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We nearly made it to the end … but now it’s time to say goodbye

In Renovating/DIY on January 29, 2018 at 9:20 am

I’m finding the words to begin this post. The most difficult post on my blog to write. I started this blog in 2011 because I like to write and after moving to our ‘project’ …our new home, it inspired me to document the journey. I made time when possible to make entries as we journeyed on renovating our lovely rural home. A home that has given us experiences, creativity, hard work as well as love, laughter and many good memories, especially as our daughter grew from being ten years old into a beautiful and talented young lady of sixteen. It is of great sadness and heartbreak that this will be my last post about the house and the reason I began this blog in the first place. Heartbroken because on the 19th of September I lost the very heart of our project, my darling husband Steve. He passed away following a cardiac arrest at our home. My daughter and I have been devastated by his sudden passing. The past few months have been the darkest of my life and I have no choice but to carry on with my own journey without my soul mate of twenty-five years. Everyday missing his arms wrapped around me, now replaced with sorrow and the unknown. With all my youth spent with this special man, I now have to carry on through middle age without him.

Living Room Before & After

Kitchen Before & After






Study and Laundry Before & After

Bathroom Before & After


Bedroom and En-suite Before & After

Daughter’s Bedroom (At age 10) Before & After

And all the other things a long the way…







The Kitchen

In Non-Fiction, Renovating/DIY on January 11, 2018 at 10:44 pm


Four years of planning and ‘Mind-blowing’ was my reaction when I got home from England to the old kitchen gone and the new one was in!

The planning I did for this kitchen, albeit it had been four years in theory, was done fairly quickly in comparison to other projects as Mr C wanted to strip the room and do as much as possible with renovating it, including fitting a new kitchen whilst I was a way for five weeks in England with our daughter. As with the rest of the renovation we we’re on a tight budget and finding the right type of cupboard front was proving quite difficult as quality kitchens are ridiculously expensive in New Zealand and the DIY stores just didn’t cut it when it come to completing our country kitchen. I had almost given up hope that we’d ever find what we we’re looking for (even going so far as to looking into importing from the UK), until one day and by chance whilst standing in a kitchen store and close to giving up there was one random door leaning up against the wall, our hope was restored. I sourced the handles on the Internet for half the price of store bought and after choosing between a couple of samples, came to a happy decision—finally one of the main aspects of the new kitchen was absolute! Then it was time to choose tiles. Another dilemma and time spent playing around with samples, looking for rustic and easy care—liked the slate, but nope, when you wipe them with a damp cloth, most of the cloth was left behind on the tile! So glossy and practical it was! Small tiles were first choice until it was discovered for the same cubic area as the larger tile they were going to cost twice as much! Crazy! So the larger tile it was! Decisions, decisions! The sink wasn’t a problem as this had been stored in the garage for the past two years— A country-style butler sink brought over from England by a friend whom at the time was importing a caravan! I would often think of this sink whilst I washed up in the tiny sink we had and how one day it would be eventually installed! Two years later—et voila!

The flooring was going to be laminate and this was up to Mr C as I wasn’t going to be around for any input on this as we’d run out of time to sort this item before I left the country. It all turned out well though and Mr C chose a good colour that suits! The oven wasn’t a problem either as that had also been sitting in the garage, not for two years though, just for six months. The bespoke counter tops were made beautifully by Mr C from reclaimed Rimu and have added a rustic country-style finish as well as being inexpensive in comparison to the favoured marble top. It was a compromise that I am more than happy with. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. When there are always things when renovating that you know you’d do differently or areas you could have saved money on at the time, but it wasn’t obvious until later.

What you favour isn’t always possible and frugality doesn’t always succeed

So there we have it… four years on, a new country kitchen to enjoy! Waving goodbye with joy to the unreliable cooker and the 1980’s design, not to mention the horrid sink.






Personal note: This post has been posted more than two years after actual completion in August 2015. Due to the general busyness of life this final room in our six year long renovation wasn’t posted until now (Jan 2018). I wish to dedicate this last post on my blog about the renovation and the very reason I started writing it, to my late husband Mr C who unexpectedly passed away 19th September 2017. Me and my daughter miss him every single day. Together for 25 years, life without him is difficult to adjust to and it’s with great sadness after the past six years we spent renovating our lovely kiwi farmstead I am moving to another home with my daughter soon.

Rest in peace my love, I’m sure that all the work you’ve done to our home will be loved for many more years to come.

In loving memory of Steven Michael Clements

20th August 1969 – 19th September 2017

‘Loved always and forever’



In Renovating/DIY on November 9, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Collage 2015-11-01 20_55_05-1

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.


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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The Back Room

In Renovating/DIY on February 8, 2015 at 8:12 am

I know I’ve said this before, but this room has been a huge transformation from what it was previously. Also, it was an idea that has waited over three years to be achieved. This is where We call it the Laundry Room but it’s much more and one hell of a large laundry room to be just that. It’s the storage hub of the home and the back entrance to the house too. The house had no storage and now it does! It’s so nice to do the washing without squeezing in to the tiny space where the washing machine used to live; shutting the door before you could open the machine door, move the basket, open door again – Oh! Such a pain! Not anymore! Plus I can do the ironing in the same room, although come winter and no heating, I’m not sure if I will be in there then!

We also have a sink—excellent—somewhere to wash hands after seeing to the animals and gardening. And (oh so exiting) we have a place to hang coats and put shoes! Hooray! It’s amazing how being without organisation of such things brings such joy when you have them!

There is a linen cupboard, so no more keeping linen in wardrobes or draws and other bedding items in zip bags! To have organisation in the house after all this time with things such things as bedding and somewhere to put the vacuum and ironing board is immense for me.

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So what did we do? Well… Mr C did nearly everything, however my ideas are awesome of course! I did do quite a bit of painting and spent a boring amount of time stripping, sanding and painting the very old window. It doesn’t open anymore, but doesn’t need to with a door right next to it. It was in pretty bad shape when I started stripping it back. I’ve considered putting a blind up and decided not to for now as the room doesn’t get much light as it is and there’s no privacy required, however I might dress the window in the future. We made good use of the long back wall and Mr C built in the huge cupboards using MDF and pine. He did all the plumbing himself (because he’s clever like that) and bought the base units, new sink and taps and plumbed in the washing machine. The plumbing was complex and took some time to achieve because the waste had to join the bathroom and fortunately he was able to just about reach the pipes under the house by taking up the floor. He used the remainder of the pine to make a counter top, which we decided to stain much darker than the cupboards to give a bit of light and shade, and as I had already got the coat rack and shoe store in my mind to be rustic, it would fit perfectly with that too.

Hunting around for the coat rack was proving difficult, I knew what I wanted but could not find it, unless we were going to pay a silly amount of money. Mr C then remembered the raw cut up macrocarpa timber in his workshop—perfect! He sanded and stained the wood to create the most wonderful rustic coat rack and shoe shelves too. They are the most favourite thing of mine in the room!


Read the rest of this entry »

The Study Room

In Renovating/DIY on March 28, 2014 at 1:24 pm

A study is a room in a house which is used for paperwork, computer work, or reading. Historically, the study of a house was reserved for use as the private office and reading room of a family father as the formal head of a household, but today studies are generally either used to operate a home business or else open to the whole family. ~ Wikipedia

The renovation hill we’ve been climbing for nearly three year’s still feels steep at times, however we’ve made remarkable progress and I guess it’s becoming not as high to climb as it used to be. We are going to create a study and laundry in what we call the back room, aka ‘the leery room’. It’s the same sized room as the living room. They are both situated alongside of each other at the front part of the house. It’s in a similar state to what the living room once was with its dilapidated windows, dated décor and worn-out carpet.

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It’s a large enough space to make one room into two, giving the whole area functionality and practicality—a study and a laundry/storage area. We decided to make the front part of the room (with the large window) in to the study and the other half into a laundry; a place that would accommodate so much. Therefore, the entrance into the laundry is via the main hallway of the house and it is also the part of the room where the back entrance can be found. Eventually the laundry/storage room will accommodate: a linen cupboard, washing machine, somewhere to wash your hands coming in from the garden and so much more…

We have never lived nor renovated a home with the rare décor this room has, hence naming it the ‘leery’ room. All the walls are adorned with wildlife wall covering—quite amazing! We use it as another place for storage (of course) and Max the Labrador sleeps in here at night. Although, the items stored in here will need to be moved elsewhere and when this next project is finished I’ll be able to unpack some more boxes! When you’ve had your belongings—collected or hoarded— for over the past twenty years packed away in boxes for more than two years, it’s surprising how much you actually forget about! I will be delighted to unpack the rest of my books and place them on shelves in the study-to-be!

The plan

  • Strip wall paper, make good of walls and paint. Colour chosen Te Anau from the NZ Dulux colour range. (Te Anau is a town in the South Island of New Zealand).
  • Leave ceiling alone! Just paint white, including coving
  • Build stud wall to divide the room
  • Stud wall is to comprise of alcoves on both sides with the door through to the study situated in the centre of the wall—creating a bulk head above the doorway. Door to be used: original rimu wood door taken out of the original en-suite bathroom. Sand down, paint white and fit new door handle. (Rimu is a large evergreen coniferous tree prevalent to the forests of New Zealand)
  • Rear aspect of divided room to become a laundry area/parlour with storage, washing machine, sink, coat hooks, shoe storage, linen cupboard and already has the rear access to the outside. Also, the roof access is conveniently in this area where Mr C. has already fitted a loft ladder.
  • Replace large window at the front of study-to-be room with double glazed UPVC window. Keep original wooden window frame, sand and paint. Replace window sill.
  • Build shelving and cupboards in the two recesses either side of the door in the study using pine and MDF. Sand, paint and varnish.
  • Sand, repair and paint skirting boards.
  • Fit some kind of heating component in the room as it will pretty cold in winter without it!
  • Install electrical power for a light switch and create a power source for electric heating to be fixed to the wall. Also install power in both alcoves for printer or lamp etc.
  • Replace existing electrical sockets with new.
  • Fit new carpet and underlay.
  • Dress window with curtains and voiles sourced from the UK.
  • Refurbish old desk/table and buy a new desk chair.
  • Refurbish an old piece of furniture (Mr C’s grandfather’s little writing bureau) to make good use of it!
  • When finished, sit down and smile with pure joy and relief that another room is done!

It will be an ideal place for me to work and also it will be greatly used as a hobby room too; plus a quiet space in the house for us all to enjoy. The idea is to create a room with a summery disposition in components such as the curtains and furnishings. A space that is timeless, personal and alive. If you’re going to spend time in a room doing hobbies or using it as a workspace, it has to be a space you really enjoy spending time in.

The work begins…

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After all the walls had been stripped, prepped and painted, Mr C. set about doing what he knows best with his (many) years of experience and divided the room in half. The recesses in the laundry area will eventually have a large L-shaped cupboard on one side and coat hooks and shoe storage on the other. In the study the recesses will retain low-level cupboards and shelving.

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Mr C. built the shelving and cupboards using pine and some MDF. I proceeded to paint and varnish when he’d finished. I sourced some cupboard handles from the internet to use on the doors.

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Mr C. fitted the new window much to our relief and enjoyment, just how we felt when the living room window was taken out; a moment of clarity and joy with knowing that these windows will stand the test of time. He fitted a new window sill, created new mullions and then after sanding I painted the woodwork with an undercoat and two top coats of white paint. I did exactly the same with the skirting boards, sanding lightly in-between coats. However, I also needed to fill some of the small gaps and imperfections with filler. It’s a shame that the skirting boards were not original to the house, but good that they could be made good without replacing them.

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1980-01-01 00.03.45 2013-12-04 11.17.54 Window dressed with ready made curtains from Debenhams and voiles from online store. Double, white pole purchased online in NZ.

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With all the building works and decoration complete it was time to allocate some furniture to the room. New furniture (except for a couple of chairs) is not in the budget, so I tackled some old furniture to create a desk and a little stationery cupboard for those office necessities.

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I removed the legs of a pine table we once used as a kitchen table and sanded down the table top to a good finish. It wasn’t too difficult as it didn’t have stains or ring marks. It came up well and then I coated it with four or five coats of clear varnish, sanding very lightly in-between coats. Next I painted the legs with white undercoat after an initial sanding with medium coarse sand paper. I gave the legs three coats and then using fine sandpaper I rubbed the edges to give a shabby worn effect.

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The little writing bureau used to belong to Mr C’s grandfather. We’ve had in our possession for at least ten years. It was tired and deserved a makeover as well as being an ideal piece of furniture to house small bits and bobs. I chose not to give it a distressed style; I simply wanted to add some colour to it and opted for three different colours: blue, beige and white—all paints that I already had from previous projects.

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I removed the drawers and cupboard doors and sanded everything with an electric sander. I painted each section bit by bit allowing for good drying time in-between coats, building up the layers with each colour and light sanding in-between. When I was done I put everything back together and fitted some new handles!

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Next: the other half of this room – the laundry – in a few months!



Living Room Renovation: Part Two

In Non-Fiction, Renovating/DIY on January 15, 2014 at 7:16 am

The Furniture

The room was used as storage for over two years and after all the building works and decoration was complete, I asked myself: What furniture do I put in here? A new sofa was ordered and it was the only piece of furniture allowed in the budget for this room. Therefore I decided to create ‘something’ from two old pieces of furniture we already owned; given to us at least ten (or more years) previously by both of our mothers. One piece: an oak corner unit, the other an oak unit kind of like a side board. I didn’t want all the furniture in the living room to be dark wood— like the existing furniture that would be moving in there.  I opted for transforming these inherited units into white pieces… shabby chic style, although I don’t think there are many rules about shabby chic. I’ve seen different varieties and it’s a personal choice of how shabby you want it to look as well as colour etc.

With the first piece: I removed the glass doors, kept the original hinges and handles on the lower cupboard, sanded it down with an electric sander using medium coarse sandpaper. I manually sanded any delicate areas, such as corners and edges. Then I filled the holes where the hinges for the glass doors used to be with wood filler and sanded when it had set. I painted the entire unit with four coats of matt white undercoat, sanding in between layers. When the paint had been dry for approximately 24 hours, I re-fitted the lower doors and used fine sandpaper to gently distress the areas where natural wear may occur, and also where I felt it needed it— to achieve the sought after effect. I used a screwdriver to carve out the paint from the objects engraved at the top of the unit. When I was finished I gave it a rub down with a soft cloth and furniture polish.

Et Voila!

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I did exactly the same thing with the corner unit. I removed the glass door
to expose the shelves; sanded the unit inside and out and then applied four
coats of matt white undercoat, with light sanding in between layers. When the
painting was complete I used fine sandpaper to give a distressed looked to the
edges and corners. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of this piece before
I started so I only have an old photo that I have cropped and enlarged, which
was when it was stored in the living room before renovation.

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Curtains, Poles & Lighting

The last thing to do after the carpet was fitted and the furniture went in was to dress the windows – the new windows!

With the budget pretty much consumed with building alterations—especially the cost of double glazed windows here in NZ—I knew that I needed to make careful considerations when dressing them. The most frugal option would most likely have been to buy fabric and make blinds for all the windows, hence the lesser amount of fabric needed for blinds. Then again,  I wanted curtains for the main window; therefore buying material to make curtains for such a large window wouldn’t be cost effective, and having them made for me in NZ, UK or  Australia, wouldn’t be either.

My research continued. I considered buying ready-made curtains in NZ, but preferred the UK choice on the Internet and they were not much different in price. I also opted for the light fittings from a UK store (they cost much less to buy in England).

Luckily the fabric that I was keen on from one store in their made-to-measure outlet was available as a readymade curtain in another. Obviously they needed to be of a certain colour; however I needed them to be bold! I bought a second pair of curtains to use as fabric to make two roman blinds for the smaller windows, but sadly I haven’t finished them due to lack of time recently. I can add this to the page at a later date! Nevertheless the large window is dressed with the curtains and voile panels to diffuse the light. This gives the room options— the voiles can be closed or open depending on preference and weather. In order to hang them behind the curtain I needed a double pole, which I eventually found from a company in the North Island.

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Lighting – This was easy and I purchased the main light fittings from the UK at sale price and my mum posted them over to me using a courier service she has used before to send me things and they are reasonable with their postage fee. I definitely saved money doing it this way, even with paying for postage. The wall lights were inexpensive from the local DIY store and have a heritage look. The lamps threw some green in to the room and I really liked them! The buy-one-get-the-other-lamp-free was a huge part in the ‘like’.


After all our hard work it was a deservingly momentous and satisfying time moving in to our new living room!

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Living Room: Chapter One

In Renovating/DIY on September 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm

In Western architecture, a living room or lounge room (informal: lounge) is a room in a residential house for relaxing and socializing. Such a room is sometimes called a front room when it is near the main entrance at the front of the house. The term sitting room is sometimes used synonymously with living room, although a sitting room may also occur in a hotel or other public building. The term living room was coined in the late 19th or early 20th century. –

The renovation road is long and arduous, and as we keep ourselves on track and move forward, we have at last turned another corner and finished the living room—a room in our villa that has not been used by us since moving here except for storage. With single-glazed windows along the outer wall; including a large door, a rotten window at the front of the room and no heating, it could have been used as a fridge in winter! It had last been updated in the 1980’s with floral wallpaper, brass light-fittings and a light-coloured carpet that had many large stains and had definitely come to the end of its days.

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“The Plan”

Colour schemes for the room: brown, gold, red and green.

The Ceiling: In good condition with pattern wall covering, freshen up with white emulsion.

Windows: The outer wall with four small windows plus a large door with glass side panels. Too many windows on one wall and the door is awkward (like having a main door in the living room. Considered replacing with French doors, but too expensive and out of our budget). Remove two of the four windows on the outer wall; including the large door with glass side panels. Replace the two remaining windows and the large front window, which is also the front aspect of the villa. Keep all original window frames, sills and mullions where possible.

Plasterboard the internal wall thereafter and fix weatherboard to the external wall.

Heating: Possibly in the future fit a fireplace with log burner on the outer wall, but too expensive and out of budget at present, therefore move an existing heat pump, which is close by (and inefficient where it presently lives) in to the living room, giving heat and cooling in the summer months.

Decoration: Strip walls and paint. Colour ‘Bunnythorpe’ from the Dulux NZ range.

All woodwork: Sand, undercoat and paint white.

Flooring: Replace underlay and fit a carpet with a more luxurious feel to the other carpets in the house, keeping the colour neutral.

Furniture: Refurbish some of our older furniture to put in the room and treat ourselves to a new sofa as it’s been ten years since the last one. Furniture components will be a mix of wood and light shabby chic.

– I like matching pieces in a room and I enjoy a room that has matching furniture, however I also like a mixture of elements that gives an interesting look rather than everything looking the same. This is what I wanted for this room in particular and will carry that through to the study room that is now in the planning stage.

Window dressing: To be bold and warm looking and in-keeping with the colour scheme chosen. Purchase ready-made curtains from the UK—after a lot of research this is going to be the most cost effective route with the help of my mum sorting the postage. One large pair for the front window and another pair made into roman blinds to match. Hang the curtains on a double pole (sourced from a site in NZ) to enable hanging a voile curtain panel behind the curtains. The voile can therefore be drawn to diffuse light when needed instead of closing the curtains during the day.

Lighting/electrics: Replace existing wall lights with something small, discreet and heritage style. Replace the two existing ceiling lights with a chandelier style. Buy new lamps. Replace all light switches with heritage style switches and all visible electrical sockets with matching heritage ones. Switches and sockets to be a dark rustic copper tone in colour.

IMG_3238I found this picture of the small windows and door mentioned, which is the outer wall of the living room. By taking out the two windows on the right and the door away it also gives us more wall space inside. The two windows to the left that you can’t see give sufficient light to the room along with the large front window pictured below.

20130623_150309   The outer wooden window frame was saved, sanded and painted by Mr C. However, the mullions (a vertical component forming a division between units of a window, door or screen and is also used decoratively) were too far gone and were replaced with the mullions from one of the smaller windows. The internal wooden window frame was also kept, but the sill and mullions were made by Mr C and sanded and painted by me.

2013-07-27 13.34.41 Mr C (whom you can just about see in the corner) removed the windows and door and installed some Pink Batts insulation, before covering the whole area with building paper. I assisted him with fitting new weatherboard over the whole area and filled in the nail holes with filler ready for painting in the summer.

2013-07-27 15.26.59 You can see the weatherboard working its way up on the outside in this photo that was taken inside the living room. Mr C then removed the existing plasterboard inside that housed the two small windows and replaced the whole area with new plasterboard (including skirting board that was missing from where the old door stood), skimmed the joints and sanded them down ready for me to apply the first coat of emulsion. The first coat always shows up imperfections in the plaster that need attention.


The three windows left in the lounge were replaced with new UPVC double glazed windows. They have tilt and turn opening and have transformed the room and not just in appearance but also in temperature. This moment was epic for us both, especially having the large window removed the next morning (It was beyond help). After waiting more than two years, we were thrilled.

Now we have lovely new windows to admire and enjoy.

The picture below was taken at night (before they became lighter!) It is the first of the small windows completed – awesome!



This is the completed pair taken from inside the room, but unfortunately the colour of the walls appears to look yellow in the photo! And it’s not yellow; it’s more of a creamy-beige colour that I chose from the Dulux New Zealand range named ‘Bunnythorpe’ named after a village in the Manawatu-Wanganui region of New Zealand’s North Island. The original wooden frames and window sills were kept and I sanded them down and painted them with three coats, lightly sanding in between.

Mr C made an excellent job of fitting all the windows; a job that he used to do in England many years ago. The UPVC windows are becoming more popular in New Zealand and they’re definitely a window that we would recommend. The only downside is that they are incredibly expensive in comparison to the UK. Years ago, and in two different houses, we replaced all windows and doors in both properties: the first one Mr C fitted them all himself and in the second property we had contracted fitters do the job, and the whole property cost in the region of 3,500 pounds. In NZ with the current currency exchange that would only buy you approximately six or seven windows. If my hubby, Mr C, had not have been experienced in window fitting it would have certainly made a difference to the cost of the windows we’ve bought so far. We are renovating this old kiwi villa on a budget and have estimated it would cost approximately $25,000 to replace all the windows, excluding doors. Therefore, we will be doing a few-at-a-time!

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The main double doors leading in to the living room from the hallway were a brown stain wooden frame and fully glazed. It was difficult to remove the stick-on lead effect from the glass and we decided they had to have something done to them to change their look. Replacing the glass would be expensive, but half the cost if we half-glazed them, however it had to be toughened glass. Mr C decided to fit a panel into the lower part of the door using some plywood that we already had and some beading. I sanded the doors down previously ready for painting, Mr C  fitted the new glass panels and painted the doors twice, followed by a final coat done by me.

No skirting board had to be replaced in the room. The missing board where the door once stood was fitted to match the exisitng.

I sanded down all the boards, followed by an undercoat of paint and another light sanding and then applied two further coats of white paint.

With all the structural work and decoration out of the way, it’s time for furnishings and carpet!

Coming soon… Chapter Two

may2012-063.jpg  A picture of our home a long time ago! It’s had many changes since then, many that were evident when we moved here in 2011, some that have transpired since and with our renovation it evolves again.

Family bathroom… finished!

In Renovating/DIY on January 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I bathe in our new family bathroom and it enters my head that I still haven’t finished the blog about this specific renovation project, so here we go… it all began last year with the post entitled ‘The family bathroom (or our daughter’s bathroom as she likes to call it)’


Our daughter waited in anticipation for ‘her bathroom to be finished’. So what did we do? Before I get to the construction works; my idea was to create something light, bright, but contemporary—with a good use of space—that would also complement our villa’s era with a modern twist rather than a room filled with brick-a-brack. I chose a black and white colour scheme and then I decided to throw in some red to add warmth, because this particular room only gets sunlight for an hour or so during the day. A great room for when it’s hot, but very cold in winter. One of the walls was destined to have a wall covering to add some decorative depth and focus.

Fittings and fixtures:

Renovation on a budget always demands compromise; and on this project it’s the bath tub. It would have been wonderful to have had a roll-top bath—a statement of the homestead’s bygone times—but they are incredibly expensive in New Zealand. Another factor was that it would have reduced the floor area and above all I didn’t want the family bathroom to be devoid of walking space. Therefore, our ‘budget’ buy was a $100 bath from our NZ Internet trading site. What a bargain! …a basic bath will do the job and when you save money in one area, you can spend a little extra somewhere else and that was bestowed upon a new pedestal sink—heritage style—that gives a little authenticity to the room. All I need now is a lovely antique basin and jug to sit on the furniture beside it! Perhaps that’s something I could bargain hunt for this year?


A basic shower sits over the bath. All our water is heated by gas when required via control pads that are situated in the kitchen and bathrooms. The gas water heating was one of the first things we had done to the property to replace the epic water tank that operated from electricity. The temperature can always be regulated with our new system making it energy efficient.

With a chrome pole, shower curtain and hooks from a previous shower: sprayed black to match; that completed the bathing functionality.


The toilet… the lavatory or the lieu d’aisance – “place of ease” or simply: the karzee… is basic not heritage, but a modern toilet that we bought when we purchased one for our en-suite bathroom, which was heavily discounted at the time and we knew we’d need another! Again, we could have fitted the old-style chain-pulling system, need I say more …expensive!


Light fittings: An exotic light fitting to complete the design would have been wonderful, but not practical—an old wooden villa needs good moisture extraction in a bathroom. It’s imperative to prevent a build-up of mould, not to mention moisture ruining the decor. And even though there is a (HRV) system that extracts hot air from the roof space and disburses it throughout the house via vents in the ceilings; the one we’ve put in this bathroom is a combination of light, extraction and heat – previously purchased when it was discounted. Another cost-saver where practicalities outweigh what is in-keeping with the theme. However, I did find a lovely mosaic arty-piece from a local crafter here in Christchurch that complements the colour scheme and looks beautiful.


Construction Works

My husband put his skills to work and extended the wall out slightly where the bath was to be housed, making it possible to tile all around the bath. He did a wonderful job tiling, installing a shower over the bath… doing all the plumbing work himself; including the sink and toilet. We exhausted our search for the tiles that I had in my plans (and not to sound a bore), it came down to the same thing… how expensive it is in New Zealand for these cosmetic materials. My design was to include a dado of heritage tiles that would sit either on top of the bath or on top of the surrounding tiles, including the sink area. Unfortunately, the expenditure for one row of tiles would have cost the same as tiling an entire wall, so we said goodbye to that plan. However, I am extremely happy with how it all turned out.


It was wise that we insulated the walls. With no insulation at all in the house the opportunity to insulate as each room is renovated cannot be missed. This was done by carefully removing the plasterboard from the middle of the wall downwards: marking a line with a builder’s chalk line and then carefully, slowly and keeping as near to the line as possible, cutting across with an angle grinder. This work was done by none other than me! Yes! After cutting through the plasterboard from one end of the wall to the other, I made a hole with a hammer and proceeded to pull off the plasterboard with my hands, wearing gloves of course! My husband, Steve, then pushed up the insulation inside the upper walls and every wall was completed in the same manner. New plasterboard was then fixed to the stud walls followed by: covering the joins with specific ‘jointing’ tape, plastering over joins and sanding them down either by hand or with an electric sander to create a smooth finish.

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I concluded my part in the building works by sanding down the main window in preparation for fresh paint. New skirting was fitted to replace the existing, which subsequently was not original skirting and only MDF. If it had been original, as it is the case in the majority of the house, we would have restored and re-fitted it. When new plasterboard is being fitted to the walls, it is professional and appropriate to remove the skirting first and re-fit to the new wall afterwards, otherwise the boards would sit on top of the skirting. Some people do this to save time and money, but the finished look isn’t as good.

Previous to the insulation the existing bathroom fixtures were removed and then all the doors, architrave, skirting was also removed, also done by me! Crowbar in hand! Except for the doors (more muscle needed for that). The last to go was the lino and that was replaced by wooden laminate flooring. The door was painstakingly stripped and sanded and re-hung and is still awaiting completion – there’s always something left to do when you DIY.

All walls were painted with three coats of white paint and one wall was papered with Laura Ashley wall paper, sourced and purchased from England and kindly posted to me by my mum. She found a great postal service that costs less and in turn we saved $100 by purchasing our wall covering in this manner. The Laura Ashley paper was also on sale for half price – bonus! This is where the red colouring was added to warm the room and bring something pretty to the overall design.

A piece of furniture (we already owned) to house our towels etc… fulfilled our modest bathroom!

Some more pictures… before and after. Don’t be fooled by the ‘before’ pics, it was a lot worse than it looks! and this was its scrubbed clean state!

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The Family Bathroom (or, our daughter’s bathroom …as she likes to call it)

In Renovating/DIY on June 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm
We’ve moved on to room number four of our renovation: the hill is just as steep, but we’re moving farther with each step. The old bathroom suite has been removed—except for the toilet—and the prepping has started.

The ‘Job’ List:

  • Remove all skirting board (done)
  • Remove door and architrave from the doorway that houses the separate toilet (done)
  • Remove part of the plasterboard (1200mm from the floor) to put insulation in the walls (done)
  • Replace plasterboard, join, plaster and sand joins to make good
  • Make frame for new bath (done)
  • Carry out plumbing alterations to enable fixture of a shower over the bath (done)
  • Strip, sand and repair both windows (one done)
  • Take out spotlights and patch up holes.
  • Fit new 3 in 1 light, heat and extractor fitting to centre of the ceiling
  • Paint all woodwork
  • Paint walls with first coat
  • Paint ceiling
  • Tile bath area
  • Paint walls with second and even a third coat of paint
  • Wallpaper feature wall
  • Lay flooring
  • Fit toilet, sink and any other fixtures
  • Dress windows

Phew! Have I missed anything?

A few of the jobs on the list have already been done. I did remove the plasterboard (GIB) on two of the walls myself—using an angle grinder for the first time (to cut across the plasterboard) and some muscle power. My other half then proceeded to fill the walls with much needed insulation or ‘Batts’ as they like to call it in New Zealand, which stands for Pink Batts (we have noticed that most items are referred to by their brand name). I then spent Saturday morning sanding and prepping the main window in the bathroom.

The time has now come to make definite decisions on the: tiles, wallpaper, paint and so on… and of course I need to make a trip to the fabric shop and get my sewing machine out!

I know the colour scheme and the style I want to achieve and it’s important to get it right. We will be living with this bathroom for a long time. You can always change colours, curtains and accessories, but it comes at a cost. So as always I’m giving everything careful consideration as well as being frugal. I found some nice accessories today in the sale that will complement the look nicely and I also bought a wonderful handmade mosaic from a local artist.

The bathroom suite we have taken out was in better condition than the one that was removed from our en-suite. Therefore, this can be passed on as second-hand thus putting any money we get for it back in to the cost of our bathroom renovation.

The bath was an absolute bargain and purchased from our well known New Zealand Internet trading site. In an ideal world where money was not an issue I would have loved an old traditional claw footed bath, but they are very expensive to buy here, but with the money saved on the bath we have ordered a heritage style pedestal sink to give a wee bit of authenticity to the house.