Early renos at the New Town house

Dad couldn't help but get involved

Through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, I gradually wrought changes. What could be improved with paint and polish was; what would ultimately be demolished and replaced when funds allowed was made as functional and attractive as possible for the time being.

As mentioned in the previous post, a priority was removing the chimney and fireplace that took up a huge proportion of the kitchen. My sister Kiri and I spent a happy day, me pulling down bricks and throwing them through the window where she gathered and stacked them in the yard. The hole in the wall was patched and painted and that kitchen served me for more than 15 years.

Removing the fireplace and fuel stove resulted in a lot more space in the kitchen
Removing the fireplace and fuel stove resulted in a lot more space in the kitchen
Bright paint and chequerboard lino brightened the dark kitchen
Bright paint and chequerboard lino brightened the dark kitchen
It doesn't look much, but many memorable meals were cooked in that kitchen - somehow.
It doesn’t look much, but many memorable meals were cooked in that kitchen – somehow.

The lounge room was small, but in winter could be heated reasonably easily, so transforming it from a damp gloomy dump was a priority. That vinyl wallpaper concealed persistent damp spots resulting in large areas of plaster which came away when the paper was pulled off, including this huge patch which took several days and about 20kg of fresh plaster to repair.

Damp had caused large areas of plaster to fail in the lounge room
Damp had caused large areas of plaster to fail in the lounge room
Fixing the plaster took about 20kgs of spack filler and days of drying
Fixing the plaster took about 20kgs of spack filler and days of drying

I’m reasonably confident with colour, and I created a scrapbook with mood boards and colour palettes for each of the rooms. Each room had its own colour, with a single trim colour and white ceilings visually linking the various rooms.

It’s a technique I used again when I was working on the major renovations in 2010-11 and I would recommend it. On that occasion, the scrapbook and its mood boards became an incredibly useful means of communication between me, the builder and the various tradies he was engaging, enabling them to produce the results I was imagining.

Fireplace in the freshly-painted loungeroom
Fireplace in the freshly-painted loungeroom

The floorboards were all original, solid hardwood, so I read up, hired a sander and bought litres of estapol.  Polishing floor boards was a bit of a thing in the 1990s – and probably still is – and for good reason. Once finished, the room gave a sense of the ‘potential’ of the house being realised, and started to feel like the stylish residence I imagined.

Taming the beast
Taming the beast
Polishing the floorboards provided an early win and boost to the aesthetic appeal of the home
Polishing the floorboards provided an early win and boost to the aesthetic appeal of the home
The lounge, furnished and looking lived in, complete with sleeping cat
The lounge, furnished and looking lived in, complete with sleeping cat

The long central hallway became a picture gallery, and the office, bedrooms and study eventually followed, each with their own deep colour.

Central hallway
Central hallway

Outside, bits wore out and fell over, including the picket fence. Dad again came to the rescue, creating a beautiful steel fence that has become overgrown with roses and is still in use today.

Dad welding me a new front fence
Dad welding me a new front fence

The house dates from approximately 1905, and after a century or so of keeping the rain out, the iron roof started to leak and was looking very tatty, so in 2002 it was time to replace it with a new one. Professionals were called in, but naturally Dad couldn’t help but get involved.

Replacing the roof
Replacing the roof
Replacing the roof
Replacing the roof
Dad couldn't help but get involved
Dad couldn’t help but get involved
The house with its new roof and the front fence overgrown with Iceberg roses
The house with its new roof and the front fence overgrown with Iceberg roses

Dad again came to the rescue when that old water heater finally gave out, which of course it managed to do on a holiday (Boxing Day, from memory). Fortunately K&D was open and Dad grabbed a new cylinder and had it installed in short order.

Dad celebrating the successful installation of a new water  cylinder
Dad celebrating the successful installation of a new water cylinder

The biggest project we tackled together was the bathroom. It had been tacked onto the back porch, probably during the 1960s, and was lined in cheap masonite. Protected only by gloss paint, the lining around the bath/shower lasted years of the low-pressure water supply, but the new mains pressure tank proved too much and the lining soon turned to mush. The assorted green fittings were also in need of updating, so we stripped everything back to the frame and started again.

New bathtub
New bathtub
New washbasin and vanity
New washbasin and vanity
Finished vanity
Finished vanity

The result was a vast improvement.

P1050850P1050849

The back passage, which had once been an open back porch (hence the window on the right into the study) just had to be tolerated, as did the back door.

Back porch

Rear entry with water heater
Rear entry with water heater
A few potted geraniums always cheers things up
A few potted geraniums always cheers things up

I always knew that eventually I would undertake major renovations, and while some of these interim measures were temporary, there was a master plan at work to ensure that as much as possible would fit with and contribute to the ultimate outcome.

Stay tuned for a look at the garden through the years.

5 thoughts on “Early renos at the New Town house

  1. Taswegian1957 says:

    I like the deep colours. I often see these older houses done out completely in grey on real estate sites. I get that neutral makes rooms look bigger but grey walls, carpet, curtains and furniture is just too much for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mappie Pyper says:

    Enjoying this journey Andrew. You are a man of many talents, like your Dad. Still have the green bath in my bathroom lol 🌷🌷

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew Ross - novisiblemeans says:

      Funnily enough Mappie, so do I, although it’s white now. After several years in the garden it was resurrected during the big renovation. It’s a great cast-iron bath, so much better than the tatty plastic ones generally available. I put a plastic bath into the interim renovation shown here – after just a few year’s, it was worn out.

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