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 The kitchen, bathroom and ensuite, although very old and outdated, were still functional and totally liveable.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. 


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

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

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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How to Repaint and upgrade your old bedside lamps

It's probably been at least 10 to 15 years since we brought our bedside table lamps. Actually, with most things in our bedroom, while raising children, they have had a hard life. When they were little they never seemed to be out of our our bed or and just hanging out in our bedroom. Even now they sometimes kick us out of our bed when feeling sick...yes! and they are now 20 and 18. However all is changing with Ms 20 already flown the coop and Mr 18 due to leave home to join the Air Force at the end of this month. 

So it's now time to start to think about making our bedroom more our own and bringing a bit of sophistication to it!

I thought that it would be easy to start with those poor tired lamps. As we are planning a full ensuite and wardrobe renovation later in the year and redecoration of the room, I didn`t want to go too crazy now and certainly didn't want to spend too much....but I did want to make some changes now......helps, I think, with dealing with the empty nest emotions!!

So the lamps got a make over. A total new paint job and new shades. And if I don`t say so myself they look great. It was sooo easy and quick and here is how I did it.


Decide on the design/style

So as to not waste too much of your hard earned money, take the time to decide how you want the lamps to look, colour, texture, shape and style of lamp. Good old Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration if you are not sure.

Try and get a sense of the colour you want for the base and the lamps (shape and colour). This is really helpful when it comes to shopping.

For our lamps I wanted the lamp base colour to be silver and the lamp shade colour black and the shape had to be large round/rectangle style.

I was super pleased as I found the perfect lampshades at Bunnings, local hardware store, and they were down to $10 each. 

The paint colour was actually easy as I had already used it in a previous job and I loved it and the tone and texture was going to go so well with the linen and accessories already in the room.

Get the Equipment

The only equipment you need is for the painting.

  • Sandpaper - to rough up the surface of the lamps, this helps the paint to adhere better. I would suggest that medium grade would be best.
  • Paint - I used a spray paint. I have used spray paints for a number of home projects and I find that the Rust-Oleum is the best and I get really good even coverage.
  • Plastic bag and tape - you need to cover the light bulb area and the cord so they are not sprayed. I just cut off sections of plastic bag and tape them over the areas I need to cover up.
  • Old sheet or drop cloth - as you are using spray paint you need to cover the area as there is a bit of spray residue when using spray paint.
  • Outside - You should spray outside, when there is little wind....you are asking for trouble to do it inside


Get Painting 

First thing to do is to get yourself set up outside with the drop cloth and lamps.

Take the old shades off and remove the light bulbs. Then cover up the areas of the lamp with plastic and tape. Get the sandpaper and rough up all the surface area that you want to paint. I did not go crazy on the sanding, just a light once over was fine.



Next step is the spraying of the lamps. Don't come in too close, you want to stand back, be a good arms length away as this ensures a consistent application. Make sure that you keep turning them to ensure that you get an even coverage on all sides.  I did three layers of spray paint, allowing a good 30-50 mins between each to allow the paint to dry.



Now that you have finished the painting just have a good look over all the area to ensure that the paint has been applied evenly. You may need to touch up a bit if there are gaps.

Once you are happy with the paint work and it is nice and dry remove all the plastic covers.

Then lastly just put the new lamp shade onto the lamp.


That is it folks!, that's all it took to get a completely new look for the lamps. I am really pleased with them and I think they fit nicely with our current colours and decor.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has transformed their lamps, pics would be great, and any good tips and hints.

Stay tuned for my next post where I reveal more bedroom updates.

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How to plan and achieve your goals for the year

Let's take you back to New Years day. You have great ideas on what you want to achieve, change and do this year...full of excitement and lots of goals for the year ahead. Forward a few weeks and it's nearly the end of January and well reality has sunk in and those goals just look like silly ideas that you are never going to achieve....But it actually doesn't need to be that way. Let me take you through how Pete and I plan our goals at the start of each year and more importantly how we actually achieve them.


Types of Goals

Generally speaking there are long term, medium and short term goals. These can be personal, career, financial or life goals.

Pete and I have a long term goal, which is to grow old and crazy together and drive our kids mad...no but seriously....

Ours is to be able to enjoy retirement together, which is a challenge as Pete is 10 years older than me. Therefore that means when I hit 55 I have to be in a position to have some flexibility with my career as well as financial freedom to enable us to have choices and time together. I know it sounds strange that at 47 I am thinking and planning for retirement however we will never achieve our goal if we don't. So each year we ensure that we are on track to achieving that goal and make changes as we need to.

My medium term goal is building up of my new business 'Tidying with Tania'. Pete is a Tradie and still on the tools so it's pretty physical work and he is not 20 anymore, so for him it's about hanging in to retirement and supporting his lovely wife. There will be a few trips thrown in along the way, like the Orient Express to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, or a tropical island holiday and doing the bike rail trails and the Tongariro Crossing. I'm sure we will add more.

We have also got medium goals for our home which we purchased 5 years ago, these are renovation goals.

Our shorter term goals are focused on the current year. How we decide on the goals and achieve them is what I will share in this post. It's not rocket science however it may be helpful if you are struggling with setting and achieving your goals.


Identify and prioritise the goals

As we are slowly renovating our house most of our goals for the year are based on the home. This year we have also included some RnR (Rest and Recreation) goals......that I`ll talk about in my Feb post.

Deciding on the house goals is really easy and fun. Pete and I do a "walk around" ...a what!  We literally walk around the inside and outside of the house documenting everything that we see that needs fixing, renovating, changing etc. 

The "walk around" with helpers in tow

The "walk around" with helpers in tow


The next step is to narrow down the list to the things that are a priority and part of your short to medium goals. For example at the 5 year mark our goal is to renovate the kitchen and upstairs bathrooms. 

It is year 5 this year so we know that this is likely to be our main goal so we do not want to load up too much around this. Last year it was painting the outside of the house, so that was the main goal, however I did manage to sneak in decorating my office.

We also align the goals to our financial budget which we set annually from July to June, so we allow for the cost of these goals.....it really helps to ensure that you budget for them, it's makes it much easier to actually achieve them.  

As an example our kitchen and bathrooms costs will be included into the 2017/18 budget, therefore the goal to the end of June will be to plan and get cost estimates.

Our landscaping of the side garden is already budgeted for in this financial year so the goal here is to finish the plan, buy the plants and complete the landscaping in autumn.

Our west facing garden awaiting landscaping this year

Our west facing garden awaiting landscaping this year


From the "walk around" there are a number of one off jobs which essentially make up our "to do list" and the actual goals we make into "projects" as they have a number of things that have to be completed to achieve them.

Documenting and Planning the goals

At this point can I just say how much easier this process is if you have a home folder or house file etc. If you want to create a really useful home folder just see my post here where I take you through the steps to create a folder.

We have a Goals and Projects section in our home folder which is where we list out all the "to do's" and the goals and actions needed. 

I then take the "to do`s" and put them into my yearly planner so we can break these tasks down over the year, makes it so much easier to achieve them.

For the goals it's really important to detail the actions steps that you need to take to achieve the goal. I have an example here of what we need to do for the goal of Landscaping the side garden.

Printable from  StrangeCharmed  

Printable from StrangeCharmed 


By breaking the goal down into key actions, you simply focus on one action at a time and before you know it you have achieved your goal. It's the old saying To eat an Elephant you have to take one bite at a time. I do find focusing on the actions and not the goal does help you to achieve it. The final point on goal setting is timeframes. You must give yourself a timeframe for the goals , so you can then work backwards on when you need to do to get the individual actions done. So for us the landscaping goal is to be completed by autumn. Therefore all the actions have to be done between now and May/June. The same goes for the plan and costings of the kitchen & bathroom renovation. We need to have this done by June when we work through the budget for the new year. 

Achieveing the Goals

Easy as! just focus on the individual action steps as I discussed above. If you are not convinced then let me illustrate.

Below is a list of all the goals that Pete and I have done since moving into our house, just on 5 years ago. And I mean what we actually did ourselves. 

Complete redo of the downstairs; [painting/wallpaper/shelving/flooring/upcycling furniture]

  • Entertainment room
  • Laundry
  • Toilet
  • Bedroom
  • Study
  • Office

Decorated the guest room upstairs - painting/made bedding

Reworked old ensuite to maintain until complete reno - wardrobe makeover/shower makeover

Complete and extensive redo of the sunroom - new ceiling/new wall linings/new flooring/make furniture covers/painting

Built and developed up two new vegetable gardens

Planted out new orchard

Built composting system

Built garden shed

Repainted all the external wooden windows and french doors (17)

Re stained the cedar [external cladding] on the top story and repainted the block on the bottom story. (250square metres)

Stained all new decks and stairs (4)

Re cabled the entire house

These goals were all achieved by having timeframes and key actions that we needed to do to complete the goal. So we just slowly worked through all the actions and over time we started to knock off the big goals, like painting the house!

We did get our awesome builder in to complete the laundry reno and replace and build four external decks and stair


So there you have it, planning and goal setting care of Pete and Tania !

I hope that you might find something useful from this that can help you to achieve your dreams through great goal setting.

I`d love to hear what your goals are this year and how you are going to achieve them.

Oh and Kiwis enjoy Waitangi Day and the lovely long weekend.















Decorating our sunroom | our journey

Apparently we have been in our house four years! It's hard to believe it has been that long as we are still working on making it our home. We purchased it knowing that it was in need of a lot of work, especially the external aspect of the house. This has taken most of our time and attention and money. We have finished most of the big jobs and repairs, like new cedar cladding, new decks, painting and staining. So we can now start to have some fun decorating the inside. 


Tip #1 - with house renovation always take care of the exterior first, fix all leaks and rotten materials. It is so important to weather proof a house before making it all beautiful on the inside.

Our sunroom, being the room we spend a lot of time in, is really our favourite room in the house. Poor thing has been in a state of neglect for a while. So we bit the bullet and set to the mission of redecorating it.

It is not a big room which from a decorating  perspective is good, however it is very sunny and full of windows. We needed to think through the challenges that brings with decorating, like paint colour fabric fading etc. First things first, what do we want it to look like. This is where Pinterest is soooooo fantastic.

Ideas Board

I set up a Sunroom board in my Pinterest account. (here is my Pinterest account). This really helped Pete and I to quickly narrow down the style we wanted and get some great decor ideas. In fact Pinterest is really helpful when working with your partners that struggle with concepts and visualising. You can just simply show them in Pinterest and they are like "ohh yeah that is so cool, I love that!"

From here we worked through tone and colours and decided on a very neutral, linen look. The colour will come through in the greenery that will be in the plants, cushions and rug.

To help decide on the actual paint colours we got some test pots from Resene .

Tip #2 - number the colours on the sample cards and on the surface next to the sample colour so you always match them back up.

Also test them on different parts of the room to see how they are in different lights and against an existing colour, if it will remain.

Paint samples


The Resene colours we chose were Cloud for the walls and Half Cloud for the ceiling

We used a low sheen as it is a bright room and we wanted to reduce the glare and reflection.  We used an existing  semi- gloss white for the sills, that we had left over from a previous paint job.

Tip# 3 - if you don't use all your paint, store the cans upside down to help prevent the paint drying out.

The flooring option was easy as wanted to have a floating laminate floor. We had installed this option in my office about 6 months ago and just love it, perfect colour and look. We used Hanwood Laminate flooring in Bleached Oak , which we got from Bunnings  This also helped with the connection of rooms throughout the house.

There is black cedar in the Sunroom so these colours really pop against the black.

Laminate flooring

Collect items

As we were undertaking the planning and organising of  the Sunroom, I was also keeping an eye out for special little treasures that would fit into the new room decor. Pete and I are keen recyclers and we love to hunt through all the secondhand, thrift shops to find the perfect piece. For this room we picked up the two cane chairs for $25 each, the hanging baskets for 50cents each, the planter basket for $6 and the cushion for $4.

I have also been growing the plants from little babies. See my blog where I talk about growing house plants. I still have a lot to grow and buy, top of list is a Fiddle Leaf fig and Boston Fern

Tip # 4 - focus on use, fit and style when secondhand and thrift shopping. It's only a treasure if it's going work well with your tastes and functionality.

I always try and source secondhand first, so much better to reuse if you can. And there is the added bonus of it being very budget friendly.

Indoor Plants

Prep work

This is probably my least liked part, sanding and painting, I am sure Pete would agree too. However preparation is the key to a job well done. It always take longer than you plan for, even with time saving tools, you have to take your time to do it right.

I think I got off lightly in this job as while Pete did all the sanding and painting I recovered the furniture. I will do a more detailed post about this as I used builders drop cloth to recover everything. It was the perfect material (heavy duty calico) for a sunroom and cost next to nothing to do, $88 for everything.

We did lay the flooring together as it is really a two person job. As we have already laid a floating floor it did not take too long. When you do a floating floor for the first time, I would recommend watching a few online tutorials before tackling the job. The first couple of rows take a wee while but after that you are away.

Tip # 5 - plan plenty of time to do the preparation, you will need it.

Deck it out

The fun part, making your ideas board come alive. As we reused all our furniture we only really needed to accessorise. This was not a big job as only had to source cushions, window dressing and a rug (the right one still to be sourced) 

Since finishing it we are now back in our beloved room, spending most of the weekend sitting in the sun. A bit like a cat really!!