Thursday, August 7, 2014

A (very exciting) renovation update (with unexciting pictures)

Guess what I did this week? I had a builder come out to chat to me about extending our house! And a  draftsman to talk about plans! And I couldn't be happier about it! Being the crap home-reno blogger that I've been, I haven't exactly documented this house's transformation properly have I? But between not wanting to blog, a new baby and a few unfinished renovation projects, an exhaustive amount of posts on our indecisiveness would have hurt your head as much as the indecisiveness has hurt mine. So here's the thing. We bought this house for its location (and price, obviously. Got a great deal there!). Certainly not its good looks. Because they aren't good looks. They are hideous - notice I never posted an image of the exterior? That's because it looked like this (below). 

Well this is how it looked not long after we moved in. Now it looks... well not a whole lot different, but a little tiny bit better. I couldn't handle the maroon and blue colours so did a lightning fast paint job and painted the whole thing white (not even close to my finest work), spray painted the screen and gutter and house numbers black. We also took off the window cover over the bedroom and ripped down the carport. Now it looks like this:

It's your typical Australian fibro house, but with the worst roofline ever (in my opinion) and no personality whatsoever. But the location is perfect - we have water views, we have easy access to the water where we spend the summer and a good portion of the rest of the year fishing, swimming, kayaking, making sandcastles, chasing crabs and just hanging out making forts from nearby sticks. There is park nearby, a great bike track to zoom up and down on. School and shops are within walking distance. We have a great-sized yard. We have a large self-contained cabin which if we really wanted could become extra income. We have the ability to work some magic on a blank canvas of a house. To quote Dana from House*Tweaking (again), "this house is not our dream house, but the house in which to pursue our dreams". I really love that quote - it sums us up perfectly. What are our dreams? A lifestyle that incorporates all of the above. A family home with a decent sized yard my children can grow up in and have fun in. An environment that is slightly more relaxed and old-school than perhaps living in a city would be. A happy home that we can have totally paid off within a few years rather than a few decades. They are our dreams. And we're well on our way to seeing them come true.

Since first spotting this house for sale while we were still living in Sydney, Steve and I have drawn plan after plan after plan as to how we'd like the layout to be - with a second storey; with bedrooms out to the side over the driveway and a large family room at the back; connected to the cabin; a tunnel-like open-plan living space on one side and just bedrooms along the other side; with a new master suite and family room at the back or two bedrooms at the back and turning Zak's room into an ensuite for us. All the time, there were going to be plans to add a loft to our new roof (a new roof was always on the cards; I hate the style/pitch/colour/everything about the one we have). All seemed great at the time we drew them, but there was always something about them that didn't scream "this is the one!" Finally, we figured it out: one large family room at the back with a staircase leading to a loft with a library/retreat/office area looking down into the extension, then a door leading to our master bedroom/ensuite overlooking the water. We'd also like to have a small balcony off our bedroom to fill in the gap created by the jut-out of one side of the front (our current bedroom). Here is my incredibly professional sketch of how the house might look and our idea for the floorplan.

Of course, we need someone to officially tell us all of this is indeed possible without our house looking like it has a too-big hat on its head - and that it won't cost us any of our children or more than what we bought it for - but that's what we'll find out soon enough, I guess. 

It will also mean no more changes to the current layout - we don't have to turn a bedroom into an ensuite, knock out another wall to go sideways or cram stairs into the living room. We can simply add a large room to the back, reuse the glass doors we just put in at the back (we're going to separate them into two sets of French doors on the back wall with a fireplace in the middle) and change the house's front windows/door set up to something much nicer. The only thing I don't get with this layout is vaulted ceilings over the kitchen - so I might have to look at building something around the top of the pantry area to the ceiling so it doesnt look odd. But I haven't even tiled the splashback yet or painted the ceiling so we're clearly in no rush!

The old "live in a house for at least a year before you make major changes" has a lot of merit. If we had gone ahead with our extension plans this time last year, we'd have a whole different house. And I don't think it would have been right. This time? I think we've got it.

We're also going to inject some fun - a pool table, a bar under the stairs, a dart board, TV with the wii, kids space... It may not be picture perfect with all these things or even close to an interior designer's idea of style but we couldn't care less. WE are the ones who are living in this and we want it to be a fun family home. So super-style is taking a backseat. Not to say I'm not going to do my best to make it look nice, but four kids live here so it's not exactly going to be designer goods everywhere! Besides, the death of my grandmother and Steve's grandfather in the past two months has brought back floods of our own childhood memories and the things that stood out to us were all the family gatherings and fun we had in and around the homes we grew up in or spent a lot of time in. For Steve it was always sport of some kind, any kind; for me it was hanging around and playing pool in my grandparent's billiard room (they had a massive dedicated room off the main living room through glass bi-folds with built-in seating  around the table and french doors opening to the outside - very modern considering it was built by my grandad about 50 years ago), building forts in the backyard, playing in made-with-love cubbies, and making "beautiful" music on the many gigantic organs or pianos. Similar to the fun I try to create with my own kids. And I'm determined this house will be a FAMILY home. With a family room that is an actual family room and not a prissy perfect space that you're scared to sit in in case you move a cushion out of place (have you ever searched "family room" on Pinterest? So not family rooms).

The top image was a sketch Steve whipped up one evening a few months ago of how we envisioned the house to look. It's changed a bit now but you get the gist I'm sure. In other renovation news I have finished painting the bathroom! We only started renovating the bathroom in November last year, so you know, I'm super prompt with our finishing touches.....

I will attempt to document the process a little better than I have been previously for anyone else who knows nothing about extending but would like to! Have you extended before? Love to hear your experiences - I'm not expecting this to be easy. We know we are in a restrictive zone so there will be battles. I am optimistic it will all be worth it. Eventually!


  1. That little home with a view of the water looks great! I think adding on a second story would be cool but I would be very careful because like you said, I wouldn't want to put a too big of a hat on the head. Maybe even an addition to the side of the home, I think would look very nice.

  2. We are in the process of extending our house out (not up) - so far it has all been going well. We had an architect draw up our plans and have a builder doing the work. I have to say it has not been painful at all....yet! The most painful part was getting the DA/CC from the council!
    I have been blogging it if you're interested :)