Most people agonize over the decision to buy a house. Not us. We thought it might be nice to own a little house. Forget we already own a big one. I mean, one for a rental property, to take us into a retirement plan. So we had always walked past a little ex-Housing New Zealand home that had been on the market for two years. Sad, we thought, that no-one has thought to love her. So just for fun, we asked the agent listed, to show us. Mmmmn, a little cold, too many North faceing trees in front. Hang on, said the agent, there is another one coming on the market next week. So he showed us and we fell in love. 70 year old lady, good bones and ALL DAY sunshine. We got a bit excited and carried away on the whole idea and within 3 days, we had signed the deal. After a small adjustment to our offer, Housing New Zealand were only too happy to be rid of her.
|After, note the solar panel on the roof.|
I call her the Beach House, because she's on Beach Road, only 5 minutes drive away from us. First thing we did was get someone to tear out the nasty unfriendly Yuccas crowding out the front garden! Then we went into overdrive, and had a few builders and plumbers and electricians in to check her out. Leave her, they all said. Rent her out like she is. Naively, we said oh no, if we were renting, we would love to have a lovely fresh home to walk into. Anyway, we figured, if she looks loved, someone moving in might love her some more.
To cut a long story short, we spent $25 000.00 to install a second hand recycled, newer kitchen (based on our 3 R's policy - reduce, reuse and recycle). We threw ourselves whole-heartedly into the project (which is why I had no time to blog for a while) and it consumed our every waking moment. I was really exhausted after a week and a half, painting, stripping, scraping, planting, fixing, hanging, liaising etc. every night after our regular jobs. The novelty had worn off. My own house became neglected, we were eating easy, quick meals and it was not a sustainable lifestyle for a while! Keep up, said my other half, reminding me that we were due for a tropical overseas holiday in 3 weeks, so feet plodding, I picked up my mojo and tried to keep trucking along.......
|Back yard big enough to host an All Blacks rugby match.|
First up, the kitchen had to go! It was the original 70 year old minimalist kitchen, galley style, with a small area under the windows for a tiny table and 2 chairs to be squished in for dining. They had several coats of paint, including lead-based (toxic!). There was a floor to ceiling cupboard worthy of museum status - with slatted shelves, and venting through the ceiling and floor. Our builder supplied the answer to our questions about the monstrosity - a vegetable and fruit safe, back in the days when people did not buy boxed, frozen meals but rather invested much of their weekly grocery budget on real live, fresh fruit and veggies!
I feel a kitchen is the most important part of a home, it is where the nourishment is generated to keep families healthy and happy, so we spent quite a bit of money and time on this little room. Out went the dated old toxic cupboards and out went the tired PINK floor vinyl. In went the new black vinyl and second hand kitchen (new configuration needed - but the kitchen guys did an awesome job). Out went the manky old 1950's corroded hot water cylinder and in went a flash brand new solar powered cylinder, with solar panel on the roof). Yep, it was expensive to set up, but we figured we may as well make a statement and start the whole sustainable living solar-powered principle in the street. May make others think they can do it too!
|Windows in the kitchen corner|
|Original Kitchen unit|
|Sink, with fruit and veggie safe far left.|
The wooden floors throughout the rest of the house was a big attraction! And the wee house faces North, ensuring all day sun, so she is a warm one! The front door was meticulously stripped down and repainted and re-glazed (each panel was different!). We painted, put up new curtains, sanded the fireplace surrounds and had a tiler re-tile the broken fireplace floor tiles with 10yr old tiles left over from our own kitchen!
|After renovating - painted, new curtains, fireplace tiles and door glass replaced.|
|The front door with peeling paint.|
We painted the whole house inside, the same cuppacino colour, so I was hankering after a little colour. A fossick in our garden shed exposed a 500ml tin of forest green, so I used that to bring a little point of difference to the laundry. It is so bold, there is usually a surprised reaction from most people! We put up cheap blinds (the expensive wooden ones we bought kept on falling down each time we pulled on their chord!! So we had to replace them!) There was a funny moment when our electrician called us to say he had discovered a bag of marijuana in our ceiling (not ours!!) He said he dumped it for us! Ha ha!
|Laundry, repainted, re-floored and freshened up.|
|New loo and a lick of paint makes this throne a pleasant experience.|
There are just 2 bedrooms. The second bedroom is at the back of the house and as there were no built in cupboards, we bought a second hand cupboard to put in, bright and fresh, hopefully a great addition to a children's room. Each and every window and doorway were laboriously repainted as they had been seriously neglected!
|Second bedroom with new cupboard, curtains and screening window netting.|
|A lovely little place for a child to grow up in!|
The main bedroom was also given a fresh coat of paint, a newly purchased old second hand oak cupboard and curtains, We also put up a wooden matchstick blind to provide screening from the neighbours. All the basic light fittings were replaced with lovely ethereal light-shades.
|I had such fun choosing light shades!|
|Specially love this one with it's Bollywood Bling!|
|A beaded orb for the lounge.|
Our builder advised against replacing the bath or shower wall linings, so all we replaced were the floor, vanity and basin (bought 2nd hand on TradeMe for $60) and repainted. We removed the pokey little bathroom in-wall cabinet and replaced it with a huge mirror (which we got free, when we bought the hand basin).
|New hand-basin and bright tiles to light up the bathroom|
We could not have taken on this project without help! Both Mike and I were working all day and having to come home to do a little work each night! We had some wonderful helpers through the Helpxchange network who made this all possible. Hopefully, they don't mind me sharing their pics!! Let me not forget our builder, Peter, who also helped out each night after his full day working on building sites! He used many recycled materials from previous jobs, keeping our costs down.
|Pablo and Rocio, from Argentina|
|Katja from Germany|
|Yoann, from New Caledonia|