Category Archives: My house

A lot of things can be destroyed in a week….

So, we’re now just over one week into the renovations I’m doing on my house. The house is chaos – stuff in boxes everywhere, and a lovely layer of dust in many areas from the builders carting bricks and timber and all sorts of other things through the house to the skip bins out the front and back doors. I’m trying to pretend the dust isn’t there – not much point in sweeping it up in the evening when it’ll appear again immediately once they start work the next day. I’m looking forward to doing a huge clean of the house once the removing-of-old-parts is over and there isn’t much more dust to appear!

They’ve done a lot in the past week – it’s going faster than I expected, actually! (Although since I’ve never done any renovations before, I didn’t really know what to expect other than everyone telling me it’ll take longer and cost more than I’d planned.) Here’s a brief summary of what’s been done so far, with some key photos from along the way….

They’ve taken down the chimney and covered over where it was.

Chimney - one third left

Chimney - one third left

Chimney - all gone

Chimney - all gone

They’ve uncovered the old brick fireplace in my bedroom, and removed it.

The walled-over fireplace in my room, before renovations

The walled-over fireplace in my room, before renovations

My room - fireplace revealed from behind the wall

My room - fireplace revealed from behind the wall

Front bedroom walled-over fireplace revealed from behind the brick fireplace

Front bedroom walled-over fireplace revealed from behind the brick fireplace

No more fireplaces

No more fireplaces

And they’ve taken off the coverings and the sarking on the walls in my room, all ready to put in insulation.

My bedbroom walls before renovations

My bedroom walls before renovations

My bedroom walls, laid bare for insulation

My bedroom walls, laid bare for insulation

The builders are back on the job tomorrow, so we’re getting ready for some more destruction! Next things that are being done – taking the wet walls off from around the shower to fix the broken mixer; removing the wall between the two downstairs bedrooms in preparation for putting in the walk-in wardrobes; replacing one of the upstairs windows with a timber-framed double-glazed window (since the one in there at the moment isn’t suitable for the room and doesn’t open).

Let the chaos begin…..

It’s official – my very first attempt at home renovations is about to begin! And I admit it – I’m slightly scared…..

For those who don’t know, I bought myself a lovely old house about a year and a half ago. The original section of it dates from the 1890′s or thereabouts (no one knows for sure) and it’s been added onto at various times (once again, no one quite knows when). So it’s a bit of a hodge-podge, sprawling cottage. Which gives it lots of character, in my opinion. :-)

However, it has four main issues with it, all of which I intend to deal with.

The first issue is – it’s all white! All of it!!! (Well, except the bathroom walls, which are a pale lemon yellow.) Every single other wall in this house is painted off white. Including the outside walls. And as anyone who knows me will tell you – I’m far more of a colour girl. I’ve actually become accustomed to the off-white walls in the hallway, lounge and kitchen (for two reasons – they’re great for hanging artwork, and my purple lounge suite looks fab against them. Woo hoo!), but the rest of the place is, well, bland. Or I think it is, anyway. Especially my bedroom. (I’ve even had friends tell me they were surprised the first time they went into my room and saw white walls.) So, clearly some more colour needs to be added!

The second issue is one common to pretty much all old, wooden houses in New Zealand. They aren’t insulated. Crazy, but true. Brrrrr! So, that also needs to be changed!

The third issue is the chimney. The cottage used to have a back-to-back fireplace in the wall of two of the bedrooms, which has been completely boarded over. However, the brick chimney is still raised up proudly a good 1.5 metres above the roof. And Wellington is in quite a major earthquake zone, so having a chimney looming over two of the bedrooms makes me nervous. Very nervous at times.

The fourth issue is the kitchen. Half 1980′s, half 1950′s, it’s an impractical mess. So much room for bench space, and someone (or a succession of past-owner-someones) has done a variety of odd things resulting in virtually no bench space. Not ideal for someone who likes to bake!

So, I’ve been a good little girl and been saving my pennies, and I’m about to get my first lot of fixes done! Exciting!

Since some of them require quite a bit of technical skill, I’ve gone with the safe (although admittedly less fun) option and hired someone to take care of it all for me. They were around today to put up the scaffolding, and the work starts on Wednesday.

So, what am I getting done first? (Not all of it, sadly, as my budget doesn’t extend anywhere near that far!) It’s focused around the two downstairs bedrooms to begin with. That scary looming chimney is coming down, the walled-over fireplaces are being taken out and nice, big, walk-in wardrobes are being added. (More storage space! More space for fabric! Yippieeeeee!!!!) The ceiling in my room is getting insulated, as are the two outside walls, and both rooms are getting painted. My room will be a nice, sunny yellow and the front bedroom (where my flatmate Sam lives at the moment) will be a deep, bright green.

All quite exciting stuff, really. :-) I’m rather looking forward to seeing the end result, especially with the warmer, more colourful rooms with the added storage!

However, the amount of work being done in my room means I somehow have to move everything out of there. And I mean *everything*. Which is quite a bit, since my bedroom is also my sewing room. Naturally, the first priority is finding a new home for my sewing machines for 2-3 weeks, as I go a bit stir-crazy when I’m separated from them for too long!

The sewing must go on, even if the house is in complete and utter chaos!!!!

Ugly Duckling houses

I’m feeling somewhat grown-up (well, it’s actually more that I feel like playing grown-ups than actually feeling like I *am* grown up). Which means that I am doing the grown-up type thing of house hunting. Yay!! Very very exciting. :-) It’s kinda like the grown-up version of playing with dolls houses, I reckon. And heaps of fun! :-)

I’ve been looking around for the past month now. Seen some lovely places, seen some not-so-lovely places. I’ve discovered that I tend to always gravitate towards places built in the early 1900′s (or even earlier, in the case of the utterly gorgeous 150-year-old orange-with-purple-trim little farm cottage that I put my very first offer in on. And sadly missed out on. :-( But that’s ok, coz I am of the opinion that there is always going to be something better around the corner if you miss out on a house. And besides, the kitchen was really just far too tiny. So.).

Spotted a house online last weekend, and went to have a look at it on Monday. Liked it enough, my lovely friend Teresa has helped me out by checking out the title for me (not only a lovely person, but a lovely person who knows stuff about property law, which is rather awesome at times like this). Went back and had a second look around it today. Have decided that I’m gonna get a builders report done, have a chat to a solicitor, and put an offer in when the tender comes up in early June. Fingers crossed I get it, coz I rather likes it!!

It’s very much an ugly-duckling cottage, though. Two bedrooms, built pre-1914. Looks like it hasn’t been touched since the 1960′s or 70′s. The kitchen has retro green-yellow-and-orange floral wallpaper, and fake wood veneer on the cupboard doors. Hideous combination. (Although I’m planning on keeping the wallpaper, coz I rather like it. Typical.) The bathroom is particularly stunning in it’s retro styles – blue bath, blue sink, blue-green-white floral wallpaper, and even a blue toilet! (Yep, also gonna keep most of that the same.)

The outside, though, is rather hideous. Looks like a faded blue-grey box in need of a paint job. In memory of the cottage I missed out on, if I get this place, I am seriously considering painting the outside a sunny yellow-orange, with plum coloured trim. And putting window boxes on the front windows. Yay!!

(Needless to say, it seems that ugly-duckling houses capture my imagination rather well. Figure. This probably says quite a lot about my personality, and why I never seem to have any free time….)

Anyways, stay tuned to see the outcome….!