the wall' problem do let us know. I look our air con unit (similar to yours in age and style) in the eye at the start of each summer and tell it to behave. It's only used on the rare ocassion when it's too humid for the whole of house 'swampy' but I'd hate to lose it because like you we'd have a bl****dy great big hole in the wall:) Inside is easy to fix - it's the brick outside that would be the problem.
    Thanks for all your articles and common sense answers to 'today's problems'

  3. I agree with Selina. A window where the AC is, if appropriate. You can make it a larger window by removing more bricks.
    I have read about peel and stick tiles that are cheaper than traditional ones. Perhaps those can be used on benchtops.

  4. Excellent save on the carpet. If it's wool Berber, I bet it's as beautiful in person as it is on my computer screen.

    Can you reface the cabinets, saving the boxes but putting on new drawer fronts and doors? I guess that would only work if they are standard size.

    Yikes, the air conditioner is a tough one! My first thought is after you remove it and board/brick it up, put a homemade decorative screen in front of it. It'd be a backdrop for the sofa as well as cover up that spot in the wall.

    Thanks for sharing. It'll be interesting to see what frugal solutions you come up with.

  5. Hi don't know much about air conditioners but a little experience with the low end of kitchens. We moved into a place which only had a sink and a couple of cupboards beside it, it was only one unit and nothing else. As this living arrangement is only temporary but could be years, but as I like to cook mainly from scratch something had to be done quick. I looked and looked on gumtree for a second hand kitchen either in 'kitchens' or 'free' and finally found cupboards that would fit in the area for a low price and did have a corner unit made from a cabinetmaker at the size that would fit in. Bunnings only carried one corner cupboard and only one measurement. This all needed to be assembled and fortunately a friend arrived from down south who has built several houses and assisted with the assembly, was I excited when the new wall oven was installed. It did take a lot of time before I found the units and fortunately they were all white. I have very little bench space and the existing bench top is adequate. Whilst I was looking there were numerous complete kitchens some cheap and others way overpriced but just kept looking. Also changing handles can make a big difference to the appearance but can be expensive if buying new, keep an eye out again on gumtree or even e bay.
    As usual if you can do the labour yourself you will save a lot.
    Melinda (SEQld)

  6. Gee I wish we had Bibina or something like it where I live. Mr HM good paint colour choice. I have the interior walls of my house painted in Antique White USA. It looks good and I ways get compliments about it. I did initially make the mistake of buying Antique White which is not to be confused with Antique White USA. I also use the Haymes brand as I find other brands are different. Happy painting Mr HM, I’m sure you will be pleased with the results. Lisa W. Tasmania.

  7. When you remove the air con i would line the area with some timber and make it into a built in shelf. Great post about Bibina- i wish we had a place like that in NZ or even an Aldi for competition with the other 2 supermarkets would be good. I would love to shop in a store like Bibina. As far as the benchtops go even though there are plenty for sale on Gumtree etc could you get them the right size that you need? have you priced out polished concrete bench tops as 1 option- you could probably do it yourself.

  8. Sounds quite cosy at your new? place, Mr HM. I think you can paint laminate benchtops though there'd be some prep involved there. And the drawers would look a lot better with just new (salvaged?) drawer knobs. Meg

  9. Bibina reminds me of Gaganis here in Adelaide. I kind of have to avoid the place or I bring home about 9 kinds of dried beans... it appeals to my prepper/survivalist instinct.

    Painting can really spruce up a place right? I'm not a fan of yellow based walls, and love an antique white.

    Could you paint the kitchen cupboards with a white paint, and pick up some lovely brass handles for them? I'd change out the benchtop with a wooden IKEA one from the 'seconds' section, or keep an eye on gumtree/freecycle for one.

    As for the spot where the air con is, I'd probably put up some gyprock with insulation, and hang a painting over it!

  10. You could replace the air con with bricks that are the closest match and I'm sure if you went to an antique store or recycle place you could get something close to it. After that I would hang a large painting or print over it anyway or a rug/runner for interest as a wall hanging. Also check out Cherie Barber "renovating for profit" website as she ha amazing tips for making over old kitchens using paint over cupboards. Also "the painted hive" Aussie blog has amazing makeovers on a budget as well kitchens and bathrooms.

  11. You could use a painting you already have to cover the hole in the wall for now.

    You can certainly get cheap, second hand cabinets on sites like Buy, Swap, Sell, and sometimes they are very near new. But it can be tricky to get them to fit your lay out. If you are good at building things I would get some reclaimed timber and build a very simple kitchen with all open shelving. Friends built a long wooden bench and beneath it store big galvanised bins of bulk foods and a shelf of pots and pans. Their other food is in an open walk-in pantry. More shelving above the benches can hold plates, glasses etc...and they have a timber drying rack suspended from the ceiling over the sink. May not suit you, but can be very functional for people who cook from scratch a lot.


  12. If not a wondow, you could make a nook or shelf to house a few little things. We did the same at our unit. I think nowadays there is a type of paint suitable to paint the laminex with...paint the cupboards and change those knobs. You won’t believe the difference! Nothing better than fresh paint!

  13. Hi Phil and if you have bought yourselves a home then congratulations and may you have many more happy years there together as a family.

    We have done house renovations and I have worked in both building hardware and cut lumber for builders so have a fair amount of experience with both technical building and renovations too.

    The lowest cost option for the kitchen would be to paint the lovely :0 lime green laminate kitchen tops (what were they thinking of with bright orange and lime back then) with laminate paint in your choice of colours (available in most hardware stores) the range comes in a undercoat first followed by a top coat. With the I am assuming plastic handles you can also buy a spray paint for plastic handles as well that you could paint the handles with or alternatively just replace the handles with ones you like. A lot of nice low cost ones available on eBay. You can always save up to have the bench tops replaced later and source them from tip shops, building recycling centres etc.

    With the hole in the wall the window is a good idea. I have a few other options for you which is you can turn that into a recessed shelving area to put lanterns, candles and ornaments in or turn it into a cupboard to store items in. If the hole goes all the way through to the outside wall of the house (usually do) you can put insulation batts in there before building the inside cupboard. The outside you can cover with marine ply after building a framework inside the hole, which you can paint and turn that section of the wall outside into a hanging herb garden or if you are artistic turn it into a mural.

    I hope this helps and you can get technical hints to do all of this on Google through instruction videos or ask for tech info from a builder friend.


  14. Hi
    We have the same issue of old box aircon in a block house. We don't need the extra ventilation, so will use old cedar, stained, on inside and place etched glass in the centre as a feature. I would have like a stained glass piece but it is only a small rectangle. If you kitchen carcass are still sound, laminate paint is cheap and works OK , and add different handles to refresh. This would be a cheap fix. good luck!

  15. My friend Scarlet painted her kitchen cupboards, twice. See here:

  16. Love those "ethnic" food store for unusual bulk items!

    Kitchen: I would replace the handles, paint or replace the doors (white!) and paint or replace the top, it will make a huge difference to the space.

    Air con: we removed similar from our kitchen when we did the big reno and our builder filled in the hole inside and replaced the weatherboards outside. Its not such a big job for a builder if they know what they are doing. I wouldn't recommend doing it yourself because you may compromise the integrity of your house structure (if you don't get it weather tight).

  17. Hi, will you need an aircon in summer? You could replace it with one that works or make it into a window. I have a small stained glass window where an aircon once was. I would also paint the benchtops, I painted all my Kitchen cupboards with laminate paint. Its a big job but worth it. Kaye.

  18. We put a lead light window where our old air con lived. It looked fantastic!!!
    Love your blog

  19. A couple of people have already made my suggestion, but if you're doing up to sell, consider the aesthetic value alone. While a window would let light in, it's not a big enough space to create much of an aesthetic. But a stained glass window, on the other hand, would. Let's in some light, but mostly creates ambiance of a bygone era, when craftsmanship, was always considered part of the home.

    Before doing anything though, check the market prices of houses selling in your area, and set a budget for renovations. Avoid overcapitalising, if you can. About the kitchen bench, it depends how many wood tools you have to work with, but you can make your own wooden benches, with recycled wood - so long as they're cleanly sourced supplies.

    I second, painting the laminate too, and downsize to smaller handles, as those larger ones, dwarf the cabinetry, making them appear smaller than they are. If you're going for resale value, you want to renovate, to make a small space, look larger. Good luck with your choices.


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