Its all about the little things

Over the last six weeks of renovating there has been a lot to learn, a lot to do and a lot to be thankful for.

Part and parcel of the renovating journey is the unexpected ‘pop by’. We have been arriving to the house bright and early on Saturday mornings, staying Saturday night and working the entire way through the weekend to meet our July move in deadline to find ourselves constantly surprised by friends and family popping in to say hello. Many are in the area and wanting to check up on the progress, some are there to lend a much needed helping hand, some it seems like a cuppa and a chat and some… well.. I’m not quite sure.

It is easy to think of these pop by’s as an inconvenience. You just get on a roll hand-painting the decorative cornices (and by roll, I mean your brain finally switches off and you’re on autopilot because its such a mind numbing task!) and someone stops in and wants to chat.

However, its not an inconvenience at all. We have remarked time and time again over the last few weeks how grateful we are to have our friends and family want to stop by and check in on us.

Whether its to stop past and offer advice and ideas on how things should be done (some advice is definitely more helpful than others), or just to drop by to offer your congratulations, we could not be more thankful.

A couple of things have really warmed our hearts over the last couple of weeks and for those of you who know someone renovating, this is your chance to take notes!

Do:

  • Ring with the offer of dinner at 7pm at night because you know that said renovating couple have been beavering away since 7am that morning. This has actually happened to us a couple of times, by different friends and words cannot even explain the joy your tired body feels not having to go to the dodgy IGA up the road to conjure up something for dinner.
  • Stop past on your way out with bottle of wine in congratulations and send a follow up text offering great ideas about the layout of a new kitchen because ‘I’ve been thinking about you and your renovation’.
  • Pop by on a Saturday night for a alcoholic beverage or two (usually a red wine or a port to fight the freezing temperature of this house!) to distract us for a little while, catch up and make us feel like we have taken a break for a short while in our weekend before Monday morning rears its head!
  • Jump the fence to drop off power tools whilst trying not to get caught by the neighbours because you know that the things you are dropping off are going to make particular jobs just a little bit easier.

Dont, however:

  • Walk inside a place currently being renovated to say ‘Wow, there’s so much work to do!’, ‘You’ll be busy for a while!’ or any other comment which is directly related to how many days, months or years we are going to be using up our weekends to complete this project.
  • Make note (out loud) about the amount of dust or plaster on the jarrah floorboards inside the house or how dirty the floor is. Trust me, it doesn’t matter how many times you sweep or mop, those bastard dust particles will appear.

So, if you know someone who is renovating but you think you’re inconveniencing them by stopping by, know that they’d probably appreciate the visit. We like showing off our progress to you as much as you love seeing it.

Not to mention, there is always time for another coffee.

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The big (and expensive) decisions – tiles and doors

Last weekend we set off on a mission to purchase the doors and tiles for the newly renovated bathroom and laundry. Now, if you cast your mind back many blog posts ago to my research on tiles specifically, you might remember my shock at the cost of replacing the mosaic pattern tile which was featured in the existing bathroom. Over the weeks since that blog post we have um-ed and ah-ed about the prospect of forking out over $100 a square metre for these tiles. I have surveyed family, friends and work colleagues and with no firm decision about what to do, I jumped in the car with dad armed with my bank card and measurements to make these purchases.

 Remember these tiles?

My first stop was a local, family owned tile shop in the southern suburbs of Perth. Though polite, I wouldn’t have rated our store assistant in the highest category on the customer service scale. I began by explaining the vintage of our cottage and the look were trying to achieve and basically was told to visit what seems to be the only period tile shop in Perth. Before insisting we head somewhere else, she did (unenthusiastically) show us the same style of mosaic tile as mentioned above at double the price I had seen it at that period tile shop. Very helpful.

The second shop on our list was a recommendation from a friend on Facebook who had told me to visit a particular store saying that they had a great range of tiles and that the store was beautiful. Now, how beautiful can a tile store really get? Let me tell you! Dad and I pulled up at a store featuring a mesh steel facade in to a car park which only featured cars made by high end european car companies. I turned to dad and said, ‘Something tells me that this isn’t our tile shop!’.

See the lesson here is two fold. 1) Always listen to a personal recommendation because word of mouth is truly the best source and 2) never judge a book by its cover.

Hesitantly, we went inside and were overwhelmed by the beauty and range of tiles on show. This store really does take the term ’tile showroom’ to a whole new level. Sales assistants who are as knowledgeable as they are beautiful, walk around immaculately dressed and in high heels putting dad and I in our steel cap boots and painting overalls to shame! We were blown away. In recent weeks I have visited countless tile stores and never have I seen decorative tiles, stylish mosaics, colourful timber look tiles and extra large porcelain marble look tiles like these.

Still unsure about whether I was going to find the tiles I needed, I made my way to the back of the store to a ‘sale’ section like you might find in any clothing boutique. I scanned that sale wall to suddenly realise that all my Christmases were coming at once. Beaming with excitement, I took a closer look at the perfect 200x200mm black and white matte floor tiles, which would suit my space perfectly, and found them discontinued and on sale for $20 a square meter. What’s that you say? $308 to tile my entire bathroom and laundry floor – that sounds like winning to me.

The wins didn’t end there either. Whilst on the way to another tile store, we stopped on a whim past a store with signs out to say ‘end of year financial sale’. I was delighted to find the perfect 150x75mm white gloss subway tiles down from $137 a square meter to $40 a square meter. After a quick call to the boy and a hesitant ‘just buy them!’, I bought both the floor and wall tiles that almost every store said we wouldn’t be able to find because they’d been discontinued, for $1400. Tiles under budget – tick!

 The style we have decided on. 

The doors are a little less noteworthy but still worth a small mention. I’m not sure what I was expecting but my god, are doors expensive! We’re using the the existing antique jarrah door as the entry to the laundry. This means there are three doors left to purchase; the bathroom door, the sleepout door and the external backdoor. I’ve decided on two barn-esk doors for the internal doors and a traditional panelled backdoor with a frosted glass panel, for the addition of some extra light, in the laundry. Two stores later and $800 out of pocket, we have three doors. Pictured below, they’ll fit perfectly with the style we’re setting out to achieve once painted in gloss white and featuring heavy chrome antique handles.

Internal barn-esk doors   
External laundry door 


Want to visit those tile stores?

Glory box delights

The boy sold his apartment fully furnished and given that we had only acquired things in the last couple of months meant that we only had a handful of things to move. Or so we thought! 

With a thrifty truck hired and a friend and dad in tow to do the moving, we were ready to stop inconveniencing people all over Perth who had kindly looked after our belongings over the last few months. I waited eagerly at the house for the boys to arrive with a truck full of goodies, ready to unpack and for a house to feel a little more like home. (The truth is, this truck meant a fridge, kettle, cups, plates, a toaster, pots and pans – all of the things to make overnight sleepovers a little more comfortable!). 

However, when that truck arrived and the door flung open, I was a little bit confused by the number of boxes inside. How had we acquired so much stuff? 

Now for those of you who have European friends you might know a little something about a glory box. Traditionally prepared by your parents as a gift for you when you move out for the first time, you could think of it as a kickstart to your new life with the foundations and essentials for everyday life as an adult. Think blankets, tea towels, a cultery set, other bric-a-brac, etc. The stuff you know you need when you move out of home but would never be sensible enough to acquire before actually moving out.  However, apparently my mum had mistaken the glory ‘box’ for ‘boxes’. 

In that truck contained the gifts from my very own glory box(s), collected over the best part of a decade. My thoughtful, organised, wonderful, Portuguese mother had collected and stored TWELVE large sized cardboard boxes filled with treasures for the kitchen and linen cupboard. She had even labeled every single box with a thorough description of their contents! 

Treasures inside included Pyrex dishes, serving bowls, Tupperware, a pot set, steak knives, designer curlery sets, porcelain mugs, crystal vases, glasses of every description including port glasses, martini glasses, shot glasses and two sorts or red wine glasses (glasses are not indicative of our drinking behaviors, I promise!) and the list goes on! 

Collecting these bits and pieces over such a long period of time cannot have been easy and though a few pieces have dated and there are double and triple ups of a few things (she’d forgotten what she’d purchased over the years!) we are absolutely indebted to her for such a special gift. It hasn’t just kickstarted our lives in our new home but has sent us running in the right direction and saved us a significant amount of stress and money. 

I hope this is something we are in a position to do for our children so that they too may sit in their kitchens and feel the excitement of opening a box to find a jaffle maker (sandwich toaster) inside! 

Don’t you wish your mum was this good? I know you’re jealous! 

We’re off and running

This weekend was the Western Australian Day long weekend but instead of having a relaxing weekend celebrating the beautiful state that we live in, the house was a flurry of activity. 

Remember those naughty rotting timbers? Well, thanks to the help of a super handy brother/brother in law we have removed them and put a concrete footing it its place. 

After much um-ing and ah-ing we also made a decision to remove the timber cladding in the sleepout which would have once formed the external wall to the house. In cementing in the new footing in the bathroom, timber cladding on the outside of the house has had to have been removed because, as in many instances with houses of the age that ours is, homeowners over the years have patched the outside timbers where holes have been made. The timber cladding from inside the sleepout can now be recycled and used on the outside of the bathroom to give that wall a fresh new look whilst the walls in the sleepout can be nice and flat to match walls in the adjacent laundry and bathroom. A win, win! 

Another handy brother/brother in law was also able to reroute our television aerial and phone line cables to accommodate our plans to make the front room with the fireplace our bedroom and the other front room the loung room. Thank goodness for handy family members, even if they choose to proudly pass you a bag containing a rat found in the roof which looked like it had been dead for longer than house had existed (and affectionately calling it Rodney!). Ugh. 

We also decided to move our furniture in this weekend which has made a hell of a lot of difference in the comfort of staying there overnight. Finally, eskys are made redundant by a beautiful new stainless steel fridge and the barbecue may be less used now we have pots and pans. 

I also began the tedious task of sanding and priming our soon to be bedroom. However, this and other stories must be left for another day. Some action and progress pictures below until then.

Ornate cornices – beautiful until you try to prime them!  
The fun of unpacking. 

 

First time sleepovers

Like any time you purchase something new, you wait with baited breath until you can unwrap the packaging and use with enthusiasm whatever is inside. Buying this house is no different, except for the fact that between getting keys and moving in, there’s a shit load of work to be done!

Last week marked our two year anniversary of being together. This time, two years ago, I would have never imagined that we would be where we are now or undertaking a project together of this size. However, it’s been a wirl wind couple of years and we are proud as punch to be where we are. 

To mark this special occasion, I was surprised to find the main bedroom of our beautiful cottage transformed in to a candle lit retreat, complete with blow up matters dressed up in new linen I had bought for the house and the bench seat from our verandah lined with blankets as a spot to drink champagne. (Look ladies, he’s not bad!). 

Since then we have stayed a couple of more times at the house in our makeshift bedroom. Though, to say it’s been a piece of cake, is a lie. People have asked us why we aren’t staying in the house while renovating it and the fact is that living in a house with no shower, storing food in eskys and living on a diet consisting of meals which can only be cooked on a bbq (not to mention camping out on the floor to eat your meal in your furniture-less home!) is no ones idea of fun! 

But hey, it’s all part of the bigger picture as our friend Colin Barnett would say. So if sleepovers mean leaving the house in the wee hours of the morning in your track pants and brown leather business shoes (because you forgot any other type of footwear) to get in to work early for a shower before anyone sees you, then that’s what has to be done. …and yes, that did happen!   

Our makeshift bedroom on night one 

Camping out on your bedroom floor, now this is living!