Master Closet Reveal

Our home was built in 1960, and the master bedroom is therefore not very big, however it did have a ‘dressing room’ or what we call now an ensuite. Initially the ‘dressing room’ only had a large wall to wall wardrobe/closet and a sink and mirror. At some stage, probably early 70’s, a shower was put into the ‘dressing room’, however the closet was never removed…eeekkkk !!! So when we purchased the home 5 years ago our only closet for clothes for the master bedroom was literally in the ensuite. Fast forward 5 years and we are finally renovating the house and this “nasty” wardrobe is getting gone…long gone to make way for the beautiful new ensuite…actually to make way for the wall to wall shower. Check out our ensuite reveal post, it’s got lots of before and afters.

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Planning and Building

It was very exciting to think that there was going to be no more wardrobe in the ensuite! However the big question was where to actually install a new one in our master bedroom, remember it’s a small bedroom. The layout of our bedroom, specifically the windows, restricts where you can place our bed (Queen size). Getting the right position for the bed and ensuring space for a wardrobe was a bit tricky. However in the end there was actually only one way it could be done, so it was a easy decision. The wardrobe had to be built along the wall of one side of the room. To maximise the space we ensured that it went floor to ceiling and also agreed that we would need to have a set of 3 sliding doors to enable full access and in glass ti make the space feel more open.

My dream would have been a walk in wardrobe however, that would take busting out walls and extending the house which, well, just was not worth it to house clothes!!! I mean it is a lot cheaper to just reduce the clothes you have to lessen the space you need…I mean you can only wear one outfit at a time right.

Our builder also helped us to work out the best placement and size which really helped in the long run with the overall design. He is well experienced and knows all the important details that you need to think about when renovating.

After the frame up of the wardrobe itself , we engaged Regency Wardrobe Company to make our sliding doors. We actually came upon them at the Auckland home show and was able to access the “home show special” for the doors. They came out to the house to measure and quote. We chose soft closing triple doors in full glass with silver frames. The gave you an option to have them installed or self install. We chose to self install. The doors were made and delivered pretty soon after the measure and quote and delivered on site. The instructions on the self install were very good and easy to follow. Pete installed the doors in less than an hour . I have to say the quality of the doors exceeded my expectations, they are lovely and quiet, weighted well and soft closing, very nice indeed to use.

At this point we had to do some thinking about the internal closet and the best design in terms of storage. The wardrobe is used by both Pete and myself so needs to accommodate 2 sets of clothing. We did get Regency Wardrobe Company to complete a built-in design and quote, however in the end Pete decided that he wanted to make the closet built-in’s himself. He had actually keep the drawers and the metal runners from the old kitchen which were actually great quality. In short he repurposed the drawers, making new frontages for them and then designed the rest of the built-in’s around the drawers.



We also recycled the metal railing from the old wardrobe and the wooden shelf and used them in the closet….such savings, it was going to cost approx $2600 to have built in’s made. In the end it only cost approx $200 (wood) and we used the left over paint from the renovations. Pete actually designed the closet as well, working out the best size and design to maximise the hanging space , as well as ensuring that I have space for my shoes! He is a good man isn’t he :)

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I asked Pete about how he went about the design and build and he said that he just measured up longest garments being dressers, also measured up the shirts and jackets and drew out the plans to fit the clothes. He also considered the numbers and types of shoes that had to be stored and created spaces for them as well. He said he just worked out the clothes that we had and what storage was needed for them “the drawers are for jocks and socks” .

He built the storage in sections and put them together in the closet. Once he had all the components together he prep and painted them.

You know what I like about this closet and in true Pete style we equally share the space…..no extra space for me just because I am a women and therefore “have more clothes” in fact having equal space forced me to really think about what clothes I really use. I have found that it’s getting easier as I pare down my clothes …far easier decisions to make about what to wear…it’s very refreshing.

So now Pete has done his awesome job making the closet, it was my turn to “organise “ the clothes in the closet.

closet organisation

Oh this is the fun part….in my world anyway. Just like any other organisation job you always start at the very beginning and take all the items out and declutter. Don’t forget to make signs for recycle, donate, sell, dump. Then go through each item making a decision on where to place the garment in one of the 4 areas. I regularly declutter my clothes so it was not a big job for me , however I was still surprised by how many items I left go.. Pete’s clothes also got the once over and the old holely undies and sox’s got the bin treatment. Thanks to Pete’s grand design the closet has lots of hanging space as well as shelving. My goal was to get in all our clothes and not just “seasonal clothes”. I have to confess that I could not fit all mine in so I have keep a small number of off season items in the spare room closet.

All clothes that could be hung were and I used these thin felt coat hangers. I have used these style of coat hangers for a while now and I love them, you can almost double the amount of clothes that you can hang in a space by using these hangers. As you can see I tend to sort by item type and then by colour. So the trouser, dressers and skirts are in the middle, next to them are shirts and tops and jackets . On Pete’s side it is just trousers and shirts.

We each have three drawers and these house our smalls. I have my t-shirts and tops in these drawers as well . On my side of the closet I have my scarfs at the top, however this is not actually ideal as I reach for these daily and it’s not always easy to find them. I am hunting out a better option, like a coat hanger for scarfs, like these at Storage box. Any other ideas on scarf storage please share!.

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The next shelf I have my jewellery and I found the perfect velvet tray to display them on , and guess where I got it from? Yep good old Kmart. Next shelf I have my jeans and shorts, then bulky tops (jersey’s etc) . On the bottom shelf I have got a cube container to hold my gardening and house work clothes.

One of the great design features that Pete put into the closet is a space to place clothes that you may wear the next day, like jeans etc, and my after work clothes. This space is really useful and means that these aren’t hanging around on a chair or on the bed. Under that he has another shelf for my yoga gear which I reach for daily. He really did think of everything!

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Pete’s shelves are a bit more spartan than mine because…well…I simply have more clothes. He has his jerseys and tops on the top shelf the work gear , followed by a shelf for jeans and shorts and t-shirts on the bottom.

At bottom Pete designed space for my shoes, even measured them up to make sure they fitted. If you are wondering his are out in the hall cupboard..big stinky man shoes not allowed in the new closet.!

To ensure that we made the most of the space I have used laundry hampers on the top shelf to store bags and other items that get used less often.

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While I was organising the wardrobe, I attacked my bedside cabinet which has three drawers and was full of clutter…nightstand should not have drawers as they just become dumping zones! As these drawers can be a bit ugly , I wanted to brighten them up. So I got some of my left over wall paper and some unused acrylic containers and used the paper as drawer liners. Now the cabinet only has items that I reach for at night or use in the morning. And every time I open the drawers they look so nice “ohh joy”.

I can’t tell you how much I love my new wardrobe…to the moon and back maybe! It`s amazing what you can make out of an empty space!.

I hope that this has given you some ideas and inspiration for your wardrobe, even if it is to just declutter it!

Stay tidy out there!

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Kitchen Renovation - Before and After

In December 2017 our large renovation project began. It was 5 years in the making and I was beyond excited, at the end of the project the entire upstairs of our home would be completely renovated. We were getting all new bathrooms (ensuite and guest bathroom), all the walls, ceilings, skirtings and windows painted, all new internal doors, painted, new double floor to ceiling wardrobe, new fittings and lighting, new curtains and blinds, new flooring and best of all a new kitchen, not just any kitchen, the kitchen of my dreams!! 

Kitchen- before renovation - December 2017

Kitchen- before renovation - December 2017

kitchen - after renovation - March 2018

kitchen - after renovation - March 2018

In November 17 I shared the renovations plans so it's time now to share the completed renovations. In this post I`ll take you through the kitchen renovations, sharing our journey and there will be lots of befores and afters.! 

The plans

As mentioned above the renovations were 5 years in the making. This is simple because we moved into the house 5 years ago and our goal was to renovate at the 5 year mark. This meant that we had plenty of time to work out what would be the best kitchen, or rather how a kitchen would work better in the existing space. We were fortunate that the existing kitchen and dinning space were all open and there was plenty of space to have a large kitchen.  In fact the exisiting kitchen, albeit being old (as in it was installed in 1986), was actually a well designed kitchen and on the whole worked really well. In the end it was not difficult for Pete and I to come up with a layman's design of our new kitchen. We planned for the sink, fridge, pantry and oven to be in pretty much in the same position as in the old kitchen. The main difference with new layout was that we removed the L shaped bench and installed an island.

Pete and I had also made decisions on the colours of the cabinets, the cabinet style, bench top. Like I said before we had waited 5 years for this, so we knew what we wanted; 

  • Grey/blue colour cabinets
  • Shaker style cabinets
  • White stone bench top  
  • Same flooring throughout the kitchen and dining room

the final plans!  

The Big Decision 

By far in the biggest single cost in the renovation was going to be the Kitchen so we wanted to choose carefully who we were going to part our hard earned readies with. We decided to get quotes from three companies.  We made it clear that we were getting quotes and meeting with each of the companies to help decide who would be the best to work with. It was an interesting experience. One company never returned my call, one pretty much came in and "told" us how we should have the kitchen, ignoring our own plans and thoughts. Which left us with the third company Kitchen Studio North Shore . Our first meeting was with one of their Designers, Natasha Wright. It was not a difficult to make a decision to go with them as Natasha really took the time to listen to us. She looked at our simple non designer plans and simply added to these with that designer touch. The key thing for both of us was that Natasha got to know us first , understand us and what we wanted and in the end we got the Kitchen we wanted. The other great thing with Natasha, she was very realistic with the full cost, in fact her estimate was pretty much on the mark with the final cost. The entire team at Kitchen Studio North Shore were great and delivered on time and on budget with excellent customer service. 

Before you get to have a new kitchen ...you have to destroy the old! 

 

The journey to the New Kitchen

The best and fun way to take you through the journey to the new Kitchen is with pictures. I will put in as many before pictures as I can for you, so you can get a sense of what it was like before and the transformation that has occurred.

First up, the coffee station! This was on the top of the wish list for the new kitchen. Both Pete and I wanted to have this set up for Pete's little hobby or rather addiction!! For me I just wanted a separate sink that meant no more coffee grounds in the main sink and all over the bench top...soooooo sick of that. 

Pete visualising his new coffee station / coffee sink / final details for the plumber! 

And there it is, in all it's shiny coffee machine glory!  Plumbed in, so endless supply of water.

the coffee station set up

Coffee station sink

 

Moving on to the cooking area. Pretty much everything stayed in the same "location". And we got gas !!!! Pete and I love cooking with gas so it's been fabulous getting back on the gas hob!.

1986 state of the art cook top / 2018 gas hob 

I have to say for its age, the cook top and the oven were actually pretty good to use. And I sort of loved the retro look of the splash back. I was thinking of somehow incorporating it into the new kitchen, but the style was not right and it would be really hard to remove the tiles with out breaking them.

 

The pantry design and layout took a bit of working out, but Natasha got it all sorted for us. The new pantry is a bench top and the doors are bi folds which means that you can fully open up the area.  Lovely deep drawers and a massive corner Mondo corner unit.   (all the details about the inside of the cabinets, set ups and organisation will be revealed in my Kitchen Organisation posts, coming up at the end of July and August).

The kitchen area leads into the dining area, and it's all open plan. In the old kitchen, these spaces were separated by carpet and the L of the L-shaped kitchen. We wanted to make the kitchen and dining space feel more open and have ease of movement between the spaces so we now have a island parrellel to the kitchen sink and the same flooring all the way through. It has made a huge difference to how open and big the kitchen feels.

Looking out to the dining room and the french doors from the kitchen

Same view-post renovations - still hunting for new dining chairs!

 

The Costs

To be honest this was never going to be a cheap kitchen, so brace yourself!! the kitchen cost, excluding all appliances, tiling, plumbing and electrical was $45,000(NZ).

  • Cabinets = $19.3k
  • Cabinet and drawer accessories and sinks = $2.1k
  • Benchtop = $10.3K
  • Installation = $2.7

The electrical, plumbing, painting, tiling was all part of the total renovation cost so I could not say what was specific to the kitchen. 

Additional costs were for the floor and wall tiles which ran at approximately $3k and the curtains $500.  An unforeseen cost was the kitchen window which we had to replace as the original one was rotten. It had to be made by a local joinery company, it's not small so there was no change from $3k.  

Then you can`t forget the cost of the appliances. We actually brought the appliances a number of months before we started the renovations. Pete and I made the most of the annual Auckland Home Show and got the dishwasher, oven, hob, and rangehood for $6.4k, from The Jones Family Business, which I thought was pretty good. The fridge on the other hand....I love that fridge soooo much..however it was not the cheapest option...nor the smallest but it's what I wanted. And in this renovation Pete and I were both agreed that for once we would get want we actually wanted (within reason). I did managed to get a good price on it at $3.2k from the 100% Appliance store in Albany, their service was excellent and they delivered it for free.

So yep it was by no means cheap!!! I do find it interesting the costs that get disclosed in the magazines for Kitchen renovations. I am sure that they do not include all the "hidden" costs that occur, especially in an older home.

The products

As much as I can I`ll provide the names and links to all the materials, equipment and appliances that we purchased. 

Appliances;

We have used Smeg appliances before and have always found them great and so far have not had any issues. The fridge is a total joy and having the filtered water is a real treat, never get sick of that. 

pete -slow cooking prep / "cooking with gas"

 

The only change which Pete and I have had to get use to is all the appliances are electronic now, so no more dials....so we have a had to get the instruction books out a few times for setting clocks, timers and working out settings!!! Needing to read instruction books is a frustration in Pete's book!!

Cabinets, benchtop and tiles;

Floor tiles - Foresta Arizona / Cabinet colour - agave supermatt / wall paint colour - resene -avalon

Floor tiles - Foresta Arizona / Cabinet colour - agave supermatt / wall paint colour - resene -avalon

There were some struggles with both the bench top and the cabinet doors. Firstly with regards to the stone benchtop, I had chosen a more marbled looking stone, however the quote come in at $15k. So we had to rethink that option, that was just a bit rich for our blood. Natasha, the designer from Kitchen Studio was great at helping us, or rather me, to find something in our price range but that we would like. I was very nervous about what we chose as it was not what I pictured in my head, however Natasha reassured us that we had made the right choice. I now think that I love it more that my original choice, so am quietly pleased that it was too expensive. 

The other issue was with the cabinets. Both Pete and I wanted the shaker style cabinets and so these only come in Thermalwrap, which means that the colours are more limited and unlike the lacquered finish, can't be painted to our specifications. The challenge was finding the right cabinet colour, it had to be the right shade of bluey grey.  The samples held were all brown grey and this was not going to work.......we could get the specific colour however it could not be in a shaker style cabinet.....dilemma cabinet style vs colour which to choose!!!!  In the end Pete and I decided that we would not compromise on the cabinet style however maybe rethink the colour.  However as luck would have it Natasha and I found a colour on the cabinet makers website, which at first didn't look right but once we got the sample it was the perfect colour. So in the end we got the cabinet fronts and colour we wanted.  

It was our builder that put us onto the tiles for the floor. Neither Pete nor I were sure what we wanted on the kitchen and dining floor. However we did know that it had to be the same all the way through both rooms as it was an open space, and absolutely no carpet near the kitchen and no lino!   Our thoughts were to have a floating floor, laminate flooring like the sunroom, however were not sure about durability in a really high use area, ideally real timber flooring would be best but we are not millionaires so that was out of the question. So we checked out the local Tile Warehouse and they actually had the floor tiles down as display as you walked in and we instantly knew this was the flooring we would get. Perfect colour and perfect style...all thanks to our builders !!!  As a side note at the Home Show, where we got the appliances, we also got a 25% voucher for the Tile Warehouse which we used for when we purchased the tiles. It was a great discount and not only that but we got great service from Kalun at the Tile Warehouse

The day the tiler finished the subway tiles and the tile flooring was one of the best moments in the renovation, I could not believe how much they transformed the kitchen, took it from a construction zone to a completed zone!!!

all done

 

The Experience

Both Pete and I found the kitchen renovation exciting, there were a few challenges along the way however nothing that was major or a game changer, deal breaker. In my previous post about our renovation experience I talk about tips to survive renovations. The number one is great communication. For the kitchen renovation we had to work with our builder and the kitchen company and our builder had to work directly with them as well, especially at the installation stage. Graham, our builder was doing all the electrical and plumbing and "build" part and Kitchen Studio were making the cabinets and bench top and installing. To get this to all come together successfully it was really critical to have great communication across everyone , and make sure you can be on site at the critical times, like the day(s) on installation.

One thing that was very helpful from the Kitchen Studio was the explanation and details that you got on the "process". This meant that you had clarity of each step, who was doing what and by when and it was all documented. Any changes were updated and everyone got this information so there was never any confusion. 

another view from in front of the fridge looking out to the dining room

another view from in front of the fridge looking out to the dining room

Over the next two months, my post will bring you more details on the Kitchen organisation and the set ups of the drawers, shelves and cabinets. If you want to make sure that you get notified about the posts and other helpful tips from yours truly make sure that you sign up below for my newsletter, just have to pop your name and email address below so I can email you the newsletter

I hope you found this interesting and helpful especially if you are renovating. As always I love to hear from you about any of your renovation experiences and tips. 

If you are after inspiration, just check out my Pinterest board where I have keep all my kitchen inspiration and other renovation ideas. Make sure you follow to see all the new pins and inspiration I send your way.

Take care my friends

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3 tips to accessorise your kitchen on a budget

So here is the situation, you just spent a small fortune on getting the kitchen of your dreams and well there is no money left over to decorate/accessorise it. Well that was our reality. The kitchen itself was all finished, however we still needed a buffet/hutch cabinet, finish up the coffee station set up and generally set up the accessories. The hutch was needed as we originally planned for the kitchen company to make a display/buffet cabinet however we had to draw a line on the costs. So I had to get my thinking cap on to figure out how I could achieve the look and function we wanted on a small budget, or rather next to no budget.

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I really needed to resolve the Hutch issue as I had everything still in boxes and I needed to access the items in the boxes on a daily basis. Both Pete and I had an idea of what would look good in the space but we were finding it hard to actually find the "perfect" cabinet. At first we were thinking a long low buffet in white, like this one from Farmers , obviously not in our price range at that point.  Even on special it was too pricy and Pete was not a big fan of it. I also realised that I really want space to display some of my tea sets and other collections. This meant that we were more likely to have to source a hutch/cabinet and that it would probably have to be second hand. 

TIP # 1  - Thrift Shopping

Yip that's the first tip !!! Go hunting in those great secondhand/preloved/hospice shops for what you are looking for.  As some of my followers would know I am a bit of a thrift shopper. I have found some real gems over the years, especially from Hospice shops, and here on the North Shore in Auckland , the North Shore Hospice shops are fantastic. So our plan was to go looking in our favourite ones and also check out  Trade Me , using Watch List to flag and track items that we were interested in. I was planning on getting a hutch/cabinet and repainting using chalk paint. 

Just a bit of advice at this point..... you do need to be patient Thrift shopping , it can take a while to find what you are after. It's good to do some research on what the best shops are for what you want, as some specialise in clothes, others books or furniture. Also you really need to be going into these shops regularly as items come in and out very quickly and they are all one offs, in other words you can't dilly dally round with making your decision, if you see something grab it!. Last bit of advice, be really clear with what you want, function and size most important so know your measurements. This also ensures that you don't distract yourself with other items you see which are like "that's cool but it is not practical and I don't need it" . Case in point is the fabulous "Girl with the Pearl Earring" picture below which I picked up for $2....totally not looking for it ...but what a find...I just love her!

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After a few disheartening trips I thought that we would never find what we needed.  I was happy to repaint, put new hardware on, so open to old stuff that just needed a bit of a jazz up! I decided to check out a store that I always noticed but had never been in, it was a local used furniture store called Glenfield furniture new & used . Initially I didnt really see anything I thought useful, however I then noticed the colour.  There was a large grey wall cabinet, which was placed behind a while lot of other pieces, so I could only see a small part of it. The colour jumped out at me as it was almost exactly the same as the kitchen cabinets. On closer inspection it was actually an office cabinet made by McGreals here in Auckland. My first reaction was, no that's not going to work! However the size and the functionality were actually perfect, not to mention the colour. (bonus no repainting) and it was a great quality cabinet. So I started to think may be it could work as a hutch. It even had silver hardware like the kitchen cabinets. The guy at the shop was a bit surprised that I was thinking of using it in the Kitchen, however once I showed him the space and the kitchen he could see it working. So here in lies a lesson, always be open to ideas and seeing things in different ways, you never know what you might end up with. And best of all it was only $240!. 

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At the same time as looking for the Hutch I was looking for accessories for the coffee station area. The machines were all in place so we just wanted to get a small floating shelf above the machines and essentially have a coffee themed area.  A bit like the office cabinet discovery, I walked into the local Hospice shop and there they were. A framed pair of pictures of Paris cafes scenes and the colour tones were perfect. Not only that but the pictures were narrow and long which were perfect for where they were to be hung. $15 each... thank you! So my coffee station got a Parisian theme to it...very apt I thought. The floating shelf was actually new, just purchased from the local Bunnings store, not a huge cost thank goodness. 

Coffee_station_post.png

 

The "dressing" of the Hutch and coffee station shelf were the last step in my accessorising and so this takes me to tip # 2

TIP # 2 - Shopping the home

Do not go and buy a whole lot of accessories without checking out what you can use from your home. For my hutch accessories I just used things that I had tucked away but meant a lot as well as things that I use regularly. I am sure that we have all got things like this about the house which you can use. I used my two tea sets, one was Pete`s Mums, given to her by her husband (Pete's Dad). which he got from Japan as he worked in Japan just after the end of WWII to help the rebuild. The other one is the tea set my Mum was given by her employers when she left work to get married. Yip it was only a generation ago that women were expected to finish work when they got married! I also have some of my favourite tea pots that I have been given over the years which I got out. Added to this was my collection of silverware that I had around the place, again bringing them together they make great accessories. 

wedding_tea_set_post.png

 

I did have a cake stand and 2 tiered stand that I was going to donate as the colour was old fashioned. So rather than giving them away, I just spray painted them white and used them to help display my items in the Hutch. I was tickled pink with how they can out. 

tea_pot.jpg

 

Over in the coffee station area on the shelf I just put up my tea cup and saucer and pots that I use regularly as well as some coffee kit. This is what I would refer to as on hand accessories!!

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The last thing I did was to create a touch of greenery by just rehousing existing plants that I had in the house.

TIP # 3 - Groupings

This last tip is more of a styling tip and one that is not new by any means. However when you have limitations on accessories and budget this can be a good one to try in order to create "style".   It's just about taking like items and housing them together. So in my case I have grouped by colour and by use. 

  • Hutch - used white and blue colours with silver accents plus grouped like objects being tea pots, tea cups, silverware
  • Coffee Station - grouped by colour and use. All coffee and tea pots together
  • Chopping boards - grouped all wooden chopping boards together and corralled them into a round tray, adding useful items like seasoning grinders and dressings 
  • Oils and Utensils - all oils and vinegars together and all the cooking utensils in a jug by the hob

Overall the accessories in the kitchen are not actually for display only they are actually for daily use but housed in a way that creates a sense of style to the kitchen and is therefore a great way to accessorise.

chopping_boards_post.png

 

There you have it! My 3 tips, which you can pretty well apply to any aspect of your home, if you are wanting to accessorise and style it up a bit. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and maybe got a few ideas on other options for accessories other than buying new. 

The  other important thing to be aware of is the low foot print you create by simply upcycling something or just reusing something that you already have. Just think of the all the packing plastic you have saved by not buying something new which comes covered in way too much packaging. 

Before I go, if you are decorating/accessorising your shelves, here is a great tip...always accessorise in 3's and at different heights.

Happy accessorising and thrift shopping everyone

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P.S Stay tuned for my next post as I will be taking you through the full Kitchen reveal...exciting. To make sure you don't miss it, just sign up to my newsletter , pop your details below, which gives me consent to allow me to email you with all the latest from Tidying with Tania

 

 

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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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Welcoming in 2018

I love New Year, not just because you can have a fun night celebrating, more for the fresh start and the blank canvas ahead and the energised feeling that you are going to achieve your goals...this year!  Now I do think that most people do actually give themselves some type of goal or new years resolution, even if not openly stated, however most of us fail to achieve them. Goal setting can be easy, achieving them on the other hand is hard, and it takes planning, organising and commitment. For us, this year, planning 2018 is going to start with reflecting on what we achieved in 2017.

Pete and I celebrating the end of 2017

Pete and I celebrating the end of 2017

 

Look Back 

Pete and I set three goals last year, and they were actually pretty full on!!

  • Landscape the West Side garden
  • Create the Potager garden
  • Plan and start the renovations 

Did we achieve them? Yes we did and it feels great. We are somewhat exhausted from such a busy year and do feel very happy with what we achieved. It really helps to reflect what you did achieve before your charge into the new year with more goals. There are things that we learnt that will help with our 2018 goals...like maybe have less! 

The question I ask is how did we achieve them, what made this work?

Setting a timeframe was the key to get us focused. We gave each one a date that we wanted the goal to be completed by. So for landscaping, that needed to be done by start of autumn, so we were not dealing with landscaping in winter. The Potager garden,  by October so I could get the summer crops in and the renovations underway by December. Another important issue is budget. Each of these goals costs to achieve so we needed to ensure that we had the budget for them. I think that is an important factor in setting goals. If, to achieve the goal, it is going to cost then you must factor that in, no point setting it if you do not have the budget for it...that's a real bummer as you just set your self up to fail and no one wants that.  Lastly we broke down the goal into tasks and focused on each task rather the overall goal. Doing each task took away that overwhelming feeling. This really helped with the landscaping job as it was a huge job.

So on reflection what worked well; setting timeframes, having a budget and listing out the tasks. 

Basically to achieve them we needed to run them like a project. Check out my post from Jan 2017 on goal setting as it helps to show you how we did that.

One of the other learnings was that we had three big goals and it has meant that 2017 was a huge year on the house and it took a lot of our time and effort...and money. Maybe a few less in 2018 would be good.

Look Forward

As with each year, Pete and I talked about our goals for 2018. One thing we agreed on was to have less, yep putting our learnings into practice. We agreed to three goals this year ;

  • Project free year
  • Financial goal
  • Health and Wellbeing

Ok the first one is not actually a goal, it's more of a don't do, however for us we have to have it as a goal as we do tend to want to jump into a project.....finishing the renovations on the house is big enough really!

The financial goal is a specific savings goal ...good thing that I have brought my planner supplies for the year and my new bag...!!

The biggest one, really important to Pete and I, is Health and Wellbeing. We really neglected that in 2017, just didn't have enough time away and down time. So we have got specific goals each month to do and they are very motivational and easily tracked to ensure that we do them.

What I have done is created an "Our goals" page in my 2018 planner and this is at the front so it keeps this visible to us. For those interested I will be doing a post all about my 2018 planner set up...this is coming up at the end of the month.

 

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On a final note, Pete and I still did the walk around the house, from that I created a master task list of things to do. There are only 6 items and they are simply one off tasks that will not take a lot of effort and time. We will just spread these out over the year so they are not a big deal.

I am still to complete a post of the landscaping of the west garden....that's because the lawn got a bit wrecked and I want to fix that before doing photos!!! Anyway it's getting there so expect that soon!!!

For the other projects you can see how we planned and achieved them in the following post;

Planning the Potager garden

Build and planting of the Potager garden

Our renovations plans

I hope my sharing of our goals and achievements has helped you in your ideas and goals for your 2018.

I thought that I would end with this great little quote;

"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible" - Tony Robbins

Happy Goal setting my friends!

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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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Let me eat cake or just sour cream and chive potato chips

This blog was supposed to be all about "how I organised my daughters 21st. Clearly it isn`t!  Having gotten over the excitement and emotional journey of the 21st party, the planning and hosting, I was looking forward to sharing all the details on the decorations, menu planning etc etc. But oh no my "i just can`t be bothered brain" kicked in and to be honest I just wanted curl up on the couch, binge on Netflix while eating chips and beer.....is that so bad really! It was going to be the leftover birthday cake, however I really had a bit too much of it, so I b-lined it to the chips...once the bags open thats it, I can`t stop!.  I just felt like I lost my mojo and actually felt pretty overwhelmed!   

I was feeling really excited as I could now start to "organise and plan" for the pack up and move for the renovations (only got 2 weeks to go before the builders start).  We needed to pack up all of the upstairs which consists of Kitchen, bathroom, ensuite, master bedroom, two guest rooms, dining room, lounge, hallway and entry, so the builders can start to demo and gut the areas. We were going to sit down and plan out this big job, so it could be stressless, nice and orderly! But....!!!

The Incident

I had just finished my yoga, hmm a few down dogs and farts, feeling relaxed and was starting on downloading the photos from the party when I heard, thumping and crashing noises from upstairs. Off I went to investigate and discovered Pete and the neighbour ripping up the carpet in both bedrooms!. Now to explain Pete and I thought it would be a great idea to advertise on Neighbourly (Community website) to give away the carpet as we are replacing it. It would be a great help to us to have someone take it away and reuse. In my silly head I didn`t even think about people would want to come and take it away now.  So here I was none the wiser that this was going on and was faced with carpet everywhere and furniture all over the place with stuff pulled out and displaced everywhere...yep you guessed it I was just a tad freaked out as my master plan if a stressless, nice and orderly move had just been blown to outer space...like the dudes rocket who wanted to prove the earth was flat!!!

However I had to remain calm and offer my help as it was actually a great thing that the carpet was being removed. Luckily the sheer physical work to move the furniture and roll up the carpet and move took all my energy and my freaking out anxiety...so boom! there was a sliver lining, always got to look for that bloody silver lining.

So we continued, moving onto the lounge and the dinning room, shifting the furniture to one side of the room, rolling up the carpet and underlay then shifting the furniture to the other side and rolling the last half, lifting big rolls of carpet into our neighbours Tardis of a van.  By 9pm the upstairs was pretty much empty of carpet and well it was a chaotic mess with furniture and stuff all over the place.  

 

The Reaction

One side of my brain is going, this is great to get rid of all the carpet and so quickly and easily and the other side was running around in circles going, with arms waving in the air going, "OMG...where do I start" . I am not sure about you but I find mess and disorgansiation very stressful.....well I know it's pretty obvious really!. I needed to reset myself and get my mojo back!. The cat's present of the dead mouse on the stairs didn't help much either!

The Recovery

So this blog is more about me sharing my reality at the moment and trying to get a sense of calm amongst my chaos!!! arggghhh. In some ways this is about me putting into practice what I preach!! One of the first things I always do when feeling like this is to do a brain dump, listing out everything that you need to do, no order just get it all out. It does help me to resume normal transmission. 

The brain dump

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  • Set up downstairs kitchen, including a coffee station and mini pantry
  • Decide what we need to take from kitchen to use for 3 months
  • Set up downstairs bathroom 
  • Pack up the ensuite and decide what to move
  • Pack up guest bathroom
  • Re house all the pot plants 
  • Move into the guest room - shifting wardrobe and bedroom furniture and bedding
  • Take all art work off the walls
  • Clear all furniture from the entry and dinning room
  • Pack up the kitchen
  • Get cardboard boxes for storing items
  • Buy large storage  bags 
  • Purge our wardrobe 
  • Pack up our bedroom 
  • Remove the wallpaper from the kitchen and living room
  • Get new seats for downstairs deck
  • Source power extension cords and multi boxes
  • stack the furniture up in the lounge
  • get cover clothes
  • finish removing the carpet 
  • remove all the tacks from the bare floor

For some reason it always makes me feel better getting this listed out, the good old brain dump. It's a bit like the rebooting the computer!. So starting to feel better now and like "you got this"!

The next mission is to work out what to do first, yep the good old prioritise. I find that working backwards helps, not literally of course but in terms of the timeframes. To help me do this I use this simple printable resource from Strange & Charmed . There are really good planning resources on this site and Alexis has great videos and other resources available so check it out.

I have created two "Projects" or goals;

  1. Clear out all of the upstairs by the 3rd December - For the Builders start on the 4th Dec
  2. Set up Kitchen, Bathroom, Bedroom and living area downstairs - For move in on the 3rd Dec

Now that I have the two goals stated it is a lot easier to work through the big to do list and "allocate" them to the appropriate goal. Having detailed the timeframe as well so I can work out what actions need to be done when to ensure I get the end goal achieved within my timeframe.

The last step is to work through the number of days left and assign the actions over each day, ideally leaving a free day on the last day. On which I will be sleeping in and watching Netflix while eating Sour cream & chive potato chips and drinking beer!!!

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