"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

Our midlife renovation


While I realise this sounds a bit suspect, like perhaps I'm about to go in for a little "nip and tuck", I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. No, this post is all about fixing up our "fixer-upper", something neither one of us has ever done before, at least not on such a scale as this. And it's entirely possible we may never, ever, ever do anything like this again. Not ever. Nope. Never. Well........ probably not anyway.

A 1930s bungalow with potential
Our house is a California Bungalow (although it's nowhere near California). Built around 1936, it's a solid, double-brick single-storey home, with an unfortunate addition done sometime around the 1950s and an even more unfortunate extra bit tacked on in the 70s (yes, complete with brown 70s decor).

When I first saw the house, the year we were courting, my overall impression was that while the front (original) part of the house had serious potential (but needed some serious TLC), the rest of the house could quite reasonably have been bulldozed. However, that didn't quite fit the budget. There were times after we married, that I would lie in bed thinking "Oh my, there isn't one room of this house that doesn't need something done to it. What have I gotten myself into??" My easy-going husband, on the other hand, loved the "shack" feel about his home. Hmmm.

The drawn-out planning process
The process of renovating started soon after we got married. One of the things we'd agreed upon, when we decided that I would move into his, rather than he move into mine (or even that we might sell both and buy something that was completely our own, together), was that we would attend to the desperate state of the house ASAP, by way of a significant renovation. And so the planning began.

And then there was some more planning. And a few delays. Then we changed our minds on some things. So back to the drawings. And again. The whole process of planning took far longer than it really should have, but for one reason or another we just struggled to decide what we really wanted and needed for this home of ours. Partly this was because our changing "nest" meant that we were never quite sure how many bedrooms we'd actually need, and what configuration would work best.

Demolition, yay!


Eventually, just over a year ago, the first demolition began. That was the beginning of a year of what felt at times like excruciatingly slow progress, as we gutted the back half of the house, removed the roof, extended the side walls to create a loft, installed a new roof, new windows, and finally got to "lock up". The most challenging part for me was functioning in a temporary "camp" kitchen for the better part of an entire year. But we survived! Since then we've managed to complete the kitchen, flooring, heating/cooling, and part of the lovely big new deck. There's still a lot to do, but the house is once again "liveable".

Lessons learned
Renovating in midlife, and as a newly-married-in-midlife couple - and particularly living in the house while renovating (oh yes, we did) - has taught me a lot about myself. Not least being that my tolerance levels are perhaps not what they once would have been. And that I HATE dust!!

At times I've struggled to see this as an "adventure" in quite the same way that my phlegmatic husband has, and when people ask us "So how's the renovation going" I'm quick to handball that one to my lovely man to see what his answer might be, because mine would most likely be "Please, just don't ask"!!

My fuse has been super-short on more than one occasion, and I've let my irritation, annoyance, and downright exasperation get the better of me more times than I like to admit. I have to confess I've shown frustration far more than I've shown grace. I'm not proud.

But I've also learned that I can adapt, which is always a good thing. I'm pretty sure that after this year I could confidently whip up a 3-course meal using only a slow cooker and a Thermomix (oh yes, I would not have survived without it)!

Yep, that's me showing off my culinary adaptability, al fresco!
Seeing the funny side........ afterwards
But there have been some funny moments along the way, mostly only funny after the event and not so much at the time, but at least we can look back now and laugh. Like when we were without a roof and under large tarpaulins for a month during winter, and it poured with rain a couple of nights. The water pooled in low-hanging areas of the tarp, the sagging pockets getting increasingly heavy as the rain continued to bucket down. And there was my amazing and fully-committed-to-this-reno hubby at 2am, standing under the dripping tarp, pushing the heavy, rain-laden bulges up with the brush end of a broom, trying to force the water to spill out over the sides before the tarps came crashing down under the weight of it all. Oh dear.

And then there was the time that the guy who came with his earth moving equipment to level behind the house for the steel deck posts, happened to "nick" the sewage pipe in the process, but either didn't realise or didn't bother to tell us. Even worse oh dear.

Would I do it again?
Definitely not. Not in a million years. And as Forrest Gump would say "That's all I've got to say about that".

Okay, well I guess anything's possible, but probably not until I've completely forgotten everything about this renovation (and it's not over yet...........). I suppose it's possible it might be a bit like childbirth - the memory of the pain fades fairly quickly once you get to enjoy the end result!

8 comments

  1. We renovated our last house and extended the kitchen, dining, familyroom area - completely gutting it and starting again. Fortunately we knew exactly what we were doing and it only took a couple of months - but I'd still be very reluctant to do it again - a year is just unimaginable!

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    1. Oh Leanne, 2 months would have been heaven!! At the start of last year we thought we'd be at lockup by April and just doing the finishing off the rest of the year. How wrong we were! Old houses have a way of springing surprises on you (that you probably should have anticipated........) Still, I've been amazed at my capacity to adapt, but was so thankful when the kitchen finally went in. Now that I can cook properly again I'm not so fussed how long the rest takes!!

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  2. Hello Sue - lovely to meet you! Oh the pooling water in the tarp story. I have a similar story but we were actually in a tent camping, not in a house that was being renovated. I'm about to embark on a renovation myself but not on the scale you went through. I am starting with a kitchen reno but have two bathrooms and a laundry to do as well plus the whole interior of the house needs painting. I hate chaos and clutter so this will be interesting. I don't think you are the only one whose tolerance levels have lessened with age! lol #TeamLovinLife

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    1. Oh Min, I wish you all the best!! If you need any tips on how to survive without self-destructing, I'm your girl, lol. At least you have a spare bathroom so you can renovate one at a time, which is how we've done it. Hmm, chaos and clutter have been my status quo, really for the past 5 years, but we're about to get CUPBOARDS (old house = no storage!!!) and I'm in heaven just at the thought of stuff finally having a home. Look forward to hearing about your reno once it gets underway xx

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  3. Ah renovations, I remember them well, but not too fondly. Aaaand we are about to embark on some again. Are we crazy? Probably

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    1. I've definitely had more than my fair share of moments where I've been absolutely convinced I must be crazy, but now that we're through the worst of it and I can see more and more light at the end of the tunnel, I actually think it will be worth it!! All the best with yours xx

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  4. A year! That's some effort! I love how your answer to would you do it again. We've only ever done a kitchen or a bathroom - I'm not sure I could do the whole thing. Well done...& thanks for linking up this week. #teamlovinlife

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    1. Thank you Jo, and it's not over yet! We've just had the carpenter here building another wall and putting a doorframe in, we're missing some ceilings at the moment (but thankfully not the roof) and it will be a while yet before our backyard is restored from its current sandpit status. But we are still smiling. Today anyway!!

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