Making the best of paint and polish is all very well, but there comes a point when it’s not enough. No amount of decorative ‘charm’ could cover the fact that the back of the house was decrepit, dark, lacking in space, cold and impractical. Time to bite the bullet and get on with some major renovations.
Around 2000 I had worked with a building designer and developed some detailed plans, but hadn’t proceeded at that point when the builders started coming back with quotes that were more than I’d paid for the house. So the renovations waited a few more years until I felt a bit more financially secure.
For the record, they did end up costing more than I’d paid for the house initially – a lot more – but by that stage I’d been living in it for around 15 years, so I’d had my money’s worth.
Now, I missed out on Dad’s handyman genes and struggle to hammer a nail straight, so there was no question of trying to do the renos myself. I seriously considered going to a full service architect and putting the whole project in their hands, but the more I looked at the original plans, the more I realised that we had got it right first time around. Eventually I found a builder who was able to project manage the build for me and work began in early 2011 (in fact, I remember it well – it was the day that David Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art opened – what a party that was!)
Seeing the home that has sheltered one for a decade and a half suddenly being torn apart is a sobering experience. There was no choice but to move out for the duration as all the functional areas of the house – kitchen, bathroom – were being demolished and the rest would be largely without power, heating, full of dust and full of the furniture and contents of the rest of the house. Fortunately I was working out of town at that point and had some alternative accommodation, and Mum and Dad kindly provided the room I’d last lived in aged about 20 for me to stay in when I did come to town.
Credit to my builder and his team, the project went remarkably smoothly, save for a delay which saw some very bog-standard aluminium-frame windows take about two months to arrive – from Launceston! (Kevin McCloud always seems to be banging on about the windows causing delays on Grand Designs, on designs far grander than mine.)
So, after three or four months of living out of a suitcase, I was able to move back in, although there was still a long way to go as I was going to be doing most of the interior decoration myself.
Stay tune for more mood boards and to see the finished results.