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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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. 

Kitchen_Nov17.png

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
Bathroom_Nov17.png

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
Ensuite_Nov17.png

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 I created my dream Potager garden

To be fair it was my husband that actually created my dream Potager garden, I just planned it and gave a helping hand, like shifting 3 square metres of compost into the garden.  However I still can`t believe that I am finally starting to plant out my beautiful new Potager garden. Since moving into our home 5 years ago I have been running a large vegetable garden for the family, essentially three large garden beds. They were not ideal to work in as they were on a sloping site and at ground level. Becoming  empty nesters meant that we didn't need the as much vegetable garden, so I thought this is the perfect opportunity for me to finally get my Potager garden...OMG so excited as I've always wanted one.

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The Design

Good things do take time! It was important to me to take my time to design and plan this out properly, thinking about how I want to use the garden in the future. I shared my thinkings, design and plans for my Potager garden in a previous post which you can access here

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Designing is certainly the fun part....oh I'll put that there and have that over there ...ohh beautiful...then you have to actually work out how to make it happen and that's the hard part , the planning stage.  The thing I love and hate about planning is the reality of what you actually need to do to achieve the goal. The time and cost it will take and therefore the changes that you may need to do because of finance or design constraints!. 

The Plan

For us the planning started with me handing Pete the design and saying....hey Baby can you build this for me ...pretty please!. Bless him as he said yes, but with my help of course. So I sat down and planned out what we needed to do.  A long list evolved from that as below;

  • Plan out the new beds in the existing garden
  • Calculate the measurements needed for the wood
  • Work out the lengths, size, type and quantity of wood 
  • Purchase and pick up of the wood
  • Building of the raised garden beds - over two weekends with clear weather
  • Create and fill the two garden paths
  • Purchase and pick up compost mix for the garden beds
  • Fill the beds with the compost mix
  • Finalise the planting plan
  • Purchase of plants
  • Planting out the beds
  • Sit back and relax

We had a budget of $2000 which we had to stick to.

the build

The measurement and working out the actual foot print of the beds was not difficult, but did take a bit of "arranging" as each one of the beds had slightly different lengths and measurements. 

We purchased the wood from the local Mitre 10, cost came out at $900 all up. It was a lot of wood and it's all H4-5 as it needs to be treated for outdoors so it does not rot. Word of warning that means it's heavy!. 

The biggest challenge was getting a break in the weather. The spring in Auckland has been, well, rubbish!!!  so the actual construction took place over about 3 weekends. I recall at one stage Pete trying to skill saw between rain showers and hoping not to electrocute himself.

Once that massive job was completed we wheelbarrowed 3 cubic square meters of compost, super rich organic vege compost from our local, Central Landscape & Garden Supplies around to the actual beds. This was backbreaking and expensive ($500). I was hoping that I could fill the beds up with my home made compost but there was no way that I could make that much compost!!!!  I was pretty naive about that aspect of the job.

The key improvement for me in the new garden was to have paths in between the beds and also have a frame on the top edges. This meant that I can have much easier access to the gardens and actually sit comfortably on the edge and attend to the garden...this really helps to prevent the old "garden back pain". To avoid having more lawns to cut we used the left over white chip from the East garden landscaping job for the paths in between the beds. I have to say I am in love with these paths and it's great that they connect to the upper garden.

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The Planting

Whoop, Whoop the fun part!. I now have four lovely new garden beds.  In the true style of a  Potager garden I planned the planting to ensure that I achieved good companion planting so I could reduce the use of pest control and improve my crops. There are really good resources on companion planting, however it can be a bit overwhelming. So what I did was list out the vegtable crops that I knew we wanted to plant now and then slowly worked through the guides on what are the best companion plants for each. My main resource for this was my new book Companion Planting in New Zealand by Brenda Little.  This book really helped me to plan out each garden bed. 

The Berry Patch

Blueberries, Boysenberries and Raspberries

The Strawberry Patch

I moved all my strawberry plants from the wee garden that they were in into their very own patch. I have companion planted Borage for the bees and Sage for the berries. 

The Lettuce Bed

A mix of spinach, cos , red and green leaf lettuce and Lebanese cucumber, surrounded by marigolds. Coriander herb planted in the corner.

The Potato Patch

My all time favourite Jersey Bennies , sweet peas, beans, capsicums , and zucchini. Nasturtiums to border them.

The Corn Fields

Sweetcorn, tomatoes, carrots, spring onions with basil companioned to the tomatoes and borders of marigolds. 

To do

https://home.howstuffworks.com/staking-vegetables.htm

https://home.howstuffworks.com/staking-vegetables.htm

Poor Pete still has a couple of build jobs to do, build permanent staking for the tomatoes and berry patch, similar to the illustration.  

My to do list includes adding in more herbs into the garden, mint, parsley, rosemary and thyme. These are mainly for companion planting purposes. Herbs for cooking I grow in pots in the kitchen..that's another post for another day. Did you know that Basil is a great herb to have in the house to help keep flies away?

Developing more permanent hedging in the garden beds is longer term goal. Ideally I want to have a combination of lavender and Buxus or Mock Box. 

I am so going to enjoy this spring and summer season in my new Potager garden...I just hope that the weather improves so I can actually get out into it without being rained on.

On a closing note I came across this planting journal for $7 at our local Warehouse Stationery store and I will be trying this out to help track my plantings and growth. I have always done this in my own ratty journal but thought hey why not have a pretty one! 

Now I think Pete and I will have a wee sit down and just admire all our hard work.

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Take care my friends and enjoy your gardens

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How I created a cocktail cabinet

I am not sure why I became obsessed with having a cocktail cabinet. Perhaps it is because they are so stylish and sophisticated and having one would make me feel the same! Hmm! appears I am still waiting!. My dream is to have a beautiful metal and glass cocktail trolley, just like the one below, now that's class that, right there!. 

Picture Credit from  Mydomainehome.com

Picture Credit from Mydomainehome.com

 

Last Christmas my husband and I hosted our family. As Christmas is celebration time and summertime (yes it's Summer in Southern hemisphere at Christmas) I felt this was the perfect opportunity to create my first cocktail trolley. Now my dream was to have a beautiful cocktail trolley, however that will have to wait until the full kitchen renovations. So as with most things at present, I had to do this on a budget, ideally use as many things as possible that I already had at home. You know the old "shopping my home".

As I did not have a gorgeous trolley, I found an alternate, an old shelf that was not being used. So a Cocktail Cabinet it had to be. The shelf really needed a complete repaint and upcycle. However as I was feeling a wee bit lazy and pressed for time I figured that I would just clean it up and use it as is. Any major scratches and dents were going to be easily covered by the bottles and accessories so I ain't bovvered!!!! (you have to be Catherine Tate fans to get that reference)

"Shopping the house" only got me so much. I realised that I actually did not have a lot of other items that would be useful for the cabinet, so this meant that I needed source elsewhere. So I made a list of the items I needed;

  • Cocktail glasses
  • Crystal decanter
  • Wine cooler/ice bucket
  • Silver tray
  • Decorative accessory
  • Something to house the bottles
  • Cocktail shaker 

I did have crystal tumblers that are good for whiskey, GnT's, Rum and cokes however we did need actual cocktail glasses. 

Now, some of my readers would know that I am a keen op shopper/hospice shopper/second hand shopper/thrifter, whatever you call it. I have been for years and never fail to find some real treasures. I gave myself a challenge to get all the items from the local Hospice shops. I am lucky, here on the North Shore in Auckland, we have these great shops run by the North Shore Hospice .Their shops have great selection of goods, fantastic quality and bargain pricing. 

It took me a few months to collect the items, but hey good things take time!. The first item I found was a lovely wee pot holder, I think it was for a teapot. This I planned to use as part the accessories, thinking that I might but a nice flower vase on it or candle. I actually ended up putting this fun gold coloured Pineapple, which I got at the specials bin at The Warehouse for $5, on it. I just thought it made the desk cocktail cabinet accessory.

 

After much poking around I eventually found the right sized silver tray. I wanted to put the glasses and decanter on to a tray. As a hint, if you are after a specific item for an area always make sure that you know the measurements. It's a complete waste of money getting something that will not work in the area you want.   I also couldn't believe my luck when I came across this gorgeous little decanter, I just love love love it!!!

 

How gorgeous are these glasses. My super stylely Fashion designer sister Helen Ryan and awesome Mum gave me these glasses for Christmas. Best of all they got them from the local Hospice Shop..boom.  I just adore them, and they are lovely to drink out of, especially when full with a Brandy Alexandra.

Another gem of a find was the ice bucket or wine cooler it was just perfect and sits next to the Cocktail shaker which I have had for a while. Actually I brought that Cocktail shaker sometime ago, knowing that I was going to set up a cabinet at some point. 

 

The biggest challenge was the housing of the collection of bottles of alcohol and mixers.  I initially just placed them on the shelves in the cabinet, but I never really liked that and to me it was a bit cluttered looking and not very stylish. Any way it just had to do.......until I walked past an old 80's cane wine rack.  It was like, OMG that's perfect, so I nabbed it before anyone else swooped on it, Cane is really really popular at the moment and it does not sit around long any Hospice shop. 

I took out the middle shelf and just placed the cane rack in the middle....it could not have been a better fit! And it houses all the bottles, with a few placed on the sides. 

 

I am so pleased with how all the items came together and nothing cost more than $5 an item. Although from memory the decanter was $8 or something like that. However I have to confess that I did end up buying something new, that being the New Zealand Birds wall hanging, I thought it rounded off the whole look so well.  That's it folks my cocktail cabinet on a budget. 

 

We have enjoyed many a night enjoying the occasional cocktail and even our son has been handed on the skill of cocktail making by his Dad.  

As spring and summer is slowly making its way around the corner, maybe you could start to create your own drinks cabinet. 

What's your favourite cocktail?

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