The importance of doing your homework. 

We learnt the hard way this week about the importance of doing your homework and the realities of assuming. 

As with every renovation, unless you are privileged enough not to consider the financial implications of your decisions, the budget has been looming over us and governing the decisions that we make. Though we had quite a healthy budget to begin with, renovations quickly add up and things can be far more expensive than you’d imagine. With the budget in mind, I’ve shopped around and not paid anywhere next to retail for anything. (Remember those tiles?!)

In upcycling my 1900’s washstand that I picked up from gumtree, I decided that I would replace the worn marble top with a beautiful ceaserstone one to compliment our oversized, on counter, vessel basin. Given its tiny size, I was able to source a small piece of stone which was an off cut from a larger job for next to nothing. The new top, coupled with a fresh coat of varnish has meant the washstand has a new lease on life and will be a beautiful feature in our newly renovated bathroom. 

  
Therefore, when we decided on the cupboards in the laundry it was only natural to assume that we’d pick a lovely matching ceaserstone top in this space to tie our bathroom and laundry together. With simple gloss white doors and handmade ceramic and chrome door handles, this cabinet was bound to be perfect. 

Without any consideration for price, given that the cabinet itself was two doors and a washing machine hole, we sent the cabinet maker on his merry way to create and install. 

Now, for anyone who has built or renovated before you might not have been as naive as we were to choose a ceaserstone top in a laundry. I mean, there’s no need really for stone in your laundry and in most laundrys someone sensible might use a laminex top or the like. 

Well, there’s a reason that those who aren’t first time rookies don’t use stone. Unknowingly, the boy and I had purchased $1700 worth of stone to put on top of a cabinet worth about a quarter of that! 

Needless to say, I’m glad we decided not purchase expensive tiles after all and that we’ve been thrifty with all other purchases otherwise this really would have way extended our budget.

There’s nothing else to say but that it was a rookie error. In future, we won’t just assume the price of something without having double checked it first! If nothing else, we have ended up with a stunning laundry cabinet which is spacious and functional. Though, perhaps in the next house we could do without the stone in the laundry!

  

  

  

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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?

Let the demolition begin!

On the reality television show The Block there is always one person in the team in charge of design whilst the other is the project manager. In our very own version of The Block, I have coined myself the design visionary whilst the project managing of trades, quotes and timelines has definitely been left to the expertise of my very lucky other half. Therefore, when it came to demolishing, this was definitely a him job and not a me job!

Last week we marked the official beginning of our renovation with the demolition. It can be the scariest part of a renovation because it doesn’t matter to what extent you have done your homework on a particular property before purchase, there really is no telling what is actually there (or hidden!) until you begin to tear the place apart. 

For the cottage there were a couple of large concerns. The sections of the place that we are renovating are additions which possibly contain both asbestos and lead paint so, safety is a major concern. Additionally, we were unsure what actually lay underneath the floors in the bathroom, laundry and sleepout. Was it concrete? Or concrete sheet on top of timber joists? And we’re the terribly dodgy floating floors on the sleepout hiding something worse underneath? 

The demolition itself has revealed a number of surprises which are not all good ones. Underneath those terrible floating floors is a timber floor which appears the be a part of the original verandah.. Good surprise! However, a rotting timber base joist holding up the walls in the bathroom.. Not such a great surprise! We did of course expect that there were going to be things that we couldn’t see and we are thankful that things aren’t worse. 

With the muchly appreciated help of a friend our bathroom and laundry have almost completed gutted in three days. We’ve had to remove a poorly assembled concrete floor in the bathroom but have been able to leave the laundrys concrete floor in tact. We’ve also torn down the wall between the laundry and the sleepout to reposition it and accommodate a small linen closet. 

With the plumbing rerouted and electrical points terminated the next step is to replace those naughty rotting timbers with new ones and cement the floor in the bathroom. A job for next week!

 Current view of the bathroom   
Inside our newly demolished bathroom  

View in to the laundry from the sleepout  

View in to the sleepout from the laundry