creative 1975

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Renovations Underway Part II

In Renovating/DIY on October 20, 2011 at 1:12 am

I previously wrote about the prepping and decoration of our first project, including photographs.

I am not an experienced or qualified builder nor am I a qualified interior designer. In fact it’s my husband who works in construction and can turn his hand to most things in building, from carpentry and plastering to fitting kitchens. And we’ve shared our life together for the past nineteen years, therefore I’ve partly grown up in a construction world – from running our own business together specializing in suspended ceilings, partitioning and office refurbishment – to renovating a house a long time ago.

I have managed to pick up some knowledge along the way. However, my passion, determination and frugality mixed with my husband’s extensive career makes a good combination to take on the project. And let’s not forget an abundance of patience! or get carried away in my optimism – it’s only room one!

I will give most things ago and if I fail, then I’m happy (mostly) with knowing I’ve tried. Therefore, I don’t believe I need a diploma in Interior Design to create a home.

This is the bedroom when we first took possession, which my daughter had to sleep in for a couple of weeks until we settled in …moved her out and started the renovation.

This is the room now complete. She had an input on the kind of room she would like – “I’d like it to be more grown up – my dream room – and purple!”

The only item of furniture that is new in the bedroom is the bunk beds, which were bought locally and are New Zealand made. The wardrobe and chest of drawers are pretty old, but suffice at the moment. Designing a room for a pre-teen is a little tricky, so it’s best to be frugal in the furniture department because in a few years time it will all probably change! New handles can give furniture a new look at a reasonable cost and this is exactly what I did on the wardrobe, but unfortunately the supplier has let me down and I haven’t received the handles for the chest of drawers.

A long mirror and some grown-up wall art creatives a little dressing area all of her own. And somewhere to hang all those little bags – wrought iron chicken coat hooks to add a subtle essence of our farm style surroundings.

Restoring furniture

Giving old pieces of furniture a ‘spruce’ up is definitely worthwhile and cost effective. The desk in this bedroom has had exactly that, and serves its purpose and it’s an item of furniture we’ve owned for over ten years. It used to be a computer table, but with some parts taken off and a good detailed sand down, new handles and three coats of varnish it’s a new desk to be enjoyed.

A pin board is a great idea for pinning up favourite animals or pop stars and shelves are essential to store books and personal objects. The shelves have been measured and cut from a sheet of pine – sanded down and given a couple of coats of varnish. The brackets have been bought from a local hardware store.

Window Dressing

I find fabric quite difficult to decide on – the colour – the pattern and so forth, as it’s going to adorn the window for quite some time. However, I did decide to make a roman blind myself. They’re cheaper to make than curtains as they require less fabric and I felt that a blind would suit the position of the window best as it is situated so close to the wall. It was experimental – as it’s my first one and I also wanted to find out how economical I could make it. I used dress fabric, which you’re not really supposed to do, but it’s less than half the price of drape fabric. I did purchase the lining at no cost difference as the backing had to be right. Because of the fabric I used I couldn’t get the required width, therefore I opted for a border to overcome this. I then referred to my ‘how to’ book and my sewing friend’s advice of: measure twice, cut once! The total cost of the blind, including all materials worked out at $106 NZD


Is a room complete with out accessories? Of course it isn’t – it’s the final touches that bring it all together, whether it’s a few scatter cushions or an ornate lamp. You can plan and shop for the room’s accompaniments before or during the refurbishment. These last components don’t have to cost the earth if you shop around – online stores and local shops, they all have sales. I check into Internet sites on a weekly basis looking for their weekly sales – searching for accessories that would suit the room and also what our daughter would like. She chose a few herself too.

© Victoria Clements 2011


Renovations Underway

In Renovating/DIY on October 18, 2011 at 2:22 am

Situated amongst a rural setting in a desirable Canterbury location… our renovation adventure begins with the first room. The time has come to bestow tender loving care upon an old kiwi homestead, which was built in the late 1800’s. It could have been an early settlers home. It’s steeped in history and times gone by are buried within the heart of this character home. It’s worthy of preservation.

This bedroom awaits a transformation in to a haven for a little girl who’s at the stage in her life where she still wants to play with dolls and toys, but she also likes to be grown up and have her own space to do ‘whatever’.

The walls had been papered four times with the final layer painted lime green as show in the picture.

The door and architrave, skirting board and sash window were painted blue with layers of white paint underneath. The carpet had seen better days to say the least and didn’t have any underlay.


Stripping any room for decoration is painstaking yet vital. It’s the ‘prep’ that requires attention to detail, whether you are going to wall paper or paint. The walls in this room (and any old property) were fragile and re-plastering was inevitable.

To remove wall paper it is worthwhile investing in a competent steamer, which will soak the paper thoroughly and allow you to scrape if off much quicker. Always use caution when using anything hot and electrical and read the instructions before you use it. The same applies to stripping paint off woodwork – a heat gun is an effective tool and you must also use this with caution, read instructions and wear a face mask as the heat of the paint will emit unpleasant fumes.

Interior Walls

A quick and simple way to achieve perfect walls is to (GIB) plasterboard them. This room in particular had one wall already done, which meant that a steamer was not appropriate to strip the paper as it would soak the plasterboard too much. A wet sponge was used instead. We chose to plasterboard the wall beside the door as it completely came away during preparation and the lathe and plaster was exposed. We decided not to plasterboard two of the remaining walls as the boards would be sitting on top of the skirting board. To avoid this you’d need to re-fit the skirting. It’s personal preference. Therefore, two of the walls were re-plastered.

Wall Preparation:

  1. Strip wall paper using a steamer or sponge and water and a good scraper.
  2. Sand walls to give an even clean area using an electric sander.
  3. Re-stop (re-plaster), joints on existing plasterboard. Sand down.
  4. Apply a ‘prep’ coat of emulsion in your chosen colour. This allows you to see all the imperfections that require further plastering.
  5. Sand down any re-plastered areas.
  6. Emulsion all areas. Two coats or more are recommended for a good finish.

 The Woodwork

If you’re not replacing it – try to preserve it the best that you can. The door, architrave and skirting boards required a lot of attention in this room as they had been painted with a dark colour. We chose to strip them and paint them white. The side of the door in the bedroom, we stripped and painted white and the outside back to its natural wood. For best results use a heat gun, but be careful – you don’t want all the wood burnt. Take it easy and read the instructions. Keep the gun at a reasonable distance from the area you’re doing and when it begins to bubble scrape the paint away. Try to get in to a ‘flow’ as you go! and wear a face mask as much as you can. Keep little tools at hand to scrape the nooks and crannies!

You can’t always get wood this old back to looking like new and there will be areas that are tougher than others – sometimes the paint glides off and other times it doesn’t. Paint strippers can be used as well, but obviously not at the same time as the heat method.

When all the wood is stripped back it will need a good sand with an electric sander and even a detailed sander to get in to the more intricate areas (a piece of sandpaper folded does just the same job). Go down in grades with sandpaper from coarse to medium etc. Note: If borer is evident you may want to treat it before you move on.

Apply a prep coat and then you can see imperfections that require filling with wood filler. Once all the wood is prepped, apply at least three coats of paint. If you’re leaving anything unpainted and prefer natural wood you can use a stain or a varnish.

The Ceiling had been lowered at some stage using  plasterboard and was unfortunately papered. Therefore, it required the laborious job of using the wet sponge method to scrape it off, followed by three coats of paint.

The sash window needed fixing. A new sash cord and catch. Stripped and painted in the same manner as the skirting board and door.

The door required a lot of work – heat stripping, paint stripping, scraping and a vast amount of sanding, new hinges and a new door handle.

Lighting was simple enough, nothing to sand or paint! Just a difficult decision for our daughter to make whilst perusing different lights – with a price limit!

Flooring consists of a short pile carpet and underlay. Materials included a door bar and gripper rods. This carpet was purchased at low cost as it was a factory second. Colour – silvery grey.

© Victoria Clements 2011

Next blog …coming soon: Accessories, window dressing, furniture and the completed bedroom.