Building, Decor, Design

From growing – to table – in just seven steps.

THE FUN BIT FOR ME is designing and decorating the spaces at Fernlea, when it comes to the design the Hobbit gets involved but he leaves the overall decor to me.

Right now the piazza area around the pink greenhouse, and the Ladybird Cafe is demanding all our attention. The piazza area will be at the heart of Fernlea, where we will grow vegetables which we can take straight to the table, and in just seven steps.

I can imagine pottering in the greenhouse and picking food to cook or preserve, I can smell freshly brewed coffee, and see myself sitting with the sun on my back chatting to the Hobbit, family, friends, and guests.

Enough dreaming and back to reality because we have a wee bit to still do, sigh. I find drawing a plan helps in our discussions because at times it feels the Hobbit and I are from different planets, so a plan removes any confusion.


With the plan in place the Hobbit focuses on the build, while I ponder over paint options and spend many hours online looking for furniture that will fit our needs and budget. I put together a little mood-board to help me get a sense of the ‘look’ I am trying to achieve, and I have decided to keep this area feminine, elegant, eclectic and above all simply gorgeous. moodboard

shandong-cabinet-About two months ago the Hobbit and I went out for brunch in Newmarket, Auckland, and stumbled on a beautiful Chinese antique buffet table, well we think it is, at a shop called Cuchi. 

We bought the buffet table and will use it to store the crockery and cutlery, and provide a place to lay out the food at meal times.

20170820_133730Next on the list was to get a table and chairs that would seat at least twelve. I saw online, at Design Warehouse, black and white outdoor chairs and immediately knew I wanted them, they looked elegant but their old fashioned Bentwood shape stopped them from being too cutting edge.

The chairs, I felt, would be best paired with an outdoor concrete table to keep the design simple and clean.  The table we bought, also from the Design Warehouse, is three metres long with tapered legs, which means when we have 12 to 14 people around the table no-one will have table legs to negotiate.

Dining room table

Our plan also calls for a lounge area with a large cantilever umbrella. The outdoor furniture we bought is light enough for me to pick up, which will be great when cleaning but more importantly so we can move it around the area with ease, depending on what event we are having.

Now the Hobbit has had the same BBQ for over 30 years and I thought it was time for an upgrade that would better suit our needs, especially if we want to do justice to our produce we cook. We intend to cook on a BBQ most of the time, using the Ladybird Cafe to prep food, make coffee, bake and do preserving.

For over a year we have been looking at BBQs whenever we happened to be in a BBQ store and we eyed out and evaluated the Braaimaxx. It won 1st Prize at Spoga Show, Germany in 2009 for “Best Innovation in BBQs” category, it is insulated with nonstick coating which the manufacturers say makes it very easy to clean. The two independent cooking areas means we can have a roast in one, while cooking a stir fry,  pizza or paella in the other.

When we were buying the BBQ, I asked the Hobbit who he would let use it, and I ran through the names of all our friends and family and each time I mentioned someone he said ‘no’, so it looks like he will be the only one using the BBQ. I certainly won’t be demanding a turn.

While I have been busy choosing and buying furniture the Hobbit has been equally busy reviewing our water and power needs, remember we are off grid.  He has organised a 2500 litre water tank and small pump, we will need to pump water to the cafe and it will also be pumped into a header tank and then gravity fed to water the plants. For our power needs, he has been helped by Geoff Albert from MPower who has advised the Hobbit to buy two gel batteries each storing 560 amps, and two solar panels each with the maximum potential output of 310 watts.

Hopefully we have all the angles covered and when the Hobbit has finished the construction, and I have done the painting and decorating we will be able to indulge ourselves in creating perfect memories in our little slice of heaven, in the meantime the furniture and the Hobbit’s new BBQ are stored in readiness.

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