The year we decided to take a leap of faith and make our own tree change, moving from the city to the country over ten years ago, we bought a house that had seen many moons. It was built by a family who truly loved it and has always felt like home, but we knew that in time it would require a little TLC.
I had always envisaged a minor face lift, however fast forward ten years and we have commenced somethings that’s more like total reconstructive surgery. I don’t want to bore you with a blow by blow account of every single thing that is going to eventuate. Seriously, I’m not that into building to even pretend that I will notice half of what goes on.
Am I excited? About the end product, yes. About the actually journey? Ask me when we’re finished xx
CHAPTER ONE – Mr. Thirty Three Percent
Whoever coined the term Renovators Delight ought to be locked up. I am a firm believer that for some people there is very little delight in renovating. Ever. I mean, the outcome is wonderful, it’s the process that leaves a lot to be desired. The very first home we bought when we were just twenty-one was an old weatherboard number that needed a little TLC. We painted architraves and polished floorboards, installed gates, changed light fittings and put up a picket fence. We replaced windows and landscaped, making the place ours without the need for total restoration. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type of person who shies away from hard work but for me, that was renovation enough.
Our second home was a new build. And thinking about both scenarios I am never quite sure which was better, re-doing the old or creating the new. Both have their challenges and delights, and neither of them are any more appealing to me than the other. I think I would much rather buy a home that I am relatively happy with and make do with whatever I find within. I’m pretty easy going and flexible when it comes to things like that, so when we purchased our third home with the intention to renovate “in a few years” I was never really in a hurry.
Suddenly, it seems that “in a few years” has arrived. As a matter of fact it’s been well over ten years, so if I am completely honest Hubby has been more than patient with the delay. For a long while now we have thrown around ideas, measured up rooms, had various designs sketched out on scrap paper at the kitchen table and then drawn up by professionals. We even contemplated moving, attending Open For Inspections and debating the pros and cons of relocating versus staying. But ultimately we really do love where we live, so the most logical decision was to renovate. Properly. Oh dear.
Our house was built in the early seventies and has remained relatively untouched since then. I suppose you could call it authentically vintage. Yes, it’s had a few minor changes such as the addition of timber paneling in the toilet, a new pale pink kitchen bench top in the eighties and a coat of paint but that’s about as good as it gets. The house is mostly brown and white, tiles and slate with wooden louvre doors fronting the pantry and bathroom cupboards. It boasts a retro combination of exposed brick and cedar beams, with strong accents of timber veneer, laminate and brown velvet curtains.
The ensuite has delightful glossy black tiles embossed with white Arum lilies which I am certain was highly desirable back in the day, but every time I use the shower all I can think of is funerals. I have to admit that this is one part of the renovation I am definitely looking forward to. We knew when we bought the place that it was somewhat old and tired, and has decoratively seen better days, but it’s bones are good and the frame is solid. It’s simply time for a makeover.
Hubby is a brilliant tradesman and visionary, willing to try his hand at just about anything. And generally the outcome is excellent. Except perhaps plumbing. That’s not always great. But where it is impossible for me to imagine the rainbow through the rain when it comes to making physical changes and improvements to things, he has always been able to see the end result.
Hubby is my Mr. Fix-It. He is also my Mr.Thirty-Three Percent. And I mean this in the most endearing way possible. You see, history shows that whenever a project is pending and quotes are required – whether it be time or money – whatever the estimate is I just need to add 33% to get a more realistic figure. I don’t know why. That’s just how it is. Please make a mental note of this, as it may come in handy down the track.
So, here we are. This is just the beginning of our journey, and over the next six (eight) months I will share with you our trials and tribulations. Although I have no clue whatsoever when it comes to colour charts, window selections or whether one should have cupboards or drawers in a kitchen, I do have the utmost faith in Hubby. And the thirty-three percent equation.
CHAPTER TWO – Just Pick One
Once the decision to renovate was made and plans were finalised, the process of picking stuff out began. Now, I know there are many of you reading this that would rejoice in the process of selecting tiles and bench tops, cupboards and colours, and if you are a man undertaking a similar journey with your bride then I presume many of you just run with what she wants. Right? I think my husband would envy you right about now.
You see, I’m not too fussed about all that hoo-ha. Yes, I like things to look good and I’m not a huge fan of mission brown, but as far as the details go I’m more than happy to let the professionals do their stuff. It’s their job. And they are good at it.
Pouring over designs and pictures in magazines and on the line, Hubby has spent somewhere in the vicinity of three million hours making sure we don’t lose the essence of the original house. Built in the seventies by the parents of a dear friend, it really does feel like home and we want to keep it’s heart and soul. It just needs new organs. So when Joe our cabinet maker arrived one Friday night to discuss some of the cabinetry options, I was optimistic. We agreed on a basic style and the colour was simple. White.
Joe’s eyes lit up as he pulled a sample board from his bag of tricks, and as he spread it across the kitchen table he asked me which shade of white I’d like. Huh? My heart sank. White. Just white. But apparently that wasn’t the correct answer. It appears there are approximately 127 billion shades of white. Arctic White, Bridal White, Antique White, Frost, Snow, Linen, Ivory, Chiffon, Porcelain, Pearl. The list is endless. I took my glass and left the boys to it. Sorted.
There were two other essential elements that Hubby wanted to source before we moved out and demolition began. The flooring and the fireplace. Excellent. Now, just so you know, my working knowledge of these two things is this. One is made of wood. The other burns it. On the upside I did have some idea about the type of fireplace I wanted, so that was the easy part. The difficult part was the flooring, so off we trekked to a specialist hardware and flooring store on the other side of town to check out our options.
If I thought colours were confusing, I was now living my worst nightmare. Walking into the showroom I began to feel my pulse quicken and my skin become hot and clammy. I presume this is what it’s like for a recovering alcoholic to walk through a Dan Murphy store. Everywhere I looked there was wood. It was on the walls, on the floors, doors and benches. It came in ten widths, twenty lengths and fifty shades of brown. Dark, light, thick and thin, with or without knots or nails. But at the end of the day it was all wood.
While Hubby and The Boy pondered and perused hundreds of samples, I wandered around and tried to make sense of what I saw. The installation diagram was interesting but that was about it. I did, however, meet a young boy who was with his Dad. We got chatting and I learned that not only was he eleven, he was about as excited to be there as I was. We had a laugh, took some selfies, and rejoined our respective parties. At this point my boys had narrowed it down to three options and turned to me for a decision. Looking at the names, colours and patterns in the wood it all looked Greek to me. Until one piece took my eye.
It was multi-coloured with knots and imperfections throughout, just like the essence of our house. It actually looked like it had lived a thousand lives before being processed and turned into flooring. Perfect. Wormy Chestnut it was to be. So with that done, it was off to Masters to pick up a few items for the big move and then the best part of the morning. Coffee.
I have to admit we procrastinated a bit. Knowing you have to move out and actually doing it are two very different things. As it happened we woke up one Sunday morning and decided to just do it. Again, Mum was a God-send and came up to wrap, pack and try in vain to get me to throw out a whole lot of crap I never really needed. She succeeded a little. So over the next two weeks we made the big transition to next door. Yep. Next door. Which is brilliant when you have chickens that need caring for and your gym equipment is still in the one remaining room of the house.
I knew this day would eventually arrive but still, nothing can really prepare you for the morning you no longer wake up in familiar surroundings and you have no idea where all the light switches are. But we are finally here. So let the fun begin.
CHAPTER THREE – The Moment of Truth
Demolition took place swiftly. I knew Hubby had a schedule to keep but quite frankly I didn’t expect to have no house this soon. Standing in what used to be our kitchen, memories of birthday parties and cooking failures, breakfasts with girlfriends and oven element deaths mid-way through attempting to burn a roast came to mind. My very own Whelan the Wrecker & Co didn’t take long to strip the house naked, and it’s amazing how men come together over destruction and rejoice in tearing apart a chimney brick by brick. Heavy machinery and sledge hammers bring out the best in some people.
When I was growing up we lived in a very old circa 1920’s weatherboard house in Melbourne’s west and over the years as Mum and Dad renovated, I vividly recall the joys of ripping up linoleum only to expose sheets of newspaper laid when previous works were completed. Some dated back to the 40’s and 50’s. With time came the concrete slab which meant that newspaper was no longer used as an underlay, and as a result eliminated the joy of discovery for future generations.
We did, however, discover that everything built in the 70’s was constructed to last. And if we had ever found ourselves in the midst of Armageddon we would have been fine. The base of the walls in the bathroom were filled with concrete and the bathtub was securely anchored with another fifty metres of the stuff. We need not have ever worried about the slate in the kitchen shifting as that too was cemented down so well that only a week’s worth of jack hammering was going to get that lot up. And although there were no papers to be found, we did manage to uncover two gems from the past that were certainly worth the wait.
Hubby and I had always wondered why the toilet in the house was blue. Yes, we have only ever had one loo. Early on we nicknamed it the Electric Blue Booga-Loo, and as The Boy removed the timber panels from the walls the reason became clear. I dare not explain as a simple picture speaks a thousand words. I’m sure it was very trendy back in the day.
I was out shopping when Hubby sent me a photo of the second discovery. As more timber panels came off the lounge room wall, behind them written onto the plaster were these words… “This house was constructed by G.W. Evans. Started in 1976 it was completed some 18 months later . These boards were fitted to this wall in June 1981. G.W. Evans.”
Graham Evans built our house and it was his family home for twenty one years. Graham is also the father of our dear friend Carey, and he passed away about four years ago. Discovering these two moments from history was wonderful and really gave us an insight into the house we were about to reconstruct. It reminded us that others not only lived here before, they decorated according to the style of the time and left their mark for others to find in the future. Which is exactly what we needed to do.
The entire kitchen, both bathrooms, the dining room and lounge room, the toilet and laundry were all gutted. Holes and plaster were attended to, the skeletal remains of a few very large rats were discovered, and the bare slab floor was confirmed to be as lumpy and sad as first suspected. This was certainly going to be a bumpy ride.
It’s difficult to describe what takes place when a renovation is underway. Hubby knows exactly what needs to happen and when, but for a novice like me sometimes it looks like there is a whole lot of nothing going on for a very long time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not completely daft. I realise there is a plethora of crappy little jobs like nail removal, hole filling and sanding that have to be done before the big things eventually start. These small tasks take time and often the finished result can’t even be seen, but are important none the less.
So, not even half way into our quest for restoration and you may ask what in fact it is that I have learned. Well, it’s this. Hubby knows exactly what is going on. And the best way for me to contribute is to stay out of the way. That, and have a crack at playing Colleen the Lunch Lady. Even though I am no Nigella in the kitchen, I can assemble a salad roll or two when push comes to shove. So when Whelan The Wrecker & Co. are in session the least I can do is deliver sustenance and hydration. School canteen style.
And if that’s what it takes to keep the wheels of progress turning, then bring it on, I say.
CHAPTER FOUR – A Change Of Scenery
Have you ever considered what it would be like to live the life of someone else? I mean, not necessarily live their exact life, work their job or raise their children, but live in their home. Cook in their kitchen, sit at their dining table and be surrounded by their belongings. It’s not something that ever crossed my mind but right now, it is exactly what we are doing.
As we head toward the completion of the “out with the old” phase, and enter the “in with the new” phase, I realise we’ve been living next door for two months. When we made the move it was our intention to do so as simply as possible, not only for us but for our neighbours. Although they don’t live in this home permanently it is still fully furnished complete with their family photos, home library, travel memories and Christmas decorations. Everything we have at our place is duplicated here which is why we bought over only the bare essentials. You see, I didn’t want our gorgeous neighbours to go to all the trouble of packing everything away into storage as it was bad enough we were about to invade their home. That would have made it worse.
So over came our clothes and linen, personal effects and two dogs. I didn’t even want to bring our art work or pictures but it got the better of Hubby on the last day we moved and he did sneak over a few photos, but I kind of like having someones else’s stuff around. Some of our friends and family have called in and commented on the new photos around the place, asking who the people are in the pictures they don’t recognise. The look on their face is priceless when I tell them I simply don’t know. They must think we are mad.
Mum raised a few eyebrows when she was helping me pack up the kitchen and couldn’t quite understand why I wasn’t keen to take anything over. I explained that everything I would need was already there and it seemed silly to double up on things like crockery and cutlery. And understanding our neighbours are European and really know their way around the kitchen, there was a high probability their kitchen was going to be far better equipped than mine was anyway. So the only things we ended up taking were the Nespresso machine, basic pantry dry goods, the sandwich press and my favourite knife and fork. And that was it.
It’s not until you actually walk in someone else’s shoes, or live in their house, that you realise just how similar everybody is. In Australia most of us prepare meals, eat with family and friends, do laundry and spend time outside. It’s just that we do these things slightly different from our neighbours. We have little idiosyncrasies that are uniquely our own, and that’s where it has really made us laugh.
We have everything we need here. Roof. Check. Walls. Check. Furniture. Check. Mixing bowl… Nope. There are glass bowls, serving bowls, cereal bowls and salad bowls but no mixing bowl. A small pudding basin was located a few weeks into our stay but thinking outside the square, I have taken to using a large pot instead. Sorted. I decided to make chocolate truffles a few days ago but in the absence of a food processor I found myself standing at the kitchen bench pounding biscuits with the end of a rolling pin. I did it, but it was like living in the land of the Amish.
Another thing I thought was a kitchen staple is a wooden spoon. Wrong. No wooden spoon to be found here. After a quick phone call it turns out she only ever uses a spatula. Who would have thought. The one thing we do have plenty of is tongs. At the last count there were ten pairs of tongs in varying shapes, sizes and materials. Yep. Ten. So if it can be served up, picked up , turned over or delivered by a tong, we have it covered.
Two months into our stay the only thing I really do wish I had bought over is a couple of cookbooks. As we have already ascertained I am no Nigella, but I do have a small repertoire of tried and trusted recipes, mainly desserts, that Hubby and the children enjoy and are fail-safe when we have guests. Yes, I could Google stuff but it’s not the same. I have decided that the cookbooks shall remain packed, so fruit salad, yoghurt and pancakes it will be for the next however long it takes – plus thirty three percent – until we return to our place of abode.
It will be like Christmas when we unpack. Then again, it probably will be Christmas.
CHAPTER FIVE – Marking Time
We are now about four months into it. Going by Mr. Thirty-Three Percent’s calculations that should mean we are just over half way there.
Living so close has been a God send, and Hubby has been toiling away diligently after work and on weekends so progress is consistent. Although it may not seem like a lot takes place from one week to another, there is so much that needs to happen behind the scenes first, he is really happy with his accomplishment. And I am pleasantly surprised.
The home we are staying in is a fraction smaller than our place, and I have to admit that as the weeks pass I find that sometimes things get a bit tight. The oven and stove top are positioned next to a walk way and opposite the fridge so I have to be mindful to close the door if I’m cooking, ensuring that pot handles are angled safely in order to avoid a catastrophe. Four adults roaming around the kitchen and meals area can be frustrating at the best of times, and we are a family that allow dogs inside as a general rule but even they have been banished to the yard until dinner is over. With one living room and still only one toilet, some days it’s tricky.
We have made a few changes to the Kitchen of the Amish, introducing some new wooden spoons and purchasing a StickMaster to eliminate lumps from my burnt offerings. Hubby has adjusted the doors on the fridge and freezer so they now close properly, and all the washers on the taps have been replaced so we can drift off to sleep without The Symphony of Drips playing in the background.
On the reno front quotes and purchases, for and of, various items including fixtures and fittings, tiles, flooring, windows and doors are underway. The replacement chimney has been built and fireplace installed, timber and construction materials delivered, labour and rubbish removal organised. And Hubby has moved up a rung. He shall now be known as Mr. Fifty-Seven Percent. And the appliances and furniture are yet to be accounted for.
The constant sound of banging, sanding and machinery has resonated from the house almost seven days a week, and I sometimes wonder when the neighbours are going to finally spit the dummy. To date there have only been two casualties of war. The clothesline, which apparently snapped in half during the relocation process, and the lemon tree. Although not completely dead, the lemon tree came off second best when confronted with a moving bobcat, so only time will tell how bad the damage is with that one.
Hubby has written lots of notes and numbers on the remaining timber beams and slab, and to me, that looks like he knows what he is doing. And we have some exciting development on the plumbing front. After ten years and eight months, we now have plumbing for a second toilet. Although the actual toilet is still absent, if you were to hover over the waste outlet and use extreme accuracy, you would effectively be using the second toilet. And that in itself is pretty good going.
Let’s be realistic though, not everything has gone according to plan. I have heard many stories from others about their own renovation successes and dramas, so I understand this is par for the course when undertaking a project like this. There have been a number of changes along the way that have come about from simply standing in the middle of an empty room and seeing something that hadn’t been an option before. Other changes have arisen out of necessity or functionality. And one has been, well, an oversight.
The kitchen area is the one I am most excited about, and it’s ready for a complete overhaul. Enlisting in the help of his Chippy mate and a few others who are happy to get down and dirty, it was out with the old and in with the new. Doors and windows, that is. Things are beginning to take shape. Plumbing, wiring and comms are yet to be finalised, plastering will eventually happen and the cabinetry hasn’t been measured or ordered, but for the moment everything is coming along nicely.
Hubby has built many a house from scratch, demolishing existing homes and finally handing the keys to the new owners when everything is spick and span. He has revamped, reconditioned and renovated homes, offices and commercial buildings. This is not new to him. But until now, beyond the simple update of our first home and the new build of our second, I had no idea what we were in for.
No matter how many times I look at plans and drawings, colour palettes or tap handles I know I am never going to rejoice over the process. What I am rejoicing over is that the end is now in sight. And that, my friends, is very, very exciting xx
CHAPTER SIX – Turning The Corner
I can’t quite believe it. We have entered the six month mark, and if I am completely honest I think everything is going well. Lets face it, I’m not the one on the front line dealing with drop saws, belt sanders and a mobile scaffold platform thingy that looks like an industrial hospital bed. It’s Hubby that coordinates the delivery of building materials and organises the various tradies and volunteers needed to make things happen. His point of view may be a little different to mine. But lets go with mine for now.
When I last reported in we seemed to be marking time. Yes, things were getting done but there really wasn’t much to show for it. However I am extremely pleased to report that much has been completed and exciting things are beginning to happen. Internal walls are happening, water and gas lines have been plumbed, wiring underway and plastering ready to commence. The windows and external doors are all in, ceiling beams and timber work sanded, and what once was mission brown and salmon pink is now a blank canvass ready for Hubby to work his magic.
It may sound strange but I have come to realise that a lot of the time you know what you want, but you may not know exactly what that is until you see it. If that makes sense. Between (mostly) Hubby, (often) The Boy and (occasionally) me, we have spent I don’t know how many hours searching for tiles, tapware and the perfect kitchen sink. Decisions have been made on basins and towel rails, and who would have known so much thought would go into choosing just the right toilet, taking into consideration those who are extra tall or have issues with deteriorating hips and knees. All things considered, I think I did quite well in that department alone. Not a single meltdown.
I never thought I would ever say it but I have quite enjoyed the process of selecting kitchen appliances. It was so much better than trying to choose flooring or a paint colour. After multiple visits to the store with the stuff, then gradually narrowing down the billions of choices on offer, we managed to pick out the dishwasher, fridge, rangehood and ovens with very little disagreement. That in itself is a true wonder. The lighting store, however, was a very different kettle of fish.
The moment I set foot in that shop my heart began to race, my palms started to sweat, and I felt like I was back in that dreaded flooring showroom. Where was my selfie buddy when I needed him. And why are there so many lights to choose from. How am I supposed to know what is going to match my house when I don’t even have a house to imagine the light in. The only thing I spotted that looked remotely enticing was a tin thing that hung quite low, and looked like it was enjoying a second coming as a light fitting after spending years as a hat in a Balinese rice paddy. It wasn’t long after that Hubby generously offered to take care of the lighting, and we found a brilliant shoe shop across the road with a seventy percent off all joggers sale. Finally, my kind of shopping.
When we moved out the decision was made to abandon our kitchen chairs. They were extremely dated, we’d had them for about sixteen years, and were second hand before they were new to us, so Lord only knows how old they really were. Years of breakfasts, lunches and dinners, parties and coffees, baby spew and mothers group get togethers had taken it’s toll, and the only way to force ourselves to invest in new ones was to say goodbye. Which we did. Over the edge of a precipice at the tip. It was a strange feeling. Liberating, yet sad at the same time. When your undertake a project like this, the last thing you want to do is spend money replacing something you already have. And we are not keen on getting rid of stuff just because it’s old or daggy. Possibly why Hubby still keeps me around. But sometimes you just have to let go of the past so you can embrace the future.
Of all the things that have happened recently, and of all the items we have chosen, purchased and installed, it was the arrival of the two toilets that really had me celebrating. Although they are still in their boxes waiting for their homes to be completed so their new lives can commence, each and every night when I go back to the gym in our old house I proudly admire the boxes.
Smiling to myself I am finally beginning to see what Hubby saw eleven years ago when we bought the house. And I think I’m going to love it. Even more so with two toilets xx
Things are still coming along, albeit slow and steady. It is now winter. This would mean that Mr. Thirty-Three Percent’s initial calculation is a little out of whack and Mr. Fifty-Seven Percent is looking more realistic. But we knew that was always going to be the case. I am freezing, going just a little stir crazy, and at times I wonder whether we will make it our before our children marry and have children themselves. And frequently I tell myself to relax and just breathe because I know eventually it will be ok.
Our current progress report looks something like this. The all-important insulation has been shoved into every nook and cranny that could ever be located. If there was a small gap, a large gap or something that looked remotely like a gap, it has been filled. And in the middle of July when it’s minus three degrees in the morning, this is one thing we will all be very glad Hubby remembered. Spasmodic items of a random nature that reflect the here and now, such as newspapers and an assortment of junk mail, have been placed into wall cavities in the hope that those who dissect our home in the years to come will be able to gain a deeper appreciation of the life we live today. Kind of like a renovation time capsule. Only less organised.
The fireplace has already had it’s maiden lighting as the weather is quite chilly. We also figured it would be best to give it a trial run before the house was finished, that way if things went pear-shaped at least the furniture and appliances would be spared from the inferno. Internal sliding doors have been hung, windows sorted, door frames planed and adjusted, and I know there has been so much more work completed by Hubby and his mates that I honestly have no idea about. My head hurts to even think about it.
Every night when I wander across to the gym Hubby gives me the number of all the items completed that I need to look for, which is our game of Spot The Difference. Some days the changes are blatantly obvious. Other days I am clueless, and pray that his sweeping the floor will constitute a tick.
The Boy recruited a few of his mates over the past few weeks, and between them, Hubby and I we finally managed to save enough of the old internal bricks to use for the external windows and doors. The arrival of the Brickie was a moment of sheer excitement. To me, this signalled the beginning of the homeward stretch. It was not meant to be. After a lengthy discussion between said Brickie and Hubby it was decided that one of the windows needed to be relocated. This would ensure the bricks were laid in an aesthetically pleasing manner, and would quite possibly expedite the laying process. So… Move the window. Check.
Take two. Said Brickie was to come back a week later and commence the brick installation. Fail. Hubby had left the bricks uncovered and with the rain that Jane promised finally arriving, the bricks were deemed too wet and needed to dry out before going in. So… Bricks re-stacked in an airy herringbone formation, covered and left to dry. Check.
Take three. Said Brickie booked in for Monday morning arrival, ready to commence work. Hubby has an RDO so all systems are go. Let’s pray there is some action, because I am beginning to get a little cagey xx
CHAPTER EIGHT – Musical Chairs
For months now Hubby and I have done the rounds of multitudes of furniture stores trying to locate pieces that will not only fit the physical spaces of our yet-to-be completed reno, but more importantly ones that are comfortable, affordable and don’t look like they came from Franco Cozzo. Not that the Il Modernissimo suites found at Mr Cozzo’s Brunswick and Footscray stores aren’t made with love and sure to last a lifetime. I’m just not confident they would suit our home. And mirrored ceilings are really not my thing.
Whenever we have been out and about for one thing or another, we’ve taken the time to seek out, select and sit in the many sofas and couches, dining chairs and stools that are on offer to today’s consumer. I am yet to decide whether it is more difficult to choose a sofa or a kitchen cupboard doorknob. But this I know for sure. If, in twelve months time, I change my mind about the door knobs, replacing them will be a less expensive exercise.
Ever since we threw the kitchen chairs over the precipice at the tip, knowing we needed to find a replacement has been weighing heavily on my mind. You see, the problem is twofold. Firstly. I don’t like change. Even though I know that the old chairs were both hideously outdated and somewhat mildly dangerous, they were comfortably familiar and homey. They held memories, and possibly crumbs, and letting go was really hard. Secondly. The space that has been created for the new dining table is long and rectangular rather than square so finding something we both agreed on to seat a cast of thousands was always going to be trickey. The last thing we wanted was something that resembled a corporate boardroom table or one you would find in a school cafeteria. That, and I really have a problem with confrontation.
After months of searching, seeking and sitting we finally found the perfect setting for ten around a long timber table that we both really loved. In the showroom we sat chatting, making notes and testing out the sitability of the suite. We were both extremely impressed and didn’t hesitate to place the order, silently rejoicing that we could finally tick that one off the To Do List. The lounge has been a totally different kettle of fish.
From day one replacing the lounge has been a real point of contention. Hubby and I have had a long term Mexican Stand Off as to what type of design would be best. Currently we have a hand-me-down three piece number which is both functional and comfortable, standing the test of time without any great drama. With seating for four, five at a stretch, this offers every bum a place to sit with the flexibility to move the chairs around on a whim. It a word, it’s great.
Hubby has a different take on things. He likes to stretch out on the couch each night, ‘assuming the position’ as I call it. Inevitably he falls asleep snoring, clutching the Wand of Power before being woken up and relocated to the bedroom. It’s a nightly ritual. On the other hand, I like my own space. I prefer to curl up on a single chair with a magazine, book or my laptop and sit beside the fire in my own little world of words and pictures. For me, this is bliss. So when Hubby expressed his desire to purchase a modular sectional sofa with a chaise, I was not looking forward to the fight. I recall friends in the eighties who saved for two years to buy one of these in brown velour, and since then I just can’t look at one without visualizing the film clip of “Whip It”. It’s not ideal.
So one Sunday morning when we stopped for coffee on the way to The Boy’s weekly footy match, finding our perfect sofa was the last thing on our mind. We happened to park the car in front of the only furniture store within a thirty kilometre radius of our house, and low and behold, in the front window was exactly what we had been looking for. Who would have thought that our neighbouring town would hold the elusive sofa. We glanced at each other and without another word we just knew. Entering the store we sat down, tried it out, and agreed it was perfect. Deep and wide, firm but not hard, this one felt like home. I knew we had found The One.
I suppose what they say really is true. You often find exactly what you are looking for in your own backyard. So, one couch and two chairs later it was sorted. The only thing left to do now was order coffee.
CHAPTER NINE – The Long Haul
A few months ago my darling Mr. Thirty-Three Percent graduated to Mr. Fifty-Seven Percent. Being the recipient of this new title, he is true to his word. Needless to say, we are still next door. It is still winter. And we are still going.
Toiling away and trying to balance work and renovations with Dad and Hubby duties, it can’t be fun for my long suffering man. The warmish, longish Indian summer finally moved out, making way for what will probably be the longest winter on record. And I would be extremely surprised if we didn’t get snow.
Every evening I continue to make the trek back to the house to feed the girls, check on progress and use the gym, and every day night time appears to descend earlier and earlier. Very soon night will have arrived by wine o’clock, and even the mere thought of hanging washing on the line will simply be a distant memory. Everything is damp and slippery, and the constant croaking of frogs in the garden beds and dams are a stark reminder that I need to drag out my thermals.
After dinner this night as I race back to the place formally known as home, I am conscious of another huge band of rain that is about to descend and make a mental note that the ability to build an ark would probably be a marvelous skill right about now. I also decide that locating my scarves has become a priority. You see, when we packed up and moved out back in November, some seven months ago, according to Mr. Then-Thirty-Three Percent, we might have been finished by now. I knew it was an optimistic estimate even with the added thirty-three percent leeway, but I wanted to give Hubby the benefit of the doubt.
So I packed those scarves, along with most of my woolen jumpers, thick tights, gloves and winter coats, only taking the things that I deemed necessary for spring, summer and autumn. Surely we would be back in time to unearth all my warm and wonderful winter-woolies, and life would continue on as normal. Clearly this is not the case.
Subconsciously I must have known this scenario would play out because it doesn’t take long to locate a handful of my favourite winter scarves and their multi-hole hanging thing Mum and I discovered at Ikea last winter when I was sick. I only have to open two boxes before I find what I’m looking for, seal them up and make the mad dash home again. Laying my hands on the box with my coats proves to be slightly more difficult, and eventually I relent and buy a new one because I’m tired of looking. I just figure the expense is all part of the fifty-seven percent equation.
As Hubby has been spending every spare waking minute planning and purchasing for, researching or working on, all things house, I have been working six, sometimes seven, days a week. As it turns out we are short staffed at work with my counterpart recently relocating up north, and it’s the only way I feel I can constructively contribute at both work and home simultaneously. Other than that, I am pretty much useless.
One Sunday the plastering is just about complete and Hubby is standing in the bathroom. Alone. That in itself is not a good thing. You can hear his mind ticking over. Reaching up to scratch his head, a look of relief washes over his face and as he turns to me, I dread what is about to come out. You guessed it. He wants to take out a wall. Actually, it’s a framed cupboard and a door. Ahh man, it just went up.
But I can see why he feels compelled to rearrange things. The layout of the room will be much better with the door flipped over, and those of you into feng shui would definitely approve. I just hate to see all his hard work ripped apart. Yet again. Needless to say, the walls are removed, frames are resurrected, plaster and cupboards are reinstated. It takes a few extra days but finally Hubby is much happier with the final layout. And I am very pleased that he has it sorted.
With things starting to come together, and basic furniture and appliances sought and bought, I am beginning to muster up the confidence to buy a few bits and pieces that may or may not work in our home. I’ve come across a couple of pictures for the walls, a retro mincer like the one my Gran had back in the day and even a set of Salter scales, minus the copper bowl, for the kitchen.
Who knows, sooner or later I might even get the hang of this redecorating thing. Which is lucky because it will probably take me forty years to find the matching bowl.
CHAPTER TEN – So. Very. Slow.
It’s check in time. It is now July. It’s cold. And snow has fallen this week. In fact it’s so cold I have taken to going to bed with a tracksuit, scarf and beanie on. And my hands and feet ache. It’s not that the house isn’t heated, because it has a solid timber fireplace which keeps the living areas quite toastie. It’s just that the bedrooms are down the hallway a bit and for some reason the heat doesn’t quite filter down that far. It may also have something to do with the bed being positioned against an exposed double brick wall. I’m not sure.
Even though Hubby’s original forecast saw us back in the house by now, that ship has well and truly sailed. And to be brutally honest I’m not overcome with sadness. Yet. Some of you will understand what I’m saying when I explain that as time passes and things slowly begin to take shape, the anticipation of moving home will grow. The closer it gets, the more impatient I will become. Give it some time.
It seems like eons ago that Hubby, The Boy and I trekked off to the Shop of Flooring & Headaches to select the wood to walk on. That’s because it was eons ago. And not only has it been ordered and delivered, last weekend the boys began to install it. Hubby and his two Chippy mates made terrific headway and I can report that the Wormy Chestnut is a winner.
The only thing that isn’t a winner is the actual installation process. That is horrid. Unless you are a Smurf or Quasimoto, the constant bending over to glue, lay and secret nail each board in place puts dreadful strain on the boys back and necks, and possibly the only thing keeping them going is my steady supply of snacks. Or maybe it’s the beer.
After a lengthy consultation with Sir Joe of the Cabinetry and a little re-jigging, he and Hubby have finalised all the bits for the kitchen, pantry and bathrooms which is a major feat in my eyes. I am still mostly oblivious to all the work that it has entailed, even though Hubby has been extremely patient and informative throughout the entire design process. He has spent a zillion hours on the line pouring over photos and designs, colours and options for benches, drawers, tiles and whatever else goes into a house. I know lights were also in there somewhere. And doorknobs. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s simply that I don’t understand. It actually gives me a headache.
You can only look at stuff so many times before everything begins to look the same. I think that’s where I am. I have looked at that many ovens, knobs and vanities, tiles and cutlery inserts that I have no idea what I’m doing. And it will never be as many as Hubby has seen so I don’t know how he remembers anything. I have arrived at the point where I just suggest he makes a selection. Quickly.
Now that the flooring is down and the cabinet stuff sorted, Hubby and Chippy #1 are working on hanging doors and installing skirting boards and architraves, door frames and other things made of wood that need to be cut and hammered. The Chippy often comes up for the weekend so he and Hubby can work their magic, and I love it when I hear the sound of productivity from across the way. Before now I never thought I would be so happy to make lunches to the sound of drills and a circular saw.
I know that Hubby has been extremely diligent, making sure that he orders all the required materials well in advance so they are at the ready when the time comes. Bathroom floor and wall tiles were chosen some time ago, and even they wait ready for the big day. But I know for a fact that the kitchen tiles are yet to be decided on.
I’ll let you in on a secret. When I was a child my Pop had a large working farm down Portland way. I would visit on the school holidays and loved the sheep, barn cats, Regina the donkey, turkeys and all the chickens. Fox hunting wallpaper hung on my bedroom walls. But best of all, I loved the kitchen. Actually, it was the tiles I adored. So sometimes at night I find myself on the line, looking at feature tiles for the kitchen just like the ones at the farm. Not the entire farm animal scene but a small tile here and there, reflective of my adoration for my hens. I have no idea whether it will work, or if Hubby will embrace the idea when I pitch it to him. But gosh it’s fun taking the trip down memory lane. And I shall let you know what transpires.
CHAPTER ELEVEN – Nine Rolls
The passing of time and the magic of the internet webs has us arriving in October. As we approach the twelve month anniversary of the commencement of the reno, I find I am getting a little bit edgy. I can see that things are finally taking shape. The place is looking less like a building site and more like something we will live in. I know Hubby has had this exact vision for a very long time now but for me, it’s a completely new feeling.
Nextdoor at our current place of abode, the fire is still going 24/7 and The Girl has spent the winter sleeping in our wardrobe. She began this adventure residing in the caravan in the backyard, however once winter really set in it was simply too cold for anything with a heartbeat to sleep outside the house. Two legs or four. To make matters worse, my idea of a wardrobe is organised, colour coordinated, length and seasonally ordered clothing and shoes, so that items can be easily located at a moment’s notice. The Girl has more of a floordrobe-style arrangement scattered around her bed which isn’t working that well for any of us. It is seriously driving me nuts.
We have had no end of rain recently, so much so that the dam on our own property has overflowed and created a river bed running into the dam here, which now looks more like an ornamental lake. Complete with duck family. In fact the entire state has been drenched, flooded and torn apart, and if that wasn’t enough Mother Nature came back the following week with a second and third helping of the same. This winter has had more comebacks than Dame Nellie Melba, and I know I’m not the only one who will be happy to see the back of it.
Just last weekend The Girl had a slightly flat tyre and moved her car back up to our garage so Hubby could take a look. Ten minutes later a tree came down, narrowly missing the water tank and taking out a wheelbarrow. Had her car still been parked there, we would have been lodging an insurance claim and she would have been catching the train to work.
Unfortunately what did come down with the tree was a beautifully constructed possum nest made with shreds of bark from the firewood pile. It was clearly made with love, and deep inside were three baby possums. Mum, however, didn’t hang around and quickly retreated back up a neighbouring tree which I completely understand. Hubby was right on it and scooped up the nest, relocating it to a low fork in the tree hoping that Mum would come back down.
Forward twenty four hours and, although there was plenty of possum poo around the nest, the babies were still there. Phase Two: If Mum won’t come to the babies, the babies go closer to Mum. So early next morning Hubby knocks up a wooden possum box for the nest, and secures it half way up the tree hoping that might encourage her to come and collect the triplets. A phone call to the Wildlife Network confirms all of the steps he has taken to reunite the family have been perfect, but one last check of the nest reveals that, sadly, it’s too late. The extremely cold weather the night before, and most likely Mum’s absence, have all been too much for the babies and Hubby finds them curled up together but no longer alive. Not what he had hoped for. I couldn’t hold in the tears.
Back to the house, and recently we had a rare day off together and took a road trip. We drove from Woodend to Laverton to drop stuff of to Sir Joe, then headed to Geelong for floor stuff and the pantry sink. Back to Bayswater to confirm the island bench top, and finally we found ourselves in Fawkner for some stone. I was brain dead by the end of the day and don’t actually recall going to bed. It wasn’t pleasant.
Hubby has been toiling away nightly, completing various tasks involving plaster, putty, tiles and screed. I don’t actually know what screeding is. I thought it was like a roll of paper. You know, Ye Dayes of Olde toilet roll style. Come to think of it, that’s a scroll. Speaking of toilet paper, the challenge has been set and Hubby is on notice. I recently purchases a twelve pack of toilet paper. We are now down to nine rolls and I have declared that I will not be buying anymore toilet paper. He has nine rolls to finish.
Hubby has declared it will be finished eventually, and all in good time. I just hope he brings his own toilet paper.
CHAPTER TWELVE – Riding The Waves
November has arrived, and with it heralds the Spring Racing Carnival, spasmodically warmer weather and the one year anniversary of the reno’s commencement. Yes, we are over time. Possibly, we are over budget. But the events of the last four weeks have not only been unexpected, they’ve been unwanted and almost unbearable, making the time and budget scenario null and void.
I recently found myself back in hospital for an encore round of surgery. Not only has it make me one grumpy, sore and stitched up girl, housebound and gymless for longer than I care to admit, October signalled the beginning of our hectic season at work, which adds to the fury of my predicament. My Long Suffering Hubby took time off to care for me, which meant little progress was made for some time.
The sharing and caring doesn’t end there. As Hubby diligently visited me in hospital, he inevitably contracted a bug. And not just any bug. It was the Trojan Bug of Mega Chest Infections, rendering him completely unwell and unfit for renovating duties for weeks. In fact, he wasn’t fit for any duties and the highlight of his days was blowing his nose and coughing up his lungs. We’ve gone through a dozen boxes of tissues, and all I could do was constantly change the sheets and follow him around with the Glen 20. The last thing I needed was to bust my stitches sneezing.
If the loss of the possum triplets last month wasn’t enough, we were in for more animal sadness. Almost nine years ago a young black brindle Staffy came to live with our family after we lost our Boxer. Diesel was about four years old and in need of a good home. Until then he’d had a bit of a tumultuous life and never really knew what it was like to be part of a family. He was happy to be around people as long as there was a ball and didn’t care much for closeness or affection. It took a while but he eventually got the hang of things. Unable to lay on his back, he would often sleep on one side with his legs sticking out making him look like a dead wombat, earning him the nickname Wombie. In return for a loving home and family, Wombie gave us unconditional love and loyalty. And taught us that dog farts always smell worse than a humans. We will really miss you buddy.
Along with post-surgery recovery comes post-surgery boredom. The inability to drive for a while, go to work, or don your runners and head off to the gym is bad enough, but when you can’t carry shopping bags, wood or push a wheelbarrow it reaches a whole new level.
Mum came up to babysit me on a number of occasions which meant only one thing. A bake off. A great Aussie favourite, the Lemon Slice, was at stake. After finding a recipe on the line, Mum followed it and I decided to wing it. How hard can it be.
Well, I’ll tell you. It wasn’t actually that hard, however I did discover by following the recipe Mum’s version was far more edible than mine. Hers had a good chunky texture and stayed together quite well when icing was applied and cut into pieces. My version had the texture of a nursing home afternoon tea and looked like a pelican crapped on it. I can also tell you this. When all else fails, follow the Kids Fun Spot on the back of a cereal pack. The result is far more amusing than my cooking.
So. while Hubby has been sidelined with sickness, Sir Joe has had a setback with the cabinetry. Apparently the kitchen carcass has just been completed and is heading off to the place where they paint it. Or colour it. Or something. It should be back from holidays shortly. This delay meant the floor sanding and plumbing also needed to be rescheduled much to Hubby’s dismay, but on a positive note the bathroom tiling is well underway and paint colours have been selected. The Girl is even chipping in when she can, which is handy because she is definitely good with a paint brush.
The glass man paid us a visit to measure up for the shower screens and the carpet man has been in to tidy up the seams where the carpet meets the floorboards. After a slight miscommunication of which I was possibly mostly to blame, we are now in possession of the correct kitchen cupboard doorknobs. Hubby’s mission to locate the perfect kitchen tap was successful, however it may take six weeks to arrive from the UK. And the sink drain plug thing has gone AWOL.
Needless to say, we are riding the waves of November. As long as it doesn’t turn into a tsunami I think everything will be fine.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN – I’d Like To Get Off
He said it would only take seven months. He told me we’d be back in our place by June. August at the latest. Things are taking a while.
I am ashamed to say that I’ve almost had enough. So much so, the last few days have seen me turning into a witch. A title that under normal circumstances I don’t believe I deserve, however right about now it’s as fitting as any other. With Hubby battling the tail end of the lurgy, me still sidelined at home post-surgery, and a silent void in the house without our dear Wombie, I am struggling.
We have entered the pointy end of the year, with the children having multitudes of school, social and work commitments, exams to prepare for and learner hours still to accrue. Christmas trees, cards and decorations have adorned the shop shelves for weeks now, and Our Next Door Home is beginning to feel increasingly small. I realise that as we get closer to moving back home, everyone is getting a little testy.
With only one bathroom between the four of us, some days are more difficult than others to secure a time slot in the only room you can be guaranteed ten minutes peace. Or at least, you used to be guaranteed ten minutes peace. I don’t actually know what happened there. The lines are very blurry.
On Tuesday I was patient. I waited almost an hour until The Girl was finished. She had showered and dressed, blow dried, straightened then applied her face, and I’m sure she had taken selfies and painted the Mona Lisa just to use her entire time allocation. Then I waited an additional twenty seven minutes until The Boy was done. He doesn’t have half as much hair as The Girl and I know for a fact he doesn’t wear makeup, but by God he takes forever. I’ve no idea what actually goes on in there but by this time I am getting crabby.
Hubby declares that he doesn’t need the bathroom so I jump at the chance to get in. Finally I can breathe. I take my time under the steaming water, rejoicing that for the next ten minutes nobody needs feeding, watering, driving, locating or answering. The minute the shower is off, they are knocking on the door. She needs her toothbrush, he has forgotten his slippers and Hubby has remembered he needs his deodorant. It’s all too much.
I open the door draped in a towel, thrust the toothbrush and toothpaste at the closest person I can find and pitch the slippers down the hallway, closely followed by the deodorant. Hoping I didn’t chip the tiles, I find myself yelling something I don’t care to repeat, but realise it can’t have been that bad because I hear muffled laughing and giggling coming from the bedrooms. That would be right. Even when I crack it they don’t take my anger seriously. I make a mental note to brush up on my Tough Girl persona and slam the door.
It seems my crabby outburst may have had an impact because by the time I emerge from the bathroom everyone has gone. The Girl is off walking the dog, Hubby has a date with the paint tin and The Boy put his gardening skills to work, removing four wheelbarrow loads of weeds from the garden beds. Later that evening I discovered our Courtsey Girl’s head has been removed as well. Still, it is a million times better than before.
I’m beginning to realise that the undertones of my frustration may also be fueled by the fact that I’ve had to buy more toilet paper. The Nine Roll Budget For Completion that I had set Hubby came and went on the weekend, and it seems that this has just added to my pain. I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming. Seriously. I mean, Hubby is now My. Fifty Seven Percent, so I don’t know what I was thinking.
If this is how I’m feeling, I can’t imagine how frustrated Hubby feels. It is clearly getting on everyone’s nerves but I guess he just has a better way of dealing with things than I do. So that afternoon as I returned home after visiting my parents, I called into the supermarket to make a purchase. A goodwill gesture. A peace offering, I guess you could call it. Twelve of the best.
Knowing that Sir Joe of the Cabinetry must surely be due sooner rather than later, I wanted to make sure they were papered up and ready to go. After all, nine rolls was probably a little too conservative. And if I keep that up I may just earn the title of Mrs Thirty-Three Percent, and nobody wants that. Least of all me.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN – Jigsaws and Jellybeans
Hubby has been unwell now for almost six weeks, hosting a marvellous nagging dry cough that turned into a chest infection, which appears to have morphed into a throat thing. And today at work he tweaked his back. I’m not sure when things are meant to get better for the poor guy but as of this week it’s onward and upward. So after finishing his second course of antibiotics which by the way didn’t appear to help, I have raided the medicine cabinet, declared myself the household Online Medic and drugged him up for reno, rest and rumble. I am hopeful we can now proceed in an orderly, timely fashion.
The time has come to put colour on the walls, and luckily for everyone concerned choosing these shades wasn’t half as difficult as the kitchen cupboard doors some twelve months ago. Sample pots were purchased and walls patch-painted, and together we inspected, deliberated, chose and agreed. Done. It really was that simple. And fortuntely for The Boy, Bunnings had jelly beans as a bonus gift when you purchased eight litres of paint. Gotta love a bonus.
Fuelled by medication and the wonders of my cooking, Hubby has been putting in extraordinarily long hours on the better end of the paint brush in preparation for Sir Joe to deliver the goods. Beams, ceilings and walls have been painted, and skirtings, frames and arcs are prepped, puttied and ready to go.
He and The Boy were also in charge of preparing the base for the compressors so that Jason The King of Air could gas up and install the split systems. It’s a wonder his back didn’t give way during this little exercise because those concrete blocks are not exactly light. Watching those two work their magic suddenly made me realise why they would both be able to sleep through The Battle of Britain.
The arrival of Sir Joe of the Cabinetry was possibly the highlight of this entire year so far. Sir Joe and his trusty accomplice installed the bathroom and ensuite vanities, and the kitchen and pantry cabinet carcasses. The doors, bench tops and other bits and pieces were in transit, but this was enough for me to finally begin to see what the house will eventually look like. And it’s super exciting.
Another piece of the renovation puzzle was picked up recently, and I’m not just being funny. It will probably be the closest thing to a puzzle that we will ever have to do. Yep. The stone for the fireplace. I love it and I know it’ll look brilliant once it’s finished, but at the moment its just enormous boxes of heavy, irregularly cut stone chunks of varying colours and textures. But what I don’t love are jigsaws. In fact, I fondly call jigsaws Fire Starters. We may need to invest in the assistance of my Mum for this one. She is the Jigsaw Queen.
Even though he has been crook Hubby has still keeps ploughing on, managing to almost finish the tiling in the kid’s bathroom. I haven’t seen him this happy in ages. For a sparky he makes a pretty good tiler. Not too flash at plumbing, but definitely a good tiler. I, on the other hand, am four and a half weeks post surgery and haven’t been able to be good at much lately but I finally struck up the courage to pick up a paint brush. As a token gesture I managed to go over the skirting boards and door frames, and other thin wood bits, so at last I am feeling slightly useful.
The last few weeks have really been a struggle. The weather is still crap and we have had so much rain I’ve considered building an Ark. Even though it’s no longer bitterly arctic, I am not the only one praying for the sun to come out for more than an hour at a time. I now understand why the English are eternally crabby.
As the twelve month mark passed last week, I write this whilst vaguely shaking my head which is filled with the smell of late Spring and mixed emotions. On one hand I’m bitterly disappointed Mr Fifty-Seven Percent wasn’t a tad more accurate with his time-frame projection, because now I am faced with writing out another year’s Christmas Cards in somebody else’s lounge room. So much so I decided to enlist in the help of the minors, and decide to bribe them to assist in my quest to get the job done. Although not impressed, said bribe ultimately does the trick.
Yet, on the other hand I understand Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nor was it built by one man trying desperately to juggle a job, a neurotic wife and two teenage children, a phone that doesn’t stop ringing, the man flu and a reno with constantly changing goal posts.
It seems we really did open Pandora’s box. And boy, has she got a beastie box.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN – Seasons Greetings. Again.
December arrives with a vengeance and with it comes wind, rain, hail and all the trimmings. The trees and gardens have really taken a thrashing but on the flip side the sun is beginning to reappear on a semi-regular basis and the grass is growing at the rate of knots. Our local kangaroos are out of hibernation and Old Spikey is a regular sight on my nightly laps around The Tan.
I am still battling the internal struggle of whether or not to put up the Christmas tree, and have decided to hedge my bets. If I leave the tree in the box in the lounge room, and put a few presents under the decorative number that was on display last year when we moved in, then I reckon we will have the best of both worlds and everyone should be happy.
There was one particular Wednesday recently when The Girl and I both had the day off and we headed out to try and knock over most of the Christmas shopping. With elevated spirits and many items ticked off our list we met my Mum for lunch and took the opportunity to have the moment captured with Santa. In hindsight I realise that it’s because of people like us that everyone else leaves whiskey out on Christmas Eve for the old bloke, but I also admit that there was a certain twinkle in his eye when we said our goodbyes. I reckon he was happier with us three on his knee than the two screaming toddlers that were waiting next in line. I also believe that shopping centre Santas probably don’t get paid enough. That job must really have it’s moments.
Reno progression is chugging along steadily and Hubby is still at his day job trying to get things sorted before he winds up for the holiday break. Sir Joe has been back to install cupboard doors, the island bench top and the remainder of the cabinetry which made me feel like I could begin to exhale for the first time in what seems like forever. Things are really beginning to take shape. The Stone Man also paid us a visit bearing bench tops and the plumber arrived in the same week for his encore performance, working his magic in the bathroom, kitchen and ensuite to ensure water goes everywhere it is supposed to, and nowhere that it shouldn’t.
After some extensive deliberation a decision was reached on the tiles for the kitchen, and this was slightly more difficult than I expected. We managed to select two colours quite easily but after leaving them in the kitchen for comparison against the paint and cupboard colours, we have come to realise that our kitchen is like a chameleon. You see, in some lights the room looks brown, in some lights it looks a little green, and anywhere in between it can range from taupe to beige to camel. By the way, they are all actual colours. I didn’t just make that up for fun. Anyway, we eventually agreed on the safer option and chose the lighter of the two, knowing that down the track if we ever wanted to change it up, that would be an inexpensive way to go.
With a little more paint work still to be done I have been spending any spare time on the better end of a paint brush, which has freed Hubby up for more constructive jobs like tiling and fitting off light switches, power points and other electrical jiggy bits. One afternoon The Girl stuck her head in and asked if I needed anything, to which I replied I would kill for a coffee. She disappeared for quite a while which I thought meant she had gone to boil the kettle. Some time later I glanced down to find she had generously left me a coffee sachet. No cup. No water. No love. It really is hard to get good help these days.
I recently accompanied Hubby to what I hope is my last trip to Bunnings and the tile place. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a shopping expedition but this kind of shopping means that we are still in the reconstructive phase. And I am anxious for this phase to be just that. A phase. With an end.
If there was one job I could simply never do it’s working with tiles. Every time I walk into a place like this all I feel is my heart rate elevate to a level that should only be felt in a half marathon. My palms get sweaty, my skin lathers up and I find myself looking for the nearest exit. This is pure torture. The girls that work here so clearly love their job and it amazes me to see the joy on their faces when somebody asks for assistance. They revel in the endless choices at their disposal and the selection on offer is mind blowing. If these tile girls met with Sir Joe and his colour board for a little rendezvous , my word, what shenanigans would result.
So, here’s where we are at. The fire place is now complete, the floor sander came, saw and conquered, and Hubby is tiling and fitting off like a scene from The Fast and Furious. And I am pretty sure the end must be somewhere in sight.