Our renovation journey, update and tips to survive it!

After just three months we are finally coming to the end of our renovation journey. I can't believe that it was back in November 2017 that I posted about our renovation plans. As everything comes together and the initial dream and planning all comes to life, you figure out if you have made the right decisions!!!! That's a bit scary and combined with the hustle and bustle on site to get the renovations over the line it's been a tiny bit stressful.

To be honest over the past week, there were some moments that were kind of crazy, however looking back, individually they were not really big issues, it was more that they all collided at the same time. A lot of last minute decisions and issues to get sorted in order to get the job completed;

  • Bathroom cabinets had faults which caused issues with fitting in and needed to deal with the manufacturer
  • Not enough spray paint to finish the stair way railings
  • Plumbing challenges in the kitchen
  • Grouting colours to decide
  • Bathroom mirror decisions
  • Shifting furniture for the carpet laying

Now these don't seem a lot but when your working full time while trying to deal with suppliers and your builder and your husband is away overseas it gets a bit much...oh yeah and you hear from your husband and daughter that their luggage has been lost between Melbourne and Hong Kong! it can get a tad stressful. And to top it all off having to pay the final instalments to the builder and painter....with the back account growning...eeek

You can see how renovation programmes make good TV....wow I`d be the ultimate drama Queen and everyone would be laughing at me...I'd be like... "I just can't deal with this anymore" followed by tears of course.

So how far have we come in our journey? The end is in sight and there are only a few things in each area that need finishing off, probably a couple of weeks work left.

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Kitchen

Bench top pantry, subway tile splash back and shaker style cabinets

Kitchen to do list

  • Fit in gas cooktop burner and connect the gas
  • Plumb in the fridge
  • Place kick boards
  • Plumb in the coffee machine
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Guest Bathroom

Tiled shower with glass sides

Guest bathroom do list

  • Installation of the glass shower walls
  • Installation of the mirrors and the lights
  • Installation of the glass shower shelves
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Ensuite

Tiled shower, wall hung cabinet and toilet

Ensuite to do list

  • Installation of the glass shower walls
  • Installation of the mirrors and the lights
  • Installation of the glass shower shelves
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Hallway

Linen cupboard and hand rail

Other stuff to do list

  • Hang all the doors
  • Stain the wooden rails on the stairs
  • Installation of the new ceiling fan
  • Fit off the switches in the bedrooms, lounge and hallway
  • Build the internal storage system for the master wardrobe
  • Hang the light shades and wall lights 

While writing this post I reflected on how much the renovation process can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. On the whole I think that Pete and I have managed to survive intact through this big renovation project. So what were our survival tactics! Luck probably...but actually I think good communication was the most important, followed by good budget management by managing the variances and lastly learning to be patient! Yep so these would be my top three tips for survival. 

Communication is King

If you are the Kardashians and can't spell it would be Kommunication is King!  Don't worry I have saved you from that pain. I know that the one thing that has really helped a lot has been great communication with the builder and other tradies that we are working with. Pete and I always made sure that we were accessible so if our builder had any questions, any decisions that need to be made that we could answer them and didn't hold him up. We also checked in daily to go through progress and any issues, always making sure that we delivered on what we promised we would do. There were a couple of times that I just couldn't get something sorted and told my builder and he would manage it for me. It really helped to be open and honest about what you can do and what help you need from them. We always made sure that everyone had the same message so there was no confusion...well we tried to! This was the biggest challenge for us, making sure that Pete and I agreed on the same thing, so if the builder asked me a question then Pete at a different time, that he got the same response. There were a few times where that didn't happen so it did cause some confusion. Like.."what do you want to do with the hand rails?" Pete says paint black...I say stain....painter is confused!!!

Being on site as much as possible really helped, just literally being on call for the builder was a real bonus.

Manage the variances

It's all about the money honey!. As you go into a renovation project you have the contract agreed which states the cost and schedule of payments. Our builder was very specific with what was included in the contract, e.g down to the # of lights switches. So we knew exactly what we were getting for our money.

Any time you change what is being done, material and labour after that contract is signed that's a variance. (if you have no signed contract..then you could get into all sorts of problems!! just warning you). A variance can be expensive so we were always really clear with what that variance would be. Asking ourselves, did we really need to do it? and what it would cost. We did end up with three variances with our builder;

  • Removal of the pelmets in the bedrooms, dining room ceiling plus external plumbing changes 
  • Replacement and installation of all internal doors 
  • Replacement and installation of the wooden hand rail on the stairs

In total these variances cost $6000 however we worked through each issue and decided on the importance and value to the renovation. A good example was the internal doors. We ended up replacing them all as they were all getting painted (part of the contract) however we did not want to paint doors that really were going to have to be replaced in a few years time (the laminate was peeling off a lot of them). Other things like replacing the hardware on the windows we didn't get done because they all worked ok and over time Pete and I can replace them with more modern looking ones. 

Changes occur constantly throughout the renovation, my advice is to just check if that change will actually mean a change to the contract, therefore a variance and what it will cost and agree or not on it. 

Be Patient 

For those of you who know me well, may laugh at this...but yeah you have to be patience... or at least try to be patient. I think it's fair to say most of us, who aren't builders, have unrealistic ideas of how long it takes to get things done and what is actually involved. Seeing the detail of the work that has to be done helped me to understand that to do it right takes time and patience and sometimes rework. We had a situation with the pantry bench top which meant that there was delay and my builder had to reschedule his tradies. At the time I was not happy about it however it ended up being completed only being two days later than the original planned date.....really two days delay is nothing so I had to learn to cool my jets!

My mind is now starting to switch into the excitement of decoration and furnishing.....now this will be a challenge as there is no budget left!!!

If you want to hear more about my renovation journey and my organising plans for the kitchen and bathrooms, make sure that you sign up for my newsletter, just pop you details below to sign up

 

Until next time, take care my friends

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Renovations design process - 5 key elements

Does the thought of undertaking renovations make you want to run into the hills screaming?  It seems that for a lot of people renovations are overwhelming and full of dramas and lots of stress, not to mention the large quantity of money that streams out of your account. Well good news, it does not have to be like that.  Our current large renovation project (we have done a few in our time) has been exciting and rewarding and certainly not full of dramas and unexpected surprises and stress. To be honest we have always found this to be the case.  So we discussed why that is, is it just luck that things go so well?. We actually identified 5 elements that we have always stuck to during a renovation design process that  has really helped us and thought that it would be helpful to share with you.

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1. Wait 

This simply means don't rush into your renovations. If you are new to a home, live in it for a while, at least 6 months. This gives you time to figure out how you actually live in the home. I know it may not always be possible, but if you can, do wait and consider the space, use it, figure out what works well and what doesn't.  I can guarantee that your initial ideas will not be what you end up doing if you wait. Waiting can save you a lot of money and time by not rushing in and doing something you regret later.

If you have a lot to do, plan the tasks out and prioritise them, one thing at a time!. As an example our current home, which we moved into 5 years ago really needed everything done when we first moved in.  We identified the most urgent, which happened to be a new hot water system and did that first. Then we moved onto the external part of the house, made sure it was weather proof and no rotting decks. Once the external was repaired and weather proof we moved onto the internal. 

I know that it's hard sometimes to wait, however we have always done this and never regretted it and in fact have come up with much better designs and ideas. 

2. Vision

What do you want the space look like? Whatever is your answer is actually your vision. Your vision should reflect your style, do you like a modern clean line look?, a Boho look? a Farmhouse cottage look? Beach look? What ever your style is ensure that you incorporate this into the design. It's your space so make it your place. Pinterest is a great place to start to get ideas and inspiration, check out my Style Ideas board 

Having a clear vision really helps you in making decisions through the design and renovation process. And yes there are a lot of decisions that you have to make! like little things, door knobs and handles, towel rails, mirrors and so on. All these little decisions can be exhausting if you do not have a sense of vision or really do not know what you want. It will take a lot longer for you to wade through the overwhelming options and that is not fun!

As a side note, if you are not sure about what style you like, I can recommend a great book, Styled, that I have really enjoyed reading. It has a whole chapter dedicated to "name your style". 

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3. Function

In designing your renovations don't forget to think about the function of the spaces. How are they going to be used? Who is going to be using them?  A bathroom which will be used mainly by guests will have different functions than that of your ensuite i.e a single sink would be fine however you may want a double sink in the ensuite. In the kitchen, do you entertain a lot? if so consider that when determining the layout and storage space (for all the entertainment dishes etc), we all know that we congregate in the kitchen at parties!

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4. flexibility (compromise)

So, this is not about compromising your overall vision, it's about making positive changes needed to actually achieve your vision.

Two key areas where compromise is important;

  • Working with your partner/husband/wife/family
  • Renovation work

Unless your other half is not interested, the design process must be a joint effort and therefore you need to be able to compromise to ensure that your both end up with what you like. Pete and I had different ideas on the bathroom tiles. I wanted the "marble look" and Pete the concrete look. So rather than one dominating or demanding their style we worked through to find a tile that we both liked, that had elements of both....Always stay positive on this as you will always find a solution, but you need to be open to it.

During the renovation process elements of your design, what you want, may not be possible. This is often caused by a structural challenge, type of materials needed etc. Again you need to be  flexible and open to come up with alternative solutions.

5. AdviCe

Expert advice, listen to the experts they do know what they are talking about. You may think that you know it all, however the experts do know more and that's simply because they do it for a living!. 

A good example was our guest bathroom design. Pete and I had the completed the design layout, however once the renovation started the builder raised concerns about the design and how it may look. We discussed this and made changes based on his advice (he has done a lot of bathrooms) and the end result is soooo much better that our original design and without affecting our vision.

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Now one area that the we have not mentioned here is the budget as it's sort of incorporated into all 5 elements. How? Well you can't keep away from the fact that it's going to cost a lot and it will always be way more than you originally thought. However ensuring that you have considered all those five elements mentioned above, will really help to maintain the budget and not have a massive blow out! 

If you are interested in more information about renovations, do stick around as I will be sharing a lot more about this as we journey through our renovation project. In my next post I will be talking about how to build a great partnering relationship with your builder and tradies, so make sure that you sign up to the newsletter below.

 

Have you undertaken any renovation? how has your experience? Do you have any other handy tips and hints to help those looking at renovating? Love to hear from you, the good , the bad and the ugly, just leave a comment below in the comments section.

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How to make a tiny space a great place to live

One of our long term retirement goals is to go "tiny", get ourselves a Tiny home and enjoy the freedom that it gives you, so you can jump into the next adventurous stage of your life. However living tiny can be a bit scary so getting a trial run at it would be good. And that is just what we are doing over the next three months....we've going Tiny!, downsizing , whatever you like to call it.

This came about due to our major house renovations and the need to actually stay in the home (renting just wasn't an option).  We were fortunate to have a downstairs space, our entertainment room, that we could use to live in, approx 60sqm.  So we have essentially downsized and moved into this area. So far it has been a very interesting and a surprisingly fun experience...3 months on it may not be as fun..time will tell. 

The first challenge was deciding on what to take.  Actually it was more of what not to take as the restriction of space really forced you to think what was actually essential and what was a nice to have.  So far this journey has taught me how little we actually need and use on a daily basis in comparison to the amount of stuff that we actually have.

To help me work out the need vs want I essentially "zoned" the area and worked from there. It took me a while to figure out the zones and how they would best work in terms of layout. I came up with the following zones;

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • laundry
  • living/TV
  • Dinning
  • Reading
  • Coffee station
  • Chick zone

Kitchen/Bathroom/Laundry

Yes a normal house would have all of these seperate however in our tiny space they are all in one, in other words they share the same space. 

This was the hardest area to work with as it is sooo small but needed a lot in it to make it functional.

I started with the Bathroom, using a plant to divide the bathroom from the kitchen area. In this area I used a small corner table to store bathroom essentials, making sure that I used only exisiting storage and furniture. It's tight but all we need for two people. 

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Under the sink I put the kitchen cleaning and towels etc on one side and the other the bathroom items. I had to sort out and clear out a lot of items from the actual kitchen and two bathrooms and decide what to take with us. The limitation of room simply forces you to be ruthless. I thought I was pretty good being clutter free but I have seriously ramped up that skill.  

The bench top space is very small but needed to have those things we use a lot. To help with space I corralled the toaster, jug,chopping boards and blender and beside the sink we have the dish rack!!! Yes there is no dishwasher well actually there is and it's me and Pete but no machine so the one thing I did purchase was a dish rack. 

I have to say the real blessing in this area was the laundry cupboard. I took all the non essential laundry items and stored them in the basement. This meant that I could use that space for a pantry and it works perfectly. However like all other spaces I had to seriously downsize the pantry contents. 

We have used Pete's beer fridge as our fridge with the Microwave on top and on top of that is all the laundry kit, again corralled.

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Out in the main area we got a large piece of wood and covered the pool table and created a kitchen island, now that was a genius move right there. I used a couple of shelves, one for the glasses and plates and the other for cooking equipment and other essential kitchen items. I have to say it all works really well. 

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So boom that's the Kitchen, Laundry and Bathroom !

Living and Dinning

We have these two very ugly lazy boy chairs but boy they are the most comfortable chairs I have ever sat in. I have used a couple of nice throw rugs to disguise the ugliness, put a wee table in between them and that is the living and TV zone. Behind the chairs I have separated the areas with a small cabinet. This is now the dining room zone, use of a large rug and a small dinning table in the corner really helps to zone this space. Also in front of the "Kitchen island", I have put the hall table with pot plants, this makes the separation from the Kitchen zone and the dinning room. 

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Oh and I told Pete that when we actually downsize we are taking those chairs!!!  Can you ever describe a chair as heaven?

Reading and Coffee Station

This may well sound a bit silly however to make this space work for us and to ensure Pete's health and wellbeing, the ability to have a good reading area and more importantly his coffee machine was absolutely essential rather critical really!.  It took me a bit of thinking to get the coffee station sorted...actually stumped me for a while, then I struck upon the idea of using the TV corner unit. The unit was going to be stored away and unlikely to be used again in the new lounge. So it was a great opportunity to recycle it. It fitted everything on it perfectly, like it was made to be a coffee station. I could even store the coffee and tea supplies in the wee cupboard. And next door to this I just set up his reading nook, using the piano area as a shelf.  

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Chick Zone 

Ok ladys, I am sure that you would understand this, I like to have a nice space where I get ready in the morning. Now I did not think that I would be able to create what I term the "chicks zone". However there was an area in the corner of the room that has a large mirror and that inspired me to create my chick zone there. I used an old dresser that again was going to be put into storage.  Placing my yummy pink sheepskin on the floor finished it off nicely.  I really love this space and it's my wee sanctuary in the morning.

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Learnings

I think it's now week three in the "tiny" space and I have to say it's surprisingly comfortable. Pete and I have got into our new routine of living in the confined space. You are close to each other a lot so it's a good thing that I love hanging out with him. Juggling the one sink in the morning is sometimes a bit of a battle as we both go to work at the same time. I do find it a bit annoying being constantly interrupted when at the sink!!! something I am working on!. 

Enjoy those things that bring you joy! My initial plan was to pack up most of the ornaments etc, however it was actually quicker for me to just take the items downstairs into the new space. I actually really enjoyed how I could make the areas familiar and nice with our things. I did have to select only those that I really liked, and that was in fact an easy job.

Although we have managed to put a lot of furniture and things into our new "Tiny" space there is a lot in storage! Which makes me realise how much we do not use and question the need. To be honest I do not surround myself with a lot of clutter and living tiny has taught me how to focus in on what is actually really important and meaningful. I know that when it comes to moving back into the renovated area there will be big purges going on.

Cooking is certainly the biggest challenge and it is hard to try and maintain a good amount of home cooking. The only cooking appliance we have is an electric fry pan. Thank goodness it is summer and BBQ season so we can at least enjoy eating outside and yummy BBQ food. Also my summer crops are coming into full production so we have got good supplies for salads and the stir fry dishes. Meal planning has really helped us with this challenge. I think that if we didn't mean plan we would be eating out or getting takeaways every night. For those interested you can check out our "tiny living" meal planners in my fb meal planners page  7nightsaweek

The last note and one of the best is the significantly reduced cleaning that I need to do. It is bliss not have to clean such a big house. I am amazed at how quick I can wizz around and have the place clean. I can actually do all the zone cleaning in one go! However one thing that you learn quickly is that you can't just leave things lying around as there simply is no space, so you have to learn to put things away as soon as you finish with them. There are some members of the family who are still challenged by that.

I will be sharing more photos of the renovations and our tiny space on my social media so make sure that you follow my social media sites, just click on the links below

In the new year I will be doing another giveaway, something to help you keep your home clean and tidy consistently and with effective use of your time! Now that's a good new years goal!. Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter if you have not already so you can me in to win!.

 

I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas and I'll see you all back in the new year. 

Stay safe

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Our Renovation Plans

Well I finally get to turn my old tired spaces...kitchen, bathroom and ensuite into great places!!!! I am in planning and organising heaven! It`s been a five year wait, but worth it and at least now we know exactly what we want and what will work in each of the spaces.

Our Journey began, 5 years ago when  we purchased our home, a 1960 cedar and block two story home. It certainly needed a lot of work, some more immediate than others. In reality everything needed to be updated and or totally renovated, including the garden. Surprisingly we have managed to achieve a lot already, which I`ll share in a later posts. But for today I want to take you through our plans and the planning process for this renovation project.

The Waiting game

Unlike a lot of house make over shows on TV, we did not do all renovations when we first moved in. It was tempting however there were a couple of key reasons, a lot of work was needed and that needed a lot of money. Additionally we didn't want to rush into any changes until we had lived in the house for at least a year or so. It was important for us to focus on the most urgent work first. The kitchen, bathroom and ensuite, although very old and outdated, were still functional and totally liveable. Therefore we set a timeframe of 5 years after which we would renovate. The five years allowed us time to do the priority work and to save and design the big renovations!

I have lost count of the number times I just stood in the kitchen staring at it deciding what would be the perfect kitchen. To be honest the kitchen is a really lovely space as it is now, to work and socialise in. It's open and sunny and spacious so we didn't want to lose that feeling. What is interesting is that my initial ideas for the kitchen when we first moved and those now, are somewhat different, and that applies to the ensuite and bathroom as well. I truly believe that you really need to spend time in a space and even experience all the seasons to really know how that space will work best. 

The design journey

So after 5 years of day dreaming and picturing different layouts, colours, etc in the three rooms, Pete and I had a good idea of what we wanted and what we believed would work well.  The goal was to have the renovations started at the end of the year so and we wanted to have our initial design concepts ready to go through with the builder by mid year. Many a chat was had standing in the kitchen while drying the dishes....luckily Pete and I are normally on the same wave length when it comes to renovation so there has really been no battle on that front!!! but hey we know who would win anyway!

Once we were pretty confident with the overall designs for each of the rooms we got the builder around to start to go over these. This is a fairly critical time as you learn what is possible and practical and also gauge a sense of the cost. 

We have been very fortunate to have had the same excellent builder work with us on the house and he has completed all the other work to date so we are working with him and his team on this project. He has also done a lot of bathroom renovations and recently renovated his own kitchen, so has a lot of experience and tips to give us. There were a number of things that he suggested to change that made the design and practical use of a space so much better. All in all the end designs were very close to what we proposed. The cost however was not what I had budgeted for, in fact building costs have gone up a lot since I struck the renovation budget 5 years ago. Coming to terms with the need of a higher budget has been the biggest challenge so far!.

Last note on the design journey is the Vision, you really do need a vision of how you want the overall space to look at the end, It is so important the builder gets that.  Be prepared to make some compromises along the way. One example was in the ensuite and bathrooms, I had in my head the perfect cabinet that I wanted. This was totally different from what the builder suggested. It look me a while to understand that my cabinet style and design was simply not going to fit into the spaces, so I have to compromise for something that worked well in the space but also gave me the look that I wanted. To help give you a sense of our vision just check out my vision board in my Pinterest page

So we are finally at the planning stage, having walked through the designs and plans for each space with the builder here is the Grand Design

The Plans

The best way to do this is to take you through each room, starting with the Kitchen. 

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The Kitchen

Looking into the kitchen from the dinning room

Looking into to corner behind the wall

Kitchen plans

  • Existing kitchen and area fully cleared- A good demo job
  • All new kitchen built and installed.
  • Shaker style cabinets - colour Spirits Bay double  
  • Stone bench top - Babylon collection Phoenician honed
  • Kitchen Island bench built and L-shaped return removed
  • All flooring in the kitchen and dinning room replaced with tile flooring, Foresta Arizona
  • Painting all walls,ceiling and trim 
  • False wall removed
  • Kitchen window replaced
  • White Subway tile for splash back and under window
  • Coffee station with second sink
  • Bench top pantry 
  • All new stainless steel appliances - including French door fridge freezer
  • Internal drawer organisers - spice holders, oils and sauces with drip tray, utensil and cutlery trays
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The Bathroom

Looking into the bathroom from the hallway

The bathroom and toilet are currently two separate rooms

 

Bathroom plans

  • Existing bathroom and toilet cleared - full demo job
  • Remove wall between the bath and toilet
  • Remove bath
  • Tiling on floor and wall, Bibulca Grey Matt
  • Wall to wall tiled shower with glass shower screen
  • Wall hung cabinet, Modena 2 draw in white
  • New toilet
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The Ensuite

Looking in from the bedroom to the wardrobe

Looking from the wardrobe to the window and shower

 

Ensuite plans

  • Existing ensuite cleared - full demo job 
  • Remove wardrobe
  • Tiling on floor and wall, Bibulca Grey Matt
  • Wall to wall tiled shower with glass shower screen
  • Wall hung cabinet, Modena 2 draw in white
  • New toilet

Other work

Wow I feel exhausted just going through this list. The builder and his crew are going to start with the bathroom and ensuite first which is expected to take about 6 weeks. Once that is done they will move onto the Kitchen. He warned us that the house will be a bit of a demolition zone for a while

During the renovation Pete and I will move in down stairs, using the laundry as a Kitchen, bathroom and laundry! I can see an organising blog coming on here! There is already a large lounge/entertainment room downstairs so it will be fine for a chilling space. Plus our home offices are downstairs and there is also a lower deck so really it will not be much of a hardship for us.

I would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, ideas, tips and renovation experiences. Have a great week everyone.

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