Monday, April 23, 2012

Where I've been all this time!

So I thought it was about time that I let you know what I've been doing for the past 4 months! I've spent the last year making changes to almost all parts of my life - it's been an exciting, refreshing and much needed journey of goodness, with a dash of rough times just to add flavour to the mix.

On 19th December 2011, after much annoyance in the general direction of a real estate agent, a power of attorney and an old man vendor, I received the keys to a home of my own! A house, that's all mine (other than the mortgage to the bank, of course). A space for me, and my cats, and my car. No-one elses. My own little haven of my stuff and my mess and my music and things however-the-hell-I-want-and-no-one-else-gets-a-say-so-NER!! After living at home for nearly a year, with all my things packed away in boxes, cramped in a sweet but somewhat inconvenient attic room, to say this moment was exciting was perhaps an understatement.

Pic as per the real estate agent
The first time I layed eyes on this house, on a real estate website, I knew it was the one. Right suburb, right size, double garage, nice backyard, and most importantly, right price! I knew I had to make it mine.

This is the part where I could tell you about how much I hate real estate agents, but I will spare you the story.  Lets just say that the car sales industry doesn't deserve it's reputation compared to real estate agents...

So how does a mid-20's person afford a house in a great suburb in Hobart on one wage? Glad you asked!! Peer at that picture above again. Looks great, huh? How about the back yard, would you like to see that?

Also from the agent - dog not included, thank GAWD!
 Look at all that space! Double garage! And in that left hand corner, an apricot tree! I am in love.

But back to affording this house. Let's break it down into small sentences:

Old man.  No wife.  Alcoholic.  Heavy smoker.  Pretty convinced he would melt if fresh air or sunlight entered said home.

Yep. As nice as this place was on the outside, it was horrible on the inside. Stay inside for 20 minutes and start to get a headache from the smell, horrible.  I thought the windows were tinted, but they were actually niccotine stained. The carpet probably started life out as a different colour, but black/grey/stained was the status quo.  And wow, I wonder how many flies it took to put that much crap on the ceiling?

But hey, I'm brave, and I happen to have a pretty talented family, and a lovely boyfriend who can hook up a wire or two. This was about the time I started to have visions of me like those people on TV who look gorgeous while happily rennovating amazing homes where everything goes right and turns out awesome....

Perhaps it's the fact I grew up around building sites and work in progress. Perhaps it's because my mum is this amazing woman who can pretty much do anything when it comes to building and rennovating and decorating and anything else she sets her mind to (and I'm her daughter, so surely some of that's rubbed off?). Perhaps it's because every other place in my teeny tiny budget was horrible, and with every other property in the suburb priced at least $100k more than this one, and I saw it as a good investment. Perhaps it's because I'm slightly delusional, slightly eccentric, overly optimistic and have illusions of grandure, that I thought this was a totally doable, awesome plan.  Whatever it was, (or a combination, maybe) I decided that I could do this!

Oh, and I was silly enough not to take "before" photos. But I did take a video! Which I'm not showing you, because it's terrible. For my records only, that one!

A skip bin of stuff later, I was left with a house with no window furnishings, floor coverings, oven, or bathroom. My motto was something like "if it has old man germs, it's gotta go".

Have you ever pulled up cork tiles? No? Then you're lucky. I think scraping these things up was one of the most physical things I've ever done in my life.

And I got the easy parts.

I'm pretty sure he's thinking "why did I ever agree to do this?!"
Unfortunately I also don't have a photo of the moment when my lovely man started adjusting the taps of the soon-to-be-removed bathroom vanity, without turning off the water mains.  Imagined a stressed out, sopping wet dude trying to control an amazing water fountain which had appeared in my bathroom. I'm pretty sure this image was my happy thought for at least a week!

The result of our work was a empty, less stinky house.

Dining Room. Heat pump taken down to relocate.
Bedroom 2

You have no idea how much I scrubbed this toilet....
Soggy laundry
Hallway, obviously
Once again I was a little lame on the pictures, woops.

The next stage was making a few changes. Firstly, in the kitchen, the oven was in a hovel. A what? Lemme show you:

Real esate photo. Wide angle lense makes the oven look bigger, but its a standard 60cm wide
The oven was squished into this little hole in the wall. No lighting meant you'd be cooking in your own shadow (pet hate). Close walls meant if you had a pot or wok bigger than the hotplate, it had no-where to go. Complete fire danger in my opinion!

I have to be honest - I didn't even open the oven. After seeing everything in the house, I just didn't want to know. It was a pleasure to toss it in the skip bin!

See what wall on the right side of the oven? The one with the shelf? That's the built in wardrobe for the third bedroom. Was.  I decided that a built-in in the 3rd bedroom was not necessary, compared to a bigger kitchen, so Bird and my step-dad made my wishes come true!

I can see it now - tiles up the wall, glass and stainless range hood, glass hot plates, practical drawers either side of the oven, down lights, maybe even some cute narrow cupboards with window-like glass doors...

Image from Pintrest, orginally from who-knows-where
...and every single meal that comes out of this kitchen will be amazing, because how could it not?!

Now let me tell you a little thing about tiles and laminex.  Seeing as mum works in a tile shop, you think I'd know a thing or two about them. Turns out, not really.

Grey isn't grey, white isn't white, and if you think it'd be easy to get a particular colour, you're probably wrong. The prettier they are, the more expensive they get, and there's a huge difference between what you like, and what is essentially suitable for an investment property (read: boring, normal, classic, affordable). New motto: "this isn't going to be my forever house". Is there even such thing?

Laminex is tricky, but in a completely different way. Oh, the options!! I never knew "grey" could be so hard to get! And those little business card sized samples they have? They aren't really a sample, because if you get a bigger piece, the colours look completely different and the sample sometimes doesn't show the whole pattern!

Now, my heart, my love, when it comes to benchtops, actually lies in timber. You can take the girl out of the country...

But, see new motto mentioned above. Laminex is a cheaper, more wearable, better-for-resale option.

So there I was, with my ba-zillion different samples, frustration levels increasing, when my amazing man gave me this simple advice:

"Go with the one you liked first.  Whatever it was that drew you to it to begin with is right. And once it's on the benches, you'll only notice it for the first few weeks, and then it'll just blend into the normal and you wont even see it."

What did I ever do to deserve such a lovely, wise man?

So, voila:

On the left is my kitchen tile, at the top is my bathroom floor tile, and the laminex I decided to go with, called "Quicksand - natural finish".

Did I mention that I have the awesome choice between two heating options? I am so excited about this. The house has a heat pump - my last place had one, and they are great. Heat with the flick of a button, and fairly efficient too. But since moving home, I've fallen back in love with wood heating.  Nothing beats the heat of a wood fire - they are nice to back up to, dry clothes with, stare into the flames, and also keep my cats nice and toasty!

Despite the abused state the rest of the house was in, the wood heater was surprisingly neat and tidy. The brick hearth had to go however (stubbed toes anyone?), and the heater had a little bit of surface rust and needed a clean and tidy (eliminating old man germs, remember).

Mum came through with the great plan, of course, and now I have a lovely modern, bigger tiled hearth which will be flush with the floor.


This is the point where I become the chief cup of tea maker because I have no idea what's going on!

 The result?

Pretty damn awesome, I think! I can't wait to get the heater in, all prettied up in metallic charcoal.

Oh, and in that pic, notice the door frame going down the hallway? Well I decided I didn't need a hallway door. It'll be open all the time anyway, so may as well take it off. Once the door was off, I made the executive decision to remove the door frame. Else it'll be obvious I've taken a door off, right? I think my mum wanted to kill me in that moment...

See, I didn't realise that plastering and bogging up an "arch" (apparently it's still an arch, even if it's not arch shaped - go figure) is actually a massive pain in the butt. Woops. Sorry mum!

However after much work she's made it look amazing (of course)! Pic to come later.

The bathroom has been the other big project. Other than being hideous in general, the original shower had leaked, and rotted away the skirting board, plaster and some of the internal stud work. Also, some strange person decided it would be a good idea to install a door from the main bedroom, to the bathroom. Perhaps in some situations, this would make sense, however in this house, it saved, oh, maybe 1 step?

Let me show you in a diagram...

So, if you take the normal door, its about 3 steps to the bathroom. Or, you could take the "ensuite" door, and save yourself.... wait for it... ONE WHOLE STEP! That totally justifies having a random door!!

Needless to say, the door is no more, which was a little easier than taking out the "arch" door, because the wall had to be fixed and replastered anyway, like most of the bathroom. See?

Real estate photo, featuring lovely pink vanity *puke*

Yay! No door! Yay! No rotten stuff!


Okay, so now I realise that I really do suck at taking progress pictures. Since this last image, the drain for the vanity (the pipe in the floor) has been moved to be in the wall, ready for a wall hung vanity, and the plaster has been installed. My awesome plumber friend Reegan has realigned the taps for the bath so they are centre with the window, and mum has been working on her idea for a niche. A niche? I thought a niche was a special group of people who are into a particular thing "yes Mavis, your beautiful frilly toilet roll dolls with the pink bonnets will be perfect for a niche market of people"... apparently it's also a cavity in a wall, perfect for displaying bathroom things and giving you a place to stash your shampoo. Who ever knew?

My bath and my shower are both getting a niche. Lucky them! We've also had the lovely Dean come and tile the floor of the bathroom, and fix the shower - see how the drain is off centre? My mum wouldn't have it, so Bird chipped out the shower base, and Dean made a new one. The grey tile looks great, and I can't wait to see the rest done. White tiles on the walls, all the way to the roof, should look good despite my cleaning allergies. Seriously, I'm allergic to cleaning and scrubbing. Just ask my mum!

That's probably enough of an update for now! I've been itching to share what I've been up to with everyone :)


  1. WOW, you are one brave and amazing woman Jess and to say I am proud of you is to say the least.... The house is looking like.... WOW

    I am so glad you are happy mate


  2. top work Jess! certainly a lot of work but going to be worth it in the end, big time!


  3. OHHH But I LOVED the pink vanity!!!!

    LOL you're doing an amazing job hunny - can't wait to come down and have a visit!