Op Shopping and Bargain Hunting

Whilst waiting on the settlement of our new purchase, we have taken the chance to hunt for the perfect pieces of furniture for our new pad. Apart from a bedroom suite and a lounge (which we are inheriting), we are starting from scratch. Additionally, as many couples with a new property who are coming to terms with paying a dreaded mortgage are, we’re on a tight budget! So armed with a clenched fist of cash and not wanting to give any away unnecessarily, we have been out and about searching for deals and bargains for some of the necessary big ticket items we need to kickstart out time at the cottage.

One of the most pressing items on the bargain hunting list was a free standing wardrobe. Given the vintage of the property, storage is, and will continue to be, a key focus in adequately renovating and redesigning our house. But tell me, have you tried buying a wardrobe recently?! I’m guessing that you haven’t. It is the sort of furniture that you might come across at nanna’s house and might never have thought about twice. However, let me assure you that if you are sitting on a well looked after freestanding wardrobe, you are actually sitting on a small mint! Aside from the flat-packed versions you might find at Ikea, timber freestanding wardrobes are difficult to find brand new and they’re expensive! Understandably I guess, given that there is little use for them in houses built in the last few decades.

The search has taken us quite literally across the City from op shop to op shop on the hunt for the perfect wardrobe. From Guilford to Morley to Bibra Lake to Fremantle, you name it – we’ve probably been there! Op shopping for furniture is tough as many op shops aren’t large enough to stock copious amounts of big furniture pieces. However, if you are in the market for furniture and are keen to check out some secondhand stores, here are my recommendations in Perth.

  • Rags to Riches – talk about furniture overload, these stores are definitely my first recommendation for anyone in the hunt for the perfect piece, unless you are in any way claustrophobic. There is wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-ceiling (I wish I was kidding but I’m not!) treasures if you are prepared to wade through the chaos. Though there are a number of them around, I can personally vouch for 7-9 Rockingham Road, Hamilton Hill and 16 Port Kembla Drive, Bibra Lake. The store at Bibra Lake even has a additional warehouse storage area out the back filled with bargains – just try not to get disappointed when you notice ‘sold’ stickers on the something perfect and remember to get in quick if you see something you like.
  • Russell Street, Morley – though the collections were smaller, in both the Anglicare and the Salvos stores (located across the road from one another) we found some of the best kept treasures in op shopping history. In the Salvos store for instance, there was a pristine, vintage brown leather couch on carved wooden legs with gold studded details – which we would have totally taken home had we not already had a couch! And in the Anglicare store was a delightful white dressing table with a glass top and three piece mirror. Another piece I would have gladly taken home, had I have been persuasive enough to convince the boy I needed it (I really need to work on my game!).
  • Port Care Op Shop – located at 372 South Street, O’Connor this is where we eventually, after a number of weekends of me dragging the boy from op shop to op shop, found the perfect wardrobe. This delightful store had a surprisingly large supply of wardrobes and we have managed to pick up an East West Design wardrobe in reasonable condition for the bargain price of $290. With large double doors and four deep draws, this little beauty matches our bedroom suite almost perfectly and will be a welcomed addition to our new bedroom.

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In other bargain hunting news, we have also managed to score some brand new furniture from a liquidation sale advertised in the West Australian newspaper (thanks mum!). For the very low price of $850 inclusive of delivery, mum and I trawled through the Prime Liquidations warehouse to buy a buffet, treasure chest coffee table, television cabinet and side table. Despite being a little bit ‘different’, these pieces will suit our house to an absolute tee, will add burst of colours and look exceptional against the jarrah floorboards which are such a feature in the house.

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Whether new or secondhand, there are furniture bargains to be found all over the place. Keep your eyes peeled for listings in the paper, on the web and on Gumtree and frequent op shops and garage sales. Like they say, one mans trash is another mans treasure! And sifting through all the ‘trash’ is half the fun!

So, happy shopping!

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Mood Boards and Style Inspiration

Despite falling in love on first inspection, it was very clear that the breezy, light-filled cottage that we had purchased would require a lot of love and therefore, a lot of cash too. It was evident that walls would need to be patched and painted (and in some instances replaced), areas outside would need to be repaved, soak wells installed, the kitchen replaced and that most importantly, a new bathroom would need to be fitted.

We very quickly decided that the bathroom would be the first space we would try and tackle for one main reason. The thought of living without a bathroom scares me. I have this image of me showering outside whilst trying to cover my private parts from the construction workers building the two storey town house on the rear block next door – no thank you! So provisions were made and a budget was devised to renovate a bathroom in the first few weeks of possession and to have it done before we would consider moving in.

Settlement, because of the issuing of new titles for the cottage and its newly subdivided rear-block, has of course been delayed which has allowed us to thoroughly research every aspect of the renovation and decide on floor plans, budgets, style inspiration and make some decisions. Ultimately, we have a 2m x 2.4m square box to work with in which we have to somehow fit a vanity, toilet and shower. Say whhhattt!

What we have to work with:

GrandProm11I decided (much to the boys disgust!) to create a mood board to visually represent the look and feel of the bathroom we are aspiring to create. I have trawled and cut my way through what seems like every bathroom and home renovating magazine on sale in Western Australia. In creating my mood board as well, I have analysed various options in layouts for this tiny space.

Tools like the ‘Reece 3D Bathroom Planner’ (see http://www.reece.com.au/bathrooms/3d-bathroom-planner) have made this exceptionally easy to see how average sized baths, showers, toilets and vanities might fit snuggly in to this space. We have toyed with various options, such a keeping the plumbing as it is and completely moving it around. Though nothing was more telling than actually mapping out the design on the floor.

I’d recommend this as a part of anyone’s design journey. Do yourself a favour by going to Bunnings, buying some of that blue paper tape (usually used for painting) and map out any design you are considering on the floor. There was no better indication of the functionality of this space than ‘sitting’ in the design and there is nothing more important than functionality.

Failed layout design number 1 (out of at least 20!)

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So, after about twenty failed attempts at designing our bathroom we finally have a layout which we are happy with and which is functional. We’ve chosen this particular layout to accommodate a simple open frameless shower screen, a decent (1m wide) vanity and as to avoid seeing the crapper as you enter the door (a rookie error for newbie renovators – or so I’m told!).

The winning design!

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The plan is to create a functional but beautiful space with touches of old world charm in a modern setting and the mood board has been a great tool in coming to a joint decision on some of the key elements of our planned renovation.

So get printing, cutting and imagining and use all of the style inspiration that you find on various websites, in magazines and in your creative juices to create a mood board which represents you and your space.

Ta da! My very own mood board.

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Real Estate Agents – The good, the bad and the quirky.

I have found myself throughout the house hunting adventure discussing the realty profession at length with friends and family. As someone who counsels the general public on their life decisions around career paths and projections, I find the real estate profession interesting. I mean, what sort of person gets in to the real estate game? What sort of things do they value? Are they really just in it to ‘make a quick buck’?

At times it certainly has felt this way.

For many long and tedious months, we wandered through strangers homes critiquing their design choices, renovations and lifestyles to ultimately decide whether or not we would hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars to begin our own lives there. All the while, someone is there, subtly peering over our shoulder watching our every step and listening out to every comment to see if we are indeed their next pay cheque. More often than not, we were greeted by a pushy and somewhat arrogant agent in an ill-fitting suit, trying to guess how much money we had to blow. Well versed in the art of coaxing every last detail out of you and giving you no information in return, I found myself pushing the boy through the front door to initiate the awkward small-talk with the agent at every home open attended for the 5-6 month period that we house hunted in fear that I might give away too much.

But as with all experiences (and professions) it certainly wasn’t all bad. In fact, part of the experience was even better than we could have imagined.

Meeting one stand out Real Estate Agent has certainly saved this profession in my eyes. In the process of buying a house, the boy sold an inner-city apartment. In his usual thorough manner, three quotes were sourced from three local agents all of differing character and demographic. The first was a local smaller agency, the second a big agency with a big investor base and the last, a young independent agent running a small self-managed business.

From the get-go, the young and vibrant Scott was the definition of stand-out. On first enquiry, what can only be described as a ‘care-package’ was mailed with hand-written recommendations and thank you notes from previous clients. The package came with the following list of promises (taken straight from his website – see the details below for a link):

  • Complete and utter honesty: You may or may not like what I have to say, I’m still going to say it. I will always give you my honest opinion.
  • Complete dedication: Less properties means more time for you and your property to be enthusiastically marketed.
  • Just real estate: Real estate is my only business 24 hours, 7 days a week.
  • Working together to get great results: You will be kept in the loop the whole time.
  • The most advanced and up to date marketing techniques: The market has changed and so has the way people shop for properties. Yours needs to stand out from the crowd
  • Effective negotiating techniques: Not just bringing you the buyer’s offer but negotiating the best price possible.

If this isn’t enough to make him a stand-out to you, then meeting him in person will ensure that he leaves an impression. Up rocks this red-headed man, on his scooter with home open signs slung over each shoulder ready to give you a the friendliest (but no-bullshit) service you could expect. The man gives basil seeds with his business cards for gods-sake! You are certainly not going to forget him in a hurry.

As someone selling a property for the first time, Scott answered the bazillion small question with not a hint of discern or sarcasm (even answering questions about the purchase of the new property out of the kindness of his heart!). Most importantly he kept his promises. Not only would we use him again in heartbeat and recommend him to our friends and family but we’d like to have him over dinner and keep him as a friend. I think this says something about him in itself.

The apartment was sold in four weeks… with all of its furniture included… for a price which was higher than we anticipated… to an international buyer who paid in cash! Seriously, could it be any smoother than that!?

One happy little chappy!

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Moral of the story: In every profession there are the good, the bad and the quirky. Don’t let your experience with a few bad agents dishearten you or affect your experience in buying the house of your dreams.

And with most things in life, if you’ve found a good one – don’t let them get away!

Want to get in touch with Scott or find out more about him?

Scott BJ Properties

Website: www.scottbj.com.au

Phone: 0438 933 634

Email: scott@scottbj.com.au

Back to where it all began..

Some would say that buying your first home is exciting, a right of passage for a young person perhaps? The ‘great Australian dream’ even? Well, I am here to assure you that it is the most stressful (but adventure filled) time in my life thus far.

The boy and I decided that we would take the plunge and buy our very first house in our home town of Perth, Western Australia. We had a few requirements for our new purchase which included the following:

1) Easy access to public transport – Perth is known for The its urban sprawl and of course we work at opposite ends of the city!

2) A home with character – sure, sure we could have spent the same amount and bought a brand new house, off the plan, in one of those perfectly designed suburbs where all the houses looks the same but ugh! We really wanted something ‘one-of-a-kind’.

3) Within a 10km range of city – we’re young! Call us short sighted but we wanted to be right in the thick of it. And yes, yes we could have bought cheaper in outer suburbs but the City is in the middle between our workplaces and there is nothing quite like an inner city lifestyle for a 20-something.

To us, this decision was less financial than it was ‘a feeling’ and we have definitely felt the pressure, having to justify our decision to almost everyone. One after another people have said ‘you’re paying THAT?!’ or ‘such an old house – why would you do that!’.

To these people I say, yes. I did buy a 1930’s cottage on a little over 300 square meters (gasp now!) at a little over half a million dollars (go on – judge away!) which needs a crap load of work and love (I already think your a wanker, so go ahead!) but hey! The coming months and years are going to be challenging and rewarding all at the same time.

And if you still don’t understand our decision, then you just watch as I ride my bike to a local cafe strip and live my inner-city lifestyle. Oh and please don’t forget to wave!