Our Kitchen Renovation

In July, 2015 we made the decision to move into a house we owned that had previously been a rental property. The idea behind this was to do some renovations so as we might get a better price for it when we sell it in the future.

Built in 1995, it has decent sized living areas. The rear looks out over a nature reserve and most afternoons we get a cool breeze blow through. The master bedroom has an en suite and is a good size. The only drawback would be that the other bedrooms are on the smaller size although they both have queen beds in them.  There is also a small office which could also be used as a nursery or toy room.

The least redeeming feature of the whole house was the kitchen. It was poorly designed and dated. The appliances were old, dirty and not in great working order. In fact we pulled the range hood out before we moved in as it was caked in oily residue.

Kitchen Renovation

The kitchen as it was.

So we quickly made the decision to put in a new kitchen. Initially we thought that we would be able to do it ourselves as Mr B is a pretty handy bloke. But when we started looking into it we decided it was to big a job for us. I happened to be in Masters (now closed sadly) one day and discovered they had a Kitchen Designer in store. I quickly lined him up to come and do a design and quote for us. Of course he came up with an idea to have an island bench which we would never have thought of.

Next we had to pick colours. I wanted something that was functional and had a more modern edge to it. So it wasn’t hard to pick white cupboards, a light grey granite look bench top and a dark red splash back to add a bit of colour.

We were able to sign up to an interest free deal to pay for it and also timed it nicely to receive $1500 worth of gift cards which came in handy down the track.

Mr B and Master B decided to do the demolition themselves as this would save us about a $1000. This went very smoothly until they pulled the last lot of cupboards out and discovered some fairly substantial water damage in the plasterboard. A few phone calls later and we secured a plasterer to come and replace the plasterboard the next day.

Kitchen Renovation

What was behind the old appliances and cupboards wasn’t good but new plasterboard tidied it right up.

As the install began, I realised that I had not chosen the right sort of range hood. I had picked one out that had a glass surround on it and it was to big for the space. It just looked wrong. So at the eleventh hour I changed my mind and ordered a flush mounted range hood. This also changed the cupboard configuration but I’m so pleased I did as it looks fantastic.

The only other hiccup we had was with our bench tops which were cut and installed by a different company (not Masters) As the bench where the sink is has an odd angle in it, they cut it incorrectly so it didn’t line up properly with the island bench top.

It took a little bit of arguing but I had the original plan which showed that their measurements were wrong. It took about three weeks for it to be re-cut but they got it right the second time at no extra cost to us.

Kitchen Renovation

Our brand new kitchen

All up we spent just on $20,000 but feel that we have added about $30,000 in value to the house as it now has a modern and functional kitchen. We still have the floors to go and some more painting but our renovation is well on track.

I really do love my new kitchen and the layout means that more than one person can be in there at a time which is a bonus for a busy family like ours.

Have you ever renovated a kitchen? Did it go smoothly for you?

Love Me

Outdoor Area Clean Up

I must confess I have never been much of a gardener.  I just don’t have a green thumb and many of my efforts over the years have failed dismally or not ended up looking the way I thought they would.  When we first moved to Queensland the garden was a mess so we pulled pretty much everything out and started again planting easy to grow and maintain things like Lilly Pilly’s and Murraya’s.  At least I knew those plants would grow for me!

Now that we live in a townhouse we have no real garden to worry about, apart from a small courtyard at the front.  No thought was given to what plants were put into this garden when the property was built and as a consequence we have two of the ugliest palm-like trees in the front yard that are way to big for the area.

This would have to be the ugliest tree I have ever seen!

This would have to be the ugliest tree I have ever seen!

The fronds have a very sharp serrated edge on them and as the top grows the bottom’s die off and look dried out and horrible.  Around the edges are some lovely Lilly-Pilly’s but again they are to big for the area they are in.  There are also some Liriope’s and something that I think is similar to a gardenia. They certainly smells divine when they flower.

None of this I can change as we are currently renting, but I still have the responsibility of maintaining it.  I also don’t want to spend any money on it.  So today, I got out into the sunshine and fresh air and started to give it a good tidy up.

The courtyard area also has a concrete patio section where we have a small table and chairs. These were covered in dust and cobwebs. This area also houses the two air conditioning units for our house. I would love to be able to screen these off as they are ugly to look at. I also have a few pot plants in this area that I haven’t killed yet!

This was what I did to make the area look more presentable:-

  • Washed down the tables and chairs, getting rid of the built up dust and cobwebs.
  • Shifted a couple of pot plants around, pruning off dead leaves and stalks and giving them all a good water.
  • Washed down the front windows and gauze screens as they were very dusty.
  • Swept cobwebs away from above windows.
  • Hosed and swept paths and concrete areas (we have tank water)
  • Raked up dead weeds that we had sprayed a couple of weeks ago and sprayed new weed appearances.
  • Pruned back a couple of the smaller trees so they don’t grow to big.
  • Cut back and dragged out of two of our trees a horrible creeping vine that had made its way over from next doors yard.  It has totally engulfed all of the trees in their front yard and I don’t want it to do the same in ours.

By the time I had done all this I had run out of room in our rubbish bin and as we don’t have a green waste bin the rest will have to wait until next week.

When it's clean our patio area is lovely.

When it’s clean our patio area is lovely.

But at least I have made a start and I had a lovely, clean and relaxing spot to sit this afternoon with my book and a cup of coffee. The rest of the garden will just have to be a work in progress.

Love Me

Learning to Live with Less

Take a look around your home.  What do you see?  Is it filled to overflowing with the latest gadgetry, books, toys, clothing, kitchen equipment etc.  Is every surface of your home cluttered with pictures and ornaments that take hours of dusting? Have a look in your shed.  Is your car parked outside because your shed is full of so much stuff that you just can’t fit your car in there? Take a walk down your street and glance into the open sheds of your neighbours.  What do you see there?  I bet you any money that every second house you walk past will have a shed full of ‘stuff’ and their cars, that are worth far more than the stuff in their sheds, are parked in their driveways or on the street.

Take a look around your local industrial area and count how many self-storage businesses there are. We have two right across the road from our house and we are in a largely residential area.  According to National Storage 1 in 25 Australian households currently utilise self-storage.  The self-storage industry itself experienced growth of 20% in 2013. This tells me that we have far to many possessions in our lives and need to find alternative places to store them.

So what is all this ‘stuff’ that we accumulate and why do we keep it?

1. SENTIMENTAL VALUE

This I think would be the number 1 reason that many people hang on to things that they have no use for.  I am guilty of this myself.  I have several items in my home that I have kept for many years because they were gifts from my parents and other family members on special occasions, such as my 21st.  Only recently I threw out the decorative icing topper off my 21st cake.  I had been carting it around with me for 29 years!  I also had the decorations off my parents 40th Wedding Anniversary cake.  I have no idea what I thought I might do with those as I won’t celebrate my 40th wedding anniversary until I am 76!  So, I got my camera out, took some lovely photos and tossed them in the bin.  And let me tell you it felt no guilt.  It made room in my pantry and gave me a sense of relief to know that when we next contemplate moving I won’t have to worry about packing it.

This is the decorative topper from my 21st cake.  I had kept it for 29 years!

This is the decorative topper from my 21st cake. I had kept it for 29 years!

I have lot’s of serving platters and casserole dishes as well.  I rarely use this as we don’t entertain nor to we have a large family that descends on us for Christmas or other special occasions, so I am in the process of going through these and they will be going in a garage sale soon.

2. BUT IT MIGHT BE WORTH MONEY

This is a great excuse to keep something.  The lure of money.  The trouble is it’s not worth any money if it’s sitting in your cupboard.  It’s only worth money if you can actually sell it.  And the fact of the matter is that what we may think is valuable, may not be valuable to anyone else.  But if you are not using it and it is taking up room in your home and you can sell it for $20 then that is $20 in your pocket and more room in your cupboard.  I recently sold a small collection of vinyl records that I had kept even though I had got rid of the rest of my collection about 3 years ago.  I kept them out of sentimentality but realised that I had absolutely no use for them as I don’t even own a record player anymore.  I made $180.00 on 15 records.  Again money in my pocket and more room in my cupboards.

3. BUT IT MIGHT COME IN HANDY

This one possibly applies to the men in our lives more than us girls.  You know all those tools and bits and pieces that accumulate in the shed.  This is all well and good if your man is actually a handy kind of a bloke.  I’m lucky as mine is, so I know if I ask him to fix something that pretty much everything he needs will be in his shed.  Me on the other hand – not so much.  I have a box of sewing material sitting in a cupboard.  It has been there for about 10 years.  I had good intentions of making something out of it, but have never got around to it so that box will be going out the door as well.  My thoughts are if you haven’t used it in the last year you are not likely to!

4. IT WILL MAKE MY HOUSE LOOK GOOD

We all want to live in a nice house surrounded by nice things, but I think it is easy to fall into the trap of acquiring those things in order to fit into a social class.  Society has become very consumer oriented and every weekend the shops are filled to overflowing with people searching out the latest bargain to put in their homes.  Sure your friends and family may admire all the lovely things in your home, but when you are long gone what will your kids remember you for?  The beautiful things you had in your house or the awesome weekends you spent at the beach or kicking the footy in the backyard.  I hope that is what my kids remember me for.

We have been lucky to be able to spend some awesome holidays and short breaks with our kids.

We have been lucky to be able to spend some awesome holidays and short breaks with our kids.

So why am I now starting to focus so much on my possessions and there worth to me as a person?  It’s because I have come to the realisation that this ‘stuff’ does not define the person I am.  I am and always have been a simple girl at heart, and although I have often times tried to keep up with home decorating trends and current fashion it’s just not me and usually the things I do just don’t work.

When we first moved out of our family home in 2012 we shared a house for a short while.  I had to condense a 4 bedroom house plus study and two living areas into 3 bedrooms and one living room.  I knew that in order to do this some things had to go.  I still have a couple of boxes packed from that move even though we have now lived in our current house for 2 years.  I figure that as I have had no need for the contents of those boxes in that time, that I can safely get rid of them.

The other reason I am starting to think about paring down our possessions is that we want to travel Australia when the kids finish school (READ MORE HERE) and I only want to have a couple of boxes of really precious items to put in storage when we go.

So this year I am learning to live with less. I am refusing to buy anything new for the house unless an item is broken.  The same applies to clothes.  I have the basics and as I wear a uniform to work I think I can get away with not buying a whole lot more this year.

If you want some more ideas on how to streamline your possessions visit Becoming Minimalist a great website I discovered a few weeks ago that explores all the possibilities for living without so many possessions.

Love Me