creative 1975

Renovation Road – is long

In Non-Fiction, Renovating/DIY on March 5, 2015 at 2:50 pm

The road to completing our renovation has been a long one. Does our enthusiasm wain? Heck yeah! —Although, at last there is an end in sight. When we moved home we could have bought a new house and just moved in and had nothing to do but explore New Zealand. This actually sounds quite nice and easy. So why didn’t we choose new and contemporary? Well… we did live somewhere for three years previous to moving to this farmstead and we were not happy there for at least two years, so we were relieved when we finally found somewhere else. The earthquakes hindered the move, but we got there eventually. We both liked this house because it was historical, charming, and quaint and needed a lot of TLC.

The house has had many changes over the years and the last time it was decorated was in the 1980’s, which included a fitted kitchen and possibly one of the bathrooms was replaced at the same time. The original kitchen used to be situated where we’ve created a study and previous to that it appeared to have been used as some kind of farmer’s (man) cave. I have my doubts that the wall covering comprising of wildlife was put up in the 80’s but rather the 70’s. Anyway, we became aware of these changes firstly because there’s evidence in the roof and a sepia photograph showing that part of the house used to be two storey and all of the ceilings have been lowered throughout.

Secondly, a couple of years ago, out of the blue, a guy knocked on the door and told me how he used to rent a room in the house back in his student days (during the early 1980’s). He decided to stop by this day whilst he was visiting Christchurch on business, having travelled down from the North Island where he currently lives. He enjoyed his trip down memory lane and told me how the house was back then. How there was a fire place in our bedroom and was in fact the room he lived in. It was certainly unexpected but quite fascinating to hear his stories about the place. There was one room he couldn’t explain as the door remained locked and perhaps that was where the owners stored their things whilst the house was rented to students. He told me there was a hallway that ran through where we have the living room through to the back room and so on. He could remember all the names who came and went and who was in each room.

At one time it would have been the only house down this road and the surrounding land was farmed for many years before acreage was sold off in lots of ten by the previous owners and other dwellings were built. It will be interesting to find out all its history when I have the time to research.

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Our home in the early 1900’s

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When we moved in 2011

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Our home 2013 with two new front windows and one coat of paint!

Renovating is one thing, but living in a property whilst doing the renovation is not easy, but it has become easier as each room has been done. Honestly, this was the worst property to clean that I’ve ever moved into. It took me at least a month to work my way round to make it liveable, my hands were swollen by the end. As the years have passed I cannot remember how many times I’ve cleared rooms, moved things and reorganised. We never would have taken on such a huge project if Mr C wasn’t a builder by trade. In addition, I too am hands-on, have vision, love designing interiors and creating a home from scratch is not only about the building work. I feel I’ve done a good job with the interior of this home on a tight budget, such as: curtains, light-fittings, upcycling furniture, making blinds, colour and ideas, flooring and laborious sanding and painting too. Mr C has done all the plumbing work himself and that was far from straight forward, as well as insulating the roof and under the house. It’s just as well that I love rustic and vintage as all the doors are original—early 1900’s—and taking them back to the wood after being painted and also covered with plywood has been a hard task. Some come up better than others and some we’ve opted to paint one side. The study door is actually bowed—it all adds to the character!

Building materials alone in NZ are ridiculously expensive and pretty shocking. For example: there are many old windows in this house, most are original sash windows. It would be impossible to replace them all so you choose the worst, the ones that have rotted and can’t be saved. To replace ‘one’ large window, like for like but double glazed was going to cost $6,000—we nearly keeled over! We opted for good old UPVC double glazing, which is still fairly new here and people still opt for double glazed aluminium. Mr C worked as a window fitter many years ago so we didn’t have to pay for installation. Nevertheless, what we paid to replace one large window and two smaller windows in our newly renovated living room amounted to what we’d spent years previously to replace ALL the windows and doors in our old home in the UK! Therefore, to replace all the windows in this house we would require a second mortgage!

The last largest project in the house is imminent. It will be done by the end of the year! I already have the butler sink, which a friend kindly brought over from the UK for me in a caravan he was importing (I would not have had a country-style butler sink otherwise, I can not find a new one for under $600), and the stove is on order, which is amazing and I can not wait to see it stood in my kitchen!  The kitchen wasn’t meant to be the last room, but living and working quarters became a priority as the kitchen is workable, although I do hate it with a vengeance after four years. “Let’s not even start with the cooker!” … “No let’s!” — It doesn’t even have a handle on the oven door anymore and only one ring works properly. And the sink, oh it’s so small, plus I do miss having a dishwasher now! We could have forsaken a cupboard and put one in, but half of my kitchen is still packed up anyway, so I didn’t really want to lose cupboard space!

The room has such wonderful potential as it’s a large space and before the living room was done, it was our kitchen, dining and living room for two years! So onwards and upwards! The last room is in sight!

Pictures are below of the kitchen as it is now, although photos can be deceptive! It looks better to me in snapshots than in reality.

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