Before + After: Our Home Renovation

If there was one image to portray a renovation experience, it would be this.

Actually, no — Joel is half-smiling in that photo.

It would be this one:

My friend actually said that Joel looks like he is out of a scary movie in that photo and folks, let me tell you: HE WAS A SCARY MOVIE.

Looking back, I can’t believe everything we did in the space of a couple of months on our own with two small children. Which brings me to my next point: Renovating a house is the pits. It was the first and only time I’ve actually googled what getting a divorce would mean for me custody-wise and financially speaking. (See previous Scary Movie photo.) Once, it took 13 hours to install three cupboards in our kitchen and that was a good day. I could drive to Bunnings with my eyes closed and even when I slept, I dreamed I was gap filling.

This was our front yard at one stage. Just looking at it makes me want to take a nap somewhere.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to put together a before-and-after post of our home renovation for so long now – waiting until we’d completed the “after” part before documenting it. BUT, who are we kidding: It will never be finished. There are back verandahs to build and things to paint and roofs to fix and kitchens to finish but also: Things never stop. Life is hard and full, we have three very small children and a cat who won’t quit. Plus our home dreams go on and on forever, so there’s that, too.

Moving on!

The renovations.

So, I’ve always been a make-do kind of girl. When it comes to living spaces, I’ve always held a kind of a make-the-best-of-what-you’ve-got heart. Awful carpet? Rugs to the rescue! Crappy kitchen? Buy some flowers and stick them on the bench! We have lived in our fair share of filth; looking back on photos of them now, I’m proud that we waded through them for as long as we did while we saved money, had babies, scrapped some kind of life together and inched forward, step by step, stone by stone.

We bought our family home a year and a half ago, so when it came time to not just make do but to have the freedom to create what we wanted, I’ll be honest, I was lost. The house was a do-er upper in every sense and though we had a limited budget, the possibilities were endless, and consequently – overwhelming. What kind of skirting boards do I like? What shade of white? White or black or charcoal grout? What brand of gap-filler do I buy? Kitchen handles: copper or silver? OH MY GOD WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CHOICES. In the end, we ended up slapping anything together because it all just got so much and looking back, I wished we’d lived in the house for awhile before deciding on a whole heap of things. However, what was – and always is – important to remember was that while it’s nice to live in a nice home, those details don’t provide true, lasting happiness. Sure, now I wished I’d picked bigger window sills and higher skirting boards, used a gloss white instead and picked different kitchen windows, but you know what? It doesn’t really matter, in the end. The real bones of life is not in stuff, and that perspective is everything when building a home – and anything in life, really.

It’s a big post to try and tackle, so I’ve segmented each room into a Before, Middle and After, with a few details of what we did in each of those rooms. I was going to include the suppliers of all our products and services in case that might be useful, but there is so much to list so I just thought if you’d like to know where we got anything specific from (VJ sheeting, window hoods, floor polishers, skirting and architraves, etc), just ask at the end of the post. We kept a tight budget and I know that many are in a similar situation.

Here goes!

The Front

Before:

Middle:

After:

Front verandah

Before:

As you can see, the lino floor, the asbestos, the closed in verandah – this was all begging to be ripped up and opened up, repainted, floorboards sanded back and a new staircase.

After:

The first bedroom off the verandah, Billy’s room

Before:

Middle:

Ripped up lino, replaced and polished floorboards, skirting added, gap-filled vj’s and painted walls and ceiling, added fans and changed lighting

After:

Then, across the hall from Billy’s room is our bedroom.

Main bedroom.

Before:

Middle:

Ripped up lino, nails removed, polish floorboards, added skirting, replaced back wall, gap filled between every vj, painted walls and ceiling, added fans and changed lighting.

After:

(Excuse the hodge podge standing wardrobes. Next on the list: built-ins.)

Then the living room, which we opened up to create one big living/kitchen/dining.

Lounge room.

Before:

(looking back towards the front door)

And looking towards the back of the house:

Middle:

We replaced that strange panel on the wall with vj’s:

Did the usual rip up lino, remove nails, gap fill and paint walls and ceiling, install lighting, fans, etc, plus we knocked out the back wall so it would open into the kitchen.

After:

The kitchen.

Before (behind the wall we knocked out):

Middle:

This was a huge job.

We ripped out the previous kitchen, removed asbestos, put in new windows and walls, put up vj sheeting, lighting, insulated roof and installed new ceiling, put together an Ikea flatpack kitchen (Guys, I am Flatpack Queen. But also don’t make me put together a single one ever again). Then, we had to install it all which is where the divorce aspect entered our experience. Trying to get a straight wall in old Queenslanders? Don’t talk to me about it. We eventually got Joel’s dad in to help us, because three was NOT A CROWD at that stage. We installed a new oven, dishwasher, tiling, bench tops, sink, everything. We were on a budget, so we decided to go with an Ikea kitchen instead of carpenter-build custom made kitchen, which – while not my ultimate dream kitchen – is fine for now. All up I think it was about $5000, including a dishwasher and oven so it was in the ball park of where we were at financially.

After:

And then the dining aspect that leads off the kitchen —

Before:

Middle:

We ripped out built in cupboards, removed asbestos, put up vj sheeting, removed back door and windows, installed french doors, insulated roof and installed a new ceiling, ripped up lino floors, polished them, gap filled and painted walls and ceiling, new lighting and electrical work.

After:

And the bathroom through there:

(which I’ve documented previously here.)

Bathroom.

We gutted it completely and installed from scratch – another big job.

Before:

Middle:

After:

Third bedroom (Ella’s) – off the loungeroom

Before:

Middle:

The usual rip up lino, remove nails, replace damaged floorboardsand polish them, gap fill and paint VJ walls and ceiling, install VJ sheeting where built in cupboard used to be, new electrical work, etc.

After:

And lastly, the back aspect of the house, still unfinished:

Before:

Middle:

We installed french doors, ripped the enclosed deck roof and walls off, replaced guttering and painted.

After:

We will eventually build a big back porch/deck out here, changing the roof structure of the back of the house as we will also build another floor up; above the kitchen/dining which will become a big loft bedroom for Joel and I. We also have dreams to build a level underneath at the front half of the house for extra bedrooms and a laundry. And the backyard — we have big dreams.

But for now, this is us. Somewhere in the middle, day by day, building a life together.

 

4 Responses to “Before + After: Our Home Renovation”

  1. Erin Chee Quee

    Your house is so gorgeous! You guys did an amazing job-and with little kids in tow, unbelieveable. Having three kids almost the same age as yours, I cannot imagine doing that 😂 ever! We have a really similar aesthetic, your kitchen and bathroom are lovely. I can’t wait to renovate our little brick cottage, but it’s probably going to be a few years away. I’m a SAHM, we’re on a single income, and I don’t know when I will be returning to work (if at all) 😩.

    Reply
    • The Red Tent

      ha, thank you. looking back, I’m not sure how we did it either…but we nearly got divorced so i don’t recommend it!

      Reply

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