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